Sunday, July 20, 2014

Review: The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarity

Title: The Husband’s Secret
Author: Liane Moriarity (author website)
Genre: Adult Fiction
Publisher:  Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam; 1st Printing edition (July 30, 2013)
Pages:  416
Source:  Kindle book purchased for book group
About the Book: (from publisher)
At the heart of The Husband’s Secret is a letter that’s not meant to be read
My darling Cecilia, if you’re reading this, then I’ve died...
Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive. . .
Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.

Acclaimed author Liane Moriarty has written a gripping, thought-provoking novel about how well it is really possible to know our spouses—and, ultimately, ourselves.

Related Media:  Liane Moriarty on The Husband's Secert

About the Author:
Liane Moriarty is the author of Three Wishes, The Last Anniversary, What Alice Forgot and The Hypnotist's Love Story. All of her novels have been published successfully around the world and translated into seven languages. Writing as L.M. Moriarty, she is also the author of the Space Brigade series for children.

Liane lives in Sydney with her husband, son and daughter.
My Review: The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriaty was the monthly selection for my book group.   I don't belive I have read any books by Moriaty prevously, but other members had! 

Cecelia Fitzpatrick finds an envelope which says on the outside  "To Wife...To be opened in the event of my death"?   Would you open it??   I would open it in a heat beat!  I wouldn't be able to stop thinking about it otherwise.   The Husaban's Secret is the intertwined story of Tess, Cecelia and Rachel and how each are ultimately each effected by the contents of the envelope.  The Husband's Secret kept my interest.  I felt the story had a very good flow and kept you wanting to know more, which made for a very quick read.  

I think The Husband's Secret is a great book for a book group.  There are many moral dilemmas within the story to discuss.   I actually missed book group and didn't get to participate in the discussion.  I really wanted to discuss the ending and if others felt they would have made a similar decision to Rachel's.  

The Husband's Secret touches on themes of grief, lost, betrayal and the cost of forgiveness. 
My Rating: 4/5 - The Husband's Secret is very readable and gripping.  It is a book you will finish in a few sittings as you want to know how the author will resolve the events set in motion by that one simple letter intended to be read after the death of Cecelia's husband. 
My Rating Scale: 1 – didn’t like it; 2 – it was ok; 3 – liked it; 4 – really liked it; 5 – it was amazing
The Husband's Secret was also reviewed by Aestas Book Club, Maryse's Book Blog, and Book Journey.
Happy Reading!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Review: The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi


Title: The Pearl That Broke Its Shell

Author: Nadia Hashini
(Author Website)   (Facebook)

Genre: Adult Fiction

Narrator: Gin Hammond (website)

Unabridged Length: 16.2 hours

Publisher:  Blackstone Audio, May 5, 2014

Source: Audiobook Jukebox‘s reviewer program

About the Book: (from good

Afghan-American Nadia Hashimi's literary debut novel, The Pearl that Broke Its Shell is a searing tale of powerlessness, fate, and the freedom to control one's own fate that combines the cultural flavor and emotional resonance of the works of Khaled Hosseini, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Lisa See.

In Kabul, 2007, with a drug-addicted father and no brothers, Rahima and her sisters can only sporadically attend school, and can rarely leave the house. Their only hope lies in the ancient custom of bacha posh, which allows young Rahima to dress and be treated as a boy until she is of marriageable age. As a son, she can attend school, go to the market, and chaperone her older sisters.

But Rahima is not the first in her family to adopt this unusual custom. A century earlier, her great-aunt, Shekiba, left orphaned by an epidemic, saved herself and built a new life the same way.

Crisscrossing in time, The Pearl the Broke Its Shell interweaves the tales of these two women separated by a century who share similar destinies. But what will happen once Rahima is of marriageable age? Will Shekiba always live as a man? And if Rahima cannot adapt to life as a bride, how will she survive

Related Media:  Nadia Hashimi Introduces “The Pearl That Broke Its Shell”.

About the Author:


Nadia Hashimi was born and raised in New York and New Jersey. Both her parents were born in Afghanistan and left in the early 1970s, before the Soviet invasion. Her mother, granddaughter of a notable Afghan poet, went to Europe to obtain a Master’s degree in civil engineering and her father came to the United States, where he worked hard to fulfill his American dream and build a new, brighter life for his immediate and extended family. Nadia was fortunate to be surrounded by a large family of aunts, uncles and cousins, keeping the Afghan culture an important part of their daily lives.

Nadia attended Brandeis University where she obtained degrees in Middle Eastern Studies and Biology. In 2002, she made her first trip to Afghanistan with her parents who had not returned to their homeland since leaving in the 1970s. It was a bittersweet experience for everyone, finding relics of childhood homes and reuniting with loved ones.

Nadia enrolled in medical school in Brooklyn and became active with an Afghan-American community organization that promoted cultural events and awareness, especially in the dark days after 9/11. She graduated from medical school and went on to complete her pediatric training at NYU/Bellevue hospitals in New York City. On completing her training, Nadia moved to Maryland with her husband where she works as a pediatrician.

The Pearl That Broke Its Shell is Hashimi’s debut novel.

About the Narrator:

shot5 Gin Hammond received her MFA from the A.R.T. at Harvard University/Moscow Art Theatre. She has performed nationally at theatres such The Guthrie, Arena Stage, The Longwharf Theatre, Seattle’s ACT, The Pasadena Playhouse, the ART, The Berkshire Theatre Festival and The Studio Theatre in Washington D.C., where she won a Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Lead Actress for her performance of The Syringa Tree. Internationally, she has performed in Russia, Germany, Ireland, Scotland and England.

Ms. Hammond also received a Kathleen Cornell award, and WA state grants from Allied Arts, The Mayor’s Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs, Artist Trust, 4 Culture, as well as from the NEA. Her voice(s) can be heard on Jim French's Imagination Theatre, Super Granny, Cake Mania, Westward, and Nancy Drew video games, a wide range of industrials, audiobooks produced by Redwood and Cedar House Audio, and Halo 3 ODST. She currently resides in Seattle with her husband, where she writes, directs, teaches and performs.

My Review: Let’s just get this out of the way, The Pearl that Broke Its Shell is one of my favorite reads so far this year.   I received The Pearl That Broke Its Shell from the reviewer program at AudioJukeBox.   In my work as a social worker in a metro area, I meet many people and find myself drawn to stories of life within other cultures.  

The Pearl That Broke Its Shell is the story of two Afghan women, Shekiba and Rahima.  Shekiba lived in the early 1900’s during the reign of King Habibullah.  Rahima lived in present day Afghanistan.   Shekiba and Rahima shared a commonality of living as a Bacha posh.  Bacha posh ("dressed up as a boy" in the Dari Language) is a cultural practice in which some families without sons will pick a daughter to live and behave as a boy. This enables the child to behave more freely: attending school, escorting her sisters in public, and working. Bacha posh also allows the family to avoid the social stigma associated of not having any male children.

I don’t want to share too much about the story as you have to really experience it and I can’t really give it justice.  I found learning about the history of Afghanistan very interesting.  I found it very interesting how in 1920’s Afghanistan rules by King Amanullah Khan and Queen Soraya was looking towards the ways of the West and were making efforts to modernize and empower the Afghan people.  Fast forward nearly a 100 years to Rahima’s life and those previous efforts to modernize and empower the Afghan people are non existent.  The country is ruled by warlords and wrought with corruption. 

While the Pearl That Broke Its Shells touches of issues such as child marriage, warlords, political unrest, drug addiction, and domestic violence, I really was impacted by the strength, perseverance and determination of Shekiba and Rahima to change their naseeb.  Naseeb means destiny or fate. The literal meaning in Arabic is "share", but it came to be understood as "one's share in life", and thus his destiny. 

This is my first experience with the narration of Gin Hammond.   I really enjoyed listening to The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi.  Gin Hammond provides a very emotional and passionate performance.   Her narration is easy to listen to and very enjoyable.  She bring the story to life in a manner that added to my enjoyment of the story!

My Rating: 4/5 -  The Pearl That Broke Its Shell is a debut novel that is wonderfully written.  It is hard to believe this is Nadia Hashimi debut novel.   I found myself looking for excuses to slip in my earbuds to listen to just a few more chapters.   Hashimi provides a very intimate look into the life of two amazing Afghan women.   I found myself thinking about Shekida and Rahima throughout my day.  The Pearl That  Broke Its Shell is a story that will stay with you long after you close the book.

My Rating Scale: 1 – didn’t like it; 2 – it was ok; 3 – liked it; 4 – really liked it; 5 – it was amazing

The Pearl that Broke Its Shell was also reviewed by the The Book Reporter, The Savvy Reader, Peeking Between the Pages and West Metro Mommy Reads. 

Happy Reading!

**Disclosure – Copy of The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi was received from Blackstone Audio in exchange for a fair review.

Coming Soon to a Bookshelf Near You: June/July Edition

I am blogging to you from our deck, affectionately referred to as our “Cabin Up North”.   It is a beautiful day in White Bear Lake today.   The sun is shining, classical music is playing on the outdoor sound system, birds chirping, hubby is mowing the lawn and baby puppy is curled up on the chair next to me.   Life is good!

As a book blogger, I am able to request, read and provide feedback on forth coming titles.   I love being able to do this, but some months my ambitions are larger than what time allows.  I still have a full time job which interferes regularly with my reading/blogging schedule.    So I decided to share with you some upcoming releases that have caught my eye.    I would hate for you to miss an upcoming title!!  

Here are some books published in June, 2014 that caught my eye!


Each book cover is linked to it’s page, where you can find info, ratings and reviews for each book.  I was very excited to discover a new author, Heather Gudenkauf. She was born in South Dakota just like me, so what is not to love!  I plan on picking up a few more of her titles.  

My Reviews:  The Lemon Grove (review) and Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf (coming soon)

July, 2014 – Upcoming Titles…….


As you can see my interests vary at times.  I will at times accept a children’s book for a change of pace.  I have a hard time getting Tommy to review books anymore, so I will review one every once in a while.   Tommy’s life is soccer, school and church.   I like to read non-fiction books about families’ dealing with autism, adoption and various disabilities due to my work as a social worker.  You can really learn a lot from other’s stories.  Sometimes quite honestly, the book cover just catches my eye and I have to read it!! 

My Reviews:  One Plus One by Jojo Moyes (Review coming soon) – This is the second book I have read by Jojo Moyes – I plan on reading another for due for publication in September. 

Hope you are enjoying a beautiful day!!

Happy Reading!


*Note – if you would like to keep up with book reviews on Reading in White Bear Lake, please take a moment to like us on facebook!   If you are interested in my other loves: cooking, menu planning, organizing and my family check out our other blog, Living in White Bear Lake.   Living in White Bear Lake can also be found on facebook.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Review: The Lemon Grove by Helen Walsh

 18007528 Title: The Lemon Grove
Author: Helen Walsh (Author Website)
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pages: 224 pages
Publisher: Doubleday (June 3, 2014)
About the Book: (from good
Set on the rugged, mountainous west coast of Mallorca, this taut, sultry, brilliantly paced novel is an urgent meditation on female desire, the vicissitudes of marriage and the allure of youth.
Taking place over the course of one week, The Lemon Grove lands in the heat of Deia, a village on an island off the southeast coast of Spain. Jenn and Greg are on their annual holiday to enjoy languorous, close afternoons by the pool, and relaxed dinners overlooking the rocks. But the equilibrium is upset by the arrival of their teenage daughter, Emma, and her boyfriend, Nathan. Jenn, in her early forties, loves her (older) husband and her (step)daughter and is content with her life, she thinks. But when this beautiful, reckless young man comes into her world, she is caught by a sexual compulsion that she's seldom felt before. As the lines hotly blur between attraction, desire and obsession, Jenn’s world is thrown into tumult--by Nathan's side, she could be young and carefree once again, and at this stage in her life, the promise of youth is every bit as seductive as the promise of passion. Jenn struggles between the conflicting pulls of resistance and release, and the events of the next few days have the potential to put lives in jeopardy as the players carry out their roles in this unstoppably sexy and unputdownable novel from a brilliant observer of the human condition.
Setting: Mallorca, Spain -   Majorca, or Mallorca is an island located in the Mediterranean Sea. It is the largest island in the Balearic Islands archipelago, in Spain.  BEAUTIFUL!!
About the Author:
Helen Walsh
HELEN WALSH was born in Warrington in 1977 and moved to Barcelona at the age of sixteen. Working as a fixer in the red light district, she saved enough money to put herself through language school. Burnt out and broke, she returned to England a year later and now works with socially excluded teenagers in North Liverpool. Brass is her first novel.
My Review:   A number of book bloggers were saying good things about “The Lemon Grove”.  Said to be the summer read not to miss.  When I saw it on Netgally, I thought I better request a copy to review.   I received my review copy and decided to read it on my vacation.  It is a quick, easy read so perfect for a vacation.
Jenn and Greg are on vacation in the beautiful island of Mallorca, Spain.  The description of the setting is amazing and very descriptive.  You can just feel the heat and the carefree life style of the island.  Jenn and Greg are joined by Greg’s daughter, Emma and her boyfriend, Nate.  A May/December relationship is sparked between Jenn and Nate.  A relationship that is filled with passion and heat.   For me, this just wasn’t enjoyable.  Being a mother of a 20 something old son, I couldn’t not get the image of my son or his friends out of my head.  Not fun!
I found Jenn as a character to be very shallow and insecure.  The relationship sprung between them very quickly.   As a stepmother, I really could not respect Jenn.  Her relationship with Emma was very rocky, but much of that was due to Jenn’s mind set that Emma was Greg’s daughter even though she had been in Emma’s life for many years.  Being a stepmother myself, I could not fathom having that mindset.  I just could not connect with the characters. 
The story line was suspenseful in wondering if they will be found out with many near misses and risky behavior.  The ending has you wondering if they were found out or not.  

My Rating: 2/5 - If you enjoy steamy, quick summer reads than “The Lemon Grove” by Helen Walsh is for you.  For me, I am looking for more substance in my stories and I really could not feel comfortable with this May/December relationship.  For me it was equivalent to walking in on our your parents.  Keep in mind I was probably the only woman on earth who had absolutely no desire to read 50 Shades of Grey by EL James either.  

My Rating Scale: 1 – didn’t like it; 2 – it was ok; 3 – liked it; 4 – really liked it; 5 – it was amazing

The Lemon Grove was also reviewed by the Cosy Books,  Book Loving Hippo, The Little Reader Library, and What Hannah Read.  
Happy Reading!

**Disclosure – Copy of The Lemon Grove by Helen Walsh was received from the publisher in exchange for a fair review.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Review: Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

 Ordinary Grace Title: Ordinary Grace
Author: William Kent Krueger (author website)
Genre: Adult Fiction
Publisher:  Atria Books; Reprint edition (March 4, 2014)
Pages:  336
Source:  purchased for book group
About the Book: (from
From New York Times bestselling author William Kent Krueger comes a brilliant new novel about a young man, a small town, and murder in the summer of 1961.  New Bremen, Minnesota, 1961. The Twins were playing their debut season, ice-cold root beers were at the ready at Halderson’s Drug Store soda counter, and Hot Stuff comic books were a mainstay on every barbershop magazine rack. It was a time of innocence and hope for a country with a new, young president. But for thirteen-year-old Frank Drum it was a summer in which death assumed many forms.
When tragedy unexpectedly comes to call on his family, which includes his Methodist minister father, his passionate, artistic mother, Juilliard-bound older sister, and wise-beyond-his years kid brother, Frank finds himself thrust into an adult world full of secrets, lies, adultery, and betrayal.

On the surface, Ordinary Grace is the story of the murder of a beautiful young woman, a beloved daughter and sister. At heart, it’s the story of what that tragedy does to a boy, his family, and ultimately the fabric of the small town in which he lives. Told from Frank’s perspective forty years after that fateful summer, it is a moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God.

Related Media:  Book Trailer

About the Author:

William Kent Krueger
Raised in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon, William Kent Krueger briefly attended Stanford University--before being kicked out for radical activities. After that, he logged timber, worked construction, tried his hand at free-lance journalism, and eventually ended up researching child development at the University of Minnesota. He currently makes his living as a full-time author. He's been married for over 35 years to a marvelous woman who is an attorney. He makes his home in St. Paul, a city he dearly loves.
Krueger writes a mystery series set in the north woods of Minnesota. His protagonist is Cork O'Connor, the former sheriff of Tamarack County and a man of mixed heritage--part Irish and part Ojibwe. His work has received a number of awards, including the Minnesota Book Award, the Loft-McKnight Fiction Award, the Anthony Award, the Barry Award, and the Friends of American Writers Prize. "Northwest Angle" (2011) and "Trickster's Point" (2012) were New York Times bestsellers

My Review:  My oldest son is a huge fan of William Kent Krueger and has read most of his books.  My youngest son is just starting to read Iron Lake, his first William Kent Krueger book.  I on the other hand, had not read a single book by William Kent Krueger.  How could I live in Minnesota and not read this author who is a MN legend.  My book club selected Ordinary Grace for our monthly selection, so that sealed the deal, I would read Ordinary Grace.

I kick myself for not having picked up a William Kent Krueger book before.  Ordinary Grace is set in a fictious MN town in the 1960's.   Really it could be any MN town...his description of the town, the people and the era just felt like home.  This summer in New Bremen, MN started as an idyllic summer for 13 year old Frankie, but quickly turned to a summer of mysterious deaths.  While Ordinary Grace is a mystery, it is a rich story with complex characters and relationships.

The characters are lovable and real with their true hearts and weaknesses.   Kent uses a unique technique in tell Frankie’s story in Ordinary Grace.   While 13 year old Frankie is the narrator of this story, his present day self (age 40ish) adds insight to this thoughts and the events that happened that summer.   While I rarely share passages in my book reviews, I have to share the passage as I think I read it over 5 times……just love it…so profound.

“We turn, three men bound by love, by history, by circumstance, and most certainly by the awful grace of God, and together walk a narrow lane where headstones press close all around, reminding me gently of Warren Redstone’s parting wisdom, which I understand now. The dead are never far from us. They’re in our hearts and on our minds and in the end all that separates us from them is a single breath, one final puff of air.”
William Kent Krueger, Ordinary Grace

My Rating: 4/5 – Ordinary Grace is a wonderfully descriptive story that introduces you to a place that simply feels like home.  The language and choice of words as to the feeling of home.   Comfortable and idyllic.   The mystery is very engaging and slowly unfolds in a manner that isn’t too fast nor does it drag……it is simply perfect.   If you are like me and don’t tend to read or enjoy mysteries, you will find Ordinary Grace by WIlliam Kent Krueger to be much more than a typical mystery.  

My Rating Scale: 1 – didn’t like it; 2 – it was ok; 3 – liked it; 4 – really liked it; 5 – it was amazing

Ordinary Grace was also reviewed by Booking Mama, Crime Fiction Lover and Shelia @ Book Journey.
Happy Reading!

**Disclosure – Copy of Ordinary Gace by William Kent Krueger was purchased from  Monthly book selection for my book club.