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.

Amazon.com 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

From http://www.bn.com/:

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 amazon.com 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 amazon.com 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.