Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Just writing a short post to apologize for being absent so long - things have well and truly blown up at work and my days and nights are consumed with crisis management at the moment. I miss reading the blogs and posting my reviews but I cannot carve the time out right now. I pulled two all nighters last week alone (and I realized I don't bounce back from them the way I did in college!). I hope things settle down soon so I can once again take comfort in my book blogs!

Fortunately, I am still reading since it does help me unwind and sleep at night so I will have lots of reviews to post soon! Hope to be back to blogging shortly!

Monday, April 19, 2010

In My Mailbox/Mailbox Monday: April 19, 2010

Story Siren hosts In My Mailbox where book bloggers offer a peek into the books that arrived in their homes over the past week. Mailbox Monday hosted by Marcia at the Printed Page has the same objective. These memes are great in that they offer us a chance to see what others are reading- it's like candy for book addicts!

This was a very light week - two books arrived from paperbackswap.com. Since my IMM/MM post was the only one that made it up last week due to a CRAZY schedule at work, it's probably for the best that I didn't receive too many books! It would only have put me further behind!

Home Safe: A Novel by Elizabeth Berg. I have read several of Berg's books over the years and always find her writing to be thoughtful and almost poetic. I have seen good reviews of this book and am looking forward to reading it.

The Accidental Family by Rowan Coleman. I discovered the prequel to this novel,The Accidental Mother, one day at the bookstore - I saw it on a table and since I like British authors and the story looked interesting, I picked it up. Since then, I have read several of Coleman's books and am excited to get back to the characters that initially drew me to the author!

What came into your home this week?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Review: Alexandra, Gone by Anna McPartlin

From Simon and Schuster.com:

Once, Jane Moore and Alexandra Walsh were inseparable, sharing secrets and stolen candy, plotting their futures together. But when Jane became pregnant at seventeen, they drifted slowly apart. Jane has spent the years since raising her son, now seventeen himself, on her own, running a gallery, managing her sister’s art career, and looking after their volatile mother—all the while trying not to resent the limited choices life has given her.

Then a quirk of fate and a faulty elevator bring Jane into contact with Tom, Alexandra’s husband, who has some shocking news. Alexandra disappeared from a south Dublin suburb months ago, and Tom has been searching fruitlessly for her. Jane offers to help, as do the elevator’s other passengers—Jane’s brilliant but self-absorbed sister, Elle, and Leslie Sheehan, a reclusive web designer who’s ready to step back into the world again. And as Jane quickly realizes, Tom isn’t the only one among them who’s looking for something . . . or traveling toward unexpected revelations about love, life, and what it means to let go, in every sense.

In this insightful and irresistible novel, by turns profound, poignant, and laugh- out-loud funny, acclaimed Irish writer Anna McPartlin tells a story of friendship and love, of the families we are born into and the ones we create for ourselves, and of the hope and strength that remain when we fi nd the courage to leave the past behind at last.

My Review:
Alexandra, Goneby Anna McPartlin opens with the disappearance of Alexandra one afternoon in Dublin. The reader knows little about her but witnesses her disappearance and the subsequent devastation of her husband, Tom, and her family as they desperately hold out hope that she will be found healthy and safe. While looking for Alexandra, Tom has a chance meeting in a broken elevator with Leslie, Elle and Elle's sister, Jane. The four soon band together in the search for Alexandra and through that process come to know each other and to share their personal tragedies.

Each of the four main characters has their own storyline:

Jane is raising her teenage son alone but still loves her son's father, her teenage sweetheart. She is the matriarch of her family and takes responsibility for not only her sister Elle's career but the rest of life too - she manages her money, provides her with a home and is the rock upon which Elle relies. In addition to Elle, Jane is responsible for their alcoholic mother who lives with her and is prone to rude outbursts.

Elle is the boisterous and unpredictable artist who makes unwise decisions in love and tends to live life in extremes - she is very much the opposite of Jane but their love and affection for each other is clear.

Leslie is the solitary remaining living member of her family - cancer has ravaged the family's gene pool and she has lost both parents and two sisters to the disease. She knows she has the faulty gene that led to the early demise of her sisters due to ovarian or breast cancer and she essentially shuts down, closes herself off from people and relationships while she waits for her inevitable diagnosis and early death.

Tom is devastated by his young wife's disappearance and his life slowly unravels after she goes missing. His relationship with his in-laws is strained as many of them blame him for her disappearance; as a result, he finds himself increasingly alone in his search for his wife and his desperation until he is trapped in the elevator with the three women who sign on for his search and rally around him.

The story is essentially told around the absence of Alexandra - we learn very little about her throughout the novel and the real revelations are in the lives of the four main characters who are tied together in their search for Alexandra. At some point, I found myself almost forgetting about Alexandra as I became more and more drawn into the stories of the four main characters. Because the story is told from the points of view of these four main characters (with a few other minor ones thrown in for good measure), the novel seemed a little choppy to me in the beginning - I felt as if I barely knew any character well enough to care about them and kept wondering when I would learn more about Alexandra. But once I realized that the book was really not about Alexandra and the stories behind each of the four main characters began to unfold, I found I could not put the book down! In the last third of the novel, the revelations come fast and furious for each of the four main characters. Their stories were often very emotional as they dealt with histories of mental illness, sacrificed dreams and the loss of loved ones. I definitely shed a tear or two in the last part of the book.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel - even though some of the themes are quite heavy (death, loss, mental illness), the author infuses the dialogue with humor and quips which helps to lighten the mood of the novel. I am now eager to move onto the other novels by the author currently on my shelf - Pack Up the Moon,Apart from the Crowd, and As Sure As the Sun.

Thanks to Sarah Reidy from Simon and Schuster for sending me the review copy of this novel. The review meets the criteria for the Ireland Challenge 2010

Monday, April 12, 2010

In My Mailbox/Mailbox Monday: April 12, 2010

Story Siren hosts In My Mailbox where book bloggers offer a peek into the books that arrived in their homes over the past week. Mailbox Monday hosted by Marcia at the Printed Page has the same objective. These memes are great in that they offer us a chance to see what others are reading- it's like candy for book addicts!

Here is what arrived this week . . .

Everyone Else's Girl by Megan Crane: This looks like a light fun read - I am looking forward to it.

The God of Small Things: A Novel by Arundhati Roy: This arrived from Bookmooch. I ordered after many recommendations. I plan to read it for the South Asian Authors Challenge.

Guest House by Barbara Richardson: This arrived for review - I will be reviewing it in the last week of this month.

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt: A Novel by Beth Hoffman: Everyone seems to have loved this book - I am looking forward to reading it! Thanks to Dar at Peeking Between the Pages - it was a win from her site!

What came into your home this week?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sunday Salon: Read a Thon Wrap Up Edition

The Sunday Salon.com

Yesterday I participated in Dewey's 24 Hour Read a Thon - well, I really only ended up participating for about 8 hours. Last week was crazy at work and I was out of town for business meetings and didn't get home until late on Friday night. On Saturday, I had some tax stuff that I could not put off any longer . . . so I ended up not settling down to read until about 3 pm - a full 7 hours into the Read a Thon! For the next Read a Thon, I will definitely prepare better - get a good night's sleep the night before and clear my schedule of all errands and obligations.

Despite my late start, I had a blast! It was such a social experience - from the other readers to the cheerleaders and the hourly updates on the Read a Thon blog, it really felt like a party! I found that once I settled into reading that I hit a rhythm - I would read for about an hour and then check the read a thon blog to see what was going on that hour and if there was a mini-challenge that I wanted to do. I would spend about 15 mins on the blogs including checking in on others and then get back to my book for another hour. I even one a prize later in the evening - a copy of Whistlin' Dixie in a Nor'easter which has been on my wishlist for awhile - yahoo! Prizes aside, I will definitely do the next Read a Thon (and prep better!) and I think I will add a stint as a cheerleader - they made such a difference in my experience - I would definitely like to pay that forward!

What Did I Read?
During the Read A Thon, I only read one book but it was a great one - The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott. I am so glad I had the chance to really immerse myself in this book - I felt as if I was transported to Walpole, MA in the 1800's. In cruising the blogs today, I discovered I was not alone in reading this book for the Read a Thon - Florinda from The 3 Rs Blog and Lisa from Lit and Life also worked it into their plans for the read a thon. I am looking forward to reading their reviews to see if they liked it as much as I did - my review will be up later this week.

After I finished Lost Summer of LMA, I dipped in and out of How to Achieve a Heaven on Earth which is a collection of essays on key elements of life - it is divided into sections on Health, Prosperity, Democracies, Racial Harmony, the Environment and more. The author list is impressive - Barack Obama, Thomas Friedman, Tony Blair, and George Bush to name a few. It was perfect as I grew tired at the end of the night - its not the type of book that I would read in one sitting anyway. I liked what I read from the collection last night (one essay on health and one on prosperity) and I will be reading more soon - I will also feature a longer review of the book.

What is up this week?

I am getting away to sunny Florida at the end of this week for a few days of R&R - yay! I am looking forward to getting some good reading done on the flights and while relaxing by the beach. On the blog I will post reviews of the following books:

The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott (I will also be joining the discussion with the author on Wednesday on Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin'?)

The Season of Second Chances: A Novel (there will also be a giveaway of my ARC)

Alexandra, Gone(my blog tour stop is on Tuesday)

The Smart One and the Pretty One

I hope my fellow read a thon-ers have recovered from the lack of sleep and wish you all a great week ahead!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Read a Thon: Hour 17

By no means have I been reading for 17 hours - I got a late start this morning and then ended up napping in the afternoon. But the last 4 hours or so have been uninterrupted and I realize how much more you enjoy a book when you can really absorb yourself in it!

I am a night person so its no surprise that I am hitting my stride at this late hour but I will likely head to bed after I finish my current read (Lost Summer of LMA) and wake early to try to squeeze in one more. I realize to make the most of the Read A Thon, I really should have done some better advanced planning including getting a really good night of sleep last night and clearing my schedule of annoying errands and chores. Jennifer at the Literate Housewife is hosting a mini-challenge that addresses planning for the Read A Thon - my planning could use some help so I am excited to see what others have done but here was my feeble attempt:

  1. What steps did you take to ensure you’d be able to read as much as possible today?
Apparently, not nearly enough! I left some last minute tax stuff to today that I needed to get to the accountant so I lost valuable time finishing that chore. I did make sure I didn't have any other plans so all was not lost!

Of those steps, which proved to be the most beneficial to your day?
I guess not having anything else on the agenda so I could devote myself to reading when I finally settled into it - I am in a rhythm now!

Is there anything you might do differently next time?

Definitely get more rest the week prior to the event!

Late Entry to Read a Thon!

I was looking forward to participating in the Read a Thon but had a tough week at work, had tax stuff to finish and was out of town all week attending meetings . . . but I had a good night's rest and am recharged so I am jumping in to the Read a Thon!

Welcome to the Read a Thon . . .

Where are you reading from today? My apartment in NYC - will likely shuffle between the bed, easy chair and couch

3 facts about me …

  1. I am a candy addict
  2. I love to travel
  3. I have a terrible sense of direction - spin me around and I could get lost!

How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours? I don't have a hard number yet - I want to see how this goes. But so far, I have the following on deck

The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott

Alexandra Gone

Very Valentine

Kiss My Tiara

Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)? No goals yet - just excited to be part of it and see how I progress

First up - The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott - I have already started this and am loving it!

will check back later . . .

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Sunday Salon: April 4, 2010

The Sunday Salon.com

I am a little late getting to TSS today - it was an absolutely beautiful day here and I spent much of it outside enjoying the lovely weather. After a long walk down to Battery Park City, a friend and I enjoyed a delicious lunch at Friedman's in Chelsea Market. As I sit writing this post, I can feel my hamstrings starting to ache from the walk but it was well worth it!

This was a slow week on my blog . . . work has been insane and I am struggling to find time to read and blog in the midst of it all. This excellent post on controlling the obligations of book blogging so you ensure you can still derive pleasure from reading and blogging really helped me keep it in perspective. Thanks Caribou's Mom!

Here is what did get done this week . . . .

Have you seen the Spotlight on Bookstores feature on Dawn's blog - She Is Too Fond of Books?

I discovered this feature recently and have found some great local bookstores to check out on my travels. This week Dawn featured a post I wrote on my favorite local bookstore - Housing Works Bookstore Cafe. Check out Dawn's Spotlight on Bookstores feature to find a great bookstore in your neighborhood or in any town you plan to visit soon!

Hope you all had a lovely weekend and a great week of reading ahead!

Winner of Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show

I loved "Frank Delaney's Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show" (read my review here) and was pleased to have a copy to offer as a giveaway thanks to Evelyn at Interpersonal Frequency LLC. Without further ado, the winner is:


Go maire tú an lá (congratulations in gaelic!)