Saturday, July 31, 2010

(116) Such A Pretty Face by Cathy Lamb

If you have not read anything by Cathy Lamb, you are truly depriving yourself of some wonderful woman's fiction. I can not call it Chick Lit, because it is not. Cathy Lamb's books always have some heavy hitting topics, no way can it be called Chick Lit.

Such A Pretty Face is her newest book. Stevie Barrett is a whole new person. After having a life saving surgery, Stevie has lost 170 pounds. Even though her whole world has changed, Stevie still has some dark clouds from her past overshadowing her new found self. When things go from bad to worse for Stevie's loved ones, she finds the strength to confront those demons head on and prove to the whole world that she is no longer the shy, cowering woman she once was.

I love Cathy Lamb. Her novels are thought provoking and engaging. She knows how to write characters that we love and characters that we despise. Such A Pretty Face has some of both. In fact a couple of characters (Elaine & Herbert) are so despicable I personally wanted to tear them apart. It was hard for me to see the way they treated Stevie. And for a great portion of the book, Stevie sat back and took their verbal abuse, which had me disliking Stevie. But, as the story goes on, you see Stevie transform from this shy, meek woman into this strong, forceful woman who decides to stand up to the abuse she has suffered at the hands of others. Great book!! Very empowering for those of us who have struggled with weight issues, self esteem issues, or even dysfunctional family issues!

Friday, July 30, 2010

(115) The Other Mothers Club by Samantha Baker

Hello. My name is Charlotte and I am an "Other Mother".

What does that mean? Well I am a step-mother. My husband has two kids from his first marriage. After reading The Other Mothers' Club I consider myself lucky to have the stepchildren that I do. My Stepson is JUST like his father in every way I can think of. My Stepdaughter is the sweetest little soul, the ultimate social butterfly. So really the complete opposite of her father and brother. LOL. Of course I have only been an "Other Mother" for seven months, I thank God that I don't have the issues that Eve had to deal with in The Other Mother's Club.

Eve has fallen in love with a famous widower. His late wife chronicled her battle with breast cancer in the most public way possible. It has been a while since her death when Ian asks her out. He is very careful about his children and it is nine months before he introduces Eve to his children. And it was disastrous.

To help cope, Eve's best friend, Clare, suggests she starts a support group for Stepmothers. Hence "The Other Mothers' Club." The support she receives from her new friends help Eve get through those tumultuous early months, but will their friendship be enough to carry her through when she doesn't even have Ian's support regarding certain aspects of their relationship?

I stumbled across The Other Mothers' Club at the library and I am really glad I did. The book is a well written British Chick Lit novel. The characters and their situations are realistically written. I even got leaky eyes towards the end of the novel, but the ending was one that I could live with. Overall, a great novel.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

(114)The Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst

I think Carolyn Parkhurst has one of the most unique literary minds of our generation. If you have not read Dogs of Babel, I highly recommend giving it a shot. Lost and Found was a great book, too. So I was excited to read her new book, The Nobodies Album.

The Nobodies Album is about a famous author, Octavia, who is estranged from her rockstar son, Milo. She has just finished a new book, in which she goes back and changes the last chapter of all of her bestselling novels, when the news breaks that Milo has been accused of murdering his girlfriend. Octavia risks the rejection she is sure her son will dish out and heads to California to be with him. Will her son welcome her or turn her away? Is her son really capable of murder? Can they mend the relationship that she tore apart with the words she wrote in one of her books?

Regret. Not one of us is without a regret of some kind or another. Octavia is full of regret. Rewriting the last chapter of all of her books is just a metaphor, what she would really like to do is rewrite the last chapter of her life. Who wouldn't go back & rewrite a chapter in their history if given the chance? The recent tragedy befalling her son, might just give Octavia the chance to rewrite this chapter of her life.

The Nobodies Album was a book full of emotion. You could feel it with every page. I love books like that touch on those emotions that leave you drained once the moment has passed. Sometimes that cathartic type of emotion is necessary to living a happy life.

Monday, July 26, 2010

(113) 301 Do-It-Yourself Marketing Ideas by Inc Magazine

I have somewhat taken on a Marketing role at my new job. While we work for a nationally known insurance company, my boss signs my paychecks. All of his marketing is done in office and all of his advertising dollars comes out of his pocket.

We have a new auto product, essentially a new line of auto insurance, rolling out next month. My boss has left it to me to design a flyer to promote the roll out. Sometimes I have good ideas, sometimes I don't. So I pulled some books from the library to help with some inspiration.

301 Do-It-Yourself Marketing Ideas was a fast read with a lot of big ideas crammed into a little book. Unfortunately, most of those ideas are geared to businesses other than Insurance. I did jot down a few ideas, but for the most part they were geared towards more traditional businesses.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

(112)Hearts on a String by Kris Radish

I really wanted to like Hearts On A String. The concept is brilliant. Five women meet in an airport bathroom when one of them dropped their iPhone in the toilet. While trying to help Nan retrieve her cell phone they hear the overhead speaker saying that all flights going in and out of Tampa have been canceled.

So what do they do? They all chip in and get a suite at a nearby hotel. They ended up stranded for several days. Seems like a real bonding experience, right? We get about 36 pages of bonding and 300 pages of bitching. If this book is any indication, I would rather spend five days on a bench in the airport than be in a suite with four other women.

There was a lot of bitching, a lot of cattiness, and a hell of a lot of whining in the majority of this book. And the few warm fuzzies that were generated with the "bonding" does not erase the pure bitchiness that was throughout the rest of the book.

I wanted to like this book, unfortunately I did not find the book engrossing, entertaining, or even good. Maybe next book?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

(111) Lucy by Laurence Gonzalez

Lucy is an absolutely wonderful novel! But, I am going to give the disclaimer that the subject matter might be a bit tough for some readers to swallow.

Jenny Lowe is an anthropologist is the jungles of the Congo when she discovers a murdered colleague. She rescues his fourteen year old daughter, Lucy, and some of his journals and flees back to Chicago. Once they get settled back into Chicago, Jenny starts digging through the journals and discovers that Lucy's father has done the unthinkable. He has impregnated a primate, a Bonobo, using his own sperm. Lucy is the result of that experimentation. Lucy is a hybrid creature. Jenny makes a vow to keep Lucy's secret and keep her safe for as long as possible.

Even though she is a Humanzee, Lucy has all of the characteristics of a human. She is an extremely attractive, extremely intelligent young woman. They are on vacation when Lucy becomes extremely ill with a disease only found in primates. Which starts the Government's involvement in Lucy's life. From Senate hearings to top secret research facilities, Lucy is spat on and made the subject of discussion all over the world. Will she ever be left to be the normal teenage girl she wants to be?

The first thing I did after I finished the book is Google Bonobo. This is what I found. A beautiful
looking creature that is so obviously related to the Human Species.

I absolutely loved this book. I don't know how much of the story, from the Anthropology standpoint, was accurate, but it does not matter. The book was obviously fiction, but it made you believe that it could be real. Lucy was such a darling character that you, the reader, couldn't help but want nothing but happiness and peace for her. My heart just ached for everything that she was put through and I was very satisfied with the ending.

I can understand that not everyone may embrace a novel about humans and primates procreating, an ethically questionable move at best, but I loved this book. It was well written, engrossing, and compassionate. Three of my favorite qualities in a book. Have you read it yet? I would love to know what others thought.

Friday, July 23, 2010

(110) Thin Rich Pretty by Beth Harbison

Thin Rich Pretty is the new book by Beth Harbison and just as fun and fluffy as her other books.

The story tells the story of three girls that attended the same summer camp 20 years ago, but I wouldn't call them all friends. They shared the same cabin, but that is where it ends. Lexi was an overweight loner, grieving for her mother. Nicola and Holly were outcasts who bonded to survive the "mean girls" in the cabin. Bottom line, they were all pretty miserable at camp that summer.

Fast forward twenty years . Nicola and Holly are still friends but struggling with issues in their lives. Lexi was cut out of her father's will and has only days to leave the only home that she has ever known. A fateful trip to Sephora for Holly brings them all together again and gives them a chance to right old wrongs.

Thin Rich Pretty would be another excellent beach read. It was a fast read, but had a pretty important message. Perception is everything. What you perceive to be the truth may be nothing more than misunderstanding one person's way of communicating. I really enjoyed Thin Rich Pretty. It was well written and fun to read.

It is a "Lend Me" book, so if you are interested in reading it on your nook or B&N E-Reader leave a comment with your email address. First come, first serve.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

(109)Beachcombers by Nancy Thayer

Beachcombers was the first book by Nancy Thayer that I have read and I must say that I enjoyed it more than I would have thought. Having just finished The Island by Elin Hilderbrand, my bar for Nantucket Novels was pretty high.

Nancy Thayer lived up to that standard. Her book was a little more lighthearted than The Island, but it was an enjoyable tale, also of sisterly relationships and their relationship with their Father's new love interest.

30 year old Abbie has been nannying in London when she receives an SOS email from her youngest sister, Lily. Their father is being preyed upon by by the woman, Marina, renting their cottage and their other sister, Emma lost her job and her fiance and has barely left her bedroom. Abbie heads home to do what she has already done once for her sisters, pick everything up and hold the family together.

A couple things stood out for me in this book. First of all, Marina (the vixen renting the cottage) is from Kansas City. Nancy Thayer makes a few references to KC landmarks. In fact she referred to Swope Park as being a "nice park". Um. I lived in KC for almost ten years & I was scared to death of going to Swope Park without an armed escort. Several times a year on the news "A body was discovered in Swope Park...." -- Um, "nice park" --- only if you are armed. LOL. Second of all, the way the older sisters treated Lily sometimes irritated the snot out of me, but I can see the reality of that relationship.

I enjoyed both of the books set on Nantucket. They were both good in their own ways, but both were very enjoyable! A great escape for those of us who are stuck in, say, Kansas City. Oh, wait. I meant Wyoming.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

(108)Beyond Summer by Lisa Wingate

It appears as if the housing crisis has found it's way into the novels of our time. This is the second book this week where the housing crisis played a huge part of the story.

In Beyond Summer you get to look at the other side of the story so to speak. Tam Lambert is the daughter of a real estate mogul. She has led a life of privilege. Country clubs, mini-coopers, and hopefully a trip to Europe. She will take whatever she can to get away from her Step-Monster and the "Fearsome Foursome". Until one day the Nanny calls her home and Tam arrives home to find the Sheriff serving a "Notice of Eviction". In his shame her father flees the country, leaving Tam to take care of her Stepmother, her Aunt, and her four young siblings. In that Summer Tam learns many lessons, including, what it means to be an adult and what it takes to hold her family together.

The book is written from alternating viewpoints. It wasn't a horrible book, but it wasn't the best book I have ever read. I stuck with the story, though, because Tam intrigued me. She is a strong eighteen year old heroine and you can't help but respect her and what she sacrifices for her siblings. Beyond Summer was a fast read, something to pass away the afternoon.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

I have read wonderful reviews of this book from some of my more trusted review sites. I on the other hand, gave it 150 pages before I finally just set it aside. The writing, the story was just not pulling me in.

The concept is unique, a young girl discovers on her 9th birthday that she can taste the feelings of the person who makes the food she eats. By page 150, we haven't gotten past her 12th birthday. I think the story would have held my interest more if the author gave a little background, then jumped to the character as an adult and went that direction. Maybe she does, but I didn't see it coming at page 150.

So, read it if you wish, but it just not a book for me.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

(107)The Island by Elin Hilderbrand

Elin Hilderbrand has carved a niche market out for herself. She is the quintessential author of "beach reads". I have been reading her books for several years now and it only took reading two books to see the pattern. All of her books are set on Nantucket during the summer. Her new book, The Island, varies just a little. It is set on an little island right off of Nantucket.

It has been thirteen years since the Tate house had summer guests. The Tate women have all been busy with their lives. But right now they are all at a pivotal point in their lives and need the month long vacation more than ever before. Birdie is dating for the first time after her divorce. It is a new experience for her, but when her daughter Chess asks to go to The Island, Birdie is not going to tell her no. For Chess has just broken off an engagement and within days, her ex-fiance falls to his death while rock climbing. The guilt is eating her alive. Birdie asks her other daughter, Tate to join them. And then there is India, Birdie's sister. It has been fifteen years since her husband committed suicide. She is on the cusp of a romantic relationship that will shock her family. She needs the break to gather her thoughts and process her priorities. Will the Island be able to provide the healing that each woman is seeking? Or will it only shatter their fragile relationships?

There is something about Elin Hilderbrand's novels that just draw me in. I think I have figured out why. Living in the Midwest all of my life, and now the "Wild Wild West" I have never had the experience of a summer home, let alone a summer home on an island that sits on an ocean. It is just a foreign concept to me. Reading about Nantucket is probably as close as I will ever get to actually exploring it, so I devour every book I can find set on the island.

The Island is a wonderful beach read about relationships between sisters, and mothers and their daughters. It is an achingly sweet story with a satisfying end. Despite what my "Now I Am Reading...." I read this book very quickly. And now I wait for next summer and Hildebrand's next book.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

(106)This Is Where We Live by Janelle Brown

This Is Where We Live is a book of our times. It was a book that I could relate to in a way that I choose not to elaborate on, but this was a book that brought back that familiar ache in the pit of my stomach that was a constant for me for over a year.

Claudia and Jeremy are a couple in their early 30's living the dream in LA. They purchased a bungalow with an Adjustable Rate Mortgage not too long after they married and proceeded to pursue their dreams in the "business". Jeremy with his band and Claudia with her movie, which was a favorite at Sundance. Their ARM adjusts and their world (and marriage) starts to crumble.

It wasn't that long ago that I read Janelle Brown's first book, All We Ever Wanted Was Everything, so it is still pretty fresh in my head. I will say that in my opinion, I will say that I think her first book was better. The characters were a little more likable. Claudia and Jeremy both seemed immature and selfish, which made it hard to like them, but at the same time I could empathize their situation.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

(105) Insatiable by Meg Cabot

I am a huge fan of Meg Cabot's. I have been ever since I read Size 12 is Not Fat. Then I had to go back and read every Chick Lit novel she has ever written. I follow her blog which she updates frequently and often comments on current pop culture. Her blog is written much like her books, fun and "light".

Insatiable is Meg Cabot's first attempt at the ever popular Vampire Lit and you know what, I enjoyed it! Insatiable hasn't gotten the best reviews, but it was just what I wanted.

Meena Harper is your typical Meg Cabot character. Meena is a writer for a daytime soap, Insatiable. She just found out that her soap has decided to go the Vampire route, her bum of a brother STILL hasn't found a job, and now she has to attend a dinner party her neighbor is throwing for a visiting relative, allegedly a Prince. Well, Lucien is a Prince, the Prince of Darkness. The Prince of All Vampires. You know things aren't going to go well, just knowing previous Meg Cabot heroines.

I enjoyed Insatiable. I enjoyed Meena and her romantic interlude with the Vampire. The story can not be compared to The Passage, or the Twilight Trilogy, but it is a fun, fluffy novel. Think Size 12 is Not Fat, but with Vampires. A totally fun way to pass the evening.

Monday, July 12, 2010

(104)Sweet Misfortune by Kevin Alan Milne

Do you believe in "happy ever after"? Do you believe that happiness can last a lifetime? Do you think that people can be happy all the time? All are questions that stem from this delightful book, Sweet Misfortune.

Sophie Jones has led a rough life. On her ninth birthday there was a horrible accident killing both of her parents, her grandmother, and another person. Sophie was lucky to get a wonderful foster mother and a foster sister who are still very active in her life 20 years later.

The story starts on Sophie's 29th birthday. She tends to dread her birthday for obvious reasons. But on her 29th birthday, her ex-fiancee shows up asking her for a date. His request sets forth a series of events that clear up some misconceptions for Sophie about what happened that day, but also brings some happiness to Sophie in unexpected ways.

Sweet Misfortune is a most delightful book. The story is well written and very engaging. You ache for the losses that Sophie has had to endure, yet you want to shake her silly because of her stubbornness. But in the end, all you want as a reader, is for Sophie to find her happiness.

When presented with the question "what brings you happiness" my mind went blank. I then changed it to "what brings me joy" and that made the question a little more easy to answer. My husband, my family, my dog, my books... all things I find joyful. Thank goodness I have never had to endure such tragedy as what Sophie had to endure, but hopefully if I do, I can still find the joy in life.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

(103) Shit My Dad Says by Justin Halpern

I love to laugh. Who doesn't, right? I first discovered Justin Halpern on Twitter. Someone retweeted him or something and the next thing you know I was laughing so hard, I was crying.

Shit My Dad Says just proves that the internet is a good thing. Here is this guy who has to move back in with his parents. He starts a Twitter account to document "Shit His Dad Says". 1.5 Million Followers later he has a bestselling book and a television show debuting this fall starring William Shatner.

Shit My Dad Says, the book, lives up to everything you would expect and more. It is not just the same stuff you read on Twitter. Well, it is, but with each chapter he goes a little deeper into the stories. Like when he moved to LA & thought getting a dog was a good idea. Each chapter gives you a little more insight to the father/son relationship that Justin has with his dad.

The book is a FAST read. Took me about an hour, tops to read cover to cover. But it was an entertaining hour. I laughed so hard my dog looked at me funny. I can't wait for the fall television premieres. I have no doubt that Shit My Dad Says will find it's way into our regular viewing schedule.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

(102) Pray for Silency by Linda Castillo

It was just a few months ago that I listened to the first book in this series on Audio book form. I was thrilled to get my hands on this so quick at the library.

Pray for Silence picks up ten months after the end of the first book in the series. The town of Painters Mill is slowly putting the pieces back together and Chief of Police, Kate Burkholder is enjoying the piece and quiet that her small town offers. Until one night, an Amish family of seven is found slaughtered.

Kate calls on John Tomasetti to help her solve the crime that has shocked her to her core and brought back so many horrible memories from her own youth.

Pray for Silence was just as good as the first book. But don't let the Amish theme fool you. The writing is graphic and gritty. It feels authentic. Linda Castillo writes her stories in such a way that you know she will be around for a very long time.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

(101) The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas

I read the back of The Slap at the library and I thought it was an interesting premise. The setting is a barbecue in the suburbs of Australia. A four year old boy is being as obnoxious and unruly as they come. When his parents fail to rein him in, another guest steps in to protect his on child and slaps the boy.

The fallout from that slap makes for an interesting story. Especially when the four year old's parents file assault charges against the man who slapped their son. The story is written from the viewpoint of eight different people who were at that barbecue.

For the most part, the different perspectives is what really makes the story fascinating. A couple of the perspectives were a bit long and drawn out, but it not only was it interesting to read about the varying viewpoints, but the few, yet distinctive cultural differences between Australia and the United States made it even more interesting for me.

I think The Slap would make for an interesting book club selection. Different parenting styles definitely come into play in this story, but where should the line be drawn? Would you slap another child to protect your child from being hit by another kid? -- That is just one of the many questions that could generate fabulous conversation after reading this book.

Has anyone else read it yet? I would love to discuss it with you!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

(100) I Remember You by Harriet Evans

My husband and I went on a mini-vacation for the long holiday weekend. I did not crack my laptop open once while we were gone. But, I did crack open my nook! First up was the latest from Harriet Evans.

Harriet Evans is one of those "Chick Lit" authors that doesn't seem very "Chick Lit"-ish. I love books set in the UK (shocking, I know) and I have read a lot of them. I always seem to connect more with the characters that Harriet Evans creates than any other author.

I Remember You was no different. Tess Tennant reminds me of me. A bookish type of woman oblivious to what is really going on around her. Will she wake up in time to see the love that has been right in front of her all along?

Tess grew up in a small English village with her best friend, Adam right across the road. Their lives have been intertwined since the day they were born. For the good and the bad. After their eighteenth summer, Tess takes off for the city and never looks back. Until she receives an offer too good to refuse. She goes back to find Adam living the life she left behind. Can they resume the friendship that once meant so much to them both?

I guess I am a romantic girly girl that just loves to read books about unrequited love. I think that is because I have experienced the heartache of unrequited love more than once in my life. Harriet Evans has once again written a touching book that hit it's target. My heart.

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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