TLC Book Tours: Bird in Hand by Christina Baker Kline

Posted on Updated on

Click on cover to read synopsis.

 

My Review:

I read Christina Baker Kline’s book, Orphan Train, and enjoyed it very much! It was a historical fiction book, so I was truly intrigued about this book. It’s not a historical fiction book, which is quite hard for authors to do (jumping from genre to another) and succeed.  However, Christina Baker Kline is certainly the exception and her writing skills are spot on with this great book!

I read this book in about 1.5 days.  Christina’s writing draws you in immediately.  It’s not a book you have to wait to really get invested in…it starts from page 1.  I remember reading the first 10 pages and a friend asked what I was reading.  I told her and she asked how it was.  I told her, “It’s fantastic!! There is so much happening, that I can’t put it down!”.  She asked what page I was on…I was on page 10.  Just 10 pages.  We laughed as she said I was really giving this book huge accolades when I hadn’t read that much.  However, in those 10 pages, so much happens that it felt like I had read 3 chapters, at least.  Why? Because it takes that long to be introduced to the characters, build up the plot, then create a twist.  This book did that mid-way through the chapter!  It just goes to show how quickly the pace of the book moves, with the readers getting to know the 4 main characters and the challenges they face as they each have to look at their marriage, their friendships, and their future.

I always tell people that if an author can get me to dislike a character, they are a fantastic author.  It’s easy to create a character to sympathize with, but it’s quite challenging to create one that brings out so much emotion and disgust.  That is how I felt about Charlie.  He is the person that I felt this story truly revolved around, because he demanded it.  It was about how he felt in the marriage, what kind of attention (if any) he wanted to give to his children and wife, his relationship with his college friends, even about how the accident his wife was in, was going to affect him.  In the end, I wasn’t too happy with how it ended for him, but I have a feeling that if the pages continues, Charlie will find himself in a different situation.

Allison is the wife that many will resonate with, feel compassion towards, even be angry with…after all, she was in a devastating accident that has life long consequences.  Allison is also the friend of Claire, who in many ways lives vicariously through her friends, as she romps around and ventures into the world of writing.  Ben is the supportive husband, successful, and devoted to his wife:  Claire.  While there is a lot that goes in the book, there is much not written, which will leave many wondering about the future of these 4 friends.  I hope Christina Baker Kline considers writing a sequel because I would love to love to know what happens!

Christina Baker Kline is brilliant, as she tackles some huge issues that couples face, even if the circumstances are different.  Every couple at one point or another has to decide how to make their marriage better, career choices and how to manage their household.  Sadly, some couples have to deal with issues of infidelity, trust, respect, and boundaries.  Each of these issues are tackled in this fantastic book, that will make fro a great book club discussion, and be a favorite for many! excellent cupcake 5

*This book was provided through the publisher and TLC Book Tours, in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Christina Baker Kline

Christina Baker Kline was born in England and raised in Maine. The author of five novels, including the runaway bestseller Orphan Train, Kline has taught literature and creative writing at Yale, New York University, and Fordham. She lives outside of New York City.

 

 

Find out more about Kline at her website, connect with her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

 

Christina’s Tour Stops

Bird in Hand

Thursday, October 16th: I’d Rather Be At The Beach

Tuesday, October 21st: Kritters Ramblings

Thursday, October 23th: Books in the Burbs

Monday, October 27th: Kahakai Kitchen

Wednesday, October 29th: BoundbyWords

Thursday, October 30th: Sara’s Organized Chaos

Monday, November 3rd: A Bookish Way of Life

 

 

My Love for Zelda & The Authors Who Have Kept Her Alive!

Posted on

Picture courtesy of: Southern Literary Trail.

 

I am, as usual, late to the party.  However, I always make it; albeit fashionably late. Being an avid reader of historical fiction, and loving the great works of Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, I had read about Zelda and the tumultuous relationship between her and Scott.  However, it wasn’t until I read, The Paris Wife by Paula McLain that my interest truly peaked. While Paula McLain’s book is primarily about Hadley and her love: Ernest Hemingway, there was just enough of a snipped of Zelda and her husband, that I was instantly intrigued to learn more.

It seems that in recent years authors are looking beyond the writer, and wanting to look at their most intimate relationship: the women who stood by these amazing authors.  So, I was quite excited to see that 2 books, which peaked my interest came out around the same time.  While I was looking through my blog, I noticed that I had not written my book reviews for these two amazing books!  While both books are about Zelda Fitzgerald, make no mistake about it….they are vastly different, and exception in their own right.  So, don’t choose between the two.  Buy them both!

 

Click on the cover to read synopsis.

 

My Review:

One word:  Co-dependent.  Yes, as much as Zelda and Scott are crazy in love, they are even more crazy with out one another.  They need each other, thrive off one another, and seem to feed off one another the more “crazy” one is.  The story starts with Zelda as a teenager, a vibrant 17 year old, who has many suitors at her feet.  However, she zones in one handsome solider: F. Scott Fitzgerald, who also only has eyes for her.  It’s rather sweet to read about their courtship, leading up to marriage, and readers can’t help but root for them.

While we all know the ending, it’s what happens in between that makes the story worthwhile.  Theresa Ann Fowler, is a great storyteller, who gives readers a glimpse into the world of the Fitzgerald’s.  Zelda is given a voice, that goes beyond just being “crazy, neurotic, unstable”.  She is clear headed, strong willed, and sets trends despite her desire to do so.  She is simply herself, and that is what makes us all fall in love with her.

Zelda, never meant to be in Scott’s shadow, follows her own dreams of writing, dancing, and making being who she wants to be, all while being with an erratic husband, dealing with the media and what they chose to portray her as, and trying to be the kind of mother she desires, all while also having a mental illness (that wasn’t diagnosed until later in her life).

This is an excellent book that follows Zelda from her courtship through the Jazz age.  It ends with you wanting more Zelda! It’s an excellent book, that is a must-read for anyone who loves historical fiction, wants to know who the woman is behind F. Scott Fitzgerald, and just loves a great love story (with a little bit of crazy).

supreme cupcake rating 6

************************************************

Click on the cover to read synopsis.

My Review:

While both books are independent and can be read in any order, it just made sense for me to read them in the order I have written the reviews.  I loved reading Erika Robuck’s book.  She leaves no stone unturned, and explores her mental illness and the way Zelda navigates through it, while being a wife and mother.  Told through the viewpoint of Zelda’s nurse, Ann, readers get an intimate glimpse into the struggles Zelda faces and how she tries to make sense of it all.

While in the hospital, Zelda writes a memoir that she lets Ann be privy to.  In those journals, Zelda shares the highlights and downfalls of her relationship with Scott, her life before and during her marriage, and how explosive it all was.  Ann also gives readers a glimpse into the relationship between Zelda and her daughter, Scotty, and how Zelda’s erratic behavior impacted her relationship as  mom and wife.  Scott needs his muse, Zelda, and to the demise of Zelda, often brings her home.  However, Ann is never far away and is the calming, strong force that helps them both through that tough period.

As a family therapist, I was absolutely intrigued to read about the way mental health was addressed, the therapies given in the psychiatric hospital, and they way Zelda flourished/caved in, different points of her treatment.  This is a book that will stay with readers for a long time, and is as heartbreaking and courageous as Zelda, herself.  I loved the balance between Ann’s story and Zelda’s and the look inside a psychiatric hospital, while also giving readers much to appreciate and adore in the person Zelda was.

After I finished this book, I downloaded most of the books about Zelda, which I hope to read at one point.   Truthfully, before these books came out: Z is for Zelda and Call Me Zelda, I had no idea how dynamic Zelda was.  She is an intriguing woman, who was more than just F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife, she was a trendsetter, a fashionista, an artist, a mother, daughter, and simply a brilliant woman!  This is an excellent read and anyone who loves anything to do with “The Jazz Age”, F. Scott Fitzgerald, curious about mental illness and the impact it has on families, and Zelda Fitzgerald, will easily want to add this book to their bookshelf.

supreme cupcake rating 6

The Oleander Sisters by Elaine Hussey

Posted on

Click on cover for synopsis.

My Review:

The book reminds me of The Help by Kathryn Stockett and Fried Green Tomatoes by Fannie Flagg, all mixed together. Except, the main dish is Amen pie, which sounds pretty scrumptious.  The story centers around Sis, caretaker to her grandma, nephew, and sister.  Her sister has her own demons to contend with, all while raising her son, preparing for a wedding, and dealing with flashbacks to being a pregnant teen mom.  Jim, her brother, is back from Vietnam with his own PTSD and wooden leg to contend with.  Lastly, there is Beulah, caretaker and confident to Sweet Mama (Sis’s grandma).  With a wedding to prepare for, overseeing a restaurant that is the beacon of hope for a small town community, and preparing for Camille, a grade 5 hurricane, this book has all the great ingredients to a great book! Add in a dead body in the backyard, and you also have a little mystery to deal with.

The book kept my attention, had a lot of events going on, and the characters were quite interesting.  The book kept at smooth pace, and even though there was a lot happening in the story, the author does a great job of introducing different characters and connecting them in a way that keeps the storyline moving along without becoming stagnant.  I did feel the story was a bit rushed at the end, but it still ended in a great way!  While the story ends, there is much to be left to the imagination!  Nothing is truly solved, but the story ends with a great measure of hope!  Hope for new beginnings, for love, and for a family to stay together despite circumstances that can easily tear them apart.

great cupcake rating 4 *This book was provided by the publishers and NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.  No forms of compensation were given.

Dewey’s Read-a-thon: Midway Survery

Posted on Updated on

 Final Moments:

Ugh! I failed miserably.  I started reading one book, about 100 pages in, and stopped.  I just couldn’t get into it because I live too close to the place that book is based on.  I also lived nearby the Brios site, when it was under investigation and friends were moving out of the neighborhood.  I do want to finish it, but I just kept stopping too much to think about the areas.  The book is, Friendswood by Rene Steinke.   I am hopeful it will be all that I want it to be, I just felt too much pressure to hurry up and read!

So, how much did I read?

Not counting the menu, 130 pages.  I started another book, Bird in Hand by Christina Baker Kline.  I read Orphan Train and loved it. So, I’m really excited to read this book for TLC Book Tours!

Why did I not read as much?

Twitter! I found myself on it way too much, cheering on my friends, checking on what other’s were doing, filling out survey’s hoping to win ( I didn’t), and spending the day with my daughter! We started it out going to a tea room for lunch, followed by us going to the ballet for Sleeping Beauty.  It was a blast!!  My daughter was dressed as Princess Aurora, alongside her friend.  We purchased our daughters a little princess bag, my daughter brought her dolls (Prince Phillip and Princess Aurora).  We had front row seats and loved it all! Even though we weren’t allowed to take pics, you know I just had to take my phone out and take a quick pic. I did not use the flash…so that’s okay!

What I learned?

I’m a better cheerleader than reader, because I cave under pressure! Social media is not my friend during a readathon!  If I do decide to read next year, I need easier and lighter reads.  Probably not the best decision to pick heavy books and books that are 300 pages!

simple signature

 

 

Mid-Event Survey:
1. What are you reading right now?

I was reading Friendswood by Rene Steinke, however have moved on to Bleeding Heart by Lisa Gyllenhaal.
2. How many books have you read so far?  Only 1/2 of a book.
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?  I want to complete a book! Any book :D
4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?  Too many interruptions today.  But, good ones!! Today, I took my daughter to a tearoom, and ate lunch with her and a couple of friends.  Then, we all went to see the ballet of Sleeping Beauty, which was amazing!!
5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?  I am most surprised at how much we all need our cheerleaders!! It gets overwhelming and lonely, so it’s nice to log on to Twitter and feel the love :D

Opening Meme:

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

Houston, Texas
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

Friendswood by Rene Steinke

Bleeding Heart by Liza Gyllenhaal

This is the Water by Yannick Murphy

The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street by Susan Jane Gilman

Us by David Nicholls

Christmas at Tiffany’s by Karen Swan

Housewitch by Katie Schickel
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

yogurt raisins
4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

I’m a momma of 3, married for 21 years, and love to read!
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? Not schedule at outside activities, so that I can hunker down and read.

If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

Tweeting and cheering other reads, as well as finishing some books on my bookshelf!

 

To follow more updates, visits me on Twitter: @booksintheburbs.

Feel free to post in the comments any suggestions you have to finishing a book that is loosely based about a city you are familiar with!  Also, what are some books that you would suggest as easy reads!

Book Review: Addie B. Strong-I Am So Strong by Alyson Flippo and Kathleen Murphy Willer

Posted on

Click here to read synopsis.

 

My Review:

As you already know, I am very selective about the Children’s books I review.  I only review about 10 a year, so I am particular about the ones I accept for review.

The Title:

I was drawn to this book because of the title.  Doesn’t it just have a great ring to it?  Addie B. Strong: I Am So Strong, is the name of this clever and beautiful book.  It’s a little girl who is strong, but how is she strong?  Readers find out how she is strong, and how they also can be strong, as they become inspired by Addie and her journey.

The Cover: 

I absolutely love the cover of this book!  A children’s book can’t just have a great message, it also needs to hold the reader’s attention with great illustrations.  However, the cover needs to be eye catching, that a reader will naturally gravitate towards it.  This cover does just that.  It’s clever, with it’s catchy title, the colors are vibrant, and Addie is absolutely adorable.

The Illustrations/Storyline:

I read this book to my 5 year old daughter, who is the best judge for this book.  She loved the large pages and colorful design.  Addie is a little girl that can be identified as any ethnicity.  She looks like a little girl that readers will identify with, because Addie has a special look that makes her adaptable to any culture.  This is a big issue when choosing books for young readers, because a parent/caretaker wants to find a book that their child can identify with.  After all, the book’s title implies that the reader is also strong.

Addie has a simple about her, that readers can draw and make their own.  Her little dress changes with each page turn, and goes with the storyline of that page(s).  My daughter loved looking at the dresses and guessing what each page was about.  She thought it was so cute how Addie has thin arms, yet is quite powerful in each page.  She loved that Addie’s size didn’t determine her strength and her ability to move mountains and have fun adventures.  I loved that each page wasn’t cluttered, told a story, rhymed, and was colorful.

Addie is a carefree little girl, who wants to have what her friends have.  However, with some sound advice from her mom, Addie discovers she has gifts that money can’t buy.  The book ends with Addie having a new beginning, which lets readers know that Addie will have more adventures to share with them in the future.

Overall, this is a great book to buy as a gift for young children, ages3-6.  Although, it can be read to younger children, older children may enjoy reading this book to themselves, too.

excellent cupcake 5

*This book was provided by the publisher, in exchange for an honest opinion.

Check out these book giveaways!

 

 

 

 

 

Dewey’s 24-Hour Read-a-thon Giveaway!

Posted on

This is my first time to participate in the 24 Hour Read-a-thon, this Saturday! I am very excited and have already selected my read: The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street by Susan Jane Gilman.  It’s a book that I’m reviewing for Book-alicious Mama, and I haven’t been able to read it until now.  I love the cover and title, and the synopsis is equally as great! I have read great reviews for it and look forward to reading it this Saturday.

I’m also very excited to offer my first International Giveaway!!  If you don’t live in the US or Canada, then you will want to participate in this giveaway!

 

My gift is:Click on the picture for synopsis.

This book will be part of the hourly giveaways, so you won’t want to miss it! For a list of the giveaways, click here.

I hope you will stop by and post comments here to encourage me on my reading.  I won’t be able to read for the full 24 hours, as I already committed to spending the day with my daughter and her friend.  My daughter and I will be taking some pictures that morning, in a pumpkin patch.  Then, we are going to a quaint tearoom for lunch, followed by watching a ballet!! We are seeing Sleeping Beauty, and we can’t wait!!

Don’t forget, I have a giveaway this month that is for US residents! Click here for more information.

simple signature 1

 

Win an Autographed Copy of John Searles’ Book: Help for the Haunted

Posted on Updated on

 

Every once in awhile, I read a book that is so powerful and electrifying, that I have to tell everyone about it.  Last year, it was Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery by Robert Kolker. I could not get enough of Robert’s book, that I scoured the internet for days to search for anything related to the case.  I still follow the case pretty closely, and stay updated on FB pages of the victim’s family.  It’s a powerful book, and Robert does a fantastic job of putting together a storyline with fragments of information he has.  He also did an extensive amount of research, interviewing people related to the case, and is a book that I always recommend to readers.

This year, the book that has been most impactful and had a profound effect on me, is John Searles’ book: Help for the Haunted.  I wrote a review about the book, back in July, for TLC Book Tours.  You can read my review here.  Since then, John Searles and I have tweeted back and forth, and emailed one another.  He is a really great guy, behind a fantastic book, and wanted to share some love with all of you!! He gave me 2 autographed books for you all, one of which I plan to give this month! I’m holding on to the other autographed book for a big hop I will join, along with other bloggers, at the end of the year.  So, be on the look out for that one, as you can sign up for a whole lot of giveaways at my blog and others, too.

So, why do I love this book so much? I get asked that a lot!  I even recommended this book to my oldest son, who is studying Creative Writing at his university.  So, yes, I get asked…”why this one?”.  I rarely recommend a book to son because of our different tastes in genres.  However, what I love most about this book is it’s ability to transcend over many genres.  While it’s listed as Contemporary Fiction, it can easily be considered YA (the main character is a young girl), Mystery/Thriller (because there are lots of scary moments in it), Historical Fiction (lots of references to a different era), and even Christian fiction (because of the religious themes throughout the book).

I laughed during parts of this book, cried a lot, and there were times I was quite scared!  It’s a book that will definitely take you on a roller coaster!!  Some people may get offended by the book, but I hope that people will see the silver linings throughout the storyline.  I know I did.

Follow John Searles

Subscribe by Email

Goodreads

Facebook Page

Twitter

Giveaway Details:

+In the comment section below, include your name, email address, which format you are following John Searles and your username (each way you follow earns you an extra entry).

+Also, answer the following question:

                              What interests you most about Help for the Haunted?

+One random winner will be chosen.

+Due to postage costs, only US entries accepted.

+The winner will be contacted via email, and will have 24 hours to respond.

+If the winner doesn’t respond, another winner will be selected.

Giveaway ends: October 31, 2014.

In the comment section below