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Review and giveaway: The Invention of Wings

April 1, 2014

The Invention of Wings

Sarah Grimké is the daughter of a wealthy Charleston family and, as such, is given Handful as her own servant on her eleventh birthday.  Even though young Sarah has been raised in a family and society that depends on slaves, she’s appalled at the idea of owning another human being.  Both Sarah and Handful long for a different life and the two become close.  Their relationship changes as they grow older but the two have a great influence on each other for years to come.

The Invention of Wings, by Sue Monk Kidd, is simply marvelous!  The story is told in turns by Sarah and Handful and I was enthralled with it and both of its protagonists from beginning to end.

Sarah was quite smart and yearned for knowledge and a better world.  Even though she was held back by her gender, she did what she could to make the world a better place.  She was determined and forthright and I admired her spunk.

Handful is smart and talented.  She looks after Sarah and is also being taught sewing by her talented mother.  Both she and her mother long to be free but struggle to find a way out of slavery.

The storyline follows Sarah and Handful for thirty five years and what a journey it is!  It is both heartbreaking and heartwarming and really made me think.  I found a lot to talk about as I read the book so it would make a fabulous book club selection.

There’s an author’s note at the end of this book that is a must read.  In it, Kidd reveals that Sarah Grimké was a real person and tells about her research into her life.  It was almost as fascinating as the book.  I had to do a little research on Sarah myself after I learned she was real.

I listened to the audio version of The Invention of Wings and it’s capably narrated by Jenna Lamia and Adepero Oduye.  I’m usually a stickler for accents so I’m going to point out that I didn’t think their Charleston accents were quite right but, for once, it didn’t bother me at all.  I was captivated by the story and their narration and hated for the book to end.  The audio book is on twelve CDs and lasts approximately thirteen and a half hours.

Thanks to the folks at Penguin, I have 2 copies of the audio version of The Invention of Wings to give away.  To enter to win an audio copy of THE INVENTION OF WINGS by Sue Monk Kidd, 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 EST Tuesday, April 8, 2014.    Comments are welcome (and appreciated) but will not get you an entry in the contest.

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

Mailbox Monday

March 31, 2014

Mailbox Monday March 31

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued, and now hosted on its own blog.   I’ve been at my mom’s since Saturday so my mail week ends on Friday.  Rather than spend time on the internet, I’m spending time with her while I’m here so I won’t be around until later this week.  Here are the books that showed up in my mailbox last week:







 Did you find anything in your mailbox last week?

Review: The Scar Boys

March 28, 2014

The Scar Boys

When he sits down to write his college essay, Harry Jones finds that he can’t comply with the 250 word limit and proceeds to pour out his life story to the college admissions officers, and what a story it is!  When Harry was eight years old, bullies tied him to a tree during a thunderstorm.  The tree was struck by lightening and Harry was severely burned, leaving him disfigured.

Between doctors’ visits and teasing, Harry’s life is pretty lonely until he gets to middle school and Johnny, one of the popular kids, defends and befriends him.  The two become close and, with two others, eventually form a band, naming it The Scar Boys, after Harry.  The summer after their senior year of high school, they decide to book a tour and take their band on the road.  That summer turns out to be a pivotal point in all of their lives.

The Scar Boys, by Len Vlahos, has so many elements I adore so I went into it expecting to love it.  I ended up liking it quite a bit but I can’t say I truly loved it.  I think the book just didn’t quite live up to its potential.

Harry has been through so much but, for the most part, it hasn’t brought him down.  He’s teased and stared at and usually manages to ignore it, especially after he and Johnny become friends.  Johnny is one of those kids that has it all with seemingly little effort – he’s smart, popular, and athletic.  He accepts Harry the way he is, making things easier for Harry.  I liked both Harry and Johnny but wish they (especially Johnny) had been better developed.

I really liked the fact that Vlahos addressed bullying in this book and showed how one person can make a difference to someone who’s being bullied.  I also like the way he portrayed friendship.  Harry and Johnny were great friends, but their friendship wasn’t without its struggles.

The road trip was great fun!  Things weren’t always well thought out so there were problems along the way.  Watching the band members deal with, and learn from, those problems was the best part of the book.  Things definitely weren’t easy but they did a lot of growing up and learned a lot about themselves.

I listened to the audio version of the book and it was a treat to hear some of the band’s songs performed.  I loved the fact that the author actually played the guitar during the songs!  The Scar Boys was narrated by Lincoln Hoppe.  This is the second time I’ve listened to his narration and he’s not my favorite.  I think his delivery is too slow and flat for me.  I do wonder if his narration affected my enjoyment of the book.  The audio book is on 6 CDs and lasts approximately 6 and a half hours.

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 Random House.  I am an Indiebound Affliate.

Review: The Bear

March 27, 2014

The Bear

Five-year old Anna is camping with her parents and her younger brother when a bear attacks the campsite.  Anna’s parents do all they can to protect their children but they’re still vulnerable, so Anna’s mother urges her to take her younger brother away in the family’s canoe.  Anna wants to be a good girl so she does as she’s told and the children find themselves fighting to stay alive.

Claire Cameron remembered the story of a bear attack that occurred during the 1990s in a park where she worked as a counselor.  Bear attacks are pretty rare so it was a hot topic of discussion at the time.  Cameron has taken her memories and research from that event and used them as the basis for her latest novel, The Bear.

The Bear is told from the point of view of five-year old Anna so it’s quite disjointed and unfocused at times.  I was excited to start the book and was initially put off by Anna’s voice.  She seemed younger than the five-year olds I know.  I thought I would adjust to her voice but I never really did.   I got used to it but I never grew fond of it, if that makes sense.

The story is told through Anna’s thoughts and Cameron uses their flightiness (for lack of a better word) to fill readers in on Anna’s back story.  Sometimes it took me a little while to catch on to what Anna meant.  I guess that was the whole point but it kept me from getting truly invested in Anna’s story.  In the end, I enjoyed the book but didn’t love it the way most people have.

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

Wondrous Words Wednesday

March 26, 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 two words in Starter House by Sonja Condit.

1. torchon – “She smudged with her thumb and a paper torchon; she sprayed fixative and let it dry and then worked new layers over it.”

According to my dictionary, a torchon is a dustcloth or bundle of straw used for wiping.  Neither of those definitions made sense to me in the context of the sentence so I did a little more digging.  I discovered that a torchon or tortillon is a blending stump.  You can read more about them here.


2. cozen– “They would do the worst thing they could, but mostly she could cozen them out of their rage.”

Cozen means to deceive, win over, or induce to do something by artful coaxing and wheedling or shrewd trickery.


What words do you want to celebrate today?

Review: The Craft Beer Revolution

March 25, 2014

The Craft Beer Revlolution

After Prohibition, the brewing industry in the US struggled.  The few breweries that were out there produced a lot of beer but it was bland and uninteresting.  Home brewers and people who had experienced European beers knew it didn’t have to be that way and they took matters into their own hands by starting small breweries that have come to be known as microbreweries.  In the mid-1970s there were less than 40 breweries in the US – today there are over 2,500 and the number continues to grow.  In his book The Craft Beer Revolution: How a Band of Microbrewers is Transforming the World’s Favorite Drink, Brooklyn Brewery co-founder Steve Hindy recounts the history, struggles, and triumphs of the “craft beer revolution.”

I’m fairly new to craft beer but, since discovering it, have found the industry fascinating.  Most of the people who work in the industry do so because of a passion for beer.  Because Carl and Vance are on the retail end of things I have learned a lot and witnessed first hand that passion, as well as the frustrations involved, so I found Hindy’s book very interesting.  It was rather reassuring to see that the issues Carl and Vance face are the same throughout the industry.  It’s hard for a small company to compete in a field of giants but craft brewers are doing it and doing it well.

For the most part, I really enjoyed The Craft Beer Revolution and loved getting Hindy’s insider perspective.   I’m sure Carl was glad when I was through with the book because I was forever peppering him with some tidbit I had just gleaned from its pages.  I recommend this book to anyone who’s interested in craft beer.

Review copy provided by Palgrave Macmillan.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.

Mailbox Monday

March 24, 2014

Mailbox Monday March 24

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued, and now hosted on its own blog.   Last week was busy but not all that exciting.  The highlights of the week were getting my hair cut and going to book club.  Oh, and watching some basketball!  Here are the books that showed up in my mailbox last week:





 Did you find any goodies in your mailbox last week?


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