Monday, May 25, 2009

What's On Your Nightstand - 5/26/09

What’s been on your nightstand this month? The folks at 5 Minutes for Books would like to know. See what everyone else is reading and discover some new titles to add to your TBR pile! Mine is ever growing!!

Books I have Read in May, 2009 -
  • Across A Hundred Mountains by Renya Grande - My Review

  • The Girl She Used To Be by David Cristofano - My Review

  • The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski - My Review

Jen's Reading Plan for June -

  • In the Kitchen by Monica Ali - (ARC from Simon and Schuster) - I have started this one, but have not had alot of time to read.
  • The Crying Tree by Naseem Rakha - ARC from Random House.
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer-June Selection for Book Group.
  • The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb - I am listening to this audio book and am nearly finished! Very good so far.
  • The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett - a short novella borrowed to me by a friend. Must read and return very soon!
Happy Reading!

Mailbox Monday - 5/25/09

This is my second week in participating in Mailbox Monday. This is a weekly event hosted by Marcia over at The Printed Page. This week I recevied from Random House, The Crying Tree by Naseem Rakha. This book will be available July 2009.

THE CRYING TREE has been selected for Barnes & Noble's autumn Discover Great New Writers program.

Award-winning journalist and author Naseem Rakha’s debut novel, THE CRYING TREE reaches into the heart of a family nearly torn apart by a mother’s act of forgiveness.

Synopsis from Barnes and Noble. com

Irene and Nate Stanley are living a quiet and contented life with their two children, Bliss and Shep, on their family farm in southern Illinois when Nate suddenly announces he’s been offered a job as a deputy sheriff in Oregon. Irene fights her husband. She does not want to uproot her family and has deep misgivings about the move. Nevertheless, the family leaves, and they are just settling into their life in Oregon’s high desert when the unthinkable happens. Fifteen-year-old Shep is shot and killed during an apparent robbery in their home. The murderer, a young mechanic with a history of assault, robbery, and drug-related offenses, is caught and sentenced to death.

Shep’s murder sends the Stanley family into a tailspin, with each member attempting to cope with the tragedy in his or her own way. Irene’s approach is to live, week after week, waiting for Daniel Robbin’s execution and the justice she feels she and her family deserve. Those weeks turn into months and then years. Ultimately, faced with a growing sense that Robbin’s death will not stop her pain, Irene takes the extraordinary and clandestine step of reaching out to her son’s killer. The two forge an unlikely connection that remains a secret from her family and friends.

Years later, Irene receives the notice that she had craved for so long—Daniel Robbin has stopped his appeals and will be executed within a month. This announcement shakes the very core of the Stanley family. Irene, it turns out, isn’t the only one with a shocking secret to hide. As the execution date nears, the Stanleys must face difficult truths and find a way to come toterms with the past.

Dramatic, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting, The Crying Tree is an unforgettable story of love and redemption, the unbreakable bonds of family, and the transformative power of forgiveness.

Happy Reading,

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mailbox Monday - May 11th

This is my first time in participating in Mailbox Monday. This is a weekly event hosted by Marcia over at The Printed Page.

This week I recevied from Simon and Schuster, In The Kitchen by Monica Ali. This book will be available June 2009 from Scribner. This book appealed to me due to many of my loves, such as my love of cooking, British Authors, Hell's Kitchen and all things Gordon Ramsey! I am looking forward to digging into this one ASAP!

Synopsis of In The Kitchen By Monica Ali from Barnes and Noble. Com

Gabriel L ightfoot is an enterprising man from a northern E ngland mill town, making good in London. As executive chef at the once-splendid Imperial H otel, he is trying to run a tight kitchen. But his integrity, to say nothing of his sanity, is under constant challenge from the competing demands of an exuberant multinational staff, a gimlet-eyed hotel management, and business partners with whom he is secretly planning a move to a restaurant of his own. D espite the pressures, all his hard work looks set to pay off.

Until a worker is found dead in the kitchen's basement. It is a small death, a lonely death — but it is enough to disturb the tenuous balance of Gabe's life.

Elsewhere, Gabriel faces other complications. His father is dying of cancer, his girlfriend wants more from their relationship, and the restaurant manager appears to be running an illegal business under Gabe's nose.

Enter L ena, an eerily attractive young woman with mysterious ties to the dead man. Under her spell, Gabe makes a decision, the consequences of which strip him naked and change the course of the life he knows — and the future he thought he wanted.

Readers and reviewers have been stunned by the breadth of humanity in Monica Ali's fiction. She is compared to Dickens and called one of three British novelists who are "the voice of a generation" by Time magazine. In the Kitchenis utterly contemporary yet has all the drama and heartbreak of a great nineteenth-century novel. Ali is sheer pleasure to read, a truly magnificent writer.

As always, if you want to see what others found in their mailboxes this past week, check out Marcia's blog at The Printed Page.

Happy Reading!!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Review: Across A Hundred Mountains by Renya Grande

Title: Across a Hundred Mountains
Author: Reyna Grande
Pages: 259
Publisher: Atria (June 20, 2006)
ISBN-10: 0743269578

This is the story of migration, love and loss as two women (Adelina and Juana) find the path of their lives crossing. Juana’s family suffers a tragedy which greatly affects Juana’s relationship with her mother. Juana’s father, Miguel leaves to go to the United States to find work and money for the family. Juana and her mother struggle greatly in the absence of Miguel. After two years, Juana leaves Mexico to search for her father.

Juana is befriended by a young woman, Adelina in a Tijuana jail. Adelina was born in the United States and came to Mexico with her boyfriend. The two make plans to leave their life in Mexico behind them and go to the United States. Juana is desperate to find her father and find out why he did not return to Mexico as he had promised.

The story is told in alternating chapters by Juana the young girl living in Mexico in poverty with her mother and Adelina a 30 year old social worker in Los Angeles.

This is a debut novel by Reyna Grande. I love discovering new authors! I can only imagine the Reyna Grande enhanced the story by using some of her personal life to shape this story. When Reyna was 5 years old her parents immigrated to the United States and left her and her siblings in the care of their grandmother. At the age of nine, Reyna immigrated to the United States to be with her parents. She currently resides in Los Angeles. Author’s Website is

My Review: This book was recommended to by my friend, Syd. I thought the writing was good. The book was engaging and had a good flow to the story. The descriptions of life in Mexico were interesting and heartbreaking. I felt a bit confused in the middle of the story by the alternating chapters by the two women, Juana and Adelina. The author quickly brings it all together and it all makes perfect sense. Once everything started to come together, I had a hard time putting the book down. Once again I stayed up too late reading!
4/5 – Recommended/ A Good Read.

Happy Reading!

Jen C

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Review: The Girl She Used To Bo

Title: The Girl She Used To Be
Author: David Cristofano
Pages: 256 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; 1 edition (March 19, 2009)
ISBN-10: 0446582220

When Melody Grace McCartney was 6 years old she and her parents accidently witness a horribly brutal act of violence committed by an influential mafia figure, Tony Bovaro. Melody and her family go into the Federal Witness Protection Program. They are frequently relocated and eventually the parents are killed by the Bovaro family, but Melody survives.

Melody continues to be in the Federal Witness Protection Program and goes through 8 aliases and/or lives. She frequently gets bored and get relocated. She is eventually located by Jonathon, the son of Tony Bovaro. He offers her a strange alternative, the protection from his family and a life she has never known.

My Review: My initial thoughts when starting this book was of nonbelief. I initially did a lot of “Yeah Right”. But this very talented author developed the characters so well that I began to believe and became fascinated with Melody’s behavior. Certainly not choices I would make, but I could understand Melody’s reasons. Melody is an adult woman, but she isn’t emotionally mature or rooted emotionally in her life and is drifting through life without a connection to other people. She desires that connection with others, a real family. This book is vey engaging and you are compelled to continue to read. The plot keeps you hooked with twists, turns and bittersweet moments.

4/5 – Recommended/ A Good Read – This book had me leaving my desk to actually take a lunch break to read!

Happy Reading!

Jen C

Sunday, May 3, 2009

LIBRARY LOOT - May 2nd, 2009

Hubby went to the library for me this week and I had alot of reserves in! It was like my birthday when he got home. I was excited. I need to make time this week to get some serious reading done. Josh, my oldest came over and set up my gazebo/outdoor living room. It is all ready for me to sit out there and read. The MN weather hasn't been cooperating too much yet. today does look promising.

May 2nd, 2009

1. Novel About My Wife - Emily Perkins
2. Still Alice - Lisa Genova
3. The Ten Year Nap - Meg Wolitzer
4. Across A hundred Mountains - Reyna grande
5. Sarah's Key - Tatiana DeRosnay
6. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet - Jamie Ford
7. The Girl She Used To Be - David Cristofano (My Review)

To see what other bloggers are reading, stop by the weekly Library Loot Event hosted by Eva at The Striped Armchair.

Happy Reading!!
Jen C

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Review: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

Title: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
Author: David Wroblewski

Pages: 576 pages
Publisher: Ecco; 1ST edition (September 19, 2008)
ISBN-10: 0061768065

Edgar Sawtelle is the much desired child of Gar and Trudy Sawtelle. The Sawtelle family was known in Wisconsin for their breeding and training of dogs. When their son, Edgar was born without the ability to speak, they turn to their well trained dog, Almondine to help keep an eye on Edgar as he grows up.

All is going well in the family until Claude, Edgar’s uncle returns to the family home. Gar, Edgar’s father, unexpectedly dies and Edgar and his mother, Trudy attempt to continue with their lives and running the kennel. Edgar is devastated by his father’s death and attempts to prove Claude’s role in his father’s death.

My Review

To be honest my initial thought when this book was selected by my book group was there is no way that I could make it through this book . It is a good sized book and was described by the recommender as being a great book for dog lovers. I started this book while out of town for a conference and stayed up way too late reading. I found The Story of Edgar Sawtelle to be a compelling read that surprisingly gripped my attention quickly. I truly cared about some of the characters and couldn’t wait to get back to them once I closed the book. Some of the Sawtelle dogs are also well developed as characters themselves. The characters are well developed, which assists in connecting the reader to the characters emotionally.

So don’t be intimidated by the size of this book, your time will be spent enjoyably. I would rate this book a 4.5/5 – recommended read!

This book will be posted as a giveaway in the very near future. I am thinking through some unique details to add to my book giveaways! Be sure to check back for you chance to win this book.

Happy Reading!
Jen C