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Friday, February 27, 2015

TLC Book Tours Review: Girl Runner by Carrie Snyder

Title: Girl Runner
Author: Carrie Snyder
Format: ARC
Publisher: Harper
Publish Date: February 3, 2015
Source: TLC Book Tours

What's the Story?:

From "Girl Runner is the story of Aganetha Smart, a former Olympic athlete who was famous in the 1920s, but now, at age 104, lives in a nursing home, alone and forgotten by history. For Aganetha, a competitive and ambitious woman, her life remains present and unfinished in her mind.

When her quiet life is disturbed by the unexpected arrival of two young strangers, Aganetha begins to reflect on her childhood in rural Ontario and her struggles to make an independent life for herself in the city.

Without revealing who they are, or what they may want from her, the visitors take Aganetha on an outing from the nursing home. As ready as ever for adventure, Aganetha's memories are stirred when the pair return her to the family farm where she was raised. The devastation of WWI and the Spanish flu epidemic, the optimism of the 1920s and the sacrifices of the 1930s play out in Aganetha's mind, as she wrestles with the confusion and displacement of the present."

My Two Cents:

"Girl Runner" is the story of Aganetha, a now 104 year old, who has essentially been shuttered away in a nursing home. She tries not to dwell too much on her past as an Olympic runner for Canada. She seems to be looking for the end. She seems resigned to the idea that her best days are behind her and she is ready for her sunset. A young man and woman come looking for her at the nursing home and it drums up memories of Aggie's life that she never thought she would have to confront again.

This book was a little shaky for me. It took me awhile to get into the book. I was very interested in the part of the book that took place in the past. Seeing how Aggie goes from a farm girl to a runner was so interesting. She does some really amazing things in a time where women athletes were not prevalent at all. Aggie is truly a trailblazer. The present day story did not grab me very much at the beginning until the motives of the two young people who spring Aggie from the nursing home become clear. This does not happen until the middle to the end of the book so I kept wondering where this part of the story was going. I also wanted more out of the ending of the book.

The writing in the book is good and it definitely kept me reading and interested in the story. I really liked how Aggie's voice was captured. Snyder really makes us feel for her and care about her. I would love to read more by Snyder in the future.  

Follow the Rest of the Tour:

Tuesday, February 3rd: Bookshelf Fantasies
Wednesday, February 4th: BookNAround
Thursday, February 5th: Broken Teepee
Monday, February 9th: Lit and Life
Tuesday, February 10th: Books on the Table
Wednesday, February 11th: A Bookish Way of Life
Thursday, February 12th: missris
Monday, February 16th: The Discerning Reader
Wednesday, February 18th: Olduvai Reads
Thursday, February 19th: Helen’s Book Blog
Tuesday, February 24th: Fuelled by Fiction
Wednesday, February 25th: Jorie Loves a Story
Thursday, February 26th: A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall
Friday, February 27th: A Bookish Affair
TBD: Bee Splendid

Review: New Uses For Old Boyfriends by Beth Kendrick

Title: New Uses For Old Boyfriends
Author: Beth Kendrick
Format: Paperback
Publisher: NAL
Publish Date: February 3, 2015
Source: I received a copy from the PR; however, this did not affect my review.

What's the Story?:

From "After growing up in privilege and marrying into money, Lila Alders has gotten used to the good life. But when her happily-ever-after implodes, Lila must return to Black Dog Bay, the tiny seaside town where she grew up. She’s desperate for a safe haven, but everything has changed over the past ten years. Her family’s fortune is gone—and her mother is in total denial. It’s up to Lila to take care of everything...but she can barely take care of herself.

The former golden girl of Black Dog Bay struggles to reinvent herself by opening a vintage clothing boutique. But even as Lila finds new purpose for outdated dresses and tries to reunite with her ex, she realizes that sometimes it’s too late for old dreams. She’s lost everything she thought she needed but found something—someone—she desperately wants. A boy she hardly noticed has grown up into a man she can’t forget...and a second chance has never felt so much like first love."

My Two Cents:

In "New Uses for Old Boyfriends," Lila's life falls apart and the only place that she can think of to go is Black Dog Bay, her hometown. She finds that even her hometown has changed and the gold status that she once enjoyed is gone. Her mom's financial status is in ruins and she wants Lila to help her keep her home but she may be forced to leave her home behind. This book explores one woman's try at trying to put her life back together when the conditions are anything but easy.

This book takes place in the same super cute town as Kendrick's previous book, "Cure for the Common Break-up," a book that I really enjoyed. I was very excited to go back to Black Dog Bay. Although the story focuses on Lila mostly, we do get to know a great deal about the denizens of Black Dog Bay, which I loved. It is always nice to visit some old familiar characters!

Lila is a great character. She is definitely sort of humbled when she has to come home from a glamorous life that fell apart. Everyone held her in such high regard because of her great marriage and her great career. Lila can't help but to feel like she's coming back to town with her tail between her legs after her so-called perfect life is shattered. I really felt for her. I also liked how for the most part, she really begins to realize that she has to be the vehicle for her own happiness. Some of her ex-boyfriends come out of the woodwork to help her along the way. I really liked how the love matches in the book were dealt with. As with "Cure for the Common Break-up," Kendrick cooks up some leading males that are off the beaten path including a former military man with a penchant for sewing incredible things (a great surprise)!

I did not like this book quite as much as "Cure for the Common Break-up" as I liked the love story in that book a little bit better. However, "New Uses for Old Boyfriends" is still an adorable read with a lot of heart!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Review: The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider

Title: The Beginning of Everything
Author: Robyn Schneider
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Katherine Tegan
Publish Date: August 27, 2013
Source: Library

What's the Story?:

From "Golden boy Ezra Faulkner believes everyone has a tragedy waiting for them—a single encounter after which everything that really matters will happen. His particular tragedy waited until he was primed to lose it all: in one spectacular night, a reckless driver shatters Ezra’s knee, his athletic career, and his social life.

No longer a front-runner for Homecoming King, Ezra finds himself at the table of misfits, where he encounters new girl Cassidy Thorpe. Cassidy is unlike anyone Ezra’s ever met, achingly effortless, fiercely intelligent, and determined to bring Ezra along on her endless adventures.

But as Ezra dives into his new studies, new friendships, and new love, he learns that some people, like books, are easy to misread. And now he must consider: if one’s singular tragedy has already hit and everything after it has mattered quite a bit, what happens when more misfortune strikes?"

My Two Cents:

In "The Beginning of Everything," Ezra's life changes very quickly after a horrific accident. Ezra has prided himself on being a star athlete but the accident changes all of this. Now he finds himself on the "loser" debate team. He misses his old life but wants to make the best of the situation. I think this quote from the book says a lot about the story: "Oscar Wilde once said that to live is the rarest thing in the world, because most people just exist, and that’s all. I don’t know if he’s right, but I do know that I spend a long time existing, and now, I intend to live."

At first, it took me a little while to warm up to Ezra. He was very woe-is-me at the beginning of the book. While his friends don't seem to want to isolate him, Ezra seems so upset at the prospect of his life changing after the accident that he isolates himself and creates a divide between his old life and his new life. Eventually I warmed up to him as he seems to stop feeling sorry from himself and tries to move on (the divide between his old popular life and his new more unpopular life remains, which was interesting to me).

I did like the love story between him and Cassidy. Cassidy is vastly different from the girls that Ezra used to date (who mostly seem to be vapid silouettes of actual people). She is carefree, intelligent, and seems to be a good foil for Ezra but is hiding a lot. Ezra slowly starts to uncover Cassidy's past. This was probably one of the most interesting parts of the book for me.

Overall, this book was a little mixed for me but grew on me as the story went on.


Monday, February 16, 2015

TLC Book Tours: Author Guest Post and Giveaway by Dora Levy Mossanen

I am very excited to welcome Dora Levy Mossanen, author of Scent of Butterflies (see my review of the book here) to A Bookish Affair today!

 The title of this novel has gone through many, many reincarnations, before I decided to settle on Scent of Butterflies, which is a strange title, I know.  Perhaps it is this strangeness, then, that makes this title my favorite among the titles of all my books.

I bet that you had no idea that butterflies give off all types of scents.  But they do.  Just ask Soraya, my protagonist, and she will convince you.  So much so that from now on, your olfactory cells will twitch and tremble every time you come across a butterfly.  Warning: if ever tempted to catch a butterfly to smell it for yourself, make sure you do it gently.  Butterflies can easily lose the powdery scales on their wings, which can cause tears in their wings, which in turn will hamper their ability to fly.

In the twenty years it took me to write and rewrite Scent of Butterflies, my protagonist, Soraya, changed, grew, unraveled, and became increasingly obsessed with butterflies.  Why?  Because the name of her husband’s mistress is Parvaneh, which means Butterfly in Farsi.  So as the line between butterflies, the insects, and Butterfly, the mistress became increasingly blurred in Soraya’s mind, she began to plant butterfly friendly trees and plants in her garden to lure butterflies, which she trapped and studied obsessively in hope of learning more about Butterfly, her nemesis, the woman her husband is having an affair with.

Here then, is the scene in the novel that gave birth to the title of the book.  Soraya is studying a butterfly trapped in her net: “Unlike experts, I don’t have to go through a series of complicated rituals to detect the characteristics of a scent, the base notes and top notes, lock myself in dark rooms, or blow my nose clean, pinch my nostrils, sprinkle a handkerchief with perfume, and wave it in the air to bring out its gaseous state. No! I don’t need any of these rituals to detect that live butterflies smell different from dead ones. Still alive and active, like the one trembling in my net, they give off the odor of predators, acidic and pungent, similar to the stench of Butterfly’s Chanel No. 5. Reaching into the net, I tenderly rub the butterfly’s fuzzy warmth, caress the throbbing underbelly, stroke the quivering antennae. My forefinger crawls up to tease the erogenous spot on top of her head, the spot the aroused male fondles with his antennae…. Scarcely dead and still supple to my touch, she begins to give off the smell of public baths, humid and cloying and a bit dirty. And now, just this instant, limp and rendered harmless, she emits the bland odor of stale flowers.”

Are you convinced now that butterflies have different smells? 

Follow the Rest of the Tour:

Monday, February 2nd: My Book Self
Wednesday, February 4th: Bibliotica
Friday, February 6th: Back Porchervations
Friday, February 13th: Reading and Eating
Monday, February 16th: Chick Lit Central
Monday, February 16th: A Bookish Affair – guest post
Tuesday, February 17th: Savvy Verse and Wit
Wednesday, February 18th: Kahakai Kitchen
Monday, February 23rd: Bibliophiliac
Friday, February 27th: Shelf Pleasure – guest post
Monday, March 2nd: Snowdrop Dreams of Books
Tuesday, March 3rd: Too Fond
Thursday, March 5th: Patricia’s Wisdom
TBD: Books a la Mode – guest post


One lucky winner will win a copy of this great book (U.S./CAN only)! Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, February 15, 2015

A Favor

Guys, Kate Quinn is a phenomenal historical fiction author and a friend of mine. I will actually be on a panel with her and a few other amazing people during the 2015 Historical Novel Society Conference in Denver, CO in June. I am in awe of her writing and storytelling and not only is she a great writer, she is just an all around awesome person so I was very sad to hear that she and her husband suffered a very scary house fire this week!

There is a Gofundme fund (find it here!) that has been set up for Kate and her husband as they recover from this horrible situation. If you can (and I know money is tight for so many of us), please consider giving a little bit to the cause. 

If you can't contribute, maybe consider pre-ordering Kate's latest release, Lady of the Eternal City, which will be released on March 3rd? I got my hands on a copy early, read it this weekend, and it is absolutely fantastic (review forthcoming)!!! You can also check out any of her back list, which are fantastic as well.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Review: Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink

Title: Five Days at Memorial
Author: Sheri Fink
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Crown
Publish Date: September 10, 2013
Source: Library

What's the Story?:

From "In the tradition of the best investigative journalism, physician and reporter Sheri Fink reconstructs 5 days at Memorial Medical Center and draws the reader into the lives of those who struggled mightily to survive and to maintain life amid chaos.

After Katrina struck and the floodwaters rose, the power failed, and the heat climbed, exhausted caregivers chose to designate certain patients last for rescue. Months later, several health professionals faced criminal allegations that they deliberately injected numerous patients with drugs to hasten their deaths.

Five Days at Memorial, the culmination of six years of reporting, unspools the mystery of what happened in those days, bringing the reader into a hospital fighting for its life and into a conversation about the most terrifying form of health care rationing."

My Two Cents:

Wow! I've been trying to fit a little more non-fiction in my reading diet and this book was definitely a good pick. I was pretty much totally captivated all the through the entire book. This book is definitely a page turner. The book takes place during Hurricane Katrina in a hospital in New Orleans. As the situation gets more and more dire, the doctors are forced to make decisions that bring up many questions about ethics. There is so much to think about in this book and I know that this is definitely a book that is going to stay with me for a very long time after I finished.

I really think that books about ethical decisions are fascinating. What do you do when you are faced with a situation where any decision is more than likely going to have really bad consequences? The doctors and hospital staff are faced with terrible choices in this book. I have no idea what I would have done if I were in their place.

The writing in this book is great and can best be described as long-form journalism. I like that the author really left it up to the readers to decide what they felt about the situation. I love books that make you think. It feels like you get to get a little more involved with the book. Fink drew on many, many interviews in order to recreate what happened in Memorial during the storm. You can see what the hospital looked like as the water began to encroach on it. You can smell the horrible conditions. You can see the doctors, patients, and family and feel just how much they must have wanted to get out of that place.

Being interested in strategic planning, I also found the discussion on how the hospital did not really have a plan in place for what to do in a situation like a hurricane, which New Orleans sees quite frequently. This event spurred other hospitals to look at what they needed to be able to do when a major disaster happened, which Fink looks at a little bit.

Overall, this is a great read!


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Review: Just My Typo: From "Sinning with the Choir" to "the Untied States" by Drummond Moir

Title: Just My Typo: From "Sinning with the Choir" to "the Untied States"
Author: Drummond Moir
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Three Rivers Press
Publish Date: July 8, 2014
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.

What's the Story?:

From "From the sublime to the ridiculous, Just My Typo is a hilarious collection of typographical errors, slips of the pen and embarrassing misprints which, like any typo of any kind, should never have happened, cannot be excused, and must not in any way be glorified. Enjoy.

You’ll travel back in time to meet great figures from history: Sir Francis Drake (who circumcised the world in a small ship), Queen Victoria (who pissed graciously over the Menai Bridge), and Rambo (the famous French poet).

You’ll find moral instruction (‘Blessed are the meek, for they shall irrigate the earth’) and pearls of wisdom (‘love is just a passing fanny’).

You’ll be outraged by politicians who exploit disasters to boost their pubic profiles; entranced by lambs that gamble in the fields; concerned for a man who was admitted to hospital suffering from severe buns; and appalled to meet 11-year-old twins Helen and Ugh."

My Two Cents:

"Just My Typo" is a funny collection of typos. Some of them I have seen before (typos seem to be popular viral fodder for the internet) but some of them were brand new to me and were very funny. We readers and writers are a funny breed. We love the written word and when the written word goes wrong, something poignant can easily turn into something that is either hilarious, embarrassing, or both. This book is a collection of an editor's worst nightmare!

This book is perfect for those who like to read and to write. I do a little of both and I also love editing. If you don't have a good editor, you may miss something that totally changes the meaning of what you're writing. It was fascinating to me to see how many small mistakes totally changed what was being said. Some of the mistakes I laughed pretty hard at!

I could see this being for a really great gift book for the reader, writer, or editor in your life! Very funny!

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