Monday, December 30, 2013

Coming Up...Week 52 of 2013

Book to be reviewed:

Our Love Could Light The World by Anne Leigh Parrish

You know the Dugans. They're that scrappy family that lives down the street. Their yard is overgrown, they don't pick up after their dog, their five children run free - leaving chaos in their wake - and the father hasn't earned a cent in years. The wife holds them together on her income alone. You wouldn't want them for neighbors - but from a distance, their quite entertaining.

Of course, alcohol is an issue. You can tell from the empty bottles lying under the bush out front. You can hardly blame the wife for leaving one day. Without her at the helm, the rest carry on the best they can.

Their strong sense of family keeps them going. They help each other, and in some cases, rescue each other. They struggle for a better life. While they never follow the rules, or completely conquer adversity, they stare it down, meet their challenges, and earn some much needed respect. They might even make you proud.

Set in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York, the twelve linked stories in Our Love Could Light The World depict a dysfunctional family that's messy and rude, cruel and kind, and loyal to the end.

Forsaken (The World of Nightwalkers #3) by Jacquelyn Frank (TLC January 8th, 2014)


New York Times bestselling author Jacquelyn Frank continues her scorching and sensual new series set in the world of the Nightwalkers, where alluring entities known as Bodywalkers are the vanguards against the raging forces of darkness.

As a mercenary, Leo Alvarez has signed on for a lot—but he never signed on for his best friend becoming host to the soul of an ancient Egyptian pharaoh. Jackson is now inhabited by a Bodywalker, and Leo is forced to grapple with a realm of supernatural beings far more dangerous than anything he’s ever encountered.

But when Jackson is wounded by an attack from a demon god, Leo must team up with another supernatural creature—a Night Angel—to save his friend from utter destruction. With skin as black as midnight, hair as white as snow, and a body of pure perfection, the Night Angel arouses a burning desire in Leo, even as he refuses to be intimidated by her power—or the power of those who would destroy his friend. An unusual alliance is forged, electrified by sexual temptation, and together the two must unite their strengths to bring down a supreme evil.

The Isolation Door: A Novel by Anish Majumdar

Neil Kapoor, 23, is desperate to create a life beyond the shadow of his mother’s schizophrenia. Years of successive relapses and rehabilitations have forced his father into the role of caretaker and Neil into that of silent witness. But there is no light within this joyless ritual, and any hope for the future rests on finding an exit.

Amidst her latest breakdown, Neil attends drama school in pursuit of a role that might better express the truth of who he is. What started as a desperate gambit becomes the fragile threads of a new life. A relationship blooms with Emily, and each finds strength – and demons - in the other. New friendships with Quincy and Tim grow close and complex. But the emotional remove needed to keep these two lives separate destabilizes the family. Neil’s father, the one constant in the chaos, buckles under the pressure. Enlisting the aid of an Aunt with means and questionable motives, Neil plies ever-greater deceptions to keep the darkness at bay. But this time there will be no going back. As his mother falls to terrifying depths a decision must be made: family or freedom?

In this powerful fiction debut, acclaimed journalist Anish Majumdar shines a much-needed light into the journey of those coping with serious mental disorders and the loved ones who walk alongside them. Incisive and filled with moments of strange beauty, it marks the arrival of a unique voice in American letters.

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker


Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. When her master, the husband who commissioned her, dies at sea on the voyage from Poland, she is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York in 1899.

Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian desert. Trapped in an old copper flask by a Bedouin wizard centuries ago, he is released accidentally by a tinsmith in a Lower Manhattan shop. Though he is no longer imprisoned, Ahmad is not entirely free – an unbreakable band of iron binds him to the physical world.

The Golem and the Jinni is their magical, unforgettable story; unlikely friends whose tenuous attachment challenges their opposing natures – until the night a terrifying incident drives them back into their separate worlds. But a powerful threat will soon bring Chava and Ahmad together again, challenging their existence and forcing them to make a fateful choice.

Seeing Through the Eyes of My papa's heart- Lamarr Wenrich

He slipped away...creating his own reality, a peaceful existence within a tortured mind...This lost soul without roots would spend his life seeking, craving, searching for love, acceptance and an identity...forever shaped by the cruelty of life...No one who crosses this gentle man's path would imagine that he endured such a cold, cruel and demeaning upbringing--void of love, affection or any notion of self-worth. Until the mention of his father's name...it brings him to his knees and tears flow down his cheeks unabashedly. How did he control his demons of anger, hate and vengeance that surely fumed at the surface? Was it fear that kept his emotions from spilling over, or had he always known, innately, there was more to be discovered than the cruelty he knew...a warmth and love he yearned for...



What I'm Reading right now:

Woman of the Mists by Lynn Sholes (e-book)


Long before the arrival of Columbus to the new world, a magnificent and brave people flourished in a verdant tropical land. Their culture, steeped in spiritual life and tradition, provided them sacred wisdom and strength that survived generations.

In this land of abundance, a young a woman, Teeka, surrendered her heart to the shaman’s son, Auro. But when a raiding rival tribe invaded their peaceful village and she was stolen away by their leader, her life changed forever.

Chapters: 16 out of prologue plus epilogue 31

Pages: 126 out of 245




The House on the Cliff by Charlotte Williams

One woman's quest to discover the dark secret at the heart of a family

Actor Gwydion Morgan's dramatic appearance at Jessica Mayhew's psychotherapy practice coincides with a turbulent time in her own life - her husband has just revealed that he's spent the night with a much younger woman. Gwydion, son of the famous Evan Morgan, is good looking and talented but mentally fragile, tormented by an intriguing phobia. Jessica is determined to trace the cause of his distress. So when his mother phones to say he is suicidal, Jessica decides to make a house call. The Morgans live in a grand cliff-top mansion overlooking a rocky bay with its own private jetty. It's a remote and somewhat sinister place. On her visit, Jessica finds out that an au pair who looked after Gwydion as a child drowned in the bay in mysterious circumstances. Could it be that Gwydion witnessed her death? In her quest to help her client, Jessica finds herself becoming embroiled in the Morgans' poisonous family dynamic. At the same time, she has to deal with the demands of her own domestic life: her struggle to keep her marriage intact, as well as her older daughter's increasingly defiant behaviour. And then, of course, there is the growing attraction she feels towards her new client . . .

Chapters: 5 out of 22

Pages: 61 out of 338

The Last Train to Paris by Michele Zackheim


1935.  Rose Manon, an American daughter of the mountains of Nevada, working as a journalist in New York, is awarded her dream job, foreign correspondent.  Posted to Paris, she is soon entangled in romance, an unsolved murder, and the desperation of a looming war.  Assigned to the Berlin desk, Manon is forced to grapple with her hidden identity as a Jew, the mistrust of her lover, and an unwelcome visitor on the eve of Kristallnacht.  And . . . on the day before World War II is declared, she must choose who will join her on the last train to Paris.
This is a carefully researched historical novel that reads like a suspense thriller.  Colette and Janet Flanner are only two of the well-known figures woven into the story. The parts they play will surprise readers. Last Train to Paris will enthrall the same audience that made In The Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson and Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky bestsellers.

Chapters: N/A

Pages: 86 out of 251

Chasing Hepburn: A Memoir of Shanghai, Hollywood, and a Chinese Family's Fight for Freedom by Gus Lee

“Lee . . . has created a gripping and beautiful portrait of his family. . . . Chasing Hepburn is nonfiction, but it reads just as richly as any novel.”—Boston Globe

“Gus Lee brings to his first work of nonfiction the consummate storytelling skills that have always delighted us in his critically acclaimed novels. I promise you that you will be captivated by this epic story of two families who epitomize all that is rich and varied in Chinese culture.”
—Ron Bass, screenwriter of The Joy Luck Club and Rain Man

Gus Lee takes us straight into the heart of twentieth-century Chinese society, offering a clear-eyed yet compassionate view of the forces that repeatedly tore apart and reconfigured the lives of his parents and their contemporaries. He moves deftly from recounting intimate household conversations to discussing major historical events, and the resulting story is by turns comic, harrowing, tragic, and heroic.

Chasing Hepburn is a saga that spans four generations, two continents, and half of Chinese history. In the masterful hands of acclaimed author Gus Lee, his ancestors’ stories spring vividly to life in a memoir with all the richness of great fiction.

Chapters: 10 out of 72 plus preface

Pages: 75 out of 532

The Tale of Genji-Murasaki Shikibu, Edward G. Seidensticker


The Tale of Genji was written in the eleventh century by Murasaki Shikibu, a lady of the Heian court. It is universally recognized as the greatest masterpiece of Japanese prose narrative, perhaps the earliest true novel in the history of the world. Until now there has been no translation that is both complete and scrupulously faithful to the original text. Edward G. Seidensticker's masterly rendering was first published in two volumes in 1976 and immediately hailed as a classic of the translator's art. It is here presented in one unabridged volume, illustrated throughout by woodcuts taken from a 1650 Japanese edition of The Tale of Genji.

Chapters: 13 out of 54

Pages: 247 out of 1090

Tainted Angel- Anne Cleeland 

A deadly game of deception
A notorious beauty with a shadowy past

In the time of Napoleon, Vidia Swanson appears to live a gilded life of ease and luxury. Beneath this façade, however, she works for the Home Office as an ‘angel,’ coaxing secrets from powerful men who may or may not be traitors to the Crown. In the course of her latest assignment, matters take an alarming turn when she realizes that her spymaster suspects that she is the one who is tainted--a double agent working for the enemy.

Lucien Carstairs is a fellow agent with his own dark secrets--unless he is setting an elaborate trap to reveal her own supposed treason. Backed into a corner, she can only hope to stay one step ahead of the hangman in a race to stop the next war before it destroys them--and destroys England.

Tainted Angel offers up a compelling game of cat and mouse in which no one can be trusted--and anyone can be tainted.

Chapters: 3 out of 47

Pages: 21 out of 350

Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford


Twelve-year-old William Eng, a Chinese-American boy, has lived at Seattle’s Sacred Heart Orphanage ever since his mother’s listless body was carried away from their small apartment five years ago. On his birthday—or rather, the day the nuns designate as his birthday—William and the other orphans are taken to the historical Moore Theatre, where William glimpses an actress on the silver screen who goes by the name of Willow Frost. Struck by her features, William is convinced that the movie star is his mother, Liu Song.

Determined to find Willow, and prove his mother is still alive, William escapes from Sacred Heart with his friend Charlotte. The pair navigates the streets of Seattle, where they must not only survive, but confront the mysteries of William’s past and his connection to the exotic film star. The story of Willow Frost, however, is far more complicated than the Hollywood fantasy William sees onscreen.

Shifting between the Great Depression and the 1920s, Songs of Willow Frost takes readers on an emotional journey of discovery. Jamie Ford’s sweeping book will resonate with anyone who has ever longed for the comforts of family and a place to call home.

Chapters: 8 out of N/A

Pages: 62 out of 319

My Mother's Funeral by Adriana Paramo (January 28th, 2014)

My Mother’s Funeral is a combination of Mother and Homeland; a sometimes lively and funny and sometimes sad and macabre tale of family life in Colombia. Looking backward and forward in time, the author uses vignettes and anecdotes to evoke the quality of life of a country that transcends political violence and social turmoil; of a Colombia unknown to outsiders that offers a rare glimpse into its cuisine, its mythology, the realm of women's talk, and views on sex and religion, exploring thus what it means to be a woman in this country.

Chapters: 3 out of 16 plus prologue and epilogue

Pages: 35 out of 255



Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan (February 5th, 2014)


The much-anticipated second novel by the author of Loving Frank, the beloved New York Times bestseller, this new work tells the incredible story of the passionate, turbulent relationship between Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson and his wild-tempered American wife, Fanny.

In her masterful new novel, Nancy Horan has recreated a love story that is as unique, passionate, and overwhelmingly powerful as the one between Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Cheney depicted so memorably in Loving Frank. Under the Wide and Starry Sky chronicles the unconventional love affair of Scottish literary giant Robert Louis Stevenson, author of classics including Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and American divorcee Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne. They meet in rural France in 1875, when Fanny, having run away from her philandering husband back in California, takes refuge there with her children. Stevenson too is escaping from his life, running from family pressure to become a lawyer. And so begins a turbulent love affair that will last two decades and span the world.

Chapters: 4 out of 90 plus postscript and afterword

Pages: 18 out of 472

Future Books I will read:

When Strangers meet..by K. Hari Kumar (e-book, to be read as soon as possible)

What happens when an irritating but lovable wise-cracking 'Stranger' called Iyer meets a frustrated and arrogant teenager, Jai, on a fateful day in a congested room at the metro station? Catastrophe!!!
Meanwhile, Pathan never had the pleasure of happiness in his life yet he thanked Allah for every second of it...
Abandoned by fate and friends, surrounded by responsibilities and poverty... This hard-coated man from the city of Delhi knew only thing and that was to keep faith in Allah... Now he is set on a journey to turn around his fate...

The tale from the Iyer's past will change Pathan's present and Jai's future... And trust me...
Sometimes all it takes is a stranger's tale to change the track of your life...

Three Men... One fateful day... and a Story of a Lifetime...

The Stranger is coming this May... are you ready to receive him? ;)

Chapters: 56 plus Prologue and epilogue

Pages: 343

The Obsession by T.V. LoCicero (e-book)


At a conference in Italy’s lake district, American graduate student Stanford Lyle is enchanted with Lina Lentini, a lovely Italian professor of comparative lit. And when she lectures for a term at his mid-Michigan university, she considers a fling with Stan—until she meets John Martens, a professor, author and Stan’s mentor. In her passionate affair with John, Lina becomes Stan’s obsession, a hated nemesis for John’s troubled wife, and the object of a vicious series of attacks aimed at destroying her reputation.

Lina loves the line from Keats, “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” even as her life fills with duplicity. John is pledged to do the right thing with his wife but often does not. And Stan surprises himself with the depth of his own perversity.

Forced back to her home in Bologna, Lina begins to reset her life. Then Stan appears on her doorstep. When John joins them, Stan schemes, threatens and stalks the lovers, first under the city’s ancient porticoes and finally to the legendary Sicilian mountain town of Taormina with a shocking confrontation on the slopes of volcanic Mt. Etna.

Chapters: 49

Pages: 385


The Disappearance by T.V. LoCicero (e-book)

On leave from the University of Bologna, lovely Italian scholar Lina Lentini is staying with a friend in Geneva and soon finds herself caught up in the shadowy world of Swiss banking, sorting through mysteries that will link to cold-blooded betrayal, corruption and murder.

At the villa of her octogenarian pal Cecile Eaton, an American philanthropist, Lina befriends Clara Marche, who works on Cecile’s account at the Banque Privee Morneau. Both Cecile and Lina are fascinated by Clara’s unlikely transatlantic romance with Marc White, her African-American lover—neither speaks the other’s language.

The revelation of devious schemes begins one night when Clara discovers her manager at the bank has been looting Cecile’s charitable contributions. When Clara is further shaken by what she learns from the bank’s security chief, she flees to Italy, only to find herself accused of fraud by the bank and hunted by police.

Back in Geneva Lina and Clara’s lover Marc embark on a desperate search for Clara. When a mysterious email claims she is being held in the Bahamas, they fly to the quiet island of Eleuthera. There they are shocked to find false-named lovers living a secret life and meet a man with a plan to rescue Clara. What happens next will stun everyone and change their lives forever.

Chapters: 45

Pages: 315


As the Heart Bones Break by Audrey Chin (e-book)


In Thong Tran's Vietnam, everyone is at war and no one is who they seem not his adopted father, a French civil servant, not his Blood Father, the Viet Cong rooster master, not his pro-American journalist tutor. Like them, the boy from the Mekong Delta cannot escape the war. And like them, he too must create shades of himself to survive. But even a conflicted heart needs a home. Thong yearns for a true father and a cause to give himself to. He chooses independence, liberty and happiness his tutor and the Viet Cong. Tragically, there s no independence, liberty or happiness at war s end. Re-invented as an American aerospace engineer, husband and father the Viet Cong informer must spend another half a lifetime crossing the Pacific as a defense industry dealmaker before he can set down the bones rankling in his heart.

Chapters: epilogue 20? chapters

Pages: 245

Living Reed: A Novel of Korea-Pearl S. Buck

The Living Reed follows four generations of one family, the Kims, beginning with Il-han and his father, both advisors to the royal family in Korea. When Japan invades and the queen is killed, Il-han takes his family into hiding. In the ensuing years, he and his family take part in the secret war against the Japanese occupation.
Pearl S. Buck's epic tells the history of Korea through the lives of one family. She paints an amazing portrait of the country, and makes us empathize with their struggle for sovereignty through her beautifully drawn characters.

Chapters: 3 plus epilogue and historical note

Pages: 478


Sons- Pearl S. Buck


Second in the trilogy that began with The Good Earth, Buck's classic and starkly real tale of sons rising against their honored fathers tells of the bitter struggle to the death between the old and the new in China. Revolutions sweep the vast nation, leaving destruction and death in their wake, yet also promising emancipation to China's oppressed millions who are groping for a way to survive in a modern age.

Chapters: 29

Pages: 313






A House Divided-Pearl S. Buck

"A House Divided," the third volume of the trilogy that began with "The Good Earth" and "Sons," is a powerful portrayal of China in the midst of revolution. Wang Yuan is caught between the opposing ideas of different generations. After 6 years abroad, Yuan returns to China in the middle of a peasant uprising. His cousin is a captain in the revolutionary army, his sister has scandalized the family by her premarital pregnancy, and his warlord father continues to cling to his traditional ideals. It is through Yuan's efforts that a kind of peace is restored to the family

Chapters: 4

Pages: 343



Coming Home by Mariah Stewart


In the wake of his wife’s murder, agent Grady Shields turned his back on the FBI—and everything else—to retreat into the vast solitude of Montana, grieve for his lost love, and forget the world. But after years in seclusion, his sister’s wedding draws him to St. Dennis, a peaceful town on the Chesapeake Bay. Though he swears he isn’t interested in finding love again, Grady can’t ignore the mutual sparks that fly when he meets Vanessa Keaton.

Although her past was marked by bad choices, Vanessa has found that coming to St. Dennis is the best decision she’s ever made. Bling, her trendy boutique, is a success with tourists as well as with the townspeople. She’s made friends, has a home she loves, and has established a life for herself far from the nightmare she left behind. The last thing she’s looking for is romance, but the hot new man in town is hard to resist. And when Vanessa’s past catches up with her, Grady finds that he’s unwilling to let her become a victim again. As together they fight her demons, Grady and Vanessa discover that life still holds some surprises and that love doesn’t always have to hurt.

Chapters: 21

Pages: 366

Beyond the Storm by Joseph Pittman

They chose their own roads, but they couldn't change their destination. . .

Twenty years ago, Vanessa Massey couldn't wait to graduate from high school and make her small hometown of Danton Hill a distant memory--despite an indelible friendship she'd recently forged. But life has largely ignored her plans, and time has summoned her back to the shores of Lake Ontario for a school reunion that could change everything.

After four years as Danton Hill High's resident outcast, Adam Blackburn went on to a successful career in New York City. Yet now he's drawn homeward for a reunion he's surprisingly curious to attend--if he and his car survive the fierce summer storm that's hit. Adam always hated storms and their destruction. And sure enough, he soon collides with another vehicle in the blinding rain. But it turns out the driver is the one person he'd hoped to see: Vanessa.

Reunited by Mother Nature, the two take shelter in an abandoned farmhouse where they are forced to decipher their unresolved history. Together, they'll unravel the twists of fate that have brought them to the present--and discover the remarkable truth that may carry them through the future. . .

Chapters: 18 plus prologue

Pages: 317

The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather


Perhaps Willa Cather's most autobiographical work, The Song of the Lark charts the story of a young woman's awakening as an artist against the backdrop of the western landscape. Thea Kronborg, an aspiring singer, struggles to escape from the confines her small Colorado town to the world of possibility in the Metropolitan Opera House. In classic Cather style, The Song of the Lark is the beautiful, unforgettable story of American determination and its inextricable connection to the land.

Chapters: 61 plus Preface and epilogue

Pages: 417

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