Favorite Quotes on Books and Reading

"A book is a gift you can open again and again." Garrison Keillor

Literature is a textually transmitted disease, normally contracted in childhood.” Jane Yolen

"It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it." Oscar Wilde

"Books have furnished, burnished, and enabled my life." Julia Keller

Monday, October 5, 2015

2015 Book 315: PRETENDING TO DANCE by Diane Chamberlain

Pretending to Dance by Diane Chamberlain
ISBN: 9781250010742 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781250010735 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781427261991 (audiobook)
ASIN: B00V3ABTLU (Kindle edition)
Publication date: October 6, 2015 
Publisher: St. Martin's Press

Molly Arnette is very good at keeping secrets. She and her husband live in San Diego, where they hope to soon adopt a baby. But the process terrifies her.
As the questions and background checks come one after another, Molly worries that the truth she's kept hidden about her North Carolina childhood will rise to the surface and destroy not only her chance at adoption, but her marriage as well. She ran away from her family twenty years ago after a shocking event left her devastated and distrustful of those she loved: Her mother, the woman who raised her and who Molly says is dead but is very much alive. Her birth mother, whose mysterious presence raised so many issues. The father she adored, whose death sent her running from the small community of Morrison Ridge.
Now, as she tries to find a way to make peace with her past and embrace a future filled with promise, she discovers that even she doesn't know the truth of what happened in her family of pretenders.
Told with Diane Chamberlain's compelling prose and gift for deft exploration of the human heart, Pretending to Dance is an exploration of family, lies, and the complexities of both.   

Molly Arnette has been married to Aidan James for ten years. Both are lawyers with Molly practicing Family Law and Aidan currently teaching Immigration Law at a local university. Unable to have children of their own, they have decided to adopt. One of the things Molly and Aidan pride themselves on is their ability to discuss anything and everything. But in preparing their adoption file, Molly begins to remember the summer her father died and worries that the lies she's told to Aidan and the adoption agency may destroy her chance at having a family in Diane Chamberlain's latest, Pretending to Dance.

Molly Arnette grew up in a small town in North Carolina. Her father, Graham, was a psychologist specializing in "pretend" therapy, based on the idea that "if you pretend you're the sort of person you want to be, you will gradually become that person." He also suffered from a debilitating form of MS. Molly's "mother" or adoptive mother, Nora, is a pharmacist. Molly's birth mother, Amalia, lives on family land and teaches Molly to dance. The summer Molly turned fourteen was a summer to remember for a variety of reasons: her first romance, befriending Stacy Bateman, helping her father with his last book, her father's book tour, attending the New Kids on the Block concert, learning the truth about her birth and adoption, and her father's death (or murder, in her mind). Now Molly is thirty-eight years old and has limited contact with her family in North Carolina. She's told Aidan and the adoption agency that her parents are deceased, but that's not exactly true. The process of adoption, especially an open adoption, is something that she likes on paper but is somewhat wary given her own experiences. The further along Molly and Aiden get in the adoption process, the more stressed Molly becomes. She knows that just because she's been pretending to be an orphan won't make it true. Can she ever tell Aidan the truth about her background without it destroying her marriage? Will an adoptive mother ever choose them and bless them with a child? And will Molly ever truly learn the truth about her father's death?

I found Pretending to Dance to be a quick and engaging read. Molly's story is told by alternating between her life in 2014 and the summer of 1990. Ms. Chamberlain has provided the reader with an amazing glimpse into the life and mind of Molly Arnette as both a fourteen-year-old and as a thirty-eight-year-old. The more we learn about the fourteen-year-old Molly, the easier it is to understand the thoughts and actions of the thirty-eight-year-old Molly. Adoption can be a wonderful process for the adoptive parents and child, and an equally hard and grief-imposing process for the birth mother. Open adoption is one way to minimize the harshness and grief for the birth mother by permitting her to continue to be a part of her child's life. I can understand why Molly had qualms about open adoption, even if she hadn't lived with it as a child. The adoptive mother may always wonder if she will lose her child's love and affection to its birth mother as if it is a competition rather than a new way to build a family. Added into these issues Molly is having with open adoption is the fact that she's been contacted by a cousin about her birth mother and her declining health. The overwhelming idea that I took away from reading this book is that it isn't possible to pretend away our past no matter how much we lie to ourselves or want it to go away. There are a lot of issues raised in Pretending to Dance: the ever-changing definition of family, adoption, the possibility of false memories, teenage angst and drama, the impact of living with a chronic and debilitating illness, lies, and secrets. Does Molly ever come to grips with her past? Does she reveal the truth to Aidan? Will they be chosen by a birth mother and finally be able to start a family? For the answer to these questions and more, you'll need to grab a copy of Pretending to Dance and read it to find out.

Disclaimer: I received a print copy of this book for review purposes via BookSparks PR. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Guest Post: Author Kristi Belcamino

The Book Diva's Reads is pleased to host a visit by author Kristi Belcamino. Ms. Belcamino is the award-winning author of the Gabriella Giovanni Mystery Series: Blessed Are The Dead, Blessed Are The Meek, Blessed Are Those Who Weep, and Blessed Are Those Who Mourn. Ms. Belcamino will be sharing her thoughts on writing quirks.

"What Are Your Writing Quirks & Must-Haves To Write" 
By Kristi Belcamino

Some writers need absolute quiet to write. Some need a particular type of music. Some can only write in their tricked-out offices with the door closed. Some people have to use a certain pen or pencil.

Me? I'm easy like Sunday morning. I don't need much.

Does that make me different? Probably not. 

I can write any time of day. I can write with noise or without. I can write when I'm alone or in a crowd.

One thing I'm not is a prima donna. 

Here is why: I'm a trained journalist who worked in a newsroom for a decade. That will beat any writing quirkiness and must-haves right out of you.

With that said, there is something I find necessary to writing. Caffeine. 

Could I write without it? I don't know and I don't want to ever find out.

The other thing I need is a computer. I admired and loved Jackie Collins but writing a book a year in longhand is not for me. Give me a keyboard and monitor pretty please.

Those are my must-haves. Not too bad, huh.

I don't necessarily need to be alone, but I do like it a bit quiet unless it is the creative ambient white noise that sparks ideas. You know the sounds I'm talking about – they even have an app for it – Café Noise.

I dig Café Noise.

So, I alternate my writing days between my dining room table (I did mention I wasn't a prima donna writer who needs a fancy office, right?) or at a local coffee shop. No matter which place I'm at, you better believe I'm sucking down some strong coffee.

Other than that, I don't really have any must-haves or quirks. I mean, needing a computer and coffee seems pretty standard fare among my writer friends.

I do occasionally need some headphones. Mainly if people nearby are gabbing just a little bit too loud or too long. 

Give me a laptop, a place to stand or sit, a cup of coffee, and I'm good to go.

About the author:

Kristi Belcamino is a writer, photographer, and artist. In her former life as a newspaper crime reporter in California, she flew over Big Sur in an FA-18 jet with the Blue Angels, raced a Dodge Viper at Laguna Seca, watched autopsies, and interviewed serial killers. She is now a journalist based in Minneapolis and the Gabriella Giovanni mysteries are her first books. Find Kristi on Facebook www.facebook.com/kristibelcaminowriter or on Twitter @KristiBelcamino

Connect with the author:    Website     |     Facebook     |     Twitter

About the book:

Blessed Are Those Who Mourn by Kristi Belcamino
ISBN: 9780062389411 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780062389428 (ebook)
ASIN: B00SG1ELNW (Kindle format)
Publisher:  Witness Impulse
Publication Date:  September 29, 2015

San Francisco Bay Area reporter Gabriella Giovanni has finally got it all together: a devoted and loving boyfriend, Detective Sean Donovan; a beautiful little girl with him; and her dream job as the cops' reporter for the Bay Herald. But her success has been hard-won and has left her with debilitating paranoia. When a string of young co-eds starts to show up dead with suspicious Biblical verses left on their bodies—the same verses that the man she suspects kidnapped and murdered her sister twenty years ago had sent to her—she begins to question if the killer is trying to send her a message.
It is not until evil strikes Gabriella's own family that her worst fears are confirmed. As the clock begins to tick, every passing hour means the difference between life and death to those Gabriella loves...

Enter the giveaway:

Enter to win ebook copies of Blessed Are The Dead, Blessed Are The Meek, and Blessed Are Those Who Weep

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Monday, September 28, 2015

2015 Book 308: EVERY SECOND by Rick Mofina

Every Second (Kate Page #3) by Rick Mofina
ISBN: 9780778317517 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781460390214 (ebook)
ASIN: B00TXCFGM8 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: September 29, 2015 
Publisher: MIRA

Terror claws into the lives of an American family… 
On a quiet night in their tranquil suburban home, the Fulton family awakens to a nightmare. Four armed men force bank manager Dan Fulton to steal a quarter million dollars from his branch—strapping remote-detonation bombs on him, his wife, Lori, and their young son. 
A relentless reporter discovers an agonizing secret… 
The FBI moves swiftly with a major investigation while Kate Page, a reporter with a newswire service, digs deep into the story. In the wake of the Fulton family's abduction, questions emerge, including one of the most troubling: is the case linked to Lori Fulton's tragic past? 
Time ticks down on a chilling plan… 
Working as fast as they can, Kate and the investigators inch closer to a devastating truth—it's not only the Fultons' lives at stake, but thousands of others…and every second counts in the race to save them.  

Lori Fulton is brutally awakened one night to find several armed men in her bedroom. The Fulton family is quickly bound and fitted with "suicide vests." The abductors force Dan to go into his bank branch and take $250,000 and tell him everything will be fine if he just does what he's told. But all is not what appears when one abductor tells Lori that her family deserves everything that is going to happen to them. Can the authorities and journalist Kate Page find the truth as the clock ticks down in Every Second by Rick Mofina?

The Fulton family appears to be a typical American family, hardworking parents with an elementary school-aged child and a devoted dog with no known enemies. Dan is the manager at a local bank branch. Lori works for an insurance company. Have they been targeted because of Dan's job? All Lori and Dan know is that their family's safety hinges on Dan getting the money the abductors want. Little do they know that their abductors have planned something major and the abduction of the Fulton family is only one minor part of their plan. Fortunately, one of Dan's bank employees realizes that Dan's actions aren't bank-sanctioned and tips off the authorities. What is initially presumed to be a bank robbery by a bank employee quickly becomes a search for the Fulton family and their abductors. Kate Page, a reporter based in New York, is on the story and tracks down leads that the authorities wish she hadn't found. Kate's search for background finds that Lori was a police officer in California before her family moved to New York and further investigation reveals that this abduction and robbery may be tied to Lori's past. Now the questions raised are who these abductors are and what exactly do they want? The answers raise even more questions and put everyone on high alert for a possible home-grown terrorist attack.

Every Second packs in a lot of action, suspense, and thrills. This fast-paced read has a home invasion, bank robbery, home-grown terrorists with possible international terrorism links, and government agencies that are two-steps behind in following through on potential terrorist threats. At one point one of the FBI agents on this case thinks ". . . the suspects were untrained, inexperienced amateurs, possibly homegrown, self-radicalized extremists . . ." and that only raises more questions. All of the action is packed into the span of only a few days, and the reader witnesses Kate and the FBI try to connect the dots between the Fultons and the abductors/terrorists. Now I could tell you what happens, but then you'd have no incentive to read the book. What I will tell you is that Every Second is a fast-paced and enjoyable read filled with plenty of thrills and suspense. I spent my late night-early morning hours reading rather than sleeping just to find out what happens next. Every Second is the third book in the Kate Page series, but it is possible to read it without reading the previous books (you'll want to read the previous books because they are just as good). If you've already read the first two books in this series, Whirlwind and Full Tilt, then you'll definitely want to read Every Second.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Saturday, September 19, 2015

2015 Book 301: EVERYTHING SHE FORGOT by Lisa Ballantyne

Everything She Forgot by Lisa Ballantyne
ISBN: 9780062391483 (trade paperback)
ISBN: 9780062391490 (ebook)
ASIN: B00SG1ELOG (Kindle edition)
Publication date: October 6, 2015 
Publisher: William Morrow

They're calling it the worst pile-up in London history. Driving home, Margaret Holloway has her mind elsewhere—on a troubled student, her daughter's acting class, the next day's meeting—when she's rear-ended and trapped in the wreckage. Just as she begins to panic, a disfigured stranger pulls her from the car just seconds before it's engulfed in flames. Then he simply disappears.
Though she escapes with minor injuries, Margaret feels that something's wrong. She's having trouble concentrating. Her emotions are running wild. More than that, flashbacks to the crash are also dredging up lost associations from her childhood, fragments of events that were wiped from her memory. Whatever happened, she didn't merely forget—she chose to forget. And somehow, Margaret knows deep down that it's got something to do with the man who saved her life.
As Margaret uncovers a mystery with chilling implications for her family and her very identity, Everything She Forgot winds through a riveting dual narrative and asks the question: How far would you go to hide the truth—from yourself?  

Margaret Holloway is a devoted teacher as well as a loving wife, mother, and daughter. After fighting to keep a student in school, she begins her drive home only to wind up in a horrific multi-car accident. Margaret is trapped in her car as it begins to burn due to a ruptured fuel tank. Thankfully, she's saved by a stranger, who quickly disappears from the scene. The accident and the kindness of this stranger awaken long-lost memories in Everything She Forgot.

The story begins in December 2013 on the day of the tragic multi-car accident, and alternates between December 2013 and late September and early October 1985 as we're introduced to seven-year-old Molly Henderson, Big George McLaughlin, Angus Campbell, and Kathleen Henderson. Ms. Ballantyne provides the backstory to George McLaughlin's life and obsession with the love of his life, Kathleen Jamieson, and their daughter Molly. George decides to find Kathleen and, once again, ask her to marry him, but he finds that Kathleen is married and seems to be quite happy in her new life. He then decides to introduce himself to his daughter Molly, only after seeing her being bullied by three girls on her way to school. That introduction turns into an unplanned abduction that forces George to run from Scotland into England with his daughter. Angus Campbell is a local reporter in the area Molly was abducted from. All he wants is to be a respected journalist and he decides that it is his duty to find out all he can about Molly and Kathleen and he has to be the one to bring Molly safely back home. 

Everything She Forgot is a story that I didn't want to put down. I quickly became invested in Margaret, George, and Molly's stories and wanting to know what happens next. I wanted to know more about Margaret and her apparent obsession with the stranger that saved her. I needed to know more about George and Molly and their "adventure" into England. The more I read, the more I found myself pulled into the story. I empathized with Kathleen as she awaited news about her daughter. I felt sorry for George and the horrible childhood he had but rejoiced over the connections he was building with his daughter. His abduction of Molly may not have been planned, but it still caused needless trauma to Molly and her parents. It took a while for me to get used to the back-and-forth between past and present, but once I did the story seemed to suck me in. Did I enjoy Everything She Forgot? Yes! Ms. Ballantyne has crafted a beautiful and haunting story about memories, relationships, and the need for family. If you enjoy reading well-written stories, then you'll want to add Everything She Forgot to your reading list.

This review and tour brought to you by:

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher via Edelweiss. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Thursday, September 10, 2015

2015 Book #292: SHE'S NOT THERE by P.J. Parrish

She's Not There by P.J. Parrish
ISBN: 9781503945043 (paperback)
ASIN: B00U0N5GDI (Kindle edition)
Publication date: September 8, 2015 
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

They say it's better to battle the devil you know. But what if you don't recognize him before it's too late?
She knows her name is Amelia, but after waking up in a hospital battered and bruised with just the clothes on her back, it's all she knows. Unable to piece together her shattered memory, she's haunted by a vision: menacing faces and voices implying her nightmare is far from over.
Relying only on her wits and her will to live, Amelia becomes a fugitive from a mysterious man, and a life she can't even remember. But the past she's fleeing has no intention of letting her go.  

Amelia Tobias wakes up in the hospital with no real memory of where she is, who she is, or what happened to her. All she can remember is a dark-haired man and an overwhelming sense of fear. When her husband arrives at the hospital all she can think to do is run. Alex Tobias is a well-known lawyer in Fort Lauderdale and when his wife runs away from her hospital bed his only concern is finding her and getting her the help she needs. Alex and his business partner hire Clay Buchanan, a well-regarded skip tracer, to track down Amelia in She's Not There by P.J. Parrish.

Amelia Tobias awakens in a hospital. She's suffered a severe head injury, possibly due to a car accident and has no memories of who she is or what has happened. Some memories return after she awakens and she knows that her name is Amelia and that she's in danger. When she leaves the hospital in Florida, she pawns her engagement ring and hops on a bus. Amelia stays a few days in Georgia before running away again. She has vague memories of her family and her life, but she isn't sure of anything except she needs to run. She stops in Iowa before being tracked down again by Buchanan. The confrontation with Buchanan ends with her shooting him and she runs again, landing in California. The only family she has is her husband who she's afraid of, and her grandmother who's suffering from dementia. While Amelia is being chased by her demons and seeking to regain her memories, Buchanan is running away from his demons and trying to forget his past. Can either of them outrun their pasts? 

I found She's Not There to be a fast-paced and enjoyable read. The main storyline is Amelia running away from her husband, but there's a lot more going on. As Amelia recovers memories, the reader is given her backstory as a ballet dancer, the deaths of her parents and brother, and even her marriage to Alex. Clay Buchanan is a well-known skip tracer, but the disappearance of his wife and infant son continue to haunt him. His in-laws obtained custody of his young daughter after his wife and son's disappearance, so he no longer has "family" just his career. Clay's past and current circumstances become a minor storyline that is continued until the very end of the story. Of course there's a lot more going on that just Amelia running away and Buchanan looking for her, but if I told you everything you wouldn't need to read the book. She's Not There is a great choice for mystery-suspense readers or those simply looking for a good story to read. She's Not There is the first book I've read by P.J. Parrish, but it definitely won't be my last.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."