Monthly Archives: April 2015

Book Review: When We Were Animals by Joshua Gaylord


When We Were Animals
By Joshua Gaylord
Released 4/21/15
Provided free through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Rating: 3 bones(out of 5 bones)

This book was definitely a page turner, but left me wanting more at the end.  A very interesting premise led me to choose this book, but I never really could get comfortable with it, if that makes sense.  I like books to challenge me, but this one was just a bit too odd for my liking (I lean more towards reality; things that could really happen.)

In this little town, a strange things happen to kids as they reach puberty.  They go breach.  Coinciding with full moons, at dark, teenagers are drawn from the comfort of their own beds to run wild for 3 nights, returning home bruised and many times much worse.  This is an accepted way of life, as everyone else draws their curtains, locks their doors, and doesn’t interfere.  And for the most part never really talks about it.

The story follows Lumen Fowler, described as a bit behind schedule, as she waits for her “time” to come.  She secretly hopes it never will, as she had been told happened to her mother.  Raised by her father, throughout the book Lumen tries to uncover what really happened about her mother, while dealing with all the normal teenage angst.  A time I know I never care to relive, on top of all the hormones, what-ifs, insecurities, Lumen also has to worry about going breach, or becoming an “animal” as this book is very appropriately titled.

I liked getting inside Lumen’s head, as she is very bright for her age and tries hard to stay on top of, if not in control of, all that is going on.  It took me back to those uncomfortable teenage years wondering what friendships were real, if that boy really liked me, and what my future holds.  She was a very realistic character most of the time.  The book switched back and forth between her life in the present as a wife and mother and to those teenage years, in hopes of explaining why she is who she is.

It was well written and like I said before, had me up turning pages, but just was overall odd and I could never decide if I liked it.  After sitting on it for a few days, which I do enjoy when I book stays with me, I decided it was worth my time and a nice break from the predictable, but nothing to rave about.  I would say to pick it up if you are up for a wild ride.  It did have me hanging on to the very end that included another weird twist – so predictable, it definitely was not!

Thank you to NetGalley and Mulholland Books for allowing me to preview.

Book Description:

A small, quiet Midwestern town, which is unremarkable save for one fact: when the teenagers reach a certain age, they run wild.
When Lumen Fowler looks back on her childhood, she wouldn’t have guessed she would become a kind suburban wife, a devoted mother. In fact, she never thought she would escape her small and peculiar hometown. When We Were Animals is Lumen’s confessional: as a well-behaved and over-achieving teenager, she fell beneath the sway of her community’s darkest, strangest secret. For one year, beginning at puberty, every resident “breaches” during the full moon. On these nights, adolescents run wild, destroying everything in their path.
Lumen resists. Promising her father she will never breach, she investigates the mystery of her community’s traditions and the stories erased from the town record. But the more we learn about the town’s past, the more we realize that Lumen’s memories are harboring secrets of their own.
A gothic coming-of-age tale for modern times, When We Were Animals is a dark, provocative journey into the American heartland.

 

 

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Teaser Tuesday: April 28th

Happy Tuesday!!  Working on a review for When We Were Animals by Joshua Gaylord – stay tuned!

And just started Maggie: A gripping saga of the swinging sixties by Marie Maxwell releasing this Friday May 1st.  So far a decent story about a very strong-willed 16-year old, but nothing too historical about it.  We’ll see where it goes!


“A huge wave of guilt and self-hatred enveloped her as she realized the enormity of what she had done.  She couldn’t blame anyone but herself for the situation she was in because the accident was all her fault.”
(15% into book*)

What do you think?  Thanks for coming by – please leave your teaser in the comments!

Book Description:

1960s. Maggie Wheaton’s life is almost perfect. Confident, bright and popular, she lives with her loving, wealthy parents in a close-knit Cambridgeshire village. But, just days after her sixteenth birthday, her world falls apart: an accident kills both her parents, and then she suffers the ultimate betrayal when she learns a life-changing family secret. Maggie has no choice but to go and live with her appointed guardian, Ruby Riordan, in the seaside town of Southend, where she sets out on a deliberate path of self-destruction. Will Ruby be able to save her from herself, or is it all too little too late?

*Disclaimer: This quote was pulled from the ARC received through NetGalley and may not match up to the final book.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB/Jenn of A Daily Rhythm. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

3 Comments

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Teaser Tuesday: April 21st

Happy Tuesday!! (Yes I had the wrong date at first!) First I have to put a little shout out to my husband today on our 8th Anniversary!  We celebrated last weekend at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony – amazing night!

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Just finished super sad, yet extremely powerful, Trail of Broken Wings by Sejal Badani (my April Kindle First choice.)

Moving on to a NetGalley read, When We Were Animals by Joshua Gaylord which releases TODAY.  Not quite sure what to think about this one, a bit odd so far, very curious to see where it goes!

“The truth is, I liked my strange country.  But I didn’t want anyone feeling sorry for me, as though I were in quarantine.  Couldn’t they see my aloneness was a freedom rather than a prison?”
(24% into book*)

What do you think?  Thanks for coming by – please leave your teaser in the comments!

Book Description:

A small, quiet Midwestern town, which is unremarkable save for one fact: when the teenagers reach a certain age, they run wild.

When Lumen Fowler looks back on her childhood, she wouldn’t have guessed she would become a kind suburban wife, a devoted mother. In fact she never thought she would escape her small and peculiar hometown. When We Were Animals is Lumen’s confessional: as a teenager she fell beneath the sway of her community’s darkest, strangest secret. For one year, beginning at puberty, every resident “breaches” during the full moon. On these nights, adolescents run wild, destroying everything in their path.

Lumen resists. Promising her father she will never breach, she investigates the mystery of her community’s traditions and the stories erased from the town record. But the more we learn about the town’s past, the more we realize that Lumen’s memories are harboring secrets of their own.

A gothic coming-of-age tale for modern times, When We Were Animals is a dark, provocative journey into the American heartland.

*Disclaimer: This quote was pulled from the ARC received through NetGalley and may not match up to the final book.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB/Jenn of A Daily Rhythm. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

14 Comments

Filed under Celebrations, Chapters

Book Review: Trail of Broken Wings by Sejal Badani


Trail of Broken Wings
By Sejal Badani
Releases 5/1/15
April Kindle First Pick

Rating: 4 bones(out of 5 bones)

Wow.  This book was super powerful.  I have a hard time with books like this.  It was so incredibly sad, heart-breaking, and hard to read at times.  So it’s not a book that I can easily say “It’s so good go read it”  But if I look at the writing style and the story of overcoming your past, redemption, and moving forward, it is a powerful read.  Just be prepared and warned.

The story follows an Indian family, moved to the United States from India when the children were young.  The father, Brent, is now in a coma, and the family comes back together as he nears the end.  Like many books, this book flashes back to the past to explain what is going on in the present.  Brent’s wife is Ranee and together they have three girls, Marin, Trisha, and Sonya.

We come to know each of these characters very intimately.  Brent only through his wife and daughters and their memories.  In reading the book description, which I pasted below, I’m not sure that I ever really came to understand Brent’s actions or at least never felt any bit of sympathy for him.  His wife, Ranee, tried hard to be the typical submissive wife all while holding in and experiencing a lot of pain at Brent’s hand.  And seemed to constantly struggle with providing for and protecting her daughters.  She is really a complex character as the book goes on and I came to really understand her decisions, some of which I couldn’t ever imagine having to make.  But she probably surprised me the most of anyone.

Marin, the eldest, forced into an arranged marriage, much like her mother, is the Type A, super competitive sister, daughter, wife, and mother.  We get glimpses into her marriage to Raj, and her daughter Gia is a prominent character throughout the book as the past meets the present.  Also tormented growing up at Brent’s hand, we come to understand why she is who she is and how to use that moving forward.

Trisha, the middle daughter, works hard to maintain perfection.  Married to a man of her choice, and always Brent’s favorite, she appears to have it all together.  As we learn more about Trisha, we see this is not the case, as she holds some dark secrets from the past that come to light throughout the book.

Then there is Sonya, who throughout her entire life, had been told she should have been aborted.  Promised a boy, Brent decided to not abort Ranee’s third pregnancy, but when Sonya arrived, she took the majority of his frustration and could never live up to his expectations.  Now a world-traveled photographer estranged from her family for the last many years, she comes home to face her demons.

I could go on, this book had so many levels and characters, but all so flawlessly brought together for this powerful story of not letting your past define you and moving forward.  It ends with an encouraging message and left me thinking about it for days.

I would recommend this book, just go in expecting to be challenged.  Hugging my kids a little tighter after this.

Thank you to Kindle First for offering this book for April.

Book Description:

When her father falls into a coma, Indian American photographer Sonya reluctantly returns to the family she’d fled years before. Since she left home, Sonya has lived on the run, free of any ties, while her soft-spoken sister, Trisha, has created a perfect suburban life, and her ambitious sister, Marin, has built her own successful career. But as these women come together, their various methods of coping with a terrifying history can no longer hold their memories at bay.

Buried secrets rise to the surface as their father—the victim of humiliating racism and perpetrator of horrible violence—remains unconscious. As his condition worsens, the daughters and their mother wrestle with private hopes for his survival or death, as well as their own demons and buried secrets.

Told with forceful honesty, Trail of Broken Wings reveals the burden of shame and secrets, the toxicity of cruelty and aggression, and the exquisite, liberating power of speaking and owning truth.

4 Comments

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Green Day: The Soundtrack of My Life

Nowadays you may not peg me as your typical Green Day fan; conservative, Christian, stay-at-home mom, but I like to think I was one of the originals.  They have been with me over the last 20+ years and as I titled this post, really can provide the soundtrack of my life.

It started when I was 12.  The release of Dookie was life changing (as many things are to a 12-year old.)  It was one of the first CDs I purchased and immediately fell in love.  Found a place of my own, someone who understood me.  I had my dad, a huge music fan, drive me around to a bunch of Circuit City stores in the Philadelphia area (his preferred choice of venue for CD purchasing) until I found their first 2 albums.  I was hooked and had to have everything I could.

 

Next big memory of Green Day was Woodstock 1994.  My dad purchased the whole weekend via Pay-per-view, and I remember sitting in his basement with some friends at 13 years old watching the now infamous mud fight, just yearning to see them in concert.  I would profess my love to Billie Joe in poems (something to the extent of you’re only 9 years older than me, I know this can work someday.  And “Only of You” was written for me, right?!)  Again, I was young, searching for my meaning in life.  Seems silly now, but still a part of the bigger picture!  I even found these poems but am still way to embarrassed to share!

I finally got my chance in 1998 to see them live, then living in Washington, DC area, when some friends and I attended HFStival.  First time crowd-surfing, I made my way to the front to profess my love for front man Billie Joe Armstrong.  We had a connection, I just knew it!  Here is a pic from one of the many music festivals attended while in High School – complete with our mascot – Beagan (long story!)

photo (28)

Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) was my high school graduation song, Class of 1999.  An emotional time in anyone’s life.  A song also chosen, 8 years later, to play at the final song at our wedding reception.

In 2005, I meet Steven.  Also a fellow music lover.  We soon came to realize that while I was 13 years old playing Green Day in my room in the Philly suburbs, he was attending college in Philly attending lots of concerts.  Many of which my father, in looking back at ticket stubs, was also in attendance.  Such a small world – would have been weird if we had met back then – but higher powers brought us back together in Atlanta in 2005.  After dating just a few short months, he surprised me to tickets to see Green Day live at Phillips Arena in Atlanta for the American Idiot tour.  This event marked two big milestones for us, our first picture together (see below) and the first time we professed our love for each other (awww!)

IMG_5394

9 years later, we find out we are moving to Cleveland, OH aka home of Rock n Roll, coincidence?  I’m beginning to think not.  Steven had already moved, and I came up kid-free to house-hunt one weekend, and was surprised with tickets to see American Idiot at Playhouse Square to celebrate our 7th anniversary.  On Facebook I proclaimed it the “Best Anniversary Present Ever.”

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I spoke too soon.  This year, our new hometown of Cleveland, OH is hosting the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Rock Week.   And guess who is to be inducted?  Pretty obvious, huh?  On their first year of eligibility, Green Day was nominated and chosen to be inducted!!  And my amazing husband managed to score us tickets to this exclusive event!!

We kicked off Rock Week with Celebration Day.  The Rock Hall (I’m a local and can now call it this!) opened it doors to the public and hosted an array of activities and events.  We had a blast!  This week also contained lots of local music events.  Unfortunately we didn’t get to attend any of those, the only one really of interest to me was the exclusive show that Green Day put on at the House of Blues.  But thanks to social media, I was able to see lots of pics and even catch some of it streaming live.  Would have been awesome to be there (and believe me I tried!), but I have Saturday to look forward to and that is going to be amazing!!

So thanks for reading – follow-up post to come from this Saturday’s events!  Congrats to Green Day – well deserved!  And Happy 8th Anniversary to my husband.  You Rock!

 

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Filed under Calling, Celebrations

Teaser Tuesday: April 14th

Happy Tuesday!!  Finally catching a glimpse of spring up here on Lake Erie!  To celebrate – I took my old girl (soon to be 12) for a beautiful walk on the lake!

photo (27)

I’m being a bit lazy this week and teasing the same book as last week.  After spending 10 days on The Turner House, I’m a bit behind on where I thought I would be – so bear with me as I get through this book.  Another sad story – my April Kindle First selection: Trail of Broken Wings by Sejal Hadani.

 

“Some moments in your life you wish never happened; you would do anything to take them back.  They make you realize you are not all-powerful.  That there is a force stronger than you at work.  In those moments, you fall to your knees and abdicate all sense of power.  Offer your hand and ask for help.  If you are lucky, you will feel the touch of something or someone to help you rise.  If not, you stay kneeling, left all alone”
(32% into book)

What do you think? I cannot express how sad this book is, not that I should be surprised by it, but it is hurting my heart so much.  I’m hoping it moves into a message of healing very soon (I’m about half-way through.) I am a strong proponent that all things do happen for a reason, if not immediately apparent, someday to make you stronger or to help someone else.  No idea where this will go, but such a great (or missed) opportunity to bring God in the details.  We’ll see!

Thanks for coming by – please leave your teaser in the comments!

Book Description:

When her father falls into a coma, Indian American photographer Sonya reluctantly returns to the family she’d fled years before. Since she left home, Sonya has lived on the run, free of any ties, while her soft-spoken sister, Trisha, has created a perfect suburban life, and her ambitious sister, Marin, has built her own successful career. But as these women come together, their various methods of coping with a terrifying history can no longer hold their memories at bay.

Buried secrets rise to the surface as their father—the victim of humiliating racism and perpetrator of horrible violence—remains unconscious. As his condition worsens, the daughters and their mother wrestle with private hopes for his survival or death, as well as their own demons and buried secrets.

Told with forceful honesty, Trail of Broken Wings reveals the burden of shame and secrets, the toxicity of cruelty and aggression, and the exquisite, liberating power of speaking and owning truth.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB/Jenn of A Daily Rhythm. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

10 Comments

Filed under Canines, Chapters

Book Review: The Turner House by Angela Flournoy

The Turner House
By Angela Flournoy
Releases 4/14/15
Provided free through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Rating: 2 bones

This book just wasn’t for me.  The writing was great and I had a very vivid picture of all of the characters and the house and surroundings, it just didn’t move fast enough or hold my interest.  Thus taking me 10 days to finish (which for me is a lot.)  I’ve been reading a lot in the mystery/thriller genre lately, but like to switch it up, so I’m not opposed to good old fiction novel, this one just fell a bit flat for me.

The book follows the Turner Family through both flashbacks to their beginning and journey to the Yarrow House and current day.  The Turner family consisted of patriarch Francis, now deceased, matriarch Viola, now facing death, and their 13 children (and grandchildren.)  All 13 were mentioned at various times, but most of the story lines focused on Cha-Cha, the eldest son, and Lelah, the youngest daughter.

Cha-Cha, now in his 60’s is going through a bit of a crisis and self-discovery as he is convinced he has his own personal haint (new word for me – basically a ghost.)  No one is really giving him any sympathy, but through flashbacks and his mother’s memory, we come to find this may have been a common theme in their family.  Lelah on the other hand at around 40, has escaped an abusive relationship, with a daughter and now granddaughter, and finds comfort in gambling.

At all times there are a lot of things going on with all the family members, but in the background is the main story line – what to do with the Yarrow house, where the roots of this family were sowed over the last 50+ years, now worth only a 10th of the mortgage.  Everyone has their opinion and wheelings and dealings, but what drove me crazy is that Viola, who still owned the home, although unable to occupy it, had no say in the matter.  Her kids all, I’m sure with good intentions, wanted to throw in their two cents.  And nothing was every really accomplished and I felt she was just pushed around and included only when needed, which mad me sad.

Overall, really just a sad, depressing tone.  I felt like not everything was wrapped up in the end and the ending was too abrupt, although I was glad for it to be done.  Maybe if I were from Detroit this book would have more significance to me, but it just left me wanting more.

Thank you to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for allowing me to preview.

Book Description:

A powerful, timely debut, The Turner House marks a major new contribution to the story of the American family.

The Turners have lived on Yarrow Street for over fifty years. Their house has seen thirteen children grown and gone—and some returned; it has seen the arrival of grandchildren, the fall of Detroit’s East Side, and the loss of a father. The house still stands despite abandoned lots, an embattled city, and the inevitable shift outward to the suburbs. But now, as ailing matriarch Viola finds herself forced to leave her home and move in with her eldest son, the family discovers that the house is worth just a tenth of its mortgage. The Turner children are called home to decide its fate and to reckon with how each of their pasts haunts—and shapes—their family’s future.

Already praised by Ayana Mathis as “utterly moving” and “un-putdownable,” The Turner House brings us a colorful, complicated brood full of love and pride, sacrifice and unlikely inheritances. It’s a striking examination of the price we pay for our dreams and futures, and the ways in which our families bring us home.

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Video Book Review: The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak


The Book With No Pictures
By B.J. Novak
Released 9/30/14
Received as a gift

Rating: 5 bones(5 bones out of 5)

Trying something new today here.  I’ve attempted to review kids books in the past and need to start doing that again as we do read a lot over here!  This one was received as a gift, actually by my husband for his birthday.  While that might seem a bit odd, this book has given the kids, in turn us, so much joy, with the laughter that results each time we read it.

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It’s a very simple, silly premise.  There are no pictures, but that will be remedied in very silly words/sounds, that the reader, presumably a parent or grown-up has to say, no matter what.

The words make no sense, but to a 3 & 5-year-old, that doesn’t matter.

You may recognize the name, B.J. Novak, as Ryan from The Office.  Also received by my husband is his other book One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories (Vintage Contemporaries).  Maybe he’ll stop back by and do a review of that too!?

But I will leave you with my kids and their favorite parts and thoughts on this silly book.  Great gift idea (Thanks Aunt K!) that I can see us passing along to many unsuspecting friends and family members!

 

Book Description:

A #1 New York Times bestseller, this innovative and wildly funny read-aloud by award-winning humorist/actor B.J. Novak will turn any reader into a comedian.
You might think a book with no pictures seems boring and serious. Except . . . here’s how books work. Everything written on the page has to be said by the person reading it aloud. Even if the words say . . .
 
BLORK. Or BLUURF.
 
Even if the words are a preposterous song about eating ants for breakfast, or just a list of astonishingly goofy sounds like BLAGGITY BLAGGITY and GLIBBITY GLOBBITY.
 
Cleverly irreverent and irresistibly silly, The Book with No Pictures is one that kids will beg to hear again and again. (And parents will be happy to oblige.)

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Filed under Chapters, Children

Teaser Tuesday: April 7th

Happy Tuesday and Happy April!  I’m still working my way through The Turner House by Angela Flournoy, releasing April 14th (which I teased last week.) Keeping with just random teasers – this week I’ve chosen one (randomly!) from Trail of Broken Wings by Sejal Handani, my Kindle First choice for April (releasing May 1st), which I’m hoping to start later this week!  Take a look at the description below – another kind of heavy one…we’ll see!

“I lock the door after she leaves.  Taking the desk chair, I nudge it against the doorknob.  It is the only way I can sleep at night.  It is the only way I know how to stay safe.  That and to keep running.  Because as long as you keep running, they can never catch you.” (6% into book.)

What do you think? It’s quite sad to me especially if it’s a child speaking. Thanks for coming by – please leave your teaser in the comments!

Book Description:

When her father falls into a coma, Indian American photographer Sonya reluctantly returns to the family she’d fled years before. Since she left home, Sonya has lived on the run, free of any ties, while her soft-spoken sister, Trisha, has created a perfect suburban life, and her ambitious sister, Marin, has built her own successful career. But as these women come together, their various methods of coping with a terrifying history can no longer hold their memories at bay.

Buried secrets rise to the surface as their father—the victim of humiliating racism and perpetrator of horrible violence—remains unconscious. As his condition worsens, the daughters and their mother wrestle with private hopes for his survival or death, as well as their own demons and buried secrets.

Told with forceful honesty, Trail of Broken Wings reveals the burden of shame and secrets, the toxicity of cruelty and aggression, and the exquisite, liberating power of speaking and owning truth.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB/Jenn of A Daily Rhythm. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

5 Comments

Filed under Chapters