Friday, February 28, 2014

And The Winner of the 100 Followers Giveaway Is…..

                       Dawn Bish!  

You have won a copy of Life After Life.  Woohoo!!  Please email me your full name and address and I'll send you a copy pronto.  

Thanks to everyone who entered.  When I hit 150 I'll have another giveaway to celebrate.  

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner AND Giveaway Reminder

Don't forget my giveaway which ends on Thursday!  Click here to enter.

This novel centers around two tragic New York City disasters:  the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in 1911, and September 11, 2001.  Up until September 11, the Triangle fire was the worst workplace disaster in New York City history.  Over 140 workers were killed (mostly women) in a fire that swept through the garment factory's 8th floor.  Many of them leapt to their deaths when they couldn't escape the flames.  

So…this novel deals with two women who were each touched by these tragedies:  Clara and Taryn.  Clara worked at the Triangle factory as a nurse and escaped the fire, only to witness the horror of watching a man she loved jump to his death.  She's decided she can't stay in New York City, so she's taken a job as a nurse on Ellis Island, caring for sick immigrants who aren't allowed into New York City until they are well enough to leave quarantine.  She has been on the island for  months and won't leave.  

Taryn, in 2011, is a widow and mother who works in a fabric store that customizes in working with old fabrics.  She lost her husband on September 11.  Now the 10th anniversary is coming up, and a long lost photo of Taryn and a man standing outside, watching in horror as the first tower comes down is republished in the paper.  Taryn was wearing a peculiar scarf that day; it had marigolds on it.  That scarf is first found in Clara's story; she befriends Andrew, an immigrant who's been forced into quarantine because he's been exposed to scarlet fever on his ship.  This scarlet fever also killed his new wife, and the scarf was hers.  Andrew keeps it with him and Clara soon finds in Andrew a kindred spirit:  both are mourning love lost, and what could have been.  

There's lots more to this story, but if I tell anymore I'll give too much away.  Suffice it to say it's a novel about grieving, and making choices that will either expose a painful truth or keep it quiet for the sake of love.  It's about allowing yourself to grieve, but moving forward and facing the survivor's guilt that sometimes happens when a loved one dies and you survive.  

You'll find Clara's story much more compelling than Taryn's, and it takes up most of the novel.  These two women are bound by many things, even though their stories are 100 years apart.  It's a novel that at first is good, but gets better.  It's a book that I kept thinking about long after turning the last page.

Rating:  7/10 for feeding my never-ending obsession with the Triangle Fire, and  bringing two stories together at the end in a satisfying conclusion.  You may find Clara a bit annoying after awhile, but hang in there--you'll like her!

Available in paperback and e-book.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

100 Followers! That Means A Giveaway to Celebrate!

100 followers! Wow!  I am so thrilled.  I've been writing this blog for about 3 years because I love to share what I'm reading with anyone who will listen.  I've worked in bookstores for 23 years (24 this September) and am so glad I have this outlet besides talking to people everyday at work. 

 What can I say?  I love and adore books and they've been such a part of my life I can't imagine what I would do without them.  They have kept me company through many lonely times; been my companion at restaurants, airports, and shopping expeditions with my boyfriend (He shops at Cabela's, I find a seat and read).  I've always encouraged reading with all my nieces and nephews (I've lost count--I think we're at 30 kiddies now) and I'm happy to say many of them are now adults and share my love of reading.  I am the Auntie that always gives books.  And now I've gone back to school to get my Master's in Library and Information Science to start a new mid-life career as a librarian.  I understand I just can't be without books in my life and I'm happiest when I am making a living with books by my side.  

So....having 100 followers may not seem like a big deal when other book blogs have thousands, but it means a lot to me.  I don't give hugely detailed reviews; I don't give lots of books away; I simply tell you why you should or maybe should think twice about a book I've read.  We've all got different reading tastes; what works for me might not work for you.  And I completely get that a book's theme and feel mean they can only be read at certain times in your life.  Books have helped me through losing my Dad and losing my sister; they continue to comfort me and give me a break from the stress of work and school and the continuing saga of moving my Mom to assisted living.  Books are my form of meditation.  

Here's how I'm celebrating this milestone in my blog:  I'm going to give away a book from my 2013 or 2014  Books I've Read pages.  Here's what you do to enter:

Leave a comment telling me why you like my blog and what you'd like to see in the future on my blog.  Tell me what book you'd like if you win.  Yes--you can pick any book off of either the 2013 or 2014 pages!

***This giveaway is only open to US peeps. ***

I'm giving you a week--contest ends at midnight Thursday, Feb 27th

Again--thank you everyone for reading my blog.  Here's to many more years of fabulous books!

Sue aka the Bookalicious Babe

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Archetype by M.D. Waters

This was a novel that combined science, romance, future dystopian issues, and a kick of action all into one compelling read.  I was pleasantly surprised and can't wait to read the sequel, Prototype this summer.

So, in a nutshell:  Emma wakes up in a hospital, not remembering anything.  A handsome man, Declan Burke claims to be her husband.  He says she's been in an accident and is slowly recovering.  

But Emma is having dreams, where she's a resistance fighter, a kick-ass woman, and madly in love with a man who isn't Declan.  Hmmm....

Here's what I liked about this novel:  you only know what Emma knows.  You're just as clueless as she is, and you also have that feeling in the pit of your stomach that a whole lot of things are being kept from you and you become desperate to find out.  And how can Emma feel such passion and love for Declan when she's having dreams about another man that she deeply loves too?  

Oh, it's good.  A whole lot of questions about medicine, what makes a person a person, and ethical choices in the face of staving off extinction.  And Declan and the mystery man are both hotter than hot.  Poor Emma.  She's in a pickle.  And if you read this book, you'll know why!  M.D. Waters crafts an excellent suspense-filled novel that will satisfy romance readers, action addicts, and those who like a futuristic side to their stories.  Emma begins as a weak and helpless woman, but finds her way so that at the end you can't help but cheer her on.

Rating:  8/10 for an original idea that keeps you turning the pages.  I think this would make an excellent book club choice!  Lots to talk about.

Available in hardcover and ebook.  Thanks to Dutton/Penguin for sending me a copy to review.  

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Wedding Bees by Sarah-Kate Lynch

I read Sarah-Kate Lynch's Blessed are the Cheesemakers a few years ago and fell in love with her writing style.  I can't get enough of what most people call "magical realism".  I firmly believe life is full of magical moments, people, and things and any book that includes this belief of mine is destined to find its way into my home and on my bookshelves.

So goes The Wedding Bees.  It has actually given me an idea for a paper I have to write for school.  I have a cousin who lives in the 'burbs of Chicago who is raising his own bees;  the combination of this book and Steve's beginning phase of "suburban farmer" have peaked my interest in all things bees and honey.  

Sugar Wallace is a young woman who travels around the US with her bees.  Her queen bee, Elizabeth the 6th, is placed on a map and wherever she stops, that's where Sugar moves to for exactly one year.  Then she pulls out the map and moves again.  This time she's landed in New York City, in the Alphabet City area known for it's quirkiness.  She lives in the top floor of an apartment building filled with people who are all doing what Sugar does:  hiding from what they could be and should be.  This group of people are wonderful and you'll fall in love with each one of them and want to live in this apartment building.  And there's Theo, the Scottish lawyer who meets Sugar on her first day in New York City and immediately knows they are meant for one another.  But the path to love and happiness is not easy, and Sugar struggles with her attraction to Theo and her reasons for being on the run from Charleston for 15 years.  Thankfully, Theo is not one to give up.  

I adored this novel.  I love the South; so combine that with some interesting tidbits about bees, beekeeping, honey, and a colorful, vibrant city, and I've got a novel that made me smile.  

Highly recommend this sweet novel.  Yep,  I said it.  Sweet.  Sweet as honey.

Rating:  8/10 for a great setting, colorful characters, and just enough information about bees and beekeeping to make it all interesting.  

Available in paperback and e-book.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy

I've come late to the Maeve Binchy party, but I say better late than never.  This was Maeve's last novel; she died shortly after finishing it in 2012.  Lucky for me and for everyone else she left us many wonderful novels about life and all its ups and downs--and they take place in that magical place called Ireland.  

A Week in Winter was a perfect read for a January that has seen below zero temps pretty much every day, snow storms that have just enough snow to make you shovel, and lots of snow melting/turning into ice to make driving difficult and full of anxiety.  Maeve Binchy took me away for a few days and she'll do the same for you.

This novel centers around Chicky Starr, who leaves her family to move to New York City with a young man who promises her the world.  Instead, he leaves her after a few months, and she stays in America, spinning a tale of a wonderful marriage and life for her family back in Stoneybridge.   They never know Chicky actually lives in a boardinghouse and works all the time, with no man in her life.  

Chicky returns to Ireland every year to visit her family, and on her last visit decides to make a change and buy Stone House, a lovely but crumbling home on the coast of Ireland owned by Miss Queenie, the last of three sisters who lived their whole lives there.  Miss Queenie knows Chicky will save the home from developers and turn it into a place for people to escape for a vacation by the sea.  

Chicky is a bit magical herself; she knows just what to say and do to get people involved in renovating Stone House, coming to work for her, and knowing just what to do to make it a welcoming place for troubled souls.  

Chicky's first week in business has a full roster of people from around the world who find themselves at Stone House carrying secrets and scars from their lives. Can a week in winter help rejuvenate and revive their lives?  

I am so glad I read this Maeve Binchy novel first.  It will be hard to beat.  What a sweet, gentle, engaging novel about the power of nature, rest, and kind people.  It shows that sometimes we all need to remove ourselves from the crazy in our lives and be quiet and still.  Amazing things can come out of it.

And it makes me want to go back to Ireland.  It truly is a magical place.  

Rating:  8/10 for a great strong character in Chicky; a magical place in Stone House, and a story that moves along and explains each visitor's backstory.  

Available in paperback and e-book.