Apr 16, 2014

Book Review: When the Cypress Whispers by Yvette Manessis Corporon



Title: When the Cypress Whispers by  
Published April 1, 2014; Harper
Genre: fiction, historical fiction
Objective rating: 4.5/5

About the book: Daphne grew up in the 1990s on the small Greek island of Erikousa and, a widow with a young son, now lives and works as a successful restaurant owner in New York. She returns to Corfu to prepare for her wedding to Stephen Heatherton, who will join her in about a week from New York.

Daphne's reunion with her cousin Popi in Corfu and her grandmother Yia-yia in Erikousa reawakens her memories and her traditional home values. She learns more about her grandmother's life and sacrifices during the war, when Greece was occupied in the 1940s, about secrets her Yia-yia had never shared with her. Daphne soon comes to reevaluate her beliefs and questions her life in ultra modern New York, especially after meeting the mysterious but alluring Yanni.

My comments: What seemed at first to be a straightforward story of a woman who returns to her roots soon becomes one much more involved. The life of the Greeks on the islands during wartime occupation and the story of Yianni, a survivor, and his connection to Daphne's grandmother, add an important and fascinating historical component to the book.

A poetic touch is the grandmother's message to young Daphne, which she states again when Daphne has returned to the island. Listen to the island's cypress trees, whose whispers in the wind will impart truth and wisdom.

I wasn't too keen on the ambiguous ending of the novel, though it stressed that many aspects of life, including the romantic, are not at all predictable.

Yvette Manessis Corporon is an Emmy Award-winning writer, producer, and author. She is currently a senior producer with the syndicated entertainment news show Extra. Yvette has received a Silurian Award for Excellence in Journalism, and the New York City Comptroller and City Council’s Award for Greek Heritage and Culture. She is married to award-winning photojournalist David Corporon. They have two children and live in New York.

Find out more about Yvette at her website, follow her on Twitter, and connect with her on Facebook.
Purchase links: Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble
Click here for the tour schedule.
Thanks to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for a review ARC of this book.

Waiting on Wednesday: The Same Sweet Girls' Guide to Life by Cassandra King

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine,  that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.
The Same Sweet Girls' Guide to Life
The Same Sweet Girls' Guide to Life: Advice from a Southern Belle by Cassandra King is a short and sweet lecture of advice to young women, to be published May 1, 2014 by Maiden Lane Press; 97 pages

Book description: This lecture was delivered by the author to a graduating class in May 2013 at her alma mater, Montevallo College in Alabama. 

The Same Sweet Girl’s Guide to Life offers inspiration and solid advice to new graduates that can sustain them through life’s ups and downs.  This small book offers  hard-earned wisdom for young and old.

Her first pearl of wisdom: sincerity is an important virtue, and once you learn to fake it, you are well on your way to success! Dare to laugh at yourself.  Find kindred spirits and keep them close to you; expand your circle of friends. Know the true value of time. She also advises that we try to find words to express love and gratitude but to keep in mind that it is our actions that reveal our feelings more than our words.

And as an addition to this lecture, King adds a new afterword on the value of becoming a lifelong reader. (goodreads)

Sounds like a good book for new college graduates! The title of this lecture refers to her novel The Same Sweet Girls, a book about lifelong friends, published in 2012.

What new book are you waiting on?

Apr 14, 2014

Book Review and International Giveaway: Black Chalk by Christopher J. Yates


Title: Black Chalk: A Novel by Christopher J. Yates
Publisher: Random House UK; First Edition edition (April 1, 2014)
Something someone said all those years ago has stuck in my mind. Although I can't actually remember who said it....
Of course winning is everything. Why else do you think we call ourselves the human race?
(p. 14)
My comments: 
Oxbridge students will definitely love this book, as will college or university students who are competitive and love mind games. For this is what it is - a novel about Oxford students joining a club called Gaming, and creating a psychological game that tested wits and mental endurance. This was not meant to be a physical challenge, but it turned out to involve the physical further in the game.

I was a little out of my league with this book - I have long left the university as either a student or teacher, and my mind games are limited to word games or backgammon. But those readers still involved in gaming, virtual or otherwise, will find the book's setting and characters intriguing and the plot unusual and compelling. Do try it, if you like games and uncertain outcomes, even though you may not be a player.

About the book: "One game. Six students. Five survivors.
It was only ever meant to be a game.
A game of consequences, of silly forfeits, childish dares. A game to be played by six best friends in their first year at Oxford University. But then the game changed: the stakes grew higher and the dares more personal, more humiliating, finally evolving into a vicious struggle with unpredictable and tragic results.
Now, fourteen years later, the remaining players must meet again for the final round." (publisher)

Christopher J. Yates studied law at Wadham College, Oxford from 1990-93 and initially pursued a career in law before he began working in puzzles, representing the UK at the World Puzzle Championships. Since then he has worked as a freelance journalist, sub-editor and puzzles editor/compiler. In 2007 he moved to New York City with his wife, and currently lives in the East Village.
Please visit his website, christopherjyates.com.

Thanks to TLC Book Tour and the publisher for a review copy of this book. Visit TLC for the tour schedule and other reviews.


INTERNATIONAL GIVEAWAY: 

To enter, comment here or email me at harvee44@yahoo.com with the heading: BLACK CHALK GIVEAWAY. The contest is open worldwide as the publisher in the UK is willing to send the books anywhere. The contest ends April 19. Winner will be notified by email on April 20 to send a mailing address, and will have two days to respond before another winner is chosen. Good luck!

Apr 13, 2014

Sunday Salon: Reading and Gardening Plans

Welcome to the Sunday Salon! Also visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer; It's Monday: What Are You Reading? at Book Journey. Also visit Mailbox Monday, hosted by Vicki, Leslie, and Serena.

We are considering putting in a raised garden bed for veggies, a bed that will have to be meshed in with wire to keep out the bunnies. I have already bought seeds for peppers, string beans, squash, and basil genovese, to plant as late as early May. The temps will dip below freezing this coming week! A customer at the store advised me to forego wood, which deteriorates over time, and to use concrete blocks to form the beds.

For the April National Poetry Month Blog Tour hosted by Savvy Verse and Wit, I blogged on Gerard Manley Hopkins' poem, "Spring and Fall: To a Young Child," It had been a while since I had read that poem but it came back to me easily.

I have finished three books for book tours/review:
Black Chalk by Christopher J. Yates, for tomorrow
When the Cypress Whispers by Yvette Manessis Corporon, for Wednesday
Murder on Bamboo Lane by Naomi Hirahari, for later this month
and am in the middle of reading
A Tiger's Tale by Laura Morrigan for a May 11 tour

Other books I've started include
The Year She Left Us by Katherine Ma
Death Money by Henry Chang

 A few interesting novel, mixed genres, came in this past week:
Jack of Spies

Dear Lucy

All Day and Night
North of Normal
Eyes on You

Mrs. Hemingway

Click on the title captions for details re the books.

I have my reading cut out for me. How about you?

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