Tag Archives: NetGalley

Little Joe, Book One of Round Rock Series by Michael E. Glasscock III

Little Joe Cover, book written by Michael Glasscock IIISynopsis: 

When Little Joe Stout survives the car accident that took his parents’ lives, he is sent to live with his maternal grandparents in the small town of Round Rock, Tennessee. Orphaned and missing his Texas home, Little Joe is reluctant to adapt. But his grandparents, especially his grandmother, are up to the challenge of raising him despite their own struggles. Soon, childhood friendships are forged in the oddball duo of Sugar and Bobby, and—with the help of a new canine companion—Little Joe begins to see that his new home offers the comfort and love he thought was lost forever.

Set against the drama of World War II and the first sparks of the civil rights movement, Little Joe’s new home is a microcosm of America in the 1940s. A frightening incident with a Chinese motorist traveling on the wrong side of town, the migration of troops across the countryside, and a frank discussion of Jim Crow laws are just a few of the local events mirroring the radio broadcasts that bring the news of the day into his grandmother’s kitchen.

Little Joe begins a four-part series from Michael E. Glasscock III that explores the intricate social cloth of Round Rock, Tennessee.

(Cover image and synopsis via Goodreads)

My Thoughts:

Recently I selected Little Joe by Michael E. Glasscock III from my To Be Read pile looking for a charming story, hopefully intriguing characters, and a lighter tale than I have read lately. When I selected Little Joe, I realized it was Book One of a Four-Part Series. Reading Little Joe hasn’t charged me with the will to read Book Two.

Growing up in Nashville, TN, which is near the region Glasscock uses as his central geographic point, I was impressed with the accuracy of his descriptions of Hwy. 70, the impact of fog along its narrow lanes and shoulders, and the intensity of rain storms and the amount of water drenching highways.

The depicted region is captured well so I anticipated good character development and an emotional read based on this nine-year old boy’s sudden transition from his parents to his grandparents. Not having had grandparents who were still alive when I was born, I always enjoy a book with beautiful grandchildren/grandparent relationships.

Nothing could be farther from the situation in Little Joe. Although his grandmother is a strong Christian woman and is quite pleasant to those among her community who are African-American, she is quite bigoted when it comes to Catholics. I waited for the author to tell me why, but he never expanded on this. Perhaps it will come in Book Two.

Under the circumstances of his parents’ sudden death, I expected a softer heart from the grandmother and not such harsh judgments and punishments. I did not like her character at all.

During a time when emotion could have filled paragraphs and perhaps pages, it was sadly lacking. I did not feel that Little Joe was given an opportunity to grieve for his parents as a child should and likely would have, nor did I get the sense that, other than with his two young friends, was he allowed to be a boy child.

All in all, I was sorely disappointed with this book and have a difficult time recommending it to anyone else to read. If I were in the habit of assigning ratings to book in my reviews, Little Joe receives 2 stars.

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Meet the Author:

Glasscock, Michael E III, AuthorFor the first eight years of his life Michael E. Glasscock III lived on his grandfather’s cattle ranch a few miles south of the small community of Utopia, Texas. At the beginning of World War II, he moved to a small town in Tennessee not unlike the mythical Round Rock portrayed in his fiction series. Michael decided to study medicine, and he graduated from the University of Tennessee Medical School at age twenty-four.

Nashville, Tennessee, was the site of his otology/neurotology practice, where he was associated with Vanderbilt University as a clinical professor, and where he continues to be part of the faculty as an adjunct professor. He retired from full-time clinical practice in 1997 and moved back to Texas where he continues to work as a consultant for three major medical device companies. He currently resides in Austin, Texas.

(Image and bio via Amazon)

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DETAILS ABOUT THE BOOK | DISCLAIMER:

  • Series: Round Rock (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group Press (June 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1608325660
  • ISBN-13: 978-1608325665

I received a copy of Little Joe from Greenleaf Book Group Press via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. The opinions expressed here are solely my own.

The In-Between Hour by Barbara Claypole White

The In-Between Hours Cover“Tree frogs croaked a concerto, and snuffling came from the compost pile. The raccoons were out in force. Above, an expanse of night sky shimmered with stars. Man, he’d forgotten the glory of Southern nights–how he was drawn to the stillness, the raw energy. As a kid, he’d loved reading or writing in the middle of the night. Unless there was a storm to whip up her craziness, terror tended to come with the light, when his mom was awake.”

~ Barbara Claypole White,
The In-Between Hour

Synopsis: 

Bestselling author Will Shepard is caught in the twilight of grief, after his young son dies in a car accident. But when his father’s aging mind erases the memory, Will rewrites the truth. The story he spins brings unexpected relief…until he’s forced to return to rural North Carolina, trapping himself in a lie.

Holistic veterinarian Hannah Linden is a healer who opens her heart to strays but can only watch, powerless, as her grown son struggles with inner demons. When she rents her guest cottage to Will and his dad, she finds solace in trying to mend their broken world, even while her own shatters.

As their lives connect and collide, Will and Hannah become each other’s only hope—if they can find their way into a new story, one that begins with love.

 (Image and synopsis via TLC Book Tours)

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My Thoughts:

The In-Between Hour is an emotional and intense story of surviving tragedy, grief and loss. Each of Barbara Claypole White’s characters is facing a struggle: Will the loss of his five-year old son, Will’s father Jacob the loss of his mental faculties due to Alzheimer’s, Hannah the potential loss of her son Galen to his drug and alcohol additions.

White’s first paragraphs caught my attention, and she didn’t let go until the last page:

Will imagined silence. The silence of snowfall in the forest. The silence at the top of a crag. But eighty floors below his roof garden, another siren screeched along Central Park West.

Nausea nibbled–a hungry goldfish gumming him to death. Maybe this week’s diet of Zantac and PBR beer was to blame. Or maybe grief was a degenerative disease, destroying him from the inside out. Dissolving his organs. One. By. One.

With these words, White introduces us to a story filled with grit, emotion, pain of loss, and love. Each chapter pulls the reader along through the story with a sense of hope for these people who are hurting.

We all want such stories to end with a positive conclusion, and White doesn’t disappoint, but I am not charged with telling you what that ending is. You, the reader, must discover this when you read The In-Between Hour.

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My Recommendation: 

The In-Between Hour has a little something for everyone: tension, mystery, struggling characters, and a bit of romance. Included in the cast of characters are the curious yet interesting personalities of people like your next door neighbor. And the author shares some vivid scenes from the North Carolina State Natural Area which includes Occoneechee Mountain, an incredibly beautiful place. Please don’t miss this wonderfully crafted story by a gifted writer.

TLC Book Tours Tour Host

CLICK HERE TO SEE BARBARA’S OTHER TOUR STOPS

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Meet the Author:

Author Barbara Claypole WhiteI grew up in rural England, studied history at York University, and worked in the London fashion industry before falling in love with an American professor I met at JFK Airport. Twenty-five years later, we live in the North Carolina forest with our award-winning poet / musician / lyricist son.

I love all things gardening and all things OCD. My debut novel, THE UNFINISHED GARDEN, is a love story about grief, OCD, and dirt. TUG was Simply Books # 1 Romantic Book of 2012, and a finalist in the 2013 Golden Quill, Write Touch Readers’ Award, and New England Readers’ Choice Beanpot Award contests. THE IN-BETWEEN HOUR follows in January 2014.

I blog about the writing life at bookpregnant.blogspot.com and girlfriendbooks.blogspot.com, and parenting an OCD teen at easytolove.com

For more information, please visit my website, barbaraclaypolewhite.com.

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DETAILS ABOUT THE BOOK | DISCLAIMER:

Publication Date: December 31, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Genre: Literature, Adult Fiction
Kindle: 554 KB | Printed: 834 pages
Source: NetGalley

I received a copy of The In-Between Hour from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Painful Separation for Young Boy | Review of Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford

Image via Goodreads

 SONGS OF WILLOW FROST
By: Jamie Ford
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Published: September 10, 2013
Genre: Historical Fiction
ISBN  9780345522023

Source|Disclaimer: I received an ARC from publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Synopsis: 

Twelve-year-old William Eng, a Chinese-American boy, has lived at Seattle’s Sacred Heart Orphanage ever since his mother’s listless body was carried away from their small apartment five years ago. On his birthday—or rather, the day the nuns designate as his birthday—William and the other orphans are taken to the historical Moore Theatre, where William glimpses an actress on the silver screen who goes by the name of Willow Frost. Struck by her features, William is convinced that the movie star is his mother, Liu Song.

[Continues on Goodreads . . .]

(Synopsis and image from Goodreads)

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My Thoughts:

Several months ago I read Ford’s Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet (2009). Friends and family members were absolutely enamored of the writing in this book. How could I not look forward to reading Songs of Willow Frost? 

I wish I could tell you I enjoyed Songs of Willow Frost as much as my first exposure to Ford’s writing. But I cannot.

The premise is a strong one — the story of a 12-year old Chinese boy placed in an orphanage based in accusations that his mother is unfit to care for him. William believes in the depths of his heart that his mother lives, and that she is the singing sensation, Willow Frost. William’s determination to find her and his commitment to reconnect with his mother is poignant and heart-rending.

Set once again in Seattle, the backdrop is China Town in the 1930s. Times are not easy for anyone, and there is an overwhelming criminal presence and abusive treatment of women both at home and in the workplace. There are scenes I would not consider suitable for young girls.

Even with this premise and the ever-changing daily lives of people during the Great Depression, especially in areas such as Seattle’s China Town, Ford does not deliver a fluid narrative. I found the narrative to be choppy at times and not transitioning well.

The book also lacks clear development of all characters. An example of the poor character development is found in William. At age 12, all too often his speech pattern and language, including his thoughts, do not seem to correspond to his age.

Others reading this book may have enjoyed it and might give it a better review. If I am in the minority and I probably am, I do hope that if you read Songs of Willow Frost, you will find it enjoyable.

My chief concern is whether Ford got caught up with the success of his first novel and rushed too quickly into writing Songs of Willow Frost, thereby relying on characterizations, dialogue and scenes from the first book as a basis for this book.

My Recommendation: 

I encourage you to try Jamie Ford’s Songs of Willow Frost before reading Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. I think both books will be more enjoyable to you in this order. If you are interested in Chinese life in American during the 1930s, both books will be of interest to you.

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Meet the Author:

Jamie FordMy name is James. Yes, I’m a dude.

I’m also the New York Times bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet—which was, in no particular order, an IndieBound NEXT List Selection, a Borders Original Voices Selection, a Barnes & Noble Book Club Selection, Pennie’s Pick at Costco, a Target Bookmarked Club Pick, and a National Bestseller. It was also named the #1 Book Club Pick for Fall 2009/Winter 2010 by the American Booksellers Association.

In addition, Hotel has been translated into 34 languages. I’m still holding out for Klingon (that’s when you know you’ve made it).

I’m an alumnus of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers and a survivor of Orson Scott Card’s Literary Bootcamp.

My next novel, SONGS OF WILLOW FROST, should be hitting shelves September 10, 2013! And I’m also working on a YA (Young Adult) series that even my agent doesn’t know about…yet.

(Bio and image via Goodreads)

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Stunning Debut for Hannah Kent with Burial Rites | A Review

Image: Goodreads

Image: Goodreads

“They will see the whore, the madwoman, the murderess, the female dripping blood into the grass and laughing with her mouth choked with dirt. They will say “Agnes” and see the spider, the witch caught in the webbing of her own fateful weaving. They might see the lamb circled by ravens, bleating for a lost mother. But they will not see me. I will not be there.” 

― Hannah Kent, Burial Rites

Synopsis: 

A brilliant literary debut, inspired by a true story: the final days of a young woman accused of murder in Iceland in 1829.

Set against Iceland’s stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution.

Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes. Only Tóti, a priest Agnes has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her. But as Agnes’s death looms, the farmer’s wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they’ve heard.

Riveting and rich with lyricism, BURIAL RITES evokes a dramatic existence in a distant time and place, and asks the question, how can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others?

(Synopsis and image via Goodreads)

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My Thoughts:

Despite the gruesome subject matter surrounding the last days of Agnes Magnúsdóttir’s life, Hannah Kent writes a lyrical and at times poetic tale for the reader. Burial Rites reaches into a country and time unknown to most of us, and the lifestyle is beyond our comprehension in our world of convenience and technology.

Kent’s character development had me drawing images in my mind of the people populating the story of this cold, dark land. Additionally, her ability to describe the countryside, travel and dwellings surpasses many other debut authors I’ve read.

My only stumbling block dwelt in my inability to pronounce names of people and places as well as some words with the ease I would have liked. Even my Scandinavian/Nordic gene pool failed me here. However, I did not find it so distracting as to spoil my enjoyment of reading Kent’s book.

There are scenes which, for some, will seem brutal and unpleasant. One must accept the time and place in which the story is centered. I believe Kent researched well and brought reality to the page.

My Recommendation: 

For anyone with a love of history on Iceland and its culture and traditions as well as the justice system as it existed in other times and places. In my opinion, if you are not inclined to enjoy reading dark tales, this may not be the book for you.

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Meet the Author:

Hannah Kent Image: Goodreads

Hannah Kent
Image: Goodreads

Hannah Kent won the 2011 Writing Australia Unpublished Manuscript Award for her manuscript, Burial Rites, and is currently mentored by Geraldine Brooks. She is the co-founder and deputy editor of Australian literary journal Kill Your Darlings, and teaches Creative Writing and English at Flinders University, where she is also completing her PhD.

In 2011 she was a judge of Melbourne University/The Australian Centre’s Peter Blazey Fellowship for Life Writing. Her creative and critical writing has appeared in The Big Issue, Australian Book Review, The Wheeler Centre, Kill Your Darlings and Voiceworks, amongst others.

(Bio and image via Goodreads)

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DETAILS ABOUT THE BOOK | DISCLAIMER:

Publisher: Little Brown & Company
Published: September 10, 2013
Genre Historical Fiction
ISBN 0316243914

I received a copy of Burial Rites from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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UP NEXT: 
 On Thursday next, come along on a journey of five years on Salieri with Mary Gottschalk in her memoir, Sailing Down the Moonbeam. It’s a trip you won’t want to miss.

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