Sunday, May 29, 2011

Divergent - Veronica Roth

Title: Divergent
Author: Veronica Roth
Paperback: 487 pages (ARC version)
Publication date: May 3, 2011
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books/ Harper Collins
FTC: grabbed from work's freebie shelf

The short and easy:
Loved this book.  Go read this and then eagerly await the next in the series.  It may not be as good as The Hunger Games (my review) but it's definitely better than Catching Fire and Mockingjay

The synopsis:

Set in dystopian Chicago, everyone must belong to a faction:

Candor - the honest
Abnegation - the selfless
Dauntless - the brave
Amity - the peaceful
Erudite - the intelligent

When a person turns sixteen, they can choose for themselves which faction they want to belong to.  This is a huge deal because a person has to live and work with the chosen faction - basically cutting themselves off from everything and everyone they know if they choose a different faction from the one they were raised.  Beatrice was raised int he Abnegation faction (think Amish and then go a few steps further).  Knowing she may disappoint her family, she decides to choose Dauntless.  Jumping (literally) into the faction of the brave, Beatrice re-names herself Tris and must prove to herself and her new faction that she belongs.

My thoughts:

Tris is awesome.  She's what I wanted Katniss in The Hunger Games to be like, especially in the last book, Mockingjay.  Tris chooses her faction and starts her new life at the beginning of the book and the main part of the book is the initiation of becoming Dauntless.  I kept comparing it to The Hunger Games - except in Divergent, these kids choose to go through their trials.  So yeah, it's pretty violent.  People die and get maimed.  Kids are forced to fight each other and get tattoos to prove their bravery.

What I loved is the growth Tris goes through.  She must learn to become brave without sacrificing who she is.  As she grows, she finds that the factions are not what they used to be.  Something is wrong.  You can see the set up for what the rest of the series is going to be - the breakdown and possible waring of the factions.  Divergent also refers to something Tris is - something dangerous and secretive.  I can't wait to see how that part plays out in the series.  Of course, there is a love angle.  It's not a huge love story but it's in there and I have to say it was perfectly done.  Unlike some YA, there is no love triangle but the said guy is pretty cool.

If you like dystopian fiction, good YA books, or just an excuse to read close to 500 pages in a day or two, check out Divergent

Check out Veronica Roth's blog

Also Reviewed By:
A Book Blog. Period.
One Librarian's Book Reviews
Drey's Library
Bart's Bookshelf
All About {n}
Becky's Book Reviews
Bookfoolery and Babble

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Welcome little one!

I thought I'd take a moment to share my good news. I got to welcome baby into the world Monday evening. I'm still working on what his nickname will be. In the meantime his initials are RKT so we call him Rocket. He was 9 pounds 1 ounce and 20 inches. For various reasons we ended up having to do it via c-section but that's ok. I am so in love with my little guy.

I've of course taken quite a few photos of my little man. I'll still be reading everyone's blogs, especially since quite a few of you are in NYC for BEA. Hopefully I'll still be getting sone regular reading done and will post more reviews and photos.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Lynda Simmons Interview & Giveaway!

I am proud to have had the honor of interviewing Lynda Simmons, author of Island Girl.  If you missed it yesterday, check out my review.

Here is a little bit about Lynda before we start:

About Lynda Simmons:

Lynda Simmons is a writer by day, college instructor by night and a late sleeper on weekends. She grew up in Toronto reading Greek mythology, bringing home stray cats and making up stories about bodies in the basement. From an early age, her family knew she would either end up as a writer or the old lady with a hundred cats. As luck would have it, she married a man with allergies so writing it was.

With two daughters to raise, Lynda and her husband moved into a lovely two storey mortgage in Burlington, a small city on the water just outside Toronto. While the girls are grown and gone, Lynda and her husband are still there. And yes, there is a cat – a beautiful, if spoiled, Birman.

When she’s not writing or teaching, Lynda gives serious thought to using the treadmill in her basement. Fortunately, she’s found that if she waits long enough, something urgent will pop up and save her – like a phone call or an e-mail or a whistling kettle. Or even that cat just looking for a little more attention!

To learn more about Lynda and her work, visit her website,, or check her out on Facebook.

1. The Island plays an intricate part of the story, almost a character in itself.  In your acknowledgement, you note that the Island is a real place.  Can you tell us a bit about this place and does it have any particular significance to you?

Growing up in Toronto in the early sixties, Centre Island was the place my parents took me for the bike paths, the paddle boats and the excitement of a ferry ride. I was too young to understand what was going on politically between the city and the Islanders, but whenever we rode our bikes through the narrow streets of Ward’s and Algonquin, my mother was always appalled that people were still living there. My family was definitely on the side of parkland and parking lots, believing that the city’s program of bulldozing every home and business on the Island should continue, and the land used for picnic tables and kiddie rides. A nice plaque indicating that people had once lived there would be sufficient.  That was progress, after all, a sign that sleepy Toronto was coming into her own and heading bravely into the future.

But despite their best efforts, I was not convinced. There was something about those narrow, dappled lanes and those odd, tiny houses that fascinated me and lingered in my mind and imagination long after I’d grown and left the city.

Over the years, I’ve written other stories set on other Islands, most notably a serialized novella for the Toronto Sun that took place on the Island of Sark in the English Channel. When I started working on this new book, I knew I wanted another island setting and  thought about using one of the Gulf Islands off the B.C. coast.  But on a trip into the city one summer day, I realized that the perfect spot was right there in front of me, just a ten minute ferry ride across the water.

Never having lived on the Island, I knew I had a lot of research ahead of me, so I rented a room in a B&B on Algonquin and set out to meet and talk to Islanders. To find out what daily life was like without stores or banks or even the most rudimentary motorized vehicle to get you around. Most long time residents were happy to talk to me, inviting me into their homes where they served tea and wine and made the history of the Island and the fight to save those homes come to life for me right there in their kitchens. It was at one of those tables that I also discovered just how chilly the air can become in July when some fool starts talking about the convenience of the Island Airport!

Admittedly, a few people were reluctant to speak to me at all, afraid that drawing attention to the Island might result in renewed calls for the destruction of the remaining homes, or worse – a fear that proved well-founded this past winter when one city councilor actually put forward a motion to build brothels and casinos on the Island, his reasoning being that there is a nude beach there already. Clearly, the man has never set foot on that beach, and I like to think that he has never been on the ferry when it’s packed with kids either. Hasn’t sat with the little ones coming to the Island to learn, or stood among the older ones leaving for High School. Anyone who has experienced those moments couldn’t  possibly believe that hookers and schoolkids would make a good mix!

Although I spent a great deal of time on the Island, eventually renting an apartment on Algonquin for a month, and staying a few weeks at Artscape on Gibraltar Point, I am not now and never will be an Islander. I’m not fit enough for all that walking and biking, I find the winds too cold after Labour Day and living by the ferry schedule would make me crazy after while.

But the very fact that I’m not an Islander also meant that I was not bound by the truth. I could take everything I had learned and heard, and then go home and create fiction. I could write about a family who has lived on Ward’s for three generations, blending the history, the culture, and even the airport into the story without any danger of encountering the wrath of my neighbours!

2. A large part of the story is focused around Ruby and how she and her family and friends deal with her having Alzheimer's.  How did you do your research on Alzheimer's? What did you learn about Alzheimer's and did it surprise you or change your perception on the disease?

My mother-in-law was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s fifteen years ago. While this illness has impacted every facet of our life and introduced us to other families dealing with the same difficulties, when I decided to write Island Girl, I knew I couldn’t simply rely on my own experiences because every case of Alzheimer’s, and every family, is different.

In order to get it right I read books, watched documentaries, spoke to doctors and nurses, visited the Alzheimer’s Association and sat down with the people who run the day programs for patients. While all of this was helpful in understanding the clinical nature of the illness and the pharmaceutical advances being made, my real insights came from listening to the patients themselves.

People often wonder if it was depressing to dig so deeply into this devastating illness and the answer is yes. It was depressing and frightening and even now, if I forget where I’ve left something or can’t think of a word, my stomach instantly tightens and my over-active imagination starts wondering if this is it, if Big Al has landed on my own front porch. But spending time speaking to people with Alzheimer’s was also enlightening. I learned that a lot is still going on in their minds and that they can express themselves much better by writing down what they want to say than they can in conversation. Less stress and more time to make sure they’re saying what they mean makes all the difference.

I also learned patience and the importance of maintaining human dignity, but the most surprising thing I learned was not to generalize when it comes to this illness. I understand now that every brain is unique and therefore, so is every case of Alzheimer’s. Certainly, memory loss is a constant, but beyond that, there are no absolutes. Progression depends on where the illness attacks, individual neuron activity, overall health, etc. etc. etc. There is no constant and there is certainly no ‘karmic gotcha’ about Alzheimer’s. It’s an illness just as cancer or lupus or multiple sclerosis are illnesses. Alzheimer’s doesn’t discriminate, doesn’t care who you are or how much money you have, or how good or bad you’ve been, or what you have or haven’t done with your life. Big Al is an equally opportunity thug and once he gets hold of you, there is no escape. Not yet, anyway. But who knows what lies ahead?

3. Speaking of Ruby, I thought you made her character incredibly believable.  I don't think she always made the right choices and she could be downright abusive sometimes but she still remained a sympathetic character.  Can you tell us more about the development of Ruby or did you write her with a set of characteristics already determined?

Ruby started out as a secondary character in another book, and right from the start her personality was strong, her opinions definite and her voice far too loud to be ignored. She soon began to overshadow the main character so I replaced her with a different type of person altogether, and put Ruby aside, knowing I could only bring her on-stage again when I could give her a book and a platform of her own.

Island Girl was inspired by the differences I saw in the approach that the generations take to Alzheimer’s.  My mother-in-law’s generation, for example, lived through the depression and the war, and learned to accept whatever life threw at them without question.  Suck it up and soldier on, could be their motto. When diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, they tend to trust their doctors and their families to do what’s best for them, questioning little as they enter the system of the Long Goodbye.

The caregivers, on the other hand, the people of my generation, are completely different. We are the children of the revolution, after all. We fight everything and take nothing and no one at face value. We demand a say in all things affecting our lives, and work hard to ensure that we get it. We also talk to each other in facility lounges and dining rooms, and when we let down our guard and speak in candid whispered words, most of admit that we want no part of the Long Goodbye. We want to have a say in our own futures.

 It didn’t take me long to realize there was a story in this. A story of a woman accustomed to being in control, accustomed to making things go her way, suddenly finding herself in a situation where soon, nothing will be within her control – the perfect story for Ruby.

Ruby has always been strong-willed and often not the most likeable character I’ve ever created, but while working on this book she became so real for me that one afternoon when I took an hour away from the keyboard to go to a Pilates class, the woman on the reformer across from me stopped half-way through the class and asked if I always traveled with an entourage.

     The instructor quickly explained that this woman was a spiritualist and she was "seeing" the people around me.
     "One of them is Rose, or Ruth," the spiritualist said. "Do those names mean anything to you?"
     I shook my head, wondering if I should call it a day at Pilates, when she added, "I see water all around her. You must know someone on a coast or an island with the name Rose or Ruth -"
     "Or Ruby?" I asked.
     She snapped her fingers and pointed at me. "Ruby, that's it. Ruby is here. Do you know her?"
     Did I know her? Only too well.

I explained that I was a writer and Ruby was a character. She wasn’t surprised. She said this often happened, and went on to assure me that Ruby was pleased with what I was doing and wanted me to finish the book. Imagine my relief. What could be worse than a main character who doesn’t like your book?

Whether the spiritualist saw something or not, it was clear that Ruby was the character I most related to in the story. While I have a deep respect for Liz and Grace and how difficult it was growing up in their mother’s house, I have to admit that as a mother, my heart was, and always will be, with Ruby.

4. I went into this book thinking it was going to be quite sad because of the topic of Alzheimer's.  However, I was pleasantly surprised at all the humor.  Ruby, Grace, Liz and Jocelyn were quite the characters who often made me laugh and smile.  Was this intentional or did these characters just evolve like that as you wrote?

I started out writing romantic comedy for Harlequin and Kensington because those were the stories that came naturally. It’s not that I’m a Pollyanna, far from it, but I do believe that finding the humour in life has enabled me to keep pushing forward when situations seem hopeless. Even during the saddest times, there are moments of hilarity that lift me up, allowing me to see over the darkness, if only for a second. I’m married to an incurable optimist, so I suppose this helps, and I credit our long marriage to our ability to laugh at ourselves and at whatever life sends us.

While I didn’t plan on adding humour to Island Girl, it always finds a way into my writing and I don’t think I could change that if I wanted to!

5.  Ok, now I'm not sure if you'll tell us or not...or if I was supposed to figure this out...but out of the three characters: Ruby, Grace, and Liz - who is the Island Girl of the title...or is it all three?

For me, they are all Island Girls – and Jocelyn is well on her way!


The Giveaway!!!

Lynda Simmons was gracious to offer two copies of Island Girl to two lucky US/Canada residents.  The contest is open through June 1st, so good luck!!     CONTEST OVER!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Island Girl - Lynda Simmons

Title: Island Girl
Author: Lynda Simmons
Paperback: 435 pages
Publication date: December 2010
Publisher: Berkley/Penguin
FTC: TLC Book Tours

I can't remember what prompted me to join the TLC Book Tour of Island Girl.  I do know when I picked it up to read I was a bit hesitant.  I mean, I've been on a run of wonderful books and somehow a book about a woman's struggle with Alzheimer's just seemed a bit depressing.  Man, was I wrong. 

I have to say that from the minute I started reading, I became so engrossed with the story of Ruby, Grace, and Liz that I was done with the book in a just a couple of days.  I gave it five stars on GoodReads and it has become my favorite read so far this year.  Yep.  That good.  I think it's because there is absolutely nothing I would change with this story.   

From the back of the book:

There are people who try hard to forget their problems. All Ruby wants to do is remember...

Ruby Donaldson has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's Disease, and she'll be damned if she won't straighten out her troubled family before she no longer knows how.

Ruby spent years fighting to hold on to the home her grandmother built on Ward's Island. The only way she can ensure that her younger, mentally scarred daughter Grace can live there for the rest of her life is to convince her older daughter, Liz, to sober up and come home.

Ruby always thought she'd have a lifetime to make things right, but suddenly time is running out. She has to put her broken family back together quickly while searching for a way to deal with the inevitable- and do it with all the grit, stubbornness, and unstoppable determination that makes Ruby who she is...until she's Ruby no longer.

My thoughts:

The book is laid out with the three women alternating their points of view: the perfect way to write this story.  Each character struggles with their own problems and often doesn't make the best decisions.  Giving a voice to each of them made them so human and sympathetic.  I wanted to cry at their stories and more often than not was laughing and cheering them on as they each overcame huge obstacles.

Ruby is only fifty-five and has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's.  Her condition is deteriorating VERY rapidly and she must reconcile with her estranged daughter Liz, provide a care-taker for her mentally challenged daughter Grace, and secure her family home on Ward Island.  Ruby is probably the hardest of the three to really understand.  She doesn't always make the best decisions, has a horrible track record with the men in her life, and is sometimes almost abusive towards her daughters.  Written any other way, Ruby would have been a character I didn't like, but I felt so protective of her.  I wanted her to reconcile with her daughters and find happiness in the short amount of time she had left.  I wanted her to have more time.

Grace is the youngest daughter - beautiful but slow.  It's never stated what her exact diagnoses is but Grace is mentally challenged somehow making her family very protective giving her an extremely sheltered life.  Grace has a sad period in her past and as the story unfolds the story comes out.  Her story is the part that broke my heart the most.  You can't help but love Grace.  I enjoyed watching her struggle and take steps towards her own independence.  She reminded me of an injured baby bird who is finding out how to use her wings and fly. 

Liz was my favorite of the three.  Because of events that happened a few years back, Liz is estranged not only from her mother and sister, but from the island itself.  While Ruby and Grace are on the island, Liz has become a lawyer who no longer practices law and is happily sinking into an alcoholic oblivion.  Learning that her mother has Alzheimer's isn't even enough to reach Liz through her haze.  But when a close acquaintance is in need of legal help, Liz must face her past learn to forgive.  Liz was the much needed reality check to Ruby's story.  She was also the character I loved most as I watched her slowly come back up from the hole she was living in and cheered her on through each victory.

Of course there are wonderful side characters that provide wonderful depth to the story.  There's Mark who has always been the love of Ruby's life, whether she deserves him or not.  Jocelyn. Mark's twelve year old daughter, gives the second half of the book a huge boost.  She became one of my favorite characters.  She's feisty, angry, and states what's on her mind.  But somehow is a much needed presence in Ruby and Grace's life.

So this story wasn't depressing at all.  It was hopeful, beautiful, endearing, funny, and bittersweet.  It would make a fabulous book club read because I keep wanting to talk about it to someone.

Important News:

Come back tomorrow for my interview with Lynda Simmons about Island Girl.  You'll also have a chance to win this book as she has graciously offered two books two giveaway! 

Lynda Simmons TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, May 16th: Lit and Life
Tuesday, May 17th:  A Library of My Own
Wednesday, May 18th: Book Reviews by Molly
Thursday, May 19th: Acting Balanced
Friday, May 20th:  Knowing the Difference
Monday, May 23rd: Life in Review
Tuesday, May 24th: Rundpinne
Wednesday, May 25th: Reviews from the Heart
Friday, May 27th:  BookNAround
Tuesday, May 31st: Teresa’s Reading Corner
Wednesday, June 1st: Book Club Classics
Thursday, June 2nd: Colloquium
Monday, June 6th: A Cozy Reader’s Corner
Tuesday, June 7th:  Book Bird Dog
Wednesday, June 8th: Raging Bibliomania
Thursday, June 9th:  Hey, I Want to Read That
Monday, June 13th:  Peeking Between the Pages

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Peach Keeper - Sarah Addison Allen (GIVEAWAY!)

Title: The Peach Keeper
Author: Sarah Addison Allen
Paperback: 273 pages (ARC version)
Publication date: March 2011
Publisher: Random House
FTC: asked by TLC Book Reviews

When I saw that TLC was hosting Sarah Addison Allen's latest book, I immediately sent an email asking to join.  I really didn't there would be room for me.  I mean, I haven't seen any bad reviews of her books.  They are just so much fun.  So I was beyond excited when I heard there was room for me.   If you remember this post, I was even more excited when the book came with a Yankee Candle with the most amazing peach smell.  Check out my previous reviews of her novels: Garden Spells, The Sugar Queen, and The Girl Who Chased the Moon.

The story:

Willa Jackson lives in Walls of Water, North Carolina: a place known for it's beautiful waterfalls and outdoor beauty.  Willa owns and runs a local organic outdoor clothing store.  All is quiet and normal until the newly restored Blue Ridge Madam - a beautiful large mansion - is set to re-open as a high end tourist hotel.  Willa's family lost the mansion and their fortune when her grandmother was young...around the same time she became pregnant and the father was never known.  Today, Willa just doesn't want to be reminded of the family's past or her own.  Back when Willa was in high school, she was known as The Joker, committing all sorts of outlandish pranks.

On the other side of the tracks is socialite and wealthy Paxton Osgood.  She is in charge of the mansion's restoration and has only good intentions.  While she seems like she would have it all together, she is just as lost as anyone else.  She still lives at home and has no clue what she really wants except for a secret unrequited love.

Of course each girl has their little love story, but what impressed me the most was that this was a tale of friendship.  When the opening of the mansion brings secrets literally up out of the grave, it forces Willa and Paxton to face their past and their future.   As usual I love the men in the story.  I don't want to give too much away so you'll just have to read the book to discover them.

The Peach Keeper is written so, like all her books, it makes you smell, taste and feel the setting of the story.  However, unlike her other other books none of the main characters really focused on food.  And while there was a little bit of magic it wasn't as much as some of her other stories.  As a little note,  I totally enjoyed the side character of Rachel, a twenty-something girl who worked at Willa's store.  She made coffee and pastries for the store and I thoroughly loved her character.  She tried to figure out people's personalities through the types of coffee they ordered.  I honestly hope Sarah Addison Allen comes back to her as a main character as I love love coffee and her transient character.

Here's a quote I loved regarding Rachel:

Coffee, she discovered, was tied to all sorts of memories, different for each person. Sunday mornings, friendly get-togethers, a favorite grandfather long since gone, the AA meeting that saved their life.  Coffee meant something to people.  Most found their lives miserable without it.

Oh! And if you've read other Sarah Addison Allen books, specifically Garden Spells, you'll be happy to note that Claire Waverley makes a fun cameo.  I love when authors do that!

Check out Sarah Addison Allen's website for some recipes of Rachel's delicious coffee snacks like Double Chocolate Espresso Brownies.  Mmmm.

Since this book is new this year, I only found one other alternate cover.  I still prefer the the cover I have:

Now for the GIVEAWAY!

The publisher is letting me give away ONE copy of The Peach Keeper to one lucky person who lives in the US or Canada.  The contest is open through May 23rd.  Please fill out the form below to enter.  Good luck!!

Sarah Addison Allen’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Wednesday, April 13th:  Knowing the Difference

Friday, April 15th:  Peeking Between the Pages

Monday, April 18th:  Bewitched Bookworms

Tuesday, April 19th:  Book Reviews by Molly

Wednesday, April 20th:  A Few More Pages

Thursday, April 21st:  Sara’s Organized Chaos

Friday, April 22nd:  Life in Review

Monday, April 25th:  The Broke and the Bookish

Tuesday, April 26th:  Life in the Thumb

Wednesday, April 27th:  Crazy for Books

Friday, April 29th:  A Fair Substitute for He
Monday, May 2nd:  Fizzy Thoughts

Tuesday, May 3rd:  Coffee and a Book Chick

Wednesday, May 4th:  Jenn’s Bookshelves

Thursday, May 5th:  Alison’s Book Marks

Friday, May 6th:  Bookfoolery and Babble

Monday, May 9th:  A Library of My Own

Tuesday, May 10th:  Teresa’s Reading Corner

Wednesday, May 11th:  Unabridged Chick

Monday, May 16th:  A Bookshelf Monstrosity

Wednesday, May 18th:  Two Kids and Tired

Friday, May 20th:  In the Next Room

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Girl Who Chased the Moon - Sarah Addison Allen

Title: The Girl Who Chased the Moon
Author: Sarah Addison Allen
Hardcover: 265 pages
Publication date: March 2010
Publisher: Bantam/Random House
FTC: from the library

I adore Sarah Addison Allen's books.  I've read her previous two books Garden Spells (my review) and The Sugar Queen (my review) and own them.  I think I'm going to start collecting her books.  They've got a bit of southern charm, usually involve something deliciously edible, and a little bit of magic.  Not the Harry Potter type of magic but the you-can-almost-believe-it type.  Her books are like a favorite pair of jeans or the perfect cup of coffee.  Cozy and comforting, I always know I'm going to enjoy the story.

Here's the plot:

Emily is just a teenager in high school when her mother passes away.  Emily must turn to the only family she has left, her grandfather, who's she's never met and is over eight feet tall and lives in Mullaby, North Carolina.  As she moves into her mother's old bedroom, a mysterious room who's wallpaper changes with her moods, she discovers her mother kept many secrets about her life in Mullaby.  She meets and finds a strange attraction to a boy named Win Coffey.  Why does Win's family hate Emily's mother and why do the Coffey's never come out at night?  In the meantime, Emily befriends a neighbor named Julia who owns a local bbq joint and bakes the most delicious desserts.  Julia's plan is to only stay in Mullaby for six more months so she can save enough money to move away.  Julia is also keeping secrets about her past.  Do they have something to do with the handsome and charming Sawyer who is trying to convince her to stay in Mullaby?

There are so many things I love about Sarah Addison Allen's stories.  I love the heroines.  There's always a couple characters that you are just rooting for.  Emily and Julia are just two great examples.  Emily would stand up for her mother's reputation while at the same time admit that her mother may have made some bad decisions and that she'd like to help fix them.  My heart just went out to Julia as she struggled with so many past hurts.  I just couldn't wait for her to be happy.  Win and Sawyer are just such good guys.  I love that she alternates perspectives so sometimes you get the guy's point of views.  I couldn't help it, maybe it's because I watched to many episodes of Lost, but I kept imagining this Sawyer which wasn't all that odd since the book's Sawyer was charming, blond and Southern.

Here's a quote I just had to snag:

"I'm homesick all the time," she said, still not looking at him. "I just don't know where home is.  There's this promise of happiness out there. I know it. I even feel it sometimes. But it's like chasing the moon - just when I think I have it, it disappears into the horizon."

This one might almost tie with Garden Spells as my favorite Sarah Addison Allen book.

And I just can't help adoring her books' covers.  My favorite is the cover above even though I wish it was more in the same style as her previous two.  I finally found a version that had that style but I was a bit disappointed.  Here it is:

The paperback is gorgeous too.  The butterflies make sense too if you read the book.

And this one is ok. It's my least favorite:

O wow!  As I was looking up her website, I think I fell in love with her books even more.  She has a page devoted to the saga of the book cover.  Just head over there to see all the different ones.  You can even find recipes for Julia's cakes.  Love it!

Also Reviewed By:

Bookfoolery and Babble
Queen of Happy Endings
Stephanie's Written Word
Lit and Life

Monday, May 2, 2011

Mom - Dave Isay

Title: Mom: A Celebration of Mothers from StoryCorps
Editor: Dave Isay
Hardcover: 181 pages
Publication Date: April 2010
Publisher: Penguin
FTC: free from TLC Book Tours

Most people know that Mother's Day is coming up on May 8th.  So when I saw TLC Book Tours was hosting Dave Isay's book Mom, I decided to jump at the chance.  I mean, any day this month I am going to be a new mom and my family is full of wonderful mothers.

The book is a collection of interviews ordinary people did through StoryCorps.  If you've never heard of StoryCorps, go check them out.  I think the idea and the results are amazing.  The interviews are usually around 40 minutes and normally between a couple of people.  Each interview are just a few pages long with the people's photographs at the end of the book. The results?  Lovely.  Heartwarming.  These stories may even make you tear up a bit. 

Some of the stories are about people talking about their moms and sometimes it is a mom talking to her child or partner about being a mom.  The range of experiences are so fascinating.  There's divorced mothers, a mother of quintuplets, mother's who've lost their child, or mother's who adopted a child.  I loved the honesty and obvious love that showed through these interviews.  Often it's hard to say things to someone in day to day life.  There's one story of a mom who revealed a large secret to her son.  It's amazing the courage some people have to say the things they want and need to say when the time is just right.

There are three sections in the book that these interviews are categorized in: Wisdom, Devotion, and Enduring Love.  But I would say most of these interviews are a mix of all the categories.  These are just beautiful stories.  It would be very easy to suck up this book in just a couple of hours.  Or you can do as I did and savor a couple of stories at a time each day.

The best part is that the book encourages you to do your own interviews, either through StoryCorps or on your own.  It even lists some common questions at the back of the book to start you off.  As I was perusing StoryCorps website, I came across this cute video so you can see an example of the types of stories in this book.  This particular one is not in the book:

Q&A from StoryCorps on Vimeo.

For a couple more StoryCorps interviews, you can listen here.

A cool thing is one hundred percent of the book's royalties will go to StoryCorps, which is an awesome deal.  Since quantities were limited, I decided to host my own giveaway for the copy I have.  I'd like my mom and sister to read this but I may just have to buy copies for them.


Do you have or know an amazing mom?  Are you a mom to a wonderful child?  Tell me something about your mom or being a mom and I'll choose a winner in celebration of Mother's Day.

Please leave a comment with your name and email address (or way to contact you).  The contest is international and open through May 9th.  That gives you just a week to enter!  Good luck!

Dave Isay’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, May 2nd:
Reviews from the Heart
Book Dads
A Library of My Own

Tuesday, May 3rd:
Silver and Grace
In the Next Room
Library of Clean Reads

Wednesday, May 4th:
Juggling Life
A Utah Mom’s Life
Random Thoughts of a Lutheran Geek

Thursday, May 5th:
A Chick Who Reads
Book Clutter
Book Nut

Friday, May 6th:
Deb’s Book Bag
Suko’s Notebook
One Person’s Journey Through a World of Books