Thursday, September 25, 2008

(91) Remind Me Again Why I Need A Man? By Claudia Carroll

Remind Me Again Why I Need a Man is one of the best "Chick Lit" books of the year. And I have no problem saying that in print. It was smart, it was funny, it was a not as predictable as one may expect. And best of all, it is set in Ireland!!

Amelia Lockwood is 37 years old & she is tired of being single. She has just gotten over her last devastating break up with He Who Shall Remain Nameless when she decides to take a course for single women in their thirties. It is a course in how to get married.

Now, being one of the "Lovely Girls", Amelia knows & expect her darling friends to give her grief for attending such a class. Especially Rachel, the divorcee who has sworn to never marry again. But soon, all of her friends, including Jaimie, the Drama Queen gay guy, are helping her with her assignment. Contact ten of her ex-boyfriends to find out why their relationship didn't result in marriage.

The trip down memory lane leads to one conclusion for Amelia. She has bad taste in men. LOL. I couldn't help but take my own trip down memory lane while reading this book. Google is a dangerous thing. Between Google & a few other avenues this is what I discovered about my ex-boyfriends:
1. - Doug - My first love. He is now married & living in
Missouri's boothill.
2. - Brian - The first guy I really dated when I moved to KC. He is
married & living in KC with new wife & her kids.
3. - Eric - Eric was the closest I ever came to getting married. He
is now Married to the slut he cheated on me with. Need I say more?
4. - Bruce - Married & Divorced since we last dated (yikes!)
5. - Steve - I was afraid to Google Steve. He is a true "Knight In
Shining Armor". Our problem was that I didn't need him to save me from
anything. I suspect he is married. He was too good to be single for
6. - David. David was the most emotionally destroying breakup I have
ever had. And it nearly sent me to therapy when he contacted me
earlier this year to apologize for the way he treated me. We stayed
in communication for many months, before he dropped off the face of the earth
again. My guess is he found someone new to play with. But I
have no illusions that this man will ever get married again.
7 - John. -- Most recent & last on my list is the man who was
still too screwed up over his divorce to fully commit to a relationship.
I ran into him at the store last week. MY store. Where he was
supposedly "meeting someone". It was like a punch to the stomach.

So what did I learn by my trip down memory lane? That I am attracted to the "married" kind of guy. They just don't want to be married to me.

Amelia, on the other hand, learned a lot about herself & what is truly important to her in life & love. She learned that there are somethings that even she isn't willing to compromise in order to be married.

Fabulous little book & a MUST read for all of you discouraged singletons out there.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

(90) Ask Again Later by Jill Davis

I did not start out with this weekend in mind, but I am having one of those weekends. You know, one of those weekends where you don't leave the house and do nothing but read. Or watch movies. Or sometimes both at the same time. I hope to get at least one more, if not two more books read before I go back to work tomorrow.

Most recently, I read Ask Again Later by Jill A Davis. Ask Again Later is the story of Emily. Emily & her relationships. And how the functionality of every relationship that she has today can be traced back to her childhood. Most specifically to the divorce of her parents.

Emily is just drifting through life. She is a lawyer working an obscene amount of hours. Her boyfriend, Sam, also works at the same firm. And the only time they see each other is at work. Does Emily work so much to be able to see Sam? Or to avoid developing a real relationship with him.

But that all changes when Emily's mother calls & says that she is dying. Emily drops everything & rushes to her mother's bedside.

Emily takes this time to evaluate her life. Her career. Her relationship with Sam. Her relationship with her father & sister. She takes this time to evaluate her life as it is.

Ask Again Later is a poignant story with a quirky character. Emily is flawed in ways that so many of us are. She is a character that is struggling to deal with emotions that have been buried for most of her life.

The book is a fast read with an ending that doesn't come out of left field. The back of the book also has a Readers Group Guide and an interview with the author. Making it the perfect Book Club choice!


Saturday, September 20, 2008

(89) Any Given Doomsday by Lori Handeland On Sale November 2008

I was thrilled to get Any Given Doomsday in the mail as part of the Library Thing Early Reviewers program. I was so excited that I skipped over MANY "To Be Read" books & went right to it.

Any Given Doomsday starts out great. Psychic Elizabeth Phoenix is working her bartender job when her instincts tell her to get out. And something pulls her home. To find the woman who raised her had been murdered.

This is where the book loses me. Elizabeth discovers that people aren't what they seem. Including Ruthie, and two men from her past. Jimmy & Sawyer. She is informed that the classic battle of good vs evil is being waged right in front of her & she never knew it. But with Ruthie's death, she must step up to the plate & lead the warriors to victory.

Good vs Evil. Sounds pretty basic, right? The numerous mythical creatures lost me. And I didn't really care enough about the plot to go back through the pages to remind who was who or what was what. Shapeshifter, Skinwalkers, DK's, Fairies, Damphir's, Werewolves, Bears, they all start to blur together.

I really wanted to like this book. For the first half of the book, I really liked Elizabeth. I won't give away which section of the book changed that for me, but I suspect you can figure it out for yourself if you read the book.

Oh well. Not every book is going to be liked by every reader. I am sure that there are some out there who will love it, but I won't be reading the rest of the series.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

(88) Thin is the New Happy by Valerie Frankel

Struggling with weight issues seems to be the hot topic for memoirs these days. I read Such A Pretty Fat by Jen Lancaster, and laughed my arse off, ok not in the literal sense, but wouldn't that be nice?? Moose Camp by Stephanie Klein was out recently. I wanted to read it, but still haven't gotten around to it. And now Thin Is The New Happy by successful Chick Lit author, Valerie Frankel.

Having read books by Frankel, I was expecting a little more humor in the book than there actually was. Instead of writing the book as if it were happening "Real Time", the book truly is a memoir. It reads as if Frankel were sitting down & telling you the story of her life.

The book is not just about her weight issues, but about the relationships she has had in her life where weight was an issue, or condition of the relationships. Specifically with her mother.

Growing up with a "fatphobic" mother certainly shaped Frankel's body image & feelings about weight. She tells it as she remembers it & even has a chapter about the conversation (argument?? confrontation??) she had with her mother about her childhood while writing the book. In the end, her father made her apologize to her mother. The things Frankel writes about her mother's behaviors & comments are not flattering in the least, but Frankel makes it very clear that she still is her mother & she still has a relationship with her mother.

Frankel also goes into detail the various romantic relationships that she had throughout her life. Including her late husband, Glenn & her current husband, Steve. And how their offhanded comments, no matter how infrequent, resonated even years later.

Thin is the New Happy is a book many women will relate to. But it is a departure from her usual books. Readers will be very disappointed if they pick it up expecting "fluff". They will also be very disappointed if they expect Jen Lancaster type of humor.

It is the story behind the stories that we have grown to love. It is worth the read!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

(87) Pug Hill by Allison Pace

Pug Hill is a fun little Chick Lit book.

Hope McNeill is the main character. Hope is 31 & dealing with a lot of stress in her life. She is stuck in a bad relationship with a guy she can barely tolerate. She is crushing big time on her co-worker. And her parents have asked her to conquer her fear of public speaking & give a toast at their 40th wedding anniversary.

We all have our "happy" places. For some of us it is the book store, for others it is the mall. For Hope McNeill, her happy place is Pug Hill in Central Park. Hope is one of those people who measures her life in terms of the dogs that have been in it. And they are all her Parent's dogs. She loves Pug's, yet does not have one of her own.

Hope tries to conquer her fear of Public Speaking & takes a class. And she breaks up with her jerk of her boyfriend. Can she get to that place in her life, where she finally gets a Pug for herself? Maybe.

I really liked this book up until the last chapter. The character obviously undergoes some personal growth & it is fun to watch her grow. And then you get to the last chapter & EVERYTHING gets tied up in a neat little bow & it is Happily Ever After. All in one chapter.

Just for the record, not all books have to be "Happily Ever After".

Thursday, September 11, 2008

(86) American Widow by Alissa Torres

Seven years ago today, life as we knew it ended. The world stopped & for a few days, the entire country was one.

Seven years ago today, Alissa Torres became an American Widow.

On September 11, 2001, Eddie Torres left his seven months pregnant wife, Alissa, to go to work. It was his second day on the job at his dream job. He has just been hired as a currency broker by Cantor Fitzgerald.

We all know what happens next. The world stopped. And Eddie Torres chose to jump out of the window, rather than face the terrors that awaited him in the burning Towers.

American Widow is Alissa's story of what happened after Tuesday. It is her story of life as a widow. It is her story of wading through the bureaucracy. Her story of trying to get Eddie's family here for the funeral after his remains were identified on September 23rd. Her story of giving birth to their son three weeks early. American Widow is Alissa's story of survival.

Alissa Torres has done the unconventional thing and has told her story in the Graphic Novel form. I do not normally read Graphic Novels. In fact, this was the first one I have ever read. And to put graphics to Alissa's story was pure genius. The emotional impact of the pictures with the words packs a punch that takes you back to that day, when the entire Nation was crying.

As a nation, we will always remember September 11, 2001. As the years pass, the pain eases just a little. Seven years later, three hour anniversary specials on every network, with the world watching, whittles down to just a few minutes on the morning news programs. And to me, THAT breaks my heart.

I ask you to take time today to remember those who lost their lives that day. And to remember all those that have lost their lives fighting the War on Terror. I ask you to think of all of those American Widows & Widowers who have to relive it all today. And everyday, actually.

Once you have read the book, you can go here, to share your thoughts and to read what others have to say about American Widow.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

(85) Sweetheart by Chelsea Cain

Chelsea Cain is one twisted sister. And I mean that in the most positive way possible. *grin*

Chelsea Cain has given new meaning to the term "psychological thriller". In her new book, Sweetheart, Cain has continued the story of serial killer, Gretchen Lowell & her only living victim, the man who put her in prison, Archie Sheridan.

Still suffering from psychological problems as a result from the time he spent as Gretchen's hostage, Archie has taken a break from his weekly, mandated, visits to Gretchen in prison. His "break" has, unknowingly, set Gretchen's plan into motion. And the series of events that follow may cost Archie, and everyone who loves him, their lives.

I finished Sweetheart in one sitting. I just couldn't put it down. In fact, I actually got chills towards the end. This book is just so psychologically THRILLING, that it is downright scary. You may even want to sleep with the lights on after reading Sweetheart.

</p> There is no doubt in my mind. Chelsea Cain has proven herself to be one of the best writers of psychological thrillers on the planet. If you have not read her books, you are depriving yourself of the ultimate scare.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

(84) American Wife by Curtis Sittenfield

I am so sorry that it is has been almost two weeks since I last posted. But, it has been almost two weeks since I last finished a book.

We are going through a design project (ie ... we have been rearranging the ENTIRE store). While, I haven't been doing the actual relay, we have been extremely short-staffed so the "team" can do the relay on overnight shifts. When I have been getting home from work, I have been so exhausted, it is all I can do to blink. It has been worse than the holidays. But it is almost over.

Now I get to tell you about this wonderful book. American Wife is going to be "the" book of the fall & holidays, I suspect. It has a very timely subject matter, with this being an election year & the Conventions being in the news the last couple of weeks.

American Wife is the story of Alice Lindgren, the only child of Democrats. Her child was pretty typical of most Wisconsin girls in the 50's & 60's. Until one night when she was a Junior in high school. A tragic accident set forth a series of events that would haunt Alice for the rest of her life.

Alice was 31 and prepared to live the rest of her life alone when she met Republican Congressional hopeful Charlie Blackwell at a friend's BBQ. He was incorrigible & charming & the man she would spend the rest of her with. From Wisconsin to the White House, American Wife takes us on a journey of an American Political family.

The similarities to the Bush family are certainly recognizable. Charlie Blackwell buying the Milwaukee Brewers, for example. Yet there is enough of a difference, that there won't be a lawsuit. The Blackwells are from Wisconsin, not Texas. And there are a few things in Alice's past that would certainly cause some tongues to wag. I will the first to admit that I don't know much about Laura Bush's childhood, but I guess it is possible that some of the story could be true. Shocking, but true.

American Wife is a well written book. I will admit that I was disappointed that it was after 400 pages when the Blackwell's finally moved to the White House. I was hoping to read more about life in the White House. I know it would have been a little more speculative, but American Wife is fictional, not biographical.

American Wife is an excellent book, that I see as being the book club book that everyone reads in November. Or better yet, January for the inauguration. It is well written, well thought out book that will generate hours of discussions at book clubs for months to come.

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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