Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Book Spotlight and Giveaway: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

Coming February 3, 2015!

In love we find out who we want to be.
In war we find out who we are.

FRANCE, 1939

In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France...but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When France is overrun, Vianne is forced to take an enemy into her house, and suddenly her every move is watched; her life and her child’s life is at constant risk. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates around her, she must make one terrible choice after another.

Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets the compelling and mysterious Gäetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can...completely. When he betrays her, Isabelle races headlong into danger and joins the Resistance, never looking back or giving a thought to the real--and deadly--consequences.

With courage, grace and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah takes her talented pen to the epic panorama of WWII and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France--a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime.

Excerpt

ONE
April 9, 1995
The Oregon Coast
If I have learned anything in this long life of mine, it is this: In love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are. Today’s
young people want to know everything about everyone. They think talking
about a problem will solve it. I come from a quieter generation. We
understand the value of forgetting, the lure of reinvention.
Lately, though, I find myself thinking about the war and my past, about
the people I lost.
Lost.
It makes it sound as if I misplaced my loved ones; perhaps I left them
where they don’t belong and then turned away, too confused to retrace
my steps.
They are not lost. Nor are they in a better place. They are gone. As I
approach the end of my years, I know that grief, like regret, settles into
our DNA and remains forever a part of us.
I have aged in the months since my husband’s death and my diagnosis.
My skin has the crinkled appearance of wax paper that someone has tried
to flatten and reuse. My eyes fail me often— in the darkness, when headlights
flash, when rain falls. It is unnerving, this new unreliability in my
vision. Perhaps that’s why I find myself looking backward. The past has a
clarity I can no longer see in the present.
I want to imagine there will be peace when I am gone, that I will see all
of the people I have loved and lost. At least that I will be forgiven.
I know better, though, don’t I?
My house, named The Peaks by the lumber baron who built it over a hundred
years ago, is for sale, and I am preparing to move because my son
thinks I should.
He is trying to take care of me, to show how much he loves me in this
most difficult of times, and so I put up with his controlling ways. What do
I care where I die? That is the point, really. It no longer matters where I
live. I am boxing up the Oregon beachside life I settled into nearly fifty
years ago. There is not much I want to take with me. But there is one
thing.
I reach for the hanging handle that controls the attic steps. The stairs
unfold from the ceiling like a gentleman extending his hand.
The flimsy stairs wobble beneath my feet as I climb into the attic, which
smells of must and mold. A single, hanging lightbulb swings overhead. I pull
the cord.
It is like being in the hold of an old steamship. Wide wooden planks
panel the walls; cobwebs turn the creases silver and hang in skeins from
the indentation between the planks. The ceiling is so steeply pitched that
I can stand upright only in the center of the room.
I see the rocking chair I used when my grandchildren were young, then
an old crib and a ratty- looking rocking horse set on rusty springs, and the
chair my daughter was refinishing when she got sick. Boxes are tucked
along the wall, marked “Xmas,” “Thanksgiving,” “Easter,” “Halloween,”
“Serveware,” “Sports.” In those boxes are the things I don’t use much anymore
but can’t bear to part with. For me, admitting that I won’t decorate a
tree for Christmas is giving up, and I’ve never been good at letting go.
Tucked in the corner is what I am looking for: an ancient steamer trunk
covered in travel stickers.
With effort, I drag the heavy trunk to the center of the attic, directly
beneath the hanging light. I kneel beside it, but the pain in my knees is
piercing, so I slide onto my backside.
For the first time in thirty years, I lift the trunk’s lid. The top tray is full
of baby memorabilia. Tiny shoes, ceramic hand molds, crayon drawings
populated by stick figures and smiling suns, report cards, dance recital
pictures.
I lift the tray from the trunk and set it aside.
The mementos in the bottom of the trunk are in a messy pile: several
faded leather- bound journals; a packet of aged postcards, tied together
with a blue satin ribbon; a cardboard box, bent in one corner; a set of slim
books of poetry by Julien Rossignol; and a shoebox that holds hundreds of
black- and- white photographs.
On top is a yellowed, faded piece of paper.
My hands are shaking as I pick it up. It is a carte d’identité, an identity
card, from the war. I see the small, passport- sized photo of a young
woman. Juliette Gervaise.
“Mom?”
I hear my son on the creaking wooden steps, footsteps that match my
heartbeats. Has he called out to me before?
“Mom? You shouldn’t be up here. Shit. The steps are unsteady.” He
comes to stand beside me. “One fall and—”
I touch his pant leg, shake my head softly. I can’t look up. “Don’t” is all
I can say.
He kneels, then sits. I can smell his aftershave, something subtle and
spicy, and also a hint of smoke. He has sneaked a cigarette outside, a habit
he gave up de cades ago and took up again at my recent diagnosis. There
is no reason to voice my disapproval: He is a doctor. He knows better.
My instinct is to toss the card into the trunk and slam the lid down,
hiding it again. It’s what I have done all my life.
Now I am dying. Not quickly, perhaps, but not slowly, either, and I feel
compelled to look back on my life.
“Mom, you’re crying.”
“Am I?”
I want to tell him the truth, but I can’t. It embarrasses and shames me,
this failure. At my age, I should not be afraid of anything— certainly not
my own past.
I say only, “I want to take this trunk.”
“It’s too big. I’ll repack the things you want into a smaller box.”
I smile at his attempt to control me. “I love you and I am sick again. For
these reasons, I have let you push me around, but I am not dead yet. I want
this trunk with me.”
“What can you possibly need in it? It’s just our artwork and other junk.”
If I had told him the truth long ago, or had danced and drunk and sung
more, maybe he would have seen me instead of a dependable, ordinary
mother. He loves a version of me that is incomplete. I always thought it was
what I wanted: to be loved and admired. Now I think perhaps I’d like to be
known.
“Think of this as my last request.”
I can see that he wants to tell me not to talk that way, but he’s afraid his
voice will catch. He clears his throat. “You’ve beaten it twice before. You’ll
beat it again.”
We both know this isn’t true. I am unsteady and weak. I can neither
sleep nor eat without the help of medical science. “Of course I will.”
“I just want to keep you safe.”
I smile. Americans can be so naïve.
Once I shared his optimism. I thought the world was safe. But that was
a long time ago.
“Who is Juliette Gervaise?” Julien says and it shocks me a little to hear
that name from him.
I close my eyes and in the darkness that smells of mildew and bygone
lives, my mind casts back, a line thrown across years and continents.
Against my will— or maybe in tandem with it, who knows anymore?— I
remember.


Kristin Hannah is the New York Times bestselling author of twenty-one novels, including the blockbuster Firefly Lane and #1 bestsellers Night Road and Home Front. She is a former lawyer turned writer and is the mother of one son. She lives in the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii with her husband.

Visit her online at http://kristinhannah.com/


Enter for your chance to win a FREE copy of The Nightingale!



Terms and Conditions:


  • Winner must be 18 years of age or older.
  • Winner must reside in the United States.
  • Drawing will run from 12:00 a.m. EST on 1/28/2015 through 12:00 a.m. EST on 2/8/2015.
  • Prize will be shipped directly to the winner by the author or her representative.
  • The Book Connection is not responsible for items lost or damaged in shipment.
  • VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Win a Free Paperback of Pioneer Girl by Bich Minh Nguyen


You've heard me talk twice this week about how much I loved this book. Now, you have a chance to win a free copy of the paperback version, which was released today. Here is the official description:

In Pioneer Girl, Nguyen entwines the Asian American experience with the escapist pleasures of literature, in a dazzling mystery about the origins of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s classic Little House on the Prairie.

Lee Lien has long dodged her Vietnamese family’s rigid expectations by immersing herself in books. But now, jobless with a PhD in literature, she is back at home, working in her family’s restaurant under her mother’s hypercritical gaze—until an heirloom from their past sends Lee on a search for clues that may lead back to Wilder herself, transforming strangers’ lives as well as her own.

You can read my review of this book here.

TERMS AND CONDITIONS:


  • You must be 18 years of age or older.
  • Winner must be a resident of the United States.
  • Contest runs from 12:00 AM EST on 1/27/15 to 12:00 AM EST on 2/7/15.
  • Winner will be announced on 2/9/15 and have 48 hours to respond with mailing address before a new winner is selected.
  • The Book Connection is not responsible for items lost or damaged in shipment.
  • VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books I'd Love to Read With My Book Club/If I Had A Book Club


Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week they will post a new Top Ten list that one of the bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All they ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.

Ten Books I'd Love to Read With My Book Club/If I Had A Book Club

I've always wanted to part of a book club. Our family had started an online one, but no one ever seemed to be able to keep up with it. I would love to return to it one day. 


This was a fascinating novel; one that made me a fan of Charyn's work. It also has local ties for me. Learn more on Goodreads.


This is the second time I am talking about this book this week. It's really worth checking out. Learn more on Goodreads.



An emotional book that shines the light on the issues faced by the homeless. Coincidentally, the man on the cover was a homeless man. Thanks to the author and her team, he was reunited with his family. Learn more about this book on Goodreads.



Another emotional one--definite tear jerker. This one deals with the issues of infertility and abortion. Learn more on Goodreads


Excellent choice if you like dystopian fiction. Learn more on Goodreads.


History and mystery in one. Learn more on Goodreads.



Great discussion starter for a debate about the blessing or curse of being young forever. Would you stay young forever if you could? Learn more on Goodreads


One of the most fascinating books I've ever read. Is there a gene that makes people evil? Learn more on Goodreads.



An eloquently written, intriguing mystical novel. Learn more on Goodreads.


I had no idea what "Down Low" meant until I read this book. This book made me a fan of Young's work. Learn more on Goodreads. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Musing Mondays - January 26

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme sponsored by MizB of Should Be Reading that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:


  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…
THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: Give a list of 4 books you read last year that you’d recommend to others — and why.

As soon as I saw this prompt, I immediately knew the one title that would top this list.



Just when you think every book has been written that has a Laura Ingalls Wilder connection, you come across something so unique and fascinating that it begs your attention. Pioneer Girl tells the story of Lee Lein, who finds herself jobless after obtaining her PhD in American literature. She heads home to a Chicago suburb to work in her mother and grandfather's cafe. The tense relationship with her mother only worsens, and then her brother disappears without a trace, leaving behind a gold brooch from her mother's past in Vietnam that was left behind by an American reporter who visited her grandfather's original cafe in 1965. Based upon a passage from the Little House books, Lee is convinced the reporter was Rose Wilder Lane, the daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Does this pin connect her family to one of America's famous pioneering legacies? 

There is so much to this novel, I simply can't state it here and keep the post at a reasonable length. You can read my full review here.


Another amazing novel I read in 2014 is The Secret Side of Empty by Marie E. Andreu. A straight-A student on her way to becoming valedictorian, M.T. watches while her friends get their driver’s licenses and make college plans. As an undocumented immigrant, M.T. lives in constant fear of being found out, while coping with her domineering, paranoid father who believes her education is a waste of time.

This book puts a face to the highly politicized topic of illegal immigration. It is a gripping, emotional story of a young woman’s journey to belong and be free to pursue her dreams. You can read my review here.


A surprising book choice also makes my list: A Comedy of Erinn by Celia Bonaduce. I don't read a ton of romantic comedy, so it's nice to really enjoy one when I pick it up. Erinn Wolf is a once celebrated playwright turned photographer working to reinvent herself. She accepts a job producing a reality television show, but quickly clashes with Jude, the young, brash director. She sets her romantic prospects on the classy Italian guy renting her guesthouse. But neither man is quite what he first seems. You can check out my review here.


My final choice is also not one of my usual reads. The Red Sheet by Mia Kerick tells the story of Bryan Dennison, a self-centered bully and superjock who wakes up one morning as a totally different person. He also finds himself attracted to his former bullying victim, Scott Beckett. As Bryan struggles to remember who he used to be, he also needs to find out what caused the change. This is an intriguing story. You can read my review here.

What is a book you read last year that you would recommend?


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Would Read Again...assuming I had the time


Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week they will post a new Top Ten list that one of the bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All they ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.

Top Ten Books I Would Read Again....assuming I had the time


Talking about my book collection for Musing Mondays got me considering which of my books I would read again if I had the time. 













Which of your books would you like to read again?


Monday, January 19, 2015

Musing Mondays - January 19

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme sponsored by MizB of Should Be Reading that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

** NOTE the NEW LIST of PROMPTS! **
  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…
THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: How many books, approximately, do you think you have in your personal collection?

I'm really late with this today, but I decided to take my girls out for a rare Mommy and Daughters day. My wallet didn't enjoy it, but I did.

Now, where would I even begin to consider how many books I own? In my office alone, I must have a minimum of 400 titles in a variety of genres. I have a large three-shelf bookshelf downstairs that houses another 200 or so. My latest Kindle freebie total is at 475 and I have a minimum of 200 digital books on my other device.

I don't keep books the way I used to because there is simply no room for them. The books I want to keep, I don't lend out, for fear of not getting them back. The rest are donated to my church or local charities.

How many books in your collection?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

SWYK (Share What You Know – Jan.14)

(Share What You Know) is sponsored by MizB of Should Be ReadingThis meme asks you to share 3 tips on one of the topics belowOR 3 tips on a different topic that you know well and feel others would benefit from!
This week’s topics:

• Getting started blogging
• How to find cheap or free books
• Blogging for profit
• Coming up with new content for your blog

Free books is one of the wonderful things to come out of the digital world. Access to free books allows you to test drive new writers or catch up on a favorite author's backlist.

I find my freebies in numerous locations. Sometimes I simply go to Smashwords and click the FREE tab. I also subscribe to eReaderLove and Feed Your Reader. When I find myself with a bit of extra time, I will even type "free (whatever genre I am looking for)" into the search box at the Kindle store.

How do you find your free digital books?