Wednesday, September 29, 2010

#140 Such a Pretty Face by Cathy Lamb

Wow!  I am so into her books right now and very disappointed I have finished them.  I thought there were more or I would have spread them out a bit.

In this book the heroine is Stevie, who in her early 30's has a heart attack because of her obesity.  She goes through gastric bypass and loses 170 lbs.  This is where the book starts, her dealing with her weight loss and new life.  She realizes that in order to start her new life, she has to deal with the issues of her past. 

All of Ms. Lamb's characters are so rich that you feel like your really inside their heads.  Stevie is no different.  She is insecure, kind and generous.  I really liked watching her growth in the book as she struggles to gain confidence.

The cast of characters includes her cousins, one is a news anchor and anorexic on the verge of collapse, the other an ex ball player who is too nervous to even talk to women and has started a business of sex dolls.  The sex dolls themselves are backdrops during a lot of the story.  The story also includes her aunt and uncle who raised her.

They raised her after her grandparents died.  Stevie had enormous tragedy in her life, with a schizophrenic mother.  Her mother died after throwing Stevie, Stevie's little sister Daisy and herself off a bridge.  Stevie was the only one to survive.

The book was tragic in many ways but also had some comedy.  The way Stevie would dash into bushes trying to hide from her handsome new neighbor cracked me up!! 

Overall this was a fantastic book and I highly recommend it and all of hers.  My grade is definitely an A.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

#139 Julia's Chocolates by Cathy Lamb

Okay I am forgetting a book somewhere, but I remember the next three because they were great.  I found a new writer I absolutely adore and will follow all she writes.  Ms. Lamb is an extraordinary storyteller.  Her characters are so rich and wonderful I feel like I know them.  Her books are hard to put down when they are done. 

Do you ever read a book that you are so into you need time to digest it all before you can begin a new book?  This is how I am with all of her books so far.  I have now read four of them.  I'm not too sure about her books that she has written with others, they seem more genre than these books.  I was disappointed to know there were only four of these books so far, but hopefully she will keep writing!

This is from

From Publishers Weekly

The quirky debut romance from Lamb opens as Julia Bennett flees the Boston altar where her blueblood abuser fiancéuppance for abusers of all types.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
I really loved all the characters in this book!  Stash is so endearing and his love for Aunt Lydia is beautiful and comedic at the same time.  Aunt Lydia is so wonderfully quirky, you can't help but love her and laugh.  Julia of course is so tragically sad.  I have found that with her books the characters are all tragic, but heroic at the same time.  They are heroic just for managing to get up every morning.  This was definitely worth the time to read. 
I give this one an A!

#138 Family Album by Penelope Lively


Product Description

A novel of family intrigue from "one of the most accomplished writers of fiction of our day" (The Washington Post)

All Alison ever wanted was a blissful childhood for her six children, with summers at the beach and birthday parties on the lawn at their family home. Together with Ingrid, the family au pair, she has worked hard to create a real "old-fashioned family life." But beneath its postcard sheen, the picture is clouded by a distant father, Alison's inexplicable emotional outbursts, and long-repressed secrets that no one dares mention. For years, Alison's adult children have protected her illusion of domestic perfection-but as each child confronts the effects of past choices on their current adult lives, it becomes evident that each must face the truth.
 This one I would say is ok.  I wasn't that enthused with it and don't really have a lot to say on it.  It wasn't horrible, but it wasn't great either.  My grade for this would be a C-.

#137 Full of Grace by Dorothea Benton Frank

Okay so I am really behind on my blogging.  I have 7 books or so I need to blog. 

I have always enjoyed this author's books in the past, so this was one I had in my stack of TBR's and thought I would give it a try. 

I really enjoyed it.  I am a somewhat lapsed Catholic, I may not go to church every Sunday but I believe in the church's teachings and try.  There was a lot in this book that I could relate to in my life.


From Booklist

Meet the Russos: Big Al and Connie, former New Jersey-ites who, in their Hilton Head retirement community, stick out like cannolisRussos. More than his Irish heritage, Michael's work in stem-cell research and his lapsed Catholicism make him persona non grata at Casa Russo. Constantly at her mother's beck and call, Grace unselfishly travels home whenever there's a family crisis, but when Michael is diagnosed with brain cancer, Grace desperately needs her family's support. Will their devout faith prevent them from giving it, and can Grace resolve her own religious doubts in the face of this challenge? A masterful storyteller, Frank specializes in resilient characters who survive thanks to a saucy combination of grit and humor, and her vibrantly eccentric Russo clan may be her most endearing creation yet. Carol Haggas

Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
I liked the priest that Grace meets through her job.  Its been a while so I can't remember his name but his attitude is like some priests I have been lucky enough to know.  They believe that you don't have to be perfect to have a great relationship with God and that there are ways to compromise on the science vs religion.  You can be true to your beliefs and still make way for experimental medical breakthroughs.  You just also have to have faith to allow for the possibility of the miracle.
For me my faith is a very personal issue and it is something I have struggled with but I am fortunate to have had priests in my life that have set me on the right path and given me permission to doubt and be angry without the guilt.  It makes it a lot easier to believe.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it was thought provoking and entertaining at the same time.  My grade for this is an B+.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

#136 Pieces of Happily Ever After by Irene Zutell

So this I finished last week, it was good.

Alice finds out her husband is having an affair with his new client who happens to be a movie star.  Of course the tabloids pick up on it and lay siege to Alice's house.  All this while her mother's Alzheimer's is progressing and trying to deal with her new neighbors. 

She definitely has her hands full. 

I'm not going to go too much into it, but I did enjoy the book.  It was entertaining.  I wouldn't say it was a great piece of literature, but it was entertaining.

My grade for it is a B-.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

#135 Irreplaceable by Stephen Lovely

I really enjoyed this book until pretty much the end of it. gross.I will give away part of it because it was gross.
In this book Isabel is the wife of Alex who dies while out riding her bicycle.  After she is declared brain dead, Alex must honor his late wife's wishes to donate her organs.

Enter, Janet the recipient of Isabel's heart.  She figures out who the heart belonged to after hearing the hospital staff talking.  She then begins to send letters to Alex. 

Overall the book is about these two families coming to terms with what happened to each of their families.  For Janet the recipient, it hasn't all been perfect.  She struggles with gratitude and guilt.  Of course there is also the physical issues that come along with it, but she is grateful to be alive. 

I imagine it would be hard to be an organ recipient.  You would be so extremely grateful to be alive, but I would be afraid that I didn't deserve it.  The other person might have lived a better life given the chance.  It would be a struggle for me and one I hope to never have to deal with.

The gross part was while Alex and his mother in law are out visiting Janet and her family they sleep together.  I'm sorry but that part alone ruined the whole book for me, it was disgusting.  It totally tainted the rest of the book for me.  Throughout the book you knew that they were close and at times they talk about how she was like his mother, so to then put them together sexually was unnecessary and disgusting.

That scene tainted my grade for the book, without it I would have said a B, with it I have to give it a C!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

#134 Still Missing by Chevy Stevens

Wow!  I just finished this book and haven't yet had a chance to let it "simmer".  When I read a really good book I like to let it simmer for a while and absorb it.  This was an amazing, powerful book. 

In this book Annie O'Sullivan is abducted from an open house and held captive for over a year.  The book is told from her perspective through her therapy sessions.  I liked that from the beginning you know she had escaped from the madman.  I thought that might take away from the book, but you were still surprised when it happened and the ending was shocking.

This character was so great.  She has to be one of my favorite literary characters now.  Why?  Because she was strong, she was real, she survived.  It was a heartbreaking tale made only the worse by the ending which I won't give away because I was absolutely STUNNED! 

I wouldn't call it a so called thriller, but had some elements.  The book is mainly how this woman survived what would be a woman's worst nightmare in so many ways.

I don't want to say more because I don't want to give anything away, this is a definite MUST READ.   My grade on this is an A. 

#133 Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner

Okay, truthfully her books have been hit or miss for me.  Some I like others eh, not so much.  But this subject matter was interesting to me.

This book is about how the family of the disgraced politician handles the aftermath.  Sylvie the husband is in her car being driven home when she gets the first phone call from her best friend that her life is being shredded. 

Diana, the oldest daughter and a doctor is having her own affair with one of the interns in the hospital she works at.  Lizzie the youngest daughter is fresh out of rehab, babysitting her nephew Milo.

They all struggle through their various issues in their relationships and family.  It was a good book.  I have always wondered what happened to these women and children after the cameras are rolling.  It's bad enough to have a husband cheat, but to have it all come out so publicly such as with Tiger Woods and his poor wife.  That would almost make it as unforgivable to me as the act itself.

This book easily drew me in to these women's lives.  I was rooting for them the whole time.  I liked that in the book Richard, the disgraced politician, husband and father, was a secondary character.  This book was about how his actions impacted the people in his life. 

I really enjoyed this one, it wasn't hard hitting or anything, but very enjoyable.  My grade is a B+.

#132 His Last Letter by Jeane Westin

I have read alot about Queen Elizabeth and her relationship with her Robin, the Earl of Leicester so I wasn't sure this book would give anything new, but it was a different persective.

This is more about the end of Robert Dudley's life.  He was Elizabeth's beloved Robin, her one true love according to the book.  Based on non fiction books I've read I do believe that.  No matter how angry he made her, she would forgive him.

This book starts at Robin's death and then looks back in time on their relationship together.  It also talks to her claims of being the Virgin Queen.  I don't know if its because we are so cynical or what, but I've never really read a book where her virginity is true and this is no different.

Anyway I did think it was a good book and I enjoyed it since I hadn't really read a lot about her life during this time of her reign.

I would give this one a B.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

#131 Perfect Reader: A Novel

Well I do this this book should have been about me, but other than that it was okay.  :)

In this book Flora Dempsey learns her father an esteemed professor has died and left her his literary executor.  She calls it literary executionist. 

She moves into his house and has to confront her past as well as her father's life.  She is not sure who to trust as she tries to sort it all out.  Her father's girlfriend, who she never even knew about when he was alive, is trying to push her to publish the poems.  Flora hadn't even read the poems but once she did she feels hurt and unprepared for them to go out into the world.

So that's the gist of the book.  I enjoyed it once I got into it.  I did find it difficult to get into. I thought it moved pretty slow.  I hated the girlfriend, Cynthia.  I felt she was way to pushy and only interested in herself.

I think one of the points of the book is how well do we know our parents?  We think we know almost everything about them, but it is possible for them to have an entirely other life without our knowledge.  Even as adults I think we expect our parents to be something beyond just a regular human.

I would give this a "grade" of a C.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

#130 Miracle on the 17th Green by James Patterson, Peter de Jonge

So I thought this was a new book, but its a reissue from 1996.  Well it is a good book that I missed, so I am grateful for the reissue!

In this book Travis plays golf on Christmas Day when all of a sudden with clarity he is able to see where his puts will go.  Thinking it a fluke he keeps playing until he realizes he has missed Christmas dinner with his family.  His marriage is already on the brink of divorce, this does not help matters.

After Christmas he loses his job.  With his marriage on the rocks, no job he decides what the heck and signs up for Qualifying School for the Senior PGA Tour.  He makes it and begins his first season on tour. 

This was a really good book, but a very quick read.  I finished it in about two hours.

I don't personally play golf, although I used to occasionally, but my husband does.  I think that's what drew me to it.  It is a really good book, but I do think you need to understand a bit about golf to really get it.  Plus I thought some of his descriptions of the rounds of golf went on too long.

Other than that, very enjoyable.  I would give this a very solid B.

#129 How to Be an American Housewife by Margaret Dilloway

In this book Shoko is determined to leave her past behind and realizes the best chance for the life she wants is by marrying an American GI and moving to America.  The book is her story.  It opens with her wanting to get back to Japan to make peace with her brother Taro.

As the book starts your not really sure why Taro disowned her besides his hatred for Americans that begins after World War II.  You learn through the book that there is more to it than meets the eye.  Part of the book is through Shoko's eyes, and the other part is through Sue's eyes who takes the trip to Japan for her mother.  

It was a wonderful story about redemption and forgiveness.  It was heartbreaking and beautiful at the same time.  I really enjoyed it.  It shows humanity.  Shoko was not a perfect person, but she did the best with the circumstances given to her.  She had endured a hard life, partly her own making, but not all.  I guess I tried to put myself in her shoes of coming to another country with an entirely different culture and language.

I would give this one a B. 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

#128 One Day by David Nicholls

Wow, this was a great book!  Yes it deserves an exclamation point.  It was that good. 

This book starts in 1988 where Emma and Dexter have just graduated college and have "hooked up" for the night and from there a friendship begins.  The book checks in with the characters each year to see where they are and you are able to get a glimpse of what their life has been during the previous year.

Can I just say that Mr. David Nicholls is Brilliant (yes with a capital B)?  He is.  The way he wove the story was breathtaking.  The story itself was good, but the way it was written made it even more enjoyable. 

I read a lot and it takes a lot to shock me, but this one did it.  I won't give anything away about this book because it is truly a treasure you need to read for yourself to find out. 

The characters are written so well they are truly three dimensional.  I felt like I truly knew the characters.  They are both basically decent people or trying to be, but you see their flaws as well.  They are laid bare to you the reader to judge. 

I didn't have high hopes for this book because it has been getting such raves everywhere and usually those books are not ones I end up enjoying.  A lot of those books get so carried away in telling a story differently the story gets lost or just isn't very good.  This was truly an exception it told a story differently, but most important it told a wonderful story.  It was at times sad and others funny.  It was almost with a sense of sadness I finished the book.  I definitely had to take some time before picking up my next book to let the characters sit with me for a while before I said goodbye.

Monday, August 23, 2010

#127 The Court of Common Pleas: A Novel

From the Barnes and Noble site:

At sixty-three, Judge Gregory Brennan is on the brink of retirement. With his youngest daughter headed for college, he envisions traveling abroad, basking in a repose that his demanding career has not allowed, with his wife, Audrey, at his side. But Audrey has other ambitions. At forty-nine, she sees the mythic empty nest as an opportunity to explore her own potential — as a medical student. When Audrey reveals her plans, Gregory is overwhelmed, and he emotionally retreats, causing a rift that neither one of them ever anticipated.

Marshall has been praised for her insight into the complexities of modern marriage, capturing it as “an institution about competing needs and shifting wants” (Baltimore Sun). In THE COURT OF COMMOM

I removed any kind of review of the book which was the first and last sentence because they were good reviews.  I did not care for this book at all.  I felt it very tedious and quite simply boring.  I did not find any of the characters intriguing.  There are books where you don't like the characters, but to me in this book the characters were blah.  Even in books where the characters aren't likable I can get caught up in their story to a certain degree, but with these two I could have cared less what happened to them.

This one I hate to do it but its an F.

#126 A Super Sad True Love Story: A Novel by Gary Shteyngart

I'm not really into futuristic books, but this was different, it was a love story. Review

Amazon Best of the Month, August 2010: Welcome to the day after tomorrow. In Gary Shteyngart's near-future New York, the dollar has been pegged to the yuan, the American Restoration Authority is on high security alert, and Lenny Abramov, the middle-aged possessor of a decent credit score but an absurdly low--and embarrassingly public--Male Hotness rating, is in love with the young Eunice Park. Like many of the clients of his employer, the Post-Human Services division of the Staatling-Wapachung Corporation, he'd also like to live forever, but all he really wants is to love Eunice. And for a time, despite the traditional challenges of their gaps in age and ethnicity and the more modern hurdle of an oppressively networked culture that makes your most private identity as transparent as the Onionskin jeans that are all the rage, he does. Super Sad True Love Story is as corrosively hilarious as you'd expect from the satirist of Absurdistan and The Russian Debutante's Handbook, but what may surprise you are the moments when the satire hits bedrock and the story becomes--no air quotes required--sad, true, and very much a love story. --Tom Nissley
This is another one that the characters just aren't very likable.  You kind of feel sorry for Lenny, he's just an idiot really. He has so missed the boat and doesn't even realize it.  He falls in love with Eunice while in Rome the day before he is to return home.  She is really not into him but I think feels sorry for him at first. 
After he returns home he continues to "write" her through their futuristic devices and begs her to come to New York and live with him.  Through a series of her communications you learn she wants to come home to help out her family who is dealing with her abusive father.  She ends up coming to live with Lenny as a way to come home without living with her parents.
They have a very dysfunctional relationship.  Lenny worships the ground Eunice walks on and she barely controls her dislike of him.  She reduces him on a regular basis to begging at her feet for her to stay with him.
You really can't respect either of them.  I have to say for me the most interesting part of the story was the background political stuff.  In this book, America is on the verge of an economical collapse.  The president is a dictator and the National Guard is ruthless. 
I would have to give this one a C also.

#125 The Wilde Women: A Novel by Paula Wall

From Booklist off Amazon's website:

The Great Depression dealt a hard blow to Five Points, Tennessee, and young Pearl Wilde feels just as leveled when she finds her fiance in flagrante delicto with her sister, Kat. Pearl promptly leaves town, and speculation runs rampant in the years she's away. Various sightings are reported, and the postcards she sends her sister from all over the globe are read and digested by the gossip mill before Kat ever sees them. When Pearl finally returns, with all the glamour of Ginger Rogers and the mystery of Greta Garbo, the ornery people of Five Points are curious. When she decides to open a whorehouse, the overworked women are unhappy, and further angered when their lazy men are recruited to restore the old mansion Pearl has purchased. Each and every character in Wall's tall tale has a uniquely flawed personality, and Wall has a wonderful sense of place and an adept way with words, adding up to an enthralling novel. Maria Hatton

Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
This was a decent book, I wouldn't recommend anyone rush out to buy it though.  None of the characters are all that likable. 
It did have a bit of a surprise at the end that I won't give away.  I really don't have a lot to say about this book because I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it.  On a grade level I would give it a C.

#124 The Wimpy Kid Movie Diary by Jeff Kinney

I host a boys' book club and this was our last selection.  It had been some time since we met, but I never read the book until right before our meeting, which was Friday night. 

Our format is that the boys read the book at home and have to come up with things about the book in a notebook.  The minimum is 3 but they always go beyond.  We meet at McDonald's or someplace kid friendly and have a meal then our meeting.  After the meeting we move on to some fun activity such as bowling, skating, the movie etc.  The previous book club was going to see the movie Diary of a Wimpy Kid. 

The boys love the Wimpy Kid books and they have been book club books every time they come out. 

It is a really cute series about a boy starting middle school and dealing with an obnoxious older brother and other pitfalls along the way.

They are great books that really open up the conversation about how to treat others and other good lessons.  This time I had them write letters to the author.  I will get them sent out this week and hopefully Mr. Kinney will enjoy them as much as I did.

I'm starting a younger book club for two of the boys' siblings.  This one will have boys and girls so it should be interesting.  It's a very rewarding way to spend some time, let me tell you.  When one of the boys tells me, "I'm reading for fun," which is a first for him, I melted. 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

#123 The Chocolate Lovers' Club by Carole Matthews

Wow, I only have 87 more to go!  I am halfway through one so I think I will get this done by the end of the year.

This is the type of book I consider "chick lit".  I know earlier in the week or last week on another blog they were talking about what makes it "chick lit" or women's fiction.  I think of "chick lit" as a fun fluff type of book.  I hate that they are degraded because I really enjoy them.  I think every book has its purpose.  There are times I want something light hearted and fun.

In this book Lucy has formed a chocolate lovers' club with three other women she meets at a chocolate shop.  They are all dealing with pretty heavy issues at the time.  First there is Lucy herself who just found her boyfriend of five years with another woman again.  This seems to be a recurring theme in their relationship.

Autumn is a fellow member of the club.  She is an heiress, but works teaching art at a rehab center.  She is the resident good girl of the group.  She is struggling with her drug addicted brother who showed up needing a place to stay. 

Nadia is another member of the group, she is a stay at home mom dealing with overwhelming debt from her husband's online gambling.

Chantal is in a sexless marriage and having many flings.  She picks up a guy at a hotel bar and he ends up robbing her while she sleeps.  She tries to cover it up and the girls go on a "caper" to recover her stolen items.

I really liked this book.  It was lighthearted and fun and made me laugh.  Lucy is a lovable klutz, as a fellow klutz I can't help but like her!!!

I would give this one a B+

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Television and Books

So our big screen tv in our family room is out right now at the repair shop.  So I answered a question on a blog about listening to music while I read and I don't, but I do usually have the tv on.  I never really noticed until I was reading last night and noticed how quiet it was.  The husband was out so it was just me and our puppy, and even she was being quiet. 

I didn't realize though how accustomed I had gotten to all the background stuff until it was gone.  It was weird, and I'm not sure if its in a good way or bad.  I know the tv does distract me so maybe I will get more actual reading done.  I still have 88 books to read in a little over 19 weeks.  I'm falling behind again, time to catch up.

My short term goal is to get 6 more books read by Monday, this includes the two I am working on, one at home and one at work on my lunch break.  I should be able to do that, then I only need about 4.5 a week.  I will try for the next few weeks to get 6 done a week and hopefully I can have that down to one a week.  I need to figure the math!

I hope everyone is having a good week and reading some good books.  I need to make sure I am following all of my new followers so I will probably be working on that this week as well!

Monday, August 16, 2010

#122 The Girl from Charnelle by K.L. Cook

This was a good book well written but quite disturbing.

Laura's Mom walks out one day and leaves the family consisting of Laura's father and her three brothers.  This leaves Laura to look after them all.  At the town's New Year's Party bringing in 1960 the family is hoping for some better times.  Laura is approached by a man her father works with and whom she babysits for his little children.  Thus begins an affair between the 16 year old girl and the 30 something man, John.

This is the second book I read this week dealing with an affair between an older man and a younger (underage) girl.  Both were consensual.  In both of them, the men never really face the consequences of their actions.  Yes in this book Laura is more the instigator, but he is still the adult.  It is very disturbing to me that these men get away with their actions.

That being said I had to read the book to find out how it ended.  I had to find out what consequences these characters had to face.  I also was waiting to see how it would come out in the end and the effect on Laura's relationships with the people in her life.  So I somewhat enjoyed the book.  Its a mixed review for me I couldn't even begin to put a grade on it!

#121 Dear Zoe by Philip Beard and a thank you

First I want to thank everyone for following my blog.  After the Blog Hop last Friday I found all sorts of new blogs and I got some new followers as well.  So welcome to my new followers!!  I'm very excited.

So I actually started another book to be my 121 but I really couldn't get into it so I put it down.  I was glad I did when I got into this book.

In this book, 15 year old Tess is writing a letter to her half sister, Zoe, who died on 9/11.  She didn't die in the terrorist attack, she was hit by a car and died while Zoe was supposed to be watching her.  The letter is about the aftermath of dealing with her death.

I can't even imagine the grief that a family would feel in the situation.  But the book was written with such raw honesty I could feel that grief.  Tessa is struggling for her place in the family and dealing with her guilt.  Overwhelmed she goes to stay with her real father who is constantly out of work and is a small time drug dealer.

It was definitely a book that made me cry.  Well written and honest.  Mr. Beard is a fantastic writer.  The book grabbed my attention and held it.  I will be looking into other books of his.

I give this one an A.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop

Okay I figured out how to do the logo!  It was so easy, but I am impressed with myself!!! 

Jennifer at Crazy-For-Books hosts this each week.  Her question this week is "How many books do you have on your TBR shelf?"

Well to be honest I don't have them on a shelf ;) they are in boxes, I currently have 70 right now.  As for whats on my various lists I have at home, at work and on sticky notes all over are probably about 300 and growing as I read everyone's wonderful blogs!!!  I'm hoping to get about 10 read before I buy any more.  Let's hope I can do that, seriously buying books is an addiction!!!

Question for you, when you buy a book but by the time you think about reading it, it no longer sounds good, do you still try it anyway?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

#120 The Last Good Chance by Tom Barbash

Its been a couple of books since I had a winner and this was not it!!!

This is a story of an architect, Jack, who goes back to his small hometown and is working to develop the town.  Unbeknownst to him the town mayor and his own brother are working at removing hazardous waste from what was once a disposal site for it.  As is usually the case, the disposal was not done properly and is now being secretly moved so as not to disrupt the plans for remaking the town.

That's a brief summary, there are other characters such as Turner, Jack's friend and newspaper reporter who digs up the truth of the story.  Their friendship is sorely tested throughout the book.  I guess though I never got the impression that had a strong bond.

I can't even tell you why I didn't like this book to easily.  There was a story and at times interesting, but it just felt blah to me.  I think part of it was the characters, they weren't likable or even interesting to me.  There are very very few books that can survive having unlikeable characters and this was not one of them.

On a positive note there is the character of Jack's brother, Harris who tries to seek redemption and begins doing the right things just because they are right.  While I didn't like him, it was nice to see a character who just decided to do right for the sake of it, not because of any real crisis forcing him into it.  Yes his wife and new baby daughter had left him, but not because of the things he had done but because of the way he treated his wife.  It wasn't like a major conflict, he just new he didn't deserve the baby girl and decided to become the man that would deserve her.

Like I said the story had promise but I felt it fell flat.  I would give this one a C-.   

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Reading nonsense

I had no idea how to title this, so I just called it nonsense.

First off over the weekend I finally made a list of all the books I have at home waiting to be read the current number is 70 which does not include the book I am reading now.  I was floored!  I guess I can't tell my husband I "need"  books for a while.  My goal is to get 10-15 read before I buy anymore.  I just don't think I can do that, that means at least two weeks and my list of books I want keeps growing!  Yes I believe I have a serious addiction. 

Anyway I am trying to go through my books I've read and get rid of some because quite frankly my shelves are full and I have three big containers in my garage.  Most I will probably take to the library and donate.  I started thinking though and I would like to donate some to a homeless shelter or something.  Just because someone is homeless doesn't mean they wouldn't like a book right?  Am I nuts?  I don't know, I need to think on that, but I do think that the escape of a good book might be a welcome diversion for these people who are down on their luck.

Well that's it for today, I will try to post more on things other than reviews.  I do know I need to step up my reading this weekend to get back on track for my challenge.

#119 Lost in the Forest by Sue Miller


Eva, a divorced and happily remarried mother of three, runs a small bookstore in a town north of San Francisco. When her second husband, John, is killed in a car accident, her family’s fragile peace is once again overtaken by loss. Emily, the eldest, must grapple with newfound independence and responsibility. Theo, the youngest, can only begin to fathom his father’s death. But for Daisy, the middle child, John’s absence opens up a world of bewilderment, exposing her at the onset of adolescence to the chaos and instability that hover just beyond the safety of parental love. In her sorrow, Daisy embarks on a harrowing sexual odyssey, a journey that will cast her even farther out onto the harsh promontory of adulthood and lost hope.

I took out their review since this was from the Publisher.  Let me say that I didn't much care for this book.  I felt it had promise, when Mark takes in Theo right after John's death, I saw potential.  But that potential quickly went out the window.
First it has to be said that the sexual odyssey Daisy embarks on is with her mother's best friend's husband.  It never went into how absurdly wrong this relationship was whether consensual or not Daisy was too young.  Not to mention the moral implications.  Even when her father Mark finds out I was disappointed with how he handled it.
So this book was a major disappointment.  I have read other books by Sue Miller and have enjoyed them, I wouldn't say she is a favorite, but this one was a turn off for me and I will think twice before buying another book of hers.
I would give this one a D-.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

#118 Henry's Sisters by Cathy Lamb


This is off the website:

From Publishers Weekly

When the Bommarito sisters, Isabelle and Janie, hear that their domineering mother is going in for open heart surgery, they must forget the trauma of their childhood and return to their riverside Oregon hometown, Trillium River. Taking care of their mother and their demented grandmother (who believes she's Amelia Earhart) and watching after their mentally handicapped brother, Henry (possessed of an almost saintly, unconditional love for people), the independent sisters try to find a place in the world they've left behind. Lamb (The Last Time I Was Me) delivers grace, humor and forgiveness along with a litany of family trauma, which might seem heavy-handed in lesser hands. Fortunately, this finely pitched family melodrama is balanced with enough gallows humor and idiosyncratic characters to make it positively irresistible. (Aug.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Well this review leaves out Cecilia who is the third sister, I guess because she didn't need to come back to their childhood home she still lived in the area.
The characters were all "off" but wonderfully written!!  I cried quite a bit throughout this one.  It was fantastic.  The grandmother who thinks she is Amelia Earhart was so funny.  She seems so out of reality, but in her way she is able to process it all through her dementia.
I had a hard time with the character of their mother River.  At times I hated her and at others I pitied her.  She had a tough life, but some of it was her own pride's making. 
And of course the title character Henry is amazing.  I think how sad it is that only people with disabilities such as him are able to be such truly loving people.  There are so few other people able to keep from getting jaded by life.  He was a delight and I kept wishing that I knew him in real life.  He had such a great capacity for love. 
And yes, when I read a good book I do start thinking of the characters as real people.  This book was definitely one of those that I had to remind myself it was fiction.  Which is high praise to me.  I loved this book and give in an A+!!!!

#117 The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler

I haven't read a lot of Jane Austen so I wasn't sure how I would like this, but it was pretty good.  It wasn't a favorite, but I'm glad I read it. 

I want to state that I have not seen the movie and by the cast showing on the cover, not sure I want too.  To me none of them look like Bernadette, the older person of the group in her sixties and a riot!

I don't have a lot to say about this book.  Five women and one man meet each month to talk about a different Jane Austen book.  Through these meetings you learn all of their personal stories. 

I felt sorry for the only man of the group, Grigg.  It seems he tries so hard, but there is a bit of resistance to him by all the members of the group.  Even while they try to not like him, they also really do like him. 

It was an interesting book, but I can't really imagine the movie for it.  I would give this one a C!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Book Blogger Hop

My first time participating this is hosted by Jennifer at Crazy-For-Books; a great blog I found through Peaceful Reader  there are so many great links to so many great book blogs.

Books are my absolute passion so its nice to find others that feel the same way.

So the question of the week I am supposed to answer is do I listen to music when I read?  No I do not.  I guess I don't really hear anything when I am reading so it a waste to have music on.  Ask my husband, I don't hear a think when I am reading.  If he needs my attention it takes him sometime to finally get it.  :)

So yea, I am going to start hopping on different blogs now.  I'm excited!!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

#116 Rickles' Letters by Don Rickles

Let me start off by saying, what I saw of his comedy acts were mostly reruns on TV in the late 70's but I always thought he was so funny.  I enjoyed the way he could insult someone and not get punched!  I also knew he was someone I never wanted to meet in real life.

That being said I did have high hopes for the book.  I was a bit disappointed to find out the letters were never sent, just ones he made up for the book.  I think that really took away from it.  As I am reading all these insults to people I am thinking I could do it too since I never had to send them to the people.

I think what made him funny wasn't always what he said, but the reactions he provoked from others and that was impossible to capture in this book.

It was a quick read, took me less than an hour.  But it wasn't enjoyable for me.  I would have to give this one a D.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

#115 The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty

This is from the website:

From Booklist

Three years after Sophie Honeywell dumped Thomas Gordon right before he planned to propose, Sophie is bequeathed the house of his widowed aunt Connie on tiny Scribbly Island, site of the Munro baby mystery, just off the coast of Sydney. Thomas is the grandson of that baby, named Enigma after she was found in 1932 by sisters Connie and Rose Doughty, who raised her after her parents abruptly disappeared and turned the mystery into a profitable tourist attraction. Sophie, who at 39 hears the ticking of her biological clock getting louder, is delighted with the house, despite some family opposition to her inheriting it, and intrigued by Connie's matchmaking from beyond the grave. Moriarty has created a cast of appealing characters that she deftly juggles through various plot threads, notably Sophie's languishing love life and the mystery itself, previously revealed only to family members when they turned 40, ultimately revealed to all. With its unhappy childhoods, postpartum depression, and planned suicide, this is less frothy than the author's chick-lit debut Three Wishes (2004) but just as brisk and witty. Michele Leber

Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
I really enjoyed this book.  I think the characters all had real depth.  There wasn't one main character I didn't think, they all had their own story and just joined together with the rest.  There were parts of the book that you can't really be sure who it is about, but you can generally figure that out.
I heard it described as a darker chick lit.  I think that is an appropriate description.  My favorite characters were Rose and Enigma, they were a constant source of chuckles.  I could picture the two old ladies, clucking away at one another. 
I also really liked the ending, it wasn't the typical happily ever after, but for each character they found if not happiness, a sense of peace.
Well written, I would give this book a B. 

Thursday, July 29, 2010

#114 Bride Island by Alexandra Enders

This book was one of my $1.99 finds at!  I love those discounted books and sometimes I find real gems in there.  This wasn't a gem per se, but it was decent.

From Publishers Weekly

Polly Birdswell has been sober for four years and deems herself fit to regain custody of seven-year-old Monroe, whom she left as a baby, but her ex-husband disagrees. In addition to fighting for Monroe, Polly also wants the Maine island—home of childhood vacations and the sacred ground where her brother died—that her hard-drinking stepfather wants to sell. Polly's obsession with the island becomes as tiresome as the uninspired prose. Though novels of abandoned daughters may abound, stories from the mother's perspective are less common; unfortunately, the issue is hardly explored and what could have been provocative falls flat. Polly is repeatedly asked how she could have given up Monroe, but Enders fails to grasp the opportunity to give an insightful answer. Efforts to signify the island as a place of healing and salvation are heartfelt, but dull characters mired in a plodding plot defeat a promising concept.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved

While I have to agree with the above that where it had so much potential, it did fall flat.  The book never truly explores what led to Polly giving her daughter to her ex-husband.  Yes it says she was an alocoholic, but to me it seemed that it was not an agonizing decision for her but years later she feels bad so she wants her daughter back.  It also seems more that the decision was pushed upon her by her family and friends, not because of any soul searching or that she thought she was really the best parent for her daughter.

While it was intruiging enough to get me into it, I don't think it fully lived up to the potential it had.  The whole island business seemed more like a distraction than any real part of the story.  If I had to give it a letter grade I would say a C-.

#114 Middle Age: A Romance by Joyce Carol Oates

Normally I like her books, this one not so much. 

This is the synposis I pulled off of from Book Magazine:

"You leave home one afternoon, you never return as yourself," thinks a recently deceased man in the opening pages of Oates' immaculately plotted and emotionally resonant novel. The dead man is sculptor Adam Berendt (or is he really?), and the grieving community is the determinedly middle-aged Salthill-on-Hudson. The novel itself is both a good old-fashioned mystery and an inquiry into questions about identity and love, about who we become when one among us disappears. No one, it seems, ever really knew Adam, though that never stopped people from believing that he was their best friend or destined to be their lover. No one could name just why they loved him, but they did. No one is prepared for the marriages and dreams that crumble in his absence; for the tricks that memory plays; or for the revelations, both sudden and quiet, that ultimately lead Oates' cast toward more satisfying, honest, even dignified lives. There is light, a lot of it, at the end of this long book.

—Beth Kephart

I would totally disagree with the glowing recommendation above.  I thought all the characters were sniveling idiots.  Everyone in the book thinks they loved a man they knew absolutely nothing about.  Even the men who had one conversation with Adam thought they were best friends.  This Adam they were all "in love" with, didn't appear to be anything special to have everyone in love with him.  He sounded remote and obnoxious to me.  To me all the characters were delusional.

Besides the miserable characters, and I also hated the time jumps.  I liked that it fast forwarded the story, but it didn't flow well.  Personally I would have liked to have fast forwarded the book!!  This book took me a week to finish because I could not get into it.

I hate to give a book such a bad review, but honestly there wasn't anything redeemable about the book to me, nothing that made me pause and say maybe I am wrong.  So for that reason this is my first time I would grade the book as an F!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

#112, I Love You, Beth Cooper by Larry Doyle

This is one that has been on my TBR list for a while, and I had totally forgotten it was made into a movie until my niece reminded me. 

Simple premise, the valedictorian at a high school, Denis, declares his love for one of the coolest girls in the school, Beth.  Afterwards her boyfriend commences trying to kill him.  In the meantime Beth seeks him out and for one night they hang out along with her two best friends and his best friend.   Throughout this night while he is hanging out with Beth her boyfriend Kevin is a constant presence and continually beating the crap out of Denis. 

How Denis managed to stay out of the emergency room is beyond me. 

It was cute book, not great though.  I would put this on par with "Revenge of the Nerds" which I am probably showing my age by even referencing!  I'm not sure whether I want to see the movie or not after reading this.  I would give it a C.

#111 The Lady Elizabeth: A Novel by Alison Weir

Alison Weir is an amazing historical fiction writer.  I love her work!

Not much of a synopsis is really needed on this one, it is based on Queen Elizabeth before she became Queen.

Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry the VIII and Anne Boleyn.  There are considerable gaps with what is known to be fact about her and what were rumors.  This one took into account that certain rumors of an inappropriate relationship with a surrogate stepfather as fact. 

I find this time period fascinating.  What a horrible life people had back then all based on what religion they chose to practice.  I mean the normal citizens were expected to change based on the monarch's whim.  Elizabeth herself was always in a very precarious position up until she became Queen, for the main reason of who her mother was.

This was another wonderful book by Ms. Weir and I highly recommend it.  It was A+ in my eyes. 

#110 Family Ties by Danielle Steel

Family Ties: A Novel

Well this review is a few weeks late, but better late than never right?


Annie Ferguson was a bright young Manhattan architect. Talented, beautiful, just starting out with her first job, new apartment and boyfriend, she had the world in the palm of her hand — until a single phone call altered the course of her life forever. Overnight, she became the mother to her sister’s three orphaned children, keeping a promise she never regretted making, even if it meant putting her own life indefinitely on hold.

Now, at forty-two, as independent as ever, with a satisfying career and a family that means everything to her, Annie is comfortable being single and staying that way. She appears to have no time for anything else. With her nephew and nieces now young adults and confronting major challenges of their own, Annie is navigating a parent’s difficult passage between lending them a hand and letting go, and suddenly facing an empty nest. The eldest, twenty-eight-year-old Liz, an overworked, struggling editor in a high-powered job at Vogue, has never allowed any man to come close enough to hurt her. Ted, at twenty-four a serious and hardworking law student, is captivated by a much older, much more experienced woman with children, who is leading him much further than he wants to go. And the youngest, twenty-one-year-old Katie — impulsive, artistic, rebellious — is an art student about to make a choice that will lead her to an entirely different world she is in no way prepared for but determined to embrace.

Then, just when least expected, a chance encounter changes Annie’s life yet again in the most unexpected direction of all.

From Manhattan to Paris and all the way to Tehran, Family Ties is a novel that reminds us how challenging and unpredictable life can be, and that the powerful bonds of family are the strongest of all.
This was better than some of her books of late.  To be honest she was the first author I religiously followed and in fact I own almost, if not all of her books.  But for the past five years or so they had begun to bore me, they are all the same formula.  This one too follows the formula, but it was more interesting than some of her other recent books.
I liked the premise that a woman's life is turned upside down when she suddenly becomes the mother to her two nieces and her nephew.  Of course as in a lot of her books, money is not an issue, but there are other real struggles.  I do think she could have done more justice to the struggles of adjusting.  This book was more about how the three children although pretty much grown were all having problems at the same time.  I don't think it really dealt with the fact that she wasn't their real mother.  Of course in some ways that was part of the story that even though she wasn't biologically their mother, she was their mother of their heart.
Boy this is one of my worst nightmares is to suddenly after having no children being forced to raise my brother's children.  With my nieces and nephews I am in a great spot, I get to be the fun one.  While I try to offer advice if I can and if its wanted, at the end of the day I'm the fun aunt. 
So I would give this book probably a C.  It was better than some of her recent ones, but still predictable.  You could see everything that happened coming a mile away.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

#109 Anthropology of an American Girl by HIlary Thayer Hamann

I saw this book on web site somewhere and added to my list of tbr, and picked it up next time I was at the bookstore. Because I am horrible and recapping and never know quite how much to give away on a recap, I am copying the synopsis part off of

Hamann’s first novel follows Eveline Auerbach from her high school years in East Hampton, New York, in the 1970s through her early adulthood in the moneyed, high-pressured Manhattan of the 1980s.

Centering on Evie’s fragile relationship with her family and her thwarted love affair with Harrison Rourke, a professional boxer, the novel is both a love story and an exploration of the difficulty of finding one’s place in the world. As Evie surrenders to the dazzling emotional highs of love and the crippling loneliness of heartbreak, she strives to reconcile her identity with the constraints that all relationships—whether those familial or romantic, uplifting to the spirit or quietly detrimental—inherently place on us. Though she stumbles and strains against social conventions, Evie remains a strong yet sensitive observer of the world around her, often finding beauty and meaning in unexpected places.

There are parts of even this synopsis I have to disagree, but it serves as a good basis for what the book is about.

First of all let’s start with Evie's love, Harrison Rourke, she doesn't even find out he's a boxer until much later, she meets him through her friend who is in the school play. He is somewhat of a teacher figure for the play. Their love is very powerful and all consuming to the point of pretty much ruining them both.
As for how they call her strong, I would not have said that at all. After losing her love, she shacks up with one of Harrison's friends, because it is easy. Yes that is real life but I would not have called the character strong at all.

I liked that Evie had basically a good relationship with her parents, but it annoyed me that she never seemed to realize it. She complained about them, but seemed to have no valid complaint. I felt a lot of things were somewhat vague, such as Harrison's profession, until it becomes a plot point. Because of that some things seemed to come out of left field.

Again though even though I may seem to be criticizing it, I really did like the book. I would recommend this.

What are you favorite genres?

This is a meme hosted by Rebecca :) over at Lost in Books, you can find the post here:  Click Me! I take you to a great blog!!! 

The question is what is your favorite genre of book?  My favorites change all the time.  Right now my absolute favorite is literary fiction.  I go through fazes with what I like to read which is probably why my TBR list and pile is so large.  I will read nothing but historical for a while, then I won't pick one up for a year.  I do really like biographies as well, depending on the subject and I have to just add them here or there to my reading.  They can bore me quickly.

I also read nothing but Romance for years, now I maybe only read them once or twice a year.

I think this post would be better for me to say which genre of books do I not like?  I would say most science fiction, fantasy and mysteries.  I will try different books in those genres though depending on the story, but I won't gravitate towards those.

As for my 2010 reading challenge, I have finished 110 and am almost done with 111, so hopefully I will have some reviews up today or tomorrow.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Slowing Down a bit

So I am reading 109 and its a bit of a slow read for me, not sure why and its a long book.  Hopefully I will have it done tomorrow.  It's almost 600 pages and I'm only at 220, I also have been busy so I haven't had as much time to read.  If your curious its Anthropology of An American Girl by Hilary Thayer Hamann.  So far its a decent book, just a slow read for me.  I haven't put my finger on why yet, but I will.

Well I hit the $1.99 sale on; and have 18 new books coming to me on Monday.  Woohoo!  I really do have an addiction when it comes to books.  I cannot get enough of them.  When my "new" pile gets low I have to replenish it.  Never mind that I have about 50 books that I bought before that needs to be read as well. 

Its so nice to find other bloggers that have this same problem!  In my real life, everyone is always teasing me about it.  I'm okay with it because its what I love, and who do they turn to when they want something good to read?  Yep its me. 

So its Friday, woohoo!  I'm very excited to go to the local farmers market this weekend, spend some time with my nieces and chill out with some books.  Happy Weekend everyone.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

#108 Seven Year Switch by Claire Cook

From is this synopsis:

Just when Jill Murray's finally figured out how to manage on her own, her ex-husband proves that he can't even run away reliably. After seven long years missing in action, he's back--crashing into the man-free existence Jill and her ten-year-old daughter have built so carefully. And what's a good mother to do? To a child, even a deadbeat dad is better than no dad at all.

Jill's life just hasn't turned out quite the way she planned. By now, she'd hoped to be jetting around the world as a high-end cultural coach. Instead, she's answering phones for a local travel agency and teaching cooking classes at the community center.

Enter free-spirited entrepreneur Billy, who hires Jill as a consultant for an upcoming business trip. Is their relationship veering off in a new direction? And what about her ex? Jill couldn't possibly still have feelings for him . . . could she? Suddenly, her no-boys-allowed life is anything but.

They say that every seven years you become a completely new person, but Jill isn't sure she's ready for the big change. It takes a Costa Rican getaway to help her make a choice--not so much between the two men in her life, but between the woman she is and the one she wants to be.

I really enjoyed this book, it had humor and heartbreak.  I can't even imagine my reaction if my husband showed up out of the blue after 7 year, maybe break his neck.   I understood her hesitation to allow him back into her daughters life.  I was also very impressed with her ability to put the needs of her daughter first.  I just think Jill should have demanded more answers from her husband before introducing the daughter into the mix.

My favorite character was Billy, but he did seem to good to be true.  Which is probably why I liked him so much!  His patience with Jill was amazing, as was his understanding when she told him about her husband showing back up.

I would give this book a solid B.  It was definitely an enjoyable read.

Monday, July 5, 2010

#107 Still Life with Husband by Lauren Fox

I haven't had much time to read this long weekend, but I did finish #107.  This was a bargain book I picked up a few weeks ago.

It was a decent book.  Emily is married, not happily but not unhappily.  She is at the stage where you look at your life and you wonder is that really all there is to it?  In any marriage things settle into a routine, its not fireworks all the time.

Her husband Kevin is ready to move things along and buy a house in the suburbs and have a baby.  She is not ready for those things yet.  In walks David, a guy she meets at a coffee house while out with her best friend.  She emails him thinking she is starting a friendship but somehow she never seems to tell him she is married.  While reading you see where its going and sure enough they embark on an affair.

I really enjoyed the book, it wasn't great, but enjoyable.  I would have liked some sort of epilogue though to see how things turned out.  If I had to give this a letter grade it would probably be a B- or a C+.

Friday, July 2, 2010

#106 The Heights by Peter Hedges

I picked this up because it was 50% off at my favorite store.

Tim and Kate have the seemingly perfect marriage until Anna moves in the neighborhood.  When Kate meets Anna it seems their lives are changed.

Kate's old boss Bruno calls her out of the blue to offer her a to good to be true job.  Kate and Tim had been struggling to pay their bills on Tim's salary alone.  Being a popular history teacher didn't help the money roll in.  He decides to take a year off so Kate can go to work for the not for profit with Bruno.  It's a one year position.  He figures he can use the time to work on his dissertation. 

When Anna fires her babysitter she is in a panic, she arranges play dates with Tim and his two boys for help.  It seems Tim has the magic touch with her daughter.  Before long Tim becomes fascinated with Anna.  It would have just stayed as a fascination from afar type of thing until he calls out Anna's name while having sex with his wife. 

After that incident he avoids Anna until she calls him out on it.  He admits what happened, thinking its ludicrous, when she offers him one weekend. 

In the meantime, Kate's old boyfriend now a successful TV actor has arrived back in her life admitting that losing her is his one big regret on the Jay Leno Show.

What happens is what I believe can happen in any marriage when complacency sets in.  Kate, although hurt when he called her Anna, doesn't believe Anna would ever sleep with him.  She also doesn't believe Tim is capable of cheating.  I'm not saying he did, you have read that to find out, but its a real possibility.  I don't believe that there is anyone out there that would NEVER cheat.  Things can happen at any given time when a person is at their weakest.  Marriage is not at all like romance novels would have you think.  It takes hard work and patience some times.  I believe one reason why divorce is so much more prominent now is we expect everything to be perfect all the time, and it rarely is.  There are times in any marriage you have to grin and bear it and just get through to the other side. 

I loved that this book was honest about how any marriage can fail at any time if your not careful.  I did not like the voice of the student of Tim's.  I thought it was a bit odd.  Other than that I really enjoyed the book.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

#105 A Tale of the Dispossessed

Another short one to keep myself on schedule.  To be honest I'm not going to get in to this one too much.  It was one of the ones I talk about that forgets to really tell the story.  This one spent so much time describing everything that there wasn't any story to it.

Anyway so I am finished with my first half of my reading journey.  I have really enjoyed it and I'm trying all kinds of different books I normally wouldn't.  A lot of them have been pretty darn good.

Happy Reading!!!

Man in the Dark by Paul Auster #104

Okay truth time, this book has been in my stack for quite some time.  At some point something must have drawn me to it, but I'm not sure what.  The cover was a total turn off for me so I just kept going around it so to speak.  I picked it for #104 because it was a shorter book and on a time crunch to get to #105 I needed the help.

So why did the cover turn me off?  I think it looked to much like a mystery or spy book which I am not a big fan of.  Once I started reading though it wasn't.  It was a great surprise to me, which I think made me like it even more.

This book is about an retired book critic, August Brill who was in an accident and lives with his divorced daughter, and his granddaughter who moved back after the death of her boyfriend.

He suffers from insomnia and during the night he works on a story to avoid thinking about his past.  He is a man with a lot of pain and sorrow as are the members of his family.  During the day he spends time with his granddaughter watching old movies.

It was kind of weird at first his story within the book and normally I don't like that.  I was very much turned off on The Novelist by Angela Hunt for this very reason.  It worked with this book.  I was absorbed into both stories and found myself both rooting for and against his fictional character who wakes up and finds himself in an alternate world.

I am so glad I read this book.  It was great and I would recommend it to anyone.

Going Backwards to #99 Resistance by Anita Shreve

I have been a fan of her books for some time now.  This one really sealed the deal.  I can't believe I forgot this one when updating everything yesterday.

Ted, an American pilot during WWII is shot down over Belgium, injured he tries to hide from enemy forces.  A boy, Jean Benoit, finds him hiding in the trees and brings him to the home of Claire and Henri, part of the resistance in Belgium.  Claire once a nurse, nurses Ted back to health and their love story begins.

The Nazi assigns pilots to guard the plane, in the middle of the night those guards are killed.  The Nazis begin "retribution" and kill members of the community including the young boy Jean Benoit.  Henri goes into hiding with some other male members of the resistance.  During that time while Henri is gone, Claire and Ted begin an affair.

It was an amazing love story.  I love a good story set in World War II, in particular human stories.  Claire is an interesting character for me as she is not unhappily married, but yet without much preamble falls into bed with Ted.  It wasn't even that she was a woman of loose virtues. 

I tried to think of the contrast of that during war time.  We are very lucky in America to have never been invaded by an enemy such as the Nazis.  But I couldn't help thinking in an instance such as that during a war, how one would act outside of themselves.  If you think each day could be your last day, would you do something you would normally not.



In the end of the book, Ted's son goes to meet Claire not knowing anything of their relationship.  It was fascinating that she had no real regrets.  Was it because of the daughter she conceived with Ted or love?  I like to think it was love.

Anyway another brilliant book by Anita Shreve!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Truth about Delilah Blue by Tish Cohen #103

As I was preparing to write this, I read the review from Publishers Weekly that appears on  They were not very flattering about it and I rather enjoyed it.  Yes I agree with some of their points which I will get into, but overall the book kept me interested.

In this book Delilah Blue Lovett is now Lila Mack.  She moved with her father from Toronto to California when she was 8.  Her dad told her that her artist mother needed space.  Her father suggests that he prefers Lila so her name is changed.  

Her mother ends up finding her as her father is starting to exhibit symptoms of early onset Alzheimer's, and she learns her father kidnapped her.  Her father still feeling somewhat guilty refuses to explain his actions to Lila.  While spending time with her mother and the little sister she just learned about Lila comes to understand some of her fathers actions.  Her mother is self absorbed and careless.  Although not meaning to be neglectful, she is.

One of the things that was pretty far fetched in my mind as well as to the reviewer at Publishers Weekly is that her little sister tells her about a website set up to search for her and she never encountered it.  She talks about googling her mothers name and how she wouldn't go past the second page on Google.  I find it hard to believe that never once did that site appear on the first page, especially as they talk about her being on TV doing interviews.

So yes somethings made it hard to swallow, but overall the book was enjoyable and kept my interest up to the end.  Although like Publishers Weekly says, the ending just came together too fast.  Lila never really has the confrontation with her mother about her mothering skills that you want to see happen.

April and Oliver by Tess Callahan #102

I'm happy to say that this was another good book.  It was depressing, but it was thoroughly enjoyable.

April and Oliver, cousins by marriage,  were nearly inseparable for most of their childhood.  They had drifted apart with Oliver moving away for school and other issues that drove them apart through the years.

They finally reunite when April's brother is killed in a car accident.  It is quickly realized what a horrible life April had.  As a result of the abuse she suffered as a child, she is very self destructive.

Oliver, although engaged, finds that he is still in love with her.  His urge as it always has been is to protect her even from herself.  His frustration turns to anger on many occasions, to the point of violence.  It was not the typical love story, but one full of complications.

Oliver attempts something pretty despicable, but yet with them in some ways as the reader you didn't feel it was as bad as the character did.  Maybe becomes what April had been through in her life was so much worse or maybe it was because underneath it all they both loved each other.

This is what an award winning book should be, just tell a good story.  This was a great story even though it was depressing.  You could feel the emotions simmering at every turn.  Definitely an A to me. 

The Madonnas of Echo Park by Brando Skyhorse #101

I'm not exactly sure where I read about this, but it looked intriguing so I bought it last week at the store.

To be honest I didn't like it.  I don't usually like short stories that are all tied together.  The only author I have truly loved that does that is Maeve Binchy.  Most books like this I don't feel really flesh out the characters, and this is true in this book.  I just didn't feel invested in any of the characters.

I have thought about it and wondered if it was because it is a culture I can't relate to, but if that were the case I wouldn't like most books I read, which isn't true.  While I think that my lack of knowledge of the culture probably contributed to my dislike of the book I wouldn't say it was the sole reason.

It just seemed to jump around too much for me.  I could never tell when the stories were taking place in relation to the one incident that ties the book together. 

It wasn't horrible for me or totally unreadable, it just wasn't enjoyable for me. 

The Walk by Richard Paul Evans #100

Okay so these will be out of order, I can't remember #99, I have read four others since then, I need to go home and look through my pile to remember which was which!

But this one I remember, it was fantastic!!!!  I can't say enough good things about this one. 

Alan Christoffersen is a successful ad guy and completely devoted to his wife, McKale.  They are living the American dream, until an important meeting is interrupted with distressing news.  His wife was thrown from her horse and is being rushed to the hospital.

While Alan is at his wife's bedside he has his partner running his business.  During this time he finds out his wife hasn't been paying the bills and their fancy cars are repossessed.  This doesn't seem a big deal to him, the most important thing to him is his wife. 

When she is released from the hospital paralyzed, he returns to work only to find his partner has stolen all the clients and set up his own business.  Unable to process it all he goes home for lunch to check on his wife, during that time an infection has set in and she ultimately dies.

After the funeral he finds out his house is being foreclosed on.  Nowhere to go, no one holding him back he decides to walk across the country to the furthest destination he can, Key West.

The book is really more about the journey than the destination, an applicable metaphor for life.

The book was absolutely stunning as I have come to expect from Richard Paul Evans.  His books are inspirational and talk about God without being preachy.  He has found a way to write spiritual books which won't turn off the readers who don't normally read those types of books. 

Absolutely fantastic book, one of the best I have read so far.

Friday, June 25, 2010

When I listen to Audiobooks

Devourer of books,, is hosting an audiobook week and I have loved to read everyone's posts about it.  In particular, Amanda at Patchwork of Books

I am a huge audiobook fan have been since I started this job 10 years ago.  I started with them on cassettes, and now I get them on CD's.  For these I go to the library faithfully every couple of weeks.  I usually get enough to last me three weeks.

I listen to them in the car.  My commute is usually about 45 minutes each way and it drove me crazy listening to the radio!  Someone suggested I check out an audiobook and I have been hooked ever since.  I have read some where they have different people reading different parts of the book, it is almost like listening to a play or an old radio program.

So my biggest debate has been if I should count them towards my total of books read.  My husband said I shouldn't since I didn't actually read it.  I thought this would really help me reach my goal for the year, but decided not to count them since he was right I didn't actually "read" them.  Maybe next year I will up my goal and include them, something to think about. 

Thursday, June 24, 2010

What draws you to a book?

So this isn't a review, but more of a get to know kind of post.  I'm going to try and put more of these in here. 

So Tuesday I went in to Barnes and Noble after being told they were having a clearance sale.  I was hoping some of their clearance books would even be cheaper, but no, they just added more to them.  Of course that didn't stop me from buying 12 new books and not all of them on clearance.  A little over a week before that I had purchased 11 books there and was pretty much finished with them.

It got me thinking though when I read other blog posts about the covers of books what draws me in and what turns me off.  I'm not a huge fan of mystery books, so if it looks like a detective story or something violent I don't even read the blurb on the cover, same goes for Science Fiction.  Unless I am looking for a specific title, the cover really does have to draw me in.  Dark colors while it doesn't always keep me away does tend to make me think "nope this isn't for me".  But on the other hand if its too feminine or "romancey" I look at it with skepticism.  Not that I don't like romance books, I really, really do.  And most books are romance in some way shape or form.  But I like to even out my "romance" or "chick lit" books with some "heavier" reading.  I try to buy half and half or as close as I can.  Other than mystery and science fiction, which isn't to say I haven't liked some of those, I will read pretty much anything.

I usually don't grab it though if it is an Oprah Book, mainly because I haven't liked most of her books.  I think those are too "fancy".  I just want the writer to tell me a good story.  Most of these books are too "artsy" I think for me.  I just want to sit down and get immersed in a good story.   Which begs the question, what is a good story? 

#98 The Paper Marriage by Susan Kay Law

Another fantastic book.  I think I'm on a roll! 

In this book Ann is married, but her husband has been in a permanent vegetative state for the last 12 years.  Even though she knows he won't recover, she still honors her wedding vows.

Enter Tom Nash, a former all star baseball player, and his 16 year old rebellious daughter.  They move into the house next door to Ann and slowly disrupt her routine.  She becomes friends with the daughter and slowly becomes friends with the father as well.

While the frienships are forming Ann is slowly learning to move on with her life.  It was a brilliant book, very heartwarming and honest.

I really love books that I think are so totally honest to human emotion. 

My favorite line of the book occurs in the beginning, Ann brings brownies over for a welcome gift to Tom.  She doesn't know he has a daughter that is coming to stay with him.  Tom asks if there are any kids in the neighborhood and Ann just blurts out, "what are you a pervert?"

I thought it was so funny.  Imagine actually saying that to a new neighbor!  I was literally laughing out loud.

I picked this up at the clearance sale and Barnes and Noble!  I love when I find a great book cheap!!!

Miss Understanding by Stephanie Lessing, #97

Thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish.  It was funny and at the same time very sincere.

The story is about Zoe Rose.  She had been an outcast in school and spent the years studying women and girl's behavior to each other.  She takes a job at her brother in law's magazine as a deputy editor.  They decide to try to change the content of the magazine to help women get along with other women.

There are the usual cast of characters that work at the fashion magazine including the fashion and makeup editors Blaire and Sloane.  They are the usual weight obsessed women you see in fiction books about magazines.  They are of course resistant to the changes that Zoe wants to make, as is almost everyone at the magazine.

It really does make a good statement about how women do hold each other back either because of jealousy or pettiness.  Unfortunately it is something you see everywhere in the world.  Women are judged by appearances and not just by men but by fellow women.

Anyway this was a really good book.  It took on serious issues but in such an entertaining way!  I loved the character of Zoe, she would be an amazing friend and an awful lot of fun to be around as well.  Definately an A.