Jun 302012
 

Summerland: A Novel
Reagan Arthur Books
Little Brown & Company
Hachette Book Group
Available Now

Summerland


It’s graduation day at Nantucket High. On the warm June evening the parties have moved to a bonfire at the beach. Four teens decide to leave the party and tragedy strikes when the driver of the Jeep floors the gas pedal and the vehicle goes airborne then comes to rest on a beach. Penny Alistair is dead, her twin brother Hobby is in a coma with 16 broken bones. Penny’s boyfriend, Jake and their friend Demeter are unhurt physically. They had on their seat belts. They are so many questions and the survivors will continue to be haunted by what happened.

Zoe, Penny and Hobby’s mother has raised these kids alone. She would be called a “free spirit” who raised two wonderful and talented children. Hobby was a star athlete and Penny had the voce of an angel. How can she survive without her daughter and does she have enough strength to help Hobby recover?

The summer is spent trying to figure out why the accident happened and parents doing everything they can to protect their children. For some that means really seeing their children for the first time in years and realizing they have not been the parent their children needed them to be. They key to understanding the accident means finding out what happened at that bonfire. Will all the secrets be revealed?

Dollycas’s Thoughts
Told from several points of view this story gives honest portrayal of lives changed in a split second. For one there is no turning back but for the rest of individuals involved it is a chance to make better choices, to reach out for help, to reflect, to be honest with themselves, and to try to move forward in a better direction.

There is so much happening in this story. The characters and the situations they find themselves in are very complex. It reads almost like a mystery as you follow the clues to try to figure out what happened in the dunes on the beach and what made certain characters fall so far. Emotions run the gambit as we try to empathize with each and every character.

This is a wonderful beach read but not my favorite my this author. Silver Girl still holds that spot. Just one note to the author, people can be paralyzed side to side. My right side is paralyzed, but not the left.

Dollycas

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About the Author*
Elin Hilderbrand: novelist, mother of three, sports enthusiast, avid fan of Bruce Springsteen, Veuve Clicquot, and four-inch heels. She sits on the Board of Directors at the Nantucket Boys & Girls Club and Nantucket Little League. Her resting pulse is 65.

*From Amazon.com

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Mar 272012
 

Guilty Wives
Little, Brown and Company
Hachette Book Group
Available Now!

Four wives fly off in a helicopter no less for a Girl’s Weekend in Monte Carlo. Serena Schofield, a former U.S. Champion skier, she is the one footing the bill for this weekend. Her husband provides for her but it really is a loveless marriage. Bryah Gordon, born in Johannesburg under the oppression of apartheid, her husband is very controlling and at times physically abusive, so this is her first ever weekend away with just the girls. Winnie Brookes, an exotic Brit, beautiful inside as well as out. Her husband was in British Intelligence for years and now works at the British Embassy in Bern. Then there is Abbie Elliot, her husband is a diplomat at the U.S. Embassy in Bern. She can’t believe these women are her friends.

They are all having a fabulous time hitting the casinos and clubs, eating delicacies, drinking champagne, sitting by the pool, drawing the attention of many handsome men. Sounds like a wonderful weekend right?

When the “girls” wake up on a yacht surrounded by police they realize something awful has happened. They are arrested for a crime so unbelievable. The vacation of a lifetime becomes the fight of a lifetime.

Dollycas’s Thoughts
A few years ago I read that James Patterson has so many story ideas that he basically just writes about a 100 page outline for each idea and then passes off to a co-writer to complete. This formula has produced many bestsellers. I had read two books earlier this year by David Ellis and was very impressed with his work. 

The theme of this book is interesting but there are just a couple of things that are keeping me from loving this book and giving it 5 stars. I am really starting to hate the 2 or 3 chapters at the beginning of a book that tell us almost word for word something happening later and then the story moves back to where the events started. It ruins the flow when you get to that part of the book and you think, “I already read this/knew this”. Then early in the book the readers are given a huge clue to what really happened and we keep reading until the characters realize the truth and have that “aha moment”. It takes away from the suspense.

With that being said I did enjoy the story. The procedures followed by the French officials, detectives, prison guards and the ease of buying certain ones off really showed the French in a bad light. I have never been to France or in this situation but realize being in prison is no picnic. What these ladies experienced could very well be true. It does make for a fine piece of fiction.

Patterson and his co-writers do deliver good stories. After so many and releasing so many each year I feel like they are getting to be rushed out to rake in the cash. This book will still be a bestseller because of Patterson’s reputation but this really could of have been great with just a few changes. My recommendation when you read this book start on page 15 and only read the first paragraph on page 31. Then you will love this book!!!


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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Feb 102012
 

2012 best historical fiction
The Snow Child: A Novel
Reagan Arthur Books/ Little, Brown and Company
Hachette Book Group
Just Released

Set in the 1920’s, Jack and Mabel need a change. They are missing the child they lost and it is just too painful to be around friends and relatives and all their children. They set their sights to the Northwest, Alaska to be specific, to set up a homestead and a new life. The work and isolation feels good at first, but they are still longing for a child. Can their marriage stand the trials they have in front of them? Will their love see them through?

All the sudden it starts to snow, a thick wet snow, they venture outside and build a child out of snow, complete with a scarf and mittens.  The next morning the snow child is gone and a tiny trail of footsteps lead into the woods. For weeks they catch glimpses of something in the woods but both of them think they are only seeing what they wish for, not anything really there. Until a little girl shows up at their doorstep.

 

Dollycas’s Thoughts
This story was so much more than I originally thought it would be. I had heard of a fairy tale about a snow child so I thought I knew where this story was going. I was so wrong. This book is full of love, loss, friendship, trust, pain, suffering and joy.

I would have gone crazy in the wilderness all alone with just my husband. Love is wonderful, but I was so glad that a boisterous, blustery, neighbor family befriended Jack and Mabel. Imagine having only one person to talk to do day in and day out for days on end, it’s freezing cold outside, and the land is full of moose, bears and coyotes. The people of that era had a strength I can only imagine.

You can tell the author is an Alaskan native as Alaska is not just a setting, it is another character in this beautifully written story. It contains a certain magic that transcends imagination while still giving a real look at how hard homesteading in Alaska was in the 1920’s. I can see how the fairy tale I remembered The Snow Child: A Russian Folktale was a bit of the inspiration but Ivey transforms it into an extraordinary story all her own.

This is the author’s debut novel. I can easily see it becoming classic.


The publisher is generously giving several blogs copies of this novel to giveaway.
I will add my gently read review copy so I have a total of 4 copies to giveaway.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Feb 032012
 

One Hundred and One Nights: A Novel
Back Bay Books/Little Brown & Company
Hachette Book Group
Available Now

After 13 years in America, Abu Saheeh has returned to his native Iraq, a nation transformed by the American military presence. Alone in a new city, he has exactly what he wants: freedom from his past. Then he meets Layla, a whimsical fourteen-year-old girl who enchants him with her love of American pop culture. Enchanted by Layla’s stories and her company, Abu Saheeh settles into the city’s rhythm and begins rebuilding his life. But two sudden developments–his alliance with a powerful merchant and his employment of a hot-headed young assistant–reawaken painful memories, and not even Layla may be able to save Abu Saheeh from careening out of control and endangering all around them.

Dollycas’s Thoughts
I originally found out about this author and this book from an article in a local newspaper. The author is from a town about 25 miles from me and when I read the synopsis above of the story I knew I just had to get a copy.

Abu Saheeh has a routine to each day and Layla interrupts that routine. As the story continues we get a better understanding of the routine and the pressures he is facing. Trying to rebuild his life and forgetting about his past is no easy task.

The story starts out slowly and builds and builds with several unexpected twists. Through the use of flashbacks we learn not only about Abu Saheeh but about the people of Iraq and the way the country has changed. How the past effects the present and the future. The metamorphosis that has taken place due to the ravages of war. Things you can never understand without being there physically, but Buchholz does his best to take us there with his talent of brilliant storytelling. The blowing sand fills every crack and crevice, the convoys of Humvees and transport trucks is unending, the devastation is right before your eyes as you walk through the marketplace. You will be deeply affected by this story. It is heart wrenching and is truly unforgettable.

Benjamin Buchholz is an amazing writer to bring this story to fruition just from his experience during his one-year deployment in Iraq with the Wisconsin National Guard and his continuing studies. His insights into these situations are astounding. He brings Abu Saheeh and Layla to life in an remarkable way. His words share with us the story that goes untold. Life in a place most of will only see on television and then highly edited.  I can’t believe this is his first novel.

I understand he is at work on his next novel and I am anxiously awaiting it. This is definitely an author to watch!


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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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