Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Nonfiction November 2016 - It's Time!

I realize my book blog has only been semi-active this year, but I’m going to try to get more regular with my postings….at least THIS month...because it’s NONFICTION NOVEMBER!!!

Nonfiction November is a month long blogging event dedicated to all things nonfiction. Last year the event really jump-started my nonfiction reading. I went from reading only ONE nonfiction book read in 2015 to reading TEN already this year!

This year the event is being hosted by Katie at Doing Dewey, Rachel at Hibernator’s Library, Sarah at Sarah’s Book Shelves, Julz at JulzReads, and Lory at The Emerald City Book Review. Each Monday, one of our hosts will post a discussion topic and link-up for sharing blog posts on the topic, and on the following Friday, the host will post a wrap-up of the week’s discussion. In addition, Katie will be hosting a nonfiction read-along of Neurotribes by Steve Silberman.

It’s almost time to start. Watch here for my first post later this week (maybe tomorrow?) And visit Katie’s blog for all the details on how you can participate. Hope to see you there!

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Monday, October 31, 2016

Cover Reveal: The Fortune Teller

The Fortune Teller
by Gwendolyn Womack

Release Date: June 6, 2017
Picador USA
eBook & Paperback; 320 Pages
Genre: Fiction/Romantic Suspense


Semele Cohen appraises antiquities for an exclusive Manhattan auction house, specializing in deciphering ancient texts. And when she discovers a manuscript written in the time of Cleopatra, she knows it will be the find of her career. Its author tells the story of a priceless tarot deck, now lost to history, but as Semele delves further she realizes the manuscript is more than it seems. Both a memoir and a prophecy, it appears to be the work of a powerful seer, describing devastating wars and natural disasters in detail thousands of years before they occurred.

The more she reads, the more the manuscript begins to affect Semele’s life. But what happened to the cards? As the mystery of her connection to the manuscript deepens, Semele can’t shake the feeling that she’s being followed. Only one person can help her make sense of it all: her client, Theo Brossard. Yet Theo is arrogant and elusive, concealing secrets of his own, and there’s more to Semele’s desire to speak with him than she would like to admit. Can Semele even trust him?

The auction date is swiftly approaching, and someone wants to interfere—someone who knows the cards exist, and that the Brossard manuscript is tied to her. Semele realizes it’s up to her to stop them: the manuscript holds the key to a two-thousand-year-old secret, a secret someone will do anything to possess.

Pre-Order at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Praise for Gwendolyn Womack and The Memory Painter

“A sweeping, mesmerizing feat of absolute magic.” ―M. J. Rose, author of the Reincarnationist Series and The Witch of Painted Sorrows
“Gwendolyn Womack is a storytelling virtuosa, whose sexy, action-packed mind-boggler of a book is destined to become a classic.” ―Anne Fortier, author of Juliet and The Lost Sisterhood

About the Author

Originally from Houston, Texas, Gwendolyn Womack studied theater at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. She holds an MFA in Directing Theatre, Video and Cinema from California Institute of the Arts. Her first novel, The Memory Painter, was an RWA PRISM award winner in the Time Travel/Steampunk category and a finalist for Best First Novel. She now resides in Los Angeles with her husband and her son.

For more information, please visit Gwendolyn Womack’s website. You can also find her on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Review: The Quality of Silence

The Quality of Silence
by Rosamund Lupton

Why did you choose this book? this was a book club selection
When did you read this book? February 2016
Who should read this book? readers of suspense
Source: library ebook
Here is a synopsis of The Quality of Silence from Goodreads

On 24th November Yasmin and her deaf daughter Ruby arrived in Alaska.

Within hours they were driving alone across a frozen wilderness

Where nothing grows

Where no one lives

Where tears freeze

And night will last for another 54 days.

They are looking for Ruby's father.

Travelling deeper into a silent land.

They still cannot find him.

And someone is watching them in the dark.

My Review

I liked this one — a lot! — right up until the last two pages. You know my old refrain; “Where is the epilogue?!” I’m pretty sure I felt like Ross felt in the closing episode of Friends. Remember? Rachel is about to leave for Paris and Ross rushes to the airport to tell her he loves her. She gets on the plane and he goes home devastated, only to find a message from her realizing she loves him and trying to get off the plane, when the message cuts off. Poor Ross is left crying out…

“Did she get off the plane?!” (1:32 mark)

Ross got his answer...but I’m still wondering — WHAT JUST HAPPENED and DID EVERYONE DIE? I have no idea if anyone survives. I need Rachel to walk through the door and tell me what happened!

Until that point, I really enjoyed the book. It was suspenseful and kept me reading. The descriptions of arctic survival were fascinating (though nothing I’d want to try). I really liked the characters of the various ice road truck drivers that were willing to help Yasmin navigate the arctic. Though they were suspicious of Yasmin and her ability to handle the big rig, they were also concerned and willing to help when they could.

For my book club however, the book was not such a success. Though we did find discussion points, as a group we struggled with Yasmin’s decision to put her daughter’s life in danger with no proof that her husband was even alive. And like me, many were confused by the ending. Some are convinced everyone is dead and others are more optimistic. I just wish we had an epilogue to clear it all up!

You can find discussion questions, an author interview, and more on the author’s website.

My Rating:            ✰✰✰✰   4 Stars
Bookclub Rating:  ✰✰✰      3 Stars
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Friday, October 21, 2016

Review: The German Girl

The German Girl
by Armando Lucas Correa

Why did you choose this book? WWII era novel with a slant I hadn’t read
When did you read this book? October 2016
Who should read this book? Readers of WWII history  
Source: NetGalley
Here is a synopsis of The German Girl from Goodreads

A stunningly ambitious and beautiful debut novel, perfect for fans of Sarah’s Key and All the Light We Cannot See, the story of a twelve-year-old girl’s harrowing experience fleeing Nazi-occupied Germany with her family and best friend, only to discover that the overseas asylum they had been promised is an illusion.

In 1939 before everything changed, Hannah Rosenthal lived a charmed life. Her family moved in Berlin’s highest social circles, admired by friends and neighbors. Eleven-year-old Hannah was often taken by her mother for an afternoon treat at the tea room of the beautiful Adlon Hotel, both dressed in their finest clothes. She spent her afternoons at the park with her best friend Leo Martin. But, in an instant, that sunlit world vanished. Now the streets of Berlin are draped with red, white, and black flags; their fine possessions are hauled away, and they are no longer welcome in the places that once felt like home. The two friends make a pact: come what may, they promise to have a future together.

As Hannah and Leo’s families desperately begin to search for a means of escape, a glimmer of hope appears when they discover the Saint Louis, a transatlantic liner that can give Jews safe passage to Cuba. After a frantic search to obtain visas, the Rosenthals and the Martins depart from Hamburg on the luxurious passenger liner bound for Havana. Life aboard the ship is a welcome respite from the gloom of Berlin—filled with masquerade balls, dancing, and exquisite meals every night.

As the passengers gain renewed hope for a bright future ahead, love between Hannah and Leo blossoms. But soon reports from the outside world began to filter in, and dark news overshadows the celebratory atmosphere on the ship; the governments of Cuba, the United States, and Canada are denying the passengers of the St. Louis admittance to their countries, forcing them to return to Europe as it descends into the Second World War. The ship that had seemed their salvation seems likely to become their death sentence.

After four days anchored at bay, only a handful of passengers are allowed to disembark onto Cuban soil, and Hannah and Leo must face the grim reality that they could be torn apart. Their future is unknown, and their only choice will have an impact in generations to come.

Decades later in New York City on her eleventh birthday, Anna Rosen receives a mysterious envelope from Hannah, a great-aunt she has never met but who raised her deceased father. In an attempt to piece together her father’s mysterious past, Anna and her mother travel to Havana to meet Hannah, who is turning eighty-seven years old. Hannah reveals old family ties, recounts her journey aboard the Saint Louis and, for the first time, reveals what happened to her father and Leo. Bringing together the pain of the past with the mysteries of the present, Hannah gives young Anna a sense of their shared histories, forever intertwining their lives, honoring those they loved and cruelly lost.

My Review

There were several reasons I picked this one up. The first was the cover, with the ship — it reminded me of the Titanic, and if you know me, you know I am a sucker for Titanic stories! It wasn’t the Titanic, but a ship named the St. Louis, and of course, you must also know I like anything St. Louis (especially my Cardinals!). Then I learned it was a WWII era novel about the Jews who attempted to flee Germany and were left stranded on a ship. I’d heard about this event, but really didn’t know the details, so I wanted to know more.

Unfortunately this book was not all that I’d hoped it would be. It was very slow to get started and even after 100 pages, I was not fully invested in the story. There are two stories being told at the same time in the book and they take place decades apart. One is the story of 11 year old Ann, set in present day New York and Cuba. Anna has grown up without her father and learns she has an elderly great-aunt living in Cuba. The second story is the story of the great-aunt, Hannah; her story begins  when she was age 11. The story slips back and forth between the two narrators. Usually I enjoy this method of storytelling, but for some reason it didn’t work for me this time. I think it may be because Anna and Hannah were very similar in personality and experiences, and this made it hard for me to remember whose story I was reading at the time.

The story has parallels with world events today and I think this book will make an excellent book club selection. Topics to discuss include the actions of the various characters in the book and their actions influenced the outcome of the story, the events of WWII, and the how the events of the story relate to the current refugee crisis.

You can watch the book trailer for The German Girl below.

Visit the book page on the publisher’s website to read an excerpt or to learn more about the book and author.

My Rating:  ✰✰✰½     3½ Stars

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an advanced copy of this book for review purposes.
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