Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman + a Giveaway!

This book was our October selected read for the Book Lover's Unite online book club. If you have not heard about Book Lover's Unite, follow my friends Tamara at Traveling with T and Jennifer Smeth at Bookalicious Mama for all of our posts and discussion questions. Our featured selection for November is Suzanne Redfearn's Hush Little Baby, which I read (and loved!). I am also giving away a signed copy on my blog until this Friday 10/25, which you can enter HERE. If you've always wanted to join a book club, but have the busiest schedule on Earth, or just prefer to come and go as you please, then Book Lover's Unite would be the perfect book club for you. I have met so many of my bookish friends online through our book club, and you guessed it, they are now part of my life list!

I completely digressed, but the point of me bringing up Book Lover's Unite was that it was how I came across this book. This book was such a delightful, heart-warming journey for me as the reader. The premise of the book is that Brett Bohlinger's mother has just died of cancer, and when the family all joins together to hear her last will and testament being read, Brett finds out she hasn't inherited part of her mother's fortune, but rather her old "Life List" she wrote while in high school. The list has several things crossed out, but the rest remain intact. Brett has one year to accomplish the goals on her life list, or she risks obtaining not a single dime of her possible fortune.

The problem lies in the fact that Brett has to change everything about her life to make these things on her list come to fruition. As she accomplishes a goal, Brett hears a letter written to her by her mother (read via a lawyer). The letters are a testament to her mother's belief in her abilities, and the necessity for Brett to change her life. The ending will leave you with some tears shed, but also a sense that there are things on our list we need to accomplish. A wonderful read, and one you must have on your shelf!

I have drafted a preliminary life list, and here it is:
1. Go visit Italy
2. Go to the top of the Seattle Space Needle
3. Eat a beignet in New Orleans
4. Meet Jodi Picoult, author extraordinaire!
5. Take my kids to Disney World
6. Swim with dolphins
7. Take Kenny to a NYY game
8. Attend BEA and meet my fave bookish friends
9. See Niagra Falls, and travel on one of those boats to feel the spray!
10. _______________________________?

If you'd like to be entered to win a copy of The Life List, tell me what would be on your life list? This contest is open to US/Canadian readers only, and only commenters leaving an e-mail address will be considered. The e-mail address is used strictly to notify the winner, and you can use AT and DOT to avoid the dreaded, horrible, evil spammers! Good luck to all! Contest will end this Friday (10/25) at 12:00 PST.

Hush Little Baby giveaway is HERE (remember, it is the Nov. pick for #bookloversunite)

Love to you all, my readers!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Hush Little Baby by Suzanne Refearn-Interview and Review plus a giveaway!

Hush Little Baby was a fantastic, page-turning saga that not only enthralls the reader, but sheds important light on the issue of domestic violence. Suzanne Redfearn has woven a story that holds the reader in rapture wanting to find out the fate of the characters in this story. Trust me when I tell you that you'll have a difficult time setting the book aside to go about your daily routine. I'll readily admit that domestic violence sits at the far recesses of my brain, and I don't think about it until it is thrust in front of me, on the pages of a book. With shades reminiscent of the movie Sleeping with the Enemy and Enough, you'll be wishing Gordon gets his ass kicked by his wife! 

Here's a synopsis: Jillian Kane is a successful architect, with a seemingly loving husband and father, Gordon. With his job as a police officer, Gordon exerts power and control over the suspects he comes across, but no one is suspicious of his actions behind closed doors. When Jillian realizes that nothing will change who Gordon really is, and that one day he was capable of killing her and taking the kids from her, she decides to make a run for it with both of her children, Drew and Addie. Does Jillian have what it takes to save herself and her children, or will Gordon ultimately triumph? "Hush Little Baby skillfully explores how desperation drives the darker impulses of human nature, even within the hearts of those who appear to have it all." 

I had the privilege of asking Suzanne to answer "5 Loves and a Bummer", and I know my wonderful blog readers will enjoy her answers as much as I did!

5 Loves
1. I love sitting on the couch watching my favorite shows with my family and my dog beside me.
2. I love going to an Angels game, sitting in the nose-bleed seats, and eating foot long hotdogs and Cracker Jacks.
3. I love surfing in the ocean and remembering how small I am and how miraculous the world is.
4. I love a day of no expectation then having something wonderful happen.
5. I love this journey, creating stories and characters and sharing them with the world, then hearing the amazing varied perspectives of the readers.

1. When my dog eats the package that the UPS man dropped on my porch because of a fierce canine notion he has that the brown-uniformed man and all that he delivers is evil.

To celebrate my love for you, dear reader, Suzanne has generously agreed to personally sign one copy for one lucky U.S. reader! Yay, you! Trust me, you do not want to miss out on this book! To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment below, and be sure to include your e-mail address in the body of the comment. You can use AT and DOT for your e-mail address to avoid the spammers! Good luck, loves!

Thanks again to Suzanne, and my friend Suzy, for an ARC of Hush Little Baby. Follow Suzanne on Facebook, and Twitter

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

What can I say? I loved it! 
I'm not sure if many of you know this, but I met my husband online. I was in college, and my typical behavior of procrastinating until the last minute actually led to the best thing that ever happened to me. I was assigned a project for my theater class which required "internet research".  That may not sound like a big deal to those of you who have Wi-Fi, and a connection that doesn't use flippin' dial-up. Back in the day we used to have to plug our computers into a phone jack and dial up the internet. It was a process that took about 3 days. You needed to warn everyone in the house you were "going on the internet", you know, just in case they tried to make a phone call. Seriously, it took forever to connect to the internet, and if anyone decided they needed to call someone, well, then you had the pleasure of starting all over again. So, I decided to begin the internet research at 8:00 the night before this "internet research" project was due. At the time, I lived in the sorority house, and we had a computer that we could access for this type of thing. One problem- it was password protected. The student who possessed the password was not in the house, and wouldn't return for several hours. I thrust myself on my bed in despair, and my roommate Erika must have felt sorry for me, because she offered up her boyfriend Jeff's computer. We hopped in my car, and drove over to Jeff's apartment. He had already been online, so he allowed me to just jump right on the computer. When I asked if he wanted me to sign out of his user name (because a freakin' crapload of his buddies were interrupting my research to IM him), he replied, "no". Ummm, okay I thought. A little snafu in my plans of distraction-free research, but hey, this isn't my computer. He can tell me to stay signed in. Ding! Ding! Ding! Instant messages pinged for the hour I spent doing my research. I ignored them all. Exhausted, and ready to go back to the sorority house, I asked Jeff, "do you want to me to log off? A bunch of people were IM'ing you (total 90's lingo you young'uns)." Erika pulled up the first one, and here's how the rest of my life got started:
Nickyson: What's up bitch?
2100Teri: Excuse me?
Nickyson: This isn't Jeff, is it?
2100Teri: No, this is Melody
2100Teri: I'm Erika's roommate
Nickyson: Huh, never heard of you
2100Teri: Never heard of you either.

He and I typed until my fingers cramped, until Erika and Jeff were fast asleep, and until I couldn't wait to see his face. We typed all night long on AOL Instant Messenger, and I knew I needed to met him. To see this guy for myself. I had to love him. I do love him. Nickyson is now the father of my children, and my husband of 12 years. This guy that I met in almost the same way the fictional characters in Attachments met. So maybe that's why I loved it so much. You just need to read it. It's so, so good.
Here's to happy endings. For all of us.    

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Banks of Certain Rivers by Jon Harrison

I wasn't sure what to think of this book when the title was first introduced to me. To tell you the truth, I usually gravitate toward books with a lot of clout, and a ton of press behind them. That technique for finding books hasn't always been the best way of finding great books. I bought The Banks of Certain Rivers on a whim after an author I love and respect said she'd loved it. It was a deal on Kindle, so I thought "what the heck?" It did not disappoint. 
Neil Kazenzakis is a very popular high school teacher, and the beloved cross-country coach. When Neil's wife becomes profoundly disabled in a terrible accident that happens while he is at a teaching conference, he struggles to right his life. He's left a single father to his teenage son, and the son-in-law of a woman with Alzheimers. Carol, his mother-in-law, has moments of lucidity, but most days she spends in a cloud of forgetfulness. Although Carol's illness is troubling, it has led Neil to Lauren, Carol's caretaker, who is also Neil's new girlfriend. Things appear to be on the up and up when everything turns sideways with the release of a video. In this digital age, anything goes, and Neil finds this out as things start to spiral out of control. As the reader, you are left wondering if Neil did attack that student, or if it is simply a case of kids making a video to get their teacher in trouble. Goodness knows children are far more savvy on the internet than we are. Even Neil begins to wonder if things are really as they appear. Can he even trust himself? 
Not complicated enough for you? Well, the author's got you covered there! Lauren, Neil's new girlfriend (did you forget about the disabled wife?) is pregnant. Is it still too dull a story line for you? Neil's son goes missing after Neil reveals to him that Lauren is pregnant. Full of twists and turns, The Banks of Certain Rivers was an unlikely surprise.