I was first introduced to Dorothea Benton Frank's work when I read Porch Lights. After falling in love with that book, I knew I wanted to reaLoved it!
I was first introduced to Dorothea Benton Frank's work when I read Porch Lights. After falling in love with that book, I knew I wanted to read more, so I went back to the beginning. Sullivan's Island was Dorothea Benton Frank's debut novel, and seemed a logical place to start. Wow. What a debut!
Susan Hayes got under my skin. I felt for her, connected with her, laughed with her, and my heart broke for her.
There were some tough scenes in Sullivan's Island that I didn't expect to stay with me as long as they did. While Susan's graceful strength, as well as her relationships with her sister and Livvie, got her through her marriage falling apart, the drama of raising a teenage daughter, and the difficult memories of the past, this is not a melodramatic sob-fest. The author interjects humor and biting wit just when the reader needs it most.
South Carolina's Lowcountry is as much a character in her book as Susan Hayes. I recently spoke to a friend of mine who grew up near here, and she told me that reading Dorothea Benton Frank's books was like being home again. After reading Sullivan's Island, I feel like I've been there, and it's a part of me now as well.
So far, there are 8 books in the Lowcountry Tales series, and I can't wait to get my hands on the next one, Plantation. What I'm REALLY looking forward to is Dorothea Benton Frank's newest book, THE LAST ORIGINAL WIFE. , coming in June!
Dottie will be on tour this summer, but for my local friends, I wanted to share her planned stop in Brielle, NJ, a town hard hit by Hurricane Sandy. Please come out to not only see Dorothea Benton Frank, but also to support the local library! ...more
This book keeps disappearing off my desk! I had to get a second copy, just so I could look at it for more than ten minutes before one of mA HUGE hit!
This book keeps disappearing off my desk! I had to get a second copy, just so I could look at it for more than ten minutes before one of my kids stole it. Still, that wasn't enough (I have two boys...they both wanted it!).
Remember life before Angry Birds? No, me neither. But those geniuses over at Rovio keep thinking up clever new ways of having these colorful birds to crash into obnoxious pigs. This time, however, the game took a big turn. The rules of gravity have changed, my friends, and the good people at National Geographic, always insisting on educating us without our consent, have broken it down for us in ANGRY BIRDS SPACE: A FURIOUS FLIGHT INTO THE FINAL FRONTIER.
Originally published as a companion to the new game, the book ANGRY BIRDS SPACE can solidly stand on its own. Chock full of information about the planets, asteroids, stars and galaxies, the colorful pages are also teeming with "Astrofacts", factoids about space. (My little guy loves these cool little blurbs)
I want to know which came first. Did someone over at Nat Geo wish for a book on space that was accessible, understandable and entertaining...and was she playing Angry Birds on her iPhone when this idea came to her? Or did the gamers at Rovio worry that the average gamer wouldn't understand the differences of gravity in space and they were trying to avoid thousands of e-mails to their tech support? Was it the intention to appeal to kids or were the original marketing tools directed toward all ages?
Either way, when my kids aren't afraid to get their geek on and get excited about books like this, I am a happy mom. I must admit, even though my husband has forced me to watch hundreds of hours of TLC, Nat Geo, and Animal Planet against my will, I rather enjoyed learning about this crazy universe we live in.
Entertaining, visually appealing, and educational, ANGRY BIRDS SPACE is a big hit with our family! BRAVO!! ...more
Brilliant. Another magical novel from one of my favorite authors.
PRISONER OF HEAVEN is the third book in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books library, whicBrilliant. Another magical novel from one of my favorite authors.
PRISONER OF HEAVEN is the third book in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books library, which includes The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game. The books can be read in any order, as they compliment one another, but none is needed to understand the others. That being said, I do wish I had re-read the other two books before diving into this one.
Before I get started on my review, I feel I must say a little something about the my experience with Carlos Ruiz Zafón's books. All of them, each and every one, are among my favorite books of all time. They offer everything - rich characters, vivid locations, heart-pounding mysteries, and they are all centered around the love of books. If you have yet to discover this author, do not hesitate!
PRISONER OF HEAVEN opens at Sempere & Sons bookshop in 1957 Barcelona. A mysterious man comes into the store asking for Fermín , Daniel Sempere's closest friend. The man buys the most expensive book in the shop without asking for change, entering an inscription for Fermin, thus opening up the dark and troubled secrets of 1939, the Prison of Montjuic Castle, an imprisoned writer, and Daniel Sempere's own mother.
Readers are taken on a journey to unlocking the long-buried secrets of The Prisoner of Heaven, a character whom readers of The Angel's Game already know. Fans will enjoy the interweaving characters, stories and the living, breathing setting of Barcelona we have grown to love through Zafón's other books. New readers will also be offered the gift of a simply amazing book.
When THE PRISONER OF HEAVEN arrived at the bookshop (of course I had pre-ordered a book from one of my favorite authors) the first thing that struck me was how short it was. Coming in under 300 pages, this companion was half the size of the other two in the set. For this reason, I was worried it might not be quite as epic as I had hoped. However, since I had already read the first two books, there was no need for superfluous back stories, since we already knew them. For this reason alone, even though each of the books in this set can be read in any order, I highly recommend that readers pick up The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game first.
And for this same reason, the three books being essential parts of the whole story, I wish I had read the companion books more recently to really pick up on all the intricate details that would tickle at a memory of a previous book, but I wasn't always able to place how or why I knew of a person or place.
I adore anything written by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, including The Prisoner of Heaven.
For anyone who is new to this author's work, I highly highly highly recommend this set of novels, but I must insist that you begin with The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game before reading The Prisoner of Heaven.
For those of you who have already read The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game...what are you waiting for?? ...more
Raami and her family are Cambodian royals who are forced to flee their home during theBeautifully written!
This story is at once brutal and beautiful.
Raami and her family are Cambodian royals who are forced to flee their home during the Khmer Rouge Communist regime of 1975, where an estimated two million people lost their lives. After Raami makes one awful mistake by exposing her family, they are separated and she quickly learns that in order to survive, they must hide their true identities. All around her, she witnesses the worst kinds of suffering and loss, yet in the middle of it all, she recalls the beauty of her father's poetry. Her father's poetry is like music, and something that no one can take away from her. It is her lifeline, her sanity, her connection to a father she may never see again.
Parts of this book are horrific and brutality graphic, yet Ratner finds a way to save us from falling into a dark place - much like Raami fights her way from the brink of insanity by clinging to her father's poetry. Too much for any seven year old to bear witness, too much for anyone, this is a time of history of which I was unaware before reading IN THE SHADOW OF THE BANYAN. It made it all the more powerful when I learned that this book is based on the author's own experience.
The author herself lived through this tragic time in history, and this story is loosely based on her life. In the 1980s, the author and her mother arrived in the United States to begin a new life.
A Note On The Audio: Greta Lee's voice is perfection! The novel flowed beautifully on the audio, and even though the book is read from a seven year old's point of view, the reader's voice never became too young or distracting. I can't quite find the word to descrive Greta Lee's voice, but it is unique. When I finished listening to this audio, the first thing I did was search for more of Greta Lee's books. (more, please!!)
Vaddey Ratner gifts to her readers a labour of love. More than a novel, more than a memoir, more than an anthology of poetry, IN THE SHADOW OF THE BANYAN is unlike anything I have ever read and will stay with me for some time.
"I told you stories to give you wings, Raami, so that you would never be trapped by anything..."...more
Surprised me in so many ways, loving every moment!
I met Erika Robuck at BEA in June, and she seemed like someone I would be friends with if we lived iSurprised me in so many ways, loving every moment!
I met Erika Robuck at BEA in June, and she seemed like someone I would be friends with if we lived in the same town. She was lovely! Sometimes, I worry that my personal connection with an author skews my objectivity when reviewing a book. Before I wrote this review, I told several of my reader friends about how much I loved HEMINGWAY'S GIRL, in hopes they would read it. They did. I am happy to report that they loved the book as much as I did, quieting my fears that my gushing was purely for the book, and not just for the author.
Erika Robuck felt an early connection to Ernest Hemingway's work, and that love and respect comes through in the pages of HEMINGWAY'S GIRL, which is both a dramatic novel and an homage to the legendary author lovingly referred to as "Papa".
After the first few chapters, I thought I knew where the storyline was going, but I was wrong - and I have never been so happy to be wrong! Erika Robuck completely drew me in, surprising me at every turn, and I found it easy to wrap myself up in this book.
Key West is as much one of the characters as Mariella or Gavin. Vivid in her descriptions, the author brings us there with the sights, sounds, smells and highly charged emotion that is Hemingway's Key West.
From the little that I remembered of Ernest Hemingway before reading this novel, I had an image of a misogynistic, testosterone-filled, angry drunk. After reading HEMINGWAY'S GIRL, I'm not sure those notions have been erased, but I can add lonely to this portrait. Only someone with a love for Hemingway could take what we already know of him and add complex layers in order to make him a man that is not only larger than life, but also fierce in both his loyalty and his love. I'm not sure how she did it on the page, but I felt the energy change whenever he entered a scene.
As much as I anticipated the scenes with Hemingway, Mariella was the driving force in this novel, and not just because she is the title character. Her morality and fierce convictions lend a solid dichotomy to her relationship with Hemingway, becoming almost as electric as he is.
I am a fan of historical fiction, especially when it's done right. Erika Robuck does everything right. I highly recommend HEMINGWAY'S GIRL! ...more
I really enjoyed the first book in Melissa Marr's new series. She pulled me right in, and I wouldn't let the book out ofDark, intricate, and exciting!
I really enjoyed the first book in Melissa Marr's new series. She pulled me right in, and I wouldn't let the book out of my sight until I was finished. CARNIVAL OF SOULS is full of fantastic and complicated characters - some you will love, and some you will love to hate!
There is a lot of mystery among the characters. They are all connected, but exactly how and why is unknown. In fact, I think Melissa Marr enjoys tantalizing her readers with little clues without dropping the bomb on us until we're least expecting it.
Speaking of characters, you all know how excited I get about strong female characters and Melissa Marr gives us three of them! Mallory's character is the most mysterious. We're not completely sure who or what she is, but she has a gun and isn't afraid to use it. Aya is kick-ass - she's smart, she's strong and she is breaking all the rules! Evelyn, while some will hate her heartlessness, she's the character I would want to play in the movie. (insert evil laugh)
This may sound strange, but CARNIVAL OF SOULS is extremely visual. Melissa Marr creates this world with such depth and darkness, whenever I recall a scene I am immediately and vividly transported to a very specific place full of sounds and smells, but especially full of interesting visual detail.
Just a warning, though. The only thing that I would change about this book is the cliffhanger ending. It's my pet peeve when authors feel like they don't have to finish a book if it's part of a series. Don't expect to feel satisfied in any way when you finish. You will turn the last page wanting more...but you might be frustrated to learn that you have to wait a year for it.
I just hope that by the time the next book comes out that I can remember all the intricate details and relationships that make this book so interesting. I'll put the re-read on my calendar in preparation.
Oh, here's a little treat for you Buffy fans out there. James Marsters narrates the audio! He is so charming and dark...forget the re-read next year, I'll be listening to the audio!
I loved this book, and so glad that I stole the ARC from Clinton Books - thanks, guys!! ...more
Action, adventure, and secret protectors of the real Star Spangled Banner! Anna, Jose, and Henry are notFun middle grade book for both boys and girls!
Action, adventure, and secret protectors of the real Star Spangled Banner! Anna, Jose, and Henry are not only snowed in together at a DC airport, they are also connected in more important ways, which they use to trust one another and help each another solve the mystery of the missing flag.
A quick read at 240 pages and short chapters, Kate Messner's book captured the attention of all the readers in my house, as it had something for everyone. I loved the bits of history and facts sprinkled throughout the pages. The 10 year old thought the near-captures were exciting and enjoyed the three kids and how they helped unravel the mystery. My little guy liked the bad guys - they were dangerous without being too scary. All in all, put a W in the Win column for Kate Messner! Capture the Flag is a winner!
Author Kate Messner wrote Capture The Flag as an answer to her readers who were looking for more action, and they got it! She also sets up her main characters Anna, Jose, and Henry for a series of future adventures...I'll see what I can find out, but we're really looking forward to more adventures from these three!...more
Expect to sacrifice some sleep, you won't be able to put this one down!
I don't even bother to read a synopsis of her books any longer. If I see MaggieExpect to sacrifice some sleep, you won't be able to put this one down!
I don't even bother to read a synopsis of her books any longer. If I see Maggie Stiefvater on the cover, I know I am going to be blown away. Every book she writes is original, mysterious, fast-paced, and gripping. I go in knowing nothing, and I come out the other side breathless and wanting more. One of these days it will take me longer than two days to read one of her books, but that would mean tearing the book out of my hands to get some sleep.
The Raven Boys is a different creation from what we have come to expect in Maggie's books, but no less magnificent. There was a part of me that missed the poetic writing of Maggie Stiefvater - her words are like music in Shiver - but The Raven Boys showed that Maggie can write in different styles, and still be brilliant.
In The Raven Boys, we meet Blue Sargent, the daughter in a family of clairvoyants. Blue is unable to see what her mother and aunts see, but her presence has the distinct ability to intensify the powers of those around her. Unfortunately for Blue, her family has seen her future - the first boy Blue loves, and kisses, will die.
On the night of St. Marks Eve, Blue's Aunt Neeve brings her to where the soon-to-be dead whose spirits walk the night. Blue is not a seer, but on this night, she sees someone...
"There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark's Eve," Neeve said. "Either you're his true love . . . or you killed him."
Anglionby Academy is a local prep school filled with what Blue calls Raven Boys, due to the emblem on their school sweaters. Blue meets a tight group of these privileged boys from the school: Gansey, Adam, Ronan, and Noah. She already has a connection to one of them, but they are on a quest that goes beyond cars, school, and vacation homes. They are in search of the ley line, which is a supernatural path which leads to a tomb, and its royal occupant. Blue and the boys team up and their decisions become a matter of life and death.
I had to laugh. There was one character in the book that, at first, seemed like a throw-away part. But, I even said out loud to Maggie (even though she was several states away, yet could hear me loud and clear), "Who is this guy? He seems unimportant now, but you don't create characters without purpose. What is it about this one? Who is he??" Maggie, I apologize for my moment of doubt, you came through with a thunderous boom.
Maggie Stiefvater does not disappoint with The Raven Boys. If you're already a fan, you know what I mean, you're with me on this. If you have never read her books, they are fantastic, all of them.
Maggie Stiefvater is one of those superb writers whose books draw us adults over to the YA shelf. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! ...more
Full of passion and suspense, easily one of my favorites of the year!
1943. Berlin. All able-bodied men are fighting the allied forces and what is leftFull of passion and suspense, easily one of my favorites of the year!
1943. Berlin. All able-bodied men are fighting the allied forces and what is left is a city of women. It is their duty to the war effort to carry on with their work, their lives, and their ignorance of what is happening around them.
Hausfrau Sigrid Schröder lives with her mother-in-law while her husband fights on the front. Not quite the "good German woman" like her neighbors are, Sigrid gets caught up in an affair with a man of many secrets, and befriends a young Fraulein despite the warnings of others.
Nothing is what it seems on the surface, not in Berlin during WWII, not when the government rewards people for spying on their neighbors, not when listening to the BBC is punishable by law, and not when someone will turn on their closest friends just to save themselves. The choices in 1943 Berlin are between life and death. Everyone has a secret to hide, it becomes easy to lose oneself in the web of lies and deceit.
Sigrid is pulled into the underground world of Berlin - black market goods, smuggling Jews, and love affairs. She is not sure who to believe, and who she herself has become.
This time in history is brutal, which usually makes for a highly dramatic story, and David R. Gillham does not disappoint as he takes readers deep into Berlin during the height of World War II. Full of passion and suspense, CITY OF WOMEN kept me glued to the pages. The story is intricate, and flips around a bit in its weaving timeline, so I found that I had to pay close attention, but the rewards were abundant.
When I first held this book in my hands at BEA, and read the synopsis, my heart beat a little faster. Then, I had the pleasure of meeting author David Gillham at a Penguin event, and knew just from talking to him that CITY OF WOMEN was going to be something special.
I admit that I have a special place in my heart for WWII fiction. Books like Sarah's Key, The Book Thief, and Unbroken lie prominently on my "favorites" shelf. I am happy to say they have a new neighbor up there. ...more
Karin Slaughter at her best...and most disturbing. (I mean that in a good way)
I could not help but compare CRIMINAL to the work of Thomas Harris (RedKarin Slaughter at her best...and most disturbing. (I mean that in a good way)
I could not help but compare CRIMINAL to the work of Thomas Harris (Red Dragon, Silence of the Lambs), bringing readers a suspenseful and brutal story of a serial killer that spans decades.
The story straddles two time periods. The first, present day, is just a few weeks after the conclusion of Karin Slaughter's FALLEN. The story starts with Will Trent actually allowing himself to be happy in his work and his relationship with Sarah, even though his past still weighs on him. Never has his past caught up with him so much as when a college student goes missing and Amanda purposefully, and ineffectively, tries to keep Will as far away from the case as possible. Little does he know that this case is linked to another from nearly forty years ago.
Slaughter pulls back another layer of Will Trent's complex character and brings readers back in time to where it all began. 1974. The summer Will was born. Atlanta, Georgia. Amanda and Evelyn take on their very first case together, despite the sexual harassment and upper management interference within the Atlanta Police Department. Dead girls, horrifically abused prior to their deaths, and no easy leads.
In addition to the intertwined characters of past and present, readers learn about Will's parents and that Amanda's involvement in his career was no accident.
I thought Slaughter's flashbacks to the 70s were a brilliant way to build this story, and bring these characters full circle. My heart literally pounded at certain points in the book, but I would be lying if I said CRIMINAL didn't give me nightmares. (I'm a little afraid of you now, Karin!) Some of the details of the crimes, sexual content, and graphic drug use were too much for me. If I weren't listening to the audio, I'm afraid I would have skipped over passages of the book. My comparison to Thomas Harris was not just writing style, or character-building, but it was also the twisted minds of their respective criminals. I read Harris back in high school, back when I had a stomach for slasher movies, roller coasters, and suspense novels like this one. I am stronger now than I thought, and found myself completely wrapped up in CRIMINAL.
Not only did I obsessively listen to this audiobook throughout the weekend, I thought this book was more interesting and even more thrilling than FALLEN. I still have some catching up to do on the Will Trent series, but for any fans of Karin Slaughter, thrillers, or psychological suspense, don't miss this one.
A Note On The Audio: Kathleen Early narrated the audio for CRIMINAL by AudioGO. At first, I found her voice to be a bit too dreamy and ill-fitting for a horror/suspense novel like this one; however, as the minutes and hours pressed on, I grew used to her voice and really appreciated her matter-of-fact tone when she described some of the more horrific scenes.
I had the pleasure of meeting Karin Slaughter at the Random House Power Reader Breakfast during BEA (Book Expo America) Week. She was one of the coolest people I met that week, and had a great time chatting with her. ...more
PORCH LIGHTS is the first book I have read by this author, and not the last.
Not in the least bit pretentiouLovely book to be read under a summer sun!
PORCH LIGHTS is the first book I have read by this author, and not the last.
Not in the least bit pretentious, Dorothea Benton Frank insists on writing the way people talk. She has stories to tell, and doesn't feel the need to distance herself from her readers by putting on airs. It is this writing style that makes the pages of this book turn quickly.
PORCH LIGHTS is the story of Jackie, an Army nurse, who returns to her mother's home on Sullivan's Island after tragically losing her firefighter husband. Jackie and her 11 year old son, Charlie, need this summer to heal their broken hearts before returning to Brooklyn in the fall. The mother and daughter relationship had always been strained, but Jackie and Annie need each other now more than ever. Readers will laugh and cry as they witness this healing of new and old wounds.
Like all of her other novels, PORCH LIGHTS is set in the Low Country of South Carolina, where children spend their days playing in the sand and adults spend their evenings sitting on their porches catching an evening breeze. After reading this novel, I understand why Dottie is anxious to get back to her family in South Carolina. Sullivan's Island is a character in this book, with emotions and tempers like the women that inhabit her.
Speaking of the women in this novel, Annie and Jackie are a mother and daughter at odds. They have never seen eye-to-eye, but they need one another, and their relationship has to change in order to bridge the gap that has separated them for so long. They each have their own wounds to heal separately, but it is the mother-daughter bond at the heart of this novel that kept me glued to the pages.
This may sound awfully unkind to the men, but if Dorothea Benton Frank had left the men's characters out of the novel completely, I would not have missed them. They were little more than an excuse for Annie and Jackie to interact, and I so enjoyed being a fly on the wall in this house. I loved watching what began as strained civility grow into an easy banter between the two women.
PORCH LIGHTS will not be my last novel by Dottie Frank. I was lucky enough to have met her at an event at Clinton Book Shop, where I was surrounded by her devoted and enthusiastic fans, who were more than happy to guide me toward my next Frank book (every reader at the event had her own favorite!).
Many thanks to William Morrow for sending me a copy of this book, and for introducing me to such a lovely author!!...more
The second story, in chronological order, of the Mitch Rapp series, but a prequel for anyone who has beeAnother exciting installment from Vince Flynn!
The second story, in chronological order, of the Mitch Rapp series, but a prequel for anyone who has been following the Rapp stories since Transfer of Power. I have read a few books from this series, but I admit, I've read them out of order (I started with Memorial Day...and loved it). I know full well that I would get a whole lot more out of these books if I had read them in order, without skipping, thus, knowing all the back-stories of all the bad guys and good guys, but I still love them. When I get my hands on one, it doesn't matter which number it is, I have to read it.
So, even with my fragmented knowledge of Mitch Rapp's story, I was able to enjoy KILL SHOT on its own. Vince Flynn does an excellent job of telling his story, without leaving out the necessary information, while hinting at some of the clues for the fully initiated fans.