Monthly Archives: July 2012

  On the cover of this book , it states:  “What if we knew what tomorrow would bring?  Would we fix it?  Could we?”  That is the position 16 year-old Tamara Goodwin finds herself after her father commits suicide, and her life as she knows it is becomes unrecognizable.  This is the novel The Book of  Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern.  Up to the point of her father’s death, Tamara has lived a wealthy yet superficial life.  She had closets of designer clothes and expensive cars all while living in a beautiful mansion in Ireland.  This all disappears.  Her father’s suicide was due to the tremendous debt he had managed to incur.  Now spoiled, self-centered Tamara finds herself moving to the countryside to live with her odd aunt and uncle who are anything but lavishly rich….not to mention she is having trouble to finding gingerbread latte from Starbucks.

Tamara begins a transformation….she explains that she and her family were not really mean people, but they were just not nice people.  Tamara encounters many wonderfully drawn characters in this village….Sister Ignatius is my favorite.  These two unlikely people meet in the gardens of the nearby convent and quickly strike up an unforgettable relationship.  The dialogue between the two is well worth the read!  Tamara also meets Marcus who drives the library bus (I love this!)….this is where she discovers the book….she is browsing the shelves and discovers a book with no title and no author, and it is padlocked with no key.  She is drawn to this book and with the help of Sister Ignatius…they are able to open it.  What lies are the pages are something magical….something fascinatingly unreal.  Something that will change the path that Tamara’s life had been heading.  This something will help her understand not just this new place that is to become her home, but all the strange characters that play a vital role in past, present and future life.   It is fast pace….full of mystery…..I finished it late last night….always late last night.  I was curled up on the couch after yet another summer storm, the only light was from the reading lamp by my head and during one of the more suspenseful scenes, something fell in my garage and I jumped right out of my cozy spot on the couch….my heart spiked.  I then smiled, I love when a book has so much energy that I can feel it physically.

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Gothic….dark….supernatural

   This novel really turned me upside down and inside out….I did not know what was coming after each page…each chapter….there was something dark and terrifyingly intriguing waiting for me with each paragraph. This is the novel Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling by Michael Boccacino.  The book begins in the village of Blackfield where widower Charlotte Markham has come to Everton to work for the Darrow family.  Charlotte has been running from a man in black for 15 years since she witnessed her own mother’s death, and she is eager for a place to hide…a place to start over.  She takes the position of governess to Paul and James Darrow — 2 young motherless children.    The action begins immediately when the boys’ nanny is gruesomely murdered by something inhuman.  Quickly, Charlotte is to replace the nanny and become both the boys nanny and governess.  The boys’ mother, Lily Darrow, has been dead for a year, and her death has scarred them deeply.  Paul begins to have dreams of his mother.  During an art lesson, Paul recreates a map from his dreams and convinces Charlotte to take him to her.  Charlotte agrees….anything to help ease the boys’ grief.  They follow the map through the woods into a creepy mist and find themselves in darkness, and who is waiting?  Their mother is there waiting for them at The House of Darkling.  What follows is a story of death and danger and beauty and what a mother will sacrifice even in death to be with her children.  It is frighteningly delicious and full of supernatural terror.   What is the afterlife?   Can one truly be reunited with their loved ones….you find out there is a price to pay even in death.

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Calling all Fans of Ray Bradbury

   OK….I am not completely finished with this collection of short stories, but I am love with the stories and wanted to share them with all lovers of Ray Bradbury as soon as womanly possible.   This is a collection of short stories written by authors who have been influenced by Ray Bradbury.  This is a celebration of him!  What a wonderful thing….and what is more wonderful is that this was put together before his death (June of this year).  He wrote the first chapter….which I have read several times (once aloud to my husband who humors my love of the written word).

Anyone who has read Bradbury knows that he loves to write about the unusual and the eerie….he writes about wicked things, places where it only rains, and firemen who start fires.  From the beginning, Ray was a born writer.  He knew what people longed to read about and more importantly –what needed to be written. He wrote Fahrenheit 451 in a library at the University of California.  He rented a typewriter for a dime for every half hour.  He spent $9.80 in dimes to type the first draft of this timeless story.  He believed that one needed to love what he did and should spend their time doing what they loved.  He was a writer and that is what he did.  He was not concerned about money nor fame (he sold Fahrenheit for $400 to Galaxy magazine).  He was also an inspiration, an advocate, and a teacher for future writers.  Here is a quote from him that is close to my heart: “Reading is at the center of our lives.  The library is our brain.  Without the library, you have no civilization.”  He said this during an interview in the year 2000.

The stories within this pages are from authors like Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, Alice Hoffman, Sam Weller, and so many more authors who have a special place in their hearts for Ray Bradbury.  At the end of each of their Bradburysque stories, there is a brief summary from the author about Bradbury’s influence.  It is so well worth the read.

So if you like werewolves, tales of the future, the afterlife, and other supernatural themes….get this book…you won’t be disappointed.  Now excuse me, I have a book to finish.

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Mothers and daughters….a timeless subject

   Here is a heartfelt memoir of a mother and daughter who decide to embark on a six month-long journey together around the world.   This is the second memoir by Clair and Mia Fontaine called have mother, will travel.   Their first memoir is entitled Come Back, and it chronicles 15-year-old Mia’s drug addiction and abuse from her biological father.  I have not read that one, but I will be reading it in the near future….believe me.

have mother, will travel is told 10 years after their first memoir, and that pair is now 51 and 25 years old.  The excitement from the first book has begun to die down and Mia is living in New York trying to start a life for herself while her mother is living in Florida renovating a hopeless house and wondering what the heck she is doing.  Claire has an idea to go on the adventure around the world as part of a group (kind of like the Amazing Race)….and she decides she wants Mia to join her.  Mia agrees quickly and that begins the adventure of a grown up daughter and her mother as they strengthen their relationship and learn more about one another.  The memoir is told in alternating voices….Mia’s accounts are written in italics while Claire’s is not.  The two are talented writers with their own unique voice.  They give detailed stories of the countries they visit from China and riding on elephants to Egypt on the back of camels.  They spend time is France really just relaxing and examining who they are and where they have been.  Claire not only looks at her relationship with her daughter, but begins to make sense of her relationship with her own mother.  I found myself tearing up and finding commonality with the pair….both as a mother and a daughter.  There is something in here for every mother and daughter to take away.

Here is the book trailer! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YhtfHpJNMlM&feature=player_embedded

If you want a chance to win this book, go to my giveaway page!  One lucky winner will receive a FREE copy. https://dzsreviews.wordpress.com/giveaways/

 

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The Truth About Dandelions

  First thing, I did manage to get in a 28 mile bike ride, fold and put away 5 baskets of laundry, gut my oldest’s sons room with him so painting could begin, and I also made some nice play doh creations with my 3-year-old before I was sucked into yet another novel.  I sat down late in the afternoon yesterday with my iPad (aren’t I techno savvy?  Though saying techno savvy makes me ineligible to be techno savvy, I believe).  ANYWAY, I sat down to start a few chapters in The Truth About Dandelions by Hayley Linfield.  That was my intention anyway….a few chapters….let’s just say my husband ordered pizza and my kids did not get baths. (they did play in the sprinkler, does that count?). 

 I was intrigued by Mara, the main character in this book.  Mara is now finishing college and is a bit of a whore.  She has experienced some horrible things in her childhood and needless to say…she is trying to lose herself in these one night encounters.  She does not want more nor expect more from them.  So she thinks.  She is an English Literature major and is currently working on her thesis on 19th century English Literature and women whose paths are tainted and unhappy.  Think Charlotte Bronte, Tess of the D’Ubervilles, etc.  You know that Mara has to be a romantic at heart if this is a subject that she feels so passionate towards.  You (the reader) want Mara to find true love and stop sleeping around. I did.    Mara’s character is so fragile…though she comes across as tough.  You want her to heal and close her legs (pardon my bluntness).  Mara questions why Tess and other 19th century characters do not get a happy ending, you will have to see if Mara gets one.

Check out the author’s web site for info on ordering the book and more about Hayley Linfield.  http://hayleylinfield.webs.com/

 

PS.  I want a sequel.

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Trish and her “trash”?

   Something that scares me is clutter.  Though I must confess I am surrounded by some clutter….papers from the boys’ school, their artwork, receipts, the Sunday paper, toys….I am beginning to itch as I type this.  While reading Kristina Riggle’s novel Keepsake, I began to see clutter in another way.  The main character Trish is recently divorced, mother of two, and a hoarder.  The hoarding is not only what led to her divorce, but to a broken collarbone for her 7 year old son Jack when a pile of debris falls onto him in his bedroom.  At the hospital, Trish is reported to Child Protective Services, and a social worker shows up to examine the conditions in which Jack is being raised.  Trish is now forced to deal with her hoarding or lose her son.

Her older son, 17 year old Drew, has moved out to live with his girlfriend and resents his mother and her hoarding.  Yet, Drew comes to her rescue along with many unexpected people….her sister she has not seen in 8 years, her ex husband, and her father.  Trish has trouble parting with any of her “keepsakes”….through the process the reader begins to understand her hoarding, and we begin to see just where it came from as we are taking into the past.

I could not put this book down, so I created more silent reading time in my house, so I could read it.  I had all my boys on the couch with me reading just so I could get the book done.   We were all cuddled up in the air conditioning reading…..Calvin was reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Henry had Roald Dahl’s The Giraffe, Pelly and Me, Benny was looking through some Berenstain Bears while Nate was writing his own story.  A great afternoon at the Dz household….at least in my calculations.

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Comedy Pair and Mystery in the Air

  Calling all fans of Diane Mott Davidson and other silly, fun mystery writers!  Here is an author who brings to life the owner of a B & B named Judith Flynn and her wise-cracking, trouble-maker cousin, Renie.  Together the two of them always seem to be surrounded by murder and mayhem….they are magnets for it.  So much so, that Judith has earned the nickname FASTO…because of her quick sleuthing ability to solve the murder case before the local authorities. 

So when Judith is invited to man a B & B booth in Little Bavaria during Oktoberfest….she accepts and takes Renie with her.  Before you know it, a body turns up!  And Judith is there to see it fall, she vows not to get involved…she wants to have a few days of relaxation before she heads back to Hillside Manor.  Yet, it is not that easy for her to escape the case.  She is soon sleuthing and finding clues not only to the current murder case, but to a string of murders from decades before.  Along the way, the book is filled with clever banter between the two cousins…who are a bit like Laverne and Shirley….opposites who work so well together.

Yes, this is a story surrounding murder, but it is not grisly.  The characters will make you laugh and smile.   The bumbling town cops and the dialogue between Judith and Renie will overshadow any nail-biting suspense.  If you are looking for a Mystery Light with some slapstick…this is something for you.

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