Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tuesday Memes: Five Days Left

Every Tuesday Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where you can share the first paragraph, or a few, of a book you are reading or thinking about reading soon.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!

Today I am spotlighting Five Days Left by Julia Lawson Timmer

Destined to be a book club favorite, a heart-wrenching debut about two people who must decide how much they’re willing to sacrifice for love.

Mara Nichols is a successful lawyer, devoted wife, and adoptive mother who has received a life-shattering diagnosis. Scott Coffman, a middle school teacher, has been fostering an eight-year-old boy while the boy’s mother serves a jail sentence. Scott and Mara both have five days left until they must say good-bye to the ones they love the most.
Through their stories, Julie Lawson Timmer explores the individual limits of human endurance and the power of relationships, and shows that sometimes loving someone means holding on, and sometimes it means letting go.

Opening Paragraph

  Mara had chosen the method long ago: pills, vodka and carbon monoxide. A “garage cocktail,” she called it. The name sounded almost elegant, and sometimes, when she said it out loud, she could make herself believe it wasn’t horrifying.

My Teaser

    She  stepped away from the chair and did a pirouette, arms raised above her head, hands in “fancy position,” as she had seen the big girls do at ballet school. Striking a final pose, she looked at her mother and smiled triumphantly.
page 7

(These quotes are from uncorrected advance proofs. Please refer to the final printed book for corrected quotes!)

So...what do you think? Is this one you would pick up? Leave a comment below!
post signature

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Review: Sisterland

by Curtis Sittenfeld

Why did you choose this book? it is set in St Louis and written by a Missouri author
When did you read this book? May 2014
Who should read this book? readers who like mystical realism or St Louis settings
Source: Goodreads First Reads
Here is a synopsis of Sisterland from Goodreads

From an early age, Kate and her identical twin sister, Violet, knew that they were unlike everyone else. Kate and Vi were born with peculiar “senses”—innate psychic abilities concerning future events and other people’s secrets. Though Vi embraced her visions, Kate did her best to hide them.
Now, years later, their different paths have led them both back to their hometown of St. Louis. Vi has pursued an eccentric career as a psychic medium, while Kate, a devoted wife and mother, has settled down in the suburbs to raise her two young children. But when a minor earthquake hits in the middle of the night, the normal life Kate has always wished for begins to shift. After Vi goes on television to share a premonition that another, more devastating earthquake will soon hit the St. Louis area, Kate is mortified. Equally troubling, however, is her fear that Vi may be right. As the date of the predicted earthquake quickly approaches, Kate is forced to reconcile her fraught relationship with her sister and to face truths about herself she’s long tried to deny.
Funny, haunting, and thought-provoking, Sisterland is a beautifully written novel of the obligation we have toward others, and the responsibility we take for ourselves. With her deep empathy, keen wisdom, and unerring talent for finding the extraordinary moments in our everyday lives, Curtis Sittenfeld is one of the most exceptional voices in literary fiction today.

My Review

I really liked this one...a lot! I was first drawn to it because it is a ‘sisters’ book AND because it is set in St. Louis. And I was rewarded. I LOVED all the St. Louis details the author included in the novel. I’ve been to almost all of the places she mentioned and have at least heard about most of the ones I haven’t been to! But one of the things that really hooked me once I started reading is the ‘earthquake’ story. In this story, the sisters are identical twins, and have ‘psychic’ abilities. Sister Vi picks up that a major earthquake will occur along the New Madrid fault, and gives a specific date, causing widespread panic. What is so interesting is that this really happened about 25 years ago. The man who made the prediction was not a ‘psychic’ but he did give a date for the earthquake to occur, and unbelievably, at least to me, was that many, many people, including a few of my own friends and relatives and much of the media, took him quite seriously and refused to send their children to school or cross bridges on that December day!  If I remember, Iben Browing, the man who made the prediction was a meteorologist, not a geologist. If you live outside of the midwest, you may not even be aware of the New Madrid fault, let alone the fact that it is responsible for one of the largest earthquakes in US history. It is still active, so even though his prediction was a disservice and did cause widespread unnecessary panic, it also served to make people more aware of the potential damage that will result when ‘the big one’ does occur. Since that time, building standards have been modified and bridges and overpasses have been retrofitted.

Back to the book though…
While the earthquake prediction played a major role in the story, the story was really about relationship. The identical twins respond differently to their psychic abilities with Vi running with it, and Kate running FROM it. Throughout their lives Kate has worked to ‘fit in’ with her peer group, and Vi has alwys been herself, not worrying about how she is perceived by others. This causes tension between Kate and Vi, and stress for Kate as she worries about her friends and family and how they will feel about her once they meet Vi. And of course, the tension builds as the predicted date of the earthquake approaches, causing issues in Kate’s relationship with Vi as well as in her marriage. I am not going to tell you whether or not there is an earthquake, but the events leading up to the predicted date do result in chaos to the sister’s relationships. I was pleased the author with the way the author chose to the story. I was given enough of a glimpse into the future to know what happens to the characters, instead of being left hanging, wondering about their futre.

I really enjoyed this one! If you like story sisters I think you will, too! You can visit Curtis Sittenfeld’s web site for discussion questions and an excerpt of Sisterland.

For more background on the 1990 earthquake prediction by Iben Browning, visit one of these links.

And if you’d like to read more about the 1812 earthquake along the New Madrid fault, you might be interested in Jay Feldman’s When The Mississippi Ran Backwards: Empire Intrigue, Murder and the New Madrid Earthquakes.

My Rating:  ★★★★   4 Stars

I received a review copy of this book through the Goodreads First Reads program in return for an honest review.
post signature

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Review: Cancel The Wedding

Cancel The Wedding
by Carolyn T. Dingman

Why did you choose this book? it sounded like a good summer read
When did you read this book? August 2014
Who should read this book? readers who enjoy family history
Source: TLC Book Tours
Here is a synopsis of Cancel The Wedding from TLC Book TOURS

On the surface, Olivia has it all: a high-powered career, a loving family, and a handsome fiancĂ©. She even seems to be coming to terms with her mother Jane’s premature death from cancer. But when Jane’s final wish is revealed, Olivia and her elder sister, Georgia, are mystified. Their mother rarely spoke of her rural Southern hometown, and never went back to visit—so why does she want them to return to Huntley, Georgia, to scatter her ashes?

Jane’s request offers Olivia a temporary escape from the reality she’s long been denying: she hates her “dream” job, and she’s not really sure she wants to marry her groom-to-be. With her fourteen-year-old niece, Logan, riding shotgun, she heads south on a summer road trip looking for answers about her mother.

As Olivia gets to know the town’s inhabitants, she begins to peel back the secrets of her mother’s early life—truths that force her to question her own future. But when Olivia is confronted with a tragedy and finds an opportunity to right a terrible wrong, will it give her the courage to accept her mother’s past—and say yes to her own desire to start over?

My Review

I went into this expecting a pretty average, 3-star, summer romance. I expected to see Olivia getting cold feet before her wedding, running off to think about things, and then the situation being resolved by Olivia either realizing her finacĂ© is her one-true-love after all or dumping him for good in favor of her REAL one-true-love who she meets during her ‘escape’. And for the first part of the book, the book appeared to meet my expectations. The book was moving slowing and predictably, but okay, when suddenly about 100 pages into the book, the story developed into one that I could not put down!

Olivia grew up never hearing stories of her mother’s childhood, so is mystified that her mother left instructions to have her ashes scattered in the hometown of which she never spoke. Olivia is determined to find answers to this mystery by returning to her mother’s hometown. But with each answer she finds, many more questions appear as she retraces her mother’s past. As an amateur family historian, I could definitely relate to this! I found her search for answers and the discovery of her Olivia’s family history fascinating, and I felt her excitement as she learned each new fact and ‘met’ her ancestors!

Yes, this is a romance, and yes, there is a happy ending….but this is so much more than just another summer romance!

About Carolyn T. Dingman

Carolyn T. Dingman lives in her adopted hometown of Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband and two daughters. Cancel the Wedding is her first novel.

Find out more about Carolyn at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

My Rating:  ★★★★   4 Stars

This book review is included in a tour by TLC Book Tours. I received a review copy of this book and have given my an honest review, which you can read above.

Carolyn’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, August 5th: A Chick Who Reads
Wednesday, August 6th: From L.A. to LA
Thursday, August 7th: Peeking Between the Pages
Monday, August 11th: Book Loving Hippo
Tuesday, August 12th: Stitch Read Cook
Wednesday, August 13th: Stephany Writes
Wednesday, August 13th: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
Thursday, August 14th: Drey’s Library
Monday, August 18th: Lessa’s Book Critiques
Tuesday, August 19th: Tina’s Book Reviews
Wednesday, August 20th: Doing Dewey
Thursday, August 21st: Time 2 Read
Friday, August 22nd: Sweet Southern Home

post signature

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Waiting On Wednesday: The Silent Sister

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine in which we spotlight upcoming releases that we are eagerly anticipating!

The Silent Sister
by Diane Chamberlain
Expected Publication Date: October 7, 2014
Synopsis from Goodreads

In The Silent Sister, Riley MacPherson has spent her entire life believing that her older sister Lisa committed suicide as a teenager.  Now, over twenty years later, her father has passed away and she's in New Bern, North Carolina cleaning out his house when she finds evidence to the contrary.  Lisa is alive.  Alive and living under a new identity.  But why exactly was she on the run all those years ago, and what secrets are being kept now?  As Riley works to uncover the truth, her discoveries will put into question everything she thought she knew about her family.  Riley must decide what the past means for her present, and what she will do with her newfound reality, in this engrossing mystery from international bestselling author Diane Chamberlain.

Why I am waiting....
I saw this one on another blog a couple of weeks ago. Since I recently read and enjoyed The Chaperone by the same author, I want to read this one!
post signature