Friday, December 27, 2013

My Favorite Books of 2013

I have had a difficult time choosing my very favorite books of 2013. There were so many to pick from and so many that I really enjoyed that narrowing it down to a reasonable list was tricky.

In no particular order (click on title to read my review of each book):

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (I finished reading it this morning and haven't had time to write a full review yet. I'm still processing my feelings about this fabulous novel. All I know is that it has earned its spot at the top of my list.)

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Seven for a Secret by Lyndsay Faye

Margot by Jillian Cantor

The End of the Point by Elizabeth Graver

Someone Else's Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson

The Tilted World by Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly

We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo

Transatlantic by Colum McCann

Benediction by Kent Haruf

The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan

The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin

Some of my very favorite books that I read this year weren't actually published in 2013. I have to mention how much I loved them.

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

The Night Circus by Erin Mrogenstern

The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

and finally, my very favorite book that I read all year is...

**Since there are still four days left in the year, I reserve the right to add to this list.**

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Rosie Project - Book Review

While hanging out on Twitter I've made several friends who enjoy reading and talking about books as much as I do. Calling ourselves "Book Lovers Unite", we've formed a sort of "book lovers anonymous", encouraging each other to read more books from our ever-growing to-read-shelves. This month we had a Christmas Book Exchange. As part of the exchange, Tamara from Traveling with T (a fabulous blog for book lovers) sent me The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. I was thrilled.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion has been on my book radar since I read some early positive reviews. I really wanted to squeeze it into the year.

Professor Don Tillman is a genius geneticists who has the gift to memorize the instructions for mixing cocktails and dance steps. In spite of these talents, Tillman is socially awkward. Extremely rigid in his schedule, Tillman eats the same menu every week.

Nearing forty years old, Tillman realizes that happily married men live longer. Determined to find the perfect wife and to avoid the uncomfortable scenes from his previous dating experience, Tillman creates a questionnaire. Surely, with such direct questions, Tillman will find the woman who doesn't smoke, drink or have weird issues with food.

Tillman doesn't factor in Rosie. She's all wrong for his Wife Project. But Rosie has her own project that is perfect for Tillman. She needs his help to find her real father. Tracking down the DNA of all the men who might have fathered Rosie, Tillman's life is thrown off balance by the beautiful and surprising Rosie.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion is delightful fun. Professor Tillman is so likable. There's something to be said about his tight schedule. If he says he'll be there at five o'clock, he's not going to keep you waiting. You might not want to ask him if the jeans you're wearing make your butt look fat, but otherwise, his various talents add up to a rather nice catch.

While predictable, The Rosie Project is worth the fun and subtle humor. Professor Tillman is an unusual but engaging leading man. The plotting and pace are perfect for a quick, enjoyable read. It was completely refreshing and entertaining.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Gods of Gotham & Seven for a Secret - Two Book Reviews

I had a chance to review Seven for a Secret by Lyndsay Faye. I'd heard good things and wanted to get my hands on it but I had one problem. I hadn't yet read The Gods of Gotham, the first novel featuring the brass star from New York City, Timothy Wilde. While some reviews of the second book assured me that it could stand on it's own (and really it can), I didn't want to miss out on The Gods of Gotham. I am so glad that I chose to read the first novel because it was thrilling, dark and absolutely wonderful.

After losing his home, savings, his job as a bartender and being scarred by the tremendous fire that burned wildly in New York City in 1845, Timothy Wilde is given another opportunity by his drug addicted, politically involved brother Valentine. The New York Police Department has just been formed and Timothy pins the brass star to his lapel, determined to help and protect.

In the early nineteenth century, a polluted pond in Manhattan was filled in and middle class homes were built on top. Unfortunately, the methane gas produced from the fill and the unstable ground, sent the middle class people scrambling for a more suitable neighborhood. The area, known as Five Points, would become a slum with a diverse population and a tendency toward violence. Timothy Wilde is assigned to patrol Five Points and is only on the job for a few weeks when he runs into a small girl covered in blood. Timothy is compelled to investigate.

In a city teeming with political corruption, poverty and racial tension with an increasing population as the potato famine sends a constant stream of immigrating Irish into the streets, Timothy Wilde struggles valiantly to maintain order and fight for the forsaken child victims.

A perfect blending of mystery and historical fiction, Lyndsay Faye follows up her first masterpiece with another equally thrilling novel. Seven for a Secret, is a wholly satisfying and enjoyable novel for fans of Timothy Wilde.

Six months after solving the mystery surrounding the bloody child, Timothy is settling into his new position with the police force. With a small office, he spends his days solving mysteries and returning stolen goods. His world will become dangerous and sensational once again, when a beautiful woman rushes into his office begging for help. Her sister and son have been kidnapped.

Timothy, with the help of a few friends including members of the New York Committee of Vigilance, will be embroiled in the mystery surrounding those who kidnap free blacks to sale them as slave in the South. Once again, Faye uses the horrifying history of the free blacks who inhabit the city and live in constant fear of being kidnapped in an enlightening and thrilling tale of horror and menace.

Often, when I finish a book I thoroughly enjoy it is difficult to begin another book. I was fully grateful that upon completing The Gods of Gotham, I could pick up Seven for a Secret and remain immersed in Timothy Wilde's dark and terrible New York City. Personally, I pray that Lyndsay Faye continues writing about her hero, for I am most definitely a fan.

Seven for a Secret by Lyndsay Faye was published by Amy Einhorn/Putnam in September 2013.

**I received a complimentary copy of Seven for a Secret in exchange for my honest review. I purchased a copy of The Gods of Gotham for myself. All opinions are my own and no additional compensation was received.**

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Winner of the Master Muffler Give-away

Just this week the brakes on my minivan started squealing. So, it looks like I get to try out Master Muffler this coming week. I'll let you know how it goes. I'm expecting great things.

The winner of the $50 Gift Certificate to 
Master Muffler is . . .

Jennifer Davis

Congratulations! Please contact me right away so that you can receive your prize.

Monday, December 9, 2013

$50 Gift Certificate to Master Muffler Give-away

Now that it's snowing and extra cold outside, it seems the season when cars start needing extra work. Specializing in brakes and mufflers, with 13 locations around Utah, Master Muffler Shop can perform nearly any repair on your car.

Master Muffler Shop is giving away a 
$50 Gift Certificate to Master Muffler

To enter to win, leave a comment on this post. You can earn an extra entry by sharing this giveaway on Facebook or Twitter or other Social Media. Leave an additional comment on this post telling wear you shared the give-away.

This contest is open to entries until Friday, December 13th at 11:59 pm EST. The winner will be chosen randomly from the entries and announced on Saturday, December 14th.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Margot - Book Review

Amberly and I have been reading Anne Frank : The Diary of a Young Girl each evening for the last few weeks. We are about half way through it and emotionally involved already in Anne's family and their situation hiding in the annex. So, when I first started reading Margot by Jillian Cantor, I wasn't sure what to think. The recently published novel Margot, supposes that Anne's older sister Margot survived the Holocaust and the war and is living a life in hiding in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Was it irreverent? Taboo? Was it even OK to write about the Franks--a real family that suffered such horrific tragedy and is beloved by so many who have read Anne's thoughts, feelings, hopes and fears? I was emotionally torn as I began to read Margot. However, as I got involved with the story and came to care for Margot, thoughtfully portrayed as plagued by grief and survivor's guilt, I appreciated Cantor's gracious and respectful style. Cantor tells a beautiful, hopeful story.

Rereading Anne's diary as an adult and from the perspective of a mother, has caused me to think about Anne's point of view and experiences in contrast with how the adults may have been dealing with their time hiding in the annex. Cantor offers a similar contrast by showing how Margot may have experienced the annex. Also offering the chance for discussion on individual perception--people living through the same events and coming away with different feelings, memories and reactions.

Overall, Margot by Jillian Cantor is a very readable and enjoyable novel. The story of Margot's emotional turmoil and journey towards love captures the reader's imagination but ultimately left me with the feeling of deep sorrow for the suffering of the Frank family and so many others.

Margot by Jillian Cantor was published by Riverhead Trade in September 2013.

**I received a complimentary copy of Margot in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.**

The Winner of Rollick!

The winner of the Rollick! give-away is. . .


Congratulations! I hope you love Rollick! Please send me your information as soon as possible so that you can receive your game in time for all the Christmas parties.