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.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Novelist by Angela Hunt #96

This was a little unusual for me.  The book started really good and I was really intrigued but about halfway through it petered out for me.

The book is about Jordan Casey, a female best selling author.  The fact that she is female shouldn't be a big deal but it is because her best selling series is about a spy.  She decided since she has some time to teach at the local community college.  Of course, all the students expected a male author.  There is one student in particular, Ian, who scoffs at her books and believes you need to "bleed" on the page to be a good writer.  This leads to some soul searching for her.

On the home front her twenty one year old son is struggling with what she thinks is alcoholism and drug addiction.  She is struggling to help him with her husband.  She decides to write a story for him so now there is a book inside the book.  She is using this story which will be a novella to help her class learn about writing a novel.  It was a good premise and for me held a lot of promise, but it was dropped for me.

This second story is where she lost me.  The main story was good enough to stand on its own without the other.  It's hard to explain what I didn't like about the story within, it was just weird to me.

I hate to say this, but I would give this one a D.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Book of Ruth by Jane Hamilton

Wow!!  This was #95 so 10 more to go in ten days and I will be halfway to my goal.

Honestly this was a slow starter of a book for me.  I probably wouldn't have finished it if I hadn't put in time already on it and need my numbers for the end of June!  I am very glad though that I did finish it.

This book is about Ruth who grows up being told she is stupid and ugly.  Her brother is good looking and very intelligent leaving Ruth to feel even more ugly and stupid.  Her mother devotes herself to her brother leaving Ruth to fend for herself.  After graduating high school her brother takes off for college and is rarely heard from after that.  Ruth meanwhile goes to work at the dry cleaner where her Mom works. 

She eventually meets Rudy and falls in love.  He is unable to hold a job so they move in with Ruth's mother, May.  When Ruth gives birth to Justy her mother devotes herself to him.  So much so that Justy is a main source of tension in the house, with May continually criticizing how they are raising him.

Again this story was slow to build interest but the ending blew me away!!!

Until the Real Thing Comes Along by Elizabeth Berg

This was #94; getting close to the halfway mark!

This was a pretty good book.  I haven't read any lately I really just hated. 

In this book, Patty is in love with her best friend Ethan.  The only problem is he is gay.

She is totally obsessed with babies and after discussing how lonely they both were and what great friends they were they decide to have a baby together.

I honestly felt for Patty.  She had dated Ethan before he "came out" and had even planned on marrying him.  I don't think it ever really sank in to her that he is gay.  It probably didn't help matters since when they were dating they had a sexual relationship.

I think it only made matters worse for her that they conceived the child the old fashioned way as well.  She had to be thinking, "if you can have sex with me you can't be truly gay". 

I never know how much of the story to tell on these blogs, because I hate to give anything away.  I will say that I really liked the ending of the book.  Not everyone got the fairytale happy ending, but they found some peace.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

St. Patrick of Ireland by Philip Freeman

This was a little bit heavier material than I have been reading, but since I am obsessed with anything about Ireland I was intrigued when I saw it on the Bargain aisle at Barnes and Noble.

This is book #93 of my 210 goal for the year.

Amazing!!!!  Very interesting look not only at the life of St. Patrick that not many know, but also the history of Christianity and the times of the mighty Roman Empire. 

I wasn't sure how dry it would be and was afraid it would be a slow read since I am trying to get to 105 by the end of June to be halfway through my goal, but it wasn't at all.

St. Patrick had a very interesting life, having grown up in a noble family that owned slaves only to be kidnapped at 15 and sold into a life of slavery to the Irish.  He escaped after 6 years after God spoke to him in his dreams.  After he returned home God again talked to him through his dreams, from that point on he devoted his life to Christ and to bringing the Word of God to the Irish.  The same people who enslaved him, he decided to devote the remainder of his life to.

There isn't a lot of information about him, but Dr. Freeman managed to give everyone a full picture of his life based on two letters he had written. 

Most people don't know much about St. Patrick this book is really good at illuminating his life and differentiating between facts and myths of his life.  It was a really great book and I recommend it to anyone who loves all things Irish, or just loves history.

Sammy's House by Kristin Gore

#92  of 210  This story is about a young woman, Sammy.  She is young and working at the White House for the Vice President as a health care advisor.  Her boyfriend, Charlie is an investigative reporter for the Washington Post.  It's a new administration and Sammy and all her coworkers are excited for the change they think they can make.

Of course there are all the usual people against the new administration, including a blog that seems to have an inside track to the private conversations going on.  With the backdrop of the White House Sammy is klutzy, at times scatter brained and trying to hold her relationship together after Charlie is transferred to New York.  She tries very hard, unsuccessfully, to not be jealous of Charlie's new female roommate in New York.

It was a great story and lots of fun.  It really had a number of laugh out loud moments.  It was heartwarming, funny and utterly delightful.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Wives Behaving Badly by Elizabeth Buchan

Book #91 for 2010!!  This was a sequel to Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman.  I vaguely remember reading Revenge, but wasn't quite sure of it.  Of course as I got into this book I quickly remembered Revenge.

We have all read about mistresses and husbands leaving their wife of many years for the mistress, but this takes it further.  This shows what happens after they are married for a few years. 

In this case the ex-wife Rose, has moved on to the extreme with a better life than ever.  The stepchildren have never accepted the new wife, Minty.  And the husband, Nathan is remorseful, especially as he sees Minty with their twins.  He is shocked that Minty is not more loving with the children.

I thought it was a good "after" picture.  The only one truly happy is the ex-wife Minty and Nathan both betrayed.  That serves to make Minty even more bitter.  I can't help but enjoy the irony of it all.

So anyway, I liked this book it was a quick read and funny. 

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Secret Confessions of Anne Shakespeare by Arliss Ryan

This book had some pacing problems for me.  It was hard to get into and at some points it didn't hold me, but overall it was good. 

Having studied Shakespeare way back when I enjoyed it.  There has always been debate as to who William Shakespeare was and if indeed it was one person.  This book proposes answers to those questions.

The story is about Anne Shakespeare, the wife of William Shakespeare and the premise is that she wrote most of his most popular plays.

It's a weird book for me to say whether I liked it or not.  I liked it at times and at times I had to just plug through it.

Villa Mirabella by Peter Pezzelli

Okay, this was #88.  I loved it!  I couldn't believe I forgot the name, total brain fart on Friday! 

This is a story of Jason Mirabella.  Growing up his family owned a Bed and Breakfast in Rhode Island.  He knew his whole life he didn't want to work there his whole life.  He went off to college and then started his new life in California.  While in California his contact with his family back home was very limited.  His sister and brother stayed to help their father run the business.

After losing his job and reputation in California he comes back home broken.  He is broke financially and emotionally.  Before long his father has him come to work in family business.  While there he has to face the resentment of his brother and sister. 

I don't want to give away more, I think most people can expect the ending.  It wasn't a surprise, but it was still really good satisfying reading!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Sweet Misrortune by Kevin Alan Milne

This is #89, I am skipping 88 because I can't remember the title!  I will have to wait and pull the book out at home to do that one.

Okay let me start about book covers and how they don't always match up to what the book is.  To be honest and I know this will sound sexist as all get out, but I never would have thought this book was written by a man.  I would say this book is a lot like a Nicholas Sparks book in some ways so for a male writer I would have expected a tad bit more masculine cover.  This cover to me is very feminine. 

Personally I don't care if a man or a woman wrote it, the story sounded good.  Sophie is in a bad accident on her 9th Birthday.  She feels she is to blame for that and all the "tragedies" in her life since then.  The best way to describe her is hopelessly pessimistic, but in an adorably charming way.  Normally I don't like negative people like that, but she is negative in a funny, sad and sweet way.  If she were someone I met, I think we would be friends.

Anyway back to Sophie's story.  All her life she has loved chocolate, and it is that love that she thinks caused the accident that killed four people including her parents and grandmother.  I was surprised that it didn't turn her off of chocolate, and instead she opened her own shop.

Chapter one gives us the background of the accident.  Chapter two starts on her 29th birthday as her best friend and foster sister is going to work with her in Sophie's shop to spend the day and give her a surprise.  The surprise is her ex-fiance that dumped her a little more than a week before their wedding.  Not that Sophie was too surprised, she had been expecting her heart to get broken since she had me Garrett.

Garrett was back and wanting to explain to Sophie why he did what he did.  She doesn't want to listen, she doesn't believe that happiness exists anyway.  In their argument Sophie challenges him to place an ad in the local paper to find 100 examples of happiness that doesn't "fleet".  She reserves the right to disqualify and letters she doesn't believe fit.  After three weeks there are only three letters.  All of which Sophie has managed to disqualify for one reason or another.

After the story of the ad hits the news, the letters start flooding in and so begins Sophie's journey to deal with her past.  I'm not going to say anymore because I don't want to give it away.  Let's just say its a beautiful story.  I really enjoyed this and would definitely recommend this book.

It does make you think about happiness and how to each individual happiness is different.  But I do believe that there is no such thing as happiness that doesn't "fleet".  If you felt constant happiness you wouldn't recognize it or appreciate it.  Life is an ebb and flow of good and bad.  But I thought I would take this to list what my happiness is:

1.  Looking in my husband's eyes when he is telling me he loves me.
2.  Spending time with my beautiful nieces and nephews. 
3.  Laughing with Brittany and Amanda while watching Celtic Thunder!  :)
4.  A really good book.
5.  Hanging out with my friends, whether we are laughing or crying!
6.  Knowing I've made a difference in someones life just by caring.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives by Josie Brown

#87 of by 2010 210 book challenge. I picked this one since I have fallen a bit behind thinking of it more as "fluff" so a quick read. I like the so called "chick-lit" books sometimes, but here lately I haven't been in the mood for them.

However I have to say I really enjoyed this one. It's an interesting premise.

Lyssa is married to a man who isn't in love with her anymore than she is with him, but has made a "contented" life with him in a upscale gossipy neighborhood. Meanwhile neighbors Harry and DeeDee are splitting up and Harry becomes more of a stay at home dad to take care of the kids. Lyssa runs into him in the park and helps him out. They become fast friends. Of course Harry is asbsolutely gorgeous to all the neighborhood women. They all make some sort of play for him and his attention in some way, except for Lyssa.

While Lyssa is helping Harry navigate through parenting, school issues and the neighborhood he helps her find strength as well. Before she knows it she is standing up to the group of nitpicking gossipy women and meets some of the other neighbors that were excluded from the "it" group.

The story really had a lot more depth than I expected from it. I don't know if it was really great, but since I wasn't expecting a lot I really enjoyed it. It was an enjoyable and easy read.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Commencement by J. Courtnay Sullivan

Book #86;

This book is about four friends who meet while attending Smith College: April, Cecilia, Bree and Sally.

April is the one that doesn't come from money and has had a rough upbringing. She is at the all girls college to study women's rights. She is the most unlike the others and is as surprised at everyone how deeply they four women bond.

Cecilia is the girl from the good Catholic family having attended Catholic schools all her life. She is good at being the peacemaker in the group and is the one that helps keep them all together.

Bree comes to college engaged, but that quickly ends when the fiance cheats on her. She is the true Southern Belle.

Sally comes to college right after her mother has passed away. She is fastidious about everything.

I guess I was disappointed in this book because it didn't really offer anything new. From the start it was exactly what you imagine. The story weaves the out of college stories and trials of the friendships with their past history in college.

In stories like this you can see the stereotypes. The only thing that threw me was which girl ended up the lesbian. There is always one in a group like this. I figured it would be April who was the tough as nails, women's rights extremist. Not to give anything away but I was wrong.

A few years after college they are gathering at the college for Sally's wedding. You can tell how each of them are nervous. After they graduated the four girls went their own way and none of them were really following the path the others believed they should. After the rehearsal dinner, they sit down to have a drunken talk and reminisce and they end up in a fight.

One year later and they have mostly made up except for April and Sally. In every group like this there are always relationships that are stronger for these four it was Cecilia and Bree and April and Sally. After April goes missing the three remaining finally put all the old hurts to rest while they search and pray for their friend.

It was a good true story of friendships, but it just wasn't anything I hadn't read before. Although I will say the ending did shock me.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Digging to America by Anne Tyler

I haven't been so great about posting my reviews, but hopefully I will start. My challenge this year was to read 210 books in honor of the year 2010. I have finished 85, in order to meet my goal I need to read about 4.25 per week. Not out of reach if I amp up my pace a bit. Minor things in real life kept me sidetracked for awhile, but hopefully they are done.

So on to my review of this book. Overall the book was okay, but I really didn't think many of the characters were likable.

The story is about two families who are picking up the baby girls they adopted from Korea at the airport at the same time. One family is a large "all American" family. The second comprises of the new mom and dad along with the new paternal grandmother. The Donaldson family invites the Yazdans to their house for the celebration they have planned. The Yazdans decline but a few weeks later Bitsy Donaldson the other new mom calls her and a friendship is formed.

The Donaldson family includes the new baby Jin-Ho, Bitsy the new mother, Brad the new father, Bitsy's parents Dave and Connie and Brads parents who are Pat and Lou. The Yazdan family consists of Susan the new baby, Ziba the new mother, Sami the new father and Maryam the grandma and Sami's mother. The Yazdans are Iranian, Ziba moved to the states as a teenager and Maryam moved right after her wedding. Sami was born and raised in the states.

Conflicts within the two families exist through out the book. Most appear to be standard conflicts that happen between cultures, however I think a lot of it universal when families spend a considerable amount of time with another family.

Bitsy and Ziba mainly disagree on parenting issues and Maryam seems to disagree with the Donaldsons for their "Americanesse".

It wasn't an exciting book that had you gripped, but it was a good story. It was interesting to see how the friendships formed and developed despite all the differences and maybe in some ways because of those differences.

For me my favorite character was Dave, Bitsy's father. After he becomes widowed he pursues Maryam. It was an unlikely pairing, but I couldn't help but root for him.

Overall I would say it was good book, but not a "must read".