Friday, May 29, 2015

Friday Linkups: Dead Room

It's Friday linkup time!  I'm linking up with the Book Blogger Hop hosted by Coffee Addicted Writer, Book Beginnings of Fridays hosted by Rose City Reader, and the Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice.

This Week's Book Blogger Hop Question:
Can you read in a room with noise or do you have to have total quiet?

My Answer:
Thankfully I can read in a room with some noise or I'd never get any reading done!  I can generally read in a room where other people are watching TV or talking among themselves without too much trouble.   I actually have a hard time reading in total quiet so I use the classical for reading playlist off Amazon Music if I'm reading at night when everyone's asleep so I don't get distracted by every little sound.

A few days ago I was having kind of a crummy day.  Not like anything bad had happened but just a series of annoyances that left me cranky.  So I decided to take some time for a little library therapy and let myself wander the shelves and pick up books that caught my eye without worrying about my towering TBR or stacks of ARCs.  Dead Room by Heather Graham is one of those that I picked up.

The Beginning:
"The light was blinding.
For a moment it seemed as if nothing had existed before it, as if nothing could be greater than rising to meet it."

My Thoughts:
I'm guessing something bad has happened.

The 56:
""We are delight to see you, my dear.  If you'd refused to come, everyone would have understood," she said. There was real concern in her soft gray eyes, the kind that made Leslie feel the ache inside again, but she needed to get past all that."

My thoughts:
Things are still a little murky at this point.  There's an accident that may not have been one and stuff to dig up and lots of missing women.  So far I'm really enjoying this one!

So keep reading?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Frenchman's Creek and a Great Expectations Confession

Frenchman's Creek by Daphne du Maurier

Rating:  3 Stars
Source: Purchased

Description:  The Restoration Court knows Lady Dona St. Columb to be ripe for any folly, anything to alter the tedium of her days.  But there is another Dona who longs for honest love - even if it is spiced with danger.  It is this Dona who flies London for remote Navron, finding there a hunted pirate.  (from Goodreads)

Genre: Fiction

Why I Picked This Book: I've reread Rebecca countless times and The Birds was one of my best books of 2014 even though I will never look at birds the same way again.

My Impression:  Whew this had a slow start.  I was probably about 20 pages in before I was interested at all and even then I wouldn't say I was hooked.  I had a hard time warming up to Dona who was spoiled and bored and looking for entertainment even (or especially) if it came in the form of a French pirate.  I had a hard time connecting with the love story partly because I didn't really like Dona and partly because Dona is married with children and even with the constraints of the time period I just couldn't get past it.  Then there's the whole part of Jean being a pirate/criminal which also didn't quite click with me.  It was interesting to see Dona take a step away from her aristocratic lady of the manor lifestyle and deal with life on a pirate ship but I always stayed detached from the story.  While du Maurier's prose is beautiful to me it felt like it kept me as a distant watcher instead of pulling me in.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes I would but probably more on the strength of Rebecca and The Birds then this one.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Ummm.... I'd recommend the author but probably not this book.

Challenges Met? The Reading Assignment Challenge (May)

And now for my Great Expectations confession:
I read Great Expectations when I was in 9th grade and hated it.  My review would've gone something like this: "Pip complains a lot.  He complains when he's poor, he complains when he's rich, he complains when he's poor again.  He really just can't be happy." I detested the book.  I disliked it so much that when I had to read A Tale of Two Cities a few years later I cheated and went the Cliff Notes route.
When I was making up my Classics Club list last summer I decided it was time to give Great Expectations another try.  After all I don't have a huge amount in common with my 14 year old self and my hair is much better so surely my opinion on books wouldn't be the same.
And it isn't but it is.  My review isn't all that different of the plot itself.  I still don't like Pip and really think he needs a good slap and a change of priorities.  I kind of liked him in the beginning and felt sorry for him but once he comes into money I was pretty much done with him.  He's just incredibly unlikable and I had a hard time having any interest in how his story developed.
But what I appreciated this time around that I didn't get the first time was the beauty of the writing. Dickens turn of phrase is fantastic and I love how easily and effortlessly he sets a scene.  I ended up putting down Great Expectations because I was really close to marching Pip to the Thames and drowning him but this will not be the last Dickens I read.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Fat Girl Walking - Review

Fat Girl Walking: Sex, Food, Love and Being Comfortable in Your Skin... Every Inch of It by Brittany Gibbons

Rating: 4 Stars
Source: Edelweiss

Description:  Brittany Gibbons from the blog Brittany Herself shares snapshots of her life including living with a father who suffered a traumatic brain injury, surviving high school, dropping out of college, pushing through anxiety, becoming a wife and mother and most of all learning to love herself in her own skin.

Genre: Nonfiction/Memoir

Why I Picked This Book:  I've enjoyed her blog - Brittany Herself - for a couple of years and couldn't pass on the book.

My Impression:
I feel like a comparison to Jenny Lawson (aka The Bloggess) is inevitable.  Both she and Brittany are bloggers with a pretty off the wall sense of humor, both have had their struggles with anxiety and depression, and both have husbands who ground them.  However, they have distinctly different voices and focuses (and Lawson talks about taxidermy a lot more).
There's a lot of talk about this book being "hilarious" and "laugh out loud funny" and I'm not sure I agree.  There's a lot more here than just funny.  There's learning to deal with parents who aren't in ideal situations, desperately trying to find a place to fit in in high school, finding the right guy and being terrified you'll lose him, and trying to balance to two very different self images of being a wife and a mom.  Mostly it's Brittany finding her voice and taking the readers along for the ride.  Brittany is funny.  I loved her sarcastic comments and appreciation for irony but most of all I really loved her honesty.
The really good thing about this book is I think it's easy to relate too.  The message is a good one regardless of your weight, marriage status or number of children.  And Brittany delivers it in a way that is honest and with just the right amount of humor.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes definitely!  I'll continue following her blog and if this book comes out in audio with Brittany doing the reading I'll be picking it up as well.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes. I think anyone who has looked in the mirror and been less than thrilled with what was looking back would enjoy this one.

Challenges Met?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Books I Want in My Beach Bag

Today's Top Ten Tuesday topic from The Broke and the Bookish is the Top Ten Books I'd Like to Have in My Beach Bag.  When it comes to summer my attention span is on the short side.  Between the kids being out of school and Alabama heat and humidity long thought provoking books just aren't happening.   For summer reading I tend to reach for contemporary romance, romantic suspense and maybe a cozy mystery or two.  I don't love historical romances for summer because all the layers of clothes just sound hot!

1.  That Chesapeake Summer by Mariah Stewart - I enjoy this series and the last book was my favorite so far so I'm excited to see how this one goes.  I'm especially excited because I've been really curious about one of the main characters.

2.  The Silenced by Heather Graham - I love Heather Graham's books.  Even when they suffer from insta-love or some minor plo holes they're so much fun it makes up for it.

3.  Redemption Bay by RaeAnne Thayne - The first book in the series - Snow Angel Cove - was one my favorite of the Christmas romances I read and all kinds of intriguing comments were made about the main character of Redemption Bay.

4.  A Batter of Life and Death by Ellie Alexander - I absolutely loved the first mystery in the series and I can't wait to see what Jules is up to now.  I'll make sure to have a few pastries handy because I know this book will make me hungry!

5.  It's in His Kiss by Jill Shalvis - I'm not happy about it but I'm going to have to come to terms with the fact that the Lucky Harbor series is over and read the last trilogy.

6.  The Liar by Nora Roberts - It's the new one from Nora Roberts.  I really can't resist it.

7.  Murder at Beechwood by Alyssa Maxwell - A murder at a Newport mansion in the 1890s with lawn parties and sail boat races and all the rest.  Sounds perfect.

8.  All Lined Up by Cora Carmack - This sounds light and fluffy and fun.  I haven't read much (or really any) NA and this got great reviews.

9.  Sea Glass Sunrise by Donna Kauffman - I loved all the books in Kauffman's Blueberry Cove series and I'm excited to start this spin off series.

10. And One Last Thing... by Molly Harper - I loved the one Molly Harper book I read and this one looks just as fun.

So what does summer reading mean to you?

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Poppy Factory - Review

Today I'm taking a moment to remember my kind-of-Grandfather - Arthur Cosby Bowden who was my grandmother's first husband.  By all accounts he was a kind man, smart and ambitious and he died in Italy on the march to Rome leaving behind a wife and 8 month old baby girl.  He's buried far from home in the American Cemetery in Florence.
I also want to take a moment to think of all the families - past, present and future - whose timelines will forever be measured in before the knock on the door or the phone rang and after the got the news.

The Poppy Factory by Liz Trenow

Rating: 4 Stars
Source: NetGalley

Description:  Jess's transition into real life after serving as a medic in Afghanistan wasn't the easy step she thought it would be.  She finds her self trapped by her memories and lashing out at those she loves.

After a much earlier war Rose struggles with her husband's return which hasn't been quite what she expected.

Divided by 100 years can Rose's diary help Jess find her way?

Genre: Fiction

Why I Picked This Book:  The Forgotten  Seamstress (review here) was one of my favorite books of 2014 and I was excited to see more from Trenow.

My Impression:  I'm always a little scared to start a book by an author that I've really loved because I worry they'll let me down.  I'm very pleased to say that Trenow didn't let me down!  There are some similarities to this and The Forgotton Seamstress.  Both books involve 2 different timelines which each featuring a strong woman in a challenging situation.  The present timeline is told as it's happening whereas the older timeline is told in some narrative form - recordings in The Forgotten Seamstress and diary entries in The Poppy Factory.  But while the framework is similar the feel of the book is completely different.
I connected with Jess right away.  She's an interesting character and while she makes some terrible choices it's easy to understand why.  Trenow does a good job making her sympathetic even when I wanted to reach into the book, grab Jess by the shoulders and give her a good shake.  Not only did I hurt for her but I felt so sorry for Nate and Jess's parents as they were doing their absolute best to help her.
We get Rose's story in diary entries which isn't always a good thing for me.  In this case I never had any difficulty connecting to Rose or getting a sense of her voice.  It was a bit heartbreaking to watch Rose's optimism be replaced with worry and fear but I couldn't help but admire her.
Before reading this I wasn't aware the The Poppy Factory existed but I was interested to learn that this actually exists.
I enjoyed this as much as The Forgotten Seamstress though there were a few places that felt just a little too long.  This wasn't the easiest of reads giving the intense emotional issues but I felt that it was a worthwhile read.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Definitely!  I love how Trenow weaves 2 different timelines together so smoothly.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Absolutely.  If you enjoy books with vivid characters I think you would enjoy this book.

Challenges Met?

Sunday, May 24, 2015

This Week in Reading - May 24

It's Sunday Post time!  This is hosted by the awesome Caffeinated Book Reviewer and gives us all a chance to recap our week.

What I Got:

Summer at the Shore by V.K. Sykes - I cannot resist a bed and breakfast book and this one was no exception! (NetGalley)

Mussled Out by Barbara Ross - I loved the 2nd one in this series so much that I immediately bought the 1st book (which of course I haven't read) so I was really excited to win this one in a giveaway hosted by Mark over at Carstairs Considers.  (Giveaway)

Trust No One by Jayne Ann Kretnz - I've been on the waitlist for this one at the library for what seems like forever so I was excited when I got the email saying my copy was available.  Now I just have to make sure I read it before I have to send it back.  (Library)


Reading:  Fat Girl Walking by Brittany Gibbons, The Dead Room by Heather Graham, Savor the Moment by Nora Roberts, and Frenchman's Creek by Daphne du Maurier

Listening: Nothing.  It's been a crazy week and I haven't had much time to listen.  I don't expect to be listening to audio books much this summer.

Watching: My regular shows are wrapping up but J and I have been watching Deadliest Catch.  We started watching it during the 2nd season or so and I still love it.  I have no idea why it appeals to me since I don't like cold, I don't like fishing, I'm not really sold on boats and I'm not a huge fan of crab but I never miss an episode.

Off the Blog:

The Tornado letting his butterfly go at his PreK butterfly day

Emma with a couple of her friends after graduation.

So this week the Tornado became a Kindergartner in a Hungry Caterpillar themed day where they acted out the book, had caterpillar type snacks and then released butterflies that were part of their life cycle science project.  Then Emma graduated in a ridiculously long ceremony.  It was exciting but I expect to be more excited when she leaves for college in August.  Then Eleanor turned 20 and we all went out to dinner and she got a few little gifts including a Game of Thrones coloring book which I was pretty proud of myself for finding.  Paul finished up his junior year and has been enjoying being done with school.

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday: The Poppy Factory - Fiction Review
Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Books I Want in My Beach Bag
Wednesday: TBD
Thursday: TBD
Friday: Friday linkups with current book
Saturday: TBD but something food related.

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Medium Raw - Review

Rating: 4.5 Stars
Source: Library (audio)

Description:  A look into the world of food from both insider and outsider Anthony Bourdain.  10 years after the success of Kitchen Confidential Bourdain is back with a different perspective and a very different life.  He touches on his personal life, his success, Food Network and a host of other chefs.

Genre: Memoir 

Why I Picked This Book: I got to like Bourdain while watching The Taste and was curious about this book.

My Impression:
Pro: My initial impression of Bourdain just off of TV appearances is that he's brash, loud mouth, crass and to be honest kind of an ass.  After listening to this book I don't think my initial impression was wrong but I think there's a lot more to be said for him.  He's also incredibly honest about everything around him including himself.  There are parts in this book where he comes off as smug or hypocritical but just as I'm beginning to think that he calls himself on it but with such a good humor it's likable.  I got a little teary-eyed in sections and the chapter on Alice Waters made me laugh until I cried.  He doesn't like Alice as well as a few other chefs but he's also able to point out their good points or at least the good they have achieved.  He's able to take a look at himself and why certain things bother him so much without coming off as full of self-pity or jealously.  This is an interesting look at Bourdain himself, the business he's built and the food world around him.

Con: There's not a real focus to this book and so some chapters can get a little long.  There's a chapter where he discusses heroes and villains that goes on too long and then he jumps to a chapter about his daughter.

Overall: Despite some ramblings I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  Like gave my kitchen an unplanned deep clean so I could keep listening kind of enjoyment.  He definitely doesn't pull his punches or watch his language but he is as much a target as anyone else.  If you're all interested in the world of food or are intrigued by Bourdain himself this is not to be missed.  The audio is read by Bourdain and is very well done.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Absolutely!  After reading this I'm curious about Kitchen Confidential which I never read.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes.  I think any foodie person would enjoy this.

Challenges Met? Library Challenge, Foodie Reads

I'm linking up with Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads