Category Archives: Book Review

WILDALONE by Krassi Zourkova

wildalone, krassi zourkova, book journey

Thea Slavin from Bulgaria is about to enter Princeton.  Although she has an incredible talent for music, she has an alternative motive for attending.  Years earlier her sister Elza had also attended Princeton and was mysteriously killed and her body disappeared.  While Thea’s parents fear for her safety they trust their daughter to make good decisions.

Should they?

While Thea finds herself alone in an atmosphere she is unfamiliar with she meets two brothers, Rhyas and Jake, who both find they are drawn to her.  (Picture the way Edward was drawn to Bella in Twilight).  While Thea finds she too has an attraction to the brothers, one of them holds the answers to what happened all of those years ago and Thea is walking a very dangerous path.

 

WILDALONE had many of the elements that I enjoy in a good paranormal read.  Thea was a likable protagonist and the Bulgarian background was a nice change.  While this is a paranormal title, it took quite a while to get there. In fact for the majority of the book you really don’t know what the paranormal part is.  I kept waiting to find out what it was, knowing what it must have to do with… but not sure.  There was also a couple of small parts in the book that did not flow right…a character would be with someone and then suddenly wasn’t.  I actually went back pages to see if I had missed something.

That said, I did enjoy WILDALONE.  There is much to like about the book and the things I mentioned above were not deal breakers.  As this is a first in a trilogy, I do believe I would continue to see where this story goes.

 

 

  • Series: Wildalone Sagas (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (October 13, 2015)
  • Language: English

 

Girl Through Glass by Sari Wilson

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11-year-old Mira Able leads a hard life in Brooklyn.  Her father is absent, her mother may as well be.  She takes her frustrations out in ballet class where this fueled anger works in her favor.  When her skills get the attention and praise from an older gentleman Maurice, who frequents the ballet, Mira blossoms under the  attention and his desire to improve her future as a ballerina.  Soon Mira is doing everything Maurice asks of her despite the warnings she receives.

Years later, Mira now goes by the name of Kate, a young woman still battling the demons of her past.  Kate is up for review in her teaching job for sleeping with a student.  Kate starts to question decisions she has made in her life and feels the answers lie in her past, in that early world of ballet.

 

 

 

Does anyone remember the short-lived tv show Bunheads?  A fun show about a group of ballet students?  Yeah?

Well this is nothing like that.

Girl Through Glass has a delicious darkness to it.  It is well written, beautifully actually at times, but this is not a lighthearted story. Told in alternating chapters, as the reader we are slowly let into the what happened then…. that lead to the happenings now.  The journey unravels as the two stories work their towards one another.

As I often do when books are told in alternating perspectives…  I find myself leaning to  one story line over the other.  In this case it was young Mira’s story that drew me in the most wanting me to know what happens to this young girl and how our life decisions play out into our futures.

I found this book to be unique in its telling, definitely a book that will give you plenty to think about.

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  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (January 26, 2016)
  • Language: English

I found my way into this world of ballet thanks to TLC Book Tours

What Was Mine by Helen Klein Ross

what was mine, helen klein ross, book journey

All Lucy Wakefield has ever wanted was to have a child to call her own.  When her marriage dissolves she sees this dream slipping farther and farther away.  When shopping at a store Lucy finds a baby girl lest in a cart while her mother is a short distance away.  Without even realizing what she is doing Lucy takes the baby and leaves the store.

Lucy wants to believe she will give the child back, but as her love for this child grows, she justifies her actions with the fact that the girl was left unattended.  She ignores the TV news with the pretty and devastated young mother pleading for her babies return and fabricated a story to her boss about having to leave the state to work through an adoption of a baby girl that she names Mia.

And so it goes.  Now over two decades later, the truth begins to come out.  As Lucy scrambles as to what to tell her daughter about what happened, she knows that time is running out.

 

Helen Klein Ross writes about every parents nightmare.  When I read this synopsis I wanted to know more.  What Was Mine is a devastating story that feels as thought it could have been ripped form the headlines.  It is one of those stories where you get to hear both sides with watching Mia grow up with Lucy and Lcy’s love for her, and at the same time watching Mia’s real mother trying to hold it together all the while believing that her daughter is alive and out there somewhere.

I enjoyed this fast pace read on audio.  There is a winning cast of narrators:  Julia Whelan, Cassandra Campbell, Amanda Carlin, Rebekkah Ross , and Jonathan Todd Ross (Narrator).  Normally I do like multiple narrators because it gives me the feeling of a “production” or “show”, but this was not the case.  The narrators complimented each other well and I did not even notice the change as I do in some multiple narrator books. 

The book is not without it’s bumps in the road.  There are things that if you really think about them become a little hard to believe.  You need to read this one as one of those books that you don’t think too hard about.  Just enjoy the wild and scary ride.  And yes I think it is worth it.

 

 

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 8 hours and 44 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
  • Audible.com Release Date: January 5, 2016

 

 

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Gallery Books (January 5, 2016)

 

The Three Weissmann’s Of Westport by Cathleen Shine

the three weissmann's of westport, book journey, cathleen schine

Betty Weissmann could not have been more shocked than when her husband Joseph, at the age of 78 declared that he wanted a divorce.  Having been the loving doting wife for most of her life, Betty did not really know what her next step would be.  She was almost as equally shocked when she discovers the woman he works with is his mistress and Betty is exiled from their New York apartment because Joseph has been sweet talked by his mistress that the apartment would just be too much of a burden for poor Betty.  While the divorce has everything on lock down until things are sorted through, Betty finds herself left with no choice but to go and stay at their run down beach cottage in Connecticut.

Betty’s daughter’s Miranda, an impulsive literary agent and Annie a level headed Library Director, come to Betty’s side to stay with her at the collate while things are sorted through.  Both girls find themselves the products of a broken home at middle age.

 

 

The Three Weissmann’s Of Westport is a book I pulled off my shelf for our recent trip to Mexico.  It looked like just the type of read I would enjoy while sitting at the pool.  I was right.  The book I found right from the start shocking, a 78 year old man after spending more than 50 years of his life with a woman decides to throw it all away for a younger, prettier, and quite honestly…. gold digger.  I found myself flying through the pages waiting for Joseph to come to his senses.

Does he?

Well…. I can not tell you that.  I can say the ending was not as I had thought it would be.  It left me thinking.  That’s not a bad thing.

This book has been compared to a modern day Sense and Sensibility.  I will let you be the judge of that.  Over all a pleasant enough read.  The characters are not always likable, the story line at times is frustrating, and still…. there is something about the Weissmann’s.

Beach read worthy?  Yes.

 

 

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Sarah Crichton Books; First Edition edition (February 2, 2010)

 

1st Book Of The Year: Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling (a different kind of review)

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If you have read me here at Book Journey for any amount of time you know that I am a huge Harry Potter nerd.  You also know, my son Justin was as well and it was this book – THIS BOOK, where he and I first started to connect on reading and talking books.  It became a wonderful connection for us when he was in Jr. High and continued to be “a thing” with us for all the days of his life AND will always ALWAYS carry wonderful memories for me.

I have this first book of the series in a beautiful 20 year anniversary edition.  I have it also in Spanish, in soft cover and in hard cover, in audio, and with the new cover (a gift from Justin Christmas 2014).  However this copy of the book I am holding will always be my favorite copy because THIS is Justin’s original 1st copy of the book.  It has long since lost its dust jacket (he always took them off to protect them while reading) and the cover is well-worn…. the signs of a beloved book.  And now… it still sits on his book shelf.

I loved choosing this book as my first book of the year because it was as I said… a place where we connected.  I liked knowing that each page I touched, he had as well.  Every word my eyes fell upon… his eyes had read these very same words on this very same page.  I do not know what I was hoping for when I read this book again for probably the 5th, 6th, or 7th time…. at first the reading felt like work.  It made me more sad than peaceful.  The words did not come easy and my mind drifted during the early pages of Harry and the Dursley’s, and the snake, and the closet under the stairs.  It wasn’t until the entrance of Hagrid where I started to fall once again into the familiar writing and I whisked myself and hopefully Justin too away to Hogwart’s.

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For those of us who love the Harry Potter books…. we know they contain a bit of magic that one can not explain to the common muggle.  I enjoyed getting to know Harry again as a first year, and remembering Hermione when she was all know-it-all and bushy eyebrows, and Ron when he was quiet and shy before he became a force to reckoned with.  I had to once again sit in awe as I read things in this first book that I know will not come to full light until the last book… the clues we don’t recognize as clues until much later, and I have to whisper the word “brilliant” as I turn each page.

I owe JK Rowling a dept of appreciation.  Her writing changed my life.  That may seem dramatic, but it is true.  These books connected my son and I on a level that we would not have reached without them.  These books are why we went to Florida three November’s in a row and had planned on a fourth…. these books – made magic come to life.

And I for one, am forever grateful.

The Harry Potter books to me are the new classics.  These are the books that need to be passed from generation to generation… it is something special to be among the first group who read them.

 

 

Forever Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Forever interupted, book journey, taylor jenkins, reid

This book brought up memories of the movie City Of Angels (which I LOVED).  ~ Sheila

Elsie Porter isn’t expecting anything extraordinary when she head out one rainy New Years day to pick up a pizza for herself.  Yet extraordinary is what she gets when she meets Ben Ross.  Their chemistry is instant and the two start seeing each other immediately.  By May, they have eloped.

Nine days later, Ben is killed.

When Elsie meets Ben’s mom Susan, Susan has no idea about Ben’s romance with Elsie let alone his marriage.  With no marriage certificate yet, Elsie finds herself pushed aside as plans are made for Ben’s funeral and where he will be buried.  As the story unwinds, we see flashes back to Ben and Elsie’s relationship as well as current time Elsie and Susan, two women who loved Ben dearly trying to find a way through sudden devastating grief.

Taylor Jenkins Reid bring about a powerful emotionally charged story of quick passionate love and rock bottom grief.  I entered into this read cautiously, hoping I would not stumble into any thing too personally hard, and was happy to find that the book worked for me.

Imagine loving someone so quickly and passionately only to lose them before their family even knows you exist.  On top of your grief, you are trying to justify your appearance to a grieving family – especially hard when the person you are trying to convince is someone as closed off as Ben’s mother, Susan.

The book’s flash backs into Elsie and Ben’s relationship and powerful love works well with the current Elsie’s story line of trying to now make sense of what she is left with. the physical remains of a relationship that started and finished in 5 months.

I had mentioned before that Taylor Jenkins Reid was a new author to me and I have enjoyed the three books I have now read of hers.  Her writing is down to earth, lite with interesting story lines that make you think.

Paperback, 352 pages
Published July 9th 2013 by Washington Square Press

Morning Meanderings…. The Book…. It Is Not About

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I drove some of you a little nuts yesterday by talking or I guess, not talking about a book and not telling you what the book I was not talking about was.

That was kind of the point.

Yesterdays post was not about the book, as I titled the post.  Discussing the book – would have taken away from my point.  The book discussion is what originally brings us together… but through the years so much more has come out of these monthly literary gatherings.

Today.

Today I will talk about the book.

anthony doerr, book journey, all the light we cannot seeOur book club just read All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.  As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I did not personally get a chance to read it however the discussion that came from this book definitely held my interest.

A quick synopsis:

Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.  ~ as described on Amazon

 

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The Bookies book club had a deep discussion on what life was like for Marie-Laure and what an amazing father she had.  I had heard this book made for excellent book club discussion, and observing this without having read the book myself confirmed this. The questions flowed freely and everyone had thoughts on the book, even sharing person stories of relatives that they had connected to the war.

Suzanne in our groups said, “Choosing not to read this book is a crime against humanity.”

That is a pretty powerful statement.

Over all the Bookies rated this a 3.9 out of 5.  For the most part they thought it was a slow start to the book and hard to get into until you get beyond page 50.  Some felt it took longer than that. Once into it however, it seemed that almost everyone found the book very good.

I plan to still read this.

 

The Residence by Kate Andersen Brower (BEST of 2015)

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We all see the First Families as they go about what they do on TV.  Speeches and events, there to celebrate triumphs and stand tall when the world has been shaken to it’s core…

The Residence gives us a peek into what we do not see. Told from the point of views of those who have worked in the White House, maids, cooks, butlers, florists, doormen and more share their stories of what it is like to work for the First Family.

Who makes their own bed in the morning, or insists on monitoring every meal, who watched personal expenses closely, and who frivolously needed fresh flowers in every room daily.  What have these people seen through the years of working for the Presidents and their families?  What stories will warm your heart and which ones will make you sad or shocked?

 

I absolutely devoured this book.  I listened to it on audio and so enjoyed the narration by Karen White.  Beautifully spoken each story was so interesting.  Author Kate Andersen Brower shares the stories of those who spoke to her about their time working in the White House. Everything from the Kennedy Assassination and who stood alongside Jackie Kennedy as she came back home that evening still wearing the blood stained dress to Nixon’s resignation and how the Clinton household functioned during his impeachment.  This book is a side to the stories you have never heard before, quite literally an inside scoop.

While one may think this may read like tabloid tell all, it does not.  The Residence is a tasteful close up on the First families in good time and in bad.  I learned so much while listening to this book.  Highly recommended.

 

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 10 hours and 16 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Harper Audio
  • Audible.com Release Date: April 7, 2015

 

Bookies Review, Food, and Getting Into Character With Gone With The Wind

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There is a reason our book club has a wait list.

We..

are a ton of fun.

We always enjoy taking our reads to the next level through excellent discussion not only on book, but author as well, often food to go with what we read, and occasionally (my favorites) we dress up.

When we chose Gone With The Wind for our Annual Classic Read I was so excited about the possibilities for dressing the era.  When the buzz started with the girls saying they would make curtain dresses, having never read the book before I was thrilled with their enthusiasm…. making dresses!  Way to go Bookies!!!

And then…

I was sent a link to the Carol Burnett spoof on the book…

Ahhh….. what exactly were the Bookies going to do?

There was a little buzz on our Facebook page.  They were havig trouble finding used curtains for their dresses. I went to a Halloween shop and found mine …. it was called Goth Vampire but I figured if Scarlett could be who she was… she certainly could also be goth.

So book review night comes.  I had it at my house, converted to the Plantation Tara for the evening.  And as the girls entered… I was impressed with their creativity..

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The Bookies…

do not disappoint.

As you can see in the picture… several made the curtain dress!  Kathy (far right in white) even had the curtain rod in hers!  Between using old curtains, buying curtains, dressing in an ere looking dress, and being creative….

the Bookies take on Gone With The Wind like pro’s!  You will notice up front we have a Mammy… and another surprise you can not quite see in this picture, but you will soon!

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There she is… in the back to the left with a halo…. yes Gone With The Wind fans…. Lori dressed up as….

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Yup.  God’s nightgown.

The exclamation that Scarlett would frequently say throughout the book when she was frustrated.  The first time in Bookie history that someone dressed as an exclamation.  Nicely played Lori…

nicely played.

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Laura, with the help of her mother, went all out and sewed up this cute little curtain number from new curtains.  I told her she could wear this next year to our Gatsby party as well!

Of course… it wouldn’t be a Bookies book review without great food….

PicMonkey Collage

We had corn pone, Frankly My Dear I Don’t Give A Ham sandwiches, Butler Balls, shrimp creole,fried chicken, brownies, and sweet potato pie (recipe below) and a Scarlett OHara drink (recipe below).

PicMonkey Collage 2

We had an excellent discussion on the book.  There is so much to talk about in Gone With The Wind!  We all agreed that Ashley was NOT a catch.  We discussed Scarlett’s relationships with her different husbands as well as with her children.  She was indeed… a unique individual.

We also had good discussion over the author Margaret Mitchell… kudos to her for creating such a protagonist as Scarlett… what an unusual perspective for the times…. this headstrong woman who was not a nurturing mother or wife but instead always looking for the best way to support herself and her ambitions.

It was interesting also to hear the difference of thoughts from those in the group who had read the book before (very few actually), and those who had seen the movie, to those of us like myself that had not done either.

For a classic, the overall consensus was an average read AND not to bad for a classic rating – BELIEVE ME.  A few of us, myself included, rated the book a 5 which is our top of our rating scale.  See my personal review here.

Why Does Gone With The Wind make for a good book club read?

1Gone With The Wind is indeed vast with pages, but worth the efforts for book clubs.  The option to read or listen to on audio makes for a wide variety of discussion on both.  There is much to discuss as a group from the civil war, to the reasons this is a banned book, to Scarlett herself as well as her relationships with others.  AND the little extras you can do to make your discussion even deeper.

Please click here for group discussion questions and ideas for a group review

Sweet Potato Pie

you will need-

1 1/2- 2 pounds sweet potatoes

1/2 cup softened butter

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup milk

2 eggs

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1 9 inch pie crust

  1. Boil sweet potato whole in skin for 40 to 50 minutes, or until done. Run cold water over the sweet potato, and remove the skin.
  2. Break apart sweet potato in a bowl. Add butter, and mix well with mixer. Stir in sugar, milk, eggs, nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until mixture is smooth. Pour filling into an unbaked pie crust.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 55 to 60 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Pie will puff up like a souffle, and then will sink down as it cools.  ( as seen at All Recipes.com)

Scarlett O Hara Drink

2 ounces Southern Comfort

8-10 oz cranberry juice

1 squirt of lemon juice to taste

mix and serve over ice

I am linking this post to both Saturday Snapshots and Weekend Cooking.

Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell

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How does one do a synopsis of Gone With The Wind?

Well… for this first time reader and having never seen the movie (still haven’t), I will give you the synopsis in my own words as though I were telling a friend about this book….  (after all, we are friends right?;) )

Gone With The Wind is about a plantation… about a family… about a war… but mostly, about a girl named Scarlett.  Scarlett is in modern terms, a mean girl. She is spoiled, selfish, and while she is not beautiful, her personality drawn men to her – and in Scarlett’s opinion (after all, what other opinion is there?) that is everything.

When the Civil war breaks out Scarlett learns that not everything comes as easy as it once did.  In fact many things are going to take all that stubbornness she possesses as she learns to adjust to the changing times… but Scarlett is not your typical girl of the south and the way she chooses to live her life and survive can come as a surprise, even to her.

 

 

 

First up… I need to say how proud I am of my book club for choosing to read this books for our Annual Classic Read.  This has been a bucket list book for me forever and our book clubs choice to read it as a group is what finally pushed me to opening this book.

I am so glad I did.

I was pleasantly surprised with Scarlett, while she is not very likable, the girl has gusto.   Her selfishness at times is laughable… at other times, it is sad.  She is, and I say this thankfully, not a damsel in distress but instead a witty sprite of a girl who learns many lessons the hard way, but does not allow her spirit to be broken.

You kind of have to admire that.

While I did start reading this book, I found that my time commitments did not allow me for a lot of “sit down and read” time, so I switched to audio.  Let me say, if you love Gone With The Wind and have not experienced it in audio, I highly recommend you do.  While I have been canning these past weeks, Linda Stephens narration was just the thing to pass the time and keep me engaged.

My over all thoughts on the book was it is a win.  I do not agree with those that call this book a romance … God’s Nightgown, no…. this is a whole new level of dysfunction at its finest!  Going into this knowing barely the story line I was happy to read that the book was not the predictable read I thought I was encountering – yet a fascinating time hop to the civil war and a plantation that worked like no other, Tara.

If you have not experienced Gone With The Wind this is my recommendation that you do make the time to read (or listen to) this book.  It is truly worthy of the classic title.

 

Did-You-KnowAuthor, Margaret Mitchell died after being hit by a drunk driver while crossing the street with her husband on their way to see a movie.  Gone With The Wind is Mitchell’s only book, and one she wrote because she was bored.

 

 

 

  • Paperback: 960 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; Reissue edition (May 3, 2011)

 

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 49 hours and 7 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Recorded Books
  • Audible.com Release Date: October 1, 2009

 

 

 

*Be sure to watch for my book clubs thoughts on this book as well as the food we ate AND the clothes we wore to celebrate Gone With The Wind.

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