Monday, June 18, 2012

Review: Rainshadow Road

Title: Rainshadow Road
Author: Lisa Kleypas
Length: 308 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffen
Genre: Fiction, Romance, Chick-Lit
Source: Goodreads Giveaway
My Rating:SmileySmileySmiley
Synopsis (from Goodreads): Lucy Marinn is a glass artist living in mystical, beautiful, Friday Harbor, Washington, with a boyfriend, Kevin, who she believes is her soul mate. She has always had a magical side - a gift that finds its way into the breathtaking glasswork she creates - and she struggles to keep it contained. But when Lucy is blindsided by the most bitter kind of betrayal, she questions many of her choices. Her boyfriend leaves her and his new lover is none other than Lucy's own sister. Lucy's bitterness over this devastation is multiplied buy the fact that she has constantly made the wrong choices in her romantic life.

Meanwhile, facing the severe disapproval of Lucy's family, Kevin asks his friend Sam Nolan, a local vineyard owner on the San Juan Island, to "romance" Lucy so that she can more easily move on. But when Sam and Lucy begin to feel real sparks between them, Lucy must ask herself if she can easily risk her heart again.

As Lucy questions her beliefs about love, loyalty, and old patterns, mistakes, and new beginnings, she explores the possibility that some things in life - even after are being broken - can be re-made into something beautiful. And that is the only by discovering who you really are that you can find the one who truly deserves you.

My Thoughts: This was a fun book! An easy read, beautiful setting, a little magic, a heart-melting hero, and a happy ending. What more do you need? The backgrounds of both main characters were a little extreme but not necessarily implausible, though they did make the characters a little hard to relate to at times. There were a lot of quirky side characters and you could pick out the budding romance for the second book in this trilogy, which I will happily read! The one thing I would have really liked to see more of was the magic. I do not feel like this aspect was fully developed.

If your looking for a nice summer read, go ahead and add Rainshadow Road to your list!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Dancing Naked in Dixie

Hi everyone! This post is going to look a little different than my other ones. I am participating, for the first time, in a blog tour hosted by Virtual Book Tour Cafe.
Dancing Naked in Dixie Travel writer Julia Sullivan lives life in fast-forward. She jet sets to Europe and the Caribbean with barely a moment to blink or sleep. But too many mishaps and missed deadlines have Julia on the verge of being fired.

 With a stern warning, and unemployment looming, she's offered one last chance to rescue her career. Julia embarks on an unlikely journey to the ‘Heart of Dixie’—Eufaula, Alabama—home to magnificent mansions, sweet tea, and the annual Pilgrimage. Julia arrives, soon charmed by the lovely city and her handsome host, but her stay is marred by a shocking discovery. Can Julia's story save her career, Eufaula, and the annual Pilgrimage?

Lauren Clark:
Lauren Clark writes contemporary women’s fiction set in the Deep South; stories sprinkled with love, family and friendship, and the challenges that life unexpectedly throws at all of us! Her characters are real women; smart and sassy, who tackle complicated issues with tenacity and intelligence. Readers will empathize and relate to her flawed yet likable heroines. A former TV anchor and journalist at WWNY and WTVY, Lauren’s stories allow us an insight into the excitement, drama and fast- paced world of media. Lauren is a reformed news junkie, a non-reformed coffee drinker, and an official library geek. Her big loves are family, paying it forward, eight hours of sleep a night, and homemade macaroni and cheese. She lives near the Florida Gulf Coast where she is surrounded by family and and true-blue friends that inspire her writing and keep her sane.

Sign up to Lauren’s newsletter to stay in the loop with all of Lauren’s book news!

I really love the cover and title of this novel. It sets the perfect tone for fun, light chick-lit! Lauren Clark has written a novel with quirky, lovable characters and full of surprises. I really enjoyed the feel that I got for the South while reading, so much so that I wanted to go and visit for myself! 

If you enjoy a spunky heroine and an "exotic" setting, and the deep South could fall under that label for many, then pack your bags and join Julia on her trip to Eufaula, Alabama!

You can find Dancing Naked in Dixie on Amazon and at your favorite online or local bookstore!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Review: The Cranes Dance

Title: The Cranes Dance
Author: Meg Howrey
Length: 384 pages
Publisher: Vintage Books
Genre: Fiction
Source: Vintage Books
My Rating: SmileySmileySmiley
Synopsis: (from Goodreads):  I threw my neck out in the middle of Swan Lake last night.
So begins the tale of Kate Crane, a soloist in a celebrated New York City ballet company who is struggling to keep her place in a very demanding world. At every turn she is haunted by her close relationship with her younger sister, Gwen, a fellow company dancer whose career quickly surpassed Kate’s, but who has recently suffered a breakdown and returned home.

Alone for the first time in her life, Kate is anxious and full of guilt about the role she may have played in her sister’s collapse.  As we follow her on an insider tour of rehearsals, performances, and partners onstage and off, she confronts the tangle of love, jealousy, pride, and obsession that are beginning to fracture her own sanity. Funny, dark, intimate, and unflinchingly honest, The Cranes Dance is a book that pulls back the curtains to reveal the private lives of dancers and explores the complicated bond between sisters.

My Thoughts: **3 1/2 Smiley** I found this book to be incredibly interesting. It's like a behind the scenes look at a ballet company and one dancer's life. Fascinating! Kate Crane is a very reliable, likeable narrator. I felt her pain, drive, guilt. I liked that we followed Kate through both the ups and downs. This is not a book that glorifies ballet or ballet dancers. It is a real look at what it takes to be a ballerina.

For those of you who crave a little extra drama you will not be disappointed in Gwen's appearances in The Cranes Dance. I feel like that story line is one better left explored on your own.

As an extra bonus, as I hang my head in shame, I now know the story line of Swan Lake. I have never seen Swan Lake but am now looking forward to an opportunity to arise for me to do so.

If you are interested in performing arts, family dynamics, and enjoy a compelling read I would suggest picking up The Cranes Dance. If you do, I would love to know what you thought of it!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Review: The Solitary House

Title: The Solitary House
Author: Lynn Shepherd
Length: 340 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Suspense
Source: Publisher as part of Early Bird Reads
My Rating:SmileySmileySmileySmiley
Synopsis (from Goodreads): London, 1850. Charles Maddox had been an up-and-coming officer for the Metropolitan police until a charge of insubordination abruptly ended his career. Now he works alone, struggling to eke out a living by tracking down criminals. Whenever he needs it, he has the help of his great-uncle Maddox, a legendary “thief taker,” a detective as brilliant and intuitive as they come.

On Charles’s latest case, he’ll need all the assistance he can get.

To his shock, Charles has been approached by Edward Tulkinghorn, the shadowy and feared attorney, who offers him a handsome price to do some sleuthing for a client. Powerful financier Sir Julius Cremorne has been receiving threatening letters, and Tulkinghorn wants Charles to—discreetly—find and stop whoever is responsible.

But what starts as a simple, open-and-shut case swiftly escalates into something bigger and much darker. As he cascades toward a collision with an unspeakable truth, Charles can only be aided so far by Maddox. The old man shows signs of forgetfulness and anger, symptoms of an age-related ailment that has yet to be named.

Intricately plotted and intellectually ambitious, The Solitary House is an ingenious novel that does more than spin an enthralling tale: it plumbs the mysteries of the human mind.

My Review: The Solitary House was a gripping, if somewhat confusing, novel of suspense. Lynn Shepherd did an excellent job of making her reader feel as if they were a part of 1850's London. While reading this book I felt transported which always makes for a better read. As dreary a place as London in the 1850's could be, I enjoyed being there, feeling it, smelling it.

I found Charles to to be a bit naive/brash on occasions which caused me to feel a little upset with him at times. This, however, only took away slightly from the overall feel of the book. I loved how Shepherd used perspective in her writing. Writing as if we were an audience watching the story with her. The feeling that we were "in the know". I don't think I've ever read a book from that perspective before.I also must admit that Inspector Bucket became quite  favorite at the end!

The sub-plot was introduced and played out in a very intriguing way. The ending was a surprise to me and I felt as if there were a few loose ends that weren't tied up. That being said, I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in suspense, mysteries, historical London, and an overall good story.  I am looking forward to reading Ms. Shepherd's first book, Murder at Mansfield Park!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Armchair BEA Giveaway!!!

Hi! It was so nice reading all the Intro posts yesterday and finding lots of new blogs to follow. We have some really interesting and awesome bloggers out there!

Today is the day for Armchair BEA bloggers to host giveaways. I spent some time thinking about this. I knew that I wanted to participate but I was having a hard time coming up with what I wanted to giveaway. I didn't like the idea of picking just one book to offer but I also didn't like the idea of offering any random book. I wanted it, somehow, to be special to A Library of our Own. I've decided that I am going to offer a choice of one of the books I listed as my favorites for 2012 in my Intro post. I am also adding two additional choices. The first is my favorite book from childhood, Make Way For Ducklings by Robert McClosky. The second is Overseas by Beatriz Williams who it looks like I'm going to get to meet at BEA, which was made possible by Armchair BEA!

All you have to do to win is be an Armchair BEA participant and  fill out your email address in the Rafflecopter below. I will offer two additional entries. The first one is  for current and new followers and the second one is if you leave a comment telling me which book you would pick! This giveaway will Thursday night at 12am EST. as BEA ends Thursday evening. Good Luck! I can't wait to share an awesome book with one of you!

As a reminder, these will be your choices;

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Winter Garden by Kristen Hannah
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
A Night to Remember by Walter Lord
The Bungalow by Sarah Jio
The Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
The Underside of Joy by Sere Prince Halverson
Make Way For Ducklings by Robert McClosky
Overseas by Beatriz Williams

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Now see what other participants are giving away

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Armchair BEA - Hi there!

Hi everyone! It's Armchair BEA time! For those of you who do not know, Book Expo of America is being held this week in New York city.  This is like a dream come true for most book bloggers! You get to go and interact with all the large publishing houses, and many of the small, check out the upcoming releases, pick up ARCs, meet authors and get books signed, and last but not least meet many of the people you've been connecting with via social media. FUN, FUN, FUN!!!

Unfortunately for a multitude of reasons a lot of book bloggers are not able to make it to BEA in New York. Then Armchair BEA was formed. Armchair BEA will allow bloggers to follow along at home, network with each other, participate in twitter parties. and giveaways from their own home.

I was lucky enough to win a bloggers pass through Armchair BEA and ended up turning it down because there was no way that I could arrange 4 days in NYC in 16hrs. Today I had the revelation that I didn't have to go for all 4 days! I could go for just one day if I wanted! I contacted Armchair BEA and luckily they still had a pass available, soooooo.....I'm going to BEA!!!! I haven't decided whether it will be Tuesday or Wednesday yet, but I WILL be there! In the mean time I would like to kick off Armchair BEA with an introduction.  Participants have been asked to answer 5 questions as a way of getting to know each other. So with out further ado...

Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging?   Hi, My name is Debbie. I have 3 kids, one of whom is grown, one about to graduate Pre-K, if you can believe it, and one starting Pre-k next year. I'm a retired paramedic and am now playing the role of Stay-at-Home Mom. A Library of our Own has only been active for a little over two months but I have loved it! I started the blog as a way to record what I and my two children were reading. The blog has turned into much more than that on my end but unfortunately I have yet to figure out a good format to highlight G and E's reading. I'm still working on it. Now it looks like my eldest daughter might be joining us too, fingers crossed!

What are you currently reading, or what is your favorite book you have read so far in 2012?   Right now I am currently reading The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones, which I won on Goodreads, The Promise in a Kiss by Stephanie Laurens, my guilty pleasure, and Charlotte's Web by E. B. White with G. I'm ashamed to say that I have not previously read Charlotte's Web but soon that will no longer be the case! I don't know if I can actually pick a favorite for this year so I'll list the top ones; The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, Winter Garden by Kristen Hannah, The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, A Night to Remember by Walter Lord, The Bungalow by Sarah Jio, The Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda, The Underside of Joy by Sere Prince Halverson, and Calling Invisible Women by Jeanne Ray. Wow, that is a lot! I might have to start narrowing down a bit!

Tell us one non-book-related thing that everyone reading your blog may not know about you.   Wow! Just one. That's going to be hard as there are not many non-book-related things that have come up on my blog so far. Randomly, I've danced on the bar at Coyote Ugly in DC. SO MUCH FUN! Feel free to ask for more random pieces of info if you would like to know!

Where do you see your blog in five years?   If my blog lasts 5 years there are many things I would like to see happen. I definitely want to have figured out how to include G and E appropriately, though by then hopefully they'll be able to write their own reviews! I would like to polish the look of my blog and have my own URL. I would like to be entrench in the book blogging community. I would also like to have a lot of author interaction and move more towards recommending books than "reviewing" them as I am by no means a literary critic. Let's not even mention improving my writing! :) Oops, I wasn't suppose to mention that...

If you could eat dinner with any author or character, who would it be and why?   This is an incredibly hard one because there are so many authors and characters I would love to get to know. My answer might also change given any multitude of variables at any time. For right now I am going to say Alice Steinbach, author of Without Reservations: The Travels of an Independent Woman.  This book was given to me at exactly the right time and inspired me so much and gave me the courage to travel as an independent woman myself. I would love to let her know how she affected my life and to learn more about the woman behind the book. Who is she? What led to her travels? How does she feel about them now? There are just so many questions!

So there you have it! I hope that this has given you a little insight into myself and A Library of our Own. I would be happy to answer any other questions you may have and am looking forward to both Armchair BEA and BEA! Click here to see other introduction posts! Have a wonderful week!