Review: The Lullaby of Polish Girls by Dagmara Dominczyk

The Lullaby of Polish GirlsAnna has spent most of her life outside of Poland, but she seems to feel the greatest connection to herself when she is back in the town she called home in her childhood, and where she returns most summers. It is in this town of Kielce, Poland that Anna meets her closest girlfriends (and frenemies) Kamila and Justyna. The three girls create an unlikely bond when Anna comes to visit her grandmother when she is 12, and remain penpals in between Anna’s visits back to Poland.

This is the world we enter in The Lullaby of Polish Girls by Dagmara Dominczyk. The book moves back and forth in time and from the viewpoint of the three friends. Anna brings a sophisticated world view from living in many places before settling in the United States, eventually becoming an actress. Kamila is the awkward, desperate to please friend who flees to the United States when her marriage falls apart while Justyna is the wild child who never leaves Poland. A shocking tragedy brings the three friends back to each other.

I found this book really special. It could be because I am of Polish descent that I felt a connection to this book, but I really enjoyed Dominczyk’s writing and  character development. Each of the girls had flaws but were lovable in their own way. You could feel and believe their friendship and their betrayals. The ending is a little too neatly packaged, but I was ever able to look past it because the overall work was so solid.

**I received this book from LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers.**

It’s Monday, 24 June – What Are You Reading?

It’s time for Book Journey’s fabulous weekly posting “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?”

Another good week . A book finished, a review up. I’m liking how summer is going here so far, although I would like to up my “finished book” count. I finished Alison Sweeney’s The Star Attraction (a little pre-review comment: what a great start to summer read). I am still working on Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris, I also did some more reading of Hal Higdon’s Marathon because I will be starting my marathon training soon.

This week I will finish up Dead Ever After, start Daphne Kalotay’s Sight Reading and also continue reading The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey which I began on my Kindle last night.

Here’s my last week in review:

Books Finished:
The Star Attraction by Alison Sweeney

Reviews Posted:
Starting Now

How about you? How was your week last week and what are you going to be reading this week?

Review: Starting Now by Debbie Macomber

0345528816.01._SX140_SY224_SCLZZZZZZZ_Libby thought she had her life all figured out. Ignoring building a “life” and nurturing her personal relationships, she dedicated herself to her work as a corporate lawyer knowing that the long hours she put in at the office would fast track her to partner. So when she is invited to her boss and mentor’s office she is already thinking about her partnership when instead she is laid off. This is where Starting Now by Debbie Macomber begins, and it is where Libby’s finally begins.

It takes Libby time to get out of the funk of her upended life, but when she gives herself some time to think about her mentor’s advice she begins to get herself back in order through some unexpected places – a yarn shop and then a hospital’s maternity ward. Libby rebuilds a connection to her dead mother by starting to knit (one of the last things her mom taught her before she died), and knits hats for babies in the hospital nursery. On a trip to drop off the hats, she is asked to volunteer to hold the babies and this opens Libby up to new feelings and new relationships.

Over the course of the book Libby reconnects with a friend, begins a slow build of a relationship with a doctor at the hospital, tries to help a pre-teen in need and start her own law practice. For someone previously so focused on one aspect of her life to the detriment of everything else, this is a lot and she falls back into some old habits, and Macomber takes us along on Libby’s journey to find herself and her balance.

I have never read any of Macomber’s books before, this book is part of the Blossom Street series. I was looking for something different from some of the books I typically read and responded to an ARC request ad on Shelf Awareness. It’s a very easy going book, but I did find some of the things Macomber threw in Libby’s path a bit too much. I felt like it was trying to teach and preach too many lessons in one story. The book, and the cover, make me think of sitting on a summer porch in a white rocking, but it was not really a book for me. I’m glad I gave this book and series a chance, but this isn’t one I see myself going back to.

It’s Monday, 17 June – What Are You Reading?

It’s time for Book Journey’s fabulous weekly posting “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?”

June is half-way over, how did this happen? Reading and posting is getting better – and I hope to keep it up and increase postings throughout the summer. I have to up my reading too – according to my Goodreads tracker, I am 7 books behind in reading 50 books this year. That’s a lot of catch-up, but I hope to get there this summer.

Last week was a good reading week, I started and finished The Lullaby of Polish Girls by Dagmara Dominczyk (which I  got as an ARC from LibraryThing Early Readers), started up Alison Sweeney’s The Star Attraction and also, in honor of True Blood’s return to HBO, started Dead Ever After, the final book in Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse series. I didn’t like the previous one and had planned to swear off them, but this one is the end of the series, so I figured I could read one more to see how it all ends.

This week I plan to finish up Sookie and start Daphne Kalotay’s Sight Reading (which I received as an ARC), and also hopefully finish up The Star Attraction, which is really what I want to spend all my free reading time reading – it is definitely a fun, quintessential  summer read!

Here’s my last week in review:

Books Finished:
The Lullaby of Polish Girls by Dagmara Dominczyk

Reviews Posted:
Beautiful Ruins

How about you? How was your week last week and what are you going to be reading this week?

Review: Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

Beautiful RuinsPasquale Tursi has a dream, to create a beautiful hotel in his small Italian seaside village, one that would bring rich American tourists and movie stars to play tennis on his cliffside court and lounge on his created beach. So imagine his surprise when an American actress leaves the set of Cleopatra and sails right to Pasquale. Dee is ill and seeks refuge at Pasquale’s family hotel. The boy who dreams big now finds himself not only in his own family drama, but in the middle of one of Hollywood’s biggest scandals – the love affair of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. This is only the beginning of the intrigue in Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins.

Pasquale and Dee’s story alone might be enough to fill the pages of a novel, but Walter adds more layers to this book by jumping forward to the present day as Claire, an assistant to a major Hollywood producer, finds herself wanting to leave the business because she is not making movies that matter. Then add one more story, the failing man-child musician Pat, who ruins every relationship he touches.

There is a lot going on with this book (and not just the jumping in time between post war Italy, WWII and the present day) and with that, I found it a little uneven and at times trying a little too hard adding more and more layers that made the book somewhat clunky (there are actually a few more storylines that I haven’t even included here). So when I finished, I wound up someplace that I wasn’t really expecting when I loaded this book with the beautiful cover on my Kindle. Not that it is a bad thing to get something unexpected, and I really appreciate some of the different ways Walter took in telling so many stories. It just seemed a little much, but all in all an interesting and definitely well-written read that is so much more than an Italian seaside Hollywood scandal story.

It’s Monday, 10 June – What Are You Reading

It’s time for Book Journey’s fabulous weekly posting “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?”

While I am not starting out June really strong with reading or posting – I committed to finishing Dan Brown’s Inferno – and did, but not until after midnight last night (or should I say this morning). I have lots of books I could read, I am putting A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki aside for now and will either read Daphne Kalotay’s Sight Reading (which I received as an ARC) or The Lullaby of Polish Girls by Dagmara Dominczyk (which I also got as an ARC). I will also be reading something new on my Kindle, maybe Alison Sweeney’s The Star Attraction.  And I need to review and read some of the marathon books I just got – I bought one and then my wonderful friend who is a runner brought me a stack this weekend. So I have lots on my reading agenda this week.

Here’s my last week in review:

Books Finished:
Inferno by Dan Brown

Reviews Posted:
None

How about you? How was your week last week and what are you going to be reading this week?

It’s Monday, 3 June – What Are You Reading

It’s time for Book Journey’s fabulous weekly posting “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?”

June, wow – where did May go? It’s now time for beaches, pools, vacations and just general relaxation. Much like last week, I didn’t finish any books, but for the first time in awhile, I did get a new review on the site! Yay! I’m still actively reading all the same books (Inferno by Dan Brown and A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki), I really need to get back on track for reading Born to Run because I just signed-up for my first marathon. A summer of training here I come!

Here’s my last week in review:

Books Finished:
None

Reviews Posted:
The Newlyweds

How about you? How was your week last week and what are you going to be reading this week?