Tuesday, November 30, 2010

(166)Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult

I have somewhat of a love/hate relationship with Jodi Picoult. Her books are so formulaic. They are basically the same type of story, the same story layout, the same part of the country, the only thing that changes is the "cause of the day" and the characters names.

Well, In Sing You Home, (releasing March 1, 2011) the "Cause of the Day" happens to be Gay & Lesbian rights. See if you can stay with me here, Zoe was at one time married to Max. They had fertility problems and sought the help of IVF. Unfortunately, not even IVF could give them a baby and they divorced, leaving three embryos behind. Flash forward and Zoe finds herself in love. With Vanessa. They have decided that Vanessa will carry their baby, but all they need is for Max to sign off on their use of the embryos. Neither one of them expected to run into this type of roadblock. Max has found Jesus and has joined forces with an Evangelical minister who will stop at nothing to prevent Vanessa and Zoe from using those embryos. And as you expect with Jodi Picoult, a nasty legal battle ensues.

I really enjoyed this story because I really enjoyed Vanessa and Zoe. They were two characters that I genuinely LIKED. They were flawed and deeply insecure in their own ways, but they were confident in their love. That is admirable no matter who you love.

I truly believe that at the route of *most* ignorance is fear. Fear of the unknown and it's perceived impact on their own lives. Fear that is fed by media outlets looking to serve their own agenda. Jodi Picoult did an amazing job of painting a very realistic picture that will help dispel those stereotypes. Vanessa & Zoe are just like me & my husband. They love, they laugh, they share housekeeping duties, they share their worries, and they plan on being together forever.

Sing You Home is a well written novel about a very sensitive subject in our country right now. But once you get right down to it, the book is about love. The love two people share and want to share with their child, and those who want to put a stop to it, all in the name of God's love. Who is right? Who is wrong? Jodi Picoult has a bad habit of ruining a book by her endings, not this one. The ending was far from predictable and it was very satisfying. Now if we could just get her to write outside the "formula"....

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

(165) The Christmas List by Richard Paul Evans

Well, I am having trouble uploading pictures. Not sure if it is a blogger issue or my POS laptop. So I am moving on without my obligatory picture. I guess you will just have to use your imagination. *grin*

The Christmas List is another wonderful Christmas book set in Utah. This one is about a Scrooge-esque type of character, Jimmy Kier. After it is reported that he was killed in a car accident on a snowy winter night, Jimmy gets somewhat of a rude awakening about his attitude towards those he deem to be less important than himself. In other words, everyone. Jimmy asks his assistant to put together a list of those he has wronged the most. With list in hand, he sets off on a journey to make amends. It turns out to be the hardest thing he has ever done!

The more I read works by Richard Paul Evans, the more I see that he is a bit like Nicholas Spark, but oh so much better. Infinitely better. As I have said before, there is an element of predictability with all Christmas Stories, but it is how the author gets us to the end that makes all the difference. Yet another great tale for you and I even found it for $5.38 at B&N.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

(164)Finding Noel by Richard Paul Evans

Okay, so I lied. I got my hands on several of Richard Paul Evan's books from the library, so I just had to read them. I am glad that they are quick reads!

I do not think that Finding Noel was as good as Promise Me, but it was still very good. Heartwarming and inspirational.

Mark has moved to Utah to attend college and when his scholarship falls through he resorts to working as a janitor. It is a snowy evening when his beat up car breaks down and he wanders into a diner where he meets Macy. They become close and together Mark and Macy try to find Noel, Macy's sister who was given up for adoption. In the process they learn a lot about each other and the true meaning of family.

Richard Paul Evans is a master of words. His stories consistently touch the heart unlike any author I have read in a while. Next up is the Christmas List.

Monday, November 22, 2010

(163)I Remember Nothing by Nora Ephron

Nora Ephron's last book, I Feel Bad About My Neck, was on the Best Seller's list for a very long time while I worked at the bookstore, I just didn't have any desire to read it, I mean it was (whispering) about getting old. And I was only thirty at the time, I didn't really feel that I was her target audience, so I didn't read it.

Well, guess what. I am getting old. I feel it now more than I ever did and sometimes I am almost shocked about my age. I mean THIRTY-FIVE!!! I can hardly believe it. Since Ms. Ephron wrote (and directed) two of my most favorite movies in the whole world, You've Got Mail & Sleepless in Seattle, I figured that I would enjoy her writing. And I was right.

I Remember Nothing and Other Reflections is just a book of essays about her life as a sixty-nine year old. My favorite essay though has to be

"Twenty-five Things People Have A Shocking Capacity to Be Surprised by Over and Over Again." 1.Sometimes Journalists Make Things Up.

Other chapters include discussions about divorce, emailing, and having a meatloaf dinner named after her.

Ms. Ephron is one of the greatest women the entertainment industry has ever known. Her writing style is very characteristic of the characters we have all come to know and love. Intelligent, quirky, light-hearted, yet grounded. Her chapters are quick to read and give us a little more insight on the woman behind all of those characters. A fun read and I suspect another smash hit. Congratulations, Ms. Ephron, you deserve to be on the Best Seller list once again.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

(162) Simply From Scratch by Alicia Bessette

What is the old adage? Don't judge a book by it's cover?

At first glance, Simply from Scratch looks to be a "fluffy" Chick Lit type of novel. That couldn't be further from the truth. Simply from Scratch is an exceptional debut novel by Alicia Bessette about grief, love, and moving on.

Rose-Ellen (Zell) has been mourning the death of her beloved husband for almost four years. He was killed in an accident while on a mission trip to ravaged New Orleans. Since his death, Zell has merely existed. She wakes up in the morning and takes care of her greyhound, Captain Ahab, but that is it. The pain of losing Nick is still so very fresh that anything that reminds her of him has been banished, including the friends they once shared. Until one day, in an attempt to win a baking contest Zell discovers a present that Nick left behind for her, hidden in the one place he knew she would never look, the oven.

That day is the turning point in Zell's grief process. A young girl, Ingrid, invades her life and starts her on the road to healing.

I really enjoyed Alicia Bessette's debut novel. Her writing was so captivating it brought tears to my eyes many times. She brought Zell to life in a way that I actually worried about her, I worried that Zell wasn't eating enough, and the hints about her heart problems was so concerning to me, I could not see where the author was going. Which, honestly, was refreshing. Grief is a very powerful emotion. We all deal with grief in our own way, but those who do not deal with it, as we see with Zell, are the ones at risk of having their grief destroy them. Great book, but be forewarned that it is not a fluffy book as you would expect from the cover.

Friday, November 19, 2010


If you are reading this blog, then you probably enjoy reading. As readers we tend to seek out other readers and book related "things". Whether it be going to a bookstore or reading book blogs or even joining book clubs, most of us like to talk about books. We like to seek out other like minded people and discuss books.

Well, there is a new medium for that kind of interaction. You may have heard of it, it is called Twitter. A little over a year ago @thebookmaven started a weekly meme called #fridayreads. She calls on her 30,000 followers to share what they are reading. She has gotten sponsors to give away prizes with each benchmark hit. For example @rainydaybooks, yes my Kansas City friends, THAT Rainy Day Books, has offered to give away a signed copy of the Doonesbury Retrospective. This week Kobo is offering up a free e-reader to a lucky participant. @thebookmaven has even started a Facebook page to celebrate #fridayreads. Her whole purpose is to get people talking about books.

So what are YOU reading?? Go to twitter or Facebook today and join the community.

By the way - I am reading Little Pink Slips by Sally Koslow. #fridayreads

Thursday, November 18, 2010

(161)You Had Me At Woof by Julie Klam

There are hundreds of heartwarming dog books on the market. We (the general reading population) first started to notice them after the smash it, Marley & Me. I know that I started to read a few, trying to replicate the humor, the emotions that I felt when I read that amazing book. Most of them fell short, but Julie Klam's new book, You Had Me At Woof, comes pretty dern close.

Julie Klam introduces us to a breed near & dear to her heart. Boston Terriers. She entertains us with tales of being a Boston Terrier owner and actively being involved with a NYC Rescue. She has fostered, ferried, and rescued dogs. Her stories are funny,heartbreaking, and thoroughly entertaining. I learned a lot about the breed, one I was unfamiliar with, but I also learned that Ms. Klam has a heart the size of Central Park.

Anyone who knows me "in real life" knows about my love affair with George Bailey. Mr. Bailey is my four year old, 75 lb mutt. Mr. Bailey came into my life at a time that I needed him most and has enriched my life more than I ever thought possible. When I still worked at the bookstore I had several co-workers who would ask me nearly daily for new Mr. Bailey stories. And I would delightfully comply with their requests. LOL.

I really enjoyed You Had Me At Woof. It is a very obviously a work of love. With every word, every tale, you can tell she only has the best interests of those dogs in mind. The book is a quick read, within just an hour or so, your life will have been touched by a Boston Terrier or two.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Brian Dettmer -- Artist Extrordinaire

So I was Googling the other night and came across this artist, Brian Dettmer. I was just blown away by his artwork. The detail, the intricacy of his work is just breathtaking. Here are few of his images. Judge for yourself! You can check out his Flickr account or his website where you can find a gallery that has his work displayed.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

(160) Promise Me by Richard Paul Evans

Okay, last Christmas novel for a while. I promise. LOL

I read The Walk earlier this year and was shocked at how much I enjoyed the story. I knew Mr. Evans had written a plethora of Christmas novels, so when I saw Promise Me sitting on the New Release shelf, I grabbed it right up. I was not disappointed.

The year is 2008 and Beth is preparing for Christmas Day. She is on edge awaiting her daughter and her husband's arrival. As she waits she thinks back to 1989 and the man that entered their lives when she needed it the most, right after her husband passed away, leaving her and Charlotte alone to fend for themselves. Matthew changed all of that when he entered their lives for that one short year. Here it is almost twenty years later and Beth is about to see Matthew again. Will she be able to keep their secret?

There is some element of predictability with any Christmas story you read. They almost all have the adversity that needs to be overcome and end with a "happy ever after" on Christmas Day. Having said that, Promise Me was by far the best Christmas book I have read this year. The story was just so *good*. I enjoyed the characters, I enjoyed the writing, I enjoyed everything about this book. I have put the others on my "hold" list at the library, so I will be reviewing them shortly, but I promise to hold out til after Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 15, 2010

(159) The False Friend by Myla Goldberg

Mean girls suck. Seriously. I don't remember any "mean girls" when I was growing up. I mean, I pretty much got along with anyone, so if my memory serves me, I never really had to deal with mean girls. But as Myla Goldberg shows us in her new book, The False Friend, sometimes our memories are the most reliable of sources.

The events of her childhood are haunting Celia and she makes a trip to her hometown with the hope of clearing her conscience. You could say that Celia was one of those "mean girls". Her childhood friend, Dejuna disappeared on that day so many years ago. Celia lied to everyone and told them she got into a strangers car, but as Celia remembers it, Dejuna tripped and fell into a ravine. Never to be seen from again. Celia's hopes that her trip home will help her get over the events of the past and erase all of her "mean girl" actions. Ultimately she just wants to be absolved of her actions and be able to move on and be able to build a life with her boyfriend, Huck.

The False Friend was a bit diffucult to read in some parts. Difficult in the manner that I wanted to like Celia and I even felt sorry for her in parts, but her actions as a child were disgusting. When she goes to visit Leanne and the consequences of her "meanness" are revealed, well it made me sick to my stomach. The False Friend was a well written novel about regret and forgiveness. There were a few parts that seemed to drag on a bit, but overall the story was a good one. Keep it in mind for a book club selection, I can see it generating a lot of discussion amongst women who may or may not have been "false friends" themselves.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

(158) The Snow Globe by Sheila Roberts

I know, I know it is not even Thanksgiving yet, but I have read my third Holiday themed book. I can't help it. Knowing that the retail world is out there preparing for the rush, watching the first snowfall of the year, I can't help it. I am excited! I can't wait to be with our family, I can't wait for ABC Family's 25 Days of Christmas, I can't wait to wrap Christmas presents and go Christmas shopping. So I tide myself over with books!

Kiley Gray has had a horrible Fall. She lost her job and her sister stole her boyfriend. She is out doing some pre-holiday shopping with her two best friends when she finds the most unique Snow Globe. She buys it and is surprised to find a different scene amongst all of the snow. That night sets off a series of events that change Kiley's life as well as the lives of her two best friends. All because of the Snow Globe.

I first read Sheila Roberts a few months ago and enjoyed her writing. She writes about friendship. And the important role that friendship plays in the lives of women. The Snow Globe is just another example of how crucial friendships are in the lives of women all over the world. I really enjoyed The Snow Globe . It was an absolutely delightful novel full of Christmas magic. One that I actually look forward to seeing someday on ABC Family.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

(157)Between Friends by Kristy Kiernan

Between Friends is a novel that has been all over the blogosphere. With fairly positive reviews. I have been meaning to read it for a while, but never got around to cracking the spine until this weekend. Let me warn you, Between Friends is an emotional roller coaster.

Cora & Ali have been lifelong friends. Closer than friends really, like sisters. Cora even gave Ali and her husband Benny the ultimate gift. She provided the embryos for Benny & Ali's miracle daughter, Letti. But fifteen years have gone by and Cora has been absent for awhile when she returns to the neighborhood. Everything is not as blissful as she had hoped for her best friend and the rest of their family. Will their friendship survive the test of time and the tragedies that get thrown their way?

Between Friends is the type of book that emphasizes the belief that family doesn't always have to share blood. Ali and Cora have had that type of relationship forever. And it was one of those relationships where they don't speak for long periods of time, for whatever reason, but when they meet back up it is as if no time has passed. Their friendship is tested by some huge events, and how they work through that is what this book is all about.

I really enjoyed Between Friends. The story was absorbing, but it was a bit emotionally draining. Prepare yourself for tears, because I guarantee they will come.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Whole Story

Photographs today are stored and accessed digitally, and viewed one frame at a time. These photo albums were designed to fall off the shelf and land in your life, living amongst you the way the memories do, inbetween the spaces of everyday, yesterday, and tomorrow.

A hybrid of traditional bookbinding techniques and contemporary engineering, they stand independently due to a reinforced front and back cover. A removeable binding allows the books contents to be expanded, allowing you to view your whole story.

Color choices from left to right include: Grey, Blue, Heather Red, Heather Blue, Red, and Heather Grey

How freaking cool is that??? You can buy one here.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

(156) Call Me Mrs. Miracle by Debbie Macomber

It is books like Call Me Mrs. Miracle that make miss the bookstore and retail at the Holidays. I know, I know you all must think that I am nuts, but I loved the atmosphere that can be found at any store in the month of December, specifically a bookstore. The cheer, the hustle bustle, the Christmas music, the smell of the cafe & the sound of carolers. *sigh* How I miss the bookstore....

Jake Finley is the only son of a powerful retailer in New York City. Despite their chosen profession they both hate Christmas due to a tragedy that changed their worlds over twenty years ago. Jake can sense his hard heart softening when he encounters eight year old, Gabe, and his Aunt Holly. Will they be able to help each other get through this holiday season? Mrs. Emily "Call Me Mrs. Miracle" Merkle, intends to see that all of them have the Christmas they deserve.

To continue my recent streak, Call Me Mrs. Miracle was my first book by Debbie Macomber. The story was one that I could definitely see as a "Hallmark Channel Original Movie". One that gives you the warm fuzzies and fills you full of Holiday cheer. But, yes there is a but, it was incredibly predictable. Within a few chapters I could already plot out the rest of the book, right down to the "surprise" ending. Part of the charm of the Holidays is the "mystery" that awaits us on Christmas Day. Sadly, the mystery was just not there for Mrs. Miracle. Will that stop me from giving Mrs. Macomber another shot? No, the writing was good and the characters were friendly, so I will probably give her one more try, but I hope for a little more "mystery".

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

(155)Keep the Change by Steve Dublanica

I was first introduced to Steve Dublanica in 2008 when I read his book, The Waiter Rant. I enjoyed it so much that I gave it a "Best of" tag. I even started regularly reading his blog, and I am confident in saying that Steve Dublanica is the kind of guy that I could hang out with. I was ecstatic that I could get my hands on an ARC of Keep The Change.

Keep The Change is Dublanica's quest to become the gratuity guru. In the same easy going style that made him so likable in Waiter Rant, Dublanica goes on a "quest to to become the guru of gratuity." From riding along with a taxi driver in Las Vegas to working a day in a coffee shop in Portland Dublanica interviews an array of workers whose livelihoods depend upon tips. He spoke with a shoeshine guy who, after paying for his spot, only made a dollar a day. A DOLLAR! His entire world depends on tips.

Dublanica talked to real people in real situations and it was an eye opening experience for both him and me. I will say that some of what was said by those interviewed, well all of those urban myths about what they do to lousy tippers is more fact than fiction if this book is to be believed.

I really enjoyed Keep the Change, so much that as I was writing this review, I started to like it even more. According to some, tipping has gotten out of control in our country, but as long as our minimum wage in this country is barely $15,000 a YEAR, I will continue to tip those in the service industry. They, well okay most of them, have earned it.

Monday, November 8, 2010

(154) Squirrel Seeks Chimpmunk by David Sedaris, Illustrations by Ian Falconer

For the second time in a week I have read a prolific "new to me" author. First Bill Bryson and now David Sedaris. I know that I have been living in a literary cave having not read David Sedaris prior to now, so when I saw Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk sitting on the New Release shelf at the library, I snatched it right up.

It was not what I expected. LOL. I was thinking it would be funny stories about animals, well I was wrong. What I got was fables. Insightful social commentary, really, with the characters being animals. Illustrator and author of the Olivia books Ian Falconer lent his talents to this Big Kid's Storybook. But make no mistake, this is NOT a book for children. The illustrations might give me nightmares, I can't imagine what a poor little kid would do.

While Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk probably wasn't the best choice for my first Sedaris read, I did enjoy the fables and the messages that he was trying to get across. I would be interested in seeing what his other works are like, any suggestions as to which one of his works I should read next?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

(153) Eighteen Acres by Nicolle Walace

It doesn't matter what political party is in power, there is something about the White House and it's inner workings that just fascinates the American people. Look at the success that The West Wing had on NBC for years, people want to know what goes on behind the scenes.

Eighteen Acres is just another in a long line of Fiction novels that try to give us that peek at what goes on in the hallowed halls of the White House. Written by political commentator, Nicolle Wallace, Eighteen Acres is a fascinating look at the White House with fictional President Charlotte Kramer. The novel is told from three perspectives, Charlotte's, her Chief of Staff, Melanie and Dale, the female news reporter who has been sleeping with the First Gentleman for the last three years.

It is during a "routine" trip to Afghanistan that everything blows up, literally, for the President and her staff. Will the American people be able to look past the scandal and reelect the first female President to a second term?

I really, really enjoyed Eighteen Acres. The book was very well written with engaging characters and a story that is engrossing. Nicolle Wallace did an excellent job at humanizing a role that seems to have obtained rock star status. Her characters are sympathetic, intelligent, and committed to the jobs and the roles they play in American Politics. A wonderful read by a new author that has a great future in writing.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

(152) At Home by Bill Bryson

Don't stone me, but At Home was the very first Bill Bryson book that I have ever read. Between working at the bookstore and the blogosphere, I know that I am missing out so I was committed to reading At Home as soon as I read the synopsis.

I think I have shared with you in the past that I have an obsession with HGTV. So to find a book about the history of "home". Well I put my name on the list immediately.

I enjoyed Mr. Bryson's anecdotal tales of rather random mundane items we find around the home. At times the randomness extended out of the home. Like to the Eiffel tower. From tales of how the term "bakers dozen" was coined to the history of mousetraps. I guess calling it "random" would be a bit of an understatement.

Honestly, I did not see the "humor" that so many have told me is found in all of Bryson's works, but for the most part I did enjoy At Home. Parts of it were a bit dry that I just skimmed over, but other parts had me so enthralled, I was excited to see what he was going to move on to next. Overall, I would say that At Home is a good book for history buffs and HGTV enthusiasts alike.

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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