Thursday, September 30, 2010

(141) Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks

Ugh. Why do I even bother. It has been two years since I read a Nicholas Sparks novel, but I thought that I would give Safe Haven a chance. And seriously, I am done. DONE.

It was funny that just last week, some girlfriends and I were discussing men who say "those" words on the first date. You know what words I am referring to, and any smart woman runs the other direction and changes her phone number after a man says "I Love You" on the first date. So I thought it incredibly funny when Nicholas Sparks writes his character, Alex saying it to Katie. Katie, who is on the run from an abusive husband. I about threw my nook across the room. It was only because I paid for the book that I finished reading this horrible story.

Katie is an abused wife and after years of abuse and plotting her escape she finds herself in a very small North Carolina town. There she takes a waitress job & keeps to herself. Alex, the owner of the general store has noticed Katie making purchases in his store. After a few times of making small talk he strikes up a friendship with the skittish woman that has already made friends with his children.

You can probably make an educated guess about what happens in the rest of the book, and you would probably be right. Needless to say I was disappointed in this book. I think Nicholas Sparks is going to go on the same mental list as Sandra Brown and Nora Roberts. No more.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sunday, September 26, 2010

(140) Ape House by Sara Gruen

Sara Gruen's new book Ape House was one of my most anticipated books of the year. I was really behind the times with Water For Elephants and I did not want to be the last one to read Ape House. I am so glad that I did not wait.

Earlier this Summer I read Lucy by Laurence Gonzalez and that was my first introduction into the world of bonobos. It was such a fascinating read for me that I was thrilled to discover that Ape House, was indeed another book about the creatures that are our genetic cousins.

Ape House starts out in Kansas, at a language lab where Dr. Isabel Duncan is working with six apes to increase their language skills and prove that they are just as intelligent as humans. The apes have mastered the art of sign language and can request a drink from Starbucks just as easily as your or I can. The progress that Isabel makes is fodder for supporters and opponents alike. It is a cold January day when it all blows up, literally. An extremist group has bombed the lab. Critically injuring Isabel and putting a stop to the life those six apes once knew.

The Bonobos have disappeared and it is several weeks later before Isabel discovers that her makeshift family has been sold to a pornographer set on creating the ultimate reality show featuring the sexuality that Bonobos are known for. Isabel enlists the help of some unlikely friends and will stop at nothing to ensure her family is safe.

It is so very obvious that Sara Gruen is a committed animal lover. All you have to do is read one of her books to know that her love for animals is vast. That love is evident in every word she wrote in her new book, Ape House. Having said that, I will say as a reader, I became so emotionally attached to the bonobos that there were some points in the story where I found it hard to continue reading for fear of what would happen next. Nothing was too graphic, I just let my imagination get ahead of the story and I was afraid I was right. I was not, but I needed to push through to figure that out.

I would not say that Ape House is better than Water For Elephants. I am not sure any book could be better than the book that became America's favorite book, but Ape House *is* a good book. It is well worth the read and you will find that Ape House will do for bonobo's what Rosie did for elephants. You will learn to love them!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Friday, September 24, 2010

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010

(139)The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

The Perks of Being A Wallflower is one of those books that I saw over and over at the bookstore. I never had any desire to read it until one day last week it just struck me as one of those books that I needed to read. I had no expectations going in to it, but I was really very pleased.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is written in letter form. Fifteen year old Charlie is starting his first year of high school and writes almost daily to his Friend. We never learn who his Friend is, but we learn a LOT about Charlie's life. We learn about his struggles with making friends and once he does make friends, the struggles that they have.

The fact that it is hard being a teen is something we should never forget. Especially those with teens. It is hard, it is extremely high pressured, and at times it is very very ugly.

Stephen Chbosky did a phenomenal job writing about being a teen. It is very reminiscent of a John Hughes film. I can understand it's popularity amongst teens and adults alike. But read with caution if subjects such as teen suicide, teen drug use, gay sex, to name a few, are a "hot button issues" for you. The subjects are written for teens to relate to, although some of us non-teens may have forgotten how tough those subjects really are for the young adults in our lives.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

(138) Tough Customer by Sandra Brown

Sandra Brown is another one of those authors that I used to read religiously 15-20 years ago. I read everything she had to write and some of her books I would read over and over.

It has been a few years since I read one of her books, because either my taste in books had improved, or her writing had declined. Tough Customer is her newest book. And it just proved my theory that her writing had declined. It wasn't a horrible book, but it was horribly predictable. The same type of characters that she has written all these years, the only difference was their names and the location.

Caroline's daughter, Berry, is in trouble. She has a dangerous stalker that is set on destroying her. Caroline does the only thing she can think of, she calls the one man who can help. Berry's father, Dodge, who left thirty years ago on the day Berry was born.

Well, I think that you can pretty much guess the rest of the book from that description alone. And you would probably be pretty accurate. I think Sandra Brown is another one of those authors that I am better off remembering with fond memories rather than reading current stuff and destroying those memories. Because of my recent experiences with two beloved authors from my past, the new Linda Howard book is going back to the library unopened. LOL.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

(137)With Friends Like These by Sally Koslow

The gloves come off in Sally Koslow's new book. Friendship can, at times be a dirty, ugly mess. It is only the strongest of friendships that can survive apartment and job poaching. Can the four friends who have been together for almost twenty years survive the decade in New York City?

Quincy, Jules, Chloe, and Talia meet in the 90's when they decide to share a fabulous apartment in New York City. They are about as different as four women can get, but they have stuck together. Until now.

Jules has betrayed Quincy by giving away the details of Quincy's once in a lifetime real estate find. Chloe and Talia are competing for the job of a lifetime, while their kids are competing for a single spot at a prestigious school.

The competition gets ugly and the betrayals cut deeply, but will other life changing events bring them all back together again before the damage is done?

It was a tough week for me to get much reading done, but I hope to remedy that this weekend. I enjoyed With Friends Like These. There were times in the book that I really did not like ANY of the women, well except Quincy, but I could understand each of their motivations behind their actions. It just made it really hard to like them. I was very satisfied with the ending. It brought the closure that I needed to be happy with the book. Overall, a great book about the struggles and rewards that come with long term friendship

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Monday, September 13, 2010

127 Hours

This movie looks freaking AWESOME!! I am pretty sure that I have Between A Rock & A Hard Place SOMEWHERE. It may still be in a box in Kansas City, but I may try to find it somewhere else.

So far all of the buzz I am reading say that this could be an Oscar winning performance from James Franco. What do you think?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

(136)Good Enough To Eat by Stacey Ballis

I have been a fan of Jen Lancaster's for quite sometime. Her writing is literally laugh out loud funny. In her last few books, she has talked about her BFF, Stacey. In the acknowledgments of My Fair Lazy, I actually looked to see what the infamous Stacey's last name was. I was a little surprised that Jennsylvania's BFF is Stacey Ballis, an author that I thoroughly enjoy. I admittedly went "Awwwww" when I saw that Stacey had dedicated her new book to her BFF. We should all be so lucky to have a friendship like theirs.

I have been anticipating Good Enough To Eat for quite some time. Mostly because I have read a couple of other books by Ms Ballis and really enjoy her style of writing. But, I was dreading the thought of reading yet another book peppered with recipes that I, the Un-cook, will never bother to make. I am getting weary of the latest trend of authors littering novels with recipes, but I digress....

Ms. Ballis went another direction. At the beginning of every chapter the main character, a formerly obese woman named Melanie, talks about her favorite foods and the memories she associates with them. THAT is a food reference that I can relate to. We all have a memory behind our favorite comfort foods and I really enjoyed reading about the impact foods such as pancakes and chili made in Mel's life.

Let me tell you about Mel. Mel worked hard to lose half of herself. At one time she was 290lbs. She lost all of that weight only to have her husband leave her for a woman that was just as obese as she had been. She is crushed & devastated. Thankfully she has friends to surround her and help her keep her cafe afloat as she struggles through the heartache. She even meets a wonderful man, Nate who helps to show her what a real relationship can be like.

Good Enough To Eat was a very realistic portrayal that millions of women can relate to. Ms. Ballis was honest. Just because an obese person loses weight, does not mean that they do not struggle every minute of every day against their cravings. It was great to see that communicated in a book like this one. The story is well written and one that can even be seen as inspirational to those of us who fight the battle daily. And have no fear, those of you who enjoy cooking can find the recipes for everything mentioned at the back of the book.

Good Enough To Eat is a "LendMe" book for those of you that have nooks. I am opening up a contest that will run for a week. The rules? Post your email address & your favorite comfort food. On September 18th, I will randomly choose a winner to "borrow" Good Enough To Eat on their nook or B&N E-Reader.

Friday, September 10, 2010

(135)A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolfe

I am not really into clothes or fashion like some women (and men) are. I don't care much about designer labels or fashion week or any of that hoopla. Having said that, A Vintage Affair really gave me a different perspective to the stories that clothes can tell.

A Vintage Affair tells the story of Phoebe and her vintage clothing store set in London. Things have been pretty rough for her, emotionally, in the last year or so and she takes solace in her vintage clothes and the stories they tell. She meets Mrs Bell and discovers that they have more in common than just their love of old clothes.

As the story goes on you see Phoebe try to deal with her issues, make her store a success, and juggle a burgeoning dating life. It is easy to understand why Phoebe finds comfort in the vintage clothes that are a huge part of her life.

A Vintage Affair is an enjoyable book to read. I love reading books set in the UK to begin with, but a story like this really takes it a step further. The writing is great, the characters are enchanting, and the story is one you won't forget!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

(134) When You Least Expect It by Whitney Gaskell

In her new book, When You Least Expect It
Whitney Gaskell touches upon a topic that is near and dear to the hearts of millions of women. Infertility.

India and Jeremy Holloway have spent a lot of money and a lot of heart on getting pregnant. When it is finally determined that India's chance of getting pregnant are slim to none, they spend their last dimes on an Adoption Agency. They are shocked when a short time later they are chosen by a birth mother. In an unorthodox move, India & Jeremy move Lainey into their guest home for the duration of her pregnancy. They soon settle into a new, tenuous, normal as they await the birth of their child.

I have never been through the painful process of trying to conceive, yet not being able to. But I do think that Whitney Gaskell has portrayed the pain in a realistic manner. I even found myself laughing out loud at the scene with the witchy sister-in-law. It was very satisfying to see her get what she had coming!

I really enjoyed When You Least Expect It. Infertility can be a very heavy subject matter, yet Whitney Gaskell wrote about it in a manner that was respectful, yet honest, in a way that is engrossing and absorbing for the reader. Well done, Ms Gaskell.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

(133)Room by Emma Donoghue

I just finished an Advanced Readers Copy of Room yesterday and when I woke up this morning, I find that it has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, which is a prestigious literary prize based out of London. Let me just say, I think that Emma Donoghue's new book is well deserving of the nomination.

Room is told from the perspective of five year old, Jack. Jack only knows what life is like in Room. His Ma has lived in Room for seven years and Jack just had his fifth birthday. He can only see outside from Skylight and he has to sleep in Wardrobe when Old Nick comes at night. He hopes someday that he can see Outside, but it scares him when his mom starts plotting their trip Outside.

Room is a captivating, unique novel that, while it seems unbelievable, a quick glance at the newsstand proves that it is a story ripped from the headlines. Five year old Jack is the narrator of this unique story. If you have recently had a conversation with a five year old, you know that it can be a bit tough to follow their train of thought. But, trust me, stick with Jack, his story is one you won't want to miss.

Emma Donoghue has brilliantly portrayed a five year old's life in a solitary room. She has created this world that, just like the nightly news, is something that fascinates us and captivates us at the same time. And while we find it hard to look away, we want nothing more than for Jack and his Ma to escape and live happily in the Outside.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Friday, September 3, 2010

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

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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