Wednesday, August 31, 2011

'The Greatest Love on Earth' by Mary Ellen Dennis


First Thoughts when I closed the book: "Just not my cup of tea."

I'm always open to reading outside my preferred genre so that's why I requested this one to read from Sourcebooks. I thought the story sounded interesting because I love the circus and was looking forward to an insider's glimpse of that time in the 19th century. The circus aspect of the story was fun to read and I did enjoy all of that. But the characters just didn't come to life for me and I thought at times that their choices were silly. Yes, I know you need to advance the story but I shook my head more than once at the improbable  ways of thinking. The other aspect that fell short for me was the relationship between Calliope and Brian. I didn't believe one bit of it and felt that it needed more attention of their friendship and less on the physical side.

Recommend? With hesitation! I really didn't like this one very much, but everyone has different tastes so what didn't work for me may work for another reader. As always, I  like to leave my readers with other viewpoints so that they can get a well-rounded opinion about a book before they decide to read or not-to-read. Please check out what other bloggers are saying about this one!

Rating: 6/10

Long and Short Reviews: "This is a wonderful story, and readers who like adventurous historical romance set in exotic settings will probably enjoy this book. Highly recommended. "


In the Hammock: "It was fun to read about the circus acts and performers though. It reminded me just a tiny bit of the travelling show in "Annie Get Your Gun." The author excels at the other areas of the story besides the romance."


Author: Mary Ellen Dennis
Published: August 2011
Publisher: Sourcebooks 
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 448
* Uncorrected ARC

Disclaimer:Thank you to Sourcebooks Casablanca for sending me a review copy. I was not compensated for my review. My thoughts on this book were in no way influenced by the author or publicist.They are my personal reflections based solely on MYexperience while reading this novel.


© 2011, Staci of Life in the Thumb. All Rights Reserved. If you reading this on a site other than, Life in the Thumb or Staci's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.



Tuesday, August 30, 2011

'Tout Sweet: Hanging Up My High Heels for a New Life in France' by Karen Wheeler


Teaser Synopsis:

In her mid-thirties Karen has it all: a career as a fashion editor, a handsome boyfriend, a fab flat in west London and an array of gorgeous shoes. But when her 'plus one' leaves, she wonders if there is more to life than high fashion. So, she hangs up her Manolos and waves goodbye to her city lifestyle, deciding to go it alone in a run-down house in rural Poitou-Charentes, western France.


First thoughts after finishing: "Where can I sign up to do exactly what Karen did????"

This book had me at the summary alone. Who wouldn't jump at the opportunity for a fresh, new start in a romantic country? I loved Karen's straightforward writing and her humor made me chuckle more than once. I think that renovating an old house in the countryside of France would be wonderful and probably an exasperating experience, but I would certainly be game to do it. I've been reading her blog, Tout Sweet off and on since I finished the book and it really adds another dimension to her journey.

Recommend? Yes, I absolutely would. If you loved the book/movie "Under the Tuscan Sun" then you will certainly enjoy this one too. Different location, different life situations, but the same theme...being independent, starting over, and jumping headfirst into the unknown that is life!

Rating: 8/10

Author: Karen Wheeler
Published: August 2011
Publisher: Sourcebooks 
Genre: Memoir
Pages: 320


Disclaimer:Thank you to Sourcebooks Casablanca for sending me a review copy. I was not compensated for my review. My thoughts on this book were in no way influenced by the author or publicist.They are my personal reflections based solely on MYexperience while reading this novel.


© 2011, Staci of Life in the Thumb. All Rights Reserved. If you reading this on a site other than, Life in the Thumb or Staci's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Mailbox Monday


photo courtesy

Mailbox Monday 
which has been nominated as a Best Book Blogs Meme for the 2011 BBAW!! 
Visit Mailbox Monday for the nomination post!
is a gathering place for readers to share the books that
came into their house last week and explore great book blogs. 
Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

Make sure to continue to play in September with our host

I'm so so excited to be hosting Mailbox Monday for the month of August! Thanks to Marcia for creating one of my favorite memes ever and for trusting fellow bloggers like myself to host it every month. I look forward to visiting each and every blogger that stops by on Mondays. I love peeking into your world and seeing what lovely books showed up for you to read. I will be running a giveaway for each week where I will enter the numbers from Mr. Linky into random.org and whatever number comes up I will notifiy that reader and they can then choose from my grab bag of books that I currently have accumulated!! I will be adding to the choices as August winds down. Let's have some fun!!!!!



Little Black Dress- review copy courtesy William Morrow
Definitely Not Mr. Darcy- review copy from Penguin
The Year Everything Changed- review copy from William Morrow












Saturday, August 27, 2011

Saturday Snapshot- My son's engagement photo!


Saturday Snapshot 
is hosted by Alyce of At Home With Books
It’s easy to participate – just post a picture
that was taken by you, a friend, or a family member and add your link on Alyce’s site.

Engagement Photo of my son Mitch and his bride-to-be Amber.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Mailbox Monday and It's Monday....What Are You Reading?


photo courtesy
Mailbox Monday 
is a gathering place for readers to share the books that
came into their house last week and explore great book blogs. 
Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

I'm so so excited to be hosting Mailbox Monday for the month of August! Thanks to Marcia for creating one of my favorite memes ever and for trusting fellow bloggers like myself to host it every month. I look forward to visiting each and every blogger that stops by on Mondays. I love peeking into your world and seeing what lovely books showed up for you to read. I will be running a giveaway for each week where I will enter the numbers from Mr. Linky into random.org and whatever number comes up I will notifiy that reader and they can then choose from my grab bag of books that I currently have accumulated!! I will be adding to the choices as August winds down. Let's have some fun!!!!!

Please note: I just wanted to let the bloggers who don't regularly follow my blog and play along with Mailbox Monday the reason that I didn't stop by their blog last week. I lost my best fur buddy last Monday evening and have been reeling from it since. Because of my sadness I just haven't felt like reading, blogging, or visiting blogs. But I know that I have to get back into the swing of life and will be visiting all who link their mailboxes posts! 

Thanks again to all my friends who have stopped by and left me comments of prayers, love, and understanding...it helps my heart!!!


Dreams of Joy- given to me by the wonderful Diane (Bibliophile by the Sea) who adds to my ever-growing TBR list!!
State of Wonder- also from the lovely Diane- THANK YOU!! 
Miss Darcy Falls in Love- review copy courtesy of Sourcebooks





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We discuss the books that we've read 
and what we're planning to read for the week.

Read and reviewed last week:
Northwest Corner- absolutely riveting and perfect!
The Twelfth Enchantment- just okay for me
The Landlord's Black-Eyed Daughter- liked the poem much better
Catriona- lovely historical fiction 

Reviews for this week:
The Greatest Love on Earth
Tout Sweet


On my nightstand:
I've been playing this by how I'm feeling that particular day and what strikes my fancy!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A devastating Loss- My Best Friend



Hi Friends-
I just wanted to let you know why I have been missing-in-action in regards to visiting your blogs and following up on the links for Mailbox Monday. I barely feel strong enough to post this..but I need to honor Bruce's life and by doing this I guess I'm admitting to myself that he is gone from this world. On Monday evening Bruce died doing what he loved the most...running around the yard and chasing his pal Lily and our stupid Razor. But this time we had a small wagon attached to the Razor and Bruce ran behind it and the wagon ran him over. To say that it was devastating to witness is an understatement. I'm working really hard to get his final moments out of my memory, but I need to remember that I was the last voice and hands he felt and take some sort of comfort in that. Bruce was my first ever dog that just belonged to me. He's been my sidekick for 8 years and over that course of time he showed me what unconditional love was really about. He knew when I was sad and gave me comfort. He loved to play with his monkey and putting Lily in her place on a daily basis. My husband, son, Lily (our other dog) and myself are lost without Bruce right now. Nothing feels right. My morning routine isn't right. The quietness of my house is not right. That's what killing me the most right now...the damn quiet. So, I'm taking a break right now. The reviews that I posted this week were done last week. I guess God knew what he had planned for me when he made me feel like I should get ahead of the game huh? I'll try really hard to visit everyone on Mailbox Monday next week...and I will post for that because I know that I need to try to get back to the 'new' normal. However, I can't say when I will be by visiting your lovely blogs. Thanks for taking the time to visit my blog and always giving me support throughout the three years that I've been blogging. Many of you are familiar with Bruce and know what he meant to me. Your kindness is what will help me and my family heal.

Love,
Staci


'Catriona' by Jeanette Baker


Yes, I think the cover is cheesy...get rid of the 2 people  in the front!

First thoughts after finishing: "Is there anywhere on the internet that I could order a sexy powerful Scottish border lord????"

I love books that blend the present day with the past and this author did an exceptional job of making that work. I felt that I was able to get to know all of the characters and make a connection with some. I am a sucker for historical fiction with a dash of romance thrown in and this one has both of those elements. I now feel the need to do a little bit of brushing up on James Stewart IV (King of Scotland) and Margaret Tudor (Daughter of King Henry of England). I love it when history becomes alive and captures my imagination!

Recommend? I would recommend this one to my friends that enjoy historical romance. Especially stories that place in Scotland. I'm really thrilled that Sourcebooks reprinted Jeanette Baker's book because I would probably have never found this author on my own. I will definitely be adding her other works to my list of book that are worth reading. Overall, a very pleasant way to spend a few days!!

Rating: 8/10

Author: Jeanette Baker
Published: August 2011
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance
Pages: 385
*Uncorrected Advance Copy

Disclaimer:Thank you to Sourcebooks Casablanca for sending me a review copy. I was not compensated for my review. My thoughts on this book were in no way influenced by the author or publicist.They are my personal reflections based solely on MYexperience while reading this novel.


© 2011, Staci of Life in the Thumb. All Rights Reserved. If you reading this on a site other than, Life in the Thumb or Staci's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

'The Landlord's Black-Eyed Daughter' by Mary Ellen Dennis


Teaser Synopsis:
Take one highly successful Gothic romance writer who just happens to be an innkeeper's daughter; add one disillusioned, devil-may-care highwayman who robs only the rich on principle; set them down in the turbulent, hypocritical times of late 18th-century England; season with a dash of humor, a splash of the paranormal, and a dollop of danger; and let the adventures begin...

First thoughts after reading the last sentence: "Hmmm......the poem is better."

I listened to Loreena McKennitt's version of The Highwayman (the poem by Alfred Noyes is where the author got the idea for this story) to try to get myself into the mood and right frame of mind before reading. I have loved her rendition for many years and it's because of her song that I wanted to read this novel. I have to tell you that the first 183 pages were really slow for me and I had a hard time staying with the book. I'm glad that I didn't give up because the last part of the book was actually pretty good and in places the poem really started to come to life in my mind. And if I'm being honest I thought Rand sounded pretty hot and dangerous...I'd climb out a window to take a ride with him any day!! So, if you're looking for a fun book that takes on some of the characters from The Highwayman, then you may want to read this one.


Rating: 6.8/10

For kicks and giggles you really need to watch this video.
Loreena rocks (IMHO) and this music is just haunting!!




Author: Mary Ellen Dennis
Published: August 2011
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Historical romance
Pages: 476
*Uncorrected Advance Copy

Disclaimer:Thank you to  Sourcebooks Casablanca for sending me a review copy. I was not compensated for my review. My thoughts on this book were in no way influenced by the author or publicist.They are my personal reflections based solely on MYexperience while reading this novel.
 © 2011, Staci of Life in the Thumb. All Rights Reserved. If you reading this on a site other than, Life in the Thumb or Staci's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

'The Twelfth Enchantment' by David Liss (TLC Tour Book + Giveaway)





Teaser Synopsis: With the world undergoing an industrial transformation, and with England on the cusp of revolution, Lucy is drawn into a dangerous conspiracy in which her life, and her country’s future, are in the balance. Inexplicably finding herself at the center of cataclysmic events, Lucy is awakened to a world once unknown to her: where magic and mortals collide, and the forces of ancient nature and modern progress are at war for the soul of England . . . and the world. 


First thought after closing the book: "That was just silly!"

I thought this book would be so much better than it turned out. After reading the synopsis,  it sounded like a great fantasy book set during Regency England (a time period which I adore)and right about the time of the industrial revolution. The reader gets a lot of information about how bad the mills are and the how evil the owners treat their workers. At times I felt as if I was being clobbered over the head with all the morality and how disgusting the industrial revolution was to nature and the animals that the magical part of the book was lost for me. And frankly, I just wasn't that crazy about Lucy and Lord Bryon (his character was just so out there) In my honest opinion I just didn't really care for it. I think I wasn't in the mood to really suspend disbelief so for me the characters felt flat, forced and basically contrived.

Recommend? Here again it could be right book wrong time..I don't know. It wasn't a book that called to me when I put it down at night......that tells me everything I want to know.

Rating: 6/10

I urge you to visit the other blogs that are hosting this book for TLC. Many of them have loved this book and I really think you need to read more reviews before deciding whether or not this one is right for you!! I think that I'm the only one who didn't love it.!! Here's what other bloggers are saying about The Twelfth Enchantment:

One Book Shy: "The author managed to leave the reader wondering at many points throughout the book exactly who Lucy could really count on.  There are many plot twists and turns to keep the suspense high."


A Chick Who Reads: "This is one of those books that lovers of historial fiction will find hard to put down. I know I couldn't. It has so much of everything in it; romance, intrigue, witches and great historical figures and set in one of my favorite periods, Regency England."


Fiction State of Mind: "Liss deftly guides the reader through Lucy's world and the historical elements that shaped England's industrial age. A wonderful engrossing  read."


Unabridged Chick: "I love everything about this novel.  I love the historical setting and the imaginative, inventive blending of history and fiction.  I adore the development of Lucy and her empowering relationship with Mary Crawford, a woman who taught her that magic was real and could be mastered." 




Click here for a chance to win a copy of The Twelfth Enchantment and decide for yourself!!



Disclaimer:Thank you to TLC Book Tours for sending me a review copy. I was not compensated for my review. My thoughts on this book were in no way influenced by the author or publicist.They are my personal reflections based solely on MYexperience while reading this novel.


© 2011, Staci of Life in the Thumb. All Rights Reserved. If you reading this on a site other than, Life in the Thumb or Staci's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Monday, August 15, 2011

'Northwest Corner' by John Burnham Schwartz (TLC Book Tour)


Teaser Synopsis ( I hate to give you too much information!)

Twelve years after a tragic accident and a cover-up that led to prison time, Dwight Arno, now fifty, is a man who has started over without exactly moving on. Living alone in California, haunted yet keeping his head down, Dwight manages a sporting goods store and dates a woman to whom he hasn’t revealed the truth about his past. Then an unexpected arrival throws his carefully neutralized life into turmoil and exposes all that he’s hidden.

First Thoughts after finishing this book: "I'm keeping this book...I want to read it again!"

Writing that really touched my core because sometimes I feel this way about my oldest son:

  He looks up at me. "Do you hate yourself?"
  My mouth is dry. Carefully, I sit on the edge of his bed.
  "Some days. Other days are better."
  He nods as if he understands, which makes me sadder than  anything he could have said.
  He is my son. He's within reach now. Soon, I think, I will try to touch him, but not just yet.

(from Northwest Corner page 240 in the ARC; finished version may be different)


This book touched me on so many levels. The writing is some of the most authentic and real that I've read in quite some time. My only wish is that I would liked to have read 'Reservation Road' to get the back story before delving into this one. However, not doing that did not hinder my ability to fully love and appreciate where the characters are in their lives with Northwest Corner. This is quintessential American story telling and I could not put this book down. The characters seemed so real that I felt as if I knew them, as if they could be my next door neighbor. The story is something that could happen to anyone at anytime. For that reason alone I was drawn into the grips of their tale and when I finished felt as if I too had been put through an emotional wringer. This is a powerful piece of work about how a family comes to terms with past mistakes and to what lengths one may go to for redemption and love.

Recommend? I'm standing on the rooftops screaming out to my friends- READ THIS ONE! I finished this book over a week ago and the characters are still rattling around inside my heart. I have purchased Reservation Road and The Commoner because Schwartz's writing touched me and has made me want more!

Rating: 10/10


Published: July 26, 2011
Publisher: Random House
Pages: 285
Genre: Literary Fiction
ISBN:  9781400068456
*uncorrected ARC



About John Burnham Schwartz

John Burnham Schwartz is the author of the acclaimed novels The Commoner,Claire MarvelBicycle Days, andReservation Road, which was made into a motion picture based on his screenplay.  His new novel, Northwest Corner, will be published on July 26, 2011.  His books have been translated into more than twenty languages and his writing has appeared in many publications, including The New Yorker and The New York Times. A past winner of the Lyndhurst Foundation Award for mastery in the art of fiction, Schwartz is also an accomplished screenwriter, having written films for Focus Features, Sony Pictures and Lionsgate.  He has taught at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Harvard University, and Sarah Lawrence College, and is currently Literary Director of the Sun Valley Writers’ Conference. He lives in Brooklyn, New York with his wife, Aleksandra Crapanzano, and their son, Garrick.
Learn more about John’s work at his website, johnburnhamschwartz.com, and onFacebook

Disclaimer:Thank you to TLC Book Tours for sending me a review copy. I was not compensated for my review. My thoughts on this book were in no way influenced by the author or publicist.They are my personal reflections based solely on MYexperience while reading this novel.


© 2011, Staci of Life in the Thumb. All Rights Reserved. If you reading this on a site other than, Life in the Thumb or Staci's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Mailbox Monday and It's Monday....What Are You Reading?


photo courtesy


Mailbox Monday is a gathering place for readers to share the books that
came into their house last week and explore great book blogs. 
Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

I'm so so excited to be hosting Mailbox Monday for the month of August! Thanks to Marcia for creating one of my favorite memes ever and for trusting fellow bloggers like myself to host it every month. I look forward to visiting each and every blogger that stops by on Mondays. I love peeking into your world and seeing what lovely books showed up for you to read. I will be running a giveaway for each week where I will enter the numbers from Mr. Linky into random.org and whatever number comes up I will notifiy that reader and they can then choose from my grab bag of books that I currently have accumulated!! I will be adding to the choices as August winds down. Let's have some fun!!!!!


Her Sister's Shadow- review copy from Penguin
In Search of the Rose Notes- unsolicited copy from William Morrow Publishing
The Very Thought of You- Atrial Galley Alley request






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We discuss the books that we've read 
and what we're planning to read for the week.

Read and reviewed last week:
The Homecoming of Samuel Lake- an absolute heart/tear jerker...fave read of the year!

Reviews for this week:
Northwest Corner- TLC Tour book Monday
The Twelfth Enchantment- TLC Tour book Tuesday
The Landlord's Black-Eyed Daughter- Sourcebooks review Wednesday
Catriona- Sourcebooks review Thursday

On my nightstand:
I've been playing this by how I'm feeling that particular day and what strikes my fancy!