Year of the Bookwormz: 2011

52 weeks. 2 friends. 1 challenge.

Author Spotlight and Book Signing:: Garth Stein :: April 17, 2010

Two barks Denny, two barks!!

Have you ever read a book that changed the way you view the world? For me, that book was Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein, which continues to hold its place on the New York Times Bestseller list. Tonight, I had the rare opportunity to meet this amazing author alongside my friends Becca, Planetbooks, and her husband. Stein held a reading, Q&A discussion, and book signing that still has me floating on a cloud.  Not only is Stein charming, funny, and down to earth, he also loves to cook! Click here for his favorite recipes 🙂 Garth has excellent skills as a public speaker, gave fantastic eye contact, and was truly connected with engaging the audience. As someone who volunteers with animal rescue, this book had such a profound impact on me, I haven’t stopped thinking about it since I first read it, as ARR is told from the viewpoint of the family’s beloved dog, Enzo. In our rescue newsletters, we try to establish a connection from our orphan dogs to the reader  often telling their stories as if they themselves, the dog, were writing to our readership. We’ve gotten so many compliments on these types of stories and love doing it whenever possible. It was so fascinating to hear Garth talk about the path to publication, and how difficult it was to find an agent who would represent a novel narrated by the dog. I think it to be genius, and I’m SO glad Garth persevered and followed his dream. In doing so, he challenged the status quo.

I also loved Stein’s Raven Stole the Moon and look forward to supporting and promoting this creative and thoughtful author.

Albeit a small token, I gifted Garth a handwritten card along with a copy of The Ultimate Man’s Survival Guide. Garth, I hope you enjoy this book and that you will share it with your 3 sons, as a very small token of my appreciation for your talent and what you do to change peoples’ lives with your writing. What do you get the person who changed your life? Maybe a book that can teach him and his sons how to fend off a bear attack? Or how to find food in the wilderness? Sure, why not! If nothing else, Garth, I hope you get a kick out of it 🙂 I hope to get a full review of the book when we see you at your event in September!!

I’ve shared ARR with countless friends in my circle who have each loved it for their own reasons. Make a beeline for your nearest bookish establishment and pick up a copy of Art of Racing in the Rain or any of Garth Stein’s artful works.  Stein is on my VERY short list of top favorite authors. Art of Racing in the Rain does not disappoint. I laughed, I cried, and smiled at the end of the book and loved the way Stein tied things up. Enzo, one of the main characters, will always be in my heart and I will be forever changed by him. Check Stein’s website for more information on his other projects or to attend an event in your area.

“Garth Stein is the author of the New York Times best-selling literary novel, The Art of Racing in the Rain (Harper, 2008). Now published in 23 languages, The Art of Racing in the Rain was the #1 BookSense selection for June, 2008, the Starbucks spring/summer 2008 book selection, and has been on the IndieBound™ bestseller list since its publication. Stein’s previous novel, How Evan Broke His Head and Other Secrets (Soho Press, 2005) won a Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award, and was a BookSense Pick in both hardcover and paperback. Raven Stole the Moon (Harper, 2010) was Stein’s first novel. He has also written a full-length play, Brother Jones, and produced a number of award-winning documentaries. With an M.F.A. in film from Columbia University (1990), Garth worked as a documentary film maker for several years, and directed, produced, or co-produced several award winning films. Born in Los Angeles and raised in Seattle, Garth’s ancestry is diverse: his mother, a native of Alaska, is of Tlingit Indian and Irish descent; his father, a Brooklyn native, is the child of Jewish emigrants from Austria. After spending his childhood in Seattle and then living in New York City for 18 years, Garth returned to Seattle, where he currently lives with his wife, three sons, and their dog, Comet.”

Two barks from our Akitas, Senshi and Zumo!!

Don’t forget to patronize your local library and pick up a page turner. 

Happy reading!




Book #22: LibraryLove

The Inheritance by Tom Savage

Book description~ Yesterday, she was Holly Smith, living a comfortable, middle-class life. Today, all that has changed. For Holly Smith is actually Holly Randall, born twenty-four years ago to a woman convicted of a heinous crime and given up for adoption as an infant. Now, the mysterious death of a great aunt she never knew has made Holly one of the richest women in America – and heiress to a magnificent Connecticut estate. In the beautiful mansion above Long Island Sound, they are waiting for her. Uncle John and his imperious wife, robbed of what they believe to be rightfully theirs; the odd, reclusive great uncle, lost in his faded scrapbooks and disturbing memories of dark family secrets; the troubled young woman who roams the estate, murmuring cryptic warnings; the handsome servants’ son to whom Holly is dangerously attracted; and the silent teenage boy who watches Holly’s every move. But is he protector or predator, angel or devil? For Holly, the answer may come too late. From the moment she crosses the threshold, she sets in motion a series of tragic events that will reveal the true – and terrifying – price of the inheritance.

Before a trip to visit my sister last month, I’d never heard of author Tom Savage. My sister’s extremely hectic work schedule doesn’t allow much time for reading, so when she does pick up a book, it’s got to be good. After hearing her excitement about this book, I added The Inheritance to my library queue. I couldn’t wait to pick up this book and go along for the ride with Holly. My sister enjoyed this book so immensely that she re-read it along with me.

In the way of movies like Fight Club, The Illusionist, and The Sixth Sense, this book’s twists and turns will make you want to re-read this book when the final twists are revealed. I found myself going back many times as I got farther along into Holly’s world. From the moment Dora Jessel had her outburst in the Randall house, I thought I knew something was fishy with the Jessel Family and kept them “on watch”. I couldn’t wait to see what happened next and was completely surprised- which I LOVE! I hate figuring out a book’s plot twists too soon- it ruins the drama for me, so thumbs up for The Inheritance’s ability to keep me guessing!

Although I really enjoyed this book, I was a bit disappointed in the novel’s structure. Cough it up to being picky or maybe just spoiled by Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Weiner‘s style and their strength in creating a solid novel in multiple voices, if you will. In their novels, when the voice changes, a new chapter begins. I like having the visual and mental switch, allowing myself to prepare for the voice I will be hearing from next. Unfortunately for me, Savage’s lack of  ‘chapterization’ (I think I just made this word up!) was distracting. I didn’t mind the 3rd person narrative, as we hear from quite a few characters in this book. But it becomes an annoyance if you’re not sure whose story you’re reading when a paragraph is abruptly ended and a new paragraph begins in a different character’s voice. I found myself going back a few times, and re-reading some opening paragraphs to get into the ‘groove’ and switch. My sister felt the same way the first time she read this book. She’s reading it for the second time now and said it was much smoother the second time. Authors should be cognizant of the way their writing style is received. Herein lies the beauty of the book blogging community. Book bloggers are approached by authors and publishers to read and review advanced copies of their novels. Apart from the free advertising, this affords authors the opportunity to plug in to feedback they can use for future editions. The Inheritance was written back in 2000 when book blogging and social media were gaining momentum on the digital scene. Had Savage sent The Inheritance out to the book blogging community, I think he would’ve taken note of the constructive criticism, and possibly considered modifying his format.

Regardless, The Inheritance is a sleeper and ‘edge of your seat’ thriller. I really enjoyed the dark and twisty ride. Great Uncle Ichabod is my absolute favorite. I want to hug him, and wish he was a part of my family or a close friend. He so genuinely looks after Holly and is one of the only people on her side as she pieces together the puzzle of her new found life. I got a good vibe from him, and love how Savage so artfully and subtly brings Ichabod to the forefront, empowering Holly along the way. Their moment of first meeting, her vivid velvet sapphire dress, their tea service, and the cozy red wing chairs- I was absolutely engrossed. Then I was completely sucked in to the interesting literary choices made in Toby and Kevin’s characters- brilliant! This book kept me on the edge of my seat until the last sentence. It was like playing the game “Clue” with Colonel Mustard. After a while, I forgot about the lack of division with the characters because the storyline was so intensely gratifying. What an awesome ending!

Have you read any of Savage’s books- Valentine or Precipice? He also goes by pen name T.J. Phillips. If you read any of his works, let me know what you thought.  Were they written in a similar fashion, in different voices?

4.5/5 stars

22 down, 30 to go!

In progress- The Next Thing On My List