30 August 2010

Monday, Monday! What Are You Reading?

As we all know, it's tough to come back from vacation, and I'm finding it especially tough this time.  Last week, I spent it on my in-laws' boat in Boston, Massachusetts, and got a chance to tag along on one of their charters.  Night Rider Charters of Boston is such an amazing treat, and as many of you know from yesterday's post -- I didn't finish Mockingjay because I was lazy!  And now, I have so many books to read that came in while I was out, I'm not even sure where to begin!

So, here's Mailbox Monday -- first created by Marcia at
The Printed Page, and it's now on a blog tour!  August is hosted by Chick Loves Lit, and September is going to be hosted by BermudaOnion!  So much fun!  On tap for this week is:

  • Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, by Laurie Viera Rigler -- I've got a short turnaround time to read this so I can send it off to the next lucky reader on the Crazy Book Tours!  "...Courtney Stone wakes up and finds herself not in her Los Angeles bedroom or even in her own body, but inside the bedchamber of a woman in Regency England.  Who but an Austen addict like herself could connect such a fantasy?"  This just sucked me right in!
  • J'adore New York, by Isabelle Lafleche -- Yay!  I've been waiting for this one, and I'm so excited!  "When Catherine Lambert, an effortlessly chic Parisian lawyer, receives an offer to transfer to the New York office of her prestigious firm, she unhesitatingly accepts.  A dedicated follower of fashion and everything stylish, she is determined to conquer the high-flying world of Manhattan law -- and love."  Ooh la la -- and the cover is so pretty, too!  Can't wait!
  • The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, by Maggie O'Farrell -- Check this out:  "In the middle of tending to the everyday business at her vintage-clothing shop and sidestepping her married boyfriend's attempt a commitment, Iris Lockhart receives a stunning phone call:  Her great-aunt Esme, whom she never knew existed, is being released from Cauldstone Hospital -- where she has been locked away for more than sixty-one years."  Wha??  Doesn't that sound fabulous?
  • Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier -- This is my first du Maurier and I'm taking part in the Daphne du Maurier Challenge, hosted by Book-A-Rama.  You should join!  "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.  So the second Mr. Maxim de Winter remembered the chilling events that led he down the turning drive past the beeches, white and naked, to the isolated gray stone manse on the windswept Cornish coast."  Yes!!
What about you?  What are you up to this week, and will you find time time (unlike me last week!) to read?  And more to come on possibly doing a read-along for The Historian!

Happy Reading!
Coffee and a Book Chick


29 August 2010

So I've Been Lazy...

Gorgeous Boston in the background...
This might be why I got the book Mockingjay on Tuesday, the big release day, and still haven't finished it...  I've been incredibly lazy while on vacation in Boston...

My parents-in-law run their yacht chartering business in Boston, Massachusetts, called
Night Rider Charters of Boston (you can also click here to get to their Facebook page) and this was pretty much how I spent my time in Boston.  And yes, no excuses, right?  You would think that I would pop open the book and read while on their boat, enjoying Boston Harbor with weather in the 70s and not a cloud in the sky, but all I could do is marvel at everything I looked at:  the Boston skyline, the water, the boat...sigh...then I would fall asleep...

And not to mention that the North End of Boston (Boston's "Little Italy," but is never called Little Italy, it's always called the North End) was holding the annual celebration for St. Anthony's Feast.  All I can say is that if you haven't visited the North End, you must go!  I ate a rice ball (rice, cheese, and spinach -- deep fried and served with marinara sauce), a cannoli, a zeppole, gelato, oh...I could go on and on...!

Night Rider Charters of Boston
And here's more of a plug -- while you're enjoying all of the Italian food and culture in the North End, check out Night Rider Charters of Boston and schedule it for two or three hours to tour around Boston Harbor, go out further into the Atlantic and go whale watching, or anything else!  They host corporate functions/meetings/events, birthday parties, bachelor/bachelorette parties, and I can assure you that my father- and mother-in-law are fabulous and incredibly hospitable!

Okay, so here's my reading "to do" list --
Mockingjay, Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict for the Crazy Book Tours, The Handmaid's Tale for the Classic Reads Read-Along, and what else?  Maybe host a read-along for one of my favorite books, The Historian?  I've got to catch up with Tedious and Brief to talk about scheduling this sometime in the next few months -- wouldn't that be fun?  Would you want to join that read along?

Happy Reading!
Coffee and a Book Chick


24 August 2010

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead.  She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read.  She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable.  Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge.  But all of that is gone now...  (from back cover)

I have never read Margaret Atwood before (I know, color me ashamed), so I was excited to participate in the Classic Reads read-along hosted this time by Trish from Hey Lady, Whatcha Readin'?  
Our assignment this week was to read Sections I through IV which is about 75 pages.  The read-along encompasses a short amount each week and goes through the end of September, so you should definitely join!

I'm finding it really tough to restrain myself and not keep turning the pages and reading more in advance of next week's questions.  To be honest, I could really read this in one night -- the writing is very easy to read and the story line is absolutely amazing, not to mention terrifying.  Instead of feeling what I expected to feel at first (I'm sure I will later) which was wanting people to immediately fight back against the laws of this society, I actually read the first 75 pages and shivered in fear of 
all of the new laws and oppression and sadness.  And the complacency.  The acceptance of the way life just is now.

What is interesting about this dystopian novel is that the rules have only
recently changed -- Offred, the Handmaid, can remember what life was like before all of these terrifying laws came into effect and the subsequent loss of freedom and rights.  Most dystopian novels take place well after the change in society has happened, or you assume it's just another world somewhere that has always just been like that. But what if it just recently happened?  How did a society where women and men had rights and especially, choice, fall apart to rigid restriction and decisions made for you by someone else?  How did they let this happen?  Was it really 
past their ability to care anymore because they were just used to it?

Could something like that really happen today?  A great point brought up on the read-along by Lisa from Lit and Life are the things that are slowly changing when it comes to air travel since September 11th.  I travel a lot for work and so I've felt these changes quite a bit -- it used to be that you could walk someone all the way to their gate to see them off on the plane, but not anymore.  Then it changed even more where you couldn't bring anything larger than a 3 ounce bottle of liquid through security.  And now, there's a lot of debate about the new security screening machine that can literally see what your body looks like under your clothes!  Although I don't mind that we have to say our good-byes at the security screening area, is it possible that we're actually setting ourselves up and building up our tolerances, essentially becoming desensitized to these small changes where one day we're just complacent to one more change after another?

I wonder if 
The Handmaid's Tale really isn't so far-fetched -- what do you think?

Happy Reading!
Coffee and a Book Chick


22 August 2010

The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

It seemed like a crazy idea to go from reading The House of Mirth, a classic novel about gossip and drama in New York's high society in the 1900s, to a young adult dystopian novel in The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins -- I was so afraid because I don't normally read Young Adult novels (well, I mean, other than Twilight) and I was worried that the hype would be better than the book.  But, my good friends, I must admit it was even better than all the hoopla that has swirled around this series!  It was absolutely fantastic!

Katniss is sixteen-years-old and lives in District 12, the poorest of the twelve total districts that was born out of "a place once known as North America."  The Capitol is a rich and wealthy thriving city that controls the districts and runs The Hunger Games every year, which is televised through every district.  It's a requirement to enter your children into the Reaping, a raffle that randomly selects one boy and one girl from each district between the ages of twelve and eighteen to fight to the death in The Hunger Games.  And every year 
along with all of the other districts, District 12 will see two families close their windows in sadness and fear after the Reaping, fearing for the survival of their child who was selected to fight.  The winner of the games receives wealth and food beyond all imagination for the rest of their lives, but the losers -- the losers are killed by each other's young hands in the "arena," which changes every year.  It's designed by the Gamemakers and one year could be a desert, or another year the 24 participants could be dropped in the middle of mountains and woods.  It's then up to these kids to survive in the wilderness and literally take each other out.  And it's also required television viewing for all districts to watch this awful "sport" live, to effectively remind them that the Capitol has that much control over their lives.

Seriously, how twisted does all that sound?  I don't normally read Young Adult or dystopia (though my book reading schedule is changing a bit with The Handmaid's Tale read along with
Hey Lady over at Classic Reads Book Club), but I literally got so caught up in Katniss and Peeta and their moral and physical battles, not to mention love, that I literally did nothing all evening and finished this story last night, annoyed that all the bookstores were closed and I couldn't get book two in the series, Catching Fire, until this morning.  I mean, I had to wait twelve whole hours!!  What??  Noooo!!  I can't wait!  I watched terrible TV last night, tossed and turned, then got up bright and early to be at the store literally 5 minutes after it opened so I could dive right into book two.  
Suzanne Collins' writing is easy to read and was thoroughly full of action, rebellion, love, and ethics amidst the bizarre Capitol propaganda and laws.

Tuesday is the big day for the final book in the series Mockingjay to be released, and I cannot wait!

Happy Reading!

Coffee and a Book Chick


20 August 2010

Giveaway Winners!

From http://www.geekologie.com/2008/02/bookshelf_stairs_are_freaking.php
First of all, aren't these bookshelf stairs incredible?!  I can't even imagine how many accidents falling up or down the stairs I would probably have if I had a set of stairs that were bookshelves!  Oh, my!!

Okay, so last Friday, I offered up 3 of my books as a giveaway, and I have 3 fantastic bloggers who I have helped to now add more to their never-ending TBR pile!

And the winners are...
Woohoo!  Send me your mailing address and I'll ship it out right away -- and do let me know what you think once you've read them!

Thanks to everyone who participated in and entered, I follow your blogs and love them!

Happy Reading!
Coffee and a Book Chick

(Note:  Winners chosen randomly by random.org)


19 August 2010

The House of Mirth, Edith Wharton

I finished Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth at the Charlotte airport in North Carolina coming back from Dallas on Wednesday.  After I turned the final page, I closed the book and glanced around the airport, taking in the countless travelers passing by, rushing from gate to gate, ordering their coffees or tacos and settling down at a table.  I mostly took in what they were wearing, how they spoke to one another.  Did they wear a lot of expensive jewelry and did they just appear as though they were above it all?  Who looked genuine?  I thought of the story I just finished and I wondered how much has really changed from Edith Wharton's turn of the century society.

Without a doubt, I'm ashamed to admit that it was my very first time reading this classic author.  I did see the film version of the story years ago, starring Gillian Anderson and Eric Stoltz, and I really enjoyed it.  I made a mental note to myself at the time that I needed to pick up the book, and finally, I did.

The House of Mirth is a stunning glimpse into New York society in the 1900s.  Edith Wharton has provided us an opportunity to learn what a privileged society was like at this time, what people dressed in, what they wore, and especially the struggle to stay within the upper crust of society's very thin clasp.  Lily Bart, young and incredibly beautiful, is at the height of her social acceptance -- she has a steady group of incredibly wealthy friends, and although she has a small allowance given her by her aunt, she spends more than she earns in order to have the very things just out of everyone's reach unless they have money.  Respect.  Power.  Friends.  Attention.

Lily really can't be blamed for her shallow side, though.  After all, she's been raised and trained by her father and mother to be nothing more than just, well, beautiful.  That's it.  Lily wasn't taught a single thing to be useful in society, to learn anything about how to be independent in the least.  I've often wondered how people during this time survived if they had no real talents or skills, and I certainly learned with this story.  Lily Bart's real skill was to be the person you could count on to keep your spouse distracted with her sparkling attention and conversation while you went ahead and had an affair.  You could count on Lily to manipulate a conversation or situation to get what she, or you, wanted.  She would play the reserved and socially mannered friend, who knows all the right things to say, knows just how to tilt her head, raise her lips a bit more for a brighter smile, or clip her sentences so that she's just keeping an edge of mystery.  All to control a man or to be the shining socialite in a party, or to simply be invited to spend the summers escaping the New York City heat by traveling to a place by a lake or in the mountains.  But Lily doesn't do these things just to be shifty and control people -- she's truly an innocent, a nice woman who has never had to learn life's tough lessons, and thus doesn't really have anything but this talent of manipulation with her beauty and perfect speech.

To add to this, Lily also has an addiction to money.  She supplements her small allowance by gambling during bridge games, losing her money and winning.  She gambles and shops more, and she sets herself back quite a bit, to the point that she turns to her best friend's husband, who has much more a head for business to ask him to take her remaining money and make more with it.  Little does she know, or expect, that Gus Trenor is actually expecting a favor returned for his "work."

Gossip, confusion, restraint, love, betrayal, debt.  Lily is caught up in it all as her friends are confused by rumors and innuendo and she suffers the worst of it.  Two potential engagements that could save her from the horrible gossip and the debt, gone.  Friends that were there for her, disappear.  And a true love who is confused and hurt,  holds back.  My heart breaks with each page for Lily as she loses everything and she has nothing useful that she can do to pull herself out of the muck of it all.

All of us have felt the fear of not enough money, the sleepless nights with that gnawing despair of bills owed, debt growing.  The fear of friends gossiping about a rumor unfounded and fear of the loss of a true love.  So many times throughout the story I was on the edge of my seat, rooting for Lily to just speak up!  Say the truth!  Defend yourself!  Tell that former friend to suck it!  But, a true lady in New York society doesn't do that.  She is restrained.  And in the end, she has learned all her lessons and is left with nothing but her own dignity.

Though she kept the even tone of the light intercourse, the question was framed in a way to remind him that his good offices were unsought, and for a moment Selden was checked by it.  The situation between them was one which could have been cleared up only by a sudden explosion of feeling, and their whole training and habit of mind were against the chance of such an explosion. (p. 294)

Edith Wharton has truly shared a cautionary tale for high society, young women, and the angst of true friends and true love.  What can you gain by being mired in the need and obsession for wealth?  Surely freedom comes to do the things you want to do, but doesn't fear come along with it?  Fear that one day you might not have freedom?  Friends come and go with the amount of money that you have -- who will be there standing with you in the end?  Do you then truly have the freedom you fought so hard to attain?

Respect.  Power.  Friends.  Attention.  Is it worth it?

I turned the pages quickly and easily.  And I loved that Edith Wharton wrote in another time, 100 years ago, and still her words are relevant today.  Isn't that the story with all the classics, after all? I was beyond speechless after reading this tragic story of Lily Bart and high society.


16 August 2010

Monday, Monday!

It's the dreaded Monday, where the only thing that came make this work week not so pathetically miserable are the fabulous ways to completely distract yourself by reading everyone else's blogs!  So what are you reading now and what came in for ya?  The events and hosts are:
  • It's Monday!  What Are You Reading?  Hosted by Book Journey.  It’s Monday! What Are You Reading, is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week.  It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.
  • Mailbox Monday!  Created by The Printed Page and hosted in August by Chick Loves Lit.   "Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.  If you’re new to Mailbox Monday welcome! Thank you to everyone who stops by Mailbox Monday. Whether you comment or visit I appreciate your taking the time to drop in."
So, here we go -- I am currently reading (and IN LOVE with) The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton.  I saw the film with Gillian Anderson years ago and absolutely loved it, and I finally got around to reading the novel.  Starting a classic can always feel a bit intimidating, but this is one to surely start as it's a short book at about 340 pages, and it is absolutely thrilling to get a snapshot into New York society at the turn of the century.  It's filled with drama, gossip, love, betrayal, lies, and complete and total confusion.  Love this book!!

Mailbox Monday-ooh, I have some good ones!  Paperbackswap arrived with some really exciting books I've wanted to read, sent by a new friend in Massachusetts. I received Anita Shreve's Sea Glass, Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair, & Alice Hoffman's Skylight Confessions!  Alayne over at The Crowded Leaf sent me the book that I won in her giveaway, The Palace of Strange Girls.  Read The Crowded Leaf's review here!

Oh, my!  What a good collection of books to start my week off!  I'll also be on business travel this week to Dallas, so I'm sure my suitcase will have a tad more weight to it than usual!

Happy Reading!
Coffee and a Book Chick


13 August 2010


Since I've had such an annoying and loooong work week, that doesn't mean you shouldn't benefit from my free-spirited and freakish response to it all where I'm probably not quite thinking straight! That's right, I've had one of those weeks that might be best understood by visiting this post from the fabulous Estella of Estella's Revenge...  thank you, Estella!  It perfectly described my week!!

So, YAY!  Back to how you all can benefit...I'm doing my very first giveaway!  Note:  These are not ARCs, these are simply my books that I have read and am wanting to send off to a good home.  Winners will be announced next Friday, August 20th!

How To Win

  • Post a comment and let me know which book you want
  • You must be a "follower" of the site (for example, one that follows through "Blogs I'm Following" on the Blogger Dashboard).  Let me know in your comment how you keep up with the site!
  • Contest is open to the US and Canada at this time
Here are the books!

Happy Reading!
Coffee and a Book Chick


08 August 2010

The Tapestry of Love, by Rosy Thornton

Perhaps it was the beauty of the mountain and trees in a small town in France that pulled me in.  Or maybe it was Catherine Parkstone, a divorced woman from England who decides to move to the small town that got me.  And then there was also the feel of the needle that I felt in my hands as Catherine works on tapestries and divans and builds her little business in France.

What an extremely nice and pleasant read I had, walking along through the world of Rosy Thornton's story, The Tapestry of Love.  Catherine Parkstone has left her life in England and moved to France, to start anew and set herself up in a small business as a seamstress.  Her children are fully grown, and Catherine knows that the time is now to find her place in life, her true place.

You're not from here.  Says the man on the road in the middle of the storm to Catherine...but she is valiantly taking one step after another.  She encounters quite a bit in her new home and town, with her eccentric neighbors (oh, how I adored Monsier and Madame Bouschet!), and her attempts to understand the requirements of setting up a home based business in France are quite endearing.  Her daughter is a free-spirited writer, her son is a quiet scientist, and her sister Bryony is a top-notch partner at a law firm, and each of them are part of her lives either by visiting or calling her (which even the phone system is one that Catherine has a bit of interest in trying to figure out in the quiet French country).  And as Catherine attempts to live her life by a specific routine, her neighbor Patrick has entered and has placed a slight bit of anticipation and question in her life.  When Bryony comes to visit, it certainly throws things for a bit of a loop.

This story is about life, relationships, and finding your own place amongst it all, and being able to find it even a bit later in life.  You are on your own, your children are grown -- there is no more obligation other than to yourself.  Your identity is one to now make separate of everything else, without anyone else "taking care of things."  It is now up to you, and in this story, it is now Catherine's choices all on her own.  Catherine is a lovable character and there were moments when my heart broke for her as I felt for her quiet strength as she interacted with her family and especially as she dealt with her loving, yet goal-oriented sister.  I enjoyed the images of the rolling countryside of the South of France that went through my mind and I eagerly hopped onto the Internet to Google Le Cevennes.    This was my first Rosy Thornton novel, and I shan't expect it to be my last.

Happy Reading!
Coffee and a Book Chick


07 August 2010

I Won an Award!

I don't win.  It's not in my nature.  I usually trip on my breakaway before the goal is scored, the team I want to win loses, and if I really want it to be a sunny day, I think of rain so I can get the opposite.

But things are going to change now because dagnabbit, the coolest chick *ever* at Bookgirl's Nightstand shot me an award for
The Versatile Blogger, and I am excited to participate with this group of fantastic folks!  And the rule is that I tell you seven things about me.  Easy, right?  When put on the spot, I get all knackered at the idea of trying to figure out what would be interesting for you to know about me.  So here's what I got:

  1. I believe that we can all pool our collective good energy and figure out what happened to Amelia Earhart, thus I am considering starting a blog to research it.  My brilliant husband put the idea into my head.  He's absolutely fabulous.
  2. I have a dog named Roma and a cat named Puppy.  That's right, the cat's name is Puppy because my husband and I thought we were never "cat people" until a stray kitten showed up in 20 degree weather one night in North Florida and ordered us to open the door with his intense stare and loud mouth.  We thought we would just watch him for a little bit and lo and behold, the cat slowly became ours and the name that we jokingly started to call him has now fully stuck with him.  And, yes, he rules the house and our 60 pound dog is wonderfully gentle with Puppy the Cat and Puppy the Cat beats the heck out of Roma the Dog.
  3. When I was a kid I saw Return of the Jedi 5 times and wanted to be a Jedi.  But then I also wanted to be an archaeologist because of Indiana Jones.
  4. I initially became a vegan 3 years ago partly for health reasons, and partly because I really didn't like the process of how food eventually got to my plate -- I instantly lost 30 pounds and felt so amazing that I couldn't even believe it!  I've sort of become a little more lenient since my honeymoon in Italy last year and now consider myself a vegetarian, but feeling like I'm going to return to my vegan ways fairly soon.  And I've found some incredible recipes on Weekly Bite's site!  Who would have thought being a vegan or vegetarian would be so tasty!  I even was a guest blogger on it, which was a complete honor!
  5. I am completely addicted to the iPhone App game called Angry Birds.  Do not download it.  You will stop reading for days on end just to spend hours trying to get your birds back from the pigs.
  6. I was born in Manila and lived in Greece and Venezuela before moving to the States as a kid, and have visited almost all of the states in the US.  I love to travel.    Which means that I should tell you that my husband and I went to Rome and Southern Italy for our honeymoon last year and we felt like we should move there.
  7. I went to college and got my degree in English and Creative Writing but somehow fell into the corporate business world.  But I've missed writing and that's why I'm in the book blogging world -- not only to write and write but most of all to meet all of you!
So many thanks to the fantastic blogging friends I continue to meet!  I love to support my friends in their enterprises and blogs and I thank you for all of the support you've given me!  Thanks for reading about me!

The rules require that I pass this on to fifteen bloggers!  And now I humbly pass the award on and introduce you all to ...

Happy Reading and Meeting Fellow Book Bloggers!
Coffee and a Book Chick