Feb 21, 2017

First Chapter: The Last Treasure by Erika Marks

The Last Treasure by Erika Marks, August 2, 2016, is an adventure and romance novel about three college friends searching for a lost nineteenth century schooner along the Carolina Banks.

First chapter:
She descends through the mist, the weight of her tank rolling along her spine, the smooth motor of her fins cutting silently through the water.

She is looking for the wreck's debris field, the pieces of its battered puzzle emerging through the murky haze, and the clouds of sand and silt that have kept the ship's bones hidden for so long will part like smoke.

But something is wrong.

MEME: Every Tuesday Bibliophile by the Sea hosts First Chapter First Paragraph, Tuesday Intros sharing the first paragraph or two, from a book you are reading or will be reading soon. 

Feb 20, 2017

Book Review: Unbound by Steph Jagger

Review of Unbound for TLC Book Tours
Hardcover: 304 pages, Harper Wave (January 24, 2017)

A young woman follows winter across five continents on a physical and spiritual journey that tests her body and soul, in this transformative memoir of adventure and courage. (publisher)

About the book: I was so glad to join this tour of a memoir written by a woman who wanted to test her resolve, her courage, and to set herself a difficult task in order to challenge herself. She learned a lot about herself and became a new, liberated woman after her ski adventure and her goal of skiing 4 million feet in several countries across the globe in a year.

Background and conflict: Believing she was the odd one in her family of conventional but very successful people, the youngest child in her family, Steph, first achieves goals her family would approve of - education, a successful career, a home of her own. Then she sets out to prove to her family and to herself that she is really one of them -  as tough, as driven, and as physically and mentally capable as any of the men, more than equal to them.

The result: She achieves her goal, but her greater achievement was finding herself after facing the challenges she set for herself - skiing down 4 million feet of snow all across the globe. Steph comes to realize in the end that she is her own person, not an extension of her family, and that she doesn't need to keep proving herself to them.

The ski trips: Her year-long ski adventure takes her from her home in British Columbia, Canada to five continents, starting with South America, where she skies in Chile and Argentina. She then flies to the ski resorts of New Zealand to very challenging and unexpected ski circumstances.

After taking a break in Bali, Indonesia with a Brazilian skier she had met in New Zealand, Steph heads to Japan which doesn't offer much snow at first that year. She reunites with her parents in Tokyo, and then travels to the Japanese Alps which offered great powder snow and her best ski experience so far.

At this point, after all her up-and-down experiences, Steph begins to let go of her old perfectionism, her old fears, and starts forming a new self. She heads to the European Alps in France, then off to Italy's Matterhorn, skips Austria and other resorts and heads back to Vancouver. She then flies to San Diego to meet with Chris, a skier she had met in South America, the person she would eventually marry.

Steph skied downhill more miles than needed for the Guinness world record, she finds, but didn't have the photos, paperwork, and eye witness accounts to support a claim. That was left to Pierre Marc Jette, who contacted Steph about her ski adventure before he went on to ski over 6 million feet from 2014-2015, to become the new Guinness Record holder.

Today: Steph, interestingly enough, still lives part time in Vancouver, near her family, and also lives in San Diego.

Recommendation: A heady adventure that armchair skiiers and travelers will enjoy and that women will easily cheer on as they read. She loved Italy the best for overall vacations - the food, wine, the cities, the mountains, and the coast.

Steph Jagger splits her time between Southern California and British Columbia where she dreams big dreams, writes her heart out, and runs an executive & life coaching practice. She holds a CEC (certified Executive Coach) degree from Royal Roads University and she believes courageous living doesn’t happen with one toe dangling in, but that we jump in, fully submerge, and sit in the juice. Think pickle, not cucumber.

You can find her at www.stephjagger.com or on Instagram @stephjagger.

Read other reviews on the tour.


Feb 19, 2017

Sunday Salon: Loving My Library Books

I read these three books in the last several days. The travel book on India is short but honest, and the book of poetry, Milk and Honey, is absolutely sublime. Orphan Train was quite revealing about the history and fate of early immigrant children to American who were also orphans.

February is National Library Lovers Day. From the library, I borrowed two other books, my current reads.

The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict, October 18, 2016. Einstein's first wife, Mileva “Mitza” Marić was a brilliant physicist in her own right and may have contributed to his theory on relativity.

The Twilight Wife by A.J. Banner, December 27, 2016. This is a thriller about a woman who has lost the memory of her last four years and has to rely on her husband, now a stranger to her, for information on the diving accident that led to her memory loss. I am in the middle of this one and enjoying it.

We also saw the movie, Lion, yesterday and hoping to see La La Land today before it leaves the theaters. I recommend Lion, about a five-year-old Indian boy lost in Calcutta who is adopted by an Australian couple. Have you seen these, and what did you think?

What are you reading this week?
Welcome to the Sunday Salon where bloggers share their reading each week. Visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer. Also visit It's Monday, What Are You Reading? hosted by Book Date

Feb 17, 2017

Book Beginning: Pekoe Most Poison by Laura Childs

The Tea Shop Mysteries by Laura Childs are among my favorite entertaining and relaxing reads. I love the characters, the mystery plots in a Charleston setting, and the elaborate teas and sandwich recipes. Here is the latest, #18, in the series.
Pekoe Most Poison by Laura Childs, March 7, 2017, Berkley.
Indigo Tea Shop owner Theodosia Browning attends a Rat Tea, where servers dressed in rodent costumes and wearing white gloves offer elegant finger sandwiches and fine teas, a custom from early twentieth-century Charleston, where the cream of society would sponsor teas to promote city rodent control and better public health. (publisher)

Book beginning:
Palmettos swayed lazily in the soft breeze, daffodils bobbed their shaggy heads as Theodosia Browning stepped quickly along the brick pathway that wound through a bountiful front yard garden and up to the polished double doors of the Calhoun Mansion. Pausing, she pulled back the enormous brass boar's head door knocker...nothing wimpy about this place... and let it crash against the metal plate.
Page 56:
"If Reggie was desperate enough, yes. I think he could have killed my stepdad...."
What book are you reading this Friday?
Thanks to Berkley for a review/feature copy of this book.

Memes: The Friday 56. Grab a book, turn to page 56 or 56% of your eReader. Find any sentence that grabs you. Post it, and add your URL post in Linky at Freda's Voice. Also visit Book Beginning at Rose City Reader. 

Feb 12, 2017

Sunday Salon: Reading for Rainy Winters

The author of How To Eat a Cupcake, Meg Donohue, has written a new romance/mystery titled Every Wild Heart, March 14, 2017, an uncorrected proof received thanks to William Morrow Books.
The novel is described as a "mystery, a love story, and a mother-daughter tale about two women on a precarious journey to uncover their true selves." These are themes I enjoy reading, so I'm looking forward to this read.

Even though I enjoy the first half of cozies and like the setting and characters and the murder mystery in each, I don't always finish to the very end. But I'll probably keep reading lots of cozies this way!

Here are some new ones coming up:
The Silence of the Flans
Gone With the Twins
Cold Pressed Murder
This one I have to read through and through, as I promised myself, having not picked up one of these in the Murder, She Wrote series for a while.

Design For Murder by Jessica Fletcher, 2017, NAL
Description: "Jessica Fletcher visits New York City during fashion week, only to discover someone has rather fatal designs..."

New books I crave but don't have....yet:

The Refugees, a collection of stories by Viet Thanh Nguyen, winner of the 2016 Pulitzer for The Sympathizer.

Music of the Ghosts by Vaddey Ratner, April 11, 2017, Touchstone. Ratner is the author of the novel on a family's escape from the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, In the Shadow of the Banyan.

What are you reading and what books do you wish for this week?
Welcome to the Sunday Salon where bloggers share their reading each week. Visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer. Also visit It's Monday, What Are You Reading? hosted by Book Date Also visit Mailbox Monday

Feb 10, 2017

Book Beginning: Miranda Warning by Heather Day Gilbert

Memes: The Friday 56. Grab a book, turn to page 56 or 56% of your eReader. Find any sentence that grabs you. Post it, and add your URL post in Linky at Freda's Voice. Also visit Book Beginning at Rose City Reader.
Miranda Warning by Heather Day Gilbert, June 14, 2014, e-book edition.
Book description: Child of the Appalachian mountains, Tess Spencer has experienced more than her share of heartache. But when an anonymous warning note shows up in her best friend Miranda’s mailbox—a note written in a dead woman’s handwriting—Tess quickly discovers that ghosts are alive and well in Buckneck, West Virginia. Tinged with the supernatural and overshadowed by the mountains' lush, protective presence, this twisting psychological mystery is the first in A Murder in the Mountains series.

Book beginning:
I chose the day I would die.
My husband's deep brown eyes glowed as he handed me the cocoa. "Maybe you'll sleep better tonight, Rosey."
I was tied of the charade between us. I never wanted to smile at his dinner parties again. Never wanted to beg him for the children he wouldn't give me. I'd never again clean up his clothes, covered in moonshine vomit.

Page 56:
I slide the gun out of the pocket and into his hand. "Live and Let Die, my dear."

What book are you reading that you want to share with us?

Feb 5, 2017

Sunday Salon: Dragon Springs Road by Janie Chang

Dragon Springs Road by Janie Chang, January 10, 2016, courtesy of William Morrow. In early 20th century Shanghai—the novel follows a young Eurasian orphan’s search for her long-lost mother.

Where and What: I finished this last night and was pretty satisfied with the ending after a long journey with the young orphan Jialing trying to find her place during upheavals in China - the end of the Qing dynasty, the presidency of Sun Yat-Sen in a new republic, the warlord era, and the rise of the Nationalists.  

Themes include the harsh treatment of Eurasian children during those times and the plight of orphans. Jialing is rescued by Miss Morris, the headmistress of a missionary school, who pays Jialing's patrons to educate her at the school.

Themes of Chinese beliefs include the fox spirit who acts as a guardian and protector of Jialing during her young years.

Recommendation: Combine an intriguing story with history and romance, a story with twists and turns that is never predictable or boring, excellent writing, and you have a winner in this atmospheric historical novel. I gave it five stars on goodreads.

A new book that I plan to read soon:

Windy City Blues by Renee Rosen, February 28, 2017, Berkley.

About: one woman's journey of self-discovery set against the backdrop of a musical and social revolution.

When:  the middle of the twentieth century, the music of the Mississippi Delta arrived in Chicago.

What: Chess Records helped shape that music into the Chicago Blues

Who: Leeba Groski comes into her own as a songwriter and befriends performers like Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf, Chuck Berry, and Etta James. But she also finds love with a black blues guitarist named Red Dupree.

Conflict: segregated society, family conflicts, Civil Rights Movement

Two used books I bought yesterday:
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri, September 1, 2004Themes: the immigrant experience, the clash of cultures, the conflicts of assimilation, and, most poignantly, the tangled ties between generations.

Mean Streak by Sandra Brown, August 19, 2014.
Theme: Dr. Emory Charbonneau, a pediatrician and marathon runner, disappears on a mountain road in North Carolina, captured by a known violent man. Her husband Jeff reports her missing, as fog and ice encapsulate the mountainous wilderness.

Eager to read both books!

Welcome to the Sunday Salon where bloggers share their reading each week. Visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer. Also visit It's Monday, What Are You Reading? hosted by Book Date Also visit Mailbox Monday

Sunday Salon: Japanese Authors and a Mystery

  Klara and the Sun   by Kazuo Ishiguro.  Klara and the Sun was easy to read for a literary novel of such magnitude and celebrity, I found...