Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Soldier's Wife by Margaret Leroy

There were moments in The Soldier's Wife where I was completely absorbed and lost within the town of Guernsey & Vivienne's sweet family that lived there.  But then there were other moments where I felt like it just dragged on and on, and I didn't feel an urgency to pick it back up.  It was a hot and cold book for me. I never at one point wanted to quit reading it, but the story line for some reason just wasn't strong enough to make me want to grab for it either.  Ugh, probably more my issue than anything to do with the storyline or author. 

I will say, my lackluster for this story may have something to do with the fact that I'm always a bit turned off when a love story involves a married man or woman falling in love with another person outside of their own marriage.  There's just something about a cheating spouse that no matter how its sugar coated, will get under my skin.  I wanted to get swept away with Gunther and Vivienne, but in today's day and age where marriages have been cheapened and discarded so easily, I just can't get lost in the allure of an affair.

But that's just my opinion.

Description: A novel full of grand passion and intensity, The Soldier's Wife asks "What would you do for your family?" "What should you do for a stranger?" and "What would you do for love?"

As World War II draws closer and closer to Guernsey, Vivienne de la Mare knows that there will be sacrifices to be made. Not just for herself, but for her two young daughters and for her mother-in-law, for whom she cares while her husband is away fighting. What she does not expect is that she will fall in love with one of the enigmatic German soldiers who take up residence in the house next door to her home. As their relationship intensifies, so do the pressures on Vivienne. Food and resources grow scant, and the restrictions placed upon the residents of the island grow with each passing week. Though Vivienne knows the perils of her love affair with Gunther, she believes that she can keep their relationship and her family safe. But when she becomes aware of the full brutality of the Occupation, she must decide if she is willing to risk her personal happiness for the life of a stranger.

Rating: ***

Recommend: It seems to be quite the hit for those who loved the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.
I've been dragging in the book department, but I'm hoping that now with fall in full swing the allure of cozy sweaters, fuzzy blankets & hot coffee will draw me back into a good book once again. 

Currently, I'm reading From This Moment On by Shania Twain,
but the fees I'm racking up from the library are starting to scare me.  Don't get me wrong, the book is extremely fascinating and I'm absolutely loving it!  BUT between both my sisters visits from Seattle, a wedding in Arkansas, parties to plan for our church home group, painting the outside of our house and a slew of other activities going on - I just haven't found the time to even catch up on my Tivo, much less get lost between some pages.
I am planning this afternoon to catch up on a long overdue book review of The Soldier's Wife by Margaret Leroy which I had received through Shelf Awareness and Hyperion Books.  
Isn't that cover just gorgeous?  For whatever reason it makes me think of Kate Beckinsale in the movie Pearl Harbor. 

Stay tuned, I promise I'll be back soon.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hunger Games Movie Sneak Peek!

Did anyone else catch the released sneek peak preview of the Hunger Games?!

Get More: 2011 VMA, Music

So exicted!

But March 2012 is so far away!!!!

Friday, July 22, 2011

3 months.....

until this :-)

Favorite cover yet!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Never Knowing by Chevy Stevens

Seriously, I can't get over Chevy Stevens writing! I was blessed to have been chosen to receive an advanced readers copy of Never Knowing and it was literally the book that motivated me to finish all the others I needed to read first.  I kid you not, I was LONGING to pick it up! A friend of mine had recommended Still Missing and after that I was hooked and couldn't wait for Chevy's next book! Every day my friend Debbie, asks if I've finished Never Knowing yet, cause she's been dying to borrow it.  

Never Knowing is about Sara who discovers her birth father is a serial killer/rapist. And that's honestly all I'm going to say about it other than the description down below. It. Is. Insane! I had to take 20 minute breaks and play with my dogs so I didn't get my heart rate up too much! And no, this wasn't one I was reading late into the night!  No way was I going to let myself have the opportunity to dream about any of this.  Shoot, I watched "Kid in a Candy Store" on TLC and then dreamt about cupcakes and doughnuts the next couple hours! But seriously, curled up on my couch with a glass of cold sweet tea where I felt nice and safe was the perfect setting for indulging in this psychological thriller! I  LOVED every single page of it  and highly recommend! Quite honestly, I'm surprised I didn't bite off all my fingernails.  Ms. Stevens is definitely a new favorite of mine and I'll be looking out for her third!

Never knowing is now available in stores and online, so don't wait to get your copy!

Description: From the acclaimed author of STILL MISSING comes a psychological thriller about one woman’s search into her past and the deadly truth she uncovers.

All her life, Sara Gallagher has wondered about her birth parents. As an adopted child with two sisters who were born naturally to her parents, Sara’s home life was not ideal. The question of why she was given up for adoption has always haunted her. Finally, she is ready to take steps and find closure.

But some questions are better left unanswered.

After months of research, Sara locates her birth mother—only to be met with horror and rejection. Then she discovers the devastating truth: her mother was the only victim ever to escape a killer who has been hunting women every summer for decades. But Sara soon realizes the only thing worse than finding out about her father is him finding out about her.

What if murder is in your blood?

Never Knowing is a complex and compelling portrayal of one woman’s quest to understand herself, her origins, and her family. That is, if she can survive...

Recommended: Yes! But only if you love a good suspense! And I mean GOOD!

Rating: 5 stars

Friday, July 1, 2011

Never Wave Goodbye by Doug Magee

Yet another thriller!  What's with this kick I'm on?!   I really have to credit my friend Debbie for shoving these into my hands while I'm at work, because she definitely knows how to recommend a book that gets my attention. 

This story has to be one of every parent's worst nightmares. A group of kids get picked up for summer camp when the parents discover sometime later after the real van arrives that they're children have been kidnapped!  I could not put this one down!  And it had me guessing till the very end, which of course is always a bonus. 

I guess it would be a little harder to read if you actually had little ones, but since I don't it didn't bother me too much.   There's a scene when the kids are out in the middle of the woods in this little shack and a bear appears - my palms were literally sweating as this was all going down.  I devoured this one!

Description: After passing the bittersweet parental milestone of putting her daughter, Sarah on the bus to sleep-away camp for the first time, Lena Trainor plans to spend the next two weeks fixing all the problems in her marriage. But when a second bus arrives to pick up Sarah for camp, no one seems to know anything about the first bus or its driver.

Sarah and three other children have been kidnapped, and within hours of the crime the parents receive an email demanding $1,000,000. When the specifics of the delivery terms throw suspicion on the parents of two of the abducted children, some of the parents begin to turn on each other, exposing fault lines in already strained marriages and forging new alliances. While the kidnapped children are living their parents' worst nightmare, the police are trying to sort the lies from the truth in conflicting stories and alibis that seem to be constantly changing.

Deftly weaving the emotional story that pits the parents of the missing campers against the police—and each other—with the fate of the kidnapped children hanging in the balance, Never Wave Goodbye will keep readers holding their breath until the last page.

Rating: 4 stars!

Recommend: A feast for suspense lovers!

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Young Wife by Pam Lewis

When I received an advance copy of A Young Wife from Simon & Schuster (love their books!) and glanced at the cover, I knew this would be a book I would really enjoy.  Yes, I do judge a book by its cover, I mean don't you look at a beautifully presented dinner and immediately start salivating?  Well I'm the same way with a gorgeous book.  Those swirls behind the title and author actually reflect light and it creates a beautiful two-dimensional picture.

As for the story itself, I found myself immediately able to dive right in and get lost in the story of Minke, a 15 year old who becomes a care-taker for an older gentleman's dying wife and not too long after ends up marrying him after his wife suddenly dies, moving Minke with him to Amsterdam where they start a life.  The story definitely had its moments where I was completely entranced.  Even now weeks after reading it there are scenes that the author painted that I can't erase from my mind.  And then in other moments, I was kinda put off by the direction of where the story was headed.  As strong as this one started out, it continued to ebb and flow in keeping my attention and at the end I was glad I had read it.  So my recommendation is to read it and form your own opinion!   

ALSO! This book releases tomorrow, so go here to get yourself a copy!

Description: When fifteen-year-old Minke Van Aisma travels to Amsterdam to care for the dying wife of a wealthy man, she has no idea what adventures await her. Within hours of his wife’s death, her employer proposes marriage, and within days the couple has set sail for the oil fields of Argentina. They settle in the rough coastal town of Comodoro Rivadavia, where Minke eventually learns that her husband is not a successful trader, but a morphine producer. The future that seemed so bright takes an even darker turn the morning their toddler son, Zeff, is kidnapped. Soon after, morphine production is outlawed and her husband must immediately emigrate to New York. Already pregnant with their daughter, Minke has little choice but to wait for the new baby’s arrival, then follow Sander to America, and leave her firstborn behind forever. However when she arrives in New York and discovers that her husband has betrayed her, she takes her daughter and leaves him, finds work as a seamstress, and vows to return to Argentina and find her son. How she manages to find her child, and how she takes her revenge on the people who orchestrated his abduction, is a triumphant tale of personal sacrifice, determination, and love. A sweeping saga that crosses three continents--from the opulent life in Amsterdam during the 1900s, to rough living on the Argentine coast, to the impoverished life of a recent immigrant to New York--A YOUNG WIFE is a journey no reader will forget.

Rating: ***

Recommend: Yes, I think many folks might enjoy it.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back by Todd Burpo

I'm a skeptic when it comes to these kinds of books.  I know there's a lot of folks out there that would disagree with me, but I just have a hard time believing that someone can experience heaven in such a detailed way and yet not even have clinically died.  However, I do believe when we worship, we can experience & even visualize the throne room of heaven where we enter the presence of God - BUT I do not think that that ACTUALLY means we've experienced THE throne room of heaven. 

I'm probably one of the only naysayers out there as far as this book goes, and though its an inspiring story and I feel deeply for the family who had to endure such a tragedy - I can't help but read this without a huge grain of salt.  I'm sure Colton experienced God in an intimate & real way while unconscious, but I don't believe he actually visited heaven itself. 

But again, I have friends who absolutely loved this book and ate it up! So if this story peaks your interest, I recommend reading it yourself and coming to your own conclusion.

"Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves." Matthew 10:16

Description: Heaven is for Real is the true story of the four-year old son of a small town Nebraska pastor who during emergency surgery slips from consciousness and enters heaven. He survives and begins talking about being able to look down and see the doctor operating and his dad praying in the waiting room. The family didn't know what to believe but soon the evidence was clear.

Colton said he met his miscarried sister, whom no one had told him about, and his great grandfather who died 30 years before Colton was born, then shared impossible-to-know details about each. He describes the horse that only Jesus could ride, about how "reaaally big" God and his chair are, and how the Holy Spirit "shoots down power" from heaven to help us.

Told by the father, but often in Colton's own words, the disarmingly simple message is heaven is a real place, Jesus really loves children, and be ready, there is a coming last battle.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Still Missing by Chevy Stevens

Okay first of all - Do not read this book at night or when you're home alone! HOLY COW! I don't EVER read this type of book because it scares the crap out of me, and maybe had I known what I was getting myself into I would have never picked it up! But at the same time, the fact that I couldn't put it down must count for something, since it had my complete attention over just a few days! It was like a horrible car accident - you don't want to look, but you just can't turn away either. And to think that this is Chevy Stevens' first published book just completely blows my mind!

This story brings you into Annie's sick, tormented, twisted, abused world of spending an entire year with a psychopath who abducted her while she was showing a house. And the whole time I just kept thinking about Jaycee Dugard and all that she went through. As sick and twisted it was reading about Annie in this completely fictional story, this type of thing does happen to real women today!

What I truly did enjoy about the story is that the author so realistically dives into the pyschological aspects of how Annie had to get inside the head of her tormentor and figure out he thinks so she can best survive. It was intriguing and upsetting at the same time. Jaycee had to do the same thing - survive by whatever means. As humans we can be so much more resilient than we realize.

My friend Debbie at work dropped this one off at my desk saying that she couldn't put it down and I just had to read it. Though I had it on my to-be-read list, I'm not sure I would've really gotten to it without her persuasive nudging. I definitely couldn't handle these type of stories all the time, but every once in a while, during the middle of the day, WITH my husband in the house, then sure I'll tackle a psychological thriller like this one. Whew. Intense people, ridiculously intense!!! And then the ending - WOW, didn't see that one coming!

Description: On the day she was abducted, Annie O’Sullivan, a thirty-two year old realtor, had three goals—sell a house, forget about a recent argument with her mother, and be on time for dinner with her ever- patient boyfriend. The open house is slow, but when her last visitor pulls up in a van as she's about to leave, Annie thinks it just might be her lucky day after all. Interwoven with the story of the year Annie spent as the captive of psychopath in a remote mountain cabin, which unfolds through sessions with her psychiatrist, is a second narrative recounting events following her escape—her struggle to piece her shattered life back together and the ongoing police investigation into the identity of her captor.

The truth doesn’t always set you free.

Still Missing is that rare debut find—a shocking, visceral, brutal and beautifully crafted debut novel.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

What a cute story! My friend Emily at Rediscovering the Joy of Cooking, recommended I pick up it up for a fun, light read and I'm so glad I did! It's completely YA, but I really needed something easy to tear through after Mary, Queen of Scots.

I love that this darling, little love story takes place at a boarding school in France. And Anna is just the sweetest thing who has this quirky movie obsession and goes around watching all the American films in different theatres writing out her reviews in a little notebook. I also think that Etienne is simply adorable and quite charming. Though I felt like I was too old to be reading this, it was so easy to get completely wrapped up and remember all the giddy feelings that I once possessed when I was back in high school secretly longing for the attention of the cutest boy in school.

I will say there were a couple of turnoffs for me in this book - and that was the occasional and random crudeness that showed up every now and then. I just felt like it was completely unnecessary and didn't really add anything to the story. The other thing I didn't like was the implication that Anna's father was Nicholas Sparks, and the negative light it shed on him. Sure maybe the author didn't outright say his name, but it was so clearly implied! Hey! I love Nicholas Sparks, please don't dog on him!

Overall, a fun, light read and for a chick-lit book, I very much enjoyed it!

Description: Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris—until she meets √Čtienne St. Claire: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home. As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near-misses end with the French kiss Anna—and readers—have long awaited?

Rating: ****

Recommend: If you enjoy chick-lit or YA - then yes, you'll really enjoy it!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Memoirs of Mary Queen of Scots by Carolly Erikson

Well the first chapter was good, and pretty much went downhill from there. This book was chosen as last month's book club pick and I have to be honest and admit that I really struggled with finishing it. I didn't care too much for any of the characters and it was so all over the place. I just didn't get it, truly. Seriously, I wouldn't recommend spending the time on this one. Sorry. I think I'll have to pick up The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory to hopefully redeem the story of Mary, Queen of Scots.

But hey, I hate being completely negative - there are some folks out there that truly enjoyed it! So for some more positive reviews, go here.

Description: Born Queen of Scotland, married as a girl to the invalid young King of France, Mary took the reins of the unruly kingdom of Scotland as a young widow and fought to keep her throne. A second marriage to her handsome but dissolute cousin Lord Darnley ended in murder and scandal, while a third to the dashing Lord Bothwell, the love of her life, gave her joy but widened the scandal and surrounded her with enduring ill repute.
Unable to rise above the violence and disorder that swirled around her, Mary escaped to England—only to find herself a prisoner of her ruthless, merciless cousin Queen Elizabeth.
Here, in her own riveting account, is the enchanting woman whose name still evokes excitement and compassion—and whose death under the headsman’s
axe still draws forth our sorrow.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet was chosen for book club back in November. Of course I'm just now getting around to writing a review! Though I very much enjoyed this book, I didn't love it. I think more than anything, I was drawn to all the familiarities of home. I loved being able to visually imagine where I was in Seattle and picture different settings. I grew up in Seattle and lived there until I was 26, so it holds a ton of memories for me. But what's truly surprising to me, was that I was completely unaware of the racial discrimination in the Northwest. Even my parents are both Seattle natives and they had never brought up this vital piece of our local history! It was kinda crazy and I was really quite shocked!

Overall it was a sweet love story and kept my attention through out. Others in our book club enjoyed it even much more than I did.

Description: In the opening pages of Jamie Ford's stunning debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Henry Lee comes upon a crowd gathered outside the Panama Hotel, once the gateway to Seattle's Japantown. It has been boarded up for decades, but now the new owner has made an incredible discovery: the belongings of Japanese families, left when they were rounded up and sent to internment camps during World War II. As Henry looks on, the owner opens a Japanese parasol.

This simple act takes old Henry Lee back to the 1940s, at the height of the war, when young Henry's world is a jumble of confusion and excitement, and to his father, who is obsessed with the war in China and having Henry grow up American. While "scholarshipping" at the exclusive Rainier Elementary, where the white kids ignore him, Henry meets Keiko Okabe, a young Japanese American student. Amid the chaos of blackouts, curfews, and FBI raids, Henry and Keiko forge a bond of friendship - and innocent love - that transcends the long-standing prejudices of their Old World ancestors. And after Keiko and her family are swept up in the evacuations to the internment camps, she and Henry are left only with the hope that the war will end, and that their promise to each other will be kept.

Forty years later, Henry Lee is certain that the parasol belonged to Keiko. In the hotel's dark dusty basement he begins looking for signs of the Okabe family's belongings and for a long-lost object whose value he cannot begin to measure. Now a widower, Henry is still trying to find his voice - words that might explain the actions of his nationalistic father; words that might bridge the gap between him and his modern, Chinese American son; words that might help him confront the choices he made many years ago.

Set during one of the most conflicted and volatile times in American history, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is an extraordinary story of commitment and enduring hope. In Henry and Keiko, Jamie Ford has created an unforgettable duo whose story teaches us of the power of forgiveness and the human heart.

Rating: ****

Recommend: Sure.

Monday, January 24, 2011

I'm Reading A Book!

So I know I have some reviews to catch up on, but until then.....

please enjoy!