Category Archives: Book Review
Ruth and Lucy and Anna are gamers. Well, game designers, and all involved in different areas of the process of gaming and all that it en tales. All three of these smart women really enjoy computer generated games. The fact that there campus now sits where a former insane asylum once stood just adds to their creativity in designing.
As the three women challenge each others abilities they come up with the ultimate “live” role-playing game that will involve many people and the area around then based off the tragedy The Bacchae, with the prodding of Anna’s brother Anders. The game, which morphs and changes as they go is based around the theme of the insane asylum and has potential until is starts to take a darker turn…. and what happens when the game touches too close to read life?
I love computer games. When my sons were at home we would battle to play Nintendo, PlayStation and eventually Wii. I especially likes role-playing games where I felt I could put myself into the game. They still fascinate me, so the idea of this book was enticing…. I had to know more.
Lets start by saying I really wanted to love this book. When I read the first few pages I was hooked into what by all intentions looked like it as going to be a fantastic read. Strong smart women characters based around a reality game… and there is a lot to enjoy about this book. For one, I really liked the unique writing style. Conversation, blog posts, game speak, all engaging. However, I never felt any real connection to any of the characters. Drugs and drinking are frequently part of the game, which bothers me mainly as the book has a clear YA feel to it.
Overall, it is a likeable read. There was much I did like as I mentioned, and while the overall package wasn’t what I would say was a must read, I would easily say that Jenny Davidson is an author to watch.
Thank you to TLC Book Tours to allow me entrance to the Magic Circle.
Tom Sherbourne carries with him many ghosts of his past but his current life and future looks bright. Tom meets the lovely Isabel and upon their marriage they move out to Janus Rock where they live an isolated life and Tom works as the Lighthouse keeper. Visitors are few and a supply boat comes once every few months.
As the years go on, Isabel suffers through a series of miscarriages, each one leaving her a little more fragile. Then, shortly after Isabel’s third miscarriage, a cry is heard in the wind.
A babies cry.
What Tom and Isabel discover is that a boat has washed upon shore and in it a dead man and a crying baby girl. Tom wishes to report this right away, but Isabel suddenly snaps out of her depression state and feels that the baby must be a gift from God and despite Tom’s uncertainty, Isabel names the child Lucy and for the next three years they raise her as their own. As Isabel grows more and more happy, Tom starts to think that perhaps she was right and he too loves Lucy and takes her in his heart as his own.
When they do make the trip into shore on that third year, they discover the whole story of the man they found in the boat that day… and somewhere close, a woman… a mother… grieves for the disappearance of her husband and baby daughter. Torn between what is right and what feels right… Tom feels they must do the right thing, while Isabel feels that she is the child’s mother and that is the right thing.
There is so many levels of depth to this book that it is hard to know where to begin. Obviously, the heart of the story lies within baby Lucy, a child found at an infant age and knows no one else but Tom and Isabel. Tie the isolation of where they live in with that scene and you have a trio of people who rely literally on one another for safety, comfort, companionship, and of course… family.
This is of course what makes M.L. Stedman’s book stand out. When you enter in the real mother to Lucy… a grieving mother whose heart is broken over the loss of her daughter, the lines between right and wrong get a little blurry…. AND reader, before you say “Oh, there is no blurry line for me, I know exactly what I would do!”, you would need to read this book first and then tell me again… what would you do?
The levels of depth I mention in The Light Between Oceans is exactly what sets it apart from perhaps other books of its kind. By the time M. L. Stedman is done tugging at your heart in one way and then another… you, like me, may find what you thought you would do… not what you are hoping and praying for as you turn each page.
Filled with moral, legal, painful, heart impacted decisions – The Light Between Oceans makes for a great book to discuss with friends and still rethink it on your own.
My book club read this as our May read and we came up with as a whole that the book does indeed leave a mark. While some found it predictable and pretty non eventful until the end, others found it to be an interesting take on the situation. Of course, the moral discussion was a big topic and as a group we created our own loop hope of how we would handle it which of course, would not have been as interesting to read about… but certainly easier on the heart.
You have to love it when you wish the characters in a book were your friends and when that final page is turned.. you know you will miss them.
Samantha Davis has always and will always be forever grateful to her husband Johnathan who pulled her and her siblings up and out of the way of sure destruction. Johnathan has such a kind heart and deep pockets and does it really matter that when Samantha married him it wasn’t love but appreciation? Now, years later, with her two siblings still trying to find ways to keep sucking money out of Johnathan, Samantha is starting to see things a lot more clearly – including her own marriage.
Claire Walker, author of two books and newly empty nester as her daughter moves on thinks she is ready to write her third book and how easy it will be now with no one in her new apartment to disturb her… but oddly, words have never been harder to put on paper….
Brooke Mackenzie could use a break. After her plastic surgeon husband moved the two of them and their two children and dog into their new place, he shortly there after took up with a woman who would let him use his skills with a knife. Brooke had always refused, feeling she should be loved for who she was… not who he could make her. Now Brooke battles her ex husbands lack of commitment to his children. Will she ever find happiness and her own self-worth?
So what do these three women of varied backgrounds have in common? They all live in the historic Atlanta apartment building known as The Alexander… and while they only have seen each other in passing in the hallways… things are about to change.
When Edward Parker, concierge of The Alexander decides to put together a little weekly gathering of the tenants of the building for screenings of the hit show Downton Abbey, Samantha, Claire, and Brooke, all find themselves seated together. Through refreshments and finger foods, the shows “aha” and laugh out loud moments; these women find out what true friendship can be like..
all while they were watching Downton Abbey.
I admit it. The title drew me. After having watched the first three seasons of Downton Abbey and LOVING it… finding a book that would keep my Abbey loving heart-moving forward was a plus.
While We Were Watching Downton Abbey was truly a fun book to read. I loved the diversity of the three main female characters and I loved seeing the different lives play out chapter by chapter of the women and of Edward as well. It was easy to follow and unlike many books with multiple lead characters, I felt as though I knew each one, from Samantha’s need to feel like the perfect wife, to Claire’s inability to function with a hovering deadline for her book, to Brooke’s unruly red hair, to Edwards pride in his company and what it stood for.
In the end, I wished I lived in The Alexander and that I too could meet up with Samantha, Claire, and Brooke over cocktails and laughter and of course… Downton Abbey.
A fun, engaging read.
*If you have not watched the first two seasons of Downton Abbey, you are going to want to do so before reading this book. The book does talk a little of the show and some of it could be considered spoilers.
Dorothy Benton Frank does it again with another southern flavored title that makes you want to pull up a chair and join this family at the dinner table. ~ Sheila
Beth Hayes, inspiring writer (want to be) is a little annoyed. She finds that she will be putting her own plans of starting her life outside of college aside to instead house sit the family home. It seemed like everyone else was moving on with their lives, following their dreams, while she was put on pause.
Yet, there is something about being on Sullivan Island that sucks you into a slower pace that Beth soon realizes, is not all bad. And being in the family home brings along many surprises of relatives and quirky personalities as well as the surprise of developer max Mitchell. Well, Mitchell is not so much of an intrusion as an annoyance as Beth has no plan no time and no interest in him whatsoever….
or so she thinks….
There is something about Dorothy Benton Frank’s books that make you want to settle in somewhere cozy with an extra-large glass of ice tea and let the characters take you along for the ride. I’ve discovered this in past readings of her books, and I found it again in Return To Sullivan Island. While I am the first to admit I am not the biggest fan of multi-character reads as I struggle keeping them all separate, I found that this cast of characters was quirky enough each in their own way that I did not struggle with the interchanges. In fact, I enjoyed them.
With a little bit of a ghost story mixed in (oops… did I say too much? ) for good measure, Return To Sullivan Island makes for good sit-on-your-deck or grab-a-chair-and-head-for-the-beach reading. Just an overall light and enjoyable book.
Thank you to TLC book tours for letting me Return To Sullivan Island
*This review may contain possible unintentional spoilers to the previous two books.
For Lena, the security she once had of a house and a home seems like it was something she must have dreamed long ago. Those memories have taken on a softer faded recall in her mind and sometimes she has to wonder if what she recalls is even true…
For now, since the rescue of Julian, Lena finds herself along with the rest of her group of invalids, back in the Wilds. To Lena, this is a comfort as she finally feels like she is on familiar ground. For Jillian, this is new and unfamiliar territory. He is out of hos comfort zone but as any of the “invalids” as they are so called, have come to know… it never pays to feel too comfortable.
And then there is Alex. Now back, he is shocked and hurt to see that Lena has moved on and no amount of Lena’s explaining how long she had hoped and prayed that he was alive was anything he wanted to listen too. Thrown back together in this final book of the series, both Lena and Alex need to learn how to move forward together in their cause but separate in their lives.
The Wilds are no longer the safe place they used to be. Now Regulators have been seen searching the Wilds to eliminate the world of people just like Lena, Julian, and Alex… people who have decided that the ability to love…
just might be something worth fighting for.
Lauren Oliver should be commended. From those first pages of Delirium, to the final pages of Requiem…. I was hooked into this storyline of love being a disease that must be eliminated. Fascinating stuff for me… I imagine for younger YA readers, it even holds a stronger pull.
Bu what impresses me about the series is that each book – while linked together, are very different stories and very different settings. Even though Requiem takes you back to the Wilds, it is not the Wilds that we knew in the second book, Pandemonium. This ability to change up the location but keep things rolling with all the new rules and new dangers as well as hold true to the world that once was Lena’s is exhilarating. To be kept up to speed through the words of her best friend Hannah who still is in Portland, about to be married to her pair, after her procedure, levels this book out to its page turning crashing conclusion.
Requiem held strong to its upbringing and brings a different side to the battle that I enjoyed. I thoroughly liked all three of the books and recommend this YA series.
You can find my reviews of the two previous books here:
Now – I do of course have some thoughts about this book that are true spoilers so it is my pleasure to take the Spoiler Button that I LOVE to use, out of storage, give it a good cleaning and check the gauges. It appears to be in working order so for those of you who wish to rant or rave or both about this book… follow me to the Spoiler Page… where the story will continue…
Ruth Reichl was happy with her job at the Los Angeles Times as Food Critic. Yet when an opening came at the New York Times for a food critic the buzz was that it was going to be her they would pursue… while Ruth was thinking, “No… I don’t want to move to New York”, her husband, television producer Michael Singer was putting in for a transfer figuring the move was inevitable.
Michael, as it turns out was right.
After an interview with The New York Times that Ruth did not try very hard at, she started to allow herself to say dream a bit of what it would be like to take the position id offered…. then she became a little unsettled when they did not call…. had she blown it? When the call did finally come Ruth said “Yes” and she, her husband and young son made the move to New York.
What Ruth did not realize was that the restaurants were waiting for her. Her picture hung in ever highly notable kitchen so the staff would know when she came to their resistant and they could be sure to give her the best service so they would get the best reviews.
What they didn’t know was that Ruth was not about to let it play out that way. She wondered how she could give people honest reviews of the restaurants if they were catering to her because of who she was. The answer, as it turned out, came in the form of a petite friend of her mothers who was a make up artist… Ruth would go these restaurants in disguise.
Garlic and Sapphires is the true memoir of a critic in disguise who took on the personalities of who she dressed as and learned all too quickly which restaurants only cared about who were you were and what you could do for them. Her reviews were cut throat and made a lot of people angry, but they were honest… and the average person who made a reservation (or not…) would know exactly what to expect.
I read Garlic and Sapphires once before a few years back. At the time of this typing, I believe I reviewed it here at Book Journey but I am not sure and I refuse to look until I have finished writing this review so one opinion does not affect the other. Does that make sense? When my book club chose it last month to be our April read with the idea that is we read it we would all dress in disguise for the review I was in… all in. I love it when we go the extra mile.
SO this second reading of Garlic and Sapphires went something like this… I really enjoyed it. I loved Ruth’s disguises and how each one transformed her. She became the character and no one was the wiser. She could walk by people she knew and they would not even do a double take. No one knew who she was and with that she could walk into any restaurant and see how the “unfamous”, unadorned, were treated. But that wasn’t all… Ruth would dress older, she would dress poorer, and on some occasions she would dress as more confident and sexier…. and of course, she would also show up as herself – actually visiting a restaurant many times before writing her review.
I enjoyed the story behind the review, and then reading her review. I loved the description of the foods she ate as my mouth watered in anticipation… could I taste it simply through her words?
I enjoy reading foodie books. I don’t know why I am so fascinated by them, by the life of a critic amazes me – at first thought I think, what a great job… tasting the best foods, in the best restaurants, but when I really think about being a critic must really be hard work. You feel with the pressures of getting it right and the backlash of those who disagree….
If you are a foodie reader as well, I think you will really enjoy this fun twist on food critiquing.
Oh…. how I love my book club…..♥
When this book came up in the vote last month, Kaydi who nominated it added in that it would be fun to dress up as Ruth does in the book. YAY!!! I love bonus book club events!
7 of us the 12 of us who were there the review did dress up. Brenda (back row – hot blond) said her husband told her as she left her house, “I think you really enjoy these dress up events…”
Truth is, I think we do
I think personally what I love about the dressing p is you really get see some fun personalities come out and I have to smile thinking these are memories in the making.
The Bookies over all rated the book an average read, while everyone seemed to enjoy it, a few brought up that it seemed to get tedious after a while. We had a fun discussion of who we thought was Ruth’s best dress up and we mostly agreed that Brenda was her best as it really seemed to bring out the best in Ruth – and in others. A line from the book was…
Is it possible to be jealous of yourself?
Of course we had food…. we were food critics after all….
Delicious food… fun conversation and then, Angie pulled out a chocolate tasting board… asn we all were able to try our own hand at being critiques:
I think this was a fun book to review as a book club and would recommend it for other book clubs as well.
A am adding this to Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads
If you have read Sarah Pekkanen’s books before… know this is Sarah style…. all grown up. Steamy good!
Tina barely recognizes herself in the mirror anymore. With 4 children under the age of ten she feels like she drops into bed as early as possible and still wakes up tired. She is barely hanging on and is only in her mid 30′s…
Allie looks together on the outside. She runs every morning, has managed to keep her cheerleader figure, and has the type of marriage that is enviable. Yet Allie is holding on to a secret that is eating her thoughts up day and night…
Savannah has always been the looker. She can still turn guys heads and likes to do it. She enjoys a good party, loves the attention on her, and smiles a beautiful smile hoping no one will see behind the look of perfection, she hides her husband’s infidelity.
Pauline married Dwight and knows she married well. Dwight is quiet and a little socially awkward but he is beyond rich and Pauline wants for nothing. Pauline can’t exactly say she married for love, but she has grown to love Dwight and all of his awkwardness. When the idea comes to her to throw him an over the top birthday party with his friends from college and their spouses…. Pauline did what she does best – she plans the ultimate get together that no one can refuse.
When invites arrived at the homes of Tina, Allie, and Savannah for a week-long all expense trip to a luxury villa in Jamaica to celebrate their college friends 35th birthday – it was the invite of a lifetime. As they pack their bags and plan for the trip, the friends have no idea the extra baggage each one is secretly carrying.
Sarah Pekkanen taps into the pulse of many of us when we are in our 30′s. Life is starting to take shape… marriage, family, careers, bills, homes… and trying to juggle it all when in some ways you still feel like you are too young to be dealing with all of this and when and HOW did it happen? Where did the freedoms of youth go?
Now, imagine that a “blast from the past” comes a knocking on your door in the form of an invitation to the life break that your heart longs for… even without all the extra bells and whistles that are added into the trip Sarah Pekkanen has in this book, it is a sweet sounding deal! Although I admit, the extra awesomeness added to the trip in the book was fun to imagine!
In The Best Of Us, four couples are brought together for the trip of a lifetime. What really makes this work is that you as the reader get to spend time getting to know each of the couples, as each is dealing with something, even if it is not on the surface when the story begins. It is amazing what can happen in a week and we deal with it all – the good, the bad, and the ugly… all is revealed.
Fans of Sarah Pekkanen’s previous books are in for a different taste as The Best Of Us is written a little bolder and with more adult content. Don’t feel that change is bad, The Best Of Us is filled with Sarah’s great writing, humor, and I for one was thrilled to go along on this trip, and I think you will too.
You can purchase The Best Of Us Here
Check out Sarah Pekkanen’s website here
Thank you to Jill at Fizzy Thoughts for offering up a read-a-long of the classic, Little Women. While I read this in High School, and once I believe about 4 or 5 years back, I tried my hand at the audio version narrated by Kate Reading (AWESOME!).
SO I am going to believe that most of you have read Little Women at some point in your life and for those of you who have not I am also going to believe you at least know what the story is about…. either way, I am going to give you a little synopsis, Sheila style:
It is the mid 1800′s and the 4 March sisters (thus the March read along… so clever!) Meg the oldest, Josephine “Jo”, tomboy just as tomboy was considered cool for girls, Beth – quiet and reserved, and the youngest Amy – beautiful and a little snooty; all live with their mother “Marmee” and Hannah the servant. “Pa” March is absent for much the first part of the book as he is a chaplain in the war, so Marmee runs the household and the girls.
The girls shortly after the book opening meet their neighbor Theodore “Laurie” Lawrence who is between the two older girls ages. He becomes fast friends with all of them especially Jo as she is like having another boy to run and have adventures with.
The book goes on to share each girls stories of growing up and their trial and errors along the way. Meg is humble, but admits to wishing she had lovelier things – later she becomes a disgruntled wife for a time due to… hmmmm…. over protectiveness perhaps growing up? Jo, who really is the main protagonist seems to struggle the most with her own identity – finding herself frequently in trouble for her blunt mouth, her constant mess of clothes as she can not keep anything clean and her desire to write or not write… or write…. as the book goes on. Beth is sadly in poor health most of the book and may go down as the longest death scene at least in my bookish history (more on that later) and you really never get to know her as she is such a quiet mouse in the corner of the book. Amy is in my opinion snooty (until much later in life) and feels herself beyond an impoverish life always wanting nice things for herself and wanting to be socially above her current class.
My silly thoughts along the way. First off – the audio was a fantastic way to go on this one. Kate Reading (narrator) really did make it enjoyable and a new way to experience the book. I am not sure I will ever feel the need to read this one again, but I am happy to say I have read it and listened to it now.
I have always said it is kind of fun to pick on classics. In most cases they are so different then the way we live in today’s society while we can appreciate them…. we could not (I could not) live that kind of life.
Marmee is both wise and overbearing. Her life lessons to the girls which I am sure at the time spoke to the young ladies who read the book back in the day, caused me to eye roll more than once. Ever patient, ever kind – just once I wanted Mrs. March to let her hair down and really give the girls what for….
“Meg, quit whimpering in that exhausting way as you sit on your butt all day!”
“Jo, seriously think before you speak and start thinking of a future that does not involve spinsterhood and living with your parents until you die… or we die… or the world implodes.”
“Beth…ok, I can’t yell at you because you are sick but girl, what has happened that you can never pull out of this illness?”
“And Amy, pull the stick out of your butt and quit acting like you are so much better than what we can give. You pompous brat do you not see that you have a family who loves you, relatives who dote on you and I am guessing a good deal more than many other girls your age. Also – burning Jo’s book? I could send away for someone to spank you for that if I am too weak to do it myself.”
Whew that felt good. Beth’s death scene that started with scarlet fever at the age of 14 and continues as she never quite gets her hearth back and eventually succumbs at the age of 19. FIVE YEARS. The girl is sick for FIVE YEARS. It drug on and on.
Jo I have to say was a brilliant character for the time and I love that people for the most part have found her to be the favorite of the March sisters even though she was by no means the prettiest or the most successful. This pleases me because I love strong women characters and Jo seems to be a character ahead of her time, not feeling she needs a man to make her whole and until much later in the book, content to be on her own. Of all the characters Jo is said to be the character that Louisa May Alcott had written as her self and the others as her three sisters, and you see that again in the book The Lost Summer of Louise May Alcott (fiction) which I has just read earlier this year.
I admit I was happy to see that the initial publishing of Little Women was broke later into two books: Little Women and Good Wives as I felt the story did go on to long…. I have never read Little Men (1871) or Jo’s Boys (1886) but I am am not ruling out that I someday might.
Overall – kudos to Louisa May Alcott who wrote a book almost a century and a half ago that told of a strong independent woman in a very Christian like setting. I like that Marmee did not try to change go into more of a lady as I would suspect would be the “thing to do” at the time.
The book is truly a brilliant read and I highly suggest that each of you take the time if you have not already to read it in your lifetime.
Thank you to Jill at Fizzy Thoughts as I believe this was her brain child to do this read a long and if not for that push, I doubt if I would have ever picked up the book again.
I will be adding this as part of the weekly meme, Sound Bytes at Devourer of Books
An eight year old neighborhood boy is found dead in a playground. When witnesses come forth as to saying he was recently seen playing and rough housing with another neighborhood boy, 11-year-old Sebastian, Sebastian and his mother are called in for questioning.
The defense solicitor, Daniel Hunter is called in to hear Sebastian’s story and defend him if necessary. While Daniel’s own troubled childhood has led him to a life of working with young children, he has never worked with one as young as an eleven year old.
Sebastian has the look of an angel, a small delicate boy with shiny intelligent eyes. Yet when Sebastian speaks he does not talk like an eleven year old, his speak and ability to catch on are beyond his years. Daniel still has a strong sense that Sebastian is not guilty of this crime.
As the case opens wider, Daniel has to check himself to make sure his own past is not clouding his judgement. Leading him to walk that fine line between truth and lies.
Holy crackers batman. Get ready for a twisted ride. This book has a little something for everyone who likes a good mystery and/or adventure. Lacking in neither, The Guilty One will definitely make you think as you watch Sebastian’s life and family slowly peel back hidden layer after layer. Honestly… you really never know your neighbors do you?
But wait… while we start to see Sebastian’s life unfold, the reader also sees where Daniel is coming from and this guy has a lot of crazy past himself which makes him so right for this case…. but also so wrong. If anything, it’s really hard to get a firm grip on who Daniel is (in my opinion) and why I should want to sympathize with him.
I would say over all, the book is engaging and it did have me trying to figure it out (which I enjoy) and did hold me all the way through. If I had one complaint – and its a rather small one – I would say it gets a little bogged down in the details mid way through and I wanted things to move on… move faster.
People who enjoy a good mystery with a nice dash of CRAZY sauce that is not fast paced will enjoy this book. It was well written and impressive as a debut book.