Saturday, October 22, 2016

READATHON 2016: Mid-Event Survey

Busy, busy! I'm trying to read when I can, but I've had things I had to get done today. If I can finish this one book, the event will have been a success for me!

Mid-Event Survey

1. What are you reading right now? News of the World by Paulette Jiles
2. How many books have you read so far? Still on this one
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? If I make it through this one, I haven't decided what I may read next. Maybe The Wolf Road or A Gentleman in Moscow.
4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? It's been non-stop interruptions. I have a house full of animals, urgent chores that need to be done, and I'm preparing for The Walking Dead premier event my friend and I are getting together for tomorrow. But I'm reading in between things.
5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? Nothing. I've been through a lot of them now, so I know what to expect of my household, the event, and myself.

READATHON Oct 2016: Opening Meme

I'm here! I'm up! Don't start without me!

Opening Meme:

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? South Florida
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? Finishing News of the World by Paulette Jiles
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? I really didn't plan much in snacks this year.
4) Tell us a little something about yourself! Single woman with a Zoocrew (3 dogs, 5 cats), this is my 7th year participating in the readathon.
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to? I probably won't do anything different. These days, I just take it easy and try to get as much reading done as possible. I won't be staying up for 24 hours. I'm too old for that stuff!

And that being said: Let's get this party started!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Mailbox Monday (10-17-16 edition)

 Image licensed from
Copyright stands

Mailbox Monday is hosted here. I've received a few new books recently:

Received through the Book of the Month club: 

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

In Emma Donoghue's latest masterpiece, an English nurse brought to a small Irish village to observe what appears to be a miracle-a girl said to have survived without food for months-soon finds herself fighting to save the child's life.
Tourists flock to the cabin of eleven-year-old Anna O'Donnell, who believes herself to be living off manna from heaven, and a journalist is sent to cover the sensation. Lib Wright, a veteran of Florence Nightingale's Crimean campaign, is hired to keep watch over the girl.

Written with all the propulsive tension that made Room a huge bestseller, THE WONDER works beautifully on many levels--a tale of two strangers who transform each other's lives, a powerful psychological thriller, and a story of love pitted against evil.

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

With his breakout debut novel, Rules of Civility, Amor Towles established himself as a master of absorbing, sophisticated fiction, bringing late 1930s Manhattan to life with splendid atmosphere and a flawless command of style.

A Gentleman in Moscow
immerses us in another elegantly drawn era with the story of Count Alexander Rostov. When, in 1922, he is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the count is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him a doorway into a much larger world of emotional discovery.

Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count’s endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose.

For review through TLC Book Tours:

The Dude Diet by Serena Wolf

From chef and creator of the popular food blog, 125 outrageously delicious yet deceptively healthy recipes for dudes (and the people who love them), accompanied by beautiful full-color photography.

Dudes. So well intentioned when it comes to healthy eating, even as they fail epically in execution—inhaling a "salad" topped with fried chicken fingers or ordering their Italian hero on a whole wheat wrap (that makes it healthy, right?).

There are several issues with men going on diets. First, they seem to be misinformed about basic nutrition. They are also, generally, not excited about eating "health food." You can lead a dude to the salad bar, but you can’t make him choose lettuce.

Enter Serena Wolf—chef, food blogger, and caretaker of a dude with some less than ideal eating habits. As a labor of love, Serena began creating healthier versions of her boyfriend’s favorite foods and posting them on her blog, where she received an overwhelming response from men and women alike. Now, in The Dude Diet, Serena shares more than 125 droolworthy recipes that prove that meals made with nutrient-dense whole foods can elicit the same excitement and satisfaction associated with pizza or Chinese take-out.

The Dude Diet also demystifies the basics of nutrition, empowering men to make better decisions whether they’re eating out or cooking at home. Better still, each recipe is 100% idiot-proof and requires only easily accessible ingredients and tools. With categories like Game Day Eats, On the Grill, Serious Salads, and Take Out Favorites, The Dude Diet will arm dudes and those who love them with the knowledge they need to lead healthier, happier lives—with flattened beer bellies and fewer meat sweats.

The Dude Diet includes 102 full-color photographs.

REFERRAL: Book of the Month Club

I joined the Book of the Month Club about a year ago, and I've been loving it! Each month, four of their regular judges (they have about a dozen regular recurring judges) and one special guest judge (there is a different guest judge each month) each suggest a book selection. You, as a book club member, review the offered selections and choose up to three of them to be sent to you. Your membership plan includes the first book, and any additional books are $9.99 each.

They also now offer a couple of additional books for you to choose from each month (because there are always so many awesome books releasing, and so its hard to only suggest five)!

The hardbound books come imprinted with the BotM logo, and the month the book was offered. The company also regularly throws in little extras (for instance, this month I got "After Book Mints" and another month a wine cozy). They also hold regular photo contests (like taking a picture to show what you get out of books, or where you read your books, etc.) where winners can win a free three-month subscription.

Find that you don't care for any of the selections during a given month, or perhaps you are going on vacation? No problem! Just skip the month!

Some of the books that I have received so far through the Book of the Month club:

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood
Before the Fall by Noah Hawley
Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon
The Moor's Account by Laila Lalami
Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Ed Tarkington

And some of the guest judges:

Allison Williams
Ellie Kemper
Craig Ferguson
Whoopi Goldberg
Mayim Bialik

Use my link to sign up today, and you'll get 30% off (and I'll get a credit for a free book)!

Learn more or sign up now and save 30%!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

TLC BOOK TOURS and REVIEW: Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

The acclaimed, bestselling author—winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize—tells the enthralling story of how an unexpected romantic encounter irrevocably changes two families’ lives.
One Sunday afternoon in Southern California, Bert Cousins shows up at Franny Keating’s christening party uninvited. Before evening falls, he has kissed Franny’s mother, Beverly—thus setting in motion the dissolution of their marriages and the joining of two families.
Spanning five decades, Commonwealth explores how this chance encounter reverberates through the lives of the four parents and six children involved. Spending summers together in Virginia, the Keating and Cousins children forge a lasting bond that is based on a shared disillusionment with their parents and the strange and genuine affection that grows up between them.
When, in her twenties, Franny begins an affair with the legendary author Leon Posen and tells him about her family, the story of her siblings is no longer hers to control. Their childhood becomes the basis for his wildly successful book, ultimately forcing them to come to terms with their losses, their guilt, and the deeply loyal connection they feel for one another.
Told with equal measures of humor and heartbreak, Commonwealth is a meditation on inspiration, interpretation, and the ownership of stories. It is a brilliant and tender tale of the far-reaching ties of love and responsibility that bind us together.
• Hardcover: 336 pages
• Publisher: Harper (September 13, 2016)
About the Author
Photo by Melissa Ann Pinney
Ann Patchett is the author of six novels and three books of nonfiction. She has won many prizes, including Britain’s Orange Prize, the PEN/Faulkner Prize, and the Book Sense Book of the Year. Her work has been translated into more than thirty languages. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee, where she is the co-owner of Parnassus Books.

Find out more about Ann on her website and follow her bookstore, Parnassus Books, on Twitter.

My Thoughts
The christening party took a turn when Albert Cousins arrived with gin.

This story covers fifty years and several generations of two families bound together by infidelity, and the genuine affection that grew between the siblings of two broken families.

Fix is a cop in California, married to the moviestar-beautiful Beverly. They are the parents to two daughters, Caroline and Franny. Franny is just a babe and the center of a christening party when deputy DA Bert Cousins shows up at Fix's door with a bottle of gin. No one knows how Bert's appearance at this party will change the lives of all involved.

Bert and Theresa have three children at the start of their story, with one on the way, eventually finding themselves raising two boys and two girls.

A drunken moment between Bert and Beverly grows into something more, and it destroys two families, but out if it a new one is born. Caroline and Franny live most of the time with their mother and Bert in their new house in Virginia, and in the summer Bert's kids join them. During those long summers in a sleepy town and on family trips, the kids grow to genuinely care for one another. They become true siblings, watching one another's back. Well, all except that darn annoying Albie, the baby of the group, who is the hyperactive sort and drives everyone nuts!

This story follows these kids as they grow up, as their parents grow older, and as these kids begin having kids of their own. The story slowly builds up and then slowly unravels the truth behind what happened one terrible day that bound them all together forever.
I would like to thank TLC Book Tours for including me on this tour. Check out the website for the full tour schedule:

Tuesday, September 13th: BookNAround
Wednesday, September 14th: Books and Bindings
Thursday, September 15th: Vox Libris
Friday, September 16th: Art @ Home
Friday, September 16th: 5 Minutes For Books
Monday, September 19th: A Bookish Way of Life
Wednesday, September 21st: A Chick Who Reads
Thursday, September 22nd: Tina Says…
Monday, September 26th: bookchickdi
Tuesday, September 27th: Books on the Table
Wednesday, September 28th: Cerebral Girl in a Redneck World
Thursday, September 29th: West Metro Mommy
Monday, October 3rd: Fictionophile
Tuesday, October 4th: Literary Quicksand
Wednesday, October 5th: Much Madness is Divinest Sense
Thursday, October 6th: Lit and Life
Friday, October 7th: The Well-Read Redhead
TBD: Luxury Reading

My final word: This is a really great story. It's full of rich characters that you really get to know. It's written with sensitivity and humor and compassion, and there is a nice balance that keeps it from getting to heavy. Sometimes there will be a little allusion to something, piquing your interest, and only later in the story shining a light on the matter to more fully explain what happened and how you came to be here. Our book club has come to love this author, and I know that we will be adding this one to our reading list. Well done, Ann Patchett! I feel as if I just left a family reunion and miss everyone already!

Buy Now:

Barnes and Noble

My Rating:

The Cerebral Girl is a forty-something blogger just digging her way out from under a mountain of books in the deep south of Florida.

I received a copy of this book to review through the publisher and TLC Book Tours, in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not financially compensated in any way, and the opinions expressed are my own and based on my observations while reading this novel. The book that I received was an uncorrected proof, and quotes could differ from the final release.