Thursday, June 30, 2011

Winners: Literary Blog Hop Giveaway

I offered Dance Lessons by Aine Greaney and Saving CeeCee Honeycutt: A Novel by Beth Hoffman for the Literary Blog Hop Giveaway.  Winners were chosen today via  Without further ado, the winners are:

Dance LessonsRob from Books Are Like Candy Corn won Dance Lessons by Aine Greaney

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt: A Novel
Kara from Great Imaginations won Saving CeeCee Honeycutt: A Novel by Beth Hoffman

Congratulations to the winners and I hope you like these books as much as I did!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Review: The Girl in the Garden by Kamala Nair

The Girl in the GardenThe Girl in the Garden by Kamala Nair is the beautiful story of a girl's summer in India and the family secrets that unravel during that summer despite her family's pride and insistence on maintaining a carefully crafted series of lies.  Eleven year old Rakhee travels with her mother from Minnesota to Kerala, India to visit her mother's homeland and family.  Although only eleven years old, Rahkee is perceptive and senses there is more than she is told driving her Mom home and she arrives in India with apprehension.  Throughout her time in Kerala, Rahkee grows up in more ways than one - she discovers things about her Mother that had been hidden from her and she faces the complicated dilemma of loving her Mother but realizing that her Mother may forsake her. 

This book is beautifully written and the gradual unraveling of the family's secrets kept me eagerly reading.  The secrets were not completely predictable and I was surprised by a number of twists at the end of the novel.  Perhaps the most delightful part of this book is its narrator, Rahkee - she possesses the perfect mix of childlike innocence and adult sensibilities.  Although her experiences in India are at times fantastical and border on fantasy, she actually faces emotions that most children her age contend with - the realization that her parents are fallible and anxiety about whether they will stay together.  The reality of these emotions balanced the fantasy/fairy tale elements of the story and made for an engaging read. I definitely recommend this book and look forward to more by the author, Kamala Nair. 

I received a copy of this book from the author for review.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Giveaway: Literary Blog Hop June 25-29

Judith from Leeswammees Blog is once again hosting the Literary Giveaway Blog Hop and I am happy to be taking part. The hop takes place from June 25 and June 29 and there are over 70 blogs taking part and offering a giveaway!

My Giveaway

I am offering the chance to win one of two excellent books (and favorites of mine!)
Saving CeeCee Honeycutt: A Novel

The first selection is Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman (click here for my review)

Dance Lessons

The second selection is Dance Lessons by Aine Greaney (click here for my review)

The contest is open internationally (as long as Book Depository delivers to your country) and I will select winners using on June 30th.  Fill out this form to be entered to win!

Don't forget to check out the other Blog Hop participants!

  1. Leeswammes (Int)
  2. The Book Whisperer (Int)
  3. Kristi Loves Books (Int)
  4. Teadevotee (Int)
  5. Bookworm with a View (Int)
  6. Bibliosue (Int)
  7. Sarah Reads Too Much (Int)
  8. write meg! (USA)
  9. My Love Affair With Books (Int)
  10. Seaside Book Nook (Int)
  11. Uniflame Creates (Int)
  12. Always Cooking Up Something (Int)
  13. Book Journey (Int)
  14. ThirtyCreativeStudio (Int)
  15. Col Reads (Int)
  16. The Book Diva's Reads (Int)
  17. The Scarlet Letter (USA)
  18. The Parrish Lantern (Int)
  19. Lizzy's Literary Life (Int)
  20. Read, Write & Live (Int)
  21. Book'd Out (Int)
  22. The Readers' Suite (Int)
  23. I Am A Reader, Not A Writer (USA)
  24. Ephemeral Digest (Int)
  25. Miel et lait (Int)
  26. Bibliophile By the Sea (Int)
  27. Polychrome Interest (Int)
  28. Book World In My Head (Int)
  29. In Spring it is the Dawn (Int)
  30. everybookhasasoul (Int)
  31. Nishita's Rants and Raves (Int)
  32. Fresh Ink Books (Int)
  33. Teach with Picture Books (USA)
  34. How to Teach a Novel (USA)
  35. The Blue Bookcase (Int)
  36. Gaskella (Int)
  37. Reflections from the Hinterland (USA)
  38. chasing bawa (Int)
  39. 51stories (Int)
  40. No Page Left Behind (USA)

  1. Silver's Reviews (USA)
  2. Nose in a book (Int)
  3. Lit in the Last Frontier (Int)
  4. The Book Club Blog (Int)
  5. Under My Apple Tree (Int)
  6. Caribousmom (USA)
  7. breienineking (Netherlands)
  8. Let's Go on a Picnic! (Int)
  9. Rikki's Teleidoscope (Int)
  10. De Boekblogger (Netherlands)
  11. Knitting and Sundries (Int)
  12. Elle Lit (USA)
  13. Indie Reader Houston (Int)
  14. The Book Stop (Int)
  15. Eliza Does Very Little (Int)
  16. Joy's Book Blog (Int)
  17. Lit Endeavors (USA)
  18. Roof Beam Reader (Int)
  19. The House of the Seven Tails (Int)
  20. Tony's Reading List (Int)
  21. Sabrina @ Thinking About Loud! (Int)
  22. Rebecca Reads (Int)
  23. Kinna Reads (Int)
  24. In One Eye, Out the Other (USA)
  25. Books in the City (Int)
  26. Lucybird's Book Blog (Europe)
  27. Book Clutter (USA)
  28. Exurbanis (Int)
  29. Lu's Raves and Rants (USA & Canada)
  30. Sam Still Reading (Int)
  31. Dolce Bellezza (Int)
  32. Lena Sledge's Blog...Books, Reviews and Interviews (Int)
  33. a Thousand Books with Quotes (Int)

Friday Finds

The Enchanter: Nabokov and Happiness
The Enchanter: Nabokov and Happiness by Lila Azam Zanganeh
Published May 2, 2011
Publisher: WW Norton

From Amazon : The protagonist of Vladimir Nabokov's The Gift playfully dreamed of writing "A Practical Handbook: How to Be Happy." Now, Nabokov's own creative reader Lila Azam Zanganeh lends life to this vision with sly sophistication and ebullient charm, as she shares the delirious joy to be found in reading the masterpieces of "the great writer of happiness."

Plunging into the enchanted and luminous worlds of Speak, Memory; Ada, or Ardor; and the infamous Lolita, Azam Zanganeh seeks out the Nabokovian experience of time, memory, sexual passion, nature, loss, love in all its forms, and language in all its allusions. She explores Nabokov's geography-from his Russian childhood to the landscapes of "his" America-suffers encounters with his beloved "nature," hallucinates an interview with the master, and seeks the "crunch of happiness" in his singular vocabulary. This beautifully illuminated book will both reignite the passion of experienced Nabokovians and lure the innocent reader to a well of delights as yet unseen

I learned about this book in this NY Times review.

Friday Finds is hosted by Should Be Reading

Friday, June 24, 2011

Winners: Summer in the South Giveaway

Congratulations to the two winners of Summer in the South: A Novel by Cathy Holton!

Kristen from Kritters Ramblings and
JP from Elle Lit

Thank you again to the author for offering the books for giveaway!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Why I Love Book Blogging

Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by Broke and Bookish, is about the reasons we love book blogging and is in celebration of the blog's one year blogiversay. They have a great blog with quality content and I especially like this weekly feature - check them out!

So, with about 18 months of book blogging under my belt - the top ten reasons I love book blogging:

10. Creative Outlet:  I work in a decidedly unliterary field (pharma R&D) and my job involves a lot of analysis and logical thinking with little room for creativity.  I love to come home to my blog where I can exercise my more creative side.

9. Challenges: I was thrilled  to discover challenges when I started blogging - participating in them asks me to stretch my reading horizons - not unlike the summer reading lists of my schooldays.  I liked challenges so much I started my own this year - the Immigrant Stories Challenge

8. New to me Genres: Before book blogging, I read no YA (well, except when I was a YA), but reading all the excellent reviews of the genre from fellow bloggers who also read adult fiction, has lured me in and I realize I was definitely missing something by not reading the genre.

7. Audiobooks: another thing I had never tried before blogging but now is essential in my "reading" life.  I never thought I would enjoy having a book read to me but how wrong I was - in the car, enroute to work via subway and most recently while lying in bed after LASIK surgery when I couldn't open my eyes, audiobooks have been lifesavers and allowed me to enjoy even more stories!

6. Authors: Prior to book blogging, I don't think I had ever interacted directly with an author, but I have learned how much I enjoy learning about their motivation to write their book and the real person behind the (often) fictional world they create.  A highlight for me this year was meeting the lovely Beth Hoffman, author of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt: A Novel, at BEA this year.  Her generosity and kind words about how much book bloggers have meant to her as an author overwhelmed me.

5. Discovery: In addition to discovering new genres, I have also discovered new authors (and their books) this year that I likely would not have been exposed to without book blogging.  One such author is Aine Greaney - I loved her book Dance Lessons (will be in my top ten this year) but I am not sure it would have come to my attention if I hadn't been book blogging.

4. Twitter: There are days I should consider this a curse considering the amount of time I lose to it but I love how it has expanded my "online" social circle

3. Book Recommendations: Fellow book bloggers have made some of the best book recommendations and by reading their blogs I can judge whether or not our tastes are similar and how likely I am to like what they liked.  They have also saved me from some snoozes . . .

2. Bookish Events: From BEA to author signings to receptions at publishing houses, I have had the pleasure of attending some great events in the time I have been blogging.  It is great to be surrounded at these events by people who share a love of reading

1. Community: Speaking of being surrounded by people who share a love of reading,  the #1 reason I love book blogging is the amazing community that exists within the world of book blogging.  From the outset, people have been welcoming, encouraging and have taken an interest in me as well as what I have to say about books.  That, my friends, is priceless.

What do you love most about book blogging?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Giveaway: Summer in the South by Cathy Holton

Summer in the South: A Novel
Yesterday I reviewed author Cathy Holton's latest novel Summer in the South (check out the review here).  Here is a little about the book (from Publisher's Weekly):

Holton's (Beach Trip) fourth novel is a carefully fitted nesting doll containing the secrets of one Southern family. Throughout Ava Drabrowski's growing up, her mother constantly kept her on the move, so the adult Ava enjoys her steady paycheck and a place to call home. But when her mother dies, Ava accepts an offer from Will, a college friend, to spend the summer in Tennessee with his elderly aunts, Josephine and Fanny Woodburn. It will be a chance to mourn, but also an opportunity to begin the novel Ava wants to write. The South feels like a different world to her, with its meticulous manners, taboo topics, and five o'clock "Toddy Time," and Ava's favorite taboo topic is the aristocratic Woodburns themselves-but nobody wants to talk about the past. No one, that is, except Jake, Will's estranged cousin, to whom Ava is immediately drawn. What she learns gives her the makings of a great novel, but she also learns that some secrets are better left buried. Ava's struggles with her own past make her a wonderfully grounded narrator for a snapshot of the South as it is today: a region deeply tangled in its own history.
Add this book to your beach bag  - enter below for a chance to win one of two copies!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Review: Summer in the South by Cathy Holton

Summer in the South: A NovelSummer in the South: A Novel by Cathy Holton is a simmering summer read filled with romance and intrigue about long-buried pasts.  Following the death of her mother, Ava joins a college friend, Will, at his ancestral home in Tennessee where he lives with two elderly aunts.  In addition to coming to terms with her tumultuous relationship with her mother, Ava is looking for some time away to work on a novel.  She did not, however, expect to find such rich content for her novel right in the home in which she spends the summer.

Will is part of an upstanding, well-to-do Southern family but although they maintain traditions like evening cocktails (Toddy Time) and host parties which require engraved invitations, there are secrets hidden in their past.  This hint of scandal casts a shadow over the family but in typical Southern tradition no one discusses the less than perfect past.  Although polite, everyone seems emotionally shut down while they try to keep everything under wraps.

Ava, however, does not bow to these traditions and is gradually unearthing parts of the family's past.  As she learns more about the family's past, it inspires her to write and her novel begins to take shape.  With Will's obvious romantic interest in her and the kindness offered by the aunts, Ava knows writing this novel will be viewed as a betrayal because it exposes what the family has worked so hard to keep buried.   She can't, however, stem her need to get to the bottom of a mystery in the family's past.

This novel offers a peek into life in the South as it might have been 50 years ago.  Although it takes place in the present, everyone lives as you might expect them to in the 1950's - no one seems to have a job and they retire to bed during the heat of midday.  Toddy Time anchors their days and they certainly stand on ceremony.  By moving at the slow pace of days gone by, the novel makes for a lovely summer respite and I found myself languishing in the charm of the South.  It is interesting to watch the Northerner, Ava, adjust as she is dropped into this world of tradition, formality and a slower pace.  The author tosses in some romantic tension between Will and Ava and the competing interests of another man in town to round out this summer read.  For a quick trip back to the charm of South during the time of plantations and debuts, pick of Summer in the South: A Novel by Cathy Holton!

Thank you to the author for providing a copy of the book for review.