Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Starter House

Starter House by Sonja Condit
Publication date: December 31, 2013 by William Morrow Paperbacks
Source: Digital ARC from publisher via Edelweiss
Description from Goodreads:

In the vein of Heart-Shaped Box and The Thirteenth Tale, Starter House is a haunting and skillfully told debut novel about a newlywed couple and their first home-a home that seems to be haunted by a very malicious ghost

Lacey Miszlak grew up homeless; her crazy mother dragged her from one terrible living situation to the next. But now she thinks the pieces of her life have finally come together. She's pregnant with her first child and she and her husband Eric have moved into the home of their dreams. She knows soon its beautiful sunlit rooms will be filled with the joy of the new family she will build there.

But there's a strange darkness on the stairway and an odd little boy who won't leave Lacey alone and soon she's forced to realize that a danger she never suspected is lurking in the hallways of her beautiful new home. She's going to have to solve a decades-old mystery to save her family from an evil that has lingered in wait for them for years.


My Take:

I wanted to read Starter House because I love ghost stories and the premise sounded interesting with lots of potential. I enjoyed the book quite a lot. I read it in a day and it was very much one of those books that I just had to finish as quickly as possible.

There are so many clues that Lacy shouldn't buy the house that catches her eye - but she ignores all of them, of course. Lacy is a visual person and she can see the beauty in the house even before it has been fixed up. The shapes are right and she can see all the things she wants to do to make it into her perfect idea of a home.

This idea of a perfect home is important to Lacy because of how she grew up - a pretty nomadic life that she didn't really understand or like, at all. Lacy believes this lifestyle was chosen by her mother for a specific reason - and it was, just not the reason Lacey thinks. Here is one of the big themes in the book - the idea that even when we think we understand a person's motivations, we really don't. This comes up several times in the book and Lacey eventually seems to learn from her experiences.  She tends to come to her own conclusions without even asking the other person - usually not the best way.

The ghost story is interesting and pretty suspenseful throughout the book. But I did think Lacey was pretty slow to pick up on things. However, I will give her the benefit of the doubt because she is pregnant through most of the book and that can cause foggy thinking.

Actually, the book seems to be about a lot of things - for me, anyway. There are young marriage issues to work through, family issues, personal insecurities, and new parenthood to deal with. All of this while trying to deny that the beautiful house you bought is haunted by a very angry and dangerous being.

The ghost story is quite interesting and there are so many characters involved with the story line. It is all very mysterious and spooky. The book was great fun to read. I will be suggesting it to my reader friends.





Monday, December 16, 2013

Woman of Ill Fame Blog Tour and Review

Woman of Ill Fame by Erika Mailman
eBook Publication date: November 11, 2013 ( ASIN: B00GM1VHV2)
Source: eBook provided by author via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for an honest review
Synopsis:
Looking for a better life, Nora Simms sails from the East Coast to gold rush San Francisco with a plan for success: to strike it rich by trading on her good looks. But when a string of murders claims several of her fellow “women of ill fame,” Nora grows uneasy with how closely linked all of the victims are to her. Even her rise to the top of her profession and a move to the fashionable part of town don’t shelter her from the danger, and she must distinguish friend from foe in a race to discover the identity of the killer.



My Take:

I didn't really know what to expect when I started reading Woman of Ill Fame. I'm not usually that crazy about reading books about prostitutes, but the premise on this one sounded promising. I started reading it to get an idea of what was in store for me, and I ended up reading for hours. I found Nora to be just so funny and straightforward about her chosen profession. She had her reasons for her choice and she lived with it.

This book is much more than just a tale of the prostitute with a heart of gold. The mystery of who is brutally killing the prostitutes in San Francisco is interesting and creepy and I really enjoyed reading about how Nora gets involved and how she goes about gathering her information to try to find the killer. I found it a little funny how Nora puts certain events together and despite all her efforts, the volunteer police force just doesn't figure anything out.

I enjoyed the development of friendship between Nora and her landlady, Mehitabel Ashe (what a name!). Mehitabel is an upright woman who manages her home as a boarding house and takes in sewing and such to make ends meet. Nora is certain that she would not approve of her choice in profession.  Mehitabel absolutely does not approve, but she turns out to be much more understanding than Nora thought she would be. Mehitabel ends up being a real friend and a good person. She is a great example of some of  the character development in the book. She has her own story to tell and she doesn't give up on Nora.

Nora does want out of the life she is living, but she has a certain idea of what type of man would sweep in and take her away from the life. Her preconceived ideas are a disadvantage and almost bring her to harm. Fortunately for her, a man not from her dreams decides to be a real friend. Abe is different, a bit slow, and the brunt of much teasing from the other men in town. He becomes a favorite of Nora's and his character development and story arc are highlights of the book. There seems to be a theme about assuming things about people and being proven wrong throughout the book.

In the end though, it is the character of Nora that carries the whole book. She is just so funny and smart. I really enjoyed her and her constant striving to better her life. Despite her goals and her attempts to pull herself out of the life no matter the cost, she always does what her heart tells her - despite what her brain is telling her. Nora is just a great character. I would love to read more about what happens to her. I highly recommend this book. It is a great read.


About the Author

Erika Mailman is the author of The Witch’s Trinity, a Bram Stoker finalist and a San Francisco Chronicle Notable Book, and Woman of Ill Fame, a Pushcart Press Editor’s Book Award nominee. While writing The Witch’s Trinity, she learned she was the descendant of a woman accused twice of witchcraft in the decades predating Salem.
For more information please visit Erika Mailman’s website and blog.

Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Monday, December 9
Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, December 10
Guest Post & Giveaway at HF Connection
Wednesday, December 11
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Thursday, December 12
Interview & Giveaway at Flashlight Commentary
Friday, December 13
Review at Historical Fiction Obsession
Monday, December 16
Review at A Book Geek
Review at Unabridged Chick
Tuesday, December 17
Review at Book of Secrets
Interview & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick
Wednesday, December 18
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Thursday, December 19
Review at A Bookish Libraria

Friday, December 20
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Review at Confessions of an Avid Reader




Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Sureme Macaroni Company Blog Tour

The Supreme Macaroni Company by Adriana Trigiani
Publication date: November 26, 2013 by Harper Collins
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours for an honest review
Synopsis:
For over a hundred years, the Angelini Shoe Company in Greenwich Village has relied on the leather produced by Vechiarelli & Son in Tuscany. This historic business partnership provides the twist of fate for Valentine Roncalli, the school teacher turned shoemaker, to fall in love with Gianluca Vechiarelli, a tanner with a complex past . . . and a secret.
A piece of surprising news is revealed at The Feast of the Seven Fishes when Valentine and Gianluca join her extended family on a fateful Christmas Eve. Now faced with life altering choices, Valentine remembers the wise words that inspired her in the early days of her beloved Angelini Shoe Company: “A person who can build a pair of shoes can do just about anything.” The proud, passionate Valentine is going to fight for everything she wants and savor all she deserves—the bitter and the sweetness of life itself.

The Supreme Macaroni Company is Trigiani at her comedic and dramatic best, the inside story of a family business, and the shoemaker who carries on the tradition while juggling a new marriage and family. The pull between old world Italian ways and American ambition tear at Valentine, as a secret is revealed that changes the course of her life. The story takes the reader from the cobblestone streets of Greenwich Village, to lush New Orleans, and home to Italy, in Tuscany and on the Amalfi coast, with a surprise twist that takes the action to America’s rust belt, Youngstown, Ohio.


My Take:

The Supreme Macaroni Company is the first book that I have read by Adriana Trigiani, so I really didn't know what to expect. I also wasn't aware that there were other books before this one about Valentine. I went into this expecting nothing and not knowing what I'd find.

I absolutely loved Valentine's family. I actually laughed out loud at some of the descriptions and their conversations/arguments. There are lots of laughter and arguments in this family. I really enjoyed reading about their interactions and the way they stick together through all the various chaotic happenings.

I kind of wish I had read the previous book because I didn't feel that I truly understood the dynamics of the relationship between Valentine and Gianluca as well as I would have liked. Fortunately, there is enough back story filled in as the reader progresses through the book. I did find Valentine's expectations about marriage to be a bit naive. But, I also was right there with her in not wanting to give up her career or independence.

I enjoyed the progression the company took and all the work and sacrifice that was necessary. I liked that everything didn't just fall into place - well, it did, but with much work and some secret effort. This was a moving and interesting part of the story. A bit of irony, a bit of heartbreak, a lot of love.

I definitely think that readers of Adriana Trigiani will enjoy The Supreme Macaroni Company, but I would suggest that readers new to her read at least one of the previous books just to get a good background. But, once again, I really enjoyed this book even though I hadn't read any of the other books. I think the thing I loved the most was the family relationship. It was just so fun and entertaining. I love a good family story. I am adding the previous books to my TBR list so I can read more about Valentine and her hilarious family.

About Adriana Trigiani

Adriana Trigiani is an award-winning playwright, television writer, and documentary filmmaker. Her books include the New York Times best seller The Shoemaker’s Wife; the Big Stone Gap series; Very Valentine; Brava, Valentine; Lucia, Lucia; and the best-selling memoir Don’t Sing at the Table, as well as the young adult novels Viola in Reel Life and Viola in the Spotlight. She has written the screenplay for Big Stone Gap. which she will also direct. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.

Find out more about Adriana at her website, connect with her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.




Adriana’s Tour Stops

Monday, November 11th: Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books
Tuesday, November 12th: Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile
Wednesday, November 13th: Becca’s Byline
Thursday, November 14th: Kritters Ramblings
Friday, November 15th: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
Monday, November 18th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Tuesday, November 19th: Peeking Between the Pages
Thursday, November 21st: Always With a Book
Monday, November 25th: Broken Teepee
Tuesday, November 26th: bookchickdi
Wednesday, November 27th: Bibliophilia, Please
Friday, November 29th: Lesa’s Book Critiques
Monday, December 2nd: Book Addict Katie
Tuesday, December 3rd: Alison’s Book Marks
Wednesday, December 4th: Ageless Pages Reviews
Thursday, December 5th: Seaside Book Corner
Friday, December 6th: Lavish Bookshelf
Monday, December 9th: Joyfully Retired
Tuesday, December 10th: A Book Geek
Wednesday, December 11th: Love at First Book
Thursday, December 12th: A Chick Who Reads
Friday, December 13th: Books and Movies
Tuesday, December 17th: Lisa’s Yarns
Wednesday, December 18th: Col Reads
Thursday, December 19th: Good Girl Gone Redneck
Friday, December 20th: Drey’s Library
Monday, December 30th: red headed book child
Wednesday, January 1st: The Lost Entwife
Wednesday, January 1st: Tiffany’s Bookshelf
Tuesday, January 2nd: Book-alicious Mama
Monday, January 6th: Reflections of a Bookaholic
Tuesday, January 7th: A Bookish Way of Life
Wednesday, January 8th: Time 2 Read
Wednesday, January 8th: Stephany Writes
Thursday, January 9th: Walking With Nora

TBD: Booktalk & More