Monday, February 16, 2015

Teaser Tuesday: Marian Anderson

TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
Please avoid spoilers!
This weeks teasers is from Marian Anderson: A singer's Journey by Allen Keiler

The president had been criticized by blacks during his first term because of his cautious attitude towards civil rights, especially his unwillingness to act against state-imposed segregation after the landmark Brown v Board of Education decision of the Supreme Court.  Indeed, a 1955 Gallup poll revealed that Eisenhower's popularity among black voters had declined considerably during his first term. 

pg. 281 (hardback edition.
Don't forget to post a link to your teaser!

I want to read it.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Shelved: March

Pages: 280
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series/Standalone: Standalone
Version: Paperback
Publication Date: March 2005
Publisher: Viking Adult
Source: Private Collection

Synopsis (GoodReads):
As the North reels under a series of unexpected defeats during the dark first year of the war, one man leaves behind his family to aid the Union cause. His experiences will utterly change his marriage and challenge his most ardently held beliefs. Riveting and elegant as it is meticulously researched, March is an extraordinary novel woven out of the lore of American history. 
From Louisa May Alcott’s beloved classic Little Women, Geraldine Brooks has taken the character of the absent father, March, who has gone off to war, leaving his wife and daughters to make do in mean times. To evoke him, Brooks turned to the journals and letters of Bronson Alcott, Louisa May’s father—a friend and confidant of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. In her telling, March emerges as an idealistic chaplain in the little known backwaters of a war that will test his faith in himself and in the Union cause as he learns that his side, too, is capable of acts of barbarism and racism. As he recovers from a near mortal illness, he must reassemble his shattered mind and body and find a way to reconnect with a wife and daughters who have no idea of the ordeals he has been through.

Spanning the vibrant intellectual world of Concord and the sensuous antebellum South, March adds adult resonance to Alcott’s optimistic children’s tale to portray the moral complexity of war, and a marriage tested by the demands of extreme idealism—and by a dangerous and illicit attraction. A lushly written, wholly original tale steeped in the details of another time, March secures Geraldine Brooks’s place as an internationally renowned author of historical fiction..

Why I Shelved It:

I am not abandoning this book, instead, I am going to shelve it for later.  I am just not in the right mood to finish it.  Which is kind of a bummer, since this seems like a book that I normally would really enjoy.  When I could force myself to read it the time flew by and I got lost in the pages.  But I had to force myself to read it, I wasn't really enjoying it.  I think part of the problem is that I just finished reading something that was serious and I really should have cleansed my reading palette with something lighter.  March wasn't it.

So, for now I am shelving it and will try to pick it up in a couple of months.

Page Completed: 40

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Audiobook Review: Sold

Author: Patrica McCormick
Narrator: Justine Eyre
Length: 3 hrs and 44 mins
Genre: Young Adult (Fiction)
Series/Standalone: Standalone
Version: Audiobook
Publication Date: September 2006 (first published)
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Source: Purchase

Synopsis (GoodReads):
Lakshmi is a thirteen-year-old girl who lives with her family in a small hut on a mountain in Nepal. Though she is desperately poor, her life is full of simple pleasures, like playing hopscotch with her best friend from school and having her mother brush her hair by the light of an oil lamp. But when the harsh Himalayan monsoons wash away all that remains of the family's crops, Lakshmi's stepfather says she must leave home and take a job to support her family. He introduces her to a glamorous stranger who tells her she will find her a job as a maid in the city. Glad to be able to help, Lakshmi journeys to India and arrives at "Happiness House" full of hope. But she soon learns the unthinkable truth: she has been sold into prostitution. 
An old woman named Mumtaz rules the brothel with cruelty and cunning. She tells Lakshmi that she is trapped there until she can pay off her family's debt - then cheats Lakshmi of her meager earnings so that she can never leave. Lakshmi's life becomes a nightmare from which she cannot escape. Still, she lives by her mother's words - simply to endure is to triumph - and gradually, she forms friendships with the other girls that enable her to survive in this terrifying new world. Then the day comes when she must make a decision - will she risk everything for a chance to reclaim her life? 
Written in spare and evocative vignettes, this powerful novel renders a world that is as unimaginable as it is real, and a girl who not only survives but triumphs.


Plot: A

Sold is one of those books that I have had on my shelf for so long that I did not remember what it was about.  When it went on sale on audiobook format through Audible I swiped it up.  All that I remember about the book was that it took place in India and that the synopsis was interesting enough for me to want to read it despite the fact that it was a young adult book (not that I dislike YA fiction but it is not normally my genre).

I write all that to illustrate the point that I wasn't quite prepared for Sold.  As I was walking the halls of my job entertained by the story and the narrator (who was excellent by the way, more on that later) I wasn't expecting the turn.  When McCormick  got to the part where Lakshmi is about to be sold into prostitution, I naively hoped that what was about to happen wasn't going to happen.  That her step-father wasn't really selling her into prostitution and that the "aunt" was really going to take her to be a maid in some families home.  I stopped the audio and re-read the synopsis only to find out that my prediction was right.  I wanted to stop listening right there but I didn't and I am happy that I stuck with it.

The story is overall not a happy one, but there is hope in the pages (especially towards the end) and the fact that the story was done in first person through the eyes of Lakshmi, really made it shine.

Characters: A

The main character and narrator of the story is Lakshmi.  I honestly have nothing bad to say about her, maybe it was because I was sad that a young innocent child was sold into prostitution.  Or the fact that McCormick always made sure that reader (or listener in my case) never forgot that she was a child.  One of the things that I was worried about was the fact that Lakshmi might give up hope of escape and become complacent in her situation as some of the women and girls in Happiness House were.  I didn't have to worry about that even when she was afraid and feeling her worse Lakshmi always held on to the hope of escaping her situation.

There were several other women and girls in the story.  I liked that McCormick gave them each a unique back-story and that the reader/listener got to know more about them.  None of the characters seem flat to me, all of them were well round.

Narration:  A+

Justine Eyre was a great narrator and I had my fears about the narration when I started listening.  Fears rooted in the fact that I started listening to one book set in  Saudi Arabia (I think) and the narrators accent was generic American broadcaster standard.  It through me off, so much so that I had double check the location of the book and the characters to make sure my expectations were unfounded.  Maybe I am one of a few people that would rather hear a story narrated by a actor with an accent similar to the ones that I imagine the characters would have.

I can't say if Justine Eyre's accent was right for someone from Nepal since I am not familiar with it but her attempt pulled me more into the story.  She sounded like a 13 year old girl and made Lakshmi's story come alive in my mind.  She did an excellent job at switching up the voice when she had to sound like other characters.

All in all Eyre is very talented.

Explanation of Rating:

While I liked Sold and the audiobook version. I think it is a story better read then listened too.  The subject matter is just too deep and at times I wish I could stop the audio and take it back up later like a book.  It's harder to do that with audiobooks because it's harder to judge natural breaks in the story.  I will say that the audiobook worked nicely with the vignette style of the book.

Final Grade: B+

Overall Recommendation:

Highly recommended.  I think I might re-visit this one (in a couple of years) in the print format and see if my impression of the book changes any with time and format.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Teaser Tuesdays: If Beale Street Could Talk

TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
Please avoid spoilers!
This weeks teasers is from If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin. (again, a little over two sentences)
"I know I can't help you very much right now-Gold knows what I wouldn't give if I could. But I know about suffering; if it helps. I know that is ends. I aint't going to tell you no lies, like it always ends for the better. Sometimes it ends for the worse. You can suffer so bad that you can be driven to a place where you can't even suffer gain: and that's the worse."
-page 112 (paperback)

Don't forget to post a link to your teaser!

I want to read it.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Stacking The Shelves #1

From Tynga's Reviews:

We are all book lovers and the need to share our enthusiasm is sometimes overwhelming. Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks! 
If you’re anything like me, you are probably hoarding books and even though you are excited about your latest book arrival, it might be a while before you get to review it and Stacking The Shelves is a good way to express your undying enthusiasm for those titles!

This week has been a bit busy with adding books to my virtual TBR shelf and my eReader (Nook and Kindle).  I have added a total of 13 books all together. Most of  purchases were free downloads.

Virtual TBR Shelf:
(books that I don't own but want to read)


(or free)

What did you add to your shelves this week?

Friday, January 9, 2015

Review: The New Mrs. Collins

Author: Quanie Miller
Pages: 191
Genre: Fiction (Supernatural)
Series/Standalone: Standalone
Version: eBook
Publication Date: October 2014
Publisher: Self-Published
Source: Author provided me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis (GoodReads):
In the small town of Carolville, Louisiana, no one knows that Adira Collins inherited mystic powers from her great grandmother. All they know is that she’s beautiful, poised, graceful, and ruthless—especially when it comes to love. And no one knows that more than Leena Williams, who was all set to marry the man of her dreams until Adira swooped into town and stole the man’s heart.

Being left at the altar is bad enough, but Leena and her ex share custody of their son, so she has to see the new Mrs. Collins on a regular basis.

And it burns every time she does.

But soon, Leena starts to suspect that there is more to Adira Collins than meets the eye. And it’s not because she owns some kinky lingerie shop or allegedly insulted the pastor’s wife—it’s the strange way she can make a door close without touching it, or take one look at something and make it drop dead at her feet.

Leena starts digging for answers and soon discovers that, unlike her public persona, Adira’s true nature is somewhere on the other side of grace. She also learns, a little too late, that some secrets are better left buried. 


Cover: A+

 Let's just say that I love the cover of The New Mrs. Collins. I think that it complements the story very well.  It's dark and mysterious. Yet the woman on the cover is glamours. Everything about the cover hits elements in the story perfectly.

Plot: B

What I Liked:  When the Quanie Miller first asked me to review The New Mrs. Collins. I was a bit hesitant. Miller's email mentioned that it was a paranormal story and while she knew my review policy states that I don't review paranormal she hoped I would give her book a chance.  I hoped over to GoodReads to read more about it.  The blurb doesn't really read fantasy/paranormal to me. I had the feeling that the book (based on the blurb) was more contemporary fiction with a supernatural twist.

I was right.

The overall plot of The New Mrs. Collins is something that has been done in books/television before.  The stolen romantic partner angle, that leaves the brokenhearted looked for answers to why. I loved the supernatural twist that Miller put on the story.

What I Didn't Like:  I wanted Miller to take the supernatural twist one step forward.

The plot reads that Johnny leaves Leena at the alter (after being together for years and having a child together)  because he fell in love with Adira (after knowing each-other for 6 months, affair included). I was hoping for some supernatural reason as why Johnny would leave Leena high and dry like that but there wasn't, other than all men seemed to be drawn to Adira.   There wasn't even a reason as to why Adira wanted Johnny, there didn't seem to be anything special about him at all, especially since it seemed that Adira could have any man that she wanted.

As a reader I was hoping for some supernatural explanation to why Adira and Johnny were together and why Leena was left at the alter to become a part of town gossip.  There was no satisfying explanation as to why and giving the rest of the details in the story, that left me wanting.

Characters: B

What I Liked:  The New Mrs. Collins has a great cast of characters, each unique and different.  Some of them are a bit superficial but they all have a purpose in the story and drive the plot forward nicely.  I loved the comedic element that the towns people provided, they help make a story that could have been dark more lighthearted when need.

The other character that was well done for the most part was Adira who ended up being the star of The New Mrs. Collins, when the last page is turned we learn a lot about her and what motivates her to do what she does.  Even in that there was still a lot of contradictions in her character that I found it hard to explain.  One instance is when she is mad at the pastor for cheating on his wife, even though Johnny cheated on Leena with her.  There is also a chapter that is written from Adira 'viewpoint' that I wish had been taken out.

What I Didn't Like:  My feelings towards Leena Williams, is a bit meh because I thought she was underdeveloped.  I wanted her to be more well rounded and fleshed out like Adira.  I was hoping for a battle of good and evil, two strong women characters.  Not necessarily fighting over the same man, but having some conflict, and being equally matched.  Maybe it was because Adira story was so fleshed out and took up a number of chapters in the book but she seemed the stronger character.  In the end I don't feel that Leena changed that much.

Writing:  B-

What I Liked:  I enjoyed Quanie Miller writing, it is very engaging and an I found myself losing track of the time as I was reading (almost missed my stop while riding the train).  Miller is a very good storyteller and I enjoyed her writing very much.  It was prefect for the story she told and she added a lot of different elements.  There was humor, darkness, love, romance, and fear.  Never once did the story seemed forced and all the elements worked well together.

What I like about Miller's writing and The New Mrs. Collins, all together that it was sort of magical realism without being too literary.  I could enjoy the story without having to worry about the symbolism in each sentence.  The story flowed nicely and I found myself searching the book out and feeling disappointed as I got closer to the end.

What I Didn't Like: I have mentioned several times that I am not a fan of pop culture references because I feel that they date a story.  There were a few in here, there weren't a lot in The New Mrs. Collins, but there were some terms that I did find dated and had me scratching my head. For example:

  • mamajama
  • jalopy
  • jazzy
There were also times when I was confused about the time frame.  There was a lot of jumping around and it was hard to track at times.  Especially, as the story progresses and the conflict between Leena and Adira comes to head.  A couple of times I found myself finishing a chapter and having to flip back to the last chapter trying to figure out the time frame.

Explanation of Rating:     

The New Mrs. Collins could have been a solid "B" I wanted it to be a solid "B" but the uneveness of the two main characters as well as time frame issues held it back.  I was looking for a story with two strong characters.  I got one strong character (Adira) and one with potential (Leena). Since Leena's potential was never fully realized for me, it was hard to find the ending as satisfying as I would have liked it to be.  I was left feeling like "Wait there has to be more? Leena's story can't end like this with her being the same person she started out as?".

Final Grade: B-

Overall Recommendation: Read

If you are looking for something with a bit of range The New Mrs. Collins is prefect. It's funny and dark at the same time.  It has a great cast of characters and is a unique take on a common plot.  I enjoyed reading it and if it hadn't been for a few flaws it would have gotten a solid B.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Wondrous Word Wednesday #1

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Bermudaonion, where you can share new words that you’ve encountered or spotlight words you love.  Feel free to get creative!   If you want to play along, grab the button, write a post and come back and add your link to Mr. Linky!

This weeks Wondrous Words Wednesday are brought to you by The Other Mrs. Collins by Quanie Miller Freshwater Road was a great source of new to me words.

(all definitions are courtesy of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

  • zydeco (noun) - popular music of southern Louisiana that combines tunes of French origin with elements of Caribbean music and the blues and that features guitar, washboard, and accordion
    • "They swung out, zydecoed, hollered and got in line with everyone else when the band did a rendition of the 'Cupid Shuffle" ~pg. 51
      • I am familiar with the Cupid Shuffle by zydeco is new to me.  Apparently, it is not only music but also a form of dance.  I couldn't find any good clips (that I liked) of zydeco dance but here is the Cupid Shuffle.
  • chasm (noun) - a major division, separation, or difference between two people, groups, etc.
    • "A chasm had sprung up between them that would probably never close, and for that, Leena wept." ~ pg. 68
  • tantamount (adjective) - equal to something in value, meaning, or effect
    • It was tantamount to asking for a straitjacket. ~154

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Teaser Tuesday: The New Mrs. Collins

TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
Please avoid spoilers!
This weeks teasers is from The New Mrs. Collins by Quanie Miller (a little more than two sentences)
"I threw them away"  
"I thought they were junk." 
Malaisia's look could have turned her mother into stone.  She left the room and Augustina sat at the table feeling sick.

- page 144 (eBook)

Don't forget to post a link to your teaser!

I want to read it.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Sunday Shorts: The Shadows Gallery (The Track)

Sunday Shorts is a new feature that I am adding to The Little Reading Nook.  I have seen on several other blogs where reviewers feature short stories.

Sunday Shorts is my version. Where I review short stories that I have read.

For the next couple of Sunday's I will be featuring shorts from The Shadows Gallery by L.R. Giles (sorry no link I'm getting a security warning from Chrome about Goodreads).

I got this for free a long time ago from Amazon and never picked it up because 1) I didn't have a Kindle and 2) I hate reading on my phone (backlighting). Now that I have a Kindle I don't have to worry about backlighting and can read all the books that I have collected from Amazon.

The Track:  
The Track is about a former track star that is none to happy about the "Resolutionists" invading the track that he runs on.
I read this while on a plane from South Florida to The Bay Area while visiting my family for Christmas.  L.R. Giles is a new to me author so I wasn't quite sure what to expect.  That's the beauty of short stories. The give you a scene of the authors style without having to invest in a longer story.

I was surprised by Giles, in a good way.  The Track had a "Twilight Zone" feel to me.  This could be because I just found a great audio re-enactment of old "Twilight Zone" stories and had listened to one a couple of days ago.  But as I read the story, the "Twilight Zone" was the first thing that came to mind.

The main character Nash Blanding was not likable at all.  He was really condescending and less than halfway through the story I was praying that something bad happen to him.  I'm sure that was what Giles was going for when he created Nash, an unsympathetic character that the reader did not mind something unpleasant happening to.

That's where the twist come in.  I don't want to give away the story but I wasn't expecting that.  I had an idea in my mind where he was going with it, especially as The Track got closer to the end.  But Giles veered off slightly in a more creative manor instead going the usually route that readers are use too when encountering this type of story.

Verdict: I am looking forward to reading the other stories in this collection.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Sunday Post: First of the New Year

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
~this meme was inspired in part by - In My Mailbox~
It's a chance to share News.
A post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up for the week on our blog.
This is your news post, so personalize it. Include as much as you want or as little.
Be creative, it can be a vlog or just a showcase of your goodies.

Not much happened this week on The Little Reading Nook.

What Happened Last Week:
What's Happening This Week:
  • Monday: Late Sunday Short Post
  • Tuesday: Teaser Tuesday
  • Wednesday: Wondrous Words Wednesday
  • Thursday: Review - The New Mrs. Collins by Quanie Miller
  • Friday: ???? (Friday Reads)
  • Saturday: ????

Happy Reading,

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2015 Audiobook Challnge

Hot Listens/2015 Audiobook Challenge
hosted by The Book Nympho and Hot Listens

I have listened to several audiobooks in the past and enjoyed them.  Because of the new job and such, I have had more time to listen to audiobooks. As a result, I listened to about 3 or 4 last year and really enjoyed them.  The experience is different from reading a book but I enjoy the verbal storytelling.  Maybe I have been lucky so far and have just picked awesome books with awesome narrators.

Anyway, I signed up for Audible last year and have 5 credits sitting in my account waiting to be used. They have accumulated because my library has a decent amount of audiobooks in it's collection thanks to Overdrive.  In order not to waste money and take advantage of valuable resources I decided to take the join the Audiobook Challenge.

Level: Newbie (5 books)
My List:
  • Saint Monkey by Jacinda Townsend
  • Home by Toni Morrison
  • The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty
  • The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino
  • Sold by Patricia McCormick

Challenge Details (Quoted from Hot Listens)
Runs January 1, 2015 – December 31, 2015. You can join at anytime. 
The goal is to find a new love for audios or to outdo yourself by listening to more audios in 2015 than you did in 2014. 
Books must be in audio format (CD, MP3, etc.) 
ANY genres count. 
Re-reads and crossovers from other reading challenges are allowed. 
You do not have to be a book blogger to participate; you can track your progress on Goodreads, Shelfari, Facebook, LibraryThing, etc. 
If you’re a blogger grab the button and do a quick post about the challenge to help spread the word. If you’re not a blogger you can help by posting on Facebook or Tweeting about the challenge.

January Goals

Since I am just getting back into the swing of things I plan to keep January simple.  All the books (with the exception of one) should be lighter/shorter reads.

Reading Plans for January:
  • If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin (MR Book Club Selection)
  • The New Mrs. Collins by Quanie Miller (Review Request)
  • March  by Geraldine Brooks
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  • Sold by Patricia McCormick
  • Are You There God, It's Me Margaret by Judy Blume
I am going to start the month off with The New Mrs. Collins by Quanie Miller.  Ms. Miller contacted me several months ago via email about reviewing her request.  I was very impressed by the fact that she did not send a form request. Instead, her email showed that she had in fact read my review policy and even though her book is paranormal she wondered if I would consider reading it and reviewing it on the blog. Very Professional. And the blurb grabbed my attention so win-win.

If things are slow at the place that pays me I plan to start it as everyone else is partying the night away.

What are your reading plans for the month?
Please comment or post a link in the comment section.

It's a New Year

Happy New Year Everyone.  

I hope that you are enjoying the festivities. I will be working all night but that's okay.  I have never been one to celebrate the New Year in a major way.  Normally, I just sleep through it. At least this year I will be making money.

Every New Year I make resolutions reading and personal life stuff. 2015 is no different.

My reading resolution will be higher this year than last. Since I miss the reading in general and the book blogging community, I am aiming higher.

This year I plan to read 50 books (last year it was 35).

See Ya Soon,