Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday (8-29-12)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Each week, you highlight an upcoming release that you are eagerly anticipating. This week, I'm looking forward to My Berlin Kitchen by Luisa Weiss (release date: September 13, 2012).

Synopsis (from It takes courage to turn your life upside down, especially when everyone is telling you how lucky you are. But sometimes what seems right can feel deeply wrong. My Berlin Kitchen tells the story of how one thoroughly confused, kitchen-mad perfectionist broke off her engagement to a handsome New Yorker, quit her dream job, and found her way to a new life, a new man, and a new home in Berlin—one recipe at a time.
Luisa Weiss grew up with a divided heart, shuttling back and forth between her father in Boston and her Italian mother in Berlin. She was always yearning for home—until she found a new home in the kitchen. Luisa started clipping recipes in college and was a cookbook editor in New York when she decided to bake, roast, and stew her way through her by then unwieldy collection over the course of one tumultuous year. The blog she wrote to document her adventures in (and out) of the kitchen, The Wednesday Chef, soon became a sensation. But she never stopped hankering for Berlin.
Luisa will seduce you with her stories of foraging for plums in abandoned orchards, battling with white asparagus at the tail end of the season, orchestrating a three-family Thanksgiving in Berlin, and mending her broken heart with batches (and batches) of impossible German Christmas cookies. Fans of her award-winning blog will know the happy ending, but anyone who enjoyed Julie and Julia will laugh and cheer and cook alongside Luisa as she takes us into her heart and tells us how she gave up everything only to find love waiting where she least expected it.

So, what are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday (8-28-12)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Each week, 
they post a different topic, and you get to create your own top ten list. So, this week's 
topic is:

Bookish Confessions

1) I check out an insane number of books from the library and only read about 1/3 of the one's that I check out. I don't know why, but I just have to check out a bunch, even thought I know I won't read them!

2) I judge people when I hear that they read certain books. Like, people who read and loved 50 Shades of Grey. I just can't help it!

3) I love to go into a bookstore and just wander around. There's something about just walking among the books that is so calming to me.

4) I try not to buy new books unless they are by an author that I absolutely love.

5) Since I don't buy new books, I love to get mine from a used book sale hosted by my local library. And, I go crazy. Like, I end up with stacks of books.

6) I sometimes dog-ear my pages. I know, that's a sin to some people, but there are times when there is nothing around for me to use!

7) I'm slowly coming around to e-books and readers (I feel so guilty admiting this!) They aren't totally bad, and super great whenever I travel.

8) If I'm not feeling a book within the first 5-10 pages, I stop reading it. I don't post anything about it on my blog, but I just let it go.

9) While I typically scorn the Twilight series, I devoured all 4 books in about a week. I loved it at the time.

10) I set reading goals for myself and then forget about them. I always want to do certain things in terms of my reading, but then just say, "Oh, screw it!"

So, what are your bookish confessions? Let me know!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Audiobook Review: Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani

Big Stone Gap
Author: Adriana Trigiani
Narrator: Grace Bennett
Published: January 1, 2000
Genre: fiction
Audiobook: 10 CDs (10 hours)
Source: borrowed from the library

My Rating: 2.5 stars

Synopsis (from GoodReads): Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, the tiny town of Big Stone Gap is home to some of the most charming eccentrics in the state. Ave Maria Mulligan is the town's self-proclaimed spinster, a thirty-five year old pharmacist with a "mountain girl's body and a flat behind." She lives an amiable life with good friends and lots of hobbies until the fateful day in 1978 when she suddenly discovers that she's not who she always thought she was. Before she can blink, Ave's fielding marriage proposals, fighting off greedy family members, organizing a celebration for visiting celebrities, and planning the trip of a lifetime—a trip that could change her view of the world and her own place in it forever. Brimming with humor and wise notions of small-town life, Big Stone Gap is a gem of a book with a giant heart. . . .

My Thoughts: I discovered Adriana Trigiani's work a few months ago and fell in love with it. She is a gifted writer and has a way of pulling her readers into her character's lives. I had high hopes for this novel but they fell far short of what I have come to expect from a Trigiani novel. Now, I'm not sure if this is because it was in audiobook form, but there was something that just didn't flow with this book. It felt a bit disjointed at times, like we were jumping around with no real direction. I did enjoy parts of the story and I liked the character of Ave Maria, but there was something that was just off.

For me, part of the problem with this novel was the narrator. I don't think I've ever had an issue with a narrator before, or one who I thought ruined the entire audiobook experience, but I felt that way with this story. Grace Bennett narrated this story and her pacing was awful! There were long pauses, as if a new chapter was beginning. Instead, Bennett would take a pause in the middle of a conversation with two characters. It was awful and made for a poor listening experience. It really upset me, and I have never felt that way about a narrator before.

This is the first book in the series, and I debated for a few days whether I should continue with it or not. I decided that I would give it a try based on how much I've enjoyed Trigiani's other books but decided to do the print version instead of the audiobook. Have you read this series? What are your thoughts on it?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Review: Summer Breeze by Nancy Thayer

Summer Breeze
Author: Nancy Thayer
Published: June 5, 2012
Genre: chick lit
Hardcover: 320 pages
Source: borrowed from the library

My Rating: 2.5 stars

Synopsis (from GoodReads): Morgan O’Keefe feels trapped in a gilded cage. True, the thirty-year-old mother agreed to put her science career on hold to raise her young son while her husband  pursued his high-powered job. But though Morgan loves many things about staying home with her child, she misses the thrill of working with her colleagues in the lab. She’s restless and in dire need of a change.
Fed up with New York City’s hectic pace, Natalie Reynolds takes up her aunt’s offer to move to the Berkshires and house-sit her fabulous lakeside house for a year. Passionate about applying brush to canvas, Natalie is poised to become the artist she has forever longed to be. But life on Dragonfly Lake is never without surprises, and for a novice swimmer like Natalie, the most welcome surprise proves to be the arms of a handsome neighbor pulling her up from the water for a gulp of air.
When her mother breaks her leg, Bella Barnaby quits her job in Austin and returns home to help out her large, boisterous family. Among her new duties: manning the counter at the family business, Barnaby’s Barn, an outdated shop sorely in need of a makeover. While attractive architect Aaron has designs on her, Bella harbors long held secret dreams of her own.  
Summer on Dragonfly Lake is ripe for romance, temptation, and self-discovery as the lives of these three women unexpectedly intertwine.Summer Breeze illustrates how the best of friends can offer comfort, infuriate, or even—sometimes—open one’s eyes to the astonishing possibilities of life lived in a different way. This captivating novel displays a prestigiously gifted writer at the height of her storytelling powers.

My Thoughts: So, I read a Nancy Thayer book last summer (Heat Wave) and didn't like it at all. But, I have seen so many people rave about her books that I thought, "Maybe I just picked up one of her bad ones. I'm gonna give her another try." Let me just say that I was just as disappointed with this book as I was with the last one. While I don't expect chick lit to make me look at the world differently or question my understanding of the universe, I do look for something that could be real, or at least is so hilarious that I can forget the world for a little bit. Nancy Thayer's books do neither for me. They feel so forced that there is no possible way that they could be real. It's all so fake and the dialogue between the characters so jilted that I have to shake my head at how unreal it is.

The premise behind the book is interesting. That's the only saving grace of this novel. Each woman's storyline has something to offer, but Thayer doesn't really develop any of them. There aren't any real struggles. The one who comes a bit close to this, Bella, just decides to give up and follow her boyfriend across the country, seemingly just giving up her life so that she can tag along with him. The other two, Morgan and Natalie, are written so simply. And everything works out perfectly for them, which makes the novel even harder to stomach.

I would compare Nancy Thayer's work to an overly sweet dessert. It's so sickeningly sweet that it hurts your teeth and you hope that the pain subsides quickly. While I was looking for a light summer read, I found something that was so bad that not even the beautiful sunshine could save it. I have decided that Thayer's work is not for me and will not be reading any of her novels in the future.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Book Blog Hop and Follow Friday (8-24-12)

Happy Friday! Enjoying the last few days of summer? I am anxiously looking forward to my summer vacation in London! I leave next Tuesday, so I won't be able to participate in these memes next week, but I will have lots of updates for the week after! In case you didn't notice the link at the top of my page, I am hosting a giveaway for The Shoemaker's Wife (my review). Make sure to enter for a chance to win this great novel!

Jen at Crazy For Books asks:

Blogging Question: What is your favorite thing about blogging?

I love connecting with people. I love reading other people's thoughts on things, learning about new books, and discovering great people who I might not have met otherwise. 

Parajunkee asks:

Worst cover? What is the worst cover of a book that you’ve read and loved?

Hands down, Jane Eyre.

I hate this cover and I think Ms. Bronte would, too.

So, what do you love about blogging? What's the worst book cover you've ever encountered? Let me know, and have a great weekend! (And make sure to enter my giveaway!)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday (8-22-12)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Each week, you highlight an upcoming release that you are eagerly anticipating. This week, I'm looking forward to Wicked Pleasures by Penny Vincenzi (release date: September 27, 2012).

Synopsis (from 
All families have secrets—but could one scandalous secret tear this aristocratic family apart? Sexy, glamorous, and fun, Wicked Pleasures, set on a canvas as American as English, is the story of a brother and two sisters who discover that they all have different fathers. None of them are the children of Alexander, Earl of Caterham, who was married to their mother for almost twenty years.
A family saga that takes the reader right from the 1950s to the end of the twentieth century, and set between the Hamptons summer homes of New York’s elite and the English countryside familiar to any fan of British period drama, it’s a tale of the power and greed of the mega-rich, as the great banking business upon which the family’s fortunes are won and lost comes to the brink of ruin. Intense relationships, both old and new, are tested to the utmost in this grand and unputdownable summer read.

While I'm not a huge fan of the title of this book, I do love Vincenzi's writing. So, what are you waiting on this Wednesday?

PS - make sure you check out my giveaway for Adriana Trigiani's The Shoemaker's Wife!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Giveaway - The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani

Hello everyone! I have an exciting giveaway for you! 

About 2 months ago, I read an amazing book: The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani (link goes to my review). A sweeping novel spanning the Atlantic Ocean and several decades, it tells the story of two Italian immigrants, Ciro and Enza. Starting with their lives as small children in Italy all the way to when Enza is an old, old woman, Trigiani weaves an amazing tale of love across time and distance.

The great people over at Harper are offering me a copy of this wonderful book to giveaway! It's pretty simple to enter: just leave a comment! The contest is open from today, August 21, until Monday, August 27 at 8 pm. If you are a GFC follower, let me know in your comment, and that will count for two entries! Make sure to leave an email address where I can contact you. (The winner will be chosen using

Don't miss this chance to read a great historical novel!

Top Ten Tuesday (8-21-12)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Each week, 
they post a different topic, and you get to create your own top ten list. So, this week's 
topic is:

Favorite Books You've Read During The Lifespan Of Your Blog

1) Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand - a work of narrative nonfiction telling the amazing story of a pilot during World War II. It's an amazing story and one of my favorite books of all time.

2) The Help by Kathryn Stockett - a great story about segregation in the South in the 1960s.

3) Brava, Valentine! by Adriana Trigiani - I listened to this audiobook and loved the whole thing. The story, the characters, the narration, everything was just perfect.

4) Unbearable Lightness by Portia de Rossi - a haunting memoir of one woman's battle with anorexia. Probably the greatest memoir I've ever read.

5) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte - the classic novel, which I just discovered last year. 

6) The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern - I don't read fantasy novels but I just had to read this one. Such a great, wonderful novel. 

7) Bossypants by Tina Fey - I love Tina Fey  and her book had me laughing outloud.

8) The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach - this story centers around baseball, but it's not about baseball. A great story about life, seen through several character's points of view.

9) Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling - I listened to this book during a long car ride and I was laughing so hard! I felt like I was talking with an old friend (and it made me wish that I was friends with Mindy).

10) More Than You Know by Penny Vincenzi - a great novel about balancing work and personal life. A well-written novel and one that pulled me in.

So, what are your favorite books that you've read in the lifespan of your blog? Let me know!

PS - make sure to stop back later today for an exciting giveaway! 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Audiobook Review: Brava, Valentine by Adriana Trigiani

Brava, Valentine
Author: Adriana Trigiani
Narrator: Cassandra Campbell
Published: February 9, 2010
Genre: chick lit
Audiobook: 10 discs
Source: borrowed from the library

My Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from GoodReads): As "Brava, Valentine" begins, Valentine learns that Alfred, her only brother and nemesis, has been named her partner at Angelini Shoes. Devastated, Valentine falls into the arms of Gianluca, a sexy Tuscan tanner. Despite their passion for one another, a long-distance relationship seems impossible. As Valentine turns away from romance and devotes herself to her work, Bret Fitzpatrick, her first love and former fiancEe, encourages Valentine to exploit her full potential as a designer with a plan that will bring her singular creations to the world. A once-in-a-lifetime business opportunity takes Valentine to Buenos Aires, where she finds a long-buried secret. Once unearthed, the truth rocks the Roncallis and Valentine is determined to hold her family together. More so, she longs to create one of her own, but is torn between a past love that nurtured her, and a new one that promises to sustain her.

My Thoughts: I was nervous to listen to this book instead of reading it. I loved the first book in this trilogy and didn't know if that would translate into a good audiobook. Let me just say this: I believe this to be one of the greatest audiobooks that I will ever listen to. Now, I realize that that is a big statement to make. But everything about this audiobook was perfect. The story carries over from the first novel and puts you right into the action. Adriana Trigiani puts you into the story and has you nervous for Valentine as she embarks on her new business venture. Cassandra Campbell is a fantastic narrator and really made this audiobook great. She has a great voice and was able to differentiate between all of the different characters (between the large Italian-American family, the Italians, and South Americans, she had her work cut out for her). Even when there were many characters in a scene, she was able to change her voice enough so that you are able to tell who is speaking. She is fantastic and really made this audiobook what it is.

The story in this book continues with the first book but is progressing so that the plot isn't stagnant or dragging. Since Valentine is dealing with taking her handmade shoe business into the mass production market, you are able to see how Valentine handles business. I also loved the interaction with Valentine and her brother, Albert. Albert wasn't featured that much in the first book, but he more than makes up for it in this book. I felt like all the characters were adding something to the novel, making you think about something from a different view point or adding something to the conversation. I also loved Valentine and Gianluca's relationship. I loved how Trigiani handled it. Instead of making Valentine this person who is so easy to love, she allows you to she her faults. You are unsure if these two can make it work, but you are rooting for them to be together and for Valentine to make her business a success. 

The entire reading experience was just amazing with this novel. The narrator was fantastic, the story engaging, the characters intriguing, creating one of the best novels that I have ever listened to. I cannot wait for the third book in this trilogy to be released, and you can bet that I will be listening to it!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Review: More Than You Know by Penny Vincenzi

More Than You Know
Author: Penny Vincenzi
Published: April 3, 2012
Genre: fiction
Hardcover: 608 pages
Source: borrowed from the library

My Rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis (from GoodReads): A privileged girl from a privileged class, Eliza has a dazzling career in the magazine world of the 1960s. But when she falls deeply in love with Matt, an edgy working-class boy, she gives up her ritzy, fast-paced lifestyle to get married.
By the end of the decade, however, their marriage has suffered a harrowing breakdown, culminating in divorce and a dramatic courtroom custody battle over their little girl. Also at risk is Eliza's gorgeous family home, a pawn in the game, which she can't bear to give up.
True to form, Penny Vincenzi introduces a devious cast of characters seemingly plucked from the pages of sixties- and seventies-era magazines, as she deftly maneuvers between the glamorous, moneyed worlds of fashion and advertising, and a heart-wrenching custody battle going on in the courtroom where the social mores of the time are on full display.

My Thoughts: I have never heard of Penny Vincenzi before I found this book while wandering around my library a few weeks ago. I read the description and decided to add it to my pile of books. A few days later, I sat to read it and became a bit disheartened when I opened it up and it had a list of all the characters in the novel (I always hate that in a book and tend to dismiss the book immediately). However, a few pages in, and I was hooked by the story (and the large cast of characters). I found myself rushing home to read this book and was staying up much later than I should have in an attempt to finish it. The story is so well written, starting with a few paragraphs that are told from Eliza, one of the main characters, narrating, wondering whether or not she should continue to work and lose custody of her daughter to quit her job, lose her identity, all so she can keep her. So with this foreshadowing, the novel begins with Eliza's debutante season. It follows her throughout her youth and into young adulthood as she gets her first job working in a magazine. You also get glimpses into Matt's life (he marries Eliza and they have a daughter). Vincenzi weaves a huge web with these characters and you are not easily extracted from it.

I loved how Vincenzi decided to write the novel. Most parts are told from Eliza's point of view, but parts are told from Matt's, or her parents, or godparents. It really gives you a great perspective on what is going on. And it doesn't always make sense at the time, but later in the novel, you realize why Vincenzi fed you that bit of information when she did. And as the novel progressed and you are witnessing the downward spiral of Eliza and Matt's relationship, you are sitting there, holding your breath. You know what's going to happen, but you don't want either of them to make a misstep and ruin it. It had me on the edge of my seat and I couldn't put the novel down.

Now, I loved this novel. In fact, half way through, I was already looking into what other books Vincenzi has published and if I could get them at my local library. The thing that ruined the novel for me was the ending. I just felt like the book could have been wrapped up sooner than it was and the ending that was published just ruined it a little bit for me. I still loved the novel as a whole and would recommend it to anyone who loves to get completely wrapped up in a story. I cannot wait to read more of Vincenzi's work in the future.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Book Blog Hop and Follow Friday (8-17-12)

Happy Friday, everyone! I hope that you are having a wonderful last few weeks of summer. It's hard to believe that it's almost over! Did you get to read everything that you wanted during this season? I always want to read all the chick lit I can get my hands on in the summer, which I don't feel like I did enough of. I did read a lot of great books, though! And the best part of the summer is still to come (for me, at least) ... summer vacation! At this time in two weeks, I will be in London! I can hardly wait to get there! Now, onto the Friday fun ...

Jen at Crazy For Books asks:

What is the one genre you will NEVER read?

The one genre that I will probably never read is young adult (I can't say never ... I mean, I have read The Hunger Games trilogy, which is young adult). I just don't relate to that genre in anyway and feel like I'm reading something that was written for much younger people (which it is), but it just bothers me.

Parajunkee asks:

What blogger inspires you? It can be any kind, it doesn’t have to be a book blog.

The blog that first inspired me to start blogging was Kristi at The Story Siren. I just saw what she was doing and thought, "How cool is that?!? I want to do it!" I do not read her blog (I don't read YA, so it doesn't interest me as much), but that's what started off my interest in blogging.

GReads asks:

Pimp Your Review: Feature a favorite book review you've written in the past that you feel deserves more love! 

There are a few that I would love to feature because I feel like they need some more love:

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (this was my favorite book from last year. If you haven't read it, go out and get yourself a copy. It's an amazing story!)

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach (an amazing book that I read earlier in the year. Don't worry if you don't like baseball, because it's about so much more than that!)

Bossypants by Tina Fey (I just love Tina Fey and her book is hilarous!)

So, what genre will you never ever read? What blogger inspires you? Which reviews are you highlighting? Let me know, and have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday (8-15-12)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Each week, you highlight an upcoming release that you are eagerly anticipating. This week, I'm looking forward to Love Anthony by Lisa Genova (release date: September 25, 2012).

Synopsis (from Olivia Donatelli’s dream of a “normal” life shattered when her son, Anthony, was diagnosed with autism at age three. Understanding the world from his perspective felt bewildering, nearly impossible. He didn’t speak. He hated to be touched. He almost never made eye contact. And just as Olivia was starting to realize that happiness and autism could coexist, Anthony died.
Now she’s alone in a cottage on Nantucket, separated from her husband, desperate to understand the meaning of her son’s short life, when a chance encounter with another woman facing her own loss brings Anthony alive again for Olivia in a most unexpected way.
Beth Ellis’s entire life changed with a simple note: “I’m sleeping with Jimmy.” Fourteen years of marriage. Three beautiful daughters. Yet even before her husband’s affair, she had never felt so alone. Heartbroken, she finds the pieces of the vivacious, creative person she used to be packed away in a box in her attic. For the first time in years, she uncaps her pen, takes a deep breath, and begins to write. The young but exuberant voice that emerges onto the page is a balm to the turmoil within her, a new beginning, and an astonishing bridge back to herself.
In a piercing story about motherhood, autism, and love, New York Times bestselling author Lisa Genova offers us two unforgettable women on the verge of change and the irrepressible young boy whose unique wisdom helps them both find the courage to move on.

So, what are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday (8-14-12)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Each week, 
they post a different topic, and you get to create your own top ten list. So, this week's 
topic is:

Romances That You Think Would Make it in the Real World (outside the book)

1) Ron and Hermoine (Harry Potter) - as I was reading the series, I just knew that they were going to end up together. They are perfect for one another!

2) Valentine and Gianluca (Very Valentine series) - at first, I didn't like these two together but they have grown on me as I continue to read this trilogy. There is a bit of an age difference but I think that these two have what it takes to make it.

3) Jane and Rochester (Jane Eyre) - I think this might be my favorite couple from a classic. I love Jane and how independent she is, and Rochester with his secrets. These two would definitely make it in the real world.

4) Emma and Dexer (One Day) - I know that these two would be able to make it in the real world. Maybe because this book spans so much time, it makes it all the more believeable that these two would last.

5) Major and Jasmina (Major Pettigrew's Last Stand) - these are two older characters who have already been married and weathered many hardships in life. I know that they would last in the real world.

6) Chris and Emily (The Pact) - I realize that Emily committed suicide, but if she hadn't, I feel like this is one of those high school couples that would make it after graduation. I could see these two getting married and sharing a life together.

7) Jacob and Marlena (Water For Elephants) - since Jacob is looking back on his life and telling his story and you hear about some of the hardships that he's faced, it makes it easier to imagine this couple in real life, existing outside the book.

Well, those are all the couples I could come up with for this week. Who do you think about make it in the real world? Let me know!