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Teresa's Reading Corner

Monday, January 31, 2011

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough by Ruth Pennebaker

Synopsis from GoodReads:  Joanie's ex-husband is having a baby with his new girlfriend. Joanie won't be having more babies, since she's decided never to have sex again. 

But she still has her teenaged daughter Caroline to care for. And thanks to the recession, her elderly mother Ivy as well. Her daughter can't seem to exist without texting, and her mother brags about "goggling,"-while Joanie, back in the workforce, is still trying to figure out her office computer. And how to fend off the advances of her coworker Bruce.

Joanie, Caroline, and Ivy are stuck under the same roof, and it isn't easy. But sometimes they surprise each other-and themselves. And through their differences they learn that it is possible to undo the mistakes of the past.

My thoughts: Several times in my life I've not only heard, but used the phrase "The only way out is through."  That phrase accurately sums up the situations presented in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough.

Each of the women is in the midst of what can be a very tumultuous time in a woman's life.  Joanie is a recent divorcee nearing her 50th birthday. Caroline is in her teens, dealing with all of the physical changes a girl goes through at that point in life and trying to figure it all out.  Ivy is at the point in her life where she has to depend on her children more than she's used to and is finding herself more alone as her friends are passing away.  Put the three together and you get a pretty interesting story.

This is a super easy read but it was certainly a bit morose at times.  It actually reminded me a little bit of Love in Mid Air by Kim Wright.  It had a very similar tone and the main characters were very much alike.  I think my only real complaint is that the ending came and wrapped up fairly quickly. 

I would probably recommend this book to others if I know that they like chick lit that is a bit more mature.  If someone is looking for something that is lighter, this is probably not the title they should pick up.  

On a side note, I didn't "get" the cover until I finished the book and then immediately understood it and thought it to be very clever.
This is Ruth Pennebaker's debut novel that has just released.  She has previously written three young adult novels, Don't Think Twice, Conditions of Love, and Both Sides Now.  You can find more information about Ruth and her work at her website.

Check out the trailer:

Check out some of the other stops on the tour:
Monday, January 17th: Debbie’s Book Bag
Tuesday, January 18th: Proud Book Nerd
Thursday, January 20th: Love to Read for Fun
Monday, January 24th: Hospitable Pursuits
Tuesday, January 25th: Scraps of Life
Wednesday, January 26th: Reviews from the Heart
Thursday, January 27th: Tina’s Book Reviews
Tuesday, February 1st: Booksie’s Blog
Wednesday, February 2nd: BookNAround
Friday, February 4th: Life in the Thumb
Monday, February 7th: Iwriteinbooks’s blog
Tuesday, February 8th: The Book Chick
Wednesday, February 9th: A Bookish Way of Life
Thursday, February 10th: Romance Books Forum
Monday, February 14th: Bookworm’s Dinner
Tuesday, February 15th: Amused By Books
Wednesday, February 16th: Clever Girl Goes Blog
Date TBD: Chefdruck Musings

I received my copy of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough from the Author to participate in this tour coordinated by TLC Book Tours.  This is my honest opinion of the book.

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Friday, January 28, 2011

We've Moved

While the dust hasn't quite settled we are slowly getting comfortable at our new home on the web.  I haven't figured out how to move all of my great GFC followers over to the new domain, would you mind updating your feed readers or bookmarks to find us?

We're at


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Some Exciting News!!!

I have some really exciting news, at least for me.  Teresa's Reading Corner is growing up.  As my first anniversary for my blog is approaching I got to thinking about what I wanted to do with it.  I realized how much I truly love it and decided to invest in my own domain name! 

I'm in the process of moving everything over so hopefully you guys won't have to do anything to keep up with me.  Until then, hop by and say hello!


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

stiltsville by Susanna Daniel

Synopsis from the Author's Website: One sunny morning in 1969, near the end of her first trip to Miami, twenty-six-year-old Frances Ellerby finds herself in a place called Stiltsville, a community of houses built on pilings in the middle of Biscayne Bay.

It’s the first time the Atlanta native has been out on the open water, and she’s captivated. On the dock of a stilt house, with the dazzling skyline in the distance and the unknowable ocean beneath her, she meets the house’s owner, Dennis DuVal—and a new future reveals itself.

Turning away from her quiet, predictable life back home, Frances moves to Miami to be with Dennis. Over time, she earns the confidence of his wild-at-heart sister and wins the approval of his oldest friend. Frances and Dennis marry and have a child—but rather than growing complacent about their good fortune, they continue to face the challenges of intimacy, and of the complicated city they call home.

Stiltsville is the family’s island oasis—until suddenly it’s gone, and Frances is forced to figure out how to make her family work on dry land. Against a backdrop of lush tropical beauty, Frances and Dennis struggle with the mutability of love and Florida’s weather, and with temptation and chaos and disappointment.
But just when Frances thinks she’s reached some semblance of higher ground, she must confront an obstacle so great that all she’s learned about navigating the uncharted waters of family life can’t keep them afloat.

**Please forgive my vagueness.  I read this book awhile ago and never quite got the review done even though the book deserves so much more.** 

My thoughts:  I'd seen several reviews of stiltsville around the blogosphere before I actually got the opportunity to read it.   Even having read the synopsis and reviews I was unprepared for the emotional experience of reading this book.

At first I was rather indifferent about the story.  It was entertaining enough but nothing was really happening to keep me "glued" to the page. I completely agree with those that said that the story was a bit mundane at times.  The author spent a great deal of time describing some of the more typical aspects of marriage and parenthood however.  I believe that this was required to complete the picture of the relationship between Frances and Dennis as well as their daughter.  I never completely understood what drew Frances and Dennis together and why Frances seemed to be so unhappy in her marriage.  As time went on I was impressed with the integrity that Frances displayed and felt for what she was going through.  It was at this point that I was truly  impressed with the work and the range of emotion I felt while reading the story.

I don't want to lead you to believe that this is just a story about marriage.  The author explores Frances' friendships as well.  I felt that the author did a fantastic job at describing stiltsville and Southern Florida. I could easily visualize the things that were being described and could feel how the setting was an integral part of the story.

I would absolutely recommend this story to anyone who enjoys Women's Fiction where the characters are a bit more mature.  It is an interesting exploration into the life cycle of a marriage and gives the reader some things to think about.

I received my copy of stiltsville from the publisher in order to participate in the book club discussion at Every Day I Write the Book.  It's a fantastic blog that you should check out.


Monday, January 24, 2011

Rescue by Anita Shreve (audio book)

Synopsis from GoodReads:  A rookie paramedic pulls a young woman alive from her totaled car, a first rescue that begins a lifelong tangle of love and wreckage. Sheila Arsenault is a gorgeous enigma--streetwise and tough-talking, with haunted eyes, fierce desires, and a never-look-back determination. Peter Webster, as straight an arrow as they come, falls for her instantly and entirely. Soon Sheila and Peter are embroiled in an intense love affair, married, and parents to a baby daughter. Like the crash that brought them together, it all happened so fast.

Can you ever really save another person? Eighteen years later, Sheila is long gone and Peter is raising their daughter, Rowan, alone. But Rowan is veering dangerously off track, and for the first time in their ordered existence together, Webster fears for her future. His work shows him daily every danger the world contains, how wrong everything can go in a second. All the love a father can give a daughter is suddenly not enough.

Sheila's sudden return may be a godsend--or it may be exactly the wrong moment for a lifetime of questions and anger and longing to surface anew. What tore a young family apart? Is there even worse damage ahead? The questions lifted up in Anita Shreve's utterly enthralling new novel are deep and lasting, and this is a novel that could only have been written by a master of the human heart.

My thoughts:  This was my first experience with Anita Shreve's work although she's been recommended to me several times.  I absolutely loved this book on audio.  It was engaging and highly entertaining.  There were a few times that I was pretty sure I knew what was coming  and I would get so exasperated at Peter.  Couldn't he see what I could see what was clearly going on?   There was at least one occasion where I was surprised by the turn that the story took.  The story was constantly moving at an appropriate pace. 

I never liked Sheila, she was one of those characters that you love to hate.  The story asks a difficult question, can you ever rescue someone?  I think that we can try, but they have to want it too.

The story was narrated by Dennis Holland.  He did an excellent job.  Through his voice and the character descriptions I had a definite picture in my head of what each of them looked like.  According to the audio book jacket he has over 100 audio books to his credit.  I can certainly understand why.  

Assuming you like like this kind of story or Shreve's work in general, this would be a great starter audio book. 

I received my copy of Rescue from the publisher for review.  This is my honest opinion of the audio book.

This is my January entry for the 2011 Audio Book Challenge.

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Small Wars by Sadie Jones

Synopsis from Goodreads:  The prizewinning author of The Outcast delivers the emotionally searing story of a marriage in crisis, an unflinching look at lives irrevocably altered by one of history's "small wars."

Hal Treherne is a major in the British Army, a young and dedicated soldier on the brink of a brilliant career. When he is transferred to the British colony of Cyprus in 1956, Hal is joined by Clara, his beautiful and supportive wife, and their baby daughters. The Trehernes quickly learn that the Mediterranean is no "sunshine posting," however, and soon Hal is caught up in the battle to defend the island against Cypriots seeking enosis, union with Greece.

Leading his men in difficult and bloody skirmishes, after years of peaceful service, Hal at last tastes triumph. But his confidence and pride quickly fade: traumatized by the brutality he witnesses-and thwarted again in his attempts to do the right thing-Hal finds himself well trained in duty but ill equipped for moral battle.

A seasoned army wife, Clara shares her husband's sense of obligation. She knows to settle in quickly, make no fuss, smile. But as she struggles to trust her own maternal instincts and resist the anxiety that surges with Hal's frequent absences, Clara grows fearful of her increasingly distant husband. When she needs him most, Clara finds the once-tender Hal a changed man-a betrayal that is only part of the shocking personal crisis to come.

What place is there for honor amid cruelty, and what becomes of intimacy in the grinding gears of empire? A passionate and brilliantly researched novel about the effects of war on the men who wage it and the families they leave behind, Small Wars raises important questions that resonate for our own time.

My thoughts: I've gone back and forth on this book.  When I started it I thought it was just okay.  It was another young couple getting together before he goes off to war.  The story quickly jumps into their marriage and they have been separated while he is stationed abroad.  The family is finally reunited and I was eager for the story to begin.  What I didn't realize was how pertinent the war itself was t the story.  I'll admit that I got lost a time or two as the author describes the small battles that Hal is involved in on a daily basis.  Finally I realized that I needed to look past them, and really look at what was going on.  

This was not only a tale of the relationship between a soldier and his bride.  The story encompasses the relationships of the soldier and his men as well as that of the soldier and the wars.  Each of these relationships intertwine to lead us to the unexpected climax.

While many of the readers might not be soldiers in the military each one of us are soldiers in our own way. We are each fighting battles that others may or may not be aware of.  This is the story of Hal and Clara, how each of them were fighting their own battles and neither of them  aware of what the other is dealing with.

In the end, I enjoyed this book.  I thought it was realistic portrayal of the difficulty of being married to someone whose job prevents them from open communication with the ones that matter most.  

Sadie Jones lives in London and has one other book to her credit.  Her first novel, The Outcast won the Costa First Novel Award and was a finalist for both the Orange Prize as well as the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for First Fiction.

Check out the other Stops on the Small Wars Blog Tour:
Tuesday, January 18th: nomadreader
Thursday, January 20th: Diary of an Eccentric
Tuesday, January 25th: Unabridged Chick
Wednesday, January 26th: Rundpinne
Thursday, January 27th: In the Next Room
Monday, January 31st: Reviews from the Heart
Tuesday, February 1st: Amused By Books
Wednesday, February 9th: The Book Faery Reviews
Thursday, February 10th: Caribousmom
Friday, February 11th: BookNAround
Wednesday, February 16th: Chefdruck Musings

I received my copy of Small wars to participate in this blog tour presented by TLC Book Tours.  This is my honest opinion of the book.
This title qualifies for the What's in a Name 4 Challenge under Title with a size in it.  Yay!

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Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Heroine's Bookshelf by Erin Blakemore

Synopsis from GoodReads:  Jo March, Scarlett O'Hara, Scout Finch—the literary canon is brimming with intelligent, feisty, never-say-die heroines and celebrated female authors. Like today's women, they placed a premium on personality, spirituality, career, sisterhood, and family. When they were up against the wall, authors like Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott fought back—sometimes with words, sometimes with gritty actions. In this witty, informative, and inspiring read, their stories offer much-needed literary intervention to modern women.
Full of beloved heroines and the remarkable writers who created them, The Heroine's Bookshelf explores how the pluck and dignity of literary characters such as Jane Eyre and Lizzy Bennet can encourage women today.

Each legendary character is paired with her central quality—Anne Shirley is associated with irrepressible "Happiness," while Scarlett O'Hara personifies "Fight"—along with insights into her author's extraordinary life. From Zora Neale Hurston to Colette, Laura Ingalls Wilder to Charlotte BrontË, Harper Lee to Alice Walker, here are authors and characters whose spirited stories are more inspiring today than ever.

My thoughts:   This was a fantastic exploration of literature.  I had read only some of the books referenced and have been inspired to read others. The thing that I really love about this book is that you can easily read it bits at a time.  Whatever the occasion, there is likely a section to inspire you.  Having a crisis of faith?  Read the section devoted to faith.  Feeling a bit unhappy, the section on Happiness takes you to one of my favorite characters, Anne Shirley of Anne of Green Gables.

Each of the sections also includes a suggestions for a similar novel.  Many of these suggestions were new to me as well.  I will certainly be picking up one or two of them.  

The entire time I was reading this book I kept thinking that this would make a great basis for a challenge.  Wouldn't you know that someone else was thinking the same thing and put one together.  You can find the Heroine's Bookshelf Challenge over at Bibliophibian.  I would be participating in this one if I had just a bit more free time.  

I highly recommend this book filled with strong women.  It is sure to perk you up if you are feeling a bit down and inspire you to be all that you can.  

You can find Erin Blakemore on the web at

Erin Blakemore lives in Boulder, CO so I am including The Heroine's Bookshelf on my Literary Road Trip exploration of Colorado Authors.  

I received my copy of The Heroine's Bookshelf from the great people at HarperCollins Publishers for review.  My review has not been influenced by receipt of this book. 

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