Wednesday, October 30, 2013

(87)A Nantucket Christmas by Nancy Thayer

A Nantucket Christmas

Pages: 224
Publication Date: October 29, 2013

Can you believe that Christmas books are already hitting the bookstore shelves? It is hard to believe that it is that time of year again, but here it is upon us!

In A Nantucket Christmas Nancy Thayer takes us back to the beautiful island of Nantucket.  We meet Nicole and her new husband, Sebastian.  Both have been married before, but Sebastian is the only one of the two to have had children with his first wife.  Even though Nicole has only met Sebastian's daughter once, she is both excited and apprehensive about having the high-maintenance  Kennedy and her young family for Christmas. When Kennedy arrives and starts making incredible demands (even for a pregnant woman), Nicole finds it hard to hold on to her "good will towards man."  And then the ex-wife shows up making it an even more awkward situation.  Will Nicole make it through the holidays?  And will her marriage survive the stress of it all?

A Nantucket Christmas was a really cute book and a super fast read.  And I predict that in the not too distant future it will be a really cute holiday movie, too.  I have always enjoyed Nancy Thayer's picturesque world of Nantucket  and I was beyond excited when I heard that she was writing a Christmas novel.  Trust me, she did not disappoint, from her words I imagine Nantucket just as perfect in winter as in summer. Nicole is a great character and her warmth and genuine spirit radiates off of the pages.  She is the kind of person that I want to be my friend.    I want to warn you though, there is an abandoned puppy dog featured in the book and his story can be a bit tough to read, especially if you have a soft spot for critters.

Bottom line, if you are looking for a book to get you ready for the upcoming holiday season, then A Nantucket Christmas is definitely a must read for you.  Nancy Thayer is guaranteed to put you in the Christmas spirit like no other!

Monday, October 28, 2013

(86)Hush Little Baby by Suzanne Redfern

Hush Little Baby 

Pages: 368
Publication Date: October 8, 2013

By anyone's standards it appears as if Jillian Kane has it all.  A very successful career as an architect, two beautiful children, and a handsome husband who apparently dotes on his wife and children.  The reality is really quite different, because every time Gordon Kane walks in the door Jillian is in fear of her life. He is usually careful to not leave bruises that are visible, but the one time he nearly strangled her to death Jillian was ready to leave.  She ran to her parents house and the shock of those bruises caused her father to have a nearly fatal stroke.   Another time she planned to leave she discovered she was pregnant and she believed Gordon when he said he wouldn't do it again.  This time is different.  Gordon killed her lover and Jillian knows that she is next so she takes the kids and runs as far away as she can get. When Jillian is forced to emerge from hiding in order to save her daughter, she knows that she likely just sacrificed her life for her daughters.  Will her fears come true?  Will anyone believe her when she tries to explain that her husband is the monster, not her?

Hush Little Baby is a very compelling read that will have you riding an emotional roller coaster from start to finish.  Jillian is a very sympathetic character who has a lot of crap piled on her plate.  Any one of the things she deals with in this book would be enough to send someone over the edge, but the abuse, the weird family dynamics with her mother, her father's illness, the death of her lover, heck the affair itself, not to mention what happens to her daughter, Addie - all of it is just too much.  But never did it seem "over the top" in the story, it worked.   At the beginning of the book I found myself almost angry with Jillian for staying with Gordon, but the more I saw how Gordon used his position as a police officer as a weapon, the more I understood how difficult it was for her to leave.   I also really liked all of the supporting characters in this novel, from Jillian's lawyer, Conner to Goat and the others in Washington, they all added an element of realness to this novel.

Bottom line,  Hush Little Baby has all of the makings of a being a great book club selection.  There is even a wonderful reader's guide at the end of the book to guide discussion. While some of the subject matter may be tough to read, Hush Little Baby is a great read that will engage you from the very first page.  Looking for a great read?   Grab Hush Little Baby and get ready for one heck of a ride.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

(85)It Takes Balls by Josh Wolf

It Takes Balls

Pages: 256
Publication Date: March 19, 2013

Shhhhh, I have a secret to share with you.  It may come as a complete surprise to some of you, but I love raunchy, frat boy humor. In fact the raunchier the better. I had never heard of Josh Wolf before reading this book, but the title alone made me laugh out loud,, so I was willing to give it a shot.

Josh Wolf was still fairly young when he found himself a single dad with three young children. They were all crammed in a one room apartment and while Josh was trying to make a living as a stand-up comic and to make ends meet he becomes the "peanut butter and jelly" guy.  And endeavor which hysterically ends with a visit from the health department.  Dating as a single dad is fuel for the hysterical fire, too.  From using his son as a wing man to getting busy in his Toyota Sienna, the laughs are never-ending. From tales of coaching little league to taking his teen daughter across country for her first kiss, Josh Wolf regales us with hysterical tale after hysterical tale.

Having not known anything about Josh Wolf at all I knew that I was taking a risk with It Takes Balls.  A little Google search tells me that Josh Wolf is no longer struggling at stand-up comedy, but a regular on Chelsea Lately. His tales had me laughing so hard that my husband kept saying "what is so funny".  Some of it was raunchy and total frat boy type of humor, like when Josh and his buddies went to Vegas. Other stories were sweet, but you had to search for the sweet under the foul language and scathing insults. I think it goes without saying that you will find  f-bombs and mentions of "boobies" generously dispersed throughout this book.

Bottom line, if f-bombs and "boobies" don't offend you, then you must pick up It Takes Balls for a few hours of laugh out loud, raunchy humor. That much laughter is guaranteed to be good for your soul.

Monday, October 21, 2013

(84)45 Pounds (More or Less) by K.A. Barson

45 Pounds (More or Less)

Pages: 256
Publication Date: July 11, 2013

For sixteen year old Ann Galardi weight has always been a topic that she would rather avoid.  Her perfect size six mother is always commenting on her size, her food choices, her lack of exercise and it is tough for Ann to hear.  She knows she is fat.  She knows that she shouldn't eat at Mondo Burgers, but the fast food joint has been the one constant in her rather chaotic childhood.  Her parents split up when she was young, they have both remarried and had "new" families with their new spouses.  It is a lot for any kid to take.

Ann's favorite aunt, Jackie has announced that she is getting married and wants Ann to be a bridesmaid.  Ann has only two months to lose 45 pounds (more or less) and she embarks on a journey that has her doing everything from a fad diet that costs so much money Ann gets a part time job to pay for it to trying to dance the weight away while learning how to dance the Thriller. At the same she is trying to navigate life as an overweight teen and it is not easy.  Will Ann be able to lose the weight and deal with the food issues that have plagued her her whole life?  Or will she just give up and hide the rest of her life?

45 Pounds (more or less) deals with some pretty heavyweight topics, but it was handled in such an eye opening way that it is a definitely must read.  As most teens do, Ann was just living in this bubble that was her world. She was pretty "me, me me" and it wasn't until she overheard her four year old sister calling her teddy bear fat at a make-believe tea party that Ann came out of her bubble and started to realize what her insecurities (and her mother's) was doing to a four year old girl.  It was pretty powerful to read and was a bit of an "aha" for me as well.  I enjoyed seeing Ann blossom and make new friends and the fact that she deserved to be treated better than the way some of her friends were treating her.  The end was pretty satisfying too, especially for any girl who has felt like they need to change in order to "get the guy".

Bottom line, 45 Pounds (More or Less) is a little book that has a big message.   Being insecure over your body is not a new concept, women have been dealing with these issues since the beginning of time and I think K.A Barson has done a fabulous job at addressing those issues with Ann and her family.  Definitely worth the read and quite possibly one you should share with your daughters.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Monday, October 14, 2013

(83)The Rosie Project by Graeme Simison

The Rosie Project

Pages: 304
Publication Date: October 1, 2013

Socially awkward, thirty-nine year old genetics professor, Don Tillman has decided that it is time he find a life partner.  He undertakes his "wife project" in the same manner he undertakes every project, with methodical precision.  He even created a sixteen page questionnaire to help weed out the less than desirable candidates. When his best friend fellow professor, Gene, sends Rosie his way Don is mortified.  Rosie most certainly does not meet his criteria, but there is something about her that enchants Don, a man not used to having emotions. Don decides that even though Rosie does not qualify for "The Wife Project" he will help her find her biological father with "The Father Project".  In the process Don's perfectly ordered world is challenged in ways he never though possible.  And to his surprise he finds that he rather enjoys Rosie and her chaotic ways of life. Will Don be able to help Rosie find her biological father?  Will Don be able to look past Rosie's "faults" and find out love is more than just an emotion?

The Rosie Project is one of those laugh out loud books that will enchant you.  To say that Don Tillman is "quirky" is a great understatement.  Fans of Sheldon Cooper and The Big Bang Theory will recognize the regimented schedule that rules Don's life.  From his weekly meal schedule to his workouts and even their trip to New York City, he has every minute of his life scheduled so as to not waste time.  Watching Rosie disrupt his schedule and his world is really quite amusing. I think that I most enjoyed their trip to New York City and watching Don give up that schedule for just a few days was entertaining.   Even though I found Don's personality entertaining, there were times that I found myself getting bored with the endless details of his life. It wasn't enough to prevent me from liking the book, just mildly annoying.

Bottom line, The Rosie Project was a really cute and entertaining novel.   Don, like Sheldon Cooper, is one of those characters that you are either going to love or going to hate.  Watching his relationship with Rosie blossom was sweet, heartwarming, and quite humorous.  If you are looking for a little lighter fare, check out The Rosie Project, you won't regret it, I promise!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

(82)Red Hill by Jamie McGuire

Red Hill

Pages: 368
Publication Date: October 1, 2013

For x-ray tech and single mother, Scarlet, a typical day is a busy day at work and means utter chaos with lots of hurting people.  For Nathan a typical day means picking up his daughter, Zoe, at school and going home to his unhappy wife. For Miranda and Ashley their normal day usually involves their boyfriends Cooper and Boyd.  But today is not like your typical day.  The country is on fire with news of this pandemic sweeping the country.  A pandemic where the infected come back to life after dying and must feed off of the living.  All four of these people start out the day as strangers and by the end of the day they have one thing in common, they want to get to Red Hill. A secluded farm that is well stocked with both food and ammunition.   Will they be able to make it to Red Hill before the shufflers get to them?

You know I am a sucker for a good zombie novel.  And a zombie novel by Jamie McGuire, well without a doubt I was all over it.  Red Hill was an incredibly fast read,  told from the alternating viewpoints starting with Scarlet.   I enjoyed Red Hill, I really did, but I think that if the author had focused on just one story to tell or even two, I would have become more invested in them than I did and end up loving the book.  I flew through the book, but I found myself wanting more.  I think I wanted the same connection to the characters that I got with Beautiful Disaster. I think if the author had just focused on Nathan and Scarlet I would have gotten that connection, but having said that, I understand why she included Ashley and Miranda.  They brought the story full circle.  I did like the way the story ended, there was closure, but also let a little window open for a sequel.

Bottom line, if you are a fan of post-apocalyptic novels then you will read this book and enjoy it - notice I say enjoy, not love. If you are fans of Jamie McGuire's other novels then you should read this novel and you will enjoy it - notice I said enjoy it, not love it.  Go into without high expectations and you will find yourself enjoying an afternoon or two of reading.  Let me know what you think!

Monday, October 7, 2013

(81)Doomed by Chuck Palahniuk


Pages: 336
Publication Date: October 8, 2013

Madison Spencer is not your typical thirteen year old girl.  First of all she is dead.  She died on her thirteenth birthday and it was a fluke revenge thing on Halloween that left Madison roaming Purgatory, a place you and I know as Earth.   Madison does what any thirteen year old ghost does, she goes to the place she identifies with being home,for her it is a penthouse in New York City.  But, instead of finding her parents grieving their loss, she runs into the ghost of her deceased Grandmother and discovers that her father is an adulterer.   Being dead is not the only unique thing about Madison, she is also the daughter of wolves, aka celebrities. Their unique, nomadic lifestyle is not really conducive to great parenting, not to mention the fact that they sold their souls to Satan long ago.   So rather than parent her, they choose to send her off to upstate New York with her grandparents, where a tragedy so horrific occurs that it scars Madison for the rest of her short life.  As Madison roams the Earth she reflects on her short life and the events that led to her death and she comes to the realization that she was really Doomed from the very beginning.

Anyone who is familiar with the works of  Chuck Palahniuk knows that my summation was very whitewashed.   Don't be misled by a thirteen year old protagonist, Doomed is a very dark novel. To be blunt, Madison is a little shit and was not well liked by anyone, including her very own parents.   There are some really graphic, really dark scenes that take place while Madison is with her grandparents.  Like jaw-dropping scenes, but I would expect nothing less from Chuck Palahniuk.  There was a point early on in the book where I realized that I was reading some exceptional writing.  Palahniuk has such a descriptive way of writing that you forget you are reading about something dark and scary.

Bottom line, I am not sure how I made it this long without reading something by such a popular, prolific author. I am glad that I read Doomed, it was a great novel, but be very aware that this novel is not for anyone with a weak stomach.  But, if you are looking for something to get you in the Halloween mood, then this one might be just for you.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

(80)Leaving Haven by Kathleen McCleary

Leaving Haven

Pages: 352
Publication Date: October 1, 2013

Alice and Georgia have been best friends for many, many years.  They have daughters around the same age and they enjoy watching their daughters grow up so close.  Even though she seems to have it all, Georgia can't help but feeling that her family is incomplete.  No matter what they do, Georgia just can't seem to get (or stay) pregnant again.  Alice decides to help her friend in a very generous way and donates an egg to help her have that baby.    Through it all, Alice is there for her friend, but as the pregnancy is coming to an end Georgia discovers a shocking secret that rocks her entire world and changes everything in her life.   Will this baby be the blessing she had been hoping for or will this baby destroy everything that Georgia holds dear?

Leaving Haven is a really good novel.  I found myself sucked into the dynamics of the various friendships.   I enjoyed reading about the deep friendship between Georgia and Alice, the ease with which their friends ebbs and flows, it was genuine and real.  Well until it wasn't.  What happened (being careful with spoilers) really touched me and the author did a really good job conveying Georgia's emotions.   I also found myself getting really ticked off at a certain male figure in the novel.  He was so selfish and so thoughtless, yet he was still loved by those who shouldn't love him anymore.  I don't get it.

Bottom line,  I had to be a little light on my review because I don't want to give anything away.  Leaving Haven was a great novel about relationships with those we love the most.  Love, betrayal, forgiveness, redemption, all touched upon. The book does come with a readers guide, so it would make a great selection for your next book club.

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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