Wednesday, January 30, 2013

One Summer by David Baldacci

David Baldacci is a worldwide bestselling novelist.  His books have been published in over 45 languages and in more than 80 countries, with over 110 million copies in print.  He is one of the world's favorite storytellers.

This book isn't his typical offering as the writer of blockbuster thrillers, but it is a moving account of one family who learned to love and reconnect after being exposed to terrible tragedy.

It's almost Christmas, but there is no joy in the house of terminally ill Jack and his family. With only a short time left to live, he spends his last days preparing to say goodbye to his devoted wife, Lizzie, and their three children. Then, unthinkably, tragedy strikes again: Lizzie is killed in a car accident. With no one able to care for them, the children are separated from each other and sent to live with family members around the country. Just when all seems lost, Jack begins to recover in a miraculous turn of events. He rises from what should have been his deathbed, determined to bring his fractured family back together. Struggling to rebuild their lives after Lizzie's death, he reunites everyone at Lizzie's childhood home on the oceanfront in South Carolina. And there, over one unforgettable summer, Jack will begin to learn to love again, and he and his children will learn how to become a family once more.

David Baldacci is also the cofounder, along with his wife, of the Wish You Well Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting literacy efforts across America.  You can find out more about him by going to and his foundation by going to .  He also has a program designed to spread books across America.  You can find out more about this by going to .

This was my first Baldacci book, but it won't be my last.  I intend to catch up on his other titles and I highly recommend him to you.

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

This book was passed on to me by a Book Club member, because she thought I might like it--and, indeed I did.  It is a mystery that was released  in 2008 by Australian author Kate Morton.

On the eve of the first world war, a little girl is found abandoned on a ship to Australia. A mysterious woman called the Authoress had promised to look after her--but the Authoress has disappeared without a trace.

On the night of her twenty-first birthday, Nell O'Connor learns a secret that will change her life forever. Decades later, she embarks upon a search for the truth that leads her to the windswept Cornish coast and the strange and beautiful Blackhurst Manor, once owned by the aristocratic Mountrachet family.

On Nell's death, her grand-daughter, Cassandra, comes into an unexpected inheritance. Cliff Cottage and its forgotten garden are notorious amongst the Cornish locals for the secrets they hold--secrets about the doomed Mountrachet family and their ward Eliza Makepeace, a writer of dark Victorian fairytales. It is here that Cassandra will finally uncover the truth about the family, and solve the century-old mystery of a little girl lost.

This is a story that explores the present and the past, a theme that the author is particularly interested in.  There are three strands woven together to form a single narrative--the lives of three women from three different eras.  At first, it jumped around a little too much for me, but once I got used to jumping back and forth in time, the magical narrative captivated me.  We even get a few dark fairytales woven into the narrative as well.  You can tell that the book has been carefully researched and crafted with mysteries to be solved and many puzzle pieces to be followed till the very end (where there is a payoff).  It was a fast and easy read and the atmosphere and setting made for a compelling read.

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Joy of Re-Reading

Have to share this from Joan Wickersham from the Boston Globe about the Joy of Re-Reading.  She is so right when she says "Re-reading never gets old. The books change because we change."

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Read an interesting article by Suzy Staubach about the curious rise of bibliographics.  Just wanted to share it with you all here because she has a lot of good links listed for Pinterest sites and web pages having to do with books.  Truly delightful to browse for any book lover.  They make this girl's heart beat a bit faster, and maybe they will work their magic on you too.  Check it out.   

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Don't burn your books, print is here to stay!

The following article from the Wall Street Journal gives lovers of ink and paper heart.  Reports of the death of the printed book may be exaggerated.

"Ever since Amazon introduced its popular Kindle e-reader five years ago, pundits have assumed that the future of book publishing is digital. Opinions about the speed of the shift from page to screen have varied. But the consensus has been that digitization, having had its way with music and photographs and maps, would in due course have its way with books as well. By 2015, one media maven predicted a few years back, traditional books would be gone.

Half a decade into the e-book revolution, though, the prognosis for traditional books is suddenly looking brighter. Hardcover books are displaying surprising resiliency. The growth in e-book sales is slowing markedly. And purchases of e-readers are actually shrinking, as consumers opt instead for multipurpose tablets. It may be that e-books, rather than replacing printed books, will ultimately serve a role more like that of audio books—a complement to traditional reading, not a substitute.

How attached are Americans to old-fashioned books? Just look at the results of a Pew Research Center survey released last month. The report showed that the percentage of adults who have read an e-book rose modestly over the past year, from 16% to 23%. But it also revealed that fully 89% of regular book readers said that they had read at least one printed book during the preceding 12 months. Only 30% reported reading even a single e-book in the past year.

What's more, the Association of American Publishers reported that the annual growth rate for e-book sales fell abruptly during 2012, to about 34%. That's still a healthy clip, but it is a sharp decline from the triple-digit growth rates of the preceding four years.

The initial e-book explosion is starting to look like an aberration. The technology's early adopters, a small but enthusiastic bunch, made the move to e-books quickly and in a concentrated period. Further converts will be harder to come by. A 2012 survey by Bowker Market Research revealed that just 16% of Americans have actually purchased an e-book and that a whopping 59% say they have "no interest" in buying one.

Meanwhile, the shift from e-readers to tablets may also be dampening e-book purchases. Sales of e-readers plunged 36% in 2012, according to estimates from IHS iSuppli, while tablet sales exploded. When forced to compete with the easy pleasures of games, videos and Facebook on devices like the iPad and the Kindle Fire, e-books lose a lot of their allure. The fact that an e-book can't be sold or given away after it's read also reduces the perceived value of the product.

Beyond the practical reasons for the decline in e-book growth, something deeper may be going on. We may have misjudged the nature of the electronic book.

From the start, e-book purchases have skewed disproportionately toward fiction, with novels representing close to two-thirds of sales. Digital best-seller lists are dominated in particular by genre novels, like thrillers and romances. Screen reading seems particularly well-suited to the kind of light entertainments that have traditionally been sold in supermarkets and airports as mass-market paperbacks.

These are, by design, the most disposable of books. We read them quickly and have no desire to hang onto them after we've turned the last page. We may even be a little embarrassed to be seen reading them, which makes anonymous digital versions all the more appealing. The "Fifty Shades of Grey" phenomenon probably wouldn't have happened if e-books didn't exist.

Readers of weightier fare, including literary fiction and narrative nonfiction, have been less inclined to go digital. They seem to prefer the heft and durability, the tactile pleasures, of what we still call "real books"—the kind you can set on a shelf.

E-books, in other words, may turn out to be just another format—an even lighter-weight, more disposable paperback. That would fit with the discovery that once people start buying digital books, they don't necessarily stop buying printed ones. In fact, according to Pew, nearly 90% of e-book readers continue to read physical volumes. The two forms seem to serve different purposes.

Having survived 500 years of technological upheaval, Gutenberg's invention may withstand the digital onslaught as well. There's something about a crisply printed, tightly bound book that we don't seem eager to let go of."

—Mr. Carr is the author of "The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains."

Friday, January 4, 2013

This book has been billed as an honest look at the price of war on an ordinary American family.  It is a story of love, loss, heroism, honor, and yes--ultimately--hope.

Michael and Jolene Zarkades are a young couple caught up in the malestrom of every day life.  He is a defense attorney, and she is the mother of two girls and a helicopter pilot with the National Guard.  Iraq erupts, and Jolene is deployed, leaving Michael to be the single parent to their two girls (a role that is obviously foreign to him).  As a mother, Jolene agonizes over leaving her family, but as a soldier she understands the true meaning of duty.  When tragedy befalls Jolene, their 12 year marriage is tested in ways that neither of them could have forseen.

The thing I liked best about this book was its depiction of the sacrifices that our service men and women make by putting themselves in harms way to protect us and ensure our freedom.  Typical of that were the words from the Soldier's Creed posted on the hospital door of Jolene's best friend Tami:

I am an American Soldier.
I am a warrior and a member of a team.
I serve the people of the United States, and live the Army Values.
I will always place the mission first.
I will never accept defeat.
I will never quit.
I will never leave a fallen comrade.
I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough, trained and proficient in my warrior tasks and drills.
I always maintain my arms, my equipment and myself.
I am an expert and I am a professional.
I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy, the enemies of the United States of America in close combat.
I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life.
I am an American Soldier.

The character Jolene was a personification of this code.  I had a little trouble relating to her prior to her Iraq experience because she seemed so bottled up and controlled--a little too perfect--but that was no doubt due to her dysfunctional background, coming from an alcoholic family.  She truly found herself in the military--found her purpose.  The character of Michael was well drawn, but I found the two children very annoying.  The older girl (12) was a spoiled brat and the younger girl (4) seemed too much of a baby.

I do totally agree with Hannah when she says that no matter how you feel about war and all the political machinations behind it, we must always support our warriors. 
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