Saturday, December 26, 2009

(98) The Nanny Returns by Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Krause

First of all, let me state that I am typing this from the snowbanks of my parents house in Iowa. The drifts are almost as tall as my car and their computer is as slow as the drivers trying to navigate the snow covered streets.

The beauty of the Christmas Blizzard of 09 is that I was smart enough to pack five books. With my wedding & cross country move less than a week away, I am currently unemployed. So I can snuggle in with my hot tea & stack of books. And forget about the marathon packing that awaits me in Kansas City.

I actually finished The Nanny Returns on Christmas Eve, but didn't want to wait for the line of siblings waiting to use the computer. The have all shoveled out and have started off for their respective homes, I, being the chicken shit I am, have decided to give it another day.

The Nanny Returns was an interesting read, just from the stand point of that Chick-Lit sequels don't happen very often. Many times, as a Chick Lit connoisseur, I have wondered what happens in the "happily ever after". Here it is twelve years later and we get to find out what has happened to Grayer X after his beloved nanny was ripped from his side. And frankly, it isn't pretty.

Nan & her Harvard Hottie have returned to NYC after living abroad for Ryan's job. They are in the process of rehabbing a Harlem townhome and Nan has been just been offered an HR job for a prestigious private school. One night she is shocked to find Grayer X drunk on her doorstep. He has found the infamous Nanny-Cam tape and has come to her for answers. He is sixteen years old, he has an eight year old brother, Stilton and his parents have started divorce proceedings. His world is falling apart & his only concern is protecting his brother.

Nan, again, finds herself caught up in the world that she disdains. The extreme wealth and entitlement that runs rampant amongst the world of the X's is disheartening at best. Will Nan be able to show them the error of their ways before it destroys the lives of two boys she has come to care for?

Nanny Returns is a bit predictable nothing has really changed in Grayer's world and frankly that is a bit disappointing. Nan has grown up, she doesn't allow the X's or anyone else to run right over her, like she did twelve years ago. It was neat to be able to see a "where are they now" of characters we "met" many years ago, but as far as Chick Lit goes, Nanny Returns is not the best there is, but still worth the read on a cold snowy night.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009

(97) A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents by Liza Palmer

The title gives it away.

It really isn't shocking news, though. Most of us know that we will eventually have to bury our parents. Liza Palmer's new book, A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents is about Grace Hawkes & her family.

Twenty-two years ago Grace's father left her & her three siblings with their mother. Their mom became their entire world. When she is killed by a drunk driver Grace takes a page out of her Dad's playbook and just walks away. Leaves her family, her boyfriend, & just walks away.

Now a few years have passed and her sister calls. Their estranged father has had a stroke and things are not looking good. Grace needs to come home. And after 22 years, Grace is going to see her father. Is she ready to face her siblings, her ex-boyfriend, her wicked Step-Mother, and most of all, is she ready to face her father?

A Field Guide To Burying Your Parents was actually pretty good. Even though the book is obviously centers around aging parents, it has some pretty heartwarming parts. Reading about the reunion between Grace and her siblings and watching their bond strengthen as they battled the Witch was pretty cool.

The book was a fast read. Well written with engaging characters. There are a few hanky-needed moments, but for the most part the story of family unity will warm your heart. Not a bad Chick Lit book for those of you who enjoy the genre.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Help coming to the Big Screen!

Chris Columbus' 1492 Prods. has fast-tracked a screen adaptation of "The Help," the bestselling Kathryn Stockett novel about African-American domestic servants and their wealthy white employers in Mississippi before the civil rights era.

Tate Taylor has written the script and will direct; 1492 partners Columbus, Michael Barnathan and Michael Radcliffe will produce with Brunson Green of Harbinger Pictures.

The novel has been on the New York Times bestseller list for 35 weeks since its publication in February by Putnam imprint Amy Einhorn Books.

Taylor got involved well before it became a literary sensation for Stockett, a first-time author who was reportedly rejected by 50 agents. Taylor grew up with Stockett in Mississippi — his mother inspired one of the Mississippi matriarchs in the novel — and was so helpful to the author that she gave him an early peek; an option was made well before the book came out.

Taylor, an actor-turned-director who previously directed the 2008 feature "Pretty Ugly People," showed the book to Columbus, whom he met in San Francisco because Taylor's niece and nephew attended the same school as Columbus' kids.

Shingle 1492 is already meeting on financing; plan is to put the pic into production next spring in the South. The producer has the benefit of first-look relationships with India-based Reliance Big Entertainment and Korea-based CJ Entertainment, and Reliance has shown the strongest interest.

Variety Article

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Christmas Can-Can

I *LOVE* Christmas Music. Every year I end up purchasing two or three new Christmas CD's. At the bookstore, we have "in-store" plays every month. The company sends us CD's to play. This year one of the CD's is the Straight No Chaser Christmas CD. Straight No Chaser is an a capella group consisting of ten men who met while in college at the University of Indiana.

I have enjoyed the CD at work, but really didn't pay much attention until I DVR'd the PBS special from the other night. And you know what, I thoroughly enjoyed their performance. The Christmas Can Can was their best performance in my opinion. It cracked me up & their talent amazes me.

Sit back & enjoy.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

(96) Fallen by Lauren Kate

Apparently, Angels ARE the new Vampires. The latest teen book to hit the shelves is Fallen by Lauren Kate.

Seventeen year old Luce (short for Lucinda) is sent to a reform school after a judge is convinced that she had something to do with the death of her date, who had burst into flames.

Sword & Cross is an interesting reform school, to put it mildly. The school is located in an old historic mansion that dates back to the Civil War era. And the kids are required to dress all in black.

Luce struggles to fit in and finds herself being drawn into the little cliques and dramas that happen in every school across the nation, but what she does not realize is that at Sword & Cross, the stakes are much higher. Time and time again she finds herself turning to Daniel. She knows there is something different about Daniel, but she can not figure out exactly what.

Will she be able to piece it all together before it is too late?

Fallen is the second book this year that I have read about Angels. I had a hard time staying focused on Fallen. I suspect that it has more to do with everything going on in my life, rather than the plot of the book. But, if you had to choose between Hush, Hush and Fallen I would go with Hush, Hush. I just enjoyed it more. It held my interest a little better. Both were okay reads, but neither are going to make the "Best of 2009" list.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Monday, December 7, 2009

(95) The Love of Her Life by Harriet Evans

There is nothing like a good book to distract you from the "To-D0 Lists" in your life. With a little less than four weeks until our wedding, my To-Do List is about a mile and a half long. But that did not stop me from getting some serious reading done yesterday.

Okay, more like last night. I woke up to go to the bathroom at 2:00am and ended up staying awake until almost 4:00am to finish The Love of Her Life. Yes, that was a colossal mistake that will likely comeback to bite me in the butt when I work the late shift tonight, but it was well worth it.

Kate Miller is going through the motions in New York City, her home for the last three years. She has received word that her father is ill and she must return to her home in London. The thought of returning to the city that nearly destroyed her is scary at best. Is she strong enough to face her past?

The story is a tragic one and I will let Kate Miller tell you her story. It involves a series of events that spiraled out of control, starting with a cheating fiance and concluded with tragic consequences. Is Kate strong enough to face all of that with her return to London? It was 3:00am in the morning and I was crying in bed. Kate Miller is a very likable character. I so badly wanted her to sort things out and live happily ever after with The Love of Her Life. Does she? That you must discover for yourself.

The Love of Her Life is Chick Lit at it's best. Well written with engaging characters and a plot that captivates you. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to the next time I can get my hands on a Harriet Evans novel.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Elf On The Shelf

The Elf On The Shelf works like this. Since Santa is so busy, he can't realistically keep his eye on ALL of the children of the world, so he sends his Elves to see which list you belong on. There is a book to read with the Children. They wake up every morning to find the elf in a different location. Sometimes, if the child has been good, there may be treats, goodies, stories, etc... to encourage the behavior keeping them on the "Nice" list.

Either it is pure genius or it is going to create a fear in children that rivals what Stephen King's It did for clowns. Eh, either way. The tune is pretty catchy!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Charlotte's Holiday Gift Guide

Well that time is upon us. Everyone is making their list and checking it twice. Believe it or not, even as a Retail Manager, the Holiday's are my favorite time of the year. I love Christmas music, LOVE it! I love the ABC Family channel & their 25 days of Christmas (but in my opinion Harry Potter is NOT a Christmas movie *grump*) I am one of those obnoxious people that will wear my Santa hat for the entirety of my eight hour shift. I love the holiday season that much! I love the sound of carolers in the entryway at work. I love helping customers find the perfect gift. Just LOVE it!

This year is bittersweet, I must say. This is my last holiday season at the bookstore, as I am getting married on New Years Eve and moving to the land of No Barnes & Noble. December is going to be a crazy, hectic month for me, like always. But I wouldn't change it for the world.

My job at the bookstore gives me the opportunity to really lay my eyes on gifts galore. There are so many great gift ideas that I thought I would take this time to share some of them with you.

Unless you have head buried in a book for the last six weeks or so, you have probably heard about nook. I have yet to lay my eyes on one, but I know it is going to be pretty freaking awesome. It will be early next year before I get one. In fact if you haven't already ordered yours, it will be next year before you get it, too. If you have someone in your life that would love a nook, don't despair. You can still give it as a Christmas gift & just be creative in your delivery. You could purchase a cover & give that as the "teaser". You can also opt to have a holiday "certificate" sent to your recipient, stating that a nook has been purchased for them & it IS on the way.

For the gamer in your life, may I suggest the Halo Encyclopedia? It hasn't been out very long, but it has been one of the more popular books off of that display table.

For the History buffs in your family, may I suggest two new books by two of the more popular History writers of our time. Timothy Egan wrote The Worst Hard Time which has become a teacher favorite for required reading. James Bradley, the author of Flyboys also has a new one. Both of the new books are about Roosevelt Presidents, one about Teddy & one about FDR. Both books have gotten fabulous reviews and are sure to become steady sellers.

For the chefs in your life? May I introduce you to the Pioneer Woman? I don't pretend to be a cook. Hell, just today, I figured out how to make quesedillas. So when I heard about the Pioneer Woman blog, that it would not be anything that I would be interested in. Like millions of other women have discovered, there is so much more on The Pioneer Woman blog than just recipes.

The sports fan in your life might enjoy The Official Treasure of the NFL.

The classic movie fan in your life might enjoy the 70th Anniversary edition of Gone With The Wind

And for the music lovers in your life.
The Beatles Stereo Box Set

A little bit of something for everyone. Stay tuned tomorrow for a gift idea for the little ones in your life!

Happy Shopping!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

(94) One Week In December by Holly Chamberlain

Well. At the bookstore, Holly Chamberlain may be located on the same shelf as Diane Chamberlain, but her writing leaves a lot to be desired.

I love Christmas stories. Shocking news, I know. But, I was sadly disappointed in One Week In December. The main character, Becca, is selfish and one dimensional. I know the author wrote her that way so that the cliche transformation at the end would be more defined, but instead it was a lackluster attempt at best.

Let me back up. Becca Rowen is on the corporate fast track. Her world revolves around work. She has very little in the way of a social life or friends. She works. And that is it. Over the last year, she has come to the conclusion that she will confront her family about the role they played in the event that shaped her life. Is it a good idea? Probably not, but Becca is bound and determined to make sure that her family rights the perceived wrongs. Merry Christmas to all, right?

I really wanted to like this book. I mean it IS a Christmas story after all. But Becca is not a likable, or even a sympathetic character. The rest of the family, while not selfish, they really aren't likable. I fully admit to skimming the last thirty pages, just because I wanted to see if she goes through the threats or not.

With some proper tweaking, One Week In December might make a decent Lifetime movie, but skip the book. It just isn't worth the time.

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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