Monday, November 29, 2010

A Story of Generations...

Title: The Good Daughter by Jasmin Darznik
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
336 pages
Genre: Non-Fiction - family, relationships

This book is set to be released in January 2011.  I received an advanced electronic copy from the publisher through 

Synopsis: One day when Jasmin Darznik is helping her mother pack up to move, a photograph falls from a stack of old letters. The girl in it is her mother. She is wearing a wedding veil, and at her side stands a man whom Jasmin has never seen before.

At first, Jasmin’s mother, Lili, refuses to share any information. Months later, Jasmin receives the first of ten cassette tapes revealing a wrenching hidden story of her family’s true origins in Iran: her mother’s troubled history of abuse and neglect, and a daughter she was forced to abandon in order to escape that life. The final tape reveals that her sister, Sara, is still living in Iran

Review: I got a bit side tracked while reading this book thanks to the holidays and family coming in from out of town but ..........I was about half way done this book before I remembered it was a true story.  Jasmin's telling of her families journey is riveting and swept me up immediately.  I was completely enthralled by what her grandmother and her mother achieved and fought to overcome for their children. Her grandmother manipulated a system that did not favor women to help her children achieve an education and escape a dangerous situation.  Her mother survived, became educated and helped her family thrive in Iran, and then again in America.  She may have had to leave her 1st daughter behind but situations and cultures being what they are she did the best she could with a rotten situation.  Jasmin had no recollection of what her family went through or what it was like to live in Iran.  Her mother and grandmothers history was new to her and something her mother never talked about.  But after listening to her mothers tapes she started to understand many of her mothers actions and what drove her.

Jasmin and her parents moved to America right before the Iran hostage situation and then the Iran/Iraq war.  Growing up in American during that time was not always easy and Jasmin's experience was vastly different than her mothers who like most new immigrants like to hold tight to old cultures and traditions while the younger generation wants to "fit in" and doesn't understand why they need to follow traditions from their old country when they are now in America.

A true story of culture, survival, perseverance, loss and survival.  

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Destiny or Choice?

Title: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
Publisher: Harper Teen
448 Pages
Genre: YA paranormal

This title will be released in January 2011. I received a free electronic copy from the publisher through

Synopsis: Clara has known she was part-angel ever since she turned fourteen two years ago. But now she is finally getting visions of what her Purpose-a rite of passage for every part-angel-is to be, and it happens to involve a gorgeous guy. Of course, there is the raging forest fire surrounding them, too. When Clara's Purpose leads her family to Wyoming, Clara finds the boy of her visions, Christian, but complicating her mission are her growing feelings for another guy, Tucker. As the day in her visions draws closer, Clara discovers that her Purpose may play into a larger struggle between angels and Black Wings-fallen angels who spread sadness and misery wherever they go. But when the fire erupts and both Christian and Tucker are in danger, who will she choose to save?

Review: Most of the YA books these days focus on vampires, werewolves, and witches.  This was a refreshing twist.  It was a fast read and the characters were incredibly believable.

Clara's mother is half angel, Clara and her brother are a quarter angel.  Her mother has kept them from knowing what they truly are until they are in their early teens when some of their unearthly powers start to manifest.  But Clara's mom holds a lot of information back.  Keeping Clara and her brother at arms length when it comes to knowing a lot about being an angel and what this whole purpose in life is all about.

When Clara is 16 she starts having visions about her "purpose".  These visions lead to the family moving from California to Wyoming.  Moving to a new city is hard enough but when you find yourself struggling to balance a normal high school life and finding the object of your purpose in life who just happens to be the most popular boy in school, life can be very complicated.

Cynthia Hand does an excellent job of putting us right back in high school. All the pressures to conform, the secret crushes, the desperate need to fit in.  Imagine all this while hiding the secret that you have wings and can fly! I was a little worried that this book would be religious in nature due to the fact that they are angels but it really isn't and no matter what your religious views I think you would enjoy this book.  Its more about the characters, figuring out your place in the world, making decisions that could effect you for the rest of your life and whether or not there is choice in fulfilling your destiny.

I was so invested in these characters that I was extremely disappointed when the book ended.  I'm glad to discover that this is only book one of a trilogy.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Strange Happenings in the Woods

Title: Sorceress by Greg Herren
Publisher: Tiny Satchel Press
419 pages
Genre: young adult

This book will be released on November 23, 2010 - I purchased this book at a book signing by the author and publisher in Philadelphia on 11/14/10.

Synopsis:Laura Pryce, 17, has just completed her junior year of high school when her parents are killed in a car accident and she must go live with her Great Aunt Melisande, whom she has never met. Once at her aunt's huge and rambling house, she discovers a series of paintings. The faces of the women--all from different historical periods--are the same as hers. Her aunt tells her it's a weird genetic anomaly--that each generation has the face and that it brings with it an exciting future.
But Laura begins to have strange and terrifying dreams. She seeks out friendship in her aunt's assistant--Jake. Jake, however, has secrets of his own. What happened to his family?As Laura feels increasingly isolated by her surroundings where cell phones fail to work and internet connections easily die, the dreams escalate until Laura cannot discern the difference between what is really a dream and what is happening at the strange, huge house. All she is certain of is that she is in danger..

Review: I am a huge fan of Greg Herren's two adult mystery series and now he has ventured into the world of YA fiction. Sorceress is filled with mystery and disturbing answers.

Laura believes that she has no other relatives but her parents but when they die in a car crash she is contacted by a long lost aunt. Her aunt begs her to come live with her for the summer just to reconnect with family. She consents and leaves all that she knows behind.

When she reaches her aunts in California strange things start happening that she can't explain, and voices in her head keep warning her of danger. The woods behind her aunts house are spooky and she keeps having strange dreams about them that seem so real but they can't be, can they? Then there is her aunts houseboy Jake, he's gorgeous, moody and has a darkness that surrounds him.  She isn't sure if she should be afraid of Jake or if its her aunt that is the real danger but she gets caught up in a mystery that if she can't figure out could claim her life.

I found myself sucked into this story. It wasn't the most complex but it was a fun quick read. For Herren's first YA book I think he did a good job of capturing the teenage characters in the book and the story held your attention and the action kept it moving along. I know that he has a few more YA books in the works and I look forward to seeing how they progress.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Divorce Drama in Victorian England

Title: The Sealed Letter by Emma Donoghue
Publisher: Mariner Books /Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
389 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

Synopsis: Miss Emily "Fido" Faithfull is a :woman of business: and a spinster pioneer in the British women's movement, independent of mind but naively trusting of heart. Distracted from her cause by the sudden return of a once dear friend, the unhappily wed Helen Codrington, Fido is swept up in the intimate details of Helen's failing marriage and obsessive affair with a young army officer.  What begins as a loyal effort to help a friend explodes into an intriguing courtroom drama complete with accusations of adultery, counterclaims of rape, and a mysterious letter that could destroy more than one life.

Review: The Sealed Letter is by the author of Room and based on a scandalous divorce case that gripped the UK in 1864. I wasn't sure if I was going to like this book or not but it sucked me in very quickly.  Emma Donoghue has an uncanny way of making her characters so believable that you find yourself wherever they are.  You can almost smell the smoke and pollution of Victorian England, feel the grit on your body from the streets and you quickly find yourself caught up in the same mess that Fido finds herself.

Helen Codrington is an unhappily married woman just returned to London from living abroad with her Military husband and two young daughters.  She seeks out her old friend Fido, a spinster woman of business.  On the pretense of friendship Helen involves Fido in her torrid affair with another officer.  Fido, the youngest child of a reverend is appalled by her friends behavior and attempts to "save her" but finds herself quickly becoming more entangled in her friends scandal.

Harry Codrington is a military man, from a military family.  He loved his wife when he married her but her disdain for him and his suspicions of her adulterous behavior have lead him to consider divorce.  Knowing that  divorce will be considered scandalous doesn't deter him from wanting to untangle himself from his unhappy marriage.

Fido, a feminist business woman who runs a womens paper that employs women finds herself torn between  her regimented life and her old friendship with Helen.  She cares deeply for Helen, more so than she has ever felt for anyone including male suitors.  When Helen first finds herself on the brink of divorce Fido starts envisioning a life with Helen, the two of them raising Helen's children but as she gets dragged further and further into Helen's torrid affairs, she starts to question what is best and if she can stand by Helen while compromising her morals.

Emma Donoghue has distinctly captured each character and the period in time when woman were seeking equality and freedom yet still slaves to convention and keeping up appearances.  A fascinating and educational read!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Book Blogger Hop Hop Hop

Its Blog Hop Friday...and the question of the week is.....

"If you find a book that looks interesting but is part of a series, do you always start with the first title?"

I like to try, but sometimes I don't realize a book is part of a series until I'm half way through.  It really depends on the series.  I've found that some series really need to be read in order and others each one almost reads like a stand alone book.  For the most part I try to read series in order but I've found now that I am receiving some advance books that they aren't letting me know they are part of a series in the synopsis, and I don't realize it until I look it up later.

Anyway, enjoy your weekend, enjoy my blog and I'll see ya round the hop!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Solving Murder without Forensics

Title: A Lonely Death: An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery by Charles Todd
Publisher: Harper Collins
352 pages
Genre: Mystery

This book was received as an advanced electronic galley from the publisher via netgalley.  This title will be released in January 2011.

Synopsis: Three men have been murdered in a Sussex village, and Scotland Yard has been called in. It's a baffling case. The victims are soldiers who survived the horrors of the Great War only to meet a ghastly end in the quiet English countryside two years later. Each had been garroted, with small ID disks left in their mouths. But even Scotland Yard's presence doesn't deter this vicious and clever killer. Shortly after Inspector Ian Rutledge arrives a fourth soldier is found dead. With few clues to go on and the pressure building, Rutledge must gamble everything to find answers-his job, his reputation, and even his life.

Review: There are apparently 12 other Inspector Rutledge books and I would never have known that if I hadn't looked up the author.  I love reading books in series that just flow without really having to know anything that came before.

I really loved this book.  I loved the detective work that went into solving a case before forensics took over.  Imagine how difficult it would have been to solve a crime when you couldn't use trace evidence, dna and things that we now take for granted.  This was just a case of good old detective work.

Inspector Rutledge works for Scotland Yard and isn't well liked by his superior officer.  He is hardworking but plagued by incidents that happened while at war in France.  He is haunted by a man named Hamish who he fought with in the war and had to send to the firing squad for not following orders while in battle. Rutledge respected Hamish for his stand and believed he was correct in denying the order but Rutledge had to follow his orders so now Hamish haunts him.  Hamish talks to him, helps him solve his cases, protects him and taunts him.  He is a partner that you can't escape.

While investigating the garroting murders of several men in a Sussex village, he also gets sucked into an unsolved case that has taunted his mentor who just recently retired.  The murder of an unknown man who was strung up at Stonehenge and the murderer and the murder weapon were never found. When not working on his own case Rutledge finds himself thinking about this other.

I can't say enough about this book.  I loved the play between Rutledge and his ghost Hamish they made for an entertaining couple.  As for the other characters they were all well done and so many of their stories could have taken place today.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Accident, Suicide or Murder?

Title: Indefensible by Pamela Callow
Publisher: Harlequin (Mira)
512 pages
Genre: Romantic Suspense, Thriller

This book will be released in December 2010.  I received this from the publisher as an advanced electronic galley from

Synopsis: When Elise Vanderzell plummets from her bedroom balcony one gorgeous summer night, her children awaken to a nightmare.


Lawyer Kate Lange knows all about nightmares. She’s survived the darkest period of her troubled life and the wounds are still raw. Now she’s been handed a case that seems utterly unwinnable: defending her boss, high-profile lawyer Randall Barrett. A prosecutor’s dream suspect, Randall is a man who was cuckolded by his ex-wife. A man who could not control his temper. A man who had argued bitterly with the victim the previous day in full view of the children.

With limited criminal law experience, Kate finds herself enmeshed in a family fractured by doubt. Randall’s teenage son is intent on killing him. His daughter wants only to feel safe again. And the entire legal community would like nothing better than to see Randall receive a public comeuppance. As Kate races to stay a step ahead of the prosecution, a silent predator is waiting for the perfect time to deal the final blow.

Review: I didn't read the first Kate Lange book but there were several times I wish I had.  There were many references to cases and incidents that happened prior to this book.  The cop who is investigating the death of Elise seems to harbor bad feelings toward the main suspect but you are never completely sure why and the angsty teenage son's behavior and actions are exaggerated to the extreme.  In fact this character almost spoiled the book for me.  I didn't hate this book, I just didn't love it.  It was an easy, slightly predicable but entertaining read.  It would probably make a good summer beach read.

 The plot came together toward the end of the book, when it seems like the author finally hit her stride. I think this is when I actually started to feel for the characters.  Actions seemed more realistic and not over played and the story began to engage me instead of preach to me.

I  don't know for certain but it seems that we haven't seen the last of Kate Lange.  Indefensible seemed to open the door to more stories and surprisingly by that time I was interested in reading more.
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