Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Weight of Heaven by Thrity Umrigar

 The Weight of Heaven is a beautifully written novel about a painful period in the life of an American couple, Frank and Ellie Benton. Frank and Ellie’s only son, seven-year old Benny, has died from meningitis. Frank was away for work during the sudden illness and he blames Ellie for Benny’s death. After Frank is offered a job in India, the two decided to take the job in Girbaug and start life anew.

While in Girbaug, Frank befriends a young boy, Ramesh that is the son of the servants at their home. Ramesh is very smart and at first Frank is helping Ramesh with his homework, and then he is calling him his son. Ellie is not keen on their relationship and also doesn’t like how Frank’s work treats the local people of Girbaug. Ramesh’s father does not appreciate Frank trying to usurp his place. It causes much tension for all concerned and the book leads to a shocking conclusion.
I enjoyed the story (although it made me cry at times), but even more, I enjoyed Umrigar’s fabulous use of language. One example of this is “Ellie felt she had a glimpse of what it meant to be a man who was married to a cloud – ever-shifting, hard to pin down, filtering light but also holding rain.” I liked the bonus features that were at the end of the novel as well and think it would be a fabulous for a book club read.  I also really enjoyed that part of the novel was set in Ann Arbor, in my home state of Michigan.  The many Michigan references always gave me a smile.

Overall The Weight of Heaven was an engrossing drama filled with wonderful writing that has me wanting to check out Umrigar’s other novels.

I read The Weight of Heaven as part of the TLC Book Tour.

The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty

Title: The Chaperone

Author: Laura Moriarty
Read by: Elizabeth McGovern
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Length: Approximately 13 hours (11 CDs)
Source: Penguin Audio Review Copy

The Chaperone is a fascinating historical fiction novel that was an enjoyable listening experience during my journey to and from work each day. In The Chaperone, Cora Carlisle decides to do something radical for the Wichita Kansas housewife. She decides to spend the summer as a chaperone for fifteen year old Louise Brooks as she attends a dance school and hopes for the big time in New York City. Louise is not pleased with having a chaperone, but Cora has ulterior motives of her own. Cora has a secret she has kept secret her entire adult life, she was an orphan on one of the infamous orphan trains to the west from New York City thirty years earlier. Cora is determined to use her free time while Louise is at dance to track down more information about her parents and her past.

Read by Elizabeth McGovern (Cora, Countess of Grantham in Downtown Abbey), I couldn’t help but envision Cora as played by McGovern in a movie version. I loved listening to this book on my long drive to and from work and was very engrossed in Cora’s story. The only point I didn’t like was that sometimes McGovern had a very thick “Kansas” accent that I didn’t really identify with anyone I’ve met from Kansas before (and I’ve visited the state).

This audiobook is a wonderful story with a riveting narrator. Don’t enter the book looking for a story centered on Louise Brooks, but to a story of a woman who survived the orphan train growing up and finding herself on her trip to New York City.

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt was our FLICKS August book pick and the consensus was that we all liked this book. Poor CeeCee has a mentally ill Southern mother living in the cold North. Her mother was the 1951 Vidalia Onion Queen and can’t quite seem to get beyond that. Her father doesn’t want to deal with the situation and spends the majority of his time on the road for work. After tragedy strikes, CeeCee’s great-aunt Tootie rescues her and moves her to Georgia. There a lot of homespun Southern goodness ensues.

I liked the story and how Hoffman gave depth to characters that you would love to hate (i.e. CeeCee’s father), but that she added enough in to make you question their motives. One problem I had with the story is that I don’t think it accurately represents the racial realities of the 1960s Georgia and things may be “whitewashed” a little. Overall though, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt was a good story, with fantastic, unique characters.

I Hate Everyone . . . Starting with Me by Joan Rivers

Title: I Hate Everyone . . . Starting with Me

Author: Joan Rivers
Read by: Joan Rivers
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Length: Approximately 5 hours (4 CDs)
Source: Penguin Audio Review Copy

My husband heard great reviews of this book and knows that I love a good laugh while I’m on my daily commute. When he saw I got it in the mail to review, he told me I should listen to it. It is basically a five hour comedy act from Joan Rivers on a diatribe about all that she hates in life. And she hates a lot. Luckily she doesn’t come off as totally unlikeable as she is more than willing to make fun of herself, but truthfully, the negativity was okay for one CD, but went on for three CDs too long. It was funny at the beginning, but started to only make me sad the last three CDs. In the future, I’d rather listen to a one hour routine from Joan Rivers.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Winner of the Georgette Heyer Birthday Giveaway!

The lucky winner of the grab bag of three Georgette Heyer novels from Sourcebooks is Laura Hartness from the lovely blog, The Calico Critic.  Laura was chosen not for her lovely name, but by random.org and was notified via email.  She has one week to send me her mailing address, otherwise a new winner will be chose.
Thank-you to all who entered this wonderful giveaway.  Don't worry, I have not disappeared, but am in the depths of starting instruction of college classes this semester for the brand new program I have started.  I'm still reading, but not sleeping much.  Stay tuned for some brief book reviews to try to catch myself back up!!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Happy 110th Birthday Georgette Heyer Giveaway!!

I love Georgette Heyer.  For someone like me that loves books written in the mid twentieth century and also loves historical fiction, I curiously didn't discover Heyer until about five years ago when I was in my late twenties.   I had recently moved to Kewaunee and was checking out the public library located so conviently close to my new home.  I picked up an interesting looking book (Sylvester by Georgette Heyer) and checked it out.  I was hooked soon after reading it and couldn't stop reading all of the Heyer novels that the library had.  I soon ran through them and was on the look-out for more. I discovered that Sourcebooks was printing great new editions of the books and soon began my collection.  I still have many Heyer novels I haven't read yet, but I can't wait to read them.

My second post on this site was about my love for Georgette Heyer.  I have loved many of her novels, but my favorite so far has been Cotillion.  As I stated in my review of the novel, ". The novel surprised me by taking the story line in a different direction than I supposed. By the end, I realized that Heyer had subtly changed my mind about the characters and had brought about the conclusion that I may not have expected, but by that point really wanted."

What is your "Heyer moment?"  This month Sourcebooks is allowing me to host an exciting giveaway with details below . . .

Giveaway Details
From the Publisher:  "Georgette Heyer, the “Queen of Regency Romance,” is one of the most beloved authors of all time, and Sourcebooks couldn’t be more thrilled to be her North American publishing home: all 52 of her delightful novels are back in print!

Over the years we have come to find that fans of Heyer’s work all have “Heyer moments”—stories about how they discovered her, which novel is their favorite, how they used to sneak and read their mother’s copies, and so on.

We LOVE hearing these stories from fans, and what better time to sing the praises of one of our favorite authors then on the anniversary of her 110th birthday!

In light of the anniversary, Sourcebooks wants to ask readers: “How did YOU discover Georgette Heyer?”

Answer this question by posting your comment below by August 15th as part of our celebration. Blog readers can participate by commenting why they love Georgette Heyer and their own personal “Heyer moment,” or why those who have never read her novels want to start!

 One winner will be chosen from the comments and will receive a surprise grab-bag prize pack of 3 different Heyer novels: 1 Romance, 1 Mystery, 1 Historical Fiction (U.S. and Canada winners only).

Sourcebooks is also hosting these great Heyer deals this month as well!

All Available Georgette Heyer eBooks on sale for $2.99 from Tuesday August 14th – Monday August 20th! http://www.sourcebooks.com/readers/browse-our-lists/ebook-specials/1776-happy-birthday-ms-heyer-ebooks-for-299.html
Get 30% off any Heyer print book during the whole month of August at the Sourcebooks store by using the coupon code HEYER at checkout!http://www.sourcebooks.com/store/fiction/georgette-heyer/
Also, check out our Georgette Heyer Facebook page where we will be having discussions, parties and giveaways!