Tuesday Teasers

Tuesday Teasers is hosted by Should Be Reading. The rules are as follows:

Grab your current read and let the book fall open to a random page. Share two sentences from somewhere on that page and the title and author of the book. Please avoid spoilers! Read the official Tuesday Teaser Rules.

My teaser this week is from Good Enough to Eat by Stacy Ballis. From page 58:

'She is like no one I've ever known, and even though she has been working at the store for a week, and has just moved into my home, I'm keenly aware of not knowing her, not being fully comfortable with her, and yet, feeling somehow better when she is around, which instead of being a comfort, worries me. The last time I felt generically better in someone's company was with Andrew, and that sense was so misplaced, that security so false, I'm now fairly certain that I'm somehow the worst barometer of human trustworthiness in the universe.'

Mailbox Monday: 13 rue Thérèse by Elena Mauli Shapiro

This meme is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page and Kristi at The Story Siren. During the month of August, Chick Loves Lit will be hosting MM for Marcia.

I received a very nice surprise in the mail last week from Reagan Arthur Books for participating in the Reagan Arthur Book Challenge.

Inside a brown envelope, this lovely book was covered in gift wrap (which mirrors an illustration in the book) and a tin of 'Rendez Vous' (sour lemon candy from France) was taped to it. 13 rue Thérèse by Elena Mauli Shapiro is a beautifully illustrated novel which will be published in February 2011. The description on the back cover reads:

American academic Trevor Stratton discovers a box full of artifacts as he settles into his new office in Paris. The pictures, letters, and objects in the box relate to the life of Louise Brunet, a Frenchwoman who lived through both world wars.

Trevor begins to piece together the story of Louise's life: her love for a cousin who died in the war, her marriage to a man who works for her father, and her attraction to a neighbor in her building at 13, rue Thérèse. As Trevor becomes enamored of the charming, feisty Louise of his imagination, he notices another alluring Frenchwoman: his clerk, Josianne, who planted the mysterious box in his office and with whom he finds he is falling in love.
This book was accompanied by a lovely note from Reagan Arthur thanking me for taking part in the Reagan Arthur Book Challenge. It's my kind of challenge - there's no pressure at all. If you'd like to participate, click here for more information.

Review: Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English by Natasha Solomons

This book counts towards my Reagan Arthur book challenge!

Jack and Sadie Rosenbloom emigrated to London, England just before the Second World War. When they arrived in their new country, Jack was given a checklist on how a proper English citizen behaves - a cheat sheet on how to blend in to his new home. Following it literally and without knowing all the nuances that any British citizen takes for granted sometimes leaves him puzzled and bewildered, but never daunted. Mr. Rosenbloom Dreams in English is Jack and Sadie's story of how they adapted to their new lives and sometimes how they didn't.

I really enjoyed Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English (called Mr. Rosenblum's List in the UK). I think Natasha Solomon did a fabulous job in relating what it's like to integrate into a new and very alien life. While I'm not Jewish, I found Jack and Sadie's experiences as Jewish immigrants easy to relate to and I recognized Jack's struggle to fit into a new country and its well-established culture very well. The author's light touch in representing the Rosenblum's struggle to blend in made the story a lot less heavy-handed than it might otherwise have been.

Food is used throughout the story to demonstrate how family and family history is cherished and memories held dear. One particular dessert, a baumtorte, is prepared by Sadie during her most challenging days and helps her cope with her feelings of sadness at the lives lost during the war. The author uses the layered cake as a rich metaphor for layers of memories.

The characters in this book are muti-faceted. Jack and Sadie are neither all good nor all bad - a bit of each quality are in both and it is what I believe gives the book depth and richness. The author knows her characters; Jack is normally an optimistic man and I couldn't help but root for him even when he did something that aggravated me. Writing from the perspective of a male character couldn't have been easy but Natasha Solomons succeeded.

I recommend this wonderful novel to anyone who enjoys reading stories about family bonds and true friendship.

Tuesday Teasers: Wolf Hally by Hilary Mantel

Tuesday Teasers is hosted by Should Be Reading. The rules are as follows:

Grab your current read and let the book fall open to a random page and share two sentences from somewhere on that page as well as the title and author of the book. Please avoid spoilers! Read the official Tuesday Teaser Rules.

My teaser this week is from Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. From page 99:

'When in Italy he had picked up a snake for a bet, he had to hold it till they counted ten. They counted, rather slowly, in the slower languages: eins, zwei, drei ... At four, the startled snake flicked its head and bit him.'

Mailbox Monday: After the Fall by Kylie Ladd

This meme was started by Marcia at The Printed Page and Kristi at The Story Siren. In August Chick Loves Lit is hosting Mailbox Monday for Marcia.

Last week I received just one book and it came from Staci at Life in the Thumb. Thanks so much Staci!

The book is After the Fall by Kylie Ladd. The description of this book is taken from the author's website:

“I had been married three years when I fell in love,” begins Kate, a firecracker of a woman who thought she’d found the yin to her yang in Cary, her sensible and adoring husband. For their friend Luke—a charismatic copywriter who loves women and attention in equal measure, and preferably together—life has been more than sweet beside Cressida, the dutiful pediatric oncologist who stole his heart. But when a whimsical flirtation between Kate and Luke turns into something far more dangerous, the foursome will be irrevocably intertwined by more than just their shared history.

Steeped in psychological insight and raw emotion, After the Fall is an unsettling novel of the many ways we love and hurt each other.

Guest post by Pierre: How Not To Sell Your Books

This post was written by my husband, Pierre.

It was 9:30 pm and I was finishing my second vodka and trying to figure out how to smoke a cigar without my wife smelling it on me. The phone rang and I ducked thinking it’s my wife and what the hell, is she reading minds now? But it wasn’t her. Instead an old-lady crinkly voice demanded to know if I bought comic books. I could tell from the way she talked that she smelled funny. Maybe like one of those European cheeses with high bacteria counts that people are leery of. Anyway, she wanted to meet in the parking lot across the street from the store, the comic books were in the trunk of her car she said. The drug dealer aspect of all this should have rang some alarms, but I agreed to it and the next morning when I saw her I knew that this would not end well. She was about 70, had a silver buzz-cut and the eyes of a Viet-Cong sniper. She popped the trunk and I looked down at the box of shabby Archie comics and I said $20. Ha! she snarls, you ain’t low balling me and she slams the trunk on my head. I say ouch (or maybe shit) but she keeps the trunk door pressed against my head. Now I’ve watched Goodfellas at least a dozen times so I knew it was touch and go at this point. I said Lady, you’ve got to let me get my head out and she glared at me while I moved my head out of range. Maybe I should’ve offered $30.

To see the rest of the post, please click on to his blog here.

Waiting on Wednesday: The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack by Mark Hodder

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack (Burton & Swinburne) is a steampunk novel being released in North America on August 24th. From Publisher's Weekly the description of this book reads:

A historical figure already larger than life, Capt. Sir Richard Francis Burton, pursues a legendary and violent Victorian creature, Spring Heeled Jack, at the behest of the prime minister in this convincingly researched debut. Fans of steampunk will be intrigued by the alternate history setting, in which the queen dies mid-century; they will also enjoy following Burton and his sidekick, poet Algernon Swinburne, as they investigate the dark secrets of 19th-century England and recall Burton's legendary expedition to find the source of the Nile. Burton is an intriguing character, but the story might have benefited by more than token appearances of his intrepid fiancée, Isabel Arundell, and better integration of the fantastical elements--werewolves, time travelers--into the narrative before a wild ending that pulls everything together.

Tuesday Teasers

Tuesday Teasers is hosted by Should Be Reading. The rules are as follows:

Grab your current read and let the book fall open to a random page. Share two sentences from somewhere on that page and be sure to include that author and title. Please avoid spoilers! Read the official Tuesday Teaser Rules.

My teaser this week is from page 41 of The Widow's War by Sally Gunning:

Lyddie heard a sharp click from the lawyer's direction, but she couldn't decide if it came from his teeth or his heels. "I make it a practice in life to speak with utmost fairness of everyone," he said quietly, "and in that vein I would be pleased if you'd not toss around your own words unwisely."

Mailbox Monday

This meme was started by Marcia at The Printed Page and Kristi at The Story Siren. In August, Chick Loves Lit is hosting Mailbox Monday in place of Marcia.

Last week I received four books.

The first is Pirate Devlin by Mark Keating. From Hachette's website the description reads:

An injured French officer struggles along a desolate stretch of West African coastline, desperate to hold on to his secret. Alas for him, his tale is soon ended, and violently, but a young pirate recruit, Patrick Devlin, who happens to speak fluent French, comes away from their encounter with a new pair of boots and a treasure map. From there the adventures of the pirate Devlin, his shipmates, and those who wish them dead move forward without restraint, through broadside barrages and subterfuge and brutal encounters on land and at sea, where nothing is as it appears to be at first glance.
I love this kind of pirate adventure story and I am so looking forward to reading this.

The second book is Bill Bryson's At Home. Subtitled 'A Short History of Private Life', the book's description from the Random House website reads:

“Houses aren’t refuges from history. They are where history ends up.”

Bill Bryson and his family live in a Victorian parsonage in a part of England where nothing of any great significance has happened since the Romans decamped. Yet one day, he began to consider how very little he knew about the ordinary things of life as he found it in that comfortable home. To remedy this, he formed the idea of journeying about his house from room to room to “write a history of the world without leaving home.” The bathroom provides the occasion for a history of hygiene; the bedroom, sex, death, and sleep; the kitchen, nutrition and the spice trade; and so on, as Bryson shows how each has fig­ured in the evolution of private life. Whatever happens in the world, he demonstrates, ends up in our house, in the paint and the pipes and the pillows and every item of furniture.
I read the first page and liked it already. No doubt about it, Bill Bryson has a way with words.

Sent to me by Penguin, the third book is Good Enough to Eat by Stacey Ballis. I like the cover of this one. The description from Penguin's website:

The last thing Melanie expected to lose when she went on a diet was her husband.

Former lawyer Melanie Hoffman lost half her body weight and opened a gourmet take-out café specializing in healthy and delicious food. Then her husband left her-for a woman twice her size. Immediately afterwards, she's blindsided by a financial crisis. Melanie reaches out to a quirky roommate with a ton of baggage and becomes involved in a budding romance with a local documentary filmmaker.

In this warm and often laugh-out-loud novel, Melanie discovers that she still has a lot to learn about her friends, her relationships with men, and herself-and that her weight loss was just the beginning of an amazing journey that will transform her life from the inside out.
This book just seems the perfect autumn read to me.

The last book One Flight Up by Susan Fales-Hill was a win from the Atria galley grab. From Simon and Shuster's website:

What happens after happily-ever-after fades? Can the answer be found one flight up?

India, Abby, Esme, and Monique have all been friends since their days at Manhattan's Sibley School for Girls. From the outside, these four women—all grown up now—seem to be living ideal lives, yet each finds herself suddenly craving more.

India Chumley is a whip-smart divorce lawyer who routinely declines the marriage proposals of her charming French boyfriend, Julien. She's taking the first plunge by moving in with him, but she's keeping her own apartment—and keeping it a secret from him.

Abby Rosenfeld Adams is an irrepressibly upbeat gallery owner who married her WASP college sweet heart, a passionate but tormented sculptor. When she suspects he is cheating on her, she realizes that perhaps there's more to life than reassuring her husband of his artistic brilliance.

Esme Sarmiento Talbot is a Colombian Scarlett O'Hara, bored with her proper Connecticut life and her tame, all-American husband. In order to satisfy her sensuality, she escapes to Manhattan and distracts herself with casual encounters.

A card-carrying member of Harlem's thriving buppie-ocracy and a successful gynecologist, Monique Dawkins-Dubois is married to a powerful but dull financier who barely notices her anymore. When an attractive coworker beckons, Monique can't help but be flattered.

The most straitlaced of them all, India is dismayed by her friends' illicit activities. That is, until her ex-fiancÉ, the love of her life and the destroyer of her heart, reappears in New York— and she finds herself caught between the dependable man she thought was her future and the man she never quite let go of.

Dazzling and sexy, One Flight Up is an irresistible comedic romp through the boardrooms, bedrooms, and ballrooms of Manhattan and Paris.

This one promises to be an entertaining read!

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

I found this book while browsing the Random House website. I was shocked! I had no idea this book was being published. Shocked because I thought I would have heard about it long before now. In any case, it'll be fun to read The Exile by Diana Gabaldon. From the publisher's website:

The Exile retells the original Outlander novel from Jamie Fraser's point of view, revealing events never seen in the original story and giving readers a whole new insight into the Jamie-Claire relationship. Jamie's surreptitious arrival in Scotland at the beginning of the tale, his feelings about Claire, and much more — up to the point where Claire faces trial for witchcraft and must choose whether to return to her own century — are brought to life in brilliant four-colour art.

Tuesday Teasers

Tuesday Teasers is hosted by Should Be Reading. The rules are as follows:

Grab your current read and let the book fall open to a random page. Share two sentences from somewhere on the page and the title and author of the book. Please avoid spoilers! Read the official Tuesday Teaser Rules.

Today's teaser is from Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English by Natasha Solomons. From page 126:

Jack leant out of the car, trying to shake his hand, "Delighted to make your acquaintance, Sir William Waegbert."
The man gave an almost imperceptible bow, "Thank you for the compliment Mr. Rosenblum, but I am not the illustrious Sir William. My name is Symonds. The butler."

Review: HOW TO MAKE A BIRD by Martine Murrary

Thanks to Nikole from Scholastic for sending me this book to review!

How to Make a Bird by Martine Murray is a well-written coming of age story. A young teenage girl, dealing with loss and the grief it brings, sets out on a journey to discover exactly what's happened to her suddenly upended life.

The story moves at a pace to hold the reader's interest. The author has a great talent of using words to describe an image perfectly. From page 190:

'I got up off the wall. My bare feet felt the footpath and I looked at them poking out from my dress like little white mice. I felt fond of them. I don't know why. Probably because they'd always been there, whenever I expected them to be, and I knew they would walk me away.'

There's subtle humour in there too and I liked that - it helped to lighten the tone of the book, especially during the dark moments (and there are a few). As a matter of fact, I thought when I first started reading that the tone of the book was very sad and though it is in parts, in others it’s funny and sweet and that gives balance to the story. I think every young girl would be able to relate to the main character's yearning to have the latest style in footwear.

How to Make a Bird reminded me a bit of the Miriam Toews novel A Complicated Kindness. That one is also about a young girl coping with her difficult teenage years, but for plot, wordsmithing and just overall likeability, How to Make a Bird comes out ahead by a long shot.

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

I found The Atlas of Love by Laurie Frankel while browsing the upcoming releases on Chapters/Indigo. This author's debut novel will be released on August 17th. From the publisher's website:

When Jill becomes both pregnant and single at the end of one spring semester, she and her two closest friends plunge into an experiment in tri-parenting, tri-schooling, and trihabitating as grad students in Seattle. Naturally, everything goes wrong, but in ways no one sees coming. Janey Duncan narrates the adventure of this modern family with hilarity and wisdom and shows how three lives are forever changed by (un)cooperative parenting, literature, and a tiny baby named Atlas who upends and uplifts their entire world. In this sparkling and wise debut novel, Frankel’s unforgettable heroines prove that home is simply where the love is.

The story sounds a bit different from other books I've read recently. I'll be checking it out. What new books are you looking forward to?

Tuesday Teasers

Tuesday Teasers is hosted by Should Be Reading. The rules are as follows:

Grab your current read and let the book fall open randomly. Share two sentences from somewhere on the page and don't forget the title of the book that you’re getting the teaser from. Please avoid spoilers! Read the official Tuesday Teaser Rules.

This week's teaser is from Once a Spy by Keith Thomson. From page 202:

"Gentlemen, I need to tell you something straight off," Charlie said. "My father's watching us through a rifle scope, and the way he's been lately, he's liable to plug all of us if you don't hand over your weapons now." Really, Drummond was stashed safely out of earshot, probalby taking a post-supper nap.

Mailbox Monday

This meme was started by Marcia at The Printed Page and Kristi at The Story Siren. This week Chick Loves Lit is hosting Mailbox Monday for Marcia.

I received three books last week.

The first, Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English by Natasha Solomons (click on the author's name and explore her website - it's worth the visit!), arrived with an envelope of Earl Grey lavender tea and a packet of Walker's Shortbread cookies. Also included was a lovely note from the author saying she hopes I enjoy the book. I love the cover of this one and the card from the author mirrored the book cover. From Hachette's website, the description of this book reads:

At the outset of World War II, Jack Rosenblum, his wife Sadie, and their baby daughter escape Berlin, bound for London. They are greeted with a pamphlet instructing immigrants how to act like "the English." Jack acquires Saville Row suits and a Jaguar. He buys his marmalade from Fortnum & Mason and learns to list the entire British monarchy back to 913 A.D. He never speaks German, apart from the occasional curse. But the one key item that would make him feel fully British -membership in a golf club-remains elusive. In post-war England, no golf club will admit a Rosenblum. Jack hatches a wild idea: he'll build his own.

It's an obsession Sadie does not share, particularly when Jack relocates them to a thatched roof cottage in Dorset to embark on his project. She doesn't want to forget who they are or where they come from. She wants to bake the cakes she used to serve to friends in the old country and reminisce. Now she's stuck in an inhospitable landscape filled with unwelcoming people, watching their bank account shrink as Jack pursues his quixotic dream.

In her tender, sweetly comic debut, Natasha Solomons tells the captivating love story of a couple making a new life-and their wildest dreams-come true.

The whole concept of Mr. Rosenblum has drawn me in and I'm already enjoying this book.

The second book I received is a LibraryThing early reviewer book. I snagged this one last February but it only showed up now. It's a nice finished hardcover of The Inheritance by Simon Tolkien. From the publisher's website:
A complex mystery of deception and betrayal that follows the court case of a young man set to hang for the murder of his father

When a famed Oxford historian is found dead in his study one night, all evidence points to his son, Stephen. About to be disinherited from the family fortune, Stephen returns to home after a long estrangement—and it happens to be the night his father is shot to death. When his fingerprints are found on the murder weapon, Stephen’s guilt seems undeniable. But there were five other people in the manor house at the time, and as their stories slowly emerge—along with the revelation that the deceased man was involved in a deadly hunt for a priceless relic in Northern France at the end of World War II—the race is on to save Stephen from a death sentence.

Everyone has a motive, and no one is telling the truth.

Unwilling to sit by and watch the biased judge condemn Stephen to death, an ageing police inspector decides to travel from England to France to find out what really happened in that small French village in 1945—and what artifact could be so valuable it would be worth killing for.

The third book is The News Where You Are by Catherine O'Flynn and it is also a LT review book. From the Random House website:

The News Where You Are tells the funny, touching story of Frank, a local TV news presenter in England. Beneath his awkwardly corny screen persona, Frank is haunted by disappearances: the mysterious hit-and-run that killed his predecessor Phil Smethway; the demolition of his father's post-war brutalist architecture; and the unmarked passing of those who die alone in the city. Frank struggles to make sense of these absences whilst having to report endless local news stories and trying to cope with his resolutely miserable mother. The result is that rare thing: a page-turning novel that asks the big questions in an accessible way, and is laugh-out-loud funny, genuinely moving and ultimately uplifting.

This is a slim book (about 250 pages) so it shouldn't take too long to read. I anticipate starting it this week.

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