My Reading Pal
• May 25, 2002 - Oct 22, 2010 •
Forever in my heart
Through a Dusty Window: New York City Stories 1910-2001 by Delancey Stewart is a collection of ten short stories that center around a New York City brownstone on 77 Street and the people who lived there over the years, as well as the events that were occurring around them at that time in history. I don’t think I’ve ever come across any historical fiction that is portrayed through short stories so that alone makes this little gem unique but so do the stories that touch on Prohibition to World War II; the Vietnam-era Summer of Sam killings to John Lennon’s murder. I really love older historic homes or apartment buildings and all the history that must exist within their walls and I often find myself wondering about the lives that went before my own and what they may have endured or rejoiced in.
Each story draws you in, painting a vivid picture of time and place, and while you only spend a short time with the folks living in this apartment you still feel as though you’ve gotten to know them. The author ties all the stories together with little pieces that appear within each story as well as the first and last story really bringing the life of this old brownstone full circle. This was a short book, very easily read in one sitting, and one I really enjoyed. As with all short story collections I always have my favorites and this one was no different although all the stories were good. I’ll only share a few points from a couple of my favorites as I wouldn’t want to spoil the book for those of you who will read it. The first story I really liked was The Hidden Legacy taking place in 1910 which had a little girl refusing to give up the hiding place of a doll she took. The next was called Telegram and it took place in 1943 during World War II and features a young woman whose husband is fighting in the war and she simply can’t work up the desire to do anything while worrying about him. My last favorite was The Harbinger, taking place in 1953. This one features a young couple with the wife Hazel experiencing some emotional problems. The interesting thing about this one was how the issues of mental health were tackled at that point in history.
Through a Dusty Window is a short collection and if you’re fond of short stories this one is sure to be a winner and even if you aren’t it’s a nice break from reading a full length novel and the stories really are good. I really enjoyed this little peek into the past and the lives of the people who lived in this New York brownstone. I would most certainly read more from Delancey Stewart in the future!
Through a Dusty Window: New York City Stories 1910-2001 by Delancey Stewart is touring with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours so be sure to visit the other tour stops scheduled for more thoughts on the book. Delancey can be found on her website as well as Facebook and Twitter. Your own copy of Through a Dusty Window can be purchased at Amazon, Amazon Canada, or B&N.
GIVEAWAY DETAILS (Kindle eBook format – US only)
I have one copy of Through a Dusty Window: New York City Stories 1910-2001 by Delancey Stewart up for giveaway in Kindle eBook format only. To enter…
This giveaway is for one Kindle eBook open to US residents only and I will draw for the winner on Saturday, April 13/13. Good luck!
Source: Review copy provided by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and the Publisher. No compensation was received and all opinions are my own.
I was first introduced to Arthur Wooten’s writing when I read his novel Leftovers (my review) and loved it. He writes with humour and insight that captures your attention and doesn’t let go. His newest novel Dizzy is no different except that this novel hits much closer to his heart. It is about a woman who develops bilateral vestibulopathy with oscillopsia (which I’ll elaborate on later in the review) and it changes her life forever. It also changed Arthur’s life and he’s based his character Angie on himself but developed it into a fictional novel that entertains us while informing us on this illness. It is a wonderful novel that touched my heart.
For Angie the world is her oyster. She’s a successful Broadway star at the height of her career when she begins to feel unwell. It happens unexpectedly one night when she’s performing and things just seem off to her. They don’t get any better either; they get worse and quickly. Her taste and smell disappear, she hears a high pitched dental drill in her ear, the floor has turned into squishy foam, her body feels drunk and her head too heavy to hold up. As the symptoms progress Angie finds it more and more difficult to function at all and major panic sets in. Her career as a dancer depends on her balance and now it’s gone. She’s devastated and angry. She wants her old life back… but sometimes we have to learn to adapt to a new one.
Dizzy takes us through Angie’s struggles as she learns more about her illness and then as she tries to accept and deal with it. I liked Angie as a character and while Angie had this great career to lose, this illness would be devastating for anyone. It affects your inner ear which is the one that tells your body where you are in space and without it something as simple as walking becomes impossible. For Angie she has the added problem of oscillopsia which is your brain not knowing if you’re moving forward, back, or left, right or up, down, and it goes into a panic you could say and orders your eyes to lock onto objects so it can figure out where it is which causes blurry and shaky vision – yet another thing making it difficult to function in everyday matters.
I think this novel would be really good for someone suffering with this illness so they know they aren’t alone out there. There is no cure unfortunately. The only thing that can be done is to retrain your brain to function a different way so this is a lifelong battle once you have it. For Angie she had to reevaluate her life and the people she knew and figure out what was most important to her and to her new way of life. Dizzy is an excellent novel and I loved that Arthur wrote it with humour because I think if you didn’t have a bit of humour in your life it would be even harder to deal with this illness. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this novel even to those not suffering with this. It’s entertaining and well written and for me, another winner from Arthur Wooten.
GIVEAWAY DETAILS (US/Canada)
I have one copy of Dizzy by Arthur Wooten to share with my readers. To enter…
This giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents only. I will draw for the winner on Saturday, January 5/12. Good luck!
Source: Review copy provided by the author. No compensation was received and all opinions are my own.
Confessions of Joan the Tall by Joan Cusack Handler is a coming of age memoir from the point of view of twelve year old Joan. It is written in journal type entries as Joan recounts a period of time in her life as a young girl being raised in a devout Catholic home. It is a quirky and often amusing journal as we follow Joan through the troubled times of a teen.
Being young of course Joan is already confused about many things as most teens are but for Joan they seem multiplied as she also has to contend with her strict Catholic upbringing. And my goodness she has a lot of issues to deal with as she struggles with what is right and what is wrong as well as what is a sin and what isn’t. To top that off if it is a sin is it a really bad one or just a small one. It’s enough to drive a grown up crazy let alone a young girl.
Needless to say Joan is pretty focused on being Catholic and making sure she is doing what is right but it’s so hard sometimes because she does have bad thoughts and she can only hope God will forgive her. Then there are the other issues Joan has – primarily the fact that she is tall at five feet eleven and a half inches and boy it’s rough being a teen girl at that height. She is often teased because of it so understandably she is very self conscious.
Then there are her parents. Joan adores her father but her mother is a different story. She demands perfection and obedience and doesn’t tolerate any less from her children. For the most part they are all scared of her. Joan is her favorite but that isn’t always a good thing. She feels bad but she doesn’t want to be her mother’s favorite because that usually means betraying her siblings and she already has some problems with them.
I enjoyed this book for the most part. It’s a fast read and I did like Joan. I could look back to my teen years and remember how I felt and I could definitely feel Joan’s pain as I was always quite tall in my younger years as well. I also remember feeling as though my diary was the only place I could really let loose with my feelings. For Joan whose mother tells them that their friends should only be their family and that one should never air family business outside the home, her journal is all she has.
This book does focus on religion, not in an overwhelming way but in a way that shows how a young girl comes to terms with it in her life. Knowing a bit about being Catholic does help so that you know what Joan is talking about but it’s not necessary really. I think the biggest part of this book is just relating to Joan and her struggles and we can all do that. I do feel that if you were brought up Catholic though that you will likely find this a very endearing journey to take with Joan!
Confessions of Joan the Tall by Joan Cusack Handler is touring with TLC Book Tours so be sure to pop in and check out the other tour stops. You can find Joan on her website and blog and your own copy of Confessions of Joan the Tall can be purchased at Amazon or Amazon Canada.
GIVEAWAY DETAILS (US/Canada)
I have one copy of Confessions of Joan the Tall by Joan Cusack Handler to share with my readers. To enter…
This giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents only (no PO boxes) and I will draw for the winner on Saturday, December 29/12. Good luck!
Source: Review copy provided by TLC Book Tours and the Publisher. No compensation was received and all opinions are my own.
The Sisters Montclair is the third book of Cathy Holton’s that I’ve read and I think it may well be my favorite. She is one of those authors who can completely draw you into the lives of her characters and their stories and hold you captive throughout. The Sisters Montclair is a story of sisters, buried family secrets, and the things that draw people together in friendship.
Alice Montclair Whittington and Stella Nightingale are two women who form an unlikely friendship. They are very different in so many ways and yet there seems to be an instant bond between the two. Alice is a spunky ninety-four year old who comes from money and Stella is a twenty-one year old who comes from a dysfunctional family and is still very troubled despite trying to build a life for herself.
Stella’s dream job sure isn’t being a caregiver but she really needs a job and despite hearing that Alice is quite the handful and has already gone through a multitude of caregivers Stella is quite certain she’s tough enough to handle Alice even after meeting Alice and her snarky manner. Once Stella starts the job though she finds that she genuinely finds herself liking Alice. Stella is the one caregiver that Alice has or has ever had that has treated her as a person instead of an old and incompetent old lady which she’s not. As time goes on Alice begins to tell Stella stories of her past as they come and go in her memory and Stella is fascinated but she is left with so many questions and Alice doesn’t always seem willing to answer them.
Alice and Stella were drawn together because each has their own family secrets that have left a huge impact on their lives. Each knows the pain that comes with trying to keep such a secret from everyone in their lives. The more time they spend together the more drawn together they become. I loved the bond these two women built through the stories that Alice told and it reminded me of the stories I’ve been told by some of the elderly people I’ve had in my life. They have such great stories to tell if only people will stop and listen.
The Sisters Montclair is a wonderful story full of rich characters and so beautifully told. Both Alice and Stella are the type of characters that grab your heart from the beginning and you love them and want the best for them. This book drew me in from the very first page and didn’t let go until the end. It’s one of the those novels that when you turn the last page you wish you hadn’t because you still want so much more. Cathy Holton has become a favorite author of mine and The Sisters Montclair solidified that even more. It’s a fantastic novel that is well worth reading!
Review copy provided by the publisher. No compensation was received and all opinions stated are my own.