Monday, September 30, 2013

The Tilted World - Book Review

It rained for months and months during the winter of 1926-27 and the waters of the Mississippi River rose and threatened to spill over the stacks of sandbags on top of the levees protecting towns and cities and hundreds of thousands of people.

In The Tilted World by Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly, Ingersoll and his partner Ham are revenue agents and have been sent by Hoover to Hobnob, Mississippi to investigate the disappearance of two agents who were close to discovering a local still. In Hobnob, Dixie Clay and her husband Jesse have made a fortune on moonshine even as their marriage crumbles. The paths of the federal agents and the bootleggers will cross as the flood water gush down on the community and drastically change all their lives.

The tale is intriguing. I'm always a sucker for a good moon shining story. The plot moves along steadily and then builds momentum to the moment the waters flood the area and the story surges forward on a frantic-paced, wild ride as the world washes away and the people are left with only the instinctive struggle to survive. I admit, I'm left hungry for more factual details of the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 but The Tilted World does a tremendous job of showing the chaos and confusion from the perspective of people  experiencing the disaster.

With beautiful language, the language of a poet and mother, the scenes between Dixie and her newly adopted orphan baby are breathtaking and stunning in their understanding of a mother's rapidly expanding, encompassing love for an infant. I appreciated the eloquence of expression throughout the novel and since this is my first experience with either Franklin and Fennelly, I can't help but attribute the words to the poet.

With the understanding that I am being exceptionally critical because overall the novel is good enough to withstand my nitpicking, the supporting characters are at times weak and cliche. I would have liked Jeanette and Uncle Mookey to be treated with more depth.

I was mesmerized by The Tilted World and the journey back to the days of Prohibition, moonshine stills in the hills and the horrors of the Great Flood.

The Tilted World by Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly is published by William Morrow and will be released on October 1, 2013.

**I received a complimentary copy of The Tilted World in exchange for my honest review. No additional compensation was received.**

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


I love my nieces and I've been blessed with A LOT of them. 
When I married Utah Dad, I became an instant aunt to 
13 nieces (2 more since our marriage)
Most of them are all grown up now with babies of their own.
In the past ten years my own family has been busy having babies. For awhile it seemed I would mostly have nephews but the last few years have 
blessed us with many nieces and I now have 10.

My youngest sister had her second baby girl last week. 

My sister Angie and I took our little kids and drove to Vernal together Sunday evening so that we could love on the new baby. She is so darling and much much tinier than any of my babies.

Yesterday morning we had a quick photo shoot with my sister Kim's little girls. Izzy turned one year a few weeks ago and baby Zenna attempted to cooperate with us. They are both so darling. Here are some of the shots.

The Lowland - Book Review

The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri follows the lives of two close yet distinctive brothers in Calcutta. Udayan is a passionate activist in the Naxalite movement--violent and secretive. Older by two years, Subhash is quiet, studious and chooses to study in the United States. The brothers are bound together by familial ties and by one woman, Gauri, brilliant, introspective and tormented.

Taking place in Calcutta and Rhode Island, The Lowland is a family epic, told in the, at once, subtle and profound prose of Jhumpa Lahiri. The characters come alive within the pages of the story. The consequences of their choices are lasting and at times devastating. The story is presented beautifully and with passion yet never once becomes overblown with too much drama. It is beautiful and heartbreaking.

Once again, Jhumpa Lahiri offers a thoughtful and haunting novel with her latest novel The Lowland.

The Lowland is published by Knopf and will be released on September 24th.

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

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Book of Secrets - Book Review

I was trying think of another book to compare to The Book of Secrets by Elizabeth Joy Arnold so I could describe it to a friend. The only book that even comes close (that I've read, anyway) is The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield but without the ghosts. Part fairy tale, part an ode to classic literature, The Book of Secrets has family drama, tragedy, mystery and an enduring love story.

Chloe is only eight years old when she meets Nate, Cecilia and Grace Sinclair. The children of a local pastor, they are taught at home by their beautiful but ailing mother who reads to them from the classic stories of C.S. Lewis and Rudyard Kipling. Chloe is enraptured by their beauty and the rich and fantastic worlds she discovers in the stories. Cecilia becomes her best friend and she falls in love with the handsome Nate.

But the sheltered world of the Sinclairs is not as perfect as it appears from the outside. Their mother's health is failing and their father's discipline is cruel. The children continue to escape into literature and their secret friendship with Chloe.

Years later, Chloe and Nate's used book store is failing and their marriage is suffering. Nate disappears suddenly leaving only a brief and cryptic note. Grasping for answers, Chloe starts to investigate and finds a book filled with Nate's diary in a secret language. As she works to break the code, Chloe will discover secrets from their past that she didn't even know.

Completely readable, I found myself entranced by the story. A little long at times and occasionally repetitive, the characters and plot are captivating enough that I didn't mind. At times the children behave or act badly and/or with melodrama but given their love for fantasy stories and their reclusive upbringing, it makes more sense.

The Book of Secrets is well written and captivating. It was easy to keep turning the pages late into the night and become immersed in the unusual world of the Sinclairs.

The Book of Secrets by Elizabeth Joy Arnold was published Bantam in July 2013.

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

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

DownEast - Live for Pink

DownEast's annual breast cancer fundraiser – LIVE for Pink campaign has kicked off and runs through mid-October! They have selected the following local organizations – Get Screened Utah ( – to receive grants from our overall donation – 50% of the sales of all special edition PINK tees go towards the fight against breast cancer, up to $25,000.  All pink tees are available at:

Be sure to check out the fabulous selection of DownEast pink tees and help the fight against breast cancer.

The Husband's Secret - Book Review

One of the things I am really enjoying about being part of the She Reads Network is that once a month I get a book that I might not have discovered and/or chosen for myself. I probably wouldn't have picked up The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty but I found myself anxiously waiting its arrival.

Cecilia Fitzpatrick is the perfect mother and wife. She adores her handsome and successful husband and three lovely daughters. She's super organized. She's the president of the parents' association at St. Angela's Primary School. She's a successful consultant for Tupperware. Every other woman admires and despises Cecilia and her seemingly perfect life.

Searching for something in the attic, Cecilia discovers a sealed letter addressed to her from her husband to be read after his death. Intrigued, confused and concerned, Cecilia must confront the mysteries and secrets from her husband's past in The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty.

Told from the perspective of several characters whose lives will become entwined within the novel, The Husband's Secret held me spellbound for several days. The characters are so rich and honest, so real that I found myself stressing over their situations and choices. Though it took me a few chapters to get used to the rambling, almost stream-of-consciousness style, I ended up really appreciating the true and honest look into the characters' minds as they weigh the options and potential consequences of their various choices.

While the ending ties everything up a bit too coincidentally and conveniently (it's karma, baby), it's also an example of what we love about fiction. I'm all for the edgy, depressing endings in literature but sometimes it is nice to have a "good" ending that still leaves you breathless and reflective.

Compelling and impassioned, I was engrossed in the lives of the characters of The Husband's Secret and thoroughly enjoyed the novel.

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty from Amy Einhorn Books was released in July 2013. I received a complimentary copy from the publishers through the She Reads Blog Network.

Check out She Reads for links to reviews from other bloggers in the network and for a chance to win a copy of The Husband's Secret.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Bitter River - Book Review

A teenage girl is found dead in a submerged car in the Bitter River. The autopsy reveals that she was strangled and three months pregnant. Bell Elkins, the County Prosecuting Attorney will work to solve the girl's murder and right the troubles in her own personal life. A series of shootings and bombings will shock the small town and make Bell's work more difficult and put her own life in danger.

Bitter River by Julia Keller sounded like a fun, fast-paced murder mystery. It was just what I was looking for to finish up the month of heavy reading. The novel starts out with the exciting discovery of a body and reintroduces the characters of Bell Elkins, the prosecuting Attorney and Sherrif Nick Fogelsong who apparently made their initial appearances in Keller's debut A Killing in the Hills.

However, after the initial excitement, the novel becomes bogged down in details and the personal life of Bell. Everything from the high school track to the gas station near the freeway and everyone in the small community is described in meticulous detail until the minutiae of Acker's Gap takes precedence over the plot.

The pacing begins to pick up in the last third of the book but the ending is forced and hard to believe. Overall, I wasn't impressed with the novel and wouldn't recommend it.

** I received a complimentary copy of Bitter River in exchange for my honest review. No additional compensation was received. **

Monday, September 2, 2013

Winner of the Color Me Rad 5K Give-away

Hope you're all having a wonderful Labor Day. We usually host a BBQ with friends from our neighborhood on Labor Day. However, this year some family came to town. We enjoyed a visiting with them and letting the cousins play in the back yard.

Someone is going to have a fabulous Labor Day. 
The winner of the 2 passes to the Color Me Rad 5K in Orem, Utah is . . .

Annette Lyon

Congratulations! Please contact me as soon as possible to redeem your prize. Happy running!