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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Book Review - The Art of Hearing Heartbeats - Dec 2012

BOOK REVIEW - DECEMBER 2012
"THE ART OF HEARING HEARTBEATS"
BY 
JAN-PHILIPP SENDKER

Book Description (from Amazon.com)

Fiction
336 pages
January 31, 2012
A poignant and inspirational love story set in Burma, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats spans the decades between the 1950s and the present.  When a successful New York lawyer suddenly disappears without a trace, neither his wife nor his daughter Julia has any idea where he might be…until they find a love letter he wrote many years ago, to a Burmese woman they have never heard of. Intent on solving the mystery and coming to terms with her father’s past, Julia decides to travel to the village where the woman lived. There she uncovers a tale of unimaginable hardship, resilience, and passion that will reaffirm the reader’s belief in the power of love to move mountains.

MY REVIEW:
This book found it's way to me in a very special way.  One day as I was shopping at a local holiday boutique recently, I ran into someone I know.  We began chatting about things and she asked me about my blind 8 year old son Josh.  The cashier overheard us and said to me "Have you ever read The Art of Hearing Heartbeats? You HAVE to read it please!"  I didn't know this woman but there was something about her and something about her plea that made me drive immediately over to the library and check it out.  Due to the fact that I am a book reviewer and blogger, I am given Advanced copies of books from publishers, and other people recommend books to me all of the time, most of which I never read.  But this time I just felt compelled.  I read this entire book in only 3 days.  By the end of the 2nd chapter I knew that I was reading something really special.  As I turned the last page, with tears in my eyes, this book had made my top ten all time list!  This book is a sweeping epic with the most remarkable and unforgettable characters.  The story will leave you feeling inspired and uplifted, and in today's world I think that we could all use that!  Thank you to Renee Noy, my new friend, whose beautiful spirit touched mine and who has given me the gift of a book that I will never forget! 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Book Review - IN THE SHADOW OF THE BANYAN - NOV 2012

BOOK REVIEW
"THE SHADOW OF THE BANYAN" BY VADDEY RATTNER
FICTION - Simon & Schuster (August 7, 2012)
338 PAGES


(FROM AMAZON.COM)  Book Description

 August 7, 2012
Told from the tender perspective of a young girl who comes of age amid the Cambodian killing fields, this searing first novel—based on the author’s personal story—has been hailed by Little Bee author Chris Cleave as “a masterpiece…utterly heartbreaking and impossibly beautiful.”
For seven-year-old Raami, the shattering end of childhood begins with the footsteps of her father returning home in the early dawn hours bringing details of the civil war that has overwhelmed the streets of Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital. Soon the family’s world of carefully guarded royal privilege is swept up in the chaos of revolution and forced exodus.
     Over the next four years, as she endures the deaths of family members, starvation, and brutal forced labor, Raami clings to the only remaining vestige of childhood—the mythical legends and poems told to her by her father. In a climate of systematic violence where memory is sickness and justification for execution, Raami fights for her improbable survival. Displaying the author’s extraordinary gift for language, In the Shadow of the Banyan is testament to the transcendent power of narrative and a brilliantly wrought tale of human resilience.

MY REVIEW:
It has been very rare that I find a book where the words are just so delicious and lyrical that I find myself re-reading pages over and over again.  It is like savoring the flavor of a delicate french pastry, or running your fingers through a luxurious blanket, or losing yourself in an incredible Opera's Aria.  These are moments that make me grateful and I wish would never end.  This book was just that type of experience for me.  AND, just as an added bonus, the story and characters were just as gratifying!  This book truly has it all!  The complexity of these characters was heart wrenching and inspiring.  There was not a single page of this book where I felt bored, not a single lull.  The whole book was like taking a ride on a boat down a river, sometimes calm but sometimes turbulent, it just continued to carry me through to the very end.  It has been about a month since I read this book and I think about it often.  I await the day that Vaddey Rattner releases her next book because I will be the first in line.  WHATEVER YOU DO, DON'T MISS THIS BOOK!  THESE ONLY COME ALONG A FEW TIMES IN A READERS LIFETIME!  5 OUT OF 5!

Book Review - The Time Keeper - Nov 2012

BOOK REVIEW - THE TIME KEEPER BY MITCH ALBOM
FICTION - 240 PAGES
PUBLISHED:  SEPTEMBER 4, 2012

BOOK DESCRIPTION (FROM AMAZON.COM):
From the author who's inspired millions worldwide with books like Tuesdays with Morrie and The Five People You Meet in Heaven comes his most imaginative novel yet, The Time Keeper--a compelling fable about the first man on earth to count the hours.
The man who became Father Time.
In Mitch Albom's newest work of fiction, the inventor of the world's first clock is punished for trying to measure God's greatest gift. He is banished to a cave for centuries and forced to listen to the voices of all who come after him seeking more days, more years. Eventually, with his soul nearly broken, Father Time is granted his freedom, along with a magical hourglass and a mission: a chance to redeem himself by teaching two earthly people the true meaning of time.
He returns to our world--now dominated by the hour-counting he so innocently began--and commences a journey with two unlikely partners: one a teenage girl who is about to give up on life, the other a wealthy old businessman who wants to live forever. To save himself, he must save them both. And stop the world to do so.
Told in Albom's signature spare, evocative prose, this remarkably original tale will inspire readers everywhere to reconsider their own notions of time, how they spend it and how precious it truly is.



MY REVIEW:
I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher and was so excited to read it as I have been a fan of Mitch Albom's since his first book Tuesdays With Morrie".  I have read and enjoyed all of his books, some more than others, so I had high hopes and expectations for this one.  The story started off introducing the reader to a caveman who invents "time" but then is punished by God by being put in a cave while listening to everyone on earth beg for more, less, faster or slower time.  He is then sent to earth on a mission to save the lives of two people.  Where this book began to get a little bit weak for me was in the character development and story lines of these two people, one a teenage girl and the other an older man.  Neither one of these characters were endearing to me, in fact I found them to be somewhat annoying.  I wanted to like them and I really tried to care about each one's plight but ....  Anyways, the end of the book wrapped up a little bit quick for my liking and I felt a bit disappointed.  This has happened before to me when finishing a Mitch Albom book.  But overall I must say that I did like it a lot and would rate it 4 out of 5 stars.  The character of Father Time and his lessons learned were heartfelt and intriguing. If you have read Mitch Albom's prior books, pick this one up, but if you have never read him before, do yourself a favor and read "Tuesdays with Morrie" instead.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Book Review: The Dog Stars - November 2012

Book Review - November 2012
The Dog Stars by Peter Heller
Fiction - 336 pages - published August 2012
Voted as One of Amazon's Best Books of the Month for August 2012

Synopsis (from Amazon.com):
Amazon Best Books of the Month, August 2012: Adventure writer Peter Heller’s The Dog Stars is a first novel set in Colorado after a superflu has culled most of humanity. A man named Hig lives in a former airport community—McMansions built along the edge of a runway—which he shares with his 1956 Cessna, his dog, and a slightly untrustworthy survivalist. He spends his days flying the perimeter, looking out for intruders and thinking about the things he’s lost—his deceased wife, the nearly extinct trout he loved to fish. When a distant beacon sparks in him the realization that something better might be out there, it’s only a matter of time before he goes searching. Poetic, thoughtful, transformative, this novel is a rare combination of the literary and highly readable.

My Review:
I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher.  I was concerned when reading the back of the book that this was just yet another end of the world story which the market seems so saturated with over the last couple of years but I could not have been more wrong!  This book is beauty personified in an anything but beautiful world that is left after a disease has killed most of earth's inhabitants and animals.  The writer was so bold in his vision of the ugly and the good left on the planet.  What I especially loved was the fact that this book never became too depressing but never "rose colored glasses" either.  To me, these characters could not have been any truer in their complexity and their ever changing emotions and views.  I loved the main character Hig and even came to love his neighbor.  The scenery described in certain scenes and the emotions it evoked in Hig were heartbreaking and lyrical, hopeful and dreadful all at the same time.  It is a rare talent who would be able to balance these extremes and Peter Heller is that master!  Don't miss this AMAZING BOOK!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

BOOK REVIEW - THE QUEEN'S VOW


BOOK REVIEW - THE QUEEN'S VOW  SEPT 2012
 
Book Review  September 5th 2012

Title – The Queen’s Vow

Author – C.W. Gortner

Historical Fiction – 400 pages

Date Published – June 12th 2012

Publisher – Ballantine

 

Book Description (From Amazon.com)

Publication Date: June 12, 2012

No one believed I was destined for greatness.

So begins Isabella’s story, in this evocative, vividly imagined novel about one of history’s most famous and controversial queens—the warrior who united a fractured country, the champion of the faith whose reign gave rise to the Inquisition, and the visionary who sent Columbus to discover a New World. Acclaimed author C. W. Gortner envisages the turbulent early years of a woman whose mythic rise to power would go on to transform a monarchy, a nation, and the world.

Young Isabella is barely a teenager when she and her brother are taken from their mother’s home to live under the watchful eye of their half-brother, King Enrique, and his sultry, conniving queen. There, Isabella is thrust into danger when she becomes an unwitting pawn in a plot to dethrone Enrique. Suspected of treason and held captive, she treads a perilous path, torn between loyalties, until at age seventeen she suddenly finds herself heiress of Castile, the largest kingdom in Spain. Plunged into a deadly conflict to secure her crown, she is determined to wed the one man she loves yet who is forbidden to her—Fernando, prince of Aragon.

As they unite their two realms under “one crown, one country, one faith,” Isabella and Fernando face an impoverished Spain beset by enemies. With the future of her throne at stake, Isabella resists the zealous demands of the inquisitor Torquemada even as she is seduced by the dreams of an enigmatic navigator named Columbus. But when the Moors of the southern domain of Granada declare war, a violent, treacherous battle against an ancient adversary erupts, one that will test all of Isabella’s resolve, her courage, and her tenacious belief in her destiny.

From the glorious palaces of Segovia to the battlefields of Granada and the intrigue-laden gardens of Seville, The Queen’s Vow sweeps us into the tumultuous forging of a nation and the complex, fascinating heart of the woman who overcame all odds to become Isabella of Castile.

 

My Review:

 

There are some books which grab you and hold tight until the end, and then there are some books which hold you more gently but stay with you long after you have finished them.  Have you ever had a meal at a restaurant where weeks later you still find yourself thinking about it and longing for it again.  Well that is the best way that I can describe this book.  To be quite honest, right when I finished it, I wasn’t sure about how much I liked it.  I knew that the writing was beautiful and the characters were fascinating and there was never a lull throughout the entire book.  But I was left feeling a little sad and angry at the end.  I felt as though I had taken a very long journey with these characters and at the end I still had so many questions I wanted answered.  Now this is probably silly of me as a reader and reviewer and also very selfish, but I wanted everything at the end tied up in a neat little package.  But what I was left with was a story and characters that I continue to think about and wonder about some 3 weeks after I have finished the book.  Sometimes you don’t realize how beautiful something is until you take a step back.  If you love historical fiction then do yourself a favor and read this book.  I am have already purchased another book by this author now which will give me some more answers and closure regarding this story, “The Last Queen”.  Highly Recommended!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Summer Is Officially Over!
September 3rd 2012


Well summer is over and the kids are back to school and I am back to work.  No more days devoted to reading, it's so sad!  I really enjoyed being able to read and finish a book a week.  Now I am going to try very hard to keep a vigorous pace but so far I have read only half of my latest book in the last 2 weeks.  The book I am currently reading is "In The Shadow Of The Banyan" by Vadday Ratner.  I am really loving it so far and will post a review within the next week.  I now have well over 50 Advanced Copies of upcoming books from publishers.  The ones I am looking forward to reading the most are:
The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom
Love Anthony by Lisa Genova
Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver
A Dangerous Inheritance by Alison Weir
And those are just a few of them.  I personally have picked out all of my Arcs myself so I am feeling like a kid in a candy store right now!
I recently went to Diesel Books in Santa Monica for the book release party for The Survivor, the latest book out by best selling author Gregg Hurwitz.  This is third time I have attended one of his release parties  (he is a personal friend of ours) over the last few years and Gregg and his wife are always so kind and generous to all of their friends, family and fans!  Gregg is not only good looking,talented, funny and very down to earth, but he has an amazing work ethic.  Not to mention his amazing patience, he stayed for hours just to talk to and sign copies of his book for each and every person!  Thanks Gregg, I promise to read and then post my review soon!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Albert of Adelaide Book Review August 14 2012

ALBERT OF ADELAIDE: A Novel

by Howard Anderson
fiction  240 pages
publisher: Twelve
published date:  July 10th 2012

BOOK REVIEW - AUGUST 14TH 2012

Synopsis (from Amazon.com): 
At once an old-fashioned-buddy-novel-shoot-'em-up and a work of deliciously imagined fantasy, Howard L. Anderson's dazzling debut presents the haunting story of a world where something has gone horribly awry . . .

Having escaped from Australia's Adelaide Zoo, an orphaned platypus named Albert embarks on a journey through the outback in search of "Old Australia," a rumored land of liberty, promise, and peace. What he will find there, however, away from the safe confinement of his enclosure for the first time since his earliest memories, proves to be a good deal more than he anticipated.

Alone in the outback, with an empty soft drink bottle as his sole possession, Albert stumbles upon pyromaniacal wombat Jack, and together they spend a night drinking and gambling in Ponsby Station, a rough-and-tumble mining town. Accused of burning down the local mercantile, the duo flees into menacing dingo territory and quickly go their separate ways-Albert to pursue his destiny in the wastelands, Jack to reconcile his past.
Encountering a motley assortment of characters along the way-a pair of invariably drunk bandicoots, a militia of kangaroos, hordes of the mercurial dingoes, and a former prize-fighting Tasmanian devil-our unlikely hero will discover a strength and skill for survival he never suspected he possessed.

Told with equal parts wit and compassion, ALBERT OF ADELAIDE shows how it is often the unexpected route, and the most improbable companions, that lead us on the path to who we really are. Who you journey with, after all, is far more important than wherever it is you are going.


Ok everyone, I have to tell you that I am just in book addict heaven these days!  I now have over 50 hand picked ARC (advanced review copies) of books from publishers!  And there are so many great books out right now and coming out in the next 6 months!  It seems like all of my favorite writers have new books coming out, Michelle Moran, Barbara Kingsolver, Lisa Genova, Mary Roach and more.  I am super excited about some of the new author debut books that I am reading now too! 

Ok so this latest one was suggested to me recently over coffee.  She said that her friend (a bookaholic and fellow reviewer) had begged her to read a book called Albert of Adelaide.  When she asked her what it was about her friend said, "I don't want to tell you because then you won't read it"  Well it turns out that it is about a platypus named Albert.  Yes, it is fiction and No, it is not a childrens or young adult book.  This unique premise was enough for me to contact the publisher as soon as I got home and request a copy of the book. 

On the surface this book is just a book about Albert the Platypus looking for his "utopia" of sorts.  A place that he has heard of for a long time from his friends in the zoo.  Well he escapes the zoo and sets off on his adventure.  He meets many other animals, friend and foe, during his journey and gets himself into situations he never could have imagined.  The thing that I LOVED about this book is that if you look a little deeper, you begin to see yourself in Albert.  I mean aren't we all searching for our own paradise in life and yet we find ourselves constantly being challenged by people and events that life throws at us.  In each of Albert's friends, I could recognize people I have encountered both good and bad.  This book isn't a book to tell you how to, and it is not a book that judges.  No character in this book is clearly a villian or a hero, instead they are all very flawed individuals seeking something outside themselves in hopes of healing something dying inside of them.  My best advice when you read this book is don't over analyze it, don't try to figure it out but instead just go with it and enjoy the ride.  DO NOT miss this little gem!  Remember the best movies are not the blockbusters at your local theatre, they are the little movies that you have never heard of, playing at the obscure little theatre!  This book is just like that!  My rating 4 out of 5  Thank you to Netgalley!

The next book I am currently reading is:  The Dog Stars

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Second Empress - Book Review - August 2012

TITLE:  The Second Empress: A Novel of Napoleon's Court
aUTHOR:  Michelle Moran
PUBLISHER:  Crown
RELEASE DATE:  August 14th 2012
Historical Fiction - 320 pages

Summary (amazon.com):
After the bloody French Revolution, Emperor Napoleon’s power is absolute. When Marie-Louise, the eighteen year old daughter of the King of Austria, is told that the Emperor has demanded her hand in marriage, her father presents her with a terrible choice: marry the cruel, capricious Napoleon, leaving the man she loves and her home forever, or say no, and plunge her country into war.
Marie-Louise knows what she must do, and she travels to France, determined to be a good wife despite Napoleon’s reputation. But lavish parties greet her in Paris, and at the extravagant French court, she finds many rivals for her husband’s affection, including Napoleon’s first wife, Jos├ęphine, and his sister Pauline, the only woman as ambitious as the emperor himself. Beloved by some and infamous to many, Pauline is fiercely loyal to her brother. She is also convinced that Napoleon is destined to become the modern Pharaoh of Egypt. Indeed, her greatest hope is to rule alongside him as his queen—a brother-sister marriage just as the ancient Egyptian royals practiced. Determined to see this dream come to pass, Pauline embarks on a campaign to undermine the new empress and convince Napoleon to divorce Marie-Louise.
As Pauline’s insightful Haitian servant, Paul, watches these two women clash, he is torn between his love for Pauline and his sympathy for Marie-Louise. But there are greater concerns than Pauline’s jealousy plaguing the court of France. While Napoleon becomes increasingly desperate for an heir, the empire’s peace looks increasingly unstable. When war once again sweeps the continent and bloodshed threatens Marie-Louise’s family in Austria, the second Empress is forced to make choices that will determine her place in history—and change the course of her life.
Based on primary resources from the time, The Second Empress takes readers back to Napoleon’s empire, where royals and servants alike live at the whim of one man, and two women vie to change their destinies.


MY REVIEW:
FIRST OF ALL I WANT THANK THE PUBLISHER AND NETGALLEY FOR GIVING ME AN ADVANCED READER COPY OF THIS BOOK TO REVIEW!
LET ME START OFF BY SAYING THAT I AM A HUGE FAN OF MICHELLE MORAN AND HAVE READ AND LOVED ALL OF HER PREVIOUS BOOKS, tHE HERETIC QUEEN,  nEFERTITIT, CLEOPATRA'S DAUGHTER AND MADAME TUSSAUD, AND LOVED THEM ALL.  MICHELLE MORAN IS SO THOROUGH IN HER REASEARCH OF HER CHARACTERS AND THE TIMES AND EVENTS IN WHICH THEY LIVED.  THIS BOOK WAS VERY HARD TO PUT DOWN!  EACH ONE OF THE CHARACTERS IN THIS BOOK WERE SO HUMAN AND YOU FOUND YOUR SELF EVEN FINDING LIKABLE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE "BAD GUYS" LIKE NAPOLEON.  IF YOU LOVE HISTORICAL FICTION, YOU WON'T WANT TO MISS THIS BOOK!
MY RATING:  5 OUT OF 5







January First - Book Review - July 2012

TITLE:  January First: A Child's Descent into Madness and Her Father's Struggle to Save Her
AUTHOR:  Michael Schofield
PUBLISHER:  Crown
PUBLISHED DATE:  August 7th, 2012
Non-Fiction  304 pages

Summary (from Amazon.com):
Michael Schofield’s daughter January is at the mercy of her imaginary friends, except they aren’t the imaginary friends that most young children have; they are hallucinations. And January is caught in the conflict between our world and their world, a place she calls Calalini. Some of these hallucinations, like “24 Hours,” are friendly and some, like “400 the Cat” and “Wednesday the Rat,” bite and scratch her until she does what they want. They often tell her to scream at strangers, jump out of buildings, and attack her baby brother.

At six years old, January Schofield, “Janni,” to her family, was diagnosed with schizophrenia, one of the worst mental illnesses known to man. What’s more, schizophrenia is 20 to 30 times more severe in children than in adults and in January’s case, doctors say, she is hallucinating 95 percent of the time that she is awake. Potent psychiatric drugs that would level most adults barely faze her.

January First captures Michael and his family's remarkable story in a narrative that forges new territory within books about mental illness. In the beginning, readers see Janni’s incredible early potential: her brilliance, and savant-like ability to learn extremely abstract concepts. Next, they witnesses early warning signs that something is not right, Michael’s attempts to rationalize what’s happening, and his descent alongside his daughter into the abyss of schizophrenia. Their battle has included a two-year search for answers, countless medications and hospitalizations, allegations of abuse, despair that almost broke their family apart and, finally, victories against the illness and a new faith that they can create a life for Janni filled with moments of happiness.

A compelling, unsparing and passionate account, January First vividly details Schofield’s commitment to bring his daughter back from the edge of insanity. It is a father’s soul-baring memoir of the daily struggles and challenges he and his wife face as they do everything they can to help Janni while trying to keep their family together.

MY REVIEW:
I received the ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of this book thanks to the publisher and Netgalley.
I had seen the interview with this little girl and her parents on Oprah over a year ago, so I was a little familiar with the story.  I was intrigued and wanted to read this story so I could get more details.  I started and finished this book in only 2 days.  Michael Schofield writes without fuss, and without embellishing details in order to win sympathy for himself, his daughter or his family.  He isn't trying to sensationalize his situation, instead in a heartbreakingly honest voice he tells us the story from his point of view.  I was so touched to my core by the lenghths that these parents were willing to.  Most people unfortunatly would have taken a much easier road and instituionalized January and then blamed the system for failing them.  But these amazing people never stopped believing or fighting for her life!  As a parent of a special needs child I could relate to so much of the insanity, frustration, denial, fear and disappointment.  This book will make any parent or person grateful for the simple things in life that we all take for granted.  I love that they saw a child trapped inside her disease and not a broken person!  Grab a tissue box and read this book!  My rating:  5 out of 5

Shine Shine Shine - Book Review July 2012

TITLE:  SHINE SHINE SHINE
AUTHOR:  LYDIA NETZER
PUBLISHER:  ST. MARTIN'S PRESS
RELEASE DATE:  JULY 17, 2012
320 PAGES
FICTION

Summary (from Amazon.com):
What is a "normal" life? For Sunny, it means wearing a blond wig (she’s been bald since birth), medicating her autistic son (who wears a helmet because he bangs his head against walls), and teaching her brilliant but socially clueless husband, Maxon, how to interact with other humans (they whiteboard equations so he knows how to respond to compliments). When Sunny’s wig falls off during a car accident, exposing her bare head to her neighbors for the first time, she starts to realize that this "normal" life she has built is actually a huge problem. Everything about Shine, Shine, Shine is charmingly odd, full of feeling, and beautifully written. Lydia Netzer has created a cast of characters so unique and surprising, you want to follow their story long after it ends. These are real people making real choices about their lives--even if those lives are different from everyone else’s.

Review:
I received an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of this book thanks to the publisher and Netgalley.  Let me start off by saying that the first 100 pages or so I was skeptical of this book.  The story and characters were so odd and unique that I felt that I couldn't figure out if it was trying to be humorous or serious.  But I stuck with it, and boy am I glad that I did!  This is one of those rare books and stories that just gets under your skin.  Don't try to figure out anything, just go with it and let the oddness transport you.  In it you will find the most delightful and heartbreaking characters.  I LOVED this book!  This author is truly a genius at character development and a masterful way of showing us that we all have our secrets and things are not always as they seem but we have to make a choice whether we will let that bring us down in shame or raise us to a level of love for all people flaws and all. 
My rating:  5 out of 5

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Heaven Is Here - Book Review

July 2012 Book Review Title: Heaven Is Here: An Incredible Story of Hope, Triumph, and Everyday Joy Author: Stephanie Nielson Published: Voice Date Published: April 3rd, 2012 Non-Fiction, Memoir - 320 pages Date Read: June 2012 Synopsis: Stephanie Nielson began sharing her life in 2005 on nieniedialogues.com, drawing readers in with her warmth and candor. She quickly attracted a loyal following that was captivated by the upbeat mother happily raising her young children, madly in love with her husband, Christian (Mr. Nielson to her readers), and filled with gratitude for her blessed life. However, everything changed in an instant on a sunny day in August 2008, when Stephanie and Christian were in a horrific plane crash. Christian was burned over 40 percent of his body, and Stephanie was on the brink of death, with burns over 80 percent of her body. She would remain in a coma for four months. In the aftermath of this harrowing tragedy, Stephanie maintained a stunning sense of humor, optimism, and resilience. She has since shared this strength of spirit with others through her blog, in magazine features, and on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Now, in this moving memoir, Stephanie tells the full, extraordinary story of her unlikely recovery and the incredible love behind it—from a riveting account of the crash to all that followed in its wake. My Review: There are so many tragic memoirs and autobiographies out there these days, full of stories about alcohol and drug addiction, rape, abuse, handicaps, disease, etc. So for this reason I was hesitant about picking this book up but as always happens, this book whispered to me. I get asked a lot what type of book I read or how I choose my books but I don't. I let the books choose me. Now that may sound crazy but you avid readers out there will know exactly what I am talking about. This book was such a breath of fresh air. It was original and honest, uplifting and inspiring, all without trying. Stephanie Nielson is a "pure" soul. You can tell that she didn't write this book to become rich or famous. She did it purely out of the need to save herself by re connecting with her blog followers. Stephanie speaks from the heart. Her words are so authentic that you felt like you were her friend and she was just sitting across the room telling you her story. Her faith and religion I thought could be a problem as I began to read but never once did I feel that she was preaching. I was touched by her commitment to her faith, her family and her life. There is not a day that has gone by since I have read this book that I haven't thought about Stephanie and then tried a little harder to be grateful for my life. Thank you Stephanie, you are an inspiration and a hero to me! My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars!

White Horse: A Novel Book Review July 2012

July 2012 Book Review Titile: White Horse: A Novel Author: Alex Adams Publisher: Atria Publish Date: April 17th, 2012 Fiction - 320 pages Date Read: June 2012 Synopsis: (from Amazon.com) The world has ended, but her journey has just begun. Thirty-year-old Zoe leads an ordinary life until the end of the world arrives. She is cleaning cages and floors at Pope Pharmaceuticals when the president of the United States announces that human beings are no longer a viable species. When Zoe realizes that everyone she loves is disappearing, she starts running. Scared and alone in a shockingly changed world, she embarks on a remarkable journey of survival and redemption. Along the way, Zoe comes to see that humans are defined not by their genetic code, but rather by their actions and choices. White Horse offers hope for a broken world, where love can lead to the most unexpected places. My Review: I have a teenage daughter who is an avid reader like myself, so I am well aware of the Apocalyptic trend of books in the Young Adult catagory. So when I came across this book in my Book Page Magazine and realized that it was not a YA book, I felt compelled to check it out. This is not necessarily the type of book that I normally read but for some reason this book grabbed me. I LOVED this book right from the start. No slow starts here! The story and the main character had me captivated. I love strong female characters and this is one that I felt was very well developed and 3 dimensional. And I also wap captivated by the other characters that Zoe came into along the way. The book is a little bit sci fi, mystery, thriller and love story all in one. I was thrilled when I finished the book and read that this was to be the first book in a trilogy! In the right hands, this book could be turned into an amazing movie. Now some of you may not like the end, but all I will say is that I did! My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars!

The Age of Miracles - Book Review

Happy 4th of July everyone! Here is my latest book review: Title: The Age of Miracles: A Novel Author: Karen Thompson Walker Publish Date: June 26th, 2012 Publisher: Random House Fiction - 288 pages Synopsis: On a seemingly ordinary Saturday in a California suburb, Julia and her family awake to discover, along with the rest of the world, that the rotation of the earth has suddenly begun to slow. The days and nights grow longer and longer, gravity is affected, the environment is thrown into disarray. Yet as she struggles to navigate an ever-shifting landscape, Julia is also coping with the normal disasters of everyday life—the fissures in her parents’ marriage, the loss of old friends, the hopeful anguish of first love, the bizarre behavior of her grandfather who, convinced of a government conspiracy, spends his days obsessively cataloging his possessions. As Julia adjusts to the new normal, the slowing inexorably continues. Review: This book was named as one of Amazon's top book of June 2012. When I read the premise of the book before it came out, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. The book starts right off and grabs you from the begining and doesn't let go until the very last page. I finished this book in only 2 days. I guess the slight let down for me was that I really wanted more from the main character and the other characters as well. I wanted to really feel for them or at least know how they were feeling but it came out a bit dry for me. This is an eager and difficult topic for any writer and as I turned each page I found myself very uncomfortable with the realism. I loved the fact that it was not over dramatized. Instead it was an intriguing look at people and our society as a whole. The psychology behind people trying to gain control of their lives in the light of a situation so far beyond their control was facinating. This is a very easy and quick read that will stay with you long after you finish it. My rating: 4 out of 5 stars The next book I am currently reading is: Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Cost of Hope - Book Review

June 24th, 2012 The Cost of Hope: A Memoir by Amanda Bennett Published: June 5th 2012 Publisher: Random House Non Fiction, Memoir 240 pages I was hesitant to read this book just because of the subject matter, another story about someone dying of a terrible disease. There seems to be a huge tidal wave of these books lately and although most are written to be inspiring and hopeful, they can really wear on you. This book is also about this woman's experience with her husbands terminal cancer. Having lost my mother in law a few years ago to lung cancer I was afraid to bring up some very sad feelings. But what intrigued me about this particular book was the concept. Yes, it is about a wife and her experience dealing with her husband's illness but she took a new angle on it. She chose to review the experience and go back and talk to the doctors about the choices that they made and also about the cost, monetarally, physically and emotionally. I found this authors writing style very to the point. She doesn't spend time describing things, instead she gets right to the point page after page. Her sentences are short and crisp. I think that this comes from the fact that her background is as a newpaper editor. Her relationship with her husband was facinating too. This was no typical love story, This was two people who loved and respected each other working their way through building a life and a family together. I would have loved to have met Terence! I admired the way that Amanda obviously didn't want anyone to feel sorry for her or her family. She wanted to investigate and in her case, appreciate the world of doctors, medical care and health insurance. As we all know this is a red hot topic right now. When Amanda begins to review the bills, treatments, options, etc for cancer you as the reader quickly realize what a tangeld web it is. In some ways it seems ridiculous and can make you very angry. But this isn't an attack on the system, it is simply a revision of the choices made during a very difficult time when all you can do is listen to different opinions and options and then guess. And that is where hope comes in! No one will ever know if the choices made were ultimately right or wrong but Amanda is not juding herself or anyone else she is just writing about surviving and respecting her husbands decisions and the way he made them. Thank you Amanda for sharing this story and Terence with us (and respecting your children's privacy). I thorolughly enjoyed this book and finished it in just 2 days.

The Dovekeepers Book Review

June 24th 2012 Ok today I am finally going to do what I have wanted to do for a long time and that is to start my book review blog! YAY ME! Let me start of by saying that I am a wife and mother who has always loved to read. I own over 500 books and I write book reviews for a magazine called Worldette. I will be posting my latest reviews of some new and upcoming books - (I am blessed enough to have access to a lot of Advance Copies) and I will also be posting reviews of the books that I have read over the years. I hope that you will find them interesting, funny, insightful, and helpful in some way. So here we go: The Dovekeepers: A Novel by Alice Hoffman Published: October 2011 Publisher: Scribner Historical Fiction 512 pages Let me start off by saying that this is my first book by Alice Hoffman but certainly will not be my last. The story chronicles the struggle and the plight of the Jews in 70 C.E. when their temple in Jerusalem was destroyed and they were forced out of their homes and into the desert. The Dovekeepers is a rich gorgeous tapestry divinely woven together by four unforgettable heroines. In the first section of the book we are introduced to Yael, a young woman whose life was over before it had even begun. Considered a murderer by her father because of her mothers death during her birth, Yael and her father come upon a mountain village where she is reunited with her beloved brother. Here they find a group of people who have made it their mission not only to survive but to rebuild their lives. Yael is given a job as a Dovekeeper and it is here that she meets and befriends Revka, Aziza and Shirah. As Yael struggles to make peace with her past she also learns about friendship, love and forgiveness. Revka, a baker’s wife, is still reeling after witnessing the brutal murder of her daughter years ago. As she struggles to raise her two grandsons on her own, she discovers that secrets and guilt are the true enemies that must be conquered in order to begin to heal herself and those that she loves. Aziza is a warriors daughter whose strife is to figure out her true identity and not who others want or need her to be. On her journey she will realize that the only person she can save ultimately is herself. Shirah, it is believed, is a witch whose spells and potions can heal the sick or destroy her enemies. But even as a small child she realized that there are forces in this world which no amount of insight or power can change or control. These four strong independent women have all had very different lives and paths that have led them to Massada. As we learn more about each woman and her past we are left to cherish the belief that even as individuals our lives and fates are all somehow intertwined. At the end of this book I was left feeling deeply gratified but yet a bit melancholy due to the fact that literary gems such as this are a rare find. (published in Worldette Magazine Nov 2011)