Monday, February 24, 2014
Kensington | November 26, 2013 | Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-0-7582-8116-6
In this richly emotional novel, Kristina McMorris evokes the depth of a mother's bond with her child, and the power of personal histories to echo through generations...
Two years have done little to ease veterinarian Audra Hughes's grief over her husband's untimely death. Eager for a fresh start, Audra plans to leave Portland for a new job in Philadelphia. Her seven-year-old son, Jack, seems apprehensive about flying - but it's just the beginning of an anxiety that grows to consume him.
As Jack's fears continue to surface in recurring and violent nightmares, Audra hardly recognizes the introverted boy he has become. Desperate, she traces snippets of information unearthed in Jack's dreams, leading her to Sean Malloy, a struggling US Army veteran wounded in Afghanistan. Together they unravel a mystery dating back to World War II, and uncover old family secrets that still have the strength to wound - and perhaps, at last, to heal.
Intricate and beautifully written, THE PIECES WE KEEP illuminates those moments when life asks us to reach beyond what we know and embrace what was once unthinkable. Deftly weaving together past and present, herein lies a story that is at once poignant and thought-provoking, and as unpredictable as the human heart.
THE PIECES WE KEEP was a beautifully written story about a young boy whose night terrors unearth a relationship between two people during World War II. How does Jack know the names of these people? Did he live in a past life or is there something more that we don't know?
I absolutely couldn't put this book down. The chapters are written alternately between present time with Jack and Audra and the story of Vivan and her beaus during World War II. A lot of the information contained in the story pertaining to World War II actually happened at noted by the author at the end of her book.
This is one story I'll be recommending to friends and family.
Friday, February 21, 2014
Amy Einhorn Books|March 4, 2014|Hardcover|ISBN: 978-0-399-15798-1
MISTER OWITA'S GUIDE TO GARDENING is about a wonderful friendship between Carol Wall and Giles Owita. It's a book about illness and also how we need to learn to not make assumptions.
Carol Wall is a high school teacher living in the United States and is happily married with grown children. Giles Owita also lives in the United Sates, is happily married and has young children but is originally from Kenya.
Carol and her husband never much cared about how their garden looked, it just wasn't a priority in their lives. One day she was admiring a neighbours garden which was breathtaking when she began to have a change of heart. Why subject her community to their mess when everyone else had well maintained yards. Carol noticed a black man working in the neighbours yard and figured she'd ask him to come and speak with her about doing her garden. The woman who owned the home was a master gardener herself so Carol thought Giles must be good if she let him maintain her yard.
Carol assumed because Giles was a yard worker that he was automatically uneducated and probably not very bright. When Carol first met Giles she wasn't overly friendly and fought him on a lot of the ideas he had to improve her garden. Over time they became the best of friends even though Carol was occupied with worry over her cancer returning. She and Giles, although happily married to other people, enjoyed a completely platonic but intimate friendship. As their friendship blossomed and their complete trust in each other grew, they began to reveal private and tragic secrets to each other.
As Carol confided in Giles, Giles too confided in Carol further cementing their relationship. Carol said: "...my conversations with Giles Owita became my ideal postgraduate education, I even took notes..."
This memoir is a very personal account really of two people's lives. And, there is a lot more to Giles Owita than meets the eye. You'll be surprised at what you learn about this charming man from Kenya. We'd all be lucky to meet and befriend a Giles Owita.
I liked the line where Carol wrote: "Fate had sent a professor to my door, and my conversations with him were like a dream class..."
I enjoyed this book thoroughly and will be sharing it with friends and recommending it to other people.
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
HarperCollins|January 13, 2014|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-1-44342-012-9
The extraordinary happens every day...
George Duncan is an American living and working in London. He is divorced, the owner of a small print shop, and lonelier than he realizes. One night he is woken by an extraordinary sound coming from his garden. Impossibly, a great white crane has tumbled to earth, shot through its wing by a giant arrow. Unexpectedly moved, George pulls out the arrow and frees the crane, and from the moment he watches it fly off, his life is transformed. Before he knows it, he meets and falls in love with the enigmatic Kumiko, an artist who changes the lives of everyone around her, including Amanda, George's angry-and very funny daughter, her adorable French son and George himself.
Wise, romantic, sublime and laugh-out-loud funny, THE CRANE WIFE is hugely entertaining, but it also resonates on a deep, dreamlike, mythic level. Above all, it is a celebration of the disruptive and redemptive power of love.
Wow, what a great read! Very unique and very interesting. I would love to have a huge crane land in my back-yard. George Duncan is such a giving and feeling man who cares a great deal about people and their interests. His other wives divorced him because he was "too nice." Can you imagine that?
I don't really have anything to add as I think the synopsis above does an excellent job of descriibing exactly what this novel is about.
Monday, February 17, 2014
Little, Brown Books|November 12, 2013|Hard Cover|ISBN: 978-0-316-24676-7
Dear Mr. S. Harris,
Ignore the blob of red in the top left corner. It's jam, not blood, though I don't think I need to tell you the difference. It wasn't your wife's jam the police found on your shoe...
I know what it's like.
Mine wasn't a woman. Mine was a boy. And I killed him exactly three months ago.
Zoe has an unconventional pen pal - Mr. Stuart Harris, a Texas Death Row inmate and convicted murderer. But then again, Zoe has an unconventional story to tell. A story about how she fell for two boys, betrayed one of them, and killed the other.
Hidden away in her backyard shed in the middle of the night with a jam sandwich in one hand and a pen in the other, Zoe gives a voice to her heart and her fears after months of silence. Mr. Harris may never respond to Zoe's letters, but at least somebody will know her story - somebody who knows what it's like to kill a person you love. Only through her unusual confession can Zoe hope to atone for her mistakes that have torn lives apart, and work to put her own life back together again.
Rising literary star Annabel Pitcher pens a captivating second novel, rich with her distinctive balance between humor and heart, Annabel explores the themes of first love, guilt, grief, introducing a character with a witty voice and true emotional resonance.
KETCHUP CLOUDS was a very interesting story. Zoe, after killing a young teenage boy, is suffering from such guilt and remorse that she just has to tell someone. She goes online and finds a website for ''death row inmates'' and chooses Stuart Harris who is slated to die from lethal injection for murdering his wife.
Using the ficticious name of Zoe, she begins writing a series of letters to Mr. Harris, slowly building up to the day she killed the boy in the hope it will assuage her guilt. Inbetween she is having a lot to contend with between her schoolwork, her father losing his job, her parents fighting and arguing all the time, and coping with her deaf sister whom she loves to death.
Zoe not only falls in the love with the boy she killed, Max but also his brother Aaron. She ends up killing Max but does she still end up with Aaron in the end?
And she goes on a campaign of writing to a Nun to try and get Mr. Harris's date for death of May 1st stopped. Is she successful in that endeavour?
A really well-written story, very interesting and well-done! Highly recommended
HarperCollins|October 27, 2008|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-0-06-162642-5
The warm, wonderful, real-life tale of the family that brings the Christmas spirit to life on a street corner in Manhattan.
Every holiday season for nearly twenty years, Billy Romp, his wife, and their three children have spent nearly a month living in a tiny camper and selling Christmas trees on Jane Street in New York City. They arrive from Vermont the day after Thanksgiving and leave just in time to make it home for Christmas - and for a few weeks they transform a corner of the Big Apple into a Frank Capra-esque small town alive with heartwarming holiday spirit.
CHRISTMAS ON JANE STREET is about the transformative power of love - love of parent and child, of merchant and customer, of stranger and neighbor. The ideal Christmas story, it is about the lasting and profound difference that one person can make to a family and one family can make to a community.
A lovely, lovingly illustrated little gem of a book, this delightful tenth anniversary edition of a beloved Christmas classic tells the poignant, inspiring story of an unforgettable family and the warm, wide circle of friends who have welcomed them to the neighborhood.
I can't really add much to the synopsis above that would tell you anything more other than to say the family learns a valuable lesson this particular Christmas. Especially the father. This was a really great feel good story and made for a perfect couple hours of reading. Highly recommended.
Saturday, February 15, 2014
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt|February 4, 2014|Hardcover|ISBN: 978-0-547-89926-8
Victoria Secord, a fourteen-year-old Alaskan dogsled racer, loses her way on a routine outing with her dogs. With food gone and temperatures dropping, her survival and that of her dogs and the mysterious boy she meets in the woods is entirely up to her.
The author Terry Lynn Johnson is a musher herself, and her crackling writing puts readers at the reins as Victoria and Chris experience setbacks, mistakes, and small triumphs in their wilderness adventure.
ICE DOGS was a beautifully written story full of adventure and excitement. Fourteen-year-old Victoria Secord sets out on a routine sled ride with her team of dogs and gets lost. Along the way she spies a snowmobile smashed into a tree with a body laying a distance from the machine. She stops her team and rescues, Chris, a boy her own age who had recently moved to Alaska and had never even ridden a snowmobile before.
Together, Chris and Victoria try to find their way back home but not before experiencing many set-backs and upsets. I had some breath-holding moments while reading this book and thought for sure at one point it was all over for Victoria and her team of dogs.
An enjoyable read and highly recommended.
Friday, February 14, 2014
Doubleday Canada|February 11, 2014|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-0-385-67902-2
The black dog is not scratching. He goes back to his sniffing and huffing and then he starts cracking his bone. Stick and I are huddled tight...It is dark and no Daddy or Mommy and after a while I watch the lids of my eyes close down like jaws.
Told from the point of view of a five-year-old child, THE BEAR is the story of Anna and her little brother, Stick --two young children forced to fend for themselves in Algonquin Park after a black bear attacks their parents. A gripping and mesmerizing exploration of the child atwilderness and what happens when predation comes from within.
THE BEAR was a sad story and a tear-jerker where I shredded kleenex after kleenex. Cameron's ability to write in the voice of five-year-old, Anna was amazing. Kids start off thinking about or talking about one specific topic which then go off track into another whole thought process altogether and Cameron captures this perfectly. She truly gets into the psyche of a five-year-old.
Little Anna did her very best at taking control of their dire situation and looking after two-year-old, Alex, affectionately known as 'Stick' or 'Sticky'. She tried very hard to be Momma, Daddy and babysitter at all the appropriate times.
She was ingenious in some of the ideas she came up with to get them through the sad and frightening situation they found themselves in. Her ability to talk herself out of her "worries" were quite mature for a five-year-old.
My heart bled for these two children who had to see the "messy, mess, mess," as Anna described it after the bear had attacked and eaten her Mommy and Daddy. Seeing what she thought was a piece of messy meat, like a leg of lamb with her Daddy's shoe on the end upset her because she thought her Daddy would be mad when he returned from wherever he went to find his sneaker attached to the end of this "messy, mess, mess."
The utter bewilderment and fear shone through in little Anna but she was able to talk herself into a story that balanced everything out.
Using a rock to work a point on a stick to attack the "big black dog" when it returned showed her ability to understand that she and Sticky were in trouble. She was going to be the Princess of the land and slay the dragon so to speak.
The novel was heartbreaking, heartpounding and I white-knuckled every page from beginning to end. At times I actually found myself holding my breath.
Claire Cameron is a phenomenal author with the capacity to crawl into the mind of a five-year-old and tell a heartbreaking story as if you were sitting across the table from the child listening to her tell you the story herself. Just absolutely remarkable and a highly, highly recommended read. I read the entire book in one evening. My hands were so tightly clutched to the book, that I couldn't have put it down even if I'd wanted too. This is a novel everyone should read, both young adult and adults. The voice of Anna is going to stay with you long after the last page has been turned.
I can see why now some other reviewers are calling this The Room of 2014.
Thursday, February 13, 2014
Baker Publishing Group|January 21, 2014|Hardcover|ISBN: 978-0-7642-1263-5
True Story of Courage and Compassion in a School Under Seige
As 870 children waited in fear, their elementary school rushed into lockdown mode. As the nation faced yet another Sandy Hook story of tragedy, one woman rewrote the ending.
Yet the story doesn't start with those first steps Michael Hill took into that Atlanta elementary school. It starts with Antoinette Tuff, a woman who faced her own pain, hurt, and rejection, yet held onto grace, faith, and hope. A hope that anchored her in the most high stakes of moments, a grace that allowed her to empathize with a hurting young man, and a faith that gave her the courage to love him back from the brink.
This is more than just the amazing account of tragedy averted. It's the evidence of what we can do when we allow ourselves to be used by God. And it's a story of how God uses all of our life experiences - the good and the bad - to prepare us for our own moment of divine purpose.
PREPARED FOR A PURPOSE is an inspiring story that shows us what we can do when we live with purpose and listen to God's commands for our life. "What are we going to do now?" Antoinette asked God as the shooter entered the school that day. Using Antoinette as a vessel, she was able to both sympathize and empathize with Michael Hill and how he was feeling that day. So sure that he was going to die on that very day but God had other plans and through Antoinette and her calm, loving, and compassionate demeanor, she was able to talk him back from the brink and avert a tragedy.
Anyone else sitting in the office that day, I'm sure would not have been as successful as Antoinette was. She, in her own life, had felt the hopelessness, the pain, and the hurt that Michael Hill was feeling that day and knew instinctively what to say. Not only did she say the right words, but she "meant" them with a conviction that came from her heart and that clearly came across to Michael Hill.
PREPARED FOR A PURPOSE is a beautiful true story for everyone to read who wants to be reminded that we ARE here for a purpose and that is to serve God and ask Him daily "What is it that I can do for you today?"
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
"My name is Jasmine Bath and the memoir "No One's Daughter" is about my childhood during the 1960's and 70's. I did not write this book for sympathy or notoriety; I wrote it in an attempt to shed light on the ghosts that have haunted me for a lifetime, hoping that by putting them down on paper that I could look at them more objectively from a mature point of view and eventually free myself from them.
I began writing about specific incidents that happened, attempting to write them in the voice of the little girl I used to be, hoping to understand how these incidents had managed to still affect me as an adult. In giving the little girl I used to be her voice, I found peace."
Jasmine suffered unspeakable abuse at the hands of her mother and her string of boyfriends. One in particular, Earl, was especially cruel laying a beating on Jasmine that almost killed her. From a very young age, Jasmine was responsible for taking care of her siblings and the house, a job much too difficult for someone her age. She became the parent.
Jasmine handled the subject matter with integrity and sensitivity. She is a survivor who deserves all the best that this world can give her.
I experienced so many emotions while reading this touching memoir. I ran the gamut from smiles to tears to horror to anger. Jasmine's mother was such a cruel woman and how she could treat this beautiful child the way she did is beyond me. How dare she abuse her role as a loving, caring mother and turn it into an absolute horror show.
Jasmine, you are a strong woman, a survivor and an example to many people around the world who have suffered some of the same abuse that you have that you can overcome the horrors of your past and move on into a brighter future.
I thank you for having the strength and the courage to share your story with the world and wish you all the best in the future.
Saturday, February 8, 2014
HarperCollins Publishers|January 20, 2014|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-0-06-232528-0
Twelve-year-old, Easter and her six-year-old sister, Ruby found their young mother dead in her bed early one morning. What a terrible thing for girls so young to discover. Easter, always responsible, took Ruby by the hand and walked her to the corner pool hall to use the pay phone to call 911.
Ruby and Easter were placed into foster care but after only a short period of time there, the father they hadn't seen in years showed up and kidnapped them. He had signed away all of his parental rights to his two daughters years before.
As they're driving along the roadway, they realize they are being followed by two different men but for very different reasons. One of the men is a former Dectective and the other one is Ruby and Easter's court-appointed guardian, who has linked their father, Wade, to a multimillion dollar robbery. The other man is angry and bitter and is dtermined to collect his due.
The story is narrated in alternating voices that are at "once captivating and heartbreaking."
THIS DARK ROAD TO MERCY brings to life the power of the story and at the same time challenges us to discover all there is to know about the "emotional pull of family and the primal desire to outrun a past that refuses to let go."
Although I thoroughly enjoyed the story, I felt it was a bit too short and that the author could have added a few more details to give it more substance. I would still recommend it to anyone.
Thursday, February 6, 2014
Amazon Publishing|2012|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978 161 218 4463
Many believe that those who are destined to be together are connected by an invisible red thread. If that is so, the fates of Chai and Josi are weaved together and tied with a knot that cannot be broken. Chai has been the self-appointed protector of her best friend, Josi, since their toddler days. Their lives are as far from extravagant as can be imagined but they don't need material things to be content. Their carefree childhood comes to a screeching halt when they are snatched together and sold as house help, and possible future brides, to a family far away. This novel chronicles the girls struggle to adjust to their harsh new realities once the comforts and security of their old lives are stripped away. While Josi and others around them in the same situation have reluctantly accepted their new roles, Chai's warrior spirit cannot be broken. She remains strong and refuses to give up hope of finding a way home. Due to the infamous gender imbalance in China, thousands of females are trafficked every year to be sold as brides in remote villages and cities. Because of the lack of family recources and the minimal efforts of the government to break up these criminal rings, many of the girls are never heard from again. Folow this story to find out what happens when despite one father's lack of alies or money, he refuses to allow anyone to disrupt his quest to find his daughter.
Chai and Josi have been best friends since they were toddlers. Growing up in China both their families were poor. Chai's father worked as a labourer moving and piling bricks all day to make ends meet.
When Chai and Josi were thirteen-years-old they were kidnapped and sold as house help and possible future brides to a family living in a floating fishing village far away.
Chai and Josi were terrified and did the best they could to cope with their new reality. The father was a mean, over-powering bully of a man who often threatened them with physical harm. Their eldest son, Bo was a carbon copy of his father and looked down his nose at the two girls. He made terrible comments to them every chance he got. Their youngest son, Tao was a polite young man who, behind his father's back, befriended Chai and Josi.
Chai's father, Jun decided he would never give up looking for his daughter. The novel goes back and forth between the daily living of Chai and Josi and Jun's quest to search for his daughter.
Although this story is fiction, child trafficking occurs all the time in China. According to the author, 8,660 abducted children and 15,458 women in 2011 were rescued after 3,200 human trafficking gangs were broken up.
A THREAD UNBROKEN was a mesmerizing story that I just couldn't put down until I was finished. This is a book that everyone should read. The more awareness there is about human trafficking, the more that will be done about it.
Tuesday, February 4, 2014
Scholastic Inc|January 1, 2014|Hardcover|ISBN: 978-0-545-46100-9
Fatal attraction, primal fear, survival in the forest: From the author of the Printz Honour Book Stolen, the highly anticipated thriller about deadly games played in the dark.
Ashlee Parker is dead, and Emily Sherpherd's dad is accused of the crime. An ex-soldier suffering from PTSD, he emerges from the woods carrying the girl's body. "Gone," he says, then retreats into silence. What really happened that night? Before he's convicted, Emily must find out the truth.
Mina and Joe, the only friends she has left, warn Emily against it, but she feels herself strongly drawn to Damon, Ashlee's charismatic boyfriend. Together they explore the dark woods. Soon Damon brings Emily into the Game: an extreme version of childhood games like hide-and-seek that he and his crowd play at night as a way to break boundaries, to lose themselves.
A strange, sexually charged relationship develops between Emily and Damon. And when she realizes he may know more than he'll reveal, she plays the most dangerous game of all, risking her own life for a confession. To expose the lies that will exonerate her dad, she's got to survive one last desperate night in THE KILLING WOODS.
Emily saw her Dad carrying something in his arms through her bedroom window. Looks like he caught another deer she thought to herself. However, as he approached the house out of the dark forrest, Emily soon realized this was no ordinary deer because it wasn't. It was the dead body of a Ashlee Parker!
Emi,y's Dad suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and was convinced he was having a flashback and killed the girl. It had been pouring rain, and thunder and lightning, which me mistook for an active firefight and hunkered down in his bunker he'd built in the woods.
He carried the limp, dead body into the house and layed her on the kitchen table. He sat on the floor sobbing - "it was me, me, me," he kept repeating. Emily's mother called 911 and Emily just stared at the soaking wet, dead body of her mutual friend.
Needless to say, he was promptly arrested and charged with murder. Emily didn't know what to think. At school her supposed friends began dropping off like flies and she endured regular taunts about her father "the murderer."
But did he really murder, Ashlee that night in the woods or was there something more powerful and sinister going on? Emily planned on finding out and began her own investigation once the police had cleared out of the Darkwood Forest. What she encounters there will surprise and shock you.
I was not expecting this particular outcome at all. THE KILLING WOODS is an alarming read that will keep you turning the pages late into the night. I was so engrossed that I read all 559 pages in one sitting.
THE KILLING WOODS was uniquely original and the outcome will be a much talked about topic of conversation for all.
I had not read any of Lucy Christopher's prior work but will now back-track and look into other novels she has written.
Monday, February 3, 2014
HarperCollines|November 4, 2013|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-1-44342-953-5
Sophie Whelan is the epitome of the modern superwoman. When she operates at peak performance, she can cajole balky employees, soothe her cranky children, troubleshoot career disasters, throw a dinner party for ten and draft an upbeat Christmas letter - all in the same day.
But as Sophie's fortieth birthday looms, her seamless life reveals disturbing web-like fractures. Conflict with her boss, blosdsoming jealousy of her husband's femme fatale business partner and her feelings of hopeless inadequacy as a mother and daughter are cracking the edifice of her life.
Rescue may be at hand when Lillian Parker, a wealthy widow who befriended Sophie during her university days makes Sophie an irresistible offer. Why then does Sophie hesitate? The answer is the reappearance of Lillian's nephew, Will Shannon, the great unresolved love of Sophie's life. As she remembers the vivid dreams of their college romance, Sophie confronts the choices she has made in life and in love and looks for the one answer that has always eluded her: what does she really want?
THE HOLE IN THE MIDDLE is a heartbreaking love story, a laugh-outloud portrayal of the twin demands of work and family and a fresh take on the hot debate about having it all. It is not to be missed.
I don't think there is much I can add to the above synopsis. It does a great job of describing the story which was extremely enjoyable.