Sunday, February 28, 2010

(29) One Good Dog by Susan Wilson

If you have known me for longer than five minutes then you know that I have a soft spot in my heart for our canine companions. Marley & Me is probably one of my favorite books and I have not come across a dog book that has tugged on my heartstrings since Marley & Me. Until now.

One Good Dog is about two creatures that have scraped the bottom of the barrel. Adam March did something supremely stupid and went from being a multimillionaire on the verge of becoming CEO to being a divorced, penniless man forced to work in a homeless shelter to complete his community service obligation. Chance is a pit bull that has escaped the pits of hell and was mistakenly rescued from death row. A case of mistaken identity. But once Adam rescued him, he was stuck with him. They are two creatures who have been beat up by life. Will they be able to help each other heal and become productive members of society? Or is it too late to teach an old dog new tricks?

I am about the only person on the planet that did not really like The Art of Racing In the Rain. Despite it's continued success, I stand by my "meh" review. One Good Dog, on the other hand, is a book I can recommend. The story is told in alternate voices. One chapter is Adam's point of view, the next chapter is Chance's. Put together, the chapters tell a poignant tale of redemption, love and loyalty. The story is well written without being cheesy or hokey. If you love dogs and you love a good redemption story, don't waste time finding One Good Dog. It arrives at bookstores on Tuesday, March 3.

(28) Life As I Know It by Melanie Rose

What would you do if you woke up after being hit by lightning to discover that you were someone else? That is exactly what happens to Jessica in Life As I Know It.

Jessica is walking her dog in the park when she is struck by lightning. She awakens in the hospital and is told that she is Lauren, mother of four. She falls asleep again and wakes up as herself. A bit confusing, no? The author straightens it out for us a bit, when Jessica is asleep her life force lives inside of Lauren. When Lauren is asleep, Jessica lives her own life. It is a bit of a time traveler type of book.

Jessica struggles to figure out why this is happening to her, but she has very little time to figure it out when she is Lauren. Lauren has four children and the smallest one is special needs. It doesn't take too long for Jessica to become attached to the children and discover that Lauren, the real Lauren, really wasn't the kind of person she would call friend.

Melanie Rose tries to be lighthearted about the subject matter, while it is far fetched, it is easy to get wrapped up in the drama and the emotions. Jessica is struggling to hold it all together. One fateful day events are set into motion that will bring things to closure. But does it end up to be a "happy ever after" story?

It was a bit hard for me to suspend my disbelief. Once I let my disbelief go and let myself get wrapped up in the story, I was swept away by the very enchanting Jessica, no matter which body she was inhabiting. The ending was wrapped up nicely, but it did not seem forced, so I was pleased with that. Overall, I would recommend the book, but be prepared for the sci-fi element of the premise.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Friday, February 26, 2010

Another Use For Your Books

Would you think less of me if I told you I heard of Mike Stilkey because of his interview with Justin Timberlake? Just so you aren't mistaken, that was Justin Timberlake interviewing Mike Stilkey for JT's blog. Needless to say, I am blown away by this man's talent and I just wanted to share his amazing artwork with all of you.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

(27) Me Talk Pretty by David Sedaris

My sense of humor must sorely be lacking. This is the second book in a week that others have deemed "hilarious" yet, I have barely cracked a smile, let alone had belly laughs often.

Me Talk Pretty One Day, for those of you who don't know, is a book of essays by David Sedaris. Until today, the only thing I had read by David Sedaris was an article he wrote for The New Yorker about Costco. THAT was funny & had me laughing.

This book, not so much. Perhaps I am not smart enough or hip enough to really get his humor. Or perhaps I am just tired & cranky today. I am not going to give up on Mr. Sedaris though. I will attempt to read another of his books, perhaps when I am not so tired & it isn't snowing.

Have you read his books, what did you think?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

(26) Magnolia Wednesdays by Wendy Wax

I love a good girly book set in the South. For a small town Midwest girl, the south, specifically Atlanta, is like another planet.

I think, in a way, Wendy Wax agrees with me. In her new book, Magnolia Wednesdays , Ms Wax takes us deep into the wilds of Suburbia Atlanta with her character, Vivien. ViVi has been living and working as an investigative reporter in New York City when she is hit with major life changing events. She runs off to her sister's house in the suburbs with the hopes of , well, hiding from the rest of the world. Things rarely go as planned in a well written Chick Lit novel. Magnolia Wednesdays is no different and Vivi has to own up to her mistakes both past and present.

Magnolia Wednesdays is a funny, yet poignant, novel that will take the reader into the wilds of Suburbia Atlanta. Kind of a fish out of water tale. As the story progresses and various pieces of information come to light, you see the relationships between ViVi and her sister grow. It is heartwarming to watch and I enjoyed reading all about Vivi and her exploits in the suburbs. It was a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Happiness Project

I tried. Really, I tried. I got to June in The Happiness Project before I realized that I really just did not care.

Don't get me wrong, the book is very well written. The author is brutally honest about her flaws without being self deprecating, but I just got the point where I didn't care if she made new friends or started collecting something new. I understand that it is her way of becoming a better wife, mother, daughter, etc... but that does not mean that I really have to care. Or continue reading a book that does not hold my interest.

Good Luck, Ms. Rubin. I hope you found happiness.

(25)The Things That Keep Us Here by Carla Buckley

How far would you go to protect your family from a pandemic that is sweeping the nation?

Carla Buckley has written a book that will strike fear in your heart. The Things That Keep Us Here is a book about your average mother, Ann Brooks. Ann and her husband, Peter, have been separated for a year when news that the H5N1 strain of flu has hit the United States. It is a week before Thanksgiving when the schools are closed and governments are urging people to stay home at all costs. The Brooks hunker down at the house, including Peter and his grad student assistant. Then the storm of the century hits and the entire city loses power.

The Brooks are in full on survival mode. They are cut off from the outside world. But they know one thing, the Pandemic is killing off their neighbors at a rapid pace. Ann is determined to keep her family safe from disease and looters at all costs.

From page one Carla Buckley had me pulled into the story. With every page I turned I kept thinking about how we would survive if something like this ever really happened. In the last year the alarmists have had millions worried about what would happen when the Swine Flu hit the States. While many DID get sick and some did die, it was nothing like the fear mongers had us believing it would be like.

I will tell you this, though. First thing tomorrow I am going to put together a survival kit. We wouldn't last two weeks without electricity based on what we have in our house now. Could you survive for an extended period of time based on what is in your house now? Think about it. No electricity means no microwave, no freezer, no hot showers, no internet. All gone. It is a sobering thught. Do you have a survival kit? What is in your survival kit?

The Things That Keep Us Here was a wonderful read. Fast, engaging, enthralling. And frankly even a bit scary. Carla Buckley has written a Michael Crichton type thriller for the Jodi Picoult readers of the world. Book Clubs all over the country will love the type of conversation generated from reading this book. Great read, you won't be disappointed.

Monday, February 22, 2010

(24) My Horizontal Life by Chelsea Handler

I stood by for years and watched this book fly off of the shelf. Our model for this book was crazy high, an indication that it sells. I just didn't want to spend money on the book.

I am kind of glad that I didn't buy the book. Don't get me wrong, My Horizontal Life was nothing if not entertaining. If you have even seen a clip of her show, you know that she is, um, uninhibited. She holds nothing back. That is exactly what she was when writing her book. Uninhibited.

I admit that I laughed out loud more than once, so much in one section, it caused my husband to declare that he was going to start a blog to document my reactions when reading books. (HaHa!)

But it still was not funny enough for me to declare she is the funniest woman alive. Nor was it funny enough for me to rush right over to to buy her next book. But I did just put it on hold at the library.

If you are looking for a few laughs, check it out. You will enjoy the book. But if you blush easily or are easily offended, you might want to skip this book. The book is exactly as the title suggests. And then some.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

(23) Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Thirteen Reasons Why is a book that lives up to the hype. It has been on teen bestseller lists ever since it was published in October 2007 and has won numerous awards all over the country. And it has deserved every single award.

One day Clay gets home from school to find a shoebox on his front porch. The shoebox is full of cassette tapes. Tapes that his classmate, Hannah Baker, recorded before committing suicide. There are thirteen reasons why Hannah Baker committed suicide. Alone, each of those reasons seem inconsequential. Common problems that all teens deal with. But, put them all together and you have thirteen reasons why Hannah committed suicide.

Jay Asher has written a book that should be required reading for all teens. What happens to Hannah Baker is the perfect example of what can happen when teens go wrong. It is ugly and it is permanent. Death is permanent.

I have never had anyone close to me commit suicide. My college roommate attempted suicide and it haunts me to this day. Her suicide attempt was one of the reasons why I did not continue with my college education. But her suicide attempt was for purely manipulative reasons. I know this now, but then, it was traumatic for me. Especially since I was the one who found her after she swallowed those pills. Dealing with that was obviously tough for me. Jay Asher has done an excellent job of illustrating the effect Hannah's suicide has had on her classmates. To say it is traumatic for Clay is an understatement. The book follows him as he listens to the tapes and hearing Hannah's reasons why is traumatic for him.

>/p> Good job, Jay Asher. You wrote an excellent book. You perfectly illustrated how our actions make an impact on the lives of others. Exactly the message that the teenagers of today needed to hear. As a step-mother to soon-to-be teens, I thank you.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

(22) The Kindness of Strangers by Katrina Kittle

I had a serious sense of dejavu when reading this book. I think I have read it before. It was originally published in 2005, before I started blogging, so it is entirely possible. But, it was a great book and I don't regret reading it again.

The Kindness of Strangers is one of those books that will rip your heart out. The subject matter, child abuse & child pornography, is pretty brutal. Reading the "bad" parts will leave your heart hurting. But the beauty of a good author (and a good story)is that while she may rip your heart in one chapter, she is likely to make it up to you in other chapters with a little bit of joy.

The Kindness of Strangers is the story of Sarah and her sons Danny & Nate. They are struggling through life after the death of their husband and father. Sarah has relied pretty heavily upon her neighbors and friends to get through those dark years after his death. Their world is shattered once again when Sarah's best friend and her husband are accused of unspeakable crimes against children. Including their own son, Jordan.

When Sarah agrees, at the urging of her oldest son, Nate, to foster Jordan, she realizes that the Kendricks were not the people she thought. It is a tough thing to stomach. She just hopes it is not too late to show Jordan how a family can really be.

Powerful and heart-wrenching. The story will suck you in and your arms will ache to gather Jordan into a hug. Yet as the pages go by, you are hopeful that they will all have a happy ending. The Kindness of Strangers is a fabulous read, but be sure to keep the hankies close. You will need them.

Friday, February 19, 2010

(21) The Bag Lady Papers by Alexandra Penney

On December 11, 2008 news reports all over the world were saturated with the headlines that Bernie Madoff was guilty of running the largest Ponzi scheme ever known to the people of America. Over 13,000 people had trusted Madoff with their fortunes. In most cases, vast fortunes. On December 11, 2008 over 13,000 people realized that their fortunes, vast or not, were gone.

Author and artist, Alexandra Penney was one of those people. Her whole world stopped and her worst nightmare had come true. She was penniless. That would be like me waking up to find that all of my teeth had fallen out. Teeth falling out is a common nightmare and apparently so is the nightmare of becoming a bag lady. Alexandra Penney is one of many successful women who have this nightmare. To discover that your nightmare has come real is at minimum, paralyzing.

In her new book, The Bag Lady Papers, AP walks us through those dark days after December 11th. She gives us the back story of how she worked hard as a single mother to become a successful magazine editor and artist. But she also talks about the paralyzing fear that gripped her in those dark days. She even googled The Hemlock Society. Her world was shattered. She was not sure she would ever be okay again. From firing her long term housekeeper to canceling her subscription to the NY Times, Alexandra Penney has to reduce her expenses to survival mode.

It doesn't matter how much money you have. When you lose EVERYTHING, your world is shattered and as a reader, you can't help but be empathetic of what she went through. The Bag Lady Papers is well written and engrossing. By the end of the book, you truly feel as if you are a friend of AP's. She just puts it all out there for us to read. That takes courage. No matter who you are.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

(20) The Language of Secrets by Dianne Dixon - On Sale March 23

The Language of Secrets had a unique, albeit at times confusing, plot. It has all of the components of something right out of daytime television. Betrayal, mystery & a wealthy, overbearing Father-In-Law.

I bet you are curious about the plot, right? Well the story is about Thomas Justin Fischer. Justin is moving back to the states with his wife & son after living in London for more than ten years. His wife encourages him to look up his estranged family, for the sake of their son.

He tracks down his childhood home to find it has sold. His questions lead him to the cemetery, where he finds the tombstones belonging to his parents. As well as his own tombstone. Stating that he died when he was four years old.

The story alternates narrators between Justin trying to find out the truth of his past and Justin's mother, telling her side of the story, so to speak. There is enough mystery, or confusion, depending on how you look at it, to keep you turning the pages, but the writing and character development falls short of being "wonderful".

It all was explained in the end, but the last page was frankly unnecessary. Granted, this is an advanced copy & they may decide to do away with the last page for the actual print run, frankly I hope they do. I think in this case, the reader has already figured out the truth, and that last page is out of place and just an insult to the readers intelligence.

Overall, the book was just "meh". If I had to rate it one to ten, I think it would get a four. It was good, but just not good enough to have me talking about it on the streets. So, read it, but read it at your own risk.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

(19) The Wife's Tale by Lori Lansens

There but for the grace of God go I .

Mary Gooch is ready to celebrate her 25th wedding anniversary. For twenty-five years Mary has been married to Jimmy Gooch. For twenty-five years Mary has been eating away her feelings. She eats away her grief over losing two pregnancies. She eats away her disappointment in not having kids. She eats her way to 302 pounds.

So here it is on the eve of her 25th wedding anniversary and her husband does not come home. Mary is forced to actually wake up to life. She follows the trail to California and finds out that she is stronger than she thought. She is forced out of her comfort zone and realizes that she IS the kind of person who can lose weight and make friends. And be IMPORTANT in the lives of others.

The Wife's Tale is a "Coming of Age" tale for the forty-something generation. An "Ugly Duckling" story if you will. The people in her life have labeled her for so long as "Gooch's fat wife" that she believes that is all she will ever be. But her journey to California changes all of that.

Lori Lansens has written a fabulous story about a woman who lives inside of so many of us. You may start out pitying Mary, but by the end of the story, you are cheering her on. Her successes, small as they are, become your successes. If she can do it, anyone can do it. Mary Gooch gives us all hope. And hope is a good thing.

Monday, February 15, 2010

(18) Fat Cat by Robin Brande

What a supremely awesome book.

Big props to the wonderful Meg Cabot for recommending this book. My mistake was the fact that I didn't actually read her review. I just browsed it, thought it looked good, so I added it to my e-book wishlist, knowing that my nook was on the way.

So, Fat Cat was the first book I read on my nook. On page one, I realize that it is actually a Young Adult novel. I was a bit disappointed because I thought it was going to be a biography about a woman who made all of these radical sacrifices to lose weight. Well, that is kind of true.

Fat Cat is a YA book about a seventeen year old heavyweight braniac, Cat. Cat is given a picture of a male & female Homo Erectus and is told that she has seven months to create a Science Fair project based off of this picture. After some major freaking out, she decides she is going to do an experiment where she will live the kind of life that our very first ancestors lived. No electricity, no technology, no processed foods. She can only eat what the hominid's could have eaten. She must walk everywhere & she has to give up her iPod, television, and cell phone. With the support of her family & her best friend, Amanda, Cat sets off on a scientific journey that will change her life.

As I sit here eating leftover tater tots & chicken strips, I realize that this book could do for the eating habits of high schoolers what Michael Pollan and Barbara Kingsolver did for the eating habits of millions of adults. The book chronicles what eating clean did for Cat. From losing weight to clearing up acne, it becomes clear that her lifestyle change really is the healthy way to live. But the other thing that the author exposes us to is all of the emotional baggage that overweight people, especially kids, have to deal with. Primarily the self esteem issues. That is what REALLY hit home for me. I didn't have weight issues when I was a teen (that came later) but I had major self esteem issues due to physical disabilities and I could easily relate to the hurt feelings that Cat had regarding her relationship with an old friend. The situation was so familiar to me, it moved me to tears.

Forget that Fat Cat is written for Young Adults, Fat Cat is a well written, engaging fictional tale of the girl that lives inside so many of us. Pick it up for your daughter, your niece or even yourself. It is a book you won't regret buying. I promise.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

(17) The Brightest Star In The Sky by Marian Keyes

The Brightest Star in the Sky
takes us to 66 Star Street, Dublin Ireland. Exactly the place I have always wanted to go.

In her new book, Marian Keyes takes inside 66 Star Street. A housing unit in the heart of Dublin. You get to meet all of the residents. The young married couple on the first floor. The elderly psychic right about them. Next you have the brothers from Poland and their female roommate, the tough talking, taxi driving, Lydia. Finally, on the top floor is Katie. The 40 year old single woman looking for love and happiness.

They all go about living their lives, minding their own business, and struggling with lifes struggles all on their own. Then one day something awful happens that brings them all together. Their lives will never be the same.

Marian Keyes is known for her Irish Chick Lit. Yet there is always a little more to it than just good friends & bad boys. There is meat to her work. In her new book she tackles, date rape, dementia, & depressions. But don't be mistaken. There is also the witty friends and the scoundrels that classify the book Chick Lit. In getting to know the residents of 66 Star Street, I knew whom I wanted to end up with whom. In some cases the author agreed, in others, she did not.

Kudos to you, Ms. Keyes. Once again you have written a novel that played to all of my emotions and made me sad to reach the final page. Thank you for introducing me to the residents of 66 Star Street.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

My nook!!

I finally ordered my nook. I have been jonesing for one ever since the information roll out when I was still employed. I was so confident in the nook's abilities, that I personally sold seven or eight nooks to customers. It may have been more, but frankly, in the rush of the holidays, wedding prep, and packing, I forgot.

We had other financial obligations (like a wedding & move to pay for) that forced me to delay my purchase of the nook. I was only able to order my nook this week. In fact, I ordered it Thursday morning. It arrived Friday afternoon. I was squealing like a little kid on Christmas morning. I was *thrilled*.

I immediately took it out of the box and started charging it. I let it charge for a few hours, then thought it was time to finally start playing with it. First step is to register your nook. ONLY way to do this is through your nook. Not online, not through customer service. Your nook only.

Well, sadly this is where I ran into major problems. I downloaded, then did the "drag & drop" of the new updates. It said it was connected to our WiFi, but I still could not connect to register.

Frustration ensued. I have very little patience for "new out of the box" stuff that is not working properly. So I called customer support. When an hour of being on hold passed, I was ready to call Steve Riggio himself & make him register this damn thing for me.

Finally Digital Support answered the phone. After some troubleshooting, we determined that it was our router. Our router is old & technically designed for DSL, not Cable, but my husband had done some tweaking to make it work. I "borrowed" a signal from the neighbor long enough to register and it took the registration on the first submit. Problem solved.

Today we are going to go buy a new router. But to warn you, there are 21 pages worth of registration problems on the nook boards. The posters there try to be helpful & some of their tricks worked for others, but unfortunately I had to sacrafice 90 minutes of my Friday night on hold with Digital Support.

This morning, everything is roses!! The books I downloaded are all there & I am itching to start reading. First, though, I must finish my current book. Dern hardcover books anyway. *grin*

Happy Reading.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Thursday, February 11, 2010

(16) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

I like my books without math, thankyouverymuch.

For years now I have heard how GOOD, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time was. Now that I have a library card and all the time in the world to make sure they get returned on time, well, I decided to go back and start reading all of the books that I have missed, starting with Mark Haddon's book. (For the record, I currently have fourteen books checked out.)

When I turned to page one and saw that it was listed as chapter number 2, I thought that I might not be smart enough to read this book. Seriously. But then I started reading further and the story sucked me in, but I admit that I skipped over all the math. What can I say, I am a book person, not a math person.

For those of you that haven't read the book, the story is about Christopher, a fifteen year old Autistic boy. Christopher lives in England with his father. He has his routines and he is getting through life. He one day discovers that his father has not been honest with him, so he sets off on an adventure. It is a huge, scary step for Christopher. The book is written as if Christopher is telling the story. So you get to crawl inside the brain of an Autistic teenager. For that reason, the book can be called "good". Interesting even. Certainly well written.

But there is far too much math to call it a GREAT read. But that is just *my* opinion.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

(15) English As A Second Language by Megan Crane

Sometimes a little brain candy is as necessary as chocolate ice cream. It gives your brain a break from the stresses of everyday life. Like job hunting.

English As A Second Language is just the kind of book you need if you are looking to escape. It is a fluff book about a young woman who decides to chuck it all and leave he life in New York behind. With her father's financial backing, if not his blessing, Alex heads across the pond to pursue graduate school in England.

Hi jinx ensue. Just what you expect. Excessive partying, excessive smoking, inappropriate crushes on professors. Kind of stereotypical, yet highly entertaining.

(14) Deeper Than Dead by Tami Hoag

I think Tami Hoag is one of those authors that I have been reading forever. I think Lucky's Lady was the first book of hers that I read. I think I have read it a dozen times. Her books are books that I just don't miss. Some are better than others, but they all have the key components that make a book nice and juicy. Mystery, Suspense, and Steamy Sex scenes.

Deeper Than Dead fits the bill. Unlike some of her other novels, there is only one steamy sex scene, but it is steamy enough to burn up the pages. The mystery part of it is fabulous. Set in 1985, a serial killer is targeting the women of a sleepy little California town. Unable to solve the crime themselves, the local Police Department call in an innovative unit of the FBI. Profilers. Criminal Minds fans will LOVE this book.

Deeper Than Dead is a page turner that may keep you up all night. Either reading or with fear for what may be lurking in the dark. The story is graphic and violent, but it will be completely satisfying for those readers who love gritty mysteries.

I will say the story took a few twists and turns that were unexpected. I thought I had figured out who the bad guy was, because there are a few obvious bad guys walking the streets of Oak Knoll, but it is the ones that you least expect it. Well done, Ms. Hoag. Well done.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

(13) Irreplaceable by Stephen Lovely

Organ donation. It has the potential to be a very hot button issue. Some people sign the card without a second thought. For others, religious beliefs or the sheer terror of leaving earth without all of the parts they had when they arrived on earth prevent them from donating their organs. No matter which side of the fence you fall on, the topic is sure to generate passionate conversation.

In his debut novel, Irreplaceable, Stephen Lovely tackles the controversial topic from all sides of the story.

From the woman who is tragically killed during a bicycle ride on a warm spring day, to her husband & mother. The grief of the loved ones she left behind is palpable through the pages. The reader also gets to meet Janet, the recipient of Isabel's heart and her family. You get to see how a life threatening illness have strained their lives. And finally there is Jasper, the man who hit Isabel that fateful day. His life has rapidly deteriorated since that day that has forever connected all of these people.

Organ donation is a subject near and dear to my heart. My Uncle Tom's live was saved more than once due to the kindess of people who believed in organ donation. In fact my own mother gave him her kidney many years ago. It was interesting for me to read about the view from the other side of the operating table. The topic can be controversial and for that reason alone, Stephen Lovely has written the perfect book for Book Clubs all across America. It is guaranteed to generate passionate and engaged conversations.

With that being said, I am lucky to have Mr. Lovely agree to answer a few questions for my blog.

1. Mr. Lovely, thank you so much for agreeing to answer a few questions for me. May I start by asking what book are you reading now?

I always seem to be reading a few different books at one time, and rarely finishing anything. I just read a short story by Chekhov called “Lady With Lapdog.” It’s one of Chekhov’s most famous stories, and I love it more every time I read it. It’s amazing and comforting to realize that people were living through the same difficulties regarding their marriages and personal relationships a hundred years ago as they are now. Also, so much fiction is about adultery! Without it we’d lose Anna Karenina, Madame Bovary, and countless others. Chekhov is such a poised, lucid writer, and so smart. I’m also reading a collection of articles on the Psychology of Love, which is part of the research I’m doing for my second novel.

2. Organ Donation is such a personal topic, how did you come to write about the topic?

I was working at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, and a boy came in who had been hit by a car, and who was brain dead. It was a terrible event. His brave, shaken parents made the decision to donate his organs, and I got to thinking about where those organs might go, and about the various relationships that might be created by their voyages into other peoples’ bodies. I wondered how the recipient of a donated organ would feel toward the donor, and the donor’s family, and vice versa. I knew there was a person out there somewhere who had killed this boy, either accidentally or recklessly, and I wondered how that person would feel if he or she knew that the boy’s organs had been transplanted. All in all it just seemed like a situation that would create some very new and interesting relationships between the people involved.

3.Is there anyone in your life that has been touched by the gift of Organ Donation?

No, no one I know personally, although I did interview many people who were waiting for a heart transplant, and people who received donated hearts, in the course of doing research for the novel.

4. You must have done extensive research about the topic of organ donation. Did your research influence your personal beliefs about organ donation?

I’m not sure my research specifically influenced my views on organ donation, but certainly the experience of writing the book, and thinking deeply about the issues, and considering the event from different people’s perspectives, did affect my views. I began the book with a very positive view about organ donation, and while I still have a positive view – donating one’s organs is a brave, selfless act – I am more able to understand differing views, and the reasons, both cultural and emotional, behind them.

5. Irreplaceable covers all sides of organ donation. Which character do you identify with the most?

I suppose I identify most with Alex, since he’s a guy, like me, and is about the age I was when working on the novel. He and I share a few attributes, and many of his experiences—where he lives, where he works, where he walks with his dog—are drawn from mine. But I feel very close to all of the characters, especially Bernice, for whom I have the most affection.

6. What do you want readers to take away most from your story?

I hope readers finish the novel with affection for my characters, or at least some of my characters, despite their flaws and questionable decisions, and that readers take away a more thorough understanding of all the issues and complexities of organ transplantation and the kinds of relationships it can create.

7. Thank you so much for your time. May I ask what you are working on now and when can we expect it in the stores?

I’m working on a second novel. It takes place in the on-line dating industry. When will it be in stores? I’m a slow writer. IRREPLACEABLE took me over 10 years to finish. I hope to finish my second novel in less time. With any luck...2016? Thanks for your patience!

Irreplaceable is available in paperback starting today, you can look for it at any bookstore.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Saturday, February 6, 2010

(12) Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

One day.

I read Winter Garden in one lazy, Saturday afternoon. And let me tell you this, Kristin Hannah did not disappoint.

Her new book is, once again a gripping, emotional tale of relationships. And this time she even threw in a "story within the story" to sweeten the deal. A tale of wartime Russia and a woman made of incredible strength. The stories weave in and out and soon you realize that they are one.

Nina & Meredith are both at turning points in their lives. Their father has just passed away and the two of them must work together to keep their mother alive. Their common goal brings them close together and at the same time brings perspective to their lives in away they both have needed for a long time.

Kristin Hannah is a master storyteller. She knows how to captivate her readers and pull them into the story. Winter Garden is very well written and a book that you will find hard to put down. This I promise you.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

(11) The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson

HOLY CRAP! Why didn't someone tell me how good this book really was? I have to say that The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo has to be one of the best mystery novels that I have ever read and I can not wait to get my hands on the second book in the series! It was THAT good.

How to explain the plot in five sentences or less? Well it just isn't possible. So let me just say that for the first half of the book, there are two characters to follow. Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist. One is a twenty-something, tattooed private investigator with a history of mental illness. The other is a forty-something journalist who has just lost a court case accusing him of libel. He has essentially been banished from the world of journalism and is even facing jail time when he is approached by Henrick Vanger and asked to research and solve an old family mystery.

It isn't until you are more than halfway through the book when Mikael & Lisbeth finally cross paths in an explosive meeting that sets the tone for the rest of the book. Together they risk their lives to uncover the dark, twisted secrets of the Vanger family.

If you have a weak stomach or are a prude, this book probably is NOT one that you should read. There is not any foul language, but it is dark, twisted, and violently graphic. The first few pages are a bit difficult to get through, not because of the gore, but because it is set in Sweden. It took me those few pages to get used to the lingo and cultural differences that set apart the US from Sweden. But once I got used to the terminology, the fast paced mystery novel sucked me in and it was hard to put it down. A great book you can sink your teeth into! Not a book a true mystery lover should miss.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

(10)An Irish Country Girl by Patrick Taylor

If you have known me or read this blog for more than five minutes, you are probably well aware of my infatuation with all things Irish. When I got the email with an offer to review Patrick Taylor's new book, An Irish Country Girl and possibly even get to interview him, well, I nearly broke a finger trying to hit the reply button.

I will admit that I have not read the other books in the Irish Country Doctors series. I own them, but they are buried in my TBR pile. Soon to see the light of day, now that I have had a chance to wander through the enchanting world that Mr Taylor creates with his words.

In An Irish Country Girl, I am introduced to Maureen "Kinky" Kincaid. All I know of her as I start reading is that she is the beloved housekeeper for the good doctors of Ballybucklebo (say it out loud! I dare you! It is impossible to say Ballybucklebo without an Irish brogue!) . When we first meet the Irish Country Girl, it is Christmas Day and she is telling a tale to the children of the village who have converged on the good doctor's home.

She takes us back to her childhood in County Cook nearly 40 years ago to the day. Kinky spins an enchanting tale of Faeries and Vixens and what happens if you dare to ignore the spirits that rule the forests of County Cook. After her tale has been told & she has thoroughly captivated the children of Balleybucklebo and sent them on their way, she continues to reminisce about life all those years ago. She reminisces about her loves and her losses, her hopes and her dreams. With a gentle voice and a loving heart we get to "meet" her family and join them as they rejoice the good times and mourn the bad ones. We truly get to peek into the person that is Kinky Kincaid.

You need not worry if you have not read An Irish Country Village or the others, though you will certainly want to after reading Kinky's story. Patrick Taylor will enchant you with his tales of Ireland, you will not be able to resist the good people of Balleybucklebo.

With that said, let me introduce you to the author, Mr Patrick Taylor.

1. Can you tell us a little a bit about yourself and what led you to writing about the good people of Ballybucklebo?

Me? I have always written. I am Irish.I trained as a medical research worker and so writing was integral to my wok. About 15 years ago I was asked to contribute a humour column to a medical journal. Based on some of my experiences as a trainee physician I developed Doctor Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly. In 1997 I had a serious collection of short stories published. This was followed by two techno-thrillers about the Ulster Troubles. I tried to persuade my editor to bind and publish my humour columns, No, she said, go away and write me a novel about these character. So I did--and am now working on book 6 in the series. You can learn more about me at

2. For someone who has not read about the Good Doctor's, what do you think is the most important thing your new readers need to know about them and the people of Ballybucklebo?

Ballybucklebo is an imaginary Ulster village in 1964-5 populated by imaginary people who it seems judging by my fan mail come to life to my readrers. The central figures are Doctor Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly, 56, crusy, widowed, eccentric--and a damn fine doctor and his fresh from medical school assisstant 24 year old Doctor Barry Laverty. Their lives are ordered by their housekeeper from County Cork. Mr, Kincaid and the village is populated by characters lke Maggie McCorkle who has headaches--two inches above the crown of her head. The books are I hope light, escapist fun.

3. Why tell Kinky's story? Is there anyone else in Ballybucklebo with a story waiting to be told?

Maureen Kinky Kincaid is, I hope an interesting character, and she is fey, that is has second sight--what Steven King might call The Shining. How did she get that way? That was how I started writing Country Girl. I wanted to set a tale in County Cork in the 20s and with a bit of writer's arrogance wanted to try to prove I wasn't a one trick pony only able to write on material based on my medical background.

Any one else? Book 5 now finished, Country Courtship is back in Ballybucklebo, but book 6 that I am presently working on is Fingal O'Reilly's story of being a medical student in Dublin in the 30s. I haven't decided yet whether to tell about his service on a Battleship in WWII

4. Maureen is very fond of Irish History. What you think is the most important thing "Yanks" should know about Irish History?

That it goes back a very long way and even us Irish don't fully undrstand it. That it is not a clear black and white Catholic v Protestant, Irish v English conflict and to paint it thus is naive and for Irish Americans to keep those old emnities alive is counterproductive. What is needed is reconciliation and reconstruction.

5. The O'Hanlon family is rich with tradition, specifically around the Feast of St. Stephen. What traditions do your family have for the holidays?

You'll find all about it in book 3 An Irish Country Christmas, but I am afraid we have broken with tradition and now spend Christmas in the sun here in Tenerife in the Canary Islands.

6. For someone, such as myself, who is completely enchanted by Irish history & culture, can you recommend some books or authors that would help me further my education?

Most of my extensive library is in Ireland, but Try The Great Shame, Thomas Kennealy (who wrote Schindler's List)It's about the Irish diaspora. The Great Hunger (An Gorta Mor) by Cecil Woodham-Smith about the potato famine, Trinity by Leon Uris, You'll find a reference to a collection of folk lore Edited by Lady Gregory in the author's note in Girl. Morgaan Llewellyn writes very good Irish historical fiction.

7. Mr. Taylor, thank you so much for your time. Is there anything else you would like to say to our readers?

It's been my pleasure. I hope your readers will enjoy my work

Monday, February 1, 2010

Something Borrowed!

I have MOVIE NEWS!!! Emily Giffin just twittered that Ginnifer Goodwin has signed on to play Rachel!! The movie is slated for 2011, but I know what you are all wondering. Who will play Dex? Hmmm, thoughts?

The charming Ginnifer Goodwin is in talks to star in a new romantic comedy titled "Something Borrowed," based on the debut novel by Emily Giffin. It looks like the project is set to start shooting this spring. The plot follows a Manhattan lawyer who ends up in bed with her best friend's fiance after her 30th birthday. Variety reports Luke Greenfield, who also helmed "The Girl Next Door," will direct the chick flick.

This is certainly one I am waiting to see! I am confident that Margene can pull this off!

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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