Tuesday, September 25, 2012


I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.

Although I am a fan of mysteries and books filled with action and suspense, I find that more and more I value quieter books that focus on unlikely heroes in unusual circumstances.  THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY is one of those books.  Retiree Harold Fry lives in a quiet life with his wife Maureen in a small English village.  With the exception of his wife's apparent growing irritation with him, Harold's days pass quietly with little change.  One day, Harold receives a letter from his old friend Queenie Hennessey. Harold hasn't seen Queenie for many years and now she is in hospice and writing to say goodbye. The letter stirs something in Harold.  He writes a response and heads to the post office but can't bring himself to post the letter. Instead, he starts walking.  He decides to walk the 600 miles from his home to the hospice where Queenie resides.  He becomes convinced that as long as he walks, Queenie will live.  Along the way, Harold meets a variety of interesting characters and learns a great deal about humanity and himself.  His pilgrimage begins to have far-reaching consequences both for Harold, his wife and the people who become a part of it.

This is a lovely story about a quiet man driven to do something extraordinary.  Harold's motivation doesn't really become clear until the end of the book but his story reveals something about how every person has a story.  It reminded me of the Plato quotation, "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."  We cannot know what stories of quiet desperation the people around us are concealing.  Sometimes, we have to slow down in order to connect with others. This is a beautiful and moving story and will probably end up being one of my favorites this year.

BOTTOM LINE:  Highly recommended.  A very sweet and moving tale that reminds us of how everyone has a story and that one of the most profound things we can do is listen and connect. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

THE TWELVE by Justin Cronin

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.

Last year, Justin Cronin came out with his critically-acclaimed postapocalyptic novel THE PASSAGE which introduced us to a terrifying world of zombie-like creatures and the intrepid survivors struggling to fight them.  I had a mixed reaction to THE PASSAGE.  Cronin is a great writer and his story is compelling but I often felt that the book plodded along as Cronin struggled to set the stage for his sweeping tale.  With the second book in the trilogy, THE TWELVE, Cronin gets to continue his story in a much more effective and intriguing way.

THE TWELVE allows us to see several different parts of the story at once. In the present day, we see what happens in the days following the collapse of the government project that caused the nightmare.  We also move 100 years into the future where we catch up with Amy and her friends as they continue to fight for humankind's existence.  Cronin uses several clever plot devices to bring the reader up to speed including a far-into-the-future biblical-like account of the events.  I loved how he filled in many of the gaps left by the first book.  To me, learning about the days following the initial disaster were especially compelling.  Much more so than reading about the survivors living in the Colony in the first book.  I had a hard time connecting with the characters in the first book. I had no problem doing so in the second book.  With THE TWELVE, it seems Cronin has achieved the perfect blend of storytelling.  I had a very hard time putting this book down and hurried through it over the course of a few days.

BOTTOM LINE:  Recommended.  Fans of THE PASSAGE will love this second book in the trilogy.  Readers like me who were on the fence with the first book will be pleasantly surprised.  THE TWELVE is a wonderful read and succeeded in getting me excited for the final book in the trilogy.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


HOW DOES SLEEP COME? by Jeanne C. Blackmore has such lovely, gentle illustrations.  I think my very favorite part of the book is when Blackmore says,  "Sleep comes softly. Like a cloud that drifts through a bright summer sky and sweeps a cool shadow across the land."

Doesn't that bring to mind a lovely summer day? 

I asked Noodlebug what his favorite part of the book was. He couldn't choose. He said he liked all of them.

I am especially partial to this illustration:

Read my extended review of this book here.

I am so happy that I get to share this lovely bedtime book with you by giving a copy away!!!  Leave a comment about how sleeps comes for YOUR family.  Make sure and include a way for me to contact you.  This giveaway is option to residents from the US and Canada and closes on Friday, September 28.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

HOW DOES SLEEP COME? by Jeanne C. Blackmore

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.

Many families love to read together right before bedtime. It is the perfect way to spend a little time snuggling and winding down. I am always on the lookout for new bedtime books to read so I was really excited to have to the opportunity to review Jeanne C. Blackmore's new bedtime story HOW DOES SLEEP COME?

When Jacob asks his Mama, "How does sleep come?," the two of them embark upon a wonderful bedtime journey.  Mama comes up with a variety of lovely similes to describe how sleep comes.  With each page, sleep reveals a new aspect of itself as the little boy is drawn further and further into sleep.  Noodlebug and I each had our favorite pages.  With its beautiful illustrations and lovely descriptive imagery, this makes a very sweet and peaceful bedtime read.

Jeanne C. Blackmore grew up in a family of storytellers and shares her inspiration for this book:

I am the youngest of four children, and grew up in the 1970's.  Thus, most of my recollections are viewed through the cultural lens of that time period.  As you might imagine, in every recalled scene, my siblings and I are wearing bellbottoms.  Mine feature red, white and blue vertical stripes.  My brothers all have long hair with windswept bangs, and my sister's long hair hangs down to her waist, pin straight. What I remember most about my childhood is words.  In my family, for every situation, we relish finding and using the best words.  The process of finding the words is as enjoyable as presenting them once they are found.  We cannot help ourselves.  Words are the currency in which we trade, the ocean in which we swim, the place we feel most at ease.  I recall my childhood dinner table conversations as a beehive of words buzzing back and forth across the table, each person trying to get their words in edgewise, to grab the stage and tell the funniest story or turn the cleverest phrase.  As the youngest, there was always the stress of trying to outdo my older siblings.  They were so much faster and smarter!  It was impossible to keep up.  On the flip side, they were so funny!  Most especially, my brother Marc could tell stories that would make me laugh so hard my sides would ache and leave me begging for more.  Just one more!  And, I guess, that sums up what it is like to grow up in a family of storytellers.....you always want one more story.  And it better be as good as the last one.

BOTTOM LINE:  Recommended.  This is a lovely book that appeals to both adults and children alike.  A perfect bedtime read.
Check back here on Tuesday, September 18 for a giveaway opportunity when Noodlebug and I share our favorite parts of this book!!!!


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Where are the Reviews?

Hello fellow bibliophiles!

You know what makes it difficult to read? Vertigo.  I have been having a terrible problem with vertigo and dizziness for about two months now. I will finally get to see a specialist on Friday and I'm hoping to get some relief.

I owe you review on:

THE TWELVE by Justin Cronin

I promise they are forthcoming. I'm just a little behind.  Tomorrow, I will have a special children's picture book review for you.

I hope you are all reading wonderful books right now.  Fall and Winter are my favorite reading months!!!

On another note, it escaped my attention that it is Book Blogger Appreciation Week!  I read very few book blogs and my favorites are in the sidebar.  I have read Bookfool for a long time and so appreciate the very sweet "shout out" she left me on her blog.  Go over and say hi!  You'll love her.