Tuesday, August 31, 2010

(132) The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dancy by Elna Baker

The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance.

Whew. Isn't that a mouthful? Seems like an awfully big title for such a relatively small book, no?

I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked up Elna Baker's memoir. There are so many rumors & propaganda floating around the internet about the Mormon faith that I was curious to read what a young lady had to say about her faith and living in New York City. I did not expect to laugh, but I did. Often.

Elna Baker has a self deprecating way of writing that you just can't help but laugh. Her detailed tales of a Mormon childhood, to her battle of the bulge, all the way through being a young Mormon woman of dating age in New York City are really quite funny. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to laugh at her naivete or say "Oh honey, no...." So I did both. From her tragic choice of Halloween costume, to her realization that her successful weight loss could be attributed to speed, Elna Baker is a real girl with real issues struggling to find the balance between her religion and the real world that she lives in.

TNYRMSHD (even the acronym is LONG) was a fun, enlightening book. It dispels some myths about a "mysterious" religion and shows that Mormon girls aren't all that different from you or me.

Monday, August 30, 2010

(131) I'd Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman

I'd Know You Anywhere is not really what I would call a mystery novel. It is the novel that shows what happens after the mystery has been solved & the bad guy is in jail.

Liza Benedict & her family have just returned to the States after living in London for several years. There are many things to get used to again. And then she receives a letter from the man who held her hostage for six weeks when she was fifteen years old. Her world is rocked. He is asking to see her before he is executed for his crimes. Can she do it? Can she see the man who changed her world in such a profound way.

I'd Know You Anywhere is told in alternating chapter. The world Eliza is living and the year 1985, the year she was known as Elizabeth. You see what she went through and how it affects her now. The chapters are haunting and engrossing. Eliza is such a great character, someone that is easy to like, it is hard to read the chapters from 1985 & to see the hell that she went through.

I'd Know You Anywhere is a great dramatic read. A bit hard to read in some areas, but not overly graphic. An interesting read for those who love Mystery novels. I would recommend this book to anyone.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

(130) Mothers & Other Liars by Amy Bourret

I was sadly disappointed in Mothers & Liars. I wasn't sure what to expect, but what I got was a predictable novel that was at some points completely over the top. And I was extremely irritated at the fact that this book was just over 200 pages, yet had over 100 chapters. Why?

Anyway, Ruby & her nine year old daughter, Lark are living in New Mexico when Ruby sees a tabloid newspaper article that is going to change their lives. See, Ruby did not give birth to Lark. She found her in a trashcan when she was just an infant. Rather than going to the police, Ruby decides to raise Lark as her own.

Lark is taken away from her & a trial ensues.

The whole story is a bit of a stretch, but you could suspend belief until it just goes over the top. More than once. I actually rolled my eyes. I did read the whole book, just because I really wanted to see how far the author would take things. I was left shaking my head after I finished the last page.

Read at your own risk.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

(129) She's Gone Country by Jane Porter

If you scroll through my recent archives, you will see that I recently reviewed Jane Porter's first book, The Frog Prince. I was on the fence about it, I liked it, but did not love.

I just finished reading Jane Porter's newest book, She's Gone Country and I absolutely loved this book! This is the kind of writing that gives Chick Lit a good name!

Shey Darcy, a 39 year old super model, has just discovered that her husband of seventeen years is in love with someone else, a man. Shey does what all women wounded by love does, she goes home. Shey packs up her three sons and leaves New York City for the Texas ranch she left behind as a teenager. She rediscovers all of the things she left behind, including old flame, Dane Kelly. Moving home is not as easy as Shey had hoped. While she loves it, her boys are not settling in very well and are grossly unhappy. Will she be able to change their minds or will she once again have to give up everything she loves?

She's Gone Country has everything a good Chick Lit novel should have. A strong woman character, a problem to solve that most women can relate to, and a sexy love interest. She's Gone Country is a very easy and quick book to read, but once you get to the end of the book, you are glad you have spent some time with the characters and are left wanting a sequel.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Thursday, August 26, 2010

(128)Last Night At Chateau Marmont by Lauren Weisberger

What would you do if your husband of five years became a rock star over night. Not just a rock star, but a mega star. We are talking concert tours and Grammy performances. I can't even begin to fathom what that would be like. Lauren Weisberger tries to explain in her new book, Last Night At Chateau Marmont.

Brooke Alter has been married to Julian for five years. She has worked to jobs as a nutritionist to help support them so Julian can focus on his music. Well, it paid off. Someone at Sony noticed and one lucky performance on Leno is all it takes to catapult Julian to super stardom. Brooke is not ready, nor prepared for the negative and positive attention that is given to Julian and their marriage. Will they survive? Or will they become one of those cliche marriages you read about in the tabloid magazines?

I really, really liked this book. I think it was Lauren Weisberger's best book yet. It is a fun read in a "dishy" sort of way. There are a lot of name droppings and backstage insights to what is life as a Rockstar's wife, including the crushing pain Brooke feels as she watches her marriage start to crumble. I admit it, I cried like a baby, but that could have been PMS. LOL.

Bottom line, Last Night At Chateau Marmont is what "Chick Lit" is supposed to be. It is about love, friendship, heartache, and survival. Everything a "Chick" could want in a book!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sunday, August 22, 2010

(127) Summer House by Nancy Thayer

Our weatherman has assured us that this weekend is the last weekend that Casper will see the 90's. So, I thought I would mark the end of summer by reading one last novel set on Nantucket.

I chose Summer House by Nancy Thayer. I enjoyed Beachcombers so much earlier this summer, that I wanted to read another one of her novels. Summer House was just as enjoyable, except the family dynamic was pretty much awful.

Let's see if I can explain the synopsis. The Wheelwright's are a wealthy banking family that have always kept a summer house on Nantucket. When the patriarch passes away, Nona moves permanently to Nantucket to enjoy her final days. Her two children and their families still spend the summers at the Summer House. Except, Charlotte, one of her granddaughters has started her own "Farmers Stand" using a piece of Nona's land to raise the produce. This ends up causing disharmony amongst her cousins, because they feel Nona is showing favoritism.

The novel goes on to introduce some "black sheep", some scandals, and some news that shocks the family to it's core. Can Nona get the familial harmony she so desperately wants?

There are only a few likable characters in this novel. The rest are selfish ingrates that just makes me want to shake them until their teeth rattle. Even the one character I really like admitted a rather large character flaw in the final pages of the book. I was really kind of disappointed in this book. It just seemed so cliche, full of "rich peoples" troubles. I don't think I will give up on Nancy Thayer, but I will read the synopsis a little more thoroughly before investing my Sunday afternoon reading time.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

(126)Husband and Wife by Leah Stewart

As, a newlywed, reading about infidelity is hard. I want to live in my fairyland where everything is blissful and perfect. Reading Husband and Wife shakes that blissful world just a bit.

Nathan and Sarah are college sweethearts. Nathan is a fiction writer and Sarah is a Poet under the guise of a manager in an office building. They have two young children and are drowning in credit card debt. They are your typical American couple. Until one day as they are preparing for a night out, Nathan admits to Sarah that he cheated on her. Their world starts to crumble.

Leah Stewart had a poetic way with words. Read what she wrote about turning thirty-five, which I recently did.

Someday I'll look back and thirty-five will seem muh younger than it does now. I don't feel old exactly, though I do, at times, feel weary. But in the last couple of years I've begun to experience the signs of impending age. The stray white hair and the inability to drink more than two beers without a hangover. The bad knee and the cracking in my hip joint and the desire to say "Oof" when I sit down in a chair.

That describes me to the letter. LOL. As soon as I read that, I knew that Leah Stewart was an author who "got me". So to read past page two and see how she deals with her husband's infidelity, well, it was scary. And raw. And emotionally driven.

Husband and Wife is a well written novel with characters so intricately written it could have been you or me. But make no mistake, it is raw with emotion and at times, it felt as if I was intruding on a very private moment. A good book, but be prepared for the difficult subject matter.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Search by Nora Roberts -- Did Not Finish

Back in the day I used to be a HUGE Nora Roberts fan. I still have my beat up copies of Sweet Revenge and Carnal Innocence. I read those books over and over when I was in my late teens. Then the older I got, the more my literary tastes expanded, I guess you can say. I haven't read a Nora Roberts novel in quite some time.

I put my name on the "list" at the library, thinking I would just give it a shot. I got about 200 pages into it when I realized that I was rushing through pages just because the book is due tomorrow. I didn't really have much interest in the story. The steamy sex scenes I remember from her older books don't seem quite so steamy. It was predictable and pretty much boring.

I know that Nora Roberts has a fan base of about a gazillion people, but I think this fan is best to think fond memories of novels gone by.

Monday, August 16, 2010

(125) Holly's inbox: Scandal in the City by Holly Denham

I first met Holly Denham in the first book, Holly's Inbox. It was a hilarious look at office life in London, told exclusively through emails between Holly, her coworkers, her friends, and her family.

Well, Holly is back. In Holly's Inbox: Scandal in the City Holly has a boyfriend, Toby, and she has been promoted to Manager with just a month to prove herself. Some of the same old characters show up, including Trish, Jason, that rascal Will, and some new ones show up. Including the despicable Tanya, who is out to destroy Holly and keep her from hanging on to her promotion. Holly is working hard and making progress with the Reception area when she learns some shocking news which may jeopardize everything.

I have mentioned it before, so it is not shocking news to you I am sure, but I love books set in the UK. Holly is a fun character and her friends are hysterical. Just like the first book, Scandal In The City, has 500+ pages, but because the entire book is written in email form, it reads very fast.

It is not really necessary to read the first book, before reading this book, but it gives you a good idea of Holly's history with the company and her boyfriend. Both are fairly fast reads and a great way to pass an afternoon!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

E-Book Deal Alert!!

I recently read & reviewed Fragile by Lisa Unger, which I really liked. I was digging through www.bn.com in the e-book section and came across Beautiful Lies for under a DOLLAR!!

Now, keep in mind this book will not work on a Kindle, but if you are a nook owner or have the B&N e-reader on your phone or computer, then it is money well spent!

I read the book before I started my blog, but I know that I really enjoyed the story. If you decide to splurge and shell out of that money for an e-book, let me know what you think!

(124)Traveling Light by Katrina Kittle

Traveling Light was first published ten years ago. I would like to think that things, that attitudes have changed in the ten years since this book was published.

Traveling Light is the story of Summer and her brother, Todd. And Todd's husband, Jacob. The story is emotionally powerful, but draining at the same time because Todd is dying of AIDS. Summer is an English teacher at the local high school. She lives with her brother & Jacob and her boyfriend, Nicholas, visits on the weekend. Nicholas would like to marry Summer, but the baggage she carries may be more than she can overcome in order to commit her life to Nicholas.

Traveling Light is a Five-Hanky book. It is so easy to lose yourself in the story and find yourself a part of Todd & Summer's family. But it is also hard to read the attitudes that made living their lives difficult. The ignorance and hatred displayed towards Todd and Jacob is hard to read. I really hope that if this story were told today the hatred, the ignorance, would not be part of this story. I know that it is a realistic portrayal, but it still makes me sad to read about.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

(123)Stash by David Klein

Stash is an interesting little story.

Gwen is your typical suburban mom. Two kids and a husband that works in pharmaceuticals. She is picking up "supplies" for their long weekend at their lake house. In this situation "supplies" equals pot. She stops off at a park to smoke a little before picking the kids up from swim lessons. After her pit stop there is a deadly accident and Gwen's pot is discovered. Setting forth a chain of events that may destroy everything Gwen has.

Told from the perspectives of Gwen, her dealer, her husband, and the dealer's teenage daughter, you get to see all sides off this situation. Even given the subject matter, all of the characters are sympathetically written in a way that you can not help but wish that the whole thing would go away for them. Gwen is a bit naive, but that is what makes her character seem real. Her dealer, Jude, seems like a good guy trying to provide the best life for his daughter. And Gwen's poor husband just gets swept up in the chaos of his life. Both professionally and personally.

Stash has a Readers Guide in the back of the book and I really think that it would make a good Book Club read. Especially for you suburbanites! *grin*

Friday, August 13, 2010

(122) Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner

Unfortunately a high profile man cheating on his wife is not a new scenario. We have become accustomed to seeing the whole torrid affair being splashed across every media outlet. From famous golfers to the husbands of Hollywood Starlets, infidelity has become very good for the news industry.

In her new book, Fly Away Home, Jennifer Weiner takes a look at what happens to a family when the Patriarch, a US Senator, cheats on his wife. His indiscretion not only changes his life, but his wife Sylvie and their daughters, Lizzie and Diana.

Eventually the three women escape to the old family summer home to try and heal themselves, as well as their own relationships. Growing up in a home with such a public father figure has not been easy for Lizzie or Diana, but with very different results. Their time in Connecticut is necessary for the family's survival. But is it too late to repair the old, and new hurts?

I follow Jennifer Weiner on Twitter. More than once I have thought of "unfollowing her" because of tweets that just smack of a superiority complex. Specifically one tweet directed at my favorite author, Jane Green. Is she entitled to feeling superior as a successful author, eh, maybe, but I am not alone in saying that Weiner's last few books have not always been up to par. Having said all of that, I did enjoy Fly Away Home. Lizzie & Diana are both fabulously flawed characters, but they are strong characters. Well written and easy to like. When it is all said & done, Fly Away Home was an easy story to like even if the author is not.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

(121)Small Change by Sheila Roberts

I had never read a book by Sheila Roberts before today. I have seen her books for years in the Romance section at the bookstore, but I really don't think that is the appropriate location for them. Well, for Small Change anyway. I would say Small Change is much more of a woman's friendship book, than a romance.

The subject matter is very timely given the economic climate of our country right now. Small Change is about three friends in Seattle who all are having money troubles. Tiffany never met a credit card she didn't like, Rachel is struggling to make ends meet after her divorce, and Jess is forced back into the work force after her husband loses his job.

The three friends create a support group for their money troubles. Offering money saving tips and suggestions in a way that only real friends can.

I really enjoyed Small Change. It wasn't to strenuous on my poor brain, yet it was realistic in so many ways. The characters are all likeable, but with their own realistic quirks or issues. The tale is one that so many of us could tell. Very enjoyable and I would call it Kristin Hannah-lite. Women power without the excessive drama.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

(120) Fragile by Lisa Unger

I love small town mysteries. The kind of charming little "picturesque" town where everybody knows everybody and their histories are intertwined.

Fragile is just that kind of mystery. Jones and Maggie Cooper have lived in The Hollows their whole lives. They are raising their teenage son there, Maggie is a psychiatrist and Jones is on the Police force. They are awakened in the middle of the night by the mother of their son's girlfriend. She has gone missing. Jones & Maggie frantically try to find the girl and keep their son safe from the accusations that they know are coming.

I really like Lisa Unger's style of writing. She pulls her readers into the story and make them feel part of the story, keeping us on edge without causing heart failure. A great mystery without getting to gritty or gory. A bit unusual to find such a story in a genre full of high body counts.

Monday, August 9, 2010

(119) The Frog Prince by Jane Porter

After reading the last book I was looking for something light, with a "happy ever after" type of story. Jane Porter came through with The Frog Prince.

Holly Bishop has always believed in "happy ever after". So much in fact that she rushed into marriage with her French boyfriend, Jean-Marc, only to have him tell her that he doesn't love her on their Honeymoon. Holly is devastated. Her whole world is rocked and her belief in true love and "happy ever after" is destroyed.

Holly takes an event planning job in San Francisco where people try to set her up at every turn. Date after date. Toad after toad. Holly meets someone who could be someone she likes. But she is so scared to get hurt again, she pretty much blows him off. Will Holly ever realize that she doesn't need a "Prince Charming" to be happy?

I really enjoyed The Frog Prince. I remember the days of dating toads and Lord knows I dated a LOT of toads. I groaned in empathy at Tom's innuendos and I cheered when she left Paul in the restaurant.

The Frog Prince was a fun, empowering, Chick Lit novel. A must read for all women still trying to survive in the dating world!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

(118) Outside The Ordinary World by Dori Ostermiller

Outside The Ordinary World took me far longer to read than it should have. More than once I wanted to give up on it, but I knew where the author was going with the story and I wanted to stick it out.

It wasn't the best book I have ever read, but it wasn't the worst either. In Outside The Ordinary World, Ostermiller takes a hard look at infidelity and how it impacts everyone involved. The author flashes back and forth between the mid 70's and the mid 00's. She flashes back from Sylvia as a child in a very devout household observing and playing a part in her Mother's ongoing affair and Sylvia as an adult struggling to justify the emotional affair she is having and contemplating the next step.

It is very obvious that the events of her childhood has influenced her actions as an adult. Sylvia is trying so hard to reconcile what she saw then with what she is living through now. It is almost painful to watch. Outside The Ordinary World is not a happy book, but it is one written from the heart. As the reader, I feel a bit voyeuristic and totally drained emotionally. I am ready to move on to a bit of fluff!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Happy Tuesday Part II -- Gaelic Storm

I love love love LOVE Irish music. My friend, and former Music Manager, Linda turned me on to Gaelic Storm. Whether you know it or not, you are all familiar with Gaelic Storm. Remember that small indie flick, Titanic? Odds are you haven't seen it (HA!), but if you have, remember the scene where Jack & Rose are dancing & drinking in the steerage? Yeah, that band was Gaelic Storm.

I have seen them live several times and they get better each time I see them. If you like to drink, if you like to dance, if you like to have FUN, just listen to their music, you won't be disappointed. Their new CD, Cabbage, hits the shelves today. To heck with reading. Today is all about the music.

Monday, August 2, 2010

(117)The Likeness by Tana French

If you have read my blog for more than five minutes, then you know that I love everything Irish. Even murder. The lushness of the land, the history of the people, the wonderful music and flowing Guiness, Ireland is truly my homeland.

The Likeness picks up a few months after where In The Woods finished off. Cassie Maddox has gone back to Domestic Violence, but is pulled back into the murder game when a body turns up that could be her twin and is using the id she used when she was undercover.

She gets sucked back into the undercover game and steps back into the role of Lexie Madison, determined to find the person who stabbed the woman who looks just like her.

Tana French is an amazing author who just makes me want to go to Ireland even more. Even if it means living in a really cool old house with a bunch of eclectic university students who may or may not be murders! The Likeness was good, but I did not think it was as good as In The Woods. But that may just because my brain is addled by the heat in my non-air conditioned townhouse. Either way, I am looking forward to reading the final book in her series.

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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