Literary Quote of the Month

"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," said Jojen. "The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons

Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Sunday Salon and Creative Journaling with your Bible

Happy Easter! And Welcome to The Sunday Salon and The Sunday Post! It's that day of the week bloggers from all over the internet get together virtually in a large gathering place called The Sunday Salon and talk books!  And at The Sunday Post, which is a weekly meme hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer, in which more bloggers share their bookish news!!

It is a beautiful Sunday in Connecticut! Perfect for collecting Easter eggs in the yard! Spring has finally come to stay ( I think), and with the warmer weather it just seems to scream reading. But because this is Easter, I thought I would highlight something that seems special to me... The Inspire Bible. I have heard so much about creative journaling, and the coloring book craze looks like it's going to be staying for a while, so what do you get when you combine coloring and the Bible? The Inspire Bible. When I saw this Bible I just thought I would share it Easter Sunday.

I haven't really done anything with creative journaling. Or with coloring books for that matter. My mother did give me one of the beautiful coloring books by Johanna Basford, and I have enjoyed relaxing and doing some creative coloring. But when I saw the Inspire Bible, I just thought it was so special. Of course, I also thought that it was a little disrepectful to draw in your Bible. But people do underline passages, right?

Here's the description...

Inspire Bible NLT: The Bible for Creative Journaling by Tyndale... Inspire is a new single-column, wide-margin New Living Translation Bible that will be a cherished resource for creative art journaling. It is the first Bible of its kind—with over 400 beautiful line-art illustrations spread throughout the Bible. Full-page and partial-page Scripture art is attractively displayed throughout the Bible, and the illustrations can be colored in to make each Bible unique, colorful, and customizable. Every page of Scripture has two-inch-wide margins, with either Scripture line-art or ruled space for writing notes and reflections, or to draw and create. The generous font ensures optimal readability, and quality cream Bible paper is great for creative art journaling. Inspire is the only single-column, wide-margin Bible available in the popular New Living Translation, and it is designed uniquely to appeal to art-journaling and adult coloring book enthusiasts. Deluxe LeatherLike editions of Inspire Bible feature a lovely, silky LeatherLike material, a matching ribbon marker, and pretty page-edge designs.

Barnes & Noble had this Bible, with the beautiful design on the cover, for a special price pre-order price of $24.95, which was 50% off the original published price and I ordered one. (It seems now that Amazon has this beautiful Bible for $24.95 now, but there is a wait). This Bible is beautiful! The cover is beautiful, the pages are that wonderful paper thin quality, and the artwork inside is inspiring. There are two inch wide margins on the outside of the verses for your own artwork and notes, but there are also beautiful illustrations that are pages for you to color yourself. As well as illustrated Scriptures.

Here are some samples I found of how people are decorating their Inspire Bibles...

Lauren at The Thinking Closet has a wonderful post on how she started her journaling Bible, with tips and supplies needed. And here is a thoughtful post by Kirsten at Sweet Tea & Saving Grace about what Bible Journaling is and how to get started.  You can find inspiration on Pinterest too! Here is a link for the Pinterest board of Illustrated Faith. But whatever your method, test out your supplies before doing something major! These pages are thin and you don't want to ruin your pages with bleeding thru, etc. Do a small sample of color somewhere or read up on what other people have done.

Well, what do you think about the Inspire Bible? And here's what I'd like to know...

Question... Would you color in YOUR Bible?

Have a wonderful Easter! And happy reading... Suzanne

Friday, March 25, 2016

First Lines Friday...

"Today I wondered What is the worth of a day? Once, a day was long. It was bright and then it wasn't, meals happened, and school happened, and sports practice, maybe, happened, and two days from this day there would be a test, or an English paper would be due, or there would be a party for which I'd been waiting, it would seem, for years."
                                                                     ... The Folded Clock by Heidi Julavits

...Would you keep reading?

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Farlaine the Goblin #4... A Review

Continuing with the wonderful storytelling of the first 3 issues, Farlaine the Goblin #4 , a kid friendly graphic novel, is another hit! This time Farlaine, accompanied by his friends Ehr and Tink, discover The Twistlands, which is just as dangerous as you would expect! The Twistlands are filled with all sorts of twisters (imagine a jellyfish twister!). After being caught in a twister, Ehr becomes separated from Farlaine and Tink and must be rescued. With the help of some new characters and a little bit of ingenuity and dexterity, we are lead through another wonderful adventure in another amazing imaginary land.. or is it imaginary? I can't say I've been as far as The Twistlands to know! Another 5 stars from this chick with books! Now waiting for the next book to come out!

P.S. If you want a copy of this, and any of the other previously published Farlaine the Goblin books, you can order directly from Why would you do that? To have the author personally sign it of course! AND if you ask for "signature with a doodle" when you order, the artist will add a little artwork on the inside... (to the right of Farlaine hugging his tree, below, is all doodle! And I love it!)

Monday, March 21, 2016

In My Mailbox...

In My Mailbox... I've received some great books last week! And I decided I would join in on the fun sharing them with you and the other bloggers participating in Mailbox Monday!

Mailbox Monday is a weekly event for bloggers to share what books arrived in their mailboxes. Mailbox Monday was originally created by Marcia of To Be Continued and is now hosted by Vicki, Serena and Leslie at Mailbox Monday's own blog.

Spring has sprung and so has the new season of fantastic books! This week I was pleasantly surprised to find 2 great books in the mail and an eBook too hot to send through the normal channels! Here they are...

As Time Goes By by Mary Higgins Clark... In this exciting thriller from Mary Higgins Clark, the #1 New York Times bestselling “Queen of Suspense,” a news reporter tries to find her birth mother just as she is assigned to cover the high-profile trial of a woman accused of murdering her wealthy husband.

Television journalist Delaney Wright is on the brink of stardom after she begins covering a sensational murder trial for the six p.m. news. She should be thrilled, yet her growing desire to locate her birth mother consumes her thoughts. When Delaney’s friends Alvirah Meehan and her husband Willy offer to look into the mystery surrounding her birth, they uncover a shocking secret they do not want to reveal. On trial for murder is Betsy Grant, widow of a wealthy doctor who has been an Alzheimer’s victim for eight years. When her once-upon-a-time celebrity lawyer urges her to accept a plea bargain, Betsy refuses: she will go to trial to prove her innocence. Betsy’s stepson, Alan Grant, bides his time nervously as the trial begins. His substantial inheritance hangs in the balance—his only means of making good on payments he owes his ex-wife, his children, and increasingly angry creditors. As the trial unfolds, and the damning evidence against Betsy piles up, Delaney is convinced that Betsy is not guilty and frantically tries to prove her innocence.

I have always loved Mary Higgins Clark! Her books are always good and this sounds like it will be too! Thank you to Simon & Schuster for sending this along to me for review!
night night, sleep tight by Hallie Ephron... A riveting tale of domestic noir, infused with old Hollywood folklore and glamour, set in a town rife with egotism and backstabbing and where fame and infamy are often interchangeable.

Los Angeles 1986: When Deirdre Unger arrived in Beverly Hills to help her bitter, disappointed father sell his dilapidated house, she discovers his lifeless body floating face down in the swimming pool. At first, Deirdre assumes her father’s death was a tragic accident. But the longer she stays in town, the more she suspects that it is merely the third act in a story that has long been in the making. The sudden re-surfacing of Deirdre’s childhood best friend Joelen Nichol—daughter of the legendary star Elenor “Bunny” Nichol—seems like more than a coincidence. Back in 1958, Joelen confessed to killing her movie star mother’s boyfriend. Deirdre happened to be at the Nichols house the night of the murder—which was also the night she suffered a personal tragedy of her own. Could all of these events be connected?

This book has been nominated for the Mary Higgins Clark Award this year, which honors the best women's suspense novel of the year. I'm excited to be reading it! And it sound great! Thank you to William Morrow/Harper Collins for sending this book along!
Guilty Pleasure by Lora Leigh... Marty Mathews had always known about the secret, forbidden pleasures that the women she had grown up with enjoyed. Women whose husbands or lovers were members of the exclusive "Club," where they took a selected "third" into their beds. And there is one man—a dangerous, forbidden man—who is part of this world and who has haunted Marty's dreams for years. But she had been the FBI agent assigned to shadow him, making him completely off limits. . .That is until Khalid is cleared and Marty is released from her assignment. Now, all bets are off. . .
The beautiful, fierce Marty Mathews is the one woman Khalid hungers for like no other and is the one woman he dare not let himself have. His past dogs his every step and danger lurks around every corner. If he wants to keep her safe, he must stay away from her. But the power of their desire is something they cannot deny—and once Marty is his, Khalid will do whatever it takes to keep her in his bed and in his arms.

Okay, this is definitely a "Guilty Pleasure" read! Lora Leigh is the queen of sexy erotica (heck she's the king too) and I look forward to reading her newest book! I want to thank St. Martin's Press for sending along an eGalley of this. (probably too hot for the mail!)
So, that's what was in my mailbox, how about you!? What do you think about these books? You can check out what everyone else received in their mailbox, by going to Mailbox Monday! Enjoy!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Sunday Salon and... Are We the Sum of Our Tweets? Connecting via Social Media

Welcome to The Sunday Salon and The Sunday Post! It's that day of the week bloggers from all over the internet get together virtually in a large gathering place called The Sunday Salon and talk books!  And at The Sunday Post, which is a weekly meme hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer, in which more bloggers share their bookish news!!


I was thinking the other day about Twitter and those short inspired tweets that we put out there for people to read. And it's just not any people, it's the people who have chosen to listen to you. Of course, I'm a blogger and I blog about books, so most of my followers are bookish people. Do they know me just from my tweets?! Are we the sum of our tweets? Now we mix in other social media, such as Facebook, which somehow through the glory of whoever, now tweets what I post there, which has become more "personal" through time. Originally I started my Facebook account as a way to connect with my readers from Chick with Books. But of course, Facebook is a place to connect with friends and relatives, my non-reader peeps. (Okay, yes, everyone is obligated to read Chick with Books even if they are friends and relatives, probably more so actually) In any case, a friend of mine tweeted me and said I need to post some photos on Facebook. Why?! It's my book thing, not my personal thing. Well, okay, I post a photo... and with that one photo I start to connect with people in an entirely different way. There is a face behind the "Chick with Books". Now, every once in a while I post about, dare I say, personal things... and eventually over the last few years, there is more to me than just my Tweets. And there is more to me than just books.

Facebook is the place to connect. Pinterest is the place to pin. Linkedln is the place for the professionals. Meetup, Tumblr, Reddit, Myspace (I can't believe this still exists!) all are social media places that welcome you with open arms... but do you have time for all this socializing in front of your computer screen... or phone... or iPad... or whatever that connects you to the World Wide Web?!

I have to admit that I have enjoyed reconnecting with people I've lost while growing up, and meeting people who share my bookish passions, and I've even indulged in watching a few cute kitten videos. My only wish would be that instead of the "virtual reality" we have with all our social media outlets, we could have more "reality" places to say hello.

Please keep the tweets coming, and the photos and the links and the sharing of your daily lives. Because we are more than our tweets! And I have enjoyed getting to know all of you!

Question? What social media outlets do you use? And do you get "personal" or go strickly by the book (no pun intended)?

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Farlaine the Goblin: A Fairy Tale About Finding Your Forest... Book 1-3 TPB

Farlaine the Goblin... Oh, what can I say about this wonderful graphic novel... It's delightful, it's funny, the artwork is great, the story is so creative and compelling! I just love Farlain the Goblin! He just warms my heart. And he's pretty adorable too. I want to step into the pages of this story and join along in the adventures... heck, I feel like I'm doing that already!

The story is about a little tree Goblin named Farlaine (pronounced Far Lin... it rhymns with Goblin!) who is searching for his own forest. A place that he can call his own, that needs him and where he can live happily ever after. He has a magical "pet" tree named Ehrenwort that he looks after and who joins him in his search, and along the way he has unexpected and sometimes unwelcome adventures. Oh and Farlaine is a Shaman, which means he has some special abilities, which come in handy, such as he can grow trees at a moments notice. I'm not sure, but he could get some help from Ehrenwort (aka Ehr). Along the way, Farlaine also meets some interesting characters (and I mean creatively imagined characters) and by the end of book 2, he has a buddy (a Tink) that joins him in his quest.

Book 1 starts after Farlaine has already searched many years and a few hundred lands and only has 10 more lands left to find his perfect forest. And these "lands" are just wonderful! I don't want to ruin the story, so you'll have to read to find out about them! This trade paperback gathers the first three books in the 7 book series.

This is kid friendly with no "serious" violence and no bad language. Adults will love it too! It is simply magical! The world created within the pages of this book is well thought out & developed, believable, fantastic and sprinkled with wonderful characters and concepts. This is a great story! If you like Bone, adventure stories, The Hobbit even, you should enjoy this! 5 stars from this girl! I'm thankful that my friend Joe put this in my hands to read, but I had to order one for myself because I wanted my own copy!

*BTW, Besides loving the artwork, which is in black and white, I love the lettering, which looks more like it's been done by hand. 

Monday, March 14, 2016

Memoir Monday and... The Shift: One Nurse, Twelve Hours, Four Patients' Lives by Theresa Brown, RN

In a book as eye-opening as it is riveting, practicing nurse and New York Times columnist Theresa Brown invites us to experience not just a day in the life of a nurse but all the life that happens in just one day on a hospital’s cancer ward. In the span of twelve hours, lives can be lost, life-altering medical treatment decisions made, and dreams fulfilled or irrevocably stolen. In Brown’s skilled hands--as both a dedicated nurse and an insightful chronicler of events--we are given an unprecedented view into the individual struggles as well as the larger truths about medicine in this country, and by shift’s end, we have witnessed something profound about hope and healing and humanity.

Every day, Theresa Brown holds patients' lives in her hands. On this day there are four. There is Mr. Hampton, a patient with lymphoma to whom Brown is charged with administering a powerful drug that could cure him--or kill him; Sheila, who may have been dangerously misdiagnosed; Candace, a returning patient who arrives (perhaps advisedly) with her own disinfectant wipes, cleansing rituals, and demands; and Dorothy, who after six weeks in the hospital may finally go home. Prioritizing and ministering to their needs takes the kind of skill, sensitivity, and, yes, humor that enable a nurse to be a patient’s most ardent advocate in a medical system marked by heartbreaking dysfunction as well as miraculous success.

I saw on fellow book blogger Deb Nance's blog, Readerbuzz, that she received a copy of The Shift by Theresa Brown, RN to review. I don't know why, but these kinds of "behind the scenes" books just fascinate me. Lately there have been quite a few books published looking deeper into the medical profession. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi comes to mind, along with Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande, both books giving us a sense of how someone with a medical background views the meaning of life and dealing with the end of life. I remember also enjoying reading Another Day in the Frontal Lobe: A Brain Surgeon Exposes Life on the Inside
by Katrina Firlik, which for me was probably the first look at a Doctor as a person, and looking through her eyes at what she considers her just her "job".

Is it because I'm getting older that these books fascinate me?! At age twenty we really don't think of our own mortality yet, do we? For whatever reason these pique my interest, The Shift looks to be a worthwhile read... at least for us getting nearer to "over the hill".

Sunday, March 13, 2016

The Sunday Salon and I Didn't Bargain on losing an hour of sleep, But Book Bargains are another story... 5 Places to Find Bargain eBooks!

Welcome to The Sunday Salon and The Sunday Post! It's that day of the week bloggers from all over the internet get together virtually in a large gathering place called The Sunday Salon and talk books!  And at The Sunday Post, which is a weekly meme hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer, in which more bloggers share their bookish news!!

Spring has finally sprung for good in Connecticut! Cool crisp mornings are followed by warmer afternoons and it just makes me smile! As I'm drinking a cup of joe, and writing this, the sun is shining, the birds are singing and I don't even mind it being an hour later than I thought it was. It is daylight savings time and I didn't touch one clock yet! I just didn't BARGAIN for loosing an hour sleep... and speaking of bargain (okay, a cheap segue into todays post)... do you ever hunt for book bargains? It's easier than you think if you have an eReader. There are many new authors who try to promote their books by lowering the price for a limited time, or even giving their eBooks away free. Publishers like to promote their authors too. And even the first in a book series might be sold at a bargain price to hook you into loving it and reading the rest of the series. Lots of reasons why eBooks are practically given away sometimes... So, where do you look for those eBook bargains? Here's 5 of the top places... (They are all free to sign up with, you'll get an email every day with them and can opt out easily at any time you don't want to receive the notices any more).

BookBub... "BookBub is a free daily email that notifies you about deep discounts on acclaimed ebooks. You choose the types you'd like to get notified about — with categories ranging from mysteries to cookbooks — and we send great deals in those genres to your inbox. BookBub doesn't actually sell books. We simply alert you by email to fantastic limited-time offers that become available on retailers like Amazon's Kindle store, Barnes & Noble's Nook store, Apple's iBooks, and others. Book publishers offer deals at these sites for promotional purposes, and our staff works with them to determine the best ones to feature to our members."

This is the first place I signed up with to learn about bargain books. Very simple to use, normal categories to check off and a daily email alerting you to bargain books, which range between free and $2.99. Lots of "unknown" authors, but I always check out the book before hand to read a little sample to see if I like the writing, if the initial story sounds interesting to me. I've gotten a lot of fun romance titles, cookbooks, and older literary fiction titles.
Early Bird Books... "Early Bird Books is an email newsletter that highlights amazing deals on discounted and FREE ebooks, delivered to your inbox on weekdays. Each edition of Early Bird Books offers a curated list of titles across many of the genres you enjoy. For a more personalized experience, set your preferences and we’ll deliver a custom selection of ebooks based on your categories of interest!"

This bargain book email seems to include more well known authors, but prices are in the 3.99 to 1.99 range. They always include a free selection. 
Book Perk... "Bookperk is a promotional service of HarperCollins Publishers. Save up to 83% on e-books (most Bookperk deals are under $2). Get exclusive deals on print and e-book bundles. Find great discounts on new and backlist titles. Discover great opportunities to win free books and other prizes."

This is a Harper Collins service, and I've found some great books at discounted prices here. They also promote upcoming releases and sometimes offer a chance to enter giveaways. I recently bought A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay, which was on my wishlist, for $1.99.
BookGorilla..."Imagine a single daily email, tailored to your personal reading preferences, featuring the best deals on the best Kindle ebooks, either completely free or at deeply discounted bargain prices. Sweet. But you don't have to imagine. Just sign up for BookGorilla now and you'll receive your first email by tomorrow. We're as tired as you are of emails stuffed with books by authors we've never heard of. Ho hum, who needs them? Here at BookGorilla, we're talking about bestsellers by authors you know and love, with a few discoveries by emerging authors of real distinction sprinkled in. Hello? Do we really mean that you can get actual bestsellers for prices ranging from free to $2 or $3?"

This is a new service to me. I found this while I was doing research for this post. It seems like the selections are from well known authors, and I was able to download a 4 ebook  set of Heather Graham for $1.24
Fussy Librarian... "The Fussy Librarian is the first website to match readers not only with the genre of books they like but also their preferences about content. Do you only read mysteries without profanity, violence and sex? Then we’ll tell you only about cozy mysteries. Read just memoirs and gory horror novels? No problem. We also only bother with the good stuff so you know you’ll see great reads every time you open our daily email. There’s a reason we’re called The Fussy Librarian, after all."

This is also a new service to me and I haven't decided about it yet. They ask for very specific info on your likes and dislikes, which is nice. I have 2 separate emails coming from them, one is the regular selections they recommend based on my choices and the second email is for free ebooks. The free ebook email, has one highlighted book, with photo and description, but the rest of the titles are just that titles and links.
****** Harvee Lau whose blog is Book Dilettante shared this site, Omnimystery, which is a family of mystery websites, and says, "Mystery lovers can sometimes find freebies listed on". From that site I found OmniMystery News, and their listings of free mysteries available at the moment!Thanks Harvee for sharing this great site! There is so much to look at!
*HERE is an interesting article on about 3 of these services from the perspective of marketing tools for authors from StandoutBooks... BookBub vs BookGorilla vs The Fussy Librarian – Which is the best ebook marketing service?

It's nice to get a bargain to try a new author, or a series. But this is NOT my only resource for reading. And it's not really meant to be. Authors work very hard on their books and by purchasing them, we are supporting them, but these sites are generally a win win for both readers and writers: Readers who are discovering new writers, and Writers who are gaining more readers! What do you think? 

Question... Would you or have you tried an eBook by an author that is new to you because of a discounted ebook price? 

And for the rest of the day... 

I've got some bookish things planned today, one being trying to finish Passenger by Alexandra Bracken, which I am really enjoying! I've gone from spending time at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2015, to an 18th century pirate ship, to 1940 London all in the span of 249 pages, with promise of more time traveling in the near future. It really is a fun adventure. It's YA, but I think adults would enjoy reading this too.

And I Won!!! I won In Another Life by Julie Christine Johnson from Elizabeth at Silver's Reviews ! I am so excited about reading this! Here's what it's about...

Historian Lia Carrer has finally returned to southern France, determined to rebuild her life after the death of her husband. But instead of finding solace in the region's quiet hills and medieval ruins, she falls in love with Raoul, a man whose very existence challenges everything she knows about life--and about her husband's death. As Raoul reveals the story of his past to Lia, she becomes entangled in the echoes of an ancient murder, resulting in a haunting and suspenseful journey that reminds Lia that the dead may not be as far from us as we think.

Steeped in the rich history and romantic landscape of rural France, In Another Life is a story of love that conquers time and the lost loves that haunt us all.

Does't it sound wonderful?! And I think the cover is beautiful! Thank you again, Elizabeth, for hosting the giveaway! Want to read Elizabeth's review? And learn more about the author? Check it out at Elizabeth's blog, Silver's Reviews!

Well, that about does it for this Sunday! Hope you found some great bookish information here and maybe some great bargains too! 

Happy Reading... Suzanne

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

All The Presidents' Gardens by Marta McDowell... A Review

All the Presidents' Gardens: Madison’s Cabbages to Kennedy’s Roses, How the White House Grounds Have Grown with America by Marta McDowell... The eighteen acres that surround the White House have been an unwitting witness to history—a backdrop for soldiers, suffragettes, protestors, and activists. Kings and queens have dined there; bills and treaties have been signed; and presidents have landed and retreated. The front and back yard for the first family, it is by extension the nation’s first garden. All the Presidents’ Gardens’ tells the untold history of the White House Grounds.  Starting with the seed-collecting, plant-obsessed George Washington and ending with Michelle Obama’s focus on edibles, this rich and compelling narrative reveals how the story of the garden is also the story of America.  Readers learn about Lincoln’s goats, Ike’s putting green, Jackie’s iconic roses, Amy Carter's tree house, and much more. They also learn the plants whose favor has come and gone over the years and the gardeners who have been responsible for it all. Fully illustrated with new and historical photographs and art, refreshingly nonpartisan, and releasing just in time for election year, this is a must-read for anyone interested in the red, white, and green. 

History, Plants, & illustrations! Plus, photographs...If you love gardening, you will enjoy All the President's Gardens! I found it fascinating! I have a journal for 2 of my gardens that I have planted. One was my butterfly and bird garden, and one was what I called the "Pathetic" garden because the soil was a huge challenge. I drew out the way I wanted the gardens to look, recorded plants and took notes on how the plants did. Over the few years that I kept those journals, it was fun to see what worked and what didn't. All the President's Gardens is like my journal except it spans decades, a vast amount of lands, and an amazing array of people. Of course all the presidents and their first ladies are covered, what they did for and to the gardens, but also all the first gardeners too!  The men behind those plantings! Plus a closer look at all those plants and some of the interesting pitfalls and successes that happened planting them.

I read an eGalley of All The Presidents' Gardens and would have loved to actually have a physical book to look through, so I could put post it notes on pages I'd want to refer to again. My other "wish" would be that this would have been a coffee table book! I thought it had to be with all the photographs and historical illustrations. It screamed Coffee Table book to me! But when I just happen to look to see what size the book was going to be published in, Amazon said it was going to be 6.6 x 9.1, which is larger than a trade paperback, but not quite what I was hoping for. But, putting the size aside (because size doesn't really matter, right?!) this would make a welcome addition to any gardeners shelf, any american history readers shelf, and definitely make a great gift! It would also make a great book to read prior to visiting the White House Gardens, which is permitted twice a year! And after reading this book I definitely want to visit the gardens in person! 328 pages, Hardcover and published by Timber Press. Coming April 27th to your bookstore!

My Final Thoughts...What makes this really special is that All The Presidents' Gardens gives us is behind the scene looks at the trends of the day, and how the personalities of the residents shaped the gardens that exist today! I give it 4 garden sheers! (It would have been 5 had it been a coffee table book)  And I want to thank Timber Press for sending along an eGalley for me to read and review!

Monday, March 7, 2016

In My Mailbox...

In My Mailbox... I've received some great eGalleys last week! And I decided I would join in on the fun sharing them with you and the other bloggers participating in Mailbox Monday!

Mailbox Monday is a weekly event for bloggers to share what books arrived in their mailboxes. Mailbox Monday was originally created by Marcia of To Be Continued and is now hosted by Vicki, Serena and Leslie at Mailbox Monday's own blog.

There are too many great books coming out! That really would NEVER be a complaint from me! My eReader is overflowing and I am experiencing reader happiness, but now I have to get to some serious reading!

Here's what eGalley's came my way...

Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman...
A heartwarming and hilarious story of a reluctant outsider who transforms a tiny village and a woman who finds love and second chances in the unlikeliest of places.

 Britt-Marie can’t stand mess. She eats dinner at precisely the right time and starts her day at six in the morning because only lunatics wake up later than that. And she is not passive-aggressive. Not in the least. It's just that sometimes people interpret her helpful suggestions as criticisms, which is certainly not her intention. But at sixty-three, Britt-Marie has had enough. She finally walks out on her loveless forty-year marriage and finds a job in the only place she can: Borg, a small, derelict town devastated by the financial crisis. For the fastidious Britt-Marie, this new world of noisy children, muddy floors, and a roommate who is a rat (literally), is a hard adjustment.

I have wanted to read this since I heard about it. It sounds charming! And I actually started reading this week and am really enjoying it. Britt-Marie is quite a fun character with all her "lists".Thank you to Atria Books!


Hour of The Bees by Lindsay Agar...
Things are only impossible if you stop to think about them. . . .

While her friends are spending their summers having pool parties and sleepovers, twelve-year-old Carolina — Carol — is spending hers in the middle of the New Mexico desert, helping her parents move the grandfather she’s never met into a home for people with dementia. At first, Carol avoids prickly Grandpa Serge. But as the summer wears on and the heat bears down, Carol finds herself drawn to him, fascinated by the crazy stories he tells her about a healing tree, a green-glass lake, and the bees that will bring back the rain and end a hundred years of drought. As the thin line between magic and reality starts to blur, Carol must decide for herself what is possible — and what it means to be true to her roots

This book sounded like a wonderful story of a girl and her grandfather, and a coming-of-age story. I also loved the cover! Thank you to Candlewick Press!


The Beauty of The End by Debbie Howells...
A haunting and heartbreaking new psychological thriller about a man thrust into the middle of a murder investigation, forced to confront the secrets of his ex-lover's past. 

"I was fourteen when I fell in love with a goddess. . ." So begins the testimony of Noah Calaway, an ex-lawyer with a sideline in armchair criminal psychology. Now living an aimless life in an inherited cottage in the English countryside, Noah is haunted by the memory of the beguiling young woman who left him at the altar sixteen years earlier. Then one day he receives a troubling phone call. April, the woman he once loved, lies in a coma, the victim of an apparent overdose--and the lead suspect in a brutal murder. Deep in his bones, Noah believes that April is innocent. Then again, he also believed they would spend the rest of their lives together. 

I've been into psychological thrillers lately and this sounded like it fit the bill and then some. Thank you to Kensington Publishing!


What Comes After Dessert by Ren Benton...

Twelve years ago, Ben Fielder's childhood sweetheart ran out on him, and his broken heart hasn't held another woman since. During the annual pilgrimage to his hometown, he finds something sweeter than cookies behind the counter at the bakery — Tally's back in town, and his response to her makes it clear the only flaw in his heart is that it's still full of her.

A love story revolving around second chances. Sounds promising. Thank you to Ren Benton!


All The Presidents' Gardens by Maria McDowell...
The untold history of the White House Grounds.  Starting with the seed-collecting, plant-obsessed George Washington and ending with Michelle Obama’s focus on edibles, this rich and compelling narrative reveals how the story of the garden is also the story of America.  Readers learn about Lincoln’s goats, Ike’s putting green, Jackie’s iconic roses, Amy Carter's tree house, and much more. They also learn the plants whose favor has come and gone over the years and the gardeners who have been responsible for it all. Fully illustrated with new and historical photographs and art, refreshingly nonpartisan, and releasing just in time for election year, this is a must-read for anyone interested in the red, white, and green.

I couldn't resist requesting this! I love gardening and to be able to see the history and strategy of "America's first garden" intrigued me. I should have a review on this next week. I've been leisurely enjoying it this week. Thank you to Lake Union Publishing!

So, that's what was in my mailbox, how about you!? What do you think about these books? You can check out what everyone else received in their mailbox, by going to Mailbox Monday! Enjoy!

Memoir Monday and... Evicted by Matthew Desmond

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in The American City by Matthew Desmond... From Harvard sociologist and MacArthur "Genius" Matthew Desmond, a landmark work of scholarship and reportage that will forever change the way we look at poverty in America

In this brilliant, heartbreaking book, Matthew Desmond takes us into the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee to tell the story of eight families on the edge. Arleen is a single mother trying to raise her two sons on the $20 a month she has left after paying for their rundown apartment. Scott is a gentle nurse consumed by a heroin addiction. Lamar, a man with no legs and a neighborhood full of boys to look after, tries to work his way out of debt. Vanetta participates in a botched stickup after her hours are cut. All are spending almost everything they have on rent, and all have fallen behind.

The fates of these families are in the hands of two landlords: Sherrena Tarver, a former schoolteacher turned inner-city entrepreneur, and Tobin Charney, who runs one of the worst trailer parks in Milwaukee. They loathe some of their tenants and are fond of others, but as Sherrena puts it, “Love don’t pay the bills.” She moves to evict Arleen and her boys a few days before Christmas.

Even in the most desolate areas of American cities, evictions used to be rare. But today, most poor renting families are spending more than half of their income on housing, and eviction has become ordinary, especially for single mothers. In vivid, intimate prose, Desmond provides a ground-level view of one of the most urgent issues facing America today. As we see families forced  into shelters, squalid apartments, or more dangerous neighborhoods, we bear witness to the human cost of America’s vast inequality—and to people’s determination and intelligence in the face of hardship.

Based on years of embedded fieldwork and painstakingly gathered data, this masterful book transforms our understanding of extreme poverty and economic exploitation while providing fresh ideas for solving a devastating, uniquely American problem. Its unforgettable scenes of hope and loss remind us of the centrality of home, without which nothing else is possible.

This is book is predicted to be the "It" book of nonfiction this year. It has started to garner a lot of press and reviews. The subject matter is an important one, and is an emotionally charged one. Everyone needs to have a home. It doesn't need to be posh, but it needs to be a place we can lay our head down at night and feel comforted and safe. Matthew Desmond writes this book to shed light on the realities that exist. Though this may be a hard read, it is on my TBR list.


*FYI, Here's an interesting paper, a policy research brief, written by Matthew Desmond on How Housing Matters.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Sunday Salon and Girl Watching or 3 Women Writer's You Should Be Reading Now

Welcome to The Sunday Salon and The Sunday Post! It's that day of the week bloggers from all over the internet get together virtually in a large gathering place called The Sunday Salon and talk books!  And at The Sunday Post, which is a weekly meme hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer, in which more bloggers share their bookish news!!

Spring is trying to get through all the cold, rain and snow in Connecticut. One day it's in the 50's and then the temperature drops to the 30's the next day. We were suppose to get a little more snow this weekend, but as I am writing this, we haven't seen any more (thank goodness/hopefully not!). But as the days start to get longer and the weather starts to improve, (and I can actually see the sun) I start to feel that itch for Spring reading and new book releases. Yes, there are new book releases every month, but after the dreary winter, there just seems to be something special & fresh about books coming out in the spring. And I've got so many on my TBR list it is bursting! But today, let's look at 3 women writer's who have gotten a lot of attention recently. I read an interesting piece somewhere this week that put these women on a short, sort of emerging talent list. These women are getting a lot of press for their writing and their books coming out. Will they live up to their press?

Here are the 3 women and their books...

The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney... From Kirkus Reviews: Dysfunctional siblings in New York wig out when the eldest blows their shared inheritance. 

In an arresting prologue to this generous, absorbing novel, Leo Plumb leaves his cousin’s wedding early, drunk and high, with one of the waitresses and has a car accident whose exact consequences are withheld for quite some time. To make his troubles go away, Leo pillages a $2 million account known as “The Nest,” left by his father for the four children to share after the youngest of them turns 40, though in a sweet running joke, everyone keeps forgetting exactly when that is. Leo’s siblings have been counting heavily on this money to resolve their financial troubles and are horrified to learn that their mother has let Leo burn almost all of it. A meeting is called at Grand Central Oyster Bar—one of many sharply observed New York settings—to discuss Leo’s plans to pay them back. Will Leo even show? Three days out of rehab, he barely makes it through Central Park. But he does appear and promises to make good, and despite his history of unreliability, the others remain enough under the spell of their charismatic brother to fall for it. The rest of the book is a wise, affectionate study of how expectations play out in our lives—not just financial ones, but those that control our closest relationships. Sweeney’s endearing characters are quirky New Yorkers all: Bea Plumb is a widowed writer who tanked after three stories that made her briefly one of “New York’s Newest Voices: Who You Should Be Reading.” Jack Plumb, known as “Leo Lite” in high school to his vast irritation, is a gay antiques dealer married to a lawyer; truly desperate for cash, he becomes involved in a shady deal involving a work of art stolen from the ruins of the World Trade Center. Melody, the youngest, lives in the suburbs in a house she’s about to lose and is obsessed with tracking her teenage twins using an app called Stalkerville. The insouciance with which they thwart her is another metaphor for the theme of this lively novel.

What I Think... This has gotten a lot of buzz and a starred review from Kirkus. I wish I could have read a sample of this, but could not find one sentence anywhere. The story sounds fun, and a nice visit in New York City. I always like reading about places I am familiar with, and I'm looking forward to sampling the writing. On my TBR list!
As Close To Us As Breathing by Elizabeth Poliner...  multigenerational family saga about the long-lasting reverberations of one tragic summer.

In 1948, a small stretch of the Woodmont, Connecticut shoreline, affectionately named "Bagel Beach," has long been a summer destination for Jewish families. Here sisters Ada, Vivie, and Bec assemble at their beloved family cottage, with children in tow and weekend-only husbands who arrive each Friday in time for the Sabbath meal. During the weekdays, freedom reigns. Ada, the family beauty, relaxes and grows more playful, unimpeded by her rule-driven, religious husband. Vivie, once terribly wronged by her sister, is now the family diplomat and an increasingly inventive chef. Unmarried Bec finds herself forced to choose between the family-centric life she's always known and a passion-filled life with the married man with whom she's had a secret years-long affair.
But when a terrible accident occurs on the sisters' watch, a summer of hope and self-discovery transforms into a lifetime of atonement and loss for members of this close-knit clan. Seen through the eyes of Molly, who was twelve years old when she witnessed the accident, this is the story of a tragedy and its aftermath, of expanding lives painfully collapsed. Can Molly, decades after the event, draw from her aunt Bec's hard-won wisdom and free herself from the burden that destroyed so many others?

My Take on this... This is not a debut novel, but you might think of it as her debut. Elizabeth has published one other book, really a 233 pages novella called Mutual and Life Casualty in 2010, and a slim book of poetry called What You Know in Your Hands, along with having her poems published in various places. As Close To Us As Breathing is the culmination of her hard work, and is foretold to be a summer hit. After reading a long sample, I liked the writing, but I wasn't blown away by it. And I wondered if all the references to Shabbos, minyan's and the like will confuse rather than enamor the non-Jewish reader. (Being Jewish and actually having some relatives like this made me smile). I'm putting this on the "Borrow" list for now.
The Girls by Emma Cline... Girls—their vulnerability, strength, and passion to belong—are at the heart of this stunning first novel. 

Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence, and to that moment in a girl’s life when everything can go horribly wrong.

My Thoughts... Though it doesn't say it, it sounds like the Manson Family, and sure enough upon further reading about the book, The Girls by Emma Cline is suppose to be loosely based on them. But it's the 60's right, and this novel is suppose to paint a portrait of the time and the common-of-age of the women who grew up from this era. Sounds like an interesting read, although I really don't need to read any more about the Manson family. But if Emma Cline can throw me back to the 60's and let me relive the craziness, it might be worth it. Though, the central core of the story is suppose to be the friendship of 2 girls.

I couldn't find a sample of the writing here, either, so I'm hoping that it's as good as predicted. There were 12 publishing houses bidding on the rights to this book with Random House finally winning out with the promise of 2 more books from Cline (for a total of a $2million contract!). Whew, that sure is a gamble if the writing doesn't resonate with a whole lot of readers, so I'm betting it's good. On my TBR list.

And just for fun, here's an interesting article from about Emma Cline entitled, 13 Facts About Emma Cline and Her $2 Million Dollar Manson-Family Novel.

Question?... Do you look forward to new books coming out in the Spring?

Recommended Reading... (Historical Fiction anyone?!)
This past week, I downloaded a wonderful historical fiction book called, The Edge of Lost by Kristina McMorris and am totally absorbed! The writing is so incredible that you feel as though you are in the story surrounded by the sights and sounds of New York City in the 1920's. At least that's where I am now. I've been to Alcatraz and to Dublin and then took a trip on a passenger ship to NYC, where the words of a little girl seeing the statue of liberty for the first time, left me in awe. The people, the neighborhoods, the feel of the times, even the food are so well painted. I am only about 1/3 of the way through, but have no problem recommending this book if you are a historical fiction fan.
Here's a blurb about it from BookPageMcMorris has made a name for herself with beautifully written World War II fiction. Kristina McMorris evokes such a strong sense of place in her writing that to open her books feels less like reading and more like traveling. Her absorbing new novel, The Edge of Lost, opens on Alcatraz Island in 1937, where on a foggy night the warden’s 10-year-old daughter has gone missing. An inmate working in the warden’s greenhouse is hiding information about where she is. We are quickly zipped back to 1919 Dublin, meeting Shanley Keagan, a 12-year-old orphan whose vicious Uncle Will forces him to perform in pubs for spare change. Shan grabs an opportunity to get on a ship to America, scrabbling to forge a future in New York. How those two storylines intersect is at the heart of this epic, deeply felt tale of struggle and second chances, where Shan goes from a boy with dreams of Broadway to an inmate who “waited for the steel bars to slam” while he served 15 to 25 years.

The best part right now is, The Edge of Lost is only $2.99 for the Kindle Book! I put a link on the book title if you're interested. The paperback is under $9 too. Just such a good book and I'm really enjoying it!

Library Loot...
This week I checked out two new books from the library! First book was Be Frank with Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson, a charmer about a recluse author who lost all her money from a ponzi scheme like Bernie Madoff and has to write a new book in order to eat, and what is not yours is not your by Helen Oyeyemi, a collection of short stories all around the idea of keys. I've read the first few chapters of Be Frank with Me and am definitely charmed. One liners, old Hollywood glamour and Alice, a 24 year old assistant sent to make sure the recluse author actually writes the novel make it a fun read, and I look forward to reading it in the coming week.

Last Week...

Around the World... or at least the internet

Here are a few articles I found around the internet that I thought were interesting...

*Next Month... Just a quick heads up here for April, which is National Poetry Month! Do you like reading poetry? How about writing poetry? One way to participate is joining in on Poem in Your Pocket Day, which is April 21, but as April gets nearer we'll talk more about some of the events that will take place. I am not a huge poetry reader, but I do enjoy reading poetry from time to time. And a lifetime ago, I actually wrote poetry.

Okay, I am off to help celebrate my mom's birthday(shhh... she's turning 81!) with cake and books! She's a voracious reader ( I guess that's where I got it from) so, I bought her books! I can't say what I got her here (she reads my blog), but it's a whole bunch of murder mystery/psychological thrillers that I'm sure she'll enjoy!

Hope you found some great reading here today! Share what books YOU found this week! I'd love to here about them!

Happy reading... Suzanne

FSB Media Book Blogger Directory
my read shelf:
Suzanne's book recommendations, favorite quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)
First To Read
Reviews Published
Professional Reader
Challenge Participant