Thursday, February 28, 2013


Kate Bishop

Alex thought she had married the man of her dreams: successful, gorgeous, and delighted by her small-town charm. When he walks out six months later, proclaiming to have 'found himself' (with the help of a stunning yoga teacher), she 'finds herself' alone in an unfamiliar city, vengefully drinking through his prized wine collection, living on takeout, and refusing to answer the door. When this fails to cure her broken heart and bruised ego, she reluctantly allows her new friends to intervene. Slowly, Alex learns to define success on her own terms; she discovers the secret to love in all its forms, and the perfect flying crow pose, one breath at a time. (Cover image and synopsis from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

This was so darn cute. As someone who practices yoga, I really enjoyed this tie in to the storyline. I thought the author wrote a light,funny and fresh tale. The book was a fast read and a very nice break from some of the “heavier” books I have read recently.
This is a debut for Ms. Bishop and I have to tell you, it reads as if written by a seasoned novelist. Good flow and nicely entertaining. Congratulations to the author for a job well done and I will be looking forward to future stories from her.

My thanks to Diversion Books and Netgalley for allowing ne to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: January 22, 2013.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Eighty Days

Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland's History-Making Race Around the World

Matthew Goodman

On November 14, 1889, Nellie Bly, the crusading young female reporter for Joseph Pulitzer’s World newspaper, left New York City by steamship on a quest to break the record for the fastest trip around the world. Also departing from New York that day—and heading in the opposite direction by train—was a young journalist from The Cosmopolitan magazine, Elizabeth Bisland. Each woman was determined to outdo Jules Verne’s fictional hero Phileas Fogg and circle the globe in less than eighty days. The dramatic race that ensued would span twenty-eight thousand miles, captivate the nation, and change both competitors’ lives forever.

The two women were a study in contrasts. Nellie Bly was a scrappy, hard-driving, ambitious reporter from Pennsylvania coal country who sought out the most sensational news stories, often going undercover to expose social injustice. Genteel and elegant, Elizabeth Bisland had been born into an aristocratic Southern family, preferred novels and poetry to newspapers, and was widely referred to as the most beautiful woman in metropolitan journalism. Both women, though, were talented writers who had carved out successful careers in the hypercompetitive, male-dominated world of big-city newspapers. Eighty Days brings these trailblazing women to life as they race against time and each other, unaided and alone, ever aware that the slightest delay could mean the difference between victory and defeat.

A vivid real-life re-creation of the race and its aftermath, from its frenzied start to the nail-biting dash at its finish, Eighty Days is history with the heart of a great adventure novel. Here’s the journey that takes us behind the walls of Jules Verne’s Amiens estate, into the back alleys of Hong Kong, onto the grounds of a Ceylon tea plantation, through storm-tossed ocean crossings and mountains blocked by snowdrifts twenty feet deep, and to many more unexpected and exotic locales from London to Yokohama. Along the way, we are treated to fascinating glimpses of everyday life in the late nineteenth century—an era of unprecedented technological advances, newly remade in the image of the steamship, the railroad, and the telegraph. For Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland—two women ahead of their time in every sense of the word—were not only racing around the world. They were also racing through the very heart of the Victorian age. (Coverage image and synopsis from Netgalley).

My Thoughts

This was a fascinating read. Not only does the author cover the race, but he provides all kinds of information related to the time period: the status of women, methods of travel, background information on both Nellie and Elizabeth and the amazing obstacles each faced to meet their goal. At times I almost felt like I had been dropped right in the middle of the race itself, the writing was so detailed and descriptive.

Outstanding! I definitely will be reading more by Mr. Goodman.

My thanks to Random House and Netgalley for allowing me to read this in exchange for and unbiased review.

Publish date: February 26, 2013.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Never Look a Polar Bear in the Eye

A Family Field Trip to the Arctic's Edge in Search of Adventure, Truth, and Mini-Marshmallows

Zac Unger

Yes, welcome to Churchill, Manitoba. Year-round human population: 943. Yet despite the isolation and the searing cold here at the Arctic’s edge, visitors from around the globe flock to the town every fall, driven by a single purpose: to see polar bears in the wild.

Churchill is “The Polar Bear Capital of the World,” and for one unforgettable “bear season,” Zac Unger, his wife, and his three children moved from Oakland, California, to make the town their temporary home. But they soon discovered that it’s really the polar bears who are at home in Churchill, roaming past the coffee shop on the main drag, peering into garbage cans, languorously scratching their backs against fence posts and front doorways. Where kids in other towns receive admonitions about talking to strangers, Churchill schoolchildren get “Let’s All Be Bear Aware” booklets to bring home. (Lesson number 8: Never explore bad-smelling areas.)

Zac Unger takes readers on a spirited and often wildly funny journey to a place as unique as it is remote, a place where natives, tourists, scientists, conservationists, and the most ferocious predators on the planet converge. In the process he becomes embroiled in the controversy surrounding “polar bear science”—and finds out that some of what we’ve been led to believe about the bears’ imminent extinction may not be quite the case. But mostly what he learns is about human behavior in extreme situations . . . .and also why you should never even think of looking a polar bear in the eye.(Cover image and synopsis fro Netgalley)

My Thoughts

This was good. At the very beginning, I thought it was going to be all political and seriousness, but that was not the case. The author does a great job of mixing things up - presenting both sides of the topic of polar bear extinction, some history on the Churchill area and a great deal on the family’s experience with living there.

This could have been pretty dry, but the author has quite a wit and for the most part, the book was entertaining and educational. I definitely like the way Mr. Unger tells a story.

Thank you to De Capo Press and Netgalley for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: January 29, 2013.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Comfort of Lies

Randy Susan Meyers

Five years ago Tia fell into obsessive love. The only problem—Nathan was married and the father of two boys. When she became pregnant, he disappeared, and she gave up her baby for adoption. Now, she’s trying to connect with her lost daughter and former lover.

Five years ago, Caroline, a dedicated pathologist, reluctantly adopted a baby to please her husband. She prayed her misgivings would disappear; instead, she’s questioning whether she’s cut out for the role of wife and mother.

Five years ago Juliette considered her life ideal: she had a loving family, believed in her marriage, and her business thrived. Then she discovered Nathan’s affair. He’d promised he’d never stray again and she trusted him. But Juliette never knew about the baby.

Now, when photographs of the child arrive, Juliette’s devastated. How could Nathan deny his daughter? And if he’s kept this a secret from her, what else is he hiding? Desperate for the truth, Juliette goes in search of the little girl. Her quest leads to Caroline and Tia and before long, the women are on a collision course with consequences that none of them could have predicted. (Cover image and synopsis from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

There were more characters in the story that I didn’t like than those I did. I always think when an author can evoke such feeling from me - either good or bad - they have done a pretty good job with their writing.

I thought the premise of the story was realistic. It presented the concept of adoption and parenthood from several different perspectives. It talked about the consequences our actions and decisions can have not only on ourselves, but on others. The first half of the story moved a bit slow. The second half really picked up speed as the lives of the three women start to intersect.

All in all - a good tale.

I thank Atia Books and Netgalley for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: February 12. 2013.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Above All Things

by Tanis Rideout

“Tell me the story of Everest,” she said, a fervent smile sweeping across her face, creasing the corners of her eyes. “Tell me about this mountain that’s stealing you away from me.”
In 1924 George Mallory departs on his third expedition to reach the summit of Mount Everest. Left behind in Cambridge, George’s young wife, Ruth, along with the rest of a war-ravaged England, anticipates news they hope will reclaim some of the empire’s faded glory. Through alternating narratives, what emerges is a beautifully rendered story of love torn apart by obsession and the need for redemption (cover image and synopsis from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

What an amazing book. I loved the way the author decided to present the story. We follow George on his fatal attempt to summit Mt. Everest in 1924. We follow Ruth during one day as she waits to hear of her husbands success or failure. But, as we are reading about the expedition, George’s thoughts frequently turn to Ruth - how they met, time spent together and past conversations. The same happens with Ruth. We see her go about this one day, but get to read her thoughts about George. How she views their marriage, how she struggles with being married to an explorer and her hopes for their future together.

It’s through this process that we really get to know George and Ruth and makes the story come alive. Because of the author’s ability to write so vividly, I often felt like I was on Everest with the climbing team. My heart ached for Ruth because I knew the outcome of the climb and while we are with her, she does not.

This is Ms. Rideout’s first novel and I thought she did a fantastic job.
Many, many thanks to Penguin Group and Netgalley for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

USA Publication date: February 12, 2013.


Friday, February 8, 2013

Three Graves Full
Jamie Mason

For fans of the Coen brothers’ films or for those who just love their thrillers with a dash of sharp humor—an engaging and offbeat story about a man driven to murder, who then buries the body in his backyard only to discover that there are two other shallow graves on his property.

“There is very little peace for a man with a body buried in his backyard.”

With this memorable first line, we meet Jason Getty, a regular guy in every mild sense of the word. But extraordinary circumstances push this ordinary man to do something he can’t undo...and now he must live with the undeniable reality of his actions. And just as Jason does finally learn to live with it, a landscaper discovers a body on his property—only it’s not the body Jason buried.

As Jason’s fragile peace begins to unravel, his life is hitched to the fortunes of several strangers: Leah, an abandoned woman looking for answers to her heartbreak; Tim, a small-town detective just doing his job; and Boyd, a fringe-dweller whose past is about to catch up to him—all of them in the wake and shadow of a dead man who had it coming.

With the tense pacing of a thriller and the language and beauty of a fine literary novel, Three Graves Full heralds the arrival of a stunning new voice in fiction (cover image and synopsis from Netgalley)

My Thoughts
One of my all time favorite movies is Fargo, so when the synopsis made reference to this being similar to the Coen brothers, I knew I had to read it. This comparison to the Coen brothers would be a pretty tall order to fill and I have to say Ms. Mason did it quite handily.

Buckle your seat belts ladies and gentleman because you are in for one heck of a roller coaster ride. This book has it all, mystery, suspense, humor and absolutely delightful writing style. Such detail and description! It is truly magical how the author was able to take these different characters and weave them into this intricate and twisting story.

No way this is a debut, but that it is. Bravo Ms. Mason. And might I add, I want more!!!!! I hope it’s not long before we get to see more of your writing.

I thank Gallery Books and Netgalley for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: February 12, 2013.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Shadow on the Crown
Patricia Bracewell

A rich tale of power and forbidden love revolving around a young medieval queen

In 1002, fifteen� year old Emma of Normandy crosses the Narrow Sea to wed the much older King Athelred of England, whom she meets for the first time at the church door. Thrust into an unfamiliar and treacherous court, with a husband who mistrusts her, stepsons who resent her and a bewitching rival who covets her crown, Emma must defend herself against her enemies and secure her status as queen by bearing a son.

Determined to outmaneuver her adversaries, Emma forges alliances with influential men at court and wins the affection of the English people. But her growing love for a man who is not her husband and the imminent threat of a Viking invasion jeopardize both her crown and her life.

Based on real events recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Shadow on the Crown introduces readers to a fascinating, overlooked period of history and an unforgettable heroine whose quest to find her place in the world will resonate with modern readers. ICover image and synopsis from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

I have said many times that history was never more forte during my school years. Now I find that I enjoy both history and historical fiction. This book falls into the later category and is a perfect example of why I’m enjoying this genre so much.

Emma of Normandy - as the synopsis tells us is only fifteen when she is used as a pawn in the political chess game of European politics and married to the King of England. Her mother’s last words of wisdom were basically - you will be Queen. Make sure you command the respect the title deserves. Emma takes this advice to heart and I am hear to tell you, she is feisty, determined, intelligent and crafty while being kind hearted and loving.

I thought Ms. Bracewell did an amazing job of weaving fact into a thoroughly enjoyable work of fiction. This book covers the early years in Emma’s role as Queen of England and I am pleased as punch that this is book one of a trilogy. I, like I’m sure many others, will be anxiously awaiting to hear the remaining story of Emma.

Many thanks to Penguin Group Viking and Netgalley for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: February 7, 2013

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


 by Jim Crace

A remote English village wakes on the morning after harvest, looking forward to enjoying a hard-earned day of rest and feasting. But two mysterious columns of smoke mar the sky, raising alarm and suspicion.

The first column of smoke comes from the edge of the village land, sent as a signal by newcomers to announce their presence as per regional custom. The second smoke column is even more troubling: it comes from a blaze set in Master Kent's stables. Walter Thirsk, a relative outsider in the village, casts his eye on three local boys and blames their careless tomfoolery. The rest of the villagers, though, close ranks against the strangers rather than accuse one of their own. Two men and a woman are apprehended; their heads are shaved to mark their criminality; and the men are thrown into the stocks for a week. Justice has been served. Or has it?

Meanwhile, another newcomer has been spotted in the village sporting the finer clothes and fashionable beard of a townsman. Mr. Quill, as the villagers name him, observes them closely and takes careful notes about their land, apparently at Master Kent's behest. It is his presence more than any other that will threaten the village's entire way of life.

In effortless, expertly crafted prose, Jim Crace details the unraveling of bucolic life in the face of economic progress. His tale is timeless and unsettling, evoking a richly textured world you will remember long after you finish reading. (cover image and synopsis from Netgalley).

My Thoughts

I had read about 20% of this book and I kept thinking - something is very different about the way this is written. It then occurred to me that there was hardly any dialogue. The story is told from the perspective of one main character and is mostly descriptive of what he sees going on.

Honestly, if someone has said - hey, would you like to read a book that is almost all narrative? I probably would have said - no! But, the author handled this so well that the book end up being quite enjoyable. There was suspense and a certain level of creepiness that made it very interesting.

Thank you to Nan A. Talese/Doubleday and Netgalley for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: February 5, 2013

Sunday, February 3, 2013

A Cold And Lonely Place

by Sara J. Henry

Freelance writer Troy Chance is snapping photos of the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival ice palace when the ice-cutting machine falls silent. Encased in the ice is the shadowy outline of a body--a man she knows. One of her roommates falls under suspicion, and the media descends. Troy's assigned to write an in-depth feature on the dead man, who, it turns out, was the privileged son of a wealthy Connecticut family who had been playing at a blue collar life in this Adirondack village. And the deeper Troy digs into his life and mysterious death, the murkier things become. After the victim's sister comes to town and a string of disturbing incidents unfold, it's clear someone doesn't want the investigation to continue. Troy doesn't know who to trust, and what she ultimately finds out threatens to shatter the serenity of these mountain towns. She must decide which family secrets should be exposed, what truths should remain hidden, and how far her own loyalty can reach. (Cover image and synopsis from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

I call this a “quiet” book. The story unfolds slowly and the author did a great job of keeping me involved. Along the way, secrets are revealed and mysteries are solved. There were a few surprises, but no major twists or surprise endings. For this book, it all worked.

This is my first book by this author. I did not realize that it was a sequel to Learning to Swim. There were enough references to Troy’s previous experiences that it made me wonder if there had been a first book, but this in no way impeded my enjoying A Cold and Lonely Place. In fact, I so enjoyed the author’s style that I want to go back and read her first book.

My thanks to Crown Publishing Group and Netgalley for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: February 5, 2013.