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.