Wednesday, December 31, 2008

(116) Herself by Leslie Carroll

The final book of the year. Herself by Leslie Carroll. This was a fun little book that gave me one of my resolutions for 2009.
Get a passport!! So the next time a man named David breaks my heart(because it happens far too often in my life) I can hop on a plane & fly to Ireland to find the real love of my life.
Tessa Craig is a successful speech writer for Congressman David Weyburn (further proof that all single men named David are emotionally damaging to have around!! *grin*) when he decides that he wants to end their secret romantic relationship after three years. But he does want her to stay on as his speechwriter. WTF? Only a man would think that it would work out. LOL.
Tessa decides to think about it while on a vacation to Ireland. Where she meets Jamie Doyle. A true Irishman who professes his undying love after only knowing her a week. He even decides to shuck it all & move to New York to be with her. But can they overcome their differences in religion, in lifestyles & live happily ever after?
Herself is a fun little book about a woman who finally learns how to look after herself. She examines how her life has been going & what is missing from her life. And finds love along the way. The perfect book to read in the New Year when Resolutions start dying out. Herself will remind you how important it is to persevere & make the changes necessary to make you a better woman.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

(115) Addition by Toni Jordan - On Sale February 3rd, 2009

This was absolutely one of the best books of 2009. I know it is technically not 2009 yet. But the book will not be on sale until February 3rd. And trust me, I will remind you when the book hits the shelves.

Addition is a book about love. Love of our self, love of our family, love of significant others. And what we are willing to sacrifice for those we love. More specifically, what kind of change we are willing to encounter for those we love.

Grace Vandenberg is a 35 year old single woman in Melbourne, Australia. She is currently unemployed, but only because the administrators prefer that she teach the kids, as opposed to counting them. Her life is in complete order. She knows exactly how many steps it takes to get to the grocery store, how many steps it takes to get to the bathroom. She can only buy bananas in quantity of ten. She can only eat food after it has be cut into pieces divisible by three. Numbers are her world. Counting is her life.

She is in line at the grocery store when she realizes that she has nine bananas in her basket instead of ten. What is a woman to do? She takes the required tenth banana from the guy in line behind her. Which brings Seamus into her life.
"I used to be good at flirting. A lot of people think that
flirting is about sex. Well, flirting is about surprise, and surprise is
about sex. If someone can be unexpected using words, imagine how thrilling they
could be using their mouth."
Grace & Seamus are together only a little while when he discovers her quirks. And encourages her to see a therapist & join a therapy group of rehabbing OCDers. As the drugs kick in, the counting stop & Grace turns into someone that, while on the outside, appears normal. She is a dull, numb shadow of the woman she once was.

It takes a family emergency for Grace to emerge from her haze to realize that she LIKED who she was prior to the drugs & the therapy. And as much as she loves Seamus, she wants to go back to the way she was before he came into her life. The question is, can Seamus accept her & love her for who she was, not who he wants her to be.

Addition is a funny, intelligent book. The razor sharp wit is so dry it may be missed by the untrained eye. But make no mistake, it is there. Compromise is a part of relationships, it is a part of love. But what happens when the compromises we make turn us into someone completely different? Toni Jordan's book takes you into Grace's world. And what happens when Grace decides that even true love is not worth the compromises asked of her.

This is a do not miss book & I can't wait to discuss it with others once it hits the shelves!

Monday, December 29, 2008

(114) Love & Other Natural Disasters by Holly Shumas

Well. There is no other way to say it, but I did not like this book. Okay, maybe not the book, itself. It has a pretty green cover. *grin*
It is Thanksgiving day when Eve walks in on her husband having an intimate phone conversation with another woman. Eight months pregnant and full of hormones, Eve comes completely unglued & kicks him & everyone there for dinner out of their home.
The story then follows Eve & Jon (mostly Eve) as they try to piece their life back together. Eve & her self righteous indignation is so revolting, I just want to slap her silly. I barely tolerate women like this in real life, I sure don't want to read about them for pleasure. Eve makes excuses for her bad behavior & takes no responsibility for her own actions for their breakdown in marriage, even though she obviously was a contributing factor. (Nothing irritates me more than a woman who blames everything bad in life on a man -- grow a freaking spine & look in the mirror). But can the couple get their act together before it is too late?
There are some likable characters in this book. Eve's brother, Charlie, reminded me of one of my own brother's with his easy personality. And Lil, the mother of one of the kids friends, is a no-nonsense , take no prisoners kind of woman. Someone that I think is the polar opposite of Eve.
Love & Other Natural Disasters is not an easy book to read. It is a fast book to read, but not an easy one. The obvious character flaws in Eve & Jon are so disgusting you want to hurry through the book with as little personal damage as possible.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

(113) The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore

I downloaded this book last year for Christmas & forgot all about it. I have a tendency to forget things around the Holidays. LOL
I found it when I was digging through my Audible library last week & decided that I would listen to it on my drive to Iowa for Christmas. The Stupidest Angel was my first Christopher Moore book & it will not be my last.
I had no clue what to expect, being that I had forgotten that I even had it. Little did I know that it is a Zombie book!! With a pot smoking Constable, a crazy B-Actress, an Angel set on proving his worth, a gun toting Santa who gets himself killed with a shovel, and of course it all takes place in a picturesque little town along the coast. The west coast, that is.
The thing about listening to Audiobooks is that, yes, you get to hear the story in character's voices, but there are no pages to stick post-it notes on to mark the one liners you want to quote. The Stupidest Angel is full of one-liners that left my jaw dropped in some case & had me rolling with laughter with others. It was the perfect book to whet my appetite for Christopher Moore. I get his sense of humor & I look forward to checking out his other works.

Monday, December 22, 2008

(112) The Reading Group by Elizabeth Noble

YAY!!! I actually finished a book!! I was sitting at the oil change place & almost finished it! Dern them for being so fast! So I had to rush home to read the last few pages.

The Reading Group is exactly what I wish I had. A group of women, some strangers, some friends who get together once a month to discuss books. And even better, they all live in or around London.
All of the women come from different stages of life. From the divorced mother newly engaged, to the woman who has to make tough decisions about her aging mother. Each of the women has something different to offer the group. And through the months, their relationships grow through the discussions at the Reading Group.
The book was a great read & would be perfect for a book club discussion, itself. And a neat thing I noticed, that even though ''chosen" months in advance, each book discussed is relevant to what is going on in the lives of the women. With books like Atonement, The Alchemist, Rebecca and others, you get to peek at the discussion these women have over books that millions of women have read all over the world.
Great book! Check it out!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

~~ Grandma is Dead: Breaking Bad News with Baby Animals by Amanda McCall & Ben Schwartz

I don't usually blog about these type of books. Books with no plot or storyline. But this. This book must be shared. LOL
It is currently on our Humor table & they have been selling by the dozens, but I had never picked it up until today. I was tired & crabby & a bit short with the first couple customers of the day. But I read this book in less than five minutes & just giggled & giggled & giggled. OMG. It is so cute, I actually bought it. LOL. With captions like "Your Band Sucks" & "Your toupee isn't fooling anyone" you just can't help but giggle.
A quick google search led me to this website It appears as if several from the book can be found on the website. And just for the record, it is hard to be pissed & cranky when giggling like a crazy person.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

(111) Sing Them Home by Stephanie Kallos

This was a really, really good book.

Sing Them Home is such a captivating, intricate story, that I am not sure where to begin.

It was 1978 when a tornado swept through the small Nebraska town, Emlyn Springs. The tornado swept away Hope Jones & her daughter, Bonnie. Bonnie was eventually found in the roots of an uprooted, overturned tree, but Hope was never to be seen again. Leaving her three children (Gaelen, Larken & Bonnie) motherless.

Fast forward to 2003. Their father, the good mayor of Emlyn Springs is adamant that he will not miss his tee time. Even if it is in the middle of yet another unrelenting spring storm. Even though, they had not gone far, all three children find their way back to Emlyn Springs. Through their grief, they confront the things in their lives that are holding them back. Professionally, socially, & emotionally.

The novel is written in such a way that you get perspective from all characters involved. From the entries in Hope's journals, to Viney, their father's common-law wife & once best friend to their mother, to the Dead Mothers & Fathers of the town(it may sound strange, but really it is a charming piece of the story), you experience it all.

I think the reason why I enjoyed this book so much is because I can relate to so many things in the story. Particularly the location. I grew up in a small town Southeast of Omaha (on the Iowa side). Yet it is so similar. And Kallos has nailed the descriptive qualities of small town living

"But when you've lived here as long as I have, folks expect you to
behave a certain way. It's as if they've already imagined your life &
get truly, deeply upset if you don't play your part the way they've written

I was shocked to learn that Ms Kallos was not a native to Nebraska, also because of her observations of Nebraska culture. There was mention made of Runza's, a fast food chain born & bred in Nebraska, and a MUST have for visiting out-of-towners like me.
But, most importantly, it was the observations & writing regarding Welly's season tickets to the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
"Season tickets to University of Nebraska football games are to Nebraskans what
rent-controlled apartments are to Manhattanites
And when it came to selling those season tickets?
"There is a small country that forms on certain Saturday's in the autumn
within the city limits of Lincoln, Nebraska. On those Saturday's hundreds
of thousands of people gather to cheer on a football team called The Cornhuskers.
In the end, Larken couldn't SIGN HERE -- Not today,
maybe never, because selling her father's small territorial holdings within that
Saturday country would be exactly like selling the family farm."
Having recently attended my first Cornhusker football game in Lincoln, I can very easily understand what a treasure it is to have those season tickets. And obviously so does Stephanie Kallos. Sing Them Home is an excellent, well written study at life, death, living, dying & small town America. It is not an easy read, nor is it a fast read, but it is a book that will leave you a better person at it's conclusion.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

(110) Snowed In by Christina Bartolomeo

We are coming to that time of year where my reading slows down drastically as work picks up. Such is the life of a retail manager. Be patient, vacation is coming after the holidays & I plan on reading until my eyes fall out.
Snowed In is a book that I picked up last year during our employee appreciation days & just now got around to reading. I had to wait for the right mood to read a book titled Snowed In.
Sophie & Paul are just past the honeymoon phase of their wedding when Paul's work transfers him to Portland, Maine. While Paul becomes immersed in his work & his new secretary. Sophie finds herself listless & unsettled in their new home. It is when she joins a walking club & meets Ned & Stephen, two brothers also "from away", that she truly begins to feel as if Portland is a place she can call home. But as her friendships grow, her marriage deteriorates.
Christina Bartolomeo has written an interesting booking about personal growth. And doing things that challenge us to step outside the comfort zone. Whether it be learning to do something new or joining a club, without personal growth, we become stagnant. Sophie is a perfect example of that.
Snowed In isn't a "fluffy" Chick Lit book. There are too many meaty issues at the heart of this story, but it would be a good book for a book club discussion. There is a reading group guide in back to help lead discussion.

Monday, December 1, 2008

(109) Apart From The Crowd by Anna McPartlin

I was off three days last week for a Holiday Trip "home". I had a backpack full of books to read while in the comfort of my Step-Dad's recliner.
And then I got sick.
I still am fighting the crud, but I do feel a little better, but not much. I missed work yesterday in an effort to kick it to the curb. Getting sick during the holidays is not possible for a Retail Manager. *sigh*
Apart From The Crowd is another book to feed my Irish obsession. The book tells the story of Kenmare. A small village in Ireland. Full of inhabitants that have lived there all their lives. At the center of the book is Mary, Sam, Penny, & Ivan. Sam is the newcomer to the village, but is quickly made to feel like one of the family.
They all have "stuff" they are dealing with. Some of them deal with it better than others. But they get through with the help of each other. And in the process they learn a lot about themselves & what they want from this life.
Apart From the Crowd is not your typical chick lit. It is a well written novel with great character development. You feel as if you are a part of the community. And it is a wonderful place to be.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

(108) The Bodies Left Behind by Jeffery Deaver

Jeffery Deaver is best known for his Lincoln Rhyme series of books. One of which was made into a movie The Bone Collector with Denzel Washington & that Husband Stealer.
I haven't read the series, because I don't really like starting a series that have a million books & I didn't start with the first one. Like the Born In Death series, or the John Sanford series. I know I would enjoy them, but committing to reading the whole series at once is overwhelming.
When I read the synopsis for The Bodies Left Behind & saw that it wasn't a Lincoln Rhyme novel, I decided to give it a shot.
The book is action packed, a little too much so. Just when you think things are going to have a conclusion, he throws another thing into the mix. I can see the book becoming a movie. But other than the Husband Stealer, I can't think of a good female action star.
But, back to the plot. Deputy Brynne McKensie is cooking dinner at home when she gets a call from work. A 911 call from one of the nearby lake homes. She is asked to go check things out. And that is when all hell breaks loose. Brynne enters the fight for her life & the struggle to find her way back home. And of course there are enough twists & turns that will leave you dazed, but you will enjoy the end! I promise!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

(107) Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

With the upcoming release of Twilight, the movie, I decided to re-read the book that the movie is based on.
For the record, I want to state that I read the book long before it became the huge phenomenon that IS Twilight. For years, I have hand sold this book & the sequels to anyone who is wanting a good romance, to anyone buying for teen girls. And there are always those people who are hesitant to purchase a vampire love story. Twilight is written by a practicing Mormon Mother. There is absolutely nothing questionable in this book. Heck, there is barely kissing.
So, why has Twilight & Edward Cullen taken over the hearts & minds of millions of women? Well, I think it is because we all want to be loved & cherished by a man like Edward loves & cherishes Bella. One of the girls at work, just finished the whole series. And she told me that while reading the series, she broke up with the guy she was dating. Just because the books reminded her what she wanted in a relationship & what she won't compromise. GOOD for her!
Expecting men to be like Edward is a bit unrealistic, though. Edward is a fictional character. Heck, he is a mythical character. Yet, it is not the mythical part that is so attractive. It is the fact that he loves Bella unconditionally. It is the fact that he would fight to the death for her. It is the fact that he puts her wants & needs above his at all time. We all hope that those qualities in a man are not as mythical as Edward.
If you are one of those few females left on the planet that have not read Twilight, I do encourage you to do so. It will not raise your IQ or solve the world's woes. But it will be an opportunity to escape for a few hours & remember what it is like to fall in love for the first time.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

(106) The Pre-Nup by Beth Kendrick

Three women have been best friends since college. Mara, Ellie, & Jen. All three are at varying stages in their relationships. And at the center of each relationship problem is a little document called The Pre-Nup.
For Ellie, her marriage is over. There is no hope of a reconciliation. But the Pre-Nup as stated will leave her destitute & possibly losing custody of her daughter. Can she plead her case & save her divorce?
For Jen, her marriage to Eric is on the rocks, but the Pre-Nup could cause her to lose everything she has worked so hard for. But will it all be worth it without Eric?
And there is Mara. Mara is engaged to Josh. She is planning her wedding & looking forward to their future together. But Mara, the high powered lawyer may lose it all when a Pre-Nup is introduced, they may not make it to the alter.
Beth Kendrick writes a fun little book about three friends. Three friends who stick together when the chips are down. Three friends who take care of each other when they are at their lowest point. The Pre-Nup is not only a book about relationships, but more a book about friendships. And no matter what happens, your truest friends will always be there for you.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

(105) Time of My Life by Allison Winn Scotch

If you could pick an age in your life where you could go back & start over, what age would you choose?
I am going with age 19. When I made the decision to not go back to finish college. While I am THRILLED with where I work & what I do, I now wonder how much different my life would have been if I had stayed in school for all four years.
For Jill, the main character of Time of My Life, she doesn't get a choice. She is so discontent with her life & her marriage that she is thrilled to wake up & discover that she is back in the year 2000. The week before she breaks up with her ex-boyfriend & meets her future husband.
The author has done an excellent job at illustrating how just one or two different decisions can make a huge difference in how the rest of our lives play out. And even though Jill has the opportunity at a "do-over", she realizes that things that are meant to happen WILL happen.
Time of My Life is not really a chick-lit book, like the cover suggests. It is an emotional look at whether being happy with your life is as easy as it sounds. It is a great book & I see it as a future favorite of book clubs all over America.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

(104) Good Luck by Whitney Gaskell

What would you do if you won $34 Million dollars?
Let's see. I would first of all, set up trust funds for all of my nieces & nephews. I would write a check for a million dollars to both sets of my parents. And then I would hire a financial consultant & invest a chunk. After a spending spree, of course. A house in the Shoal Creek area & a new Lexus SUV. That would be my spending spree. *grin*
Lucy Parker is having a hell of a day. She was just accused of sexually harassing a student, which resulted in her losing her job. Her beloved VW broke down & she walked in on her boyfriend having sex with a random girl with fake books. It is, without a doubt, the worst day of her life. And then she wins the lottery.
After the shock wears off, Lucy tries to figure out what to do next. The media has made her a prisoner in her own home. So when an old college friend offers her refuge in her Palm Beach mansion, she goes. She finds herself entrenched in a world she does not know. A world of Porsche convertibles, personal stylists & $900 pair of jeans. She finds herself being turned upside down & inside out. Will she ever find her way back to the person she was before?
Whitney Gaskell has written a fun little book. We all have played the "What If..." game. Whitney Gaskell just put it on paper. And I would be remiss to not point out the props she gives to Barnes & Noble. Her description was spot on in regards to selling the Membership card, that I actually laughed out loud. She MUST have been a bookseller in a prior life. It seriously cracked me up.
Check out this essay by Whitney Gaskell regarding the back story. I would like to say that you could buy the book at B&N, but for some reason we were told to pull the book as "defective" with no reason. But I was able to snag a copy before they were pulled. No matter where you buy it, just buy it. You won't be disappointed.

Friday, November 7, 2008

(103) Songs for the Missing by Stewart O'Nan

One of the most tragic things that can happen to a family, to parents, is to have a child go missing.
Ever since I was a little girl & the child of my dad's classmate went missing. Johnny Gosch. The Gosch family was from the same small town that my Dad grew up in. I remember when he went missing. I remember being afraid to go anywhere after it happened. But ever since Johnny Gosch, I have been fascinated by the stories of our country's missing children.
Fast forward to 2008 & children are still going missing. Little Caylee Anthony has been the most recent one to capture the attention of America. But there can be success stories, as well. Finding Shawn Hornbeck after four years, for example. Absolutely that is a success story.
Songs For the Missing is an incredibly well written look at what happens in a small Ohio town when an eighteen year old girl goes missing. The story reminds me a lot of the a local girl, Kara Kopetsky. I thought of her often when reading this book.
The police aren't all that convinced that Kim is in danger. They thing she ran away that summer day. But her friends & family know different.
Songs For the Missing is a parents worst nightmare. But author, Stewart O'Nan does such an incredible job telling the story from all sides. From Kim's boyfriend, to her best friend, to her little sister, to her Father . You get to experience this tragedy from all of their view points. The book is well written, engaging, & heartbreaking all at once. You won't be able to put it down. The book is not a fast paced thriller, but a slow & steady character piece. And worth every minute it takes you to read the book.

Monday, November 3, 2008

(102) Testimony by Anita Shreve

Anita Shreve has hit it out of the ballpark with her new book, Testimony. It is an insightful, 360 degree look at what happens when a scandal erupts at a prestigious, upper crust New England private school.
The story is told in alternating voices. And it took me several chapters to realize that the chapters were being told as if it were truly testimony in a trial. (yes, I am a dork). From the Headmaster, who tried to keep the situation involving three upper class boys & a fourteen year old freshman, within the four walls of the school. To the roommate of the girl involved, to the parents of the students involved. The book tells the Testimony of all those involved.
Some readers may find it a bit confusing, because each person's Testimony starts at a different point in time. For the Headmaster, it started when his car flipped over on the icy road several years before the incident. For the girlfriend of one of the boys, her Testimony starts when she & Silas first discovered each other. But all of the testimonies come together to tell the story of what happened that Saturday night.
Testimony explores the privileged world of New England Private Schools and the communities they are set in. And how to the two, very different worlds, sometimes collide, wreaking havoc on many in the process. Well written & easy to read, once you start to read Testimony, you won't want to stop.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

(101) The Shack by Wm Paul Young

I am likely going to Hell.
I am likely the only person on the planet who did not like The Shack.
The book started out interesting enough. The story of the Great Sadness was really & truly sad. I kept thinking back to Kelsey Smith, a local girl who made national news when she was abducted from Target & found murdered a few days later. What Mack went through, is what I imagine the Smith's went through. And I can't even begin to imagine what that kind of anguish feels like.
Sadly enough, they did not find Mack's daughter, Missy. And the next few years take a toll on his entire family. One day Mack receives a note in the mailbox. A note from "Papa" (his wife's name for God) calling him back to the Shack. It starts a series of events that will change Mack's relationship with God.
And that is where I lose interest in the book. The rest of The Shack is basically the author's interpretation of what God is to him. I mean, we all have a vision of what God would be like if we were to run into Him & having a chance to "hang out" so to speak. Well, this book is Paul Young's vision & it did nothing for me.
I can see why people like this book. People who have had a hard time putting a face to the name, so to speak. Mack spends his time with "Papa" (a big black woman) trying to make sense of his tragedy & why God would put him & his family through that.
The ending wraps everything up nice & neatly, which is just another reason for me to groan & mock. I told you I was going to Hell.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

!!!!!!(100!!!)!!!!!! --- Tis the Season By Lorna Landvik

The 100th book that I read of 2008 was a Christmas book!! YAY for Christmas!! Things are really gearing up at work for the Holidays. Between the Holiday Changeover & talking about Holiday Scheduling, well Christmas will be here before you know it.
Tis The Season was a FAST read. It is written in email/letter format. And those always read fast. I think it took me an hour from start to finish.
The story itself is a heartwarming tale of a Party Princess made good. Think Britney Spears mixed with Paris Hilton. Caro Dixon has spiraled out of control with her drinking & partying. She has alienated friends, family, & several hotel chains. She finally hits rock bottom & after coming out of rehab, she finds herself more isolated than ever.
In the spirit of making amends, Caro emails some people from her past. People who had always been kind to her. And with their help her life gets back on track.
Tis The Season was really a cute book. The message was great & just wanted I needed to really get me in the mood for the upcoming season.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

(99)Going Home by Harriet Evans

Lizzy Walter is excited. It is Christmas Eve & she is Going Home. Her cousin, Tom & sister, Jess are waiting outside to take her home.
Home is the Keeper House, an English Manor in the English countryside. Keeper House has been in the family for many generations. It is where Lizzy's dad grew up with his sister & brothers. Keeper House is where Lizzy grew up with her sister, Jess.
Christmas Eve is when Uncle Mike springs a surprise on them by bringing his new wife all the way from America. Christmas Eve is when Aunt Chin introduces them to her boyfriend, Gibbo. Christmas Day is when Lizzy runs into her ex-boyfriend, the love of her life, at church. Christmas Day is when Lizzy's father announces that they must sell Keeper House.
Lizzy spends the next few months agonizing over the thought of losing her home. But most of all, she agonizes over what could have been with David. (What IS it with men named David?? Seriously, if I have learned nothing it is to NEVER date another man named David!)
Going Home is not your typical Chick Lit book. It isn't fluffy & lighthearted. It is real & intense. Lizzy's emotions jump off the page & sucks you in. Harriet Evans did a great job & has found a loyal reader with me. I look forward to reading her next book.

Friday, October 24, 2008

(98)Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

The 98th book I read of 2008 was a book I had first read several years ago.

As you know, I am a Sookie Stackhouse fan. I have been a fan for many years. And I have also been very entranced by the HBO series, True Blood. So when I found a stripped copy of Dead Until Dark at work (which, for the record was A COLOSSAL mistake, given the fact that is our number one bestselling paperback right now) I decided to read it again. To refresh my memory.

Dead Until Dark is just as fast of a read now, as it was when I first read it. And I remembered it fairly correctly. And even better, HBO is staying very true to the story. With one minor exception. The Tara/LaFayette storyline was introduced earlier on the show than in the book. Other than that, they have almost stayed true to the original story.

But, I admit that I had forgotten who the killer was. I wasn't shocked, but I didn't have it figured out either. I just hope that HBO sticks with Charlaine Harris on this one.

Monday, October 20, 2008

(97) The Smart One & The Pretty One by Claire LaZebnik

If I were to run into Claire LaZebnik on the street, there is one book I would encourage her to read. Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud.
I was absolutely horrified by the lack of Boundaries that Lauren & Ava displayed in the book The Smart One & The Pretty One. Let's forget the stereotypes that the title perpetrates, and move onto the fact that these sisters need some serious boundaries.
I have a sister. We are relatively close & have even lived together before, not to mention sharing a room as we were growing up. And not once. In our 25 years of being sisters have I EVER dreamt of getting into her purse to get money to give the neighbor girl peddling a fundraiser. And never would I think it was OKAY to do that. NEVER in a million years would I EVER think that it would be okay to hire a debt consolidator for my sister without her knowledge or permission.
Good grief. I just wanted to reach through the pages & set these girls down & shake them silly.
I purchased this book, because I saw that it was about Sisters. And it looked interesting because it involved a childhood "sweetheart". Holy cow, was the blurb misleading. There was the frumpy intelligent sister. And then the careless, irresponsible sister. There was absolutely nothing about this book that makes me willing to recommend it to women. I imagine that there are some women out there that can relate to the lack of boundaries between sisters. But, having grown up in a large family, boundaries were established early & (I am eternally grateful for that) this books just makes me want to kiss my mother for that.

Honestly, if the author would have addressed the issues in the story. And have the Sister's have their "moment of truth" moment, where they both realized that they were out of line & would never cross the "Boundaries" line again, I might be able to rec it. But that didn't happen. There wasn't really any "aha" moments about their relationship. About themselves, yes. But not about their inappropriate relationship.
Bottom line. SKIP it. Hopefully the next book on my TBR pile, also about sisters will be a better read.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

(96) Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron

I absolutely adored this book. And I am not a cat person. At all.
Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World made me very homesick for my childhood and my hometown. My hometown is a small town, also in Iowa. In Southwest Iowa, as opposed to Northwest Iowa, where Dewey lived.
Dewey was found on a bitterly cold January morning in the overnight book drop at that Spencer Public Library in Spencer, Iowa. I have never been to Spencer, but a very dear friend of mine is from a very large, somewhat well known Spencer family. Her Grandfather was the High School Principal for many years.
But I digress. After being rescued from the drop box, Dewey became the apple of the town's eye. Visitor traffic increased & everyone looked forward to spending time with Dewey at the library.
I liked this book because of the Iowa connection. Dewey was found in 1988. And the author, Vicki Myron, does an excellent job of setting the scene for small town Iowa in the winter of 1988. I remember it quite well, anybody associated with farming & agriculture remember it quite well. It was a dark & scary time.
I also liked the book because Myron referenced Iowa "things" that Iowa people know about. For example, she mentions the articles that "Iowa Boy" Chuck Offenburger wrote about Dewey for the Des Moines Register. Not only was Chuck Offenburger the "Iowa Boy", but he was from my hometown, Shenandoah. His family attended the same church as mine & his older brother, Dan, did a lot to breathe life into my dying hometown.
Another example, was her mention of the magazine called CountRy. For those who live in or long for the country. The founder & publisher of that magazine(and many others) grew up on the farm across the road from my Grandparents farm in an itty bitty Iowa town, Auburn, Iowa.
Those little pieces of my past, being mentioned in this heartwarming little book was thrilling. The story of Dewey, Vicki Myron, & the entire town of Spencer, Iowa warmed my heart on this chilly fall day. The story made me proud to be able to say that I am from a small town in Iowa, it may not have been Spencer, but the similarities between the towns are astounding.
Fans of Marley &Me will enjoy this book, even if they are not cat people. Because, while this is a story about a cat, it is also a testament to how pets get into your hearts & touch your lives. We should all be so lucky to have a Dewey or a Marley grace us with their presence.

Friday, October 17, 2008

(95) The Longest Trip Home by John Grogan On Sale October 21st, 2008

One of my favorite books of all time was this little book about a dog named Marley. You may have heard of it? Marley & Me by John Grogan. I read the book long before I had my own "Marley". It is one of those books that had me laughing hysterically & crying uncontrollably. I even went so far as to read excerpts from the book to co-workers. And on Christmas Day, you will get to see it on the Silver Screen.

When I saw the ad in a Shelf Awareness bulletin for Grogan's upcoming book, I couldn't request a copy fast enough.

Grogan does not disappoint with his second book. The Longest Trip Home is everything you would expect from the man who captivated America. It is funny, poignant, reminiscent, & heart wrenching all at the same time.

The Longest Trip Home tells about Grogan's life growing up with very devout Catholic parents. The Grogan's didn't take vacations to amusement parks or national landmarks. They visited Holy Shrines & locations where The Blessed Virgin was sighted.

Grogan tells tale after tale of his upbringing. From his first confession :

"There was only one thing I could do. "Forgive me Father, for I have
sinned. This is my first confession."

Then I lied my ass off."

To skipping out on Mass & attending the Church of John & Tim. John shares with us his life growing up. And his slow separation from the Church that defined his childhood. He shares with us the strife that his defection caused between he & his parents. And how the Church even caused friction between his wife & his parents.

But make no mistake, there is not a single bit of maliciousness about his feelings. The Longest Trip Home is not a "I Hate Catholicism" book. It is a book about his relationship with his parents. And how Catholicism played an integral part in that relationship.

There are millions of "lapsed Catholics" out there. I guess you could say that I am included in that statistic. Our parents raised us to be "Good Catholics". To attend Mass every Sunday, to never miss a Holy Day. To pray the Rosary when times get tough. And we can relate to Grogan when he skips Mass, yet tells his parents that he goes weekly. Been there, done that.

And like all children have to do, there comes a time when the roles become reversed & John & his siblings must care for their parents. Make arrangement & take care of them in ways that they were once taken care of.

The Longest Trip Home is an amazing story. John Grogan knows how to tell the tales with the best of the Irish Men. He does not disappoint he readers with his efforts. If you grew up in a large Catholic family, The Longest Trip Home needs to go on your Christmas list. You will thank me later.

Monday, October 13, 2008

(94) From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris

Move over Stephanie Meyer, there is a new belle at the ball. Sookie Stackhouse is the belle of the television ball this year. Ever since the HBO series, True Blood, started airing, Sookie Stackhouse is all that paranormal readers want. The customers want what they want & they want Sookie Stackhouse.
From Dead To Worse is the newest book in the Southern Vampire season. You catch up with Sookie, Bill, Eric & Jason after Hurricane Katrina. There is Were War going on & of course Sookie is right in the middle.
As a fan of the show, it is a bit weird to pick up book # 8 when so much has happened since where True Blood is at now. But things have happened & From Dead to Worse does not disappoint in it's plot or it's characters. In fact, I do believe the beginning of something good happens to Sookie in this book. And it involves Eric.
That is all I am going to say!! Once you new fans get caught up with the others, don't forget to check out From Dead to Worse.

Friday, October 10, 2008

(93)Anatomy of a Boyfriend by Daria Snadowsky

Disclaimer: This Post actually contains spoilers!! Read at your own risk!

To a bibliophile like me, authors are like rockstars. Especially successful authors. So when Daria Snadowsky contacted me through this blog & offered to send me a copy of her book Anatomy of a Boyfriend, I was like HECK YEAH!! I have seen her book on the Teen table at work, but I had a chance to read the book. I was thrilled to receive an autographed copy of Anatomy of a Boyfriend. So, Ms. Snadowsky, I thank you for the opportunity to read your book.

Anatomy of a Boyfriend is a book about Dominique & Wes. High School Seniors who meet at a football game right after Christmas. Dom takes us with her as she & Wes develop their relationship. From their first kiss to their first intimate encounter, to their graduations & journey to college. This part was a little hard for me to stomach. I KNOW kids are having sex at such a young age these days. Whether it was because I was a late bloomer or because of my hand, I don't know. But I was 21. TWENTY-ONE before I even had my first kiss. And I do believe it was just last year that I found out what a dental dam was. LOL. So in that aspect, I can NOT relate to Dom & Amy.

But the break up. Break-ups are the same no matter what age you are. And for me, that is where Snadowsky & her characters get REAL for me. I can relate to getting sick to your stomach after a break-up. I can relate to the utter despair that Dom felt when she realized that her boyfriend was dumping her. I can relate to the counting of minutes between the moments that Dom thinks of Wes. I can relate. Break ups are break ups no matter how old you are.

I really liked Anatomy of a Boyfriend. It was a bit more explicit for a Teen book, than I expected, so I would be careful about the age & maturity level of the people I recommend it to. But it is well written & realistic. Daria Snadowsky did a great job & I can't wait to see what she comes up with next. But you can keep an eye on her at her official website,

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

(92) He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not by Trish Ryan

So my quest into my dating makeover has continued. This time with a book I found in the Christian Inspiration section. And after this past weekend, I certainly need it. He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not is written by someone who could be me. In fact, in someways I hope things end up for me like they ended up with Trish, happily married.
But first, let me tell you what happened a couple of weeks ago. I went to a Nutrition Center to do a full body analysis, in preparation of starting a weight loss program. So I am JUST getting ready to step on the scale when the door opens & in walks Ex-Boyfriend #2. (Mentioned in book #91). I was absolutely DUMB-STRUCK. It seems as if my life is turning into a twisted version of a Chick Lit book. In more ways than one. For you see, as I type this blog post my current unhealthy "relationship" & I are fighting on IM & I am 100% sure that it is over.
Trish Ryan led a life very similar to mine up to a certain point. She grew up in a large Catholic family. She dated a lot, always looking for a husband. She even stated that she went to college, not to get a degree, but to get married. She dated men, slept with men, hoping they would fall in love with her. She even did get married, to an emotionally abusive man.
He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not is Trish's spiritual & emotional journey through singledom (how is that for a word). She gives everything over to God & trusts him to lead her to the man meant for her. And when she least expects it, it happens. She gets her "Happy Ever After".
What I learned from Trish & her story, is that I do deserve someone who respects me, loves me & cherishes me. I need to re-discover my Church Community. I need to give this all to God & trust that He will lead me in the right direction.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

(91) Remind Me Again Why I Need A Man? By Claudia Carroll

Remind Me Again Why I Need a Man is one of the best "Chick Lit" books of the year. And I have no problem saying that in print. It was smart, it was funny, it was a not as predictable as one may expect. And best of all, it is set in Ireland!!

Amelia Lockwood is 37 years old & she is tired of being single. She has just gotten over her last devastating break up with He Who Shall Remain Nameless when she decides to take a course for single women in their thirties. It is a course in how to get married.

Now, being one of the "Lovely Girls", Amelia knows & expect her darling friends to give her grief for attending such a class. Especially Rachel, the divorcee who has sworn to never marry again. But soon, all of her friends, including Jaimie, the Drama Queen gay guy, are helping her with her assignment. Contact ten of her ex-boyfriends to find out why their relationship didn't result in marriage.

The trip down memory lane leads to one conclusion for Amelia. She has bad taste in men. LOL. I couldn't help but take my own trip down memory lane while reading this book. Google is a dangerous thing. Between Google & a few other avenues this is what I discovered about my ex-boyfriends:
1. - Doug - My first love. He is now married & living in
Missouri's boothill.
2. - Brian - The first guy I really dated when I moved to KC. He is
married & living in KC with new wife & her kids.
3. - Eric - Eric was the closest I ever came to getting married. He
is now Married to the slut he cheated on me with. Need I say more?
4. - Bruce - Married & Divorced since we last dated (yikes!)
5. - Steve - I was afraid to Google Steve. He is a true "Knight In
Shining Armor". Our problem was that I didn't need him to save me from
anything. I suspect he is married. He was too good to be single for
6. - David. David was the most emotionally destroying breakup I have
ever had. And it nearly sent me to therapy when he contacted me
earlier this year to apologize for the way he treated me. We stayed
in communication for many months, before he dropped off the face of the earth
again. My guess is he found someone new to play with. But I
have no illusions that this man will ever get married again.
7 - John. -- Most recent & last on my list is the man who was
still too screwed up over his divorce to fully commit to a relationship.
I ran into him at the store last week. MY store. Where he was
supposedly "meeting someone". It was like a punch to the stomach.

So what did I learn by my trip down memory lane? That I am attracted to the "married" kind of guy. They just don't want to be married to me.

Amelia, on the other hand, learned a lot about herself & what is truly important to her in life & love. She learned that there are somethings that even she isn't willing to compromise in order to be married.

Fabulous little book & a MUST read for all of you discouraged singletons out there.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

(90) Ask Again Later by Jill Davis

I did not start out with this weekend in mind, but I am having one of those weekends. You know, one of those weekends where you don't leave the house and do nothing but read. Or watch movies. Or sometimes both at the same time. I hope to get at least one more, if not two more books read before I go back to work tomorrow.

Most recently, I read Ask Again Later by Jill A Davis. Ask Again Later is the story of Emily. Emily & her relationships. And how the functionality of every relationship that she has today can be traced back to her childhood. Most specifically to the divorce of her parents.

Emily is just drifting through life. She is a lawyer working an obscene amount of hours. Her boyfriend, Sam, also works at the same firm. And the only time they see each other is at work. Does Emily work so much to be able to see Sam? Or to avoid developing a real relationship with him.

But that all changes when Emily's mother calls & says that she is dying. Emily drops everything & rushes to her mother's bedside.

Emily takes this time to evaluate her life. Her career. Her relationship with Sam. Her relationship with her father & sister. She takes this time to evaluate her life as it is.

Ask Again Later is a poignant story with a quirky character. Emily is flawed in ways that so many of us are. She is a character that is struggling to deal with emotions that have been buried for most of her life.

The book is a fast read with an ending that doesn't come out of left field. The back of the book also has a Readers Group Guide and an interview with the author. Making it the perfect Book Club choice!


Saturday, September 20, 2008

(89) Any Given Doomsday by Lori Handeland On Sale November 2008

I was thrilled to get Any Given Doomsday in the mail as part of the Library Thing Early Reviewers program. I was so excited that I skipped over MANY "To Be Read" books & went right to it.

Any Given Doomsday starts out great. Psychic Elizabeth Phoenix is working her bartender job when her instincts tell her to get out. And something pulls her home. To find the woman who raised her had been murdered.

This is where the book loses me. Elizabeth discovers that people aren't what they seem. Including Ruthie, and two men from her past. Jimmy & Sawyer. She is informed that the classic battle of good vs evil is being waged right in front of her & she never knew it. But with Ruthie's death, she must step up to the plate & lead the warriors to victory.

Good vs Evil. Sounds pretty basic, right? The numerous mythical creatures lost me. And I didn't really care enough about the plot to go back through the pages to remind who was who or what was what. Shapeshifter, Skinwalkers, DK's, Fairies, Damphir's, Werewolves, Bears, they all start to blur together.

I really wanted to like this book. For the first half of the book, I really liked Elizabeth. I won't give away which section of the book changed that for me, but I suspect you can figure it out for yourself if you read the book.

Oh well. Not every book is going to be liked by every reader. I am sure that there are some out there who will love it, but I won't be reading the rest of the series.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

(88) Thin is the New Happy by Valerie Frankel

Struggling with weight issues seems to be the hot topic for memoirs these days. I read Such A Pretty Fat by Jen Lancaster, and laughed my arse off, ok not in the literal sense, but wouldn't that be nice?? Moose Camp by Stephanie Klein was out recently. I wanted to read it, but still haven't gotten around to it. And now Thin Is The New Happy by successful Chick Lit author, Valerie Frankel.

Having read books by Frankel, I was expecting a little more humor in the book than there actually was. Instead of writing the book as if it were happening "Real Time", the book truly is a memoir. It reads as if Frankel were sitting down & telling you the story of her life.

The book is not just about her weight issues, but about the relationships she has had in her life where weight was an issue, or condition of the relationships. Specifically with her mother.

Growing up with a "fatphobic" mother certainly shaped Frankel's body image & feelings about weight. She tells it as she remembers it & even has a chapter about the conversation (argument?? confrontation??) she had with her mother about her childhood while writing the book. In the end, her father made her apologize to her mother. The things Frankel writes about her mother's behaviors & comments are not flattering in the least, but Frankel makes it very clear that she still is her mother & she still has a relationship with her mother.

Frankel also goes into detail the various romantic relationships that she had throughout her life. Including her late husband, Glenn & her current husband, Steve. And how their offhanded comments, no matter how infrequent, resonated even years later.

Thin is the New Happy is a book many women will relate to. But it is a departure from her usual books. Readers will be very disappointed if they pick it up expecting "fluff". They will also be very disappointed if they expect Jen Lancaster type of humor.

It is the story behind the stories that we have grown to love. It is worth the read!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

(87) Pug Hill by Allison Pace

Pug Hill is a fun little Chick Lit book.

Hope McNeill is the main character. Hope is 31 & dealing with a lot of stress in her life. She is stuck in a bad relationship with a guy she can barely tolerate. She is crushing big time on her co-worker. And her parents have asked her to conquer her fear of public speaking & give a toast at their 40th wedding anniversary.

We all have our "happy" places. For some of us it is the book store, for others it is the mall. For Hope McNeill, her happy place is Pug Hill in Central Park. Hope is one of those people who measures her life in terms of the dogs that have been in it. And they are all her Parent's dogs. She loves Pug's, yet does not have one of her own.

Hope tries to conquer her fear of Public Speaking & takes a class. And she breaks up with her jerk of her boyfriend. Can she get to that place in her life, where she finally gets a Pug for herself? Maybe.

I really liked this book up until the last chapter. The character obviously undergoes some personal growth & it is fun to watch her grow. And then you get to the last chapter & EVERYTHING gets tied up in a neat little bow & it is Happily Ever After. All in one chapter.

Just for the record, not all books have to be "Happily Ever After".

Thursday, September 11, 2008

(86) American Widow by Alissa Torres

Seven years ago today, life as we knew it ended. The world stopped & for a few days, the entire country was one.

Seven years ago today, Alissa Torres became an American Widow.

On September 11, 2001, Eddie Torres left his seven months pregnant wife, Alissa, to go to work. It was his second day on the job at his dream job. He has just been hired as a currency broker by Cantor Fitzgerald.

We all know what happens next. The world stopped. And Eddie Torres chose to jump out of the window, rather than face the terrors that awaited him in the burning Towers.

American Widow is Alissa's story of what happened after Tuesday. It is her story of life as a widow. It is her story of wading through the bureaucracy. Her story of trying to get Eddie's family here for the funeral after his remains were identified on September 23rd. Her story of giving birth to their son three weeks early. American Widow is Alissa's story of survival.

Alissa Torres has done the unconventional thing and has told her story in the Graphic Novel form. I do not normally read Graphic Novels. In fact, this was the first one I have ever read. And to put graphics to Alissa's story was pure genius. The emotional impact of the pictures with the words packs a punch that takes you back to that day, when the entire Nation was crying.

As a nation, we will always remember September 11, 2001. As the years pass, the pain eases just a little. Seven years later, three hour anniversary specials on every network, with the world watching, whittles down to just a few minutes on the morning news programs. And to me, THAT breaks my heart.

I ask you to take time today to remember those who lost their lives that day. And to remember all those that have lost their lives fighting the War on Terror. I ask you to think of all of those American Widows & Widowers who have to relive it all today. And everyday, actually.

Once you have read the book, you can go here, to share your thoughts and to read what others have to say about American Widow.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

(85) Sweetheart by Chelsea Cain

Chelsea Cain is one twisted sister. And I mean that in the most positive way possible. *grin*

Chelsea Cain has given new meaning to the term "psychological thriller". In her new book, Sweetheart, Cain has continued the story of serial killer, Gretchen Lowell & her only living victim, the man who put her in prison, Archie Sheridan.

Still suffering from psychological problems as a result from the time he spent as Gretchen's hostage, Archie has taken a break from his weekly, mandated, visits to Gretchen in prison. His "break" has, unknowingly, set Gretchen's plan into motion. And the series of events that follow may cost Archie, and everyone who loves him, their lives.

I finished Sweetheart in one sitting. I just couldn't put it down. In fact, I actually got chills towards the end. This book is just so psychologically THRILLING, that it is downright scary. You may even want to sleep with the lights on after reading Sweetheart.

</p> There is no doubt in my mind. Chelsea Cain has proven herself to be one of the best writers of psychological thrillers on the planet. If you have not read her books, you are depriving yourself of the ultimate scare.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

(84) American Wife by Curtis Sittenfield

I am so sorry that it is has been almost two weeks since I last posted. But, it has been almost two weeks since I last finished a book.

We are going through a design project (ie ... we have been rearranging the ENTIRE store). While, I haven't been doing the actual relay, we have been extremely short-staffed so the "team" can do the relay on overnight shifts. When I have been getting home from work, I have been so exhausted, it is all I can do to blink. It has been worse than the holidays. But it is almost over.

Now I get to tell you about this wonderful book. American Wife is going to be "the" book of the fall & holidays, I suspect. It has a very timely subject matter, with this being an election year & the Conventions being in the news the last couple of weeks.

American Wife is the story of Alice Lindgren, the only child of Democrats. Her child was pretty typical of most Wisconsin girls in the 50's & 60's. Until one night when she was a Junior in high school. A tragic accident set forth a series of events that would haunt Alice for the rest of her life.

Alice was 31 and prepared to live the rest of her life alone when she met Republican Congressional hopeful Charlie Blackwell at a friend's BBQ. He was incorrigible & charming & the man she would spend the rest of her with. From Wisconsin to the White House, American Wife takes us on a journey of an American Political family.

The similarities to the Bush family are certainly recognizable. Charlie Blackwell buying the Milwaukee Brewers, for example. Yet there is enough of a difference, that there won't be a lawsuit. The Blackwells are from Wisconsin, not Texas. And there are a few things in Alice's past that would certainly cause some tongues to wag. I will the first to admit that I don't know much about Laura Bush's childhood, but I guess it is possible that some of the story could be true. Shocking, but true.

American Wife is a well written book. I will admit that I was disappointed that it was after 400 pages when the Blackwell's finally moved to the White House. I was hoping to read more about life in the White House. I know it would have been a little more speculative, but American Wife is fictional, not biographical.

American Wife is an excellent book, that I see as being the book club book that everyone reads in November. Or better yet, January for the inauguration. It is well written, well thought out book that will generate hours of discussions at book clubs for months to come.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

(83) Confessions of a Contractor by Richard Murphy

To the incredibly rich & famous of Los Angeles, a contractor is so much more than just the guy doing work on your house.

He can be your lover, your friend, your confidant, your shopping partner, your bargaining chip with your spouse, your one-up to your neighbor. He can be the guy who helps you put a swing set together on Christmas Eve or the guy who sleeps with your wife when you are out of town for the week.

The contractor becomes part of your family and part of your life through out the duration of your renovation. So you better make sure you have a good one. A contractor, that is.

After his father passed away, Henry loaded up all of his construction tools into his dad's pick-up truck & headed off to the City of Angels. He struggled for a bit, but here it is over fifteen years later & he is the most in-demand contractor in the city. He has more work than he can possibly handle. He has a growing grew & a growing desire for not one, but two of his "bosses". And that is when the story starts to get good.

Confessions of a Contractor is a steamy little novel. Written like a memoir, Murphy does an excellent job of hooking the reader with the inside secrets of the fabulously rich & wealthy. It looks like CBS agrees with me, too. It appears as if a series in development.

The book was an incredibly fast, easy read. Consider it the Devil Wears Prada of the construction industry in LA. The book that will have many husbands wondering about their own contractors. And a lot of contractors wishing Murphy would not have written the book!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

(82) The Grift by Debra Ginsberg

Through another wesbsite I discovered a little place called Shelf Awareness.

When you visit Shelf Awareness and sign up for their newsletter, you get daily emails about what is going on in the book industry. From bookstore openings & closings, to author appearances, to what's new & hot. Publishers also offer up Advanced Readers Copies from time to time. It is a neat little newsletter that I look forward to everyday.

Well, I received this book in the mail last week. It wasn't an ARC, but a finished, hardback book.

And it was a good book.

Marina had a rough life growing up. Her mother went from man to man, living off anyone and anything she can. On a whim she takes Marina to see a psychic, who says that Marina has "the gift". And from there, Marina's life is nothing but one long grift.

(sometimes used with a plural verb) a group of methods for obtaining money
falsely through the use of swindles, frauds, dishonest gambling, etc.
money obtained from such practices. –verb (used without object)
to profit by the use of grift: a man known to have grifted for many years.
–verb (used with object)
to obtain (money or other profit) by grift.

Even after Marina's mother passes away, Marina continues the Grift. Her finely tuned skills of observations & ability to read body language like a book , has made her a very successful "psychic". She drifts from town to town, from state to state. Making a very lucrative living by, essentially telling people what they want to hear.

Marina finally lands in California. But her past soon catches up with her. She falls in love & suddenly, she really does have "the Gift". But when someone tries to harm her & she "sees" a murder, her life starts spiraling out of control.

While a bit predictable, The Grift was a good mystery, full of new (to me) concepts and plots. Overall a good mystery.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

(81) The Waiter Rant by The Waiter

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I didn't think I would, but I did. So much in fact that it might go on the "Best of 2008" list.
The Waiter Rant is a book based on this blog. Which is apparently the online Bible for all waiters great & small. The Waiter is a man in his thirties who stumbled into the restaurant business by mistake. He is Seminary educated & has a degree in psychology. But he makes his living waiting tables in New York City.
I will be honest. I have never been a waitress, I will never be a waitress. This one armed bandit does not have the dexterity necessary to carry multiple plates of food or pour beverages without getting somebody or something wet. Just because I have never been a waitress, does not mean that I can't empathize with what servers go through on a daily basis. I work retail, remember?
I picked up this book fully expecting it to be written by a pompous asshole who does nothing but make fun of his clients and co-workers. Yes, there is a healthy dose of that,
"Mr Green's y our typical yuppie food Nazi living in a cocoon of
but there is also a chapter called Heaven & Hell that nearly brought tears to my eyes. People can be your hell, but they can also be your heaven.

The book is peppered with one-liners that had me laughing out loud. Here he is discussing the dedication of restaurant staff.
" Armando pops so many antihistamines & Tylenol when he gets a cold I
worry that his liver will pop out of his navel before the end of the shift"
And this line, I can relate to this line from a chapter entitled If It Can Go Wrong, It Will Anyone who has been in management can relate to this line.
"I am headed for a rifle-in-the-clock-tower moment"
Like I said, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The Waiter has written a great book with great tales of life from the kitchen and the front of the house. While his cynical side is often displayed page after page, he has a soft side, too. A side that worries about his wait staff, a side that takes care not to humiliate a drunken regular down on her luck. A side that makes him human. It was just overall a great book. For anyone who has ever dined in a fine restaurant or even if you just dine at Applebee's, it may very well be the eye-opening book you need!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

(80) The Late Bloomers Revolution by Amy Cohen

I get so excited when I find good books at Goodwill or Salvation Army. Yes, I troll the thrift shops often. But good grief, when you can buy a hardcover book for a buck or 8 paperbacks for a buck, how can a girl refuse?

I had ever intention of keeping a pen and paper nearby when I read this book, just to jot down my favorite quotes. Because by page two, I knew that there would be many, but I got so caught up in Amy Cohen's story, that I forgot to write anything down.

Amy Cohen is a very talented writer. If you ever watched Spin City or Caroline in the City, then you saw her talent first hand. But in reading her book, you won't come across the kind of humor that say, Jen Lancaster writes. It is very subtle, very dry humor, but it cracks me up. CRACKS. ME . UP.

Amy writes about losing her job, losing her mother, & having a horrible facial rash that keeps her inside for over a year. She writes about being in her late 30's and being single in the city. Almost everything she writes about is very identifiable for me. Realizing that you are in a bad relationship, the fear of being alone, seeing all of your friends getting married & settling down. All very identifiable for me.

There would be times where I felt that the book was dragging, then Cohen would spout off a line like "But after a while, an elephant is just an elephant."

A quick google search shows me that the book has been optioned by HBO & Sarah Jessica Parker is being linked to the project (EXACTLY who I imagined in this role.) I tried to find a website for Ms Cohen, but gave up after a few searches. Yeah, I am lazy, so what.

Bottom line. This is a book for all of you single girls, struggling with being single. Cohen proves that being alone is not the end of the world. But the book is also for all you married women who think that being single is so glamorous. Because it's not.

Great book! Check it out.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

(79) The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff

I love reading a fictional book that inspires me to Google. The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff is just the most recent book to send me to the search engine.

Ebershoff has taken a timely media subject, Polygamy, and has interwoven the factual history of the Mormon church with the fictional story of Jordan Scott and has come up with a book that you will find hard to put down.

Told in alternating chapters, The 19th Wife is the story of two different 19th wives. The first being Ann Eliza Young, the 19th wife of Brigham Young. The wife who ended up divorcing her husband & denouncing Polygamy. Google produced this website. Although the research that Ebershoff did was obviously quite more extensive, the link will give you an idea of Ann Eliza's story.

The rest of Ebershoff's book revolves around the fictional story of a second 19th wife. Set in modern day Utah, Jordan Scott's mother is the 19th wife of a man powerful in his community. Jordan has long since been banished from the community & has been surviving on his own, in the real world, but when his mother, the 19th wife, is accused of murdering her husband, Jordan returns to help prove his mother's innocence.

While I am not quite done reading the book, I have read enough to know that The 19th Wife has enough "meat" to it , that I predict it will become a favorite of Book Clubs everywhere.

Friday, August 8, 2008

(78) Gilding Lily by Tatiana Bocompagni On Sale September 9, 2008

Do you think money can buy you happiness? Do you think if you were married to a man with a $97,000 car and a trust fund that you could be happy?
Lily Bartholomew has the dream life that most girls (not women, girls!) dream about. She met & married one of the most eligible bachelors in New York. She married into the Bartholomew family. With their trust funds & vacation homes, she is sure that her life will be nothing but "happy ever after".
But then reality sets in. She gets pregnant on their honeymoon. Her husband quits his job in her third trimester & her mother in law would rather see her dead than say anything positive to her or about her.
Flash forward a bit. The baby is five months old. She has not lost an ounce of the baby weight. Her husband STILL doesn't have a job. The debt is piling up fast. And when he decides to trade their sensible SUV in for a $97,000 Porsche. Lily is at her wits end. Will she ever lose the weight? Will things ever go back to the way they were before the baby? Will her Mother in Law ever treat her like a human being? Will they EVER pay off the debt they have accumulated?
Lily decides it is time to go back to work. Instead of writing about Hedge Funds she finds herself writing about the social elite that she so desperately wants to be a part of. And that is when the story really starts to get good.
I actually cried when I read this book. I felt so horrible for Lily so many times through out the story, that I just had to cry for her. Especially when dealing with her horrible, evil, wicked Mother in Law. And even worse when her husband took her Mother In Law's word over hers.
Somewhere in this tale of the New York High Society is the story of rocky relationships. The story of a woman fighting to be accepted by so many people. Her husband, her mother in law, & her "friends". It is a different kind of "coming of age" stories, but it is a story that you will find engaging & touching.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

(77) Everything Nice by Ellen Shanman

Everything Nice brings me back to my "fluff". But not so much fluff that you want to poke your eye out with a pencil. Fluff with a meaning.
I first caught wind of Everything Nice in a Shelf Awareness daily bullentin. So I added it to my list of "books to read" in my palm & went looking for it when I got to work. One of the things that caught my eye wad the fact that it is a Bantam Discovery book. Two other books that have that label were The Year of Fog by Michelle Richmond and My Best Friend's Girl by Dorothy Koonman. So of course, I had to check it out.
Everything Nice is the story of Michaela "Mike" Edwards. She is the proverbial motherless child, raised by her surgeon father & kind of left to fend for herself when it comes to all things "girly". The result is that Mike has grown up to be a hard, unapproachable woman. She is a no nonense, take no prisoners star in the advertising world.
But when her mentor gets fired, Mike is the next to go. She has burned too man bridges to stand on her own without the mentor to "protect" her from the executioner.
This is when Mike's life gets interesting. She is forced to do some serious soul searching and with the announcement of her father's engagement, she realizes that some things just can't be avoided. And rather than face the disappointment of her new stepmother, she attends a job interview at an all girls school. And is completely shell-shocked when she is offered a job.
This book has everything a girl is looking for in a good "chick-lit" book. There is the life challenge, the vulnerable heroine, the rocky relationship with family, and there is even a ruggedly handsome Aussie to satisfy the Romance portion of the book.
Everything Nice is a fun book with a likeable heroine and a plot that will hold your interest. Perfect for those of you needing a break from Vampires & Werewolves.

Why I Read...

I remember the carefree summer days when I used to ride my bike to the public library to pick out new books. I would go almost daily to find books to read. I read to learn. I read to explore the world. I read to escape. I read because not reading is not an option.

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