• Historical Fiction
  • General Fiction and Women Writers
  • YA Fiction
  • Suspense and Thrillers
  • Memoirs and Non Fiction
  • Classics and Mashups

Friday, August 8, 2014

"The Giver" by Lois Lowry~Read Soon!


BACK IN THE STACKS: "The Giver" by Lois Lowry


BACK IN THE STACKS:


I chose this classic, award-winning novel for my Bookish Libraria Blog as a "Back in the Stacks" review book this past week.

It's actually, unbeknownst to me prior to my reading it, a dystopian novel about the coming of age and the coming to wisdom and understanding of a young boy in a futuristic society. A book I missed reading in school, but which my children were exposed to in their time, this is somewhat dated in spots; I felt, but held the same sort of message that we hear and see in our own world and society today through a plethora of young adult literature. That alone makes it worthy of reading!

It's a small book, but every page is profound. Lois Lowry knows how to write exactly like my Rhetoric professor wanted us to write...with precision and acuracy. Her every word has purpose and meaning. And, in that instance, we discover that we need to pay attention, acutely, to what she's telling us. This is a serious book with a warning for young and old, alike.

I found it most poignant that Ms Lowry wrote "The Giver" for young people at their pivitol age. It's a book that is meant to make them consider the society they are a part of without a doubt, but it's also meant to make them question the world and the ways of life they've taken for granted. It hopes, it seems, to help them shed the scales from their eyes and take the plugs from their ears...to have the courage to rise up against the norm. For that alone, I found it worthy of the Newberry Prize.

It seems to me that as adults we fear young people. We want to corral them, to keep them in check, to make sure they don't skate board near the Library. There's alot about them that reeks of uncontrollable power and unhinged disaster. There's impulse on edge, and the half-here-and-half-there sense of what's going to really damage their lives and the lives around them, and what's not. Because of this, teens and pre-teens have this magical quality to them...this freshness of vision coupled with this wildness of vision like the boys in "Lord of the Flies," like those vampires and psychics and witches they "wanna be" in the YA novels.

In "The Giver" we see such power in the young protagonist. He is pent up and on the verge of destruction in several instances. We see him risk breaking serious rules only to see him pull back and turn to the side of wisdom to protect those he loves. This is the quality that Lois Lowry is telling the young to emulate, this is the hidden treasure that the Giver has to offer~this potential to create a new system lovingly, or simply to destroy mindlessly.

Ms Lowry acknowledges the terrible strength and power of the young adult to be victorious or to vanquish, and offers an instruction of vision, values and valor. In a society where everything is ordered, equal, peaceful and happy...life is not valued, and people deemed less than fit for society are done away with like old newspaper.

"The Giver" is a book worthy of literary and humanitarian awards, and it's a book worthy of being the classic it's become.

I strongly recommend "The Giver" to everyone, young and old, who hasn't already read it...and even to those who have. It's a good time to reread this book. It's an especially good time to read it...

I look forward to the up-coming movie!


Deborah/TheBookishDame

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Book Haul~New Stash and Recently Received

Here's a new crop of books that have come in recently from publishers, and a couple that I've ordered for myself.  Things have slowed down with the publishers since I took a hiatus with my illness, but now that I'm back reviewing...are picking up again.  I'm delighted to be back and able to read again.
There's a mixed bag here as you'll see.


One I just ordered that came in this week!  I may have already told you about it, but it bears telling again.  It's fantastic.  Published by Orbit.  Here's a summary:

The Girl With All the Gifts is a groundbreaking thriller, emotionally charged and gripping from beginning to end.
Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class.
When they come for her, Sergeant keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite, but they don't laugh.
Melanie is a very special girl.



A new book ( #2 ) in the Flavia Albia series!  Thanks to St. Martin's Press.

SUMMARY :

"There are rules for private informers accepting a new case. Never take on clients who cannot pay you. Never do favours for friends. Don’t work with relatives. If, like me, you are a woman, keep clear of men you find attractive. 
“Will I never learn?”
 In Ancient Rome, the number of slaves was far greater than that of free citizens. As a result, often the people Romans feared most were the “enemies at home,” the slaves under their own roofs. Because of this, Roman law decreed that if the head of a household was murdered at home, and the culprit wasn’t quickly discovered, his slaves—all of them, guilty or not—were presumed responsible and were put to death. Without exception.
When a couple is found dead in their own bedroom and their house burglarized, some of their household slaves know what is about to happen to them.  They flee to the Temple of Ceres, which by tradition is respected as a haven for refugees. This is where Flavia Albia comes in. The authorities, under pressure from all sides, need a solution. Albia, a private informer just like her father, Marcus Didius Falco, is asked to solve the murders, in this mystery from Lindsey Davis.



Another Elin Hilderbrand...I love her stories, as I've said.  This is one I just bought at Target on a whim.  Don't you love the cover?  It's published by Little, Brown & Co.

SUMMARY :

A summer wedding stirs up trouble on both sides of the family in the newest bestseller from "the queen of the summer novel" (People)

The Carmichaels and the Grahams have gathered on Nantucket for a happy occasion: a wedding that will unite their two families. Plans are being made according to the wishes of the bride's late mother, who left behind The Notebook: specific instructions for every detail of her youngest daughter's future nuptials. Everything should be falling into place for the beautiful event -- but in reality, things are falling apart.
While the couple-to-be are quite happy, their loved ones find their lives crumbling. In the days leading up to the wedding, love will be questioned, scandals will arise, and hearts will be broken and healed. Elin Hilderbrand takes readers on a touching journey in BEAUTIFUL DAY -- into the heart of marriage, what it means to be faithful, and how we choose to honor our commitments.


This is an unusual memoir sent to me by Skyhorse Publishing.  It harkens back to the times when the Soviet Union was closed and at its worst where human rights was concerned.  I'm interested to give it a try...

SUMMARY :

There is always some part of the world where human rights are trampled and oppression quashes the human spirit. In the 1980s, it was the Soviet Union. In Swimming in the Daylight, Lisa Paul, a Catholic-American student living in Moscow in the early ’80s, details how she grew to understand the perverse reality of the pre-Gorbachev Soviet regime as her friendship with her Russian-language tutor, Inna Kitrosskaya Meiman, blossomed. Inna, a Soviet-Jewish dissident and refusenik, was repeatedly denied a visa to receive life-saving cancer treatment abroad. The refusal was an apparent punishment imposed on both her and her Jewish husband, Naum, for his participation in the Moscow Helsinki Watch Group—the lone group fighting for human rights in the U.S.S.R.
Before Lisa returned to the United States, she promised Inna she would do all she could to get her out of Moscow. But Lisa was one person, what could she possibly do that would make a difference? Inspired by her faith and rights as an American, Lisa staged a hunger strike, held press conferences, and galvanized American politicians to demand Inna’s immediate release.
In this heartfelt, compassionate, and inspiring narrative, Lisa brings the reader along with her as she learns indelible lessons from her heroic teacher. Inna’s greatest lesson—that it is possible to swim through treacherous waters, in daylight, not in despair—is as relevant today as it was during the final years of the Soviet regime. At a time when international strife seems insurmountable and worries at home seem to paralyze, this story will teach people everywhere that it is the courage inside, not the chaos outside, that defines us.

Louise Penny is a new author for me.  I've listened to one of her books on tape and enjoyed it, and look forward to an actual read.  I know she has a tremendous group of followers.  This was sent very nicely by St. Martin's Press.

SUMMARY :

Happily retired in the village of Three Pines, Armand Gamache, former Chief Inspector of Homicide with the Sûreté du Québec, has found a peace he’d only imagined possible. On warm summer mornings he sits on a bench holding a small book, The Balm in Gilead, in his large hands. “There is a balm in Gilead,” his neighbor Clara Morrow reads from the dust jacket, “to make the wounded whole.”
While Gamache doesn’t talk about his wounds and his balm, Clara tells him about hers. Peter, her artist husband, has failed to come home. Failed to show up as promised on the first anniversary of their separation. She wants Gamache’s help to find him. Having finally found sanctuary, Gamache feels a near revulsion at the thought of leaving Three Pines. “There’s power enough in Heaven,” he finishes the quote as he contemplates the quiet village, “to cure a sin-sick soul.” And then he gets up. And joins her.
Together with his former second-in-command, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, and Myrna Landers, they journey deeper and deeper into Québec. And deeper and deeper into the soul of Peter Morrow. A man so desperate to recapture his fame as an artist, he would sell that soul. And may have. The journey takes them further and further from Three Pines, to the very mouth of the great St. Lawrence river.  To an area so desolate, so damned, the first mariners called it The land God gave to Cain. And there they discover the terrible damage done by a sin-sick soul.  


Very kindly sent to me by Kensington Press, this is of course a historical fiction about Jack the Ripper and his wife.  Brandy Purdy is known for her fiction having to do with kings and queens of England.  I look forward to reading this new approach of hers!


I am so looking forward to starting this one sent by Tom Doherty Associates.  It looks awesome.  I love this type of thriller.  Read the summary below:

The Ark Storm is coming—a catastrophic weather event that will unleash massive floods and wreak more damage on California than the feared “Big One.” One man wants to profit from it. Another wants to harness it to wage jihad on American soil. One woman stands in their way: Dr. Gwen Boudain, a brave and brilliant meteorologist. 
When Boudain notices that her climate readings are off the charts, she turns to Gabriel Messenger for research funding. Messenger’s company is working on a program that ionizes water molecules to bring rain on command. Meanwhile, Wall Street suits notice that someone is placing six-month bets on the prospect of an utter apocalypse and begin to investigate. Standing in the shadows is journalist Dan Jacobsen, a former Navy SEAL. War hardened, cynical, and handsome, Jacobsen is a man with his own hidden agenda.
Linda Davies's Ark Storm brings together the worlds of finance, scientific innovation, and terrorism in a fast-paced thrill ride that will leave readers gasping.

 
A techno thriller sent kindly by Tom Doherty Associates, as well.  This one sounds like it could be a modern-day happening!  It's a follow up to another book, but, hopefully easy to catch up on.

SUMMARY :

A trip to an island off the New England coast—and away from the demands of police work—might be just what is needed to jumpstart Detective Doyle Carrick and Nola Watkins’ stalled relationship. But a mysterious plague is killing the island’s bees. Nola takes a job at an organic farm hit hard by the disease, working for the rich, handsome, and annoying Teddy, with whom she quickly becomes a little too friendly for Doyle’s liking. When Teddy’s estranged father offers Doyle a big payday to keep his son out of trouble until he can close a big government contract—and when Doyle meets Annalisa, a beautiful researcher studying the bees—Doyle decides to stick around.
Stoma Corporation, a giant biotech company, moves in with genetically modified super bees that supposedly are the answer to the world’s bee crisis. As tension grows between protestors and a private army of thugs, Doyle realizes that bees aren’t the only thing being modified. Annalisa’s coworkers start to go missing, and she and Doyle uncover a dark, deadly, and terrifying secret. Things spin violently out of control on the tiny island, and when Doyle closes in on what Stoma Corporation is really up to, he must race to stop them before their plot succeeds, and spreads to the mainland and the world.
Deadout is thrilling follow-up to McGoran’s highly acclaimed novel, Drift.



A mystery and crime novel also generously sent by Tom Doherty Associates.  This one is a Sonya Iverson series book.  Has been compared to Barbara Taylor Bradford in its storyline.

SUMMARY :

Elsa Klensch, host of the groundbreaking CNN news magazine, Style with Elsa Klensch, is the author of the New York Times bestseller, Style with Elsa Klensch. When she retired from television, Elsa took with her many secrets, stories she'd never been able to tell...until now in The Third Sin.
Television producer Sonya Iverson has a habit of stumbling over dead bodies. Wade Bruckheimer decides to sell a fabulous diamond that once belonged to his late mother. He needs money, and selling the Braganza seems the best way of getting it. His stepmother, Irina, is furious—that diamond is her ticket to every A-list party in New York. A few days before the sale, Wade is found dead in his luxurious apartment.
Sonya was already working on a story about the diamond and immediately begins to cover the murder, to the dismay of her boyfriend, who fears that Sonya is putting herself in danger. Irina Bruckheimer is the first, but not the last, suspect. Esperanza’s family want the Braganza back. There are long-standing rumors that Wade’s high-maintenance wife is having an affair. Only Sonya, with her outsider’s viewpoint, can sort through Wade Bruckheimer’s life and find his killer.
 

Beautiful cover...this one is an ancient Ireland mystery which is Peter Tremayne's forte'.  I love this time period and a good mystery.  This one should be a fun read.  Many thanks to St. Martin's Press for thinking of me with this one.

SUMMARY :

Winter, 670 AD. King Colgú has invited the leading nobles and chieftains of his kingdom to a feast day. Fidelma and her companion Eadulf are finally home for an extended stay, and have promised their son, Alchú, that they’ll be able to spend some time together after months of being on the road, investigating crimes. Fidelma and Eadulf are enjoying the feast when it is interrupted by the entrance of a religieux, who claims he has an important message for the King. He approaches the throne and shouts ‘Remember Liamuin!’ and then stabs King Colgú. The assassin is slain, but does enough damage to take out Colgú’s bodyguard, and to put the king himself on the verge of death.

As King Colgú lies in recovery, Fidelma, Eadulf, and bodyguard Gormán are tasked with discovering who is behind the assassination attempt, and who Liamuin is. They must journey into the territory of their arch-enemies, the Uí Fidgente, to uncover the secrets in the Abbey of Mungairit, and then venture into the threatening mountain territory ruled by a godless tyrant. Danger and violence are their constant companions until the final devastating revelation.
 
Atonement of Blood is a mystery of Ancient Ireland from Peter Tremayne.


On another note:

I'm reading "Outlander," "Me Before You," and "A Game of Thrones" presently.  Also have started "The Girl with all the Gifts," which I've said is excellent!

Hope you are enjoying your new reads.  Check back with me soon...

Deborah


 
 

 

Monday, August 4, 2014

"Game of Thrones" by George R. R. Martin~The HBO Series!

SUMMARY :

Based on the bestselling book series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin, this sprawling new HBO Drama is set in a world where summers span decades and winters can last a lifetime. From the scheming south and the savage eastern lands, to the frozen north and the ancient Wall that protects the realm from the mysterious darkness beyond, the powerful families of the Seven Kingdoms are locked in a battle for the Iron Throne. This is a story of duplicity and treachery, nobility and honor, conquest and triumph. In the Game of Thrones, you either win or you die.

PARTICULARS OF THIS PRODUCT :

Produced by:  HBO Home Video
Inspired by author:  George R.R. Martin
Book Series:  "Game of Thrones"  series
See author's website:  http://www.georgerrmartin.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR :   

(Mr. Martin prefers not to have his photo displayed without written permission.  Please see his website for more information and a picture of him...)

George R.R. Martin was born September 20, 1948 in Bayonne, New Jersey. His father was Raymond Collins Martin, a longshoreman, and his mother was Margaret Brady Martin. He has two sisters, Darleen Martin Lapinski and Janet Martin Patten.

Martin attended Mary Jane Donohoe School and Marist High School. He began writing very young, selling monster stories to other neighborhood children for pennies, dramatic readings included. Later he became a comic book fan and collector in high school, and began to write fiction for comic fanzines (amateur fan magazines). Martin’s first professional sale was made in 1970 at age 21: “The Hero,” sold to Galaxy, published in February, 1971 issue. Other sales followed.

In 1970 Martin received a B.S. in Journalism from Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, graduating summa cum laude. He went on to complete a M.S. in Journalism in 1971, also from Northwestern.

As a conscientious objector, Martin did alternative service 1972-1974 with VISTA, attached to Cook County Legal Assistance Foundation. He also directed chess tournaments for the Continental Chess Association from 1973-1976, and was a Journalism instructor at Clarke College, Dubuque, Iowa, from 1976-1978. He wrote part-time throughout the 1970s while working as a VISTA Volunteer, chess director, and teacher.

In 1975 he married Gale Burnick. They divorced in 1979, with no children. Martin became a full-time writer in 1979. He was writer-in-residence at Clarke College from 1978-79.

Moving on to Hollywood, Martin signed on as a story editor for Twilight Zone at CBS Television in 1986. In 1987 Martin became an Executive Story Consultant for Beauty and the Beast at CBS. In 1988 he became a Producer for Beauty and the Beast, then in 1989 moved up to Co-Supervising Producer. He was Executive Producer for Doorways, a pilot which he wrote for Columbia Pictures Television, which was filmed during 1992-93.

Martin’s present home is Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is a member of Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (he was South-Central Regional Director 1977-1979, and Vice President 1996-1998), and of Writers’ Guild of America, West.

His awards and honors are too numerous to list here, please see his website for details!


Second Season of the Series

Third Season of the Series!

One of the box sets... "A Song of Ice and Fire" inspired the HBO series


THE BOOKISH DAME REVIEWS :

I'm probably the last to see this magnificent series inspired by George R.R. Martin's books.  Now, needless to say, I've been spending a marathon of days and nights over this past weekend and today watching the DVD's, hoping to catch up.  I'm only on season #3 at this point.  Hooked!!!  This has to be the best of any series I've seen, and I highly recommend it to those of you who have been waiting or have missed out as I have.

Not ordinarily a huge fan of fantasy, I discovered "Game of Thrones" one day when I was bored and browsing at Barnes & Noble about six years ago.  I took a notion to ask one of the stocking guys to tell me what some of his favorite books were.  This isn't something I do on a regular basis...I usually ask the women clerks!  His eyes flared and he said, "Game of Thrones," you have to read it!"  I bought it on a lark and started it as soon as I got home.  The writing was gorgeous and lush.  I was truly bowled over.  Not like any fantasy book I'd read before. But, I somehow put it down.  Something else called to me...could have been a review I needed to write.  Could have been that I wanted to buy the whole series before I started it.  I can't remember.  Then, I had a huge physical problem that put me out of commission, and the book fell to the wayside...

Once the HBO series hit the news in force, I was determined not to watch it.  I wanted to get back to reading the book.  It was so good, and I didn't want to spoil the prose by watching the acting.  Time went by; however, and my health got worse.  So, I decided this weekend to break my promise to myself and go ahead and get the DVDs.  I'm so thrilled I did.  I've rarely enjoyed anything more!

There is a medieval tone to the story.  The characters are rich and deeply involving.  The plot is intriguing.  Everything about the series is seductive and exciting.  I'm particularly drawn to the "Mother of the Dragons."  This is a story of war and hardship, love and family, betrayal and honor.  There's so much to love and enjoy about the fantasy and the characters.  The acting is superb and the stage sets are fabulous.  Even Queen Elizabeth is a fan!

Of course, I could never summarize here the entire show.  Suffice it to say that if you haven't yet tried it, please go find a copy of a DVD (I purchased mine...just had to).  It's well worth your time.

Primarily, I recommend getting a copy of the book(s) which are simply outstanding.  George R.R. Martin is a literary genius.  The books are easy to read, and are just gorgeously written in every way.

Loving this series on DVD, and I've sent for the box set of books for my library!

5 stars

Deborah/TheBookishDame

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

"The Predator, The Making of a Wiseguy" by Anthony Aqua ~ Going Viral


SUMMARY :


He was about to take Julie against her will. Having her body would not be the same as having her heart and mind, but Don didn't realize it at the time.


Obsession takes on terrifying form in Anthony V. Aqua's The Predator. This sexually explicit cat-and-mouse game will take readers into the mind of a man who will stop at nothing to get what he wants.

Don Ricci is handsome, rich...and a psychopath. After a humiliating rejection by Julie, an old classmate, he kidnaps her at knifepoint and locks her away in a homemade dungeon.

Determined to make Julie into his idealized version of the perfect "wife," Don's violently sexual encounters with his traumatized captor are interrupted only by his intermittent carousing around town.

As his tempter spirals out of control, Don runs into more and more trouble both in and out of his underground lair. His erratic behavior eventually brings him to Black Jack Roma, a grizzled veteran of the New England mafia who assumes Don is there to silence him for good.


But as Black Jack realizes the true nature of Don's derangement, he decides to make the rich playboy an offer that he simply can't refuse.


PARTICULARS OF THE BOOK :

Published by:  CreateSpace
Pages:  248
Genre:  Thriller
Series:  Don Ricci  The Making of a Wiseguy  Book 1
Author: Anthony V. Aqua
Purchase the book: 
Barnes & Noble    Amazon


ABOUT THE AUTHOR :



Anthony V. Aqua is second-generation Sicilian, having grown up in Boston and graduated from Northeastern University. After working a variety of jobs, including as an employee in his family’s import/export business and as a police officer, he settled into a twenty-five-year career in real estate.
Mr. Aqua currently lives with his wife in Naples, Florida, where he is hard at work on his Don Ricci series.


THE BOOKISH DAME REVIEWS :

This is not the type of book I generally read or review, but this one is starting to go viral, and I wanted to bring it to you.  Like "Shades of Grey," Anthony V. Aqua's "The Predator" is a shocker. It stands out in a unique way. It is more than risqué, it's downright explicit sexual material; more so than any book I've ever read.  But, it's completely un-put-downable!  People have commented they are compelled to keep reading.

Dedicated to those who have been kidnapped and held hostage, and those who have been sex slaves, it gives an eye-opening glimpse into the heart and mind of a predator and psychopath.  It's not a beautiful story, but it's more realistic than any I've read in my life.

The book is fraught with the type of violence that only those connected with criminals would know to be an every day matter.  It's stuff that will absolutely shock you to read.  While Mr. Aqua swears he has no connection to the mob and never has, it is difficult to believe when you read this book!  Amazing chapters, and such fine, descriptive writing in some places, you feel you're watching a movie.

The weakness in the book is that Mr. Aqua is a new author, so there are some obvious loose points and less intriguing sections.  These are easily over looked in the long run. 

This isn't one for everyone, and I hesitate to recommend it.  I'm just letting you know it's out there.  I suspect it will become a cult novel fast.  If you have the stomach for something sexually explicit and violent that's about the mafia, you might like to give it a try....  Warning!!

Deborah/TheBookishDame
 


Thursday, July 24, 2014

"What Is Visible" by Kimberly Elkins ~ Fascinating...

SUMMARY :

A vividly original literary novel based on the astounding true-life story of Laura Bridgman, the first deaf and blind person who learned language and blazed a trail for Helen Keller.

 At age two, Laura Bridgman lost four of her five senses to scarlet fever. At age seven, she was taken to Perkins Institute in Boston to determine if a child so terribly afflicted could be taught. At age twelve, Charles Dickens declared her his prime interest for visiting America. And by age twenty, she was considered the nineteenth century's second most famous woman, having mastered language and charmed the world with her brilliance.

 Not since The Diving Bell and the Butterfly has a book proven so profoundly moving in illuminating the challenges of living in a completely unique inner world.

With Laura-by turns mischievous, temperamental, and witty-as the book's primary narrator, the fascinating kaleidoscope of characters includes the founder of Perkins Institute, Samuel Gridley Howe, with whom she was in love; his wife, the glamorous Julia Ward Howe, a renowned writer, abolitionist, and suffragist; Laura's beloved teacher, who married a missionary and died insane from syphilis; an Irish orphan with whom Laura had a tumultuous affair; Annie Sullivan; and even the young Helen Keller.

Deeply enthralling and rich with lyricism, WHAT IS VISIBLE chronicles the breathtaking experiment that Laura Bridgman embodied and its links to the great social, philosophical, theological, and educational changes rocking Victorian America. Given Laura's worldwide fame in the nineteenth century, it is astonishing that she has been virtually erased from history. WHAT IS VISIBLE will set the record straight.


PARTICULARS OF THE BOOK :

Published by Grand Central/Hachette Publishing
Pages:  320
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Author:  Kimberly Elkins
Website:  http://www.kimberlyelkins.com
 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR :


Kimberly Elkins was a finalist for the National Magazine Award and has published fiction and nonfiction in the Atlantic, Best New American Voices, Iowa Review, Chicago Tribune, Glamour, and Village Voice, among others. WHAT IS VISIBLE is her first novel.





THE BOOKISH DAME REVIEWS :

When I decided to preview this novel on Netgalley with a "taste" of the book, I never thought I would be caught up, leading me to purchase it just so I could finish the story.  This is a fascinating account of Laura Bridgman, the very first known woman who was both deaf and blind, and who learned to communicate.  It is a book I imagine will mesmerize everyone.  I was held rapt, absolutely.

While "What Is Visible" is a historical novel, Kimberly Elkins writes with such grace and delicacy that it flies off the pages as a real account.  Absorbing and disturbing at times, it's a book I couldn't put down and raced through the night hoping to finish.  It took me longer than I had eyes to keep open!

Each of the characters she describes are vivid in their every day lives in her novel.  I was completely engaged with Laura and the Doctor.  I was drawn in like a voyeur, able to see what a magnificent and complicated person Laura was, and how she loved the Doctor who sculpted her life.  I think the underlying study of what her inner life might have been like was most compelling.  This is a novel with teeth, but also with a strong heart at the center.  Laura seems to reach for us from its pages and she touches us!

I can't say enough about the genius of Ms Elkins's writing.  The novel is beautifully crafted.  The characters engender caring and tender feelings.  The story is moving.  You can tell her heart is in this book.

This is a must read!

5 stars                                          Deborah/TheBookishDame

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Summer Reading~New Books


SUMMER READING BOOKS :

This is my newest collection of books I'm planning on reading in August or before.  I'm including below a couple of pictures of more which I don't yet have in earnest, but which I've ordered.  Just about everything has a blue tinge!

My head is doing better and it's getting easier to read again, so I'm excited about that.  I'm hoping as the months increase, my eyes will get better and I'll be back to my reading speed again.  I'm coming out of my slump, as well.  It feels great!

So let me give you some summaries of the above books:


In 1860, Alexander Ferguson, a newly ordained vicar and amateur evolutionary scientist, takes up his new parish, a poor, isolated patch on the remote Scottish island of Harris. He hopes to uncover the truth behind the legend of the selkies—mermaids or seal people who have been sighted off the north of Scotland for centuries. He has a more personal motive, too; family legend states that Alexander is descended from seal men. As he struggles to be the good pastor he was called to be, his maid Moira faces the terrible eviction of her family by Lord Marstone, whose family owns the island. Their time on the island will irrevocably change the course of both their lives, but the white house on the edge of the dunes keeps its silence long after they are gone.

It will be more than a century before the Sea House reluctantly gives up its secrets. Ruth and Michael buy the grand but dilapidated building and begin to turn it into a home for the family they hope to have. Their dreams are marred by a shocking discovery. The tiny bones of a baby are buried beneath the house; the child's fragile legs are fused together—a mermaid child. Who buried the bones? And why? To heal her own demons, Ruth feels she must discover the secrets of her new home—but the answers to her questions may lie in her own traumatic past. The Sea House by Elisabeth Gifford is a sweeping tale of hope and redemption and a study of how we heal ourselves by discovering our histories.

*Note:  I'm a sucker for books about the Scottish coasts and its legends.  This one about mermaids and selkies should be good.


 
A heartbreaking, wildly inventive, and moving novel narrated by a teenage runaway, from the bestselling author of Midwives and The Sandcastle Girls.

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands is the story of Emily Shepard, a homeless teen living in an igloo made of ice and trash bags filled with frozen leaves. Half a year earlier, a nuclear plant in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom had experienced a cataclysmic meltdown, and both of Emily's parents were killed. Devastatingly, her father was in charge of the plant, and the meltdown may have been his fault. Was he drunk when it happened? Thousands of people are forced to flee their homes in the Kingdom; rivers and forests are destroyed; and Emily feels certain that as the daughter of the most hated man in America, she is in danger. So instead of following the social workers and her classmates after the meltdown, Emily takes off on her own for Burlington, where she survives by stealing, sleeping on the floor of a drug dealer's apartment, and inventing a new identity for herself — an identity inspired by her favorite poet, Emily Dickinson. When Emily befriends a young homeless boy named Cameron, she protects him with a ferocity she didn't know she had. But she still can't outrun her past, can't escape her grief, can't hide forever—and so she comes up with the only plan that she can. 

A story of loss, adventure, and the search for friendship in the wake of catastrophe, Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands is one of Chris Bohjalian’s finest novels to date—breathtaking, wise, and utterly transporting.

*Note:  I've started this one.  Bohjalian is a great author, so what's not to love.  I'm excited to get further into this post apocalyptic novel.  Something new for him...



Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet . . . So begins the story of this exquisite debut novel, about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee; their middle daughter, a girl who inherited her mother’s bright blue eyes and her father’s jet-black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue—in Marilyn’s case that her daughter become a doctor rather than a homemaker, in James’s case that Lydia be popular at school, a girl with a busy social life and the center of every party.
When Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together tumbles into chaos, forcing them to confront the long-kept secrets that have been slowly pulling them apart. James, consumed by guilt, sets out on a reckless path that may destroy his marriage. Marilyn, devastated and vengeful, is determined to find a responsible party, no matter what the cost. Lydia’s older brother, Nathan, is certain that the neighborhood bad boy Jack is somehow involved. But it’s the youngest of the family—Hannah—who observes far more than anyone realizes and who may be the only one who knows the truth about what happened.

A profoundly moving story of family, history, and the meaning of home, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, exploring the divisions between cultures and the rifts within a family, and uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.

*Note:  I did a preview read of this one, as well.  Great writing.  This one was a recommended read for me.  It captured my interest immediately.  I'm interested in getting to it very soon.


From the author of Queen’s Gambit, which People magazine called, “A must-read for Philippa Gregory fans,” a gripping historical novel about two sisters who tread as dangerously close to the crown as their tragic sister, Lady Jane Grey, executed after just nine days on the throne.
Early in Mary Tudor’s turbulent reign, Lady Catherine and Lady Mary Grey are reeling after the brutal execution of their elder seventeen-year-old sister, Lady Jane Grey, and the succession is by no means stable. In Sisters of Treason, Elizabeth Freemantle brings these young women to life in a spellbinding Tudor tale of love and politics.

Neither sister is well suited to a dangerous life at court. Flirtatious Lady Catherine, thought to be the true heir, cannot control her compulsion to love and be loved. Her sister, clever Lady Mary, has a crooked spine and a tiny stature in an age when physical perfection equates to goodness—and both girls have inherited the Tudor blood that is more curse than blessing. For either girl to marry without royal permission would be a potentially fatal political act. It is the royal portrait painter, Levina Teerlinc, who helps the girls survive these troubled times. She becomes their mentor and confidante, but when the Queen’s sister, the hot-headed Elizabeth, inherits the crown, life at court becomes increasingly treacherous for the surviving Grey sisters. Ultimately each young woman must decide how far she will go to defy her Queen, risk her life, and find the safety and love she longs for.

From “a brilliant new player in the court of royal fiction,” (People) Sisters of Treason brings to vivid life the perilous and romantic lives of two little known young women who played a major role in the complex politics of their day.

*Note:  Elizabeth Fremantle became one of my favorite historical fiction authors when she wrote "Queen's Gambit" last year.  A brilliant read...   I can't wait to get to this one!


NOW FOR BOOKS I'M EXPECTING IN THE MAIL OR ON NETGALLEY :


The Girl With All the Gifts is a groundbreaking thriller, emotionally charged and gripping from beginning to end.

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class.

When they come for her, Sergeant keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite, but they don't laugh.

Melanie is a very special girl.

*Note:  Creepy!!  This is a novel I just ordered from Amazon after a "taste" of it on Netgalley.  It's a fabulous read....I can't tell you more.  :]



"Funny and moving. After this, nothing will ever taste the same again."—T. C. Boyle

It's 1973, and David Leveraux has landed his dream job as a Flavorist-in-Training, working in the secretive industry where chemists create the flavors for everything from the cherry in your can of soda to the butter on your popcorn.

While testing a new artificial sweetener—"Sweetness #9"—he notices unusual side-effects in the laboratory rats and monkeys: anxiety, obesity, mutism, and a generalized dissatisfaction with life. David tries to blow the whistle, but he swallows it instead.

Years later, Sweetness #9 is America's most popular sweetener—and David's family is changing. His wife is gaining weight, his son has stopped using verbs, and his daughter suffers from a generalized dissatisfaction with life. Is Sweetness #9 to blame, along with David's failure to stop it? Or are these just symptoms of the American condition?

David's search for an answer unfolds in this expansive novel that is at once a comic satire, a family story, and a profound exploration of our deepest cultural anxieties. Wickedly funny and wildly imaginative, Sweetness #9 questions whether what we eat truly makes us who we are.

*Note:  Can't resist this one!  I like a book like this for a change.  I'm getting a snap of it on Netgalley this week...but you can find it for purchase on B&N and Amazon.


So, those are my newest choices.  Wonder what you're reading this summer....

Deb

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

"One Kick" by Chelsea Cain ~ Explosive!

SUMMARY :

From the author of the critically acclaimed New York Times bestselling Archie Sheridan/Gretchen Lowell thrillers: The first in a nail-biting new series featuring Kick Lannigan, a young woman whose complicated past has given her a very special skill set.

Famously kidnapped at age six, Kick captured America’s hearts when she was rescued five years later. Now, twenty-one, she finds herself unexpectedly entangled in a missing child case that will put her talents to the test.

Trained as a marksman, lock picker, escape artist and bomb maker by her abductor, Kick could not return to the life of the average young girl after her release. So, in lieu of therapy, she mastered martial arts, boxing, and knife throwing; learned how to escape from the trunk of a car, jimmy a pair of handcuffs, and walk without making a sound—all before she was thirteen.

Kick has trained herself to be safe. But then two children go missing in three weeks, and an enigmatic and wealthy former weapons dealer approaches her with a proposition. John Bishop uses his fortune and contacts to track down missing children. Not only is he convinced Kick can help recover the two children—he won’t take no for an answer.

With lives hanging in the balance, Kick is set to be the crusader she has always imagined herself. Little does she know that the answers she and Bishop seek are hidden in one of the few places she doesn’t want to navigate—the dark corners of her own mind.

A heart-stopping, entertaining thrill ride, One Kick announces the arrival of a blistering new series by a stunning talent in the thriller realm.


PARTICULARS OF THE BOOK :

Published by:  Simon & Schuster
Pages:  320
Series:  Kick Lannigan Series Bk 1
Genre:  Thriller/Mystery/Suspense
Author:  Chelsea Cain
Website:  http://www.chelseacain.com


ABOUT THE AUTHOR :


Chelsea Cain is the author of the New York Times bestselling Archie Sheridan/Gretchen Lowell thrillers Heartsick, Sweetheart, Evil at Heart, The Night Season, Kill You Twice, and Let Me Go. Her Portland-based thrillers have been published in twenty-four languages, recommended on the TODAY show, appeared in episodes of HBO’s True Blood and ABC’s Castle, been named among Stephen King’s top ten favorite books of the year, and included in NPR’s list of the top 100 thrillers ever written. According to Booklist, “Popular entertainment just doesn’t get much better than this.”

CHECK out her website for a link to a Goodreads giveaway!!!  http://www.chelseacain.com


THE BOOKISH DAME REVIEWS :

It's after midnight and I've just finished another Chelsea Cain novel much to my delight.  She's a long time favorite thriller/suspense novel writer who never fails to give a great "ride" for the money.  Chelsea is one of those authors who calls you to pick up every book she writes because you know you're going to get consistent thrillers that speed along and are gripping.  "One Kick" is no exception to this rule.  I'm excited to have this introduction to a new set of characters and a new series.

Loved, loved the story here of a young woman who is a grown up "rescue" from a child kidnapping.  The details of what she went through in her transition back to "normal" are exceptional and believable.  They add a broad dimension to this thriller based on finding two children who have also been kidnapped. 

Kick Lannigan is a wiry and wild protagonist who is worthy of a series of her own.  I absolutely love her.  Beautiful and brilliant, she is also physically powerful and; yet, psychologically vulnerable.  A startling combination for a potent storyline.  Her strange relationship with John Bishop adds that sugar and vinegar aspect to the plot that's pitch perfect!  These two are dynamic and fun to read about.

I couldn't put this book down all day until I'd finished it.  I think you'll love it if you're interested in a fast-paced suspense novel.  Great storyline with fascinating characters.

5 stars                    Deborah/TheBookishDame


Monday, July 21, 2014

"The Matchmaker" by Elin Hilderbrand~A Summer Hit!

SUMMARY :

A touching new novel from bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand in which a woman sets out to find love for those closest to her - before it's too late.

48-year-old Nantuckter Dabney Kimball Beech has always had a gift for matchmaking. Some call her ability mystical, while others - like her husband, celebrated economist John Boxmiller Beech, and her daughter, Agnes, who is clearly engaged to the wrong man - call it meddlesome, but there's no arguing with her results: With 42 happy couples to her credit and all of them still together, Dabney has never been wrong about romance.

Never, that is, except in the case of herself and Clendenin Hughes, the green-eyed boy who took her heart with him long ago when he left the island to pursue his dream of becoming a journalist. Now, after spending 27 years on the other side of the world, Clen is back on Nantucket, and Dabney has never felt so confused, or so alive.

But when tragedy threatens her own second chance, Dabney must face the choices she's made and share painful secrets with her family. Determined to make use of her gift before it's too late, she sets out to find perfect matches for those she loves most. The Matchmaker is a heartbreaking new novel from Elin Hilderbrand about losing and finding love, even as you're running out of time.


PARTICULARS OF THE BOOK :

Published by:  Little, Brown & Co.
Pages:  357
Genre:  Fiction
Author:  Elin Hilderbrand
Website:  http://www.elinhilderbrand.net


ABOUT THE AUTHOR :


Elin Hilderbrand does her best writing on the beaches of Nantucket, as well as on the charming streets of Beacon Hill in Boston. She has three magical children who beg her not to sing along to the radio or dance in public. The Matchmaker is her 13th novel.





THE BOOKISH DAME REVIEWS :

I know, I know....beach reading, right?  My daughter said to me tonight, "Mom, don't give in to the girly and the light!!  Go back to your dark and drafty reading material, quick!"  I know.  But, honestly, Elin Hilderbrand just can't be resisted.  Her stories that take place on Nantucket are like cherries dipped in chocolate glimmering on a cold, silver plate to me.  I can't help myself...I'm just hooked every summer!

This is a particularly gripping story of Elin's.  It starts out light and fluffy, I'll give you that.  But, before you know it, you're a huge fan of the main character, Dabney.  You're feeling like her best friend.  And, you kind of remember well that boyfriend you had that you were madly in love with in  high school that you haven't seen in years.  And before you know it, you're drawn in and can't stop reading.

Elin Hildebrand's characters are simply charming.  They are the friends you never had but wish you did.  They are real and vulnerable, wholesome and lovable.  The family members she writes about are your family, too.  I just couldn't get enough of the people that populate this novel.

As Dabney is reunited with her first love, my heart was laid out right there with hers.  As she negotiated around all the obstacles in their path, I held my breath for them.  And when tragedy began its viney way towards them, I was shell shocked along with them.

This is the first book in a long time that's lifted my heart; made me laugh and cry in the same sittings.
In fact, I cried a bucket at the end.

It's a summer read, of course.  But, it's a great one!

5 stars                           Deborah/TheBookishDame



Sunday, July 20, 2014

"Frog Music" by Emma Donoghue ~ Magical and Spirited!

SUMMARY :


From the author of the worldwide bestseller Room: "Her greatest achievement yet...Emma Donoghue shows more than range with FROG MUSIC—she shows genius." — Darin Strauss, author of Half a Life


Summer of 1876: San Francisco is in the fierce grip of a record-breaking heat wave and a smallpox epidemic. Through the window of a railroad saloon, a young woman named Jenny Bonnet is shot dead.

The survivor, her friend Blanche Beunon, is a French burlesque dancer. Over the next three days, she will risk everything to bring Jenny's murderer to justice—if he doesn't track her down first. The story Blanche struggles to piece together is one of free-love bohemians, desperate paupers, and arrogant millionaires; of jealous men, icy women, and damaged children. It's the secret life of Jenny herself, a notorious character who breaks the law every morning by getting dressed: a charmer as slippery as the frogs she hunts.

In thrilling, cinematic style, FROG MUSIC digs up a long-forgotten, never-solved crime. Full of songs that migrated across the world, Emma Donoghue's lyrical tale of love and bloodshed among lowlifes captures the pulse of a boomtown like no other.


PARTICULARS OF THE BOOK :

Published by:  Little, Brown & Co.
Pages:  416
Genre:  Fiction/Historical Fiction
Author:  Emma Donoghue
Website:  http://www.emmadonoghue.com
Purchase this book:  Amazon   or  Barnes & Noble


ABOUT THE AUTHOR :


Born in Dublin, Ireland, in October 1969, I am the youngest of eight children of Frances and Denis Donoghue (the literary critic, Henry James Professor at New York University). I attended Catholic convent schools in Dublin, apart from one eye-opening year in New York at the age of ten. In 1990 I earned a first-class honours BA in English and French from University College Dublin (unfortunately, without learning to actually speak French). I moved to England, and in 1997 received my PhD (on the concept of friendship between men and women in eighteenth-century English fiction) from the University of Cambridge. From the age of 23, I have earned my living as a writer, and have been lucky enough to never have an ‘honest job’ since I was sacked after a single summer month as a chambermaid. After years of commuting between England, Ireland, and Canada, in 1998 I settled in London, Ontario, where I live with Chris Roulston and our son Finn (10) and daughter Una (6).

a bit more about Ms Donoghue:

Although I work in many genres, I am best known for my fiction, which has been translated into over forty languages.
My latest novel, Frog Music (2014), is a multi-faceted murder mystery set in San Francisco in 1876.
Room (2010) is narrated by a five-year-old called Jack, who lives in a single room with his Ma and has never been outside. An international bestseller, Room was shortlisted for the Man Booker and Orange Prize, and won the Hughes & Hughes Irish Novel of the Year, the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, the Commonwealth Prize (Canada & Carribbean Region), the Canadian Booksellers’ Association Libris Awards (Fiction Book and Author of the Year), the Forest of Reading Evergreen Award and the W.H. Smith Paperback of the Year Award.
I began by writing about contemporary Dublin before the Boom in a coming-of-age novel, Stir-fry (1994), and a tale of bereavement, Hood (1995, winner of the American Library Association’s Gay and Lesbian Book Award, and recently republished by HarperCollins in the US), and I returned to my transformed home city with a love story that contrasts it with smalltown Ontario in Landing (2007, winner of a Golden Crown Literary Award).
I have a great love for the short story form; my stories have been published in Granta, the New Statesman, One Story, the Sunday Express, Mail on Sunday, The Lady, the Globe and Mail, as well as 30 other journals and anthologies.  They have been broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and 4, RTE and CBC. Touchy Subjects (2006) is a set of nineteen contemporary stories about social taboos that moves between Ireland, Britain, France, Italy, the US and Canada.
I became a YA author by accident. Kissing the Witch (1997), my sequence of re-imagined fairytales, was published for adults in the UK but bought by Joanna Cottler Books (HarperCollins) in the US; they managed to win me a whole new 12-and-up audience, and Kissing the Witch was shortlisted for the James L. Tiptree Award. 
Perhaps inevitably, given my scholarly background and bent, I moved into historical fiction with Slammerkin (2000), a whydunnit inspired by a 1763 murder.  Slammerkin was a Main Selection of the Book of the Month Club, won the 2002 Ferro-Grumley Award for Lesbian Fiction, and was a finalist in the 2001 Irish Times Irish Fiction Prize. 
I followed it with a sequence of short stories about real incidents from the fourteenth century to the nineteenth, The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits (2002), and then Life Mask (2004, a finalist for the Ferro-Grumley Award), which tells the startling true story of a love triangle in 1790s London. The Sealed Letter (US/Canada 2008, UK 2011) is a domestic thriller about an 1860s cause celebre (the Codrington Divorce), joint winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction and longlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction.
Three and a Half Deaths, my first mini ebook (UK/Ireland only), brings together four stories of calamities ranging from 1840s Canada to 1920s France. And  Astray (2012, shortlisted for the Eason Irish Novel of the Year) is a sequence of fourteen fact-inspired stories about travels to, from and within North America; one of them, ‘The Hunt’, was a finalist in the Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Prize, the world’s most valuable award for a single story.


THE BOOKISH DAME REVIEWS :

Naturally, I'm a huge fan of Ms Donoghue after having read "Slammerkin" and "Room," but even I was caught off guard by this strange sounding book with an odd plot...  I need not  have been.  "Frog Music" is just as engaging and challenging as her other books.  I absolutely loved it. 

There's a sort of "Deadwood" (if you remember the TV program from some years ago) quality about this book.  It's dark and it's filled with singular characters that lift off the pages like illuminated glyphs.  The characters are small miracles from the mind of Donoghue.  Exacting in detail, beautifully rendered, they speak with perfect pitch their roles in this vignette of the old west and settling of a still wild San Francisco in the 1800's. 

Blanche, the central figure, is a sympathetic, baudy-house lady with a pretty little Frenchman lover and his fellow who depend upon her, a sickly baby who wrenches her heart and a friendship with Jenny, a gal who wears pants and totes a gun in a time when it's against the law for women.  The mystery of who shot and killed Jenny carries the plot of the story, but it's the surrounding details that really make this book sing.

Emma Donoghue is a genius at making her stories come alive in the details.  We can sense the tension, feel the fear, joy and love of the characters, hear what they hear, and see what they see.   The songs of the era shared in the book are lilting and eerie, lending another element to support this petite, masquerade of characters.

This is a book that picks you up gently at the beginning and before you know it you're hooked.  It's the kind of book that's difficult to describe.  One where the writing tends to outshine the summary.  You know the type...

I highly recommend it.

5 stars                                   Deborah/TheBookishDame

Friday, July 11, 2014

"Little Mercies" by Heather Gudenkauf- Absorbing!

SUMMARY :

In her latest ripped-from-the-headlines tour de force, New York Times bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf shows how one small mistake can have life-altering consequences…

Veteran social worker Ellen Moore has seen the worst side of humanity—the vilest acts one person can commit against another. She is a fiercely dedicated children's advocate and a devoted mother and wife. But one blistering summer day, a simple moment of distraction will have repercussions that Ellen could never have imagined, threatening to shatter everything she holds dear, and trapping her between the gears of the system she works for.

Meanwhile, ten-year-old Jenny Briard has been living with her well-meaning but irresponsible father since her mother left them, sleeping on friends' couches and moving in and out of cheap motels. When Jenny suddenly finds herself on her own, she is forced to survive with nothing but a few dollars and her street smarts. The last thing she wants is a social worker, but when Ellen's and Jenny's lives collide, little do they know just how much they can help one another.

A powerful and emotionally charged tale about motherhood and justice, Little Mercies is a searing portrait of the tenuous grasp we have on the things we love the most, and of the ties that unexpectedly bring us together.


PARTICULARS OF THE BOOK :

Published by:  Harlequin MIRA
Pages:  320
Genre:  Fiction
Author:  Heather Gudenkauf
Website:  http://www.heathergudenkauf.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR :


Heather Gudenkauf is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Weight of Silence and These Things Hidden.

Heather was born in Wagner, South Dakota, the youngest of six children. At one month of age, her family returned to the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota where her father was employed as a guidance counselor and her mother as a school nurse. At the age of three, her family moved to Iowa, where she grew up. Having been born with a profound unilateral hearing impairment (there were many evenings when Heather and her father made a trip to the bus barn to look around the school bus for her hearing aids that she often conveniently would forget on the seat beside her), Heather tended to use books as a retreat, would climb into the toy box that her father’s students from Rosebud made for the family with a pillow, blanket, and flashlight, close the lid, and escape the world around her. Heather became a voracious reader and the seed of becoming a writer was planted.
Heather Gudenkauf graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in elementary education, has spent her career working with students of all ages and continues to work in education as a Title I Reading Coordinator.

Heather lives in Iowa with her husband, three children, and a very spoiled German Shorthaired Pointer named Maxine. In her free time Heather enjoys spending time with her family, reading, hiking, and running. She is currently working on her next novel.


THE BOOKISH DAME REVIEWS :

It wasn't until I read Heather Gudenkauf's bio. that I discovered she has "profound unilateral hearing impairment."  Now that I'm deaf in one ear, I feel a new kinship with her.  I wonder if this hearing loss of  hers contributes to her extraordinary sense of characterization and conversational timing as she writes.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and can hardly wait to read her latest, "Little Lies."

The opening chapters of the book are shocking and simply drag us into the story.  The predicament of the social worker mother is one we immediately identify with, and; now that her same "mistake" is in our nation's attention this summer, it's even more compelling!  I was physically rocked by what happened to her and her child.

The secondary storyline kept close pace with the primary one...it was just as gripping.  Ms Gudenkauf is a great storyteller who knows how to captivate and keep us guessing.  None of her characters are run-of-the-mill.

If you're looking for a book that is different and will hold your attention throughout, this is one of them.  I've been tired reading books with similar plots and themes.  Heather Gudenkauf took me on a journey I appreciated and will look forward to in others of her books.

5 stars                                Deborah/TheBookishDame

Saturday, May 3, 2014

"Spun" by Catherine McKenzie~Novella Continues "Spin"

SUMMARY :

In this funny and touching novella, bestselling author Catherine McKenzie returns to the story of Amber Sheppard, It Girl and celebrity train wreck from McKenzie’s reader-favourite novel, Spin.
Life has been rough for starlet Amber since leaving rehab. She’s been two years sober, but no one seems to believe her -- not the gossip media, not casting agents, and most certainly not her spotlight-loving parents. With her friendships ruined by betrayal and her career at a standstill, Amber’s just trying to get her life back on track. It doesn’t help that her former love, movie star Connor Parks, keeps trying to draw Amber back in, not just to their relationship but to his hard-partying ways. One fateful night, Amber breaks down and agrees to join him on board his private jet as it readies for take-off -- a decision that will change her life forever and expose her to a whole new level of scrutiny and heartbreak.


ABOUT THE BOOK :

Published by:  HarperCollins
Pages:  150 
Genre:  Contemporary  (Novella)
Author:  Catherine McKenzie
Website:  http://www.catherinemckenzie.com
Twitter:  @CeMcKenzie1
Purchase:  Amazon


ABOUT THE AUTHOR :

 
A graduate of McGill University in History and Law, Catherine practices law in Montreal, where she was born and raised. An avid skier and runner, Catherine’s novels, SPIN, ARRANGED and FORGOTTEN, are all international bestsellers. Her fourth novel, HIDDEN, will be released in June, 2013 in Canada and in Spring 2014 in the US. Her novels have been translated into French, German, Czech, Slovak and Polish. And if you want to know how she has time to do all that, the answer is: robots


THE BOOKISH DAME REVIEWS :

It's been a while since I read "Spin," but it wasn't difficult to remember the very brave and clearly drawn characters Catherine McKenzie drew in the novel.  So jumping into this small novella was easy and a whirlwind of a ride.  I do; however, recommend your reading "Spin" for the joy of it, if you haven't, although I don't think it's necessary to really get the impact of this one.

McKenzie whips us into a frenzy from the first pages of "Spun;" thus the title, I believe.  We are torn from one direction to the other as her protagonist Amber works to resettle herself as a starlet after rehab.  Not such an easy job with the confusion and expectations of so many who make demands of her and surround her.

Bringing back some of the old characters in new displaced roles was genius.  I loved seeing them in this new light.  Their individual struggles made them even more interesting, and caused the whole lot of them to blend a tighter web.  Beautiful characterization of people slightly on the warp. Comedic in a slightly tilted way.

At the end of the book I found myself deeply touched to tears.  I don't know why exactly except that I felt finally Amber had found her way to the "light."  She had kicked aside all the things and people who held her down, and was ready for a new life.  I thought she deserved it.

Quick and easy little novella.  I loved the way it wrapped up the "Spin" novel...

4 stars                     Deborah/TheBookishDame