Thursday, May 31, 2012

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

(76)So Far Away by Meg Mitchell Moore

So Far Away

Publication Date: May 29, 2012
Pages: 336

Thirteen year old Natalie Gallagher has nothing to be happy about. Not only have her parents are separated, her Dad has a new girlfriend and her mother seems to have checked out of life, leaving Natalie alone to deal with the fact that she is being bullied by her former best friend.  With everyday that passes it seems as if things are only getting worse.  Her harassers are escalating, using details of her mother's private life to torment her endlessly.  While searching for evidence to defend her mother Natalie stumbles across an old journal that sends her to the library to research what she has found.

Archivist Kathleen Lynch is your typical, unassuming librarian. Her husband has passed away and her only child is estranged from her.  All that she has is her job and her dog Lucy.  She has a mountain of regret over the way things turned out with her daughter and when a young woman comes to them for help with a project.  After reading a news article about a teen suicide and a few thought out questions, Kathleen sees the signs of at risk behavior displayed in Natalie and is not about to let another young woman falter on her watch. With Natalie's mother is so wrapped up in her own problems, as parents are wont to do, she misses some very crucial clues to what is going on in her daughter's life. Kathleen learned that lesson the hard way - what happens when a parent misses those clues and is not about to ignore them again.  Unbeknownst to Natalie, Kathleen decides to intervene in hopes of saving Natalie in a way that she could not save her daughter.  Is her intervention in time or will Natalie become another statistic that could have been prevented?

Told in alternating voices we get a unique view of a bullying situation that is becoming all too common in our country.  We get to see the despair that Natalie feels as the bullying escalates and we get to see the urgency that Kathleen feels as she tries to alert someone to what is going on with Natalie.  And in between it all we get to read the journal of a young Irish maid who changes the course of Natalie's family history. The author did a fabulous job of getting us into the head of both Kathleen and Natalie, two characters who could not be more different, yet it feels as if we know them both intimately.

In the last few years awareness has been brought to the critical issue of bullying.  Kids all over the nation have been committing suicide to escape their bullies.  And while many of us (adults) may have experienced some bullying as kids ourselves, the cyber-torture some kids are forced to endure these days is beyond our comprehension.  I think that Meg Mitchell Moore has done an excellent job of giving the reader a glimpse of what that torture is like to a kid whose life appears to be falling apart and a woman desperate to redeem herself for past transgressions.

Bottom line, So Far Away, is a novel that I think should be required reading for parents.  While every situation is different, there is great insight to be found in the story of Kathleen and Natalie.  One key thing to take away from their story is that not only parents have the responsibility of looking out for teens, but anyone who has any interaction with teens, no matter how brief, has the responsibility of looking out for their welfare.  For that reason alone you should read this book.

Monday, May 28, 2012

(75)Wife 22 by Melanie Gideon

Wife 22

Publication Date: May 29, 2012
Pages: 400

44 year old Alice Buckle is feeling a bit disconnected from her husband, William. They have been married for a very long time and have two wonderful kids, Peter (who Alice is sure is gay) and Zoe (who Alice is sure has an eating disorder) and busy careers, well okay, William's career is busy and Alice's is mostly busy only at the end of the school year. Keeping their busy calenders straight long enough to spend time alone takes a herculean effort.  One moment, in a fit of extreme stress Alice decides to take part in a study regarding her marriage and relationship with her husband.  To keep the anonymity she is assigned the name of Wife 22 and she has agreed to honestly answer the questions that Researcher 101 presents her.  During the process, the questions become extremely personal and the relationship between Wife 22 and Researcher 101 crosses the line into unethical.  What will Alice do when she realizes that she has developed feelings for a man that she has not even met? Is she willing to throw away her marriage for Researcher 101?

First let me tell you that I laughed out loud while reading this book.  Alice is a funny, witty wife, mother, and friend.  Her fears, concerns, and observations are not that different than any other mother's.  And I think that may be one of the reasons why I laughed so hard, because the way those fears manifest is really quite hysterical.  The book has several Facebook posts, emails, and chat dialogue.  And some of those Facebook posts are so funny, because I have seen similar posts show up in my News Feed.   Alice is a familiar character, you will recognize yourself and your friends in her thoughts, comments, and mannerisms.

Being a mother and wife is hard.  There are ebbs and flows that can, at times, leave a woman feeling  discouraged and lost.  I can understand that feeling. Alice chose to deal with some of those feelings by participating in this "study" and in the process found what was missing in her marriage.  But what happens when Wife 22 meets Researcher 101 will shock you.  Bottom line is this, Wife 22 will make for a great Summer read.

Friday, May 25, 2012

(74)Come Home by Lisa Scottoline

Come Home

Publication Date: April 10, 2012
Pages: 382

It seems like the bonds between step-parents and their step-children are becoming a really popular theme in literature these days.  And I LOVE that!! I think Come Home is my third or fourth book this year that features that topic, but it is definitely not my favorite one.

Jill Farrow is engaged to be married to Sam.  She is finally happy and her daughter, Megan loves Sam. Sam is a good guy and NOTHING like her ex-husband.  While he turned out to be a real sleazeball, Jill still finds herself missing her two ex-stepdaugters, Abby and Victoria.   It has been years since she last saw them when one night a drunk Abby shows up at her doorstep. Her father, Jill's ex is dead.  It was ruled a homicide, but Abby is convinced that he was murdered.  She has come to Jill for help in finding out who killed him, but is Jill willing to risk her newly found happiness to help her ex-stepdaughter?

I really enjoyed the theme of this book.  Once you are family you are always family and not even divorce can change that. I loved how Abby felt that she could turn to Jill in her time of need, even though she had divorced her dad and it had been years since they had seen each other.  I also loved how Jill was willing to drop everything to be there for her step-daughters.  Having said that, the mystery portion of this story really seemed to fall flat for me.  I have read several of Scottoline's earlier books and I seem to remember them to be a little more edgier than Come Home.

Bottom line, while I loved the whole aspect of the relationship between Jill and Abby and Victoria, the mystery portion of the story was not as exciting as I had hoped for.   If you are not looking for the gritty or hard hitting kind of mystery, then this one just might be for you.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

(73)How I Write by Janet Evanovich

How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author
by Janet Evanovich with Ina Yalof

Publication Date: September 9, 2006
Pages: 264

For as long as I can remember I have wanted to be a writer.  And not just of a blog.  In the last few years I have gotten a little more serious about putting ideas onto paper.  I have a Google Documents Drive folder full of undeveloped ideas and partial chapters.   One of  my "action steps" into actually completing a project is to improve my writing (and grammar) by reading books about writing novels.   And that includes How I Write by one of the most famous novelists of all times.

Is now the time when I should say that I have never actually read a book by Janet Evanovich?  (true fact) I don't have to have read her books to know that they are bestsellers.  I worked in a bookstore for nearly five years.  I KNOW she has legions of devoted fans who will stand at the door waiting for bookstores to open on Evanovich Pub days.  

I ended up listening to this book through Overdrive and I want to say that it was really quite enjoyable.  Janet, Ina, and Janet's daughter Alex, wrote the book in a Q&A style.  So to listening to Janet's thick Jersey accent as she talks about the details of being a novelist really gave it a personal feel.  I felt as if she were talking directly to me.   She gives a lot of great advice, the most important being, (paraphrasing) JUST WRITE IT!  Getting caught up in the need for a perfect book while writing the first draft will likely ensure you never finish the first draft. (*gulp*)  But the fact that hit me like a ton of bricks is this, Janet Evanovich was FORTY-THREE when she published her first book. -- Sidenote: Doesn't she look GREAT for her age??  Forty-three is not old by anyone's standards, but it is a little late to launch a new career.  So to hear that your dreams CAN come true at any age has motivated me to march on and finish what I have started.

Bottom line, if anyone is looking for some basic advice from a bestselling author on what it takes to publish your novel, then grab this book.  BUT - do so realizing that this book was written six years ago.  Before e-books exploded onto the scene.  And we all know how e-books have changed the publishing world, for both readers and authors.   Having said that, this book is still full of great advice and a wonderful read for anyone trying to make their dreams come true.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

(72)Man of War by Charlie Schroeder

Man of War 

Publication Date: May 24, 2012
Pages: 288

Once upon a time I dated a guy who was a Civil War Reenactor and he took me to an event one weekend.

Okay have you stopped laughing?

Seriously, though.  We loaded up his Dodge Dakota with his authentic canvas tent and somewhat authentic untensils and dishes and his authentic clothes and joined a caravan to Southeast Missouri where we would take place in a weekends worth of events.

We pulled in and set up tent and was told that because we were going to sleep on an air mattress (not authentic) we were to keep our tent flaps closed at all times.  Oh and by the way, if I was going to "be in camp" I would need to be dressed appropriately.  Luckily one of the wives was my size and let me borrow some of her clothes.   The weekend proved to be an interesting one that I will never forget.  We sat around a campfire swapping stories, there was a dance that played only music of the era, there was even a wedding that took place.  I got to shop at the Sutler's shop and watch two battles take place on the field.  The organizers had even set up a Museum tour of the Stars and Stripes Museum for anyone who wanted to go.   Overall it was a wonderful experience and I was glad that I got to be a part of that world for just one weekend.

So when I got the opportunity to review Man of War: My Adventures in the World of Historical Reenactment by Charlie Schroeder I jumped at the chance.  I wanted to see what he had to say about the world that provided me with such a great weekend (ex-asshole withstanding).

You could say that Charlie Schroeder has been reenacting for years because of his summer job at a Renaissance Festival when he was barely out of High School.  It was a recent trip to Old Fort MacArthur Days with his wife where Charlie gets his idea to look at the world of Reenactors and the History that they bring to life.  His first experience is a reenactment from World War II where he is dressed as a Nazi.  He then goes on to take part in other reenactments ranging from the Civil War to the Vietnam War and everything in between.  He even organizes his own reenactment of sorts.

I was a bit concerned while reading about his first experience during the WWII reenactment that it was going to be one of those "these guys are a bunch of redneck freaks" types of books, but for a Liberal guy immersed in a mostly Conservative past time he did a good job of staying pretty objective. He recounts several conversations he had with several of the reenactors about the "whys and whats" of their involvement and it was really interesting.  He even does a lot of name dropping of more recent history authors and their books, reading that he did to to prepare for events he participated in.

Bottom line is that Man of War is an interesting, fairly light-hearted look one of America's lesser known favorite pastimes.   He keeps the book light and funny as he traipses through the countryside.  Man of War is the perfect book for the History buff in your life.  It is more than your typically dry History book, it actually puts you in the middle of the battle and that makes it worth the read.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

(71)The End by Sara Bell

The End
by Sara Lucinda Bell

Publication Date: March 9, 2012

Buy it Here!

There is something beautiful about "The End of the World As We Know It" (yes, I realize that sounds very twisted)- the beauty is in the fact that it can be whatever your imagination allows it to be. For some it includes zombies or meteors or crippling EMP's.  The End for Dallas involves bombs and explosives.  Lots of bombs and explosives.

Newly married, Dallas is pregnant and attending college in Arizona while her husband, Hank, is stationed in China with the Marines. Dallas is in the basement of a science lab on campus when  The End arrives.   She emerges and finds death and destruction at every turn.  Dallas does the only thing she knows how to do - go home.  She sets off on foot for Texas and where her family lives While her journey "home" takes her all over the country, Hank's journey "home" takes him all over the world as he fights to make his way back to Dallas.  Along the way they both encounter people who help them redefine the term "family". Will they be able to survive the end of the world or will the dangers they encounter on their journeys be the end of them both?

First I want to say that Sara Bell is a regular reader of my blog and when I started letting my "geek flag" fly over post-apocalyptic books she offered to let me read the book that she wrote. Since I am never one to turn down a post-apocalyptic book I agreed to read The End.  I will be honest to say that it took me a few minutes to get used to the "voice" of Dallas.  She is a Southern Young Adult and speaks a language that is a bit different from what this old lady speaks, but once I got used to the tone of Dallas's voice, I just flew through this book.   Like I said earlier, "The End of The World As We Know It" can be anything your imagination will let it be.  The world that Sara Bell has created not only has death and destruction, but it has hope.

Bottom line - I really did enjoy The End.  I think that the thing I enjoyed the most is the fact that on their journeys, both Hank and Dallas realized that "home" is not a specific place, but a person.  Wherever that person is, you will find "home".   If you like post-apocalyptic or dystopian novels then grab this one while it is still just $2.99.

Monday, May 21, 2012

(70)Two Kisses for Maddy by Matthew Logelin

Two Kisses for Maddy

Publication Date: April 14, 2011
Pages: 272

Disclaimer: After my own adventures in parenting last night I am exhausted to the core and thus extremely emotional.

Matthew Logelin was a bit nervous about becoming a first time Father.  He knew though, that with his wife, Liz, by his side they would be just fine and their child would have a perfectly happy, normal childhood.   But almost from the start, Liz had problems with the pregnancy.  She was put on bed rest and eventually put in the hospital for the final weeks of the pregnancy.  On March 24, 2008 Madeline Logelin made her appearance and twenty-seven hours later Liz was dead. Killed by a pulmonary embolism that threw a clot and killed her.

(This is where I sobbed uncontrollably)

With the help of his close family and friends, Matthew makes it through those first days after his wife passed away.  He continued his blog that he originally started to document their travels and then used the blog to keep their family and friends updated on Liz's pregnancy.   As he continued blogging about Maddy's first year of life and their life without Liz that he realized he had a whole community of people out there to help him with the struggles of parenthood.    What Matthew realizes through the grieving process is that while  Liz is gone, her memory will live on through Maddy and the foundation he created in her memory.

Two Kisses for Maddy was an emotional read for me and I think that is because I could really feel his anguish.  Mr. Logelin was very honest about the range of emotions that he went through in the initial days after Maddy's birth.   He is very liberal with the use of the "f" word - but I can not fault him for that.  If I were in his situation I would be using that word and more during my grieving process.

Bottom line, while this book is a memoir, it is also a love story.  The love story of Matthew and Liz as well as their love for Maddy. Both before and after she was born.  It might be a tough read emotionally for some, but I think it is worth the read.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

(69)I Couldn't Love You More by Jillian Medoff

I Couldn't Love You More

Publication Date: May , 2012
Pages: 432

Eliot is living the life with her boyfriend, Grant, and their three daughters.  Well technically, they only have one daughter together, four year old Hailey, but Eliot loves Grant's oldest two girls as if they were her own.  Sure they have the pressures of Grant's ex-wife and typical kid stuff, but for the most part their life together is truly blessed. Well, until it's not.

Out of the blue Eliot finds out that her boyfriend from college has moved back to Atlanta.  When she runs into him at Hailey's school she agrees to meet him just to catch up.  The memories come flooding back and Eliot finds herself distracted.  Distracted by the "what if's" and all of the old feelings that come flooding back.  When that distraction puts her daughter's lives in danger, Eliot is forced to face her past and come to grips with what she truly wants in life.  And it even shocks her how badly she wants what she can't have.   Will she be able put her life back together or is she destined to a like of guilt and regret?

I Couldn't Love You More is one of those books that will put you through the ringer.  It will make you laugh and then it will rip out your heart, make you cry.  Being a Step-Mother is such a challenging experience, but it is also one of the most rewarding experiences that anyone could ever have.  Eliot is forced to  make a choice that nightmares are made of and it forces her to examine her relationship with Grant, her relationship with her daughters, and her relationship with her own parents.

Bottom line,  I Couldn't Love You More is a ultimately a book about guilt, forgiveness, regret, and redemption.  All of the heavy hitters.  Being a Step-Mother myself, I can relate to a lot of the situations and feelings of inadequacy that Eliot encounters, but I am not sure I would have done the same things that Eliot did, I can understand why she did them.  I Couldn't Love You More is one of those books that will stay with you long after you finish.  Be sure to keep the tissues close because you will need them, that I promise you!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

(68)Faith by Jennifer Haigh


Publication Date: May 10, 2011
Pages: 336

It is the Spring of 2002 and the Catholic church in Boston is in an upheaval of epic proportions.  Priests are being accused of horrible, despicable acts.  Even though Sheila McGann's older brother, Art, is a priest, Sheila has left the church long ago.   She remains close with her brother and they just agree to disagree when it comes to natters of religion.

One Spring day, Father Art's world is turned completely upside down when he is released from his duties and told that he is being accused of inappropriate behavior with a young boy. They do not tell Art who is making the accusations, but he has a pretty good guess.   In a state of utter disbelief Art moves into a stark, barren apartment while he waits to hear what happens next.  Sheila rushes to his side determined to prove Art's innocence. She does not expect to encounter Art's passive attitude about the whole situation.  Her mother's denial, yes.  And even their brother Mike's belief that Art did it, is not that much of a shock to Sheila.  But Art's total lack of willingness to fight is completely shocking.  So Sheila decides that she is going to fight for him.  And while she searches for the truth she discovers a lot about Art that she never new.  But does the past dictate the future?  Did Art really do that of which he is accused?

I have to tread lightly with my words here, because there are a lot of secrets packed in this one little book and I do not want to give any of them away.  In someways Art is the victim of a childhood where he was an outsider in many ways.  In other ways the events of Spring 2002 were of his own making.  He befriended the wrong people, made the wrong decisions and it put his livelihood at risk. But wait.  Don't jump to conclusions.  The end of the book has a twist so shocking that it will change everything you (and Sheila) thought about Art.

I really enjoyed Faith.  I think it took a lot of guts for an author to take on such a scandalous topic such as the abuse case within the Catholic church.  And I think she did so in an unexpected way, with the way the book ended (trying to be careful with my words!).   The book is very well written and leaves me feeling sad.  Sadness for Art, sadness for Sheila, sadness for young Aiden, sadness for his mother, and even sadness for all of the people of the Catholic church who felt a whole lot of disappointment as the scandal exploded.  Bottom line, very good book with lots of talking points for you and your book clubs.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

(67)Jeneration X by Jen Lancaster

Jeneration X

Publication Date: May 1, 2012
Pages: 368

Buy it here!!

After working in/around the book industry for over five years now (almost seven, actually) you get to notice the cycle that is the book industry.  It has gotten to the point that I start checking off the months of the year by which of my favorite authors have books releasing.  You can always count on Nicholas Sparks books in August. New health/exercise books are released in January.   Elin Hilderbrand is always in the Summer, usually June. And Jen Lancaster books are almost ALWAYS published in May.

So the month of April just dragged by at a snails pace and I impatiently waited for May 1st.  The wait was well worth it, make no mistake. Her new book, Jeneration X: One Reluctant Adult's Attempt to Unarrest Her Arrested Development; Or, Why It's Never Too Late for Her Dumb Ass to Learn Why Froot Loops Are Not for Dinner, is her best one so far, in my opinion.  In this book, Jen (she is my imaginary BFF, so I get to call her Jen)  details her bumpy , yet reluctant ride, to becoming an ADULT.  (*gasp*)

In her typical hysterical fashion Jen (my imaginary BFF) uses the self deprecating humor that she has perfected to tell us some stories that have helped her realize that she is becoming an adult.  Like buying her first home in the suburbs of Chicago.   Or hosting her first holiday dinner.  Or when she returned to her Alma Mater to receive a distinguished award.  (I nearly wet myself laughing so hard at her adventures after the fancy shin-dig).  She teaches us some of the very useful life lessons that she learned along the way, but she also teaches that it is still okay at the age of forty-something to still own barbie dolls.  No matter what anyone else says.

As always Jen (my imaginary BFF) entertains in ways that I wish every author could learn.  She is funny, loyal, witty, and willing to call herself a jackass.  The best qualities a girl could ever need in a BFF, real or imaginary.  If you are looking for a good laugh and are over the age of thirty, this book is for you.  You will recognize your self in at least one of Jen's essays.  I promise.  And you will laugh out loud because you have soooooooooo been in those shoes at some point in your life.  Under 30?  -- Read it anyway.  You will learn what NOT to do as you move through life.  Either way.  I promise that you will laugh.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

(66)The Mormon People: The Making of an American Faith

by Matthew Bowman 
Publication Date: January 24, 2012

Pages: 352

I am very much a "live & let live" kind of girl.  You want to breast feed your child til he is 12.  Not my business.  You want to spend every last dollar you have on fast food.  Not my business.  You want to share your Husband with three other women, again, NOT my business.  You do what you want to do, as long as it does not impact my life or my family, I really could not care less.  And that extends to religion, as well.  I would say that I am a lapsed Catholic .  It has been several years since I have regularly attended church and honestly, I am not sure the Catholic church or any organized religion "fits" (for lack of a better word) what my image is of God and how I define my relationship with Him.

Having said that, it has been almost a year now since we moved to the Salt Lake City area. An area where one religion, Mormonism, permeates every aspect of life in one way or another.  From the nightly news to the new state of the art shopping center that just opened in the area.   We were visited weekly (sometimes more than once a week) by the local missionaries for the first six months that we lived here.  It got to the point that we just stopped answering the door. BUT, that does not mean I am not curious about the religion of which  my Step-Daughter is a member.  I have purchased a few books, but have not read them. It was not until I had the opportunity to read The Mormon People by Matthew Bowman, (a Mormon himself, but I could not find a website or even a Facebook page for this author) that I had a chance to really get to "know" about the religion.

Mr. Bowman gives a history of the Mormon church from it's early beginnings with Joseph Smith in New York to his death in Missouri to Brigham Young leading his people West and everything in between and beyond. Right up to Mitt Romney running for President.  I will say that the author gave a pretty comprehensive timeline of events, but nothing was really discussed in depth.  In fact many of the things he glossed over were much more concerning to me than whether or not they practiced polygamy. For example some of the recruitment processes of Missionaries.  In South America it was an adopted practice to have "baseball baptisms" where the Missionaries would invite local children (and their families) to baseball games and then tell them that they must be baptized in the Church before they could play.   This happened so frequently that today, in 2012, more than half of the fourteen million members live outside of the States. Many of the people outside of the US being counted as church members do not even realize that they ARE members.  To me that is just , well, it is just wrong.

The other thing that just left me dumbfounded was that in the early days of Salt Lake City Brigham Young discouraged his "people" from doing business with non-Mormons.  He very much had the mindset of Mormon Exclusiveness.  And honestly, despite the work of  more recent leaders, that mindset still resonates in some areas of the state.

Some other things I found interesting.  I had no idea that Mormons founded & settled Las Vegas.  A little ironic, don't ya think?   I also got the answer to why this city (and her suburbs) have  such a jacked up "naming" systems. Such as the street that leads to the kids house is called 200 North. Brigham Young wanted the Church to be the center of everything so all of the streets are named because of the distance to the Temple. Hmm, I had no idea.  And it makes it a bit less confusing, but man, when streets have two names it can cause utter confusion to "outsiders" visiting the city.

The final thing I will share with that I did not know is another thing that I find a bit ironic.  Joseph Smith started his church with the desire to create a Utopian (ie: socialistic) society of the righteous.(I had no idea!) Why do I find that ironic?  Because here it is nearly 300 years later and the  most famous Mormon in the world is running for President and campaigning AGAINST a man and political party that have some socialistic ideologies.  Thing that make you go hmmmm.....

Bottom line, I think that Matthew Bowman was as objective as he could be in writing this book.  He did touch on some of the negative PR issues that have plagued the church since it's inception, but it seemed very glossed over.   I do feel as if I learned something about the Church, it's history, and it's people.  If all you know about the Church of Latter Day Saints have come from a Broadway Play or ex-members, then I think this book will  help you understand a bit more about the Church and what they believe.

Friday, May 11, 2012

(65) Calico Joe by John Grisham

Calico Joe

Publication Date: April 10, 2012
Pages: 208

I think it is safe to say that John Grisham is one of the most prolific authors of our generation. You look up "Bestseller" in the dictionary and you will find his picture next to Stephen King, Dan Brown, and Jodi Picoult.   I can honestly say that the last legal thriller of his left me less than satisfied, so I have avoided his more recent novels.   I thought that since Calico Joe is about baseball I could take the risk and give it a read.

Calico Joe is the story about many things, but at the heart of the book is America's favorite past time, baseball. It is the Summer of 1973 and eleven year old Paul Tracy longs to have a hero.  Someone he can look up to and aspire to be like.  Given the fact that his father, Warren Tracy, is a pitcher for the New York Mets, in theory it would be him that Paul worships.  But because of family dynamics and Warren's quick temper, Paul instead chooses newcomer, Cub slugger, "Calico Joe" Castle.  A rookie called up from the minor leagues who starts shattering hitting records left and right.  Until the night he faces Warren Tracy and the Mets.  In one moment two careers and one life is destroyed by a deliberate "bean" meant to put Calico Joe in his place.  Instead it puts him in the hospital and nearly kills him.

Flash forward more than thirty years.  Paul is a grown man with three daughters and no relationship with his father, who has just been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Paul encourages his father to try to make amends for what he did to Calico Joe.  Will he be able to convince his father how important the act of reconciliation is before it is too late?

Calico Joe is a a wonderful little novel about regrets, forgiveness and how the simple act of making an apology can set your soul free.  I think that this book will be the perfect Father's Day gift for so many Dad's out there.  Not just because of the baseball aspect of the story, but also because of Father/Son relationship. Even a damaged relationship like the one between Paul and his father is worthy of examination at the end of one's life, if not before.  Bottom line, I think that this book has many audiences and it is well worth the read.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

(64)Die For You by Lisa Unger

Die For You 

Publication Date: July 27, 2010

Isabel Raine woke up one morning thinking that her life was perfect.  She is an successful author who is married to the handsome, successful, Marcus. Their five year marriage has had it's ups and downs, but they are in a good place right now and she is happy.   Until Marcus doesn't come home from work that night.   Isabel spends the whole night worrying about the reasons why Marcus doesn't come home and when the morning comes she goes to his office.  If anyone knows where Marcus is, it will be his business partner. She couldn't be more wrong.

It is while Isabel is sitting at Marcus's desk looking for any clue to his whereabouts that the FBI raid the office and take away his partner in handcuffs. And the next thing she knows she is waking up in the hospital with her sister and her family by her side and a detective waiting to talk to her.  Her husband is gone.  Her money is gone.  Her sister's money is gone.  And the man that she is married to turns out to be someone that she never really knew at all.   But what Marcus doesn't expect is that Isabel won't give up.  She will not just let him run off in the night.  She will follow him to all ends of the earth, not for true love, but for her sister's money.  No one messes with her family.  Will she find Marcus even though the police can't?  And will she be able to get the money back?

Die For You was exactly what I needed.  An audio-book for the treadmill that keeps my mind engaged enough that I don't realize how long I have been exercising.   It was a well written suspense novel that did exactly what it was supposed to do.  It kept me in suspense.  I also really enjoyed the secondary plot of Isabel's sister, Linda and her husband, Eric.  The fact that their relation was at the brink of no return, kind of like Isabel's but the outcome was so very different.  

Bottom line, a very enjoyable suspense novel if you like that kind of thing.  And you know I do!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

(63)Ali in Wonderland by Ali Wentworth

 Ali in Wonderland
by Ali Wentworth

Publication Date: February 7, 2012
Pages: 272

Okay - time for another one of my confessions.  I LOVE Good Morning America.  It is a vital part of my morning routine and I feel a bit lost if I don't get to watch it in the morning.  I love the chemistry that they all seem to have.  From Robin's peaceful wisdom to Josh & Sam's schoolboy antics, to George's "button down" personality.  I just love them.

So having said that when I first found out that "button down" George is married to the comedienne, Ali Wentworth, I was a bit shocked.  They just seem so different from each other.   So when I saw Ali promoting her book, I wanted to run right out and give it a read.  And I am not going to lie.  I just wanted to see what kind of dirt she was going to dish on George.

Instead of getting a lot of dirt about George, we get a lot of dirt on Ali.  Really quite funny dirt.  From her young days at boarding school, crazy roommate included, to her days living in Los Angeles and her ragtag group of roommates and everything in between. We get to hear about her first summer job, her mother's obsession with the Four Seasons, Ali's battle with depression and so much more.  Her stories are funny and insightful and brutally honest.  Everything a girl like me looks when reading a memoir.

Bottom line. While you might get as much dirt on George as you would like, he does pop up enough times throughout the book to satisfy my voyeuristic needs. If you are looking for a lighthearted read that is guaranteed to make you laugh pick it up and get started!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Thursday, May 3, 2012

(62)The Fixer Upper by Mary Kay Andrews

The Fixer Upper

Publication Date: June 15, 2010
Pages: 432

Dempsey Killebrew's life is falling apart.  She has just been fired from her job working for one of the top lobbyists in DC and in the media he is blaming HER for a bribery scandal that will go down in the History books.  She finds herself unemployed, homeless, and sleeping on her father's pull out couch.  She has no idea what she is going to do with her life, but her Father has a suggestion.

Mich Killebrew has recently inherited an old family home in Guthrie, Georgia.  He decides to send Dempsey to see what needs to be done in order to sell it and he will split the profit with her.  Little does Dempsey know that the old run down house comes with it's very own cantankerous old lady and needs lots and lots of work.  Dempsey is not in Guthrie long  before she realizes just how small of a town it really is.  Everybody knows her business and they are all a twitter when two FBI agents show up in Guthrie looking for one Miss. Dempsey Killebrew.  Good thing Guthrie has already claimed her as one of their own and that includes one very handsome lawyer.  Will Dempsey be able to get herself out of this mess and bring down he sleazeball of an ex-boss?

If there is ever a book that would make the perfect Chick Flick, it would be The Fixer Upper. It has all of the fixings for the perfect Reese Witherspoon movie.  It is funny, romantic, sweet, and has a little suspense (very little) thrown in for good measure.  Not to mention a handsome man that sweeps in to help save the day. Oh and it has house porn.  A century old Greek Revival mansion set in the deep South.  Seriously, it would make a GREAT movie!

Bottom line is that I really enjoyed this novel.  I enjoyed watching Dempsey "blossom" from the patsy that was set up by her boss to this strong woman who tackles a home renovation project with gusto.  And then kicks the sleazeball in the crotch. It was a real "I am woman hear me ROAR" kind of moment.  The Fixer Upper would be a great book to take to the beach with you this Summer! Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

(61)Nearlyweds by Beth Kendrick


Publication Date: November 1, 2006
Pages: 352

What would you do if you found out that your marriage was invalid due to a paperwork glitch?  Think about that for a minute. You find out that you are not LEGALLY married to your spouse.  Would you rush right down to the courthouse to rectify the situation? Or would you use it as a "get out of jail free" card?

That is the dilemma facing three Newlyweds.  Stella, Erin, and Casey have all discovered that the minister who married them has passed away before signing and filing their marriage certificates.  But since the wedding, Stella has discovered her older (much older) husband doesn't want more children.  He told her he had a vasectomy on their wedding night.  Erin's overbearing mother-in-law has moved into the new home she shares with her husband, and Casey's husband spends all of his time pretending that he is not married.   When the three friends discover that their marriages are not yet legal, they start to rethink their decision to get married in the first place.  Will they make the right decisions?

First of all  I want to get this out of the way  that I know the author doesn't have much control (if any) over the artwork - but the dog in this book is a Great Dane.  Does that look like a Great Dane to you?

Next I want to say, as a newlywed (is 2.5 years considered "newlywed?) that I had nightmares about this very topic in the weeks after my wedding.  Our officiant was a friend of mine from the bookstore and  we were her very first wedding ever.  (Love you, Ginny!!!) And since we moved three states away three days after the wedding, I really stressed about it until I had the official, embossed certificate in my newly married hands.   Would I have re-married my husband if there HAD been a glitch, of course.  But if I had a MIL as annoying as Erin's I might have thought twice about it.

Bottom line, Nearlyweds is a cute novel about every newlywed woman's worst nightmare. LOL.  It was actually quite humorous and I found myself laughing quite a bit. The characters are fun and their situations are not all that unique, but the way that they handle the situation they are put in is somewhat unique.  It was a fun book and well worth the read.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

(60)Nadia Knows Best by Jill Mansell

Nadia Knows Best

Publication Date: May 1, 2012
Pages: 480

It is a cold and snowy night when Nadia runs her car off of the road in the middle of nowhere.  She is rescued by a handsome Knight in Shining Armor, Jay.  They end up spending the night together (platonically) while waiting out the storm.  Even though she is attracted to him, Nadia keeps it platonic because she has a boyfriend back home.  The even more handsome, Laurie.

Flash forward fifteen months and Nadia has been dumped by Laurie.  She is working at the local Garden Center and living at home with her family. There is Clare, the artist, and Tilly, the teenager.   The three of them live with their father, (well, father to Nadia and Clare, and father figure to Tilly) and their Grandmother. It is a bit of an unusual situation, but they are her family and Nadia will do anything for them.

Running into Jay again turns out to be an event that changes Nadia's life forever.  She leaves her job at the Garden Center and becomes a full time Gardener in Jay's employment.  But things get complicated fast when Laurie returns to pick up where they left off and the girls' absent mother turns up trying to woo Tilly into living with her.  Nadia feels that things are spinning out of control and she needs to make some tough decisions or risk losing everything.

I just love Jill Mansell.  LOVE HER!  Her writing is fluffy without being silly.  There is real heart in all of her stories and her characters are always flawed, yet lovable. Nadia is no different.   She tries so hard to be everything to everyone that sometimes she forgets to be true to herself and often finds herself going down the path of least resistance.   Clare is an absolute nightmare.  If I could have reached through the pages to slap her silly, I would have.  Many times.   And poor Tilly is trying so hard to fit in to a family that she doesn't thing she belongs in.  Together they are just trying to make it through life and love.

Nadia Knows Best is another successful story for Jill Mansell.  Now how long do I have to wait for the next one?

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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