Thursday, April 19, 2012

DUAL/GUEST REVIEW: You Know When the Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon

We've got another guest review! Donna is a regular library patron and a second time guest reviewer for Book News & Reviews. She previously contributed a review of Home at Last by Bonnie Leon. This time around, Donna chose to review one of my absolute favorite reads of 2011, so I am also posting my mini-review from the last BCPL Recommended Reading List...

Donna's Rating: 4/5 Stars
Tracy's Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Genre: Short Stories/Realistic Fiction
Audience: Adult

Donna's Summary & Review:
I really enjoyed this book. It was another book that I could not put down once I started reading it. The novel is set in Ft. Hood, Texas. These are lives lived on the military base, a world all its own, complete with its own stores, movie theaters, even its own laws. The missing husbands are living on the other side of the world, deployed to wherever the government says they are needed.It actually is a collection of short stories, mostly written from the deployed soldiers' wives' point of view. There is one story at the end that is actually written from the soldier's point of view.

All the stories are very down to earth and believable, with all the raw human emotions that come along with messy, long distance relationships. Qualities like jealousy, uncertainty, fear, pride, shame, disbelief, love, loyalty, they run the gamut. Siobhan keeps the stories short enough to make the reader want more, but long enough to make a genuine connection to the characters. If you are a wife living on base, or at home, while "your soldier" is away, you will surely know deep in your gut some of the feelings that surface here. If you are any other part of the military family, it will give you insight into what your soldier and their families are working through. I gave this book 4 stars, only because I would have preferred to have a more complete ending to each short story. I would think that each and every one of the short stories could be made into an individual novel. Other than that, it was a 5 star.

Tracy's Thoughts:
As I said, this was one of my favorite reads last year, and I have been singing its praises to anyone I can get to listen. Here's what I had to say earlier this year:
Eight gripping stories, each showing a different dimension of the domestic side of military life, make up this debut story collection set primarily around the military base in Fort Hood, TX. Fallon shies away from political commentary, instead focusing on the personal drama of families and soldiers coming to grips with extended absences of a year or more. The characters are real and haunting, and their stories are full of complexity and humanity. There is the wife with breast cancer who struggles with her daughter’s rebellion; the successful investment banker–turned–soldier who questions his place in the world; and a bored young wife who becomes obsessed with her Serbian neighbor’s suspicious behavior. In one particularly memorable story, a soldier on leave camps out in his basement on a covert mission to discover whether rumors of his wife’s infidelity are true. Fallon’s prose is simple yet elegant, and the life she breathes into each of her characters left me fully engaged in the book from cover to cover.

Would you like to contribute a guest review to Book News & Reviews? Find how here!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Congratulations to the winners! (And Last Chance Giveaway!)

Congratulations to the winners of our 2012 Spring Giveaway!

Dark Parties by Sara Grant (2011)
Sixteen-year-old Neva, born and raised under the electrified
Protectosphere that was built when civilization collapsed
in violent warfare, puts her friends, family, and life at
risk when she tries to find out if their world is built on a
complex series of lies and deceptions.

Entry #94C.
Entry #147Regina
Entry #70Marissa L.
Entry #24Jada R.
Entry #20mary
Entry #66Jeanine H.
Entry #143kelli
Entry #47Elizabeth
Entry #26Cindy H.
Entry #52Allison B.
Entry #124Amanda T.
Entry #118Carolsue A.
Entry #133Sara G.
Entry #97Kari C.
Entry #141Donna B.
Entry #25Marie
Entry #94C.
Entry #85Barbara P.
Entry #101Dawn K.
Entry #102Donna B.
Entry #68Jeanine H.
Entry #145kelli
Entry #46Elizabeth
Entry #28Cindy H.
Entry #64Jeanine H.
Entry #54Allison B.
Entry #127Amanda T.
Entry #118Carolsue A.
Entry #70Marissa L.

All winners have been notified by e-mail.
If you have any questions, please contact me at

....But wait! We have one more ARC available. For those of you who didn't win, Dark Parties is still up for grabs. It's a dystopian thriller that might appeal to fans of Suzanne Collins, Scott Westerfeld, Lauren Oliver, or Jeanne DuPrau. The ARC goes to the first person to leave a comment below (be sure to leave your e-mail address so I can arrange pickup!) Ready... Set...Go!

Friday, April 6, 2012

REVIEW: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

Rating: 3/5 stars
Genre: Contemporary Romance/Realistic Fiction
Audience: Teen/Young Adult

Summary: Nothing is going right for Hadley Sullivan. After a fight with her mom and a series of misadventures, she misses her flight to London—by four minutes! Even worse, her estranged father is about to marry "That British Woman" who is the reason for her parents' break-up and his defection to another country. So there she is, stranded at the airport with her ill-fitting bridesmaid dress and hours before she can catch another flight, one that will land her in London mere hours before the ceremony. Then she meets Oliver, who is on his way home to England for a family event of his own, and the two share confidences on the long transatlantic flight. It seems ridiculous to feel such a strong connection with a stranger she's known less than 24 hours, but in between meeting Oliver at the airport and coming to terms with her father’s remarriage, Hadley discovers that anything is possible.

Tracy's Thoughts:
The Statistical Probability of Love is a sweet, easy-going read with a lot going for it. It features a classic romantic premise—boy meets girl, boy charms girl with his offbeat personality, boy and girl fall in love. There are hints of the easy conversations and magical rapport that I loved so much in Amy and Rogers's Epic Detour. Over the course of the 10-hour flight from JFK to Heathrow, Hadley and Oliver trade amusing thoughts and comments, talk about their families and relationships, exchange secrets, and almost share their first kiss. And despite the short time span, the story unfolds effortlessly. In a way it reminded me of the movie Before Sunrise or David Levithan and Rachel Cohn's Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. Hadley and Oliver's conversations are serious, silly, and surprisingly natural. The fact that their relationship develops in the quiet darkness of a cramped plane rather than an exploration of a city only adds to the intimacy and realism. After all, what else do they have to do but get to know each other? That is, until the plane lands and Hadley and Oliver are separated at Heathrow's customs line. The events that separate them and eventually allow them to meet up again might irritate the more cynical, but it was easy for me to ignore the niggling "Yeah, rights" and simply enjoy the story.

While the adorable relationship between Hadley and Oliver provides the impetus to the story, it is the strained family relationships—particularly between Hadley and her father—that makes this book memorable. Hadley's heartache and confusion following her parents' divorce is poignant and almost tangible at times. She loves her father but hasn't been able to come to grips with the choices he has made. No one is made out to be a villain or a victim. Instead, Smith's novel is packed with empathetic characters who are flawed and relatable. Things are wrapped up a little too neatly and some events and characters strain credibility (such as Hadley's soon-to-be stepmom), but this is a satisfying read that is sure to put a smile on the face of romantics everywhere.

The Statistical Probability of Love is one of the ARCs up for grabs in our Spring Giveaway Event
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