Tuesday, May 31, 2011

THE STORMCHASERS BY JENNA BLUM


Karena Jorge, a reporter celebrating her 38th birthday. It’s on her birthday; she can’t help but admit her feelings of emptiness as she longs to be with her twin brother, Charles. She hasn’t seen her twin in more than a decade and has no idea where he is. As she blows out the candles on her birthday cake, it’s no wonder she wishes to reconnect with him. Later that night, Karena believes her wish came true when a hospital calls looking for Charles next of kin. She takes off in hopes of finally reconnecting with Charles, her storm chasing twin who suffers from bipolar disorder. Sadly, he has left the hospital before she gets there. Having missed him once again she decides to follow ‘his’ work by taking a storm chasing tour in hopes of finding him. As Karena sets off on her odyssey to bring him home, she is forced to confront the storm that separated the twins and she realizes she must go through the storm if she ever wants to find the rainbow that awaits her on the other side.
I personally loved reading all the information about storms and how the storm cashers go after them. I one of those people who when the tornado sirens go off…I run outside to see if I can anything. I felt this first part of the book gave a lot of story, but I really didn’t feel any real connection to the story. I didn’t really get the why Karena was so determined to find her brother (I mean yes; he has a disorder and wants to see him safe).
 When I hit part two of the story I was hooked. Part two takes you into the twins past. I really understood Karena on a whole new level. I just was so engaged in what was going on. I felt so many emotions—moments where I was holding my breath. The story goes from a story about twins with one having bipolar and the other one being responsible for the other, to a story with a deadly situation. I was so impressed with Blums’ writing causing me to feel such a range of emotions.
Part three is back to present day. I felt like I was waiting for a storm to blow-up, and Blum delivered! Karena has spent the last twenty years of her life running from a storm so big, so intense…and it’s finally come for her.
A gripping novel bringing a face to bipolar and showed how an entire family is impacted over a lifetime when one member is diagnosed with it. For me, I found I enjoyed the book the more and more I read. It was really in the second half where I could connect to Karena and that was a huge turning point for me. I loved the range of emotions the three main characters go through even though we only see them through Karena’s perspective. For me, The Stormchasers is a novel you read and then take the time to savor. Definitely a great read and I will be looking forward to reading more by Jenna Blum!

More by Jenna Blum:

Friday, May 20, 2011

SOLOMON'S OAK By Jo-Ann Mapson



The novel begins with three people who are lost and alone—who want to stay alone. Glory Solomon is a widow who is doing her best to take care of her farm with little money and no help. Using the church her husband built, she begins hosting weddings on her property. While hosting a pirate wedding (the first wedding she is hosting at her little chapel), her old friend and social worker begs her take Juniper a young 14-year old girl into her home for the night. Juniper abandoned by her father, orphaned by her mother…she was a casualty of her older sister’s disappearance. She is alone and wants to keep everyone at a distance, trusting no one. Glory reluctantly agrees to let the girl stay for one night only. But during this one night, Glory feels a sense of responsibility to the girl once she finds out her own connection in Juniper’s sister’s disappearance. As the wedding continues, swords are drawn and a stranger suddenly appears to ‘save the day’ with a gun in hand and a camera around his neck. The knight in shining armor so to say is, Joseph Vigil, a former Albuquerque police officer who was injured on the job and was is only staying for a few months at his grandmother’s old cabin.
The three lives are suddenly thrust together. Slowly over time, the three befriend each other. They all hold each other at an arm’s length until Juniper’s MIA father shows up, just as Juniper seems to be moving forward. His arrival causes a series of events to occur, which breaks down the walls they have all put up around themselves and open themselves up to what they were really feeling. As they finally admit to themselves how they feel about each other, it just might be too late.
Solomon’s Oak is a long story, and I don’t mean that in a negative way. There is so much beautiful descriptions and back story, while you are reading along it slows down events. I would say it adds much to the fullness of the story itself. For most of the book the chapters are really long. I’m personally not a fan of a long chapter. Near the end of the book there seems to be more breaks and I believe it read more quickly because of the breaks.
The back stories really help you catch up to whom the characters really are and what brought them to this point in time. The back story of Joseph lingers more slowly than either Glory or Juniper’s, which I didn’t feel as connected to him as a character, but I did really like him. At first the story really centers on Glory, but then moves separately on all three, so you see them more in depth. I love this approach. Glory really has her hands full with Juniper and yet she keeps on with her. Glory never sees her inner beauty, strength or how she seems to be a rescuer of people and not just her animals. At first I didn’t know how Glory could deal with everything she was dealing with on top of all that dealing with an ungrateful teenage girl, but because of the way Mapson centers on one character at a time, it really allows you to gain a greater appreciation for the young girl and truthfully I fell in love with Juniper. I couldn’t help but be angry how she doesn’t get a voice when her father comes back to town. You realize how she is like Glory, wanting to take care of those around her.
This was really a good book. I think what I enjoyed the best is the story was so down-to-earth, real. It had grittiness to it. This is a story with heart and soul in it. If you are looking for something to really warm your heart, this is the book.

Other books by Jo-Ann Mapson
http://web.me.com/jamapson/Site_3/Welcome.html

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Violets of March by Sarah Jio




I am an avid reader. I love to read. I love to read all sorts of genres. I have been asked over the years, “what is your favorite book,” well I don’t have one. There are just too many good ones out there. But from now on I have an answer. I will from now on answer, “The Violets of March by Sarah Jio.”
Emily Wilson had it all. Married to a GQ handsome hubby, bestselling author her life was picture perfect. Suddenly, it was all over. Her husband leaves her for another woman and her best-seller writing career is going know where because she has writers block. Where can she go? She decides to go back to one of her favorite places in the world, Bainbridge Island, where she spent her summers growing up visiting her Aunt Bee.
There to deal with the loss of her marriage and hopefully to find some inspiration for a new book, what she finds instead is an Island full of secrets and two love interests. Love interest number one is Greg, an old high school boyfriend and the other good looking local artist, Jack. While figuring out her own love life, she stumbles onto an old diary dated from 1943. As Emily begins reading the story of diary, she finds her own life to have parallels to the author, Ester’s, life. Emily begins to realize the sort of love she wants and deserves. Feeling so close to Ester, she realizes she must solve the mystery, but the more Emily learns the more questions arise.
I have a very messy house right now, because I could hardly put this book down. I read it in one day and that is not an easy feat in my home. When I read the journal entries (which are more of a story within a story) I felt transported to another era. I was completely engaged in the story and lost track of time. The descriptions are very well written. I could smell the salty air and I could feel Emily’s frustration. The entire time I was trying to figure out the puzzle of the story and I could not figure it out. I wanted the mystery solved, but at the same time I didn’t want the story to end.
This book has goosebump moments and brought me to tears! I LOVED this book! I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading!
This is Jio’s debut novel. I cannot wait to see what she writes next. And this is a book I will read again and I almost never do that!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Exposure by Therese Fowler




Exposure by Therese Fowler is a story of young love gone terribly wrong.  Amelia and Anthony are high school seniors bidding their time until they can go to college together.  They plan on going to school in New York and want to try to make names for themselves on Broadway. Until then their relationship is being kept under wraps, so Amelia’s overbearing father, Harlan Wilkes doesn’t get wind of it and tear them apart. Harlan had Amelia’s life all planned out for her, and her theater loving boyfriend isn’t want he has in mind.
They plan on telling her parents about their plans once Amelia turns eighteen, but what they didn’t expect was Harlan to open up her laptop and find what they’d been hiding! Once Harlan’s eyes have been opened he is out for blood…Anthony’s blood. Harlan goes on a tirade having the police, DA, the school and the media out for young Anthony. What he doesn’t want to see is Amelia and Anthony are in love with each other. Will Harlan ever see their love or will it be too late?
What a story! This definitely has a modern day Romeo and Juliette underscore to it. Therese Fowler wrote a wonderful book that really captures those strong adolescent feelings of love. With an added jarring of reality of love in modern times (you know facebook, camera phones, and laptops). I was shocked over and over again with the legal system and news slants. It really made me stop and think about my own daughter and the new realities she faces in this technical savvy world she lives in, so different than the one I was in. It made me stop to realize how behind our legal system is compared to current technology.
I picked up this book every chance I got. I plan on reading more by Therese Fowler!


other books by Theres Fowler



Saturday, May 7, 2011

I just finished Exposure by Therese Fowler. I am thrilled I had the opportunity to review it. I can't wait to get started on my review. I have a fourteen year old daughter, who is about to start high school. This book touched on a subject hadn't even occurred to me to speak to my daughter about. We've had numerous conversations about dos and don'ts, but sexting was never one. The world our kids live in today moves much faster than ours did, as far as information being passed especially.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Next on the reading list

I am reading Exposure by Therese Fowler and I'm getting it read pretty quickly! I'm totally hooked. I was up until almost one in the morning reading it! Next up to read is debut author Sarah Jio, The Violets of March. I hope to have the review for Exposure by Tuesday!



In her twenties, Emily Wilson was on top of the world: she had a bestselling novel, a husband plucked from the pages of GQ, and a one-way ticket to happily ever after.

Ten years later, the tide has turned on Emily's good fortune. So when her great-aunt Bee invites her to spend the month of March on Bainbridge Island in Washington State, Emily accepts, longing to be healed by the sea. Researching her next book, Emily discovers a red velvet diary, dated 1943, whose contents reveal startling connections to her own life.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Monday, May 2, 2011

Deep Down True By Juliette Fay



Dana Stellgarten, is a newly divorced mom trying to balance all the things in her life her kids, her ex-husband, her daughter’s eating disorder, dating, friendships, working, and family. This is simply no easy task. Dana has this very sweet personality and wants to be nice to everyone. She even makes sure to volunteer to prepare meals to families who are dealing with catastrophic illness. The problems seem to grow and she can no longer be sweet Dana. Her ex-husband seems surprised when he isn’t always met by nice Dana, as if he doesn’t understand his actions have caused her an insurmountable amount of stress and being on her own to deal with it all. Once she stops being so nice and becomes more real it gives those around her the chance to see the real Dana. It is only when she is Deep down true to herself does Dana begin to find herself and happiness.  
I enjoyed Deep Down True from the first to the last page. Even though I’m not a divorced mom, I found I connected to Dana Stellgarten just as a mom. The story, the characters, and most importantly the subject matter is simply relatable! I felt the characters were more than just relatable but believable. They could be the family that lives just down the street.  I laughed, I cried-- this was a really good book.

http://juliettefay.com/


Other books by Juliette Fay: