Sunday, January 31, 2010

(9) The Condition by Jennifer Haigh

The Condition
is a story about the All American family. Mother, Father, two sons and a daughter. They are living the All American dream. Dad is a scientist & professor. Mom stays at home to raise her children. Billy, Gwen, & Scotty. It all changes one summer day when Frank notices a difference in Gwen.

Soon their world crumbles. Gwen is diagnosed with Turner's Disease. She will never be more than a girl. She is forever trapped in a little girls body.

Flash forward twenty years. Mother & Father is divorced. Billy is gay, Scotty is married to a shrew & has self diagnosed himself with ADHD. And Gwen is living a grey life. A grown woman trapped in a little girls body.

The Condition was an "eh" kind of book. The amount of manipulation that takes place in this one family is a bit, um, tragic. Paulette (Mom) has taken manipulation to a whole new level. Her children have all taken life paths different that what she thought was acceptable, especially Gwen. She she does what she deems necessary to bring her back to the fold.

I did read the whole book, but it wasn't anything that special. It didn't touch my heart and it didn't make me laugh, but it really didn't seem all that wonderful. Which really disappointed me, because I really wanted this book to be a "Best Of". Oh well. There are more books where that one came from.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Friday, January 29, 2010

Thursday, January 28, 2010

(8) Breaking the Silence by Diane Chamberlain.

Well, bummer. I figured out the big twist with about 100 pages to go.

Breaking the Silence is a reissue by Diane Chamberlain. Originally published in 1999, the difference a decade makes is evident in the little details. Like the fact that they put a movie in the VCR for Emma. But little details, aside. The book was a decent one. I was a little disappointed to have it figured out with so much of the story left to go, but I did.

The story is an interesting story. Laura's life is turned upside down when her father dies and a few weeks later her husband commits suicide. In front of their daughter, leaving her brutally traumatized. So traumatized she has not uttered a word since the night he committed suicide.

To top things off, on the night her father died, he made a deathbed request. Visit Sarah Trolley in her nursing home. It wasn't so much a request, as a plea. Oh yeah, and Laura's husband wasn't Emma's biological father. Her bio daddy was a one night stand. But at the request of Emma's therapist, Laura calls him with hopes of showing Emma that not all men yell & kill themselves.

Whew. Sounds like a lot to work into a plot. But you know what, it works. At the heart of the story is a mother trying to help her daughter at all costs. Will Laura be able to do what it takes to break her daughter's silence?

Breaking the Silence was a fast read. It held my interest enough to read in one afternoon/evening. Is it deserving of awards or accolades? No, but it is good enough to waste a dreary afternoon reading.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Monday, January 25, 2010

Sunday, January 24, 2010

(7) Room For Improvement by Stacey Ballis

I needed a good, solid piece of "brain candy" to read after finishing my last book. I know I can always count on Stacey Ballis for good "brain candy" and I was not disappointed.

This particular piece of "brain candy" was doubly awesome because it was a take on my favorite thing second to reading. HGTV.

Lily Allen is your typical single girl in the city. Dating is tough, but she has great friends that support her, no matter what she does. She has a great job as an interior designer and it is about to get even better. She has been offered a job that will allow her to be the on-screen designer for an HGTV type of show called, Swap/Meet. What more could a girl ask for right?

The show is going well. She is working with great people and is enjoying her career more than she ever has in her life. And then she makes the mistake of sleeping with her new producer. Needless to say things start to get sticky. She is working long hours to prove herself to him. She starts to blow off her friends and make stupid decisions. I think it goes to say there is definite Room For Improvement.

It was fun reading about Lily's escapades, both on the set & in the bedroom. She is a fun character to like & you definitely see where there is Room For Improvement, but you also see how she grows as a character. She realizes that she has been treating one particular man worse than he deserves. One apology may change everything.

Room For Improvement was exactly what I needed. I will say, that I was hoping that Lily would end up with a guy other than the one she ended up with, but the ending still worked. A good ending for a good book.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Friday, January 22, 2010

(6) The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris

I am not sure that I have ever read such a tragic book.

Joshua Ferris has written a novel that leaves me feeling, sad. No, sad is not the right word. Unsettled. His new novel is one that may be identifiable to those of you who have had to deal with the tragic illness of your spouse, but for me, who has only known marital bliss in three weeks of marriage, it felt as if I were guiltily watching a tragic train wreck and could not look away.

In The Unnamed Joshua Ferris tells us the story of successful lawyer, Tim Farnsworth. Tim has been living a normal life with his daughter, Bekka, and adoring wife, Jane, while his Unnamed disease has been in remission. There is no name for his disease. He has an addiction to walking. There is no explanation for why it happens or when it is going to happen. But when The Unnamed hits, Tim hits the road and will walk for miles upon miles. Day after day. Until his body physically can not take another step & he drops wherever he lands.

Soon, Tim gives up on the doctors. He sees that his Unnamed illness is destroying his wife and daughter. One day, when Jane says "Come Home" as opposed to "Where Are You" he decides to stop fighting the Unnamed and thinks they would be better off if he just keeps walking. He is sure that he will walk himself to death.

He was euphoric with the certainty of physical death.

Years go by. His body slowly being ravaged by the elements and the pure physical torture of his non-stop walking. His family wants to move on, but they want him to come home more. Will Tim be able to beat The Unnamed and live a normal life? Or will his disease destroy them all?

The Unnamed is a well written novel that will capture your attention. But to warn you, it is a hard read. The physical and emotional torture that Tim puts himself, and his beloved through will make your heart ache. A good read, but not for the faint of heart.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

(5) Men and Dogs by Katie Crouch -- On Sale -April 2010

Hannah Legare is one hot mess.

Her husband has left her, her business is bankrupt, and she barely escaped death by falling off of the balcony trying to break into her home. So what is a girl to do when her life is obviously such a mess? She goes home.

Home happens to be Charleston. Home to her Mother & Step-Father. Home to her brother, Palmer. But "Home" is also the root of all of her problems.

On April 6th, 1985 Hannah's father set off in the family boat to do some fishing. The rest of the world writes off Buzz Legare as having been lost to the ocean. Hannah, on the other hand, is convinced that her father left them because her mother was cheating on him. She has spent her entire life searching for her father in every man she passes on the highway. Every man she comes across in this big, big world. She is convinced he is out there somewhere.

Can she let the past go long enough to put her life back together? Or will her time at home finally send her over the edge?

Men and Dogs was a fabulous read. I don't want to call it Chick Lit, but it is most definitely geared more towards women. The heroine is fabulously flawed. And that might make her more identifiable to the average reader than some of the fluffier books I read. Men & Dogs is an enjoyable, engaging read. Put it on your "TBR" list and you will thank me later.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Monday, January 18, 2010

Sunday, January 17, 2010

(4) The Secret of Everything by Barbara O'Neal

The Secret of Everything was a nice and charming book. Like her first book, Barbara O'Neal went with her "foodie" theme. And just like her first book, I was swept up in the good story and good food.

Tessa Harlow is on a scouting mission for her job. She leads tours to quaint towns that will allow her clients to enjoy the local cuisine then hike the local trails to work it all off. She is a bit beat up, both emotionally and physically, from her last tour when she lands in Las Ladranos, New Mexico. Not only is she looking for her next tour, but she is looking for a place to heal.

While in town Tessa meets Vince and his three daughters. And even though she is not looking for attachments, Tessa finds herself becoming awfully attached to Vince and his daughters. The picturesque town seems to be invoking memories that Tessa had buried so deep she had forgotten she had them, sparking questions that she is not sure she wants to know the answers to.

If he can get through the romantic girly part of this story, my friend, Greg, would love this book. The pages are littered with yummy recipes. The concept of food/hiking tours mixed with an eight year old foodie, would be right up his alley.

Like I said, The Secret of Everything is charming. The writing is enchanting, the scenery is captivating, and the recipes are tantalizing. Definitely a good read.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

(3) Marriage and Other Acts Of Charity by Kate Braestrup

I want to be Kate Braestrup's friend. At the very least I want to sit at her feet and listen to her talk for hours upon end. Her kindness, her compassion, her humanity resonates through every word of her new book, Marriage, and Other Acts of Charity. Which, by the way, is the perfect book for Newlyweds to read.

In Kate's (yes, I feel comfortable enough to call the author by her first name) first book, Here If You Need Me you get to see her inner strength as she talks about her journey after the death of her husband, Drew. The journey that takes her to Ministry, and eventually the Maine Wardens.

In her second book, Kate explores her relationship with Drew, her second husband, Simon, and the man she dated in between. She talks about presiding over the marriage of one of the Warden's and she talks about walking with another warden as he and his wife go through a divorce.

As Kate shares her observations about marriage, divorce, and relationships, she shares this simple pieces of advice to help get through the bad times. This piece of wisdom helps her to calm her temper or ease her fears or put things in perspective. The piece of wisdom we should all live by.

"Nothing matters more than _______________."

Fill in the blank. If the word you fill the blank with is anything other than love, than you need to reevaluate your values. My words, not Kate's. But aren't they awesome words to live by?

Marriage And Other Acts of Charity is a fabulous book. Well written, compassionate, humorous, intelligent, loving, and most of all realistic. One thing I took away, is that even if you do marry the love of your life, it will not always be easy. But as long as you remember that NOTHING matters more than love you will make it through just fine.

Thanks, Kate, this book was the perfect book to start out my new marriage reading. Now if only I can get my husband to read the book....

Monday, January 11, 2010

471 Books Made The "A Team"

When my Husband & I decided to move to Casper we started looking into the costs of U-Hauls and other methods of moving. We decided that nothing we owned was worth $2,000- $4,000 so we decided to sell all of our furniture. My Dear Husband was very supportive of the "No Book Left Behind Act of 2009". But, I realistically knew that not all of my books would fit in two cars.

So I started the painful process. The "A-Team" were books that were coming with us no matter what it took. The "B-Team" were books that could go in storage and we would slowly get them to Casper via trips home & visitors heading to Casper. The "C-Team" were books that I was willing to give away. Duplicates and books that I realistically have no interest in reading. All total, I think I had four boxes on the "C-Team".

Beings that I am "retired" I had all the time in the world to enter my "A-Team" into my Goodreads account. Most of the books that made the "A-Team" were books that I have not read. A few of them are books that I treasure and will never part with, but they are already listed on my "Read" page of Goodreads.

So when it was all said & done, there are 471 books on my "To Be Read" shelves. 471 books that have been moved from Kansas City to Casper. 471 books to pass away the days of my "retirement".

The pressing question is, will it stay 471? Or will be my downfall? LOL.

How many books are on YOUR "To Be Read" shelf? Books that you physically have in your possession that you have yet to read? Can anyone beat 471?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

(2) Rich Again by Anna Maxted

Second book of the year, Rich Again by Jackie Collins, err, I mean, Anna Maxted.

Rich Again is one of those books that is a little bit shocking. The lives of rich people is so different from the life that you or I lead. Anna Maxted's newest book could have been ripped from the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. The book focuses on the Kent family. The most dysfunctional family you will ever meet. Let's see if I can give a bit of a back story.

Jack Kent marries Felicia, the love of his life, much to the dismay of her High Society parents. Jack vows to prove himself worthy of her love and soon finds himself to be a self-made man. Felicia is unable to have children, so they adopt Claudia, who is soon to be the light of their lives. They were in the middle of adopting Nathan when Felicia tragically dies. Jack stops the adoption proceedings and gives Nathan back.

After two years of mourning, Jack marries Innocence Ashford, the biggest bitch on the planet. Every "Wicked Stepmother" cliche applies. She soon gives birth to Emily, pushing Claudia even further out into the cold. It only gets worse from there.

The book is told in a series of out of order flashbacks. The dates are given with each chapter, as well as the name of the person currently playing the role of "main character". It is a bit confusing. If the back story of the family is not enough for you to think Jackie Collins, let me throw in sociopathic behavior by Innocence, homicidal behavior by Nathan, and potential incestuous behavior by Claudia. You have the perfect recipe for a trashy novel.

I have only read one other Anna Maxted novel and I don't remember it being quite so shockingly trashy. I was expecting a little more fluffy of a read. Instead of being rated PG-13 for some adult situations, I get rated X for mature themes. And yet, I couldn't stop reading. LOL.

If you are in the mood for a fluffy "Chick Lit" read, this is not the book for you. If you are headed off to the beach for a winter vacation, then this might be the book for you. But either way, consider yourself warned.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

(1) Between Here And April by Deborah Copaken Kogan

Here we are! My first book of the New Year and I have decided to go with a new look. What do you think?

Between Here And April probably wasn't the BEST book for a newlywed to read on her honeymoon. I was expecting a little bit more of a mystery, instead I found a woman struggling with her role as wife and mother. In searching for the truth of what happened to her childhood friend, April, Elizabeth Burns comes face to face with the truths of her own life.

Her marriage is shaky at best, she feels unfulfilled by her career, and the memories of her friend April send her on the search for the truth. The truth about what happened to April, as well as the truth of her life today.

Between Here And April takes an insightful and honest look at married life. It isn't always good and it isn't always easy. Compromises are made on both sides of the bed. For better or worse. But, if two people are committed to their marriage it will work out, right? Can Elizabeth and her husband work through their problems with minimal damage? Will the truth about what happened to April change Elizabeth's perception about love and marriage?

Between Here & April is a good book. It challenges you to think outside of the "Happily Ever After" mentality. It takes a look at a couple who have been married for many years and what happens when life happens. There is a readers guide with engaging questions, making this book a great choice for Book Clubs.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Once In A Blue Moon....

It is rare when a girl's dreams come true. Like, once in a blue moon. On New Years Eve 2009 my dreams came true. I married the man of my dreams. We had somewhat of a short, whirlwind engagement. David was transferred to Casper, Wyoming at the end of October. Each day that passed was a day with David in Casper and me in Kansas City. Time was limited, as was our money, but I was bound and determined to have the wedding of our dreams.

We got married at a chapel on the William Jewell College Campus. It is a little white chapel at the top of a hill. The generic white plank building opened up to a quaint, intimate setting full of hardwood floors and breathtaking stained glass windows. Perfect to hold the 100 friends and family that had traveled near and far to share our special day with us. I could not have dreamed of a better setting to take my marriage vows.

Through out the entire time I was planning the wedding, my friends and family stepped forward to volunteer their time & talents to make our day so very special. Someone I used to (feels strange to say that) work with at Barnes & Noble was generous enough to get her license off of the internet in order to marry David & I. It was her first wedding (as well as ours!) , but she did an absolutely amazing job. One of my "internet friends" traveled thousands of miles to take our photographs. We had never met prior to our wedding, but from the first hug as she stepped off of the shuttle, I knew she was a special soul. Thank YOU! With the help of three of my other "internet friends" they made sure to capture every moment of our Wedding Day. There was also my cousin's wife who volunteered her professional skills to do my hair & make up. She also HANDSTITCHED the sparklies on my shawl. Can you believe that? HANDSTITCHED!

Following the wedding, we invited our friends and family to a reception held at the KC Airport Hilton. My Brother In Law is a manager for the Hilton and was vigilant to ensure that our day was perfect in every way possible. Without Matt's generosity, given our budget, our reception was doomed to be a potluck dinner in the church social hall. He was able to pull some strings to make our reception beautiful and elegant. The food was divine, the atmosphere was elegant, the music was good, and the beer was cold. I could not have asked for a better reception.

Oh! My devoted readers will appreciate what we chose for a Guest Gift. I found a website that allowed us to create & print our own bookmarks. In sticking with our winter themed wedding, we designed these bookmarks to place on all the tables. From many people, I heard "That is so YOU!" Yes, yes it is.

We rang in the New Years with our guests, then shortly after retired to our complimentary suite. We were greeted by champagne & strawberries. The perfect way to end the perfect day.

We spent New Years Day in the hospitality room we had for our guests. We continued mingling, ate AMAZING food provided, once again, by the extraordinary Brother In Law. We were able to sit and visit with our friends and family, we put the 1,000+ pictures taken up on the big screen, and we opened our gifts. As the day wore on, we said good-bye to our friends and family. One more day, and we would be on our way to our new home in Casper, Wyoming.

Words can not express how PERFECT our day was. As an avid reader I have read about the "Happily Ever Afters" in book after book. I have dated many men & have gone through heartache after heartache. For some reason or another, the Good Lord blessed me with my very own "Happily Ever After".

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Happy Tuesday!!

Hi guys! I know I have neglected things for the last couple of weeks. Sadly, I admit to not getting much reading done, but that has changed now that I am an unemployed housewife! I will have a post up shortly about the wedding, but for now, it is a big release day so .... HAPPY TUESDAY!!

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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