Daily Archives: April 21, 2013

All You Could Ask For – Book Review

AllYouCouldAskForWhat makes life worth living is not anything that might happen. It is what is happening right now. – from All You Could Ask For –

Brooke is living the “perfect” life. She has twins and an amazing husband who loves her. She works hard to keep her marriage exciting – including hiring a photographer to take nude photos of her for her husband’s birthday.

Samantha, married only two days, breaks into her new husband’s computer and discovers he has been and still is unfaithful to her. She immediately decides to stay in Hawaii (where they have flown for their honeymoon) and train for a triathlon.

Katherine is wealthy and successful in her work – but she clings to a hatred and resentment for her boss who used to be her lover and who threw her over for another woman almost 20 years ago. When she travels to Aspen for her first vacation in years, the last thing she expects is to meet the man of her dreams.

All three women who grace the pages of Mike Greenberg’s debut novel are different, and yet they will soon discover they have something in common. Something which will unexpectedly unite them, cause them to look deeply into their lives, and ultimately define what is most important to them.

There has been a lot of buzz about All You Could Ask For. First of all, the novel is penned by a man who fully embraces his female side in creating characters women will like, if not relate to. Secondly, Mike Greenberg is the voice of ESPN ‘s Mike in the Morning and has promised to donate all of his profits from the book to The V Foundation for Cancer Research to combat breast cancer.

The book is divided into two parts. In the first part, Greenberg introduces his characters through alternating first person narratives. The second part is dedicated to how these three women come together, and Greenberg makes his novel modern by including social media as the uniting mechanism. This resonated with me, a blogger who has made a lot of friends through my blog, on line community events and book clubs, and Facebook. It is the second part of the book which really hooked me.

Greenberg writes from a women’s perspective very well, although I will admit that I did not relate to all the characters. My least favorite character was Brooke who seemed almost a caricature of the perfect wife and mother. I longed for her to see herself as an individual, rather than an extension of her spouse. Samantha was the most likeable – she is the person every woman wants for a friend: loyal, giving, sincere. But my favorite character was Katherine who demonstrates a sarcastic wit and an inner strength I admired. Katherine is the character who grows the most from beginning to end. I wanted Katherine to realize all her goals and find love again.

Nobody is living better than I am; I have a duplex on Park Avenue, a driver, a chef, an assistant, and a killer house in South Hampton, and I did it all on my own. But I still haven’t gotten past what happened with Phillip and I doubt I ever will, and I wish to god he was ten times more miserable than I am. If that sounds bitchy, I guess I don’t really care. – from All You Can Ask For –

All You Could Ask For is fun women’s fiction, but it also has a deeper message about the decisions we make and how we determine our journey through life. Greenberg explores friendship within the context of the unexpected events which life throws in our path. Funny, poignant, and well-crafted, this is a novel which will appeal to a wide variety of women and the men who love them.

Recommended.

3hstars

Read more blogger reviews of this book by visiting the TLC Book Tour page.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

mikegreenbergMike Greenberg is cohost of ESPN’s Mike & Mike in the Morning and the author of two previous New York Times bestsellers. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and a native of New York City. He lives with his wife, Stacy, and their two children in Connecticut. In conjunction with the release of this book, Mike and Stacy have created a foundation called Heidi’s Angels, through which all of the author’s profits from the sale of this book will be donated to The V Foundation for Cancer Research to combat breast cancer.

Learn more about All You Could Ask For by visiting the book page.

Follow Greenberg on Twitter.

FTC Disclosure: Many thanks to TLC Book Tours and William Morrow for providing me this book for review on my blog.

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Mailbox Monday – April 22, 2103

mailbox.mountainWelcome to this week’s Mailbox Monday and which is hosted by Mari at Mari Reads this month. Visit the dedicated blog for the meme to see the complete tour schedule in the right sidebar.

I had a really interesting array of books arrive at my house this week.

ConstellationA Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra (Hogarth, May 2013) looks amazing. This book is one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Top Ten Debut novels, and is the #1 Indie Next Pick. Rights to the book have been sold in 13 countries. Set in Chechnya (in Southern Russia) during 1994, the novel is about the transcendent power of love in wartime. Compared to The English Patient and The Tiger’s Wife (one of my favorite books in 2011), Maara’s novel “tells the story of the things in us that survive – the love a parent feels for a child, or the love that develops between two strangers – and the complexities and sacrifices that love demands.” Described as heart-wrenchingly beautiful, original, and haunting…this is just the kind of book I am drawn to. I’ll be reviewing this for a TLC Book Tour in May.

Stegner Fellow, Iowa MFA, and winner of The Atlantic’s Student Writing Contest, Anthony Maara has won the Pushcart Prize, the Narrative Prize, and a scholarship to Bread Loaf. He is also the recipient of the 2012 Whiting Writers’ Award. He has studied, resided, and traveled throughout Eastern Europe. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is his first novel.

GolemHarper Collins sent me a beautiful finished edition of The Golem and The Jinni by Helene Wecker (April/May 2013). This book feels a little outside of my usual reading – but it looks intriguing. An immigrant tale which combines elements of Jewish and Arab folk mythology, the novel tells the story of two supernatural creatures who arrive separately in New York in 1899. Surrounding them, and crucial to their story, is a colorful cast of supporting characters. Described as “a fresh combination of vivid historical novel and magical fable,”and with thread from Yiddish and Middle Eastern Literature, the book promises magic which will delight and surprise readers.

Helene Wecker is Jewish, and her husband’s family is Syrian, giving her a unique perspective on these two culture’s mystical traditions and the immigrant experiences of both groups. Her fiction has appeared in the online magazine Joyland, and she has read from her stories at the KGB Bar in Manhattan and the Barbershop Reading Series in San Francisco. She received a B.A. from Carleton College in Minnesota and and M.F.A. from Columbia University in New York. She currently lives in San Francisco with her husband and daughter. The Golem and the Jinni is her first novel. Learn more about Wecker and her work by visiting the author’s website.

BringUpTheBodiesPicador sent me a copy of Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel (May 2013) which was recently short listed for the Women’s Prize for Fiction and is the winner of both the 2012 Costa Book of the Year Award and the 2012 Man Booker Prize. I read Wolf Hall (the first book in this series) and didn’t love it like my other blogger friends (read my review). But, I am keeping my mind open for Bring Up the Bodies – especially since it is probably the strongest contender for the Women’s Prize for Fiction. In Bring Up the Bodies, Mantel takes up where she left off in Wolf Hall. King Henry is disenchanted with his bride, Anne Boleyn because of her failure to deliver him a son. Henry turns to Thomas Cromwell to bring Anne down in a web of conspiracy while Jane Seymour waits in the shadows. Reviewers are calling Mantel’s newest novel beautifully constructed, thrilling, and “an astonishingly good read.

Hilary Mantel is the bestselling author of ten previous novels, including Wolf Hall which won the 2009 Man Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction. She is also the 2006 Hawthornden Prize winner and her reviews and essays have appeared in the New York Times, The New York Review of Books, and the London Review of Books. Mantel lives in England with her husband.

MomCandyMom Candy: 1,000 Quotes of Inspiration for Mothers, edited by J. Pincott arrived unsolicited from Random House (April 2013). Author Jena Pincott compiled these inspirational quotes, reflections, and thoughts about motherhood from mothers and non-mothers alike…and also from some men. Michell Obama, Hillary Clinton, Kate Winslet, Beyonce, Madeleine L’Engle, Reese Witherspoon, Erica Jong, Jodi Picoult and many others offer their insights. This would be a delightful gift for that special mother for Mother’s Day.

Jena Pincott has a background in biology and was a production assistant on science documentaries for PBS. She is a former senior editor at Random House and is the author of Success: Advice for Achieving Your Goals from Remarkably Accomplished People, and Healing: Advice for Recovering Your Strength and Spirit from the World’s Most Famous Survivors. She lives in New York City. Learn more about Pincott and her work by visiting the author’s website.

Did any fantastic books arrive at YOUR house this week?

Sunday Salon – April 21, 2013

Sunday Salon

April 21, 2013

Good morning and welcome to this week’s edition of The Sunday Salon. Visit the Facebook Page for links to other bloggers’ posts.

Before I begin talking about books, I just want to acknowledge the tragic events in Boston this week. My thoughts and prayers are with the families, victims, first responders, law enforcement personnel, athletes and average citizens who were most impacted by the violence.

Paradise Guest HouseRather ironically, my review of The Paradise Guest House posted only one day after the marathon bombing (as part of a TLC Book Tour). This slim novel explores the aftermath of the Bali nightclub bombings in 2002. I was moved by the story which I thought captured Bali and its people well. Thematically, it examines the process of healing after tragedy – something which is especially relevant this week. The book has gotten some mixed reviews, but I loved it. I hope you’ll consider entering my giveaway to win a copy (giveaway closes on April 23rds at 5:00 pm PST and is open to US and Canada mailing addresses).

MovementOfStarsI finished reading The Movement of Stars by Amy Brill this week as well (read my review). This was a book that my face to face book club chose for its very first read. We all agreed it was a slow start (one of our members ended up giving up on the novel after 135 pages), but I ended up really enjoying the book once Brill focused her narrative skills on the characters. I think readers who are interested in the history of astronomy during the mid-nineteenth century will appreciate The Movement of Stars. Other aspects of the book include exploring women’s rights and racism. There is also a lot about the Quaker community on Nantucket which I found really interesting.

WheredYouGoRegarding my FTC book club – we’ve chosen our next book to read and are planning to meet the end of May to discuss Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple which has been short listed for The Women’s Prize for Fiction. When I was at Barnes and Noble the other day I picked up this book and started to read the first pages to see if I would like the book. Thirty-five pages later I was laughing in the aisle (and getting some unwanted attention from a bookseller), so I expect to love this book. Have you read it yet? What did you think?

Tomorrow my review of All You Could Ask For by Mike Greenberg will post for a TLC Book Tour. I hope you’ll come back to see what I thought!

MountainsEchoedMy current read is And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini which arrived from Riverhead Books (the book goes on sale May 21st). I’m almost 200 pages into the novel, and predictably loving it! Hosseini really is the consummate story teller and once again builds amazing characters in his newest novel. I will have a review up by May 1st (the earliest I am allowed to post it).

This Saturday is the 24 Hour Read-A-Thon…and I’m going to participate as much as I am able. I have quite a few books I’d still like to get read before the month peters out, including The Round House by Louise Erdrich and Tuesday’s Gone by Nicci French. I also just received A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra for a TLC Book Tour in the early part of May, so I’d like to start that one soon. I love the Read-A-Thon and am really looking forward to some uninterrupted reading. Are you planning to participate?

Today is a gorgeous, sunny, warm day…my hubby, Raven and I are going for a hike later. I am also planning to spend a little time sewing, and of course Hosseini’s wonderful prose is beckoning. How about you? What are you doing today? Whatever it is, I hope it (at some point) it involves an amazing book! Have a great week.

 

The Movement of Stars – Book Review

MovementOfStarsHannah watched him move, impressed by the ease with which he unfurled his long legs and arms. He propped himself up on one elbow and kicked off his boots, unencumbered by skirts or propriety. She could see now how it was on his boat, how his grace would be ballast amid the chaos of the hunt, the clamor of the chase. That his hands could tame a reeling line that might slice a man’s arm clear to the bone as it whipped free; how the dead calm of his demeanor would clear the men’s minds as they skimmed the surface of the sea as if in flight, clutching any part of the boat to avoid being tossed over and drowned while the whale surged forward through her dark world, not knowing she was bound to her attackers by the wound itself, the harpoon lodged in her. That her next ascent would be her last. – from The Movement of Stars –

Hannah Gardner Price is twenty-four years old and living on Nantucket as part of the Quaker community there. She has always been drawn to the Heavens, hoping to someday discover a new comet and be recognized by the King of Denmark. But the year is 1845 and she is a woman, expected to marry, have children, and let go of her dream of a profession. When Isaac Martin, a black whaler from the Azores arrives on Nantucket, Hannah’s life will grow more complicated. As she begins to teach Isaac about navigation, their uneasy friendship begins to blossom into something more and Hannah’s Quaker congregation takes notice. Torn between family, faith, desire and the pull of the stars, Hannah must make choices which will forever impact her.

Amy Brill’s debut novel is inspired by the life of Maria Mitchell, the first professional female astronomer in America. Brill sets her story in the Nantucket Quaker community in the mid-nineteenth century and succeeds in recreating a period in history which found women struggling against societal constraints. The book also explores the theme of racism, as well as the impact of rigid religious views. Isaac and Hannah both want more in their lives, to elevate themselves above the station to which they’ve been born. And it is perhaps that desire which initially draws them together.

I read this book as part of a three person face to face book club, and we all agreed the novel opens slowly and it took some time to engage with the characters. Brill concentrates on the technology of astronomy in the early pages, but by the time she launches into Part II of the novel, the characters begin to lead the story. One member of our Book Club chose not to finish the novel, while two of us did read to the end.

Hannah’s internal growth is interesting as her acceptance of her own sexuality awakens and she begins to understand how her life could be away from Nantucket. But, I think I was most drawn to Isaac, a young man living the harsh life as a whaler, struggling to achieve a place in society where blacks were not fully accepted. Although Brill draws parallels between the women’s suffrage movement and racism, I always felt that Isaac’s battle was the more difficult.

“One star is nearly always brighter than the other. But they change positions relative to the other; sometimes they eclipse each other as they make their orbits. Sometimes we can only see one or the other.”

In the dark, Isaac leaned close to her ear.

“But they are always together, moving through the Heavens.”

“Yes,” she said, or thought she did. – from Movement of Stars –

Despite a slow start, I appreciated the historical detail in the novel and by mid-book was fully engaged in the characters’ lives. Brill develops tension well, and it kept me turning the pages to find out how the conflicts would be resolved.

Readers who love historical fiction, and especially those interested in astronomy in particular and science in general, will find much to enjoy in The Movement of Stars.

4Stars

FTC Disclosure: Many thanks to Riverhead Books for sending me this book for review on my blog, as well as sending copies to members of my book club for discussion.