Sunday Salon: 4/29/2012

Happy Sunday all! I realize this week has been quiet over here.  I didn’t intend to go all week without posting but it just kind of happened.  Oops. Unfortunately, it will probably stay pretty quiet for the next two weeks because I am leaving for Florida in a few days for a much needed vacation! I had hoped to schedule some posts for the time I am gone but at this point I doubt that will happen.  I just have too much to get done and not enough time!

I am excited to have baby’s nursery painted while we are gone! Although I hope to have the girliest child ever, I plan on keeping her nursery pretty gender neutral.  I decided to go with very light blue walls so that I could have a lot of really bright accents.  The crib is going to be painted bright yellow and I want to hang some paper mache animal heads on the wall.  So once we get back and everything is painted I can really get started with putting the nursery together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As for my vacation, I am busy packing books to read.  I am flying but my husband is driving, so to avoid having heavy luggage to pay for, I am sending him with a bag of books! So far, I have Pandemonium, by Lauren Oliver, Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline, Tolstoy and the Purple Chair, by Nina Sankovitch, When She Woke, by Hilary Jordan, Restless Souls by Alisa Statman and Brie Tate and The Leftovers, by Tom Perrotta. Plus copies of Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand, which is for an impromptu family book club while we are there.  I had the idea to assign a book that everyone will read on vacation so we can all discuss as we read (parents, three sister and boyfriends, plus my husband and I).  We’ll see how it works out!

I hope you all enjoy your Sunday as well as the rest of the week!

Sunday Salon: 4/22/2012

Good morning readathoners! I am sure many of you are in recovery mode at the moment.  I wish I had been able to participate but it was just not good timing.  I didn’t join in any of the readathon madness yesterday but I did get a book read (The Good, The Bad and the Barbie–a history of Barbie dolls) and I also got the new issue of OK magazine read in a nice, relaxing bath.

As I have shared before, I work for LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics, and I have been thinking that I want to share a little bit more of my passion for the company and their awesome products.  I had such a great bath last night I couldn’t NOT share it!

 

 

 

 

 

A candy scented bubble bath, a salt based cherry blossom shower gel and a luxurious vanilla and almond oil body lotion. If you’ve never used these products before, then you wouldn’t understand my obsession!  BUT I am promising you, if you try them out you will fall in love.  And really, what’s better than a comforting bath while reading a good book?

I hope you all have a great Sunday! I plan on enjoying my day off by doing pretty much nothing all day.  I also need to decide what to read next . . .

 

TLC Book Tour: The Shoemaker’s Wife

The Shoemaker’s Wife

Adriana Trigiani

Harper

496 pages

Enza and Ciro are both growing up in small villages in the Italian Alps.  Although tied by their homeland, Enza and Ciro have dramatically different childhoods.  Ciro and his brother had been abandoned at a convent by their mother after their father died in a coal mining accident in the states.  The boys are distraught without their mother but quickly become adapted to the lifestyle of the convent.  Meanwhile, Enza is the oldest daughter of a large family that is barely scraping by.  Both she and Ciro are forced to emigrate to the states due to uncontrollable circumstances.

Enza and Ciro had met shortly before they each emigrated, although they spent many years in the US without seeing one another, except for a few random run ins.  It is only in their mid twenties that the fates conspire and they come together.

The Shoemaker’s Wife follows the couple both before and after they get together and marry, and the difficulties of adjusting to life in another country is something they both must deal with throughout the entirety of the book.

Enza and Ciro are remarkable characters.  They have minor flaws, which only make them more realistic, but more importantly their tenacity enables them to succeed in a life that is full of hardships and disappointments.  I admired them both for the choices they made, although at times they made me shake my head in frustration as well, as despite their good qualities they were both overly stubborn as well!

I had never read anything by Trigiani before, nor had I any interest in doing so.  I can’t say what it is, but something about her books has always struck me as a amateurish.  I think it’s the covers, to be completely honest.  I to tend to judge books by their covers, and it is not out of the realm of possibility for me to write off a book completely solely on the cover.  The cover of The Shoemaker’s Wife is gorgeous, and once I read the synopsis I decided it was time to give into the masses and give Trigiani a chance. I am so glad I did! This book captivated me from the start and I was swept away by both the atmosphere as well as the love story between Ciro and Enza!

About Adriana Trigiani

Adriana Trigiani is an award-winning playwright, television writer, and documentary filmmaker. The author of the Big Stone Gap series; Very Valentine; Lucia, Lucia, The Queen of the Big Time, and Rococo, she has also written the bestselling memoir Don’t Sing at the Table as well as the young adult novels Viola in Reel Life and Viola in the Spotlight. Her books have been published in thirty-six countries, and she has written and will direct the big-screen version of her first novel, Big Stone Gap. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.

Visit Adriana at her website: www.adrianatrigiani.com, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

Adriana’s Tour Stops

Monday, April 2nd: The Huffington Post

Tuesday, April 3rd: Book Journey

Wednesday, April 4th: Reading Lark

Thursday, April 5th: Life Is Short. Read Fast

Friday, April 6th: Amused By Books

Monday, April 9th: Literature and a Lens

Tuesday, April 10th: Book Dilettante

Wednesday, April 11th: Bibliosue

Thursday, April 12th: West Metro Mommy

Monday, April 16th: “That’s Swell!”

Tuesday, April 17th: Confessions of an Avid Reader

Wednesday, April 18th: Reviews by Lola

Monday, April 23rd: Peppermint PhD

Tuesday, April 24th: A Bookish Affair

Wednesday, April 25th: Knowing the Difference

Thursday, April 26th: Library of Clean Reads

Friday, April 27th: Books and Movies

Monday, April 30th: It’s a Crazy, Beautiful Life

Tuesday, May 1st: Walking With Nora

Wednesday, May 2nd: I’m Booking It

Thursday, May 3rd: The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader

Book Review: The Night Circus

The Night Circus

Erin Morgenstern

Doubleday

400 pages

I am probably one of the last bloggers to read this one, so feel free to skip the synopsis as most of you probably know what this one is about!

Le Cirque des Reves arrives without warning.  Suddenly you’ll notice the enchanting tents one morning upon waking, and after a few short weeks of magical experiences, they’ll be gone just as quickly as they arrived.

The circus is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.  Every sense is awakened by the unbelievable.  Magic such as you’ve never seen it is performed every night!

The Night Circus is centered around Marco and Celia.  They don’t realize it at first, but the circus was created around them as they are pitted against one another in a challenge that they’ve been preparing for since they were young children.  Neither of them knows the terms of the challenge or even who or what is involved. This isn’t immediately revealed to the reader either, so we’re as in the dark as they seem to be.

The Night Circus also involves the obligatory love story, which could even be called a love triangle. I know a lot of readers get caught up in this fanciful affair, but I wasn’t as drawn in by it.  Maybe the realism of the circus was too overshadowing for me, because that was what really intrigued me.  As a result, the love aspect didn’t do much for me and I ended up not really caring what happened with it. Because of that, I don’t think I enjoyed the book as much as I could have.

Personally, I was happy to read something “different” for a change.  I have never read anything like The Night Circus before and I loved reading about the different tents and the atmosphere.  But I didn’t like this one as much as I expected to.  Maybe it was the hype, but once as much as I loved the descriptions, it wasn’t enough to make me fall in love with the story.  Don’t get me wrong, it was good. But it wasn’t great.

I would encourage people to read this one for the atmosphere if nothing else, but try not to go into it with such high expectations like I did!

Other Reviews:

Leeswames’ Blog

Reading on a Rainy Day

1330v

The House of the Seven Tails

Care’s Online Book Club

nomad reader

Farm Lane Books Blog

Estella’s Revenge

Fizzy Thoughts

Linus’s Blanket

I purchased this book for my own collection.

The Sunday Salon: Bookmarks edition

Happy Sunday everyone! This week seemed to fly by and I can’t believe it’s Sunday already.  I have to work a shift at work today but I am excited for later tonight when my family celebrates my sister’s birthday at Sakura, one of those Japanese style restaurants where they cook the food in front of you.Eating out is one of my favorite things, especially when my family is there!

Earlier this week, I was excited to find the newest issue of Bookmarks in my mailbox! I immediately drew myself a bath and soaked with the magazine and a pen so I could star all the new books that I found.

I have to admit that the cover articles didn’t interest me as much as usual, so as a result I came away with less of a wishlist than usual.  I can’t complain though as my wishlist is certainly long enough already!

Here are the books that piqued my interest–

On Long Island, a farmer finds a duck pond turned red with blood. On the Lower East Side, two boys playing at a pier discover a floating human torso wrapped tightly in oilcloth. Blueberry pickers near Harlem stumble upon neatly severed limbs in an overgrown ditch. Clues to a horrifying crime are turning up all over New York, but the police are baffled: There are no witnesses, no motives, no suspects.

The grisly finds that began on the afternoon of June 26, 1897, plunged detectives
headlong into the era’s most baffling murder mystery. Seized upon by battling media moguls Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst, the case became a publicity circus. Reenactments of the murder were staged in Times Square, armed reporters lurked in the streets of Hell’s Kitchen in pursuit of suspects, and an unlikely trio—a hard-luck cop, a cub reporter, and an eccentric professor—all raced to solve the crime.

What emerged was a sensational love triangle and an even more sensational trial: an unprecedented capital case hinging on circumstantial evidence around a victim whom the police couldn’t identify with certainty, and who the defense claimed wasn’t even dead. The Murder of the Century is a rollicking tale—a rich evocation of America during the Gilded Age and a colorful re-creation of the tabloid wars that have dominated media to this day.

-From Amazon

When her widower father drowns at sea, Gemma Hardy is taken from her native Iceland to Scotland to live with her kind uncle and his family. But the death of her doting guardian leaves Gemma under the care of her resentful aunt, and it soon becomes clear that she is nothing more than an unwelcome guest at Yew House. When she receives a scholarship to a private school, ten-year-old Gemma believes she’s found the perfect solution and eagerly sets out again to a new home. However, at Claypoole she finds herself treated as an unpaid servant.

To Gemma’s delight, the school goes bankrupt, and she takes a job as an au pair on the Orkney Islands. The remote Blackbird Hall belongs to Mr. Sinclair, a London businessman; his eight-year-old niece is Gemma’s charge. Even before their first meeting, Gemma is, like everyone on the island, intrigued by Mr. Sinclair. Rich (by Gemma’s standards), single, flying in from London when he pleases, Hugh Sinclair fills the house with life. An unlikely couple, the two are drawn to each other, but Gemma’s biggest trial is about to begin: a journey of passion and betrayal, redemption and discovery, that will lead her to a life of which she’s never dreamed.

Set in Scotland and Iceland in the 1950s and ’60s, The Flight of Gemma Hardy—a captivating homage to Charlotte BrontË’s Jane Eyre—is a sweeping saga that resurrects the timeless themes of the original but is destined to become a classic all its own.

-From Amazon

Rory Hendrix is the least likely of Girl Scouts. She hasn’t got a troop or even a badge to call her own. But she’s checked the Handbook out from the elementary school library so many times that her name fills all the lines on the card, and she pores over its surreal advice (Uniforms, disposing of outgrown; The Right Use of Your Body; Finding Your Way When Lost) for tips to get off the Calle: that is, the Calle de las Flores, the Reno trailer park where she lives with her mother, Jo, the sweet-faced, hard-luck bartender at the Truck Stop.

Rory’s been told that she is one of the “third-generation bastards surely on the road to whoredom.” But she’s determined to prove the county and her own family wrong. Brash, sassy, vulnerable, wise, and terrified, she struggles with her mother’s habit of trusting the wrong men, and the mixed blessing of being too smart for her own good. From diary entries, social workers’ reports, half-recalled memories, arrest records, family lore, Supreme Court opinions, and her grandmother’s letters, Rory crafts a devastating collage that shows us her world even as she searches for the way out of it.

Tupelo Hassman’s Girlchild is a heart-stopping and original debut.

-From Amazon

Fifteen-year-olds Cece and Mack didn’t expect to fall in love. She’s a sensitive A student; he’s a high school dropout. But soon they’re spending every moment together, bonding over a rescued dog, telling their secrets, making plans for the future. Everything is perfect. Until. Until. Mack makes a horrible mistake, and in just a few minutes, the future they’d planned becomes impossible. In this stark new reality, both of them must find meaning and hope in the memories of what they had, to survive when the person they love can’t stay.

From award-winning writer Paul Griffin, Stay with Me is both heartbreaking and uplifting, filled with characters (both dog and human) that will forever change the way you look at the world.

-From Amazon

Have you read any these? What did you think of the new Bookmarks?

Mini Reviews #4

Tucker Jones is an upstanding, caring single father whose life changes dramatically one night with the ring of a single phone call.  His thirteen year old daughter Kat was reportedly seen giving blow jobs to a number of her peers at a party one night.  Tucker shows up at the party to collect his daughter but she is nowhere to be found and the teenage boys at the house seem insensitive to his plight.  This perfect storm results in a scuffle between Tucker and the boys and culminates with one of the boys crashing into a glass table and losing an eye.  Suddenly, Tucker is threatened with the legal ramifications of his actions, not to mention the complications to his personal life.

This is one of those books that demonstrates how a few seconds of pure emotion can result in life changing consequences.  Tucker reacted badly that night, but really, who could blame him? It was difficult to read about the consequences that Kat and Tucker had to face as a result of that awful night, but at the same time you have the other victim too, the teenage boy, who wasn’t involved in the fiasco earlier that evening with Kat, but was instead involved in a relationship with Kat’s best friend.

Typically, this type of book is something I pick up when I want something that is a little more absorbing without involving too much concentration.  While it raised some great questions, in the end it wasn’t the most memorable book I have ever read.  I could see it eliciting a great book club discussion though.

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Towards the beginning of my pregnancy, when I had very little appetite for reading, I ventured more towards quick, “trashier” reads, which led me on a mini Amityville kick.

For those of you unfamiliar with the case, the quick version is as follows; on a November night in 1974, Ronald and Louise DeFeo were shot dead in their beds, as were four of their five children, Dawn, Allison, Marc and John David.  The bodies were discovered by the eldest child, Ronnie, who seemed hysterical at the time but was quickly taken into custody under suspicion of murder.  He eventually confessed and has been in prison ever since, but the case is hardly as clear cut as that.

The Amityville Horror was the first book written on the case (I think) and deals with the Lutz family, who moved into the DeFeo home less than a year after the murders.  They have no qualms about moving into a house where a night of horror recently took place, but soon after they realize that something is horribly wrong with the house and that it is possessed by evil spirits.  They are not the spirits of the dead DeFeo family but instead evil spirits that supposedly influenced Ronnie to commit the murders in the first place.  After living in the home for less than a month, the Lutz family fled, never to return again.

I then read Mentally Ill in Amityville, which purported to tell the true story of the Amityville murders and the subsequent situation with the Lutzes. The investigative aspect of the book was interesting, with the author traveling to Amityville for research and tracking down neighbors who could testify to the circumstances from both the murders and the haunting of the Lutz family.

I’ll admit though, both books left me with a bad taste in my mouth.  The Amityville murders and haunting are one of those subjects that is so muddled with very little answers available.  Ronnie DeFeo has changed his account of the murders so many times that it is difficult to know the true circumstances of that night.  Then you have the Lutz’s, whose story and motivations are countlessly questioned.  I ended up feeling as if neither author really knew what they were talking about and that both books were the result of much conjecture and loaded with falsehoods.

From what I have seen, there is not really a definitive book on Amityville that can be taken seriously, so at this point, I admit defeat.

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