Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Among the Living: A Novel by Jonathan Rabb

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

A moving novel about a Holocaust survivor’s unconventional journey back to a new normal in 1940s Savannah, Georgia.

In late summer 1947, thirty-one-year-old Yitzhak Goldah, a camp survivor, arrives in Savannah to live with his only remaining relatives. They are Abe and Pearl Jesler, older, childless, and an integral part of the thriving Jewish community that has been in Georgia since the founding of the colony. There, Yitzhak discovers a fractured world, where Reform and Conservative Jews live separate lives–distinctions, to him, that are meaningless given what he has been through. He further complicates things when, much to the Jeslers’ dismay, he falls in love with Eva, a young widow within the Reform community. When a woman from Yitzhak’s past suddenly appears–one who is even more shattered by the war than he is–Yitzhak must choose between a dark and tortured familiarity and the promise of a bright new life.

Set amid the backdrop of America’s postwar south, Among the Living grapples with questions of identity and belonging, and steps beyond the Jewish experience as it situates Yitzhak’s story within the last gasp of the Jim Crow era. That he begins to find echoes of his recent past in the lives of the black family who work for the Jeslers–an affinity he does not share with the Jeslers themselves–both surprises and convinces Yitzhak that his choices are not as clear-cut as he might think.

my thoughts:

Wow! What an emotional and powerful read. I absolutely LOVED Jonathan Rabb's wonderful book, Among the Living

Yitzhak Goldah is a Holocaust survivor who moves in with some distant cousins in Savannah, Georgia.  He's a different man following his experience during the war and must now contend with a new town, new people, a new way of life.  His cousins urge him to change his name and he is soon re-christened Ike.  He observes the people and community around him.  He slowly settles into this new life and begins to realize just how much the war has changed him.  No longer one to sweat the trivial things in life, he finds himself falling in love.  The only thing is that his cousins are not happy with his choice, as she belongs to the Reform community and they belong to the Conservative one.  Hmm...what's a man to do?  Follow his heart or his family's wishes?  As Ike attempts to embrace his new life and love, someone from his past shows up on his doorstep to haunt him.  Okay, not really haunt him, but definitely to remind him of the horrors of war and its aftermath.  Through flashbacks we see the war through Ike's eyes and learn about what he had to endure.  We learn how he's been affected by these horrible experiences and the ways in which they still affect him as he tries to move forward with his life.  It truly makes for quite a compelling and sobering read.

Among the Living is an unforgettable story that has stayed with me.  I found the writing to be top notch - the vivid descriptions, the use of history, and the clever way in which race, religion, and life are explored: wow!  I also enjoyed the slow-going pace of the narrative, which I felt added to the melancholy nature of the story.  And the characters are portrayed in such a realistic manner - you can't help but feel for them. Overall, this was truly a memorable read.  In fact, I would characterize Among the Living as a must-read book. 

I would happily recommend Among the Living to fans of Rabb, fans of Jewish Literature, and anyone looking for their next great read - you will LOVE this book!!

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

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Rad Women Worldwide by Kate Schatz

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

From the authors of the New York Times bestselling book Rad American Women A-Z, comes a bold new collection of 40 biographical profiles, each accompanied by a striking illustrated portrait, showcasing extraordinary women from around the world.

Rad Women Worldwide tells fresh, engaging, and inspiring tales of perseverance and radical success by pairing well researched and riveting biographies with powerful and expressive cut-paper portraits. From 430 BCE to 2016, spanning 31 countries around the world, the book features an array of diverse figures, including Hatshepsut (the great female king who ruled Egypt peacefully for two decades) and Malala Yousafzi (the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize) to Poly Styrene (legendary teenage punk and lead singer of X-Ray Spex) and Liv Arnesen and Ann Bancroft (polar explorers and the first women to cross Antarctica). This progressive and visually arresting book is a compelling addition to women’s history and belongs on the shelf of every school, library, and home.

Together, these stories show the immense range of what women have done and can do. May we all have the courage to be rad!

my thoughts:

Wow! Talk about an awesome, informative, and inspiring book! I just loved Rad Women Worldwide. As a feminist, I'm all for promoting and supporting the women who help make this wonderful world go round.  I'm talking about strong, smart, courageous and determined women who are set on making changes in sports, history, politics, and the world.  Schatz has written about women from all walks of life and shares their stories with us on who they are, what they've done, and how far they've gone.  It makes for quite an eye-opening and thought-provoking read.  I loved getting to know all of these amazing and brilliant women through this book - it was so much fun.  Plus, the paper cut illustrations that accompany each essay are just fantastic!  They are bold, creative and provide a clear image of these woman and what they do.  And, I loved the quotes that are highlighted at the top of each essay - just perfect!  Such a great book!

Rad Women Worldwide is a must-read!! Its an empowering book that will engage and teach its readers so much about some of the "rad" women in this world.  I can't wait to share this book with friends and family - they are going to LOVE it!!  And, I would happily recommend this book to fans of women's history, fan's of feminist nonfiction, and anyone looking for their next great read. 

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

Monday, October 24, 2016

GIVEAWAY & REVIEW of Fractured by Catherine McKenzie

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

Welcome, neighbor!

Julie Prentice and her family move across the country to the idyllic Mount Adams district of Cincinnati, hoping to evade the stalker who’s been terrorizing them ever since the publication of her bestselling novel, The Murder Game. Since Julie doesn’t know anyone in her new town, when she meets her neighbor John Dunbar, their instant connection brings measured hope for a new beginning. But she never imagines that a simple, benign conversation with him could set her life spinning so far off course.

We know where you live…

After a series of misunderstandings, Julie and her family become the target of increasingly unsettling harassment. Has Julie’s stalker found her, or are her neighbors out to get her, too? As tension in the neighborhood rises, new friends turn into enemies, and the results are deadly.

my thoughts:

I've read every one of Catherine McKenzie's books and have finally found my favorite one - Fractured.  Its her latest book and its her best one yet.  Seriously!  This book has it all - mystery, suspense, thrills, and a spot of romance.  Its a page-turner that will keep you hooked from the first page all the way through to the very end. I admit to staying up late, just so I could find out whodunit and what exactly did they do.  Yep, its that kind of book - the kind that teases out information slowly and has you guessing every which way.  I just loved it!

The story centers on Julie.  She's a bestselling author who's had a horrible experience with a stalker.  So, she's uprooted her family and moved them all to a nice, new neighborhood that screams SAFE.  At first, life is okay.  They are settling in.  Julie meets her neighbor John and they have a connection that keeps them friendly.  And then life is not okay.  The neighbors turn unfriendly.  Nasty notes/surprises find their way to Julie's home.  She gets paranoid and hooks up a security system that her neighbors find intrusive.  Arguments ensue.  Everything seems to be going downhill and this new neighborhood is no longer screaming SAFE to Julie. And that is all I will write about the story; its just too good and needs to be experienced - so, read it!

McKenzie has written a terrific psychological thriller that will keep you on your toes. I loved the alternative perspectives written from different time periods - they really helped to pull the story together in such a dramatic and slow reveal manner that was just perfect for this book.  I loved getting to know both John and Julie; their different views on each other and what was happening to them, their families, and the neighborhood was captivating and eye-opening.  I loved all the twists and turns that spurred me on to keep trying to figure out what had happened.  I loved hating the neighborhood newsletter - it just kept getting meaner.  It was so interesting to see how quickly the neighbors turned on Julie - makes you not want to befriend your neighbors and just keep to yourself. Talk about DRAMA!!  And I loved it all.

I would happily recommend Catherine McKenzie's latest book, Fractured, to fans of her books, fans of psychological thrillers, and anyone looking for their next great read - you will LOVE this book!!

Here's the link to the TLC Book Tour Schedule for: Fractured

GIVEAWAY:  Thanks to the publisher I am able to give away one (1) copy of this book! All you have to do to enter the giveaway is leave me a comment. Don't forget to include your email address - that way I can contact you, if you win the book.  Last date to enter is October 28th.  US/Canada residents only.  Good luck!!
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Bookish and Non-Bookish Thoughts...

Halloween is nigh, which means that I've been watching AMC Fear Fest and loving it!  How could I not enjoy a day filled with all of the Halloween movies or a Friday the 13th marathon? This week its all about The Walking Dead.  A great way to catch up on all the seasons just in time for the season 7 premiere on Sunday at 9pm - OMG!!! I can't wait to find out who got Lucille(d).  My fingers are crossed that Glenn, Michonne, and Darryl are spared.  Of course with TWD, you never know what will happen.  My sister is convinced that it will be Glenn, especially after last season's, "Did Glenn die?" episode.  I'm banking on Abraham, because he was happy, he fell in love, and he was planning a future - happy usually equals dead.  Anyhow, the wait is almost over - at last!!  By the by, is it so wrong that I can't help but think that Negan is very good-looking? Its hard not to, especially with Jeffrey Dean Morgan playing him.  And I have to admit that every time he appears on screen in the trailers I can't help but think of him as Denny from Grey's.  I loved him on that show and it looks like now I'm going to love to hate him on TWD

Aside from watching AMC Fear Fest, I've been reading, reading, and reading.  There are so many great books/ARCs to read lately and I am gobbling them all up.  Or at least I'm trying to.  Here are a few of the titles I've recently read and LOVED:
Talk about variety! These five books range from horror to romance and captivated me for days.  I really enjoyed them all.  Of course, now I'm trying to figure out what to read next. I started the new Roxane Gay book of short stories, Difficult Women, but I can't seem to decide whether I like what I'm reading or not.  So far, I've enjoyed a few of the stories, but the rest read like Lifetime movies to me.  Not sure I want to keep reading.  Maybe I'll just put it aside for now.  I was thinking of reading the new Murakami book of short stories, Men Without Women.  I was approved for an ARC - thank you, Edelweiss!! One can never go wrong with Murakami.  Except, I will admit to being slightly disappointed when I read the table of contents for his new book.  Seems that I've already half of the short stories, so its not exactly a new-to-me book.  Hmm...what to read?  What do you recommend?  What are you reading?  Have you read The Mothers by Brit Bennett?  I heard it was excellent and I'm supposed to receive a copy today.  Maybe I'll dive into that book.  I'm not sure why I always find it to difficult to pick a new read after I've been on a reading jag.  Too much to choose from? Either way, I want to read something, but I'm just not sure what I want to read. 

Aside from the reading, I've been baking.  I made a skull cake that we devoured.  I plan on making monster cupcakes for my sister's office - they are always a big hit.  And I want to make some banana bread and scones.  I just a need a flat white to get me through all the baking. 

I was de-cluttering (again) and found some old CDs that I'd forgotten about.  I wound up listening to Luscious Jackson as I drove around running errands.  Talk about blast from the past. I remember listening to that CD all the time in college.  Now, I couldn't help but wonder why I loved it so much back then.  It was nice change from my recent obsession with Nelly Furtado's music.  Of course, now I'm all about Mike Mills latest musical effort, Concerto for Violin, Rock Band & Orchestra.  As a huge R.E.M. fan, I was stoked to listen to this:
Pretty cool, eh?

And now I'm off to flip through the latest issue of O magazine and then watch some more episodes of TWD.  Happy reading!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Boy Is Back by Meg Cabot

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

In this brand-new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Meg Cabot, a scandal brings a young man back home to the small town, crazy family, and first love he left behind.

Reed Stewart thought he’d left all his small town troubles—including a broken heart—behind when he ditched tiny Bloomville, Indiana, ten years ago to become rich and famous on the professional golf circuit.  Then one tiny post on the Internet causes all of those troubles to return . . . with a vengeance.

Becky Flowers has worked hard to build her successful senior relocation business, but she’s worked even harder to forget Reed Stewart ever existed. She has absolutely no intention of seeing him when he returns—until his family hires her to save his parents.

Now Reed and Becky can’t avoid one another—or the memories of that one fateful night.  And soon everything they thought they knew about themselves (and each other) has been turned upside down, and they—and the entire town of Bloomville—might never be the same, all because The Boy Is Back.

my thoughts:

Talk about a fun, hilarious, sweet, and engaging story! I absolutely LOVED The Boy Is Back by Meg Cabot.

Becky is living her life, working hard, enjoying her family, friends and boyfriend (the lumbersexual).  Basically, life is good.  And then, she gets a text from her sister with a link to a newspaper article about her ex-boyfriend's parents getting arrested for trying to pay for dinner with a stamp.  Crazy, eh?  Well, it gets even crazier when she gets an email asking her company to do a job for her ex's family.  This is the same ex who was her first (and only) true love - the one she could never get over, even after her he smashed her heart to pieces ten years ago.  Yep, the ex who left town and became a rich and famous golfer - the kind that dates models and snags advertising deals.  So, what does Becky decide to do?  Take on the job and treat her ex cordially.  Except, sometimes exes and old feelings that never really went away shouldn't mix.  Hmmm....looks like The Boy being back in town just might be what Becky needed.  And that is all I will say about his terrific story.

Told via text messages, emails, Amazon reviews, etc., The Boy Is Back tackles love, family, and friendship in such a fun and unique way. I just loved turning one page of texts to find an Amazon review of a porcelain kitten - talk about creative storytelling.  And the characters were so much fun to get caught up with - all of their personal dramas were relatable, realistic, and entertaining to read about.  I LOVED this book!  It was laugh out loud funny and unputdownable!  I would definitely recommend The Boy Is Back to fans of the Boys series, fans of Cabot, and anyone looking for their next great read. 

Here's the link to the TLC Book Tour schedule for: The Boy Is Back
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!