Wednesday, December 31, 2008

(116) Herself by Leslie Carroll

The final book of the year. Herself by Leslie Carroll. This was a fun little book that gave me one of my resolutions for 2009.
Get a passport!! So the next time a man named David breaks my heart(because it happens far too often in my life) I can hop on a plane & fly to Ireland to find the real love of my life.
Tessa Craig is a successful speech writer for Congressman David Weyburn (further proof that all single men named David are emotionally damaging to have around!! *grin*) when he decides that he wants to end their secret romantic relationship after three years. But he does want her to stay on as his speechwriter. WTF? Only a man would think that it would work out. LOL.
Tessa decides to think about it while on a vacation to Ireland. Where she meets Jamie Doyle. A true Irishman who professes his undying love after only knowing her a week. He even decides to shuck it all & move to New York to be with her. But can they overcome their differences in religion, in lifestyles & live happily ever after?
Herself is a fun little book about a woman who finally learns how to look after herself. She examines how her life has been going & what is missing from her life. And finds love along the way. The perfect book to read in the New Year when Resolutions start dying out. Herself will remind you how important it is to persevere & make the changes necessary to make you a better woman.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

(115) Addition by Toni Jordan - On Sale February 3rd, 2009

This was absolutely one of the best books of 2009. I know it is technically not 2009 yet. But the book will not be on sale until February 3rd. And trust me, I will remind you when the book hits the shelves.

Addition is a book about love. Love of our self, love of our family, love of significant others. And what we are willing to sacrifice for those we love. More specifically, what kind of change we are willing to encounter for those we love.

Grace Vandenberg is a 35 year old single woman in Melbourne, Australia. She is currently unemployed, but only because the administrators prefer that she teach the kids, as opposed to counting them. Her life is in complete order. She knows exactly how many steps it takes to get to the grocery store, how many steps it takes to get to the bathroom. She can only buy bananas in quantity of ten. She can only eat food after it has be cut into pieces divisible by three. Numbers are her world. Counting is her life.

She is in line at the grocery store when she realizes that she has nine bananas in her basket instead of ten. What is a woman to do? She takes the required tenth banana from the guy in line behind her. Which brings Seamus into her life.
"I used to be good at flirting. A lot of people think that
flirting is about sex. Well, flirting is about surprise, and surprise is
about sex. If someone can be unexpected using words, imagine how thrilling they
could be using their mouth."
Grace & Seamus are together only a little while when he discovers her quirks. And encourages her to see a therapist & join a therapy group of rehabbing OCDers. As the drugs kick in, the counting stop & Grace turns into someone that, while on the outside, appears normal. She is a dull, numb shadow of the woman she once was.

It takes a family emergency for Grace to emerge from her haze to realize that she LIKED who she was prior to the drugs & the therapy. And as much as she loves Seamus, she wants to go back to the way she was before he came into her life. The question is, can Seamus accept her & love her for who she was, not who he wants her to be.

Addition is a funny, intelligent book. The razor sharp wit is so dry it may be missed by the untrained eye. But make no mistake, it is there. Compromise is a part of relationships, it is a part of love. But what happens when the compromises we make turn us into someone completely different? Toni Jordan's book takes you into Grace's world. And what happens when Grace decides that even true love is not worth the compromises asked of her.

This is a do not miss book & I can't wait to discuss it with others once it hits the shelves!

Monday, December 29, 2008

(114) Love & Other Natural Disasters by Holly Shumas

Well. There is no other way to say it, but I did not like this book. Okay, maybe not the book, itself. It has a pretty green cover. *grin*
It is Thanksgiving day when Eve walks in on her husband having an intimate phone conversation with another woman. Eight months pregnant and full of hormones, Eve comes completely unglued & kicks him & everyone there for dinner out of their home.
The story then follows Eve & Jon (mostly Eve) as they try to piece their life back together. Eve & her self righteous indignation is so revolting, I just want to slap her silly. I barely tolerate women like this in real life, I sure don't want to read about them for pleasure. Eve makes excuses for her bad behavior & takes no responsibility for her own actions for their breakdown in marriage, even though she obviously was a contributing factor. (Nothing irritates me more than a woman who blames everything bad in life on a man -- grow a freaking spine & look in the mirror). But can the couple get their act together before it is too late?
There are some likable characters in this book. Eve's brother, Charlie, reminded me of one of my own brother's with his easy personality. And Lil, the mother of one of the kids friends, is a no-nonsense , take no prisoners kind of woman. Someone that I think is the polar opposite of Eve.
Love & Other Natural Disasters is not an easy book to read. It is a fast book to read, but not an easy one. The obvious character flaws in Eve & Jon are so disgusting you want to hurry through the book with as little personal damage as possible.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

(113) The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore

I downloaded this book last year for Christmas & forgot all about it. I have a tendency to forget things around the Holidays. LOL
I found it when I was digging through my Audible library last week & decided that I would listen to it on my drive to Iowa for Christmas. The Stupidest Angel was my first Christopher Moore book & it will not be my last.
I had no clue what to expect, being that I had forgotten that I even had it. Little did I know that it is a Zombie book!! With a pot smoking Constable, a crazy B-Actress, an Angel set on proving his worth, a gun toting Santa who gets himself killed with a shovel, and of course it all takes place in a picturesque little town along the coast. The west coast, that is.
The thing about listening to Audiobooks is that, yes, you get to hear the story in character's voices, but there are no pages to stick post-it notes on to mark the one liners you want to quote. The Stupidest Angel is full of one-liners that left my jaw dropped in some case & had me rolling with laughter with others. It was the perfect book to whet my appetite for Christopher Moore. I get his sense of humor & I look forward to checking out his other works.

Monday, December 22, 2008

(112) The Reading Group by Elizabeth Noble

YAY!!! I actually finished a book!! I was sitting at the oil change place & almost finished it! Dern them for being so fast! So I had to rush home to read the last few pages.

The Reading Group is exactly what I wish I had. A group of women, some strangers, some friends who get together once a month to discuss books. And even better, they all live in or around London.
All of the women come from different stages of life. From the divorced mother newly engaged, to the woman who has to make tough decisions about her aging mother. Each of the women has something different to offer the group. And through the months, their relationships grow through the discussions at the Reading Group.
The book was a great read & would be perfect for a book club discussion, itself. And a neat thing I noticed, that even though ''chosen" months in advance, each book discussed is relevant to what is going on in the lives of the women. With books like Atonement, The Alchemist, Rebecca and others, you get to peek at the discussion these women have over books that millions of women have read all over the world.
Great book! Check it out!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

~~ Grandma is Dead: Breaking Bad News with Baby Animals by Amanda McCall & Ben Schwartz

I don't usually blog about these type of books. Books with no plot or storyline. But this. This book must be shared. LOL
It is currently on our Humor table & they have been selling by the dozens, but I had never picked it up until today. I was tired & crabby & a bit short with the first couple customers of the day. But I read this book in less than five minutes & just giggled & giggled & giggled. OMG. It is so cute, I actually bought it. LOL. With captions like "Your Band Sucks" & "Your toupee isn't fooling anyone" you just can't help but giggle.
A quick google search led me to this website It appears as if several from the book can be found on the website. And just for the record, it is hard to be pissed & cranky when giggling like a crazy person.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

(111) Sing Them Home by Stephanie Kallos

This was a really, really good book.

Sing Them Home is such a captivating, intricate story, that I am not sure where to begin.

It was 1978 when a tornado swept through the small Nebraska town, Emlyn Springs. The tornado swept away Hope Jones & her daughter, Bonnie. Bonnie was eventually found in the roots of an uprooted, overturned tree, but Hope was never to be seen again. Leaving her three children (Gaelen, Larken & Bonnie) motherless.

Fast forward to 2003. Their father, the good mayor of Emlyn Springs is adamant that he will not miss his tee time. Even if it is in the middle of yet another unrelenting spring storm. Even though, they had not gone far, all three children find their way back to Emlyn Springs. Through their grief, they confront the things in their lives that are holding them back. Professionally, socially, & emotionally.

The novel is written in such a way that you get perspective from all characters involved. From the entries in Hope's journals, to Viney, their father's common-law wife & once best friend to their mother, to the Dead Mothers & Fathers of the town(it may sound strange, but really it is a charming piece of the story), you experience it all.

I think the reason why I enjoyed this book so much is because I can relate to so many things in the story. Particularly the location. I grew up in a small town Southeast of Omaha (on the Iowa side). Yet it is so similar. And Kallos has nailed the descriptive qualities of small town living

"But when you've lived here as long as I have, folks expect you to
behave a certain way. It's as if they've already imagined your life &
get truly, deeply upset if you don't play your part the way they've written

I was shocked to learn that Ms Kallos was not a native to Nebraska, also because of her observations of Nebraska culture. There was mention made of Runza's, a fast food chain born & bred in Nebraska, and a MUST have for visiting out-of-towners like me.
But, most importantly, it was the observations & writing regarding Welly's season tickets to the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
"Season tickets to University of Nebraska football games are to Nebraskans what
rent-controlled apartments are to Manhattanites
And when it came to selling those season tickets?
"There is a small country that forms on certain Saturday's in the autumn
within the city limits of Lincoln, Nebraska. On those Saturday's hundreds
of thousands of people gather to cheer on a football team called The Cornhuskers.
In the end, Larken couldn't SIGN HERE -- Not today,
maybe never, because selling her father's small territorial holdings within that
Saturday country would be exactly like selling the family farm."
Having recently attended my first Cornhusker football game in Lincoln, I can very easily understand what a treasure it is to have those season tickets. And obviously so does Stephanie Kallos. Sing Them Home is an excellent, well written study at life, death, living, dying & small town America. It is not an easy read, nor is it a fast read, but it is a book that will leave you a better person at it's conclusion.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

(110) Snowed In by Christina Bartolomeo

We are coming to that time of year where my reading slows down drastically as work picks up. Such is the life of a retail manager. Be patient, vacation is coming after the holidays & I plan on reading until my eyes fall out.
Snowed In is a book that I picked up last year during our employee appreciation days & just now got around to reading. I had to wait for the right mood to read a book titled Snowed In.
Sophie & Paul are just past the honeymoon phase of their wedding when Paul's work transfers him to Portland, Maine. While Paul becomes immersed in his work & his new secretary. Sophie finds herself listless & unsettled in their new home. It is when she joins a walking club & meets Ned & Stephen, two brothers also "from away", that she truly begins to feel as if Portland is a place she can call home. But as her friendships grow, her marriage deteriorates.
Christina Bartolomeo has written an interesting booking about personal growth. And doing things that challenge us to step outside the comfort zone. Whether it be learning to do something new or joining a club, without personal growth, we become stagnant. Sophie is a perfect example of that.
Snowed In isn't a "fluffy" Chick Lit book. There are too many meaty issues at the heart of this story, but it would be a good book for a book club discussion. There is a reading group guide in back to help lead discussion.

Monday, December 1, 2008

(109) Apart From The Crowd by Anna McPartlin

I was off three days last week for a Holiday Trip "home". I had a backpack full of books to read while in the comfort of my Step-Dad's recliner.
And then I got sick.
I still am fighting the crud, but I do feel a little better, but not much. I missed work yesterday in an effort to kick it to the curb. Getting sick during the holidays is not possible for a Retail Manager. *sigh*
Apart From The Crowd is another book to feed my Irish obsession. The book tells the story of Kenmare. A small village in Ireland. Full of inhabitants that have lived there all their lives. At the center of the book is Mary, Sam, Penny, & Ivan. Sam is the newcomer to the village, but is quickly made to feel like one of the family.
They all have "stuff" they are dealing with. Some of them deal with it better than others. But they get through with the help of each other. And in the process they learn a lot about themselves & what they want from this life.
Apart From the Crowd is not your typical chick lit. It is a well written novel with great character development. You feel as if you are a part of the community. And it is a wonderful place to be.

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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