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

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Book Showcase: MAYBE IN ANOTHER LIFE by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Maybe In Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid
ISBN: 9781476776880 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781476776897 (ebook)
ASIN: B00P42X1P0 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Publication date: July 7, 2015

From the acclaimed author of Forever, Interrupted and After I Do comes a breathtaking new novel about a young woman whose fate hinges on the choice she makes after bumping into an old flame; in alternating chapters, we see two possible scenarios unfold—with stunningly different results.
At the age of twenty-nine, Hannah Martin still has no idea what she wants to do with her life. She has lived in six different cities and held countless meaningless jobs since graduating college. On the heels of leaving yet another city, Hannah moves back to her hometown of Los Angeles and takes up residence in her best friend Gabby's guestroom. Shortly after getting back to town, Hannah goes out to a bar one night with Gabby and meets up with her high school boyfriend, Ethan.
Just after midnight, Gabby asks Hannah if she's ready to go. A moment later, Ethan offers to give her a ride later if she wants to stay. Hannah hesitates. What happens if she leaves with Gabby? What happens if she leaves with Ethan?
In concurrent storylines, Hannah lives out the effects of each decision. Quickly, these parallel universes develop into radically different stories with large-scale consequences for Hannah, as well as the people around her. As the two alternate realities run their course, Maybe in Another Life raises questions about fate and true love: Is anything meant to be? How much in our life is determined by chance? And perhaps, most compellingly: Is there such a thing as a soul mate?
Hannah believes there is. And, in both worlds, she believes she's found him.

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1

It's a good thing I booked an aisle seat, because I'm the last one on the plane. I knew I'd be late for my flight. I'm late for almost everything. That's why I booked an aisle seat in the first place. I hate making people get up so that I can squeeze by. This is also why I never go to the bathroom during movies, even though I always have to go to the bathroom during movies.
I walk down the tight aisle, holding my carry-on close to my body, trying not to bump anyone. I hit a man's elbow and apologize even though he doesn't seem to notice. When I barely graze a woman's arm, she shoots daggers at me as if I stabbed her. I open my mouth to say I'm sorry and then think better of it. 
I spot my seat easily; it's the only open one.
The air is stale. The music is Muzak. The conversations around me are punctuated by the clicks of the overhead compartments being slammed shut. 
I get to my seat and sit down, smiling at the woman next to me. She's older and round, with short salt-and-pepper hair. I shove my bag in front of me and buckle my seat belt. My tray table's up. My electronics are off. My seat is in the upright position. When you're late a lot, you learn how to make up for lost time. 
I look out the window. The baggage handlers are bundled up in extra layers and neon jackets. I'm happy to be headed to a warmer climate. I pick up the in-flight magazine.
Soon I hear the roar of the engine and feel the wheels beneath us start to roll. The woman next to me grips the armrests as we ascend. She looks petrified. 
I'm not scared of flying. I'm scared of sharks, hurricanes, and false imprisonment. I'm scared that I will never do anything of value with my life. But I'm not scared of flying.
Her knuckles are white with tension.
I tuck the magazine back into the pouch. "Not much of a flier?" I ask her. When I'm anxious, talking helps. If talking helps her, it's the least I can do. 
The woman turns and looks at me as we glide into the air. "'Fraid not," she says, says, smiling ruefully. "I don't leave New York very often. This is my first time flying to Los Angeles."
"Well, if it makes you feel any better, I fly a fair amount, and I can tell you, with any flight, it's really only takeoff and landing that are hard. We've got about three more minutes of this part and then about five minutes at the end that can be tough. The rest of it . . . you might as well be on a bus. So just eight bad minutes total, and then you're in California."
We're at an incline. It's steep enough that an errant bottle of water rolls down the aisle. 
"Eight minutes is all?" she asks. I nod. 
"That's it," I tell her. "You're from New York?" 
She nods. "How about you?"
I shrug. "I was living in New York. Now I'm moving back to L.A."
The plane drops abruptly and then rights itself as we make our way past the clouds. She breathes in deeply. I have to admit, even I feel a little queasy. 
"But I was only in New York for about nine months," I say. The longer I talk, the less attention she has to focus on the turbulence. "I've been moving around a bit lately. I went to school in Boston. Then I moved to D.C., then Portland, Oregon. Then Seattle. Then Austin, Texas. Then New York. The city where dreams come true. Although, you know, not for me. But I did grow up in Los Angeles. So you could say I'm going back to where I came from, but I don't know that I'd call it home."
"Where's your family?" she asks. Her voice is tight. She's looking forward.
"My family moved to London when I was sixteen. My younger sister, Sarah, got accepted to the Royal Ballet School, and they couldn't pass that up. I stayed and finished school in L.A."
"You lived on your own?" It's working. The distraction.
"I lived with my best friend's family until I finished high school. And then I left for college." 
The plane levels out. The captain tells us our altitude. She takes her hands off the armrest and breathes.
"See?" I say to her. "Just like a bus." 
"Thank you," she says. 
She looks out the window. I pick up the magazine again. She turns back to me. "Why do you move around so much?" she says. "Isn't that difficult?" She immediately corrects herself. "Listen to me, the minute I stop hyperventilating, I'm acting like your mother." 
I laugh with her. "No, no, it's fine," I say. I don't move from place to place on purpose. It's not a conscious choice to be a nomad. Although I can see that each move is my own decision, predicated on nothing but my ever-growing sense that I don't belong where I am, fueled by the hope that maybe there is, in fact, a place I do belong, a place just off in the future. "I guess . . . I don't know," I say. It's hard to put into words, especially to someone I barely know. But then I open my mouth, and out it comes. "No place has felt like home." 
She looks at me and smiles. "I'm sorry," she says. "That has to be hard."
I shrug, because it's an impulse. It's always my impulse to ignore the bad, to run toward the good. 
But I'm also not feeling great about my own impulses at the moment. I'm not sure they are getting me where I want to go. 
I stop shrugging. 
And then, because I won't see her again after this flight, I take it one step further. I tell her something I've only recently told myself. "Sometimes I worry I'll never find a place to call home." 
She puts her hand on mine, ever so briefly. "You will," she says. "You're young still. You have plenty of time."

Meet the author:

Taylor Jenkins Reid is an author, essayist, and TV writer from Acton, Massachusetts. Her debut novel, Forever, Interrupted, has been optioned with Dakota Johnson attached to star. Her second book, After I Do, was called a "must read" by Kirkus. Her most recent novel, Maybe In Another Life has been featured in People, US Weekly, Cosmo, and more.

In addition to her novels, Taylor's essays have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The Huffington Post, xoJane, and a number of other blogs.

She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Alex, and their dog, Rabbit.

Connect with the author:     Website     |     Facebook     |     Twitter

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Guest Author Post: Maris Soule - EAT CROW AND DIE

The Book Diva's Reads is pleased to host another visit from author Maris Soule. Ms. Soule is the author of a host of books and today she'll be discussing crafting the story Eat Crow and Die.

Thank you, Vivian, for once again inviting me to your blog. Eat Crow and Die is the other book I have out this summer. It's the third book in the P.J. Benson Mystery series.

It took me a long time to write Eat Crow and Die. I knew how I wanted the story to start—Sheriff's Deputy Wade Kingsley's boat would blow up on Lake Michigan not far from the South Haven lighthouse, with Wade, Wade's six-year-old son Jason, Wade's ex-wife, and her new husband aboard. I also knew I wanted P.J. Benson back at the farm house she inherited from her grandfather, wondering if she might be pregnant and worrying that if she was whether she'd become a schizophrenic, as her mother did while pregnant for P.J..

Okay, fine. But what happens next? Why does Wade become the prime suspect? Is P.J. pregnant? Who did put a bomb on Wade's boat? When? Why? And how does P.J. end up figuring it out?

One thing I love about writing is the research. I have a friend who recently retired from the  Coast Guard Auxillary. I bought his breakfast, and he took me step by step through the rescue procedure. I attended the Writers' Police Academy and viewed a session on underwater procedures by crime scene investigators. I called the local sheriff's department for information, read about boat explosions, and played with a variety of ideas on how to make a bomb that would be believable. I also had to learn about algorithms. (You'll have to read the book to find out why.)

In addition to my research, I needed to come up with several others who might be suspects. Each needed a motive to want to harm Wade or someone on the boat. And I needed to make things happen in just a few days.

I'm often asked how long it takes to write a book. I guess the answer is as long as it takes to find answers to all of your questions and then put it all together so it makes (or seems to make) sense. I hope I succeeded with Eat Crow and Die

About the author:

Award-winning author of 25 romances, 2 mystery and 2 short stories, with 2 suspense novels coming out 2015. Maris Soule was born and raised in California but moved to the midwest two years after her marriage. She is a member of MWA, MMRWA, Sisters-in-Crime, RWA, FWA, and Authors' Guild. Soule is still married to the same man, has two grown children, and two granddaughters. She is currently working on another mystery, this one set in Skagway, Alaska.

Connect with the author: 

Website      |     Facebook      |     Twitter      |     Google+ 

Eat Crow and Die by Maris Soule
ISBN: 9781432830762 (hardcover)
ASIN: B00XK2DUR0 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Five Star Publishing
Publication Date:  August 5, 2015

P.J. Benson knows Sheriff's Detective Wade Kingsley wouldn't blow up his own boat to kill his ex-wife and her new husband, Michael Brewster. Sure, Wade wasn't happy that his ex was taking their six-year-old son, Jason, to live in California, but Wade and Jason were also onboard the boat when it blew up. Wade would never have endangered his son that way.
Nevertheless, the investigating detectives consider Wade their prime suspect,and Wade's ex in-laws loudly accuse him and threaten to file for custody of Jason. Under the circumstances, P.J. is certain this isn't the right time to tell Wade she's pregnant, but bouts of morning sickness give her away. Wade is upset by the news. P.J. wonders if it's because he's afraid he'll be put in prison for a double homicide he didn't commit, or if he's afraid the new baby will cause P.J. to become schizophrenic, as was the case with her mother. Even P.J. is worried about that. Although Wade doesn't want her playing detective, P.J. soon discovers that Michael Brewster wasn't as great a guy as everyone thought. But did anyone hate the man enough to kill him?

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Monday, July 27, 2015

2015 Book 224: WHEN THE MOON IS LOW by Nadia Hashimi

When the Moon is Low by Nadia Hashimi
ISBN: 9780062369574 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062369628 (ebook)
ASIN: B00OY3STN4 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: July 21, 2015
Publisher: William Morrow

Mahmoud's passion for his wife Fereiba, a schoolteacher, is greater than any love she's ever known. But their happy, middle-class world—a life of education, work, and comfort—implodes when their country is engulfed in war, and the Taliban rises to power.
Mahmoud, a civil engineer, becomes a target of the new fundamentalist regime and is murdered. Forced to flee Kabul with her three children, Fereiba has one hope to survive: she must find a way to cross Europe and reach her sister's family in England. With forged papers and help from kind strangers they meet along the way, Fereiba makes a dangerous crossing into Iran under cover of darkness. Exhausted and brokenhearted but undefeated, Fereiba manages to smuggle them as far as Greece. But in a busy market square, their fate takes a frightening turn when her teenage son, Saleem, becomes separated from the rest of the family.
Faced with an impossible choice, Fereiba pushes on with her daughter and baby, while Saleem falls into the shadowy underground network of undocumented Afghans who haunt the streets of Europe's capitals. Across the continent Fereiba and Saleem struggle to reunite, and ultimately find a place where they can begin to reconstruct their lives.

Fereiba is a teacher, wife, and mother. Her adult life in Afghanistan is better than even she expected until the Taliban came into power. In a short time she's lost her job and then her husband. Her sole concern is to make a better life for all of her children, the two that are already born, and the one she is carrying. Her eldest child is a boy, Saleem, and he agrees with his mother that they need to leave Afghanistan. Their struggles and quest for freedom are revealed in When the Moon is Low by Nadia Hashimi.

Fereiba had a sad childhood. Her mother died in childbirth and she was raised by her stepmother. The only real love she received was from her paternal grandfather. Her stepmother convinced Fereiba's father that she was needed at home to help with her younger half-siblings. Even when her sisters were older and all attending school, her stepmother felt there was no need for Fereiba to attend school. It is a testament to Fereiba's will that she began first grade at age 13 and quickly advanced to graduate on schedule. Unfortunately for Fereiba, her mother's death was seen as a negative in Afghani culture. Her first fiancé, an ugly bully, died shortly after the engagement. She had met a young man in her father's orchard and it was presumed that he would seek her hand in marriage, but he marries her oldest half-sister. Just when thought all was lost, she becomes engaged to Mahmoud Waziri. His family ensures she furthers her education and she becomes a teacher. Their marriage was childless for a number of years before she had two children and became pregnant with a third child. Then war breaks out and she is no longer allowed to teach. And then the Taliban comes for her husband, he subsequently disappears and is presumed dead. Without a husband, brother, or father as a protector and no income, the only option Fereiba sees for herself and her children is to immigrate to England. The journey is long and arduous, as the family travels from Afghanistan to Iran, onto Turkey, and then Greece. Fereiba is forced to rely upon her son Saleem and his efforts to work and provide for this family of four. Will they be able to make it to England?

I read When the Moon is Low in one sitting because I couldn't wait to find out what happens next. I found it to be a captivating and wholly engrossing read. I became invested in the trials and tribulations of Fereiba and her son Saleem. I felt despair when times were hard and cheered them on when they moved on against all odds. The reader is given Fereiba's backstory featuring her childhood and the circumstances of her marriage. We're also given a fascinating glimpse into the present with Saleem's story as a migrant, teenage refugee seeking work in Turkey and Greece. Ms. Hashimi has provided an extraordinary glimpse into the hardships that Afghan refugees faced in their attempts to find freedom. I felt all of the characters in this story were well developed and realistic. There are plenty of people that helped Fereiba and Saleem out of the goodness of their hearts, and there are those that took advantage. At its heart, I felt that When the Moon is Low was a story of a search for a better life and survival. This isn't an overly sad story although there are plenty of sad elements, yet it remains a story of hope. If you enjoy reading about other cultures or are simply seeking a good story, then I strongly urge you to grab a copy of When the Moon is Low as soon as possible (yes, it is just that good!).

Disclaimer: I received a print 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, July 23, 2015

2015 Book 221: THE OTHER DAUGHTER by Lauren Willig

The Other Daughter by Lauren Willig
ISBN: 9781250056283 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781466860131 (ebook)
ASIN: B00PF818YY (Kindle edition)
Publication date: July 21, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin's Press

Raised in a poor yet genteel household, Rachel Woodley is working in France as a governess when she receives news that her mother has died, suddenly. Grief-stricken, she returns to the small town in England where she was raised to clear out the cottage...and finds a cutting from a London society magazine, with a photograph of her supposedly deceased father dated all of three month before. He's an earl, respected and influential, and he is standing with another daughter-his legitimate daughter. Which makes Rachel...not legitimate. Everything she thought she knew about herself and her past-even her very name-is a lie.

Still reeling from the death of her mother, and furious at this betrayal, Rachel sets herself up in London under a new identity. There she insinuates herself into the party-going crowd of Bright Young Things, with a steely determination to unveil her father's perfidy and bring his-and her half-sister's-charmed world crashing down. Very soon, however, Rachel faces two unexpected snags: she finds she genuinely likes her half-sister, Olivia, whose situation isn't as simple it appears; and she might just be falling for her sister's fiancé...

From Lauren Willig, author of the New York Times bestselling novel The Ashford Affair, comes The Other Daughter, a page-turner full of deceit, passion, and revenge..

Rachel Woodley is a somewhat shy and unassuming young woman working as a nursery governess in France. When she receives a telegram five days late about her mother being ill, she finally stands up for herself and quits her job to return to England. Upon her return home she finds out that not only has her mother died, but she's missed the funeral. To add insult to injury, she then finds out her presumably deceased father is still alive with another daughter. What follows is Rachel's quest to find out more about her father and his other family in Lauren Willig's latest, The Other Daughter.

Once Rachel learns the truth about her father, she has the opportunity to change her life view from behind the stairs as a nursery governess, to that of an estranged cousin to Simon Montfort. With Simon's assistance, Rachel soon becomes Vera Merton and enters the world of her half-sister, Lady Olivia Standish. The only person in this upper-crust world that Rachel/Vera seems to have anything in common with is Olivia's fiancé, John Trevannion. The longer Rachel stays in her role as Vera, the more she realizes that her search for the truth just might end up hurting one of the people she's come to admire, her half-sister.

I found The Other Daughter to be a fast-paced, enjoyable, and engrossing read. The story is set in the mid-1920s after WWI. Ms. Willig mentions some of the problems of British society at the time, lack of jobs, lack of sufficient pay, and the ongoing psychological trauma for those that fought in the war, but none are discussed in great detail. I enjoyed Rachel's role as Vera Merton and was somewhat surprised by how well she adapted from the shy, unassuming young woman from the country to a popular and witty Bright Young Thing in the city. The Other Daughter provides tons of drama: daughters beholden to their mothers, sons beholden to their families and estates, etc. There aren't any bad guys in The Other Daughter, just plenty of interesting characters and situations making for a good read. If you enjoy reading historical fiction or about family drama, then you'll want to add The Other Daughter to your reading list.

Read an excerpt from The Other Daughter here

Disclaimer: I received a print 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."

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Guest Post - Maris Soule

The Book Diva's Reads is always pleased to host a visit from an author, and today's guest author is Maris Soule. Ms. Soule is the author of more than 25 books in the romance, romantic-suspense, and mystery genres. Ms. Soule will be discussing the characters from one of her newest books, A Killer Past.

Vivian, thank you for inviting me to write a guest post and tell you a little about A Killer Past. It was fun writing about Mary Harrington. She's the sort of person I wish I could be. She's kept herself physically fit by going to the gym regularly. (I'm lucky if I make it to my yoga class twice a week.) I did try to make her realistic. After all, she's seventy-four years old. In the opening chapter, she puts two teen-aged gang members in the hospital. I've never done that, but I knew her body wasn't going to respond as nimbly as it did when she was in her twenties, and that she was going to have bruises and aches and pains the next day.

I enjoyed writing how her son thinks she gets those bruises because she's old. He's sure she should move into a retirement home. She tells him she ran into "something" because, of course, she can't tell him that "something" was two gang members.

Mary is fluent in several languages, poised, feisty, and protective, especially of her eighteen-year-old granddaughter. I know a few words in other languages, but that's it, and I can't imagine anyone describing me as poised, or even feisty. (I tend to avoid confrontations, but I do think I would have been protective of my children when they were young.)

I also enjoyed writing Jack Rossini's character. He's a good police officer and lonely, now that his wife has passed on. He's been a good father to his two grown sons and adores his granddaughter, who lives far away. He finds Mary fascinating and confusing, and he worries about her safety. The more he discovers about her, or rather can't find out about her, the more his curiosity is piqued. Theirs isn't a romance, but Jack develops a true affection for Mary, as well as an admiration.

Writing this book forced me to read several articles about older men and women who have kept physically fit and are still doing amazing things in their eighties and nineties. Their stories are inspiring, and I hope I can remain active way into my eighties (or maybe nineties). I also researched Latino gangs, and that wasn't inspiring. It's scary how they're everywhere, even in rural areas we once considered safe. I hope we have a few Mary Harringtons around to protect us.

About the author:

Award-winning author of 25 romances, 2 mystery, and 2 short stories, with 2 suspense novels coming out 2015. Maris Soule was born and raised in California but moved to the midwest two years after her marriage. She is a member of MWA, MMRWA, Sisters-in-Crime, RWA, FWA, and Authors' Guild. Soule is still married to the same man, has two grown children, and two granddaughters. She is currently working on another mystery, this one set in Skagway, Alaska.

Connect with the author:  Website    |   Facebook    |   Twitter    |  Google+ 

A Killer Past by Maris Soule
ISBN: 9780719814907 (Hardcover)
ASIN: B00ZO3LQE2 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Robert Hale
Release Date: June 1, 2015

When two gang members choose Mary Harrington as their target, the quiet widow has a secret to share of her own
Most people in the town of Rivershore, Michigan view Mary Harrington as a quiet widow whose only oddity is that she spends a lot of time at the gym. Her son thinks it's time for her to move into a retirement home. Two gang members think she'll be an easy target. No one in Rivershore knows what Mary did in her younger years—really did—but the two gang members discover they've underestimated their victim . . . and Mary fears reverting to old habits may have jeopardized her future.

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