Tuesday, April 29, 2008

(38) The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen on Sale May 20th, 2008

Once again Sarah Addison Allen has written a charming, enchanting tale of love, hope, & redemption.

In her second novel, The Sugar Queen, Sarah Addison Allen invites us to visit the town of Bald Slope, North Caroline & meet some of her residents.

There is Josey, who has devoted her life to her overbearing mother & survives by sneaking into her hidden closet to eat snacks & read travel magazines. As you turn the pages, you see Josey growing into an independent young woman determined to live her own life.

You also meet Della Lee. Who arrives unexpectedly and shares some surprising information with Josey. Her encouragement is what Josey needs to make some changes in her life.

There is also, Chloe, who mysteriously finds the books she needs to read the most at the time she needs them the most. The friendship that she develops with Josey will be one that carries them both through the rest of their lives.
With chapters titled Lemon Drops, Jawbreakers, & Candy Hearts, and passages like
"Books can be possessive, can't they? You're walking around in a bookstore & a certain one will jump out at you, like it had moved there on it's own, just to get your attention. Sometimes what's inside will change your life, but sometimes you don't even have to read it. Sometimes it's a comfort just to have a book around."
You can't help but fall in love with the world that Ms. Allen has created. But pay attention. If you pick up on the clues she gives you , you won't be suprised by the end!
Check it out -- fun & magical reading!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

(37) How to Get a Date Worth Keeping by Dr Henry Cloud

Well, silly me. Apparently, I have been going about this dating thing completely wrong.
I admit that when it comes to finding guys to date, I resort to the online sites. You know. Match.Com. Yahoo Personals, even EHarmony. And I have been pretty picky about what I am looking for in a man. I have refused to even have dinner with anyone who didn't look to have longterm (ie...marriage) potential.
And where has that gotten me? Well it turns out that the last man I went on a date with WAS marriage material. Because he was already MARRIED! And that has only been the first date since the Archeologist dumped me & only the THIRD guy to date since "The One" broke my heart. Well over a year ago. Since starting to read this book, I have gone & deleted the only "active" profile I had (so don't even bother looking!). I decided that I needed to reevaluate this whole dating thing. And once I finished the book, I would create a new one, based off of my new outlook to dating.
Is it painfully obvious that I needed to read this book? *grin*
In his book, How to Get A Date Worth Keeping, Dr Cloud breaks it down for the reader in very easy steps. But first thing is first. He states, rather bluntly, that the end result of dating IS NOT marriage. Yes, you read that correctly, it is not marriage. Rather, dating should be a way to meet new people, engage in conversation, new experiences with new people. Hm, crazy man, I am 32 my clock is ticking (!!) I can't waste time on the losers!. (well, that was my thought when I first read it) But the more I got to thinking about it....
What scares a man most in this world?? Besides a positive pregnancy test?? You got it, a woman who is planning the wedding after the first date. Let's review my dating history....hmm...
too far too fast?? Were they successful relationships? Obviously not.
Ok. So maybe Dr. Cloud is on to something.
The next thing Dr Cloud suggests is keeping a "man chart". You need to keep track of all of the new men you meet in your life. The goal is to meet five, potentially datable men a week. That does not mean that you HAVE to date them. That just means that the potential must be there. They must know your name & have someway to see you or ask you out again if they so choose to do so.
But. But. But.
I never meet new men. I can hear it now. Well. Start the log & find out how many "new" men you meet in the course of the week. And if you truly find yourself not meeting anyone, well, then you need to get out more. :P
In the line at the movies. At a work function. Walking the dog. At the grocery store. At a book signing. At a museum. Strike up a conversation with a complete stranger & you will be suprised at your results.
Oh yeah. And you CAN NOT say no to any requests for a date.
The next thing Dr Cloud suggests is putting together a "team" of people who are close to you to hold you accountable. People who know your past dating history & the type of men you usually fall for. People who care enough about you to call you on your actions when you start making your "Mr Poppins" list. (the list of qualities your PERFECT mate would have).
And that is how far I have gotten in the book. =)
This week has been pretty hectic for me. I have moved & pretty much dedicated all my energy to setting up house.
But Monday is a new week. Monday I will start my log. Monday I will implement Dr Clouds suggestions.
I will track the "new men" in the comment section of this post. And I will let you know how things go. That is my commitment to you.
Anyone willing to make the same commitment?

(36) Hold Tight by Harlan Coben

Sorry, I had to take a break from packing & unpacking to sneak in the quick read of Harlan Coben's new book, Hold Tight. Mr Coben does not disappoint his rather large fan base with this
page turner that is guaranteed to frighten even the most confident parent of
Mike & Tia Braye are the proud parents of a teenage boy, Adam. They have always thought that they had a good relationship, which is why Mike balked so much at the idea of installing spyware on Adam's computer. But they feel as if they have no choice. Ever since the suicide of Adam's friend, Spencer, they can feel him changing & pulling away.
What the spyware uncovers sends them into a world they never imagined they would ever come in contact with. Mike & Tia start racing the clock to find their son & rescue him from the life of Pharm Parties & the thugs that will do anything to keep the "legal" drugs flowing.
Once again, Mr Coben does not disappoint. I was kept guessing through every twist & turn. And when the pieces all start to fall together. Well, it is a little shocking.
Great , great suspense thriller.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

(35) Love the One You're With by Emily Giffin -- On Sale May 13th

What happens when "The One Who Got Away" comes back in your life. You know. THE ONE who got away!! The one who could make you laugh like no other. The one who made you cry like no other. The one who you were so sure was "The One". What do you do when he (or she) crosses your path on the street after several years. Or in my case, sends you a message after more than a year.

Well, in the main character, Ellie's, life she has since gotten married. She has since become a successful photographer. She has since become happy & content with her life.

Ellie is crossing the street when she thinks that she sees Leo, the Ex. She does a double take, but is not sure. Until her cellphone rings & it is Leo. He saw her, too & wants to meet. So they agree to meet at a cafe & catch up.

All of those old feelings come rushing back. All of the hurt, the pain, the love comes rushing up. Your heart starts to race & you wonder. Should I? Could I? Can I handle seeing him again? Can I handle having HIM in my life again?

Well, Ellie, like myself, decides that she CAN be friends with "the one who got away". The only difference is that Ellie has a husband that she needs to keep in on the loop. I, have no husband. Obviously. LOL. But she doesn't tell her husband about Leo. In fact, she doesn't tell her husband ANYTHING. She just "goes with the flow" when he suggests moving to Atlanta. She doesn't voice her concerns. Or her frustrations after they get there. She just lets it stew.

Love the One You're With follows Emily & her marriage. She goes through this rough time, struggling with her past, her present & her future. Was Leo the one who really got away? Or is Andy the one that she was meant to be with. In the end Ellie learns a tough lesson about communication & where it fits in with love & marriage.
The book is a well written, easy for me to identify with. Obviously, the subject is geared towards women. And I think just about any female will be able to identify with it.

Friday, April 11, 2008

(34) Second Chance by Jane Green (Audiobook)

Everyone deserves a Second Chance, right?? Everyone deserves the opportunity to try again. To have a do-over. I believe in Second Chances.

So when I downloaded Second Chance by one of my favorite authors, Jane Green, I wasn't sure what her spin on it would be.

Well, we are introduced to Holly & her husband, Marcus. To Olivia, the animal shelter owner. To Safron, the Hollywood starlet, and to Paul & Anna. The group of friends have gathered to mourn & remember their friend, Tom, who was killed in a terrorist attack on American soil.

They are high school friends on the eve of their forties. They have drifted apart, gone their separate ways & have lived their own lives. After reconnecting for their mourning, they vow to never drift apart again.

And when one of them has a crisis, the friends all gather in the country to help their friend through the crisis.

So, the title, Second Chance, what does it refer to? The friend & her husband who are on the brink of divorce? Maybe.

The alcoholic friend who has a relapse and is slowly destroying her life through drinking?

The single friend who finds herself pregnant after a one night stand? Or the other married couple struggling with infertility. Will they get a second chance to become parents?
Second Chance is a great book to read if you are at that crossroads in your life. What I mean is that you don't have to decide what you are going to do for the rest of your life at twenty. Or even thirty. Because you never know what life is going to hand you & what you will be doing or WANT to do at age thirty-nine. Or forty-nine. Everyone has a Second Chance. They have the chance to change their lives.
Ok -- having said all of that & knowing that I LOVED this book & I LOVE Jane Green. I love listening to her books because they are set in the UK. And I love those accents. So, imagine my surprise when Holly, is talking about running into an old friend at Barnes & Noble while her son is playing with the train set. IN LONDON!!!!
Now, I know my Barnes & Noble friends can back me up on this. B&N is NOT an international company. We do NOT have a store set in the heart of London. It drives me nuts to see such obvious discrepancies? Inaccuracies?? What is the word I am looking for?? In any case, it is WRONG! :P
Anyway, if you can get past that little irritating tidbit, check out the book. The accents make it fun to listen to!!

Monday, April 7, 2008

(33) Trans Sister Radio by Chris Bohjalian

I picked this book up several weeks ago after Mr Bohjalian was in the store & signed his books. I have read other books by him & enjoy his thought provoking writing on timely issues.
Trans-sister Radio is even more timely this week than it has ever been. Well left me first explain. Trans-Sister Radio is the story of Dana Stevens. Dana was born as a man, but from a very early age, Dana knew that God got it wrong. Dana wanted to play with dolls instead of watch sports. Dana wanted to wear make up & look pretty. Dana would wear t-shirts to bed & pretend they were night gowns. From a very early age, Dana knew she was a woman born with a man's body.
Fast forward. Dana is a thirty-five year old college professor. He starts dating a school teacher, Allison. After they both have fallen in love, Dana explains to Allison that he will be having the gender reassignment surgery.
Dana & Allison's story sparks a myriad of emotions amongst their small town. The reactions range from disgust to hatred to compassion to confusion. People fear what they do not know or understand. And that fear manifests itself in such hateful ways.
In an effort to help Dana & Allison, Allison's ex-husband, the manager of the local Public Radio station suggests an in depth story on their situation. Which is the "radio" part of the title. The story is told from the viewpoint of Allison, Dana, Will, & Carly (Will & Allison's daughter). The chapters are broken down into segments for the All Things Considered radio show.
How is this story relevant to today's news stories? Well. In the last week or so, a man & his wife have come forward stating that the husband is the first pregnant man in history. http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20187678,00.html They were the cover story on People magazine. As well as guests on the Oprah Winfrey show. The husband did not have a complete gender reassignment surgery because (s)he kept the reproductive organs in hopes of getting pregnant in the future. So essentially, (s)he just had a double mastectomy & married a woman.
I find myself disgusted with this couple, not because of the gender dysphora. Not because of the desire to live as they feel they should. But because 1. I think they are doing a great disservice to all of the transgendered people who go all the way. All of those people who completely give up everything female to become a male. Or vice verse. And 2. I think this was a planned act from the very beginning, the sensationalism, the paid interviews, everything. Planned from the beginning. Their child will likely grow up under the shadow of the conception. And every year on her birthday be pimped out for interviews & articles as the first child born to a man. Like the septuplets in Iowa.
And that angers me to the point of disgust.
Am I intolerant? No, I don't think so. Judgemental? Maybe. If this were a couple who lived down the street & I saw in the grocery store, I would wish them luck on their family & ask to see pictures. But this is a couple that chose to share their story with the entire world for their financial gain. And in my eyes, that is wrong.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

(32) Charley's Web by Joy Fielding

Well dern. I had it figured out. Very early in the book. Then later, I thought, well, maybe I was wrong. What a shocking twist.
Nope. I was right.
The book has an interesting plot. A convicted killer sitting on death row contacts Charley Webb to write a book & tell her story. Reluctantly, Charley agrees. And in the process has to face some truths about her own very dysfunctional family.
Throw in an addicted brother, a rogue nightclub owner, & a handsome lawyer. One of those three is the partner that helped kill three children. Like I said, I had it figured out from the beginning.
Read it if you want. See if you can figure it out.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

(31) Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos

This was such a GREAT book !! I first met Cornelia & Teo in Marisa de los Santos first book, Love Walked In. Belong To Me picks up a few years later. After 9/11.
Cornelia & Teo have been married for a few years & are relocating to the Philly suburbs from New York City. The story follows Cornelia as she tries to settle in the suburban life. Much like settling into a new school, settling into a new neighborhood has the same stresses.
Finding new friends. Being accepted by the people in the neighborhood. Will they like me? Etc... Cornelia meets Piper the Viper, who says such inappropriate things, it is shocking. She also meets Lake & her son, Dev. Lake is also new to the area & they find companionship while trying to make their way in the area.
Belong to Me is told from several different viewpoints. Of course, from Cornelia's viewpoint. But also from the viewpoint of one of her neighbor's, Piper. And also from the viewpoint of Dev, Lake's teenage son. You also get to catch up with characters that you have met before, in Love Walked In, Clare, & Toby & the rest of the family.
This is a book that gives you a glimpse in the lives of people you see everyday in the grocery store. Their appearances do not tell the whole story. You see the perfectly glossed suburban housewife, what you don't see is that her best friend is wasting away with terminal cancer. You see the bohemian, "earthy" woman with the drop dead gorgeous husband, what you don't see is the heartbreak of fertility issues. You see the typical teenage boy, what you don't see is the anguish the teen feels of having a father that abandoned him & his mother.
All these stories are brought together & told in a fabulous tale that is called Belong to Me. This is one of those stories that you don't want to see end. One of those stories that can go on forever.
I love books like that! =)
Belong to Me is the new Barnes & Noble Recommends book. It hit's the shelves today. This is a great book for book clubs. There is so much to discuss, so many different aspects of the story that can generate hours of conversations. Read it & let me know what you think!!

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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