Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Leaving Everything Most Loved - Book Review

At the risk of offending those true Maisie Dobb die-hard fans (my dear niece among them), I must admit that I don't LOVE the Maisie Dobbs mysteries by Jacqueline Winspear. I do enjoy them--the few that I have read (the fans insist I would love them more if I read them all.) However, Leaving Everything Most Loved is a well written mystery novel and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Maisie Dobbs, a post-World War I London psychoanalyst and investigator, is asked by the police to investigate the murder of a young Indian woman. The case has gone cold and her brother has just arrived from India demanding answers. Maisie picks up the clues and finds herself becoming more and more interested in other cultures and realizes her desire to explore the world while she solves a murder.

The case is intriguing and well plotted and much of the book focuses on solving the mystery. Even Maisie, who I often find an annoying, meddling character incongruous with her historical setting, is less irritating in this novel. The novel does advance Maisie's personal story but focuses on it less or blends it better with the mystery she is trying to solve. I must admit, I'm even curious to see what Maisie's future holds. Is it possible that Jacqueline Winspear in Leaving Everything Most Loved has made me into a Maisie fan? It appears to be true.

** I received a complimentary copy of Leaving Everything Most Loved in exchange for my honest review. No additional compensation was received.**

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Burgess Boys - Book Review

A wry and keen observer of characters, Elizabeth Strout delves deep into the lives of Jim and Bob Burgess, brothers from a small town in Maine, in her newest novel The Burgess Boys. The brothers have been living their own lives in New York City--Jim as a famous defense attorney and Bob as a quiet attorney in the appellate court, when they get the distress call from their sister, still living in their Maine hometown. Her 19 year old son is in trouble and she needs her brothers. The brothers will go to her aid and in the reunion the past childhood drama of their father's accidental death will be reexamined.

The family drama that ensues is an interesting study of personality and history. Delving into other timely topics such as racism and immigration, the media and politics, Strout has a quiet way of seeing the situation from a variety of perceptions. How do different individuals perceive and react to the same situations? Can one escape consequences for one's actions? How does one's perception of self shape one's personal choices and history? The Burgess Boys brings up several questions for discussion.

The novel moves slowly at times and is surely not for those seeking action and constant excitement. Yet, the characters are so carefully crafted, so flawed and yet earnest, that it is perfectly plausible these siblings really grew up in Shirley Falls, Maine.

Compelling, yet superbly simple, The Burgess Boys is a brilliant character-driven novel.

The Burgess Boys is released March 26, 2013.

**I received a complimentary copy of The Burgess Boys in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was received**.

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Winner of Calling Me Home Give-away

Audrey Griffis

is the winner of an ARC copy of Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler. Congratulations, Audrey. I hope you enjoy this emotional and lovely book.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Calling Me Home - Book Review & Give-away

In Calling Me Home, Julie Kibler's debut novel, Isabelle, a ninety year old woman, asks Dorrie her long-time hair dresser and close friend to drive her from their homes in Texas to a funeral in Cincinnati. Along the way, Isabelle will share her story of love and loss as a young woman and Dorrie will deal with her family issues at home via cell phone. As Isabelle finds absolution, Dorrie finds the strength to face her own trials and chance at love.

Initially, I found the novel hard to get into. I thought the narrative style of writing seemed too simple and the characters bland. The story seemed predictable. However, it didn't take too many chapters before I was completely and emotionally invested in Isabelle's story of falling in love with a black man and my opinion changed. The characters became fully fleshed out--flawed yet richly human in their emotions and choices. While much of the plot is, of course, foreseeable--we all know how a romance between a white woman and a black man in 1939 Kentucky is going to turn out--Kibler throws in surprises now and then that kept me hoping and rooting for the young couple.

By the end of the novel, I was emotionally invested in the lives of both Isabelle and Dorrie. The novel excels at pricking those historical nerves we want to forget and yet reminds us that there is still so much room to improve in regards to racial relations.

Kibler is a fantastic story-teller and is ultimately impressive with her debut work.

In a strange twist of computer glitches, I ended up with two ARC copies of Calling Me Home. So, I am delighted to offer one as a give-away to a lucky reader.

To enter, leave a comment on this post. The contest will be open to entries until Thursday, March 21st at 11:59 pm MST. The winner will be chosen randomly from the comments and announced on Friday, March 22nd. Open to residents of the US only.

**I received a complimentary copy of Calling Me Home in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was received.**

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Winner of the Thirty-One Tote Give-away

It's still Saturday so technically I'm not late announcing the winner of the Thirty-One Tote Give-away. Right?

It's been the most crazy, busy day. My boys both had their final basketball games at 9:00 am so Utah Dad and I divided to conquer. Then we took Thomas and headed to town to shop for a new water heater and pick up some baby gifts for friends. Since we had some rare two-on-one time with Thomas, we also stopped for lunch at Zupas. It was our first experience there and we loved it. "I had the lobster bisque. Yada Yada." After lunch, we rushed home so I could make it to a baby shower for a friend. Once I got home from that, we loaded the kids in the car and drove to Utah Dad's parents' house. I did our taxes, while the kids visited and had pizza for dinner. Then we bathed the kids with their hot water, dressed them in their jammies and headed home.

Now, finally, the kids are in bed and since we're about to lose an hour, I am contemplating heading to bed. But I've got one last thing to do. So, the winner of the Tote from Stephanie at Thirty-One is ...

OpenID Kim said...
I love the Your Way Cube
Congratulations! I hope you love your prize. Please contact me right away so we can get it to you before Easter.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Disney On Ice - Dare to Dream - Review

We got to attend the opening night performance of Disney On Ice - Dare to Dream in Salt Lake City on Wednesday night. The girls were so excited they could hardly sit still once we found our really fabulous seats. Molly was in a bit of shock, I think. Once the show began they didn't take their eyes off the ice.

The show began with an exciting, musical performance of The Princess and the Frog. The fun jazz music and great dancing that are part of the movie were incorporated into the choreography on the ice. Combined with the colorful costumes and the energy from the performers, they successfully portrayed the spirit of New Orleans.

My girls are fans of Tiana (she's Utah Dad's favorite Disney princess) and they were so excited to see her. The special effects were fun--especially when the prince and Tiana turn into frogs and then back into humans again.

The second part of the show was a retelling of the beloved Cinderella classic. I just love Cinderella and the simplicity of the tale I've heard and seen so often since my own childhood.

Disney On Ice brought the magic alive with a fabulous performance of this favorite. Lilly thought it was funny that the mice were so big and the step sisters' antics were hysterical and amusing for the children.

"I liked the guards dancing." - Molly

The third story told by Disney On Ice was Tangled. It was absolutely fantastic and we all agreed that it was our favorite part of the show.

Rapunzel and Flynn were wonderful skaters and their stunts were incredible. Really, it was very entertaining and exciting. Their performance included many of the fun scenes from the movie and the great songs.

"My favorite part is when Rapunzel flies." - Lilly

The show ends with a grand finale that includes all the favorite Disney Princesses and their princes. My girls were so excited to see all their favorites.

The skating was great and the special effects were fun. My girls loved every minutes of the performance and I was much more entertained at the Dare to Dream Performance than I was at the Disney On Ice 100 Year Celebration that we attended last fall. These are first rate productions. The choreography is great. The costumes are fabulous. There just a lot to stimulate the senses.

It's not too late to go see the show for  yourself. Disney On Ice Dare to Dream will continue through the weekend with shows today, Saturday and Sunday.

Wednesday, March 6 – Sunday, March 10, 2013
·         Wednesday, March 6 – 7:00pm
·         Thursday, March 7 –  7:00pm
·         Friday, March 8 – 3:30pm & 7:00pm
·         Saturday, March 9 – 11:30am, 3:30pm & 7:00pm
·         Sunday, March 10 – 1:30pm & 5:30pm

EnergySolutions Arena – 301 West South Temple, Salt Lake City, UT  84101

Tickets go on-sale Feb 1. Prices range from $17, $23, $40 (VIP) and $52 (Front Row).*
Opening Night discount tickets available for only $12 each. (not valid for premium seating)
All seats are reserved and available from the EnergySolutions Box Office and all SmithTix locations, charge by phone at 801-355-SEAT or 800-888-TIXX and online at www.smithstix.com orwww.energysolutionsarena.com.  

** I am a Feld Family Ambassador and in exchange for my time and efforts in attending shows and reporting my opinion within this blog, as well as keeping you advised of the latest discount offers, Feld Entertainment has provided me with complimentary tickets to Feld shows and opportunities to attend private Feld pre-Show events. Even though I received these benefits, I always give an opinion that is 100% mine. **             

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Thirty-One Give-away!

Thirty-One bags and totes are just so great. We have a few of the lunch boxes and other bags and we are definitely fans of their functional and beautiful products. They are well made and stylish and really very handy for organization, travel, sports, church, etc. There are dozens of uses.

And since Easter is just around the corner (I didn't realize until last week that Easter is in March this year--ahhh!) Stephanie, a consultant for Thirty-One is offering a give-away to one lucky reader to celebrate. You can win one of the totes pictured above with personalization too.

To enter to win, click on **Here** to go the Thirty-One site and browse their incredible products. Then, leave a comment on this post about your favorite item. The contest will be open to entries until Friday, March 8, 2013 at 11:59 pm MST. The winner will be chosen randomly from the comments.

The winner will be announced on Saturday, March 9, 2013 on this blog. Good luck!