Sunday, February 27, 2011

Loosely Bound: Tales of My Literary Life (2)

Loosely Bound: Tales of My Literary Life (2)
My Life in Bookstores

My friend Rachel came up with this idea to share with all of you some of my experiences in my literary life. My first post was about my involvement in book clubs and at that time, I introduced to all of you my current book club, The Ladies Book Club.

Today I wanted to write a little about my career in and love for bookstores. With the current trend in e-readers, the always steady rise of Amazon and the closing of over 200 brick and mortar Borders stores, I felt it was fitting to talk about the wonderful years I spent selling books.

For those new to my blog, I will start by telling you all that I worked for 11 years in a bookstore. I have never disclosed who or what or where because, to me, a bookstore is a bookstore. No, they are not all the same but they should all have the same purpose; to place a good book in the hands of readers. It didn't matter to me to say which one I worked at but that I loved what I did.

First off, when I started in bookselling, I knew nothing about books. I thought I did and I even thought I knew what a passionate reader was. I was wrong. I not only learned a ton about the product of books but I met so many wonderful people who could talk my ear off for hours about their love of reading.

I was in heaven!

Very early on in my career in books, I became a book buyer. I was outgoing, friendly, bubbly and full of spunk, I was told. The powers that be thought I would be great out in the community and working with publishers. Um, okay?! Let's go. I used my lack of knowledge at that time and my ability to schmooze to begin my partnership with the publishing world. I lived in Boston then and I was taken in by so many wonderful local, small publishers. Oh the excitement they had when I asked them about their books! They were more than happy to put their books on my shelves. and I was more than happy to help them.

From this early start I learned that without one, there can not be the other. Without publishers and writers, there would be no books; without books, there would be no readers; without readers to buy those books, there would be no bookstores.

There is nothing like working at a bookstore, especially when your passion is books. I would wake excited to go to work, excited to see the new books that would come in, excited to talk to my co-workers about what they were reading, and excited to talk to customers about books they SHOULD read!

It was hard work that required muscle, time management, attention to detail and good service skills. It was fun to figure out what books were it, what books to recommend, what the latest wave would be. It was fun working with publishers on the early buzz of a book or getting a great book in for a display.

A bookstore is like a second home to some and to be able to work happily in them for as long as I did makes me feel incredibly grateful. Books are not just retail and unfortunately, some people treat it as such. Unfortunately, the wave of business in general forces the customer to be less than friendly because they want that "best deal" and they want it now.

I'm not naive to think that the atmosphere of some brick and mortar bookstores has changed through the years. It has had to, just like any business. But they are not ready to go away. We as readers have to fight to keep that alive. Big box or independent, the individuals that work selling books should be supported. To be able to pull a great book off the shelf and place it in the hands of a customer and look them in the eye and tell them why that book is your favorite is a simply marvelous experience. I could tell when I made that connection. I could tell when I got through.

It felt right. It felt like the right place to be for me. I miss it.

I spent my 11 years in bookstores moving from buyer to manager. Though being a manager was hard at times, it made me understand the business of bookselling a lot better. That's why I stand by the much needed support for the lasting booksellers at the brick and mortar stores.

Though I have moved on to this blog and to the world of libraries, I still carry that passion inside of me, that desire to recommend and talk to people about books. I just feel more comfortable around people who love books as much as I do. For 11 years, I never felt out of place, like I didn't belong. Through changing business and rough economy, the people and motivation around me remained the same. Great people. Great books.

Maybe this post does not go into the detail I originally had in mind to discuss about life at a bookstore. Maybe because it always boils down to the passion for me and that all came out as a typed.

I loved my time working at a bookstore. It has made me who I am today; the person, the reader, the recommender.

Do me a tiny little favor. Support all bookstores, independent and big box. Support the booksellers that open those boxes, stock those shelves, make those fun displays, write out passionate Staff Recommendation cards, and read furiously on their lunch breaks.

Imagine me with my crazy big hair (pictured above), jazz hands and excitement as the bookseller near you while you browse. I just might say, "Looks like you may need a wonderful book to read. Perhaps I can recommend a few?!!"

I thank you for reading my ramblings on my life in bookstores. It became a passionate pile of mushiness but alas, that's how I feel when I enter those doors; doors to any bookstore, that is.

Happy Reading dear readers, and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Friday, February 25, 2011

Blog Hop!

It's that time of the week again. Start hoppin' hoppin' that is.
Jennifer at Crazy For Books is the host.

If you are new to my blog, thanks! I am a former bookstore manager who now works part time at my local library and spend the rest of the time with my wonderful red headed book child. I LOVE literary fiction, mysteries and memoirs!
Here is this week's question:

"Do you ever wish you would have named your blog something different?"

My answer:
No, my name came quickly and I still love it. It's the desgin of my blog I feel compulsive about changing! HA!

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

red headed book child

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Amateurs by Marcus Sakey (review #114)

The Amateurs by Marcus Sakey
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Publisher: Dutton
Format: Review Copy

I LOVED this book! It was exactly what I needed. I am really trying to focus on my mood these days when it comes to reading and also trying to meet my challenges at the same time. It may sound tricky but it's working out. I seem to have a little variety with my challenges and a good mix of books on my shelf and to review to pick from.

This book wasn't a planned review. I inquired with the publisher about his newest book and they offered to send me this one instead because the new one was not ready yet. I had read his novel Good People a few years back and really enjoyed it.

Sakey's books have one of my favorite types of set ups in mysteries. He puts ordinary people in extraordinary situations. Harlan Coben and later Dean Koontz are good authors for that as well.
You can easily identify with the characters; who they are, what drives them, the mistakes them make, etc. And when things go horribly wrong, you sort of see it coming but you can't stop reading!

The Amateurs is all that and a bag of chips. Alex, Ian, Mitch and Jenn are four friends who call themselves the Thursday Night Drinking Club. Every Thursday they come together to drink a local bar where Alex is bartender. They are all seemingly happy, somewhat together individuals with little care in the world and are up for almost anything.

Alex is trying to make enough money to pay his child support for his daughter, Cassie. Jenn is a travel agent who longs for adventure. Mitch works in a hotel and is secretly in love with Jenn. Ian is fun and dangerous and secretly hiding a controlled drug habit.

Alex is called to do a side job for his boss, Johnny Love and doesn't know how to say no. Feeling trapped and desperately wanting more money for his kid, he agrees but he also gets the idea for a side job of his own. Turns out Johnny has a safe full of cash and Alex just happens to know the combination.

Somehow able to convince his friends to set up a fake robbery, they go for it. Good people making quick decisions based out of desperation and a need for adventure. Makes sense. Of course it will all go to hell.

And to hell it goes, indeed. Not only did they steal from Johnny, Johnny owed a guy named Victor a different kind of payment. Now the web has gotten bigger and it's not just his weasel boss that he screwed. Alex and his friends also screwed some big time bad guys.

Review: 5/6
Without giving too much away, let's just say, this one was fast paced and full of action. It was hard to put down. Sure it was a tad bit predictable at times. Will it make an awesome movie? You bet! The four friends were indeed Amateurs and they freely admit it. What they did might not be above or beyond anything that anyone of us would do? Who knows? This was a well crafted, fun suspenseful read. I'm going to continue to keep an eye out for Marcus Sakey!

Book Club Pick:
Another fun read for me, that's it!

Author Website:

Happy reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

*Thank you to Dana Kaye Publicity for sharing a copy with me to read.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Bird House by Kelly Simmons (review #113)

The Bird House by Kelly Simmons

Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Format: Review Copy
* On sale now online or at your local bookstore
(Paperback comes with reading group guide)

This book arrived in my mailbox on Friday afternoon and I finished it today during nap time. That may sound like it was over the top good and could not be put down. That was not the case. It felt more like it tugged at me, pushing me along, wanting me to know its secrets.

It happen to come right when I finished a book and was deciding on what was next. I'm left with a small ache from the quick time I spent with these characters even though I witnessed their heartbreaking and heartwarming stories.

Told in parts both past (1967-68) and present (Feb-July 2010), it mainly focuses on the voice of Ann, as an elderly woman and as a new mother. She is a survivor of breast cancer and falling victim to Alzheimers. Trying to forge a relationship with her granddaughter, Ellie (daughter to her son Tom), she agrees to help her with a class project entitled Generations. Ellie is to pick an "Aspect" of history in her family and she picks Bird Houses, ones she sees in pictures of her grandfather.

Digging through old pictures and boxes brings memories back to Ann, some she wishes she could forget. Something happened to Ann's daughter, Emma at a young age and you don't find out what that is until the very end. Wrapped up in both her present and past is also Peter, whom she had an affair with at her highschool reunion. And last we have Theo, Ann's husband, sprinkled in and out of her fading memory.

Ann's voice is both sharp and emotional. Her character is deep and full of layers. You get the sense she is a fighter and has been her whole life, even before her marriage and birth of her children. She still is the daughter of the father who abandoned her and the sister to Caro who seemed to have it easy.

This book flowed quite effortlessly in its melancholy mood. It wasn't a book that I would jump up and say I enjoyed. I was quite moved but to stillness and quiet afterwards. It held a bit of sadness, loss, and wanting. It also held joy and a promise of new beginnings especially between Ann and Ellie.

Rating: 4/6
Overall, the story line isn't something overly original. It's a family drama. Mothers struggling with motherhood, fathers leaving their families or simply being absent in their presence, children wise beyond their years and secrets long ago buried that bubble to the surface over time.
But the voice in which she writes this drama is unique. Ann's voice is reflective, somber, bitter at times and peaceful. I respected her and that shows a promise of a good author. I recommend it.

Book Club Pick:
Most definitely. Here is the link for the Reading Group Guide. Many topics arise within these pages; motherhood, obligation, death, memory, infidelity, and legacy.

Author Website:

Happy Reading and as always thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Friday, February 18, 2011

Ghouls, Ghouls, Ghouls by Victoria Laurie (review #112)

Ghouls, Ghouls, Ghouls by Victoria Laurie
Genre: Paranormal Mystery
Publisher: Penguin/Obsidian
Format: Library Loan

Well, this is certainly a big change from the last few books I reviewed. I told you I needed to take a break for a bit from the heavy books I've been reading. This did the trick. Let's just start by saying, I'm not a big fan of the paranormal reads. Ok? There you have it. I'm sure 75% of the blogosphere just stopped dead in their tracks. I know, doesn't everyone love this genre? It's everywhere! Well, I don't hate it, I just don't seek it out to read much.

Don't get me wrong, I am a sucker for Twilight, LOVE Buffy and Angel, and if I were to some how turn into a Succubi, I would be okay with "working it all out" with a studly vampire.

But it's not a genre I can read a lot of. I do, however, LOVE this Ghost Hunter Mystery series by Victoria Laurie. I picked them up on a whim after I was laid off and decided to give some new lighter genres a try. I like the whole ghost busting, ghost hunter thing. I watch the shows. I love the spooky movies. So, this really turned out to be right up my alley.

Ghouls, Ghouls, Ghouls is #5 in the series. M.J Holliday is the sassy female character. She is a ghost hunter, psychic medium who travels to different spooky hot spots around the world with her team; Gilley, her gay best friend and computer guru; Heath, her partner is psychic crime and hmmm, potential love interest; Gopher, her producer for her new Ghoul Getters TV show and a whole cast of helpers and spooks and gooks.

What started out as just her own business in the first few books, M.J. has progressed to being quite a successful, sought after medium. In the last book, the realty show Ghoul Getters started and continues in this one. This has made the books even more fun. They find themselves in some pretty far off places. In this case, Dunlow Castle in Ireland. There seems to be a cranky phantom there who is intent on guarding some long ago buried treasure.

M.J. and her gang are to investigate and get some neat shots for the show and be off. Unfortunately they all get tangled up in the mystery even more. It's not as simple as getting rid of the phantom. They discover many secrets and betrayals along the way in this tiny town.

Rating: 5/6
I really recommend these. I find them to be really fun and a bit scary too. In light of the topics and situations they find themselves in, it could come across as a bit cheesy but it doesn't. Laurie writes with ease and obviously has quite a knowledge of the paranormal being a real-life professional psychic. I would definitely start out with Book 1- What's a Ghoul to do? You will get a taste of M.J. and follow her story and relationships better that way.

Book Club Pick:
Nope. Just for my own little fun!

Author Website:
The whole series can be checked out here. Victoria Laurie

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Thursday, February 17, 2011

It's the Year of the Mystery (GIVEAWAY!)

The Year of Mysterious Giveaways

I have been thinking a lot about my love for the Mystery/Thriller genre. I love the drama, the suspense, the creation of a new series, serial killers, psychotic ivy league wannabe murderers, gothic haunted house stories, salty sexy cop/detectives, conspiracies, whodunnits, cozies, crazies and women with secrets and the men that love and kill for them. and vice versa.You name it in the mystery genre, I'm probably going to go for it.

This is why I've decided to name this the Year of the Mystery...for me. With the start of my very first challenge, the A-Z Mystery Author Challenge, it's the perfect setting for me to dive into all things mystery.

In addition to reading more mystery and having more guest reviewers reviewing mystery, I have decided to also do a monthly giveaway. I am hoping to give away some new or newish mystery titles or one of my favorites from the year off my own shelf. So far I have the next few months supplied with new mystery books to give away!

I realize I am starting mid-month so don't be surprised when you see another giveaway starting March 1.

My first mysterious giveaway is Bury your Dead by Louise Penny.

From Goodreads: It is Winter Carnival in Quebec City, bitterly cold and surpassingly beautiful. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache has come not to celebrate but to recover from an investigation gone hauntingly wrong. But violent death is inescapable, even in the seemingly peaceful Literary and Historical Society--where an obsessive historian's search for the missing remains of the founder of Quebec ends bizarrely in murder. Injured himself and in need of rest, Gamache cannot walk away from a crime that threatens to ignite long-smoldering tensions between the English and the French.

Meanwhile, he receives letter after letter from the village of Three Pines, where beloved Bistro owner Olivier was recently convicted of murder. "
It doesn't make sense," Olivier's partner writes every day. "He didn't do it, you know." Despite the overwhelming case against Olivier, Gamache sends his deputy back to Three Pines to make sure that nothing was overlooked.

Through it all, in his painstaking quest for justice, Gamache must relive the terrible events that killed one of his men before he can begin to bury his dead

* Thank you to Ann Marie @ Get Red PR for supplying the book for this contest.

Contest rules are simple.
* Follow my blog.
* Leave your email.
* Live in the United States.
* Answer, "Do you have a favorite mystery author/book?"

Winner will be picked February 28.

Stay tuned on March 1 for my next giveaway, Thieves of Darkness by Richard Doetsch.

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Monday, February 14, 2011

Half in Love by Linda Gray Sexton (review #112)

Half in Love (Surviving the legacy of suicide) by Linda Gray Sexton
Genre: Memoir
Review Copy

I've recently discussed the difficulty in reviewing memoirs with a few other bloggers. Some are hesitant with reviewing them because they feel they don't want to "review" someone else's life. My opinion is you don't review or analyze the book itself, you simply discuss how their life and story affected you. You don't judge, you don't criticize.

When you get a powerful memoir like Half in Love, you walk away extremely affected.

I have to say honestly I need to take a break for atleast a few months from books involving mothers, daughters, depression and suicide. I'm spent.

Here is a brief description of Half in Love from TLC Book Tours website.

Despite experiencing the agony of witnessing her mother’s multiple suicide attempts, the last of which was successful, Linda Gray Sexton found herself gripped by the same strong tentacles of mental anguish. Falling into the familiar grooves of her mother’s relentless depression, Sexton tries once, twice, three times to kill herself—even though she is a daughter, sister, wife, and most importantly, a mother.

Sexton unsparingly describes her struggle to escape the magnetism of her mother and the undertow of depression that engulfed her life. Her powerful prose drags readers into her imperviously dark mental state. It conveys her urgent need to alleviate the internal pain, a need that becomes compulsive and considers no one.

But unlike her mother, hers is a story of triumph. Through the help of family, therapy, and medicine, Sexton confronted deep-seated issues, outlived her mother, and curbed the haunting cycle of suicide she once seemed destined to inherit.

I had never read any poetry by Anne Sexton or knew much about her life and death. It was eye opening to read about her own mental anguish and depression combined with the genius of her literary life. How does depression and madness affect your family? Obviously for Linda Gray Sexton it was her whole life. From her early memories of admiring and wanting to be it all for her mother to her own issues with overcoming depression.

Though incredibly raw and vivid and undeniably hard to read at times, Linda's memoir flowed very beautifully in its heartbreak and madness. She managed to be brutally honest without it sounding forced. It was as if she came to a place in her life where it was time to let it all out, no holds barred.

The memoir is broken up into parts, starting with a lot of her childhood back and forth and surviving her mother's suicide and forging on with her young adult life. Then it progresses into her own adulthood; marrying her husband, having her two children, starting her writing career as a novelist. The middle parts of heavy on her depression and her own suicide attempts and then the eventual demise of her first marriage. It does not wrap with happy endings but it does end up with hope, which in turn is that title of the last chapter. New marriage, better awareness of her demons,and optimism for the future.

The parts that struck me the most were during her early years in her first marriage to Jim. The affects of having children and the emotional roller coaster that comes with it. I certainly identified with that. Her desire was to be a good mom but she still had the impact of her own mother hanging over her.

Rating: 4/6
It was a well written, honest memoir of her life. It was intense, brutal and sad. If you are not in the mood for a heavy book, this would not be for you. But those of us who have suffered from depression in any way shape or form could certainly identify and learn from her journey.

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for having me on this tour. Click to find out more about the author and the remaining stops along the tour.

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Friday, February 11, 2011

Book Blogger Hop 2/11-2/14

Jennifer from Crazy for Books is the fabulous host of this Friday fun hop.

I have not done it in quite some time so I thought it would be fun while I have an extra moment!

The question for this week is:

"Tell us about one of your posts from this week and give us a link so we can read it (review or otherwise)!"

I want to leave my link for my second posting of my book club reviews. The Ladies Book Club read and helped me review Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez. It was a lively discussion.

Happy reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Delirious Winner!

Congratulations to Tipsy at Tipsyreader!

You are the winner of Delirious by Daniel Palmer!

Thanks to everyone for participating and stopping by!

red headed book child

Now You See Her by Joy Fielding (review #111)

Now You See Her by Joy Fielding
Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Atria (Simon and Schuster)
Release Date: February 22

Even though it is the dead of winter and I could scream if I see one more piece of snow fall, I am still able to muster some excitement for this time of year because it means there is a new Joy Fielding mystery to read! I have been a fan of hers for almost a decade now. My love began with one of her first novels, See Jane Run, which I still think is one of the best mysteries I have ever read. I can thank my pal Cheryl for that. She recommended it to me and I could not put it down. Even my husband read it and loved it!

Though there have been a few here and there that I haven't enjoyed as much, I can safely say she knows how to write a twisted, fast paced mystery thriller and is one of the best in her genre.

I was thrilled when I was able to read this a little early. Thrilled would equal me squealing when the UPS man arrived. I'm sure he thinks I'm a sad little gal whom he seems to only see in pajamas. (don't worry folks, they deliver early. I'm not in my pjs all day!) But anyway, I hunkered down with this one right away, flinging all else to the side.

Now You See Her tells the story of Marcy Taggart, a newly divorced fifty year old woman, on a vacation in Ireland. What was supposed to be her 25th anniversary getaway has turned into a lonely expensive therapy session. She finds herself wandering from tour group to tour group trying to make the most of it, until one afternoon she spots a young woman who looks just like her daughter Devon. Problem is, Devon is dead; supposedly drowned in a canoe accident two years prior. No body was found. Life went on and so did her husband.

Marcy is convinced her daughter is still alive. No one believed her in the past and no one is certainly going to believe her now. With only the slightest of glimpses, Marcy throws herself full on into her own investigation of this woman. Her blinders are on and her only focus is to find her daughter, at any expense, including running up bills on her ex husband's credit card, traveling to remote areas of Dublin and Cork, trusting in strangers, sleeping with strange men and lying to her sister.

I completely sympathized with Marcy the whole way, even when she acted like a moron, with little regard for her own safety or her family back home. You lose a child with no closure, how could you not always have hope? Devon was a troubled child, suffering from bi-polar disorder. Marcy always struggled to be a good mom but during her mad search in Ireland, she brings to the surface just how tough she really was on her daughter. Maybe she could have done better. Maybe this is her chance to give back.

Joy Fielding is always good for the twists and turns towards the end. As I was reading along, I was shaking my head at some of "help" Marcy received along the way and how easy it seemed to be going at times. But, leave it to Joy, she surprised me in the end. Her stories don't always leave you with happy endings, but you do manage to feel the mission accomplished.

Rating: 6/6
I highly recommend this one for fans of Fielding or just fans of mystery/thrillers in general. I don't like to figure it all out before it ends and with Fielding's novels, I rarely do. Not only do you go on the roller coaster ride of Marcy's search, you get to do it Ireland. Fielding obviously did a fair amount of research with the location because I certainly felt like I was there.

Book Club Pick?
This is just a fun, solid, suspenseful mystery/thriller, good for a weekend on the couch. For me, that's all I seem to be doing because it's so damn cold out there.

Author Website:

* Click on title above to pre-order.

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Ladies Book Club: February 2011

Book Read:

Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

Ladies in Attendance:
4 regulars plus 1 new member!

Treats shared:
This time we got it right! A perfect blend of appetizers and desserts. Crusty bread with a garlic spread, brie cheese and crackers, chocolate pastries, cream filled pastry, walnuts, peanu butter cups, cheese crackers, peanut butter chocolate cookies, and wine. Cupcake Pinot Noir and Broke Ass Table Wine to be exact! We like to eat!

To Read or Not to Read:
4 ladies read it.
1 read 1/4 of it.

My Reaction:
Here is a brief synopsis of this book from the publisher's website.

wench \'wench\ n. from Middle English “wenchel,” 1 a: a girl, maid, young woman; a female child.

Situated in Ohio, a free territory before the Civil War, Tawawa House is an idyllic retreat for Southern white men who vacation there every sum

mer with their enslaved black mistresses. It’s their open secret. Lizzie, Reenie, and Sweet are regulars at the resort, building strong friendships over the years. But when Mawu, as fearless as she is assured, comes along and starts talking of running away, things change. To run is to leave everything behind, and for some it also means escaping from the emotional and psychological bonds that bind them to their masters. When a fire on the resort sets off a string of tragedies, the women of Tawawa House soon learn that triumph and dehumanization are inseparable and that love exists even in the most inhuman, brutal of circumstances— all while they bear witness to the end of an era.

I really enjoyed this novel. I remember being really excited about it but also a bit unsure. I rarely read novels about slavery and I didn't know if I would enjoy this based on my lack of knowledge or experience in reading about this subject. I am very glad I signed on to do this tour for TLC Book Tours.
Though it started out a bit slow, I really grew to love the characters. Their stories were so raw and vivid and expertly described, I held my breath at times. This novel, though only 290 pages, managed to flesh out the many individuals that existed at that time, not just the slave women. You were able to read about the slave owner's wife, the children of slaves and slave owners, the compassionate white man, the evil white slave owner, and others that lived on the fringe.

What I found to bethe most powerful was how masterfully the author was able to say so much with such few words. This is something that all of us agreed on, how she could evoke such emotion out of powerful one-liners.

I felt the author gave such a thoughtful voice to such a traumatic time in history. She managed to get the point across; the pain, the loss, the solitude, without being too graphic.

The Ladies' Reaction:
Everyone agreed that this was a solid choice for our book club. It generated a fantastic conversation and discussion. We all agreed on the power of the author's writing. We all seem to feel strongly for each character, in different ways. We struggled with how we felt about Drayle's character, the most. Was he indeed good? or a better white man than most? Did he feel love for Lizzie, his slave? Or was it always about control?
We all wanted to know what happened with these characters, especially Reenie and Lizzie, but were not actually wanting a "sequel" written. I think we all just genuinely grew to care for these women and wanted them to find some peace and freedom, which in the eyes of the "law" they eventually did.
The differences in the slave/slave owner relationships drew the most discussion. Lizzie and Drayle,by far, had it pretty good. She lived in the main house, she had children that were cared for initially, she wasn't really beaten, she was the only slave mistress. Compared to Mawu who had an absolute tyrant for a master and was beaten and raped repeatedly, in public, even, we were so floored at the differences.
At one point we even agreed that not much has changed today. If you do this for me, then I'll do that in return. It's the give and take, the constant power struggle between man and woman and humans, in general.

I am so happy the ladies enjoyed this one as much as I did. They all came to the table ready to talk and it's such a pleasure to be a part of that. Another recommended read was discussed called The Plantation Mistress which was read by one of the ladies and depicted women of the south during the same time period.

Good Book Club Pick?
Most definitely. Highly recommended. We all agreed that this was an excellent choice! We found out during that the author was available for online chatting with book clubs, if you signed up by a certain date. We certainly had enough to chat about. Oh well, we will research next time if any other author would be willing to do that.

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for giving me the chance to be a part of this tour. Please check out the rest of the stops along the way. I'm curious to read what other's think about this one!

Connect with the Author:

Next Book Up:
March- Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A Night at the Opera

For a queen to stand, a queen must fall.

Two of history's most commanding women, Queen Elizabeth I and Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, engage in a ruthless fight for the English throne - and the heart of one man. While Mary languishes in prison, Elizabeth forges a devastating plot to secure the crown. Judith Howarth (Mary) and Brenda Harris (Elizabeth), star as the dueling divas.

Sung in Italian with English translations.

I had the pleasure of going to my very first Opera on Thursday night. It was extraordinary!

We had Orchestra seats so it was considered "partial view" but I didn't care. I found the tickets for $20 and the experience is still there, vibrant and gorgeous! I just had to crane my neck a bit to read the prompter above the stage.

I knew a bit about the story of Mary Stuart and the Tudor family line. I've read a few historical novels about their trials and tribulations but with an royal history, I always need a little refresher. Thankfully my pal Rachel was there and filled me in.

The costumes were beautiful. The singing was absolutely amazing. And the drama was captivating. I can't wait to go again. I'm thinking of seeing La Traviata next!

Here are some good books found on Amazon all about Mary Stuart.

Mary Stuart

Has anyone read any books on her? or the Tudor family?

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Good Sister by Drusilla Campbell (review #110)

The Good Sister by Drusilla Campbell
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Review Copy


That is what I felt the entire time I read this book. Frustration.

And I guess if the author can evoke that much emotion in a reader, then she did a good job. I do have to say however, the topic is controversial and anger inducing.

The Good Sister tells the story of two sisters; Simone and Roxanne. Simone is a mother of four and suffering hopelessly from post-partum depression. Roxanne is the "good sister" who seems to be the only person who really is watching out for her. Their mother Ellen is self absorbed and blind to Simone's mental state. Johnny, Simone's husband, is as supportive as he can be, but really he wants a son and after four daughters, he is going to keep trying to get one. Ty, Roxanne's husband is struggling to be second fiddle to his sister in-law. And then that leaves the children; twins Victoria and Valli, who just want some damn attention; Olivia, the poor baby who falls under the most danger and Merell; the oldest, who witnesses the truth of her mother's madness.

So there you have it. A whole mess of crazy.

What gets this book going is Merell's phone call to the police. She witnesses an "accident" with baby Olivia and her mother in their swimming pool. The investigation is swept under the rug due to Johnny's ties in the community and they all continue with life as they know it.

But Merell knows better. And Roxanne knows better. But yet it takes the whole darn book to DO something about this poor woman's mental health. I couldn't put it down but I was really angry at everyone. I know that post partum depression is tricky and needs to be handled in a delicate manner. But to me the little ol' reader, Simone was badly in need of help and just didn't get it in time. Yes, I was angry at her for the things she did or more importantly, what she didn't do for her children. But, I couldn't blame her, because her mental health was so far gone.

As a mother, I prayed that I will never experience this but no one really knows. The chemical balance within your body and brain before and after birth, changes so much. Any woman could be the victim of this.

The author shares her personal story about her own mother and her battle with post partum depression. Luckily her mother came out of it and her children were not harmed.

Rating: 4/ 6
This book is not for the faint of heart, especially if you are a mother. Recommended by with caution. It made me extremely sad and pissed off at times. I was anxious and irritated all at the same time. That may sound like I did not "enjoy" the book and that may be correct. BUT I can attest to the power of this really intricate, solid novel full of drama and emotion. The author did a wonderful job in that sense. It just left me with a very heavy heart.

Book Club Pick:
Most definitely. This would bring up a lot to discuss, especially if there are mothers or parents in your group. What makes a good mother? If you were not of the right mind set, who could you trust in your life to really give you the help you so desperately need?

Author Website:

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child