Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday

This meme is hosted by Breaking the Spine and is meant to highlight some great pre-publication books we all can't wait to get our grubby little mitts on.

After the War Is Over by Jennifer Robson. The book is being released by William Morrow Paperbacks on January 6, 2015.

Amazon says this about the book: The International bestselling author of Somewhere in France returns with her sweeping second novel—a tale of class, love, and freedom—in which a young woman must find her place in a world forever changed.

After four years as a military nurse, Charlotte Brown is ready to leave behind the devastation of the Great War. The daughter of a vicar, she has always been determined to dedicate her life to helping others. Moving to busy Liverpool, she throws herself into her work with those most in need, only tearing herself away for the lively dinners she enjoys with the women at her boarding house.

Just as Charlotte begins to settle into her new circumstances, two messages arrive that will change her life. One, from a radical young newspaper editor, offers her a chance to speak out for those who cannot. The other pulls her back to her past, and to a man she has tried, and failed, to forget.

Edward Neville-Ashford, her former employer and the brother of Charlotte’s dearest friend, is now the new Earl of Cumberland—and a shadow of the man he once was. Yet under his battle wounds and haunted eyes Charlotte sees glimpses of the charming boy who long ago claimed her foolish heart. She wants to help him, but dare she risk her future for a man who can never be hers?

As Britain seethes with unrest and post-war euphoria flattens into bitter disappointment, Charlotte must confront long-held insecurities to find her true voice . . . and the courage to decide if the life she has created is the one she truly wants.

Monday, December 15, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Books I completed this past week are:

The Moon Sisters by Therese Walsh
Three Story House by Courtney Miller Santo

Bookmarks are still living in the middle of:

Ruby by Cynthia Bond
Animal Madness by Laurel Braitman
Life Drawing by Robin Black
The Year of Reading Dangerously by Andy Miller

Reviews posted this week:

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
The Language of Hoofbeats by Catherine Ryan Hyde
Neverhome by Laird Hunt

Books still needing to have reviews written (as opposed to the ones that are simply awaiting posting):

Burial Rights by Hannah Kent
Euphoria by Lily King
The Traitor's Wife by Allison Pataki
Painted Horses by Malcolm Brooks
All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner
Juliet's Nurse by Lois Leveen
We Are Called to Rise by Laura McBride
The Orphans of Race Point by Patry Francis
Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger
Mr. Tall by Tony Earley
Gemini by Carol Cassella
The Bride Insists by Jane Ashford
A Farm Dies Once a Year by Arlo Crawford
A Fork in the Road edited by James Oseland
Marching to Zion by Mary Glickman
Reluctantly Royal by Nichole Chase
The Geometry of Love by Jessica Levine
The Wednesday Daughters by Meg Waite Clayton
Highland Scandal by Julia London
Since You've Been Gone by Anouska Knight
Starting Over by Sue Moorcroft
Falling For Max by Shannon Stacey
Christmas Brides by Suzanne Enoch, Alexandra Hawkins, Elizabeth Essex, and Valerie Bowman
The Banks of Certain Rivers by Jon Harrison
To Marry a Scottish Laird by Lynsay Sands
The Way North edited by Ron Riekki
Z by Therese Anne Fowler
While the Gods Were Sleeping by Elizabeth Enslin
Inn at Last Chance by Hope Ramsey
The Wedding Guests by Meredith Goldstein
Talk Dirty to Me by Dakota Cassidy
Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me by Ian Morgan Cron
Gentlemen Prefer Curves by Sugar Jamison
Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes
Small Blessings by Martha Woodroof
The Rake's Handbook by Sally Orr
A Rogue in Sheep's Clothing by Elf Ahearn
Landline by Rainbow Rowell
Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera
The Moon Sisters by Therese Walsh
Three Story House by Courtney Miller Santo

Monday Mailbox

At this time of year my mailbox has mostly played host to Christmas presents for others so it gives me much happiness when I find books for me in it instead. One even came with other goodies too. Joy! This past week's mailbox arrivals:

Dog Crazy by Meg Donohue came from William Morrow and TLC Book Tours for a blog tour.

I am owned by dogs so I am a huge sucker for books with dogs on the cover. This one about a pet bereavement counselor who searches for a dog that has been stolen, learning about love in the process, looks right up my alley.

My Own Miraculous by Joshilyn Jackson came from Joshilyn Jackson herself. (It also arrived with two small tins: bourbon smoked sea salt and bourbon smoked paprika. Yum!)

I won a contest on Jackson's Facebook page and this short story and the bourbon smoked goodies was my prize. That it is a companion piece to Someone Else's Love Story, focusing on Natty from that novel, is icing on the cake.

The Year of Reading Dangerously by Andy Miller came from Harper Perennial.

A memoir about reading and the way that those fifty two books transformed Miller's life is just exactly the sort of read I love.

Lizzy and Jane by Katherine Reay came from me because I was already ordering Christmas presents and decided I needed it.

Two sisters named for Austen's heroines, one of whom comes home to care for the other when she is diagnosed with cancer, this sounds like a very interesting Austen inspired story.

If you'd like to see the marvelous goodies in other people's mailboxes, make sure to visit Mailbox Monday and have fun seeing how we are all doing our part to keep the USPS and delivery services viable.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sunday Salon: Finishing What You Started

As the year draws to a close, I find myself trying to wrap up the reading I've done for the year too. I am one of those people who reads several books at once. Sometimes I have them going at roughly equal speeds. Sometimes one takes precedence over the others. And sometimes I start a book and set it aside for months at a time (luckily my memory is decent enough that a quick skim of one of these brings it back to me and I can pick up where I left off). Because I am just as likely to have a bookmark in five books as one at any given moment, I often have unfinished books piling up on my bedside table. And every year as we get closer and closer to a new calendar year, I try to clean up and finish as many of the unfinished as I can. It may not be a New Year, New Me but it is a New Year, New Read thing. (Well, because I rarely conveniently finish a book at 11:59 pm on Dec. 31, I try to go into the New Year with only one in progress book. As of right now I have winnowed my stack to only three in progress books, one of which I am reading slowly on purpose with a group discussing it by chapter chunks, one of which I abandoned this summer, and one I started but set aside last month as other more pressing review books took precedence. Will any of these three be the one carry-over to next year? I wouldn't bet on it but then again, knowing my reading whims, I wouldn't bet against it either. Do you try to finish the year by clearing off the bedside table? Or do you have any other strange end of the year reading habits (that maybe I should adopt too)?

My reading adventures this past week were interrupted by a lot of Christmas shopping. But needing to recover from the mall, I did travel to the cranberry bogs in West Virginia with two sisters as they processed their mother's death in different ways and I watched three cousins renovate a spite house in Memphis as each of them faced her own troubles. Where did your reading take you this past week?

Friday, December 12, 2014

As If I'm Not Bad Eough Just Mouthing Off Here...

I've been given another space on the Internet in which to spread my own kind of Christmas cheer. ::snort:: The lovely Rebecca of I'm Lost in Books asked me to write a post for her Holiday Extravaganza Event. You can see my snarky guest post, check out the other guest posts, and enter to win a whole lot of wonderful books she's giving away. Today's is called Soulless by Amber Garr. I'm hoping there's not a sly nod in my direction when she chose that title for today! Anyway, go check it out.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Review: Neverhome by Laird Hunt

Women have been in combat probably as long as there have been wars. But they used to have to disguise themselves as men in order to fight. In the Civil War alone, there are 400 some documented cases of women dressing as men and going off to fight, and sometimes die, for their cause. The reasons these women did this were as varied as the women themselves. In Laird Hunt's captivating and elegantly written novel, Neverhome, one such woman left her home and her husband to fight for the Union.

Constance is the stronger spouse so she is the one who dons the uniform and marches off to war leaving Bartholomew at home to tend the farm. And so Constance becomes Ash, wife becomes soldier, woman becomes man. Narrating her own story, Constance/Ash tells of her skill with a rifle, the hard life and rough conditions that the soldiers endure even when not fighting, the horror and brutality of war, the relationships that spring up between the men, including the petty fighting, the jealousy, and the stealing, as well as the fellowship, and of her own emotional remoteness from her fellow soldiers and from the terrible events she witnesses. Ash reflects not only on her current situation but also looks back at the way her mother's life and death left an indelible mark on her own life and consciousness.

The writing here is vivid and absolutely incandescent. With the novel entirely narrated in Ash's steady and sometimes seemingly emotionless voice, readers are immediately drawn into her head, wanting to understand her motivations and feelings of duty and desire, and allowing them to experience the gritty reality of the Civil War through her. She details battles from a dreamy remove, gets sent to the hell of wartime prison, and wanders through the carnage of both battlefield and makeshift field hospital. Hunt deftly renders history on these pages without falling into the anachronistic in order to draw a strong, complex woman. Ash is compelling right from the start but the seeming inconsistencies in her character in the end make her just that much more fascinating and change the reader's perception of the events of the book. The novel as a whole is quite short but it still manages to be epic in feel as it turns the convention of the quest tale on its head. Beautifully written and imagined, this is a spectacular and unusual Civil War novel, one that readers of historical fiction and of literary fiction will be so glad they've read.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of the book for review.

Waiting on Wednesday

This meme is hosted by Breaking the Spine and is meant to highlight some great pre-publication books we all can't wait to get our grubby little mitts on.

Tell by Frances Itani. The book is being released by Grove Press/Black Cat on January 6, 2015.

Amazon says this about the book: The international debut sensation Deafening launched the story of Grania, deaf from the age of five, and her sister Tress, who helped to create their secret language. Tell picks up from the return of the sisters’ husbands from the war, and follows Tress’s partner Kenan, a young shell-shocked soldier who confines himself indoors, venturing outside only at night to visit the frozen bay where he skated as a boy. Saddened by her altered marriage, Tress seeks advice from her Aunt Maggie. But Maggie and her husband, Am, have problems of their own. Maggie finds joy singing in the town's newly created choral society. Am, troubled by the widening gulf in his marriage, spends more and more time in the clock tower above their apartment. As the second decade of the twentieth century draws to a close, the lives of the two couples become increasingly entwined. Startling revelations surface as layers of silence begin to crumble.

Told with Itani’s signature power and grace, Tell is both a deeply moving story about the burdens of the past, and a beautifully rendered reminder of how the secrets we bury to protect ourselves can also be the cause of our undoing.

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