This year snow came early to us folks in New England. Here are some pictures:
Waiting…no snow yet!
Then around noon it started to snow!
Happy Snowy Thanksgiving to my US readers!
Here, in no particular order, are my favorite books that I’ve read this year. I decided to post this early in case anyone needs shopping recommendations for the holidays! All books listed were reviewed on my blog this year. (As it’s not the end of 2014 yet, if I find more really good reads, I will add them to this list).
I have to say it was really hard to choose as I only read books I like (if I don’t like it, I don’t finish it; if I don’t finish it, I don’t review it obviously).
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd (HF)
Evergreen by Rebecca Rasmussen (HF/F)
Dollbaby by Laura Lane McNeal (HF/F)
The Dead of Summer by Mari Jungstedt (M)
Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen (F)
Defiant by Alvin Townley (NF)
Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian (F)
China Dolls by Lisa See (HF)
Flight of the Sparrow by Amy Belding Brown (HF)
This Is the Water by Yannick Murphy (F)
As You Wish by Cary Elwes (NF)
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (HF) (review coming; just finished today)
Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Conversion by Katherine Howe
Revolution by Deborah Wiles
The Al Capone… Series by Gennifer Choldenko
I’m thrilled today to be taking part in the Historical Fiction Virtual Blog Tour of SELDOM COME BY – Book One in the Iceberg Trilogy – by Sherryl Caulfield.
SELDOM COME BY tells the story of Rebeca Crowe, a teen living in Newfoundland in 1914, and Samuel Dalton, the nineteen-year-old shipwrecked boy she saves and comes to love. This beautifully written story covers almost thirty years, starting with Rebeca and Samuel and their burgeoning love. Rebeca’s family is harsh (particularly her father) and she fears that her sister Rachel loves Samuel, too. When she realizes that he does indeed care for her, they then have to face her authoritarian and strictly religious father, who does not support them. Samuel is actually from Toronto and his family is there; eventually he leaves to go home. Then the war intervenes as he joins the forces for WWI. WIll their love survive the forces pulling them apart?
As I already mentioned, this book covers about thirty years in their lives (in over 500 pages), and with it comes all the tragedies and joys of real lives lived. These characters are drawn so clearly and seem so believable. You get wrapped up in their story! Yet, this book was so realistic that you knew while reading it that you couldn’t count on it being all happiness and light.
Beautifully written, and just the first in a series about these people and their families, this is a beautifully written story that captures the imagination.
Thank you for my copy and for making me part of this blog tour!
Here’s a bit of info on Sherryl and how she came to write this novel:
Australian-born Sherryl Caulfield is a marketer, writer and traveller. After twenty years working for some of the world’s leading technology brands and a stint with Outward Bound, she longed to write about the human experience and the redemptive qualities of nature.
In 2006, haunted by an encounter with a woman she met in Canada, Sherryl started what has now become known as The Iceberg Trilogy. From her home in the Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand, she distilled the lives of three generations of women – Rebecca, Evangeline and Lindsay – over the course of a century. In the telling of their stories she crafted a series rich in landscapes – of sea, land and the human soul.
Here’s the scoop on the GIVEAWAY!
To enter to win an Autographed copy of Seldom Come By, please follow the link and complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below.
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on December 13th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open internationally.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
I had a great time reading and participating in the Ho Ho Ho Holiday Readathon this past week! I set a goal of three books for myself, and I easily reached it (I also finished two more to review and started a third – guess I had time to read!).
The first book I read was A NEW YORK CHRISTMAS by Anne Perry. In this novel (and apparently Anne Perry writes a Christmas novel every year) it is 1904 and Jemima Pitt has accompanied her friend Phinny to New York from England for Phinny’s marriage. Poor Phinny doesn’t have much family and her mother left her while she was quite young under what seems to be mysterious and unfavorable circumstances. Jemima is hardly there when a dead body shows up – Phinny’s long-lost mother – and Jemima appears to be the main suspect in her killing (though with little motive). Determined to prove her innocence, Jemima joins forces with local policeman Patrick Flannery to figure out who the real killer is.
This was a fun read – and very quick for me (a few hours – less than 200 pages). Call me stupid but I never could figure out exactly WHY the murder took place and what it served. It seemed to stir up a lot of trouble, that’s for sure.
This was my first Anne Perry book, but she has a legion of fans and several other Christmas stories.
Thanks, Net Galley, for my copy!
Next I read CHRISTMAS TRUCE by Aaron Shepard. This was a children’s picture book that I got a pdf of from Net Galley. It tells the story of the WWI Christmas truce in fighting between the front lines of British and German men. This was a beautiful (and true) tale, with lovely illustrations by Wendy Edelson. Great for a read aloud to children!
Finally, from Blogging for Books, I got The 13th Gift: A True Story of a Christmas Miracle by Joanne Huist Smith. I just loved this book. This author lost her husband unexpectedly in the fall of 1999. They had three children, aged 10 to 17. That Christmas was incredibly painful and difficult for them. This true story tells how some unknown “true friends” delivered to them small surprise gifts each day leading up to Christmas and, in essence, helped them to feel the spirit of Christmas again. Not only was this a heart-wrenching read, especially because the grief was so poignant on these pages, but it was so inspiring to read the end and how the whole 13 gifts tradition got started, why, and how. What a beautiful and inspiring story — truly a favorite Christmas read for me.
I had heard of the novel THE DRESSMAKER but never read it, so I took it from the audiobook shelf at the library. In this book, set in 1912, Tess is a young seamstress who wants to make her way in the world. She has a wonderful opportunity when she signs on to be part of the famous designer, Lady Duff Gordon’s, household.They sail for America, but unfortunately on the Titanic! Well, of course we all know what happens, but Tess and Lady Duff Gordon and her husband survive, though there is a question about The Duff Gordons’ actions and if she and her husband kept people out of their lifeboat. Tess is thrown into the spotlight of the hearings after they reach New York (which are based on the actual trials and evidence given by Titanic survivors). She must decide what is the truth and how she can be true to herself even if it means not being faithful to her employer (and there’s a little romance thrown in there, too!)
Interestingly, there really was a designer named Lady Lucile Duff Gordon whose experiences were like those of the book, and she was the inspiration for this novel. Susan Duerden is the narrator and she does a nice job with the different and has a lovely English accent. That said, the one voice I didn’t care for was Tess’ as she sounded to high-pitched and a little vapid, when the character was actually quite smart and strong.
I enjoyed listening to this one (kid-friendly as well for those drives to school!).
I just loved this Prep School Confidential series! DEADLY LITTLE SINS is the third and final book in the series. This time Anne Dowling is once again chasing mysteries and killers at her Massachusetts prep school. Picking up where the last book left off, Anne is attempting to find to out where her beloved teacher, Ms. Cross, has disappeared to. Naturally, her sleuthing takes her into danger and she has to face the fact that Ms. Cross might not have been exactly who she said she was (which of course begs the question: who was she and why was she at Wheatley?).
Fast-paced and fun, with a tough heroine who is smart and clever, this series is one of my favorite, fun YA reads. Yes, you have to suspend belief a bit (it’s a story, people!) but somewhere in my travels I saw this series compared to the Gossip Girl books. Um, no. Those books deal with some over the top, ridiculously nasty teens in NYC. They paint the “rich kids as evil” picture in bright colors, and the adults are all but nonexistent. While I can see why some teens love them, this book is more of the Veronica Mars variety. Anne is not a nasty person and her friends aren’t either. Yes, these kids are wealthy, but they are also (wait for it — ) normal. As someone who has spent 25 years teaching in schools like Wheatley, I think Kara Taylor does a good job in portraying teens accurately.
I thought I also saw that this would be made into a movie, but maybe I imagined that as I couldn’t find that info again. That would be fun, though!
I got mine on Amazon (as I must have been whistling in the wind and missed it on Net Galley).
Hello! I’m happy today to be part of HFVB tour’s A LITTLE WICKED blog tour, hosting Janet Macreery’s YA novel about a young, resilient Scottish girl in the 1600’s.
In A LITTLE WICKED, young Dory’s clan is murdered by a rival clan, and she is sent by her uncle to America. Dory first poses as a boy in order to get passage on a ship (where she works as the bird boy). Upon arriving in Massachusetts, she finds her uncle and aunt and joins their household – in Salem. It is 1692 and that is definitely NOT a year to be living in Salem, Massachusetts! Dory is drawn in to the hysteria over witchcraft. Will she have the wits to once again survive?
I enjoyed reading this short and entertaining book. I loved the character of Dory, who was resourceful and strong and sensible. This poor girl had one tough time after another, yet she never gave up. I also liked the little twist at the end!
Recommended for older elementary readers and middle school, it should also be engaging for reluctant readers.
Thank you, Amy of HFVBT and Ms. Macreery, for my review copy!
Here’s a You Tube book trailer (love the bagpipes!):
Thursday starts the HOHOHO Holiday RAT and I’m really excited!
I’ve never done a readathon and I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to read what with other commitments I have (like kids, work, family, other book commitments, etc.). Here are the books I hope to read:
THE THIRTEENTH GIFT by Joanne Huist Smith – I got this true story of a Christmas miracle through Blogging for Books
A NEW YORK CHRISTMAS by Anne Perry – which I got from Net Galley. It’s a historical mystery — woo-hoo!
CHRISTMAS TRUCE by Aaron Shepard – a children’s story about the WWI Christmas truce on the front lines in Europe. I also got this from Net Galley.
I am hoping that 3 is doable for me in the 5 days we have along with my other reads!
If you’d like to join in link through and sign up before 11/6:
I had heard some chatter about this book at BEA this spring, and I was excited to see it come up on Net Galley. It was heralded as “a multi-generational story of an Irish immigrant family in New York City”. Honestly, I found that to be a bit of a misnomer. WE ARE NOT OURSELVES follows Eileen Tumulty as she grows up in post WWII Queens. Eileen is Irish, but this novel is more a story of a life lived rather than a multi-generational overview of several lives.
Please note that the following contains SPOILERS!
Eileen’s life is portrayed from her childhood and adolescence with alcoholic parents to her marriage to introverted scientist Edward, through motherhood to a son (Connell). Throughout, Eileen was not a character with whom I felt any sort of affinity. No matter what life threw her way she was malcontent. She pushed pushed pushed Ed to be bigger, make more money, get more prestige, buy a new house, a new car, a mink coat. She pushed Connell to be the top of his class. I had at one point thought, “Geez, Eileen, be thankful for what you have and stop being so unhappy about everything.” Then tragedy strikes when Ed is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. His decline and disease is portrayed so realistically and touchingly that at times it brought tears to my eyes. And this was when I finally felt a connection to Eileen, as she became a much better person when dealing with this terrible crisis and loss than she was when everything was fine. As for Connell, until the epilogue I found him to be incredibly self-centered and selfish. Eileen wasn’t disappointed in him, but I was.
If I had to criticize something in this novel, which is acclaimed far and wide, I’d say I thought it was about 150 pages too long. I just didn’t think it needed to be 600+ pages. I also felt until near the end that the whole thing could have been summed up as “life is hard and then you die”; but the ending left me feeling a little more upbeat. Thomas is a beautiful writer.
I would love to hear from others what their experience with this novel was like.