Thursday, March 31, 2011

(42)Already Home by Susan Mallery

Already Home is a novel about about family and home.

Jenna has returned home to the suburbs of Austin after having her heart and soul crushed by her ex-husband, Aaron. In her desperation for normalcy, the chef hastily opens up a retail cooking store. She has the full support of her adoring parents and the sharp skill of her Manager, Violet. Jenna knows she will be okay.

But the "normalcy" she craves is thrown aside when her birth parents show up on her doorstep. Serenity & Tom are eager to get to know the daughter they gave up for adoption when they were teens. Jenna has her reservations, but does let her guard down and welcomes her family into her life. Did she make the right move or is she only going to get hurt again?

I am sorry to say that Already Home did not really leave a mark on me. The story was a bit predictable, but Jenna, Violet, & Beth were characters I liked. Serenity, not so much. Overall the story just fell flat for me. Maybe it is because I just came off of a GREAT BOOK HIGH (trademark pending - haha) or maybe the writing really is just flat. Why don't you read it & let me know.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

(41)The Informationist by Taylor Stevens

It has only been a few short years since Steig Larsson took America by storm. These days you can't walk through an airport without seeing one of his novels in somebody's hands. Since Mr. Larsson has passed away, he has left his devoted fans hungry for more. Well, I have the solution for you and her name is Taylor Stevens.

In The Informationist, Taylor Stevens gives us a character that could give Lisbeth Salander a run for her money. Vanessa "Michael" Munroe is one tough cookie. She is all sharp edges that has earned a reputation as someone who can find out anything. Her reputation alone earns her $5 Million paychecks. And that is how she came to work for Richard Burbank. He wanted the best of the best to find his daughter who disappeared four years ago in the wilds of Africa. What Burbank doesn't know is that Michael was born to missionaries in Africa. It is her home. Going back to Africa is dangerous for her, not just because of Burbank's connection, but because of her own treacherous past. Will she be able to find out the truth about what really happened to Emily before her past catches up with her?

I am truly surprised at how much I enjoyed this novel. It was very fast paced and the writing just sucked you in. Michael is a character that is hard core because she has to be hard core in order to survive the demons and complete her jobs. She really did remind me of Lisbeth Salander. The writing is not quite as hard to get into as the Swedish trilogy that we all know and love. There isn't the language issue to get over. The book is not quite as graphic as what we came to expect with Larsson, but that is okay. Stevens has taken this type of character and made it her own. I really do think that fans of Larrson will come to love Taylor Stevens just as much as the late Swedish author. There is one distinct difference between Taylor Stevens & Stieg Larrson. Taylor Stevens has her whole life ahead of her, the possibilities for Taylor Stevens and Munroe are endless. And I can't wait to see what there is in store for Taylor Stevens and Michael Munroe.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

(40)My One and Only by Kristan Higgins

Kristan Higgins is one of those authors that I have hoarded almost all of her books, but have yet to read a single one. Until now. Let me just say, I have no idea what I was missing out on. Her new book, My One and Only , can be found on bookstore shelves today. I had the opportunity to review an Advanced Readers Copy and I was pleasantly surprised at how FUN it was.

The main character, Harper, is a divorced divorce attorney. She has been burned by love once before, but is playing it safe in the romance department by dating a younger man, "brawny" firefighter, Dennis. She has a plan to propose to him, as she is not getting any younger, and well -- he might as well sh%t or get off the pot. She is literally in the middle of proposing to him when her younger sister calls to say SHE is getting married. For the third time. To Harper's ex-brother-in-law. The thought of seeing her ex-husband, Nick, again has her all sorts of discombobulated. Nick and Harper struggle to make it through the weekend civilly. Then circumstances force them to travel cross country together. Will they be able to make it without killing each other? Will they finally be able to put their hurtful past to rest or will they rekindle the romance that started it all?

I am almost surprised at how much I enjoyed this novel. Harper was a great character. She likes to pretend that she is a hard-nosed divorce lawyer, but really she is as vulnerable as the rest of us. Her straight talking ways, though, make for funny one-liners. I admit to have laughed out loud more than once. Don't let the "romance" label scare you off, Kristan Higgins writes smart and funny Chick-Lit novels. Her writing reads pretty fast, so pick one up today and thank me tomorrow!

Monday, March 28, 2011

(39)The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen

Sarah Addison Allen has this unique quality that infuses a sense of the magical into every story she writes.

The Peach Keeper is Sarah Addison Allen's newest book with that magical quality. Set in Walls of Water, North Carolina, The Peach Keeper is about the everlasting bonds of friendship.

Agatha and Georgie were friends for decades. Their lives are forever entertwined by the events in 1936. Flash forward more than 70 years and Agatha and Georgie's granddaughters, Paxton and Willa, are struggling to make their way in life. They are brought together by the discovery of a body buried at the estate that was once in Willa's family and is now being restored by Paxton. Together Paxton and Willa put together the pieces of the past. Can they find true love in the process?

I really enjoyed The Peach Keeper. Willa and Paxton are both "lost" in their own right. As their friendship develops the past comes full circle. If you have enjoyed Sarah Addison Allen's books in the past you will most certainly enjoy The Peach Keeper. All of the same elements are there, making this a story that is guaranteed to warm your heart.

Do you know who Amanda Hocking is?

If you don't know you will in the very near future. Amanda Hocking is living every author's dream come true. She is a 26 year old self published author that just landed a Four Book - 2 Million Dollar deal with St. Martin's Press. That is TWO MILLION DOLLARS.

You may not recognize Amanda Hocking's name, but if you have perused ebooks at or Amazon, you have seen her books. Yeah, that's it. The books with covers like that. Recognize them? Between Barnes & Noble and Amazon her ebooks have sold nearly a million copies. From the reader reviews at Barnes & Noble it sounds like we all have been missing out. At a price of 99 cents it is a price that we all can afford. I admit it, I just bought the entire trilogy. For all we know this young woman could be the next J.K Rowling or Suzanne Collins.

Here she is in an interview with her local NBC affiliate - she really could be just you or I!

Have you read her books? What did you think? Stay tuned and I will tell you what I thought!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

(38)Emergency by Neil Strauss

It is no secret that I am a Scaredy Cat. It is something that I willingly confess. It seems like since moving to Wyoming (the land of self-sufficiency) I have been hyper aware of my mortality and how that could be directly related to the inefficiencies of the government.

Couple that with the events in Japan over the last few weeks and our government taking part in yet another military skirmish. Well, I have spent a lot of time contemplating what happens WTSHTF - When The Shit Hits The Fan . I am not the only one. Author Neil Strauss has been thinking about it, too. While I read books survivalists books, Strauss actually goes out and learns how to be a survivalist and writes a book about his experience.

Emergency is the true tales of Neil Strauss as he learns to become self sufficient. He educated himself on how to handle firearms, how to save lives, how to survive in the wilderness just to name a few. He prepared himself and his home for the event of "What if". And in his usual intelligent wit, he has documented it all for us.

I have read books by Neil Strauss before and I have always enjoyed his style of writing. His wit and dedication to the topic at hand has made him one of those authors that I will always enjoy reading. I even read How To Make Love Like A Porn Star. So when I heard he wrote a book about survival, heck yea I will read it! I admit it, I am slowly taking steps to prepare for WTSHTF. I have put together a survival backpack, in it you may find a roll of toilet paper, a bar of soap, flashlights, batteries, glow-sticks, a leash for my dog, a water bowl for my dog, first aid supplies, and the list goes on...

I know there are people out there who may find my need to be prepared a little obsessive, but I would rather be safe than sorry. Do you have a survival kit? What would you recommend I put in ours?

Friday, March 25, 2011

(37)Minding Frankie by Maeve Binchy

Minding Frankie gave me my much needed taste of Ireland.

Set in the suburbs of Dublin. Maeve Binchy takes the old adage, "It takes a village to raise a child" and turns it in to a heartwarming novel about young Frankie. Within a few minutes of her birth, Frankie's mother dies of a horrible illness. Frankie is the result of a one night stand. Her father, Noel, is an alcoholic, ill-equipped to raise a baby girl.

He has a "Village" to help him. There is his cousin, Emily from America, a true guardian Angel moves into his little apartment to help with Frankie's care. There is Malachy, Noel's AA sponsor, he tries to keep Noel on the straight and narrow. There is Declan and his wife. Declan is a neighbor and friend, as well as being a doctor, to Noel and Frankie. And there is Lisa, a classmate of Noel's who needs him and Frankie just as much as they need her. These are just a few of the Villagers, that together, help Noel in raising Frankie. But is it all enough to keep that wretched social worker, Moira from taking Frankie and giving her to the first "traditional" family that comes along?

I really enjoyed Minding Frankie. The sense of community and support is evident in each page. Noel's development from beginning to end was phenomenal. He came a long way in his personal growth, but it wasn't without troubles. That made it realistic enough to really just suck me into the story. Fans of Maeve Binchy, heck, fans of a good story, will love Minding Frankie.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

(36)Night Season by Chelsea Cain

There is something comforting about picking up the latest book by a favorite author. I have been reading a lot of ARC's by debut authors lately. Don't get me wrong, there have been some really good ones in the lot, (reviews are upcoming) but there is a bit of an apprehension involved when reading a new author. Especially when there are little to no reviews about those books. But I digress...

Chelsea Cain was one of those "debut authors" almost four years ago. I remember getting an ARC of Heartsick through work and falling in love with her writing. Chelsea Cain writes the kind of novels I love. Suspense thrillers that work your brain into a frenzy trying to figure out the twist (in the first three books you KNOW who is behind the killing) you just don't know how.

Okay, I have gushed enough. The Night Season takes us back to Portland with our favorite damaged detective, Archie. Portland is under siege, from Mother Nature. The rain won't stop, the flooding is getting out of control, and the bodies are stacking up. But it takes an observant ME to discover that the drowning victims are really murder victims. Someone is murdering the citizens of Portland by using a the poison of a venomous octopus. Will Archie and his crew, including the rogue reporter, Susan, be able to find the serial killer before it is too late?

Chelsea Cain does not disappoint. While Night Season is not as gruesome as her previous books, it is still very much a psychological thriller. Her style of fear has become like a security blanket for me. Familiar and comforting in a weird twisted way. The Night Season is a "LendMe" book for the nook. First responder with email address can borrow it from me!

Monday, March 21, 2011

(35)Cleaning Nabokov's House by Leslie Daniels

To say that Cleaning Nabokov's House is quirky might be a bit of an understatement. And I mean that in the nicest way possible.

Barb Barrett has had her world rocked. She decides to divorce her dreadful husband and in the process she loses her home and her children. She is literally homeless and at the end of her rope. She decides that she CAN make things right. She buys a home that once belonged to the famed author Vladimir Nabokov. She discovers an unfinished novel that she believes was the work of the great author. The experts do not agree. While discouraged, Barb does not give up. She knows that the lack of money is at the root of all her problems. So she sets out to fix that, by opening a brothel - a place where the women of her town can go for a, um - release.

Like I said, Cleaning Nabokov's House is a bit quirky. From a romance novel about Babe Ruth to Bull Danes, to a cathouse, Leslie Daniels takes us on a fun ride. At the heart of it is a woman desperate to do anything to get her kids back. You see Barb Barrett go from a meek housewife who knows nobody in the town she has lived in for years to a strong, independent woman who is making friends and becomes a recognized, beloved member of the community. The transformation is astounding. The writing is unique, albeit a bit choppy. It is a fast read that will leave you feeling as if you witnessed true "Girl Power".

Sunday, March 20, 2011

(34)Night Road by Kristin Hannah

Kristin Hannah became a staple in book clubs across America with Firefly Lane. Even though I had been reading her books since her days as a Romance novelist, it was Firefly Lane that was the book that put her on the radar of American Readers. Night Road is above and beyond anything Kristin Hannah has ever written before and will solidify her place in personal libraries all across the world.

Night Road is the story of Lexi and the twins, Zach and Mia. Lexi had an extremely rough life. She was born to a drug addicted mother and never knew her father. She bounced around from foster home to foster home until a distant Aunt stepped forward to provide Lexi with a home. Mia is the akward twin sister of the town golden boy, Zach. They are the only children of a prominent Island family. Their dad is a doctor and their control freak mom, Jude, stays at home to make sure that their every need is met.

It is on their first day of high school that Lexi and Mia meet and become best friends. They are inseparable, almost attached at the hip. The whole Farraday family has welcomed Lexi and made her a part of their family. Flash forward to their Senior year. Zach and Lexi start dating, causing a little friction in the family at first, but in the end the whole family approves of their relationship. Then an unspeakable tragedy happens on one Summer night, a tragedy with dire consequences that changes everything. For both Lexi and the Farraday family. Will the splintered family ever become whole again? Will they continue to accept Lexi as one of their own? Or did their relationship die on that tragic Summer night?

Night Road was an incredibly emotional read for me. I sobbed like a baby through the entire second half of the book. There is a pivotal moment, you will know it when you get there, that changes everything - from that moment on - my eyes leaked like sieves. Night Road is a book about love, acceptance, and most of all forgiveness. I truly think that Night Road is Kristin Hannah's best work yet. Her character development was solid and visible, especially with Jude. I am giving it a "Best of" tag because it has been a while since I have cried that hard at anything, let alone a book. An author who can evoke that much emotion with their words deserves to be labeled "Best of".

Night Road goes on sale Tuesday at bookstores all across the nation .

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

(33)So Much Pretty by Cara Hoffman

So Much Pretty is one of those novels that you are going to be hearing about for a long time to come. Book clubs are going to be discussing it for a long time to come, too.

At the heart of this story is three women. Stacey Flynn is a small time reporter in a small New York town looking to find THE big story. Wendy White is a waitress in town who went missing. Her body shows up five months later in a ditch outside of town. Alice Piper is the daughter of two New York City refugees, a stand-out genius who observes the people of Haeden with a reporters eye. Her precocious observations end up changing the dynamics in the town in a way like no other. As the story progresses to it's explosive climax we see how the three women are connected.

So Much Pretty is an environmental, psychological thriller like no other. I was just puttering along, multi-tasking as I was reading (like I often do)until a certain event caught my eye and garnered my undivided attention. The timeline of this novel jumps around a bit, but the way it is pieced together works. It gives you a clear understanding of the
leading characters. Over all it is a great book. One that will generate a lot of discussion amongst those who read it.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

(32) State of the Union by Douglas Kennedy

I know that I have spouted off about politically centric fiction novels in recent posts. I guess it should be no surprise to me that some novelists feel the need to write about the political divides our country is dealing with, as we are more politically divided than it has ever been since the Civil War. I think that if someone is going to write about our political differences they should take lessons from Douglas Kennedy.

State of the Union is a wonderfully written novel about Hannah's life. As a child she was the kid that everyone was envious of because her parents were very liberal with their parenting. Her father was very active in the anti-war protests of the 60's which caused great friction between Hannah and her parents more than once. When Hannah decides to become a doctor's wife and settle down in Maine to raise her perfect little family, her parents are more than disappointed that Hannah chose such a conventional role for her life.

Flash forward thirty years and that perfect life that Hannah has worked so hard to create is unraveling. Her twenty-something daughter, Lizzie, is coming apart at the seams after an affair with a married man ends. Then Lizzie goes missing. Hannah and her husband are struggling to hold it together and are giving everything they have got to finding her when in unrelated events, someone from Hannah's past writes a tell all biography about his explosive politically motivated past. And devotes an entire chapter to Hannah. Her entire world is crumbling around her, how can she survive hit after hit?

I really, really enjoyed State of the Union. The parallels between Hannah's relationship with her parents and her relationships with her kids, specifically her Conservative son, Jeff, are interesting to watch throughout the novel. There were many times when it was hard to like Hannah, but it was easy to feel empathetic for her situation. Just one of those issues would be enough to bring a woman to her knees, yet Hannah had to deal with them all simultaneously, and showing great strength while doing so. I liked how Kennedy put forth both viewpoints of the political spectrum with extremists on both sides. He did not condemn one side or the other through his words and THAT is something I enjoyed. I did not come away from this novel feeling as if I had been preached to or talked down to because of my political viewpoint.

As long as there are politics, there will always be differing viewpoints. It is naive of me to think, that with as much as I read, I will be able to avoid novels that have political ideologies differing from mine. But if they are written as Mr. Kennedy has written State of the Union, then I will deal with it just fine. Well done, Mr. Kennedy, I look forward to reading more of your works.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Here is What I Have Been Up To!

I don't want you all to think that I have been slacking on my reading. I have not - I have just been reading a lot of Advanced Reader Copies that I don't want to post reviews on until it gets a bit closer to the release date. Here are some upcoming reviews that you can look forward to.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Coming Soon to a Bookstore.... The Book of Joel

They say that you are either a Billy Joel fan or a Bruce Springsteen fan, but rarely do the two group of fans intertwine. I am most definitely a fan of The Piano Man. Late last week it was announced that Billy Joel will be writing a memoir, entitled, The Book of Joel will be released in early June. I have already placed my pre-order. LOL. What about you? Are you a fan of The Boss or The Piano Man?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Sunday, March 6, 2011

(31) Three Stages of Amazement by Carol Edgarian

Okay - I am going to be honest - I *hate* books that have political undertones, blatant or otherwise. I *hate* books, outside of biographies, where an author pushes his or hers political agenda on the reader. I want to read my books without feeling like I am being talked down to because I do not share the same political beliefs as the author.

Three Stages of Amazement starts off on New Years Eve 2008. The main characters, Lena and Charlie Pepper have had a rough year. One of their twin daughters died at birth and their other twin daughter has had to fight for every breath of her young life. Their marriage, like their finances are strained so Charlie can develop his medical robot project, which they are sure will solve all of their problems if they can just sell it to the right people. They both think that 2009 will be a year of sunshine and roses. With Obama as President they are just sure that all of the country's problems will be solved. And then they aren't. The economy is still in the tank, Charlie and Lena are more strained than ever, an old love of Lena's comes back into the picture, and Charlie and his business partner are being sued by their competition. Will their marriage survive?

Three Stages of Amazement is a very well written look at America in that transition period between Presidencies. The thing is, I think it was written for a very specific audience, and it is not a Conservative, Middle-Class Woman from the most Conservative state in the nation. I think the author is really trying to get across the point that people of all status have problems, and how they deal with those problems, but it mostly came across as being, well, smug. I had a great disconnect with all of the characters and I really wanted to put the book down after reading the characters were just SO SURE that President Obama was going to solve ALL of their problems and make their lives better. I stuck with the book, though, and was not shocked to read of their disappointment when he didn't.

I am sure that there are many people, critics, etc that will give this book rave reviews, so I am sure my "dislike" won't hurt book sales, but it really wasn't a book that I would recommend to anyone I know, because of the way it made me feel. You may have a different opinion though and I would love to hear what you think about the book if you have a chance to read it.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

(30) Emily and Einstein by Linda Francis Lee

What do you think it would be like to come back as a dog? Wonder no more! Linda Francis Lee explores that option in her new novel, Emily and Einstein.

Emily is living the high life in New York City with her husband, Sandy. They have an amazing apartment at the Dakota and Emily is happier than she ever thought possible. Then one day, Sandy is killed in a tragic accident, leaving Emily to pick up the pieces of their once fairy tale dream. Only it does not take Emily long to discover that her dream life was really a nightmare. Thank goodness for Einstein, the rescue dog she rescued soon after Sandy's death. Emily is shocked at the connection she has with Einstein, it is almost as if he can read her mind....

Emily and Einstein was a darling novel about second chances. What happens when you are given a second chance to do the right thing? Linda Francis Lee tells her story with two voices. Alternating chapters from Emily and Einstein's viewpoints. The contrast between the two viewpoints are so vast that even the font used for the chapters emphasize their differences.

Dog lovers will LOVE this book. Non-Dog lovers will love this book, too! It is a well written book about something we have all wondered about at one point in time or another. What happens after we die? So following that train of thought, I am convinced that my dog was a nine year old girl in his former life. He can be a bit squirrely at times and is afraid of anything that moves. What do you think your dog was in a former life?

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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