Tuesday, August 31, 2010

QA with Liv Bergen from In the Belly of Jonah by Sandra Brannan

Today I am pleased to welcome Liv Bergen, the smart, tough protagonist from In the Belly of Jonah. If you haven't already done so, please read my last two posts; one is the book trailer and the second is my full review of In the Belly of Jonah. These will give a small taste of who Liv is and 
the world in which she lives in.

If you have already read the other posts, then enjoy getting to know Liv! 
I hope you like her as much as I did.

Welcome Liv!

1. You have a very interesting and unique career, not one that many 
know too much about. 
Could you tell us a little about what you do?

I am a miner.  Not a gold miner like we often imagine spitting chaw through his teeth while panning for gold in the creeks and not an underground miner where they tunnel underground like Gopher on Winnie the Pooh.  The type mining we do is non-metallic surface mining.  In other words, we find layers of minerals that are close to the surface, remove the layer, and then reclaim the land as we move along that layer.  We do concurrent reclamation, which means we reclaim as we mine.  It's kind of like eating the top layer off a birthday cake and re-frosting it before your mother finds out!  If she didn't know better from the shorter cake, she would never know we'd eaten that layer.  AND we have the artistic freedom to decorate the cake even prettier than it was before.  My favorite flavor cake is high calcium limestone, which can be used for roads, foundations, animal feeds, water filtration and purification, air quality improvement as a scrubber for sulfur dioxide, stabilizing acidic soils, and even for purifying sugar in the beat manufacturing process.  That's right.. I mine limestone for the sugar industry.  

2. You come from quite a big family. Do you use your experience as a member of a large family to help you be the boss you are? Wrangling in the troops, so to speak?

My experience as the seventh of nine children certainly helped hone my managerial skills.  The picture that first came to mind when you asked the question was a time when I was about six years old and my siblings had encircled a skunk, closing in with slow, steady steps, until we trapped it under a box.  We had confused the skunk so much, it didn't think to spray us (although my dad wasn't as fortunate when he lifted the box later to release the poor thing).  My siblings taught me the power of teamwork, the importance of communication and establishing a shared vision, and most importantly, learning how to disagree while remaining compassionate and loving each other at the end of every unpredictable day.  They also taught me the importance of individuality and not losing yourself in a large crowd.  Without individual contributions, teams collapse under the weight of the unproductive.  As a boss, I applaud individual contribution to a shared vision of the team.   

3. What advice would you give to a young woman about to head out into the world? Did you have any strong role models who helped you become the tough woman you are today?

My strongest role models are most certainly my parents.  As a woman, my Irish Catholic mother, Jeanne Kiara Bergen, embodies the all-American immigrant and the spirit of the Dakotas.  Strong yet feminine, tough yet resilient,organized yet serendipitous, task-oriented yet willing to drop everything for those in need.  Oddly, even though my dad taught me everything I know about business, it's my mother who taught me how to be a woman in a man's industry.  Advice I would give a woman today would have to be the lessons I learned watching my mother raise nine children:  1) Work hard and do whatever everyone else refuses to do... joyfully, 2) Be grateful, 3) Be yourself because everyone else is taken, and 4) Be a bumble bee (you know, the whole scientific experts saying bees are no aerodynamically designed to fly, but bees don't know it, so they go ahead an fly anyway... don't let anyone tell you that you can't).
4. What attracts you to the landscape of Colorado?  Would you ever live any where else?

I love the Rocky Mountains!  Who doesn't?  But the truth is, I didn't choose Colorado.  I chose to follow my passion, which was mining, and was lucky enough to be offered the opportunity to work at the mine on the foothills of the Rockies.  Wherever I'm needed, I will gladly call the next place home.  As my younger brother Jens says, "Have bags, will travel."  Keep in mind, in our industry, we have to go where the good Lord put the minerals and of course, most of the best geological deposits are in remote, isolated locations, far from areas where our ancestors tended to settle when they moved West.  They tended to curse rocks and move toward water and farm ground.  There's some good mines and great people where you're from... maybe I can pursue something in Minnesota?   I'm thinking for the time being, though, I want to stay put in Fort Collins... after all, it's close to Denver, CO, where Streeter Pierce works at the FBI. 
5. Living in and around such beauty and working hard all week, how would you describe your perfect day off?

Hard to believe, but the perfect day off for me starts with an awesome morning.  I love to wake up early and enjoy a great cup of coffee, a good cardio work out, like running outside in any weather, and an awesome breakfast... like steak and eggs or a meatloaf sandwich.   When a day starts out like that, it's always perfect!    II love going to movies and to dinner, but I'd prefer not to go alone.  At home, I turn on the television or music, but I do it for the noise, since I grew up being used to lots of people.  I don't do 'alone' all that well, so I'm thinking about getting a dog or a roommate.   Unless you have some thoughts for me on a single man who would put up with all my idiosyncrasies. 

6. Being a strong, independent woman, how would we know if we ticked off Liv Bergen? What's your tell?

Oh, dear!  You ask tough questions!  I hate to say it, but I have a terrible problem with swearing.  Mostly I swear out of habit and when I'm really scared or shocked.  I have tried the New Year's Resolution thing, the rubber band around my wrist to snap every time I swear, the quarter in the jar, EVERYTHING and I still have trouble breaking the habit.  As far as when I get ticked off, I think it would be easy to tell.  I pace.  Alot.  I've worn out many steel-toed boots pacing back and forth when I'm ticked off, fists slammed on my hips.  Not very attractive, huh?  But I really try to do that in the privacy of my office or home when no one can see me.  It doesn't happen often and it takes quite a bit to tick me off, but when I do, watch out.  What ticks me off the most is bullies.  With a bully, I'm a buzz saw. 

Thank you, Liv!

Be sure to check out Sandra Brannan's website here for more info on her book tour and 
where you can buy the book!

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Monday, August 30, 2010

Review #83: In the Belly of Jonah by Sandra Brannan

Title: In the Belly of Jonah

Author: Sandra Brannan
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group Press
ISBN: 978-1-60832-050-9
Price/Pages: $14.95/288
Release Date: September 1
Author Website: SANDRA BRANNAN
Description: From Author's Website:

In the Belly of Jonah is a fast-paced mystery with a likable protagonist and an intricately woven narrative brimming with bizarre yet believable twists. The first in a series, the book expertly lays the groundwork for Liv Bergen, amateur sleuth, and her love interest, FBI Agent Streeter Pierce.

Liv becomes involved in the investigation of the murder of Jill Brannigan, a summer intern at the limestone mine Liv manages near Fort Collins, Colorado (a breathtaking setting that unwittingly becomes an accessory to crime). In doing so, she inadvertently puts her friends, her family, and herself at risk of being swallowed in the belly of a madman bloated with perverse appetites for women, surrealistic art, and renown.

Perhaps a bit too daring (and at times irreverent) for her own good, “Boots,” as Liv’s eight siblings call her, soon realizes she has a knack for outsmarting and tracking down the Venus de Milo murderer—and she enjoys it! As the gripping plot of In the Belly of Jonah unfolds, Liv Bergen takes her place alongside the best female crime-solvers as a woman with smarts, self-confidence, and intuitive savvy.

My Review:
I attacked this book on the plane ride home from NYC and BEA. Gone were the mountains of books I fought for at BEA, they were all hidden away ready to be mailed to me. Nope, it was just me and this fast paced thriller and a 3 hour plane ride.
Let me tell you. I chose well.
I am a stickler for plane ride books. You know you have to have the perfect one or else you are screwed. You don't want to bring too many or else you pay some $ to carry on extra luggage. The choice is always a hard one but this time it worked out.
This is Sandra Brannan's first novel but it definitely showed the talent of a seasoned writer. The female protagonist, Liv Bergen, is a unique character; full of life, balls and wit. She makes her living in a career field where you don't see many women and does it well. The mine in which she manages is filled with rough and tumble boys and men who she needs to keep in line. Located near Fort Collins, Colorado, the location plays a huge part in setting the atmosphere as a beautiful yet rough landscape.

Faced with the untimely murder of one of her female workers, she attacks the case with sharp observance and dedicated cooperation. Partnered with her old college buddy, Lisa; now a part of the FBI and handsome Detective Streeter Pierce, she will do anything to find the killer.
Streeter Pierce is a rock solid guy; great at his job, sharp when he needs to be, sincere when he needs to be. You can count on him and hell, you may even fall for him a little bit too.
Together they take apart the last days of the young girl's life and the world she lived in at college. She was a hard working student and a strong athlete, plenty of friends, seemed to love life. Who does the finger point to?

Well, that's what Sandra Brannan does really well. She delivers a strong, puzzling case. You read the investigation on one end and into the mind of the killer on the other. Though you do find who the killer is, it doesn't hold back the suspense. You delve deeper into his crazy factor and hope for an explosive ending.

I could not put it down! It took me another day after I got home to finish. Mysteries that are going to be a part of a series have to have really strong, well written characters for me or else I'm done. I really liked Liv Bergen. She had just enough of a difference to her that made her unique and I am always a sucker for a rugged, handsome detective who delivers. Streeter, I'm so following you to the next book.

Rating: 6 stars/6 stars
Because I had the pleasure of meeting Sandra, this book was even more fun to read. It is fast paced, edgy and one heck of a thriller. Fans of good ol' suspense will like this one. Add on the different location and the unique atmosphere of a mine, you got a unique book on your hands.

Here is my quote from her website:
"In the Belly of Jonah starts off running. Suspenseful and vivid, you enter a world of spine tingling evil. The first in a new mystery series featuring protagonist, Liv Bergen, it is set in a mining town in Fort Collins, CO, which, so richly described, becomes an important character itself. The hunt for a madman becomes personal and terrifying for Liv when she discovers that one of her employees from the mine is murdered. What follow is slippery slope into the mind and world of a soulless killer. A must read for fans of gritty suspense. There is nothing cozy about this mystery and that is a good thing!!”
—Red Headed Book Child

Thank you so much for Sandra for sharing her book with me and so many others. I hope together we can make it a success!
Join Sandra on Twitter on Wednesday! Here's a message from her:
@SandraBrannan Alright all your #mystery lovers, what gives you chills and thrills? Let's chat this Wednesday! #livbergen http://bit.ly/90FpZm

Stay tuned tomorrow and Wednesday for a Q&A with Liv Bergen and Sandra Brannan and a GIVEAWAY!!
You can also read an excerpt from the book on her website too.

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Book Trailer for In the Belly of Jonah by Sandra Brannan

Dear fellow bloggers,

I had the pleasure of meeting mystery author, Sandra Brannan at the Book Blogger Convention in NYC this past May. Before the actual convention started we were served breakfast and were able to hop around and mingle with other bloggers, publishers, authors and publicists. I got there a little late and sat down at one table with Jenny from Take Me Away, Jennifer from Crazy for Books, Melissa from The Betty and Boo Chronicles and Sandra Brannan, author of 
In the Belly of Jonah.

We had a blast getting to know one another talking about books, blogging, NYC and life. Sandra and I were sitting next to one another and got along quite famously. We discovered we were both huge fans of mystery/thrillers and talked about our favorite authors. I recommended Nicci French and Laura Lippman and she talked about how she knew Harlan Coben. Cool, huh?

Anyway, it wasn't until we got into the convention and sat down that Jenny's husband handed me the book, In the Belly of Jonah. Sandra was passing them out.  I said, "What's this?" He said it was Sandra's book. I, apparently, had not had enough coffee at that point of the breakfast and missed that part of the conversation where she was the author of a mystery book!

I was very excited to read it, not only because I am a fan of the genre, but because Sandra was such a delightful person that I really wanted to support her work. It really hit me that the purpose of the Book Blogger Convention was not just to promote bloggers but to promote the success of all writers. We are all hear to support one another. It was a great feeling.

The next day I was gearing up to leave and out of all of the books I picked up at BEA and the Convention, I chose Sandra's book to read on the airplane. And I am so glad I did. I loved it.

Over the next few days you will see several posts from me showcasing this title.
Monday: My review
Tuesday: Q&A with the featured character, Liv Bergen.
Wednesday: Q &A with Sandra and a Giveaway. RELEASE DAY!

Today, I give you a sneak peak at the book trailer to get your juices flowing!

Click here.

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Review #82: The Likeness by Tana French


The Likeness
Tana French

Description from author's website:

Six months after the events of In the Woods, Detective Cassie Maddox is still trying to recover. She's transferred out of the murder squad and has started a relationship with Detective Sam O'Neill, but she's too badly shaken to make a commitment to him or to her career. Then Sam calls her to the scene of his new case; a young woman found stabbed to death in a small town outside Dublin. The dead girl's ID says her name is Lexie Madison- the identity Cassie used years ago as an undercover detective- and she looks exactly like Cassie.
With no leads, no suspects, and no clue to Lexie's real identity, Cassie's old undercover boss, Frank Mackey, spots the opportunity of a lifetime. They can say that the stab wound wasn't fatal and send Cassie undercover in her place to fin information that the police never would and tempt the killer out of hiding. At first Cassie thinks the idea is crazy, but she is seduced by the prospect of working on a murder investigation again and by the idea of assuming the victim's identity as a graduate student with a cozy group of friends.
As she is drawn into Lexie's world, Cassie realizes that the girl's secrets run deeper than anyone imagined. Her friends are becoming suspicious, Sam has discovered a generations-old feud involving the house the students live in, and Frank is starting to suspect that Cassie's growing emotional involvement could put the hwole investigation at risk. 

My Review:
Yes, it's as good as it sounds.
To say that this was an eagerly anticipated follow-up to In the Woods, is an understatement. I thought In the Woods was riveting. The Likeness rocked my socks (as Juju says from Tales of Whimsy!). 
I am a fan of really well written gritty psychological thrillers. They can be in your face intense, like Still Missing by Chevy Stevens or subtle and pulsing, like Dismantled by Jennifer McMahon. The Likeness is both.  
In the Woods showed us the team of Ryan and Maddox. The Likeness is all Maddox and she does what she does very well.   The plot is unbelievably believable. Her former undercover identity has been taken over by another girl who just happens to look just like her and just happens to show up dead.
The best way to solve this crime? Send Cassie back in as her former identity, though now a completely different persona, and make it seem like she survived. Crazy? Well, yes and balls-to-the-wall gutsy...but she does it. And you go along for her ride through this girl's life. 
Lexie Madison, the undercover identity, is a  graduate student living with four other students; Abby, Daniel, Rafe and Justin. Living in Daniel's ancestral home, the five students are as tight as tight can be; finishing each other's sentences, eating, working, studying, traveling together always. No outsider has ever gotten in. And none of them has ever left.
Cassie, having taken the move from Murder to Domestic Abuse, is itching to get back to undercover. Diving full in, she is calmed by the life they lead; the safe isolation, the closeness of their relationships, and the feeling of family. Having lost her parents at a young age, Cassie didn't realize how much she craved that sense of family and home.
The whole book is so intense that I could not put it down. I couldn't believe what they were doing and I wanted to see how they could pull it off. I loved the location, a small town outside Dublin. I loved the big old house they lived in. I loved the tension between Cassie and Frank, the lead Undercover detective. I loved Cassie's relationship with Sam, the lead detective on the Murder side of things. I loved how odd and alluring the four friends were and the bizarre relationship they all had.

And Cassie just rocks. Messed up, a little unorthodox, a bit moody but wickedly honest and a smart detective. I look forward to reading more about her.

Rating: 6 stars/ 6 stars
Overall, this is one of the best books I've read all year. It was exactly my kind of book. It had the elitist college students, the gritty detectives, atmospheric Ireland, tough women and a messed up who-dunnit crime. I was scratching my head up until the end wondering how it would end. I LOVE that! 

Book Club Note:
YES! Tana French is such a good writer and you would find plenty to talk about. The characters, the locations, the impossible crimes, the politics of Dublin. 

Other Book Info:
ISBN: 978-0-670-01886-4
Pages: 466
Publisher: Viking
Author website: Tana French

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My Love for Tana French

Who out there as read Tana French?
I am 165 pages in to The Likeness and I can not put it down.
So incredibly atmospheric, calculating, and gritty.
Man, can she write.
So looking forward to this one next!
Absolutely LOVED this one! I reviewed it last year and gave away a copy. I believe the cool cat Ryan from Wordsmithonia won that one!

They are all set in and around Dublin. I have such weird literary crushes on the rough and tough detectives with Irish accents. 

Check out Tana French's website.

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Monday, August 23, 2010

Review #81: I'd Know you Anywhere by Laura Lippman


I'd Know You Anywhere
Laura Lippman
Release Date: 
August 17, 2010

My Description:
Eliza Benedict leads a calm, quiet life; wife to successful Peter, mother to 13 year old Iso and 8 year old Albie. 
But what she doesn't know is that her current happy existence will soon be shattered by the arrival of a letter from Walter Bowman.
It reads: 
There was your photo, in a magazine. Of course, you are older now. I'd know you anywhere.
Who is Eliza? 
Who is Walter Bowman?
Eliza is actually Elizabeth Lerner and Walter Bowman is the man who kidnapped her when she was fifteen and held her hostage for six weeks. It was the summer of 1985 and Eliza was a quiet girl who loved Madonna. It took only a few kind words and a promise of a ride to make Eliza disappear.

Walter was a local man who only wanted to find a girl who would understand him. They just never seemed to be right. It wasn't his fault that he had to make the others disappear. He saw in Eliza a good girl who would listen. He controls her with calm threats to her family. His conviction that there life together is normal sends a cold ache through Eliza. Fearing something harsh and violent is bubbling under the surface, she stays and listens and doesn't flee even when seemingly given chances.

Then he picks up another girl.

This act will change his fate and her role in this abduction.

My Review:
This is one of Laura Lippman's stand alone thrillers. She has graduated to writing a bit more edgy thrillers like this vs. writing her Tess Monaghan mystery series in her early writing career. I have only read the first in the Tess books and have not read any of her stand alones. My good friend Cheryl has read many of her thrillers and thinks she is the bees knees. I jumped at the chance to review this one because of that.

So I was expecting a bit more from this book. I believe in Lippman's writing. Though she definitely has an edge to it and plays with the psychological aspect of these characters, I just didn't care too much about them.
Eliza was a bit morose as a teen and a bit bland as an adult. She was fearful during the abduction but I didn't really feel the danger. Walter was portrayed as a misunderstood man who justified his attacks on women because of their own faults. Their time together is tense but it's also uncomfortable and not in a "holy crap" scary way. Maybe it was my own experience with reading books about abductions. I was expecting more violence, more rage. Because I didn't get that, I couldn't wrap my head around the whys.

After Walter picks up his last victim and she dies, Eliza is rescued and he goes to prison. The nature of the kidnapping is odd; Eliza seemed to have chances to escape whether by her own observance or when Walter seems to almost step out of the way. But she doesn't run. Fear or stupidity? Some claim she was involved, that they were together. And this is something Eliza has to live with for the many years to come.

Fast forward to the present when Eliza is a good stay at home mom with two kids, a decent marriage and a nice house. A random snapshot in a magazine from a dinner party attended with her husband catches the eye of Walter in prison. So begins the correspondence between them. Does he want to be forgiven? Does he want to name his other victims? Does he want to come to peace? What exactly does he want from Eliza?
Eliza doesn't know and doesn't really care but still is lured into meeting him and beginning a communication. 
On top of it all is the random woman friend of Walter's who is his advocate and his voice and his connection to the outside world. She contacts Eliza for him begging her to give him a chance, her being such a champion for prisoner's freedoms and all. We also get to ride along with the mother of Walter's last victim. I felt the most from her; the pain in losing her daughter, the giant hole that still existed and the anger she still harbors for Eliza.

Unfortunately, overall, there was something with all of the characters that I really just didn't like. I wanted Eliza to be more angry, Walter more crazy and the justice more satisfying. 

Rating: 4 stars/ 6 stars
So I am going to have to vote on the lower end of 4 for this one. I didn't want to give it a 3 because I do feel it is above average; in writing style and of creativity of the story. I did enjoy Laura Lippman's first book in the Baltimore series a lot so I am not giving up on her. I think I just need to read some of her other stand alones to gain some perspective. Overall, it was the characters that fell flat for me. I wanted more punch!

More Book Info:
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Publisher: William Morrow (Harper Collins)
ISBN: 978-0-06-170655-4
Pages: 384
Price: $25.99

Laura Lippman grew up in Baltimore and returned to her hometown in 1989 to work as a journalist. After writing seven books while still a full-time reporter, she left the Baltimore Sun to focus on fiction. She is the author of ten Tess Monaghan novels, five stand-alone novels, and one short story collection. She is also the editor of another story collection, Baltimore Noir. Lippman has won numerous awards for her work, including the  Edgar, Quill, Anthony, Nero Wolfe, Agatha, Gumshoe Barry and Macavity.

Thank you to Trish for allowing me the opportunity to participate in this tour. Check out the other stops as well. 

Wednesday, August 25th: Shhh I’m Reading

Thursday, August 26th: Staircase Wit

Monday, August 30th: A Bookworm’s World

Tuesday, August 31st: Thoughts From an Evil Overlord

Thursday, September 2nd: Bibliofreak

Tuesday, September 7th: Proud Book Nerd

Wednesday, September 8th: Books and Movies

Thursday, September 9th: Wordsmithonia

Monday, September 13th: Raging Bibliomania

Tuesday, September 14th: Lesa’s Book Critques

Thursday, September 16th: she reads and reads

Monday, September 20th: My Random Acts of Reading

Tuesday, September 21st: Jen’s Book Thoughts

Wednesday, September 22nd: nomadreader

Thursday, September 23rd: Book Chatter

Monday, September 27th: In the Next Room

Thursday, September 30th: CafĂ© of Dreams

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Friday, August 20, 2010

Review #80: Sea Escape by Lynne Griffin

Sea Escape Lynne Griffin

Simon and Schuster
Literary Fiction
Format: ARC

My Description:

This is a story about family and the relationships within and how they change through the years. It mainly tells the story of Laura and her mother, Helen. It begins with Helen suffering a stroke, witnessed only by her eight year old grandson, Henry.
Laura, supported by her husband, her daughter Claire and distant brother, Holden, she begins to piece together her mother's former life. 
In a way to reach her mother, she begins to read the letters Joseph, her father, wrote to Helen during their marriage.
Through these letters, Laura recognizes a calm wash over her mother's face and is grateful she can give that to her. But these letters also hold evidence of a flawed marriage, of failed hopes, of secrets, and of betrayal. 

Helen was a reserved, patient woman of strong faith who worshipped her husband, Joseph. While he was traveling and working as a reporter for the Associated Press during wartime Vietnam, she was left to create a home for them and their new family. Helen, stubborn and unwillingly to accept help from her father, supported her family by sewing. This became a great passion of hers as she dreamed of decorating their own home, instead of the shabby apartment they were forced to live in. His beautiful letters filled with love and hope for their family guide her through these difficult years. 

With these letters, Helen works through her struggles with being alone and continues to wait until Joseph comes homes to stay. Through miscarriages and the loss of a son, Helen finally gives birth to a healthy daughter, Laura. In time they make their home to a cottage by the shore, named Sea Escape. Decorated with love, it becomes Helen's oasis and where she eventually mourns the loss of her beloved husband.

Laura is a mother of two and works in the nursery at the local hospital. She knows she does not have a close relationship with her mother but that doesn't stop her from trying. All her life she witnesses her mother still waiting for her dead father, loving him more than her and never being fully present. Holding secrets of her own, she tries to be the best mother, wife, and daughter she can. 

The novel tells of Helen's story in her early years of her marriage and during present day with Laura and her family. 

My Review:

I usually don't read other people's reviews of books that I know I am going to review but, in this case, I did. I was surprised when I read that this reviewer did not enjoy this book. I felt it to be an incredibly moving account of a mother and daughter. But after a few hours of really thinking about this book, I know why I felt so strongly.

I related a lot to this story because of my Grandma. It doesn't take much for me to feel strong emotion when it comes to her.

Here is where it got me. Laura visits the church where her family were patrons and this is the conversation she as with the Father.

""Helen's always been a woman of few words. But her faith is strong, Laura. God is working within her, have no doubt." He was right about my mother's brand of faith. She wasn't one to talk about the depth of it. She wasn't a "holy roller", an expression she liked to use when she was annoyed with someone who dropped his or her religious persuasion into every sentence like a heavy bible. My mother's spirituality, like mine, was quiet and introspective, though her beliefs were more strongly held than mine. She was traditional church. No premarital sex. No birth control. No abortion. She said I was a menu Catholic. She believed I browsed the rules and chose only those that appealed to me."

This was my Grandma. But also, my Grandma lost her beloved husband early in life and  she lost a son. A calm and quiet took over her after these tragic events happened in her life and her relationships with family members were changed because of it. Her relationship with my mother changed.

I know this isn't an emotional post about my Grandma's life but this book hit home for me. I related strongly with the roles of the grandchildren. I recognized the controlled and some what anxious role of the daughter (as my own mother). I identified with the fierce need for advocacy when dealing with the care of an elder and all of the politics involved.

Rating:  5 stars/ 6 stars
I recommend this one if you are in the mood for a powerful, well written novel.  It has an energy that pulses through it. You feel the wind in your hair,so to speak, of the journeys of these two women and pray for a beautiful sunset beach as the final destination. I was just looking for a feeling of peace, much like I feel when I think of my Grandma.

Book Club Note:
With the mother/daughter relationship, the roles of caregivers, the history of Vietnam, and the troubles of marriages, book clubs would find a lot to discuss, I think. Mine, unfortunately, did not pick this one when I suggested it but, to their defense, I had a stack of 5 books there at the time. 

* Thank you to Wendy at Simon and Schuster for sending me this copy to read.

Happy reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

(The quoted material comes from an ARC so it may be different in the finished book)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Review #79: Hell, Yeah by Carolyn Brown (last romance review)

Title: Hell, Yeah
Author: Carolyn Brown
Genre: Romance
Series: Honky Tonk Series
Format: ARC from Publisher
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
ISBN: 978-1-4022-3927-4
Price/Pages: $7.99/384 
Release Date: August

My Review and Description:

This will be my last romance book reviewed here on my blog. I changed my review guidelines back in May after I came back from New York and BEA. I wanted to focus on reviewing my favorite genres; literary fiction, memoirs and mystery/thrillers.

This is a perfect book to wrap up my adventures in reviewing romance. My experience with reading romance was pretty much limited to ages old Danielle Steele. Now there are so many different genres of romance, that I don't I think I even chipped a tiny spot on the surface. It was fun exploring the worlds of paranormal, contemporary, historical and western romance; to name a few.
Though I'm sure I will stumble across a good romance read again, I won't be posting any more reviews here. There are many awesome bloggers out there who can do it better justice.

Hell, Yeah was a fun, fast follow up to I Love This Bar, the first book in this Honky Tonk series by Carolyn Brown. It's the same bar, the same crazy, drunk patrons and the same type of hunky cowboys.
This time they have a new owner, Cathy O'Dell, cousin to the previous owner. Gorgeous and tough, she has a "run in" with her future hunky cowboy, Travis Henry. 

He assertively comes at her seconds before the New Year is about to turn and plants a giant kiss on her lips, catching them both by surprise. 

The books flows much like the first. They are both caught off guard with one another, tip toe around each other a bit, massively attracted to one another, and then BAM, sexy, good times.

Rating: 3 stars/ 6 stars
These are fun reads. Nothing deep or too involved. I think once you read one, you get the hang out of the other. You combine good looking people, country music (which I love!) and whiskey and beer drinking, well...you can't really go wrong. 

My Give a Damn's Busted (Book 3) is due out in October and Honky Tonk Christmas (Book 4) is due out in November.

Author Website:

Thank you to Danielle at Sourcebooks for sending me a copy to review.

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Monday, August 16, 2010

Thank the Lord!

I am out of the man cave and my new computer 
(which I am typing on right now) is up and running.

The wine bottle is being opened and Michelle is catching up.

See you out there my fellow bloggers!

red headed book child

Friday, August 13, 2010

Review # 78: Death by Darjeeling by Laura Childs

Title: Death by Darjeeling
Author: Laura Childs
Series: Tea Shop Mystery #1
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Format: Own Copy
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
ISBN: 0-425-17945-1
Price/Pages: $5.99/242

Description from back cover:

Meet Theodosia Browning, owner of Charleston's beloved Indigo Tea Shop. Patrons love her blend of delicious tea tastings and southern hospitality. And Theo enjoys the full-bodied flavor of a town steeped in history-and mystery...

It's tea for 200 or so at the annual historic homes garden party. And Theodosia, as event caterer, is busy serving steaming teas and blackberry scones while guests sing her praises. But the sweet smell of success turns to suspense when an esteemed guest is found dead-his hand clutching an empty teacup. All eyes are on Theo...who is now trying desperately to save her reputation and track down the real killer. If only she can make sense of it all-before someone else takes their last sip...

My Review:

I have been told to read these for over a year now by my friend Trever. He is a tea lover and absolutely adored these books. Whenever we are in NYC, we go to Tea and Sympathy and have tea and scones. In fact, in May, we went there several times because we love it so.
I know very little about tea but I LOVE the pleasure of taking a sip of the hot liquid and then biting into a delicious scone with clotted cream and thick raspberry jam.

This first book in Childs' Tea Shop series is a foodie's dream. Her descriptions of the tea shop and the treats they bake and the teas they blend jump out of the pages. You start to feel warm and cozy and enveloped by that atmosphere.

It takes place in Charleston, so, for those of you who have read my reviews on Karen White's books, know that I am a little bit in love with Charleston right now.
Childs' also does a really good job at setting the mood and the feel of the Low Country, the history, the quirky residents, the culture.

Another thing I liked about this particular cozy was that Theodosia's involvement in the "murder" wasn't hoky or "Oops, looks like I ran into a dead body!".
Golly, I better solve this crime!
It was a bit more genuine and realistic.
She poked around but wasn't an immediate sleuth. Some cozies you find the lead character immediately put themselves in silly danger and find out everything at once.

Theodosia is a strong figure in the community, coming from a distinguished family, that her nature was much more calm, refined, eloquent and educated. I liked that.

I am excited to keep reading this series. I am horribly behind on my Cozy Mystery Challenge! The challenge was to read atleast 6 cozies by the end of September. This would be #2 for me.
I could, possibly, read 4 more of this series before then. Possibly....

Rating: 5 stars/ 6 stars
I highly recommend this one. A great start to a series and perfect for the upcoming fall season.
Even in the 98 degree weather outside, I still wanted tea.
Good job, Laura Childs.

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child