Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Good House by Ann Leary

The blurb:
How can you prove you're not an alcoholic?
You can’t.
It's like trying to prove you're not a witch.
Hildy Good is a townie. A lifelong resident of an historic community on the rocky coast of Boston’s North Shore, she knows pretty much everything about everyone. Hildy is a descendant of one of the witches hung in nearby Salem, and is believed, by some, to have inherited psychic gifts. Not true, of course; she’s just good at reading people. Hildy is good at lots of things.  A successful real-estate broker, mother and grandmother, her days are full. But her nights have become lonely ever since her daughters, convinced their mother was drinking too much, staged an intervention and sent her off to rehab.  Now she’s in recovery—more or less.
Alone and feeling unjustly persecuted, Hildy needs a friend. She finds one in Rebecca McCallister, a beautiful young mother and one of the town’s wealthy newcomers. Rebecca feels out-of-step in her new surroundings and is grateful for the friendship. And Hildy feels like a person of the world again, as she and Rebecca escape their worries with some harmless gossip, and a bottle of wine by the fire—just one of their secrets.
But not everyone takes to Rebecca, who is herself the subject of town gossip. When Frank Getchell, an eccentric local who shares a complicated history with Hildy, tries to warn her away from Rebecca, Hildy attempts to protect her friend from a potential scandal. Soon, however, Hildy is busy trying to cover her own tracks and protect her reputation.  When a cluster of secrets become dangerously entwined, the reckless behavior of one threatens to expose the other, and this darkly comic novel takes a chilling turn.
The Good House by Ann Leary is funny, poignant, and terrifying. A classic New England tale that lays bare the secrets of one little town, this spirited novel will stay with you long after the story has ended.

Once I read that The Good House was a novel partly about real estate and Boston's North Shore, I knew that I wanted to read it.   I'm often in Gloucester, MA visiting my uncle and love the quiet, unassuming town.  It was fascinating to read about a small New England town from the perspective of Hildy Good, a woman whose family's roots date back to the Salem Witch trials, over 300 years.

Leary so authentically captures the voices and points of view of locals and the new residents.  We learn about the families that have owned and held the land and still continue to do so with typical New England thrift and discretion.  Frank Getchell who has some of the most valuable real estate works the town hauling/garbage concession and acts as handyman for nearly every household and gets very little respect.  But his ties to Hildy go way back and this complicated relationship is one of the more interesting parts of the book.

Hildy's alcohol problem is dealt with sensitively and with humor.  So are the other dark secrets that are slowly unveiled.

If you're looking for an entertaining read set in New England and if you have an interest in real estate, I think you'll find The Good House an excellent escape. 

ISBN-10: 1250015545 - Hardcover $24.99
Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition edition (January 15, 2013), 304 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author:
Ann Leary’s latest book is the New York Times and national bestselling novel, The Good House.  She is the also the author of the memoir An Innocent, A Broad and the novel Outtakes From a Marriage.  and The Good House.  She has written fiction and nonfiction for various magazines and is a co-host of the NPR weekly radio show Hash Hags.
Ann tries to compete in equestrian sports and is a volunteer EMT. 
She lives on a small farm in Connecticut with her husband, Denis Leary and their two children and numerous pets.  Learn more about her on her website

Friday, March 1, 2013

Friday 56: Lionel Davidson's The Rose of Tibet

 Welcome to this week's Friday 56!  I'm currently reading Lionel Davidson's The Rose of Tibet. It's an older adventure novel that was recommended to me by my uncle Eddy, who I often mention here.  Tito Eddy was instrumental in expanding my taste in books - he used to carefully select a stack of books for me every Sunday and would spend some time discussing the authors, their styles and the stories.  I was 10 when he had me read Pearl S. Buck's The Good Earth.  When I was younger he'd given me gorgeous copies of Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden and The Little Princess. : )  So, I listen to his book recommendations carefully!

* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56 or 56% on your e-reader/
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions 
on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of this blog.
Post a link along with your post back to this blog and to Freda's Voice at
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

Here's my Friday 56 from Lionel Davidson's The Rose of Tibet:
Yes, he was quite sure it was December. There was no possibility of him confusing it with an earlier trip. Why was this? Why, because the trip before it had been in September - there had been no caravan in October or November - and in September they had gone to a different route, to Norgku.
The blurb:
In the forbidding mountains of a remote, hidden land, a goddess cries a new river of emeralds, an enemy army is missing on the border, and Charles Houston is fighting for his life in an avalanche of danger.

Searching for his missing brother, he comes upon an innocent people and is plunged into a bizarre religious ritual.  With a mysterious woman by his side, he faces the most daunting task of all: to escape paradise with an extraordinary treasure.

About the Author:
Lionel Davidson, one of the world's greatest storytellers, takes us into a towering realm of mysticism, violence, and love, where one misstep can kill a man, or make him immortal.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

The blurb:
After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

Throne of Glass was being marketed as a book for fans of Game of Thrones but I found the description misleading.  It's less about this strange world and more about the ultimate assassin Celaena Sardothien and the feel of the book is more reminiscent of Kristen Cashore's Graceling.  Having said that, I much prefer Throne of Glass to what it had been described as!

Celaena Sardothien is a fascinating, sympathetic, and deadly heroine.  She looks like a scrawny young girl and is continually underestimated.  As I read how others perceive her and treat her, I eagerly awaited the moment when she'd show her true abilities.  Throne of Glass delivers unstinting adventure, strong and likable characters, and a story of friendship and loyalty.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and can't wait for the next book in the series.

Ages 14 and up.
ISBN-10: 1599906953 -Hardcover $17.99  (Paperback to be released in May 2013)
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens; 1 edition (August 7, 2012), 416 pages.
Review copy courtesy of the publisher and Netgalley.

About the Author:
Sarah J. Maas was born and raised in New York City, but after graduating from Hamilton College in 2008, she moved to Southern California. She's always been just a tad obsessed with fairy-tales and folklore, though she'd MUCH rather be the one slaying the dragon (instead of the damsel in distress). When she's not busy writing, she can be found geeking out over things like Han Solo, gaudy nail polish, and ballet. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Spreading a love of reading - update on World Book Night USA 2013

I've learned that I've been chosen to participate in the 2013 World Book Night.  I'd been a World Book Night giver last year and it was exciting if a bit intimidating to go up to strangers and offer them copies of The Book Thief.

I hadn't expected to find it so difficult  to gauge whether a stranger was a light reader or a nonreader.  I had initially planned to give away the books in New York City, mainly in Brooklyn and Manhattan. But an unexpected visit from family overseas brought me to Boston's North Shore and the South End on April 23, 2012 so I handed out my 20 copies in Boston and its suburbs.

I approached strangers at the Magnolia diner in Gloucester and a donut shop by the Gloucester's train station.  I had hoped to give one to the train conductor but wasn't able to catch her when we stopped at North Station.  I did give away books at North Station and some nearby stores and hotels.  Then I walked around the South End, stopping at stores to talk about the book, spread the word, and hopefully, spread a love of reading.

WBN 2013 logo