Tuesday, January 29, 2008

(12) Her Last Death by Susanna Sonnenberg

Her Last Death.

Shocking, scandalous, sad.

The memoir (this years Glass Castle) starts out with the author receiving a phone call that her mother is on her death bed.

At first, Susy is skeptical. Her mother is a known pathological liar. But then she realizes that it isn't a joke & her mother seriously could be on her death bed.

And she has a decision to make. Does she leave her husband & two kids in Montana to go to Barbados to be by the bedside of the Mother who gave her her first line of cocaine? The mother who slept with her boyfriend?

From there, Susanna takes you back through her childhood. And a shocking childhood it is. In reading some of the horrific stories, you don't know if what she says is true. ALA James Frey.

From the front page "This is a work of memoir and subject to the imperfections of memory. I have been faithful to what I remember, and people in my family may remember shared experiences differently..."

So did her mother really give her a line of cocaine on her 13th birthday? I don't know. She quotes directly from her diary on several occasions. Horrific details of her mother's drug use & the physical abuse she endured.

The book gets very graphic sexually. Susanna holds nothing back when it comes to her on sexual exploits. Including losing her virginity to her English teacher in high school.

This memoir is very compatible to The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. But there is a difference. And it took me several days to actually determine what the difference between the two authors was.


Now, I know it probably isn't fair to compare the two memoirs, but The Glass Castle really touched my heart. And I was kind of expecting this one to do the same. So when I found myself not really liking the characters, I couldn't figure out why.

And it came to me. Susanna doesn't have the compassion for her mother, like Jeanette did for her family.

Now, that is not saying Susanna is a BAD person. Given her mother's personality & lifestyle, Susanna did not learn compassion from her mother. She learned how to give the perfect blow job & cut a good line of coke.

Her Last Death is a hard book to put down. Just because you want to see what happens next. It really is like a train wreck. If you have the time to spare, read it & get sucked into a lifestyle that you can only read about in books or watch in the movie theaters.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

(11) Straight Talking by Jane Green

I am officially on vacation!! So expect lots & lots of reading from me this week!!

Straight Talking by Jane Green was another one in my long line of Chick Lit books! And I think Jane Green ranks up there with Meg Cabot & Sophie Kinsella in my mind.

Straight Talking was a funny, smart, realistic book about a young woman, Tasha, who is trying to make her way in the London singles scene.

The book is written from Tasha's viewpoint. More like Tasha is talking directly to you. It is as if you are both sitting there over a cup of tea or a glass of wine , just shooting the shit. Tasha gets very honest about her prior relationships. Especially with Simon, their relationship lasted nine months (six months more than her usual three month relationships) & Tasha was completely devastated when she found out that he had cheated on her.

I can identify with Tasha on a couple of levels. The three month relationship thing, that seems to be my deal, too. Three months and they are gone. Or three months of WONDERFUL followed by several months of HORRIBLE before the relationship finally dies a painful death.

Well, one thing Tasha got out of the relationship with Simon was a wonderful friendship with his buddy, Adam. Adam is almost like one of the girls. Tasha can gossip with him, talk clothes, etc... and she never feels as if she has to be on her best behavior.

Then Adam makes a confession that changes it all. Tasha has to take a hard look at her life & decide what she wants/expects out of relationships. She has to decide what she can & can not live without.

Like I said, smart. Funny. And realistic!

You will not be disappointed!!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

(10) Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner

When I read the first chapter of Certain Girls, it was very exciting to me. I was catching up with my old friend, Cannie Shapiro. Do you remember her? The heroine of Jennifer Weiner's Good In Bed?

The first chapter is Cannie observing her thirteen year old daughter, Joy. And wondering what has prompted the change in her daughter. Her grades are slipping, she is distant & moody. Is it a boy? Does she have a friend treating her poorly? Cannie is completely baffled.

Turn to chapter two & you find out that Joy's problem is her mother!

Jennifer Weiner writes Certain Girls from the alternating viewpoint of Cannie & Joy. The first chapter is Cannie, the next chapter Joy. And so on & so forth. You get to intimately look at the thoughts and feelings of both mother and daughter.

I have never been a mother, but I have been a thirteen year old daughter. So I found myself identifying most with Joy. I could totally understand her frustrations and disbeliefs when discovering "truths" about her mother and her past, and her future. There were many times when I just wanted to reach through the pages & tell Cannie to "get over yourself & pay attention!!"

The book continues on between the two of them. And you see the gap of communication growing further and further apart.

Then something happens that will change both Joy & Cannie for life. They BOTH have to grow up and stick together in order to survive.

I don't want to give too much away, but the "life changing event" took me completely by suprise. It had me in tears & left me dazed and shocked.

Certain Girls was an excellent, well written follow up to the successful Good In Bed. Fans of Jennifer Weiner will not be disappointed. In fact, they will be left wondering "what is going to happen in the next book?".

Will there be another book in Cannie's life? I don't know. But I sure would like to read more of Cannie's story!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

(9) The Unauthorized Biography of Tom Cruise by Andrew Morton

Tom Cruise.

Love him or hate him the man generates buzz all across the world.

Some will be oooohing & ahhhing over the mega-star. Others will be talking disdainfully about his religion, or the comments he has made because of his beliefs.

Love him or hate him, Tom Cruise is not to be ignored.

Andrew Morton, author of the Princess Diana biography, has risked the wrath of Tom Cruise, and Scientology, by writing this unauthorized, in depth, & often revealing tell all biography. Morton does an excellent job at remaining unbiased.

At least, until Scientology entered into Tom Cruise's life. The biography was a little dry & not that revealing until Tom's marriage to older woman, Mimi Rodgers. It was Rodgers that introduced Cruise to Scientology. And Morton does not hold back at calling a spade a spade. Scientology is a cult. Not only is it a cult, but it is a cult that makes you sign a legally binding contract once you decide to join the "church".

It was fascinating to read about the "church" and how it consumed Tom Cruise from almost the beginning. Enveloping him in the folds of the "church". Eliminating anyone in his life who was not a member, or chose to caution him against the church. Suprressive Personalities, they are called.

There were times when Morton is so in depth on church "doctrine" and the odd rituals & processes that church members go through, that I questioned if he was really writing a "tell all" on Scientology & not Tom Cruise. But the more you read, the more you realize that they are interchangeable. You can not write about Tom Cruise & not cover Scientology so in depth. Because there are many members who claim Cruise is their Messiah. Cruise IS Scientology.

As you read about Cruise & the relationships with the three wives he has had, you no longer question his sexuality. He is a very sexual man & will stop at nothing to woo the women he is interested in. Tom has a history of seeing someone he likes on screen & stopping at nothing to get her in his bed.

Morton tells of an interesting marriage between Tom & Nic. He paints Nic to be aloof after the adoption of the kids. He even questioned her fidelity. But ultimately, after ten years of marriage, Tom's filing for divorce shocked & nearly destroyed her. To this day she doesn't know why he filed for divorce. Her relationship with the children is sustained only through email and webcams.

The book goes on to document his relationship with Penelope Cruz & a brief affair with an actress (I forget her name) before Katie. Both ended over religious differences. In other words, they would not convert & Tom would not tolerate any less.

Then of course, there is Katie. And their whirlwind relationship that led to her pregnancy, her marriage, & of course, her converion to Scientology. Katie was literally swept off of her feet. How could she not be? Their first date was a high speed motorcycle ride along the coast. He courted her as no other man ever had. Or likely ever will. How could she resist the charms of the man she dreamed of as a young child?

Almost from the begining of their relationship you could visibly see the changes in Katie. Morton even quoted a reporter who commented that the sparkle was gone from her eyes. They were now devoid of all emotion. Creating the myth of Katie's brainwashing. It prompted websites like http://www.freekatie.com/.

Much like a trainwreck, The Unauthorized Biography of Tom Cruise is hard to look away from. I suspect that the book would be a rather dull one if it were not for the drama & mystery surrounding Scientology. But it is what it is. You will find yourself devouring the book trying to understand exactly what is behind the mind of Tom Cruise.

While the book has ended, his story is not over. As long as he continues to prostelyze his religion. As long as he continues to make blockbuster movies. As long as he continues to live in the public eye, his story will never be over.

And we will be right there. Watching & reading it all.

For more information on Scientology:



Thursday, January 17, 2008

(8) Bookends by Jane Green

I like "fluff" books. I will not deny it.

I like to read about girls my age with the same men troubles as me. Well, ok, not the SAME troubles as me. But single nonetheless, trying to survive in the big cruel world.

Bookends is most certainly a "fluff" book. Set in London, the story told is that of Cath & her friends. They met in college and became each others "family of the heart".

There is Cath, the broody, mousy girl. Josh, the drop dead gorgeous friend, Si, the gay, larger than life friend, & Portia. Portia is beautiful & rich. A deadly combination. I suspect Portia only hung out with the others, because she knew they made her shine.

Their friendship progresses nicely until the night that Portia crosses the line. The dynamics of the group relationship change and Portia quietly drifts from the group.

Flash forward ten years.

Josh is married to the wonderful Lucy.

Lucy entices Cath into opening a bookshop. I would like to say that "hilarity ensues", but really it doesn't. They discover that starting & running their own business is hard work. No matter how cute the Real Estate Agent is.

As the girls work hard to get their shop up & running, they encounter a whole host of personal problems.

Infidelity, Life Threatening illnesses, and Portia returning to the fold.

Bookends was such an excellent, fast, emotional read. Very emotional for a "fluff" book.

I am probably going to read the rest of her books. Just because I am obsessed with anything & everything London.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

(7)House Lust : America's Obsession With Our Homes By Daniel McGinn

First of all, let me welcome you to my new "home". I have decided to move my book blog from MySpace to Blogger for many reasons. Mainly because there are many people who don't use, or refuse to use MySpace.

I love to read. And for the last couple of years I have tracked the books I have read on my MySpace Blog. http://www.myspace.com/charlottesweb93. I am going to continue that tradition here, starting with book number seven of the year. House Lust.

This book was the most fascinating book that I have read in a very long time. From the first chapter entitled "Mine's Bigger than Yours: Potomac, Maryland" you are drawn into the fascinating world of the housing industry in America.

From an in depth tour of a 29,000 sq ft home in Potomac, Maryland. To a vacation home in Naples, Florida Daniel McGinn writes a book that will leave you talking. Just ask my co-workers!! I have been talking about this book for the last week & soon it will go into the Staff Rec display at work.

And obviously, McGinn got really into his work as well, his research on rental properties in Pocatello, Idaho prompted him to become a rental property owner himself. It was obvious, though, that he had some buyers remorse about the purchase after his Property Manager ran off with two months of rent. I would be interested in hearing if he still owns that property.

One of the most fascinating chapters to me was "Fix Up Fever". People three times as much renovating their colonial homes in Massachusetts as I spent on my house, total. It is SHOCKING! The renovation itself, can sometimes add value to the homes. But if you plan on building a sunroom or home office, you can only expect to get .75 cents for every dollar spent. Is that really worth the cost of the stress? In fact, marital disharmony is so prevelant with renovating couples that there are now "Rennovation Psychologists" Invented by Dr Debi Warner. She sets up booths at Homes Shows & she sells books. Can you believe that?

Fascinating!! Just fascinating, I tell you!!

I admittedly have House Lust. I have always been fascinated by homes. I love driving through neighborhoods and just looking at the houses. I jumped at the chance to go house hunting with an ex-boyfriend. I read decorating magazines while on break.

I have House Lust!

Here is the link to the author's website. http://www.houselustthebook.com/ He has a quiz for you to determine if YOU have House Lust or not.

Let me know how it turns out! I would love to know that I am not alone!

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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