Sunday, February 27, 2011

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists!
Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at The Printed Page, is on a blog tour! March 2011's host is I'm Booking It.

This past week's book arrivals were more than the usual one ARC or a trade from

The ARCs were

The Girl Who Would Speak for the Dead by Paul Elwork

Wrecker by Summer Wood

A Lesson in Secrets by Jacqueline Windspear

Emily and Einstein by Linda Francis Lee

My lone receipt from swapping was

Garden of Eden by Ernest Hemingway

which I read many years ago when it was first published, but wanted to reread. Something recently reminded me of this book and I wondered if I would feel the same way about it now as when I first read it. I don't do this very often since I have so much that I still want to read for the first time but occasionally it does happen. I am always surprised what I get out of it the second time around.

Guess I better get cracking because I am getting farther and farther behind. Hope your mailbox is kind to you this week!

A Widow's Story: A Memoir

3 out of 5 stars

I immediately requested the ARC of Joyce Carol Oates', A Widow's Story: A Memoir when it was first offered. I had had such strong reactions to Joan Didion's memoir, A Year of Magical Thinking, which I read shortly after the death of my son. I thought maybe my reaction would be different since 5 years have passed. Not so. Although the two authors' styles are miles apart, the raw pain and emotion are the same.

Joyce Carol Oates is a well known, "instant recognition" name in writing but her private life for the past 48 years was that of Joyce Smith, wife of Raymond Smith, a well known editor. That private life collapsed, disappeared, and became a kind of nightmare when Raymond suddenly died. Like death of any kind, we never prepare for it. It doesn't matter if the loved one is older or young. We simply stay in denial about the mortality that we all have. How we deal with the loss is another matter. I am jealous of these writers that they are able to express and put to paper the madness, angry, rage, and all the other emotions that cannot be suppressed. All of us who have suffered such a loss feel and experience this wide range of emotions but we are unable to verbalize or explain them to our friends and family. Some of us are lucky enough to maybe have a close friend or a therapist that has also had such a loss that can identify with the feelings that are surging through us and help us survive those waves, but many are left to flounder on their own.

You hear about the families and friendships that break apart after such a loss, and you can clearly see why when you read of the near insanity that Ms. Oates is able to reveal in her grieving testament. I really struggled through parts of this book. I wanted to shout to her to get help from her close friends. I felt her anger at the medical community prevented her from getting the help she might have benefited from if she had sought grief therapy. And ultimately I realized that each of us must bear these feelings and sense of loss on our own terms.

Needles and Pearls

4 out of 5 Stars

This was a very quick read and I am really coming to not only like Jo MacKenzie and her family and friends, but would really like to have them among my family and friends. She is definitely a woman that I can relate to on many different levels. I admire her resilience when facing the death of her husband and taking control of her life's direction. She is a wonderful mother and a loyal friend.

In this second novel by Gil McNeil, Jo continues on with her new life outside of London in a small town at the seaside. Her yarn shop is progressing and growing and she is making more new friends.

Ms. McNeil has expanded Jo's personality and added more complex issues into the lives of Jo, her family, and friends. I am not going to add any spoilers but if you enjoyed the first novel at all, you will love this one for all the added adventures and relationships that are blooming and the way she handles life's ups and down on so many different fronts. This is a series so you should not skip her first book. If you enjoy England, knitting, friendship and family, a little of life's ups and downs, you will enjoy this second installment of this series.

Sunday Salon

It would appear that I have not been able to read at all this week but the real problem is that I have been having writer's block in getting any reviews written.

I am still listening to Mrs. Mapp and I am working my way through The Other Life by Ellen Meister but I can't seem to put reviews to paper. I think part of it is because I have had very little alone time. Kids off from school for a whole week, helping husband, and a lot of sewing seem to be preventing me from the quiet "alone" time that I usually use for review writing. May mean I need to get up earlier or go to bed later, not sure which. I also have been guilty of way too much blog reading on many different topics but there seems to be nothing I can do about that. I am carving out some time this afternoon. Let's see how long it can last. I have so many books on my night table that it will soon collapse. It really isn't as bad as it sounds. I can think of a whole lot of things that I am glad are not happening to me, and having too many books to read is at the bottom of the list. Hope you are enjoying your Sunday.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sunday Salon

This was one of those rare Sundays where I actually was able to stay in bed for some uninterrupted reading for a few hours. Those Sundays have been rare lately and so it was that much more enjoyable. I had wonderful coffee and had just started Needles and Pearls by Gil McNeil. This is the second novel with Jo McKenzie, owner of a yarn shop in a small seaside town in England. Light, enjoyable reading but I have to say I appreciate Ms. McNeil sense of humor even more in this second book. It was there in the first book, but this second novel really gets her on a roll. I was laughing out loud to myself page after page and chapter after chapter. I am more than half way through and I would love to be able to finish it tonight. Will reserve the rest for my review. This has been a pretty good week for new arrivals and there are several I would like to jump right into but I really need to finish some that I have started and get caught up on pending reviews. Hope everyone is having a wonderful reading Sunday.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Heroic Measures: A Novel

4 out of 5

Really enjoyed this compassionate e-read about life in New York for seniors and the animals they love. Ms. Ciment's technique of alternate chapters from the point of view of the couple Ruth and Alex, and their dog, Dorothy creates the connection between owner and pet. I also appreciated her realistic portrayal of seniors and their needs and desires. Not all seniors are bumbling or senile, and it is important to remind the rest of world of that point as often as necessary so that seniors can be given the respect they deserve. The feelings of Dorothy, a small dachshund who is the baby of Ruth and Alex, is well conveyed in my opinion. A series of events build on one another as the story unfolds, from the sale of their coop apartment, to a tanker truck stuck in a New York tunnel and the ensuing traffic jam on the streets of New York, and Dorothy's illness which requires a cab ride to the vet, ultimately all converge in one weekend. If you are a pet lover, you will enjoy this book, if you are a soon to be senior you will enjoy this book, but I recommend you read this book even if you don't fall into any of those categories as it renews your faith in mankind.

I read this book in a PDF format as it was offered for a brief time on It was extremely easy to read. I am not sure if it was font or size of font but it made for a quick, fast read. I am not a Kindle or iPad owner so I have only read books on my laptop. Not all have been as easy to focus on as this book was.


5 out of 5

Elizabeth Edwards was honest, and forthright about prioritizing the losses one may suffer in their lifetime. I was drawn to read this book, after hearing her interviewed several times. We shared the common bond of mothers who lost their son. It was an important read for me to affirm my feelings regarding my loss and to also gain some insight into the act of moving forward no matter how many times you fall back.

Elizabeth was able to convey the message that women need to honor themselves in all that they do. She was spiritual, without being "preachy". A tiger of a Mom, and always giving her kids the gift of love. I admire the way that she handled her husband's indiscretions and failures. He did not know what he had until he lost it and he was never man enough to "man up" and acknowledge his poor judgment. Ego will cost him in the long run if with no one else but his children.

I recommend this book anyone who may need a boost to their spirit and also recommend that you suggest this book to young women who are just starting out on the road to life. Perspective is everything. May Elizabeth Edwards rest in peace knowing she has given so much.