Tuesday, April 30, 2013

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph Tuesday Intros

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. Care to join us?

This week I'm featuring an intro from a book that was released in February of 2013. 


" IN THE COLD and windy days after I was born, I was deposited into an old canoe on the big lake.  I have recently discovered this.  I like to think my birth parents believed that this lake would hold me safe, but I don't see how that could possibly be true, for it turns out I come from a long line of people swallowed by these waters.  My name is Alice, and by the time I was born, unwanted, the belief that there were places in the lake where the floor of the world either dropped out or was never put in and had settled itself deep into my blood."

What do you think? Would you keep reading or move on to something else?  Please join us and add your link below.

Monday, April 29, 2013

April in a Nutshell ~ Monthly Wrap - Up

(4) months on 2013 are gone with (8) more to go.  Those of you who have set reading goals, how are you doing?

I set an annual reading goal of (125) books minimum, and so far I've read (48), so I'm on track so far. I also hope to read (20) books from my Bucket List, and so far have read (5). April was a pretty good month, I read (10) books, and my favorite was Kent Haruf's, Benediction. Here's my April list:
  1. The Giant's House; Elizabeth McCracken - 3.5/5 (bucket list) - April-2013 
  2. Parlor Games; Maryka Biaggio - 4/5 (audio and eGalley) - April 2013
  3. Benediction; Kent Haruf - 4.5/5 (eGalley/ARC) - April 2013
  4. The Middlesteins ; Jamie Attenburg - 4/5 (eGalley & audio) - April 2013
  5. Telling the Bees; Peggy Hesketh - 4/5 (eGalley/ARC) - April 2013)
  6. The Cat; Edeet Ravel - 3.5/5 (eGalley) - April 2013)
  7. The Garden of Eden; Ernest Hemingway - 3.5/5 (my shelves) - April 2013
  8. Power Foods for the Brain; Neal Barnard, M.D. - 4.5/5 (eGalley) - April 2013
  9. The Comfort of Lies; Randy Susan Meyer - 4/5 (eGalley) - April 2013
  10. Chinese Whiskers; Pallavi Aiyar - 3/5 (library) - April 2013 - no review yet
I listened to fewer audio books in April (1.5), as I always seem to listen to about (1) per week.  I started a few more, but knew the narrator's wouldn't work for me, so I stopped after the first disk.

May Plans:
Enjoy the nice weather everyone, which may mean a bit less blogging for the next few months, but at least a few new posts each week.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Saturday Snapshots - April 27th

Saturday Snapshot

Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don't post random photos that you find online. 

I haven't had time for any picture-taking lately, but I found these from last spring that made me smile:

 (outside my living room)

(taken inside of a greenhouse on Smith College Campus)
(sadly a stuffed bird in this one)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Comfort of Lies; Randy Susan Meyers

Title: The Comfort of Lies
Author: Randy Susan Meyer
Publication Year:  2013

Publisher: Atria
Edition: eGalley
Source: NetGalley

Setting: New England
Date Completed: April - 2013
Rating: 4/5 
Recommended: yes

The Comfort of Lies in a terrific character study about how infidelity, a resulting pregnancy and subsequent baby given up for adoption effects the lives of so many individuals: (3) mothers, (2) fathers and a now five year old girl, Savannah.
Five years earlier Tia fell in love with with a married man. Nathan had a wife, Juliette,  and two young sons that he adored.  When Tia became pregnant Nathan walked away.  Alone, her mother dying, Tia wanted more for her baby than she could provide at the time so she put the baby up for adoption. Never giving up hope that she could reconnect with the daughter she gave away later on.
Savannah is adopted by a well-off professional couple, Caroline and Peter. Caroline is a pathologist and unsure whether motherhood is right for her, and almost from the get-go problems begin to surface.
This is one of those stories where I can't say too much without giving out some spoilers.  It's definitely a case of Nathan, you can run, but you can't hide, and once the secret is found out by all parties involved, no ones life will ever be the same.
The story is told from the various points of view, and although none of the characters were really sympathetic (except for the child), I was heavily engaged in the story, and never really sure how it would end.  Readers who enjoy character driven novels, especially ones weighted in the women's fiction category will enjoy this story.  I've also read and enjoyed The Murder's Daughters by this author and recommend that book as well.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Power Foods for the Brain: An Effective 3-Step Plan to Protect Your Mind and Strengthen Your Memory; Neal Barnard, M.D.

Title: Power Foods for the Brain
Author: Neal Barnard, M.D.
Publication Year:  2013

Publisher: Hachette
Edition: eGalley
Source: NetGalley

Date Completed: April - 2013
Rating: 4.5/5 
Recommended: yes

Having begun 2013 with a goal of eating healthier, Power Foods for the Brain, by Neal Barnard, M.D., seemed like a book worth taking a look at.   Dr. Barnard suggests that eating a plant-based diet, increasing time spent exercising and getting more sleep might protect you from developing memory problems later in life. The book focuses on 4 food groups we should eat more of: fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, and he also recommends that you keep oil intake low.  He believes it is these food groups that contain large amounts of nutrients and antioxidants that may actually help reduce brain shrinkage by eliminating free radicals from our system, which destroys brain cells. 
Dr Barnard does remind us that there are some genetic factors that play into an individuals likelihood for developing dementia and/or Alzheimer's disease, and mentions the fact that a rare gene has been linked to early-onset Alzheimer's as well. He even uses observations of his own family members who were raised on a cattle farm and ate a regular diet of meat, potatoes and corn. He reports that old age and dementia went pretty much hand and hand for his relatives. He does acknowledge the fact that even vegans can develop Alzheimer's, but based on numerous studies of looking at what people ate and what other healthy changes they made over the years, he concludes that improved brain functioning can result and  that it is even possible to promote the growth of new neurons.
I felt there is something for most everyone to be gained by reading this book.  I especially liked that there were some 75 power-food recipes developed by (2) chefs  - Christine Waltermyer and Jason Wyrick. The recipes actually look quite good. There are also mental stimulation exercises and physical exercise suggestions, as well as, tips on choosing aluminum-free foods and medicines. 

Waiting on Wednesday - The Lowland, Jhumpa Lahiri

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. This week's pick is by an author I have enjoyed in the past (all of her books have been very good).

(hope this isn't the final cover art)

Knopf - September 24, 2013 

From Subhash's earliest memories, at every point, his brother was there. In the suburban streets of Calcutta where they wandered before dusk and in the hyacinth-strewn ponds where they played for hours on end, Udayan was always in his older brother's sight. So close in age, they were inseparable in childhood and yet, as the years pass - as U.S tanks roll into Vietnam and riots sweep across India - their brotherly bond can do nothing to forestall the tragedy that will upend their lives. Udayan - charismatic and impulsive - finds himself drawn to the Naxalite movement, a rebellion waged to eradicate inequity and poverty. He will give everything, risk all, for what he believes, and in doing so will transform the futures of those dearest to him: his newly married, pregnant wife, his brother and their parents. For all of them, the repercussions of his actions will reverberate across continents and seep through the generations that follow. Epic in its canvas and intimate in its portrayal of lives undone and forged anew, The Lowland is a deeply felt novel of family ties that entangle and fray in ways unforeseen and unrevealed, of ties that ineluctably define who we are. With all the hallmarks of Jhumpa Lahiri's achingly poignant, exquisitely empathetic story-telling, this is her most devastating work of fiction to date.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph Tuesday Intros

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. Care to join us?

This week I'm featuring an intro from a book that was released in February of 2013. 

W.W. Norton & Co

"If Claire had to look back and decide why she had the affair in the first place, she would point to the missing boy.  This was in mid-June, during those first humid days when the air in Virginia hangs thick.  School was coming to an end, and from her kitchen window Claire could see the bus stop at the corner and the neighborhood children, sweaty in skirts and blouses, khaki trousers and damp cotton shirts, pile out of it like a lazy litter of puppies.  Their school bags dragged along the sidewalk; their catcher's mitts drooped.  Jump ropes trailed behind a small group of girls, as if even they were too hot."

Now my big question to you, "Would you keep reading, or pass on this one?"  (I haven't started this one, but Ann Hood is an author that I have enjoyed in the past.)

Feel free to grab the image and link your post below.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Garden of Eden; Ernest Hemingway

Title: The Garden of Eden
Author: Ernest Hemingway
Publication Year:  1986

Publisher: Scribner
Edition: trade softcover
Source: my shelves

Setting: France
Date Completed: April - 2013
Rating: 3.5/5 
Recommended: not sure 

The Garden of Eden was a very different novel, and actually after a while I found it kind of boring. It was published in 1986, some 25 years after Hemingway's death.

It's the story of an American writer, David Bourne, and his new wife Catherine (Hill) who have traveled to the coast of France for their honeymoon.

David is very smart, but he lets his new wife call all of the shots.  I'm guessing he's either a wimp or he just doesn't want to rock the boat being that they are newlyweds, and they are having plenty of sex throughout the novel.  Catherine is a piece of work. She's beautiful, rich and spoiled. She isn't supportive of David's writing career and instead views his time spent writing as her "competition".  At one point, in a childish tantrum she even burns some of his work.  To spice things up a bit she cuts her hair to look like a young man, and she even begins to dress like one.  She even introduces another woman into their physical relationship. The woman, Marita, seems to care more about David than Catherine does. David is uncomfortable with this whole idea, yet once again he lets his wife call the shots and goes along with what she says.

This story definitely felt like an unfinished work to me, and for me the way it ended just didn't seem to fit the story. It is probably the reason why it was never published until after Hemingway's death.

Have you read this one?  Am I the only one who was a little disappointed. This was one from my 2013 Bucket List, it's been on my shelf unread for years.

A few quotes I liked --
  • "Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know."
  • “When you start to live outside yourself, it's all dangerous.”
  • "All I want to do is kill you," David said. "And the only reason I don't do it is because you are crazy." 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday - Infatuations; Javier Marias

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. This week's pick:

Infatuations; Javier Marias
August 13, 2013 (Knopf) 

The award-winning, internationally best-selling Spanish writer joins the Knopf list with an immersive, provocative novel propelled by a seemingly random murder that we come to understand--or do we?--through one woman's ever-unfurling imagination, meditations, and infatuations.

At the Madrid café where she stops for breakfast each day before work, María Dolz finds herself drawn to a couple who is also there every morning. Though she can hardly explain it, observing what she imagines to be their unblemished life lifts her out of the doldrums of her own existence. But what begins as mere observation turns into an increasingly complicated entanglement when the man is brutally murdered. María approaches the widow to offer her condolences, and at the couple's home she meets--and falls in love with--a man who sheds disturbing new light on the crime. As María recounts this story, we are given a murder mystery brilliantly reimagined as metaphysical enquiry, a novel that grapples with questions of love and death, chance and coincidence, and above all, with the slippery essence of the truth and how it is told.

Does this one sound like one you might enjoy?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph Tuesday Intros

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.  Care to join us? Feel free to grab the image and link your post below.

This week I'm featuring an intro from a book that was released in January of 2013. 

Algonquin Books

"I am crouched in the darkness behind my bedroom door, listening for my wife to crack the silence with a sneeze or cough or some other little noise that tells me it's not safe to leave.  She is down the hall, in the room meant for children, and I know she leaves her door open, and that her ears never sleep, that they listen for my exit noises, the retracting dead bolt and creaking floorboards.  Heart without peace, she might just be lying in bed awake, holding her breath.  A river of sweat flows down my spine and pools between my legs, but I cannot move, until I am sure she won't hear me slinking out."

What do you think? Would you keep reading or move on to something else?  Please join us and add your link below.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Cat; Edeet Ravel

Title: The Cat
Author: Edeet Ravel
Publication Year:  2013 

Publisher: Penguin/Pintail
Edition: eGalley
Source: Edelweiss

Setting: Ontario
Date Completed: April - 2013
Rating: 3.5/5 
Recommend: yes

Don't roll your eyes based on the title on this novel, as it's just not another story about a cat.  It's actually a story about loss, grief and moving forward.  A work of fiction that almost feels like it's based on a life experience, the story is about a woman named Elise who loses her only child, her eleven-year old son in a tragic accident.

Mother and son lived in a remote area of Ontario in a cozy little cottage perfect for just the two of them.  Elise is an artist, and although we never learn the name of her son, which kind of bothered me, we did learn that he was a smart, gentle boy who loved nature and animals.  He was doing what he loved, searching in the tall grass for something that moved, when he was struck by a car and killed instantly.

Though it is said that many people find extra strength when they need it the most, Elise was not one of those people.  She couldn't deal with what needed to be done and instead called her ex-husband to take care of all of the final arrangements.  Almost immediately she drifted into a paralyzing grief that made her want to end her own life as well, but then something happened.  Her son's cat Pursie, who was adopted from a shelter two years earlier was constantly at her side, often purring loudly.  Something eventually clicked and Elise realized that her son would be very disappointed if she was not there to care for Pursie.

Over a period of seven months, Elise leads a life of isolation. She closes her email account, and cuts herself off from the living -- just her and Pursie, until finally she realizes that life goes on however painful the past may seem.

I found this story pretty powerful, but Elise was a character I could not warm up to.  Although Pursie was the reason she never ends her life, the story is never about "the cat".  It's really a story about loss, pain, grieving and finding a reason to keep going after tragedy strikes -- in this case "the cat".  Overall this was a short yet memorable read, one that would be a good choice especially for someone who has lost a child.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Telling the Bees; Peggy Hesketh

Title: Telling the Bees
Author: Peggy Hesketh
Publication Year:  2013

Publisher: Penguin/ Putnam
Edition: eGalley/ARC
Source: Edelweiss and Amazon Vine  
Setting: California
Date Completed: April - 2013
Rating: 4/5 
Recommend: yes 

Tell the Bees was a different type of debut novel. It felt like part mystery and part "Intro to Beekeeping."

Albert Honig is an elderly, 80-something man who has lived his whole life in the same place. Raised on this very farm country of orange groves in California, his life has not been about people, it's been about bees and beekeeping.

He's a man who has been content with his life of routine, tending the bees, staring at the sky at night and everything that is simple and uncomplicated. Yet as I read more and more about Arthur, I could see he seemed very judgmental of others which seemed odd for someone who never interacted much with people.

One day Arthur realizes that he hasn't seen his neighbors, Claire and Hilda Straussman in some time. He goes next door to check on them and finds their door unlocked, no response to his voice, so he walks inside their home. They are both dead, apparently murdered and so he calls the police.

Investigating the deaths is Detective Grayson who seems to be losing his patience with Arthur. Arthur is not being very helpful when he's asked direct questions, which makes him look a little suspicious.

The patient reader, through earlier memories of Arthur, will learn about his 70 year friendship with sisters Claire and Hilda, as well as information about their murders. For a man who seemed to be such a loner, he knew quite a bit more about the women than one would expect.

I read that this story was a fictionalize account of real life events, and although the story was more about the people than it was about the actual murder, I found it to be a well written debut. Each chapter begins with a blurb about bees or beekeeping, when introduces the events that follow. I definitely learned something about bees and beekeeping, but probably more than I needed to know.

A good story that moved along at a decent pace.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Saturday Snapshots - Signs of Spring

Saturday Snapshot

Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don't post random photos that you find online. 

Signs of Spring

New Hat for Spring

These sadly come and go so quickly but, 
they certainly indicate that Spring has Sprung!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Benediction; Kent Haruf

Title: Benediction
Author: Kent Haruf
Publication Year:  2013

Publisher: Knopf
Edition: eGalley/ARC
Source: Edelweiss and Amazon Vine
Setting: Colorado
Date Completed: April - 2013
Rating: 4.5/5 
Recommend: yes

Intro  Quote -- "WHEN THE TEST came back the nurse called them into the examination room and when the doctor entered the room he just looked at them and asked them to sit down. They could tell by the look on his face where matters stood." 

....so begins Benediction, the 3rd in novel by this author set in the fictional town of Holt, Colorado.  

It's a wonderful story about small town life, and while it is pretty evident from the beginning paragraph someone will probably die in this novel, it is never depressing.  The terminally ill character in this book is Dad Lewis, age 79, and dying of lung cancer. 

Dad Lewis has owned the hardware store in the fictional town of Holt, Colorado for years, and with just months to live, and his wife Mary by his side, he is working at settling his affairs.  The character's in this novel are all memorable.  Dad's grown daughter Lorraine comes home to help her mother care for dad.  Dad also has a gay son named Frank who left home years ago when rejected by his dad when he first learned that he was homosexual. Dad and Mary try to find Frank before it's too late. 

The harsh words that separated father and son -- Dad asks his son...."What are you anyways?"  His son replies, "I'm just your boy. That's all I am." 

There are also a number of neighbors: Berta, a woman in her 80's who is raising her 8 year-old granddaughter, Alice. Neighbors, Wila and Alene, and Reverend Lyle who has his own family problems and controversy surrounding him.  

If you tend to shy away from stories when you know someone is ill or going to die, I urge you not to do so with this novel.  It's not depressing, it life-affirming, and reminds us home making peace with the past is important.  This is story was a vivid reminder of life, family and losing a loved one.  Having enjoyed this story so much, I hope to read the author's first two novels, Plainsong and Eventide as well.

The Storyteller; Jodi Picoult

Title: The Storyteller
Author: Jodi Picoult
Publication Year:  2013

Publisher: Recorded Books
Edition: audio
Source: Library 

Setting: New Hampshire
Date Completed: March - 2013
Rating: 3.5/5 
Recommend: possibly

I finished this audio book over a month ago, but needed to think about it for a while as initially I was disappointed.  Though not may favorite Picoult book, it's still worth mentioning. 

The Storyteller was a tough one for me -- plot-wise. The story begins with a 30-something, Jewish woman by the name of Sage Singer, who is guilt ridden and grieving over the loss of her mother in a car crash a few years prior. Sage is hiding from the world working as a baker at night. She does this to hide both physical and emotional scars. She's also involved in an affair with a married funeral director.  Sage also attends a grief group, and it there where she meets Josef Weber, a quiet old man who is well respected in the community. He is also a man who harbors his own hidden guilt.

Years ago Josef was a former Nazi Officer during the Holocaust . Now he is looking for forgiveness for the role he played in the genocide of so many innocent people. He asks Sage to help him die.  When Sage learns of Josef's role, she makes a call to Federal authorities. Leo Stein, a Department of Justice agent then enters the picture becoming involved in investigating the case.  There is also Sage's grandmother, Minka, who spent time in an Auschwitz internment camp. Her story is painful but important.

Needless, to say, The Storyteller, is a complicated or shall I say, rather challenging novel.  It blends historical facts and its modern day repercussions.  Although it was not a favorite Picoult novel of mine, mostly because I found Sage's character annoying from the very beginning, I think this novel will still be popular among many of Jodi's fans.  There is no courtroom trial in this one, but the author still utilizes her previous style of multiple viewpoints, which included the use of (4) different narrators in the audio version, all did a good job.  

The Middlesteins; Jami Attenburg

Title: The Middlesteins
Author: Jami Attenburg
Publication Year:  2012
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Edition: eGalley and audio book
Source: NetGalley

Date Completed: April - 2012
Rating: 4/5 
Recommend: yes

The Middlesteins is a story about dysfunctional families. The story begins by describing "Little Edie", a pampered little Jewish girl who weighted 62 lbs by the time is was 5 years-old.  Spoiled by both parents, and constantly given food for comfort from an early age.

Flash forward 50 years and Edie, the novel's central character, is now  "huge Edie", topping the scale at 300 lbs. Edie is literally killing herself with food.  She is a retired lawyer, married to Richard who had once run a chain of successful pharmacies, which are now losing money.  The couple lives in a middle class suburb of Chicago and they have two grown children, Benny and Robin, as well as grandchildren.

Now at 300 lbs, Edie is facing her second surgery for diabetes complications yet she can't seem to help herself to lose weight and stop eating the foods that are poisoning her.  Her husband Richard leaves her, her daughter-in-law steps in to try and rescue her. She spies on her to see where she is stopping for food and monitoring what she buys for quick food fixes.

The descriptions of the food she consumes along with the rationale for eating, were often humorous, but also they showed just how out of control Edie was.  Edie was a character I felt for even though she seemed unable or unwilling to help herself.  All of the characters in this novel had communication issues, as well as anger or previously unresolved  issues which made them flawed in their own way. I didn't care for Edie's husband Richard, and understand why others felt the way they did when he left his wife when she was at her worst.  I don't condone what he did, yet I understand why he did it.

Stereotypical overbearing Jewish parents seemed to contribute the individuals problems in later life..  The novel also made you think about what an adult child's duty is to their parents. I actually enjoyed this book more than I expected to. It held my interest and was infused with appropriate humor. This is a story that stuck with me. Readers who like reading about families in crisis should enjoy this novel.

The audio version is read by Molly Ringwald, who did a great job. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday; The Translator; Nina Schuyler

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. This week's pick:

July 1, 2013 - Pegasus Books
“Schuyler writes with piercing intelligence and real insight into the complex worlds of literary translation and human relationships.” — Ellen Sussman, author of the New York Times bestselling novel, French Lessons 

In silken prose and with subtle suspense, Nina Schuyler brings us a mesmerizing novel of language and translation, memory loss and heartbreak, and the search for answers in a foreign country. When renowned translator Hanne Schubert falls down a flight of stairs, her injury is an unusual but real condition — the loss of her native language. She is left speaking only Japanese, a language learned later in life. With her personal life at a crossroad, Hanne leaves for Japan. There, the Japanese novelist whose work she translated stunningly confronts her publicly for sabotaging his work. Reeling, Hanne struggles for meaning and seeks out the inspiration for the author’s novel — a tortured, chimerical actor, once a master in the art of Noh theater. Through their passionate and intriguing relationship, Hanne begins to understand the masks she has worn in her life, just as the actor dons the masks that have made him a legend of Noh.  The demons from her past and present begin to unfold and Hanne sets out to make amends in this searing and engrossing novel.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Parlor Games; Maryka Biaggio

Title: Parlor Games
Author: Maryka Biaggio
Publication Year:  2013

Publisher: Books on Tape
Edition: eGalley and audio
Date Completed: April - 2013
Rating: 4/5 
Recommend: yes

Parlor Games was an interesting debut novel which was based on real life events of a woman named May Dugas who stood trial for extortion in 1917.  She made the news not only in her hometown of Menominee, but also in Michigan, New York and even London. The story opens with May telling her version of events beginning when she was only 18 years-old (1887), when she left home for Chicago hoping to earn money to help her family out.
When she arrived in Chicago she ends up living at swanky bordello, using her looks to charm and attract rich and famous men who find themselves immediately drawn to her.  It isn't long after that she learns to use her charm and seduction to get herself invited to parties and events attended by the rich of the richest.  She quickly realizes that this is the lifestyle she wants and doesn't plan to settle for less.
She cons her way time after time and even bilks a friend out of an inheritance along the way. She has a few setbacks, like when she meets a wealthy man and thinks wedding bells may be in her future, only to find a Pinkerton's Detective hot on her trail.  Leaving Chicago and traveling to places like Oregon, California and even Holland and Shanghai,  May never gives up her pursuit of high society. She eventually marries a Dutch Baron, howver, Baroness May de Vries (although she's gone by other names) days living the good life may very well be numbered.
Told in the first person, May's accounts of her life are fascinating. It's hard to have sympathy for her, but the way she spins the events leading up to he trial sure makes for some entertaining reading.  In addition to the eBook, I also listened to the audio version which was read by Leslie Carroll. It was very entertaining and made my commute go quickly.  Overall, I thought this story was well done and entertaining. I would be interested in reading more books by this promising new author.  Most historical fans will enjoy this story.

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph Tuesday Intros

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.  Care to join us? Feel free to grab the image and link your post below.

This week I'm featuring an intro from a book that I got from the library. It was published in December of 2012.

Chinese Whiskers; Pallavi Aiyar
(St. Martin's Press)

Stalking Dragonflies
"A beam of hot sun leaked through the leaves of the tree I was crouching under. My nose twitched. I badly needed to sneeze. But I forced myself to ignore the itch and focus on the prey in sight. Stalking was serious business after all. I held my crouch, frozen like a stone.
The buzzing of the dragonfly was deliciously exciting. I moved an inch closer and then another inch, until it was hovering directly above me, darting in and out of a bamboo thicket, totally unaware that I was so close. It was a perfect setup. I wanted to leap high, higher than I ever had before, up into the white sky and pluck it out of the air.

But just at the moment I was readying to launch, Ma’s penetrating meow called me back for a lunchtime feed and sent the dragonfly gliding away from my outstretched claws. In a flash it had disappeared over the grey brick walls of the courtyard.

I had been trying to catch a dragonfly from the time my eyes had opened. It was much harder than it sounded and no matter how silently I stalked or how quickly I jumped, I had always failed.

Ma told me to be patient. I was still too young she said."

What do you think? Would you keep reading or move on to something else? Want to join in? Please add your link below.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Lost Cat: A True Story of Love, Desperation and GPS Technology; Caroline Paul

Title: Lost Cat: A True Story of Love, Desperation and GPS Technology
Author: Caroline Paul - Wendy MacNaughton, Illustrator
Publication Year:  2013

Publisher: Bloomsbury
Edition: eGalley
Source: NetGalley

Date Completed: March - 2013
Rating: 4/5 
Recommend: yes

 Calling all cat lovers -- Lost Cat: A True Story of Love, Desperation and GPS Technology is at times a quirky book, but one that I think will appeal to feline fanciers everywhere. Are you one of those people who couldn't imagine your life without a cat or two or more? Do you proudly display cat fur on your dark colored clothes?  Have you ever searched for a beloved cat?  If you've answered yes, to even one of these questions, then I am pretty sure you'll enjoy this short book (fewer than 175 pages).

The author of this book has (2) cats very different cats from the same litter, Tibula (Tibby) and Fibula (Fibby). She's also in a new relationship with Wendy, the illustrator of this memoir. While Caroline is recovering at home from some severe injuries to her legs resulting from a plane crash Tibby, an indoor/outdoor cat, goes missing. Caroline becomes obsessed with finding her cat. Just when she thinks that her cat is gone for good, it returns home as if nothing had been amiss some 5 weeks later. It's obvious he didn't go hungry, but just where was he for all that time?

Caroline is determined to find out where her cat went for all that time and what exactly does the cat do when he leaves the house. With Wendy's help, they acquire a tiny GPS device to attach to Tibby's collar, hoping to monitor his activity --surprises result.

This tiny book has such fun illustrations and the story had me laughing out loud as I read.  There are also a few touching moments that might bring a brief moment of sadness or reflection to readers who have experienced the joy of loving a cat.  Enjoyable.


(As a side note, we had a similar experience when we were on vacation about 7 years ago.  Our neighbor was stopping over twice a day to care of our (4) cats while we were out of the country for (2) weeks.  When we returned, we learned that Libby had not returned home after our first day away, but when we called her, she showed up -- 15 days later and not any thinner either.  We often wonder where she hung out in our absence, but were so happy she came home).