Posts Categorized: TLC Book Tours

Book Tour Review + Giveaway! The Bride Wore Size 12 (Heather Wells Mysteries #5) by Meg Cabot

October 3, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Book Tour, Read in 2013, TLC Book Tours 0 Comments

I received this book free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Tour Review + Giveaway! The Bride Wore Size 12 (Heather Wells Mysteries #5) by Meg CabotThe Bride Wore Size 12 by Meg Cabot
Series: Heather Wells Mysteries #5
Published by William Morrow on September 24th 2013
Pages: 400
Genres: Chick-Lit, Cozy, Mystery, Romance
Format: ARC
Source: TLC Book Tours
Amazon
Goodreads


four-stars

Heather Wells is used to having her cake and eating it too, but this time her cake just might be cooked. Her wedding cake, that is.

With her upcoming nuptials to PI Cooper Cartwright only weeks away, Heather's already stressed. And when a pretty junior turns up dead, Heather's sure things can't get worse—until every student in the dorm where she works is a possible suspect, and Heather's long-lost mother shows up.

Heather has no time for a tearful mother and bride reunion. She has a wedding to pull off and a murder to solve. Instead of wedding bells, she might be hearing wedding bullets, but she's determined to bring the bad guys to justice if it's the last thing she does . . . and this time, it just might be.

Heather Wells is set to marry Cooper Cartwright in a matter of weeks but is finding it next to impossible to plan when her life is no less hectic than normal. With freshmen orientation going on Heather has to deal with overly concerned parents and a new “Very Important Resident” that has moved in making things impossibly more chaotic. And then one of the buildings RA’s is found dead in her bed. As if things weren’t bad enough, Heather’s mom makes her first appearance ever since she stole her entire savings and fled the country.

What’s really funny about how much I loved this book was the other installments were only ‘meh’ for me. I received this for a book tour but because my brain refuses to comply when I start a series and the book is not #1 I figured it was best to go back and read them all in order. There’s always this nagging voice in the back of my head telling me I’m missing out on important shit and I’m doing it all wrong. But books 1-4 failed to impress if and if I didn’t already sign up to read #5 I doubt I ever would have got there. I know tons of you have loved this series through and through but in my opinion? This installment is the best yet.

So what did I love so much about this one compared to the others? It’s possible that by book 5 all of the characters kookiness had finally grown on me because at first I found the vast majority of them to be slightly annoying. I also think it could be because I opted to listen to the first 4 installments on audio and I found the narrators voice to be no bueno. It’s also possible that this is simply a better written installment in general. Either way, I loved it.

The Bride Wore Size 12 chock-full of mystery and involves several storylines that may or may not all be linked. It could be said that there was possibly a bit ‘too much’ going on but I understand the purpose in giving that illusion of an easy answer to the chaos. I’d much rather have that than a mystery I guess from the very beginning. Existing storylines are also dredged up in order to be given proper closure, most significant of those is the re-emergence of her long lost mother. This isn’t given a picture perfect ending but it was sufficient enough to give satisfying conclusion.

This series possesses a cast of characters similar to what you would find in a cozy mystery and they’re the type that don’t always do things rationally but are always hilarious and entertaining nonetheless. Heather is a a fantastically imperfect leading character and despite being a teen pop-star, is now leading a somewhat normal yet happy life. She’s engaged to marry Cooper Cartwright who she pined for over the course of the first 3 installments only to realize he’s been doing the same. The two are a perfect pair and completely adorable and seeing them finally get their happy ending was the very best of endings. Despite the title though, the romance and wedding planning manages to not overwhelm the story at all and feels more like an anecdote than anything.

I’m extremely pleased at this series ending installment. A delightful and entertaining story with the perfect balance of mystery and romance.

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This post was a part of the The Bride Wore Size 12 blog tour.

Click the button below for a complete list of tour stops.

Thanks to William Morrow I have a copy of The Bride Wore Size 12 to giveaway to one lucky winner. This giveaway is open to U.S. and Canada addresses only. Sorry international followers!

Giveaway ends October 17th,2013
 
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Book Tour Review – The Curiosity by Stephen Kiernan

July 18, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Book Tour, Read in 2013, TLC Book Tours 0 Comments

I received this book free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Tour Review – The Curiosity by Stephen KiernanThe Curiosity by Stephen P. Kiernan
Published by William Morrow on July 9th 2013
Pages: 448
Genres: Romance, Sci-fi
Format: ARC
Source: TLC Book Tours
Amazon
Goodreads


three-half-stars

Michael Crichton meets The Time Traveler's Wife in this powerful debut novel in which a man, frozen in the Arctic ice for more than a century, awakens in the present day.

Dr. Kate Philo and her scientific exploration team make a breathtaking discovery in the Arctic: the body of a man buried deep in the ice. As a scientist in a groundbreaking project run by the egocentric and paranoid Erastus Carthage, Kate has brought small creatures-plankton, krill, shrimp-"back to life." Never have the team's methods been attempted on a large life form.

Heedless of the consequences, Carthage orders that the frozen man be brought back to the lab in Boston, and reanimated. As the man begins to regain his memories, the team learns that he was-is-a judge, Jeremiah Rice, and the last thing he remembers is falling overboard into the Arctic Ocean in 1906. When news of the Lazarus Project and Jeremiah Rice breaks, it ignites a media firestorm and massive protests by religious fundamentalists.

Thrown together by circumstances beyond their control, Kate and Jeremiah grow closer. But the clock is ticking and Jeremiah's new life is slipping away. With Carthage planning to exploit Jeremiah while he can, Kate must decide how far she is willing to go to protect the man she has come to love.

A gripping, poignant, and thoroughly original thriller, Stephen Kiernan's provocative debut novel raises disturbing questions about the very nature of life and humanity-man as a scientific subject, as a tabloid plaything, as a living being: A curiosity.

‘And what is life but a little row in a small boat, every moment leaving what we know, every stroke unable to see where we are headed?’

The Curiosity tells the tale of a scientific voyage to the Arctic with the intent to find various sea creatures that died encased in ice. Possessing the ability to bring plankton “back to life” the scientists intend to continue studying this process in hopes to actually keep them alive for extended periods of time. Everything changes when they find a man frozen deep in the ice instead.

This story is told from various different points of view, which doesn’t always work for me but was extremely well done in this case. Each individual has a very distinctive voice and character. Daniel Dixon is a very stereotypical, sleazy-type reporter in charge of covering the latest news of the experiment. Erastus Carthage is the boss behind the research and is an incredibly snobby and arrogant man. Kate Philo is one of the head scientists and one of the only people to form a bond with Jeremiah. Jeremiah was born in 1868 and while on an Arctic voyage was pitched overboard and was presumed dead until he was found frozen in ice over a century later.

This was an immensely well-written tale, that was an absolute pleasure to read. The words had a beautiful flow to them and his descriptions were quite impeccable. What I found especially talented was how the author managed to include much of the necessary back story on his characters without it being a massive info-dump. He managed to weave their past into the story without evidence of the stitches.

‘When I pause in my exertions to understand the here and now, and contemplate the severing of that kindness, that mercy, the ache is so acute I half expect to see some place on myself that is bleeding.’

In addition to the beauty of the words and his writing style in general, the story itself was brilliant and original. A man was found encased in ice, had been there for over a century and scientists possessed the ability to bring him back to life. Not only did they restart his heart but he inevitably woke up and began his life anew. The politics surrounding his return to the life of the living was extensive and did become taxing after a while but still managed to ring true for how a situation such as this would be handled in the world today.

Although everything was explained well in a scientific sense, I can’t help but feel it wasn’t given a proper ending. It’s such an ambitious and thrilling plot I felt it was leading up to something that never quite transpired. The final chapter does serve as a sufficient ending, but when questions that arose are only given single sentence answers I found myself hoping for more. Despite this, I am immensely glad to have had the opportunity to read this. The Curiosity is an incredibly unique mix of science, romance, and the paths that simple curiosity takes us in life.

dvd-pearl
This post was a part of the The Curiosity blog tour.
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Book Tour Review – The Illusion of Separateness by Simon Van Booy

June 27, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Book Tour, Read in 2013, TLC Book Tours 2 Comments

I received this book free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Tour Review – The Illusion of Separateness by Simon Van BooyThe Illusion of Separateness by Simon Van Booy
Published by Harper on June 11th 2013
Pages: 224
Genres: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
Format: ARC
Source: TLC Book Tours
Amazon
Goodreads


three-stars

Award-winning author Simon Van Booy tells a harrowing and enchanting story of how one man's act of mercy during World War II changed the lives of a group of strangers, and how they each eventually discover the astonishing truth of their connection

Whether they are pursued by Nazi soldiers, old age, shame, deformity, disease, or regret, the varied characters of Simon Van Booy's utterly compelling novel The Illusion of Separateness discover in their darkest moments of fear and isolation that they are not alone, that they were never alone, that every human being is a link in an unseen chain.

This gripping, emotional story intertwines the stories of several compelling characters: a deformed German infantryman; a lonely British film director; a young, blind museum curator; Jewish-American newlyweds separated by war; a lost child on the brink of starvation; and a caretaker at a retirement home for actors in Santa Monica. The same world moves beneath each of them, and one by one, through seemingly random acts of selflessness, they discover the vital parts they have played in each other's lives, a realization that shatters the illusion of their separateness. Moving back and forth in time and across continents,

The Illusion of Separateness displays the breathtaking skill of, "a truly special writer who does things with abstract language that is so evocative and original your breath literally catches in your chest" (Andre Dubus III).

‘In a sense we are all prisoners of some memory, or fear, or disappointment-we are all defined by something we can’t change.’

The Illusion of Separateness tells the story of six different individuals who are all interconnected in ways they don’t even realize. The story begins in Los Angeles, CA in 2010 but goes as far back as 1939 in the midst of World War II. Through these first-person stories and the recounting of past events, it slowly begins to unfold how these seemingly random people are all effected by a strangers actions.

I’m quite enamored with interweaving story lines in movies (Crash, Babel, Love Actually, The Fountain.. I could obviously go on and on) relishing in the stories of many only to find just how interconnected they are to one another. It takes a skilled writer to successfully write several plot lines, connect them effortlessly and at the same time give each of them a proper ending. I was immediately interested in this book once I realized it dealt with multiple plot lines yet found myself leery when noticing how few pages the author gave himself to work with, made me worry that he wouldn’t give each and every one of his characters proper credit or back-story. While I wish I did have more back-story on these characters, what we were given was sufficient enough to make each of them memorable.

‘…finding the candles by heat, and blowing them out one by one, as we, one day, will be vanquished with a last puff and then nothing at all – nothing but the fragrance of our lives in the world, as on a hand that once held flowers.’

While the characters ‘illusion of separateness’ did on occasion feel strained and slightly forced this was still undoubtedly an enjoyable tale. Slow to build with a simplistic way of writing but was ultimately extremely pleasing in the end.

 dvd-pearl
This post was a part of the The Illusion of Separateness blog tour.
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Book Review – All You Could Ask For: A Novel by Mike Greenberg

April 10, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Book Tour, Read in 2013, TLC Book Tours 4 Comments

I received this book free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review – All You Could Ask For: A Novel by Mike GreenbergAll You Could Ask For by Mike Greenberg
Published by William Morrow on April 2nd 2013
Pages: 264
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Format: ARC
Source: TLC Book Tours
Amazon
Goodreads


three-stars

Three women are about to find their lives intertwined in ways none of them could ever have imagined...

Brooke has been happily married to her college sweetheart for fifteen years. Even after the C-section, the dog poop, the stomach viruses, and the coffee breath, Scott still always winks at her at just the right moments. That is why, for her beloved, romantic, successful husband's fortieth birthday, she is giving him pictures. Of her. Naked.

Samantha's newlywed bliss is steamrolled when she finds shocking evidence of infidelity on her husband's computer. She has been married for two days. She won't be for much longer.

Katherine works eighteen hours a day for the man who irreparably shattered her heart fifteen years ago. She has a duplex on Park Avenue, a driver, a chef, and a stunning house in Southampton, and she bought it all herself. So what if she has to see Phillip every single workday for the rest of her natural life? Brooke, Samantha, and Katherine don't know one another, but all three are about to discover the conquering power of friendship—and that they have all they could ask for, as long as they have one another.

Brooke, Samantha and Katherine all have established and successful lives, each with their own different definition of success. Brooke has been happily married to her college sweetheart for 15 years. Samantha is a competitive athlete who after a whirlwind marriage finds evidence of her husband’s infidelity 2 days into their honeymoon but it’s the best thing that could have happened to her. Katherine is an extremely successful business-woman who decides to take her first vacation ever after a disastrous blind date on her birthday. All lead separate lives and have never met each other, but they will become forever entwined with one another when they all are forced to suffer through the same diagnosis forever changing their lives.

On my Goodreads shelf I currently have 79 books classified as Chick-Lit and of those 79 only one is written by a male author. This book. Now that’s not to say that he’s the ONLY male author that has ever written Chick-Lit but it’s the only one that I’ve bothered trying out. The fact of the matter is Chick-Lit is not a commonly written genre by males, my guess is because of the difficulty they have in writing a solid and realistic female character. Well, not only has Mike Greenberg managed to write a solid and realistic female character, he was able to write three of them.

I was so very pleased when I first began this book. I loved the humor and I loved the individuality of each of the characters. I enjoyed learning the details of their lives and who they were as people. It was all very realistic and made these characters very distinguishable. Suffice it to say, I loved these characters and eagerly awaited the moment where their lives coalesced. While the second half of the story was what brought these characters together, it was my least favorite part of the book. It took a much too serious turn and I would have preferred to see the lightness that the first half of the story possessed to continue. While I understand the reason behind this since it aided in strengthening the characters further, I simply expected a much lighter read and would have enjoyed it more.

This is a definite must for fans of Jane Green, Emily Griffin, Jodi Picoult and fans of the like. All You Could Ask For possesses seemingly everyday characters with a powerful inspiring story of strength.

dvd-pearl

This post was a part of the All You Could Ask For blog tour
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Book Review – Gossip by Beth Gutcheon

March 13, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Book Tour, Read in 2013, TLC Book Tours 1 Comment

I received this book free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review – Gossip by Beth GutcheonGossip by Beth Gutcheon
Published by William Morrow on March 5th 2013
Pages: 304
Genres: Contemporary
Format: ARC
Source: TLC Book Tours
Amazon
Goodreads


one-star

The critically acclaimed author of Good-bye and Amen, Leeway Cottage, and More Than You Know returns with a sharply perceptive and emotionally resonant novel about all the ways we talk about one another, the sometimes fine line between showing concern and doing damage, and the difficulty of knowing the true obligations of friendship.

Loviah “Lovie” French owns a small, high-end dress shop on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Renowned for her taste, charm, and discretion, Lovie is the one to whom certain women turn when they need “just the thing” for key life events: baptisms and balls, weddings and funerals. Among those who depend on Lovie’s sage advice are her two best friends since boarding school days: Dinah Wainwright and Avis Metcalf. Despite the love they share for their mutual friend, there has always been a chilly gulf between Dinah and Avis, the result of a perceived slight from decades ago that has unimaginably tragic echoes many years later.

An astute chronicler of all that makes us human, Beth Gutcheon delivers her most powerful and emotionally devastating novel to date. Gossip is a tale of intimacy and betrayal, trust and fidelity, friendship and motherhood that explores the way we use “information” — be it true, false, or imagined — to sustain, and occasionally destroy, one another.

‘Interesting how things change: the people you thought would be friends forever disappear, and others become more and more important to you over time.’

Lovie French is a sixty year old boutique owner living in Manhattan and is the narrator of the story. She is still close to her two best friends, Avis and Dinah, that she went to school with when they were young and over time their families have become family to her. Lovie details how their lives unfolded over time and who they loved and lost and the ongoing gossip that prevailed.

There was a strange detachment in the writing that made Gossip feel very lackluster which  in turn made it hard to connect to any of the characters. It’s written as a retelling of past events and I couldn’t help but think it would have been more interesting and easier to connect to if it was written in present tense and as a form of flashback rather than a long series of recollections which would have lessened the ‘info-dump’ feel.

I felt Lovie was a strange narrator choice even though she was a part of the story she didn’t seem to have as much relevance. The story being told from Nicky or maybe even Grace (or both?) would have been a better choice as their story became the main feature in the end. The focus on the rest of the family formed the story as a whole but I would have liked to see more focus on Nicky and Grace to get a better idea of what led them up to the end events.

There were some beautiful moments of writing and I felt that the story had a lot of potential if not for the loose stitching that bound the multiple characters story lines together. Lacking in depth and a true connection to the characters, this was ultimately quite forgettable.

dvd-pearl 
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Book Review: Indiscretion by Charles Dubow

February 7, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Book Tour, Read in 2013, TLC Book Tours 4 Comments

I received this book free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Indiscretion by Charles DubowIndiscretion by Charles Dubow
Published by William Morrow on February 5th 2013
Pages: 400
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Format: ARC
Source: TLC Book Tours
Amazon
Goodreads


four-stars

We’ve all been around a couple who can engulf the attention of an entire room merely by occupying it. Harry and Madeleine Winslow are that set; the natural ease between them is palpable and their chemistry is almost tangible. He is a recent National Book Award winner with a promising career ahead of him, and she is blessed with family money, but radiates beauty, elegance, and humility. Whether they are abroad in Italy after he receives the Rome Prize, in their ambrosial East Hampton home, or in gritty Manhattan, they are always surrounded by close friends and those who wish to penetrate their inner circle. During a summer spent at the beach, they meet 26 year-old Claire and, as the summer blazes on, she is slowly inducted into their world. Claire can’t help but fall in love with Harry and Maddy and at the end of the summer, it is no longer enough to just be one of their hangers-on. Told through the omniscient eyes of Maddy’s childhood friend Walter, Indiscretion is a juicy, page turning novel with writing that is sophisticated and lyrical. Deeply textured, full of light and darkness, and overwhelmingly sensual, this book will be the sexiest, most intimate story you read all year.

Indiscretion
in·dis·cre·tion [in-di-skresh-uhn]
noun
1. The quality or state of being indiscreet; want of discretion; imprudence; rashness.
2. An indiscreet or imprudent act; indiscreet behavior.
3. A brief sexual liaison.

‘His betrayal was as natural as a disease, as a cancer that builds up quietly inside the body and then erupts unbidden when there is nothing else to keep it in check. And when it happened, it consumed him.’

Indiscretion tells the story of the excitingly attractive couple Harry and Madeleine, and the seemingly innocent girl who came in to their lives only to destroy it completely. Claire became wholly absorbed in the lives of Harry and Madeleine equally, however, her love for Harry became much more prominent and as the story goes with many indiscretions, there was a moment of weakness which ended up spiraling out of control.

‘…he has discovered that there is something more, something he had never known about before, an extra dimension where time and space exist on a different plane. Like an explorer who has discovered an earthly paradise, he has lost his taste for the world beyond and all he can think of is crossing the snow bridge back to Shangri-la.’

As Claire and Harry’s fling continued it became clear that there was no turning back now and lives had already been irrevocably changed. But even if either of them could take back their actions, they had both become so intertwined in one another that life before the indiscretion became a blur, a life forgotten.

‘Why am I the narrator of this story? I am because it is the story of my life – and of the people I love most. I have tried to be as scrupulous as possible in my telling of it. I wasn’t a participant in everything that happened, but after I knew the ending, I had to fill in the missing pieces through glimpses that meant nothing to me at the time, memories that flash back with new significance, old legal pads, sentences jotted down in notebooks and on the backs of aging photographs.’

The narrator choice seemed quite unsuitable as Walter wasn’t exactly one of the main characters but more like an onlooker reporting his findings. That’s not particularly an issue in itself, but what was odd was the fact that many sections of the story never even involved him which left the question how he was able to remain a reliable narrator. Oftentimes there would be a random mentioning of ‘Why do I know what happened? Well, Harry wrote it down. He’s a writer and that’s what he does and I read it and that’s how I know’ or something to that effect, It was a strange explanation and one that I didn’t wholly accept. It seems the choice of narrator should be something that is flawlessly accepted which requires no specific explanation.

The author is a self-professed fan of F. Scott Fitzgerald and it is clear it has influenced his style of writing greatly. I would also compare the style of writing to Diana Tartt’s ‘The Secret History’ and also the story itself slightly as it tells the story of wealthy individuals and their downfall. The key with this type of storyline is to draw the readers in and not only keep them interested and invested in the characters themselves but still manage to draw a certain amount of compassion for them. I don’t believe Dubow succeeded as well as he had intended as the characters failed to derive any sort of sympathy from me. The writing still managed to be stunning as a whole and kept me enrapt while the pages flew. Indiscretion is Charles Dubow’s debut novel and an impressive one at that.

*All quotes taken are from an uncorrected proof*

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Book Tour Review – Vanity Fare: A novel of lattes, literature, and love by Megan Caldwell

January 15, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Book Tour, Read in 2012, TLC Book Tours 7 Comments

I received this book free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Tour Review – Vanity Fare: A novel of lattes, literature, and love by Megan CaldwellVanity Fare: A novel of lattes, literature, and love by Megan Caldwell
Published by William Morrow on December 26th 2012
Pages: 416
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Format: ARC
Source: TLC Book Tours
Amazon
Goodreads


three-half-stars

A charming novel about a 40-year-old Brooklyn mother, recently divorced, who starts writing copy for a bakery, discovers a knack for food-related literary puns, and becomes entangled in a love triangle.

Molly Hagan is overwhelmed.

Her husband left her for a younger, blonder woman, her six year-old son is questioning her authority, and now, so is she. In order to pay her Brooklyn rent and keep her son supplied with Pokemon and Legos-not to mention food and clothing-she has to get a job. Fast.

So when an old friend offers Molly a copywriting position at a new bakery, finding romance is just about the last thing on her mind. But the sexy British pastry chef who's heading up the bakery has other thoughts. And so does Molly when she meets the chef's intimidating business partner-who also happens to have a secret that might prevent Molly from getting her own Happily Ever After.

Molly thought she had hit rock bottom when her husband of 10 years left her and their six year-old son for a younger woman. That wasn’t rock bottom though. Rock bottom came when she finds out her soon to be ex-husband has also lost his job (and his ability to pay her child support) and also depleted their savings leaving Molly with nothing to pay the bills. She ends up being hired as a copywriter for a new up and coming bakery. But on top of finding a job she may have also found a new romance. Or two.

Anyone who knows my typical book preferences would likely find it laughable that I decided to read a book regardless of the fact that it stated in the summary that there was a love triangle. Typically? I’d be running for the hills but the concept of this story was too cute to pass up.

I am total sucker for foodie type books in general but I completely fell in love with the concept for this book. I also made full scale plans of starting my own bakery just to be able to do something like this. Molly is hired to come up with a ‘hook’ for potential customers and it needed to be closely related to the library (which the bakery is across the street from) and/or literature in general. She comes up with the idea to use double entendres to name menu items and the store itself (Vanity Fare). A few of my favorites? The Bun Also Rises. A Room of Ones Scone. Of Mousse and Men. Much Ado About Muffins. And the best? Tart of Darkness. There are even real recipes included at the back of the book for several of these (including Tart of Darkness which I will so be trying, it sounds delicious!)

The romance(s) played a huge part of the story (and possible more than I would have preferred) which I suppose should have been expected as this can definitely be considered a chick-lit novel. But I have a total soft spot for chick-lit and these romances were quite entertaining. The main character, Molly, truly made this book though. She was witty, had a wonderful dry sense of humor, and was such a realistic character just struggling to not give in and let life beat her down. I found the story (and Molly) to be quite inspiring.

A four star rating (and possibly more) was totally in the bag but alas, I found the ending with Nick’s big “secret” to not be worth all the build up that led up to the reveal. Overall though this is a fun and delightful chick-lit novel that manages to be charming while still full of laughs.

dvd-pearl

This post was a part of the Vanity Fare blog tour.
Click the button below for a complete list of tour stops.

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Book Tour Review – The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell

January 2, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2012, TLC Book Tours 1 Comment

I received this book free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Tour Review – The Death of Bees by Lisa O’DonnellThe Death of Bees by Lisa O'Donnell
Published by Harper on January 2nd 2013
Pages: 311
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery
Format: ARC
Source: TLC Book Tours
Amazon
Goodreads


five-stars

A riveting, brilliantly written debut novel-a coming-of-age story with the strong voice and powerful resonance of Swamplandia! and The Secret Life of Bees—in which two young sisters attempt to hold the world at bay after the mysterious death of their parents.

Today is Christmas Eve. Today is my birthday. Today I am fifteen. Today I buried my parents in the backyard. Neither of them were beloved.

Marnie and her little sister Nelly are on their own now. Only they know what happened to their parents, Izzy and Gene, and they aren’t telling. While life in Glasgow’s Hazlehurst housing estate isn’t grand, they do have each other. Besides, it’s only one year until Marnie will be considered an adult and can legally take care of them both.

As the new year comes and goes, Lennie, the old man next door, realizes that his young neighbors are alone and need his help. Or does he need theirs? But he’s not the only one who suspects something isn’t right. Soon, the sisters’ friends, their other neighbors, the authorities, and even Gene’s nosy drug dealer begin to ask questions. As one lie leads to another, dark secrets about the girls’ family surface, creating complications that threaten to tear them apart.

Written with fierce sympathy and beautiful precision, told in alternating voices, The Death of Bees is an enchanting, grimly comic tale of three lost souls who, unable to answer for themselves, can answer only for each other.

“Today is Christmas Eve. Today is my birthday. Today I am 15. Today I buried my parents in the backyard. Neither of them were beloved.”

Launching right into the heart of the story, Marnie and Nelly bury their parents in the backyard after their father suffocates and their mothers hangs herself. With both parents gone the girls are left completely alone. Living in the slums of Glasgow, Scotland, Marnie makes a hasty decision to bury them both in the garden in order to avoid being placed into foster care. When Marnie turns 16 she can legally care for her sister so they just need to stay under the radar for one year. But between their curious but concerned neighbor and his inquisitive dog with a penchant for digging in their garden, a drug dealer their father owes money to, and a grandfather that wants to find his daughter their carefully constructed web of lies slowly begins to deteriorate.

Having lived with their parents misconduct their entire lives, finding their dead bodies didn’t have the emotional impact that would be typical for most people. Marnie had already been taking care of her and her sister for years so not having their parents there really wasn’t new. Except they were still there. Kind of. They were just in the garden now, buried under the lavender bushes.

It wasn’t until later that I connected the dots and the references to the sexual abuse from their father. The author manages to indirectly reference the abuse both girls received from their father without going into unnecessary detail but I almost missed it entirely. The only indication given of this abuse was the lasting impacts both girls exhibit (i.e. Marnie’s drinking and drug problems and lack of disregard for sleeping with married men and Nelly’s ongoing night terrors.) Their experiences nevertheless created an unbreakable bond between the girls.

Throughout the story, the reference to people being ‘monsters’ for actions in their life that have inevitably gone on to define them. The elderly gay neighbor Lennie who takes it upon himself to care for the girls when they so desperately needed someone. But due to a past transgression that labeled him a sex offender he becomes identified as a monster. Marnie and Nelly’s parents are more deserving of the label ‘monster’ because of the serious neglect of their children. The girls were forced to grow up at an extremely young age due to their parents terminal absence. Neither girl had anything close to a childhood and it was always a guessing game whether they would come home with groceries or drugs and booze. The children’s grandfather that appears and suddenly wants to be a part of their life to make amends for past wrongs is also deserving of the title. But that’s where the grey area develops: Do the girls actions make them monsters as well? Or is their behavior excusable because of everything they had already been through and what they were trying to avoid? The author doesn’t provide any clear cut answer in determining who is right and who is wrong but it’s safe to say that all characters are at fault in some way.

The style of writing and changes in point of view were brilliant. Each character had their own distinctive voice and their own important story. All points of view were told in first person but Lennie’s was written almost as a letter or diary entries to his deceased lover, Joseph. Nelly is quite the eccentric 12 year-old that is a violin prodigy, has a fondness for old classic movies, and speaks as if, as Lennie put it, “like she swallowed a dictionary”. Marnie, an extremely direct and to the point individual that carries a massive burden which she manages to somewhat hide. It’s obvious that both girls lack necessary help, they just simply don’t know where to look for it.

“What on earth is happening to the bees? They say it is an ecological disaster, an environment holocaust. Every day I wonder what the blazes can be causing this abuse of our ecosystem.” -Nelly

The meaning behind the title eluded me for quite some time and I actually spent several hours pondering its significance. So this is what I came up with, but I could be completely off the mark, I have no idea but it really does seem to have a simple and straight forward meaning. As Nelly stated above, the death of bees is an ecological disaster and an environmental holocaust as bees play a major role and their deaths have a lasting effect. Even though their parents didn’t play a major role in the girls lives, their deaths still managed to make a lasting impact on them.

‘I fear death, I have always feared death. It comes like a gale and never with permission. I would meet it again today.’

‘The Death of Bees’ is gloomy, somber, and brutally realistic but darkly comedic as well. Enthralling and thought-provoking, you’ll find yourselves racing to finish to find out these unforgettable girls’ fate.

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Book Tour Review – Married Love: And Other Stories by Tessa Hadley

November 27, 2012 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Book Tour, Read in 2012, Short Stories, TLC Book Tours 0 Comments

I received this book free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Tour Review – Married Love: And Other Stories by Tessa HadleyMarried Love and Other Stories by Tessa Hadley
Published by Harper Perennial on November 20th 2012
Pages: 240
Genres: Contemporary, Literary Fiction, Romance
Format: ARC
Source: TLC Book Tours
Amazon
Goodreads


three-stars

A girl haunts the edges of her parents' party; a film director drops dead, leaving his film unfinished and releasing his wife to a new life; an eighteen-year-old insists on marrying her music professor, then finds herself shut out from his secrets; three friends who were intimate as teenagers meet up again after the death of the women who brought them together. Ranging widely across generations and classes, and evoking a world that expands beyond the pages, these are the stories of Tessa Hadley's astonishing new collection.

On full display are the qualities for which Tessa Hadley has long been praised: her unflinching examination of family relationships; her humor, warmth and psychological acuity; her powerful, precise and emotionally dense prose. In this collection there are domestic dramas, generational sagas, wrenching love affairs and epiphanies-captured and distilled to remarkable effect. Married Love is a collection to treasure, a masterful new work from one of today's most accomplished storytellers.

‘He knew how passionately she succumbed to the roles she dreamed up for herself. She won’t be able to get out of this one, he thought. She can’t stop now.’

Married Love: And Other Stories is a collection of short fictional contemporary stories. Married Love is not all about domestic bliss. It’s about the every day struggles that the characters encounter. Each story is a showcasing of a brief moment that manages to convey an entire life without leaving one feeling incomplete by the shortness of it.

‘For a moment, however, she could imagine the sensation of chewing politely and sufferingly on a mouthful of broken crystal, tasting salty blood.’

Reviewing a collection of short stories is always difficult. Do you review each one individually? Do you rate them as a whole? All in all, the characters within her stories are strongly written and despite the fact that I certainly preferred a few more than others they all managed to shine in their own way. Her writing was stately and succinct and quite enjoyable. My interest has definitely been piqued and I would love to read more from this author.

‘I couldn’t help being swept along by the idea of someone changing who she was: I knew I wasn’t capable of this; I was just helplessly forever me.’

dvd-pearl
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Review + Giveaway! The Round House by Louise Erdrich

November 7, 2012 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Book Tour, Giveaways, Read in 2012, TLC Book Tours 1 Comment

I received this book free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review + Giveaway! The Round House by Louise ErdrichThe Round House by Louise Erdrich
Published by HarperCollins on October 2nd 2012
Pages: 321
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery
Format: ARC
Source: TLC Book Tours
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Future Home of the Living God

three-half-stars

One Sunday in the spring of 1988, a woman living on a reservation in North Dakota is attacked. The details of the crime are slow to surface as Geraldine Coutts is traumatized and reluctant to relive or reveal what happened, either to the police or to her husband, Bazil, and thirteen-year-old son, Joe. In one day, Joe's life is irrevocably transformed. He tries to heal his mother, but she will not leave her bed and slips into an abyss of solitude. Increasingly alone, Joe finds himself thrust prematurely into an adult world for which he is ill prepared.

While his father, who is a tribal judge, endeavors to wrest justice from a situation that defies his efforts, Joe becomes frustrated with the official investigation and sets out with his trusted friends, Cappy, Zack, and Angus, to get some answers of his own. Their quest takes them first to the Round House, a sacred space and place of worship for the Ojibwe. And this is only the beginning.

‘The sun fell onto the kitchen floor in golden pools, but it was an ominous radiance, like the piercing light behind a western cloud.’

In 1988, thirteen year old Joe is forever changed when he and his father come home to find his mother covered in blood. She had been attacked, but she managed to get away to safety. Joe is unable to understand the difficulty behind getting a conviction even though his mother knows exactly who attacked her. The root of the problem lies in not knowing exactly where she was attacked. The approximate location is an area that happens to be so divided that tribal, federal, and state all claim ownership to various pieces. Since the exact location is unknown her attacker can’t be prosecuted if its unclear as to what laws would apply.

The story was told from the point-of-view of Joe, a teenager, and one having a hard time coming to terms with the changes his life is currently undergoing. He begins drinking and smoking with his friends more often and being a generally rebellious teen. Joe’s mother wasn’t the only one forever transformed from the attack, his transformation was just less obvious to others.

‘We read with a concentrated intensity. My father had become convinced that somewhere within his bench briefs, memos, summaries, and decisions lay the identity of the man whose act had nearly severed my mother’s spirit from her body. With all that we did, we were trying to coax the soul back into her. But I could feel it tug away from us like a kite on a string. I was afraid that string would break and she’d careen off, vanish into the dark.’

Joe’s father is a local tribal judge and shortly after the attack he begins bringing case documents home for research purposes and enlists Joe’s help. He becomes dismayed to find that his father didn’t handle cases of great importance but rather small and petty cases that seemed more like a waste of time. His father explains to him:

“We are trying to build a solid base here for our sovereignty. We try to press against the boundaries of what we are allowed, walk a step past the edge. Our records will be scrutinized by Congress one day and decisions on whether to enlarge our jurisdiction will be made. Some day. We want the right to prosecute criminals of all races on all lands within our original boundaries. Which is why I try to run a tight courtroom, Joe. What I am doing now is for the future, though it may seem small, or trivial, or boring, to you.”

I’ve seen it done before (and I have no idea why) where quotation marks are left out entirely. I would often read a passage and think it’s internal dialogue when in fact it’s an actual conversation so I would have to go back and re-read the entire passage to be in the right frame of mind. I’m really not clear as to what purpose it serves by leaving them out, other than confusion. My only other issue was after finishing I was left with the feeling that the book was unnecessarily long (despite it only being 317 pages long). It just felt as if there was too much information that in the end was simply irrelevant. Interesting, but ultimately irrelevant.

I enjoyed the obvious amount of research the author conducted in regards to Native American laws and culture. It made the story feel solid, sound, and very much believable. The Round House is an interesting story with a powerful message about how regardless of the centuries of change and advancement, the laws of today still have their flaws.

My personal ARC of The Round House is up for grabs.

Open to U.S. addresses only.

Ends November 14th, 2012

To enter use the Rafflecopter form below. Remember to come back for more entry opportunities daily!!

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