Archives for posts with tag: Reading

Hi all:

With Christmas just a few days away, I’m trying to share as many of the reviews I have pending before the end of the year as I can, to make sure you have enough to read over the holidays. Also, I have to warn you I’m planning on having some reshuffling, maintenance and hopefully improvements (and a bit of a move) in the blog over the next few days. I hope I won’t disappear completely, but one never knows… If I do it’s most likely a technical problem rather than anything else… (she said, holding on tight).

After all that, time to share reviews. Today I’m revisiting two writers whose work I really enjoyed the first time around, so I repeated. Here they are.

First, S. R. Mallery with Unexpected Gifts:

Unexpected gifts 3

First, the description:

A TRUE AMERICAN FAMILY SAGA: Can we learn from our ancestors? Do our relatives’ behaviors help shape our own?
In “Unexpected Gifts” that is precisely what happens to Sonia, a confused college student, heading for addictions and forever choosing the wrong man. Searching for answers, she begins to read her family’s diaries and journals from America’s past: the Vietnam War, Woodstock, and Timothy Leary era; Tupperware parties, McCarthyism, and Black Power; the Great Depression, dance marathons, and Eleanor Roosevelt; the immigrant experience and the Suffragists. Back and forth the book journeys, linking yesteryear with modern life until finally, by understanding her ancestors’ hardships and faults, she gains enough clarity to make some right choices.

Here, my review:

Unexpected Gifts by Sarah Mallery. The power of stories and the value of remembering the past.

Having read Mallery’s book of stories Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads I was looking forward to reading her novel. And although not unexpected, it definitely was a gift. The story of Sonia, a young woman studying psychology, in a complicated relationship with the lead singer of a band, and plagued by rituals and other symptoms of OCD, her story frames the novel and provides a conduit for telling many other stories. Through her we get to know her parents, and when her mother suggests she might find direction and some useful ideas by checking the attic and the family boxes that have accumulated there, each box goes on to reveal something about her family members and helps her discover more about herself.

The book is beautifully written, with vivid descriptions of places and people, that in a few sentences transport the reader to the recent (and less recent) past) and to locations and situations that spread from the new to the old world and from America to Bulgaria, via Vietnam. The structure of the novel is clever and works well in progressively unveiling Sonia’s heritage. Every time she reaches a conclusion about one of her ancestors, the next bit of information or evidence contained in the box corresponding to that person makes her reconsider and reach a better understanding (if not always a kinder opinion) about their lives. The box within a box or the Russian wooden dolls that must be opened up or peeled back to discover what hides inside (that are also mentioned in the novel) work well as a metaphor or visual representation for the structure of the novel.

The stories will affect or touch people differently, but they are all interesting and revisit crucial historical events and periods, adding a personal perspective. We have Vietnam War veterans, the hippy movement, European emigrants arriving in Ellis Island, American Suffragettes, Racial Conflict and Race Riots, the McCarthy era Communist witch hunt, Dance Marathons and the Depression Era, and romances that seem to be fated to end up badly. By exploring the past, Sonia seeks a way of understanding her behaviour and of breaking up patterns that result in sadness and unhappiness. I don’t want to reveal too much, but can add I enjoyed the ending that brought closure and a nice conclusion to the novel.

I recommend Unexpected Gifts to anybody who enjoys a good novel, with a solid historical background and strong characters, especially to people who prefer variety and many different stories. As the book is structured I think it will also appeal to readers of short stories and of anthologies of different styles of writing, as it provides multiple voices and many narrations in one single volume. Another great achievement for the author.

Links:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00YWGATTU/

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00YWGATTU/

Here the link to her author page (and don’t forget to follow her):

http://www.amazon.com/S.-R.-Mallery/e/B00CIUW3W8/

And G. Elizabeth Kretchmer’s Women on the Brink.

Women on the Brink by G. Elizabeth Kretchmer

Women on the Brink by G. Elizabeth Kretchmer

The description:

Women on the Brink is a stunning collection of loosely linked stories in which women aged thirteen to ninety must face the unwelcome realities of their lives. Sometimes gritty, sometimes humorous, and always compassionate, G. Elizabeth Kretchmer’s prose takes the reader on a compelling ride alongside these ordinary women as they wrestle with family relationships, self-esteem, socioeconomic status, maternal obligations, and need for independence.

In “Skydancer,” a young mother resents her newborn baby. In “Float Away,” an at-risk teen is desperate to find a new home. A minister’s wife struggles with secrets in “Liar’s Game.” A despondent housewife longs for purpose in “Alligator Poetry.” The protagonist in “Tasting Freedom” wrestles with decisions about her aging mother’s care. And in “From Here to Cafayate,” a woman refuses to give up on the perpetually flawed relationship she has shared with her sister for nearly ninety years.

Each story is enhanced by one of fourteen original poems contributed by talented poets specifically for this collection and its themes. Although the stories stand alone, they are further strengthened by the relationships among the various characters throughout the collection. Readers of Ms. Kretchmer’s first novel, The Damnable Legacy, will also delight to find that some of the characters from that novel have reappeared here.

The women in this collection may or may not be the type you’d invite over for lunch. Some of them are tough. Some aren’t all that likeable. Some might not see the world the way you do. But they’re compelling in their own right as they reflect women in today’s world—women who have come along a difficult path—and as they courageously take control of their lives.

My review:

Women on the Brink by G. Elizabeth Kretchmer. The World if Full of Possibilities if you Dare.

I was offered a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I read and reviewed Kretchmer’s novel ‘The Damnable Legacy of a Minister’s Wife’ this summer and was fascinated not only by the story (the Alaskan setting also helped) but also by the complex characterisation and the psychological insights. When I was offered a copy of ‘Women on the Brink’ I didn’t hesitate.

The book combines short stories by Kretchmer with poems that are interpretations of themes, feelings or sensations related to the stories that follow. The title perfectly reflects the nature of those stories. The women in them are at different stages of their lives, from teenagers trying to find themselves, to elderly women escaping a retirement home, but they all find themselves at a point when they question their lives as they are and what they are going to do next.

I enjoyed the different settings and characters, the writing style, easy to read and varied, adapting well to the different stories —some more introspective, some more comedic— and also the open-endedness of them. In ‘Bridge Out’ the main character, who after retirement decides to become a trucker, mentions ‘Thelma and Louise’ and like that movie, the stories show women going their own way, and these are many different ways. Perhaps piloting their own plane, going away to help in a disaster zone, confronting their past… And we never see them crash. Because one of the messages of this collection is that the world is full of possibilities if you only dare.

For those who have read the author’s previous novel there are some familiar characters, and there are also characters mentioned in several stories and who appear in more than one, hinting at the interconnectedness between all of our lives.

Although I wouldn’t say my circumstances are exactly those of any of the women in the stories, I identified with the feelings and the emotions described, I cheered (worriedly) for the ‘Girls Against Perfection’, and I thoroughly enjoyed the transformation of Margee in ‘Coco Palms’, from obedient wife to avenging warrior.

I would quite happily have read more about any of the characters in the stories, and confess I could see quite a few of them turned into much longer works (I loved the light touch in ‘Accelerant’ and Maureen, the perhaps not-as-confused-as-she-seems grandmother, is a fabulous character). Despite their length, the author creates fully-fledged characters and situations in each one of the stories, condensing descriptions and sharpening her prose, with not a word spare.

The poems complement beautifully the book and provide an effective and lyrical link between them.

I recommend it to all readers, those who enjoy short fiction and poetry, and also those who don’t read short stories, because we should challenge ourselves and they might be pleasantly surprised.

Links:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/1513702351/

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1513702351/

The link to the Author’s page (and don’t forget to follow!)

http://www.amazon.com/G.-Elizabeth-Kretchmer/e/B00L2T253I/

Thanks to S.R. Mallery and to G. Elizabeth Kretchmer for their novels, thanks to all of you for reading, and you know what to do, like, share, comment and CLICK!

Dear all:

Tomorrow is New Year, 2014 and I’ve decided to revisit a post where I asked about what your ideal bookshop would be like. It’s time to revisit what your year has been like. In my case it hasn’t been great but I’ve decided to revisit my life and I’m thinking of trying something new. I’m looking at bookshops, that have always been one of the loves of my life, but I admit not knowing anything about the business. At the moment it’s all thoughts, but it’s a good topic, so…any comments will be welcome and Have a great New Year’s Eve. And let’s hope 2014 is positive for everybody!

 Bookshop

 

My parents always tell me that when I was a small child, before I learned to read, I always wanted to know what any signs or anything with writing on it said. Later on, once I learned to read, I became an avid reader. My school was a pretty small neighbourhood school (it no longer exists) and it did not have a library, but the readers amongst us used to exchange books and read anything we could get our hands on, from ‘The Famous Five’ and the Adventure Series (I always preferred them to the Famous Five, but that’s me) to ‘Jaws’, Oscar WildeEdgar Allan PoeGustavo Adolfo Becquer o Mercé Rodoreda.

 

I’ve always been happier with books than with any other presents (or nearly) and I still am.

 

When it comes to books I’m like a moth to light, if I see books anywhere I’ll go and have a look, it doesn’t matter if it’s a supermarket, a charity shop, a car-boot sale. And of course, I love bookshops although they’re having a bit of a hard time and have changed beyond recognition. And yes, now we have big bookstore chains, somewhat anonymous but usually reasonably supplied and full of other things, the small specialised bookshop, the independent bookstore, second-hand bookshops that are true time-travelling machines.

 

Because of my job there have been periods of my life where I’ve travelled a fair bit and one of the things I remember more clearly of the places where I’ve stayed (or visited)  is where the bookshops are (or where). I must admit to feeling really disappointed when I revisit a place where I’ve been before and a bookshop I liked has disappeared. It’s like losing an old friend. When it comes to bookshops, like most important things in life, they are not all created equal

 

Reflecting on all that, I wanted to ask you, readers, if you could have the bookshop of your dreams, what would it be like? Would it be enormous with everything on it? Or small but quirky with lots of character? Would it only sell books or sell related items (DVDs, e-readers, magazines and writing materials, audiobooks, other equipment…)? Would it sell other kinds of stuff (postcards, craft items, toys…)? Would it have a tea/coffee shop attached? Would it organise events (book readings and signings, host book clubs, run competitions, have other guests…)? Would it have only new books, second-hand books, have a section for exchanging books…? Books in several languages? Best-sellers and less well-known books, local interest books? Would it offer other services like Wi-Fi and e-store? Would it be located in a remote place, around the corner, in a shopping mall, in a hidden nook in a magical place?

 

Dream on! It’s free (for the time being!)

 

And thinking about this and after a fellow author and good friend sent me some pictures of one of her favourite bookshops, I decided to start a board on Pinterest dedicated to bookshops, and once I started checking I was amazed at the fabulous building and beautiful pictures people had pinned. Have a look, and if you’d like to pin your own pictures or others you find, let me know and I’ll invite you to pin with pleasure.

 

http://www.pinterest.com/olganm7/bookstores-booshops-and-interesting-shops/

 

Thanks for reading, and if you’ve enjoyed it remember to like, comment, and share!

 

 

books (Photo credit: brody4)

 

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Tour Banner

Today I’m taking part in a blog hop for one of my author-friends from ASMSG. She’s kindly agreed to bring us an interview  with one of her character. And don’t miss the rafflecopter giveaway at the end!

First, here is Kirstin:

authorphoto[1]

Author Bio: Kirstin Pulioff is a storyteller at heart.   Born and raised in Southern California, she moved to the Pacific Northwest to follow her dreams and graduated from Oregon State University with a degree in Forest Management. Happily married and a mother of two, she lives in Oregon, and enjoys being a stay at home mom.  When she’s not writing, she is busy with her kids and church. This is Kirstin’s first venture into YA Dystopian, her other published work includes a middle grade fantasy series.

If you want to know more about Kirstin and get in contact with her, here you have a few of her favourite links:

Website:  www.kirstinpulioff.com

Facebook:  KirstinPulioffAuthor https://www.facebook.com/KirstinPulioffAuthor
Twitter: @KirstinPulioff https://twitter.com/KirstinPulioff
Amazon: Author & Book Page http://www.amazon.com/Kirstin-Pulioff/e/B00A2498Z2/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1
Goodreads: Kirstin Pulioff https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6558842.Kirstin_Pulioff

Next, a great character interview from her new work ‘The Ivory Tower’. Simone answers….and she’s a bit worried…

Simone, thank you for joining me today for a short conversation. I know the doctors have been keeping notes, but the Colonel and I have a few more questions for you.

Hi *shyly shaking hands, hiding the scarred hand beneath the table.* Questions from the Colonel? I assume this is my exit interview? I can go back home after this?

We’ll see. I am here to ask you a few questions, document my case files, and see if you are ready to be released. None of that has been decided yet. So tell me, what are you most looking forward to? What do you do for fun in the camp?

Can this get me in trouble? *glancing back at the ever present guard*

No, please don’t worry, this is all confidential.

Ok, well, I am excited to see Christine again. She’s my best friend, and she’s been back in school while I’m here. I’m looking forward to seeing her, and trying to have some fun before the factory starts.

You’re almost ready for the factory, are you excited?

Yup, almost of age. This winter I’ll begin, only a couple more weeks. I wouldn’t say excited is the right word. While it will be nice to get out of school, I am not in a hurry for the factory. With school, I can easily escape, and enjoy a day of semi-freedom.

Semi-freedom? What do you mean?

Well, a couple hours between third bell and fourth bell. Maybe not freedom, but at least an hour or two without expectations. *watching the furious scribbles* But it will be nice to produce something you know, feel more productive in the camp.

*Smiling* I like that attitude. I have a feeling you will be very productive. What do you think about life in the camp?

I try not to think about it. There isn’t much to think about, it’s routines, restriction, rations, repeat.

Ready for some quick fire fun?

Quick fire? *glancing to the guard’s gun*

No *laughing*, just some fun questions. Favorite drink: Water? There’s no real options here.

Favorite Game: Hide and seek, there are some great hiding spots in the forest.

Hmmm. I think that is what brought you here in the first place. Favorite Color: Burlap brown *sarcastically*

Favorite number? Really? I will say 277 and leave it at that.

Any message you want to give to people?

I’ll give them the same message I have been given. This camp is here to protect me. This is all for my own good.

Good Simone. Thanks for joining me today. I will let the Colonel know your answers, and I am sure we’ll get you back home, and back to the factor sooner than you know it.

I hope the Colonel is happy with the answers.

And if this has made you as curious as I am (It’s on my list), a bit more information on ‘The Ivory Tower’.

The-Ivory-Tower---large

The Ivory Tower- a short story, by Kirstin Pulioff

Genre: YA Dystopian

Blurb: 277 –the number sewn into Simone’s shirt. The number that dictates her life at the protection camp. Regulated by a system of ringing bells, fortified cars, and rations, the survivors are protected from residual contaminates on the other side of the wall.

Breaking the monotony of the highly structured camp, Simone and her friend skip school to enjoy one of the last nice days of fall.  An afternoon game leads them to a new part of the forest, uncovering more than they expected.  All thoughts of protection and rules are shattered by the appearance of the ivory tower.  A tower riddled with a history of danger and death.

When her friend shows up with a bruised face and thinly veiled threats, Simone has to decide how much she is willing to risk to find out the truth of the tower.

Buy Links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Ivory-Tower-Kirstin-Pulioff-ebook/dp/B00FJ3A58A/

 AND NOW, DON’T MISS THE FANTASTIC
Giveaway:
Prize 1: $25 Amazon gift card
Prize 2: ebook
Dates: midnight EDT October 21 – 11:59 pm EDT November 1
Rafflecopter:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you for reading, and if you’ve enjoyed, remember to like, share, comment, click and play!

Ah, if you have to follow the full tour, check the schedule:

Oct. 21 Sarah Aisling http://www.sarahaisling.com Review & Top Ten List

Oct. 22 Mom With A Kindle http://momwithakindle.blogspot.com Book Promo

Oct. 23 To Taste Life Twice Http://jamieadamswriting.wordpress.com Review & Top Ten List

Oct. 24 Down the Rabbit Hole http://www.LeighaLCraig.com Review & Character Interview

Oct. 25 OlgaNM http://OlgaNM.wordpress.com Character Interview

Oct. 26 Larkin’s Book Bloggers http://blogs.ellingtonschools.org/larkin/ Review & Top Ten List

Oct. 27 Cabin Goddess http://cabingoddess.com Weekly Shorts

Brooke Blogs http://www.brookeblogs.com Review & Top Ten List

Oct. 28 Girl Who Reads http://www.girl-who-reads.com Author Interview

Oct. 29 Jenn’s Review Blog http://www.jennsreviewblog.com/ Review

 

If you loved Lost in Translation, you should read this!

Loosely translated
I am Spanish and write in Spanish and English, although because I live and work in the UK I do most of my writing in English now. When I read about the subject matter of the book I knew I should read it and I’m happy I did.
You have an English author, Mike Grey, who’s become stuck in a rut writing misogynistic detective novels, that at face value appear not to be worth the paper (yes, paperbacks, not digital) they’re written in. He’s threatened with discontinuation of the series by the publishers but cannot get motivated to change. Then suddenly, luck strikes. A Spanish publishing company decides to translate his books and they become a great success. He’s invited to a book signing in Madrid and meets a fascinating, puzzling, annoying and lovely woman, Maria, whom he initially thinks is only interpreting for him and later realises is the person who has translated his now successful book to Spanish. Maria is an unpublished writer, talented, and frustrated. She decides to do the translation as a chance to try and get attention for her own writing. She’s so appalled at the poor quality of Mike’s novel that she starts making ‘improvements’, amongst them, turning Mike’s detective protagonist, Eric, into Erica.
Maria has to try and avoid both the readers and Mike discovering her ruse, and she manages quite well. Although she despises Mike’s writing she discovers he’s not that bad and eventually things develop…Yes, in the direction you imagine. But as you know the course of true love never runs smooth and misunderstandings and confusion abound. Other people come in the way, translations and miscommunications get even more complicated, trips to and fro abound, and author’s egos are bruised but eventually healed.
Mr Wheeler has written a solid comedy of errors, with good and likeable (flawed but more human for it) main characters, some fabulous secondary characters (I love Maria’s father, her aunt, and the barber/Spanish teacher), and scenes that will make you cringe and laugh in equal measures. The writing is fresh, well paced, adapted to the different characters and surroundings, and it shows a deep understanding (and dare I say love?) for the cities and subjects it touches. We laugh at the world of publishing and writing from the inside, but we also wonder and marvel at is power and magic. You’ll be sorry once it finishes as you’ll feel Mike and Mary have become your friends, but don’t worry, there are plenty of epilogues to keep you going!
I recommend this novel to anybody with a sense of humour, particularly if you love books, and if you’ve ever tried to translate something, this should be compulsory reading! I look forward to reading more of Mr Wheeler’s books.

If you’ve liked what you’ve read, check it out. Please share and CLICK!

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009Y3BGTS/

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