Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A Curious Beginning - Book Review

Veronica Speedwell isn't flustered by much. She's traveled the world as a lepidopterist and seen things much more dangerous than butterflies. After returning home from her aunt's funeral to discover a large man rifling through her aunt's cottage, she's not about to shy away from the attack. With the help of a strange Baron who suddenly arrives, Veronica is able to avoid being kidnapped. Choosing instead to trust the Baron, he transports her to London and promises to explain everything. But he insists that Veronica is in danger. He asks her to stay with his friend Stoker who can keep her safe until he can explain.

Veronica is with Stoker, when they learn of the Baron's murder. The police are sure Stoker is the culprit. Though Veronica knows Stoker didn't commit murder, she's not sure of anything or anyone else. But she's always up for an adventure.

A Curious Beginning, the newest book from Deanna Raybourn, is absolutely delightful fun. Full of action and intrigue, the pace is steady and fast. Set in London in 1887, the setting is as fascinating as the characters and the mystery. It's easy to get completely lost in the dangerous world and fall in love with the characters. Veronica is a spunky young woman who is delightful and refreshing. I'm not sure she completely fits in with her time period--she's pretty modern--but I liked her anyway. Stoker is a crabby and rough leading man with a mysterious past of his own and the chemistry between the two is palpable and passionate.

I rarely reach for this genre of novel but after I do, I always wonder why I don't more often. I'm pretty sure that I'm going to have to read the next Veronica Speedwell Mysteries. A Curious Beginning is the first novel from Deanna Raybourn that I've read, but it definitely won't be my last.

A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn is published by New American Library and released in September 2015. It's also a Fall Book Club Suggestion from She Reads.

**I received a complimentary copy of A Curious Beginning. All opinions are my own. No other compensation was received.**

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Carrying Albert Home - Book Review

Every now and then a book comes along that is the perfect combination of quirky and sweet and fun and entertaining and you just fall in love. It's been awhile since I've found a book like this that I can embrace and recommend to everyone. Carrying Albert Home by Homer Hickam made me laugh and sigh and want to talk about it constantly. At least a dozen times I turned to Randy and said "You have to hear about this. Wait. Never mind. I'm going to make you read this book." I knew I wanted to read this book as soon as I saw the fanciful cover and the subtitle: "The Somewhat True Story of a Man, His Wife, and Her Alligator".

Carrying Albert Home by Homer Hickam is the story of Homer's parents and their trip to Florida to return the alligator Elsie received as a wedding present from an ex-boyfriend, actor Buddy Ebsen, for whom she still harbors a flame. Elsie's beloved alligator adores her but is getting too big to live in their West Virginia home and her husband Homer (the author's father) insists on returning him to Florida. On their journey, Elsie and Homer will come to understand each other and themselves as they have the adventure of a lifetime.

Hickam's writing completely captures the winsome magic and the history of the period as he tells the stories of his parents' adventures that include marching with union strikers and surviving the horrific hurricane that hit the Florida Keys in 1935 (also the topic of Zora Neale Hurston's beautiful novel Their Eyes Were Watching God). Anyone who is related to a storyteller (I am blessed to have known two--my grandfather and father) recognizes that a true storyteller combines truth with exaggerated flair to fully recreate the perceived reality. Homer Hickam and his parents have this remarkable gift.

Carrying Albert Home is a delightful novel. It is at once the story of Hickam's parents and the story of Depression era America--a tale that is so large it defies reality and yet you want every single word to be true. Imaginative and fresh, Hickam's novel completely stole my heart.

Carrying Albert Home by Homer Hickam is published by William Morrow and released in October 2015.

**I received a complimentary copy of Carrying Albert Home. No compensation was received. All opinions are my own.**

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Winners of Along the Infinite Sea Give-away

Congratulations to

Kimberly V



You have each won a copy of Along the Infinite Sea by Beatriz Williams. Please contact me by Friday, November 13th with your information to claim your prize.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Read the Book First - Books to Movies

While the entire world is excited for the new Star Wars movie and the new James Bond movie, I am anxious to see some of my favorite books portrayed on the big screen this fall. (OK, who am I kidding? I am likely to wait to see most of them until they come out on DVD. But a girl can dream, right?) Book lovers already know that the book is almost always better than the movie. It's just the way it is. Even so, I do love to see how directors and producers interpret the novels and books I really, really enjoyed.

Here are a few of the book to movie adaptations I'm looking forward to. 

I read The Martian by Andy Weir a few months ago during a bout of insomnia. It's not at all a genre I regularly read and was initially unimpressed but within 50 pages I was hooked. I ended up being completely captivated by the story. I talked about it constantly with my family and found myself stressed and worried about Mark even when I was busy doing other things. Definitely give this fun book a chance.

I read and absolutely loved In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick during my "whale book" phase several years ago. I bought and read it right after reading Moby Dick and Ahab's Wife. I liked In the Heart of the Sea the best of the three and have pressured lots of people to read it. I sent it home with a friend just the other day. The movie looks fun and has a great cast so I have high hopes.

It's been years since Randy bought Brooklyn by Colm Toibin during a business trip and returned home with it unread. I fell in love immediately with this beautiful novel. I wrote all about it **here**. I hope the movie does this lovely novel and the wonderful characters justice. The trailer looks promising.

We got a copy of the children's picture book The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordicai Gerstein years ago when my older children were still small. The pictures and story of Phillipe Pettit leapt from the pages and fascinated us. I included it **Here** in a post about true stories told in picture books. This story is just so amazing. Randy and I watched the documentary years ago and are looking forward to the movie. Obviously the movie The Walk isn't based directly off this book for children but I threw it in here for fun anyway.

There are other movies based on books out this fall too. I'm still on the fence about whether or not I want to see Room. I enjoyed the book but the disturbing topic might be to graphic for  me to see visually. I'll be sure to see the final installment of Mockingjay.

As we know the movie versions of our favorite books often disappoint (i.e., Serena and Snow Flower and the Secret Fan) but I'm keeping my fingers crossed for these adaptations. 

What movies are you looking forward to this season? Do you always read the books before you see the movie?

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Along the Infinite Sea - Book Review & Give-away

Pepper Schuyler is hoping that by selling the 1936 Mercedes Roadster she discovered in her sister's garage and fixed up, she will have enough money to start her new life on her own. Because she's in trouble. She's pregnant with her boss's baby, hiding out and he is definitely sending his goons to find her.

Annabelle Dommerich is not only willing to pay the $300,000 price tag for the Mercedes, she intends to rescue the beautiful and troubled Pepper from herself. Feeling vulnerable, Pepper allows herself to be rescued and she intrigued by Annabelle and the story of the car. For Annabelle already had an exciting history with this very car.

Annabelle's story is set in Europe during the years leading up to World War II. She gets caught up in the glamour and romance of Paris She's madly in love with a Jewish man; married to a Nazi and playing a dangerous game. Annabelle is a conflicted character, young, naive and sweet. She's passionate and hasty in her decisions and easily swayed by others. Her story is as much about her growth as a character as her risky escape from the consequences of war.

Along the Infinite Sea by Beatriz Williams is essentially the third novel in a series that focuses on the Schuyler sisters, starting with The Secret Life of Violet Grant and then Tiny Little Thing. I wasn't aware of this until I was a good way through reading Along the Infinite Sea. I read The Secret Life of Violet Grant some time ago but I didn't read Tiny Little Thing. I suppose reading it could have helped with Pepper's backstory but I didn't think it was imperative to read the others to enjoy Along the Infinite Sea.

Most of the time with split narrative books, I find one of the stories more fascinating than the other. While Annabelle's story definitely took center stage in this book, I really liked Pepper and wanted a little more from her drama and fledgling romance. Some of the "romantic" dialogue between the characters early in the novel was awkward and made me giggle.

Beatriz Williams writes captivating and lively stories with alluring characters who do and say things I would never say. They are fun to read about in their escapades and romances and entanglements. As usual, Along the Infinite Sea is a fast paced story that kept me reading. It is really pleasantly entertaining and comfortable--cuddle up with a warm blanket on a cool evening; be swept away and enjoy.

Along the Infinite Sea by Beatriz Williams is published by Putnam and released on November 3, 2015.

You can win one of two copies of Along the Infinite Sea.

To enter leave a comment on this post. The contest will be open to entries until Friday, November 6, 2015 at 11:59 pm MST. The two winners will be chosen randomly and announced on Saturday, November 7, 2015. Open to US entries only.