Friday, February 29, 2008

(21) Souvenir by Therese Flower

Well, I tried to like it. Really I did. I even read the whole thing in hopes that it would get better. I kept expecting to the story to hook me in emotionally. I mean all of the components were there for a real heart wrenching story. You have the young love that was "ripped apart" by her family finances. In other words, she was basically sold to the highest bidder. You have a last minute romantic encounter the day of the wedding. Nine months later a new baby. Fifteen years later, an aging rock star, and an ALS diagnosis.

All the makings of a truly heart wrenching book. The ingredients were there, but the author did not do a great job of mixing them all together. In fact, it seemed almost clinical, as opposed to flowing.

My advice, skip it. Pick up the new Jodi Picoult instead!

Monday, February 25, 2008

(20) Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult

I was ECSTATIC to get my hands on an Advanced Readers Copy of Jodi Picoult's new book, Change of Heart. It certainly lives up to her level of excellence.
The cast of characters run like this :
Shay Bourne - a man convicted of killing a young girl & her step father. Sentenced to death, Shay Bourne is fighting for his heart. He wants to donate his organs at the time of his execution.
Father Michael : Shay's Spiritual Advisor. And one of the jury members who convicted him to death.
Maggie Bloom: ACLU lawyer who takes on Shay's case in order to help him die the way he wants to.
June Nealon: The mother & wife of the people Shay was convicted of killing. And the mother of the child that Shay wants to donate his heart to.
Like My Sister's Keeper, this book is told from the prospective of all the main characters. Each chapter is told from a different character's perspective. And like all of Picoult's other novels a great legal battle is at the center of the story. Shay knows that if he is executed by lethal injection, there is no chance for him to donate his organs. Maggie hears of his case while in the car & figures that she can fight for Shay's right to practice his religion by donating his organs at the time of his death. Which means that the state of New Hampshire has to find another way to execute him. But the state of New Hampshire will not do this willingly, where the legal battle comes in.
The story is one of redemption. And love. And survival. It is a well told, intricate story that could possibly change the way you look at the death penalty in this country.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

(19) Dating A Divorced Man

This book jumped off the shelf at me last night at work. Literally. I was shelving another book in the Relationship section when this one fell on the floor.

It was certainly an "Ah-Ha" moment for me.

The last two men that I have dated seriously were both divorced men. Both of them became very important in my life. I would even go so far as to say I had fallen in love with them. It was the "baggage" of their marriage and/or divorce that ended up causing my relationship with them to end.

Dating a divorced man is hard. Don't let anyone tell you differently. But as a single woman of a certain age, there are very few "never married" men in the dating pool.

The author breaks it down to four categories.
  1. Soon to be Separated (aka STILL MARRIED(!!)) -- this is the man who has already checked out of the marriage mentally, but has yet to move out of the home. Or in a lot of cases, has yet to even tell his wife he wants out.
  2. Separated Man -- this man lives in a separate residence from his wife, but has yet to take the legal steps or start the process of divorce.
  3. Divorcing man. -- The ING part, means that he is in the middle of the divorce. The paperwork has been filed & they are now in the hashing out part of things.
  4. And finally, the Divorced man. The paperwork has been done & the ties (legally if not emotionally) have been severed.
I needed to read this book because of number one. I will not go into details, but it is what I needed to read right now. It was a reminder of what I want out of a relationship & what I will not tolerate in a relationship.
I have dated number 2. In fact, I was on a romantic getaway with #2 when his divorce became final. My warning flags were flying high when he first told me that he was separated & the divorce was pending. But I was right to trust him that all of the emotional baggage regarding the divorce had already been dealt with. We dated for several months & broke up for other reasons,
I met #3 right after he had moved out of the family home. I refused to date him until the divorce was final. And he respected that. But when we did start dating, well he became the classic example for ooooooooh, almost ALL of the warning flags listed in this book. From canceling dates to not respecting my needs. To still grieving for the life he once had. I let him treat me badly for almost two years because I was trying to be understanding about his divorce. I am the one who finally ended it, but it was the most painful experience that I had ever dealt with.
And finally #4. The Divorced Man. I was ecstatic to find out that I wouldn't have to deal with the baggage!! Yes, he was divorced, but he had no children. So the baggage should be minimal, right? Wrong. Even two years after his divorce, he was still very emotionally scarred & unable to sustain a healthy, "normal" relationship.
So where does that leave me?
Requesting sworn statements from liscensed therapists the next time I date a divorced man. :P I have not dated anyone since Divorced Man. I have had a few opportunities. But fear has kept me from diving in. Hopefully that fear will not prevent me from meeting a really great guy.
Dating is hard. And dating a divorced man, can make it extremely hard. I wouldn't go back & change any of the experiences I have had. Yes, they were painful. But it has only helped shape what I perceive to the ideal relationship to be. Divorced Man or not.

(18) Remember Me by Sophie Kinsella

Eh. It was ok.

The premise of the book is that Lexi Smart has had a car accident. When she wakes up in the hospital she has forgotten the last three years of her life.

She has forgotten that she had her teeth fixed, lost weight & is now a KNOCK OUT.
She has forgotten that she has married a GAZILLIONAIRE named Eric.
She has forgotten that she was promoted at work.
She has forgotten that she was having a torrid affair with her husband's colleague.
And she has forgotten that she has turned into the world's biggest bitch.

As the days pass after the accident & Lexi returns home with her husband, she starts piecing together the life she has led for the last three years. And it is not a life she she is proud of. She has some pretty big decisions to make. Does she leave Eric? Does she allow her entire department to be fired? Does she just stand back and let all of her closest friends hate her?

Remember Me is a chick lit book, but some of the content matter isn't all that fluffy. And the book is not written in a way that endears you to the main character. And honestly, I didn't laugh once. Unlike the Shopaholic series. Or even Jane Green's books. I really have no desire to see what happens to Lexi next. To me, that is when an author has done his/her job. When you finish the book & you wonder what will happen to the heroine next.

Lexi Smart? Not so much.

It will be a runaway bestseller, just because of the author. Sophie Kinsella has created a legion of readers who hunger for her next book. I just hope this one (like The Appeal by John Grisham) won't turn off loyal followers.

Now I am off to spend a snowy day curled up with my books and my movies. I suspect I will have multiple postings today!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

(17) Love Is A Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield

Mix Tapes.

If that is not a concept to throw you into the past, well, then. You must have been born after 1988.

I suspect that Love Is A Mix Tape was born out of grief for his beloved wife. Renee had past away at such a young, tender age. They had only been married for five years when she passed away suddenly from a Pulmonary Embolism.

The book starts with Rob going through the boxes and boxes of Mix Tapes that he and Renee had made over the years. As he goes through the tapes, he reminisces about their life together. The memories are sweet & tender, they are poignant and sad. You really feel for Rob as he grieves.

The Mix Tapes are the Soundtracks to their life together.

So, being a fan of Mix Tapes, it got me thinking back to various Mix Tapes that I have had in my life. My all time favorite was the one Kathy Regan made for me when I graduated high school. I know I still have it somewhere. But it was full of songs like "Friends" by Michael W Smith. And The Eternal Flame by the Bangles.

What would a mix tape of my life sound like now? At age 32?

Well, it would certainly have to have:

Without You by Motely Crue. This song was the anthem of my high school friend, Mike & I.

Yesterday's by Guns N Roses. My high school class song.

Follow Me by Uncle Kracker. Well it was the song playing when....

Mysterious Ways by U2 -- Well, the whole Actung Baby cd reminds me of the summer I turned 21 -- and the whole 99z racing crew.

Just a few songs that came to mind. I know there are more. And I know there will be more.

If you want to listen to some of Rob Sheffield's Mix Tapes, click on the link.

If you want to read the book, you can pick it up at B&N. It is currently on the Buy 2 Get 1 Free table.

(16) Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson

Change is good.

It is a mantra that I have lived by my entire career.

Change is good.

Whether it be policies changing, employees changing, the industry changing, or changing bosses. I firmly believe that change is good. Change is inevitable. It is going to happen. But how you handle change is what seperates us from the animals.

And sometimes being an animal is a good thing. *wink* As illustrated in this book, the animal is a mouse. When change happens, rather than yelling "HEY! Who moved my cheese??" The two mice in this parable rolled with the punches. They went off in search of "cheese" . Rather than overanalyzing the problem, rather than hoping the cheese would magically appear, rather than standing around blaming everyone else, the mice went in search of more cheese.

Problem: Cheese Gone.
Solution: Find more cheese.


Seems pretty simple, doesn't it?

I am in the middle of change in my employment environment. And yes, I will admit, I am fearful of what the next change will bring. I can either let my fear cripple me into making stupid mistakes or I can become a mouse and just roll with the punches.

I want to roll with the punches. I want to be a leader to all of the others going through the same changes I am. I want to maintain my positive attitude and stay focused on the cheese! I NEED to stay focused on the cheese.

If you see or hear me losing my focus, slap me upside the head. *grin* I do not need to worry about my cheese moving.

I am a mouse.

Monday, February 11, 2008

(15) The Appeal by John Grisham

I was so very disappointed with this book.

A lady at work started reading it around the same time I did & she commented that she was HATING it. I hadn't gotten very far into it & I thought she was crazy!

I mean, it is JOHN GRISHAM (!!) at his best! A legal thriller!! And either I am incorrectly remembering his past legal thrillers, or maybe my reading level has improved, but it was horrible.

There was very little dialogue between the characters. It was more like a third person describing the world and the situation.

And then I got to the end and I was soooooooooo let down. My thought was "That's it?" Yes, that was it.

I don't want to go in to the story any further, or the ending, because it would be giving it away for those who want to read the book.

I have no doubt that we will sell a gazillion copies of this book, well, because it IS John Grisham. But I will seriously reconsider his next book because of my disappointment in The Appeal.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

(14) Mr Maybe by Jane Green

It was a great Chick Lit book, but kind of a let down after The Opposite of Love.

Just like her other books, the heroine is carefree and fiesty. Living in London. She has two men to choose from. The one who treats her like a queen. And the one who treats her like a duchess.

Who does she choose?

Light, fluffy read. But still a great way to pass the time.

Friday, February 1, 2008

(13) The Opposite of Love by Julie Buxbaum

What a GREAT book!!

Emily Haxby seems to have it all. She is an attorney with a high powered Manhattan firm. She has her very own McDreamy.

When she feels Andrew is on the verge of proposing, she panics & breaks up with him.

It doesn't take Emily long to realize that she has made a horrible mistake. Julie Buxbaum has done such an amazing job describing Emily's pain. It is palpable. Heart breaking, tangible pain on paper. There is no way she could not have gone through it herself. Emily tries to correct her mistake. Only to discover that Andrew is done. He wants nothing more to do with her.

As Emily's story progresses, she flashes back through her relationship with Andrew. The good times and the bad times. She flashes back to when she first realizes that she DOES love Andrew (one full year after he "said" it, by the way)

"Hypnotized. I wanted to buy his soundtrack. This must be what love is, I thought. Not wanting his noises to ever stop."

As a reader you go along with Emily on her journey of heartbreak. Throw into the mix her high powered, high stress job, and the failing health of her beloved grandfather. You see Emily barely holding on by a thread. It is that hard.

In working through her new and old pain, she defines the opposite of love.

" The opposite of love isn't hate, it isn't even indifference. It's fucking disembowlment. Taking a huge shovel and digging out your own heart, and your intestines, and leaving behind nothing. Nothing of yourself to give, nothing, even to take away."

This is one of those books that stays with you long after you read it. I was pleasantly suprised to see that Julie Buxbaum was featured on the Discover New Writer's Bay at Barnes & Noble. The Opposite of Love is a book that may not change your life, but if you have experienced heartache, you can certainly identify with.

I look forward to reading more from her. Julie Buxbaum is an author I am glad I discovered.

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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