May 31, 2009

The Sunday Salon: A Complete Myth

It was only four or five short weeks ago that I made the statement that since my work status had changed to unemployed/disabled I was going to have all this extra time for my reading and blogging.  WELL . . . I am here today to say I had no idea what I was talking about! 

In the month I've been off work I've had more things going on and have struggled to even find time to pick up a book, let alone keep up with my blog reading.  Sure, I scan the blogs, but that just isn't the same.  There are so many great books y'all have been reading that it'll take me some time to read your reviews, but I am determined to get to them.

The only productive blogging I did this past week was psoting my review of THE LAST BRIDGE by debut author Teri Coyne.  [Review here].  What an impressive debut! I love books that grab you on the first page and that one surely did!  The release date is July 28, so be sure to look out for that one.  

I was so exicted last Sunday when I found out I'd won A MOMENT BETWEEN by Nicole Baart from Dar at Peeking Between The Pages.  I'm not usually lucky at giveaways so I was thrilled to hear the news!  Thanks again Dar!  And Congrats to Anna at Diary of An Eccentric for winning the other copy! 

Here's another tidbit that I was excited about this week - Last month I read a glowing review of THE PRUDENT MARINER on Ti's blog Book Chatter and Other Stuff.  I was really interested in this southern fiction novel by Leslie Walker Williams but was disappointed when my local library didn't have a copy.  So I used the 'Request A Purchase' feature and entered all the info, not really thinking they'd run right out and buy it.  I WAS WRONG!!  Not only did they order it, but I'm first in line to read it!  See, I'm really not that hard to please!  I get so excited over the smallest things! My non-bookish friends would sayI'm such a a geek for getting excited over that, so I'm glad I have all of you to tell! Hey! I'm a book geek and I'm proud of it!  Can I get an 'Amen'!

This week kicks off TLC's blog tour of BEACH TRIP by Cathy Holton.  I'm reading it now and getting ready for my blog stop this Thursday, the 4th of June.  Please come back to read my review.  If you miss mine though, they'll be many more stops on the tour for you to catch up.   

I'm off now to grab another cup of coffee and hit the book!  Today I'm spending the day with four entertaining women who are enjoying a reunion on a small island off the coast of North Carolina where I can almost hear the waves crashing and smell the espresso martinis! Oh, how I wish I was there with them! 

Where are your books taking you today?

May 28, 2009

Booking Through Thursday: Unread

Is there a book that you wish you could 'unread'?  One that you disliked so thoroughly that you wish you could just forget that you read it?  

There was a book I read when I first started accepting advanced copies that I really didn't care for. That was back when I'd accept any type of book.  I had high hopes for it at first, but it didn't take long for me to realize it wasn't my cup 'o tea!  It was called THE WENTWORTHS by Katie Arnoldi.  It was described to me as a dark satire about a dysfunctional, wealthy west coast family.  Truthfully, it was borderline erotica, which I have no problem with, but the characters were very disturbing.  I didn't like ANY of them.  I did read the whole book, but afterwards I sat and asked myself, Why did I just waste my time on that?  I didn't come away from it with anything redeaming.  Granted, there were other reviewers who liked the book and thought it was funny.  But in my case, I didn't see any humor in it at all.  

Fortunately, I haven't had any other similiar experiences.   I don't always love all the books I read, but I can usually find something about them that I like.  

Is there a book you wish you could 'unread'?  

May 27, 2009

The Last Bridge by Teri Coyne

By looking at the cover of Teri Coyne's novel, nothing is given away.  There is no way to know that within the pages of this debut novel is an intense, emotional story of a woman tortured by her past. Once you read this book, you can look again at the cover and even the simplicity of it is understood. 

THE LAST BRIDGE is the story of Alexandra "Cat" Rucker: abused, alcoholic, damaged.  After being gone from her Ohio family home for ten years, she is forced to return when her mother commits a carefully planned suicide hours after her father suffers a critical stroke.  For ten years Cat has been living with demons she isn't strong enough to face.  Her sad life is a mix of booze, nightmares and self disgust.   

As a child, Cat suffered at the hands of her father and swore that as soon as she made it through high school she would leave and never come back.  She hated her father and kept all of the hurt and abuse inside.  The plans she made to leave did happen, but not quite the way she thought.  Her last night with her family turned out to be something ugly and traumatic with heartbreaking and frightening consequences that she has carried around with her ever since.  Now she's back at her family home with her brother and sister, whom she's had no contact with and feeling very out of place.  She tries to deal with her mother's suicide and her father's declining health at the same time that old family secrets are being revealed. Cat also has secrets of her own and questions that were left unanswered long ago after that last night on the bridge. 

I don't want to give too much away but I will say that Cat's story is a difficult one to read.  Teri Coyne's writing is bold, intense and holds nothing back. This is not a book for the faint at heart.  From the beginning, Cat's self-destructive behavior and debilitating alcoholism is front and center.  The story is told from her perspective both in present time and in flashbacks to her teenage years in alternating chapters. 

Once I started reading THE LAST BRIDGE I found it very hard to put down.  I wanted to keep going to see what would happen next.  It is a dark and troubling story told in a precise manner.  It's not filled with a lot of description and airy details. Teri Coyne paints a realistic picture of Cat's life as a lost soul.  For some, it might be too dark, but I find myself drawn to these types of novels and appreciate the poignancy in them.  As a debut novel this one is a winner in my opinion.  At first, I didn't think I was going to like Cat.  I couldn't relate to her alcoholism and her attitude, but the more I got to know her the more I liked her. 

THE LAST BRIDGE is an easy read and with only 240 pages, many could finish it in one sitting.  It has so many facets that make it truly engrossing:  family; loss; sacrifice and even deep love.  For all of those reasons, I would recommend it for your book club as well.  Visit Teri Coyne's website to learn more about her.  To read an excerpt from the book click here.  The release date for this dramatic novel is July 28, 2009.

Author:  Teri Coyne
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Published:  July 28, 2009
Pages: 240
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

May 25, 2009

Musing Mondays: Gift Certificates

Today's Monday Musing is . . .

Do you give gift certificates as gifts, and if so, are they for a specific store or do you use online stores?  And, do you enjoy receiving gift certificates as a gift? 

My response - 

Let me start by saying it's been three weeks since I've participated in MM and I have missed it! These last three weeks have been crazy for me.  First, my boss had to close his business, so I lost my job, (that's been tough to get through). Then I did some repainting in my house, and last week my washing machine broke and flooded my home office. I finally got things dried out and put back yesterday! What a mess! Anyway, it feels good to get back on track today! 

Now for my answer - I do give (book) gift certificates to some as gifts, but unfortunately, not many of the people in my life are big readers.  Oh, how I wish they were!  Sometimes, though, if I know there is a particular book someone wants, I'll go ahead and get it for them.  I've never given an online gift certificate before.  I usually go to the bookstore and get the gift certificate to stick inside of a card.  And yes, I do receive gift cards as gifts and I LOVE THAT! There is always a book i'm anxious to read, so the card never lasts long!  I've also received online gift certificates and that is very convenient, considering my non-driver status.  Usually they are from Amazon, which I love anyway and I don't have to ask anyone to drive me to the store.  I can take all the time I need to make up my mind right here at my computer.  

I do wish more of the people in my life enjoyed reading as much as I do. It would be great to share all of the wonderful books there are to choose from.  How do you feel about gift certificates?  For more musings, stop by Rebecca's at Just One More Page every Monday!

May 17, 2009

The Sunday Salon: Where did the week go?

I can't believe how fast the week went whizzing by.  Even though I hardly cracked open a book, I did get a lot accomplished.  I had to put aside my books and computer to tackle a painting job that I have been planning for awhile now.  It wasn't exactly the best time to stop reading for an entire week, but that's just how it worked out.  I'll just have to get caught up on my reviews and reading this week.  

I'm so happy with my little home improvement project and even happier that I'm done with it!  My kitchen and dining room was in desperate need of a coat of paint.  I've hated my kitchen for years and finally did something about it.  I couldn't have done it without the help of my way cool mom!!  I never knew she was such a painting guru!!  I guess you're never too old to learn things about your mother!  Even though it was hard work, we really had a good time and we worked so well together. And the result is that I now have a beautiful, bright kitchen that looks even bigger now that I painted over all of the dark wood trim work that I've hated for so long. I just love it! Next project on the schedule is the living room, but since there are construction revovations to be done, my dad will be helping me with that one. 

As I mentioned, I had to sacrifice my reading this week but I'm planning on spending most of today trying to catch up.  I'm reading two very good books and can't wait to get back to them.  They are THE LAST CHILD by John Hart and BEACH TRIP by Cathy Holton. Both books are equally good and it's hard to choose which one to pick up first! 

And as if I'm not already behind enough, I got a notice from the library that DROOD  is ready for me to pick up! What's that - 750-some pages?  Oh My God! When it rains it pours! I've been on the waiting list for that book ever since it came out!  

I'm also so behind in my blog reading it isn't funny.  Let me just apologize now for being so absent.  I'll be spending my evenings catching up on what y'all have been reading.  I thought I'd be able to do some blog reading at night after painting each day, but I was so physically exhausted I couldn't keep my eyes open. 

I'm off now to grab my books and start reading! What have you decided to do with this glorious Sunday?  

May 12, 2009

Teaser Tuesday: A Mystery

It's Tuesday and that means it's time for a teaser!  You know the rules, right?  Grab your current read, let the book fall open to a random page and pick two spoiler-free sentences to share.   

This week my teasers are from THE LAST CHILD by John Hart.  As it happens, this book is being released today!  Here are my teasers:

The road came to a crumbled gate, then turned right and disappeared around an elbow of brambles and heavy growth.  The gun came out of the holster and Johnny tilted it awkwardly. ~ page 231

For more teaser sentences, visit MizB at Should Be Reading, our gracious host for this weekly event. 

May 10, 2009

The Sunday Salon - A Special Day

I'd like to wish all of the fabulous moms out there a Happy Mothers Day!  I thought I'd do a quick wrap up of my week since I have a busy day ahead of me. Yesterday was my sister's birthday so my family is doing a double celebration today! 

I had a pretty good book week including posting two reviews. Tuesday was the release of River Jordan's new book, SAINTS IN LIMBO.  I read this last month and not only do I love the title, but the story was captivating.  It has some magical realism which makes it kind of Stephen King-esque.  I really enjoyed it. You can read my review here.

I also posted my review of TRUE COLORS by Kristin Hannah.   This is my first experience with her books and even though it isn't what I would want to read all the time, I did enjoy it. She really knows how to get the emotions going in a story .The relationships between the characters weren't what I expected and sometimes didn't agree with, but it kept my attention.  You can read my full review here

I also finished reading THE LAST BRIDGE by debut author Teri Coyne, but I haven't finished my review yet.  I should have it up in a few days. 

The UPS guy was good to me this week - Yay!  I got two books that I'm reading now and liking both of them very much. One is THE LAST CHILD by John Hart (author of DOWN RIVER), which is being released tomorrow! The other new book is BEACH TRIP by Cathy Holton. 

I probably won't get much of a chance to read today, but I'm looking forward to spending the day with my family. I hope all of you are enjoying your time with people you love on this Mother's Day!  

May 9, 2009

Mother's Day Glitter Graphics       

I'd like to wish all the fabulous blogger moms
(and my mom)
 a very Happy Mothers Day! 

May 7, 2009

Review - True Colors by Kristin Hannah

Winona Grey was fifteen years old in 1979 when her mother died of cancer.  She was the oldest of three daughters living on the family ranch, Waters Edge, in a small coastal town in Washington State with their hard-nosed father.  Being the oldest, Winona felt like she needed to be the strong one for her sisters, Aurora and Vivi Ann. Being a Grey came with a lot of responsibility and family tradition and if the girls ever started to forget, their father was quick to remind them.  Oyster Shores was a small community and the Grey name was a big part of the town’s heritage. 

Through the years, as hard as Winona tried to win her father’s approval, she never achieved it.  Her father lived and breathed the ranch that was in their family for generations, but as much as Winona tried to find a place where she ‘fit’ on the ranch, it just wasn’t her niche.  She grew up to become an attorney and had a successful practice but she still longed for her father’s praise.
Her middle sister, Aurora, was the peacemaker of the family, and was married to a physician and had two children and a seemingly perfect life.  But it was Vivi Ann, the youngest and most beautiful that had always been the light of their father’s eye. She knew the ranch and worked it as hard as her father did.  Like their mother, she was a skilled horsewoman and had an easy, gentle way with them. 

There had always been an unspoken jealousy between Winona and Vivi Ann and it only got worse when an old friend of Winona’s moved back to town.  Luke was the standard to which Winona measured all men. She had been secretly in love with him since high school but Vivi Ann was too young back then to remember.  Now, with Luke back, Winona was filled with new hope.

But when Winona hires a drifter named Dallas Raintree as a ranch hand, no one could foresee how life would change at Waters Edge. The strain between two sisters becomes unbearable, their father is openly prejudice against Dallas’s Indian heritage and as much as Vivi Ann tries to ignore it, there is an undeniable attraction between them. To complicate things further, choices are made and loyalties are tested to their limits when a local woman is murdered and Dallas is the only suspect the police are interested in.  

In TRUE COLORS, Kristin Hannah takes us on a journey through one family’s most difficult life choices.  Choices that will forever change how they look at one another and the repercussions of those choices.  

This was my first Kristin Hannah novel and I was thoroughly engrossed from the beginning.  For me, I felt an instant connection to the Grey sisters. I’m the same age as Winona, I grew up showing quarter horses, going to shows and cuttings on weekends with my family  and I have a sister, although she’s older than me,  that was my dad’s right hand and always a step ahead of me concerning the horses. I felt I was always in her shadow, so I can relate strongly to these characters in many ways.  

I liked the story itself, even as heart wrenching as it was sometimes.  Part of me though, feels it was a bit long. That said, I never got bored with it, I just felt the same outcome could have been achieved with a few less pages. Obviously with the connection I felt to them, the characters were very believable to me, which made the story all the better. 

My least favorite character was their father, who had a smaller role, but was consistent in his unpleasant behavior throughout.  I don’t think I have a favorite character, but Vivi Ann would probably be the closest.  At times, I thought Winona was so blinded by jealousy that she brought a lot of things on herself.  And other times she came across so arrogant, I didn’t like her at all.  Thinking back, maybe that’s exactly the way Ms. Hannah wanted her to be perceived.  She didn’t hide Winona’s flaws and that made her even more real. 

What I took away from the story is that if you’re going to make serious choices that affect your family, you better be sure you make them for the right reasons.  You may not always get a second chance to make things right. 

TRUE COLORS is Kristin Hannah’s seventeenth novel.  You can visit her website at 

Kristin Hannah
Publisher: St. Martins Press
Published:  February 2009
Pages: 400
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Facts About My Books

I decided to take a break from my usual Thursday book meme and do something a little different today.  I found this short meme from 2005 on a website called Making Light and thought it was interesting and fun.  I'm not going to tag anyone, but if you'd like to play along, leave me a comment to your post with answers about your books.  OK, here goes . . . 

Number of books I own -

At last count it was 147.  I've recently gone through some older books and traded them at the local used book store, so I'm confident that's an accurate number. 

Last book I bought - 

I bought two books yesterday. They are both by the same author, Kaye Gibbons.  One is  ELLEN FOSTER and the other is the sequel, THE LIFE ALL AROUND ME BY ELLEN FOSTER.  These books may not appeal to everyone as the subject matter, especially in ELLEN FOSTER, is kind of dark, but I enjoy reading edgy, intense stories that make a bold impression.  

Last book I read - 

THE LAST BRIDGE by debut author Teri Coyne.  I read this book in two days, which is unusual for me, but I couldn't put this one down.  It's not a big book, only 225 pages, but again, the content is intense and at times disturbing. (Am I sensing a pattern here?) This book grabs your gut and doesn't let go. At least that's how it was for me. 

Five books that mean a lot to me - (not counting the Bible, which is the most important!)

LONESOME DOVE - I'm a sucker for a great western novel and this is one of the best.  I was completely captivated by the story and group of unforgettable characters. Larry McMurtry is an amazing storyteller.

THE FIRM - When this book came out in 1992 I devoured it. No one had ever heard of John Grisham.  This was his first published novel. (A TIME TO KILL was actually his first novel, but was considered too racial) I told anyone who would listen about this amazing book and that it should be made into a movie.  The rest is history! lol

LORD OF THE FLIES - This was required reading for me in high school and even though I found it to be strange, it opened my eyes to a whole world of literature I hadn't explored at that young age. 

THE THIRTEENTH TALE - I just read this book earlier this year and fell in love with Diane Setterfield's amazing talent.  Her storytelling and prose made a huge impression on me. i just loved it. It is one of my all-time favorite books. 

INFIDEL - This memoir by Ayaan Hirsi Ali had such an impact on me.  I'm close to her age and reading about her life as a young Somali girl in Africa made me so thankful to be an American. Her candor of how she feels about Islam and the Muslim religion opened my eyes and my heart to a culture I previously had been ignorant about.  It's possibly the most astounding book I've ever read and she is undoubtedly a strong and couragous woman.

Ok, now it's your turn!  Don't forget to leave me a comment with a link to your answers. 

May 5, 2009

Saints In Limbo by River Jordan Released Today!

One of the most interestingly different novels I've read in a long time is this new release by River Jordan.  Taking place in a sleepy southern town in the Florida panhandle, it tells the story of people living with regret and how they deal with it and so much more.

Here's a bit about the book from the author's website:

Ever since her husband, Joe, died, Velma True's world has been limited to what she can see while clinging to one of the multicolored threads tied to the porch railing of her rural home outside Echo, Florida.

Then one day a stranger appears at her door. Without knowing why, the agoraphobic widow welcomes him into her kitchen for coffee while she tells him stories of how life used to be, before her purposes were "all dried up." Just before disappearing as suddenly as he came, the man presents Velma with a special gift, one that allows her to literally step back into the past through her own memories to a place where Joe still lives and the beginning is closer than the end.

While Velma is consumed with the man's gift, her son Rudy is also being presented with a challenge to his self-centered, complacent lifestyle. And a teenage girl winds her way to Echo, determined to unravel the mysteries her dead mother left behind. As secrets old and new come to light, Velma finds herself unmoored from the fears of the past and feeling her way toward freedom.

I really didn't know what to expect from this novel, but as soon as I started reading I found myself intrigued by Velma and the ocurrences that happen as a result of the gift she is given by a stranger. You can feel the lonliness she lives with since the death of her husband and immediately get the sense that there are things in her past that still need to be faced. 

Along with Velma, we also meet her son, Rudy, who has quite a reputation in their small community.  It's many people's opinion that Rudy hasn't lived up to the potential his life could have been and we watch as Rudy comes to that realization as well. 

We also meet Annie, a young girl making her way to Echo, Florida, to find answers to questions she has about her life.  Annie has a feeling she's being followed to Echo, and when she finally arrives, it becomes obvious that she is being followed by someone - or is it something?

I really liked this story. It didn't take long for me to develop a compassion for Velma for the loss of her husband and the fact that she was afraid of so many things. The book also has several supporting characters that are likeable and interesting as well.  It becomes clear that the three protagonists are all on a road of discovery that ultimately lead to each other. 

This is a very interesting book that has some mystical elements mixed in that make it a unique story of faith and the power of one's mind over regret. It was described to me by the author's publicist as Christian Fiction, but the godly elements are subtle and does not overpower the story at all.

River Jordan is a southern writer with a knack for lyrical prose that keeps the pages turning fluidly while the story unfiolds.  You can visit her website to learn more about her and the other books she's written. 


Author: River Jordan

Publisher: WaterBrook Press

Published: May 5, 2009

Pages: 352

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars (I really liked it!)

Teaser Tuesday: The Last Bridge

It's Tuesday and that means it's time for a teaser!  You know the rules, right? You grab the book you're reading, let it fall open to a random page and pick out a couple teaser sentences to share.  And be sure not to include any spoilers!  

My teaser is from Teri Coyne's THE LAST BRIDGE. Technically, I finished it yesterday, but I still wanted to use it today.  Here goes . . . 

In spite of the cold, the window was open, no doubt at my father's request in one of his lucid moments.  My father needed cold like a vampire needs blood.  ~ page 190

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted weekly by MizB at Should Be Reading. Stop by to check out more teasers!

May 4, 2009

It's Monday! What Are You Reading This Week?

Each week J. Kaye wants to know What are you reading this week? 

Today I'll be finishing Teri Coyne's THE LAST BRIDGE, an Early Review copy from Library Thing. What a quick read it has turned out to be! And very intense.

Next I'll be reading THE LAST CHILD by John Hart.  It has a release date of May 12th and sounds like a good mystery.  I'll also be reading BEACH TRIP by Cathy Holton as part of an upcoming blog tour with TLC Book Tours. 

Last week was not a great reading week for me with it being my first week as a 'layed off' employee.  I was busy cleaning out my office (it's amazing how much stuff you accumulate in nine years!!) and helping my former boss get familiar with all the 'how-to's" of my job.  I also attended a funeral of a friend, which didn't exactly put me in a reading mood.  I'm hoping this will be a much more productive week. 

I did manage to read TRUE COLORS by Kristin Hannah last week and I'll be posting that review in the next day or so.  Also, be sure to stop by on the 19th for my review of SAINTS IN LIMBO by River Jordan.  If you're looking for something different to read, you'll want to check that one out. 

So that's my plan. What are your reading this week? 

May 3, 2009

The Sunday Salon

Hello fellow Saloners! I'm running a bit behind today with my post, but I have a good reason - I went to church this morning and then out to lunch with my parents. So far the day has been just lovely. It's a bit warm, but the breeze is blowing so its not too bad. 

I got up early this morning and read the first 80 pages of THE LAST BRIDGE by Teri Coyne, a book I received through LibraryThing Early Reviewers.  It's a debut novel with intense writing. It's a quick read and I'm sure a lot of you could read in one sitting if not interrupted.  I'm finding it hard to put down.  

I finished TRUE COLORS by Kristin Hannah a few days ago and will post my review this week.  That was my first KH book and I can say I'm now a fan!  Now I want to go back and read some of her older books. I hear FIREFLY LANE is pretty good. 

A book that has caught my eye this week is by another new-to-me author, Elizabeth Berg.  Her new book HOME SAFE  just came out last week from Random House and is beginning to show up on a few blogs.  I actually got familiar with Ms. Berg from reading Karen Harrington's blog.  She really likes her writing style and has mentioned her several times, which made me curious.  I'm looking forward to trying out this author's work. 

As for today, I'm planning to get comfy and curl up with THE LAST BRIDGE and hopefully get as close as I can to finishing it.   What book has your attention today?