Friday, December 16, 2011

2012 Reading Challenges

I didnt do well with the Reading Challenges in 2011 but I plan to step it up for 2012.  Here are the challenges I will join for 2012:

Harlequin Silhouette Reading Challenge
Audio Challenge
Library Challenge (well maybe)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Shanghai Girls

In 1930's Shanghai, sisters May and Pearl are living the glamorous life of well to do Chinese girls. Immersed in the fast paced world of the city, they obsess about fashion and their career as "beautiful girls", calendar models painted to sell any product you can think of. While they are wrapped up in their carefree existence they fail to notice that the possessions around their house have been slowly disappearing as have some of the servants. Little do they know their father is harboring a terrible secret: he has squandered the family fortune and gotten himself indebted to a local crime organization. The only way to pay his debt? To agree to arranged marriages for Pearl and May with "Gold Mountain Men"-Chinese men who live in America but return to Shanghai for brides. May and Pearl fight try to escape this fate as the political climate around them changes. Invasion from Japanese forces is not far off and when the city is no longer safe, the sisters take the only course of action they have: to flee to America to the husbands they never wanted. Thinking they are free of their difficulties the sisters are about to discover that even more hardships await them as they arrive in America. This is complicated by the discovery that May is pregnant, a secret which can never be told. From the glittering city of Shanghai to the China Towns of California, Shanghai Girls follows May and Pearl on their journey where the only thing they can count on is the bond they have with each other.
My Thoughts:
At the heart of this novel is the relationship between the two sisters, May and Pearl who were living in Shanghai. We get to meet these women when they were young and see how they matured into the women they are today. I don't have a lot of patience for selfish people so my emotions were just on edge as I read May's story, however, she did redeem herself when she helped her sister after a heart-wrenching ordeal while fleeing the city. That being said, I enjoyed learning about the history and culture of Shanghai during the takeover by the Japanese. I also had an appreciation of the hardships many immigrants have in seeking a free and open existence (here in America).  The sequel "Dreams of Joy" should be read along with this book.

Monday, April 4, 2011

About the book:
Terry McMillan's Waiting to Exhale was more than just a bestselling novel-its publication was a watershed moment in literary history. McMillan's sassy and vibrant story about four African American women struggling to find love and their place in the world touched a cultural nerve, inspired a blockbuster film, and generated a devoted audience. Now, McMillan revisits Savannah, Gloria, Bernadine, and Robin fifteen years later. Each is at her own midlife crossroads: Savannah has awakened to the fact that she's made too many concessions in her marriage, and decides to face life single again-at fifty-one. Bernadine has watched her megadivorce settlement dwindle, been swindled by her husband number two, and conned herself into thinking that a few pills will help distract her from her pain. Robin has an all-American case of shopaholism, while the big dream of her life-to wear a wedding dress- has gone unrealized. And for years, Gloria has taken happiness and security for granted. But being at the wrong place at the wrong time can change everything. All four are learning to heal past hurts and to reclaim their joy and their dreams; but they return to us full of spirit, sass, and faith in one another. They've exhaled: now they are learning to breathe.

My thoughts:
The characters are familiar (Waiting to Exhale) so it was nice to catch up now that they are older.  I liked the tone of the book and felt like I could relate to the characters (except the Alcoholism of course).  Also, I sense their friendship has eased into a more mature bond.  Not sure about Robin's relationship and thought it was *too far too fast* but then with Robin, anything is possible.  I would like to see the movie version with the same characters.

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

About the book
Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon at a mission hospital in Addis Ababa. Orphaned by their mother’s death in childbirth and their father’s disappearance, bound together by a preternatural connection and a shared fascination with medicine, the twins come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revolution. Yet it will be love, not politics—their passion for the same woman—that will tear them apart and force Marion, fresh out of medical school, to flee his homeland. He makes his way to America, finding refuge in his work as an intern at an underfunded, overcrowded New York City hospital. When the past catches up to him—nearly destroying him—Marion must entrust his life to the two men he thought he trusted least in the world: the surgeon father who abandoned him and the brother who betrayed him.

My Thoughts
Powerful, thought provoking story of twin boys growing up in Ethiopia while the country was on the brink of a revolution. Relationships are the core of this novel. I was intrigued by the author's ability to show how the twins were emotionally connected while exploring their relationships with their parents, extended family and friends. Another relationship that begs for attention is that of the brothers, Marian and Shiva and Genet (daughter of their housekeeper). This novel is quite a remarkable reading experience but a bit marred by the tedious medical detail,which in some cases requires the reader to have a very strong disposition. Nevertheless, this novel is a four star given the fact that the author crafted such a memorable cast and provides such a powerful story of the Ethiopian existence. I feel this story is extremely close to the writer's heart if not taken from his own personal experience!!

Monday, January 24, 2011

****Book Give-A-Way*****

I am so excited to be hosting my very first giveaway (for not one but two books) and would like to thank Megan Renart at Phenix Publicity for making this possible. Enough about me, lets check out the book and author!

Quantum Angel Healing: Energy Therapy and Communication with Angels
by Eva-Maria Mora

Quantum Angel Healing: Energy Therapy and Communication with Angels (Synergy Books, February 2011), reveals how to restore health and balance to your life and the lives of others through connecting and communicating with angels.

Mora says that for every illness, there is a corresponding emotion or harmful pattern in our lives. Whether suffering from a chronic physical ailment or other imbalance, the Quantum-Angel-Healing method utilizes a higher source of energy to effectively transform any emotions, thoughts, patterns and programs that underlie our ill health. Along with tools for overcoming negative energy, Quantum Angel Healing provides readers with a comprehensive list of illnesses and their emotional counterparts, along with a step-by-step treatment method.

About the author:
Mora earned her MBA from the University of Kassel in Germany and worked as a consultant in the corporate world before dedicating her life to healing. A clairvoyant medical intuitive and spiritual teacher, she currently divides her time between Germany and Scottsdale, Ariz. She is the founder of Children of the Light, a charity organization in Germany supporting children with ADHD. She is also the author of "Quantum Angel Love" (2007), "Quantum Angel Children" (2008) and "Activating Divine Power" (2009). Mora lectures and hosts workshops based on Quantum Angel Healing worldwide with her husband, Michael. For more information, visit

To schedule an interview with Mora or to receive a review copy of Quantum Angel Healing,
please contact Megan Renart at (512) 478-2028 ext. 213 or

***Contest Rules***

This giveaway is open to anyone (worldwide).  To enter:

*Leave a comment on this post including your email address telling how you try to bring balance to your life!
*Follow this blog (via Google Friend Connect, RSS Feed, etc.)

*Follow me on Twitter at ( islandgirlreads ) and Tweet about this giveaway (include @islandgirlreads in your tweet)

3 entry maximum.

The deadline for entry is 11:59 PM (Eastern Time) Tuesday, February 15th !

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

The Help, Kathleen Sprockett

Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody’s business, but she can’t mind her tongue, so she’s lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.

In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women—mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends—view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don’t. (
From the publisher.)

My Thoughts: 
I thought this was a good read, which gave a mostly accuracte depiction of the relationships between employer and "the help" in the south.  The writer did a good job of examining the relationships she introduced in the book. The characters are well-developed, and there is the right combination of suspense and humor.

I applaud Kathleen Stockett for daring to take on this project and really giving a clear picture of what life was like at the time during which the book was written.  I admired young Skeeter who just finshed college and struggled to fit into the social circle in her suburban hometome.  Instead of following the life her mother laid out for her, she decided she wanted to be a writer.  Her own relationship with her maid growing up, gave her cause to ponder the plight of other maids and fueled the project that eventually led her to New York.

My main focus however, was on the maids and their struggle to survive in the midst of social injustice (on the brink of the civil rights movement).  Though the two friends were as different in social standing from their employers as day and night, there were very much similar in the sense of being devoted to their work and cherishing family and friendship. Abileen is torn between her role as maid to Ms. Hilly and nanny to her daugher Mae Mobley.  Minny, her dear friend and also a maid, is loud and rambuncios......they complement each other well. 

I felt the writer wrote from very personal experiences and really wanted to showcase these women for who they really were, not black maids  but strong, phenomenal women who loved fiercely and stood up for their rights!!  I for one, can't wait to see the movie!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Fun of Dying, Find out what reallly happens next

Author: Roberta Grimes

If you wonder whether death ends life, how it feels to die, or what heaven might be like, this book is for you. If you worry about a lost loved one, or fret about the death of a pet, all the answers to your questions are here. And if you are afraid of death, if you worry that your life has no meaning, or if you have given up on religions, then let this book ease some of your fears while it brings new meaning to your life.

Nothing written here is based on the teachings of any religion. Instead, this book draws on more than a century’s worth of evidence to explain in detail how death feels, how it happens and—most importantly—what comes next. Accounts of near-death experiences are just a small part of the afterlife evidence! A lot of the best death-related evidence was produced in the first half of the 20th century, and it has been ignored ever since by mainstream science and mainstream religions. When it is put together with more recent discoveries, it tells a consistent and amazing story.

The Fun of Dying is a complete account of how dying feels and what comes next. Read it, learn the truth, and apply its lessons so you can enjoy your best life forevermore!

My Thoughts:

Thanks to Megan at Phenix Publicity for sending me this book. I thought it was an interesting read and came at a time when I questioned what really happens when you die. I like how the writer presents a life after death where upon your death, you are greeted by loved ones who help to guide you as you transition through the different levels of heaven (or Summerland). The writer reiterates that death is not unpleasant so most who have died, do not have any wish to return. In a few cases, some ppl (like mothers) of young children wish to remain here on earth so they can take care of their children. They will be able to do so if their earthly bodies are capable of sustaining life. Towards the end of the book, explanations about the upper levels do get a bit muddled but overall this is a book that gives food for thought and very easy to read.

Island Girl Reads in bikini....with books, drinks & kids in tow!

Its a new year and I have a new blog.  Excuse me, a professional-looking new blog!  I am sooo excited.  Well I have posted my first review in well over 6 months and have several more to I did'nt sop reading, just got too busy to post the reviews.

Check it out!  I'm still trying to figure out how to add reviews to the Review I open the same post each time or is there a way for me to add new posts to the page?  Sounds crazy but send your thoughts please.