Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The best way to describe this book is "STRANGE".  I never really understood it, I guess.  The circus is a magic circus, one that isn't really there and yet you can see it in your mind.  The author did a great job of describing the tents, the acts, and the smells but the characters were shallow leaving no connection between them and the reader.  The last 100 pages are the best of the book but they still leave you asking "huh"?

I have read that we only use 20% of our brain capacity, so conceptually I'm wondering if the author was thinking that these things could be possible if we used more of our brains than we do.  I also wonder if this book is enjoyed by a much younger generation.  I guess I'll find out  during our discussion at book club.  As for me, I wouldn't recommend.

SYNOPSIS by Barnes & Noble
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des RĂªves, and it is only open at night.
But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.
True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.
Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.

RATING - 2 STAR - It was OK

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Review: The Empty Glass by J.I. Baker

I was so excited when this book was released and really looked forward to reading it for our LitChix April book selection.  Boy was I totally off base with this one.  The writing style is excruciating to follow, the characters had flat lined and there is nothing new or different revealed in this supposed "historical fiction".  Most books have a least one redeeming quality, I can honestly say this one did not.

Don't waste your time  - a terrible book!

SYNOPSIS by Barnes & Noble
In the early-morning hours of August 5, 1962, Los Angeles County deputy coroner Ben Fitzgerald arrives at the home of the world's most famous movie star, now lying dead in her bedroom, naked and still clutching a telephone.  There he discovers The Book of Secrets - Marilyn Monroe's diary - revealing a doomed love affair with a man she refers to only as "The General."  In the following days, Ben unravels a wide-ranging cover-up and some heartbreaking truths about the fragile, luminous woman behind the celebrity.  Soon the sinister and surreal accounts in The Book of Secrets bleed into Ben's own life, and he finds himself, like Monroe, trapped in a deepening paranoid conspiracy.  The Empty Glass is an unforgettable combination of the riveting facts and legendary theories that have dogged Monroe, the Kennedy's, the Mafia, and even the CIA for decades.  It is an exciting debut from a remarkable new thriller writer. 


Review: Slow Way Home by Michael Morris

Slow Way Home is a great depiction of the life of a child in midst of the legal system due to emotional abuse.  The characters are rich and I love the Christian influence on his life.  The author did an excellent job revealing the anger and hurt this little boy endures through the maze of being shuffled between a neglectful mother, the foster system and the love of his grandparents.  

This book will give you much to think about and is great for book club discussions.  Very sad at times but also triumphant.

SYNOPSIS by Barnes & Noble
On the surface, Brandon Willard seems like your average eight-year-old boy. He loves his mama, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and G. I. Joe. But Brandon's life is anything but typical.
Wise beyond his years, Brandon understands he's the only one in this world he can count on. It's an outlook that serves him well the day his mama leaves him behind at the Raleigh bus station and sets off to Canada with "her destiny" — the latest man that she hopes will bring her happiness. The day his mother leaves, Brandon takes the first step toward shaping his own destiny. Soon he sends himself spending pleasant days playing with his cousins on his grandparents' farm and trying to forget the past. In the safety of that place, Brandon finally is able to trust the love of an adult to help iron out the wiry places until his nerves are as steady as any other boy's.
But when Sophie Willard shows up a year later with a determined look in her eye and a new man in tow, Brandon's grandparents ignore a judge's ruling and flee the state with Brandon. Creating a new life and identity in a small Florida town, Brandon meets the people who will fill him with self-worth and self-respect. He slowly becomes involved with "God's Hospital," a church run by the gregarious Sister Delores, a woman who is committed to a life of service for all members of the community, black and white, regardless of some townsfolk's disapproval.


Review: Beach Colors by Shelley Noble

"Beach Colors" is truly a great beach read.  I think of it as Project Runway at Crescent Cove.  There is love, heartache, friendship, hate and acceptance.  This is an enjoyable read and for the most part a "happy" book.  

Great characters - Your heart aches for both Nick and Connor and the current circumstance of their lives.  Margaux and her life long friends are great support for one another, despite the years they've been apart and I loved Linda and her outgoing, brassy personality.  Like I said "a great beach read".

Ms. Noble's descriptive writing allows you to visualize the beautiful colors of the ocean and the beach, and to fall in love with this quaint little coastal town.

Get yourself a Watermelon Martini, lay out on a beach towel and immerse yourself in Shelley Noble's newest novel.

SYNOPSIS by Barnes & Noble
While renowned designer Margaux Sullivan was presenting her highly praised collection during New York City's Fashion Week, her husband was cleaning out their bank account. A week after he disappeared, the bank foreclosed on Margaux's apartment and business.
Suddenly broke, betrayed, and humiliated, Margaux has nowhere else to turn to but home: the small coastal town of Crescent Cove, Connecticut, where she once knew love, joy, and family before she put them behind her on the climb to fame. When she's stopped for speeding by local interim police chief Nick Prescott, Margaux barely remembers the "townie" boy who worshipped her from afar every summer. But Nick is all grown up now, a college professor who gave up his career to care for his orphaned nephew, Connor. Though still vulnerable, Margaux is soon rediscovering the beauty of the shore through young Connor's eyes . . . and, thanks to Nick, finding a forgotten place in her heart that wants to love again.
But as she continues to work on a bold new line that will get her back into the game, Margaux realizes that soon she will have to make the most important, most difficult decision of her life. . . .


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Review: Freeman by Leonard Pitts, Jr.

Leonard Pitts, Jr's story "Freeman" is BRILLIANT and one of the best historical fiction novels I have ever read!  The characters are rich within the tapestry woven for them, blended to transfix you, and stitched together during a most tumultuous time in our history.  I truly believe that this novel should be listed as an "American Classic".

The lives of the slaves after the Civil War, in someways was just as cruel as slavery.  Being "free" came with a high cost to many, with no where to go, no money and  continued cruelty from the white community. Many slave owners refused to admit defeat to the North and continued treating their slaves as property instead of as human beings.  There were many families that had been broken apart and having very few clues as to their location began searching for their loved ones, with often terrifying results.

Emotional and riveting "Freeman" is a true masterpiece.

SYNOPSIS by Barnes & Noble
Freeman, the new novel by Leonard Pitts, Jr., takes place in the first few months following the Confederate surrender and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Upon learning of Lee's surrender, Sam—a runaway slave who once worked for the Union Army—decides to leave his safe haven in Philadelphia and set out on foot to return to the war-torn South. What compels him on this almost-suicidal course is the desire to find his wife, the mother of his only child, whom he and their son left behind 15 years earlier on the Mississippi farm to which they all "belonged."
At the same time, Sam's wife, Tilda, is being forced to walk at gunpoint with her owner and two of his other slaves from the charred remains of his Mississippi farm into Arkansas, in search of an undefined place that would still respect his entitlements as slaveowner and Confederate officer.
The book's third main character, Prudence, is a fearless, headstrong white woman of means who leaves her Boston home for Buford, Mississippi, to start a school for the former bondsmen, and thus honor her father’s dying wish.
At bottom, Freeman is a love story—sweeping, generous, brutal, compassionate, patient—about the feelings people were determined to honor, despite the enormous constraints of the times. It is this aspect of the book that should ensure it a strong, vocal, core audience of African-American women, who will help propel its likely critical acclaim to a wider audience. At the same time, this book addresses several themes that are still hotly debated today, some 145 years after the official end of the Civil War. Like Cold MountainFreeman illuminates the times and places it describes from a fresh perspective, with stunning results. It has the potential to become a classic addition to the literature dealing with this period. Few other novels so powerfully capture the pathos and possibility of the era particularly as it reflects the ordeal of the black slaves grappling with the promise—and the terror—of their new status as free men and women.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Review: The Beach Trees by Karen White

"The Beach Trees" by Karen White is so much more than your typical beach read.  It is a story of destruction, tragedy and survival and hope.  

The story takes place in New Orleans and Biloxi, Mississippi five years after Katrina.  There is mystery, history and love.  You are transported into the lives of these characters, and you will grow to love them.  Each character is down to earth and you find yourself relating to each of them as though they are close friends.  I loved that the mystery is not easily solved until the end of the story, and it takes you by surprise.  

I truly enjoyed how Ms. White wrote Julie's story in present day and Aimee's story from the past and intertwined them.  I could not set this book down.  It was a great novel that I did not want to end.  Hopefully, there will be a follow up novel to continue their story.  This is a very well written novel and one you should read, whether you are on the beach or in your living room in front of the fireplace.

SYNOPSIS by Barnes & Noble
The moving new novel from bestselling author Karen White.
From the time she was twelve, Julie Holt knew what a random tragedy can do to a family. At that tender age, her little sister disappeared-never to be found. It was a loss that slowly eroded the family bonds she once relied on. As an adult with a prestigious job in the arts, Julie meets a struggling artist who reminds her so much of her sister, she can't help feeling protective. It is a friendship that begins a long and painful process of healing for Julie, leading her to a house on the Gulf Coast, ravaged by hurricane Katrina, and to stories of family that take her deep into the past.


Friday, March 15, 2013

Review: Eve's Daughters by Lynn Austin

In Lynn Austin's, Eve's Daughters, you become so enchanted and consumed by their life stories that you don't want the novel to end.  The character development is amazing and though each woman is her own person, with varied personalities I loved each of them.  Their blessings. dreams, resilience, strengths and struggles are so relatable that Ms. Austin gives us a vision into the life of a woman, for we are all Eve's daughters.

This is a very well written Christian novel, one that their beliefs are a part of their story but not unrealistic and fluffy by any means.  In my opinion, everyone would love this story regardless of their faith or lack there of.

Brenda, thank you so much for recommending this book, it is a treasure.  
Great historical fiction and a story that I will always remember.  

SYNOPSIS by Barnes & Noble
Yearning for love and dignity, four generations of women must come to grips with the choices they've made--and those their mothers made before them. But breaking the cycle that has ensnared them over the decades will prove more difficult than they had ever imagined...
Eighty-year-old Emma Bauer has carefully guarded a dark secret for more than fifty years. But when she sees her granddaughter's marriage beginning to unravel, Emma realizes that her lies about her own marriage have poisoned those she loves most. Can she help her granddaughter break free of a legacy of wrong choices? Or will she take her secret--and her broken heart--to the grave?
With honesty and compassion, author Lynn Austin weaves a compelling story of four unforgettable women--their struggles, their crises of faith, their triumphs.