Sunday, December 20, 2009

Kitchen Confidential

Kitchen Confidential Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

I avoided this book for several months for several reasons. Okay, just ONE reason. This is the guy who eats EVERYTHING and anything, right? I was in fear of reading this book and never wanting to eat anything ever again.

Instead, the opposite happened. This book hooked me in from the first page - fantastic writing, it was like guy was hanging out in my head from the very first sentence - and made me want to eat. To hop on a plane and check out these places, this food he was talking about.

This book is going down as my favorite for 2009. The dark horse, go figure.

Pub. Date: May 2000

Synopsis: When Chef Anthony Bourdain wrote "Don't Eat Before You Read This" in The New Yorker, he spared no one's appetite, revealing what goes on behind the kitchen door. In Kitchen Confidential, he expanded that appetizer into a deliciously funny, delectable shocking banquet that lays out his 25 years of sex, drugs, and haute cuisine.
From his first oyster in the Gironde to the kitchen of the Rainbow Room atop Rockefeller Center, from the restaurants of Tokyo to the drug dealers of the East Village, from the mobsters to the rats, Bourdain's brilliantly written, wild-but-true tales make the belly ache with laughter.

Recommended Reading:
Nasty Bits by Anthony Bourdain
Cook's Tour by Anthony Bourdain
Bone in the Throat by Anthony Bourdain
Heat by Bill Buford

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Temptation


The kids and I went to the library today. Usually at the library I only check out movies. I have 50+ books on my TBR shelf at home (courtesy of paperbackswap), I don't really have time to read a library book on top of everything else. Today my original intention was to check out Angels & Demons by Dan Brown as my friend seems to have lost the copy she planned to loan me.

I was sidetracked by the New Books shelf. Immediately a large volume grabbed me off my feet, shook me up and left me standing there breathless. An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon. How could I not check it out? There were so many reasons why I should, that the book was in my basket before I could really think twice about it. The book is on my wishlist, but considering my current position of 523 and the book has a whopping 814 pages... it'll be awhile before I see the copy from pbs. I also have an eleven (ELEVEN!!) day vacation beginning mid-week during which I will need something to do with insomniac self because I WON'T be working.

I am so excited to read this book, I cracked it open while I was waiting for the kids to pick their take-home reads. As always, DG starts the book right in the middle of the action and it's awesome. It's my goal for the weekend to finish Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain (which has been amazing) and be able to start *ahem* the next installment of DG's Outlander Series.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Vanishing Acts

Vanishing Acts Vanishing Acts by Jodi Picoult

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I always expect surprises from Jodi Picoult's books and 'Vanishing Acts' was no exception. A very enjoyable book. I had difficulty with some of the relationship responses that happened, it seemed unrealistic at times.

Pub. Date: November 2005

Synopsis: Delia Hopkins has led a charmed life. Raised in rural New Hampshire by her widowed father, Andrew, she now has a young daughter, a handsome fiancé, and her own search-and-rescue bloodhound, which she uses to find missing persons. But as Delia plans her wedding, she is plagued by flashbacks of a life she can't recall. And then a policeman knocks on her door, revealing a secret that changes the world as she knows it.
What happens when you learn you are not who you thought you were? When the people you've loved and trusted suddenly change before your eyes? When getting your deepest wish means giving up what you've always taken for granted? Vanishing Acts explores how life as we know it might not turn out the way we imagined; how doing the right thing could mean doing the wrong thing; and how the memory we thought had vanished could return as a threat.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Sex and the City

Sex and the City Sex and the City by Candace Bushnell

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Once I got used to the format this book was written in, it was an entertaining read. Witty and wry - sometimes crude. It was disappointing in comparison to the TV show, but on its own I think this book was good.

Pub. Date: August 2006 (reissue)

Synopsis: In her search for love amidst an endless stream of lunches and cocktail parties, Bushnell paints a bleak but funny portrait of her sisters in heels as they get everything they want except for a husband and children. We follow the intrepid, hungover "reporter" from a swingers' club (where the hottest thing was the buffet table) to a male forum on threesomes; from dinner with men who bed models to a bawdy ladies' tea where a serial dater is dissected. During the last third of the book, the voice shifts from the first person to that of Carrie (aka Bushnell). As she chronicles her relationship with Mr. Big (aka cigar-chomping Vogue publisher Ron Galotti), you may begin to understand why these womens' relationships fail.

Recommended Reading:
Because She Can by Bridie Clark

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Fourth Bear

The Fourth Bear (Nursery Crime, #2) The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Despite the pace that I read this book, I didn't enjoy it as well as the first book. I felt the plot was too complicated and took too long to develop. Some of the nursery rhyme references were too obscure to really catch the humor intended by the author.

Pub. Date: July 2007
Series: Nursery Crime Book 2

Synopsis: The Gingerbreadman—sadist, psychopath, cookie—is on the loose in Reading, but that's not who Detective Jack Spratt and Sergeant Mary Mary are after. Instead, they've been demoted to searching for missing journalist "Goldy" Hatchett. The last witnesses to see her alive were the reclusive Three Bears, and right away Spratt senses something furry—uh, funny—about their story, starting with the porridge.

Recommended Reading:
The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde
First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde
Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Big Over Easy

The Big Over Easy (Nursery Crime, #1) The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Fforde's wit and humor always amaze me. A fun fantasy adventure that had me flipping pages eagerly.

Pub. Date: July 2006
Series: Nursery Crime Book 1

Synopsis: It's Easter in Reading - a bad time for eggs - and no-one can remember the last sunny day. Ovoid D-class nursery celebrity Humpty Stuyesant Van Dumpty III, minor baronet, ex-convict and former millionaire philanthropist is found shattered to death beneath a wall in a shabby area of town. Evidence points to his ex-wife who has met with an accident down at the Yummy-Time biscuit factory.

But Detective Inspector Jack Spratt and his assistant Mary Mary remain unconvinced, a sentiment not shared with their superiors at the Reading Police Department, who are still smarting over their failure to convict the Three Pigs of murdering Mr. Wolff. Before long Jack and Mary find themselves grappling with a sinister plot involving cross-border money laundering, bullion smuggling, problems with beanstalks, titans seeking asylum and the cut and thrust of international chiropody.

And on top of all that, the Jellyman is coming to town...

Recommended Reading:
The Fourth Bear (Nursery Crime Book 2) by Jasper Fforde
First Among Sequels (Thursday Next Book 4) by Jasper Fforde
The Eyre Affair (Thursday Next Book 1) by Jasper Fforde
A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore
Fool by Christopher Moore

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Lady in Waiting

Lady in Waiting: Developing Your Love Relationships Lady in Waiting: Developing Your Love Relationships by Jackie Kendall

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Although I found this book a little too preachy (I think it is intended for women more secure in their faith), I thought the book had great advice. I especially liked that this book acknowledged that not all of us are born secure in our faith, we've had messed up lives and we can rebuild and renew our lives in better ways despite the past.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Falling Behind

A quick summary of the Clear Off Your Shelves Challenge:

Goal: 5 books or 100%

Accomplished: 4 books and 100%

I'm not sure how reading is going to go in November. I have a full plate (and then some) at work, home, learning German and I'm trying NaNoWriMo.

I may not be back until December - which is a shame because I got a few new books in October that I have been dying to read. (Post coming in a few minutes.)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

If You Want to Write

If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit by Brenda Ueland

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This was just in time to get me inspired to write for NaNoWriMo. Once you get used to the footnotes (excessive), and the constant references to Blake and Van Gogh, there is a lot of inspirational advice in this book.

Synopsis: But we must try to find our True Conscience, our True Self, the very Center, for this is the only first-rate choice-making center. Here lies all originality, talent, honor, truthfulness, courage and cheerfulness. Here lies the ability to choose the good and the grand, the true and the beautiful.

In her ninety-three remarkable years, Brenda Ueland published six million words. She said she had two rules she followed absolutely: to tell the truth, and not to do anything she didn’t want to do. Her integrity shines throughout If You Want to Write, her bestselling classic on the process of writing that has already inspired
thousands to find their own creative center. Carl Sandburg called this book “the best book ever written about how to write.” Yet Ueland reminds us that “whenever I say ‘writing’ in this book, I also mean anything that you love and want to do or make.”

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Star of the Morning

Star of the Morning (Nine Kingdoms, Book 1) Star of the Morning by Lynn Kurland

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I was excited to read this book. The last few LK books I read were so "done" - Ghosts. Time travel. Witches. I was excited to see a book by her about something other. This book did not leave me disappointed. It was a little slow on the action scenes, but I thought the romance story was light enough to not take over the book. A great fantasy story. I look forward to reading the next two books in the series.

Pub. Date: December 2006

Series: Nine Kingdoms Book 1

Synopsis: Darkness covers the north, since the black mage has begun his assault on the kingdom of Neroche. Legend has it that only the two magical swords held by Neroche's king can defeat the mage. Now the fate of the Nine Kingdoms rests in the hands of a woman destined to wield one of those blades...
In this land of dragons and mages, warrior maids and magical swords, nothing is as it seems. And Morgan will find that the magic in her blood brings her troubles she cannot face with a sword-and a love more powerful than she has ever imagined.

Recommended Reading:
Princess of the Sword by Lynn Kurland (Nine Kingdoms Book 3)
The Mage's Daughter by Lynn Kurland (Nine Kingdoms Book 2)
With Every Breath by Lynn Kurland
Lord of the Fading Lands by C. L. Wilson
King of Sword and Sky by C. L. Wilson

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Left Bank

Left Bank Left Bank by Kate Muir

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I was torn between enjoying this book and being utterly bored with it. In the end, I think I enjoyed it more than I disliked it. Although I found the characters a little flat, this story read well and was easy to sink into.

Pub. Date: July 2006

Synopsis: With the sting of a good Camembert, Kate Muir's fiction debut is a sophisticated, fun, and delightfully ironic look at family life, Left Bank style. Olivier and Madison Malin are the toasts of Rive Gauche. A philosopher and media personality, Olivier is the darling of the Paris cafés with his perfectly tousled hair and mistress de jour on speed dial. An American film star turned Parisian "It" girl, Madison busies herself playing the part of the bon vivant. But when a crisis occurs with their daughter, these self-centered parents are forced to focus on something more than their own reflections. Left Bank is at once a delicious satire of Parisian pretension and a celebration of the city's alluring glamour.

Recommended Reading:
Beginner's Greek by James Collins
The Italian Lover by Robert Hellenga
Foreign Tongue : A Novel of Life and Love in Paris by Vanina Marsot

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Final Scream

Final Scream Final Scream by Lisa Jackson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Even though I realized that I had read this book before (I think it was under the original title: Intimacies), I read it again. A very good suspense story, good characters and a decent plot.

Pub. Date: August 2005

Synopsis: When she was only 16, Cassidy Buchanan fell for the 19-year-old bad boy in town, Brig McKenzie—who'd had his share of run-ins with both the law and the local women. Then a terrible fire killed Cassidy's sister, and Brig was the chief suspect. Seventeen years later, an eerily similar fire seriously injures Cassidy's husband Chase, who happens to be Brig's brother. With the earlier fire still an open case, suspicion turns to Cassidy, the only person connected to both tragedies.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Reading People

Reading People: How to Understand People and Predict Their Behavior- -Anytime, Anyplace Reading People: How to Understand People and Predict Their Behavior- -Anytime, Anyplace by Jo-Ellan Dimitrius


My rating: 1 of 5 stars
I started this book with high hopes for finding useful information for character building in my writing. I forced myself through half the book before I gave up. It's common sense: pay attention and people will tell you everything you need to know. I did find the Appendixes quite useful.

View all my reviews >>

Monday, September 21, 2009

Clear Off Your Shelves Book Challenge

This is a challenge that is aimed at getting through those books that have been sitting on your shelves for months, even years! Any non-review books that are on your shelves and/or review copies that have been on your shelves for over six months. This means that recent review copies and library books are not eligible for this challenge! However, that doesn’t mean the book has to have been out for six months in order for the review copy to be eligible. Books you have purchased/traded for/etc. and are NOT review copies can be from anytime - even from during the challenge! Crossover with other challenges is welcomed, even encouraged!

When? This challenge will run from October 1, 2009 – November 30, 2009.

Where? S. Krishna’s Books! The sign-up post for the challenge will be posting today as well. Come back to post your review links – there will be links to everything you will need in my sidebar!

How? This challenge will work a little differently than other challenges. Instead of picking a set number of books to read during this time period, you will pick a percentage. This means that a certain percentage of the books you read during these two months will have to qualify for this challenge. For example, let’s say you pick 40% and you end up reading 10 books in October and November. 4 of those books would have to qualify for this challenge in order for you to complete it. I am setting a minimum percentage of 20%. As a result, there is no need to make a list of books prior to starting the challenge, though please feel free to do so if you want to! Your wrap-up post should have a list of the books you read for the challenge, though, so please do keep track of what you read!

There you have it folks. All the info you need to participate in Clear Off Your Shelves 2009! Don't forget to sign up here.

After I looked through my shelf and looked at my goal for 2009, I have 21 books that qualify for being over 6 months in my possession and I have 10 books to read to meet my 2009 goal. I could easily set my goal for 100% and meet it, but that doesn't sound like a challenge. I like numbers. I am going to set my goal at reading 5 books. You can still look at this as reading 100% if you want. I also look forward to the challenge of NOT re-reading the Twilight series until after November 1st.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Secrets

Secrets Secrets by Jude Deveraux


My rating: 2 of 5 stars
The thing I like about Jude Deveraux is that she puts just enough fantasy in her stories to remind me that things don't work like that in real life. This book was a fast and easy read.

This book had a mediocre story line. The plot went in every direction - except the direction that would have given the story an actual plot. The characters were great in that I was torn between hating them or wanting them to be my best friend. There were some great dialogue moments. But in the end the plot failed to deliver - in fact I'm not sure what the plot WAS. And the end of the story really wasn't, I found myself flipping pages wondering where the rest of my book was.

Pub. Date: May 2008

Synopsis: When Cassandra Madden was twelve years old, she fell in love with Jefferson Ames, a young man she met at one of her mother's business conferences. She was a lonely child, with a cold mother, and holding onto her love for Jeff helped her cope with her isolated life.
When she grew up, she went to college and even met a man she thought she'd marry, but Jeff was still in her head. She broke off her near engagement and went to Williamsburg, Virginia, where she secretly got herself a job as a nanny to the widowed Jeff's young child.

Even though Cassie was living in Jeff's house, seeing him every day, she still couldn't seem to get his attention. But then, one day, she heard shots coming from the mansion of Althea Fairmont, a woman the world called "the greatest living actress." Cassie ran to investigate and in an instant, her safe little life was turned upside down. She began to learn that all the people around her weren't who they claimed to be. Everyone had secrets, and until Cassie unraveled those secrets, there was no chance for happiness between her and Jeff.

Recommended Reading:
Summerhouse by Jude Deveraux

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Breaking Dawn (Second Reading)

Breaking Dawn (Twilight, #4) Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The final book in the Twilight Saga brought out all of my emotions. I laughed, I cried, I raged, I felt the limitless bottom of depression... I felt the enduring possibility of love. Possibly the most amazing rollercoaster I have ever been on in a book.

I was frustrated through the third of the book that took the reader into Jacob's point of view. I love Bella's voice and it was difficult to leave for Jacob's bitterness, anger and shattered heart. It was necessary, after all, to understand the break that Bella had made, the healing that occured after. But it was still a relief to get back to Bella's voice. I thought I was going to become suicidal.

To say that this book (the whole series, truth be told) took over my emotions, my life, would be an exaggeration. Stephenie Meyer is a master story teller. None of her characters are half-done. The only flaw I found with this last book is that the plot wound up too neatly. I put the book down feeling complete, but that maybe it was a little too anti-climatic.

***Thoughts from second reading: I found the book a little less emotional the second time around. While SM's reasoning is flawless, I found more and more disappointment in the perfection of her happily ever after.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Grays

The Grays The Grays by Whitley Strieber


My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I started this book with mixed feelings. My friend Rhon had read the book and commented on it on her blog:

Good. Very easy to read, and you care about most of the characters. What's spooky is this quotation from the back cover: "Drawing from a lifetime of
research and his own experiences...". Spooky, because this is a book about
aliens coming to Earth in collusion with the US government. I was a big X-files
fan, don't get me wrong, but the idea that Strieber has written a fictional
account of the alien conspiracy, and he thinks he has insight into the alien
mind, is enough to creep me out. Also, a lot of the characters in the book are
very pro-alien, yet he starts the novel with kids being abducted, skinned with a
rusty kitchen knife, and then put back in their skins again. What's good about
that? Either they aren't here to hurt us, or they are. How do you argue it both
ways? Oh, shades of gray, ha ha! If you read this as a novel, you won't be
disappointed. If you read it as a revelation, or veiled truths, I don't think I
want to discuss the book with you.
Another friend had also read it and thought it was good. I researched a little too much into the author and was freaked out by his accounts of his own alien abduction.

Preconceptions aside, I found this book well-written in some places, poorly written in others. There was action, a love story and enough sci-fi to satisfy most readers.

Pub. Date: August 2006

Synopsis: For decades we have been occupied by a race of aliens known only as the Grays. Now after many years of experimentation with the human race, they are finally ready to begin their complete invasion and destruction of the human race.

Recommended Reading:
2012 : The War for Souls by Whitley Strieber
The Host by Stephenie Meyer

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Deaf in America

Deaf in America: Voices from a Culture Deaf in America: Voices from a Culture by Carol A. Padden


My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This wasn't quite what I was looking for. The reading material was stiff and the terminology often difficult. It was an interesting read when I understood what was being talked about.

Synopsis: Written by authors who are themselves Deaf, this unique book illuminates the life and culture of Deaf people from the inside, through their everyday talk, their shared myths, their art and performances, and the lessons they teach one another. Padden and Humphries employ the capitalized "Deaf" to refer to deaf people who share a natural language--American Sign Language (ASL)--and a complex culture, historically created and actively transmitted across generations.

Signed languages have traditionally been considered to be simply sets of gestures rather than natural languages. This mistaken belief, fostered by hearing people's cultural views, has had tragic consequences for the education of deaf children; generations of children have attended schools in which they were forbidden to use a signed language. For Deaf people, as Padden and Humphries make clear, their signed language is life-giving, and is at the center of a rich cultural heritage.

The tension between Deaf people's views of themselves and the way the hearing world views them finds its way into their stories, which include tales about their origins and the characteristics they consider necessary for their existence and survival. Deaf in America includes folktales, accounts of old home movies, jokes, reminiscences, and translations of signed poems and modern signed performances. The authors introduce new material that has never before been published and also offer translations that capture as closely as possible the richness of the original material in ASL.

Deaf in America will be of great interest to those interested in culture and language as well as to Deaf people and those who work with deaf children and Deaf people.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Girl Sleuth

Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her by Melanie Rehak


My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This book was a little heavy - it covered a lot of history. It was interesting, but I struggled to keep my attention on it. It read more like a text book than a memoir (which I was expecting). It has, however, made me interested in reading the Nancy Drew books again. I loved them as a young girl and teenager (my copies were the 60's version) but vaguely remember individual books.

Pub. Date: September 2006

Synopsis: This volume reveals that the many mysteries solved by Nancy Drew, the brainchild of children story mogul Edward Stratemeyer, were written by two women who published under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene. Working from correspondence, articles, and other archival materials, Rehak recreates the lives and careers of Stratemeyer, his daughter Harriet, and writer Mildred Wirt Benson, in an engaging book that grown Nancy Drew fans will enjoy.

Recommended Reading:
Night by Elie Wiesel
Driving with Dead People by Monica Holloway
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
Losing Mum and Pup by Christopher Buckley
Angela's Ashes : A Memoir by Frank McCourt

Thursday, July 30, 2009

No More Meltdowns

No More Meltdowns: Positive Strategies for Dealing with and Preventing Out-Of-Control Behavior No More Meltdowns: Positive Strategies for Dealing with and Preventing Out-Of-Control Behavior by Jed Baker

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This book was given to me by my son's counselor. It has step-by-step instructions for cooling off a tantrum while it's happening, and then guides you through training your child to not have tantrums. It approaches almost every conceivable situation with individual methods that follow a basic formula.

I have had a few successful situations following this book. I think it has good basics as long as the parent is willing to follow through.

Pub. Date: April 2008

Synopsis: If you have a child with challenging behavior problems, this book was written for you! Many components of Dr. Bakers approachbased on years of applied researchwere initially intended for children on the autism spectrum. However, over the years, he has discovered that they are equally applicable to all children with behavior problems. In the first two chapters you will learn what a meltdown is and why children have them. In the subsequent eight chapters, you will learn what to do about them. This book offers logical, flexible strategies for dealing with out-of-control behaviors.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Flowers for Algernon

Flowers for Algernon Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I was skeptical about reading this book, it was written in the late 1950's, so I wondered if this would be a dated and possibly ridiculous piece of Sci-Fi. I was wrong so wrong. This book was timeless, an emotional, intelligent journey from the very first page. The story is written from the perspective of Charlie, a mental retardate who voluntarily undergoes a revolutionary procedure previously only done on a LabRat named Algernon.

The story is very moving as Charlie gains intelligence, learns the truth behind many of his memories, the anger and frustration as he realizes people he thought were friends were cruel to him because of his stupidity. Charlie explores the new emotions of love and sexual dysfunction. And then it is cruelly ripped away as his intelligence recedes and he loses everything he has gained.

Pub. Date: June 2004

Synopsis: Charlie Gordon is about to embark upon an unprecedented journey. Born with an unusually low IQ, he has been chosen as the perfect subject for an experimental surgery that researchers hope will increase his intelligence-a procedure that has already been highly successful when tested on a lab mouse named Algernon.

As the treatment takes effect, Charlie's intelligence expands until it surpasses that of the doctors who engineered his metamorphosis. The experiment appears to be a scientific breakthrough of paramount importance, until Algernon suddenly deteriorates. Will the same happen to Charlie?

Recommended Reading:
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Night by Elie Wiesel
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Contender by Robert Lipsyte

Monday, July 13, 2009

Scribner's Best of the Fiction Workshop 1998

Scribners Best of the Fiction Workshops 1998 (Scribner's Best of the Fiction Workshops) Scribners Best of the Fiction Workshops 1998 by Carol Shields (guest editor)

My review
rating: 3 of 5 stars
There was a variety of stories, most of them well-written. I skipped a handful of stories - either because they didn't interest me or were poorly written. My favorite (and by far the best) was the very first story in the book. It left me hungry and wanting to know more. I look forward to finding more by that author.


Pub. Date: February 1998
Synopsis: For many years, it seemed that young writers took the dictum "write what you know" as a license to create endless highly personalized stories of suburban malfeasance. Judging from this collection, those days are long gone.
Not every work is flawless there are awkward dialogues and oblique narratives that are more maladroit than experimental. Whatever their faults, however, most of the 22 contributors here are willing to imagine being someone else, somewhere else.
Some of the best stories are surrealistically inventive:
  • Natasha Waxman's account of a college dropout's transmogrification into a primitive state
  • Tenaya Rahel Darlington's eerie tale of Poe-like obsession
  • Christopher A. Pasetto's slyly funny story of a teenage conspiracy theorist's first love.
And even the less magical contributions dare to go beyond the merely confessional, as authors tackle characters of the opposite sex and wildly varying ages. At its strongest and weakest, the second installment in this series is heartening evidence of courage in the classroom and on the page.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Eclipse (Second Reading)

Eclipse (Twilight, #3) Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer

My review
rating: 5 of 5 stars
Amazing. From the very first word I was sucked into the story, into a world where vampires, werewolves and true-love-forever exists. This book made me laugh, cry and gasp with terror, fear, excitement and love. Stephenie Meyer is amazing!

****Thoughts on my second reading: Still as good as the first time. I noticed some cheesy romance moments, but still one of my favorites.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Better Single Than Sorry

Better Single Than Sorry: A No-Regrets Guide to Loving Yourself and Never Settling Better Single Than Sorry: A No-Regrets Guide to Loving Yourself and Never Settling by Jen Schefft

My review
rating: 3 of 5 stars
I'm still not entirely sure that this book earned three stars. I read this book with a bitter/defensive tone. It sounded like the author wrote the book to publicly defend why she's still single after being on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette.

The book made a few good points about dating that I hadn't considered before. One that sticks in my head is: Don't worry about if he likes you, worry about if you like him.

There were many quotes and brief stories from other dating women, a few married women, a few divorced women. After a while they became a little recycled - the same women kept showing up chapter after chapter - and some of them I'm not sure were good examples to use.

I passed the book on to The Captain to see what she thinks of it.

Pub. Date: January 2007

Synopsis: Let's be honest. No woman really wants to be alone for the rest of her life. But does being alone mean you're doomed to be miserable forever? Definitely not! And does being single have to equal lonely? No way! You can have the best time of your life when you're single, but you wouldn't know that from our relationship obsessed society, where celebrity magazines devote the majority of their content to who's dating whom and the wedding industry is a $100-billion business. Yet more than a third of marriages end in divorce, and countless other couples languish in unions that shouldn't have happened in the first place.

Don't become a statistic—love yourself and never settle!

Jen Schefft knows that better than almost anyone. In 2003, she got engaged in front of millions of people on television's The Bachelor, only to see it end nine months later when the relationship just wasn't right anymore. A year later, she turned down an engagement on The Bachelorette, and the backlash was relentless. She was labeled a "spinster" by a celebrity magazine, and a noted national talk-show host remarked that she would be "a bachelorette for the rest of her life."

This is a terrible message to send to the millions of sensational single women out there, and in Better Single Than Sorry Schefft makes it her mission to let women know that it's better to be single than to be in a relationship that doesn't make you happy. With testimonials from women of all ages—single, married, in committed relationships, with children (even single moms) and without—this book tells you how to let go of your fear of being alone and how to love yourself andnever settle for a relationship that is anything less than you deserve.

Written in a conversational style, as if talking with your best friend, Schefft helps you navigate the pressures of a culture that places an unhealthy importance on being in a relationship and shows you how to find happiness in work, home, and the simple pleasures of everyday life. Above all, she shows you how it's far, far better to be single than sorry. Being single is a time to have fun, learn new things, grow, and blossom—not a time to feel desperate or depressed, so cherish it!

Recommended Reading:
Deal Breakers : When to Work on a Relationship and When to Walk Away by Bethany Marshall
Nice Girls Don't Get Rich : 75 Avoidable Mistakes Women Make with Money by Lois P. Frankel
Welcome To Your Crisis : How to Use the Power of Crisis to Create the Life You Want by Laura Day

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Losing Julia

Losing Julia Losing Julia by Jonathan Hull

My review
rating: 4 of 5 stars
At first I struggled through this book - bounces through 3 different points in time (the present, WWI and 10 years after WWI). This book had so much to say about life, love, war and death that I stuck it out. I'm glad I did. This book was great.

Pub. Date: February 2000

Synopsis: In a world torn apart by war, one man would search a lifetime to find what he once lost: a woman named Julia....

Patrick Delaney was just a boy when he marched off to war in 1918. But on the stark battlefields of France, amid the horror and the chaos, Patrick forged a bond that would shape the course of his life. Daniel was Patrick's best friend, his comrade-in-arms. But it was Daniel's lover, Julia, who would change Patrick forever.

Julia's letters, shared by Daniel in the muddy trenches, touched Patrick in ways he never could have expected. But years would pass before he finally met her at a war memorial in France. There, on a field still scarred by battle, Patrick closed his eyes in silent prayer and opened them to the woman he had never seen but always loved: Julia.

After a brief, passionate encounter, Patrick made a fateful choice and Julia slipped away, perhaps never to return. It is just the beginning of an astonishing story that will span almost a century, a story of memory and desire, history and destiny — and of the people who slip from our grasp, only to hold us forever.

Recommended Reading:
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

Friday, June 19, 2009

Middlesex

Middlesex Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

My review
rating: 1 of 5 stars
I surrender. I don't quite get the appeal of this book. At times I found myself engrossed in the story and five pages would fly by and then the bottom would drop out and the paragraphs would drag. It got to the point where I cringed at the thought of picking up the book. Incest - intermarrying - not my thing.

What I did like about the book (at least what I read of it) was that it was rich in detail and history. Those were the parts that I found fascinating. The author painted a clear picture of memories.

Monday, June 8, 2009

New Moon (Second Reading)

New Moon (Twilight, #2) New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

My review rating: 5 of 5 stars
I feel sorry for my kids. The only way they've been able to get my attention this weekend is by shouting, "Mom! Vampire!"

If possible, this book was better than the first. The pain Bella went through when was heartbreaking. I enjoyed that some of the secondary characters, such as Jacob and Alice, played bigger roles in Bella's life.

There was a brief moment of ridiculous when Bella met the Volturi family, but fortunately it didn't last long.

A beautiful book. Absolutely amazing.

**Second Reading: I took a little more time with the second reading. I can see how SM has grown as a writer. I didn't find the Volturi scene quite as ridiculous as the first reading. I enjoyed the relationship between Bella and Jacob more.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith

Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott

My review
rating: 4 of 5 stars
I enjoyed Lamott's Bird by Bird Some Instructions on Writing and Life and was curious to hear what she had to say about faith. I found her thoughts moving and humorous. She doesn't Bible thump and throw a lot of scripture in your face. She uses swear words. She calls her teenage son's alter ego "Phil" and her alter ego "Menopausal Death Crone".

Pub. Date: August 2005

Synopsis: With Anne Lamott's trademark wisdom, humor and honesty, Plan B is a spiritual antidote to anxiety and despair in our increasingly fraught times.

Recommended Reading:
Grace (Eventually) : Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott
Traveling Mercies : Some Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott
Bird by Bird : Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
The Seeker's Guide : Making Your Life a Spiritual Adventure by Elizabeth Lesser

Twilight (Second Reading)

Twilight (Twilight, #1) Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

My review
rating: 5 of 5 stars
I can't find a single bad thing to say about this book. The characters were brilliant. The storyline flawless. I didn't think the "teenage angst" was overly exaggerated - if anything the story was two old souls in young boddies. The only bad thing I can say about this book is that it ended.

**Second Reading: I still found this story enjoyable. I took a little more time (two days) to read it this time around. I found underneath the obsessive love story is a wonderful book about choices.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Simply Perfect

Simply Perfect (Simply Series #4) Simply Perfect by Mary Balogh

My review
rating: 2 of 5 stars
I was disappointed in the conclusion to this series. This book was boring, there was no plot (other than falling in love) and no drama.

Pub. Date: December 2008

Series: Simply Book 4

Synopsis: Tall, dark, and exquisitely sensual, he is the epitome of male perfection. Not that Claudia Martin is looking for a lover. Or a husband. As owner and headmistress of Miss Martin’s School for Girls in Bath, she long ago resigned herself to a life without love. Until Joseph, Marquess of Attingsborough, arrives unannounced and tempts her to toss away a lifetime of propriety for an affair that can only lead to ruin.

Joseph has his own reasons for seeking Claudia out. Instantly, irresistibly attracted to the dedicated teacher, he embarks on a plan of seduction that leaves them both yearning for more. But as heir to a prestigious dukedom, Joseph is expected to carry on his family’s legacy. And Claudia knows she has no place in his world.

Now that world is about to be rocked by scandal. An arranged marriage, a secret that will shock the ton, and a man from Claudia’s past conspire to drive the lovers apart. But Joseph is determined to make Claudia his at any cost. Even if that means defying convention and breaking every rule for a love that is everything he has ever wanted—a love that is perfection itself…

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Bloodfever

Bloodfever (Fever, #2) Bloodfever by Karen Marie Moning

My reviewrating: 4 of 5 stars
Karen Marie Moning really amazed me in this book. Her plot and characters continue to grow in this series. The summary of "this is who I am and this is what happened in the first book" was done quickly and efficiently and the story moved quickly into the new series installment.

I am eager to get my hands on the next books of the series.

Pub. Date: October 2007

Series: Fever Book 2

Synopsis: MacKayla Lane's ordinary life underwent a complete makeover when she landed on Ireland's shores and was plunged into a world of deadly sorcery and ancient secrets.

In her fight to stay alive, Mac must find the Sinsar Dubh-a million-year-old book of the blackest magic imaginable, which holds the key to power over both the worlds of the Fae and of Man. Pursued by Fae assassins, surrounded by mysterious figures she knows she cannot trust, Mac finds herself torn between two deadly and irresistible men: V'lane, the insatiable Fae who can turn sensual arousal into an obsession for any woman, and the ever-inscrutable Jericho Barrons, a man as alluring as he is mysterious.

For centuries the shadowy realm of the Fae has coexisted with that of humans. Now the walls between the two are coming down, and Mac is the only thing that stands between them....

Recommended Reading:
Darkfever (Fever Series #1) by Karen Marie Moning
Faefever (Fever Series #3) by Karen Marie Moning
To Tame a Highland Warrior (Highlander Series #2) by Karen Marie Moning

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Kiss of a Demon King

Kiss of a Demon King (Immortals After Dark, #7) Kiss of a Demon King by Kresley Cole

My review
rating: 3 of 5 stars
I was starting to fear that Kresley Cole had gone the way of Laurell K. Hamilton and Karen Marie Moning (before she snapped out of it) and was writing books only about sex. This book was heavy on the sex part until the ending. Then she toned it down and allowed the plot to take over.

One thing that I like about KC's characters is that they follow the same shades of gray that "real" people live with. Her characters are never "only" good or "only" bad. I think this makes for real story writing - or at least as real as you can get with demons, valkyries, vampires, witches etc.

What I didn't like, and this complaint applies to the previous book as well, is that the hero supposedly had a "sith ifrican" accent, but the dialogue didn't live up to giving that accent voice. Minor, I know, but I get such a kick out of the way a character's voice comes alive with word usage.

Pub. Date: January 2009

Series: Immortals After Dark Book 6

Synopsis: Sabine, Sorceress of Illusions: the evil beauty who surrenders her body, but not her heart.

Rydstrom Woede: the ruthless warrior who vows to keep her at all costs.

With each smoldering encounter, their shared hunger only increases. If they can defeat the sinister enemy that stands between them, will Sabine make the ultimate sacrifice for her demon? Or will the proud king lay down his crown and arms to save his sorceress?

Recommended Reading:
Dark Desires After Dusk (Immortals after Dark Series #5) by Kresley Cole
Dark Needs at Night's Edge (Immortals after Dark Series #4) by Kresley Cole
Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night (Immortals after Dark Series #3) by Kresley Cole

Dark Desires After Dusk

Dark Desires After Dusk (Immortals After Dark, #6) Dark Desires After Dusk by Kresley Cole

My review
rating: 3 of 5 stars
I didn't think I would enjoy this book as much - I hadn't cared for the main guy when he appeared in other books. I was surprised. He stayed true to his characterization in the other books, but became "real" with surprising depth.

As usual, I was surprised by plot twists and the world of Immortals that KM has created becomes a little darker.

Pub. Date: May 2008

Series: Immortals After Dark Book 5

Synopsis: Cadeon Woede will stop at nothing to atone for the one wrong that will haunt him forever. But once he secures the key to his redemption, the halfling Holly Ashwin, Cade finds that the woman he thought he could use for his own ends and then forget haunts him as much as his past.

Raised as a human, Holly never knew that some frightening legends are real until she encounters a brutal demon who inexplicably guards her like a treasure. Thrust into a sensual new world of myth and power, with him as her protector, she begins to crave the demon's wicked touch.

Yet just when he earns Holly's trust, will Cade be forced to betray the only woman who can sate his wildest needs — and claim his heart?

Recommended Reading:
Dark Needs at Night's Edge (Immortals after Dark Series #4) by Kresley Cole
Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night (Immortals after Dark Series #3) by Kresley Cole
No Rest for the Wicked (Immortals after Dark Series #2) by Kresley Cole
Lover Enshrined (Black Dagger Brotherhood Series #6) by J. R. Ward
The Darkest Night (Lords of the Underworld Series #2) by Gena Showalter

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Dark Needs at Night's Edge

Dark Needs at Night's Edge (Immortals After Dark, #5) Dark Needs at Night's Edge by Kresley Cole

My review
rating: 3 of 5 stars
Okay, aside from the fact that my future husband is on the front cover (just as soon as I find out who he is)...

I had a hard time getting into the book at first. There was some strange wording, the character dialogue was at odds with the "behind the scenes" thoughts, and my head spun a little bit as I tried to remember who was who.

About 60 pages in, the wording and character development straightened out. I loved the plot, it wasn't the usual ghost love story. KC constantly surprises me with the twists and turns that her stories take.

Pub. Date: April 2008

Series: Immortals After Dark Book 4

Synopsis: Néomi Laress, a famous ballerina from a past century, became a phantom the night she was murdered. Imbued with otherworldly powers but invisible to the living, she haunts her beloved home, scaring away trespassers — until she encounters a ruthless immortal even more terrifying than Néomi herself.

To prevent him from harming others, Conrad Wroth's brothers imprison him in an abandoned manor. But there, a female only he can see seems determined to drive him further into madness. The exquisite creature torments him with desire, leaving his body racked with lust and his soul torn as he finds himself coveting her for his own.

Yet even if Conrad can win Néomi, evil still surrounds her. Once he returns to the brutality of his past to protect her, will he succumb to the dark needs seething inside him?

Recommended Reading:
Dark Desires After Dusk (Immortals after Dark Series #5) by Kresley Cole
Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night (Immortals after Dark Series #3) by Kresley Cole
No Rest for the Wicked (Immortals after Dark Series #2) by Kresley Cole

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night

Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night (Immortals After Dark,  #4) Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night by Kresley Cole

My review
rating: 3 of 5 stars
This book had a unique plot. I was constantly guessing and surprised at each twist and turn. Exciting characters and scenes. I enjoyed this book alot - although it isn't a standalone book (should be read immediately after No Rest for the Wicked.

I am enjoying this series. There is a continuous plot between all books, the characters are remaining true to character and it's just darn-good writing.

Pub. Date: October 2007

Series: Immortals After Dark Book 3

Synopsis: Bowen MacRieve of the Lykae clan was nearly destroyed when he lost the one woman meant for him. The ruthless warrior grew even colder, never taking another to his bed — until a smoldering encounter with his enemy, Mariketa the Awaited, reawakens his darkest desires. When sinister forces unite against her, the Highlander finds himself using all his strength and skill to keep her alive.

Temporarily stripped of her powers, Mari is forced to take refuge with her sworn adversary. It's rumored that no one can tempt Bowen's hardened heart, but soon passion burns between them. Though a future together is impossible, she fears he has no intention of letting her go.

If they defeat the evil that surrounds them, can Mari deny Bowen when he demands her body and soul — or will she risk everything for her fierce protector?

Recommended Reading:
No Rest for the Wicked (Immortals after Dark Series #2) by Kresley Cole
A Hunger like No Other (Immortals after Dark Series #1) by Kresley Cole
Dark Needs at Night's Edge (Immortals after Dark Series #4) by Kresley Cole

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Darkfever

Darkfever (Fever, #1) Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning

My review
rating: 4 of 5 stars
I wasn't sure I wanted to pick up another Karen Marie Moning book - her last two books were too much sex-sex-sex and not enough plot. I dove into this book with a little skepticism. It was written in first person which gave it a different feel than KMM's other books.

This book reminded me why I started reading KMM to start with. She has a vibrant sense of humor, writing witty dialogue (and in this case interior monologue), living-breathing characters, incredible settings and she brought back the plot in this book! I counted two scenes in the book that truly qualify as "erotic" and a small scattering of references.

I'm eagerly looking forward to reading the next two books of the series.

Pub. Date: August 2007

Series: Fever Book 1

Synopsis: MacKayla Lane’s life is good. She has great friends, a decent job, and a car that breaks down only every other week or so. In other words, she’s your perfectly ordinary twenty-first-century woman. Or so she thinks…until something extraordinary happens.

When her sister is murdered, leaving a single clue to her death–a cryptic message on Mac’s cell phone–Mac journeys to Ireland in search of answers. The quest to find her sister’s killer draws her into a shadowy realm where nothing is as it seems, where good and evil wear the same treacherously seductive mask. She is soon faced with an even greater challenge: staying alive long enough to learn how to handle a power she had no idea she possessed–a gift that allows her to see beyond the world of man, into the dangerous realm of the Fae….

As Mac delves deeper into the mystery of her sister’s death, her every move is shadowed by the dark, mysterious Jericho, a man with no past and only mockery for a future. As she begins to close in on the truth, the ruthless V'lane–an alpha Fae who makes sex an addiction for human women–closes in on her. And as the boundary between worlds begins to crumble, Mac’s true mission becomes clear: find the elusive Sinsar Dubh before someone else claims the all-powerful Dark Book–because whoever gets to it first holds nothing less than complete control of the very fabric of both worlds in their hands…

Recommended Reading:
Bloodfever (Fever Series #2) by Karen Marie Moning
Faefever (Fever Series #3) by Karen Marie Moning
To Tame a Highland Warrior (Highlander Series #2) by Karen Marie Moning
A Hunger like No Other (Immortals after Dark Series #1) by Kresley Cole

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Different Seasons

Different Seasons Different Seasons by Stephen King

My review
rating: 3 of 5 stars
I've picked up this collection of short stories off and on over the last two years. The first three stories I was familiar with the movies, but still found King's writing far superior. So superior that I had to put the book down long enough to let the nightmares go away. The stories aren't horror in a sci-fi sense, but horrible in the truth of human actions.

Pub. Date: August 1983

Synopsis: Four mesmerizing novellas, including the ones that inspired the movies The Shawshank Redemption, Apt Pupil, and Stand by Me. Hope Springs Eternal (Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption): The most satisfying tale of unjust imprisonment and offbeat escape since The Count of Monte Cristo. Summer of Corruption (Apt Pupil): A golden California schoolboy and an old man whose hideous past he uncovers enter into a fateful and chilling mutual parasitism. Fall from Innocence (The Body): Four rambunctious young boys venture into the Maine woods and in sunlight and thunder find life, death and intimations of their own mortality. A Winter's Tale (The Breathing Method): A tale told in a strange club about a woman determined to give birth no matter what.

Recommended Reading:
Skeleton Crew by Stephen King
Four Past Midnight by Stephen King
Night Shift by Stephen King
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Lord of the Flies by William Golding

The Host

The Host The Host by Stephenie Meyer

My review
rating: 3 of 5 stars
I tried to go into this book with an open mind, but I kept waiting for the obsession that took over me with the Twilight series to happen. It didn't. This book was easy to fall into, and once I allowed myself to be confused about the plot (my confusion only lasted the first 30 pages, then everything was explained and made sense) it was well done in it's own right. Still disappointed my expectations of the author of the Twilight series.

A good book in it's own right, light Sci-Fi, heavy on emotion and human actions. An original plot - not that I read much Sci-Fi to acurately judge - but some of the characters fell flat. They were too one-sided and lacked dimension. A lot of good plot space was taken up with mundane details.

Pub. Date: May 2008

Synopsis: Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. The earth has been invaded by a species that take over the minds of their human hosts while leaving their bodies intact, and most of humanity has succumbed.

Wanderer, the invading "soul" who has been given Melanie's body, knew about the challenges of living inside a human: the overwhelming emotions, the too vivid memories. But there was one difficulty Wanderer didn't expect: the former tenant of her body refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.

Melanie fills Wanderer's thoughts with visions of the man Melanie loves - Jared, a human who still lives in hiding. Unable to separate herself from her body's desires, Wanderer yearns for a man she's never met. As outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, they set off to search for the man they both love.

Recommended Reading:
Prom Nights from Hell by Meg Cabot, Kim Harrison, Michele Jaffe, Lauren Myracle, Stephenie Meyer
City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments Series #1) by Cassandra Clare

Saturday, May 9, 2009

You're Not You

You're Not You: A Novel You're Not You: A Novel by Michelle Wildgen


My review
rating: 3 of 5 stars
I walked into this book not expecting anything. (Although I'm still confused what the cover means.) A well written book that goes through all five of the reader's senses.

Pub. Date: July 2007

Synopsis: Bec is adrift. It's the summer before her junior year in college. She's sleeping with a married professor, losing interest in her classes, and equivocating about her career. She takes a job caring for Kate, a thirty-six-year-old woman who has been immobilized by ALS.

As it turns out, before the disease Kate was a stylish and commanding woman, an advertising executive and an accomplished chef. Now, as she and Bec spend long days together, Bec begins to absorb Kate's sophistication and her sensuality, cooking for her, sharing her secrets, and gradually beginning to live her own life with a boldness informed by Kate's influence. The more intense her commitment to Kate, the further Bec strays from the complacency of her college life. And when Kate's marriage veers into dangerous territory, Bec will have to choose between the values of her old life and the allure of an entirely new one.

Recommended Reading:
Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner
American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld
Songs Without Words by Ann Packer
Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

Sunday, May 3, 2009

If You Deceive

If You Deceive (MacCarrick Brothers, #3) If You Deceive by Kresley Cole


My review
rating: 3 of 5 stars
There wasn't much of an action/adventure plot in this book, it seemed to focus more on the emotional side of the story. I thought that worked perfectly with the hero, a man who was used to getting his way by brute force. He had to earn and be good enough to earn the heroine's love. A very good love story.

Pub. Date: May 2007

Series: MacCarrick Brothers Book 3

Synopsis: Burning vengeance...
Ethan MacCarrick was a heartbreakingly handsome rake until a powerful nobleman ordered him brutally beaten and his face scarred for a crime he didn't commit. Ethan's reprisal — bankrupting the nobleman and forcing his exile — does little to appease his wrath. Ten years later, a haughty, mysterious beauty enchants Ethan — the daughter of his enemy. At last, Ethan will have the revenge he's craved; he'll promise her marriage, seduce her, then cast her aside.

Bitter hardships...
When Madeleine van Rowen's family was suddenly plunged into destitution and dishonor, she steeled herself against further heartache. She never weakened, never trusted, until a towering, scarred Highlander relentlessly pursues her, breaking down her defenses.

At what price forgiveness?
The passion between them burns hotter than Ethan's fury, and soon he finds he can't let her go. But when Madeleine uncovers the truth about him, can Ethan convince her to accept all he now offers — when he once destroyed everything she had?

Recommended Reading:
If You Desire (MacCarrick Brothers Series #2) by Kresley Cole
If You Dare (MacCarrick Brothers Series #1) by Kresley Cole
No Rest for the Wicked (Immortals after Dark Series #2) by Kresley Cole

Thursday, April 30, 2009

If You Desire

If You Desire (MacCarrick Brothers, #2) If You Desire by Kresley Cole


My review
rating: 3 of 5 stars
An interesting plot. The love story was a little weak. I never did understand how everyone knew that she loved him and he loved her but never bothered to tell the two lovers that.

Pub. Date: April 2007

Series: MacCarrick Brothers Book 2

Synopsis: How much temptation can a Highlander resist? Fierce Scottish brothers shadowed by a dark curse face steamy new adventures in the second book in Kresley Cole's thrilling new trilogy.

He tried to run....
In his youth, Hugh MacCarrick foolishly fell in love with a beautiful English lass who delighted in teasing him with her flirtatious ways. Yet he knew he could never marry her because he was shadowed by an accursed family legacy. To avoid temptation, Hugh left home, ultimately becoming an assassin.

She tried to forget him....
Jane Weyland was devastated when the Highlander she believed would marry her abandoned her instead. Years later, when Hugh MacCarrick is summoned to protect her from her father's enemies, her heartache has turned to fury -- but her desire for him has not waned.

Will passion overwhelm them?
In hiding, Jane torments Hugh with seductive play. He struggles to resist her because of deadly secrets that could endanger her further. But Hugh is no longer a gentle young man -- and toying with the fever-pitched desires of a hardened warrior will either get Jane burned...or enflame a love that never died.

Recommended Reading:
If You Deceive (MacCarrick Brothers Series #3) by Kresley Cole
If You Dare (MacCarrick Brothers Series #1) by Kresley Cole
No Rest for the Wicked (Immortals after Dark Series #2) by Kresley Cole

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Birth of Venus

The Birth of Venus: A Novel The Birth of Venus: A Novel by Sarah Dunant


My review
rating: 3 of 5 stars
This was a well-written book. The story was easy to fall into, at times disturbing and beautiful. The subject matter was overwhelming at times, definitely not a "mindless read". The plot has innumerable twists that keep the reader interested.

Pub. Date: February 2004

Synopsis: Alessandra Cecchi is not quite fifteen when her father, a prosperous cloth merchant, brings a young painter back from northern Europe to decorate the chapel walls in the family’s Florentine palazzo. A child of the Renaissance, with a precocious mind and a talent for drawing, Alessandra is intoxicated by the painter’s abilities.

But their burgeoning relationship is interrupted when Alessandra’s parents arrange her marriage to a wealthy, much older man. Meanwhile, Florence is changing, increasingly subject to the growing suppression imposed by the fundamentalist monk Savonarola, who is seizing religious and political control. Alessandra and her native city are caught between the Medici state, with its love of luxury, learning, and dazzling art, and the hellfire preaching and increasing violence of Savonarola’s reactionary followers. Played out against this turbulent backdrop, Alessandra’s married life is a misery, except for the surprising freedom it allows her to pursue her powerful attraction to the young painter and his art.

Recommended Reading:
In the Company of the Courtesan by Sarah Dunant
Courtesan by Diane Haeger
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
Pompeii : A Novel by Robert Harris

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Captain of All Pleasures

The Captain of All Pleasures The Captain of All Pleasures by Kresley Cole


My review
rating: 1 of 5 stars
This is Kresley Cole's disappointing debut novel. If I hadn't read her other work before this book, I would never read her again. The plot was terrible. The hero was a jerk. The dialogue was stilted and random. The characters were in situations that were not believable.

If you want to read Kresley Cole, I recommend starting with her "If You..." series and skipping the "Pleasure" series altogether.

Pub. Date: July 2003

Series: Sutherland Brothers Book 1

Synopsis: Raised as a free spirit aboard her American sea captain father's majestic clipper ship, willful Nicole Lassiter has never encountered an obstacle she couldn't overcome — until she meets Captain Derek Sutherland. His sizzling kisses leave her longing, but after they share a night of passion, his subsequent disdain makes her blood boil. Nicole vows to take her revenge — by helping her father beat Sutherland in a high-stakes competition: the Great Circle Race from England to Australia.

Nicole's scheme is thrown overboard after her father is wrongly imprisoned, yet she remains undaunted — taking to the high seas with her father's ship. But a storm wrecks her plans, and she finds herself a virtual prisoner aboard Sutherland's vessel. And while her mind tells her she should escape, her body urges her to surrender...

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Remember The Magic

Remember The Magic (Berkley Sensation) Remember The Magic by Donna Fletcher

My review
rating: 1 of 5 stars
I started this book with high hopes, it's been on my shelf for years. I was disappointed in the storyline, I gave up in the first 30 pages. First, the two introductory characters tell the back story in conversation - which if they'd been together for hundreds of years, they both would be familiar with the story. The dialogue was stilted. I felt like the author was trying to tell us too much instead of letting us read between the lines or get into the characters' heads. Second, on page 30 the heroine (who is a witch in 1564) starts conjuring up a modern kitchen and bathroom in her cottage.

I'm all for fantasy if it's done well, but this book seems to be a half-formed thought that managed to get published. I think it could have been done better, perhaps if the author had begun the story at the beginning instead of the middle...

Pub. Date: January 2004

Synopsis: It's been five hundred years since Sydney Wyrrd fled the Scottish Highlands, fearing her presence would bring harm to her beloved. Only through divine intervention - and the help of her friends and fellow witches, Tempest and Michael - has she been able to return to 1564... and to Duncan, the brave chieftan who captured her heart all those years ago.

Ever since the day she disappeared, Duncan has been haunted by thoughts of the beautiful witch who stole his heart. But believing he'd never again set eyes on Sydney, he promised to take the daughter of a nearby clan chieftan as his wife - a union that will benefit both clans. A man of his word, he can't imagine breaking off his engagement - not even when Sydney returns. But for how long can he deny the passion she has reawakened - or resist the enduring love that still burns between them?

Last Kiss Goodbye

Last Kiss Goodbye Last Kiss Goodbye by Rita Herron

My review
rating: 1 of 5 stars
I started this book with the intention of kicking back and enjoying it. I read about 30 pages and threw the book down in disgust. I was confused by the storyline. The characters seemed over-dramatized and unrealistic. The writing was ripe (stinky ripe, that is) with heavy handed forshadowing and "oooh spooky" factor.

Sorry, kids, another one I just couldn't waste my time on.

Pub. Date: August 2006

Synopsis: Fearful yet determined, Ivy Stanton returns to the small Appalachian town she left fifteen years ago…the night her parents were murdered. But in coming home to Kudzu Hollow, she discovers she is not alone in her search for the truth: Matt Mahoney, the man who saved her life, who haunts her dreams, who was wrongfully accused of the crime, has come back, too, demanding answers -- and justice.

When Matt looks into Ivy's eyes, he sees a woman whose pain mirrors his own. The feelings she stirs within him promise a life he never thought he'd have. But evil still resides in this sleepy mountain town, as do secrets worth killing for. Now danger stalks them both, and Matt is fighting for more than vengeance…he's fighting for their future.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Breaking Dawn

Breaking Dawn (The Twilight Saga, Book 4) Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

My review
rating: 5 of 5 stars
The final book in the Twilight Saga brought out all of my emotions. I laughed, I cried, I raged, I felt the limitless bottom of depression... I felt the enduring possibility of love. Possibly the most amazing rollercoaster I have ever been on in a book.

I was frustrated through the third of the book that took the reader into Jacob's point of view. I love Bella's voice and it was difficult to leave for Jacob's bitterness, anger and shattered heart. It was necessary, after all, to understand the break that Bella had made, the healing that occured after. But it was still a relief to get back to Bella's voice. I thought I was going to become suicidal.

To say that this book (the whole series, truth be told) took over my emotions, my life, would be an exaggeration. Stephenie Meyer is a master story teller. None of her characters are half-done. The only flaw I found with this last book is that the plot wound up too neatly. I put the book down feeling complete, but that maybe it was a little too anti-climatic.

Pub. Date: August 2008

Series: Twilight Saga Book 4

Synopsis: When you loved the one who was killing you, it left you no options. How could you run, how could you fight, when doing so would hurt that beloved one? If your life was all you had to give, how could you not give it? If it was someone you truly loved?

To be irrevocably in love with a vampire is both fantasy and nightmare woven into a dangerously heightened reality for Bella Swan. Pulled in one direction by her intense passion for Edward Cullen, and in another by her profound connection to werewolf Jacob Black, she has endured a tumultuous year of temptation, loss, and strife to reach the ultimate turning point. Her imminent choice to either join the dark but seductive world of immortals or pursue a fully human life has become the thread from which the fate of two tribes hangs.

Now that Bella has made her decision, a startling chain of unprecedented events is about to unfold with potentially devastating and unfathomable consequences. Just when the frayed strands of Bella's life seem ready to heal and kit together, could the be destroyed....forever?

Recommended Reading:
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (Book 1)
New Moon by Stephenie Meyer (Book 2)
Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer (Book 3)
The Host by Stephenie Meyer

Monday, April 13, 2009

Eclipse

Eclipse (The Twilight Saga, Book 3) Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer

My review
rating: 5 of 5 stars
Amazing. From the very first word I was sucked into the story, into a world where vampires, werewolves and true-love-forever exists. This book made me laugh, cry and gasp with terror, fear, excitement and love. Stephenie Meyer is amazing!

Pub. Date: August 2007

Series: Twilight Saga Book 3

Synopsis: Edward’s soft voice came from behind me.

I turned to see him spring lightly up the porch steps, his hair windblown from running. He pulled me into his arms at once, just like he had in the parking lot, and kissed me again. This kiss frightened me. There was too much tension, too strong an edge to the way his lips crushed mine–like he was afraid we had only so much time left to us.

As Seattle is ravaged by a string of mysterious killings and a malicious vampire continues her quest for revenge, Bella once again finds herself surrounded by danger. In the midst of it all, she is forced to choose between her love for Edward and her friendship with Jacob–knowing that her decision has the potential to ignite the ageless struggle between vampire and werewolf. With her graduation quickly approaching, Bella has one more decision to make: life or death. But which is which?

Recommended Reading:
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (Book 1)
New Moon by Stephenie Meyer (Book 2)
Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer (Book 4)
The Host by Stephenie Meyer