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Review: The Girls from Corona del Mar

September 18, 2014

The Girls from Corona del Mar

Mia and Lorrie Ann grow up as best friends.  Mia’s mother drinks too much and leaves Mia to care for her brothers much of the time.  She finds herself pregnant while she’s still in high school and it’s Lorrie Ann she turns to for help and support.  Lorrie Ann comes from a good, solid family and seems to have it all.

The girls drift apart as they got older, always keeping in touch. When tragedy strikes Lorrie Ann she shows up on Mia’s doorstep.  Mia’s attempts to help her old friend fail, making her wonder if she ever really knew her.

If I had been so blinded by the idea of Lorrie Ann that I failed to see who she actually was, I had been just as blinded by who I thought I was.

The Girls from Corona del Mar by Rufi Thorpe is a fascinating look into the love and loyalty of friendship.  Told from Mia’s point of view, it’s gritty, compelling, and thought provoking and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I thought Mia and Lorrie Ann were great characters.  Lorrie Ann is practically perfect as they’re growing up and Mia is more of a typical kid.  Still, they are best friends and, as such, they’re loyal to each other.  When they reconnect as adults, Mia can’t understand some of the decisions Lorrie Ann has made, making her wonder just how well she really knew her to start with.  Even though things have changed, she struggles to let go of their connection because it helps define her place in the world.

I felt a lot of emotions as I read this book and thought a lot about my own friendships so I think this would make a great book club selection.

The audio version of The Girls from Corona del Mar is narrated by Rebecca Lowman.  She does a terrific job and kept me engaged throughout.  The audio version is on 8 CDs and last approximately nine and a half hours.

Listen to a sample:


Review copy provided by Random House.  I am an Indiebound Affliate.

Wondrous Words Wednesday

September 17, 2014

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme 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!

I found three more words in Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King.

1. scrag – “Of course he could blow the vest right then and there and scrag a hundred or more, but that isn’t what he wants.”

Scrag has quite a few gruesome meanings but, in this case, it means to kill or murder.


2. dosh – “He guesses that Aunt Charlotte’s biggest interest in Janey right now is what happens to all the lovely dosh Janey inherited from her sister.”

According to Urban Dictionary, dosh is slang for an amount of money.


3. animus – “At first it still doesn’t, because when Pete and Isabelle questioned him, Hodges simply plucked Abbascia’s name out of his mental file of old cases where someone might bear him animus . . . and there have been several hundred of those over the years.”

In this case, animus means a usually prejudiced and often spiteful or malevolent ill will.


 What words do you want to celebrate today?

Review: Pioneer Girl

September 16, 2014

Pioneer Girl

First generation American Lee Lien is forced to move back home after earning a PhD in Literature.  She’s going to work at the restaurant her mother and grandfather own until she finds a job in her field.   Lee’s not thrilled about it – her mother is headstrong and her old country ways are embarrassing at times.

Lee’s brother comes home, steals from their mother, only leaving a pin their mother brought with her from Vietnam.  The pin was left in the family’s Saigon café by an American reporter almost 50 years ago.  Lee does some research and believes the pin must have belonged to Laura Ingalls Wilder’s daughter, Rose.  She digs deeper and, as she relates to the Wilders, she learns a lot about herself and finds herself ready to tackle the next phase of her life.

For some odd reason, I thought Pioneer Girl by Bich Minh Nguyen was a memoir when I first picked it up.  It didn’t take me long to figure out I was wrong.  Instead of a memoir, Pioneer Girl is a fabulous literary mystery and I adored it.

Lee finds herself in a tough spot – she needs to live at home until she can find a job but she finds her mother and her old school ways suffocating.  She can’t figure out why her mother acts the way she does and it is almost enough to drive her crazy.

When she notices the pin her brother leaves behind has a small house engraved on it, she pulls out her beloved copy of These Happy Golden Years to read the description of the pin Almanzo gave Laura.  The description matched the pin she was holding in her hand, causing her to do a flurry of research, learning a lot about herself and her mother along the way.

I thought Pioneer Girl had it all – great characterization, a wonderful story, and fabulous writing.  It’s a smart, clever book that had me googling the Wilders and Little House on the Prairie.  This book is sure to be on my list of favorites for the year!

Review copy provided by Penguin Books.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.


Mailbox Monday

September 15, 2014

Mailbox Monday September 15

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued, and now hosted on its own blog.  Another Monday and another day of me scratching my head, wondering where the week went.  Here are the books that showed up in my mailbox:





What did you find in your mailbox last week?

Review: Sisters

September 13, 2014


Raina Telgemeier wanted a playmate and begged her parents for a sister.  When she was five years old, her wish came true but things don’t work out the way she planned.  She and Amara had different interests and don’t get along all that well.  Of course, Rainia thought that it was all Amara’s fault.  A family road trip made her realize she just might be part of the problem.

Sisters is Raina Telgemeier‘s latest graphic memoir and I thought it was terrific!  It’s being promoted as the companion book to Smile, which I’ve never read but that didn’t affect my enjoyment of this book at all.

Telgemeier uses the backdrop of a family trip to tell the story of her relationship with her sister.  Raina feels like Amara gets all the attention and listens to music through her Walkman to block out the rest of the world.  They’re forced to pull together on a family trip making Raina realize she’s part of the problem.

The illustrations in this graphic memoir are terrific.  I’m amazed at the emotion Telgemeir can convey with her wonderful drawings.  The suggested age for this story of family dynamics is 8 to 12 but I think older kids will enjoy it and relate to it as well.

kid konnection newI will link this up to Booking Mama’s Saturday feature, Kid Konnection. If you’d like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children’s books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, leave a comment as well as a link on her site tomorrow.

Review copy provided by Scholastic. I am an Indiebound Affiliate.

Author event and giveaway: Lydia Netzer

September 12, 2014

Lydia Netzer

I haven’t had the chance to read either of Lydia Netzer‘s books but I’ve heard a lot about them so I was excited to meet her when she visited Fiction Addiction.  Lydia likes science, math, facts, and things that are real.  She’s a Detroit native but attended college in northwest Ohio where she majored in creative writing and minored in chemistry.  I found her to be warm and clever and she struck me as being crazy smart.

Lydia’s first book, Shine, Shine, Shine, took her ten years to write.  She poured her heart and soul into it and wondered what else she had to write about.  Luckily for her readers, Lydia remembered a conversation she had with another mother at a 2001 playdate with her son when they joked about raising their kids to be the perfect mates for each other.

She originally wrote her new book, How to Tell Toledo From the Night Sky, without dialogue.  It lacked something so she rewrote the same story as a screenplay and it was all dialogue.  She was able to weave the two together to create her second novel.  She told us the characters in the book live a lot in their dreams and some of the book takes place in the gaming world.

When she’s not homeschooling her two children or gaming, Lydia is working on her third novel – a book about a rehab center for habitual fire setters.

How to Tell Toledo from the Night SkyI got Lydia to autograph a copy of  How to Tell Toledo From the Night Sky for one lucky reader.  To enter to win an autographed copy of HOW TO TELL TOLEDO FROM THE NIGHT SKY, simply fill out the entry form.  Contest is open worldwide – one entry per person, please.  I will use to determine the winner.  Contest ends at midnight EDT Sunday, September 21, 2014.    Comments are welcome (and appreciated) but will not get you an entry in the contest.


At the movies: Tammy

September 11, 2014


Tammy has the bad day to end all bad days – she hits a deer on her way to work, loses her job because she’s late, and goes home to discover her husband’s having an affair with a neighbor.  She packs things up and moves to her parents’ house but decides she needs to get out of town.  Her grandmother agrees to let her take her car, but there’s a catch – she’s going with her.  The two end up taking the road trip of their lives.

I thought the trailer of Tammy was funny and I’m a fan of Melissa McCarthy and Susan Sarandon so I had high hopes for this movie.  I’m sorry to say it was just okay for me.  I thought the funniest clips from the movie were included in the trailer.  Other than those moments, it relied on tired clichês that grew old after a while.  There is a good message in the movie but I was weary of it by the time it was delivered.  There is a lot of language so this isn’t a movie for the whole family.  I recommend renting this one.


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