Jun 222012
 

Tumbleweeds by Leila Meacham
Published by: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: June 19, 2012
ISBN-10: 1455509248
ISBN-13: 978-1455509249
Pages: 480
Review Copy from: The Hachette Book Group
Edition: HC
My Rating: 5

Synopsis (from IndieBound):
Recently orphaned, eleven-year-old Cathy Benson feels she has been dropped into a cultural and intellectual wasteland when she is forced to move from her academically privileged life in California to the small town of Kersey in the Texas Panhandle where the sport of football reigns supreme. She is quickly taken under the unlikely wings of up-and-coming gridiron stars and classmates John Caldwell and Trey Don Hall, orphans like herself, with whom she forms a friendship and eventual love triangle that will determine the course of the rest of their lives. Taking the three friends through their growing up years until their high school graduations when several tragic events uproot and break them apart, the novel expands to follow their careers and futures until they reunite in Kersey at forty years of age. Told with all of Meacham’s signature drama, unforgettable characters, and plot twists, readers will be turning the pages, desperate to learn how it all plays out.

My Thoughts and Opinion:
This was the first time that I read the work of this author and it will not be the last. Matter of fact, I now have Roses on my TBR list. As far as Tumbleweeds, three words, I loved it!!! I have to be honest that when I received it, and saw that it was a 480 page novel, I had feelings of ambivalence about picking it up to read, as I am in the group of readers who tend to shy away from large novels.

Tumbleweeds inserts the reader into the lives of the three (3) main characters from their young age when their friendship blossomed in a small town of Kersey, Texas and continues to follow the paths they took until they were in their forties. The writing style of the author brought everything to life including all of the characters in the book, the small town where High School football reigned, the settings, the emotions palpable and perceptible as if I was sitting on the sidelines and part of this close knit community. Every page read, I became more invested into their very believable lives. In my opinion, there was absolutely no “fluff” within the 480 pages. Every word written injected me deeper into the story line and had me turning the pages. Not only did the author pen a fantastic and enjoyable saga but also included suspense that had twists and turns and an ending I didn’t see coming. This book is engrossing and “transports” the reader right into the middle of the plot, that it is a “hard to put down” read. I highly recommend this captivating novel!!

DISCLAIMER
I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me,
in exchange for my honest review.
No items that I receive
are ever sold…they are kept by me,
or given to family and/or friends.

(2012 Challenges: FreeReads, 52 in 52, Outdo Yourself, 100+)
Jun 132012
 
Summerland by Elin Hilderbrand
Published by: Reagan Arthur Books
Publication Date: June 26, 2012
ISBN-10: 031609983X
ISBN-13: 978-0316099837
Pages: 400 pages
Review Copy from:  The Hachette Book Group
Edition:  ARC TPB
My Rating: 5

Synopsis (from IndieBound):
A warm June evening, a local tradition: the students of Nantucket High have gathered for a bonfire on the beach. But what begins as a graduation night celebration ends in tragedy after a horrible car crash leaves the driver of the car, Penny Alistair, dead, and her twin brother in a coma. The other passengers, Penny’s boyfriend Jake and her friend Demeter, are physically unhurt – but the emotional damage is overwhelming, and questions linger about what happened before Penny took the wheel.

As summer unfolds, startling truths are revealed about the survivors and their parents – secrets kept, promises broken, hearts betrayed. Elin Hilderbrand explores the power of community, family, and honesty, and proves that even from the ashes of sorrow, new love can still take flight.

My Thoughts and Opinion: Perfect summer read!! Ms. Hilderbrand brings her characters to life in this heart wrenching read. The narrative interweaves that fateful night and what follows from the characters’ perspectives. Three families receive the phone call, that is every parents’ worst fear, is made and alters their lives forever. Emotion packed and page turning to find out the why. What happened that night when Penny, a 17 year old junior in high school, got behind the wheel that caused the fatal accident? This read was the type of novel where you become invested in the characters’ lives. Their feelings of love, loss, guilt, anger, remorse, secrets, denial, betrayals and acceptance are believable and palpable. Full of relationship dynamics of many levels. The back drop of Nantucket beautiful, and due to the descriptive writing, I felt as I was part of the setting. An intense, passionate, touching and moving story. A powerful read for many, especially if you are a parent and/or a young adult. Highly recommend!!

DISCLAIMER
I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me,
in exchange for my honest review.
No items that I receive
are ever sold…they are kept by me,
or given to family and/or friends.
(2012 Challenges: In A Name, FreeReads, Where Are You, A-Z, 52 in 52, Outdo Yourself, 100+, Reagan Arthur)
Jun 022012
 
So Far Away by Meg Mitchell Moore
Published by: The Hachette Book Group
Reagan Arthur Books
Publication Date: May 29, 2012
ISBN-10: 0316097691
ISBN-13: 978-0316097697
Pages: 336
Review Copy from:  The Hachette Book Group
Edition:  ARC TPB
My Rating: 3

Synopsis (from Amazon):
Thirteen-year-old Natalie Gallagher is trying to escape: from her parents’ ugly divorce, and from the vicious cyber-bullying of her former best friend. Adrift, confused, she is a girl trying to find her way in a world that seems to either neglect or despise her. Her salvation arrives in an unlikely form: Bridget O’Connell, an Irish maid working for a wealthy Boston family. The catch? Bridget lives only in the pages of a dusty old 1920s diary Natalie unearthed in her mother’s basement. But the life she describes is as troubling – and mysterious – as the one Natalie is trying to navigate herself, almost a century later.

I am writing this down because this is my story. There were only ever two people who knew my secret, and both are gone before me.

Who was Bridget, and what became of her?

Natalie escapes into the diary, eager to unlock its secrets, and reluctantly accepts the help of library archivist Kathleen Lynch, a widow with her own painful secret: she’s estranged from her only daughter. Kathleen sees in Natalie traces of the daughter she has lost, and in Bridget, another spirited young woman at risk.

What could an Irish immigrant domestic servant from the 1920s teach them both? As the troubles of a very modern world close in around them, and Natalie’s torments at school escalate, the faded pages of Bridget’s journal unite the lonely girl and the unhappy widow – and might even change their lives forever.

My Thoughts and Opinion:
A poignant and tender story ripped from the headlines that we hear, one too many times lately, in the actions and consequences of bullying. Three females, all from different generations, but are united by friendship and the quest for happiness and survival.

The author weaves a heart wrenching prosaic novel that clutches the reader from the start. I was drawn into this story when the author first introduced 13 year old Natalie. As a parent, I wanted to wrap my arms around this character that the author brings to life along with the other characters in the book. The settings realistic as conveyed by the author’s descriptive writing style. The suspense swirls around a diary found that was written many years ago but has an impact on both Natalie and Kathleen, who has her own secrets and pain. A very emotional and compelling read!!!

(2012 Challenges: Off The Shelf, FreeReads, Where Are You, A-z, 52 in 52, Outdo Yourself, 100+)

Apr 182012
 

   The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan
Published by Reagan Arthur Books/Little, Brown and Company
The Hachette Book Group
ISBN-10: 0316185906
ISBN-13: 978-0316185905
   At the request of The Hachette Book Group, a HC was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion.

   Synopsis (borrowed from Amazon): Grace Winter, 22, is both a newlywed and a widow. She is also on trial for her life.

In the summer of 1914, the elegant ocean liner carrying her and her husband Henry across the Atlantic suffers a mysterious explosion. Setting aside his own safety, Henry secures Grace a place in a lifeboat, which the survivors quickly realize is over capacity. For any to live, some must die.

As the castaways battle the elements, and each other, Grace recollects the unorthodox way she and Henry met, and the new life of privilege she thought she’d found. Will she pay any price to keep it?

The Lifeboat is a page-turning novel of hard choices and survival, narrated by a woman as unforgettable and complex as the events she describes.

  My Thoughts and Opinion: Even though this book was not about The Titanic, I thought it fitting to read during it’s 100th anniversary.   There is one mention of the above named ship within the book.   However, because of the premise, I was able to vividly create my images from when I did see the movie, Titanic.

The book grips you in the prologue when Grace, the main character, is standing on on U.S. land, with head raised, mouth opened trying to catch the rain and on her way into court where she stands on trial for murder.   Murder?   I’m hooked.

The reader is then taken to the ship when passengers are being loaded into lifeboats. Grace, a newlywed managed to secure a seat in one, with the help of her husband who was left behind as the ship is sinking.   The book continues with a daily recap of the passengers and survival in a lifeboat for 21 days from Grace’s perspective.   The characters were aptly described and could be visualized.   The setting and description the same.   The book was a quick read, kept my interest because I couldn’t imagine why a murder charge?   However, the overall 21 days at sea story was at first a page turner but, and this is my opinion only, then seemed to drag at times and details that were omitted until the end, felt unrealistic when the book was finished.   Again, this is my opinion, but felt that the plot lacked action at times due to circumstances of the story line.   As I said the imagery I created was due to the movie, which helped greatly.   Even though it kept my interest, I expected more, maybe due to all the Titanic hype this month.   Overall, it was a fast (274 pages) and entertaining read.

  My Rating: 3

DISCLAIMER
I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me,
in exchange for my honest review.
No items that I receive
are ever sold…they are kept by me,
or given to family and/or friends.
(2012 Challenges: Mystery/Suspense, What’s In A Name, Off the Shelf, FreeReads, Where Are You, A-Z, Merely Mystery, 52 in 52, Outdo Yourself, 100+, Reagan Arthur)
Apr 042012
 

Ninety Days: A Memoir of Recovery by Bill Clegg
Published by Little Brown and Company
Hachette Book Group
Publishing Date: April 10, 2012
ISBN-10: 0316122521
ISBN-13: 978-0316122528
At the request of The Hachette Book Group, an ARC TPB was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion.

Synopsis (from publisher): The goal is ninety. Just ninety clean and sober days to loosen the hold of the addiction that caused Bill Clegg to lose everything. With seventy-three days in rehab behind him he returns to New York and attends two or three meetings each day. It is in these refuges that he befriends essential allies including the seemingly unshakably sober Asa and Polly, who struggles daily with her own cycle of recovery and relapse.

At first, the support is not enough: Clegg relapses for the first time with only three days left. Written with uncompromised immediacy, NINETY DAYS begins where PORTRAIT OF AN ADDICT AS A YOUNG MAN ends—and tells the wrenching story Clegg’s battle to reclaim his life. As any recovering addict knows, hitting rock bottom is just the beginning

My Thoughts and Opinion: A raw and emotional look into the life of one man’s journey and battle for sobriety. This book was read in one sitting as I learned how a white collared businessman lost everything to come back from rehab with nothing. He fought to stay clean for 90 days but the drugs had a stronger grasp, that he kept relapsing within the goal of ninety days to stay clean and sober. The guilt and embarrassment he felt when he did relapse and once again try to reach the goal was palpable. He introduces those in his life who befriend and support him but the need for the drug is too powerful. We read and hear of this every day and the disease does not discriminate.

I had mixed feelings on this book. It was a simple read yet poignant. This was the sequel to his first book, Portrait Of An Addict As A Young Man, which I did not read but did read the rave reviews for it. Because of that I had high expectations that there would be more from this book than a very simplistic digest of him trying to win the war of drugs and alcohol. He makes reference to another book that was an Oprah” book, which I did read. And even though it turned out that that story was embellished, it was a more detailed look into the life of an addict.

This is my opinion, and only my opinion, but I expected more from this book, both in substance and writing style. It may be due to the fact that I did not read the previous book and/or my expectations that the composition would be more complex than what I came away with, which was I thought, just a short story.

DISCLAIMER
I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me,
in exchange for my honest review.
No items that I receive
are ever sold…they are kept by me,
or given to family and/or friends.

(2012 Challenges: Off The Shelf, FreeReads, Where Are You, A-Z, 52 in 52, Outdo Yourself, 100+)