Audiobook – The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

Prior to listening to the audiobook by Sue Monk Kidd I had heard great things about the novel, The Secret Life of Bees. Even with all of the rave reviews I wasn’t prepared for the story to move me the way that it did. The narrator of the audiobook, Jenna Lamia, did a fabulous job. In her voice, the main character of the story, Lily Owens, came to life. I can only imagine how different my story experience would have been if the book were narrated by someone who did not do a fabulous job of making the characters live in my imagination.

The book is told through the troubled eyes of fourteen-year-old Lily Owens, who believes she is responsible for her mother’s death. Abused by her father, and missing the mother she loved, Lily is mostly cared for by a servant, Rosaleen, a black woman who becomes Lily’s stand-in mother.

When Rosaleen has a confrontation with three racist men and she is beaten, thrown in jail, and awaiting punishment that will certainly mean death. Lily helps Rosaleen escape from the guarded hospital and the two women head to Tiburon South Carolina, the place where Lily is drawn because of a label from a honey jar her mother left behind.

In Tiburon, Lily and Rosaleen are befriended by three African American sisters, August, June, and May, and Lily learns that her mother was loved by these three women and lived with them for a period of time before getting married. The oldest sister, August, is a beekeeper who runs her honey-making business out of the home the three sisters share. Through the strength and love of August and the sisters, Lily’s spirit is renewed as she heals and learns to let go of the guilt and anger she has carried in her heart.

If you haven’t read this book or listened to the audio version, I would really encourage you to check it out at the library and enjoy a great story.

 

 

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NetGalley – Discover, Request, and Review New Books

A fellow writer (Kersten Hamilton, author of the book Tyger Tyger, A YA urban fantasy) recently contacted me to tell about NetGalley. I thought the idea sounded so interesting that I wanted to share the information with you. Long story short, NetGalley allows book reviewers to request e-galleys from publishers they are interested in reviewing books for.

“NetGalley is an inexpensive and green way for publishers to share their digital galleys securely. Professional readers—reviewers, media, bloggers, journalists, librarians, booksellers and educators—can all use NetGalley for FREE to read and request galleys they want to review. Welcome, and happy reading!” NetGalley.com

On the NetGallery website you can browse by publisher, genre, and catalog category. From what I can see the service is free and easy to use. Here is a list of publishers using NetGalley.

• Abingdon Press — coming soon!

• A K Peters

• AMACOM

• B&H Publishing Group

• Barbour Publishing Inc.

• Bytech Services

• Carina Press

• Coconut Press

• Columbia University Press

• CreateSpace

• Crown Publishing Group

• ECW Press

• The Elevator Group

• GemmaMedia

• Guilford Press

• Harlequin Enterprises

• HarperCollins Publishers

• Hay House, Inc.

• Hoover Institution

• Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

• Island Press

• Kogan Page

• Leapfrog Press

• Lerner Publishing Group — coming soon!

• McArthur & Company

• Milkweed Editions

• Moody Publishers

• Mwella Publishing

• NOLO

• O’Reilly Media, Inc.

• Plain White Press

• Poisoned Pen Press

• Rodale Books

• The Taunton Press

• Unbridled Books

• University of Illinois Press

• University Press of Florida

If you are a book reviewer, do you think this service is helpful? Would you use it?

 

 

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Breach of Trust by DiAnn Mills

Paige Rogers survived every CIA operative’s worst nightmare—a covert mission gone terribly wrong, and a betrayal by the one man she thought she could trust. Forced to disappear to protect the lives of her loved ones, Paige has spent the last several years building a quiet life as a small-town librarian. But the day a stranger comes to town and starts asking questions, Paige knows her careful existence has been shattered. He is coming after her again. And this time, he intends to silence her for good.

Talk about a high-energy read. This book truly is an adventure that I so enjoyed reading. I found the character Paige Rogers to be a strong-willed woman with enough vulnerability to make her likeable as well as believable as a former CIA operative. The romantic elements involving Paige and the football coach at Split Creek’s high school, Miles Laird, evolved naturally and ended on a satisfying note. If you enjoy action and adventure, this is one book you won’t be able to put down.

A Little about the Author

Award-winning author DiAnn Mills launched her career in 1998 with the publication of her first book. Since then, she has written more than fifteen novels and many novellas. There are more than one million copies of her books in print. DiAnn lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband. Visit DiAnn’s website at: www.diannmills.com. *Also, be sure to stop by my blog on March 29th and read my interview with DiAnn.

 

 

 

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Teaser Tuesdays

A few weeks ago, I visited the blog of Patricia Woodside and by reading her post for that Tuesday I learned about something called “Teaser Tuesdays.” The concept was started by MizB, host of the blog Should Be Reading, and particpating is simple—everyone is welcome to join in on the fun. Here is how it works:

• Grab your current read

• Open to a random page

• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page (in the comments below or via a link to your own blog.)

• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

• Share the title and author, too, so that other Tuesday Teaser participants can add the book to their “to be read” lists if they like your teasers!

I’ll go ahead and get us started with two teasers from the books I’m reading now.

My first Teaser Tuesday is from page 110 of Patti Lacy’s book, What the Bayou Saw.

“Her parents didn’t seem to hear the knock, but Sally did. A real estate agent was expected; not a moment too soon. Spending seven days with a two-year-old in a cramped, windowless motel room had reduced Sally’s life to boxes, sacks, suitcases, and smelly diapers.”

Okay, here’s my second one. It’s taken from page 123 of DiAnn Mill’s book, Breach of Trust.

“Miles picked up a large coffee at the doughnut shop and headed to his truck. He swung a glance toward Eleanor’s beauty shop. Yep, there was Paige’s car. She stepped out and hobbled to the rear door to pull out her crutches. She sure could do great things with a pair of crutches.”

I hope you guys will play along and share a few teasers from the book(s) you’re reading.

 

 

 

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A Favorite Literary Classic – To Kill a Mockingbird

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I’m sure most of you reading this post have either read or seen the movie based on Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning bestseller To Kill a Mockingbird. What a phenomenal novel by an amazing writer. Just in the off chance that you’re unfamiliar with this literary classic, I’ve included the below video which provides an excellent overview of the story.

After reading the book I found myself curious about the author, Harper Lee, so I looked her up on Google to learn a little more about her background. I had no idea she and Truman Capote were friends growing up. Sadly, both authors had rather difficult home lives and Lee, a fierce tomboy, protected Capote from kids who called him a sissy and picked on him for wearing fancy clothes.

For some reason To Kill a Mockingbird was Lee’s one and only novel. Much like the main characters in her book, Lee’s father was an attorney and a member of the Alabama State Legislature. He also owned part of a local newspaper. Apparently, Lee’s mother suffered from mental illness (she was believed to be bipolar), and she consequently never left the house.

Lee became interested in English literature in high school and later went on to attend college at the all-girl’s school, Huntingdon College in Montgomery. Somewhere during her time at Huntingdon, she transferred to the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. In her junior year, Lee was accepted to the university’s law program, but after spending a semester as an exchange student at Oxford University in England, she dropped out of school to concentrate on her writing.

In 1959 Lee completed the manuscript for To Kill A Mockingbird, which was originally titled Go Set a Watchman, then Atticus before being changed to To Kill a Mockingbird. The book was published in July 1960. Harper Lee lives a quiet life outside the public’s eye in New York City and Monroeville Alabama. She continues to be active in her church and community and avoids anything to do with her still-popular novel.

 

 

 

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The Sweet By and By by Sara Evans and Rachel Hauck

The Sweet By and By is the first novel by recording artist Sara Evans. In collaboration with author Rachel Hauck, this book is a story about finding real love in the midst of dealing with a painful past. Jade Fitzgerald is the owner of a quirky vintage shop, The Blue Umbrella, and she’s engaged to marry the man of her dreams Max Benson. When Jade’s hippie mother, Beryl Hill, arrives in town before the wedding Jade is forced to deal with a strained relationship and hurt feelings she’s tried to keep locked away. Beryl, however, has a secret of her own and is hoping to reconcile with her daughter while there’s still time. With God’s help and grace, Jade finds the strength to open up to her mother and allow healing to move them closer to restoration.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The writing and the story gave me such a sense of sweet love and tender faith. The authors did a good job of showing Beryl’s shortcomings without making her into an unlikable monster. I could feel how rough around the edges Beryl was and at the same time I could see how fragile and scared Jade was. I particularly like the fact that the story didn’t employ an unrealistic ending. A very satisfying ending to a very good book.

 

 

 

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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

***Contest following review****

My review of this book is a credit to the power of word of mouth. My friend—and fellow kindred spirit—Patti Lacy recommended this book along with several others. Based on the strength of her recommendation I rushed out and bought the novel, and I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed it. When I purchased the book I had no idea it was written as a series of letters. Needless to say, when I sat down to read the book I was initially caught off guard. Once I started reading, I fell in love with the language, tone, and storytelling and I couldn’t put the book down. The authors are a mother-daughter team, Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, and they did a wonderful job with this collaborative masterpiece.

First, let me share with you the back cover blurb.

January 1946: Writer Juliet Ashton receives a letter from a stranger, a founding member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. And so begins a remarkable tale of the island of Guernsey during the German Occupation, and of a society as extraordinary as its name.

What captured my heart was the use of language and vivid imagery from that era. In the midst of reading about the hardships the characters faced, as they tried to survive the occupation, I found myself laughing at their quirky habits and strange antics. At times I wished I could meet them—that’s how real the characters were. If you haven’t already read this book I strongly recommend it. In fact, this contest might be the perfect opportunity for you to secure a very gently used copy of the book for your own personal library.

To enter the contest, leave a comment and recommend one or two books on your “must read list.” The contest winner will be announced on March 4, 2010. Chances of winning depends on the number of entries. Contest available to U.S. residents only.

 

 

 

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