Oct 4, 2011

Teaser: Following Atticus by Tom Ryan

I'm often asked, "Do you have a favorite mountain?"
"Any mountain where Atticus and I can be alone on top," I say. (ch. 25)

Title: Following Atticus: Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, and an Extraordinary Friendship
Author: Tom Ryan
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (September 20, 2011)
Genre: memoir

Product description: Tom Ryan and miniature schnauzer Atticus M. Finch are an unlikely pair of mountaineers, but after a close friend dies of cancer, the two pay tribute to her by attempting to climb all forty-eight of New Hampshire’s four-thousand-foot peaks twice in one winter while raising money for charity. In a rare test of endurance, Tom and Atticus set out on an adventure of a lifetime that takes them across hundreds of miles and deep into an enchanting but dangerous winter wonderland. (from book cover)

Teaser Tuesdays asks you to choose sentences at random from your current read. Identify the author and title for readers.

Oct 3, 2011

Three European Novels

I am thrilled by the arrival of these three novels published in England:

Title: The Ugly Sister by Jane Fallon
Paperback, 448 pages, fiction
Published September 29th 2011 by Penguin

Title: The Tea Lords by Hella S. Haasse
Portobello Books Ltd (2011)
Paperback, 352 pages, historical fiction

Title: The Thread by Victoria Hislop
Hardcover, 384 pages
Expected publication: October 27th 2011 by Headline Review (first published June 23rd 2011)
Genre: historical novel

The Ugly Sister is set in modern day London. The Tea Lords is set in Java, Indonesia and The Thread in Thessaloniki, Greece.

Review: Three Women: A Poetic Triptych and Selected Poems by Emma Eden Ramos

Title: Three Women: A Poetic Triptych and Selected Poems
Author: Emma Eden Ramos
Paperback:  37 pages
Published September 3rd 2011 by Heavy Hands Ink
Genre: poetry

Comments: The poems in this chapbook, a small book of verse, deal mostly with family tragedies that affect three women - Annette, a psychotherapist, and her daughter Julia, and a Croatian immigrant, Milena. The poems about them compose the Triptych of the chapbook's title. The poems are moving, each woman revealing herself and her history in her words, reflecting on the tragedy of their stories.
Publisher's description: "A truly unique and awe-inspiring collection, Emma Eden Ramos wows readers with her narrative-style writing in Three Women: A Poetic Triptych and Selected Poems. -Heavy Hands Ink

This chapbook was sent to me by the author. My review is in no way influenced by my receiving a complimentary copy.

Oct 2, 2011

Sunday Salon: Book Giveaway

The Sunday Salon.comWelcome to the Sunday Salon. Click on the logo to join in.

I'm enjoying The Language of Flowers, a novel by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. I learnt that one of my favorite flowers, the peony, really meant anger to the Victorians who assigned meanings to flowers. What to do with my box of notecards with those pale pink peonies, and with the yellow roses that mean jealousy, infidelity. Just have to make sure that the people I write to aren't interested in the language of flowers!

Thanks to HarperCollins, I'm giving away three books of Sanctus: the Novel by Simon Toyne. I describe the book as a religious thriller in the style of The DaVinci Code, but even more outrageous! Click here to enter the giveaway, which ends Oct. 4.

What have you been reading this past week?

Oct 1, 2011

Book Review: How to Be an American Housewife by Margaret Dilloway

""Once you leave Japan, it is extremely unlikely that you will return, unless your husband is stationed there again or becomes wealthy.

Take a few reminders of Japan with you. If you have room. Or make arrangements to write to a caring relative who is willing to send you letters or items from your homeland. This can ease homesickness.

And be sure to tell your family, "Sayonara." (from the chapter, "Turning American" )
(The book later tells you that "Sayonara" doesn't mean just "goodbye," but "goodbye forever.")

Comments: This novel tells the story of a young Japanese woman who marries an American soldier after WWII and comes to live in America, becoming estranged from her brother Taro who remains bitter over the results of the war and the American bombing of Nagasaki.  In America, the young wife Shoko struggles to live among strangers in a different culture, and is given a book of advice by her American husband Charlie - How to Be an American Housewife. The story and the book are from the 1950s and the advice reflects the times.

Shoko's story is sad because of the estrangement from her brother, the hard time she has with English and raising her son and daughter in an environment unfamiliar to her, and also sad because of a secret she carried from Japan with her that she has told no one about. Redemption comes in the second part of the novel, when Shoko's adult daughter Suiko or Sue agrees to return to Japan for her mother, who has suffered a stroke and is unable to travel. Sue meets Shoko's cousins and reunites with Shoko's brother Taro, seeing Japan for the first time.

The novel is well-written and the characters, especially Shoko, realistic and sympathetic. The author based her book on her Japanese mother's experiences and the book that her father had given her mother to help her adjust to American society - How to Be an American Housewife.

Title: How To Be an American Housewife by Margaret Dilloway
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Berkley Trade; Reprint edition (August 2, 2011)
Genre: fiction, historical fiction
Objective rating: 4.5/5

This book was sent to me by the publisher through Shelf Awareness. My review and rating were in no way influenced by my receiving a complimentary copy.

Submitted to Japanese Literature Challenge V and  Immigrant Stories 2011 Challenge.

Sep 30, 2011

Book Review: Thick as Thieves by Peter Spiegelman

"I know who they are, Howie, and what they're capable of. You get your money back, you can afford to go somewhere else. To be somebody else."

"What -an alias? A new identity?"

"You're really happy with the old one?" (ch. 22)

Comments: A fast-paced thriller with twists and turns in the plot, up to the very end, kept me surprised at every turn. A delight to read.

Book description: Ex-CIA Carr is the reluctant leader of an elite crew planning a robbery of such extraordinary proportions that it will leave them set for life. Diamonds, money laundering, and extortion go into a timed-to-the-minute scheme that unfurls across South America, Miami, and Grand Cayman Island.

Carr's cohorts are seasoned pros, but they're wound drum-tight - months before, the man who brought them together was killed in what Carr suspects was a setup. And there are other loose ends: some of the intel they're paying for is badly inaccurate, and one of the gang may have an agenda of her own. But Carr's biggest problems are yet to come, because few on his crew are what they seem to be, and even his own past is a lie. (Goodreads)

Title: Thick as Thieves: A Novel by Peter Spiegleman
Hardcover: 320 pages, Knopf, July 26, 2011
Objective rating: 4.75/5
A copy of this book was sent to me by the author through Shelf Awareness. My opinions are objective and not influenced by my receiving a complimentary copy.

Sep 27, 2011

Book Review and Teaser: Little Black Dress by Susan McBride

Teaser Tuesdays asks you to choose sentences at random from your current read. Identify the author and title for readers.

"Did you bring the dress?" Her voice was so soft I could barely her. "Do you have it?" she said, this time more loudly, and her dark gaze stared across the room at me, unflinching.

"First, tell me why."

Comments: Not to be confused with Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, this novel, Little Black Dress is a story about two sisters who are very different in temperament and whose lives are influenced by revelations from a little black dress that tells the future. The book is firmly in the category of magical fantasy. I thought the novel could have been written well and the story of the sisters could have been more compelling if the author hadn't used this device.

Book description: Two sisters whose lives seemed forever intertwined are torn apart when a magical little black dress gives each one a glimpse of an unavoidable future.

Antonia Ashton has worked hard to build a thriving career and a committed relationship, but she realizes her life has gone off-track. Forced to return home to Blue Hills when her mother, Evie, suffers a massive stroke, Toni finds the old Victorian where she grew up as crammed full of secrets as it is with clutter. Now she must put her mother’s house in order—and uncover long-buried truths about Evie and her aunt, Anna, who vanished fifty years earlier on the eve of her wedding. By shedding light on the past, Toni illuminates her own mistakes and learns the most unexpected things about love, magic, and a little black dress with the power to break hearts...and mend them. (Goodreads)

Title: Little Black Dress by Susan McBride
Paperback, 320 pages
Published August 23rd 2011 by William Morrow
Objective rating: 3.5/5

A copy of this book was sent to me by the publisher for possible review. My opinions are in no way influenced by my receiving a complimentary copy.

Sunday Salon: Japanese Authors and a Mystery

  Klara and the Sun   by Kazuo Ishiguro. Intellect having "heart" Klara and the Sun was easy to read for a literary novel of suc...