Friday, May 24, 2013

Looking for Me by Beth Hoffman

We all have dreams...some are fulfilled, some are not.  Teddi Overman knew she had a talent for refinishing antique furniture even though her mother told her there was no future in it.  Her mother wanted her to be a secretary.

Teddi didn't want to be a secretary.  Teddi pursued her dream but had reservations about leaving her family when she did.  She was so far away from them, and since she had left secretly in the middle of the night and on a bad note, there was some regret on her part.  Her decision was a good one in the long run, though.

LOOKING FOR ME is another spectacular read by Beth Hoffman.  The book faces family issues, friendships, dreams, unearthed talents, tragedies, regret, and heartbreak, but also has wonderful lessons.  You will need a kleenex as you follow Teddie Overman from her childhood to adulthood.  You will share in her triumphs and also her let downs.

You will follow the Overman family as the book goes back and forth in time.  Mama was an odd character who was always pessimistic.  Teddi was loveable, hopeful, ambitious, optimistic, and a joy.  Josh was a sad character.  Daddy was a wonderful character.  Grammy was the perfect grandmother.  Stella and Olivia were perfect friends for Teddi.

The book is about important, yet so painful.  I thoroughly enjoyed the characters, the setting, the storyline, and the lessons learned.  The book was uplifting and sweet but will also bring tears to your eyes....good tears.  

LOOKING FOR ME is about the relationship between family members and how tragedies can tear them apart and also about talents that we shouldn't waste.  If you are an antique buff, you will be thrilled.

LOOKING FOR ME perfectly describes how we all are looking for something in our lives that usually takes root in our childhood.  The quote from page 206 made an impression on me and seems to sum up what Ms. Hoffman was trying to convey:  

"We will be known forever by the tracks we leave." 

This quote stayed with me long after I turned the last page of the book.

The book is written in Ms. Hoffman's customary beautiful, effortless storytelling style.  It conveys the fragility and beauty of family and the determination to never give up.  

This is a must read so you can soak up the depth of, the warmth of, and the beauty of Ms. Hoffman's writing, and share in the benefit of her words of wisdom about being happy.

I absolutely loved this book.  5/5 

This book was given to me by the author free of charge and without compensation in return for an honest review.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout

The BURGESS BOYS is a journey into the lives of Jim, Bob, and Susan Burgess. They were brothers and sister whose relationship with each other fell apart after their mother died.   

THE BURGESS BOYS centered on family, feelings, secrets, lies, and on Zachary's being disrespectful of Somali immigrants which caused problems for the Burgess family who already had many problems of their own.  You will feel the tension among the three siblings as they try to solve this dilemma, and you will also see how it brings them closer.

Jim and Bob had become courtroom attorneys with Jim being the more successful one. Bob left the courtroom and went to the appeals court, and Susan is the one who stayed in their hometown and is now burdened with what her son did.  She definitely needed her attorney brothers for this situation. She preferred Jim but Bob had to help her with Zachary's problem. 

When Bob arrived at his twin sister's house, he didn't like what he found in terms of how Susan lived.  He was sure this didn't help with how quiet and withdrawn Zachary seemed.  Jim finally did intervene with the courts, and thought he had helped, but he wasn't too happy about helping his sister get her son out of this mess. As usual, Bob was in the middle of it all or completely left out.  

The interaction of the main characters was very well done.  Bob and Jim definitely were portrayed as rivaling siblings with Jim being the cruel one as he threw barbs and cruel comments at Bob.  This wasn't  anything different from their childhood, though. Their sister remained the sister in the background.

I enjoyed the great descriptions and well-developed characters Ms. Strout employed, but I wasn't a great fan of the storyline.  I really was looking forward to this read and am a bit disappointed.  THE BURGESS BOYS seemed to be a bit slow even though it was interesting to learn about the legal system and the life of the Somali people.

The ending focused on the Burgess children as adults thinking about their lives and alluded to the fact that your childhood shapes you as an adult in terms of how you feel about yourself and your life choices.   I do have to say THE BURGESS BOYS did touch on some good subjects.
I can't say it was my favorite read, but it wasn't my least favorite.  The major problem for me was the type of book it was.  I like more of a saga.  To me it seemed more like stating facts or a narrative.

The book did get better in the last 100 pages, but to me it still was not that interesting and was a little disorganized.  3/5

This book was given to me from a win on LibraryThing and the publisher without compensation in return for an honest review.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Porch Lights by Dorothea Benton Frank

Leave the light on for me.  

PORCH LIGHTS was a book about caring, family, healing, and a book that will steal your heart in more ways than one.
Jackie, recently widowed with a ten-year-old son, decides to go back home for the rest of the summer to help Charlie heal from the loss of his father.  Many surprises await Jackie as well as many decisions. One of the surprises is her mother.  They never did have an easy relationship, but her mother seems to have changed.

The characters were a nice mix of fun, intensity, loneliness, being loveable, and unique.  The setting was very well described as well as the emotions of each character.  You will cry, laugh, and even be envious of the family connection. 

You will want to be part of the Britt family and live with them on Sullivan's Island. You will definitely want to share the delicious meals made by Annie, but you won't want to be Jackie who has a major life decision to make.

I have never read a book by Ms. Frank.  She has an easy style and drew me in.  This book was a pleasant read.  4/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher and TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell

The narration of the book was superb, the entire book was amazing, and the ending was incredible.  

The characters came alive, and I could see every scene vividly. Ms. Rindell brought to the literary world a great style and an extraordinary book.  Her descriptions are so lyrical and detailed you can easily and pleasantly visualize even the slightest action. The main "stage" of the book takes place in a police station, but that was not a detriment to the story. The smooth, easy flow of the novel was flawless, entertaining, and a bit mysterious. 

The book focused on the lives of the two main characters, Rose and Odalie, with Odalie being "the other typist."  The author was exploring relationships and human interaction....something we all have in our lives and need to deal with. Rose was the honest, unassuming one and Odalie seemed to want a friend but was manipulative, cunning, almost villian-like, and had another life separate from her typist's life at the police station. A life that Rose was not aware of but found out as their friendship progressed.

It was quite easy to get involved in the characters' lives which made the book difficult to put down.  You will absolutely love how the book flowed but you will also be afraid for Rose as she enters this new relationship with Odalie.  I liked Rose at the beginning but became disappointed as the book continued because of how she changed and how she was so captivated and easily swayed by Odalie. I didn't like Odalie from the minute she walked through the door at the police station on her first day of her new job. I could immediately tell what kind of person she was.  Are you curious why I am saying this?  :)  You will have to find out when you read this impressive book.

Think of a  friendship you had in your life.  Was it a friendship that lasted, was it simply a friendship that you thought was a good one but one that didn't last, was it one you really shouldn't have been in, or was it one that turned out to be a friendship for life?

This book has everything a wonderful book should have:  a beautiful writing style, characters you will become attached to, outstanding descriptions, an easily pulled into storyline, and a bit of secrecy and intrigue. Absolutely loved it. 5/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Unwritten by Charles Martin


A priest, a recluse, and an actress with the priest being the person who is connected to and the link to both of them.  Father Steady helped Sunday with a problem at one time in his life, and now Father Steady needed Sunday to help Katie with her problem.  

Can he and does he help her especially since Katie is not a likable person and is keeping a secret from the world?   Sunday unwillingly agrees to help because Father Steady asked him, but Sunday isn't very keen on the idea of helping a stranger. A stranger who eventually becomes a friend.

The first few pages of the book were very evasive, and the intrigue pulled me in immediately.  Actually, the entire book was filled with evasiveness, secrets, and characters with secrets and inner struggles. The author's writing style is insightful, brilliant, and a style that draws you in. 

Mr. Martin's descriptions of characters and landscapes were incredible and beautiful. You will experience amazing detail about the Everglades and bask in the lush descriptions that make you feel as though you are sitting with the characters.  You will also get a detailed, guided tour of Paris and the town of Langeais, France.  You will be drawn to Katie, the movie star, who was used to nothing but luxury, Father Steady, who can be called her saving grace, and Sunday who gets pulled into it all and doesn't know how or why he did.

The book has an uncommon, but exceptional theme. To me the book was addressing the fragility of humans and their choices no matter what their stations in life are and finding oneself using memories as the basis. Memories that in this case were painful.  It also addresses the issue of making the best of what life sends your way. 

The beginning pages were a bit confusing, but indistinct enough to keep you wondering what actually was happening and going to happen.  UNWRITTEN is definitely worth what I think was an "on purpose" ambiguity of the first chapter.  I thoroughly enjoyed the characters, the storyline, and the reflection.  This book was profound and powerful. 

UNWRITTEN is a book that will have you analyzing, reflecting, and examining life. Have some tissues handy for the ending. 
My final comment is this:  The one word you will use and the one I used as I turned the last page is:  WOW!!  5/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

Two women from different eras but with similar life stories.  How will that friendship progress?  

You will be mesmerized by this book that is based on a true part of American history.  ORPHAN TRAIN has magnificent detail and a wonderful storyline.  I was pulled in within five pages. The two alternating time periods telling about the lives of Vivian and Molly is beautifully told. They are two appealing and well-developed characters that you want to know more about and won't be disappointed in what you find.

This book addresses the life of orphans who arrived in the Midwest in the late 1920's on the orphan train that originated in New York and how they are treated as second class citizens by most of the adopted families.  It is told with enthusiasm and genuine compassion along with the detailing of feelings. 

You will feel the despair and helplessness of "Dorothy" as she moves from one household to another with the second one being worse than the first. The beautiful prose carries you along.  It makes you think about what is important in life and what you should keep with you and what you should leave behind and let go.

This book will pull at your heart strings and keep you up because you won't want to stop reading.  It brings two generations together each with good and bad memories to share.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading about a part of history I wasn’t aware of and with the added bonus of  Ms. Kline's incredible writing style. 

Don’t miss this splendid book.  You will fall in love with both main characters and wish you could be there with them as you learn about a not-often discussed part of American history. 5/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.