Jan 30, 2013

Audio Review: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY is one of those books that, as you make your way through it, takes up a bigger and bigger place in your heart. That's how it was for me, anyway. Rachel Joyce's story of Harold Fry making his way to visit a sick friend dying from cancer, whom he feels he owes something, was a delight.

About the Book: (No Spoilers)

When Harold Fry receives a note from a woman he used to work with many years ago indicating she is dying and wishes to let him know that his friendship was important to her, he didn't immediately know what to do. He wrote a response to Queenie but on his way to mail it, began thinking that it was better if he delivered it in person, for many reasons, of which we don't know at this point. The circumstances surrounding their unusual friendship began twenty years earlier when the two worked at the same company.  This decision to deliver his message in person was so important to Harold and instant that he didn't even think about it, or talk to his wife, Maureen about it. He just left. On foot. To travel more than 500 miles.

My Thoughts:

I thought the idea of this story was original and I was immediately intrigued by Harold's reaction to Queenie's letter. Its obvious that he and this woman share something, but I didn't feel like it was a romance or anything that simple. I had to find out what it was.

This story is told while Harold is walking along the many roadways and encountering people from all walks of life along the way. With each person he meets, we learn more and more about Harold and his seemingly unhappy life. I really enjoyed how these interactions also opened Harold's eyes.  Like layers of an onion, each chapter shed new light on this most interesting man and he became more and more endearing to me. At the same time, Harold was also learning about himself and even his wife.  My favorite part was learning about David, Harold and Maureen's son. If I'm honest, I have to say, I didn't really like David for much of the book and felt sad for Harold not having a relationship with him. But as the story was winding down and all of the details surrounding David were revealed, it absolutely filled my heart. Everything began to make sense: the morose, unfulfilled life Harold seemed to be content with,  his strained relationship with Maureen, and the importance of Queenie's role in Harold's life.

I adored this book and I adored Harold Fry. Wisely, I chose to listen to his novel mainly because it was narrated by Jim Broadbent, a wonderful British actor of whom I've always been a fan..I actually read this book in December but after cutting my finger pretty badly, I was having trouble typing and couldn't do much on the computer for a good month. (I still have no feeling and it's very awkward) It was simply too hard to type so I put off writing my review until now. I am so glad I chose the audio version of this book. It was a treat to listen to and I recommend it highly! I doubt there is a better person to narrate this book.  If you're not into audio books, I still recommend it highly because this is a lovely story about a man who learns that its never to late to be happy and every person out there has doubts about themselves - its how you handle those doubts that count.

Author: Rachel Joyce
Edition: Audio
Publisher: Random House Audio
Published: July 2012
Length: 9hr 57min
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Jan 29, 2013

Teaser Tuesday: All The Lonely People

I finished reading this book early this morning and I enjoyed it so much I thought I'd share a bit of it here on Teaser Tuesday. It's from ALL THE LONELY PEOPLE, the latest from Jess Riley. It's the story of Jaime Collins, who is still dealing with the loss of  her mother to cancer six months ago. She and her husband, Erik, lived with her mother and cared for her until the end. Its now Thanksgiving and, like most families,there are  tensions that rise. A huge blow-up ensues with her brother and sister during dinner resulting in Jaime flinging mashed potatoes and accidentally hitting her niece, Hannah, who runs crying from the room. A few days later, one of Jaime's friends suggests she put an ad on Craigslist for a new family to have Christmas with since her brother and sister aren't speaking to her anyway. Here are my teasers:

Plots all around me were thickening.  Turf wars, suicide attempts, broken hearts, con men, restraining orders...well, that's Craigslist for you. ~ Location 2066 Kindle Edition

I'll be posting my review of this book in the coming days and I hope you'll come back for it. But in the meantime, if you like a little humor in your family dramas, you should go to the Kindle Store and pick this gem up. It's only 3.99 and I promise you'll enjoy it.  

For more teasers or to participate, be sure to stop by Should Be Reading every Tuesday. 

Jan 15, 2013

Teaser Tuesday: All The Lonely People by Jess Riley

Today I'm taking my teasers from Jess Riley's ALL THE LONELY PEOPLE. For those of you who read her blog, you understand how witty this talented writer from Wisconsin is. Sometimes I actually have coffee coming out my nose from the things she says! Her previous book, DRIVING SIDEWAYS had me laughing out loud. This book, while dealing with the subject of loss, still has the same humor I've grown to expect from her. I'm bending the rules a bit today and sharing more than two sentences, but this particular passage really struck a chord with me. I chose to read this book for many reasons, some of them, quite personal. This quote isn't actually a funny one but it definitely shows another side to Ms. Riley's writing, which I love.

My Teasers:

Rumor has it, the death of a parent can bring brothers and sisters together.  It must make some people so glad to have siblings with whom to endure the ordeal.  They are your clan.  you share memories that keep that lost parent alive.  You help define one another.  You hold each other up, cry on one another's shoulders.  I know that losing  someone you love can make you a little crazy, dig up old resentments.  And we do hurt those we are closest to.  We take them for granted, screaming at them before answering the phone all sweetness and light, Hyde back to Jekyll in less than two seconds.  But what happened here?  How did my brother and sister and I fall so far away from one another?  If Clint or Gwen even noticed our distance, if they mourned but lost something even a little, I failed to see it. ~ Location 716 Kindle Edition

I hope you enjoyed my teasers today.  Thanks for stopping by! For more great teasers please visit Should Be Reading every Tuesday. 

Jan 14, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This weekly meme is hosted by Sheila @ One Person's Journey Through A World of Books. it's a place where we discuss what books we've read in the last week and what we plan to read this week.

Last week was a great week! I read and posted a review of one of the most interesting books I've read recently. I didn't know at first what to expect because the book is centered in and around the world of art and I am not well versed in it at all. But THE ART FORGER by B.A. Shapiro took off immediately and I was completely drawn in. I had difficulty putting this one down. Loved the characters, the story, the writing, the locale, but most of all, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the art and having a bit of an art history lesson along with a lesson in forgery.. The book was fascinating. You can find my review of THE ART FORGER here.  This book is the January selection for She Reads Book Club that I am honored to be a part of and you can read the reviews of our other members here. You can also find a great guest post by B.A. Shapiro discussing why she chose to write this book. 

Last week I finished reading CALLING MY HOME, a terrific debut by Julie Kibler. It's the story of two unlikely friends traveling from Texas to Ohio to attend a funeral. Isabelle is in her eighties and her friend who drives her on this trip is Dorrie, a thirty-something African-American single mom of two almost-grown kids. Dorrie doesn't have a lot of details about the trip, she doesn't even know whose funeral they are attending, but along the way, Isabelle tells the story of her life while Dorrie deals with some serious issues in her own life. The journey brings the two women close together but also shows the divide this country still has between races. 

This week, I'll be reading a new book by Jess Riley, the author of DRIVING SIDINGS that I absolutely loved! Her new book, ALL THE LONELY PEOPLE is the story of a family, broken by loss and deep-rooted tensions that grow within a family. It all comes to a head at Thanksgiving and the situation seems hopeless. I've just started reading, but in usual Jess Riley style, this potentially sad subject is tackled with her clever wit and entertaining writing. I am sure this book will be everything I expect it to be. I love Jess Riley's sense of humor and it certainly comes through strongly in this new book. If you act quickly, you can pick this gem up at the Kindle store for just 2.99. 

Reviews I'm working on for this week are THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRYE by Rachel Joyce and THE RIVER WITCH by Kimberly Brock. I hope you'll stop back by to check them out! 

Thanks for visiting and have a wonderful reading week!!

Jan 9, 2013

Review: The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro

THE ART FORGER is the story of Claire Roth, a very talented artist who has, over the last few years, suffered through the consequences of choices she made while still an art student in Boston.  Her involvement with her famous art professor, Issac Culliun, led to the devastation of her budding art career. But this story isn't just about Claire. It's also about a famous masterpiece painted by Edgar Degas that was stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990 along with a dozen other historic works of art, of which none have been recovered.

Claire's story begins a few years after her relationship with her professor-lover has ended, but we get glimpses as to how it all fell apart and why she is now looked at with disdain throughout the art world in Boston.  At the same time, we are treated to a lesson in art history through letters written by Isabella Gardner to her niece, Amelia, in the late 1800's. The letters give many clues to the origin of After the Bath, Degas' painting that is at the center of this intriguing plot. Adding another layer to this story is Claire's romance with, Aiden, a man she first met during her days with Isaac. Though she has legitimate issues with trust, she takes Aiden up on an offer that he describes as 'a good deed', but as time goes on, Claire fears it could also land her in prison.

My Thoughts

This book was a fantastic surprise! As soon as I began reading, I was completely caught up in the story. I liked that alternating chapters took me back in time and explained what had happened with Isaac and how Claire became black-listed from the world of art that she loved so much. The romance with Isaac, and then later with Aiden, was a perfect balance to the mystery of After the Bath and it's origin. I truly enjoyed the history of the painting and it's owner, Isabella Gardner.

There are many things I loved about this book.First and foremost, the story and the writing were superb. I've seen this book listed as mystery and suspense, and while it has both of those elements, it is not what you'd call a seat-of-your-pants thrill ride, although it will keep you completely enthralled. What I found fascinating about this book was the art. I am not well versed in art at all, but I became so interested that I even spent time researching Degas and his paintings and even learned about art forgery. I found the process fascinating and thoroughly enjoyed that part of the story as well.

Claire was a very likable character and I had no trouble at all relating to her. There was also just the right mix of supporting characters who helped give Claire authenticity and made her more personable. I loved her friendship with Ric and felt the genuine bond between them. I was also very happy with the ending of this story. Nearing the final pages, I had no idea how it would turn out, but I was completely satisfied.

There is so much more I could say about this book, but I don't want to take away any of the suspense and mystery of this novel by summarizing too much. All I can say is, you must read it for yourself to fully appreciate this fascinating story.

Once again, Algonquin Books has delivered a novel that has become a favorite of mine and has made me a dedicated fan of Barbara Shapiro. I'd also like to thank She Reads Book Club for inviting me to participate in this month's selection. THE ART FORGER was a terrific pick and a great way for me to start a wonderful new venture this year with them. More reviews by other members of the club can be found here. I encourage you to read them.

Author: B.A. Shapiro
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Published: October 2012
Pages: 368 pp
Rating: 5 Stars out of 5

Jan 8, 2013

Teaser Tuesday: THE ART FORGER by B.A. Shapiro

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading, where we share the books we're reading by giving a glimpse at what's inside. Here are the guidelines if you'd like to participate:

  • Open your current book and let it fall open to a random page
  • Choose two teaser sentences to share, being careful not to include any spoilers
  • List the title, author's name and page number (or location) of the teasers you've chosen
  • Go to Should Be Reading and share your link with the other participants
It's that easy and its a fun way to get a look inside of some new-to-you books.

The teasers I'm sharing today come from a fabulous new book by B.A. (Barbara) Shapiro called THE ART FORGER. It takes place in Boston and is the story of Claire Roth, a talented artist who has been snubbed by many people in the art world because of choices she made while still an art student. A few years later she still has obstacles to overcome but she finds herself in almost the same position as before, but with much more dire consequences. Here are my teasers . . .

Ambition, talent, antiestablishment vengeance, greed, and hubris run rampant through all fifty stories, and I see myself everywhere.  Plus, they all share the same outcome:  the ultimate exposure of the forger as the charlatan he is. ~ Location 3502-3506 Kindle edition

Once I began reading, I had a hard time putting this one down. I was so drawn into the story and really enjoyed the backdrop of the art world. I was completely sucked in! For more information on this great book, please stop by She Reads Facebook page