Tuesday, July 22, 2008
When Andrew Thorpe publishes a true crime book about Lila's murder, the whole family is devastated. He had used Ellie's confidences and gone behind her back to write a book that would make him famous and establish him as a writer. He was unconcerned about the effect this would have on the Enderlin family, who knew nothing about it until it hit bookstores.
Twenty years later Ellie is still dealing with the repercussions of her sister's death. She is successful in her job as a coffee buyer. As she travels the world she is able to use her job as an excuse to escape. She has difficulty maintaining relationships.
In his book, Andrew Thorpe had "deduced" who the killer was, though the police never made an arrest. Lila had been having an affair with a fellow math whiz at Stanford, Peter McConnell, and this was the man who had been accused of her murder.
A chance meeting in a small South American town brings Ellie face to face with her sister's lover. Against her better judgement she agrees to listen to his side of the story. She can't help but be intrigued with what he has to say. This meeting will send Ellie back to the beginning, on a hunt to find the real murderer and uncover the truth behind that terrible night. If she can find an answer for herself and her family, maybe they can repair their damaged lives.
I really enjoyed this well written and fast paced novel!
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Monday, July 21, 2008
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Sunday, July 20, 2008
In this fun new novel the reader gets to experience the outrageous world of professional modelling through the eyes of newly discovered model Melody Ann Croft.
Melody is just a normal kid from New Jersey, working as a waitress during her last summer before going away to college. Then one night a professional photographer happens to have dinner at the restaurant where she works. He thinks she has potential and gives her some contacts which turn out to be top modelling agencies in Manhattan.
After some indecision she decides that she has nothing to lose and calls some of the numbers on the card. The photographer's name is enough to get her interviews at several top agencies. The first one she visits immediately snaps her up, they think that she has "it", that elusive quality that means success. She is immediately thrust into the competitive and frantic world of professional modelling.
It's an eye opening experience. There are ugly sides to the new world that she finds herself in. She has to lose weight, of course, and it is difficult to maintain the waif like appearance that is demanded by most clients. The other models are fiercely competitive and some are downright mean. Then there is the ever present drug use. Melody is a strong girl with a solid middle class upbringing, so she is grounded and able to resist the temptations around her, but she still learns some difficult lessons.
Supermodel Carol Alt has written a fast-paced, fun novel that gives the regular person a peek into the inner workings of an industry that most of us will never experience. I know that I'll never look at a glossy fashion advertisement the same way again!
This Year's Model will be published by Avon in September, 2008.
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Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Saturday, July 12, 2008
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Friday, July 11, 2008
When she meets Seb Gilman and falls in love, she decides that it might be time to take a break. It was easy to place no value on her own life when she had no close family or loved ones. But now Seb, of course, wants to protect her and keep her away from danger. Marika realizes that she has avoided serious relationships up to this point for that very reason, but will try to change for his sake.
She decides to write a book. A biography of a legendary journalist named Robert Lewis, who has been like a mentor and father figure to Marika for most of her life, though she has never met him. Her meticulous research involves interviewing family and friends of Mr. Lewis, reading everything that he wrote and watching interviews that he did. She can't talk to him, though, he committed suicide the year before by drowning himself.
Or did he? A letter from an elderly missionary falls into Marika's hands. He says that he saw Robert Lewis in the jungle of Papua New Guinea after his reported suicide. No one believes him. But the seed has been planted and Marika feels the need to find out for herself. Never mind that no sane person would venture into the deep jungles of PNG. Without even realizing what she is doing, she instigates a break with Seb so that she will be free to do what she wants to do.
Her journey into the jungle will come close to killing her but will also be a revelation. Her guide is a native witch doctor, Tobo, who reluctantly leads this strange woman where she wants to go. He saves her life repeatedly and teaches her surprising things about the world and herself.
When reading the descriptive scenes in the book of war zones and cruelty you realize that the author has been there, there is the ring of truth about them, she has seen them for herself. The experiences of cutting through the jungle, the heat, the smells and sounds, are very clearly described. The author's personal experience shines through. I think that there is much of Kira Salak in Marika Vecera. It's a very interesting book about a woman trying to understand herself and unravel her motivations.
The White Mary by Kira Salak will be published by Henry Holt in August, 2008
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Thursday, July 10, 2008
And often other people also get confused. Recently a book blogger from my hometown of Elgin, Illinois, included a paragraph in her review of MRS. LIEUTENANT referring to something about growing up in Elgin. Yet I purposely made Sharon – who is the closest of the four women to me – from a northern suburb of Chicago. (Trust me, in the ‘50s and ‘60s those two worlds couldn’t have been further apart.)
Let’s put it this way – there is a great deal of truth in MRS. LIEUTENANT but this truth is often a mash-up (to use a term currently used in music I think). For example, the character of Wendy is a combination of two black new officers’ wives, an article in The Wall Street Journal, my own imagination, and bits of other people’s stories.
The following is absolutely true: When my husband and I were at Ft. Knox for him to attend Armor Officers Basic, I did volunteer to be the chair of the entertainment committee for the AOB officers’ wives’ graduation luncheon. And that committee did consist of me, a Southern white, a black, and two Puerto Ricans (one of whom didn’t speak English).
Yet the characters in the book and the incidents are often pieces patched together, including something (would be a spoiler to tell you which) that happened when we were stationed in Munich that I transposed to Ft. Knox.
FYI – The scene of Sharon feeling like an alien at the Jewish Wives’ Club meeting is as accurate as memory allows. My LA business partner and I were just talking about how that scene reflects how naïve I was living in a small town in the early ‘60s.
I did have a very strong objective in writing this novel so many years after I lived the experience of being a new Mrs. Lieutenant during an unpopular war. I wanted to preserve a small slice of women’s social history at the beginning of the women’s liberation movement. Within that decade of the 1970s I would go from being Mrs. Mitchell Miller to Ms. Phyllis Miller (I’m still married after 38 years) as the times changed for those of us living through that period.
The sequel to the first book will be MRS. LIEUTENANT IN EUROPE about when we were stationed in Germany as an occupying force 25 years after the end of WWII. And my planned third book is MS. LIEUTENANT IN CIVILIAN LIFE – what happens to Sharon when she returns to civilian life and has to re-adjust all over again just when the playing field for women is being leveled by the early feminists.
If after you’ve read MRS. LIEUTENANT you have specific questions, email me through the book’s website (www.mrslieutenant.com) and I’ll be happy to answer the questions – if I can.
Sunday, July 6, 2008
They had their whole lives to look forward to - if only their husbands could survive Vietnam.
This novel is about four young army officers wives who meet when their husbands are all assigned training at Ft. Knox, Kentucky in the summer of 1970. They are very different women from very different backgrounds but the circumstances they find themselves in help them to draw together and form unique friendships that they would not have dreamed of in their pre-army life.
Sharon Gold is a Jewish girl from Illinois with a journalism background. She is an anti-war protester but couldn't resist falling in love with an ROTC cadet while she was at Michigan State.
Kim Benton is an orphan from North Carolina who, with her younger sister, was raised in foster care. She has no self-confidence and is married to a controlling, jealous young man.
Wendy Johnson is an African American from South Carolina whose father is a physician. She has been sheltered by her parents her whole life and has little idea of the amount of prejudice in the world.
Donna Lautenberg is Puerto Rican but has lived all over the world because her father is enlisted in the army. She is having trouble adjusting from enlisted life to different social strata of an officer.
These women are only together for nine weeks but in that time they experience situations and deal with issues that break down the barriers of race, religion and class to allow them to form bonds of friendship and trust. In that short time they all grow, change and learn important lessons.
It's a compelling story that seems so real it made me wonder how much is based on actual experiences. I'm looking forward to reading the next Sharon Gold novel!
Visit the author's website here!
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This week I was very excited to post the first book giveaway that I have ever done on my blog! It is for a copy of The Rest of Her Life by Laura Moriarty. If you have been waiting to read this one come on over to my blog and leave me a comment under that post!
I am right in the middle of The White Mary by Kira Salak. I'm on page 124. It's a little bit slow for me, but interesting. The main character is a journalist who bravely (recklessly?) journeys to dangerous areas of the world looking for a story. I'm looking forward to seeing how it ends.
This has been a good week for books at my house! I received:
The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran. This is the sequel to her previous book Nefertiti. I am thrilled to have it and very grateful to her for sending it to me!
The Magicians and Mrs. Quent by Galen Beckett. The debut novel from this author, it's about magick and magicians...reminding me of "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell" (which I loved).
Lavinia by Ursula K. Le Guin. Lavinia was a character from Vergil's Aeneid, the king's daughter, this is her story.
Saturday, July 5, 2008
It is 1946 London. The war is finally over and Juliet Ashton is in the midst of her first book tour. She is a journalist and during the war she wrote a cheery newspaper column under the pen name Izzy Bickerstaff. Those columns have been collected into a book and, though it's selling well, Juliet more than ready to say goodbye to Izzy and start on a new writing project.
While she is casting about for ideas she receives a letter from Dawsey Adams, a farmer on Guernsey Island in the English Channel. He has found her name and address written in a secondhand book that he owns and asks for her help. Since Guernsey was occupied by the Nazis during the war, they have no bookseller in residence and he is unable to expand his reading. Would she have the name and address of a London bookseller who might be able to help?
The resulting letters they exchange introduce her to other residents of Guernsey, mostly friends of Mr. Adams and fellow members of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. One of the residents made up the Society on the spur of the moment one night when several of them were caught out by Nazi soldiers after curfew. And what a blessing it turned out to be, giving them something to think about and reasons to go on during the worst of the deprivation and starvation that the five years of occupation brought.
Eventually Juliet decides on the theme for her next book and goes to Guernsey to start writing and meet her new friends. What she finds when she gets there surprises her and changes her life.
I loved everything about this book. The post WWII England setting, the epistolary form, the realistic characters, the fact that much of it is about books, reading and love of literature. But most of all I loved the writer's wit and style that had me laughing out loud in places and broke my heart and brought me to tears in others. I read it very quickly and I kept telling myself to slow down because at the rate I was going it would be over far too soon. But I couldn't. So I'll just have to read it again and again, like going back to an old friend.
It is a shame that there won't be any more books by Mary Ann Shaffer, but what a gift she has given us. I can't recommend this book highly enough.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society will be published on August 5, 2008 by The Dial Press.
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Tuesday, July 1, 2008
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1. Harry Potter and the sorcerer's stone by J.K. Rowling (32,484)*****
- The Tome Traveller
- New Hampshire, United States
- Bibliophile, Anglophile, Traveller... I have been an avid reader all of my life, since I took the Dr. Seuss Dictionary away from my Mom when I was less than a year old because I wanted to read it myself. In college, where I earned my degree in English Literature, I was often asked "What are you going to do with it?" Now I finally have the answer to that question!!! Being employed as a Flight Attendant for twenty years has given me a lot of life experience and, better still, a lot of time to read. I love to travel for fun, too.