Friday, March 6, 2015

Edge of Eternity (Book 3) Century Trilogy; Ken Follett

Edge of Eternity; Ken Follett
Book Three of the Century Trilogy
Dutton - 2014

Ken Follet is truly a master at historical fiction. In 2010 he published the first book in his Century Trilogy with Fall of Giants, (2012) Winter of the World and in (2014), the final trilogy, Edge of Eternity.  Although, I really enjoyed the previously (2) books, I hadn't felt like tackling the final book. In part because of it's size, once again over 1,000 pages, but because, I knew it was the end of a wonderful reading experience. I actually finished this one in February, but held off writing the review to think about it a bit.

This installment spans the period of 1961-1989 and covers such history making events as the Cuban Missile Crisis, Civil Rights Movement. JFK Assassination, Nixon and Watergate, and even has a epilogue of president Obama's victory speech.  The same significant families are featured, but this time it's a different generation (grandchildren) involved. Fortunately there are family trees provided which were very helpful given the two-plus year lapse since I read the previous book.

The Edge of Eternity and the trilogy as a whole is no ordinary historical work; the recent that most have been involved is impressive.  As a work of fiction, I had to keep reminding myself of that, when historically something seems a bit off. The characters are fascinating, American families, Germans, Russians and English are represented.  All of the characters are very well developed and seemed authentic throughout.

The story took me back to my school days for some of these history making events. The Cuban Missile crisis, JFK's assassination, although I was a child and at an age when the issues were not really understood, it was still scary for me and other children when observing the reactions of older adults.

This book has so much to offer readers, even though it's not perfect. There's a lot of sex and politics that some readers will take issue with, but personally I felt that it added to the story and did not distract.  I think you could read this as a stand alone, but in my opinion, you'd be missing the opportunity to really appreciate the all that the entire trilogy has to offer.

4.5/5 stars

Monday, March 2, 2015

Be Back Soon -- Maybe

Computer Issues and Too Much Snow
are not Blogging motivators.

February Wrap Up and New Books

Well, I tried to post this yesterday, the 4th weekend in a row --- it's snowing, however I am having HUGE problems with my lsptop, and hate posting from my iPad, but it seems I will gave to finish this post that way.

I read some really good books in about you?  I read (12) books and had (3) 5 star reads - (1) fiction (1) non-fiction and (1) kids book.

  1. The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy; Rachel Joyce - 4/5 (eGalley) (Feb) 
  2. The Bone Orchard; Paul Doiron - 3.5/5 (audio) (Feb)
  3. A Fireproof Home for the Bride; Amy Scheibe - 3/5 (arc) (Feb) 
  4. Food: A Love Story; Jim Gaffigan - 4/5 (audio) - (Feb) 
  5. Aquarium; David Vann - 5/5 (eGalley) - (Feb) 
  6. The Half Brother; Holly LeCraw - 2/5 (arc) (Feb)
  7. Foreign Gods, Inc.; Okey Odibe - 4.5/5 (audio) (Feb) 
  8. Cat & Bunny; Mary Lundquist; 5/5 (library) (Feb) 
  9. The Drop; Dennis Lehane - 4/5 (arc) (Feb) 
  10. The Interestings; Meg Wolitzer - 3.5/5 (audio) (Feb) 
  11. A Letter to My Cat; Lisa Espamer - 5/5 (library) (Feb)
  12. The Edge of Eternity; Ken Follett - 4.5/5 (eGalley) (Feb)
I also received several new books in the mail over the last (2) weeks.

  • Before I Go; Colleen Oakley - Gallery Books
  • A Little Life; Hanya Yanaghara
  • Some Luck; Jane Smiley
  • Making Nice; Matt Sumell
  • Howards End; E.M. Forster
  • If I Fall, If I Die; Michael Chistie
  • Where They Found Her; Kimberly McCreight
  • Black Run; Antonio Manzini
  • Diamond Head; Cecily Wong
  • In Wilderness; Diane Thomas
  • Sisters of Shiloh; Kathy Hepinstall
I apologize for being too frustrated to try to link the rest of these new books, using my iPad������

Have a good week, I need to research new laptop options.  Be back soon .....I HOPE!!

Friday, February 27, 2015

A Letter to My Cat: Notes to Our Best Friends; Lisa Erspamer

Crown Archetype - 2014

A Letter to My Cat is one of those unique books that is a must read for anyone who has ever owned and loved a cat or two or more.  The book is a collection of short letters that cat owners have written to the cat(s), generally one letter per page, along with a beautiful colored picture of the cat.

Some of the letters in the story are funny, some will make you smile or remind you of  your own cat. There are stories from people who have rescued strays, and how the stray cat ended up rescuing them afterward by being there for them during the darkest days in their life.  Handicapped cats. therapy cats and ordinary house cats, each with a unique personality, fill the pages of this beautiful collection. There is a letter from a soldier who served in Iraq who rescued an abused cat while serving our country. He tells of how the cat ended up saving him from committing suicide down the road.

Many of the letters are written by celebrities about their cats, and even cat behaviorist, Jackson Galaxy offers a personal letter.  A few of the letters I ended up reading out loud to my husband -- stories about cats who sleep with their owner and gets their human to willingly rearrange their body so as not to disturb their cat's sleep. Cats who accompany you to the bathroom when you shower, the vocal cats who don't take "no" for an answer,  the cats who know your every emotion and when you need a fluffy warm lap warmer most of all, and just so much more.

At the end of the book there is a small photo and bio collection about the contributors of each letter and information about the animals in their lives.This beautiful book would make a great gift for the cat lover in your life.

5/5 stars
(library book)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Coming Soon to a Book Store Near You - A Little Life; Hanya Yanagihara

Here's my "Coming Soon to a Book Store Near You" pick for today.  What do you think?

 A Little Life; Hanya  Yanagihara
Doubleday - March - 2015


Brace yourself for the most astonishing, challenging, upsetting, and profoundly moving book in many a season. An epic about love and friendship in the twenty-first century that goes into some of the darkest places fiction has ever traveled and yet somehow improbably breaks through into the light. Truly an amazement—and a great gift for its publisher.

When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they're broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever.

In rich and resplendent prose, Yanagihara has fashioned a tragic and transcendent hymn to brotherly love, a masterful depiction of heartbreak, and a dark examination of the tyranny of memory and the limits of human endurance.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Interestings; Meg Wolitzer

The Interestings; Meg Wolitzer
Penguin Audio - 2013

 I had read several reviews about this book over the past year and thought the story sounded "interesting" (no pun intended).

The Interestings follows the lives of (6) individuals who meet at an artsy summer camp called Spirit in the Woods, in the Berkshires. All but one of these teens came from very wealthy families living in New York City, while Julia (Jules), was there on scholarship - her father passed away in his 40s of pancreatic cancer. It's the1970s, and during the course of that summer, the group calls themselves "The Interestings", making a pact of sorts that they will make something of themselves and their lives moving forward. 

Over the course of some 40 years, the lives of, Julia (Jules), Ethan, Cathy, Jonah and siblings Ash and Goodman are followed. If the group stays true to their promise, what happens when one member of the group makes it really big, and others are still trying to figure things out?  From meaty topics like feminism, the AIDS crisis, sexual preference and 9/11, to the more common themes like marriage, children and careers, the author explores these issues and more in much detail.  

Each of the characters were well developed and, while I thought that the story was way too long at over 500 pages, it was still a good audio book to listen to. The book was narrated by Jen Tullock who did a great job.

Throughout the story there were keen observations and raw emotions that really made you think about what each character was feeling at the time. Although I was expecting that some of the group would fare better than the others, I wasn't expecting as much tragedy as what was written into this story.  This story demonstrated how some adults never do realize their full potential in life as a result of the things that happen to them as children. Although I couldn't relate to a lot of what these individuals experienced, it was still a story that made me reflect on my own life and the friendships that were made early on.

3.5/5 stars
(library audio)

The Drop; Dennis Lehane

The Drop; Dennis Lehane
2014 - William Morrow

The Drop has been on my radar since last fall. I'm a big fan of author, Dennis Lehane and, the film version was the last film that James Gandolfini starred in before his untimely death. It's a very short crime thriller that takes place in Boston (movie version Brooklyn).
Bob Saginowski, a quiet, lonely guy who works as a bartender at his cousin Marv's bar. Cousin Marv no longer owns the place, but still runs it. The place is also a "drop" site for illegally obtained money collected by the Chechen mob.
But in this story, it's Bob, not Marv, who is by far the most interesting character of the story. He is guilt-ridden, spends time at church, and tends bar. A few days after Christmas, he is walking home from work and hears whimpering coming out of a trash can on the sidewalk. He finds a beaten, pit bull puppy. The woman who lives in the house helps Bob, clean and nurse the puppy, and Bob soon becomes the dog's savior.  The puppy who he names Rocco, and the woman play an integral role in the complications which arise as the story progresses.

The Drop, is a story about desperate people and the desperate situations that occur when people make bad decisions in life.  The author paints a very vivid description of the characters, the neighborhood and how the mob operates.  A very short story with an ending that packs a punch.

4/5 stars
(review copy)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros ~ Etta and Otto and Russell and James; Emma Hooper

Every Tuesday I host First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where I share the first paragraph or (a few) of a book I am reading or thinking about reading soon.

Simon & Schuster - 2015


"The letter began, in blue ink,

I've gone. I've never seen the water, so I've gone there.  Don't worry, I've left you the truck. I can walk. I will try to remember to come back.

Yours (always),

Underneath the letter she had left a pile of recipe cards.  All the things she had always made.  Also in blue ink,  So he would know what and how to eat while she was away.  Otto sat down at the table and arranged them so no two were overlapping.   Columns and rows.  He thought about putting on his coat and shoes and going out to try and find her, maybe asking neighbors if they had seen which way she went, but he didn't.He just sat at the table with the letter and the cards.His hands trembled. He laid one of top of the other to calm them."
What do you think, would you read more?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Cat & Bunny; Mary Lundquist

Cat & Bunny; Mary Lundquist
Balzer & Bray - 2015

Cat & Bunny  are the very best of friends, in fact, they were even born on the same day and same year.  Every since they were little, they've done everything together -- just the two of them.  They've even made up games, where they are the only ones who know the rules.

One day when they are out playing, Quail, asks to join in. Bunny says, "sure", but Cat isn't so sure about inviting someone else into the circle.  Soon many other children join in the fun, but Cat is sad and upset and runs off to be alone.  Cat, however, isn't alone for long, when someone comes along and Cat begins to understand what friendship is all about.

This is a very cute debut book about friendship.  The illustrations are so terrific -- mostly earth toned, pencil and water color drawings against a white background.  The little children are dressed in cute animal costumes, and simple sentences help tell a story about friends having fun.


5/5 stars
(library book) 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Foreign Gods Inc; Okey Ndibe

Foreign Gods, Inc; Okey Ndibe
Blackstone Audio - 2014

Foreign Gods, Inc. tells the story of Ike - Ikechikwu Uzondu, a brilliant man from Nigeria with a degree in Economics from prestigious Amherst College. Ike lives in Brooklyn and now works in New York City as a taxi driver. He's capable of so much more, but has been told that his foreign (Igbo) accent is holding him back from obtaining a job on Wall Street. 

Disillusioned with the American dream, trying to make ends meet, and now divorced from the woman he married with the hopes of getting his green card, Ike has a plan. After he reads an article about, "Foreign Gods Inc.",  a gallery that buys and sells foreign deities, items which have become popular among the "I have more money than I know what to do with crowd", Ike decides to return his native village of Nutonki, in Nigeria to steal a war statue called Ngene. The statue revered by many from his former tribe, he believes he can sell it off once he returns to New York. After borrowing the money to return home in hope of carrying out his plans, he runs into a few obstacles and surprises along the way.

Back home his family and former friends have their own issues. He finds they are caught up in a religious war and conflicted. The first real love of his life is now a widow with five children. And, to make matters work Ike's uncle is now a devoted priest of Ngene, the very god figure he planned to steal.

Foreign Gods, Inc., is a wonderful tale about one immigrant's pursuit of the American Dream. Ike is a compelling character who experienced more than a few bad breaks. It's easy to get caught up in his story and that of those around him back home. He was an easy character to root for. The writing is engaging, clever and darkly humorous. Foreign Gods, Inc. is one of those stories that I wasn't sure I would enjoy, but ended up liking so much, such a pleasant surprise. This is definitely an author with talent, I plan to be on the lookout for more of his work moving forward. The audio book is read by, Dominic Hoffman who does an excellent job.

4.5/5 stars
(library audiobook)