"No one can be lonely who has a book for company." ~ Nelle Reagan

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Chasing the Sun - book review

Chasing the Sun
Author:  Natalia Sylvester
Published:  June 3/14
Publisher:  New Harvest
Pages:  304
Source:  A complimentary copy was provided by the publisher and TLC book tours in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Partially inspired by her grandfather’s kidnapping in Peru, CHASING THE SUN: A Novel (Lake Union/New Harvest; on sale June 3, 2014) is Natalia Sylvester’s suspenseful debut about a man whose wife is kidnapped just as their marriage is falling apart.
After going out for an errand, Marabela Jimenez doesn’t return home and her husband suspects she has left him – again. Only, the next day a letter arrives in the mail that reads:
 Querido Andres,I’m being held by three men who say they’ll keep me safe as long as you cooperate. They say that means no cops and no media. They say they’ll call when they’re ready to talk to you. Kiss our children for me and tell them not to worry. Keep me in your thoughts as I will be keeping you in mine.Marabela
Despite their crumbling relationship, Andres quickly realizes he must do whatever it takes to get Marabela home. He can’t possibly afford the ransom the kidnappers demand or handle this threat to his family alone so he hires a consultant to help negotiate with the terrorists. He also reaches out to his estranged mother, who has never cared for Marabela and even reconnects with an old friend who may hold the key to his past and his wife’s future. As each day passes without the return of his wife, Andres is forced to come to terms with whether or not what he and Marabela have left is worth saving and how far he’ll go to bring her home.
Set against the backdrop of the political turmoil and terrorist threats of 1992 Peru,CHASING THE SUN is a story of how trauma has a way of exposing our most difficult truths and healing past wounds and regrets.
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My thoughts:
Beautiful Peru, she is alluring.  During the time of civil unrest, however, that beauty is torn to reveal an undercurrent of danger.  Kidnappings are not unusual so when Marabella disappears, the horrific visions of torture are not far behind.
Marabella and Andres have a strained marriage.  They've struggled but Andres doesn't give up so easily.  Even when Marabella disappeared and returned in a few days, he forgave.  This time is different.  A note arrives from the kidnappers demanding a grand sum in exchange for the return of his wife.  Andres wants her back but he doesn't have the money they've demanded. 
Andres' mother comes to his aid and with her assistance and that of a consultant, Andres goes about the effort to free Marabella but not without trepidation. On one hand, he must save her.  On the other, his marriage is battle worn and he's unsure of its stability.  Knowing his wife and the possible torment she may sustain during her captivity, Andres fears for the remnants of his marriage.  How will this affect her and ultimately him and their family, assuming she is freed?
The cover of this hardbound debut novel is beautiful in its selection of colours.  Never for a moment does it belie what author Natalia Sylvester has created therein.  Chasing the Sun is a suspenseful tale of the terror one faces when someone they love is kidnapped and the lengths to which one is willing to go to save the person they love.  It's a tale of love and strife, pain and anguish, and the hope for reunited and reignited love amidst the beautiful backdrop of Peru and the terrorism of a country in turmoil.  A fabulous read by a debut author, Chasing the Sun's plot will hold you fast until you've finished the last page.

Natalia Sylvester was born in Lima, Peru. She came to the U.S. at age four and grew up in South Florida, where she received a B.A. in creative writing from the University of Miami. A former magazine editor, Natalia now works as a freelance writer in Austin, Texas. 

Connect with the author:

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Can Reading Reduce Your Stress?

Image found on Facebook.

Reading is for me a release.  It offers an escape, an opportunity to visit other countries, a means to develop my imagination and to build vocabulary.  Since I have quite a vivid imagination and can readily escape into the lives of the characters I read about, and have done since a child, I do find that reading releases some stress.  I'm not sure about 68%?  Perhaps I need to read more?

Does reading alter your perceptions, offer escape, reduce your stress?  Perhaps it's more about taking the time for yourself that reduces stress levels?  What do you think?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green - book review

The Fault in Our Stars
Author:  John Green
Published:  2012
Publisher:  Dutton Group, a division of Penguin
Pages:  313
Genre:  YA Fiction
Source:  Borrowed

Despite the tumour-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis.  But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.

Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning author John Green's most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.

My Thoughts:

As my readers may know, I don't read much YA.  It takes an exceptional book to break that barrier and The Fault in Our Stars is just that.  Why, you may ask, did I pick up this YA novel?  Was it all the hype, the reviews, the movie which was just released?  Well, yes, it was a bit of all of this though I can't say the choice was wholly attributed to its popularity.  Ranking is not solely a precursor to book selection for me.  No, it was more because of a fellow co-worker who loved the book,  staff-picked it and then was greatly dismayed when the CEO of the company staff-picked it as well, necessitating the removal of his sticker of approval and recommendation.  That, for me, was the deciding factor.  It meant that much to this individual that I had to read it.  So I did.

The Fault in Our Stars is as remarkable as all the reviews have indicated.  Herein is the story of a teen-age Hazel with terminal cancer whose parents are concerned with her reclusiveness and encourage her to attend a Cancer Kid Support Group.  It is here she meets two remarkable young men who leave a permanent impression in her life; one of whom steals her heart.

Augustus was tall, lanky, gorgeous with a crooked smile and blue eyes that lit up when he saw her.  He didn't take no for an answer which perturbed her as much as it flattered.  He's in remission and she struggles for breath, an oxygen tank her permanent companion.  She's afraid she is a grenade who will tear apart the lives of those close to her when her time has come.  She is more fearful for those she loves and cares about than for herself.  She is beautiful that way.  But it's her book recommendation of An Imperial Affliction that really brings them together and offers them a summer to remember.

They are different and yet a lot the same.  They banter back and forth, joke around, have similar ideals.  After posting an ad that they constructed together, to give away her childhood swing set, titled "Desperately Lonely Swing Set Needs Loving Home".....  Hazel and Augustus settled on the couch where Augustus read from An Imperial Affliction aloud and as he read she fell in love "the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once."

And before she tells him he tells her:

"I'm in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable.... and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we'll ever have, and I am in love with you."

Such a romantic notion and so tragic.  No wonder every teenage girl who reads this novel loves it!

It's not only the romanticism, it's the beauty of the language and the imagery.  

"The sun was like a toddler insistently refusing to go to bed."
Dessert: "a succulently rich cremeux surrounded by passion fruit - was too good not to at least nibble."

I love this book.  It's genuine, bold, tearful and funny.  You will feel every gamut of emotion in the human repertoire, just as I saw with a young lady who sat in the store and read the book cover to cover over a few hours.  She laughed, she cried, she smiled.  She loved it!

I highly recommend The Fault in Our Stars.  Read the book, see the movie.  Personally, I'm waiting for the Blu-Ray.  I refuse to sit weeping in a theatre.  Tissues strongly suggested for both the book and the movie.

About the author:
John Green is the award-winning author of Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns, Will Grayson, Will Grayson (with David Levithan), and The Fault in Our Stars.  His many accolades include the Printz Medal, a Printz Honor, and the Edgar Award.  John is on Twitter: @realjohngreen and tumblr: fishingboatproceeds.tumblr.com and online at: johngreenbooks.com.  He resides in Indianapolis, Indiana with his family.

#TheFaultInOurStars   #JohnGreen

Monday, June 16, 2014

Why Meyer's last instalment of the Lunar Chronicles won't release until November 2015!

Lunar Chronicle Fans have been anxiously waiting the arrival of January 2015 (certainly not for the winter!!) for the YA novel and final instalment titled Winter.  However, those who were so looking forward to January, will have to wait another ten months for Winter to see bookstore shelves.  Instead.....

Fairest will be released January 2015.  It is a prequel to Cinder, telling the tale of Queen Levana, the evil Lunar villain, beginning with the Queen's life from the age of 15 to a period ten years short of the time of Cinder.

According to Marissa Meyer, there are integral plot points in Fairest that relate to the novel Winter.  None of us wanted the Chronicles to end so soon but this comes as a complete surprise.  Read more of this news here:


Join in the chat with the author June 28/14


Created by Fierce Reads
Public event
Wed, Jun 18, 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Hangouts On Air
Join us for a video chat with Lunar Chronicles author Marissa Meyer, where she'll be discussing the series and answering YOUR questions live! 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Hilary Rodham Clinton Shares with New York Times Her Favourite Books

Hilary Clinton's memoir, Hard Choices, just hit bookshelves across the continent.  In this interview with the New York Times, she shares her favourite books, those she read to her daughter, and those which have had influence in her life.  You may be surprised at what you read in this column.

Currently she's reading Goldfinch by Donna Tartt; Maya Angelou's Mom & Me & Mom; and Missing You, the recent release by author Harlan Coben.

I'm reading Fault in Our Stars by John Green and The Death of Lucy Kyte by Nicola Upson.

What we have in common, pertaining to our reading tastes:

Book with greatest influence:  the Bible

Author whose series must be read as they come available:  Louise Penny

Guilty pleasures:  gardening books...

She and I both read John Grisham!

I like her taste in books.  I just may have to pick up her memoir after all.  I really wasn't going to because I didn't like the person the media makes her out to be but maybe I was wrong.  Maybe the media is wrong.  Perhaps not.  At any rate, I now want to read Hard Choices.

Will you?  

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart - YA book review

We Were Liars
Author:  E. Lockhart
Published:  May 2014
Publisher:  Delacorte Press
Pages:  225
Source:  borrowed
Genre:  YA


We were liars
A beautiful and distinguished family
A private island
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends - the Liars -
   whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.

Read it.

And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

My Thoughts:

There were four friends, all teenagers, who got together each summer on an island.  They swam, played games, ate fudge, two of them fell in love and they were liars, each of them.

The fifteenth summer changed them, changed lives.  It was the summer Cady was found on shore with a cut in her head, drenched, and alone.  She could not remember what happened to her nor could she remember that summer.  

We Were Liars is suspenseful yet whimsical.  It's a coming of age story told through the eyes of Cady and is centred on the summer she couldn't remember.

The narrative is so clever as portrayed in these notes from Gat to Cady:

"In a profound, symbolic gesture, I am giving you this bar of Vosges I got when we all went to Edgartown.  You can eat it, or just sit next to it and feel superior. "
"Better than chocolate, being with you last night.Silly me, I thought that nothing was better than chocolate."

John Green endorsed this YA novel saying, "Thrilling, beautiful, and blisteringly smart.  We Were Liars is utterly unforgettable." 

We Were Liars is a creative endeavour full of wit and clever metaphors, written to entertain even the more mature reader.  

"Once upon a time there were three beautiful children, two boys and a girl.....  Bounce, effort, and snark.  Contemplation and enthusiasm.  Ambition and strong coffee.  Sugar, curiosity and rain.  And yet, there was a witch.  There is always a witch."

Not strictly for YA audiences, We Were Liars will shock you to your core.  Jaw dropping, shake your head, hide your eyes shocking.  I cannot tell you more.  You must discover this novel and its intricate tale for yourself.

Meet the Author:

E. Lockhart is the author of four books about Ruby Oliver: The Boyfriend List, The Boy Book, The Treasure Map of Boys, and Real Live Boyfriends.  She also wrote Fly on the Wall, Dramarama, and How to be Bad (the last with Sarah Mlynowski and Lauren Myracle).  Her novel The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks was a Printz Award Honor Book, a finalist for the National Book Award, and winner of a Cybils Award for Best Young Adult Novel.


Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Care and Management of Lies by Jacqueline Winspear

The Care and Management of Lies
Author:  Jacqueline Winspear
Publication Date:  July 2014
Source:  a complimentary copy was provided by the publisher and TLC book tours in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

The New York Times bestselling author of the Maisie Dobbs series turns her prodigious talents to this World War I standalone novel, a lyrical drama of love struggling to survive in a damaged, fractured world.
By July 1914, the ties between Kezia Marchant and Thea Brissenden, friends since girlhood, have become strained—by Thea’s passionate embrace of women’s suffrage, and by the imminent marriage of Kezia to Thea’s brother, Tom, who runs the family farm. When Kezia and Tom wed just a month before war is declared between Britain and Germany, Thea’s gift to Kezia is a book on household management—a veiled criticism of the bride’s prosaic life to come. Yet when Tom enlists to fight for his country and Thea is drawn reluctantly onto the battlefield, the farm becomes Kezia’s responsibility. Each must find a way to endure the ensuing cataclysm and turmoil.
As Tom marches to the front lines, and Kezia battles to keep her ordered life from unraveling, they hide their despair in letters and cards filled with stories woven to bring comfort. Even Tom’s fellow soldiers in the trenches enter and find solace in the dream world of Kezia’s mouth-watering, albeit imaginary meals. But will well-intended lies and self-deception be of use when they come face to face with the enemy?
Published to coincide with the centennial of the Great War, The Care and Management of Lies paints a poignant picture of love and friendship strained by the pain of separation and the brutal chaos of battle. Ultimately, it raises profound questions about conflict, belief, and love that echo in our own time.

My Thoughts:
I noticed that the author's name took top billing on this new historical fiction scheduled for release next month.  Her name will sell this book!  Jacqueline Winspear is the well-known best-selling author of the Maisie Dobbs mystery series.
Jacqueline Winspear has long wanted to write a novel set during the time of war.  The Care and Management of Lies brings that desire to fruition.  On the author's website you may read her letter to her readers about the inspiration for The Care and Management of Lies. (see the link included with the links below.)
100 years ago the First World War commenced and there have been and will be several memorials in honour of those who fought, survived, or gave their lives in the cause.  It was the first war, according to Winston Churchill, wherein man realized he could completely obliterate himself. This leaves an enormous impression upon this generation of today.
On this theme, the author transports the reader to a tumultuous time that had long term effect for good and bad on so many.  Kezia, Thea and Tom provide a viewpoint for the reader from their perspectives as Tom is enlisted leaving behind his new young wife Kezia.  Their letters of love during their separation share the longings, fears, and trials.  They are in turn heart-wrenching and touching.
Thea, Tom's sister and Kezia's best friend, becomes an ambulance driver on the war torn fields.  What she sees will surely haunt her for years to come.  This is also a time when women were found doing the work of men, as was Thea; and, at home, Kezia in charge of the farm. It was a burdensome task with little labour and shortage of food.  Kezia's letters embellished the situation as she wrote of meals one could only dream of.  It was her way of assuring her husband he need not worry about her but focus on coming home alive.  Little did she know, those letters would buoy up the spirits of the troupe of soldiers Tom would serve with as well. Little lies to assuage the soul.
Each of the three protagonists face tremendous trials and through the pages we see their growth.  The little secrets they keep to themselves are rather selfless in that they are done to protect those they love.  You can't help but admire the lengths to which each will go to offer that protection.
The Care and Management of Lies is rather slow to get going with a lot of detail about the period in which the story takes place.  It serves a purpose in setting the scene, allowing the reader to visualize the land and the times.  The narrative too, though, is rather slow-paced compared with what I usually read.  That said, Jacqueline Winspear tells herein a haunting tale of the horrors of war with a deft hand and sympathetic heart.  You won't soon forget the impact she leaves.

PS to Maisie Dobbs fans, she will reappear in a new series the spring of 2015!

 Goodreads. Purchase links are: Amazon, IndieBound, Barnes & Noble

Jacqueline Winspear is the author of the New York Times bestselling novels featuring Maisie Dobbs, a former World War I nurse turned investigator. Originally from the United Kingdom, Winspear now lives in California. Find out more about Jacqueline at her website, www.jacquelinewinspear.com, and find her on Facebook.

The Heiresses by Sara Shepard - book review

The Heiresses
Author:  Sara Shephard
Published:  May 20, 2014
Publisher:  Harper
Pages:  320
Source:  A complimentary advance reader's copy was provided for the purpose of this review.  Receipt thereof bore no influence over this reviewers opinion nor this review.

You know the Saybrooks. Everyone does. Perhaps you’ve read a profile of them in People or have seen their pictures in the society pages of Vogue. Perhaps while walking along that choice block on Fifth Avenue, you’ve been tempted to enter the ornate limestone building with their family name etched into the pediment above the door.
The only thing more flawless than a Saybrook’s diamond solitaire is the family behind the jewelry empire. Beauties, entrepreneurs, debutantes, and style mavens, they are the epitome of New York City’s high society. But being a Saybrook comes at a price—they are heirs not only to a dizzying fortune but also to a decades-old family curse.
Tragedy strikes the prominent family yet again when thirty-four-year-old Poppy, the most exquisite Saybrook of them all, flings herself from the window of her TriBeCa office. Everyone is shocked that a woman who had it all would end her own life. Then her cousins receive an ominous threat: one heiress down, four to go.
Was it suicide . . . or murder? In the aftermath of the tragedy, the remaining heiresses—Corinne, the perfectionist; Rowan, the workaholic; Aster, the hedonist; and Natasha, the enigma—wrestle with feelings of sadness, guilt, and, most of all, fear. Now they must uncover the truth about their family before they lose the only thing money can’t buy: their lives.
The Heiresses is a whip-smart mystery that simmers with the wicked sense of humor and intrigue that made Sara Shepard’s number one New York Times bestselling Pretty Little Liars series a must-read, must-watch phenomenon.
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My Thoughts:
I admit to being seriously addicted to the Pretty Little Liars television series!  I cannot wait for season 5!  Agh!!  So, for all of you similarly minded readers who may, perhaps, have matured beyond the books of the Pretty Little Liars series, you simply must read Sara Shepard's newest release, an adult fiction novel called The Heiresses.  Fashion, diamonds, beautiful women, hunky men, and a dark and dirty family secret or two - there's lots more where that came from!

We are introduced to quite a large family of the New York upper class, starring two sisters, two cousins and spouses, a fiancĂ©,  a previous lover and more.... believe me, you will need the family pedigree chart to keep track of all of them at first. I often referred back to it as a new character would enter the picture; I need the visual chart to envision how they all tie together.

Like Pretty Little Liars, there's a secret that's been kept for more than a generation and some believe it's become a family curse.  (cue the theme song from PLL).  When one of the heiresses is found dead in front of the family business tower, it is at first believed she jumped.   Or was it murder?  The plot revolves around this murder, its tendrils reaching out, pulling in suspects, making the heiresses question even each other.  At the back of my mind, I was suspicious but was a bit surprised at the real identity.

"My life’s sort of in danger. I should probably lie low.”

“You sound a little Kim Kardashian overdramatic, honey."

Morality issues, lies, and secrets abound in this novel where the past influences the present and someone knows all the secrets.  That someone wants to get even now.  One heiress down, four to go......

Oh, and ladies, if the last chapter tease is any indication, there may be a sequel!!  

Meet the author Sara Shepard:
Sara Shepard graduated from New York University and has an MFA in creative writing from Brooklyn College. The author of the bestselling young adult books Pretty Little Liars and The Lying Game, as well as the adult novel The Visibles, she lives outside Philadelphia with her husband and dogs.
Visit her website at sarashepardbooks.com and follow her on Twitter, @sarabooks.


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