Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: The Stories We Tell, by Patti Callahan Henry, ends 8/1

It's midafternoon in Savannah. The temperature is above ninety and the humidity the same. The haze of heat may be slowing the city, but the tourists with their paper maps persist in gathering for ghost tours. They're pointing their cameras and cell phones at old houses, trees, and, of course, the bench where Forrest Gump sat. Those who aren't wandering around the streets are perched in horse-drawn carriages. The dark and magnificent animals walk forward with blank round eyes, with their heads down and a slick sheen of sweat on their bodies. I want to stop traffic, untie the horses, and lead them to the nearest fountain. These tourists will never understand the true allure and mystery of this city. The fascinating parts of this city are inside the stories.

The Stories We Tell is an interesting story about an unraveling family, the catalyst being a car accident involving Eve's husband and her sister. Eve starts questioning what she knows about others, and about herself, and it's only then that she's able to see everything clearly.

Official synopsis:
Bestselling author Patti Callahan Henry is back with a powerful novel about the stories we tell and the people we trust. 

Eve and Cooper Morrison are Savannah’s power couple. They’re on every artistic board and deeply involved in the community. She owns and operates a letterpress studio specializing in the handmade; he runs a digital magazine featuring all things southern gentlemen. The perfect juxtaposition of the old and the new, Eve and Cooper are the beautiful people. The lucky ones. And they have the wealth and name that comes from being part of an old Georgia family. But things may not be as good as they seem. Eve’s sister, Willa, is staying with the family until she gets "back on her feet." Their daughter, Gwen, is all adolescent rebellion. And Cooper thinks Eve works too much. Still, the Morrison marriage is strong. After twenty-one years together, Eve and Cooper know each other. They count on each other. They know what to expect. But when Cooper and Willa are involved in a car accident, the questions surrounding the event bring the family close to breaking point. Sifting between the stories—what Cooper says, what Willa remembers, what the evidence indicates—Eve has to find out what really happened. And what she’s going to do about it. 

A riveting story about the power of truth, The Stories we Tell will open your eyes and rearrange your heart.

Monday, July 21, 2014

GIVEAWAY: MyFairyTaleBooks personalized children's gifts, ends 8/4

my fairy tale books giveaway collage

MyFairyTaleBooks Giveaway!

Hosted by: Got Giveaways?

Sponsored by: MyFairyTaleBooks

I've partnered with a few other bloggers to bring you this giveaway, which is great for kids! You can win a personalized book and CD from MyFairyTaleBooks - check it out.

I love personalized items. It really doesn't matter what it is, but if it has my name or monogram on it, I'll buy it. And, I love personalized items for my daughter, especially the books that put your child and his or her friends right in the story! Cady at Got Giveaways? got to review a personalized book and CD from MyFairyTaleBooks! You can read her review here!

How would you like your own personalized product for your child?? One person will win a product from MyFairyTaleBooks! This giveaway is open to US residents and will from from June 21 at 1 a.m.-Aug. 4 at 11 p.m. EST. The winner will be emailed and will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen.

To enter, just use the Giveaway Tool form below!

Good luck!

Cady from Got Giveaways? received a personalized book and CD from MyFairyTaleBooks to facilitate her review. No other compensation was received. All participating blogs are not responsible for prize fulfillment. This giveaway is in no way associated with social media sites including Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Quick Pick: The Invention of Wings, by Sue Monk Kidd

    The Invention of Wings book review, Sue Monk Kidd
  • Opening lines: There was a time in Africa the people could fly. Mauma told me this one night when I was ten years old.
  • Reason I picked up the book: I loved The Mermaid Chair and The Secret Life of Bees, also by Kidd, and her writing is always great. NetGalley had a galley of the book so I requested it a while back. 
  • And what's this book about?
  • Hetty "Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women. 
    Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid. We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty-five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love. As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements. 
    Inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke, Kidd goes beyond the record to flesh out the rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, including Handful’s cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in her search for something better. 
    This exquisitely written novel is a triumph of storytelling that looks with unswerving eyes at a devastating wound in American history, through women whose struggles for liberation, empowerment, and expression will leave no reader unmoved.
  • Favorite paragraph: 
Mother and I hadn't spoken of the doomed manumission document. I suspected she was the one who'd torn it into two even pieces and deposited them outside my room, thereby having the Last Word without uttering a syllable.
At the age of eleven, I owned a slave I couldn't free.
  • Recommended for: Anyone who likes a good story or historical fiction.
  • Something to know: I didn't know until midway through the book that Sarah Grimke was a real person - Lucretia Mott was mentioned, who I know is real, so I decided to Google Sarah's character to see; and lo and behold, she was a real person.
  • What I would have changed: I can't think of anything I would have changed here.
  • Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

GIVEAWAY: Adventures of Ai e-book, ends 8/1

I've partnered up with a few other bloggers to bring you this giveaway, for a children's eBook - enjoy!

Adventures of Ai  is an children's eBook written by New York Times bestselling author, Craig Bouchard. The story is a part non-fiction and part fiction fantasy targeted at girls and boys ages 9-12 for the pressures they will encounter as they grow up, and incorporates subjects like art, history, poetry, music and mathematics.

There is also an Ai game available on Google Play or in iTunes store.  Here is a brief description:
"Downloading and playing Ai’s Adventure places you in the driver’s seat of an addictive fast paced game to run, fly, duck and jump with Ai through a cool maze of challenging obstacles. Her journey across an incredible 3D Japanese landscape is mind-bending. Ai rides her stallion (who slides under obstacles even better than she does!), flies on her crane and runs farther and faster than the monsters that chase her. Collect points and coins along the way to her and your ultimate goal: the treasure chest her father has protected. Ai will never give up – will you?"

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Book Review - Hidden Girl: The True Story of a Modern-Day Child Slave, by Shyima Hall

Everyone has a defining moment in his or her life. For some it is the day they get married or have a child. For others it comes when they finally reach a sought-after goal. My life, however, drastically changed course the day my parents sold me into slavery. I was eight years old. 

I don't regularly read nonfiction, but I received this in the mail to review a while back, and am finally getting around to reading it. I do enjoy memoirs, however, and this one tells the true story of Shyima Hall, who was born in Egypt to a large family and eventually sold into slavery.

Official synopsis:
Hidden Girl book review, by Shyima Hall
Shyima Hall was born in Egypt on September 29, 1989, the seventh child of desperately poor parents. When she was eight, her parents sold her into slavery. Shyima then moved two hours away to Egypt’s capitol city of Cairo to live with a wealthy family and serve them eighteen hours a day, seven days a week. When she was ten, her captors moved to Orange County, California, and smuggled Shyima with them. Two years later, an anonymous call from a neighbor brought about the end of Shyima’s servitude—but her journey to true freedom was far from over.

A volunteer at her local police department since she was a teenager, Shyima is passionate about helping to rescue others who are in bondage. Now a US citizen, she regularly speaks out about human trafficking and intends to one day become an immigration officer. In
Hidden Girl, Shyima candidly reveals how she overcame her harrowing circumstances and brings vital awareness to a timely and relevant topic.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Book Review - Omens: A Cainsville Novel, by Kelley Armstrong

Review by: Gwendolyn Mulholland

I was reaching to give the cat a reassuring pat when the girl screamed. The old woman gasped, and I turned as the raven swooped straight at me. My hands shot up. I saw two black blurs - the bird dropping and the cat leaping for it. The cat managed to claw the raven, but as it fell back to the ground, the bird swooped down and grabbed the cat in its talons. The cat's scream joined the child's. I ran and kicked the bird as hard as I could.

It dropped the cat, which started to run, but the bird flew after it. I went after the bird. It was huge, twice the size of the cat. When it dropped low enough, I kicked it again. The old woman shouted, and a rain of stone hit the bird.

It croaked and turned on me. I stood my ground. When it spread its black wings, I got ready to kick it yet again, but the old woman was at my side now. She pitched another handful of pebbles at the bird, shouting, "Go away!"

The bird stopped and eye us both. Then with a croak, it spread its wings. As it launched into flight, it listed to one side.

Omens is the 1st book in Kelley Armstrong's A Cainsville Novel Series. This is not your generic mystery or suspense series, but contains supernatural and paranormal elements. Armstrong brings up important topics in the novel including adoption and how people view adopted children vs. natural born children in relation to their parents, wealthy people and elite social circles,and stereotypes of lawyers. The lead character Olivia Taylor Jones is at the center of something much deeper, as the book reveals in each chapter.

Official Synopsis:
Omens book review, Kelley ArmstrongTwenty-four-year-old Olivia Taylor Jones has the perfect life. The only daughter of a wealthy, prominent Chicago family, she has an Ivy League education, pursues volunteerism and philanthropy, and is engaged to a handsome young tech firm CEO with political ambitions. But Olivia’s world is shattered when she learns that she’s adopted. Her real parents? Todd and Pamela Larsen, notorious serial killers serving a life sentence. When the news brings a maelstrom of unwanted publicity to her adopted family and fiancĂ©, Olivia decides to find out the truth about the Larsens.

Olivia ends up in the small town of Cainsville, Illinois, an old and cloistered community that takes a particular interest in both Olivia and her efforts to uncover her birth parents’ past.

Aided by her mother’s former lawyer, Gabriel Walsh, Olivia focuses on the Larsens’ last crime, the one her birth mother swears will prove their innocence. But as she and Gabriel start investigating the case, Olivia finds herself drawing on abilities that have remained hidden since her childhood, gifts that make her both a valuable addition to Cainsville and deeply vulnerable to unknown enemies. Because there are darker secrets behind her new home and powers lurking in the shadows that have their own plans for her ...

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Guest Post: Inspiration and Surprise, by Patti Callahan Henry, author of The Stories We Tell

Today's guest post is brought to you by Patti Callahan Henry, author of The Stories We Tell, recently released - check back soon for a review and giveaway of the book, or click HERE to purchase a copy.

Patti Callahan Henry
via: her website
As writers, we are inspired by so many things but usually I start my novels with a “what if?” question. This novel, my tenth, was the first one I’ve written that didn’t start out with that question. This novel was inspired by the beauty and handmade world of letterpress and typography. In our fast-paced world where image is everything in social media and branding, where does the handcrafted, honest life fit in? I imagined a woman who valued not only the image of her life and family but also the creative life that nourished her. I saw these two worlds colliding as she struggled to keep both worlds alive in a tension of opposites. Eventually something had to unwind, which of course it did. As an ex-nurse who specialized in closed head injuries, I was also inspired by the constantly wavering life of memory and imagination. What is real? What is imagined or remembered? How accurate is our memory, especially after a head injury? These fascinating questions pulled the story along as I uncovered the answers.

Sometimes writing a book is like going on a blind date, and discovering that the date is someone completely different than you’d been told about. It’s the magic and mystery of writing – we start off with one idea and end up writing about something else all together. I did write about all the things that inspired this novel, but its end destination, its final message was about “believing before seeing” and the innate ability of creativity to heal a life and heart.