#30Authors – Adria Cimino (aka Adria in Paris)

30 Authors

30 Authors in 30 Days is a first of its kind event aimed at connecting readers, bloggers, and authors. Hosted by The Book Wheel, this month-long event takes place during September and features 30 authors discussing their favorite recent reads on 30 different blogs. For the full schedule of participating authors and bloggers, visit The Book Wheel.

Author Adria J. Cimino on The Art of Falling by Kathryn Craft

The Art of Falling - 30 Authors

Photo Credit: Author website

Expressing one art form through another always intrigues me. In this case, Kathryn Craft choreographs with words to create dance, to bring graceful movement to each page of this well-written novel. Movement controls Penny’s heart and soul, even when she struggles to execute the smallest steps after her fall or faces the tough realities of the world of dance. As the reader, I was quickly following her footsteps, dancing with her through her moments of despair and hope.

Penny herself is an admirable character. She is strong, disciplined and has a soft side that allows itself to slip forth at the most important times. Her main weakness is the view that she has of herself as she looks at the “perfect” bodies of the slimmer dancers. This novel deals brilliantly with the issues of body image and eating disorders, which although are particularly prominent in dance, also are relevant well beyond. Penny realizes she must conquer this lack of self-assurance and must believe in her talent if she hopes to truly rebuild her life.

I am a dance lover, but you don’t have to be to enjoy The Art of Falling. This novel reaches farther as it explores relationships that are a part of all of our lives: Mother-daughter, friendship, love, mentor-student. How lives touch is an integral part of the book. And each character feels very real. Penny’s relationship with her mother as well as the friendship she builds with a young women suffering from cystic fibrosis are particularly poignant.

Failure, regret, discovery, joy and forgiveness weave through the lives of the characters, separating them at certain points and bringing them back together. If I close my eyes, I can see this as a work of modern dance set to the music of words.

Author Bio

Adria Cimino - 30 Authors

Photo Credit: Goodreads

Adria J. Cimino is the author of Paris, Rue des Martyrs, the story of four troubled strangers whose lives entwine in a Parisian neighborhood. Adria lives in Paris and enjoys sharing her adventures in the city and thoughts about the writing life in her blog Adria in Paris.

Previously, she worked as a journalist for more than a decade at news organizations including the Associated Press and Bloomberg News. Adria, who grew up in the sunshine, holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of South Florida.

You can also learn more about Adria Cimino by liking her on Facebook, following her on Twitter, or purchasing her book here.

Interested in The Art of Falling? You can learn about Kathryn Craft by liking her on Facebook or following her on Twitter. Or, you can purchase the book here.

And check out the giveaway!

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Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera

I received this book from St. Martin’s Press in exchange for a fair and honest review.  

Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera is a story told about two opposing sides over the course of decades that surrounded the Sri Lankan civil war.

Island of a Thousand Mirrors

A quick summary explains this complex-in-a-fabulous-way storyline:

Yasodhara tells the tale of her own Sinhala clan first. As a child in idyllic Colombo, her life is shaped by social hierarchy, her parents’ ambitions, teenage love and most importantly, the differences between the Tamil and Sinhala people who share the island. When peace is shattered, Yasodhara’s family flees to Los Angeles.

Saraswathi is living in the active war zone of Sri Lanka, with hopes to become a teacher. But her dreams are abruptly stamped out when she is arrested by a group of Sinhala soldiers and pulled into the heart of the conflict. A conflict that will eventually connect her to Yasodhara in in unexpected ways.

Island of a Thousand Mirrors was complicated and intense, but also really moving.  I was captivated by the storylines of each woman, of Sri Lanka’s civil war, and of the daily life.  I was devastated and shocked by the ending (as only a good author can make you feel) and can’t stop thinking of this book.

Munaweera does not tell a happy tale.  She tells a REAL tale, reminiscent of NoViolet Bulawayo’s We Need New Names and Uwem Akpan’s Say You’re One of Them.  None of these books are “happy” but they are gritty, real, moving, and what reading is about.

Not a fan of real and gritty?  Well, try it out and follow it up with a happy story after.

You don’t be disappointed.

What about you?  Gritty reads lover?  Or more of a happy ending fan?

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Losing St. Christopher by David-Michael Harding

I received this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. 

Losing St. Christopher

Photo Credit: Goodreads

Losing St. Christopher is the second book in the Cherokee Trilogy, but can also be read independently.  If you didn’t read the first book, Cherokee Talisman, yeah, you’ll miss stuff, but you will also be able to enjoy a fully formed novel.

Here’s a brief synopsis from Goodreads:

In Losing St. Christopher, Totsuhwa, the revered shaman of the Cherokee Nation, struggles against the assimilation of his people into the white world of men he sees as invaders. The colonists, along with Cherokee who are trying to bridge both worlds, see him as a barbarous threat. When Totsuhwa’s visions show him the outcome, it is as black as his deep set haunting eyes. Chancellor, his son, takes a white wife following study at a missionary school and the shaman’s fears seem realized. Conflicts between cultures and within the family erupt when Totsuhwa’s only grandchild is forced onto the Trail of Tears. In the chase that follows, an estranged love fights to stem the ugly flow of racism that is moving in two directions.

Losing St. Christopher was a high-interest book.  There are elements of both positive and negative attitudes toward the Native Americans, and I enjoyed how Harding exhibited mixed marriages as well as white people who were willing to do anything to help their neighbors in need.

Basically, I was hooked.  Chancellor is a very powerful character, educated in both the white and Cherokee ways, which can cause conflict when he chooses certain ways to deal with issues.  But at the same time, he’s a caring, loyal son and friend, and eventually father.

I recommend Losing St. Christopher!  But here’s a warning: Grab a tissue for the last 3 pages because there is such a heartfelt ending that you can’t help but leak out some tears!

And don’t forget, I also read and loooooved How Angels Die by David-Michael Harding, which is a historical fiction novel about two French sisters who resist the Nazis in valuable, but very different, ways.

Check out the author’s website and Facebook page for more info!

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Lighthouse Island by Paulette Jiles

I received this book from TLC Book Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review. 

Lighthouse Island

Lighthouse Island by Paulette Jiles takes us into a dystopian future that is kind of a cross between The Handmaid’s Tale and reality TV.  Jiles’s main character Nadia is amazing.  She’s witty and resourceful, charming and lying her way into any situation.  You can’t help but love her.

In essence, Lighthouse Island is the story of Nadia, orphaned at a young age and stuck in numerous not-so-wonderful situations.  Her one wish is to get to the mysterious Lighthouse Island, a place where water is plentiful and so is the food.  Plus, the view’s not too bad itself.  Nadia meets James, a demolition and cartography expert who was paralyzed in an accident.  Their chemistry is undeniable, but this isn’t a traditional love story.  It’s love mixed with survival.

Anyway, if I butchered this summary, check out a better version here: Goodreads.  I’ll just blame the summary mess on two things: 1. A fabulous complex storyline.  2. Pregnancy brain.

As for my thoughts . . . Like I said Nadia totally rocks.  She’s witty, resourceful, charming, and super confident.  She lies to survive, and it always works.  James is also a great character.  He’s complex and caring, also incredibly resourceful, and has a sixth sense of identifying what technological help Nadia will need from many miles away.

The story is complicated, which is both good and bad.  I love dystopian societies, especially realistic ones, and this one did not disappoint.  But I was left wondering if I missed some pieces of the story or if they just weren’t included in the novel.

Fun fact: Paulette Jiles lives in UTOPIA, Texas.  Can you get more perfect for a city to live in when you want to write about a dystopian future?  When I saw that it just made my day.

Want to hear more?  Check out the rest of the tour schedule.

TLC Book Tours

 

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Further Out Than You Thought by Michaela Carter

I received this book from TLC Book Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review.  

Further Out Than You Thought

Further Out Than You Thought by Michaela Carter is a unique take on the well-known tale of a woman finding herself.  Gwen is 25, a stripper with a loser boyfriend and a best friend who is dying of AIDS.  After the Rodney King verdict, there are riots in the streets and Gwen realizes she’s pregnant.  Can she and does she want to raise a baby with her stoner boyfriend Leo?  Valiant (the BFF neighbor) and Gwen kidnap Leo, drive to Mexico, and try to find themselves.

The positives: Gwen is a complex character, fighting with inner demons and her stripper alter-ego, while trying to come to terms with the fact that she is going to become a mother.  I love her relationship with others, with the men at the strip club, her fellow strippers, and Valiant.  I also thought the book portrayed Valiant’s disease in a poetic way.  I’m not discounting his battle with AIDS.  I’m only stating that in the book, Valiant was not the disease – he was Leo and Gwen’s best friend who also happened to be dying from AIDS.

This book wasn’t all roses for me.  I had a tough time with some of the sexual graphic nature.  Less with what was sexually graphic and more with the words the author chose to describe the scenarios.  I’m not a prude; I’ll read sexually explicit scenes, but there are a few words to describe genitalia that I’m not a fan of.  I also was not a fan of Leo at all.  He was so obviously a loser that I just wanted to shake Gwen.

Further Out Than You Thought does end on a hopeful note.  It doesn’t tie up all loose ends, which I love, and lets you determine some of the outcomes of the novel.

Check out the tour schedule for other opinions!

TLC Book Tours

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I couldn’t bear The Bear

The Bear

Photo Credit: Goodreads

I was so excited to read The Bear by Claire Cameron.  I mean, Room by Emma Donoghue blew my mind and could be one of the most powerful books I’ve ever read.  Heartbreaking, gut-wrenching, overall amazing.

So The Bear is the same right?  Wrong.

Many people loved The Bear, but I just didn’t get into it.  I taught 5-year-olds and had a tough time fulling believing Anna as a character.  Some things were spot on, others I doubted.

Overall, the book didn’t grip me, and the ending dragged for me.  Although I do have to say that the Epilogue rocked and at least I ended the book on a high note with that.

Thanks Anita Loves Books for a copy!

What do you think of books like Room, Above by Isla Morley, and The Bear?

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5 Perfect Summer Reads with Depth

This is a sponsored post by Harlequin.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Most of the time when people discuss “summer reads” they end up being fluffy junky reads.  And those books are just not my thing.

My definition of Summer Reads are literally just books that I choose to read in the summer.  Maybe they’re a little shorter or quicker to get through than what I’d normally pick, but they have what I look for in all books: DEPTH!

Summer Reads with Depth

I just looooove reading outside, especially by the pool and/or with cupcakes! Even better is when I have friends and family by my side (not pictured but they totally exist, I swear!)

So I’ve compiled 5 of the perfect summer reads (with some depth to them of course) in case you’re in need of what to take with you to the beach or on vacay.

In no particular order. . .

Little Mercies

Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf (came June 24, 2014, aka perfect time for a summer reads book) – In her latest ripped-from-the-headlines tour de force, New York Times bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf shows how one small mistake can have life-altering consequences…”

I’m hooked already!  The family theme, and the idea of a gripping tale of motherhood?  I mean, I’m in!  And it’ll be a fun suspenseful read while relaxing at the beach.  Keep me on my toes.  Also, you know my BFF Allison @ The Book Wheel?  She has read previous books by this author and will not shut up about how awesome the books were.

Needless to say, this book is high on my summer reads list and sounds like the perfect book to take on vacation.  Which makes me think I should definitely bring it on my Charleston vacay next week.

Want some more info on the Little Mercies book and author?
·         Watch the Book Trailer
·         Visit Heather Gudenkauf’s Official Site
·         Follow Heather Gudenkauf on Twitter, Facebookand Pinterest
·         Visit Little Mercies page on Goodreads

 

Photo Credit: Goodreads

Cover of Snow by Jenny Milchman – Why not read a great book about snow while lounging by the pool?  Okay, well it’s more of a suspenseful read that happens to take place in the snow but as a Florida girl, I just LOVE the idea of reading all about snow with my toes in the sand.

And just by super coincidence, this is another one that Allison wouldn’t shut up about.  Hmmm. . . I guess I take my Allison recs very seriously.

Also, Jenny is such a cool person.  I met her recently and she is embarking on the world’s longest book tour with her husband and two kids.  Summer = road trip and a book that makes you thankful you’re at the pool/beach/someplace warm.

Photo Credit: Goodreads

The Beach by Alex Garland – I read this book years ago, and recently re-watched the movie, but I just love a book about a secret utopian beach society, with an evil twist.

First of all, it goes without saying that a perfect summer read book takes place ON A BEACH.  And it’s like the most gorgeous beach imagined.  But of course all good utopian books have a little dystopia in them!

The Beach is the perfect book for your beach vacation with friends.  It touches on some of those friend/family aspects, making mistakes and enjoying life.

And if you check out the movie, Leo is in it when he was kind of young, which is always an added bonus!

Photo Credit: Goodreads

For One More Day by Mitch Albom – Enjoy your life, your summer, and this book, For One More Day really reminds you to do just that.

The main character gets a chance to spend time with his deceased mother for one more day, and it’s sad, inspirational, and a great short and easy read.  Plus, it makes you want to not only call your mom and other family members, but to make some time for them.

Live life with no regrets, which means you should plan a family visit this summer, and of course, read this Albom book (which is a super quick read perfect length for a plane ride home).

Or pick up any other book by Mitch Albom.  They all have similar themes: love, life, living, and no taking advantage of your time.  Which are great themes for a summer book, to remind you what life is really about.

Photo Credit: Goodreads

Any of Maya Angelou’s million autobiographies – It’s true, she’s written a ton of them. And if you haven’t read her bios you might be like “What is Rebecca thinking recommending that I read some boring poetry woman?”

But it’s soooo not the case! Maya Angelou has done some really cool things in her life, struggled as a single mom, and she’s a great autobio writer.  It’s nonfiction obviously, so it’s an easy way to spread your reading wings and jump into a true-to-life book.

Pick up any one of her fifty (just kidding, I think it’s like 7 or something!) autobiographies this summer and check them out.  Most are short and filled with really high-interest stories perfect for the summer because then you can be all like “Did you know Maya Angelou supported herself as single mom by dancing at a club?” and “Did you know Maya Angelou was a member of the opera Porgy and Bess?”

 

So there you have it – my list of 5 summer reads that not only have depth but will satisfy a variety of interests.

What book(s) do you plan on diving into this summer?

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