Sunday, Nov 25, 2012
Author: Laura Brodie
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Publish Date: July 3, 2012
Pages: 287 Trade Paperback
Purchase: $11.13 at Amazon.com
When she was five years old, on a warm summer night in rural Virginia, Maggie Green’s life was ripped apart. Three of her mother’s college students showed up on their property. They had been drinking and beneath the surface, her mother sensed menace lurking. Words were exchanged and a life-changing altercation ensued.
Ten years later Maggie is in high school, still plagued by nightmares of that night, which ended in a bloody and violent death. Further adding to her angst is a new challenge: geometry. She’s struggling in math and the teacher makes Maggie extremely uncomfortable, never making eye contact and passing her cryptic notes. What Maggie discovers about her teacher and what her teacher discovers about her will mesmerize readers of Laura Brodie’s novel of punishment, penance, and remorse.
Excerpt from Berkley Trade
This haunting book grasps the reader from the very beginning. Every mother’s nightmare unexpectantly occurs while Emma’s daughter is asleep upstairs as this college professor is confronted by three drunk students at her front door late at night. A 5-year old Maggie, after witnessing her mother’s violent behavior in an act of self-protection, crawls out of her bedroom window and hides in the forest which surrounds their secluded home.
Several years later, Maggie is in high school and still seeing a psychiatrist for the childhood trauma. She still experiences nightmares and can’t seem to open up to her counselor. She is a loner who entrusts very few people around her. She discovers one day that she recognizes her Geometry teacher as one of the college students who was at the house on that fateful night. The entire story begins to unfold when Maggie lets her teacher know that she remembers who she is.
What kept the pages turning is the way that the story revealed itself in such an unconventional way. Nothing about this story was predictable! Reading the story from the viewpoints of both Emma and Maggie, you can feel the hurt and regret of both characters. The aftermath of just the events of one evening changed lives forever. What was done could not be undone. Finding redemption and forgiveness is all that one could hope for after such a horrific and tragic event.
This book found its way into my mind and heart. This drama kept my attention at nights and during stolen moments which I was able to find some quiet time. The characters were expertly developed and the reveal of the story was mesmerizing. My only regret is that it took me much longer to finish this book than I would have liked to (and, that’s not due to the book, but rather my schedule of late). I would recommend this book to avid readers for a change in pace as this is a different breed of dramatic fiction. To learn more about this book and author, visit http://www.laurabrodieauthor.com/.
| Posted in Books Books Books
Wednesday, Jul 18, 2012
Author: Peter Lefcourt
Publish Date: May 1, 2012
Pages: 355 Trade Paperback
Type: Fiction: General
Purchase: $3.99 at Amazon.com (Kindle Edition)
This is the saga of the Perl Family. The family hierarchy starts with Uncle Meyer who is an immigrant tailor and his nephew is Nathan, a fabric-cutter and the patriarch of the family. Nathan and his second wife, Lillian, raise: Jackie, a lawyer, who makes his way into politics despite his tendency to drink and gamble; Michael an entrepeneur who prides himself on providing well for his family; Elaine who is a wife, mother and school teacher who is hoping for more out of life; Stephen a succesful French teacher and author who struggles with his sexual preference; and Roberta (“Bobbie”) who is the rebel of the family who creates a succesful career in the music industry despite the odds.
The story of this family commences in 1963 and the novel takes you through the lives of each of these characters through 2001.
This novel was a tale of a Jewish family who loved each other not only for themselves, but despite themselves. They held onto family traditions as much as they held onto one another for support and love through the triumphs and the tragedies of their lives. Although it took me a bit of time to get the cast of characters familiarized, once I did, I was hooked on their stories. Each character found a way into my head and my heart in such a way that I found myself wishing the best for them, feeling sorry for them, and wanting to discover what the next events in their lives were. The span of history throughout the book reminded me of the cultural and political changes that our country has been through in that span of 40 years including the Vietnam War, the sexual revolution, musical eras, women’s lib, civil rights and 9/11.
Although it took me a bit longer to read through this novel, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I find that the richness of the characters drew me into the book in such a way that they will remain memorable long after my finish of the book. The book was very well written, polished, and maintained all the elements that you would want out of a family history novel. Again, the best part of the experience were the characters themselves.
I understand that Peter Lefcourt drew from his own family experiences in writing this novel. I admire the way in which Lefcourt shared the tale of this family. If you want a good book which you can really sink your teeth into and relive American history through the eyes of this dynamic family, I highly recommend this one. I was emotionally moved by many components of the book, especially the dramatic ending. Here’s to hoping that you have a Kindle! Just in case you don’t, the author’s website can be found at http://peterlefcourt.com/.
| Posted in Books Books Books
Thursday, Jun 28, 2012
Author: Wendy Wax
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Publish Date: June 26, 2012
Pages: 448 Trade Paperback
Type: Fiction: Women’s
Purchase: $10.20 at Amazon.com
Madeline, Avery and Nicole, the unlikely friends from Ten Beach Road, have hit some speed bumps in their lives, but when they arrive in Miami’s South Beach neighborhood, they are all hoping for a do-over. Literally. They’ve been hired to bring a once-grand historic house back to its former glory on a new television show called Do-Over. A lot hinges on the success of the DIY program. For Nikki, it would mean getting back on her feet financially. For Avery, it’s a chance to restart her ruined career. And Maddie hopes it will give her a shot at keeping her family together.
At least, that’s the plan—until they realize that having their work broadcast is one thing, but having their personal lives play out on TV is another story entirely. Soon they’re struggling to hold themselves and the renovation together, even as a decades-old mystery—and the hurricane season—loom on the horizon, threatening not only the project but everything that’s brought them together.
Excerpt from Ocean Beach
After reading and reviewing Ten Beach Road by Wendy Wax, I was excited at the opportunity to review its sequel, Ocean Beach. The same delightful cast of characters return along with their supporting characters (mom, baby and boyfriends are in tow). After completing the renovation of Bella Flora at Ten Beach Road, they were awarded a reality television show in which they renovate other dilapidated, historic homes. Only this time, Livetime television has a camera crew in place recording their every move. Their new project is a home named The Millicent in South Beach, Florida which is owned by an old-time comedian, Max, who was famous with his wife back-in-the-day.
Nikki tries her hand at her private match-making services again, all the while she is being pursued by Special Agent Joe Giraldi, the government agent who was involved in capturing Malcolm Dyer. Maddie’s daughter, Kyra, is faced with the protection of her “love child” with the famous Daniel Deranian from the press. When Daniel comes to town with his famous wife and adopted children, he wants to meet baby Dustin and it’s up to Kyra to keep this so-called reunion from the cameras and press. Maddie is also faced with trying to keep her family together as her husband, Steve, makes it very clear that he is not in support of her continuing to work now that he is re-employed and able to support their family. What Steve doesn’t understand is that this is her passion and she gets a sense of value and accomplishment from being a part of the project. Not to mention, Maddie wants to be there for Kyra and baby Dustin. Avery struggles with living with her mother, Diedre, who has made it her mission to repair their very-damaged relationship. Avery’s love affair with Chase, the general contractor who she met during the renovation of the last house, continues. She just wants to ensure that she is able to prove herself as a designer and renovation specialist.
All the ladies continue to bond nightly at sunset and share both their struggles and triumphs. What’s lovely about this book is the opportunity to join them with a glass of wine after work and read about their adventures!
This is my first 2012 summer read and I have enjoyed my quiet time with a memorable cast of characters and new intriguing plot line. Like it’s predecessor, Ten Beach Road, this novel provides dimension to each of the characters and sets forth their inner most desires and fears in the delivery of a great story. For your summer beach-read list, this makes the top 10.
| Posted in Books Books Books
Sunday, Jun 3, 2012
Author: Jon Krakauer
Publisher: Anchor Books/Random House
Publish Date: 1996
Pages: 207 Trade Paperback
Purchase: $10.17 at Amazon.com
Controversy Surrounding an Idealist…
Christopher McCandless, a young man decides to set out onto the Stampede Trail, part of the Alaskan wilderness, is on a quest to live off the land devoid of worldly possessions in April 1992. By August 1992, his body was found by hunters in an abandoned bus. He did not survive his mission.
Jon Krakauer wrote about this unlikely death in a magazine article in Outside. This article was met with much response from people who had met Chris McCandless along his journeys on the road. So much was uncovered by Krakauer, that he wrote the biography of Chris McCandless’ journeys and his experience in the wild.
Chris McCandless came from a somewhat wealthy family who loved him and wanted nothing but the best for him. An intelligent young man, he did well academically in high school and college. However, rather than attending law school as planned, he gave away his savings to a charity and hit the road in his Datsun B210. From the desert to the Pacific, to Mexico, and to Idaho, Chris traveled around the country on meager means. At times, he sought employment so that he was able to continue along on his adventure. At other times, he refused all help, burnt money, and was bound and determined to live off the land. This eccentric young man was an idealist at heart who treasured the works of Jack London and Tolstoy. He seemed to make an impact on several of the people whom he met on the road and spent time either working with or living nearby.
- Jon Krakauer
His decision to enter into the wild, however, meets controversy within the readers of my home. Noting that this book is not a newly published novel, like most of the books which I review on this website, this review was somewhat of a special project for me. My twin daughters, are reading this novel in their English Honors class at their high school. Part of their project included parental participation in reading and discussing this novel with them. As such, this book doesn’t match the normal genres which I enjoy reading and reviewing. The one thing that I can say about this book is that my daughters and I came to very different conclusions as to Chris McCandless’ actions and ideals.
For example, my daughter Deanna believes that Chris McCandless was ill-prepared for his journey into the wild, however had he been prepared and brought proper provisions with him, then he wouldn’t have truly been going into the wild and living off the land. Further, she maintains that his decision to go live out his Alaskan dream could have been successful even without the items he didn’t bring on his journey into the wilderness. Her opinion is based on the fact that Chris survived for several months prior to his death by living off the land plus 10 pounds of rice. She contends that had he not made the mistake of eating the wrong type of plant seed, that he would have survived his ordeal.
My other daughter, Nicole, states that she believes that Chris was not on a suicide mission, but rather on a journey to find freedom from everything that was wrong with the world. Nicole maintains that Chris was rebelling against the expectations of his family and those of high-society. He believed that people shouldn’t be left to starve on the street while others prospered. She thinks that it was not a good decision for Chris to enter to the wilderness with such a small amount of survival items, however that his mission to discover himself spiritually and find inner peace was an admirable choice. She believes that his death was avoidable had he made better choices, however that his ideals and expectations about his journey were admirable.
My opinion about Chris is that his idealism and arrogance overtook his sensibility. He was completely ill-prepared for his journey and underestimated the true force of nature. Page 180 of the book states:
“By design McCandless came into the country with insufficient provisions, and he lacked certain pieces of equipment deemed essential by many Alaskans: a large-caliber rifle, map and compass, an ax. This has been regarded as evidence not just of stupidity but of the even greater sin of arrogance. Some critics have even drawn parallels between McCandless and the Arctic’s most infamous tragic figure, Sir John Franklin, a 19th Century British naval officer whose smugness and hauteur contributed to some 140 deaths, including his own.”
This story is one of a terribly tragic loss of life; one which was totally unnecessary. McCandless could have brought much more to the world upon return from a successful trip into the wild, equipped with what he needed for survival. His short-sightedness about being able to beat the odds led to a painful death of starvation amongst the elements. Many have attempted to climb great mountains, accomplish great feats in nature, but they are typically outfitted with the right provisions. His passions blinded him to reality. Chris’ mother indicated that as a teenager, he was a “teenage Tolstoyan, believed that wealth was shameful, corrupting, inherently evil-which was ironic because Chris was a natural-born capitalist with an uncanny knack for making a buck.” She further adds that “Chris was always an entrepreneur.” This dichotomy of a man was demonstrated throughout the book when he took work when he needed money and at other times burned it or left it behind. He obviously held ideals, but did know that man could not live off the earth alone. Material possessions and money are necessities in today’s day and age. Why he didn’t better prepare for Alaska, I don’t think that I’ll ever understand nor admire. You see, I hold human life in the highest regard. It’s a gift from God and each day that we are able to continue living, learning and loving on this planet is a day which is a precious opportunity. In my opinion, Chris McCandless wasted his gift and devastated his friends and family.
This book is not one that I would have picked up from a shelf and chosen on my own. Yet, I did enjoy the read. The debates which encircled my family between the twins and I regarding Chris McCandless made for interesting discussion. Ultimately, you leave reading this book feeling strongly either one way or another regarding Chris’ decision. Unlike my daughters, I believe he made the wrong choice.
FTC Disclosure: Clicking on the either the photo of the book cover or the link next to the purchase price stated above will bring you to my Amazon Affiliate page. No purchases are necessary.
| Posted in Books Books Books
Sunday, May 27, 2012
Author: Diane Chamberlain
Publish Date: April 24, 2012
Pages: 347 Trade Paperback
Purchase: $10.19 at Amazon.com
Life is a Series of Hard Choices…
Travis Brown is a young single father of a timid, sweet and loving 4-year old Bella. While working at a nearby construction site, he is informed that his home is burning down. Upon his arrival, he tragically discovers that he has lost his mother to the fire, however fortunately Bella has survived. With no place to live and nobody to help to care for Bella while he works, Travis is faced with a mountain of challenges. To make matters worse, he lost his construction job as he was replaced when he left due to the tragedy. With very little money left, no job, and no home, Travis rents a small trailer nearby the beach. This is where he meets Savannah, a woman who gives him a job lead, however one which led him in the wrong direction… one that could end up resulting in him losing Bella forever.
Erin is in mourning over the loss of her 4-year old daughter, Carolyn due to an accident. Unable to cope with the loss and incapable of working through it with her husband, she avoids work and moves out of their home into an apartment. She has joined an on-line group of people who are dealing with the loss of their children. They are the only ones who Erin believes can truly understand how she feels. Each morning, she goes to the local coffee shop with her iPad and avoids the responsibilities of her “real life” including returning to her job as a pharmacist. One morning at the coffee shop, her world collides with those of Travis and Bella.
Robin runs a Bread & Breakfast and is engaged to the soon-to-be-mayor of the town. A heart-transplant recipient, she is haunted by her past and the decision she and her father made to put her child up for adoption. Her soon-to-be teenage sister-in-law, Alissa, has a baby out-of-wedlock. In spending time with Alissa and her baby daughter Hannah, Robin is painfully reminded of the teenage love that was lost, the baby she never knew, and the painful past she experienced with her now deceased father. She begins to think about her daughter and wonders what her life is like now.
When their 3 lives intersect, all of the hard choices which they all had been faced with are brought to the surface. After encountering a life or death situation, Travis, Erin and Robin are all able to find a way to discover healing.
Engrossed In The Tale…
Thank God for caffeine in the morning! This book kept me up at night as I couldn’t put it down. Never having read and of Diane Chamberlain’s novels prior to this one, I didn’t know what to expect. However, what I discovered is that she is an author who creatively develops vivid characters whom you can’t help but to care about. Learning the lives of each of the main characters of the story took me on an emotional travel. I found myself wanting to see each of them find a way back to a happier, more fulfilled life.
For more information on this talented writer, including her library of works, visit her website at http://dianechamberlain.com/. I also encourage you to follow the blog tour at http://bit.ly/I56ozq. At the end of the blog tour, Diane Chamberlain is hosting a live chat at BookTrib.com on May 31, 2012 at 3pm EST (RSVP email@example.com).
I consider myself lucky to have had the opportunity to read this engaging novel. Well written, filled with twists and turns, it kept me turning the pages and tuning out the real world. I would absolutely recommend this novel to my sister, my mother, my friends and to you!
FTC Disclosure: This book was provided to me from the publisher. Clicking on the either the photo of the book cover or the link next to the purchase price stated above will bring you to my Amazon Affiliate page. No purchases are necessary.
| Posted in Books Books Books
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