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.

Monday, August 4, 2008

(76) More Than It Hurts You by Darin Strauss

Maybe this book should only count as 75.5 because I admit that I basically read every other chapter.
So sue me. *grin*
Darin Strauss takes on the subject matter that has yet to be tackled in a fictional book, that I am aware of, anyway. Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy. This is what Wikipedia has to say about this:
Fabricated or induced illness (FII), or factitious
, originally and more commonly known as Munchausen syndrome or Munchausen syndrome
by proxy (MSbP), are
insidious disorders in which injury is deliberately and gradually inflicted upon
a person usually for gaining attention[1] or
some other benefit[2].
caregiver is usually a parent, guardian, or spouse, and the victim is usually a
child or vulnerable adult. Although cases with feigned or induced physical
illness receive the most attention, it is also possible for a perpetrator who
emotionally abuses a victim to simulate and fabricate conditions that appear to
be psychiatric or genetic problems.[clarify]
More Than It Hurts You is the story of Josh & Dori Goldin & their son Zach. The gist of the story is that Josh is busy at his high powered advertising job when he secretary tells him that he must meet his wife at the emergency room, there is a problem with Zach.
This is where I started to tune out & just start reading every other chapter. This is where I just absolutely started to despise both Josh & Dori Goldin. They are the most unlikeable characters I have ever seen on paper. Self absorbed, racist, homophobic assholes. Plain & simple. I just wanted to rip through pages & smack them both silly.
When the doctor, the "black, woman doctor" as Josh is always quick to refer to her as, gets a funny feeling & starts to question the motives of this young couple. It is then, that their life starts to crumble.
The rest of the book involves another trip to the emergency room, home visits from CPS, an a lawsuit come into the story. Chapter after chapter of the BS that Dori spins just makes you want to vomit. It is the last page of the book before the truth hits Josh square in the face.
Blah. This story could have been so much more. I am really quite disappointed.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

(75) Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer

756 pages. The fact that I finished the book in one day is shocking only to me.

I worked the midnight release party for this book on Friday night. Based on our reservations and the amount of people staffed, our CRM thought we would have the store cleared by 12:15. It was 12:45 before the store was cleared & 2:00 am before I left the store.
I felt hungover all day yesterday. And I feel HORRIBLE because some of those people that closed were scheduled back in at 11 or 12 on Saturday. Because I didn't expect them to be there so late. So, guys, I am SOOOO sorry.

Now onto the book. I enjoyed it. I think that Stephainie Meyer did an excellent job of wrapping things up nice & neatly. The book is not going to win any literary awards, although Twilight did win the Gateway Award for teen books, the subsequent books were nowhere near the caliber of Twilight. And I think that is why people continue reading the whole series. They want the rest of the series to induce the same gut wrenching emotions that Twilight evoked.

Breaking Dawn did not rip my guts out. I did get a little emotional at the end, when Bella was preparing for the worst case scenario. I don't want to give too much away. Read the book & you will understand.

There have already been a lot of less than stellar reviews posted all over the net. I will say that I liked it. I think that people are forgetting that this is a fictional, science fiction actually, book with fictional people. And in the world of make believe, ANYTHING is possible. I am glad that the story ended the way it did & I believe there were enough seeds placed for a spin-off so to speak, of Jacob & Nessie. At least, I hope she will write one. Maybe not drag it out into a four book saga, but one well written book is all it will take to appease me!

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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