Wednesday, August 31, 2011

(140)Fury by Elizabeth Miles


Publication Date: August 30, 2011
384 Pages

The cover is what first drew me to this novel. That wild mane of red hair coupled with a title like "Fury" and it certainly sparked my interest.

Fury is the story of a group of typical teenagers. They go to parties, they hang out with friends, they succumb to peer pressure and they secretly have crushes on already taken boys. For example, Em has a secret crush on Zach, her best friend's boyfriend. And when Gabby goes to Europe for Christmas break, Em sees it as her chance with Zach.

What Chase did was even worse and now a classmate is in a coma as a direct result of his need to please his football buddies. While the guilt eats both of them alive the mythological Furies will see to it that they pay for their actions. Will Chase & Em repent for their actions or will their fate be decided by The Furies?

In my opinion, Fury is more of a mythological tale than a paranormal one. But at the heart of the story is the Golden Rule. "Do unto others..." Em & Chase are forced to realize that their actions broke the very rule than many live by. Fury started out interesting enough, I think that while the Furies themselves were introduced early enough in the story, their mythological powers was not introduced in a timely fashion. It made things a bit confusing. Overall Fury is a decent read. In a world where bullying is alive & well, there is a moral to the story that makes it worthwhile reading for teens. Hopefully they can get the overall message the author is trying get across.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

(139)The Evil Inside by Heather Graham

The Evil Inside

Publication Date: August 30, 2011
400 Pages

There is something about Salem that just screams fall! It doesn't take a genius to connect the dots. Salem = Witches = Halloween = Fall. The Evil Inside is the first "Fall" book of the season! And you know what it, it wasn't so bad!

Defense Attorney Sam Hall is on his way to Salem to settle his parents estate when a young man covered in blood runs into the road in front of him. Micah is accused of not only slaughtering his Puritan family, but two other men in the area. Sam does not really want to get involved, but at the request of his parents oldest friend, Jamie Duffy, Sam takes the case. He also gets Jamie's niece, Paranormal Investigator, Jenna Duffy. Together they try to figure out what is going on in Salem and does it really involve the same evil forces that have been haunting Salem for centuries.

The Evil Inside is a great Romantic Suspense novel. There was more "Suspense" than "Romance", which was fine with me. And I got the feeling that The Evil Inside was part of a series featuring Jenna Duffy, but it wasn't really critical to the enjoyment of the book. Overall it was a fast read & perfect for getting me in the mood for Fall. Now bring on the football!

Monday, August 29, 2011

(138)Where You Left Me by Jennifer Gardner Trulson

Where You Left Me
Publication Date: August 30, 2011
256 Pages

It is easy to argue that 9/11 was the worst day in our Nation's history. From sea to shining sea not one person did not have an emotional response of some sort that day.

Jennifer Gardner Trulson felt the loss to her core when her husband, Doug was killed while at his job for Cantor-Fitzgerald. He left Jennifer a young widow with two small children to care for. With more grace and dignity than one could expect Jennifer continued living. Even though she struggled with the guilt of falling in love she did so and found an amazing father in Derek to help her raise the children that Doug left behind.

After 9/11 there was a glut of memoirs that were released. So many people had the same kind of story to share and I assume that writing their story was integral to the healing process. I don't begrudge them that need and I read as many of them as I could. Here we are ten years later and the patriotism has waned, yet the emotions of that day came flooding back to me as I read Where You Left Me.

What makes this memoir stand out over all the others is that Jennifer has a unique perspective to share with us. Her husband Doug was not only colleagues with Cantor-Fitzgerald Chairman & CEO Howard Lutnick, but they were best friends & Howard is the Godfather of Doug and Jennifer's children. For those of you who do not know, Howard was villainized by the media in the days and weeks following 9/11 for certain financial decisions that he made. Jennifer showed us the softer side of her dear friends, Howard and his wife, that helped her survive and navigate the waters that first year after Doug died. She even pointed out that Cantor-Fitzgerald is the only company that lost people that day still giving the survivors financial support, even ten years later.

Jennifer is an intelligent, witty, and fiercely loyal woman who had a story to share and we are lucky enough to be able to read her story. I enjoyed it more than I thought. I will even go so far to say that this was the first 9/11 memoir I have read that I did not cry like a baby. Maybe it was because the author did such a wonderful job telling her story with emotional strength that carried ME through or maybe it is true what they say, time heals.

Friday, August 26, 2011

(137)You Don't Sweat Much for a Fat Girl by Celia Rivenbark

You Don't Sweat Much for a Fat Girl

Published: August 16, 2011
288 pages

I did it again. I bought a book just because Jen Lancaster said it was funny. For the most part I take what Jen Lancaster says as gospel when it comes to defining funny. I would say she missed the mark with this one.

I had never heard of Celia Rivenbark before, but then I pulled up her website and recognized several of the covers of her books. They are books you find in the "Humor" section at Barnes & Noble. You Don't Sweat Much for A Fat Girl is really a compilation of essays that cover topics ranging from Barbie's 50th birthday to Octomom and other "famous" people on TLC. I won't say that I laughed out loud, but I did chuckle a few
times. I could have certainly done without the Republican Bashing. But hey, isn't that what all "funny" writers do these days?

Celia Rivenbark is known as a "Southern" writer, so there are a lot of Southern references that a Yankee like me find only mildly amusing. Bottom line, she just didn't tickle my funny bone like I was hoping. Was it worth the read, you ask? I guess. But I probably won't seek out other books of hers to read in the future. Have you read Celia Rivenbark before? What do you think of her books?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

(136)Kindred Spirits by Sarah Strohmeyer

Kindred Spirits

Publication Date: June 2011
304 Pages

Shhh... don't tell Sarah Strohmeyer, but I don't like martini's. Scratch that, after an unfortunate incident of the Casper Weekend News drinking game, I detest Vodka. Sarah Strohmeyer is an obvious fan of a well mixed martini if her new book is any indication.

Kindred Spirits is about a group of friends who met years ago while serving on the PTA. Lynne, Beth, Mary Kay & Carol have been through thick and thin. Instead of having a book club or meeting for coffee, these ladies would sneak away and have a martini. After a few years apart the girls are back together, but not for a happy occasion. They are together to bury Lynne. In the process of sorting through her things they discover that Lynne had been holding tight to a deep dark secret and from the grave she asks a huge favor of them. A favor that sets them off on a road trip seeking answers. Not just for Lynne, but for themselves.

Kindred Spirits is more than just a "drinking novel" it is a novel of sisterhood and the bonds that develop between four women. It is a bond so strong that not even death can separate them. Overall Kindred Spirits was a great "friendship" book. It was a bit predictable in spots, but I really liked all of the characters and was rooting for all of them on their quest. A good book to pick up and discuss with your girlfriends over a good martini. Or glass of wine. Or cold beer. Or whatever is your beverage of choice.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

(135)The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

The Language of Flowers

Publication Date: August 23, 2011
336 pages

Victoria Jones is a child of the system. Bounced around from foster home to foster home she has led a rough life and she is at the ripe old age of eight. Victoria really believes that she is unlovable, but her caseworker believes that she and Elizabeth are meant for each other. It takes a while, but Victoria even starts to believe it herself. But it all falls apart the day of the fire. The day that their whole world goes up in flames and Victoria goes back into the system.

Flash forward ten years and Victoria ages out of the system and finds herself homeless. She isn't homeless for long though when a flower shop owner discovers Victoria's hidden talent. You see, because of Elizabeth's teachings, Victoria speaks the Languages of Flowers, and translates that into the most spectacular of bouquets for her customers. But as she starts to become part of a community, people from her past start to show up in the most unexpected places. Will she finally be part of a family or is her belief that she is unlovable so ingrained that she lets the good things slip away?

The Language of Flowers is an incredible debut novel. The story of Victoria Jones is one that will make your heart ache. The story flows back and forth between Victoria at age eight and Victoria at age eighteen. The flashbacks are necessary, though to understand the Victoria of today. Eighteen year old Victoria has one thing in common with her younger version, she just wants to be loved. As the story progresses I just want to wrap Victoria in my arms and hug away all of the pain. As a reader, you want nothing more than for this lost soul to find love and happiness.

There are many parts of The Language of Flowers that will just shatter your heart, but have faith. Vanessa Diffenbaugh does right by Victoria Jones and you will pleased with the outcome of the story. The Language of Flowers is on sale today. Run, don't walk, to buy the book that everyone will be talking about.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Shelf Awareness For Readers!

Have you noticed the latest addition to my blog sidebar?--------------------------->

That my friends is your opportunity to win a free book! All you have to do to enter is sign up to receive the bi-weekly Shelf Awareness for Readers Newsletter.

I have been receiving the Shelf Awareness (Pro Edition) Newsletter for years. Long before I ever left the bookstore. It is a daily Newsletter with all sorts of book related tidbits. Earlier this year they introduced a newsletter for readers. It comes out on Tuesdays & Fridays and is full of Author Interviews, book reviews, and book recommendations.

The crew at Shelf Awareness work hard to bring us the most up to date information. You can sign up today and enter yourself into a drawing to win a free, autographed book!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

(134)Confessions of a Prep School Mommy Handler by Wade Rouse

Confessions of Prep School Mommy Handler

Published August 12, 2008
272 Pages

Here is that "Prep School" fascination of mine rearing it's ugly head once again! This time we see the other side of the story. We get to hear from author Wade Rouse how he survived (barely) his time as a Director of Public Relations for an upscale suburban Prep School that he has labeled "Tate".

Wade regales us with tales of the Mean Mommies (M2) and their reign over the school. His job was to keep them happy. To run interference for the Administration and teachers so they could focus on educating the little darlings and not have to worry about "Helicopter Moms". He was hired to be a "Mommy Handler". And boy-o, does he have some horrific stories.

Most of Wade's stories feature "Mean Mommy", Kitsy. She is horrific in the most animated of ways. From demanding that Wade dress in a red unitard on Valentines Day (he got out of that one) to requiring that they dress as Ronnie and Nancy Reagan for Halloween (he did not get out of that one) she ruled his life with an iron fist. From her backhanded compliments to her completely outrageous demands she made his life a living hell. It would have been funny if it weren't so sad.

Of course Wade writes a wonderfully witty book, but I gasped out loud more than I laughed. The behavior reported by Wade was so ghastly that it almost seemed unbelievable. But having worked retail for nearly 20 years, I know that it was all too true. As the school year progresses we watch Wade struggle with the battle of good vs evil. Does he do his job and cater to this over-privileged bitchy women or does he go with his heart and do the right thing when it matters the most?

While not as funny as other books, Confessions of a Prep School Mommy Handler gave me my "prep school" fix and gave me that voyeuristic look at a world of wealth that I will never know. The book was an incredibly fast read and perfect for that brief escape from daily life that I look for when reading a book!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

(133)Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close

Girls in White Dresses

Published August 9, 2011
304 Pages

I am back! I apologize for not properly stocking my blog with back up posts while I was on vacation, but it seemed like every book I read WHILE on vacation is being published in October. So stay tuned for some excellent reviews!

Girls in White Dresses is a novel that every single one of us girls can relate to in one way or another. It is about a group of friends from college, centering around Isabella, as they navigate the dating waters after college. One by one Isabella's friends find "the one" and get married, leaving Isabella and the rest of the singlets wondering when would be THEIR time. All the while soothing their feelings of inadequacies with "marriage is not all that it is cracked up to be". It does not take long for Isabella to become weary of wedding showers and bridesmaid duties, which soon give way to baby showers and talk of breast feeding. Has she really found her "one" with Harrison or is she doomed to be the "single friend" forever?

Girls In White Dresses is a guidebook for all of the single girls out there trying to survive the dating waters as one by one her friends are scooped up. I could very much relate to Isabella. I was one of those "single friends" for so long I never thought it would be my turn. And when I least expected it, I was scooped up. Jennifer Close has written a wickedly funny novel that defines many college friendships all over the country. Girls of all ages, married or single, will love this one!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

(132)The Accident by Linwood Barclay

The Accident

Publication Date:August 9, 2011
400 pages

If you have never read Linwood Barclay before I urge you to run out and pick one up at the bookstore. Mr. Barclay has a way of taking normal, ordinary citizens and putting them in extraordinary circumstances.

The Accident is the story of the Garber's. They are your normal American family. Glen runs a small construction company that has fallen on hard times. His wife, Sheila is feeling the pressure to help out with the family finances and may have gotten herself into some baaaad stuff. But it is up to Glen to find out the truth as Sheila did not survive the accident that she caused and killed two members of another family. Will he be able to find out the truth before his young daughter becomes the next victim of "An Accident".

I absolutely love the way Linwood Barclay tells a story. He sucks you into his world and makes you feel as if his stories could be taking place in your very own suburban neighborhood. He continues his winning streak with The Accident. The twists and turns are so unexpected yet not so far-fetched that it seems unrealistic. Y'all know that I love thrillers, but Linwood Barclay is quickly solidifying his place as one of the best authors out there.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

(131)Exit by Phillip Thomas Duck


On Sale August 16th, 2011
432 Pages

I had never heard of Phillip Thomas Duck before reading Exit. I had no idea what kind of novels he wrote. I had no idea he is known for his erotica and I had no idea he is a much beloved author in the Urban community. But, you all know how much of a sucker I am for a good thriller, and Exit is nothing if not a thriller.

Michael Palmer is addicted to sex. He has tried to be good ever since his beautiful wife, Rachel, discovered his myriad of affairs. But no matter how hard he tries he makes mistake after mistake. When he discovers that his Father-In-Law has marked him to take over his company, Michael asks for help to clean up some of his messes. But he did not expect his "messes" to be murdered. The death of Karla starts a series of events that will forever change his life and bring to light some most unexpected truths. Will his life ever get back to normal or will he be the next mess cleaned up by the team he has come to fear?

Exit was a wonderful, fast paced corporate thriller, but there is a LOT of dirty, raunchy, sex scenes, which could be considered erotica. But honestly, it really fit with the story. I enjoyed Exit, but I think it will appeal to a very select crowd.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

(130)The Ideal Man by Julie Garwood

I used to read every book ever written by Julie Garwood. She is one of those author's that I would pick up at the used bookstore on a Saturday morning and finish reading them by Saturday night.

The Ideal Man brings back those memories! I started reading it on a cool Saturday morning and finished it by 3:30 that afternoon.

Dr. Ellie Sullivan had just finished a long, grueling shift at a St. Louis hospital when she decides to go for a run in the adjacent park. That decision sparks a series of events that gets Ellie caught up in the middle of an FBI investigation and brings up memories from her past that are better left in the past. It also brings FBI Agent Max Daniels into her life. Max has made it his personal mission to keep Ellie safe and in the process he falls in love with her. Hopefully they will be able to put the bad guys in jail before they ruin their chance at happiness.

The Ideal Man was a fun, suspenseful, romance novel. While a bit predictable, I really liked the characters. Not only Ellie & Max, but her parents and of course Ellie's sister Ava, who is one of those characters we all love to hate. Basically the perfect afternoon read.

Monday, August 8, 2011

(129)Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman

Every now and then I read a book that is so good, I just *know* that it is going to do very well and the author is about to be launched into the literary stratosphere. My friends, meet Matthew Norman.

Domestic Violets is one of those books that make me think of the cliched "Great American Novel" with the exception that Domestic Violets is freaking hysterical. 35 (*gulp* I am 35 for 12 more days) year old Tom Violets is not living the life he thought he would be living at age 35. Instead of being the successful author he always thought he would be, he is trapped in corporate America hell, his book is trapped in his desk drawer, he thinks his wife may be having an affair, his dog is more neurotic than him, and his famous father just won the Pulitzer Prize. Could his life be anymore dismal? Maybe. You will have to read the book to find out.

I admit it, I was a bit surprised at how much I enjoyed Domestic Violets. I laughed out loud many times, then turned the pages to find myself sobered by the reality of Tom's life. Much like many of us, Tom cracks jokes to prevent himself from breaking down.

Matthew Norman has done an wonderful job. His writing is witty, yet introspective. Intelligent, yet silly. He is being compared to Jonathon Tropper and Tom Perrotta, and while I get where the comparisons come from, Matthew Norman is pretty brilliant in his own right. Do yourself a favor, give it a read and let me know what you think.

(128) The Art of Forgetting by Camille Noe Pagan

The Art of Forgetting

Publication Date: June 9, 2011
304 Pages

Marissa & Jules have been best friends since they were young girls. They have been through so much together and after everything they are still best friends. It is a typical day in New York City when the girls arrange to meet for drinks after work when Jules is hit by a cab right in front of Marissa's very eyes.

The traumatic brain injury that Jules sustained changes their friendship. Jules is not the person she once was, her memory is spotty and her personality has changed. Will Marissa be able to handle the "new" Jules? Will their friendship be able to sustain the damage that Jules inflicts on it as a result of the accident?

The Art of Forgetting refers to more than just the traumatic brain injury that Jules sustains. It is about forgetting past transgressions, forgetting past loves, and moving on with your life. There truly is an art to truly forgetting & forgiving. I really enjoyed this book. I struggled with Marissa to like the "new" Jules. I enjoyed watching her grow strong in her resolve to "forget" Nathan. The Art of Forgetting is a wonderful book about the power of friendship. An enjoyable read for friends to share.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

(127)The First Day of the Rest of My Life by Cathy Lamb

The First Day of the Rest of My Life

Publication Date: August 1, 2011
480 Pages

It took me nearly a week to get through this book. And that is UNHEARD of for me. Especially with Cathy Lamb books, but this one was different.

Madeline and Annie are two sisters who did not have an easy childhood. They are the product of their childhood, but they went different directions. Madeline is a world famous Life Coach and Annie is a sculptor with an extreme fondness for explosives. Their past is coming back to haunt them in the form of a nosy reporter and a cowardly blackmailer. Both are forcing Madeline to relive their ugly, ugly past. Will they survive the trauma all over again? Will their past destroy everything they have worked so hard for?

I am usually a huge fan of Cathy Lamb, but this is not her best work. The subject matter in & of itself was ugly. As I was reading it, I was thinking that perhaps she took it a bit too far this time. Not to mention the first 80 pages or so felt a bit discombobulated and all over the place. I was about 80 pages in before I started to connect the characters and figure out what was past and what was present. I don't consider myself to be overly sensitive when it comes to violence, but this book bothered me, so I suspect it will REALLY bother some of you. I still love Cathy Lamb, and will read anything she ever writes, but this one I could have done without. Read it if you must, but don't say I didn't warn you.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

(126)Silver Girl by Elin Hilderbrand

Silver Girl

Publication Date: June21, 2011
416 Pages

It is not unusual for authors to get their ideas from the stories that play out in the national media. "Ripped from the headlines" so to speak. This time it was Elin Hilderbrand's turn to pull her plot from the headlines.

Meredith Delinn is the wife of Freddy Delinn. Freddy has just been sentenced to 150 years in prison for running the biggest ponzi scheme the world has ever seen. Meredith herself is also under investigation, the feds think she was in on it and she has become the most hated woman in America. She only has one friend left, her childhood friend, Connie Flute. Even though their relationship is strained, Connie helps Meredith escape the city and hides in her in Nantucket for the summer while the feds continue to investigate Meredith. Will Meredith ever be able to put her life back together? Will she be able to prove her innocence? Will her relationship with Connie heal or are some wounds to deep to heal?

Elin Hilderbrand is one of those authors that I look forward to every summer. Her tales of Nantucket are the stuff of my dreams. She makes Nantucket out to be this mythical, magical place where women go to fall in love, find themselves, enjoy the summer or all of the above. Even though I think the whole Bernie Madoff twist has been over done, I really liked Silver Girl. The relationship between Meredith and Connie was an interesting one. I enjoyed watching them come full circle and get back to where they once were. Overall, another wonderful read by Elin Hilderbrand!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

(125)Bed by David Whitehouse


Publication Date: August 2, 2011
256 Pages

On his 25th birthday Malcom Ede decides that he doesn't want to get out of bed. Ever. There is no real particular reason, but he even refuses to see his beautiful girlfriend, Lou.

It is now nearly 20 years later and Mal still has not left his bed. He has grown into the largest man in the world at over 1600 pounds. With every pound that Mal gains he pulls his parents and his younger brother deeper into his orbit. They are as trapped as he is in their home. Especially their mother. She bows to his every dietary whim and performs even the most common hygienic task for him so that he may not.

Bed is a very unique novel about one of the most dysfunctional families in literary history. Mal's brother escapes for a short period time, yet he is still pulled back into the orbit of dysfunction. Will Mal ever get out of bed or is he going to go the route of every large man before him? Will the family be able to survive or will they be destroyed by Mal's decision.

I would say that Bed is one of those novels that you can compare to a train wreck. You just can't turn away. The fact that Mal has such a strong hold on his family is fascinating in and of itself. Whether it be stubbornness or mental illness he is the way he is and in the end he is still loved by his family. I wouldn't say that the book is great, but it was was certainly one to make you think.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

(124)Overbite by Meg Cabot


Publication Date : July 5, 2011
288 pages

Meg Cabot is one of those authors that I wish I could be her best friend. Her novels are also so fresh and her characters are always so fun, even when they find themselves getting into trouble.

In Overbite, we catch up with Vampire Magnet, Meena Harper. She is working for Palentine, the Vatican's super secret organization that protects the unsuspecting world from Vampires and other demons. She has "demon proofed" her apartment as best she can, and she has the hottie, Alaric Wulf looking out for her. Just when she is lulled into security her ex-boyfriend, David, calls her out of the blue. She meets up with him to see that someone has turned him. And when The Prince of Darkness, Lucien, shows up, she can only assume that he is the one behind the mayhem. Once again Meena is thrown into the middle of the "Good vs Evil" battle, only this time it is not as easy to tell the Good from Evil. Will Alaric be able to get her out of this mess or are they both doomed?

Fun. Fluffy. Perfect. Everything we have come to expect from Meg Cabot. Nothing too strenuous and nothing too serious, but just what I needed this week!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

(123)Unsaid by Neil Abramson

In Unsaid, Manhattan attorney, David Colden's world has been shattered. His beloved wife, Veterinarian, Helena has just passed away after a battle with breast cancer. He is just a lost man disintegrating in a world of grief. We, the reader, get to watch David's dissent into hell, but this is where it gets unique. We are watching David with his late wife, Helena. Helena is the narrator of the story and we also get to see Helena's reaction to David's grief. When someone from Helena's past contacts David for help, David realizes that there are parts of his wife's past that he knew nothing about. Will he be able to reconcile the Helena he knew with the Helena he is discovering now? And will he be able to help her old friend with a cause that is becoming near and dear to his heart?

Unsaid is a unique book, the grief felt by David and his critters is almost palpable. It felt very voyeuristic to look in on him with his grief, especially with Helena. She is almost shocked at how far he let his grief bog him down. It is hard to read in some parts, but it is almost exciting to read when David starts to live again.

Overall, Unsaid is a powerful and emotional read. It is about those of us left behind when a loved one dies and what we have to do to cope.

Monday, August 1, 2011

(122)A Catered Affair by Sue Margolis

A Catered Affair

Publication Date: August 2, 2011
368 Pages

Tally is about to make every Jewish mother's dream come true. She is on the verge of marrying Josh, a pediatric cancer doctor. He is very handsome, very successful, and very much in love with Tally. Their wedding is everything a girl could wish for. It comes down to the day of the wedding. They are at the Synagogue. And Josh is late. In fact Josh doesn't show up. And Tally gets very, very drunk.

Life after getting dumped at the altar is very numbing for Tally. She tries to pretend as if it didn't happen, but it did. Her recovery involves the chef from her non-wedding
reception, Kenny. Kenny has also had his heart broken recently, the two of them commiserate
together over wine and old movies. Will they take their relationship to the next level or will their
broken hearts prevent them from ever loving again.

A Catered Affair is another Chick Lit set in London and another one that I completely enjoyed!
The writing was smart and cheeky (haha!). Tally was a wonderful character who handled a rough
situation with far more dignity than I would have - that is a guarantee. A Catered Affair was my first
novel by Sue Margolis (shocking, right?), but I will dig some of her older stuff out of my library and
give it a shot!

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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