Thursday, July 30, 2015

Demelza by Winston Graham

by Winston Graham

Find out more about this book and author:
Twitter @sbkslandmark
Twitter hashtags: #PoldarkBlogTour, #Sourcebooks, #PoldarkPBS, #HistoricalFicton, #PoldarkBooks, #Giveaway, #Reading

Just released: June 9, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark; Reprint edition
Genre: England, Historical, Romance
Paperback: 432 pages
Rating: 5

Poldark series (in reprint):
Ross Poldark
Jeremy Poldark

First sentence(s):
There could have been prophecy in the storm that blew up at the time of Julia's birth.

In the enchanting second novel in Winston Graham's beloved Poldark series, Demelza Carne, an impoverished miner's daughter Ross Poldark rescued from a fairground brawl, now happily finds herself his wife. But the events of these turbulent years test their marriage and their love. As Ross launches into a bitter struggle for the right of the mining communities, Demelza's efforts to adapt to the ways of the gentry (and her husband) place her in increasingly odd and embarrassing situations. When tragedy strikes and sows the seeds of an enduring rivalry between Ross and the powerful George Warleggan, will Demelza manage to bridge their differences before they destroy her and her husband's chance at happiness?

Against the stunning backdrop of eighteenth century Cornwall, Demelza sweeps readers into one of the greatest love stories of all time.

My two-bits:

Loved how this saga continues into the lives of the Poldarks and the folks that revolve around them. It is told in a gentle plodding kind of way. But, just right for capturing the time period and culture.

Per the title, this story has a focus on Demelza who starts to come into her own as an adult, wife and mother. She tries her hand at navigating relationships, like matchmaking, and learns a thing or two.

The story also introduces new characters and reveals more about on-going individual characters bit by bit throughout.

With a soap opera vibe, this storyline is engaging and entertaining due to its cast of characters. Of course, Ross and Demelza being my favorites.

About the author:
Winston Graham is the author of forty novels. His books have been widely translated and the Poldark series has been developed into two television series, shown in 22 countries. Six of Winston Graham's books have been filmed for the big screen, the most notable being Marnie, directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Winston Graham is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and in 1983 was awarded the O.B.E.


* check out the tie-in, Poldark, Masterpiece PBS 7-part special tv series (details)

* added to my COYER challenge/scavenger hunt (details)

* part of my Armchair Summer Travel (details) - check it out to enter Armchair Summer Travel Book Box Giveaway

* review copy and giveaway courtesy of book tour - check out the other stops here for more details on this book and goodies.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Witch of Bourbon Street by Suzanne Hayes Palmieri

The Witch of Bourbon Street
by Suzanne Hayes Palmieri

Find out more about this book and author:
Twitter @thelostwitch

Just released: June 30, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Genre: Fantasy, Witches
Paperback: 336 pages
Rating: 5

The Witch of Little Italy
The Witch of Belladonna Bay
The Witch of Bourbon Street

First sentence(s):
When Serafina came across the sea
A casket girl of 10 and 3
She conjured for herself a life of dreams
And captured all hearts in New Orleans.

Situated deep in the Louisiana bayou is the formerly opulent Sorrow Estate. Once home to a magical family-the Sorrows-it now sits in ruins, ever since a series of murders in 1902 shocked the entire community. Now the ghosts of girls in white dresses shift in and out of view, stuck in time as they live out the past on repeat.

When Frances Green Sorrow is born carrying the "signs" of the so-called chosen one, it is believed she will bring her family back from the brink of obscurity, finally resurrecting the glory of what it once was and setting the Sorrows ghosts free.

But Frances is no savior.

Fleeing from heartbreak, she seeks solace in the seductive chaos of New Orleans, only to end up married too young in an attempt to live an ordinary life. When her marriage falls apart shortly after having a son, she returns home again-alone-just out of reach from the prying eyes of her family. But when her son disappears, she is forced to rejoin the world she left behind, exposing her darkest secret in order to find him and discovering the truth of what really happened that fateful year in the process.

Set amidst the colorful charm of The French Quarter and remote bayous of Tivoli Parish, Louisiana, Suzanne Palmieri's The Witch of Bourbon Street is a story of family, redemption, and forgiveness. Because sometimes, the most important person you have to forgive.... is yourself.

My two-bits:

Loved how this felt like a cozy read. What made this story cozy were the characters and how they interacted with each other. The sense of family and family herstory really pulled me in with all its the quirks and craziness.

The element of magic and otherworldliness felt natural in the Louisiana setting and with the characters involved. It was interesting to see how there was an acceptance of witches and their presence was not shunned.

About the author:
The Lost Witch
I always wanted to write books. I wanted to tell stories, and carry readers off with me to strange mysterious places… but life got in the way. At 22, I was a struggling, unwed mother on welfare who moonlighted as a cocktail waitress. My daughter and I collected food stamps and other social entitlements for several years. There never seemed to be enough money, and knowing I had to finish college I hustled to make ends meet. Education, and writing whenever I could, saved me.

I wrote everywhere: in journals, on napkins, on the inside of matchbook covers. After graduating from college, (walking across the stage with my baby on my hip!), I was awarded a Presidential Scholarship to Fordham; this scholarship allowed me to exit the welfare system for good. Also, being a single mother living alone in the Bronx would become the impetus for my debut novel The Witch of Little Italy, which hit shelves in March 2013. The rest is a story still unfolding. Stay tuned!



* * added this to my Books On The Nightstand Bingo challenge (details) with Time Travel

* added to my COYER challenge/scavenger hunt (details)

* part of my Armchair Summer Travel (details) - check it out to enter Armchair Summer Travel Book Box Giveaway

* review copy courtesy of BookSparks Summer Reading Challenge 2015 (details). @booksparks #SRC2015
Destination: Get jazzy in New Orleans

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Adults and Coloring Books

Secret Garden:
An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book

by Johanna Basford
Amazon | Goodreads

Experience the phenomenon that has sold 2 million copies worldwide and launched the coloring craze for adults.

This beautiful and interactive coloring book features delicate and highly detailed pen-and-ink illustrations—all waiting to be brought to life with color. As added entertainment, tiny garden creatures are hidden on the pages, waiting to be found, and a key and index are included in the back. The book's cover and jacket are also colorable.

=====> This seems to be the most popular of the bunch out there.

Coloring books aimed at adults are the latest craze these days. There is such a variety available to tickle your fancy. As a form of meditation or as an off-line activity, it is a fun way to be interactive with favorite, beautiful or funky images.

I plan to try my hand at some coloring soon, especially when the ones below are released.

LET me know if you are in the coloring craze and what do you use to color - crayons, colored pens or pencils?

On my want list:

Fantastic Cities:
A Coloring Book of Amazing Places Real and Imagined

by Steve McDonald
Release date: August 11, 2015
Amazon | Goodreads -signup for giveaway that ends Aug 10

This unique coloring book features immersive aerial views of real cities from around the world alongside gorgeously illustrated, Inception-like architectural mandalas. Artist Steve McDonald's beautifully rendered and detailed line work offers bird's-eye perspectives of visually arresting global locales from New York, London, and Paris to Istanbul, Tokyo, and Melbourne, Rio, Amsterdam, and many more. The adult coloring book's distinctive large square format offers absorbingly complex vistas to color, the crisp white pages are conducive to a range of artistic applications, and a middle margin keeps all the artwork fully colorable. Complementing the cityscapes are a selection of mind-bending labyrinthine architectural illustrations for still deeper meditative coloring adventures and imaginative flights of fancy.

=====> This one appealed to the traveler in me.

Based on tv shows:

George R. R. Martin's Official A Game of Thrones Coloring Book
(A Song of Ice and Fire)

by George R. R. Martin
Amazon | Goodreads

The perfect gift for fans of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire and HBO’s Game of Thrones, this one-of-a-kind coloring book features more than forty-five exclusive illustrations!


In a world where weddings are red, fire is green, and debts are paid in gold, countless images leap off the page (or the screen) thanks to the eye-popping intricacy of the vivid settings and details. Now, for the first time, fans of this blockbuster saga can fill in the blanks and marvel as this meticulously imagined universe comes to life, one sword, sigil, and castle at a time. With dozens of stunning original black-and-white illustrations from world-renowned illustrators Yvonne Gilbert, John Howe, Tomislav Tomic, Adam Stower, and Levi Pinfold, this unique collector’s item expands the reach of an international phenomenon with flying colors.

Diana Gabaldon's Official Outlander Coloring Book
by Diana Gabaldon
Release date: October 27, 2015
Amazon | Goodreads

=====> The cover for this is not yet revealed. I am sooooooo curious about it ;-)
But, I imagine it will be something like this fan art created by noctemus (here)

Monday, July 27, 2015

Happy Release: The Legacy of Us by Kristin Contino

The Legacy of Us
by Kristin Contino
Release date: August 18, 2015
Amazon | Goodreads

Liz Moretti thought she knew almost everything about her grandmother, Ella, from her love of "The Golden Girls" to the perfect pound cake recipe. But when Ella passes away and Liz finds a cameo locket with a marriage proposal engraved inside (from a man who was not her grandfather), she realizes that sometimes a person's secrets are discovered only after they're gone.

On top of losing Ella, Liz's career as a jewelry designer is stagnant and her love life lacks sparkle, too. When she reconnects with the one who got away, Liz thinks maybe things are finally starting to look up. But after a few drinks and a trip down a flight of stairs, Liz wakes up to realize the cameo is gone. Her ex offers to look for it, but so does Justin, the intriguing new guy in her apartment building.

While dealing with her feelings for two very different men and generally trying to reinvent her mess of a life, Liz finds answers and solace in Ella's diary. The story of the cameo, and the relationship between her grandmother and great-grandmother, an outspoken socialite from Italy, inspires Liz to grow up and accept responsibility for her missteps. Eventually she must choose between the life she thought she wanted and the promise of something better.


* looking forward to participating in this blog tour, so you will hear more about this one soon ;-)

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Literary Hunk of the Month 2015

Literary Hunk of the Month 2015
hosted by Book Perfume

While visiting fellow bloggers I came across this fun meme at the Book Perfume.

Her description blurb:
Admit it–you’ve had a crush on a fictional character. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Here at Book Perfume, we embrace those passions by honoring a literary hunk every month…because the fact that he only exists on paper shouldn’t stop us from obsessing.

While my all-time hunks include Jamie Fraser of Outlander by Diana Gabaldon and various heroes from Jane Austen novels, this list will consist of male characters that I come across in my recently read books for each month. These guys will have a quality that makes them stand out (in my eyes). Looks don't necessarily make the cut for my list.


JANUARY - none found

FEBRUARY - Werner Pfennig
Loved how he followed his heart.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Amazon | Goodreads | my review

MARCH - Ethan Figman
Loved his creative passion.
The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
Amazon | Goodreads | my review

APRIL - none found

MAY - Sam Turner
Loved that he could cook.
The Grown Ups by Robin Antalek
Amazon | Goodreads | my review

JUNE - James Smith
Loved his goodness.
Longbourn by Jo Baker
Amazon | Goodreads | my review

JULY - Ross Poldark
Loved gentlemanly manners.
Ross Poldark: A Novel of Cornwall, 1783-1787 by Winston Graham
Amazon | Goodreads | my review

Loved his dark, mysterious, scarred persona.
Stone Rider by David Hofmeyr
Amazon | Goodreads | my review

SEPTEMBER - Jesse Colton
Gentle tough cowboy ways.
Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman
Amazon | Goodreads | my review

OCTOBER - Dale Finnegan
Loved his patience.
The Space Between Heartbeats by Melissa Pearl
Amazon | Goodreads | my review

NOVEMBER - Cormoran Strike
Big and burly with brains.
The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith aka J.K. Rowling
Amazon | Goodreads

DECEMBER - Captain Chaol Westphall
Protective nature.
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Amazon | Goodreads | my review


* image source header: Sherlock Holmes reading

* Check out Buzzfeed's 15 Literary Hunks To Cuddle By The Fire (here) and TopTez's Top 10 Literary Hunks (here) and Bustle's 7 Literary Hunk Roles Jamie Dornan Should Take On Next, Because He’s Practically A Pro At This Point (here)

* Feel free to comment on any Literary Hunks you have come across in your recent reading.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Stacking the Shelves - 7.25.15

Stacking the Shelves
hosted by Tynga's Reviews (details)

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!



The Blue: A Novel
by Lucy Clarke
-Mystery, Thriller
Amazon | Goodreads

=====> Looks like a good one and wanted to add this to my Armchair Summer Travel reading list.

For Review:

Beautiful Affliction
by Lene Fogelberg
courtesy of book tour by BookSparks
Thanks !
Amazon | Goodreads

Never Said
by Carol Lynch Williams
courtesy of BookSparks YA Summer Reading Challenge 2015
Thanks !
Amazon | Goodreads

Summer by Summer
by Heather Burch
courtesy of BookSparks YA Summer Reading Challenge 2015
Thanks !
Amazon | Goodreads

The Red Sun
by Alane Adams
-Fantasy, YA
courtesy of BookSparks YA Summer Reading Challenge 2015
Thanks !
Amazon | Goodreads

The Looney Experiment
by Luke Reynolds
courtesy of BookSparks YA Summer Reading Challenge 2015
Thanks !
Amazon | Goodreads


Beautiful Disaster
by Jamie McGuire
-New Adult, Romance
Amazon | Goodreads
My rating: 5

The new Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate number of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance from the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University's Walking One-Night Stand.

Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby needs—and wants—to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the ultimate college campus charmer. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his appeal, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’s apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match.

=====> A guilty pleasure kind of read. I inhaled this one and loved it!


From Powell's Indiespensable club package (details & signup):
Powell's subscription club delivers the best new books, with special attention to independent publishers. Signed first editions. Inventive, original sets. Exclusive printings.... Every six weeks, another installment to read and admire. Plus, every package is stocked with exciting surprises!

This is package #53. (sorry - this is sold out, but you can signup for the next one)

Box includes:

The Diver's Clothes Lie Empty
by Vendela Vida
signed first-edition
in a custom slipcase exclusive to Indiespensable
Amazon | Goodreads

Above the Waterfall
by Ron Rash
Release date: September 8, 2015
Amazon | Goodreads

Also in the box:

* A collectible booklet featuring the interview and Indiespensable Q&A with Vendela Vida
* Fuller Foods Serious Cheesy Puffs: Sriracha and Cheddar. Just had a couple and YUM. Nice blend and not too spicy.

AND binge watching:

tv series, season one, volume one
-Adventure, Romance
Amazon | imdb

Follows the story of Claire Randall, a married combat nurse from 1945 who is mysteriously swept back in time to 1743, where she is immediately thrown into an unknown world where her life is threatened. When she is forced to marry Jamie Fraser, a chivalrous and romantic young Scottish warrior, a passionate relationship is ignited that tears Claire's heart between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

Based on this book...

by Diana Gabaldon
-Romance, Scotland
Amazon | Goodreads


* some of these may be offered as giveaways within the next two months

* comment and TELL me what you have acquired for your shelves recently

* per usual, check out the sidebar for my current giveaways offers

Friday, July 24, 2015

Spotlight: The Kiss That Launched 1,000 Gifs by Sheralyn Pratt

The Kiss That Launched 1,000 Gifs
by Sheralyn Pratt
Amazon | Goodreads
Website | Facebook | Twitter @SheralynPratt

Just released: July 6, 2015
Publisher: Wicked Sassy
Genre: Romance

Each weekday from 2:00-4:00 p.m., Grace and Ashton cohost Battle of the Sexes, a radio program arguing the he-said/she-said issues of the day. Their fiery debates often have listeners wondering if there’s more to their relationship than just talk, even though Grace has been dating Phillip, Mr. Tall, Dark, and Perfect, since long before she ever met Ashton Miller.

Yet when news comes that Battle of the Sexes is on the bubble for cancellation, Grace and Ashton need to step up their efforts to engage their audience to keep the show alive. When a charity organization approaches them and proposes that the two of them kiss for a fund raiser, Grace and Ash agree to kiss for a good cause. A kiss is just a kiss, right?

“Good afternoon, and welcome to the newest edition of Battle of the Sexes," Grace said, starting off the show. "With me today is the man who has just proven that the Instagram app is truly foolproof—my no-longer-technically challenged cohost, Ashton Miller.”

Ash leaned forward into the mic. “And with me is the woman I’ve recently learned feels compelled to alert the world via photograph every time she finds a pair of shoes she likes—the woman who takes the ‘anonymous’ out of Shopaholics Anonymous—my lovely cohost, Grace Vasquez.”

Grace was unapologetic. “A good pair of shoes is worth sharing.”

“Oh? Does that mean I should post pictures of my shoes?” Ash asked, picking up his phone and pressing the camera icon.

“You’re wearing hiking boots.”

“That’s right,” Ash said, putting his shoes up on the table and snapping a picture. “These are Salomon Quest 4D GTXes. I wear them any time I go on a shoot that requires some hiking. They’re light, durable, and provide great stability. Is that the sort of thing you share on Instagram?”

“Not really,” Grace said. “But I’m sure Salomon doesn’t mind the free advertising you just handed them.”

“Well, I’m totally posting a picture,” Ash said, in his best valley girl tone. “It’s not every day a man finds comfort, function, and fashion all in one shoe.”

“Indeed,” Grace replied. “I’m still waiting for that day to happen for you.”

Ash smiled against his will and set his phone to the side. He’d post the photo later. Grace was clearly in a mood that required his full attention. “So what are we talking about today? And, please, don’t let it be shoes!”

Grace glanced at her computer screen, giving Ash a view of her stunning profile. Seriously, how was her skin so smooth?

“Today the most up-voted topic is…” She blinked, looking confused. “Huh.”

“Huh?” Ash echoed, intrigued by the look of confusion on Grace’s face.

“Cupcakes,” she said.


Grace nodded and frowned at her monitor. “Why do men hate cupcakes? is the trending topic at the moment.” Grace looked Ash’s way, visibly confused. “Do men hate cupcakes?”

About the author:
Sheralyn’s first job was as a karate instructor, which taught her that practice does not make perfect; practice makes habit–good or bad. Martial arts also taught Sheralyn that a master is simply a person who can effortlessly do all the actions a beginner finds difficult or maybe even impossible.

Sheralyn has worked in many fields throughout her life, but her 12 years as a karate instructor have shaped how she does everything, including writing and mentoring. She likes to keep things light and fun, but she’s also aware that life is journey and that if you’re going to buy a book, your life should better for it.

So, fiction or nonfiction, know that each of Sheralyn’s books are designed to take you to a new place. Maybe that book is designed to help you escape for a few hours, or maybe it’s a book designed to teach you a new skill. Either way, Sheralyn hopes it’s unforgettable…in a good way. ;-)

--~ $25 Blog Tour Giveaway ~--

Enter to win an Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 8/5/15

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


* spotlight and excerpt courtesy of book tour - check out the other stops (here) for more details on this book and goodies sponsored by I Am A Reader.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award
Thanks to Haraiah of Random Things in Action

Oooo, I just got tagged with an award. I haven't done one of these in awhile. It's summer with some free time and what the heck, here we go...

The Rules:

Thank the blogger who nominated you, linking back to their site.
Put the Award logo on your blog.
Answer the ten questions sent to you.
Make up ten new questions for your nominees to answer.
Nominate ten blogs.

Question and Answer:

1. What book did you not expect to love but did?

I Take You
by Eliza Kennedy
Amazon | Goodreads

2. Are you a fast reader or a slow reader? How many books do usually you read in a month?

The answer to this question varies. I can be either depending on what is going on my event calendar.

3. What is your favorite quote at the moment?

Graduate, matriculate, fornicate. - I. Martinez

4. What are you currently reading?

The Road Home
by Kathleen Shoop
Destination: Meander through Des Moines, Iowa
BookSparks | Goodreads | my review

5. Your top 3 books so far this year?

All the Light We Cannot See
by Anthony Doerr
-France, Germany, historical, WWII
Amazon | Goodreads my review

Big Little Lies
by Liane Moriarty
-mystery, chick-lit
Amazon | Goodreads | my review

Beautiful Disaster
by Jamie McGuire
-New Adult, Romance
Amazon | Goodreads

6. What is the status of your bookshelf? Overflowing, just right, chaotic, pretty...

Just right. I just did a purge and things are somewhat organized. Although, the bags of books are still waiting in the garage to be donated.

7. What are the books you recently added on your shelf?

See my Stacking the Shelves posts (here).

Most excited about, but won't be able to read until next month.

by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Amazon | Goodreads

8. Are you the kind of reader who sticks to your TBR?

hmmm, kinda

9. What is your favorite food? Anything you are craving for right now?

hamburger and fries ;-)

10. Name one or more books you badly want to read but find intimidating.

This is one I tried reading when it first came out, but quit. Maybe because I wasn't in the mood for it and for it's chunky size. So, it sits in my TBR pile. But since the tv version has been released, I want to give it another try.

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell
by Susanna Clarke
Amazon | Goodreads

Questions I'll be passing along:

1. What book are you currently reading?
2. In your current book, if you were one of the characters, who would you want to be?
3. In your current book, is an animal mentioned?
4. What book is next on your reading list?
5. What book is your significant other (or other person in the house) reading?
6. Do you like to keep your books (horizontal) stacked in a pile or (vertical) standing upright on a shelf?
7. Who usually gives you a book as a gift (non-blogger)?
8. Where do you usually buy your books (physical location)?
9. What dream location would you like to be while reading?
10. Which current author(s) would you like to visit your local bookstore for a reading/signing?

I nominate:
Ashley of Happy Pretty Sweet
Barb of Booker T's Farm
Beth of ramblings of the perpetual new girl
Carrie at In the Hammock Blog
Charnell of Reviews from a Bookworm
Freda of Freda's Voice
Grace of Books of Love
Hazel of Beyond the Back Cover
Heather of Gofita's Pages
Jennifer of Some Like it Paranormal
Krystianna of Downright Dystopian
Sophia of the Delighted Reader

AND, if you would like to be tagged by me, then voila - you've been tagged. Follow the rules above. Let me know in comments and I will add you to my list.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Road Home by Kathleen Shoop

The Road Home
by Kathleen Shoop

Find out more about this book and author:
Twitter @kathieshoop

Just released: June 23, 2015
Publisher: Oakglen Press
Genre: Historical, Women's Fiction
Paperback: 495 pages
Rating: 4

The Letter series:
The Last Letter
The Road Home
book 3 - tba

First sentence:
Katherine stood at her mother's coffin. The parlor was bursting with sweet pink roses, deep blue and blush-pink hydrangeas, and peonies.

Find your way home...

1891—Living separately for three years, fourteen-year-old twins, Katherine and Tommy Arthur, have done their best to make each boarding house feel like home. But unrest grows as they are driven to questionable actions just to survive. Meanwhile their desperate mother is confronted with breaking yet another promise to her children. Then a miracle descends. Hope rises on a cold, rainy night and changes everything. If Jeanie could just get word to Katherine and Tommy, she knows she can set their lives right again. Agitators, angels, and dangerous “saviors” illuminate the Arthurs’ unmatched determination and smarts.

1905—Though she tries to forget the awful years that hurt so much, the memories still haunt Katherine. Now, tearful mourners at her mother’s funeral force her to revisit a time in her life that both harmed and saved her in the most unexpected ways. Tommy grieves his mother’s passing as well. He too is thrust backward, compelled to rediscover the events in his life that shaped the man he has become. Will he commit to reconstructing his broken life? The Arthurs come to understand that forgiveness is the only way back to hope, the only way to find all that was good in the misfortune that transformed their lives forever.

My two-bits:

Got a dose of some prairie living and the hardships involved. Experienced life in a slower pace.

The story is told through the eyes of three characters which provides a good overview of the times which is late 1800's into the early 1900's. What struck me was how their strong family ties was such a source of strength and hope.

Loved how letters were emphasized in this story. I found it amazing how letters were such a strong form of communication back in the day. These days most snail mail consists of junk mail.

About the author:
Bestselling author, Kathleen Shoop, holds a PhD in reading education and has more than 20 years of experience in the classroom. She writes historical fiction, women’s fiction and romance. Shoop’s novels have garnered various awards in the Independent Publisher Book Awards, Eric Hoffer Book Awards, Indie Excellence Awards, Next Generation Indie Book Awards and the San Francisco Book Festival. Kathleen has been featured in USA Today and the Writer’s Guide to 2013. Her work has appeared in The Tribune-Review, four Chicken Soup for the Soul books and Pittsburgh Parent magazine. She lives in Oakmont, Pennsylvania with her husband and two children.


* added to my COYER challenge/scavenger hunt (details)

* part of my Armchair Summer Travel details - check it out to enter Armchair Summer Travel Book Box Giveaway

* review copy courtesy of BookSparks Summer Reading Challenge 2015 (details). @booksparks #SRC2015
Destination: Meander through Des Moines, Iowa

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

Beautiful Ruins
by Jess Walter

Find out more about this book and author:
Twitter @1jesswalter

Published: 2012
Publisher: Harper
Genre: Historical, Italy, Romance, Travel
Hardback: 352 pages
Rating: 4.5

First sentence(s):
The dying actress arrived in his village the only way one could come directly -- in a boat that motored into the cove, lurched past the rock jetty, and bumped against the end of the pier. She wavered a moment in the boat's stern, then extended a slender hand to grip the mahogany railing; with the other, she pressed a wide-brimmed hat against her head. All around her, shards of sunlight broke on the flickering waves.

The story begins in 1962. On a rocky patch of the sun-drenched Italian coastline, a young innkeeper, chest-deep in daydreams, looks out over the incandescent waters of the Ligurian Sea and spies an apparition: a tall, thin woman, a vision in white, approaching him on a boat. She is an actress, he soon learns, an American starlet, and she is dying.

And the story begins again today, half a world away, when an elderly Italian man shows up on a movie studio's back lot—searching for the mysterious woman he last saw at his hotel decades earlier.

What unfolds is a dazzling, yet deeply human, roller coaster of a novel, spanning fifty years and nearly as many lives. From the lavish set of Cleopatra to the shabby revelry of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Walter introduces us to the tangled lives of a dozen unforgettable characters: the starstruck Italian innkeeper and his long-lost love; the heroically preserved producer who once brought them together and his idealistic young assistant; the army veteran turned fledgling novelist and the rakish Richard Burton himself, whose appetites set the whole story in motion—along with the husbands and wives, lovers and dreamers, superstars and losers, who populate their world in the decades that follow.

Gloriously inventive, constantly surprising, Beautiful Ruins is a story of flawed yet fascinating people, navigating the rocky shores of their lives while clinging to their improbable dreams.

Zombie sighting:
Claire mulls as she drives, zombie-like — all basic animal reflex.
-chapter 2, page 24


My two-bits:

Captured small coastal sleepy Italian town of the past (1960's) with wonderful detail. Although fictional believable with its nuances and community folklore.

Loved the varied characters that ran the gambit from locals in a small town to Hollywood celebrities.

Got me thinking of the life of celebrities and its lifestyle.

CHECK out the movie mentioned and highlighted in the book:

Directed by: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Screenplay by: Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Ranald MacDougall, and Sidney Buchman
Based on histories by: Plutarch, Suetonius and Appian
Also based on book: The Life and Times of Cleopatra by Carlo Mario Franzero
-Biography, Drama, History
Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra
Richard Burton as Mark Antony
Rex Harrison as Julius Caesar


* listened to the audio version which was excellent

* added this to my Books On The Nightstand Bingo challenge (details) - square: By an author of a different gender

* added to COYER challenge/scavenger hunt (details)

* part of my Armchair Summer Travel (details) - check it out to enter Armchair Summer Travel Book Box Giveaway

Places mentioned include:
California, USA
Idaho, USA
Washington, USA

Imagination Designs
Images from: Lovelytocu