Book Review: The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

My Review:

I first heard about this book from blogger, Cindy at “Utah’s Mom’s Life“.  I had the book on my reader for some time and was waiting for the perfect time to read this little gem.  I have been in a reading funk lately, so I wanted a book that was fantasy in some ways, a book that would take me away from the serious books I had read lately.

While this book is not a “light” read, it is definitely one that is magical, deals with heartache, family, and realizing that dreams do come true…even if they aren’t wrapped up in a way that one perceives.

I loved the rugged and rural setting of the book.  Set in the 1920’s, Jack and Mabel decide to venture to a new land: Alaska.  There, they decide to make their home, away from the daily reminders of the loss of their child and family/friends to remind them of those painful memories.  However, as life always shows, no one can run from their past memories.  Mabel is quite stoic and has an inner strength that helps carry her and Jack through the cold winters and harsh reminders of their aloneness.  However, they soon find they aren’t alone and develop friendships with George and Esther, and become parents to Faina, their snow child.

I love the relationship between Esther and Mabel, how Esther’s resilience and strength helps Mabel and Jack, how George and Esther take care of them and teach them, and the way they all become friends, then family.  The details of their Alaska homesteads were quite descriptive, that it was quite easy to see it in my mind.

There were many times I didn’t know where the story would go or how it would end, and that was okay. I liked not knowing where the author would take her readers.  However, there were many times towards the end of the book that I would think: “awww…that’s a beautiful ending”.  Then, I would turn the page, only to find another chapter.  After awhile, I was ready for it to end.  I felt like one of the animals ensnared in a trap…quick to grab you and slow to let go.  However, that was just the last few chapters.  The first 30 something chapters actually move quite nicely and the characters are all connected in some way.

The ending, or multiple endings (in my opinion) are hard, sad, intense, which is reminder of the harsh times during that era.  Just like the snow is surely guaranteed to appear each year (and with it bring hope), this story also brings hope and shows how you can either stay stuck in your own tragedy or see each new possibility as an opportunity to bring joy.  Overall, a great book!

great cupcake rating 4  *A huge thanks to my bloggey friend, who gifted me this amazing book!

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copyright 2015

It’s Not a Goodbye-I’ll See You Later: Stepping Back from Book Tours

cropped-treasure-of-books.jpgWhen I first started blogging 5 years ago, I was simply excited to share great books with other readers.  It slowly evolved, then quickly became a place for me to promote great authors and their works through virtual book tours.  I love virtual book tours.  It’s like gathering some of your friends and showing up to a book signing, then chatting about it for weeks on end!  The difference: it’s done online.

Then, I found out about tour hosts!!  They are the best because they know which books are coming out and you get a list to choose from and dates you want to review/spotlight/giveaway that particular book.  I love it!! However, life doesn’t always work out where it’s easy to simply sign up, read a book, and post it.

I haven’t signed up for many tours this year because it is time to take step away from the pressures of virtual book touring.  I still plan on reading books and reviewing them, offering giveaways, and chatting with fellow bloggers and authors on social media.  However, I am not going to be participating in virtual book tours.  It’s a lot of work cross promoting books on retail and non-retail sites, hopping on other blog sites to comment and read their reviews, and sharing on social media.

The tours I am participating with don’t necessarily have a “deadline” for me, and I can read and review the book at my leisure.  While I love talking books with others, it does take a lot of energy for me to share and do so much behind the scenes for a novel.  I love it…don’t get me wrong. I’m like my fellow bloggers: a bibliophile!  We love books, love talking books, love sharing them, loving giving them away to readers, and love chatting with authors and publishers about how awesome that book is!!

I just need a slower pace blogging schedule, where I can post when I can and share without feeling the constraints of being on a scheduled book tour.  This will also give me a chance to read books that have been sitting on my bookshelf or my reader!!  Because I am like you…I want to snuggle with a great book and read it without hurry or pressure.

So, you will be seeing less of me on book tours, but will still see me!  For example, She Reads.  We can read a book per season (any book or all of them), and post at our leisure (in that time period)!  I love the flexibility and it gives me a chance to still interact with my fellow bloggers about great books!

I still plan on posting my reviews of books and offer book giveaways.  This simply pertains to scheduled book tours.  I still have a few I’m scheduled on and I am being selective about the ones I do promote.  I just won’t be on every tour I would love to participate in.

I do hope to venture back into more scheduled book tours because there is this excitement and sense of unity that bloggers get when on a virtual book tour!  However, I need to take a step back and hope you understand.

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TLC Book Tours: The Hurricane Sisters by Dorothea Benton Frank

 Paperback: 352 pages
 Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (April 7, 2015)

Hurricane season begins early and rumbles all summer long, well into September. Often people’s lives reflect the weather and The Hurricane Sisters is just such a story.

Once again Dorothea Benton Frank takes us deep into the heart of her magical South Carolina Lowcountry on a tumultuous journey filled with longings, disappointments, and, finally, a road toward happiness that is hard earned. There we meet three generations of women buried in secrets. The determined matriarch, Maisie Pringle, at eighty, is a force to be reckoned with because she will have the final word on everything, especially when she’s dead wrong. Her daughter, Liz, is caught up in the classic maelstrom of being middle-age and in an emotionally demanding career that will eventually open all their eyes to a terrible truth. And Liz’s beautiful twenty-something daughter, Ashley, whose dreamy ambitions of her unlikely future keeps them all at odds.

Luckily for Ashley, her wonderful older brother, Ivy, is her fierce champion but he can only do so much from San Francisco where he resides with his partner. And Mary Beth, her dearest friend, tries to have her back but even she can’t talk headstrong Ashley out of a relationship with an ambitious politician who seems slightly too old for her.

Actually, Ashley and Mary Beth have yet to launch themselves into solvency. Their prospects seem bleak. So while they wait for the world to discover them and deliver them from a ramen-based existence, they placate themselves with a hare-brained scheme to make money but one that threatens to land them in huge trouble with the authorities.

So where is Clayton, Liz’s husband? He seems more distracted than usual. Ashley desperately needs her father’s love and attention but what kind of a parent can he be to Ashley with one foot in Manhattan and the other one planted in indiscretion? And Liz, who’s an expert in the field of troubled domestic life, refuses to acknowledge Ashley’s precarious situation. Who’s in charge of this family? The wake-up call is about to arrive.

The Lowcountry has endured its share of war and bloodshed like the rest of the South, but this storm season we watch Maisie, Liz, Ashley, and Mary Beth deal with challenges that demand they face the truth about themselves. After a terrible confrontation they are forced to rise to forgiveness, but can they establish a new order for the future of them all?

Frank, with her hallmark scintillating wit and crisp insight, captures how a complex family of disparate characters and their close friends can overcome anything through the power of love and reconciliation. This is the often hilarious, sometimes sobering, but always entertaining story of how these unforgettable women became The Hurricane Sisters.

My Review:

If you know me, then you know I don’t like physical books. They are too heavy for me and I really don’t like lugging them around. So, for me to admit that I carried this book with me everywhere just goes to show how much I enjoyed this one!

Because it is stated in the beginning that different characters will be sharing their point of view, it seemed to flow better for me and I didn’t feel caught off guard.  It’s hard reading from multiple view points because I tend to like one character over another, however it seemed to go well.  Overall, this is more than just about sisters, but a family full of secrets, hurt, judgment, and decisions they have to make-individually and as a family.

This book does have a gay character (Ivy), who is together with this extremely intelligent and apparently good looking Asian (per Ashley’s point of view-Ashley is the sister to Ivy).  However, their romance isn’t the main focus and it isn’t “in your face”.  Rather, it was merely a part of the character and it wasn’t anything that made me uncomfortable. Although, I did feel horrible for him and his “camp” experience.

It was a little odd that everyone called each other by their given names (or nickname), rather than “Grandma”, “Mom”, “Dad” “Sis”, etc.  It’s not very “Southern”, but then again most Southerners don’t hob nob with Senators, either!

Reading the book, I felt like the psychiatrist on Sybil (the movie) and where Sally Field changes characters in one session.  As I’m reading and really getting to know one character, that chapter would end and another character would jump in.  Each character had a story to tell, their own opinion, and like magic…it just works.

In the end, it’s about a family that looks great on the outside, but things happen behind closed doors and they each feel alone with their issues, without realizing they are all struggling with rejection, conformity, family expectations, dreams, and so on.

I enjoyed this book.  It’s funny, tackles some heavy issues but doesn’t weight the book down completely, and it even has one crazy llama…yes, a llama!!

great cupcake rating 4

*A huge thanks to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for providing me with a copy of the book, in exchange for an honest review.

About Dorothea Benton FrankDorothea Benton Frank

New York Times bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank was born and raised on Sullivans Island, South Carolina. She is the author of many New York Times bestselling novels, including Lowcountry Summer and Return to Sullivans Island. She resides in the New York area with her husband.

Find her on the web at www.dotfrank.com, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Dorothea’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, April 7th: The Discerning Reader

Wednesday, April 8th: The man thoughts of a reader

Thursday, April 9th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Friday, April 10th: Books and Bindings

Monday, April 13th: Lavish Bookshelf

Tuesday, April 14th: Peeking Between the Pages

Wednesday, April 15th: Bookshelf Fantasies

Monday, April 20th: Books in the Burbs

Tuesday, April 21st: Bibliotica

Wednesday, April 22nd: Jorie Loves a Story

Thursday, April 23rd: A Novel Review

TBD: A Chick Who Reads

 

 

 

 

 

I’m Guest Blogging Over at Mom’s Small Victories!

When I first started blogging, my intention was to keep it solely about books. However, over the course of time, I have met many wonderful bloggers that talk about other topics that are beyond books.  While I still want to keep this blog centered on books and book reviews, I wanted to share with you a guest post that I wrote regarding toxic people and it’s impact on health.toxic people

Please go by and visit, Mom’s Small Victories, to read it.  I look forward to reading your comments on what you’ve done to eliminate toxic relationships from your life.  Because let’s face it, you don’t have to be diagnosed with an illness to determine and eliminate toxic relationships from your life.

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TLC Book Tours Book Review & Giveaway: Dog Crazy by Meg Donahue

• Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (March 10, 2015)

The USA Today bestselling author of How to Eat a Cupcake and All the Summer Girls returns with an unforgettably poignant and funny tale of love and loss, confronting our fears, and moving on . . . with the help of a poodle, a mutt, and a Basset retriever named Seymour.

As a pet bereavement counselor, Maggie Brennan uses a combination of empathy, insight, and humor to help patients cope with the anguish of losing their beloved four-legged friends. Though she has a gift for guiding others through difficult situations, Maggie has major troubles of her own that threaten the success of her counseling practice and her volunteer work with a dog rescue organization.

Everything changes when a distraught woman shows up at Maggie’s office and claims that her dog has been stolen. Searching the streets of San Francisco for the missing pooch, Maggie finds herself entangled in a mystery that forces her to finally face her biggest fear-and to open her heart to new love.

Packed with deep emotion and charming surprises, Dog Crazy is a bighearted and entertaining story that skillfully captures the bonds of love, the pain of separation, and the power of our dogs to heal us.

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My Review:

HUGE DISCLAIMER:  I did not read this as a therapist, do not recommend therapist’s read this as a therapist, nor for non-therapists to assume that therapists provide therapy this way.

Dog Crazy is a light read that covers some heavy topics: grief, fear, anxiety, and sadness.  However, Meg Donahue writes this story in such a way that makes the issues so laden with heaviness and makes the book just as cozy as those cute dogs, who have personalities that many who are dog lovers will relate with.

A mystery (Maggie helps find a missing dog), adjusting to a new city, dealing with her own loss and family issues, Maggie is a woman many will relate with and find compassion towards.  She is a woman with a huge heart, one that has been broken, and while she ventures into a practice to help others-she finds that there is healing for her, too.

This was a quick read for me, but still had me shed a few tears.  Don’t let the cover fool you- it’s not all warm and fuzzy.  It deals with some heavy topics that people face everyday and will give hope…which always makes for a great ending!!

Overall, I enjoyed the book and am sharing this with one lucky winner!

 

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Giveaway Details:

One person will receive a paperback copy of Dog Crazy by Meg Donahue.

To enter, please fill out the comment form.  Information entered on the form is only visible to me and will not be displayed online.  All information is confidential and not shared with anyone.  No P.O. Boxes, please.

Open to the US & Canada

Giveaway ends April 28, 2015

Book Signing in Houston: Michelle Moran, author, of Rebel Queen

Synopsis:

From the internationally bestselling author of Nefertiti and Cleopatra’s Daughter comes the breathtaking story of Queen Lakshmi—India’s Joan of Arc—who against all odds defied the mighty British invasion to defend her beloved kingdom.

When the British Empire sets its sights on India in the mid-nineteenth century, it expects a quick and easy conquest. India is fractured and divided into kingdoms, each independent and wary of one another, seemingly no match for the might of the English. But when they arrive in the Kingdom of Jhansi, the British army is met with a surprising challenge.

Instead of surrendering, Queen Lakshmi raises two armies—one male and one female—and rides into battle, determined to protect her country and her people. Although her soldiers may not appear at first to be formidable against superior British weaponry and training, Lakshmi refuses to back down from the empire determined to take away the land she loves.

Told from the unexpected perspective of Sita—Queen Lakshmi’s most favored companion and most trusted soldier in the all-female army—Rebel Queen shines a light on a time and place rarely explored in historical fiction. In the tradition of her bestselling novel, Nefertiti, and through her strong, independent heroines fighting to make their way in a male dominated world, Michelle Moran brings nineteenth-century India to rich, vibrant life.

Book Event Details:

Michelle Moran
Rebel Queen

Author Event
Join us as we host Michelle Moran in the upstairs seating area as she signs her new book Rebel Queen.
The signing will be first come, first served; seating is limited.
Saturday March 28, 2015 2:00 PM

Barnes and Nobles at The Woodlands
Woodlands Mall, 1201 Lake Woodlands Dr. #3008,
The Woodlands, TX 77381, 281-465-8744

Mug ‘O’ Comfort Swap Reveal

088f4-2014mugocomfortbutton I love participating in the swaps hosted by Chaotic Goddess Swaps!  Each swap is a little different and this one was about great mugs!  I am the first to admit, I don’t have many mugs. I have lots of Christmas ones and a few cutes ones, but mugs aren’t usually an item I choose for myself.  Because I love my Keurig and drinking hot cocoa, this was the perfect swap for me. I was teamed up with an awesome blogger, Kristen, over at The Book Monsters.  The best part about these swaps is that we are teamed up with someone who has similar tastes to us.  Also, because we are teamed up with our partner and given contact information, it’s an awesome way to connect and get to know one another. I was in heaven when I received my package!  Look at the goodies below! IMG_6198Is that now just insane?!?  I am a HUGE Jane Austen fan and absolutely fell in love with my tote and Jane Austen mug! She even bought me a book that I have been wanting to read, Tumbleweeds, by Leila Mecham. unnamed[1]Kristen even included some awesome goodies, like my favorite candies: Hot Tamales and Raisinets, a journal, a mega huge cupcake eraser (because I love cupcakes!), and her logo book mark! unnamed[3]I had to include another pic of my Jane Austen mug and tote bag! I also love that Kristen included a coaster for my mug! This was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed getting to know Kristen better on different forms of social media! It’s been great to meet other bloggers through these swaps and look forward to participating in more of them! copyright 2015 simple signature best

“What You Said?”-The Failings of a Bibliophile With Audio Books

Photo Courtesy of LDS.org

Photo courtesy of LDS.org

 

When my son was about 2 years old, and needed us to repeat something, he would ask, “what you said?”.  It was so cute, but of course, we’d correct him.  I can guarantee you, at 19, he no longer says that.  Anyhow, that’s our saying at home when we are being goofy, and I thought this was quite fitting for my experience listening to an audio on the road. About a couple of weeks ago, I was able to check out the audio for this book. I downloaded it onto my computer, so that from there I could download it to my iPhone.  My plan was to listen to the book, while on the road to a conference.  Because I was transferring the cd’s onto my laptop, then transferring them to my iPhone, and I had never done that before, it took me about 4 hours to figure it all out and finish the task.

So, on my road trip I went.  I had created a playlist, with the book title, of course.  However, it played in alphabetical order of each title, rather than the order of the book.  Not a problem.  I played it by “author” setting,  for the story to be read out loud in the correct order.

However, I failed miserably.  Here’s why:

1.  Concentration: I am a proactive driver. I am constantly looking at sides, driving cautiously, which means I didn’t always remember what was being said and which character the narrator was talking about.

2.  Pause and Play: For some reason, if I stopped and turned the van off, my iPhone wouldn’t remember where I was at in the story, and it would either start over or just pick a random spot.

3.  Squirrel!:  I’m a visual person and the drive was beautiful.  I’d be looking at the scenery or reading the billboard signs, then I’d completely forget what was being said.  Unlike a book, I just can’t turn back a few pages.  I had to  rewind a whole chapter, which wasn’t fun!

4.  Who? When?:  I don’t know when or how, but as I’m driving, the storyline went back and forth on the timeline: past and present.  It was simply hard to remember which time period was being told. I found myself getting confused.  It wasn’t until I stopped at my destination that I looked down and saw that somehow the story was being “shuffled”.   For example, I’d be in chapter 1, then move onto chapter 11, and had no idea.  While I am a sign reader, I don’t look down at my phone.  It wasn’t until I was at a full stop that I realized what had been happening.   I still don’t know if the novel naturally goes back and forth from past to present, and even if it did, I simply couldn’t keep up.

5.  Mindless: While the narrator is phenomenal, I realize I just need some music I can sing to, because it doesn’t matter if I know every word, and it helps me stay calmer and more focused.  The narrator for this novel has a very distinguished voice and I loved when he would talk in the different character voices.  However, it was too hard to stay focused on the audio version of novel, no matter how interesting it was.  Granted, it was playing in random order, so that impacted my experience tremendously.

From what I do remember, I really liked the novel and plan to read the book.  Some people are able to listen to books with no problem. I am apparently not one of them.  My husband loves using the service from Audible.com.  He loves the ease of it and how quickly it just transfers to his phone, like I love the easy format with my e-readers.

When people tell me they can’t use e-readers, I can completely understand them.  Just like having a variety of genres to choose from, there are a variety of different ways to read a book. I’m a visual learner, and it makes perfect sense that I prefer reading to listening.  It also makes perfect sense that I don’t always know the words to a song unless I read them, and that’s okay.  I’m really great at humming and ad-libbing!

Which do you prefer: audio, e-books, or a physical copy?

Sound below!

Giveaway

Click here for giveaway details!

 

copyright 2015

 

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Review: Julie Farley & The New Ever After Series

I was first introduced to author, Julie Farley, being on tour for CLP Blog Tours, back in 2013.  She wrote a trilogy, which I love.  Here are the books and reviews for them:

Click here to read my review.

Click here to read my review.

Because I enjoyed the previous two books, I was quite excited to learn that Julie had written another book! The last book in the trilogy: Another Tomorrow.  This is a book that cannot be read as a standalone and is a compliment to the two previous novels.  The cover, in my opinion, doesn’t adequately represent the storyline.  Although, it is both Heather and Jenny, best friends who have endured a number of situations and life changes.  This book deals primarily with Jenny and her self discovery, after her divorce.  I was uncomfortable reading about the yoga retreat, where there is a lesbian kiss, although it doesn’t define Jenny and doesn’t really impact the rest of the story.  I think that scene could have been excluded, without affecting the overall storyline.  While the story revolves more around Jenny, it is great to still know what is happening with Heather, her new marriage, and her ever growing children.  They were just born in the last book!  I loved the romance that happens for Jenny and the way she finds peace with her ex-husband, learns to be a single mom and venturing into dating, as well as dealing with a serious health issue. Overall, Farley fans will enjoy this book and be glad for the happy ending!

great cupcake rating 4

*This book was provided by the author, in exchange for an honest review.  No forms of compensation were given.

copyright 2015

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Short Stack Reviews

SHORT STACK REVIEWS

At the beginning of the year, I was reading so much that I simply didn’t want to stop and write about them. Before I knew it, they had accumulated and I wanted to share them with you here.  I plan to write more “Short Stack Reviews”, where you can gleam what I’ve read, add them to your TBR list (if you see any that you might like), and also to help me keep track of my reading.  Be sure and click on each book picture to read the synopsis!

This is my first DNF, this year.  I don’t typically include books I haven’t read because I certainly am in no position to rate them.  However, I am including this one.  From the first chapter, I was hooked into the storyline.  It was intense, an “edge of your seat” kind of book, that I just couldn’t continue reading.  I had so much anxiety worrying if Mark, the astronaut left behind, was going to die.  I didn’t watch Gravity, the movie with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, because I didn’t want to see him die.  I’m a wimp when it comes to movies and books.  Because I didn’t finish this book, I have no idea if Mark survives, but my heart couldn’t continue.  It is a book for sci-fi fans, those who want a narrative story (as Mark is the only one on Mars…and his potatoes), and for those who love intense books. So, what did I do with this book? I gave it to my son, who loves sci-fi, is fascinated with Mars, and loves an intense storyline.  He also saw Gravity and loved it, so there you go!

*This book was provided by the publisher and Blogging for Books, in exchange for an honest opinion.  No forms of compensation were given.

I am a HUGE Jane Austen fan.  So, when Cyndi from “A Utah Mom’s Life“, suggested this book, I downloaded it.  I loved this book and the adventures Jane (Jane in the book, not The Jane) has in Austenland.  I don’t know if there is such a place, but wouldn’t it be amazing to jump back in time and meet people that are from Pride and Prejudice? Jane has a great sense of humor and does admit the corsets get old, not being able to be alone with a male is stifling, and lack of cellphones can be a bit hard.  However, she has her own adventure, has some love challenges, and finds her happily ever after…or so I hope.  The ending did seem a bit rushed, but it was in perfect Austen form-love always prevails!

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 I must admit, before reading While Beauty Slept, I just didn’t have an appreciation for Princess Aurora.  This book is another twist on  Sleeping Beauty, where Princess Aurora wakes up but doesn’t have her happily ever after.  She isn’t in love with her prince, the kingdom is in disarray, and she learns that all is not as it seems.  This novel is the first to a trilogy, which I am excited about and is a great YA book for those who love stories about fairy tales with twists.  There are definitely some cliffhangers, which I am sure the other 2 novels will address, and can’t wait to read them!  This is definitely a book that different from Elizabeth Blackwell’s book, so don’t compare them because you will be disappointed.  They are vastly different and equally good in their own right.  I enjoyed this book very much!

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

 

copyright 2015

 

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