Friday, June 23, 2017

Summer is here!

Yep, summer reading has begun.  The first day of the season was on Wednesday.  Although, if I'm honest, I'd already begun my summer reading over the past weekend. I was on a non-fiction kick and followed up Keven Hart's memoir (I Can't Make This Up: Life Lessons) with:


Talk about two amazing writers. I absolutely LOVED both books to bits.  Sidibe's book was definitely interesting and provided insight into how she came about acting - let's just say she was destined for it.  Her life was filled with ups and downs; she struggled with depression; and she just couldn't figure out what she wanted to do.  She was a mess and she admits it - her honesty was heartfelt and I loved it.  Sidibe is a smart and funny gal with loads of talent and I can't wait to read more of her writing.  As for Gay's book - wow! She lays it all out and it is simply beautiful.  Her writing mesmerizes and her truth grabs you.  I enjoyed every minute I spent with Hunger.  Gay shares her story of being gang-raped at 12 by her boyfriend and his friends.  She writes about how she never told anyone what happened and kept that secret locked up for years.  She writes about how she continued to let her boyfriend use her body after he had violated her and told the kids at school she was a slut.  She writes about the nightmares, the smell of beer, and the loss of her body.  Gay tells us how she decided to eat away her pain - she wanted a body so big that no one would hurt her ever again.  Her story is about the experience of being a fat woman in today's world and it is honest, raw, and real.  Reading this book has made me a fan of Gay's writing for life.  Hunger is a MUST-READ!!

As for what I'm reading now:

Strout was calling out to me, so I picked up Amy and Isabelle. A story about a mother and daughter in a small town. Isabelle works in the office at the mill - she's the secretary to the boss.  Her daughter, Amy, is a teen-aged girl struggling to get through high school.  A new teacher replaces the old math teacher.  All the students seems to LOVE Mr. Robertson.  Except, maybe Amy LOVES him too much.  Yep, she's caught with him in his car and soon the whole town knows.  Isabelle is shocked and feels betrayed by the daughter she has sacrificed so much for.  Amy is hurt and confused by all of the anger, drama, and scandal that her romance has caused her family and the town.  She begins to hate her mother and realizes that she resents her.  Isabelle, also begins to feel the same feelings of hate and resentment toward her own daughter.  Their relationship becomes beyond strained and tests their boundaries and love for one another.  I'm part way through the book and loving it. Strout's writing is always so rich and deep with emotion, that you can't help but get easily caught up in the narratives she weaves.  I definitely can't wait to read the rest of her works this summer.

And now, I'm off to continue Amy and Isabelle.  Hope you're kicking off summer reading with something great.  Happy reading!!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Sweet Tea Tuesdays by Ashley Farley

(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

Three best friends met every Tuesday for twenty-six years. And then they stopped.

From the author of the bestselling Sweeney Sisters Series comes a novel of friendship, family, and hope.

When new next-door neighbors Georgia, Midge, and Lula first assembled on Georgia’s porch in Charleston for sweet tea, they couldn’t have known their gathering was the beginning of a treasured tradition. For twenty-six years they have met on Tuesdays at four o’clock, watching the seasons change and their children grow up, supporting each other in good times and in bad. With their ambitions as different as their personalities, these best friends anticipate many more years of tea time. And then, one Tuesday, Georgia shares news that brings their long-standing social hour to an abrupt halt. And that’s only the beginning as unraveling secrets threaten to alter their friendship forever.

my thoughts:

Friendship and family are at the heart of Farley's latest novel, Sweet Tea Tuesdays.  Set in Charleston, this lovely story introduces us to BFFs - Georgia, Midge, and Lula.  Friends for over 26 years, this delightful trio meets up every Tuesday at four o' clock to gossip, chat, and hang out.  It is their one standing appointment that they refuse to give up.  And they have been doing it forever and a day.  So, when Georgia drops a bombshell on her two friends one afternoon - well, lets just say that friendships are shaken up and "Sweet Tea Tuesdays" are no more.

Yep, secrets are revealed and lives are forever changed.  Dramatic, but true.  Sweet Tea Tuesdays is a heartwarming story that you will easily fall in love with - I did.  The characters are flawed and struggling to maintain a sense of control over their lives.  Their problems are rife with drama, but relatable on some level.  And the story is unputdownable.  Told with a touch of "southern charm", this is one story you won't want to miss.  I absolutely LOVED it!

I would happily recommend Sweet Tea Tuesdays to fans of Ashley Farley and anyone looking for their next summer read - you will LOVE this book!!

Here's the link to the TLC Book Tour schedule for: Sweet Tea Tuesdays
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Jane of Austin: A Novel of Sweet Tea and Sensibility by Hillary Manton Lodge

(Thank you to Blogging For Books for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

Just a few years after their father’s business scandal shatters their lives, Jane and Celia Woodward find themselves forced out of their San Francisco tea shop. The last thing Jane wants is to leave their beloved shop on Valencia Street, but when Celia insists on a move to Austin, Texas, the sisters pack up their kid sister Margot and Jane’s tea plants, determined to start over yet again.

But life in Austin isn’t all sweet tea and breakfast tacos. Their unusual living situation is challenging and unspoken words begin to fester between Jane and Celia. When Jane meets and falls for up-and-coming musician Sean Willis, the chasm grows deeper.

While Sean seems to charm everyone in his path, one person is immune – retired Marine Captain Callum Beckett. Callum never meant to leave the military, but the twin losses of his father and his left leg have returned him to the place he least expected—Texas.

In this modern spin on the Austen classic, Sense and Sensibility, the Woodward sisters must contend with new ingredients in unfamiliar kitchens, a dash of heartbreak, and the fragile hope that maybe home isn't so far away.

my thoughts:

Jane of Austin is a delightful, funny romance that is perfect for summer reading.  A retelling of Austen's brilliant novel, Sense and Sensibility, this modern version offers up a fresh spin on the old classic.  Set in Austin, TX we find ourselves captivated by the lovely Woodward sisters.  Due to financial scandal, they had to shut down their tea shop in San Fran and take up residence with some distant cousin in TX.  Talk about a wake up call!  Of course, the sisters are determined to make a go of things and set out to open up a new tea shop in their new homestead.  Tea and scones, anyone?  I couldn't help but crave these delicious treats as I read this book - the descriptions were mouth-watering and there are recipes in back! YUMMY!

As for the story, well, its not just about sisterly love.  There are the ups and downs of living in too-close quarters, opening up a new business, and falling in love.  Yep, there is romance, heartbreak, and a handsome, dashing man (or two).  And, there is drama galore - twists and turns that lead to confusion, anger, hurt, and heartache. So much drama - I loved it!!  Suffice it to say, the book has it all and I absolutely gobbled it up.  I sat down with my copy and didn't get back up til I was through with the book - it was just too darn good to put down.  I absolutely loved Jane of Austin.

I would happily recommend this book to fans of Hillary Manton Lodge and fans of retellings of classics - you will LOVE Jane of Austin!!

I received this book from Blogging For Books for this review.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Parthenon Bomber: A Novella by Christos Chrissopoulos

(Thank you to Other Press for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

A novel at once metaphorical and iconoclastic, The Parthenon Bomber exposes the painful and maddening paradox of contemporary Greece.

“Blow up the Acropolis” – the 1944 call to action by the surrealist circle the Harbingers of Chaos. Sixty years later, a young man obliges. The Parthenon has been destroyed, the city orphaned. Is it still Athens?

All eyes are on the empty hill, now ashen and smoky. Cries of distress, indifference, and zealotry fill the air. What were his reasons? How will he be punished for this unspeakable act of violence? What does it mean for Greece, now deprived of its most significant symbol?

This provocative tale reveals the unique dilemma of a country still searching for an identity beyond its past as the birthplace of Western civilization.

my thoughts:

Wow! Talk about a thought-provoking read! I absolutely LOVED The Parthenon Bomber by Christos Chrissopoulos.  A novella that questions history, identity, and icons - and its set in Athens - what more could I want in a story!?!

When something so iconic no longer exists what happens to that city, to the people, to their culture, and their history?  Are they still the same? Is that icon still a part of their country's identity even though it no longer is?  And what about the man who took it away from them - why would he do such a horrible thing?  So many ideas and questions run through your brain as you read this short tale about destruction and its aftermath.  The writing is sharp, clear, and precise in its details, history, and depth.  I absolutely loved it!

I would definitely recommend this novella to fans of Chrissopoulos's writing and anyone interested in a great new read - you will most definitely appreciate this book!

Thank you to Other Press for providing me with a copy of this book!

Friday, June 16, 2017

My Friday Five...

1.  Working out.  Ugh.  Its not fun, but I still manage to drag myself to the gym.  I listen to Missy Elliott, Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, Kanye West, and anything else that will get me moving. Why can't I be like one of those people who loves to work out?  Do they even exist?

2.  TV.  I'm still obsessed with Real Housewives of NYC.  This season is beyond ridiculous and I love it. The gals were back at Dorinda's home in the Berzerkshires.  Things were moving along nicely-ish and then everyone was telling LuAnn that Tom is still cheating on her and that she shouldn't marry him.  Next up was Ramona and B - let me just say, "Whoa!".  Talk about dredging up the past and petty jealousies for no reason other than to attempt to humiliate people.  Of course, nothing was resolved and now B refuses to talk to Ramona ever again. Oh, and Ramona wrecked Dorinda's bedroom that she was staying in? Talk about being a bad friend.  As for Southern Charm, well lets just say that Shep is turning out to be a bigger tool than I had previously thought.  Not only is he an elitist who makes fun of his friends for shopping at Dick's Sporting Goods, while he heads to a men's boutique for hunting gear.  He's also a major creep who hits on his friends' dates while she's on a date with his friend. Talk about lacking "southern charm". 

3. I finished reading:

I enjoyed both books so much. I read the Patti Smith in one sitting and mulled over it for days. I loved the whimsical feel to the stories inside the pocket-sized edition I purchased.  I have to admit to tearing up over the story where her dog gets run over - that seriously tugged at my heart.  And I just loved reading about the "woolgatherers" and how she would look out her window late at night for them.  Such a delightful little book.  As for the Kevin Hart book, I really did liked getting to know him through his "life lessons".  I never really knew much about him until I saw him on Oprah one day and ever since that interview I became a fan of his.  I like how personal he gets in his book and how hard he's worked to create his brand and become a household name.  He's talented, determined, and real.  Reading his book made me an even bigger fan.

4.  Book I loved and forgot to post about:

I first came across Lang Leav's poetry via Twitter and I'm so happy that I did, because I absolutely LOVE her work.  So, when I read that she had a novel coming out I immediately ordered it and put aside the weekend to read it.  I sat down with my copy of Sad Girls and a huge cuppa.  I took my time with the story and enjoyed every minute I spent with it.  It was such a terrific read! The story is about a girl who tells a lie - a HUGE lie that changes so many lives in so many ways.  She meets a boy and he's THE ONE, but turns out that he isn't who he seems AT ALL.  I didn't expect that twist at the end and when it came, let me just say - Whoa, Nelly!  Lang Leav has written a gripping story that you won't want to put down for anything.  Its seriously that good.  I can't wait to see what she writes next.

5.  Music.  My tastes have been all over the place lately. I've been listening to Elton John, Pearl Jam, Paula Abdul, U2, Bon Jovi, Hole, and Foo Fighters.  Usually I listen to one band over and over all week, but I can't seem to focus on just one.  This is what I'm currently listening to:

Guns N' Roses! I love this song and the video.  Slash and his guitar - awesome!

Hope you have a great weekend! Happy reading!!