Saturday, June 28, 2008

(57) As Good As It Got by Isabel Sharpe

Well, I hate to say it. But this one was a stinker. If it wasn't such a fast read, I probably would not have finished it. But I did. In just under two hours.
The book is centered around four women who have recently found themselves single. One as a result of suicide. One just a regular widow. One because her asshole husband actually had the nerve to leave her for one of his mistresses. And the fourth woman because her married boyfriend has slipped into a coma & is not likely to recover.
These newly single women have met at a Women's Camp exclusively for Newly Single Women. It is run by a woman who has her own painful story to tell. And she is assisted by the handsome, "gay" Patrick.
Here is where the story just gets bad. Patrick turns out to NOT be gay & sleeps with all four women. The woman with the married boyfriend in a coma turns out to have some sort of mental disability that causes her to believe that this famous man is in love with her, when in reality he is not. The married woman with the asshole husband? Well the asshole husband comes begging her to come back to him.
The book was poorly written. The story was not well developed or even interesting. It really was a horrible book.
I want my $9.75 back. (That was after employee discount!)

Friday, June 27, 2008

(56) America America by Ethan Canin

America America is the next selection for Barnes & Noble Recommends.
And I really doubted that I would like the book, just because I am not really "into" politics. And this book is touted as political novel, but I ended up really enjoying it.
I read the whole thing in one sitting & funny, but true story. --- I was sitting on a grassy knoll outside of Meineke minding my own business when a guy, out of nowhere approached me & told me I was "one of the most beautiful women he had ever seen." --- Holy Randomness Batman! I admit, I just started laughing. -- But before you start booking a church, the man was in his 50's at least. [/End Hijack]
Anyway, the book was really very well written. The book tells the story of Corey Sifter. Corey is just becoming a young man when he goes to work for Liam Metarey. Metarey is the son of a Coal baron & his family is royalty to the small New York town. Corey just starts out doing little odd jobs, but soon he proves his worth & Liam entrusts Corey to far more important tasks. Giving Corey a front row seat to the Political Show that is known as the Presidential Race. Liam Metarey sees great things in Corey & makes many things possible for him, including the ability to attend the prestigious private school, Dunleavy.
The story is told in Corey's voice. Corey in 1971 when he first meets the Metarey family. Corey a few years later as a college student. And Corey in 2006, a husband, a father, & a reporter.
The story moves around a lot & one page may be Corey in 1972, then the next page is from 2006. But it is not hard to keep track of, it is an even flow of words & memories. And 2006 Corey has a strong, admirable relationship with his wife. He refers to her throughout the story as "My Wife". But as the story proceeds & you learn more of Corey's life as a younger man, you start to wonder WHO is "the wife". It could be one of three women & you find yourself turning the pages a little faster in hopes of the great revelation. (It comes on page 326).
America America is a great tale of the America that our parents know. The America of the 1970's. The America where Civil Rights & Women's Rights are still being discussed as "new". The America that went through great political turmoil with the recent assassinations of President Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr, & Robert Kennedy. An America where people got most of their news from newspapers. An America where politicians were closer to royalty than movie stars. An America that once was & will never be again.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

(55) The Beach House by Jane Green

Yet again ANOTHER perfect Beach Read! I think I really need to start expanding my horizons! *grin*

I have read all of Jane Green's books within the last year. I think that of them all, Bookends was my favorite. But having read them all closely together, and not in order of her writing them, it is quite obvious that Jane Green is growing up & has moved to the States.

Most of her early work is set in the UK (which I LOVE!!) and features young(er), single girls trying to find success & love while staying true to themselves.

The Beach House is nothing like that. LOL. The Beach House tells the story of a woman late in her life, Nan, and her house on Nantucket (there is that island again!!). Nan is known as that eccentric woman on the hill. She rides a bicycle while wearing flowing skirts and smoking a cigarette. She watches as her beloved island is being swallowed up by McMansions & million dollar developments. Nan has recently been told by her money guy, that she needs to do something different or risk losing her beloved Windemere.

Nan decides to rent out her rooms for the summer. And soon her house is full of life again. Jane Green's older books are about young women starting out in life. Her last couple of books have been about people approaching their middle ages. The Beach House features more of the latter. The people that Nan takes in soon becomes family. And family sticks together through everything.

There is her son, Michael, who has come home for a break after making some less than stellar relationship choices.

There is Daniel. Daniel has recently come to the realization that his whole life has been a lie. He is trying to piece himself back together, all the while trying to stay active in his daughter's lives.

And there is Daff. Daff is also starting her life over after discovering that her husband had an affair & is dealing with the pain that her teenage daughter would rather be with him, than with her.

As the "family" members try to deal with their individual issues & lives, they rally around Nan & help her get through some hard times. And of course, at the center of it all is Windemere.

The Beach House.
Once again, Jane Green has written an engrossing, heartwarming look at people & the relationships they form. About the lives they lead. And in this book, about what happens when life doesn't go as planned. Yet again, another great beach read (or front porch read) to waste away a summer afternoon!

Monday, June 23, 2008

(54) The Beach Club by Elin Hilderbrand

I first discovered Elin Hilderbrand when I read the ARC of Barefoot last year. That was just a wonderful book, that I hoped to find more by the same author.
Well, The Beach Club, showed up on our New Arrivals table several weeks ago. But I hadn't hadn't seen it in Hardcover, so I was smart to check the copy wright page. Sure enough, it was a reprint of Hilderbrand's very first book.
Usually I don't bother with reprints, but I am in the mood for serious "beach reading" so I bought the book. And actually loved it!!
The story takes place at one of the oldest, most exclusive resort on Nantucket. The Beach Club tells the story of the actual beach club. The employees, the owners, the guests, and of course, the island itself. I noticed in Barefoot that Elin Hilderbrand makes Nantucket one of the characters in the book. She does an excellent job of setting the scene, you can conjur up the images of the beach , the lobby, the rooms.
Besides the Club, you meet Mack, the Resort Manager who landed on the island twelve years ago after leaving Iowa. You meet Bill & Therese, the owners of the Beach Club. They & the guests would be lost without Mack. You meet Vance, Love, & Jem. All employees of the Club & all seeking different things out of life.
There is the eccentric owner of the Texas Rangers, there is the single mom with the autistic son, there is the overwhelmed single father trying to bring his two families together. And finally you meet Lacey, the resident matriarch. She has been visiting the Club for so long she actually owns her bungalow.
The Beach Club was such an enjoyable book. Not fluff, but not so intellectual that you lose sight of the story. A great beach read!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

(53) Domestic Affairs by Eileen Goudge

I have had this book to read for two weeks now. Yes, it took that long. *grin*
The book was a little dry, but the crux of the story was a good one.
Abbey is the housekeepers daughter at a large, wealthy estate. She grew up with Vaughn & Lila. The Merriweather twins. Things are blissful in Abbey's world until the day that Mrs Merriweather accuses Lila's mother of stealing, casting Abbey & her mother out of the only home they have known for eighteen years.
Flash forward 20 plus years & there is a reversal of fortune. Abbey is the homemaking Icon, (think Martha Stewart). She has built an empire & is living the charmed life with her husband and teenage daughter.
And Lila's life is falling apart. Her husband has created a horrible crime that changes their lives forever.
Once the smoke clears, Lila finds herself on Abbey's doorstep looking for forgiveness and a job
The story follows the relationship of these two women. And the relationships they have with their children & the men in their lives. You watch the two women go through job changes, deaths, marriage break ups & the rebuilding of their own relationship.
The book is ok, not bad, but not something I would recommend over say, another book I have recently read.
I guess they can't all knock your socks off, huh?

Monday, June 16, 2008

(52) Chasing Harry Winston by Lauren Weisberger

Did you know that Lauren Weisberger was born in 1977? NINETEEN SEVENTY SEVEN!!
Which means that this woman has more natural talent in her little pinky than I will ever have. Why do I say that? Because that means that Miss Lauren Weisberger was like TWELVE when she wrote the hit novel, The Devil Wears Prada. Ok, maybe not twelve, but pretty dern close.
Oh, this useful information was learned by reading the copy wright page of her new novel, Chasing Harry Winston.
Yes. I am a dork.
Anyway. Chasing Harry Winston is the PERFECT book to read this summer sitting on the beach, or by the side of the pool. I know I have said that about a couple of books. But this one is truly a good beach read. Especially if you are coming off of the heels of the Sex & The City Movie.
Chasing Harry Winston is the story of three best friends in New York City. They are all coming up on their 30th birthday. And all three have struck out in love. They have done the "young, single girl" thing and are now ready to settle down.
There is Adriana, the trust fund girl, who does nothing but looks pretty & spend her parents money. She is a little envious of her career driven friends & as looking the suitable man.
There is Emmy. Who was dumped by her long term boyfriend, Duncan. He dumped her for his 23 year old personal trainer who is "saving herself for marriage". With the push of her friends, Emmy decides to step outside of her comfort level & seek men out on every continent she visits on a restaurant tour for work. Will she find love with the guy in England? Or the Cuban in Miami?
And finally, Leigh. Leigh is an up & coming book editor at the most famous publishing house in NYC. She works hard & manages to squeak out a little couple time with her boyfriend. And then her boyfriend proposes & Leigh has everything a girl should want, right?
Chasing Harry Winston is not going to win any Pulitzer's, you won't come away from this book having learned anything, but you will have successfully ventured into the world of single girls in NYC (ala Sex & the City). The book & the characters will remind you of Carrie & the girls. And if you are close to thirty or just hit thirty (I am 32) you will fully relate to the sense of urgency at finding a "suitable" husband".
Thoroughly enjoyable book!! Check it out for a great beach read!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

(51) Julia's Chocolates by Cathy Lamb

I love a beautiful afternoon on the porch!
I was able to polish off this spectacular book in one short afternoon.
I discovered Cathy Lamb a few weeks ago when I read her newest book, The Last Time I Was Me. I enjoyed that book so much that I just had to read more. And I was not disappointed in the slightest.
Julia is escaping. She is running from an abusive boyfriend & narrowly escaping an abusive marriage. She is running from the memories of her horrid childhood. But she is running towards her family. Aunt Lydia. Aunt Lydia is the only stabilizing force in Julia's past or present. She goes to Aunt Lydia's to heal.
Surrounded by Aunt Lydia & her "girls", The thousands of chickens she raises, Julia starts to heal. She becomes a beloved member of the community & of Aunt Lydia's "Psychic Night" girls. Julia starts to face her past & her fears & starts becoming the woman she was born to be.
Cathy Lamb has done such an excellent job of telling Julia's story. You can't help but cheer her on. And wish you could be there to support her & the other woman of "Psychic Night" as they struggle through life.
Julia's Chocolates comes with a readers guide & excellent material perfect for leading a book club.

(50 My Trip Down the Pink Carpet by Leslie Jordan

Thursday June 5th was a much anticipated date at store 2184. Because Leslie Jordan was coming to town!!
Now, for weeks, booksellers & customers alike would say, "Who is Leslie Jordan?" Then we pulled up the book on the computer & would say "OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHH, that is the guy from Boston Legal" Or "OOOOOOOOOOOHHHHH, that is the guy from Will & Grace!"
Well, Mr Jordan was originally supposed to be in our store on Saturday, which would have been ideal for us, but instead, the publicist pushed his book signing to Thursday from 5-7pm. Um, hello. Have you BEEN to Kansas City on a Thursday between 5-7pm. If you have, then you know that that is the time when the highways & byways are full of commuters. In other words, no one shops between 5 & 7 unless they are buying gas. (At $4 a gallon).
So, we did some promotion for this signing. Flyers at all the gay bars. Flyers at KC Pridefest. Posters in the store. Anything in hopes of drawing a crowd.
And guess how many people showed up (besides employees & their spouses). Three. THREE people. *sigh*
Mr Jordan was very gracious & just pulled up a chair & started telling stories. The people who were there & got to listen to him, thoroughly enjoyed his stories. The man is so stinking entertaining, he could read the telephone book & make you giggle just by the accent & inflection in his voice.
So of course, I bought a copy of the book & had my picture taken (camera phone, sorry for the poor quality) I sat down last night after finishing the disappointing "tearjerker" and laughed my ass off.
Leslie Jordan was blessed with the talent of comedy. He didn't get too graphic or too raunchy about his wild days before getting sober. But he did talk about being a rather, um, obvious gay man in Hollywood. He talked a lot about various auditions & the effort he made to "butch" himself up in order to land a roll.
He told some stories about famous people. Beverly DeAngelo & Luke Perry to name a couple. He told even better stories about James Spader & William Shatner after the "crows" dispersed & it was just managers standing around.
I would say My Trip Down the Pink Carpet is exactly what you need to be reading on the beach this summer. An entertaining look at behind the scenes in Hollywood.

Monday, June 9, 2008

(49) Where the River Ends by Charles Martin On Sale July 15th

I had such high hopes for this book. I mean, when the publisher sends a packet of kleenex with the Advanced Readers Copy of a book, I expect to shed a few tears.
I am the girl who cries at the National Anthem, it does not take much for me to try, I admit it.
Not one tear. Not once did my eyes even get damp. Not once.
There was potential. But the story got lost on the river. Seriously.
A man from the wrong side of the tracks, Doss, saves a Senators Daughter, Abbie, from some potentioal muggers. The two, then proceed to fall in love & get married.
Life is splendid & all is well until Abbie is diagnosed with cancer. Cue the tears, right? Wrong.
One of Abbie's last ten wishes is to go down the river (we don't find out what all ten wishes are), but this is where the author loses me. Page after page after page AFTER PAGE of descriptions of the river, is it really necessary? I really did lose interest & just skimmed most of the book after page ten of river description.
Really, it doesn't take much to make me cry, but this book sadly enough, did not do it for me. I wasted far too much valuable reading time on this book. Please, spare yourself the agony & pick up The Choice by Nicholas Sparks if you really want a well written tear jerker.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

(48) Summer Blowout by Claire Cook

Claire Cook, most known for her Must Love Dogs has written yet another light hearted beach read.
Summer Blowout has the typical components that she is famous for in her books. The single woman. The large, quirky family. And of course a pet of some sorts. Usually a dog.
Bella is a make-up artist at one of her Father's three salons. Along with her brothers & sisters. The salons are certainly a family event. Much to Bella's dismay. Because that means there is no escaping her ex-husband's new girlfriend. Her sister, Sophia.
Bella is struggling to create her own identity. To somewhat escape the bonds of her smothering family. She hooks up with an entrepreneur & has possibly found her niche in life.
I will admit that I was not as "in to" Summer Blowout as I was to last year's Life's A Beach. (Look in the bag on the cover! It has Life's A Beach in the bag!!) But I did stick with the book, because I was curious on who Bella would end up with. The new guy or the ex-husband.
If you are looking for a mindless read, not really fluff, just mindless, then pick it up.

Monday, June 2, 2008

(47) The Last Time I Was Me by Cathy Lamb

I really enjoyed this book.
Jeanne Stewart has had emotional turmoil after emotional turmoil rip through her life.
Her husband & unborn child were both killed by a drunk driver. He beloved mother was killed by cancer, and the relationship with her long term boyfriend was killed when she discovered he had been cheating on her the entirety of their relationship.
So it is no wonder that she has a breakdown on stage in front of hundreds of her advertising executive colleagues.
She goes home, packs everything up & heads west to the Pacific Ocean. In The Last Time I Was Me you see a woman hit rock bottom. You watch as she struggles through court ordered anger management classes. You watch as she comes to terms with the demons in her life & start to put it all back together.
This was an incredibly emotional book. But you find yourself cheering for Jeanne. You find yourself praying that her life starts running smoothly. And you find yourself crying with her when she fears she has lost the chance to have a "normal" relationship with a "normal" man.
Cathy Lamb had me so hypnotized by the world she created, I am going to try & track down her other book. There is a Readers Guide with this book & it would be a great book for your local book club!
Check it out!

(46) Executive Privilege by Philip Margolin

I like a good political suspense thriller.
There you have it. My little confession.
I first was introduced to Philip Margolin a few years ago when I read Proof Positive. There is an element of CSI/Law & Order. I am addicted to those kind of shows. So I love to try to figure out whodunit.
Executive Privilege is about the President of the United States. And what kind of man do we elect to that position.
Dana Cutler is a private investigator that is hired to report on the activities of a young college girl. In the course of her investigation, she discovers that the college girl is having an affair with the President of the United States. The day after her discovery, the college girl turns up dead. And Dana Cutler is running for her life.
Was Charlotte Walsh murdered by the serial killer stalking the streets of Washington DC? Or did she become a problem that the President had to dispose of? While on the run, Dana Cutler, starts digging into the past of The President. Her discoveries take her to Oregon & more bodies.
So did he do it? Is the President a murderer or just a sleaze?

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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