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.