Wednesday, March 31, 2010

(57)A Month of Summer by Lisa Wingate

I have got to stop reading books about the elderly and the infirm right now. With my mom giving my Grandma around the clock care and another family member in end-stage cancer. I just need to stop reading these types of books.

But I read the synopsis when I picked up the book. I only have myself to blame. A Month of Summer is a book about a daughter, Rebecca, who is estranged from her father. Rebecca hasn't seen her father in 33 years when she gets a phone call from the police, who found her elderly father disorientated and wandering the streets.

Rebecca does the right thing and goes to Texas. Where she finds her Step-Mother in a nursing home recovering from a stroke. And the hired help has apparently absconded with all of the money. Rebecca has walked into a mess that she is not sure she can fix.

The book was just "meh". I enjoyed watch the relationship between Rebecca and Teddy grow. Her fondness increased with each page turn. I did NOT like how her husband rushed in and solved all of her problems in one page. It does a great disservice to the character growth that had been going on. Not to mention their was no real resolution between Rebecca and her husband. Then the story abruptly ended.

I read the whole book, but given what is going on in my own family, I should have just put the book down and went on to something fluffy.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Introducing Miss Anna's Shoppe

I first met Miss Anna several years ago when we worked together at Barnes & Noble in Kansas City. She has traveled the world and has recently landed at a Barnes & Noble Cafe in Florida. She has started making these uber cool nook covers. She was kind enough to send me one for my Nookie.

You can find Miss Anna's Shoppe on Etsy. Where you can find all sorts of fun covers! Like this one!

Monday, March 29, 2010

(56) The Wild Zone by Joy Fielding

Have you ever finished a book and wondered "What the hell just happened here?" That is the exact feeling I got when I finished Joy Fielding's The Wild Zone. And not in a good way.

I have been a fan of Ms Fielding's for a while. The Wild Zone was a bit of a cluster-duck (trying to keep the language clean) that begins in a Miami bar called The Wild Zone. Kristin is the bartender, her boyfriend Jeff, his brother Will, and Jeff's buddy, Tom strike a bet to see who will get into Suzy's pants first. Throw in an abusive husband, some PTSD, and good old fashioned sibling rivalry and you have the ingredients for a truly far-fetched plot. But wait. There is more. Out of nowhere the last chapter will leave you saying WTF?

Seriously, I am still sitting here shaking my head going, WTF? I usually love Ms. Fielding's novels, but this one was just so over the top it is going to take me awhile to get over it. Not to mention even risking reading another one of her novels. And after reading some of her other reviews, I can see that I am not alone.

Try again, Ms. Fielding. I know you can do better than this drivel.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

(55) Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

It has been a fabulous book day today. Wintergirls is the third book I have read today. Talk about decadent.

Wintergirls was by far the hardest book to read. It is a Young Adult novel about eating disorders and how they slowly destroy the young women in it's grip.

Eighteen year old Lia has recently been released from prison, er, inpatient therapy for anorexia. Her best, Cassie, has been battling bulimia. Lia wakes up one morning to have her Stepmother tell her that Cassie is dead. She was found alone in a hotel room. That information is enough to send Lia back into the abyss.

Wintergirls was truly a frightening book to read. Having struggled with overeating all of my life, it was tough to get into the head of Lia, an anorexic. Her whole world was centered around what she was putting in and expelling her body. It was frightening to read. I was torn between wanting to wrap her in my arms and force feed her and shaking her senseless and telling her to grow up and EAT. It was a real emotional struggle.

I know that not everyone likes to read YA novels, but if you have teen daughters, this is a book that you MUST read with them. Discuss it with them. It could save their lives.

(54)Making Rounds with Oscar by David Dosa M.D.

Getting old is the one thing we can't escape. No matter how many vitamins we take or energy drinks we consume or how often we lie about our age, we are going to get old. Our physical and maybe even mental health will eventually deteriorate. It happens. And it happens to me, I would love to have a cat like Oscar curl up next to me.

In Making Rounds with Oscar we get to meet Oscar the cat. A permanent resident of Steere House Nursing home. Nurses have started noticing that Oscar only curls up to residents in the hours before they die. Then he will stay with them until they are taken to the funeral home. Dr. David Dosa is very skeptical of the claims until he starts seeing it for himself and in talking to family members of the recently deceased he realizes that Oscar truly is an extraordinary feline.

I really enjoyed Making Rounds with Oscar it was a very fast read. It was a bit depressing to read about the brutally real end of life situations, but at the same time, having Oscar there made it more of an uplifting experience for so many of the family members. Even though I am not really a cat person, I really hope that when my time comes there is an "Oscar" by my side to help my family deal with it all. The book is compassionately written and you can tell that the Good Doctor genuinely cares for the people in his care and their families. It is refreshing to read. Thank you, Dr. Dosa.

(53) There's a (slight) chance i might be going to hell by Laurie Notaro

I love an author that makes me laugh out loud. Jen Lancaster is notorious for having that talent and so does Laurie Notaro, I discovered. There's a Slight Chance I Might Be Going to Hell was a funny book.

I could relate to the premise of the story. Maye moves from her hometown of Phoenix to Spaulding, Washington for her husbands career. Ummm, been there doing that for three months now. Spaulding is a little University town. To say that Maye has a hard time fitting in is a hilarious understatement. From book clubs featuring Witches to Vegan clubs, Maye is desperately trying to make friends. She finally finds a way by joining the Sewer Pipe Beauty Pageant.

I laughed outside several times through out this book. It is always fun to find a story that tickles the funny bone. Maye's escapades were laugh out loud funny. I wonder if Notaro's non-fiction is as funny as her foray into fiction. I sure hope so!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Friday, March 26, 2010

(52) The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson

Once again, Steig Larsson has hit a homerun. His book The Girl Who Played With Fire was just as good, if not better than The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

In The Girl Who Played With Fire we get to meet up with the characters we grew to know intimately in the first book. Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist. Two years have passed since we last saw them. They have gone their separate ways, but become connected again when someone working for Blomkvist is murdered and Salander is the only suspect.

I think I have figured out why I like these books so much, Larsson doesn't just tell us about the characters. He get's in their heads, his character development is far beyond anything I have ever read. I also love how he sets the story up without it seeming forced or rushed.

Larsson once again takes us on an emotional, fast paced ride through Sweden as Blomkvist and Salander try to clear her name without getting themselves killed. I can not think of any other author that writes in a way that literally makes my heart race. His talent is truly one of a kind and I will certainly mourn when I finish the third book in the trilogy, due out in May.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

(51)Late Night Talking by Leslie Schnur

I have all of these books on my shelves to read. 470 to be exact. I have a nook so I can download books at my discretion. Yet I still have 12 books checked out from the library. Late Night Talking is one of them.

Late Night Talking was a cute, fluffy chick lit novel with a pretty big message. Jeannie Sterling is the host of a late night radio talk show. She has made a career of judging others on her show about manners and being considerate of others. In New York City, it is more of a challenge then you may think. Everything seems to be trucking right along. Jeannie and her college buddy have taken their relationship to the next level and the show is a huge success. Then it all stops.

Her best friend has started pulling away. Her station is sold to an arrogant ass, her father has moved in with his beast of a dog, and the show is spinning out of control. Can she reign herself in and keep all of her relationships in tact?

Jeannie learned the hard way that being a judgmental asshole is not a good way of keeping the relationships that she holds dear. A lesson that many would do well to learn. Lord knows that I have to temper my judgmental assholish side. Late Night Talking was a great reminder of what happens to us when we forget to be kind and understanding ourselves.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

(50) Hush by Kate White

Oooooooooooooooooh, I did NOT see that one coming!

Hush is the first book by Kate White that I have had the pleasure of reading. Let me tell you, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I love it when an author writes a smart heroine. I love it when an author works in hot button issues into their plots. I love it when an author shocks me with the "whodunit". Kate White has done all of that with her new book.

Lake Warren is embroiled in a bitter custody battle with her soon to be ex-husband. She is basically floating along at her PR consulting job. Yet her whole world turns upside down when she finds herself in bed with one of the doctors she is consulting for. Things go from bad to worse when she wakes up to find him dead. Can she figure out what happened before the police and her ex discover that she was there that night?

Hush was a fast paced, on the edge of your seat, heart racing kind of thriller. There were some twists and turns throughout the whole story to keep you guessing. And the end? I sooooo didn't see that coming!!

(49) The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book would have been a book I would have loved as a pre-teen. It had murder, adventure, and ghosts. What more could a kid want?

Nobody Owens is the only survivor of a murderer who killed his entire family. As a toddler he wandered away from the scene of the crime and into the neighboring graveyard where he is adopted by the ghosts of the graveyard. Bod is given special privileges and powers and spends his childhood playing among some of histories most interesting characters. Including the 33rd President of the United States. Who happens to be Harry Truman and currently resides in the courtyard of his Presidential Library, but I will give Neil Gaiman a pass on that inaccuracy for the sake of "Suspending Belief". *grin*.

The Graveyard Book was fun to read. It is imaginative, well written, and everything a kid could sink their teeth into. The illustrations dispersed throughout the book only add to the magic. I can truly see why The Graveyard Book won the Newberry Award. Congratulations Mr. Gaiman. Well done!

Monday, March 22, 2010

(48) The Girl Who Chased The Moon by Sarah Addison Allen

I have been a fan of Sarah Addison Allen ever since I read Garden Spells. Her books have a magical, mystical quality that just leave me feeling good. I am sad to say that I can not put The Girl Who Chased The Moon in that same category. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't a horrible book. I have read far worse this year, I just don't think it lived up to the standard I have come to expect from Sarah Addison Allen.

The Girl Who Chased The Moon tells the story of Emily. Emily is a seventeen year old orphan who arrives in Mullaby, North Carolina to live with the grandfather she has never met. She encounters several enchanting townsfolk, including her own Grandfather, but it is Win, the son of "the Family" of town who has captured Emily's attention. Only Win's family will do everything possible to stop the relationship.

Just like her other books, The Girl Who Chased The Moon had a few of the magical qualities that I have come to expect and love from Sarah Addison Allen, the story just didn't touch my heart like the others did. And while that has me a little disappointed, it won't stop me from reading her future works.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Things We Do For Love by Kristin Hannah

I have fallen into the publishing trap of reissued books. This time though, I bought the book for my nook, so no chance of returning it. It wasn't until I had gone in search of a picture to use for this blog did I realize that I was a victim of reissues. I have this Mass Market Paperback sitting on my bookshelf. I didn't think I had read it yet until I got about 30 pages into my e-book and it all came flooding back. Drat. On to the next book.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

(47) Get Lucky by Katherine Center (on sale April 6)

A sister's relationship is something that is indescribable. They are often more than best friends. Because, like Katherine Center points out, there are times when even best friends come and go. But a sister, a sister is forever.

Katherine Center's new book, Get Lucky takes an intimate look at the bonds of sisterhood. Is there anything that can break that bond? Sarah Harper has agreed to give her sister, Mackie, the ultimate gift. She has agreed to be a surrogate for Mackie and her husband, Clive. Why not? Sarah has recently been fired from her high powered job in New York City. There is nowhere else that she would rather be than Houston. So Sarah finds herself pregnant with twins and living in the future nursery of the children she carries. What Sarah didn't expect was the hurricane of emotions that come with being a surrogate, especially for her sister.

Get Lucky was a fast, emotionally charged read. I was chuckling one second and wiping tears the next. The ups and downs of being a Sister were what this story was built on. And Katherine Center nailed it. From the unbelievable devotion to the frightening hints of jealousy to the sharing clothes and eating ice cream in bed. The relationship two sisters have, may be the most important relationship they ever have. I absolutely adored this book. Katherine Center has a gift when it comes to writing about human relationships and she certainly nailed it with Get Lucky.

Friday, March 19, 2010

(46) Angelology by Danielle Trussoni

What have I been telling you guys? Angels are the new vampires. Angelology by Danielle Trussoni just proves my point. Her debut novel, Angelology is a fast paced thriller that takes you from a convent in upstate New York to war torn Europe. All to wage a war as old as time. Good versus evil. I am even willing to overlook an editing discrepancy regarding the age of Verlaine's car to tell you that it is one of the best books I have read this year!

Twenty-Three year old Sister Evangeline comes from a long line of Angelologists. For several generations her family has been tracking Angels and trying to free the world from their evil, destructive tendencies. The Sisters of Perpetual Adoration are not just protecting Evangeline, they are protecting a secret that will change the course of the war being waged between the humans and the Angels that walk the earth.

Put aside everything you think you know about Angels. Angelology is an absolutely wonderful, fast paced novel that is a mixture of factual history with a whole lot of fictional lore. Written in a way that will have you grabbing your Bible to do a little fact-checking of your own. I would say the concept is similar to The Historian, but with the action packed plot of a Dan Brown novel. I enjoyed Angelology so much that I am going to give it a "Best of" tag.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

(45) Girls In Trucks by Katie Crouch

Girls In Trucks has gotten mixed reviews from readers.

I actually liked this quirky book with a real character. Sarah Walters is a Southern Belle who leaves the south behind when she heads North for college. While there, she not only got an excellent education, but she learned how to party with the best of them and fell for the worst men around. As the years, and pages, go by, Sarah comes to terms with the fact that she will never live up to the Southern Belle expectations that her parents and others have set for her.

The book is written in a series of disjointed snippets of memories. It is almost as if the narrator, Sarah was either writing her story in a journal or speaking with a therapist. The snippets sometimes start and stop abruptly, causing some confusion if you really aren't paying attention. Sarah's story is dark and at times twisted, yet you can't help but feel compassion for the woman with self-destructive tendencies.

I read the ARC of Katie Crouch's new book and thoroughly enjoyed it. I didn't dislike Girls In Trucks, it wasn't what I expected yet it took me into a world totally different from the one I live in. And isn't that what reading fiction is all about?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

(44) The Local News by Miriam Gershow

More than once I wanted to stop reading this book. But I paid for it. It was on my nook & frankly I wanted to get my money out of The Local News.

Boy, do I regret that now. Life is too short to read a book that you just don't like. There wasn't anything BAD about the book, it just didn't hold my interest and felt rather boring.

The Local News is about the family of a teenage boy who goes missing. The story is told from his fifteen year old sister's viewpoint. She wasn't particularly close to her brother, yet she takes an active part in trying to find him.

I will not tell you how it turns out, it is not particularly shocking. And like I said, it is rather boring in how the author gets to the end of the story.

Anyway, on to the next book.

Monday, March 15, 2010

(43) The Opposite of Me by Sarah Pekkanen

b The Opposite of Me was an absolutely delightful book.

At some point in time every woman out there has felt like they don't measure up. There was probably that one girl in high school that you wanted to be like. For Lindsey, it is her twin sister, Alex. Even though they are twins, their relationship is one more of acquaintances than twins.

Lindsey Rose is on the fast track to becoming a VP for a successful advertising agency when things go horribly wrong and she ends up fired. She leaves New York and her only friend, Matt behind to move back home to D.C. Her hope is to put her life back together and snag the man she has been dreaming about. Her high school bud, Bradley. Going home is never easy. But especially with her gorgeous, successful twin sister who is getting married to a real life Ken-Doll. It is bringing back all the old insecurities and resentments causing Lindsey to rethink the course she wants her life to take.

Sibling rivalry can be a great motivator for us to strive for success, but it can also be an ugly, ugly thing. In The Opposite of Me, Lindsey is so consumed by her desire to differentiate herself from her twin sister, Alex, that she can't see what it has done to the most precious relationship a woman can have. A relationship with her sister. It was painfully embarrassing to read Lindsey's jealousy on paper. She had everything going for her, but her desire to be better than Alex nearly destroyed her. Once she arrives at home and starts sorting things out and seeing Alex for who she really is, well that is when I really started enjoying the book. Seeing the both of them change and grow closer was truly wonderful. Making The Opposite of Me the perfect book for sisters, friends, and book clubs all over the world.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Saturday, March 13, 2010

(42) The Melting Season by Jami Attenberg

The Melting Season is an interesting story. Catherine Madison has married her High School sweetheart, Thomas. They live in a sleepy Nebraska farm town. They are just living their lives when Thomas's father dies and leaves him more money than they ever could have dreamed of. So much money it changes their lives.

Flash forward to Catherine traveling west with a suitcase full of her husband's money. Can a twenty-something really run away from home? Catherine has set out on an adventure, trying to fill that empty spot deep inside of her. She is not sure what she is looking for, but she knows where she has been and is not sure that she will ever go back.

Catherine winds up in Las Vegas. There she meets a woman who help her to awaken to who she really is. She gives Catherine the courage and support to go home and face the music. Both her husband and her abusive mother.

The Melting Season is a book about forgiveness, starting over, and being true to oneself. Catherine has led a sheltered life and is on a journey to find herself, that journey takes her across the country and a million miles from home. The first half of the story is the actual journey itself. The second half of the story is Catherine in Las Vegas telling her story to her new friend. The story is an interesting one to read about. Being from the Midwest, and having traveled I80 frequently, I enjoyed that aspect of the story. When Catherine starts talking about her past, you can not help but be swept up in her story. Her life has been something out of a Lifetime movie and you start to understand why she chose to run away from home. Jami Attenberg has written a heartfelt novel of self discovery that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Thursday, March 11, 2010

(41) The Department of Lost and Found by Allison Winn Scotch

I had no idea what The Department of Lost & Found was about when I picked it up to start reading. I have read another book by Allison Winn Scotch and follow her on Twitter so I knew that I would enjoy the book. But when I saw the word "cancer" on the first page, I just shut the book and set it aside for almost a full day. Right now, it just hits too close to home. Someone very dear to me is fighting the battle for her life and I just wasn't sure that I could read about this dreaded disease.

Obviously I did pick the book up again and I am glad that I did. Allison Winn Scotch has written a compassionate, heartfelt story of a Survivor. Natalie Miller is a strong woman leading a successful life. She is a top aide to a powerful Senator and has a wonderful boyfriend, Ned. Then one night Ned finds a lump in her breast and she is diagnosed with breast cancer. Ned leaves her and she is forced to take a break from her job, right before a huge election. She has all the time in the world to take an introspective look at her life. She learns some truths that are hard to learn, but realizes that life is a fragile thing and her life is worth fighting for.

Sometimes it takes a life altering event to wake us up to the life that we have been living and make us aware of the life that we want to lead. I pray, daily, that a cure will be found for Cancer. But if it ever strikes me, my hope is that I have the strength and courage to fight it like Natalie in the book and my Aunt. My Aunt has fought this battle off and on for three years now. I hope that I can live my life half as courageously as she has and fight my battles, health or otherwise, with the same grace and dignity.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

(40) Happy by Alex Lemon

Alex Lemon is your typical college kid. His friends call him Happy his enemies call him varying degrees of expletives. He plays baseball hard, he parties hard, and occasionally he studies. He attributes his dizziness and vision problems to his hard partying ways. Until he actually sees a doctor and discovers that he had a brain hemorrhage. No matter how hard he tries to drown his sorrows in alcohol and drugs his health problems don't go away. Eventually he has to make the grown up decision to take care of his body.

Happy is a real life honest memoir about a hard partying college kid. It could almost be comparable to A Million Little Pieces, except it is real. And not quite so graphic. Alex Lemon is just a kid who comes face to face with his own mortality at the tender age of nineteen.

The book is well written and fluid. This memoir almost reads like a novel. Full of coming of age angst and even a little bit of fear. Given the fact that the author is telling his story, you know there is a happy ending, but at what cost?

(39) The Godmother by Carolyn Turgeon

Gregory Maguire has made quite a living out of taking beloved fairy tales we are all familiar with and telling the other side of the story. Carolyn Turgeon is trying to follow in his footsteps with her novel, The Godmother.

The Godmother tells us Cinderella's story from the viewpoint of her Fairy Godmother, Lil. The story is not as you would think, in fact it somewhat tragic. As Lil finds herself banished from the world she loves and is forced to live out her banishment in Manhattan. After many years, Lil convinces herself that she will be welcomed home if she can redeem herself by helping Veronica find her "Prince".

The Godmother is an dark, yet enchanting tale. The sadness that envelopes Lil is almost palpable. So desperately does she want to return to the home she once knew. As the story goes on, you realize that there is more to Lil than first appeared and returning to the home she once knew may not be possible.

I will admit that the ending surprised me a bit. The author allows the reader to use their imagination in ways that feel almost a bit rusty. Gregory Maguire introduced us to the "other side of the story" so to speak, and Carolyn Turgeon pushed me to think about the darker side of Fairy Godmothers. The Godmother was a good book. It was written in an way that made it easy to read and just breeze through the pages. My imagination enjoyed the workout!

Monday, March 8, 2010

(38) The Murderer's Daughters by Randy Susan Meyers

The Murderer's Daughters
really didn't do much for me.

The premise is pretty good. Two young girls are left to the system in the 1970's when their father stabs their mother to death and nearly stabbed Merry, the youngest, to death. And LuLu, the older system let him into the house against their Mother's instructions.

If that isn't enough baggage for two children to grow up with, I don't know what is. The rest of the book is about how LuLu and Merry live with the knowledge that their father is a murderer. And both girls handle that knowledge in different ways.

Like I said, this book really didn't do much for me. The characters did not evoke any emotion from me, I guess you can say that I wasn't invested in the characters or the story. I did read the whole book, but I rushed through it, ready to find something that will just suck me in.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

(37) Driving Sideways by Jess Riley

What a FUN book!! Driving Sideways is a fun, girl-power, road tripping, life is too short, Chick Lit book.

Leigh Fielding has one goal in life. Make it to her thirtieth birthday. And after her kidney transplant, she just might get her wish. Six months post op she is feeling good. Better than she has in ten years. And much to the dismay of her brother, Jess sets off on a cross country road trip. She wants to find their mother. Who left them when Leigh was just five years old. What ensues is worthy of the big screen.

Crazy hitchhikers, ex-boyfriends, HOT State Troopers and more add to the hi-jinx that Leigh encounters on her journey.

I loved how the author gets detailed about the locations that Lee & Denise pass through. I am very familiar with Mitchell, South Dakota and she described the Corn Palace to the T! It cracked me up. So reading about locations that I am familiar with was very fun. Plus, at the beginning of every chapter is a little snapshot of the area of the country they are traveling through. It was fun and unique.

I enjoyed Driving Sideways. It was a great debut novel and it would be the perfect book to read on a road trip! Or on a snowy afternoon when you WISH you were road tripping!

(36) In The Woods by Tana French

I know that I am late to the party for this book. In The Woods was one of those books that lived up to the hype.

In The Woods is a gritty mystery set in the suburbs of Dublin. (and we all know how much I love Ireland!) The story centers around two detectives on the Murder Squad. Cassie Maddox and Rob Ryan. They have been assigned to a case that has rocked the sleepy little suburb. The brutal murder and rape of little Katy Devlin hits especially close to home for Rob, as he is the sole survivor of a crime that is eerily similar. Will Maddox and Ryan be able to solve the grizzly crime or will they be victim to their pasts?

I really, really liked In The Woods. Tana French did an amazing job of weaving a tale that hypnotizes her readers. The relationship between Maddox and Ryan is just as appealing of a story as the "whodunit". Tana French has us on her hook and so desperately does the reader want a happy ever after for all involved, but as we learn, it is not always that easy. For the past holds them b0th captive and their current case will either break them or make them stronger.

In The Woods is a positively chilling book that could give Dennis Lehane a run for his money. Tana French has a way with words that will send chills down your spine. I love a good mystery. Especially a mystery that I can't figure out on my own, one in where I need the author's help to solve the crime. Once I find an author like that, I stick with them.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Everyone She Loved by Sheila Curran

Did Not Finish.

The plot was so complicated and predictable. The characters were unsympathetic and rather annoying. I made it to page 107 when I could already chart out the rest of the book, what would happen and who would end up together.

Life is too short. And I am not going to make it to May 15th if I continue reading books that I don't like.

On to the next one....

Friday, March 5, 2010

(35) Stori Telling by Tori Spelling

Like every other girl of my generation, I was absolutely devoted to Beverly Hills 90120. It was *the* show to watch. It was trendsetting, sexy, & so far removed from my reality, it was a fun place to escape to every week.

Having said that, I am not sure how I feel about Donna Martin's memoir. On the one hand it was fabulous to read about some of the "behind the scenes" stuff about 90120, but it was a bit hard for me to read the intimate details of her infidelity and rocky relationship with her mother.

I haven't watched anything Tori Spelling has been in since 90210 because her infidelity bothered me that much. It still kind of does. But I figured Stori Telling was a good piece of fluff to pass a snowy afternoon. And I was right.

(34) House Rules by Jodi Picoult

I am already a little bit behind my daily goal on the Natrona County Library challenge. I went and got sick. I woke up yesterday with a sore throat. It went downhill from there. So, I have wasted valuable reading time sleeping, dern it. Hopefully I can make it up this weekend.

I was ready to be done with Jodi Picoult after last years Handle With Care. I was so angry at her ending & taking the easy way out, I was furious. My anger waned a little as the year went on and when I saw a favorable review in a magazine, I thought I would give her one more shot.

House Rules has the same formula as just about every other Jodi Picoult book, which in itself is pretty frustrating. The martyred mother trying to take care of her "special needs" child. Another child or children feel neglected and *something* happens which leads to a legal battle. Some say if you have read one Picoult novel you have read them all. They aren't too far from the truth, but House Rules was a little bit better than her last few books in my opinion.

The martyred mother in this story is Emma. Emma is the mother of two teen boys. Jacob and Theo. Her husband, Henry, leaves her when at three years old, Jacob is diagnosed with Aspberger's Syndrome. She spends the next fifteen years struggling to mainstream Jacob and provide him with all of the necessary care to help him live a normal life. One of those ways is through his Social Skills Counselor, Jess Ogilsvy. When Jess is found dead, suspicions automatically fall towards Jacob. The eighteen year old who does not respond well to social cues and is honest to a fault has some pretty damning evidence against him. Emma is once again thrown in the middle of a fight for her son's life.

Jodi Picoult is a gifted writer, I will give her that. She has a way with words that captivates her readers. She knows how to choose topics that are timely and current hot topics in this country. However, just once I would like to see Ms Picoult step outside of her comfort zone. Do away with her "formula" and write a book without the "martyred mommy." Don't get me wrong, I did like House Rules it was obviously well researched and it gave me an insight into an illness I knew very little about, but it was very similar to several other of her books. Only the names and issues were changed. Oh, and unlike recent novels, the ending, it was an ending I could live with.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

(33) Secrets of Eden by Chris Bohjalian

Well. How do I put this delicately. Secrets of Eden was not Mr. Bo0hjalian's best work.

Secrets of Eden is a book about domestic violence that one night ends in the ultimate tragedy. Left behind is 15 year old Katie and a few family friends. When the Medical Examiner starts to question what REALLY happened, the story starts to unravel at a rapid pace.

I remember the feeling I had when I finished Double Bind. I was so blown away by the revelation that I actually gasped. I did not have that reaction at all with Secrets of Eden. In fact, it was completely predictable and I had the mystery figured out within a few chapters.

I did like the way the story was laid out though. The book is told in three sections, from four different viewpoints. To avoid risk of giving away the ending, I will not tell you who the four storytellers are, but know that one of the storytellers holds the key to the "mystery".

Secrets of Eden was not the best book I have read this year, but it was not the worst either. Even though I was disappointed, I was not disappointed enough to declare a boycott of all future works by Mr Bohjalian. In fact, I look forward to his next book. It can only get better from here.

Congratulations Dave Cullen!

In my opinion, the best book of 2009 was Columbine by Dave Cullen. I hand sold dozens of copies to customers & I suspect my staff rec card still remains in the Sociology section at my old store. Today, Barnes & Noble awarded Dave with the Discover Award for Non Fiction. I literally squealed and clapped my hands when I read that, ask my husband, he will confirm!

Congratulations, Dave, you deserved this award and I am patiently waiting for your next book!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

(32) Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Lisa Genova has written a book that gives Stephen King a run for his money for scare factor.

Still Alice is a phenomenal book about a fifty year old woman with early onset Alzheimer's Disease. Alice is just not your average fifty year old woman. She is a Harvard professor of Psychology. She is world renowned in her field and has even a published. But none of that matters when she gets lost jogging a route she has jogged for many years. Her credentials mean nothing when she receives the diagnosis that will change her life.

Still Alice is written from Alice's view point. The early chapters are intelligent and concise, but Alice is very obviously on a downward spiral. Soon she can not even find the bathroom in her own home. Her world has shrunk to her own home with her husband, also a Harvard professor, as her only link to the world she once lived in.

To say that Alzheimer's Disease is a life changing disease is an understatement of monumental proportion. So far I have been lucky enough to not have this disease touch my life in anyway. Still Alice is the first exposure I have had to this horrifying disease. To be honest, now, I am scared to death of it. Knowing that there is nothing I can do to prevent this degenerating, fatal disease is suffocating. Knowing that there is even a slight chance that I, or someone I love, can be reduced to this mental marshmallow, well, it has become my greatest fear.

It has been a long time since I have read a book that has had such an emotional impact on me as Still Alice did. Alice and her story gripped my heart. I found myself tearing up on more than one occasion, my heart ached as if Alice were my own mother. Well, let me just say that I was profoundly moved. Lisa Genova did an outstanding job of putting the reader inside the story. Inside of Alice's shoes. Frankly, it was a frightening place to be. I was very impressed with her way of telling Alice's story. I can see why the book has been so successful and I look forward to reading future works by Lisa Genova.

(31) Hope In A Jar by Beth Harbison

Just what I needed! A good fluff book to breeze through!

Hope in a Jar by Beth Harbison was the type of fluff book that took me back to my youth. My younger, awkward days. Where I wore Lady Stetson instead of Loves Baby Soft and I begged my parents for Guess jeans. (of course that answer was a big fat NO!)

Hope In A Jar is about Allie & Olivia. Two best friends that went separate ways in the middle of their senior year. It is now 20 years later and they catch up with each other at their high school reunion. Their own personal reunion was facilitated by Noah, Allie's other best friend. Was the reunion enough to shake Allie out of her funk? Will the reunion change everything?

Hope in a Jar was a fun book to read. The chapters alternated between present day and the old school days for Allie and Olivia. The chapters of school days were fun to read as a lot of my memories are similar to that of Allie. From the posters hanging on the wall to the trips to Woolsworths (are there any Woolsworths left these days?) it was a fun read. Allie and Olivia are both enjoyable characters and I could see myself being friends with them, both in school and in present day. If you are in a need of a walk down memory lane, this is the perfect book for you!

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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