A Special Reading with Kathleen Kent!

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On Tuesday, October 28, I had the opportunity to meet the wonderfully, talented author, Kathleen Kent.  It was my first time ever to attend a book reading! Yes, I know, how can a blogger not attend a book reading/signing event? For one, not many authors come to Houston.  Secondly, when they have come, it is usually on a school night and it’s hard to get away when my children need me at home.  However, I am so glad I did go the other night and I’m glad that it was to see Kathleen Kent!

Back in 2010, I was the book club organizer for a book club in Clear Lake.  Each month, our club members would select books to vote as the Book of the Month.  I had seen online a book, The Heretic’s Daughter, and was intrigued.  I have always held a fascination for the Salem witch trials, as I had studied about it in college and this book sounded like a great read.  So, that book was my choice, and everyone else agreed.  It became our first, and only book to be read during the month of December.  Typically, December was a month that we did not meet for a book club discussion because of the holidays, but we all agreed to make an exception for this book.

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I purchased 3 copies! One for me, one for my son, and yes…one for you! I will be giving one of these books as a giveaway!! So, stay tuned….

In December, about a group of 8, met at a small kolache shop in Friendswood: Mornings Kolaches.  We all ate and chatted about the book, and were all super excited to learn that Kathleen had written a prequel to the book: The Wolves of Andover (which was later named, The Traitor’s Wife).  Unanimously, Kathleen’s second book was chosen as our May Book of the Month in May, 2011.  I contacted Kathleen and she agreed to meet with our book club via Skype. We were absolutely excited and had an in depth discussion with her at a book club member’s house.  I wrote a post about that experience, which you can find here.

From there, Kathleen and I stayed connected via social media and I followed the success of her third book, The Outcasts.  I have to admit, I didn’t read that book.  Even though I love Kathleen’s writing style, western stories are not my favorite kind of stories.  I know…I’m Texan and that’s so anti-Texan…but, my love for westerns stopped with Charles Bronson movies.  I’m just not into them.  However, that was soon going to change after visiting with Kathleen Kent!

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Author, Kathleen Kent, reading from The Outcasts.

 

Hearing Kathleen talk at the Brazos Book Store, my interest has been piqued!  It really made a difference hearing Kathleen talk about the way the book story evolved, where it was started, and the history behind the different characters (based on real people).  This is not your typical western!  The heroine is not a sweet, helpless woman asking to be saved.  The hero is not a tough, shooting, boot wearing man…well, I’m sure he wore boots, but you know what I mean!  If you a fan of western fiction, love a great story about the history of Texas, live in Houston (Armand Bayou is mentioned), and want a book that is full of adventure, new beginnings, murder, mixed in with true history, then you will also want to read this book!

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Taking a picture with Kathleen Kent.

If you haven’t read any books from Kathleen Kent, start with The Outcasts.  Then, you have to read The Heretic’s Daughter and The Traitor’s Wife, because those are some of my all-time favorite books.  Kathleen Kent isn’t just a historian, who loves research.  She loves to create stories and build characters around great storylines.  Her books aren’t heavy with historical fact, rather it enhances it and brings to life what you read.

Some Great Awards & Recognition:

The OutcastsAmerican Library Association’s “Top Pick” Historical Fiction in 2014 as well as being the recipient of a Will Rogers Medallion award for Western fiction.

Because I want to share her books with you, I will be hosting a book giveaway, that she autographed for you, in December! I’m choosing December because that is the month I first read her first book, and it’s definitely a gift that you will enjoy!

Connect with the Author:

Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

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Don’t forget about my October Book Giveaway! It ends October 31, 2014!

 

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Monday Madness

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It’s been awhile, since I’ve posted on a Monday.  I’m still recovering, and yes…it has been one loooong road to recovery for me.  However, I wanted to share some awesome giveaways with you today.  Since many are ending Friday, I knew I had to share them with you.  Of course, there are a lot more giveaways! So, if you want to add another one, just do so in the comments and I’ll add it for you!

Check out the ones below! Remember, I am having one here, too! It ends this Friday, October 31, 2014.  I am in love with this little gem of a book- Help for the Haunted by John Searles.  John has been gracious to all of us by offering you a chance to win an autographed copy of his book!  So, if you haven’t already, enter this simple giveaway!

Other giveaways to participate in:

http://www.bookhoundsya.net/2014/10/spooktacular-giveaway-hop-win-10-open-int-1031.html

http://hazelthewitch.blogspot.ca/2014/10/samhain-giveaway_24.html

http://addictivechicklit.blogspot.com.es/2014/10/books-and-butterflies-my-etsy-shop.html

http://www.triciagoyer.com/mom-blogs/

http://www.bookhoundsya.net/2014/10/fright-night-giveaway-hop-win-blackbird-by-anna-carey.html

http://us.macmillan.com/SMP/promo/mytruelovegavetomesweepstakes

 

 

TLC Book Tours: Bird in Hand by Christina Baker Kline

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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!

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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).

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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.

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The Oleander Sisters by Elaine Hussey

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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

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 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!

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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

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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.

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

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