Next Up For Review

Next Up For Review
The Center Cannot Hold, Elyn Saks

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Pull That Little String & Watch It All Unravel...

'Unraveling Anne', Laurel Saville
Book Description: “After all, this is my mother we’re talking about. As her daughter, I belonged to her; as my mother, she also belongs to me. I don’t have her anymore, but I still have her story.”

In 1950s Los Angeles, Anne Ford was the epitome of the California golden girl, a former beauty queen and model-turned-fashion designer whose success and charm were legendary. So how is it possible that such a woman could die in squalor, an alcoholic street person brutally murdered in a burnt-out West Hollywood building?

In searching for answers to the heartbreaking trajectory of her mother’s life, writer Laurel Saville plumbed the depths of Anne’s troubled past and her own eccentric childhood to untangle the truth of an exceptional, yet tragic, existence. What she discovered was a woman who was beautiful, well-educated, and talented—yet tormented by internal demons and no match for the hedonistic culture of Southern California in the 1960s and 70s.

With unflinching honesty and stirring compassion, Saville struggles to reconcile the two faces her mother presented the world: the glamour-girl-about-town the public saw and the unpredictable, bitter alcoholic her children knew. Most importantly, Saville explores how what we bring forward from previous generations can shape our own lives, and how compassion and love for a difficult parent can be a person’s bridge to a better life. 

Cover B-
I know the cover of this book was most likely produced with only hardcover/paperback readers in mind. It's a bit dark for e-readers (other than the i-pad or nook color). The overall effect is good, quite ominous in fact. I like it. I just would have like a slightly lighter background. It would have made it easier to scrutinize all the dirty details.

Story A
If you were a child of alcoholic parents, you really need to read this book. If you are the grown child of a mentally unstable parent, you really need to read this book. If you like to look inside others rough experiences and thank God that you never had to live through such events...yep, you guessed it, you will love this book.  
Laurel Saville does an excellent job taking the reader to haunted corners of living with an unstable parent, sparing the reader nothing. She gives you the raw, gritty truth. Not one to seek out sympathy, she makes it clear her life has been a journey, filled with complexities that some want to compartmentalize: alcoholic, artist, narcissist, drug addict, slut...
All of the former are used to describe her mother, yet none fit as an all inclusive label. 
Anne Ford, a young woman with a promising art/fashion design career slides down into the canyon, losing her grip on sanity, and still maintaining her creativity and spark that drew so many to her. But can her daughter Laurel forgive her sins as a mother, reconcile the many pieces that make up Anne, and become a whole person in her own right? It sounds like fiction, but I promise you, it's not. It is the journey of Laurel Saville, as she unravels the mysteries of her mother Anne. I give her tons of credit. it could not be easy to move past the hurts inflicted on her as a young girl.
It is a heavy read.
It is an excellent read.
I highly recommend it.
Right now you can pick up your copy of, 'Unraveling Anne' on for under $8.00,unless you are an 'Amazon Prime' member, in which case it is FREE.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Starlight, Starbright, First Star I See Tonight...

'Scotland by Starlight', Nancy Volkers
Cassie Wrentham is on her way to Scotland again... but this time it's not vacation. She's moving in with Ralph Macnair, the charismatic Scotsman who stole her heart. But Cassie wouldn't be Cassie without doubts. Will she find a job in a tight U.K. economy? Would marrying Ralph now be only for convenience's sake? Will she fit in, make friends, make a life there? Or will it all fall apart?
Bursting with a lively cast of characters, all with their own stories and challenges, Scotland By Starlight follows Cassie and Ralph from the new beginnings of their intense relationship to a conclusion like no other. 

Cover: A
For some unknown reason I like this cover better than the cover of book one: 'A Scottish Ferry Tale'. It just comes across a bit cleaner, more crisp. The color scheme is quite nice and of course, paper quality is above average. If you are a book person (as opposed to an eReader person) this book is a solid handful. The overall quality won't disappoint.

Story B++ 
All right, Love, let's get to it then, shall we?  As some of you might remember, I read 'A Scottish Ferry Tale'. I even reviewed it. If you are a sleuth at heart, you can sort through my old posts and find it. No need to really, as I will sum up my feelings of book one, but you can always go see for yourself if it suits you. 
Book one didn't impress me much. It wasn't *bad* (as in I couldn't finish it, it suffered murderous character flaws, massive editing errors); it just wasn't *good* (as in it didn't grab me & hold my attention). It was okay. Not earth shattering. Not keep you up at night wondering. I think I gave it a C.
Enough about book one. It is water under the reading bridge. Book two...
Oh book two, how changed my mind!  How did I love thee? Let me count the ways...Honestly, I felt as if it were written by a different author! The writing seemed to flow far better. The story, the characters, the conflicts--all of it--just worked better. Until the very end (and I mean the very end, literally) the story was a nice, well rounded love story. Boy and girl have worked out most of their major issues. Boy and girl begin a life together with their wedding listed as #1 on the 'to do list'. Girl still has some minor insecurities. Boy still suffers an occasional bout of the jealous green meanies....but all in all, everything is just swell.
But is it happily ever after? One would think that. And in a way, one would be right. But don't get too comfy under your Tartan plaid blanket. Don't skip through those nagging little details; because if you do you will find yourself wondering who smacked the air out of your lungs and fed you a big bowl full of haggis...
That's all I'm going to say.
Kudos to you, Ms. Nancy Volkers. You went back for a second round and vastly improved upon everything. 
If you enjoy a good love story that tugs at the old heart strings, stop by and grab your copy of 'Scotland by Starlight'. Right now you can get a print copy for $8.99 or a kindle copy for $0.99. Far cheaper than a trip overseas, and a magical transport in it's own right, I highly recommend it.
That's all for now. Stay tuned for my review of, 'Unraveling Anne', Laurel Saville. Until then...

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year, New Me!

The end of 2011 has officially been kicked to the curb. Can't say I'm sorry to see it go. Not that it was all bad, mind you. There were ups in there, just too many downs to add it to my top ten of 'best years'. 
The end of 2011 found me in a reading rut, stuck midway through "Vanity Fair" with no end in sight. Right around Turkey Day, I made the decision to STOP (as in stop pressuring myself to rush through the book in order to get out my next review). Luckily, I only review for pleasure, so I can make those kinds of executive decisions. Had I been reviewing for other sites--which I have mulled over, quite seriously--I would have been screwed. 
Hooray for being a slacker reviewer!
So, here I sit in the earliest days of 2012, "Vanity Fair" finished, "Scotland by Starlight" half completed, and ready to review again with full Gusto. Let's get to it shall we?

Vanity Fair, William Makepeace Thackery
This book is set to be my last dip into the 1800's for a bit. I read some Austen, some Tolstoy, and Anna Katherine Green--all deliciously good and timeless. I was excited beyond all get out when I picked up "Vanity Fair" and was hooked from page one.
I must admit here the beginning threw me a bit. The language was just a shade more 'Old English'  & it took a chapter or two to find my reading groove; although it is nowhere near as thick & muddlesome as "Wuthering Heights", which I nearly chucked in the garbage on occasion.
I loved the sarcasm Mr. WMT used throughout the book. It was subtle perfection. 
I loved Rebecca. I HATED Rebecca. I loathed Amelia. I placed Amelia on the highest pedestal I could find. I felt this way about all the characters *except* George Osbourne the First. I just plain loathed him. He was a good for nothing cretin. Weak, vain, selfish, without redemption.
I was mad at Amelia for not allowing Major Dobbin into her heart & I was terrified he was gone for good....
I give this book a B++. It would have been an A, except I honestly think there were large amounts (ie. the entire scene where Rebecca is  the star of charades) of the story that could have been cut. Loved it!
As always, you can download "Vanity Fair" for your kindle @ for FREE. 
Up next...
"Scotland by Starlight" by Nancy Volkers.
Until then, learn to love yourself by loathing others in a good book.