The Promise by Ann Weisgarber

>>  Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Promise by Ann Weisgarber
Published by Mantle
ISBN: 978-0230745650
Published March 14, 2013
Hardcover,304  pages

On the shuttle bus, returning back to my hotel from BEA, I met Herman Graf, the acquiring editor and consultant for Skyhorse Publishing. We struck up a friendly conversation about books and everything else under the sun. He told me I absolutely had to read The Promise. So I made my own promise to him, and read it when I returned to Montreal.

The Promise is one of those books that holds the reader's attention because of the fine tension the author builds between the characters. In this story, the tension builds parallel to the setting: 1900 Galveston Island, Texas, the year it experienced the hurricane that was the worst U.S. disaster in the twentieth century. The Promise is a heartbreaking novel, not bawl-your-eyes-out heartbreaking, but one filled with sadness, longing and lost opportunities.

Catherine Wainwright, a young pianist, who has an affair with the wrong man, ends up being shunned by society and escapes in a hurried marriage to Oscar Williams. He is a recently widowed man with a small son, Andre, and he owns a farm in Galveston, Texas. The marriage affords her respectability, a home, and a place away from society, but it is a far cry from the pampered life she was used to. Nan Ogden, the young housekeeper who made a promise to Oscar's late wife that she would take care of Andre, does not like Catherine, and harbors her own feelings for Oscar.

The story is told from alternating point-of-views, which worked well for this story. We get to see things from both Catherine and Nan's perspectives, which is brilliant because as a reader I felt pulled on both sides, which, once again, built that high-strung tension that leads to the storm both internally and externally. The characters are well-built, the island life came to life, and the devastation from the storm is keenly felt.

I turned the last page with sadness, but also with contentment. This was a very good story. It made me reflect on the consequences of keeping secrets, of not taking care of personal issues at the right time, of learning to put the past behind and move forward. Ann Weisgarber is a talented writer, with the ability to create believable characters that come to life and the imagination to build a good story based on an historical event that actually took place. Highly recommended for fans of literary fiction.

Note: This book is rated C = clean read.

Reviewed by Laura

Disclosure: I borrowed this book from the library. I was not told how to rate or review this product.


What Counts Most is How You Finish by Shelia Payton

>>  Monday, August 25, 2014

I have a great book on tour with iRead Book Tours this month, and it's reviewed here by guest blogger Laura Hogan. I met the author at BEA and liked her immediately. See why my guest blogger, who read the book, thinks the advice is worth paying attention to.

What Counts Most is How You Finish: Thoughts on Living Life to the Fullest by Shelia Payton
ISBN: 978-1165364982
Published January 26, 2012
Trade paperback, 274 pages

What Counts the Most is How You Finish has a great deal of advice, organized as short essays grouped into 7 categories, including: Being You, Taking Care of You, Dealing with People, Overcoming Challenges, Staying Focused, Achieving Success and Making a Difference.

Since the author is not a psychologist, counsellor or therapist, but rather a woman who has earned success in areas as diverse as journalism, entrepreneurship and teaching, it has a fresh and practical perspective. For example, the chapter entitled “How to Be Tough-Minded Without Being Hard-Hearted” has some specific and interesting counsel on how to distinguish between people who are ‘asking for help because they are really trying to stand on their own two feet’ and ‘those who are asking for help because they don’t want to take the initiative to stand on their own two feet’ [italics mine]. It is kindly straight talk for both the helper and (indirectly) for the ‘helpee’.

Payton encourages the development of deep-seated kindness and positive focus in an unjust world. She frankly acknowledges that there are situations wherein people will deliberately throw obstacles in your path or even well-meaning people will act on baseless assumptions, but emphasizes that we can turn even these situations to our advantage.

The repeated theme of ‘learning is never wasted’ is excellent and the author reveals how to apply this counsel as she relates various personal experiences, from seeking out extra credit work to get the grade deserved or dealing with being passed over for promotion by people she had trained.

Many of the essays would be a good ‘jumping off point’ for discussions with pre-teens through to young adults, perhaps being less intimidating than a more typical self-help book. It is not clinical or trite, but rather editorial in nature, with the observations and experience of someone who lives with integrity.

Ultimately, the gist of the book is to encourage people to develop a life plan and then to cultivate the ability and the habit to consider the consequences of their actions (both for themselves and others) before making the decisions that will help them to achieve their goals. Its positive message also includes encouragement for those who find themselves in the predicament of having to work to correct previous bad decisions. What Counts Most is How You Finish is not the self-styled guru’s answer to everything—it's meant to stimulate meaningful and lively discussion….and it does a pretty good job.

Note: This book is rated C = clean read.

About the Author:
Shelia Payton is an entrepreneur, former newspaper reporter, corporate manager and educator who spent all of her early life and much of her career in a time when people of color and women in this country were pushing for greater inclusion at all levels of society, and seeking greater opportunities to live life to the fullest.

Like others in her generation, Shelia had to face and overcome barriers to entering and succeeding in non-traditional jobs, and create a place in civic and leadership settings. Also like others in her generation, Shelia’s motivation has not just been about what she can accomplish for herself, but also how she can open up opportunities for future generations. Shelia’s current focus is on creating books, plays and music that build human connections by breaking down barriers and stereotypes.

Visit Shelia's website:

Reviewed by Laura Hogan (guest blogger)

Disclosure: Thanks to the author and iRead Book Tours for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.


Mailbox Monday and It's Monday, What are You Reading? August 25 Edition

>>  Sunday, August 24, 2014

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia who now blogs at To Be Continued. It is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. Mailbox Monday now has a permanent home on its blog. Link up to share your MM.

These are the last days of summer, and we're packing in all kinds of activities, especially since my sister is in town from Switzerland. Thanks for all your comments! I will be making the rounds later this week, and hopefully September will afford me more blog time and commenting.

I have two giveaways still running. Check my left sidebar and enter the ones you like. :-)

This is what I got for review:

Who Knows Tomorrow: A Memoir of Finding Family Among the Lost Children of Africa by Lisa Lovatt-Smith

Born in Spain and raised by a struggling single mother, Lisa Lovatt-Smith became an editor at BritishVogue at nineteen, the youngest in Condé Nast history. She helped launch Spanish Vogue and partied across Europe with celebrities, fashion designers, photographers, and supermodels.

By her thirties, Lisa has her dream career and a glamorous life in Paris, but when her adopted daughter Sabrina is expelled from school, Lisa takes her to volunteer in a Ghanaian orphanage in the hopes of getting her back on track. What she discovers there changes both their lives for good.

Appalled by the deplorable conditions she finds, Lisa moves to Ghana permanently and founds OAfrica, dedicating her personal resources to reuniting hundreds of Ghanaian children with their families and spearheading a drive to shut down corrupt orphanages. On this unforgettable journey, Lisa confronts death threats, malaria, arson, and heartbreaking poverty; she also discovers truly inspiring children trapped in limbo by a moneymaking scheme bigger than she ever imagined.
Who Knows Tomorrow is the engaging, frank, and often surprisingly funny story of one amazing woman who has traveled the globe in search of meaningful connection. Although to Lisa her story will always be about the children, it’s also a touching celebration of a woman who is talented, generous, and unfailingly courageous.

My Year of Epic Rock by Andrea Pyros

Nina Simmons' song would be "You Can't Always Eat What You Want." (Peanut allergies, ugh). But that's okay, because as her best friend Brianna always said, "We're All in This Together."

Until the first day of the seventh grade, when Brianna dumps her to be BFFs with the popular new girl. Left all alone, Nina is forced to socialize with "her own kind"--banished to the peanut-free table with the other allergy outcasts. As a joke, she tells her new pals they should form a rock band called EpiPens. (Get it?) Apparently, allergy sufferers don't understand sarcasm, because the next thing Nina knows she's the lead drummer.

Now Nina has to decide: adopt a picture-perfect pop personality to fit in with Bri and her new BFF or embrace her inner rocker and the spotlight. Well..

Call Me a Rock Star, Maybe.

The Sea House by Elizabeth Gifford

In 1860, Alexander Ferguson, a newly ordained vicar and amateur evolutionary scientist, takes up his new parish, a poor, isolated patch on the remote Scottish island of Harris. He hopes to uncover the truth behind the legend of the selkies—mermaids or seal people who have been sighted off the north of Scotland for centuries. He has a more personal motive, too; family legend states that Alexander is descended from seal men. As he struggles to be the good pastor he was called to be, his maid Moira faces the terrible eviction of her family by Lord Marstone, whose family owns the island. Their time on the island will irrevocably change the course of both their lives, but the white house on the edge of the dunes keeps its silence long after they are gone.

It will be more than a century before the Sea House reluctantly gives up its secrets. Ruth and Michael buy the grand but dilapidated building and begin to turn it into a home for the family they hope to have. Their dreams are marred by a shocking discovery. The tiny bones of a baby are buried beneath the house; the child's fragile legs are fused together—a mermaid child. Who buried the bones? And why? To heal her own demons, Ruth feels she must discover the secrets of her new home—but the answers to her questions may lie in her own traumatic past. The Sea House by Elisabeth Gifford is a sweeping tale of hope and redemption and a study of how we heal ourselves by discovering our histories.

Won at Bluerose's Heart (Thank you!):

The Hope Quotient by Ray Johnston

Hope: It’s the one thing that can change everything!

When you have hope, eleven things are unleashed in your life:
You have more satisfying relationships.
You’re more productive.
You’re less affected by stress.
You’re more successful.
You’re more satisfied.
You’re more compassionate.
You’re more willing to help people in need.
You’re physically healthier.
You hold yourself to higher moral and ethical standards.
You’re more likely to assume leadership.
You’re more likely to see God as loving, caring, and forgiving.

This book will help you discover your HQ level and learn the seven key factors that, when built into your life, unleash hope. When you have genuine hope—not trite, pious platitudes but authentic hope that produces inner strength and confidence—anything is possible.

This meme is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. This is where we keep track of what we are currently reading and plan to read.  The kidlit version is hosted by Jen at Teach Mentor Texts.

Read and reviewed:
The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell (Reviewed by Sandra)

Currently Reading:

Mao's Last Dancer by Li Cunxin (for my book club)

Have you read any of these books?


The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell

>>  Friday, August 22, 2014

The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell
ISBN: 978-0399161469
Published: May 7, 2013
Published by: Putnam Adult
Hardcover, 368 pages

Wow! This debut novel, a psychological thriller, evoked a feeling of unease in me that only intensified as one page followed the next.

It is 1920’s Prohibition-era New York City. The narrator, Rose Baker, works as a typist in a police precinct transcribing the confessions of gangsters and murderers. Rose is prim, proper, plain, and naïve, always following “the rules” and living a humdrum life. One day a new typist, “the other typist”, by the name of Odalie is hired and Rose’s life changes forever. Rose quickly becomes obsessed with Odalie, who is beautiful, elegant, sophisticated, rich, and...?

I found the character development of Rose and Odalie to be excellently drawn and complex. Who really are these women? The reader never quite “gets” who the mysterious Odalie is, nor Rose either, for that matter.

I loved the author’s description of New York City and the 1920’s – bobbed hair, speakeasies, bathtub gin, and the glamour. The reference to Clara Bow, an actress of the day, added to the authenticity. It was as if I time-travelled.

The story is about obsession and what is truth, among other moral dilemmas. It left me guessing until the very end. It was a rollercoaster read of twists and turns that is not to be missed.

 Note: This book is rated C = clean read.

Reviewed Sandra

Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my local library. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.


Mailbox Monday and It's Monday, What Are You Reading? August 18 Edition

>>  Sunday, August 17, 2014

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia who now blogs at To Be Continued. It is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. Mailbox Monday now has a permanent home on its blog. Link up to share your MM.

I also have lots of giveaways happening this month. Check my left sidebar for these and enter the ones you like. :-)

This is what came in last week:

Somebody on This Bus Is Going to be Famous by J.B. Cheaney

Who's it going to be?

Spencer's the smart kid. Shelly's the diva. Miranda's the scaredy-cat. Matthew's just average (so far). In fact, there's nothing about any of the nine middle-schoolers on Mrs. B's bus route that screams "fame." But before the end of the year, somebody on this bus is going to be famous.

Every morning, their school bus waits at an empty bus stop. Nobody evergets on. Nobody ever gets off.

And Mrs. B refuses to answer questions about it. Strangest of all, it's Bender the bully who decides to investigate the mystery. But it will take all nine students to find out the truth, for each of them has a clue to the mystery that will change their lives forever.

Award-winning author J.B. Cheaney's new middle grade novel weaves nine distinctive narratives into one fascinating read. Part detective story, part tale of self-discovery, this funny and touching novel is destined to be a modern classic.

Flare by Kallie George

Flare is a tough little phoenix. He never cries. But everyone needs to cry sometimes. Will his guardians, Sun, Wind and Cloud, find a way to show him how?

The second book in the Tiny Tails series provides comforting reassurance that it's okay to express our emotions.

This meme is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. This is where we keep track of what we are currently reading and plan to read.  The kidlit version is hosted by Jen at Teach Mentor Texts.

Read and reviewed:
The Supreme Macaroni Company by Adriana Trigiani (Reviewed by Sandra with giveaway)

Bookish Posts
The Country Doctor by Jean McConnell (Book spotlight and giveaway)
Deadly Errors by Allen Wyler (Book spotlight and giveaway)
The Maze Runner Book to Movie Read-Along - Have you been meaning to read this book? Then join us so we can discuss it together.

New monthly meme on LCR:
Listen Up! Monthly Link-Up for Your Audiobook Reviews (Are you reviewing audiobooks? Be sure to link them up so other bloggers can read them too.)

Currently Reading:

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

"The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them."
— Mark Twain

Find the best prices for the books you love!


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