Saturday, August 30, 2014

R.I.P. IX is nigh...Hurrah!

Its almost time for everyone's favorite reading challenge - R.I.P. IX!!  How exciting, eh?  I know that I can't wait to dive into some spooky reads that will keep me up late at night.  In fact, I've been trying to figure out which books I want to read for this challenge.  I'm thinking of the following ones:
What do you think?  Any suggestions?  Part of me wouldn't mind reading something gothic, but I'm just not sure what to read.  Leave me a comment if you know of any great scary reads.  And for those of you who are wondering what R.I.P. IX is, here's some information:

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril, or R.I.P. for short, is a participatory event created by Carl of Stainless Steel Droppings, wherein we the people spend however little, or much, time we want over the months of September and October imbibing all things ghastly and ghostly.

The purpose of R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril IX is to enjoy books and movies/television that could be classified (by you) as:
Dark Fantasy.
Or anything sufficiently moody that shares a kinship with the above.

There are two simple goals for R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril IX
1. Have fun reading.
2. Share that fun with others.

There are multiple levels of participation (Perils) that allow you to be a part of R.I.P. IX without adding the burden of another commitment to your already busy lives. There is even a one book only option for those who feel that this sort of reading is not their cup of tea (or who have many other commitments) but want to participate all the same. And there is a group read, too - (September 1st thru October 1st) a read-a-long of   The Haunting of Hill House.  For details on the various Perils check out Carl's site.  And, just so you know, there is a review site where you can add a link to your R.I.P. IX posts and check out what everyone else is reading or watching!

So, there you have it folks, all the pertinent details regarding one of the blogosphere's funnest reading experiences - R.I.P. IX.  Pick out your books or movies and have fun! I know I'm excited to dive right in. And now, I'm off to finish reading The Story Hour by Thrity Umrigar, so that I can start reading something spooky sooner rather than later.  Happy reading!!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Desire Lines: A Novel by Christina Baker Kline

(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train comes a novel about friendship and the memories that haunt us.

On the night of her high school graduation, Kathryn Campbell sits around a bonfire with her four closest friends, including the beautiful but erratic Jennifer. “I’ll be fine,” Jennifer says, as she walks away from the dying embers and towards the darkness of the woods. She never comes back.

Ten years later, Kathryn has tried to build a life for herself, with a marriage and a career as a journalist, but she still feels the conspicuous void of Jennifer’s disappearance. When her divorce sends her reeling back to the Maine town where she grew up, she finds herself plunged into a sea of memories. With nothing left to lose, she is determined to answer one simple question: What happened to Jennifer Pelletier?

my thoughts:

Desire Lines is the third book I've read by Christina Baker Kline and I'm ready to declare myself an avid fan of her work.  She's an author who can create engrossing stories involving families, friends, lovers and doesn't shy away from taboo topics (kissing cousins!).  Kline writes women's fiction with such realistic details, relatable experiences, and fully developed characters that you can't but find yourself getting lost in one of her novels - they are fantastically riveting!  

In Desire Lines we get to know Kathryn, a woman whose life is a bit of a mess.  She's returned to her hometown just in time for her ten-year high school reunion.  Inundated with memories from her past, she begins to work through the problems crowding her life and eventually discovers what path she should be on.  Kathryn also manages to utilize her journalistic instincts to uncover the truth about the disappearance of her high school friend, Jennifer Pelletier (she disappeared the night they graduated).  Filled with 80s flashbacks, family drama, and red herrings this book kept me up late at night - and I loved it!

I would definitely recommend Desire Lines to fans of Kline's works and fans of women's fiction.  To find out what other bloggers are saying about this book, check out the link for the TLC Book Tour schedule of: Desire Lines
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Three Story House: A Novel by Courtney Miller Santo

(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

As they renovate a historic Memphis house together, three cousins discover that their spectacular failures in love, career, and family provide the foundation for their future happiness in this warm and poignant novel reminiscent of The Postmistress and The Secret Life of Bees.

Approaching thirty and trying to avoid the inescapable fact that they have failed to live up to everyone’s expectations as well as their own aspirations, cousins and childhood best friends Lizzie, Elyse, and Isobel seek respite in an oddly shaped, three-story house that sits on a bluff sixty feet above the Mississippi River.

As they work to restore the nearly condemned house, each woman faces uncomfortable truths about her own failings. Lizzie seeks answers to a long-held family secret about her father in their grandmother’s jumble of mementos and the home’s hidden spaces. Elyse’s obsession with an old flame leads her to a harrowing mistake that threatens to destroy her sister’s wedding. And Isobel’s quest for celebrity tempts her to betray confidences in ways that could irreparably damage her two cousins.

This sharply observed account of the restoration of a house built out of spite but filled with memories of love is also a tale of friendship and a lesson in how relying on one another’s insights and strengths provides the women with a way to get what they need instead of what they want.

my thoughts:

Three Story House by Courtney Miller Santo is a family drama through and through.  Its chock full of relatives who love each other too much and too little at times.  There are family secrets, a run-down family home to repair, and personal issues to confront - all of which make for one spellbinding read.

Santo has written a terrific new story about three cousins who are best friends, nearly thirty, and searching for direction in their lives.  She brings them together to work on restoring their grandmother's old Spite House.  As each woman attempts to salvage a part of the home, they begin to mend the broken parts of their lives.  The book is broken into three sections, each one representing a different cousin, Lizzie, Elyse, and Isobel.  I love when authors provide us with each character's perspective on their own lives and the lives of those around them - its fascinating to see how differently everyone remembers the past or views the present.  I found myself hooked from the beginning when Lizzie is first introduced to her new cousins, Elyse and Isobel - she discovers a whole new world of family and friendship that will last a lifetime.

Three Story House is a book that I knew I would love, because of its focus on family dynamics.  I felt that Santo really explored the ways in which families support, encourage one another, while also looking at the ways in which families can fall apart.  This story had an interesting cast of characters that were realistic and very relatable.  I loved getting to know these best friends. 

I would definitely recommend Three Story House by Courtney Miller Santo to fans of women's fiction, specifically those about family dramas.  You will love this book!  And if you want to find out what everyone else has to say about this great book, here's the link for the TLC Book Tour schedule:
Three Story House
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Angel of Losses: A Novel by Stephanie Feldman

(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

The Tiger’s Wife meets A History of Love in this inventive, lushly imagined debut novel that explores the intersections of family secrets, Jewish myths, the legacy of war and history, and the bonds between sisters.

When Eli Burke dies, he leaves behind a mysterious notebook full of stories about a magical figure named The White Rebbe, a miracle worker in league with the enigmatic Angel of Losses, protector of things gone astray, and guardian of the lost letter of the alphabet, which completes the secret name of God.

When his granddaughter, Marjorie, discovers Eli’s notebook, everything she thought she knew about her grandfather—and her family—comes undone. To find the truth about Eli’s origins and unlock the secrets he kept, she embarks on an odyssey that takes her deep into the past, from 18th century Europe to Nazi-occupied Lithuania, and back to the present, to New York City and her estranged sister Holly, whom she must save from the consequences of Eli’s past.

Interweaving history, theology, and both real and imagined Jewish folktales, The Angel of Losses is a family story of what lasts, and of what we can—and cannot—escape.

my thoughts:

The Angel of Losses is an entertaining read about love, loyalty, theology, and Jewish folk tales.  The imagery and descriptions are beautifully mesmerizing.  I fell in love with this story and couldn't put it down.  This idea of a notebook filled with stories that contain so much depth, secrecy, and history was spellbinding.  I loved Feldman's creativity with merging old folk tales and this family's personal (his)story - it was fantastical!

Marjorie and Holly are sisters who have had a falling out.  One is obsessed with studying their grandfather's notebook of stories, whilst the other one has embraced her husband's religion.  A medical scare brings the siblings together and leads one to further research their grandfather's past and the stories he once told them in the hopes of discovering a cure of sorts.  Its an emotional and fascinating read.  The dreams, the concept of fate, the old man - everything combined to create a truly magical read.

Stephanie Feldman's novel, The Angel of Losses is an interesting and unique read that will cater to fans of fiction involving culture and religion, and fans of magical realism.  I would definitely recommend this book!  I loved it!

Check out the TLC Book Tour schedule for: The Angel of Losses
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!

Monday, August 25, 2014

2 A.M. at The Cat's Pajamas: A Novel by Marie-Helene Bertino

(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

2 A.M. AT THE CAT’S PAJAMAS begins on a quiet morning in a Philadelphia apartment the day before Christmas Eve, where we meet the precocious and smart-mouthed nine-year-old Madeleine Altimari.  Madeleine’s mother has recently died, and her father is still lost in his grief. Meanwhile, Madeleine finds solace in music and aspires to become a jazz singer. Just two days shy of her tenth birthday, she is about to have the most remarkable day of her life.

After facing down mean-spirited classmates and rejection at school, Madeleine decides today is the day to find Philadelphia’s legendary jazz club, The Cat’s Pajamas, and make her debut. On the same day, Madeleine’s fifth grade teacher Sarina Greene, who has moved back to Philly after a divorce, is nervously looking forward to a dinner party that will reunite her with her high school love. And across town at The Cat’s Pajamas, club owner Jack Lorca discovers that his beloved venue may close be closed due to financial woes by the end of the night. As we follow these three lost souls over the course of twenty-four hours, we also meet a cast of unique and brilliant characters who surround them – from the warm-hearted cafe owner Mrs. Santiago to Melissa, the former “snake lady” exotic dancer who might be Lorca’s last hope for love.  With sharp wit and irrepressible spirit, Marie-Helene Bertino turns Philadelphia into a magical place where anything can happen.

A sparkling and completely original novel, 2 A.M. AT THE CAT’S PAJAMAS will capture your heart and make you root for Madeleine, Sarina, Lorca, and those whose lives they touch around them.

my thoughts:

A quirky and compelling read about a cast of eccentric characters living in Philadelphia on Christmas Eve eve.  Madeline is a precocious nine-year-old who just wants to sing; Sarina is a newly divorced teacher who still harbors feelings for her old high school crush; and Lorca owns a jazz club that's about to be shut down - all three characters will experience one unforgettable night. 

Marie-Helene Bertino has created a wonderfully sad, comical, and magical read with 2 A.M. at The Cat's Pajamas.  She has written a story that will entertain, intrigue, and charm the pants off you.  I absolutely loved this book!  It has love, loss, community, family, desire, dreams, and so much more packed into it - you can't help but fall in deep with the characters.  There are three story lines, but my favorite was Madelines.  This little girl who smoked, cursed, and defied expectations was a delight to read.  All she wants to do is sing, so when given the chance at school one morning - she is over the moon!  Except, Madeline doesn't get the chance to sing in the end and winds up getting expelled from school.  She has no one to report her news to except the neighborhood that is raising her.  Her mother passed away and her father has become a recluse, so Madeline is left to her own devices.  She has a recipe box of her mother's tips on life that she looks through on a daily basis and she has a passion to sing, but that's about all she has.  Thanks to her mother's friendships, she also has a neighborhood willing to feed her, watch after, and take care of her.  Its heartbreaking, but comforting to know that Madeline isn't really alone. 

As for Sarina, she's Madeline's teacher who feels badly that the little girl didn't get a chance to sing or eat a candy apple.  Her story follows her to a dinner with friends from high school that she really wasn't friends with - awkward much?  At the dinner she winds up running into her prom date and crush from high school.  He's actually the reason she went to the dinner.  Turns out that he's always harbored a crush on her as well, but as a teen-aged boy he took advice from his older brother and wound up ruining his one and only date with Sarina.  Years later, he's separated from his wife and Sarina is newly divorced - will a walk around the city rekindle old feelings?  And then there is Lorca, the owner of the once famous jazz club, The Cat's Pajamas - he's just been fined thirty thousand dollars in citations.  I guess setting fire to a drum kit wasn't a good idea, eh?  Plus, his girlfriend has just moved out and left him.  Oh and his teen-aged son is heading down the wrong path.  Hmm...Lorca has definitely kept his eyes shut as of lately and looks like Christmas Eve eve is the night its all gonna hit the fan. 

Now, that is all I'm going to write about this fantastic novel.  I just don't want to spoil any of the magic from the story - you have to read it for yourself!  I will say this - someone does rock the stage at The Cat's Pajamas at 2 A.M..  And someone does float away in the end, which I thought was pretty amazing and chalked up to the magic of Christmas.  So, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of Marie-Helene Bertino's terrific book, 2 A.M. at The Cat's Pajamas - you will love it! 

Check out the schedule for the TLC Book Tour of: 2 A.M. at The Cat's Pajamas
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!