Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Map of True Places Giveaway!


I happened to snag an extra copy of Brunonia Barry's novel The Map of True Places.  It's an ARC paperback with the cover above, just FYI.   Please read my review of the book and better yet, check out Book Club Girl's awesome interview with her.  Only requirement is that you let me know something you learned or piqued your interest from either one.  Contest is open through May 13, so good luck!

Here's the form:

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Map of True Places - Brunonia Barry

Title: The Map of True Places
Author: Brunonia Barry
Paperback: 403 pages (ARC version)
Publication date: May 2010
Publisher: Harper Collins/William Morrow
FTC: won a copy from publisher

I'll have to be honest.  I started this book way back last year and didn't get far into it and didn't finish it.  For some reason it just wasn't the book for me at the time.  So it's been sitting on my bookshelf with a bookmark in it for some time.  When I saw that the paperback edition (cover at the end of the post) was coming out AND Book Club Girl was hosting an author interview with her (listen here) that I could participate in, well I thought it was time to give it a second chance.  Man, I'm glad I did.

I became a fan of Brunonia Barry when I read her first novel The Lace Reader (my review).  Her books are so far all set in Salem, Massachussetts and incorporate the history, legends, and the town almost as a character.  The Lace Reader focused more on the witchy past of Salem while this book delves into the maritime and literary history.  Think of Salem back in the day, full of traders and fishermen...think of Herman Melville's Moby Dick and Nathaniel Hawthorne's The House of Seven Gables.  So far, all of Brunonia Barry's novels makes me want to take a vacation to Salem and just savor all the history of the town.

Like The Lace Reader, this book centers on a main character as she comes to grips with her family and her past.  Here's the summary from the back of the book:

Zee Finch has come a long way from a motherless childhood spent stealing boats—a talent that earned her the nickname Trouble. She's now a respected psychotherapist working with the world-famous Dr. Liz Mattei. She's also about to marry one of Boston's most eligible bachelors. But the suicide of Zee's patient Lilly Braedon throws Zee into emotional chaos and takes her back to places she though she'd left behind. 

What starts as a brief visit home to Salem after Lilly's funeral becomes the beginning of a larger journey for Zee. Her father, Finch, long ago diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, has been hiding how sick he really is. His longtime companion, Melville, has moved out, and it now falls to Zee to help her father through this difficult time. Their relationship, marked by half-truths and the untimely death of her mother, is strained and awkward. 

Overwhelmed by her new role, and uncertain about her future, Zee destroys the existing map of her life and begins a new journey, one that will take her not only into her future but into her past as well. Like the sailors of old Salem who navigated by looking at the stars, Zee has to learn to find her way through uncharted waters to the place she will ultimately call home.

I think what bogged me down last time I tried to read this book is that it starts of fairly bleak.  I mean, Zee is so apathetic about her upcoming marriage that it was a bit sad.  When you discover that her mother committed suicide and her father was closet homosexual who came out during her mother's mental breakdowns, well....yeah it was all so sad.  BUT....

Hang in there.  There is so much more to this novel.  Once Zee goes back home to care for her father who is suffering from Parkinson's, the story really picks up.  Zee wonders about the real cause of Lilly's suicide and IF it was really suicide.  We start meeting characters that I really adore.  I loved the literary inclusion of Finch, Zee's father, being a Hawthorne expert.  Melville, Finch's long time partner is one of my favorites.  He is such a sympathetic character and I just adored how he was a father to Zee and a partner to her father.  Zee really starts waking up as she delves into her past and what she wants from the future. 

There's so many great themes and ideas in this book.  Lilly and Zee's mother both had bipolar disorder and how Zee deals with it.  Finch is struggling with Parkinson's disease (Brunonia Barry mentions April is Parkinson's Awareness Month).  The literary aspects were also interesting.  Zee's mother was in the middle of writing a story incorporating an old maritime lore of sailor's wife and a widow's walk.  Finch's interest in the relationship between Hawthorne and Melville.  Finch also gives Zee's mother a book of Yeats poetry which ends up playing a part in the book.  And if you've read The Lace Reader, Ann Chase is a side character and Towner Whitney is mentioned, yay!

I'm not sure what made it all stick together for me and draw me in.  Perhaps it's Brunonia Barry's writing that makes the setting and people seem so real.  Whatever it is, about halfway through the book, I couldn't put it down and I stayed up way too late to finish the book. Are there serious and heart wrenching themes in this book?  Yes.  Did it end up being a downer?  No.  It was more of a story of healing and resolution.  Go read this book.

Here's the new paperback cover:
Also Reviewed By:

Peeking Between the Pages
Luxury Reading
Fashion Piranha
She is Too Fond of Books
S. Krishna's Books
Fyrefly's Book Blog
Capricious Reader
Devourer of Books
TLC Book Tours

The Book Lady's Blog (what inspired The Map of True Places)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wednesday Stuff

A couple days ago I finished Brunonia Barry's novel The Map of True Places.  I should have the review up tomorrow.  But today I'm going to head over to The Book Club Girl at 7PM EST to chat with the author (it's actually over at the Blog Talk Radio).

The last few weeks I have blown through a few YA dystopian novels.  So so good.  I have to say I'm becoming a huge fan of the genre.  So I'll be posting reviews of Divergent, Delirium, and Wither.

What else.  O yeah.

Baby stuff.

So I am now 34 weeks and a few days and apparently starting last week, baby's been trying to come early.  I've been having pre-term labor contractions and had to quit work and am now on bed rest.  Fortunately I have not been feeling the contractions and am now on a pill for the next two weeks to stop them.  I keep telling baby he needs to incubate just a little bit longer.

At the end of March I had my baby shower and had tons of fun.  My husband and I are blessed with wonderful family and friends.  My mom and sister flew out and got to spend about a day (such a short trip) with us but I was so happy to see them.  Here's me opening a gift:

We've been nicknaming our little guy Rocket since his initials are RKT.  So if you're reading this blog and I refer to Rocket, you'll know who I'm talking about.  (I do get the irony that our dogs are Anna and Charlie, while our kid is nicknamed Rocket. It makes me chuckle.)

I guess that's it for now.  Here's to me getting a ton of reading done while I'm on bed rest.  Woohoo!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Kat, Incorrigible - Stephanie Burgis

Title: Kat, Incorrigible
Author: Stephanie Burgis
Paperback: 295 pages
Publication Date: April 2011
FTC: I requested to review from Shelf Awareness

How adorable is this book.  I absolutely loved it.

From the back of the book:

Katherine Ann Stephenson has just discovered that she's inherited her mother's magical talents, and despite Stepmama's stern objections, she's determined to learn how to use them.  But with her eldest sister Elissa's intended fiance, the sinister Sir Neville, showing a dangerous interest in Kat's magical potential; her other sister, Angeline, wreaking romantic havoc with her own witchcraft; and a highwayman lurking in the forest, even Kat's reckless heroism will be tested to the utmost.  If she can learn to control her powers, will Kat be able to rescue her family and win her sisters their true loves?

This book is what would happen if Jane Austen wrote a book with a twelve-year-old heroine and threw in a little magic to boot.  It's got all the good stuff in a story: a mean stepmother, highwaymen (yay!), and magic.  How can you not get sucked into a story that starts off with this:

"I was twelve years of age when I chopped off my hair, dressed as a boy, and set off to save my family from impending ruin."

I know I would have loved this book back when I was a little girl.  My only problem is that I don't have a daughter to share this with....although maybe some day :)

I just saw this video for it:

And isn't the cover art so cute?  Here's the full jacket:

It looks like in the UK it goes under the title A Most Improper Magick:

I think I like my cover better but I like the alternate title better.

Check out Stephanie Burgis' website (she also has a blog) because you can read Chapters 1-3 and see if you don't get hooked.  I have to say I'll be looking out for the next two books in the series.

Also Reviewed by:

Capricious Reader
Fyrefly's Book Blog

This has been a selection for Carl's Once Upon a Time V Challenge

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Home to Woefield - Susan Juby

Title: Home to Woefield
Author: Susan Juby
Paperback: 306 pages
Publication date: March 2011
FTC: received from Book Club Girl for Blog Talk Radio participation

If you've never checked out Book Club Girl's website, you should definitely head on over there.  The ladies at Harper Collins are awesome and this site is packed with great book titles, fun contests and I love participating in the author chats online at Blog Talk Radio.  I entered to win Home to Woefield so I could participate in the show and it was so much fun.  The book is adorable.

Here's the synopsis from the book:

Prudence Burns, a well-intentioned New Yorker full of back-to-the-land ideals, just inherited Woefield Farm—thirty acres of scrubland, dilapidated buildings, and one half-sheared sheep. But the bank is about to foreclose, so Prudence must turn things around fast! Fortunately she'll have help from Earl, her banjo-playing foreman with a family secret; Seth, the neighbor who hasn't left the house since a high school scandal; and Sara Spratt, an eleven-year-old who's looking for a home for her prize-winning chickens.
Home to Woefield is about learning how to take on a challenge, face your fears, and find friendship in the most unlikely of places.

I adored the idea of taking a New Yorker, one who is all into the green movement and even worm composts in her tiny Brooklyn apartment, and moves her to a Canadian island when she inherits a family farm. I mean, I can totally relate to Prudence. My husband and I just made a compost bin, are planning our garden for next year (yes in Vegas, I get the irony), and are saving our yogurt cups for plant starters.

Anyway, if you are expecting this book to be one of those predictable tales where New York girl moves to country and ends up making a successful go at farming...well it's not this book.  Things go wrong and it is hilarious. From the old farmhand Earl who is not good at farming or fixing things, to the hired help, Seth, who knows as much farming as you'd expect a celebrity blogger to know. 

I love thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is written in such an engaging way. During the radio show, Susan Juby describes it as rapidly alternating first person narratives which means that we hear from four different characters throughout the book: Prudence, Seth, Sara, and Earl.  Each narration is just a few pages long which is enough to flesh out events in the book through different perspectives.  Seth and Sara are by far my favorite characters.  Seth is a shut-in recluse in his mom's house who devotes his time to celebrity and heavy metal blogging.  Sara's home life is a mess because her father lost a job so she devotes her attention to raising and showing chickens.  These characters were so real.  I have to warn you though that Seth and Earl do tend to cuss a lot.  However, it's not excessive and it totally fits in with their character.  Even though sometimes I wanted to slap Prudence, I ended up really caring about her character.  She is an incredibly industrious character but you could see her character growing as she realizes that turning a run down farm around isn't as easy as she thought it would be.  There were so many times this book had me just laughing out loud.  For instance, my favorite side side character is Bertie, the farm's one lone sheep.  The problems they have with taking care of Bertie and trying to sheer her are just hilarious.

My only problem with the book is that it ended all too soon.  I'm not done with these characters.  I want to know what happens next.  I was so excited to hear that Susan Juby, during her interview on blog talk radio, isn't done with these characters either.  Hopefully she'll be coming out with a follow up book soon.

Which reminds me...Home to Woefield was originally published in Canada under the title The Woefield Poultry Collective.  This is the cover:

I adore the American cover and title and am really not found of the original.  What do you think?

Also Reviewed by:

Chris Bookarama
Book Club Classics
Booking Mama
Leafing Through Life

Monday, April 4, 2011

Book Club Girl and Susan Juby

How adorable is that cover? And I don't even LIKE chickens in particular.  Anyway, I just finished Susan Juby's novel Home to Woefield so I could participate in the Book Club Girl's on air talk with her tomorrow (April 5th). 

Check out the Book Club Girl's website and Blog Talk Radio.  It's a pretty darn good book and I'll be reviewing it soon!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Broken Birds - Jeannette Katzir

Title: Broken Birds: The Story of My Momila
Author: Jeannette Katzir
Ebook: read on a Nook (paperback 340 pages)
Publication Date: April 2009
FTC: received from the author

A long while back I was contacted by Jeannette Katzir to see if I wanted to read her book Broken Birds.  Normally I would be a little hesitant to read a self published book but I've actually read a good review or two and thought it sounded really interesting (check out Book Nest and Book Worm's reviews. You can also check out some other reviews on her website).  Anyway, it took me way too long to get around to reading it because I had accepted the Ebook version.  Back when I said yes, I was around a computer a LOT more than I am now.  So I finally decided to borrow a Nook and check it out.

Here's the book's summary on Goodreads:

World War II has long since ended, and yet Jaclyn and her four brothers and sisters grow up learning to survive it. Having lived through the Holocaust on the principles of constant distrust, their mother, Channa, dutifully teaches her children to cling to one another while casting a suspicious eye to the outside world. When Channa dies, the unexpected contents of her will force her adult children to face years of suppressed indignation. For Jacyln and her siblings, the greatest war will not be against strangers, but against one another. Broken Birds: The Story of My Momila is Jeannette Katzir's achingly honest memoir of the enduring effects of war. From her parents' harrowing experiences during the Holocaust to her own personal battles, Katzir exposes the maladies of heart and mind that those broken by war, inevitably and unintentionally pass down to the generations that follow.

I have to say that I was very torn reading this.  The beginning of the book describes Jeannette's mother and father's experiences during WWII as Jewish victims of the Nazi regime.   Jeannette's mother Channa escapes a Jewish ghetto with her brother to join a resistance group surviving in the woods.  Jeannette's father survives a concentration camp and both immigrate to America.

I'll have to say the beginning gripped me.  Wow.  The stories of these two surviving in almost impossible ways just caught me.  Wow.  The story is narrative so there is not much dialogue but it works.  I still remember her father's predicament of being released from the camp but then what.  He has to find a place to live AND work in a foreign country with only the camp clothes on his back.  Wow.  I guess I never imagined what happened to all those survivors once they were freed.  

I had a harder time with the rest of the book.  It describes the couple's immigration to America, how they met and married, and then once the children arrive it's from Jaclyn's perspective. She has four brothers and sisters and what a mess.  Even though the family does an amazing job of starting prosperous business ventures, they also fight over money and business.  This just reminds me of not mixing family and business.  It gets messy.

So the main story is the mess of a family, which gets even worse when Channa passes away.  Her father is left alone and only then does the family realize how much Channa kept control of EVERYTHING.  Hoarding money around the house, splitting up saving in a multitude of banks...it's as if she believed that the Nazis would return.

And I guess while reading this strange novel of waring siblings and messed up family relationships,  I found myself struggling...but I kept going back to this story.  And I'll admit that this story has stuck with me more than any other holocaust novel I've ever read.  The reason is that it is blatantly apparent that while the parents survived the holocaust, mentally no one survived.  The damage that was done to the body and mind, the fear and paranoia, survived and was passed down to the next generation.  For this reason I find that this is an amazing story.  A story of the absolute destruction and damage that was wrought on a whole people and their descendants that didn't end in 1945.

Definitely recommended as a book club read if you'd like some interesting discussions.

Also Reviewed by:

Book Nest
Book Worm

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Books and more books!

I've been really bad about sharing my new acquisitions lately.  I have to say the library book sales here in Las Vegas are AMAZING.  Whenever I need a pick-me-up (which is a lot lately since I am feeling quite whale-like in my eighth month of being pregnant), I just head on down to a branch and browse.  My husband just shakes his head and is surprisingly very ok with me lugging in tons of books.  He just says when my upstairs library caves the ceiling in that he won't be surprised.  :)

Actually, I just think he's happy my habit isn't more expensive.  I mean, look at what I got today for $4.50.

I normally try and only get books that I've already heard of and are on my massive to-read list.  But I saw The Collector of Worlds and it just looked too interesting to pass up.  Anyone read that one?

I've also got a couple new acquisitions in the mail for a couple of TLC book tours I'm on.  

I am beyond thrilled to be part of Sarah Addison Allen's tour for The Peach Keeper.  I LOVED Garden Spells (my review) and actually just lent it to my sister to read.  The only book of hers I haven't read is The Girl Who Chased the Moon.   I am going to have to go out and buy that one to add to my collection.  By the way...the Yankee candle that came with the book...to DIE for.  I opened the package and immediately the smell of peaches wafted up.  LOVE it.   If you check out her Facebook page there is a giveaway for the candles going on right now.  ENTER.  NOW!

And Simon Pegg.  I love his movies.  I really do.  My husband immediately snagged the book the day it came in the mail and is reading it.  I had to snag it back briefly to take the photo. 

As a side note, I finally think I mastered Flickr...take that Blogger and Flickr and random people who want to sue poor bloggers.  Hopefully I can keep up this roll of actually posting things!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Once Upon a Time V

Sigh.  I love this time of year because it's Carl's annual Once Upon a Time Challenge.  Yippee!!

Last year we were probably on the road moving from New York City so I missed it it.  You can check out the books I read for the Once Upon a Time III though.  I had so much fun! 

This time I am challenging myself to only read books from my to-read shelves at home. The categories for the challenge are fantasy, fairy tales, folklore and mythology.  I think I have more fantasy books than any of the other categories.  Here's some I grabbed really quickly, although some might not fit the category.  Does future dystopian fit the "fantasy" category?  What do you think?

I'm currently reading book two of Tales of the Otori which is listed under "fantasy" so that counts.

I would LOVE to read Carolyn Turgeon's new book, Mermaid, since I reviewed her first two books Godmother and Rain Village and thought they were just magical.  Perfect for this challenge.  Passages to the Past has a giveaway and interview with her going on right now.

Which leads me to which challenge should I sign up for?  I think I can do better than just one book so I'm going to go for:
 Which means I need to read at least five books that fit within the categories.  I can do that, right?

Here we go!