Friday, December 31, 2010

Darkly Dreaming Dexter

Darkly Dreaming Dexter (Dexter, #1)Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I put off reading this because I had tried to watch the TV series and didn't like it. I had heard the books were not as good. I enjoyed this book ALOT. The characters were witty and smart. The plot was original. It was good writing that made the pages almost turn themselves. Definitely looking forward to reading the rest of the books in the series.

Pub. Date: July 2004


Series: Dexter Book 1
 
Synopsis: Dexter Morgan isn't exactly the kind of man you'd bring home to Mom. Though he's palyful and has a wonderfully ironic sense of humor, Dexter's one character flaw (his proclivity for murder) can be off-putting. But at heart Dexter is the perfect gentleman, supportive of his siter, Deb, a Miami cop, and interested only in doing away with people who really deserve his special visit. Dex is quite good-looking but totally indifferent to (and, frankly, a bit puzzled by) the attentions paid to him by women. Despite the fact that he can't stand the sight of blood, he works as a blood-spatter analyst for the Miami police department, a job that allows him to keep tabs on the latest crimes and keep an eye open for his next quarry.
 
Dexter's well-organized life is suddenly disrupted when a second, much more visible serial killer appears in Miami. Dex is intrigued, even delighted, by the fact that the other killer appears to have a style reminiscent of his own. Yet he can't help but feel that the mysterious new arrival is not merely invading his turf but reaching out to him as well. This new killer seems to be doing more than copying Dexter - he seems to be saying, "Come out and play." Dexter's secret life makes for a lonely existence... even a lovable monster can be intrigued by the prospect of finding a friend.
 
Recommended Reading:
Dearly Devoted Dexter by Jeff Lindsay
Dexter in the Dark by Jeff Lindsay
Dexter by Design by Jeff Lindsay
Dexter is Delicious by Jeff Lindsay
Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Last Lecture

The Last LectureThe Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I struggled with this book at the beginning. Once I got over my fear of it being another sad story about someone dying from cancer (and only about dying from cancer) I enjoyed the book very much. The book was broken up into sections and the chapters in each section flowed well. I found the writing style unique, it was a good mix of "to the point", humor and smarts that kept the book from being too emotionally heavy.

Pub. Date: April 2008


Synopsis: "We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand." —Randy Pausch

A lot of professors give talks titled "The Last Lecture." Professors are asked to consider their demise and to ruminate on what matters most to them. And while they speak, audiences can't help but mull the same question: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance? If we had to vanish tomorrow, what would we want as our legacy?

When Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, was asked to give such a lecture, he didn't have to imagine it as his last, since he had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. But the lecture he gave—"Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams"—wasn't about dying. It was about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment (because "time is all you have and you may find one day that you have less than you think"). It was a summation of everything Randy had come to believe. It was about living.

In this book, Randy Pausch has combined the humor, inspiration and intelligence that made his lecture such a phenomenon and given it an indelible form.

Recommended Reading:
Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
The Noticer by Andy Andrews

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Half Broke Horses

Half Broke Horses: A True-Life NovelHalf Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel by Jeannette Walls

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I didn't expect to like this book, but I was hooked from the first page. This is so much more than a story about horses (in fact, horses only have a small bit to do with the story). It's a story about another time, a woman who lived her life by her rules. The main character's voice was so clear and stayed so true to character. The author really did an amazing job bringing her grandmother off the page.

Pub. Date: September 2010


Synopsis: "Those old cows knew trouble was coming before we did." So begins the story of Lily Casey Smith, Jeannette Walls's no nonsense, resourceful, and spectacularly compelling grandmother. By age six, Lily was helping her father break horses. At fifteen, she left home to teach in a frontier town — riding five hundred miles on her pony, alone, to get to her job. She learned to drive a car ("I loved cars even more than I loved horses. They didn't need to be fed if they weren't working, and they didn't leave big piles of manure all over the place") and fly a plane. And, with her husband Jim, she ran a vast ranch in Arizona. She raised two children, one of whom is Jeannette's memorable mother, Rosemary Smith Walls, unforgettably portrayed in The Glass Castle.
Lily survived tornadoes, droughts, floods, the Great Depression, and the most heartbreaking personal tragedy. She bristled at prejudice of all kinds — against women, Native Americans, and anyone else who didn't fit the mold. Rosemary Smith Walls always told Jeannette that she was like her grandmother, and in this true-life novel, Jeannette Walls channels that kindred spirit.

Recommended Reading:
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
Traveling with Pomegranates by Sue Monk Kidd
Day After Night by Anita Diamant
A Gate in the Stairs by Lorrie Moore
Ape House by Sara Gruen

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Battle of the Labyrinth

The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #4)The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book more than any of the others. There was more of a natural feel to Percy's reactions and thoughts in this book than any other. The plot was better fleshed out than any of the others. The action scenes were better written. It was just a better book all the way around than any of the others in the series so far. (Although The Spawn tells me The Last Olympian is "gonna blow my mind".) One thing that I love about this writer: he uses correct grammar while not making his writing stiff.

Pub. Date: April 2009


Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians Book 4
 
Synopsis: Percy Jackson's fourth summer at Camp Half-Blood is much like his previous three-high-octane clashes with dark forces, laced with hip humor and drama. Opening with a line for the ages-"The last thing I wanted to do on my summer break was blow up another school"-this penultimate series installment finds Percy, Annabeth and the satyr Grover furiously working to prevent former camp counselor Luke from resurrecting the Titan lord Kronos, whose goal is to overthrow the gods. When the heroes learn that Luke can breach Camp Half-Blood's security through an exit from Daedalus's Labyrinth, they enter the maze in search of the inventor and a way to stop the invasion. Along the way they encounter a lifetime supply of nightmare-inducing, richly imagined monsters. Grover's own quest to find the lost god Pan, meanwhile, provides a subtle environmental message. Percy, nearly 15, has girl trouble, having become something of a chick magnet.
 
Recommended Reading:
The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan
The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan
The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Slow Going

I've been struggling with reading lately. Blame Farmville. Blame work. Blame the kids. Blame housework - no, on second thought, don't blame housework. I'm not doing much of that either. You could even blame The Boy, except I don't see him much either. Point is: I'm a busy girl. I'm not in the mood to read lately.

I'm way below my goal for the year, oh hells, this year is the least I've read in about six years - including the year that I worked two jobs and had a baby. Looking ahead to 2011, I don't see things getting better as I'm adding college and (hopefully crosses fingers and toes) buying a house.

I definitely did not achieve the "other" reading goal I had: re-reading Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series, the Twilight series or Dickens' Tale of Two Cities (one of my favorite books from high school English). I have, however managed to cut my TBR shelf down to under 30.

The elephant in the room is still the totes and boxes of books in my closet. Unfortunately this has grown into a few piles scattered around my bedroom as well. I put my book swapping account on hold in April and haven't made it active again. I will need to do something about this soon. I have no desire to move all of those books just to shove them into a closet.

I have a bit of thinking to do about what my goals will be for 2011 and how I want to accomplish them. For the next few weeks I'm going to try to read a little more (wish me luck - this is my last free weekend until mid-January) and then I should be back to fill you in on what I've decided!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel

The Private Papers of Eastern JewelThe Private Papers of Eastern Jewel by Maureen Lindley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When I started this book, I couldn't put it down, but then the long chapters and long cast of characters wore me out (not to mention real-life intruding). The writing varied between very descriptive sex scenes and read-between-the-lines sex scenes, but there were alot of them. Some secondary characters could have used a little more fleshing out, but overall the story was well written.

Pub. Date: September 2009


Synopsis: An electrifying epic, based on the incredible true story of a Chinese princess turned spy.
Peking, 1914. When the eight-year-old princess Eastern Jewel is caught spying on her father’s liaison with a servant girl, she is banished from the palace, sent to live with a powerful family in Japan. Renamed Yoshiko Kawashima, she quickly falls in love with her adoptive country, where she earns a scandalous reputation, taking fencing lessons, smoking opium, and entertaining numerous lovers. Sent to Mongolia to become an obedient wife, Yoshiko mounts a daring escape and eventually finds her way back to Peking high society—this time with orders from the Japanese secret service.
Based on the true story of a rebellious woman who earned a controversial place in history, The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel is a vibrant reimagining of a thrilling life—a rich historical epic of palace intrigue, sexual manipulation, and international espionage.

Recommended Reading:
Fall of Giants by Ken Follet
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Half-Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Titan's Curse

The Titan's Curse (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #3)The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book more than the others of the series. I thought the mythology factor of the story was better explained in this book than the other books. I look forward to reading the next book. As soon as The Spawn finishes it.

Pub. Date: April 2008

Series: Percy Jackson and The Olympians Book 3

Synopsis: When the goddess Artemis goes missing, she is believed to have been kidnapped. And now it's up to Percy and his friends to find out what happened. They must find Artemis before the winter solstice, when her influence on the Olympian Council could swing an important vote on the war with the titans. Not only that, but first Percy will have to solve the mystery of a rare monster that Artemis was hunting when she disappeared—a monster rumored to be so powerful it could destroy Olympus forever.


Recommended Reading:
The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan
The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
The Arctic Incident by Eoin Colfer

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

DreamFever

Dreamfever (Fever, #4)Dreamfever by Karen Marie Moning

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book 3 of the Fever series left the reader hanging. Book 4 picked up exactly where the last book left off: Mac is being turned into a sex addict by Fae princes. The first few pages I worried that KMM was going back to her "all sex all the time" way of writing, but was happy to see that she didn't. She stuck with the amazing characters she created, deepened the plot and the mystery and on the last page, left me hungry for the next book.

Pub. Date: August 2009
Series: Fever Book 4

Synopsis: They may have stolen my past, but I’ll never let them take my future.
When the walls between Man and Fae come crashing down, freeing the insatiable, immortal Unseelie from their icy prison, MacKayla Lane is caught in a deadly trap. Captured by the Fae Lord Master, she is left with no memory of who or what she is: the only sidhe-seer alive who can track the Sinsar Dubh, a book of arcane black magic that holds the key to controlling both worlds.
Clawing her way back from oblivion is only the first step Mac must take down a perilous path, from the battle-filled streets of Dublin to the treacherous politics of an ancient, secret sect, through the tangled lies of men who claim to be her allies into the illusory world of the Fae themselves, where nothing is as it seems—and Mac is forced to face a soul-shattering truth.
Who do you trust when you can’t even trust yourself?

Recommended Reading:
FaeFever by Karen Marie Moning
DarkFever by Karen Marie Moning
BloodFever by Karen Marie Moning

The Sea of Monsters

The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #2)The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this second book, but not as much as I expected. It lost some of the surprise factor that the first book held. The plot was so-so, slightly predictable. I thought the main characters displayed a lot of naivete in order to make the plot work, which made it unbelievable [in a "duh" not a "wow" kind of way]. There were good comedic moments and lots of action.

Pub. Date: March 2007
Series: Percy Jackson and The Olympians Book 2

Synopsis: Percy Jackson's seventh-grade year has been surprisingly quiet. Not a single monster has set foot on his New York prep school campus. But when an innocent game of dodgeball among Percy and his classmates turns into a death match against an ugly gang of cannibal giants, things get well, ugly. And the unexpected arrival of Percy's friend Annabeth brings more bad news: the magical borders that protect Camp Half-Blood have been poisoned by a mysterious enemy, and unless a cure is found, the only safe haven for demigods will be destroyed. Percy and his friends must journey into the Sea of Monsters to save their beloved camp. But first, Percy will discover a stunning new secret about his family one that makes him wonder whether being claimed as Poseidon's son is an honor, or simply a cruel joke.

Recommended Reading:
The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan
The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Last Summer (of you and me)

The Last Summer of You and MeThe Last Summer of You and Me by Ann Brashares

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

As a fan of The Traveling Pants series, I wanted to really like this book. I struggled reading it. I found it depressing. The character relationships were too distant and complicated for me to understand. The one character I wanted to get to know and understand wasn't given much of a plot.

Pub. Date: June 2007


Synopsis: Set on Long Island's Fire Island, The Last Summer (of You and Me) is an enchanting, heartrending page-turner about sisterhood, friendship, love, loss, and growing up. It is the story of a beach community friendship triangle-Riley and Alice, two sisters in their twenties, and Paul, the young man they've grown up with-and what happens one summer when budding love, sexual curiosity, a sudden serious illness, and a deep secret all collide, launching the friends into an adult world from which their summer haven can no longer protect them.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Nasty Bits

The Nasty Bits: Collected Varietal Cuts, Useable Trim, Scraps, and BonesThe Nasty Bits: Collected Varietal Cuts, Useable Trim, Scraps, and Bones by Anthony Bourdain

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What I liked: Anthony Bourdain has a magical way with words. I just love the way this guy writes. I also like that the book is broken up into sections and that the stories are short enough that I could read a few before going to bed each night.


What I didn't like: This book wasn't as much about the food as a bitter rant about what technology (aka the celebrity chef) has done to food. There was a lot of food terminology I didn't understand that I wish he had explained better.

Final Thoughts: While it was bitter and burned out, showing the darker side of the kitchen, it was still a great read.

Pub. Date: May 2006

Synopsis: The good, the bad, and the ugly, served up Bourdain-style.
Bestselling chef and No Reservations host Anthony Bourdain has never been one to pull punches. In The Nasty Bits, he serves up a well-seasoned hellbroth of candid, often outrageous stories from his worldwide misadventures. Whether scrounging for eel in the backstreets of Hanoi, revealing what you didn't want to know about the more unglamorous aspects of making television, calling for the head of raw food activist Woody Harrelson, or confessing to lobster-killing guilt, Bourdain is as entertaining as ever. Bringing together the best of his previously uncollected nonfiction—and including new, never-before-published material—The Nasty Bits is a rude, funny, brutal and passionate stew for fans and the uninitiated alike.

Recommended Reading:
Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
A Cook's Tour by Anthony Bourdain
Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain
Bone in the Throat by Anthony Bourdain
Devil in the Kitchen by Marco White

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

MAX

Max (Maximum Ride, #5)Max by James Patterson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What I liked: Have I mentioned that the author wastes no time getting into the action? [no? how remiss of me] The humor and attitude that make these characters and stories so great continues strong in this installment of the series.

What I didn't like: The plot was fuzzy and, hello, cliffhanger.

Final Thoughts: While I'm looking forward to the next book release, I'm hoping that time will pass in "book world" so that we can see these kids as grownups.

Pub. Date: January 2010

Synopsis: Maximum Ride and the other members of the Flock have barely recovered from their last arctic adventure, when they are confronted by the most frightening catastrophe yet. Millions of fish are dying off the coast of Hawaii and someone-or something-is destroying hundreds of ships. Unable to discover the cause, the government enlists the Flock to help them get to the bottom of the disaster before it is too late.

While Max and her team are exploring the depths of the ocean, their every move is being carefully tracked by Mr. Chu-a criminal mastermind with his own plans for the Flock. Can they protect themselves from Mr. Chu's army of mercenaries and save the ocean from utter destruction?


Recommended Reading:
The Final Warning by James Patterson
Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports by James Patterson
School's Out Forever by James Patterson
Fang by James Patterson
The Angel Experiment by James Patterson

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Highlander For Christmas

A Highlander for ChristmasA Highlander for Christmas by Sandy Blair

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

What I liked: A slightly original time travel romance. The main characters were the focus of the story and the wacky side characters stayed mostly in the background.

What I didn't like: There wasn't much of a climax to the story.

Final Thoughts: A decent story but probably not something I'll remember reading in a month.

Pub. Date: October 2007

Synopsis: `Tis the season to be jolly-but Boston antiques dealer Claire MacGregor isn't looking forward to a solo Christmas, or cocoa for one, or trimming the tree by herself. But company's coming. Claire is fooling around with an old puzzle box and when it opens.a gorgeous, studly laird appears. Thumbs down: Sir Cameron MacLeod is centuries old. Thumbs up: he doesn't look it. And Cameron is tall, dark, and lusty-very lusty.
Who is this lovely lass? And where is he? Before awakening in the 21st century in Claire's bedroom, the last thing Sir Cameron MacLeod remembers was readying for war with a rival clan. Despite her strange clothes and odd ways, Claire is bonny and brave. He's about to find out that love is a many-splendored thing indeed.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Final Warning

The Final Warning (Maximum Ride, #4)The Final Warning by James Patterson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What I liked: As usual there was no waiting for the action. Max is starting to act like a teenage girls in many ways.
What I didn't like: Some of the situations are too easily or quickly ended. About the time I get myself ready for a battle, the situation falls short of my expectations. The story is starting to lose some of the "family" feeling there was in the beginning.
Final Thoughts: I still enjoy this series and look forward to the next book.

Pub. Date: January 2009

Synopsis: Fourteen-year-old Maximum Ride and the other members of the "Flock"--Fang, Iggy, Nudge, Gasman and Angel--are just like ordinary kids--only they have wings and can fly.
Max returns in book 4 of the series in a chilling adventure unlike any other. Safe havens for the six highly-sought-after winged kids have become increasingly hard to find-so the flock takes refuge in Antarctica with a team of environmentalists studying the effects of global warming. In this remote wilderness-whether pursued by corrupt governments, bioengineered bad-guys, or the harsh forces of nature-survival of the fittest takes a new twist! Teens, adults, and educators will savor this motivating cautionary tale about a real-life peril that may affect their own future.

Recommended Reading:
Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports by James Patterson
Max by James Patterson
School's Out Forever by James Patterson
The Angel Experiment by James Patterson
City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

Monday, September 6, 2010

I WANT

It's no secret that I love technology. I love gadgets. I have a kitchen full of cooking gadgets. And there are so many gadgets that I WANT, the only thing holding me back is my pocketbook telling me NO. I want an IPod, but I settled for a $15 mp3 player. I want a Blackberry, but common sense has prevailed on that issue (for the moment) and I'm sticking with my generic cell phone that doesn't do anything except text and talk.

When eReaders first came out, I laughed. I told friends that I would never switch from real books to electronic books. I thought the idea was hokey and they'd never last. However, as eReaders have evolved and the prices have dropped, I WANT. I haven't been able to justify it yet as I have 30 books still on my TBR shelf and, well, the $130 price tag on most of them puts them outside my budget. Factoring in the expense of buying books (I get 99% of mine from paperbackswap.com and 1% from half.com) makes an eReader is even further outside the budget margin. But I WANT.

I looked at a Sony eReader a few months ago. It was hate at first sight. Not intuitive at all. Several of my friends have The Kindle or The Nook and all love it. A friend who has The Kindle and her mother has The Nook has given me her thoughts on both (preferring The Kindle) and also keeps me updated via interesting articles regarding prices, comparisons, etc. I've watched prices drop drastically over the last six months and I expect they will continue to do so. When they drop below $100, I'll seriously start to consider which of the two readers will work the best for me.

In the meantime, I keep my eyes open for giveaways on various blogs that I haunt. This week I found this:
Simply Stacie has teamed up with Luxury Reading to giveaway The Kindle (and a few perks thrown in too).

And for the record, I'll probably never be completely paperless, there's just something about holding a book in my hands and the feel and smell of paper... besides, what would I do with my bookmark collection?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Pact

The Pact: A Love StoryThe Pact: A Love Story by Jodi Picoult

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Couldn't get into the story. There was too much flashing between the present (which I thought was the action part of the story) and the past. The stories set in the past seemed to add nothing to the present story.

The Lightning Thief

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1)The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What I liked: This was a fresh story told about things familiar to everyone. The characters were interesting and vivid. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough to see who [or how:] would show up next. This was a humorous adventure.

What I didn't like: That I have to wait for The Spawn to finish reading the next book to find out what Percy's up to next.
Final Thoughts: This seies is appealing to me on the same level as the Harry Potter series: characters I can relate to and a fantasy driven plot.

Pub. Date: April 2006
Series: Percy Jackson and The Olympians Book 1
Synopsis: Twelve-year-old Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school...again. No matter how hard he tries, he can't seem to stay out of trouble. But can he really be expected to stand by and watch while a bully picks on his scrawny best friend? Or not defend himself against his pre-algebra teacher when she turns into a monster and tries to kill him? Of course, no one believes Percy about the monster incident; he s not even sure he believes himself.

Until the Minotaur chases him to summer camp.

Suddenly, mythical creatures seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy s Greek mythology textbook and into his life. The gods of Mount Olympus, he s coming to realize, are very much alive in the twenty-first century. And worse, he s angered a few of them: Zeus s master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.

Now Percy has just ten days to find and return Zeus s stolen property, and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus.
Recommended Reading:
The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan
The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan
The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Certain Girls

Certain GirlsCertain Girls by Jennifer Weiner

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What I liked: This author can WRITE. Her sense of humor is spot-on and I desperately wanted to be best friends with her characters.

What I didn't like: Her 13 year old character was more grownup than I remember being at that age. This is a common complaint for me when grownups write teenage characters, the writer gives them the ability to reason. HELLO! They're teenagers, they don't think the same way grownups do.

Final Thoughts: I enjoyed this book although I was left a little out of the loop because I couldn't remember the first book. There was a twist in the story that took me by surprise, which was a nice change. Probably not my favorite book by this author.

Pub. Date: April 2009

Recommended Reading:
Best Friends Forever by Jennifer Weiner
Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner
Goodnight Nobody by Jennifer Weiner
The Guy Not Taken by Jennifer Weiner

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Saving The World And Other Extreme Sports

Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports (Maximum Ride, #3)Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports by James Patterson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


What I liked: I enjoy this series more and more. The plot seemed to come together more when combining the books as a whole rather than individually. Max and the rest of the flock continue to evolve realistically as characters. The book jumped right into the action from the beginning.

What I didn't like: There were a few hokey moments and a few plot twists that didn't quite add up.

Final Thoughts: This is a great series that hasn't disappointed me yet.

Pub. Date: January 2008

Synopsis: Fourteen-year-old Maximum Ride and the other members of the "flock"--Fang, Iggy, Nudge, Gasman and Angel--are just like ordinary kids--only they have wings and can fly. It seems like a dream come true--except that they're being hunted by half-human, half-wolf "Erasers" who can fly, too.
In Book 3 of the series, the flock members are faced with a new enemy--robots called Flyboys who are stronger than Erasers and have retractable wings. The last thing Max wants is to keep running for her life, but she has to, taking the Flock across the country. There, they meet the sinister scientist Ter-Borsht, who speaks of something called "Re-Evolution," and the "By-Half Plan": the most frightening human experiment they can imagine--a kind of ethnic cleansing of the entire planet.
As fear and tension escalate among the flock members--and a romance starts to form between Max and Fang--they split up, with Max taking the girls to Europe, where they are held captive yet again. The only thing that keeps Max going is that, this time, she might finally meet her mother and father--but she still has to save the world. Max Ride's final flight is like a thrilling roller coaster ride with twists you'd never expect and a landing that can't be anything other than... perfect.

Recommended Reading:
Final Warning by James Patterson
School's Out Forever by James Patterson
The Angel Experiment by James Patterson
Max by James Patterson
City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

Till There Was You

Till There Was You (De Piaget, #11)Till There Was You by Lynn Kurland

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


What I liked: Not much.

What I didn't like: The author's characters in her romance series have become interchangeable. The storyline was nothing original for the author.

Final Thoughts: This book was slow to get into the storyline, the characters never panned out to flesh and blood. I expected more from this book and it wasn't delivered.

Pub. Date: April 2009

Synopsis: Zachary Smith is finished with high-maintenance women, impossible clients, and paranormal adventures. But when he walks through a doorway into a different century— and meets Mary de Piaget—he knows his life isn’t going to turn out quite the way he planned.

Recommended Reading:
A Tapestry of Spells by Lynn Kurland
With Every Breath by Lynn Kurland


Saturday, July 31, 2010

School's Out Forever

School's Out - Forever (Maximum Ride, #2)School's Out - Forever by James Patterson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


What I liked: This book jumped right into the action and didn't stop. The author didn't waste any time with back story.

What I didn't like: Plot seemed a little vague again. There seemed to be no resolution to the story. More questions than answers.

Final Thoughts: I continue to look forward to finishing this series. The characters are great, the action is great, just waiting for the plot to come together.

Pub. Date: May 2006
Series: Maximum Ride Book 2

Synopsis: Fourteen-year-old Maximum Ride and the other members of the "Flock"--Fang, Iggy, Nudge, Gasman and Angel--are just like ordinary kids--only they have wings and can fly. It seems like a dream come true--except that they're being hunted by half-human, half-wolf "Erasers" who can fly, too.
In Book 2 of the series, the Flock members are taken under the wing of an FBI agent and try to live "normal" lives by going to school, making friends--and continuing their relentless search for their parents. But the Erasers return, forcing the Flock to abandon their search and make their escape once again. The voice inside Max's head keeps telling her that it's up to her to save the world, but this is especially challenging to do when she is faced with her ultimate match: a newer and better version of herself, Maximum Ride II. Max's heart-stopping quest to investigate the mind-blowing mystery of her ultimate destiny continues in the scariest, strangest, and funniest James Patterson novel yet.

Recommended Reading:
Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports by James Patterson
The Angel Experiment by James Patterson
The Final Warning by James Patterson
Max by James Patterson
City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Eat Pray Love

Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and IndonesiaEat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

What I liked: Parts of this book read like talking to a good friend. Parts were funny and honest and didn't feel contrived for plot or dramatic affect.

What I didn't like: Quite honestly, I felt a lot of things about this book were construed together too perfectly to be a "real" story. It wore me out and wore on and on at points when it just should have died. Who the hell gets to have a mental breakdown AND a happy ending? There were also chapters that I felt were created (history of rome 101, where gurus come from and Bali Realty for Dummies to name a few) just to fill out the numbers. They were boring and added no context to the story.

Final Thoughts: This book did not live up to the hype for me.

Published Date: February 2006

Synopsis: The celebrated author of The Last American Man creates an irresistible, candid, and eloquent account of her pursuit of worldly pleasure and spiritual devotion.

By the time she turned thirty, Elizabeth Gilbert had everything a modern, educated, ambitious American woman was supposed to want—a husband, a house in the country, a successful career. But instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she was consumed with panic, grief and confusion. She went through a divorce, a crushing depression, another failed love and the complete eradication of everything she ever thought she was supposed to be.

To recover from all of this, Gilbert took a radical step. In order to give herself the time and space to find out who she really was and what she really wanted, she got rid of her belongings, quit her job, left her loved ones behind and undertook a year-long journey around the world, all alone. Eat, Pray, Love is the chronicle of that year. Gilbert's aim was to visit three places where she could examine one aspect of her own nature, set against the backdrop of a culture that has traditionally done that one thing very well. In Italy, she studied the art of pleasure, learning to speak Italian and gaining the twenty-three happiest pounds of her life. India was for the art of devotion, where, with the help of a native guru and a surprisingly wise Texan, she embarked on four months of austere spiritual exploration. Finally, in Indonesia, she sought her ultimate goal: balance—namely, how to somehow build a life of equilibrium between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence. Looking for these answers on the island of Bali, she became the pupil of an elderly, ninth-generation medicine man and also fell in love in the very best way—unexpectedly.

A memoir of self-discovery, Eat, Pray, Love is about what can happen when you claim responsibility for your own contentment. It is also about the adventures that can transpire when a woman stops trying to live in imitation of society's ideals. This is a story certain to touch anyone who has ever woken up to the unrelenting need for change.

Recommended Reading
Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert
One Day by David Nicholls
Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz
Water for Elephants by Sarah Gruen [unabridged audiobook] [NOOKbook]

Thursday, July 8, 2010

One of THOSE Books

I'm trying to work my way through Eat Pray Love but it isn't easy. It's one of THOSE books. A book that resonates so closely with my own life, that I find myself nodding my head thinking "been there done that" at every page.

The author was very close to the age I was at when my 'mid-life crisis' struck me. I didn't runaway to travel the world the way that she did, but I have had to find my way through what my choices had made my life had made me. We both struggled through depression to find what brings us pleasure in life, slogged through the demands of the modern world to find a spiritual connection - to see the bigger picture of the world we live in, and finally to find love in ourself. For ourself just as we are and for those we touch in life.

And that's were the similarities end. The author leads a charmed life: already an accomplished world traveler, seemingly set financially, able to make friends and surrounded by an abundance of them... I dread finishing this book. I just know the author's ending is going to be so much better than mine. (Considering that I'm nursing the Mother of All Broken Hearts, a horror novel would end better than my life.)

But I can't stop reading. This book is just so well written. It's funny and smart and moving. I dread picking it up, but struggle to put it down when I do. I'm torn between thankfulness that vacation with The Spawn and The Diva has kept me too busy to read, and being upset by the interrupted reading time.

I'm having a serious love/hate relationship with this book.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Traveling Mercies

Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
What I liked: This was the message I was missing in Grace (Eventually). Anne Lamott's stories of faith and life are enduring and uplifting.

What I didn't like: It started out as more of a memoir of how not to live your life before it settled in to the inspirational stories and moments of Lamott's current life. Once I got past the "this is who I am and how I got here" section, the rest of the book was great.

Final thoughts: Lamott's stories continue to entertain and fill my well. I've enjoyed her stories and found comfort to know that we are not walking through this life alone. Sometimes God comes in a bag of dimes, the love of a child or the loss of a friend.

Pub. Date: 02/28/2000

Synopsis: Anne Lamott claims the two best prayers she knows are: "Help me, help me, help me" and "Thank you, thank you, thank you." She has a friend whose morning prayer each day is "Whatever," and whose evening prayer is "Oh, well." Anne thinks of Jesus as "Casper the friendly savior" and describes God as "one crafty mother."
Despite--or because of--her irreverence, faith is a natural subject for Anne Lamott. Since Operating Instructions and Bird by Bird, her fans have been waiting for her to write the book that explained how she came to the big-hearted, grateful, generous faith that she so often alluded to in her two earlier nonfiction books. The people in Anne Lamott's real life are like beloved characters in a favorite series for her readers--her friend Pammy, her son, Sam, and the many funny and wise folks who attend her church are all familiar. And Traveling Mercies is a welcome return to those lives, as well as an introduction to new companions Lamott treats with the same candor, insight, and tenderness.
Lamott's faith isn't about easy answers, which is part of what endears her to believers as well as nonbelievers. Against all odds, she came to believe in God and then, even more miraculously, in herself. As she puts it, "My coming to faith did not start with a leap but rather a series of staggers." At once tough, personal, affectionate, wise, and very funny, Traveling Mercies tells in exuberant detail how Anne Lamott learned to shine the light of faith on the darkest part of ordinary life, exposing surprising pockets of meaning and hope.
 
Recommended Reading:
Plan B by Anne Lamott
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
Grace (Eventually) by Anne Lamott
Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott
Take This Bread by Sara Miles

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Angel Experiment

The Angel Experiment (Maximum Ride, #1) The Angel Experiment by James Patterson


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
What I liked: This book was impossible to put down. I picked it up planning to skim it to make sure it was appropriate for my 8 year old, and wound up spending two nights reading the whole.durn.book. The characters were interesting, the writing was good, and the book threw you into the action right from the start.

What I didn't like: While there was a lot of action, the plot was a little hazy. At first it seemed very clear-cut when one of the flock's members is kidnapped, but the resolution only took the first third of the book.

Final Thoughts: This was just what I needed to kick my reading slump. I'm a little uncertain if I'll let The Spawn read it, the language and content was PG enough, but the graphic violence has me concerned that he might not be ready for it.

Pub. Date: 04/11/2005

Series: Maximum Ride Book 1

Synopsis: Fourteen-year-old Maximum Ride, better known as Max, knows what it's like to soar above the world. She and all the members of the "flock"—Fang, Iggy, Nudge, Gasman and Angel—are just like ordinary kids—only they have wings and can fly. It may seem like a dream come true to some, but their lives can morph into a living nightmare at any time...like when Angel, the youngest member of the flock, is kidnapped and taken back to the "School" where she and the others were experimented on by a crew of wack jobs. Her friends brave a journey to blazing hot Death Valley, CA, to save Angel, but soon enough, they find themselves in yet another nightmare—this one involving fighting off the half-human, half-wolf "Erasers" in New York City. Whether in the treetops of Central Park or in the bowels of the Manhattan subway system, Max and her adopted family take the ride of their lives. Along the way Max discovers from her old friend and father-figure Jeb—now her betrayed and greatest enemy—that her purpose is save the world—but can she?

Recommended Reading:
School's Out - Forever (Maximum Ride Book 2) by James Patterson
Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports (Maximum Ride Book 3) by James Patterson
The Final Warning (Maximum Ride Book 4) by James Patterson
MAX (Maximum Ride Book 5) by James Patterson
City of Ashes (Mortal Instruments Book 2) by Cassandra Clare

Saturday, June 26, 2010

More Than Words Bookstore

There's a new bookstore in town. A much needed new bookstore. B. Dalton closed in December leaving the town stranded with the choices at department stores (Wal-Mart, Target and Shopko), the library, and a used bookstore. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with any of these book sources. Department stores are often more inexpensive than bookstore or online sources. They also have limited selections and variety. I'm a fan of the library. My kids and I often spend snowy or rainy weekends there. It's due dates that usually hang me up. I also support recycling books - by either a used bookstore or my favorite site: paperbackswap. But sometimes I get a little impatient. I need that book right.NOW. And I finally have the solution. More Than Words Bookstore (check them out on FaceBook!).

I almost didn't go. A friend of mine went and walked away less than impressed. I had already told The Spawn that we were going and he wasn't going to let me back out of it, though, so off we went. And learned a lesson in perspectives as well. My friend is used to going to a huge Barnes & Noble complete with Starbucks every (or at least most) weekends. I haven't stepped foot in a Barnes & Noble in four years. At least.

Love. Love. Love More Than Words Bookstore. The Spawn was equally impressed, enough so that he called his dad begging to go back over the weekend. So what did we love about the place...

The smell of new books. (Okay, so we're a little easy to please!) It's like the new tape smell, or the new car smell. You can't help but breathe deep. To take deep gulping breaths of sweetly tainted air. It's a bookworm's high.

Atmosphere. I don't know if the ladies who opened the store managed this intentionally with the help of an interior designer, by luck or if they're really that good. But the floors, the color scheme, the variety of book shelving, even the arrangement of areas all seemed perfectly combined to be relaxing. The pictures don't do it justice. I can easily see myself losing several hours in this place. In fact, I spent 45 minutes in book heaven that night and I'm feeling the effects of withdrawal two days later... Even though the store was fairly busy for a week night, it wasn't noisy or crowded. Oddly, I can't remember if there was ambience music playing or not. I always notice ambience music or the lack thereof.

Several things really impressed me about the layout. The young children's section (for The Diva) was separate-yet-not from the rest of the store. The selection was very good, and it wasn't the usual classics/TV character books that I've come to expect. There were books that I'd never heard of. Books that I desperately want to get for her. They even have a little bean bag and table & chair seating area for kids!

The next section was the older kids/teens/young adults (for The Spawn). As he's a little more knowledgeable regarding the books in this section, I'm allowing him to be the judge of it's coolness: "It's freaking awesome! Woohoo!" He seemed ecsatic over the selection. I noticed that it was more of the popular/best selling titles and authors, but I really didn't spend much time looking over this section and left The Spawn to his own book browsing.

I really didn't know what to expect when I entered "my" section of the store. My friend had warned me that the selection was limited, they only had one book of some titles, the store only seemed to stock the owners' favorite authors, and had a cheap shelf of Harlequin romances. I ran through the mental wishlist in my head and started looking. My reading taste is varied. I've even been known to call myself a book whore because I will read anything that catches my interest, might possibly catch my interest or someone says is a good book. (So many books, so little time.) I decided that if they could fill 50% of my wishlist off the rack, they would pass my initial inspection. They did so much better. One book. There was one book out of about 30 that they didn't have, and it was a graphic novel that may or may not be released yet. I'm impressed. Oh, and the Harlequins? Other than the romance novels I was expecting to find in *gasp* the Romance section, there was one small 2'x2' shelf that was far from full.

There is a seating area with a couch, a few chairs, a nice rug, tables for holding your coffee mug, and nice potted plants next to the window. I can see myself relaxing here, cozying up with a pile of books to browse and choose from.

There are two things that I can't review at this time: prices and the coffee service. In all honesty, I didn't check out either. I expect that the prices will be on par with any bookstore, although as time goes on I will be interested to see if they develop a clearance section of some type. As for the coffee, I will probably be checking it out in the (near) future, but I'm going there for the books.

Overall, for a small bookstore that just opened, I give More Than Words a four star rating.

**Pictures hopefully coming soon, pending owners approval.**

Monday, June 21, 2010

Deterred

I went to work this morning with every intention of listening to The Pact by Jodi Picoult. In fact, I even loaded 6 of 15 discs onto my mp3 player. I failed for two reasons.

1. My mp3 player sucks for audiobooks. This is the only issue I have with my player.

2. My boss threw The Black Keys newest album on my desk. And it rocks.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Slow Going

Reading has been slow going this week. Reality has interfered with my life once again. Work has been very busy as I'm still catching up from two weeks off and preparing for another week off after the 4th. Baseball season has started for The Spawn of Satan. The Diva has become a swing addict, which means we spend most nights hanging out at the playground. In fact, as soon as I finish this post we'll be heading there.

I'm still reading Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott. I'm into it a little more now that I was in the first 50 pages or so. I'm hoping to finish it up by mid-week. I have two audiobooks, The Pact by Jodi Picoult and Lolita by that one guy who's name is right on the tip of my brain, to read [listen to] as they have hit the Been Around Too Long List. I'll be clearing off my mp3 player tonight and synching it. Maybe I can plug in and listen during work tomorrow.

What's next? I don't know. Eat Pray Love was supposed to be next on my list, but this week I received Dreamfever by Karen Marie Moning. I'm feeling a little anxious to dig into this book even though the fifth book isn't due out until December. The Spawn has also been mildly harassing me to proof the Maximum Ride series to make sure they are suitable for him. The series was recommended by his teacher because of his age and his advanced reading level, but I still want to make sure that he isn't reading anything that is too mature for him.

I've also fallen behind on blog reading. I did some light catching up today, which has netted quite a few recommendations to my wishlist. So much for someday getting the opportunity to just randomly walk into my local bookstore and buy a book. (Oh wait. We no longer have a bookstore. *sigh*)

The Diva has left the building, which means it's officially time to wrap up this post.
Happy Reading!
Sherry

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Faefever

Faefever (Fever, #3) Faefever by Karen Marie Moning


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
What I liked: Yet another book where KMM is pulling out all the stops. An amazing story, loved the plot, and loved loved loved! that she is back to writing a story and not porn.

What I didn't like: Cliffhanger! The next book in the series is on its way courtesy of half.com, but it's going to be a long wait until book five comes out in December.

Final Thoughts: If you haven't read this series yet, what are you waiting for? Faeries and monsters and hot guys and fast cars and action make this series a must read for all fans of the supernatural.

Pub. Date: September 2008

Series: Fever Book 3

Synopsis: He calls me his Queen of the Night. I’d die for him. I’d kill for him, too.

When MacKayla Lane receives a torn page from her dead sister’s journal, she is stunned by Alina’s desperate words. And now MacKayla knows that her sister’s killer is close. But evil is closer. And suddenly the sidhe-seer is on the hunt: For answers. For revenge. And for an ancient book of dark magic so evil, it corrupts anyone who touches it.
Mac’s quest for the Sinsar Dubh takes her into the mean, shape-shifting streets of Dublin, with a suspicious cop on her tail. Forced into a dangerous triangle of alliance with V’lane, an insatiable Fae prince of lethally erotic tastes, and Jericho Barrons, a man of primal desires and untold secrets, Mac is soon locked in a battle for her body, mind, and soul.
As All Hallows’ Eve approaches and the city descends into chaos, as a shocking truth about the Dark Book is uncovered, not even Mac can prevent a deadly race of immortals from shattering the walls between worlds – with devastating consequences...

Recommended Reading:
Darkfever (Fever Book 1) by Karen Marie Moning
Bloodfever (Fever Book 2) by Karen Marie Moning
Dreamfever (Fever Book 4) by Karen Marie Moning
Beyond the Highland Mist (Highlander Book 1) by Karen Marie Moning

The Secret of the Old Clock

The Secret of the Old Clock (Nancy Drew, #1) The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene


My rating: 3 of 5 stars
What I liked: A fun start on a trip down memory lane. The Nancy Drew series promises to be quick reads without a dull moment.

What I didn't like: Some of the transitional writing between scenes was a little rough.

Final thoughts: Keeping in mind that these books were written in the 1930's, it was entertaining to read the conversational bits and the lack of technology. It was also nice to read a book that was simply "good".

Pub. Date: May 1930

Series: Nancy Drew Book 1

Synopsis: Nancy Drew, a teenage amateur sleuth, and her lawyer father take on the case of missing will. As Nancy befriends Josiah Crowley's friends and family, she learns of his strange behavior and promises to leave them money. In his last will and testament, however, he leaves his vast estate and fortune to the Tophams, a snooty family only concerned with their social standing in the community. Nancy follows a hunch that Josiah wrote another will before he died that divided his estate among those he promised.

Recommended Reading:
The Hidden Staircase (Nancy Drew Book 2) by Carolyn Keene
The Bungalow Mystery (Nancy Drew Book 3) by Carolyn Keene
The Mystery at Lilac Inn (Nancy Drew Book 4) by Carolyn Keene
The Secret of Shadow Ranch (Nancy Drew Book 5) by Carolyn Keene
The Tower Treasure (Hardy Boys Book 1) by Franklin Dixon

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Grace (Eventually)

Grace [Eventually]: Thoughts on Faith Grace [Eventually]: Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott


My rating: 3 of 5 stars
What I liked: Anne Lamott is not afraid to make fun of herself. Her humor and sense of self always draw me into her experiences and stories. Sometimes her antics border on manic, but that's part of what has drawn me into writing.

What I didn't like: The essays were slightly less enlightening than those in 'Plan B', some stories wandered and then... just ended. There was no conclusion, no "aha!" moment.

Final Thoughts: Anne's journey through sobriety, single-parenthood and finding her own path in this mad mad world continue to enchant me. Her words, at times, can be so plebian and yet powerfully moving.

Pub. Date: July 2007

Synopsis: The world, community, the family, the human heart: tese are the beautiful and complicated arenas in which our lives unfold. Wherever you look, there's trouble and wonder, pain and beauty, restoration and darkness - sometimes all at once.

Yet amid the confusion, if you look carefully, in nature or in the kitchen, in ordinariness or in mystery, beyond the emotional muck we all slog through, you'll find it eventually: a path, some light to see by, moments of insight, courage, or buoyancy. In other words, grace.

Anne Lamott knows and lives by this belief, most of the time. In Grace (Eventually), her brilliant new collection, she recounts the missteps, detours, and roadblocks in her walk of faith.

It's been an erratic journey, and some days go better than others. "I wish grace and healing were more abracadabra kinds of things," she writes. "Also, that delicate silver bells would ring to announce grace's arrival. But no, it's clog and slog and scootch, on the floor, in the silence, in the dark."

In Grace (Eventually), Lamott describes how she copes. The challenges seem alternately inconsequential and insurmountable - the anger engendered by an obstinate carpet salesman or president; the engulfing envy at a friend's professional success; the bewilderment at discovering that a child has grown up or that a friend wants to die on his own terms - and they are also universal.

Wise and irreverent, poignant and funny, Grace (Eventually) is a primer in faith, as we come to discover what it means to be fully human and alive.

Recommended Reading:
Plan B by Anne Lamott
Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Lady Luck's Map of Vegas

Lady Luck's Map of Vegas by Barbara Samuel
My Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
What I liked: Another book that shifts between characters, time and place with an interwoven plot. There was a subtle humor, an irony, that ran through this book. The scenery was painted with broad and vivid strokes that have stirred a desire to see these things.

What I didn't like: If I wasn't paying attention to chapter titles, there wasn't a clear way to tell which character was telling the story or what the time frame was. The book bounced across 40 years in zigzag pattern. The characters were well-formed in appearance, but lacked an individual voice. The plot seemed hazy with no firm resolution.
Final Thoughts: An easy read with many historical facts and details about Route 66 without making it boring. Enjoyable even if not overly memorable.
 
Pub. Date: January 2005
 
Synopsis: A successful Web designer, forty-year-old India has a fabulously hip life in Denver and a sexy Irish lover in New York who jets out to see her on bi-weekly visits. The long-distance romance suits India just fine: Though Jack is the only man who has ever made India feel truly alive, she doesn’t want things to get too serious. But then her father passes away, and India must honor the promise she made to him: to look after her mother when he’s gone.

Suddenly India finds herself back in Colorado Springs with the woman who both intrigues and infuriates her. Eldora is sixty something and exquisitely gorgeous, but her larger-than-life personality can suck the air out of a room. True to form, Eldora throws India a curveball, insisting that they hit the road to look for India’s twin, Gypsy, a brilliant artist who lives a vagabond’s existence in the remote mountain towns of New Mexico. It looks like India can’t avoid her mother’s intensity any longer, especially after she discovers stunning secrets from Eldora’s past.
Thirty years ago, Eldora regaled her twin girls with glamorous stories about her days as a Las Vegas showgirl– stories of martinis and music at the Sahara, back when Frank and Sammy ruled the town. But the story of how she really ended up in Sin City, and the unsavory life she’d run from with her daughters in tow, is full of details she’s never seen fit to share – until now.
As mother and daughter sail down Route 66, the very road Eldora drove those many years ago, looking for Gypsy, while passing motels, diners, and souvenir shops, Eldora must relive a lifetime of memories that have tormented her before she can put them to rest once and for all.

Recommended Reading:
A Piece of Heaven by Barbara Samuel
The House at Riverton by Kate Morton
Hedge Fund Wives by Tatiana Boncompagni

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Fearless Fourteen (Audiobook)

Fearless Fourteen (Stephanie Plum, #14) Fearless Fourteen by Janet Evanovich


My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I tried to get into this audiobook, but after reading 13 other books just like it, there was nothing to hold my attention.

Love in the Present Tense

Love in the Present Tense Love in the Present Tense by Catherine Ryan Hyde


My rating: 3 of 5 stars
What I liked: This book jumped around between time and characters. It gave the book a jointness that can usually be hard to capture when telling a story this complicated. It made beautiful points about love and how we love.

What I didn't like: A few of the secondary characters were a little flat.

Final Thoughts: I enjoyed this book much more than I expected. Don't let the first chapter deter you from reading this book.

Pub. Date: July 2007

Synopsis: For five years Pearl has managed to keep the past from catching up to her and her bright, frail five-year-old son. Life has given her every reason to mistrust people, but circumstances force her to trust her neighbor Mitch with watching Leonard while she goes off to work. Then one day Pearl drops her son off…and never returns.
They are an unlikely pair: Mitch is a young, unattached business owner, and Leonard is a precocious, five-year-old boy. But together they must find a way to move forward in the wake of Pearl’s unexplained disappearance. Their bond as parent and child shifts and endures, even as Mitch must eventually surrender Leonard to a two-parent home.
Is it possible to love the people who can’t always be there for us? The answers will surprise and move you. As their lives unfold, profound questions emerge about the nature of love and family. Ultimately, this novel’s richest reward is watching Mitch and Leonard grow up together, through the power and the magic of the human heart.

Recommended Reading:
Oxygen by Carol Cassella
Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf

Monday, May 24, 2010

Thirteen Reasons Why

Thirteen Reasons Why Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher


My rating: 3 of 5 stars
What I liked: This book is written in several perspectives. Clay's present life without Hannah, Hannah's tapes and Clay's own memories during Hannah's tapes. The format the book is written in was quite easy to follow. Reading this book was a huge reminder of how circular life is, how often we tread on other people's lives and every action we take creates in a reaction in someone else.

What I didn't like: Hannah seemed a little deeper, a little better at reading people than most adults I know. Some of her comments that the reason should have seemed obvious, didn't to me. For a sixteen year old girl it was a little unbelievable. The plot, overall, while it was an original idea, seemed a little forced at times.

Final Thoughts: I think this book would be a great movie. It reads well and keeps the reader on the edge of the seat waiting for what happens next. The ending stuck with me for awhile, before I realized that there is bitter edge of truth to the ending. It isn't easy to ask for help, and even harder when no one hears you.

Published: October 2007

Synopsis: Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier.
On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out how he made the list.
Through Hannah and Clay's dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.

Recommended Reading:
Before I Die by Jenny Downham
Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Lost It by Kristen Tracy

Sunday, May 23, 2010

How to Talk to a Widower

How To Talk To A Widower How To Talk To A Widower by Jonathan Tropper
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
What I liked: Everything. From the first page this book had me with it's pain, intensity and dry humor. This book says a lot about how people love, grieve and live after someone has gone from their lives.

What I didn't like: I can't think of anything I didn't like. Honestly. This book was well-written, there was plot and conflict and meaning... Just a really really good book overall.

Final Thoughts: READ THIS BOOK!

Pub. Date: June 2008

Synopsis: Doug Parker is a widower at age twenty-nine, and in his quiet suburban town, that makes him something of a celebrity – the object of sympathy, curiosity, and, in some cases, unbridled desire. But Doug has other things on his mind. First there’s his sixteen-year-old stepson, Russ: a once-sweet kid who now is getting into increasingly serious trouble on a daily basis. Then there are Doug’s sisters: his bossy twin, Claire, who’s just left her husband and moved in with Doug, determined to rouse him from his grieving stupor. And Debbie, who’s engaged to Doug’s ex-best friend and maniacally determined to pull off the perfect wedding at any cost.
Soon Doug’s entire nuclear family is in his face. And when he starts dipping his toes into the shark-infested waters of the second-time-around dating scene, it isn’t long before his new life is spinning hopelessly out of control, cutting a harrowing and often hilarious swath of sexual missteps and escalating chaos across the suburban landscape.
Funny, sexy, and smart, How to Talk to a Widower is a novel about finding your way, even when you have no idea where it is you want to go.

Recommended Reading:
Everything Changes by Jonathan Tropper
The Book of Joe by Jonathan Tropper
This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
Commencement by J. Sullivan

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Thousand Splendid Suns

A Thousand Splendid Suns A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
What I liked: I liked the format of the book. The story switched between Mariam and Laila telling. I also liked that it skipped through the years. I enjoyed the history inside the story. These were events that fell within my life time and reminded me how little I pay attention to the world.

What I didn't like: The characters fell a little flat. They were caught during a very revolutionary time in Kabul, but neither one of them seemed to grow from it.

Final Thoughts: After loving the Kite Runner as much as I did, this book fell a little short of expectations. I read and finished it because I enjoyed the history, but there was no character motivation to keep me interested.

Pub. Date: May 2007

Synopsis: A Thousand Splendid Suns is a breathtaking story set against the volatile events of Afghanistan's last thirty years -- from the Soviet invasion to the reign of the Taliban to post-Taliban rebuilding -- that puts the violence, fear, hope and faith of this country in intimate, human terms. It is a tale of two generations of characters brought jarringly together by the tragic sweep of war, where personal lives -- the struggle to survive, raise a family, find happiness -- are inextricable from the history playing out around them.
Propelled by the same storytelling instinct that made The Kite Runner a beloved classic, A Thousand Splendid Suns is at once a remarkable chronicle of three decades of Afghan history and a deeply moving account of family and friendship. It is a striking, heartwrenching novel of an unforgiving time, an unlikely friendship, and an indestructible love -- a stunning accomplishment.

Recommended Reading:
Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen [unabridged audiobook] [NOOKbook]
The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Life Gets in the Way

I've fallen slightly behind on this blog, not because I haven't been reading. I've actually read quite a few things, I simply am lacking time, ambition and/or the ability to think at the moment. I had a week long trip to China the end of April that has taken up the last three weeks of my life. My life these days seems to involve: Work, children, work, potty training, work, a certain Big Dumb German, work, laundry, work, ear infection, and oh, did I mention work? No? How remiss of me.

I'll be back in a few weeks, a soon as I get my head on straight, more than 3 consecutive hours of sleep a night and hire a housekeeper.

Happy Reading!
Sherry

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mr. Wrong

Mr. Wrong: Real-Life Stories About the Men We Used to Love Mr. Wrong: Real-Life Stories About the Men We Used to Love by Harriet Brown


My rating: 2 of 5 stars
What I liked: That it made me feel a little less pathetic about my own dating history.

What I didn't like: Most of the stories were dull.

Final Thoughts: There were only two stories/essays that I actually enjoyed. I really can't recommend this collection.

Pub. Date: January 2007

Synopsis: Mr. Wrong is the tug behind your navel, the guy who lights you up like a Roman candle, the danger you can’t resist. And just about every woman, at some point in her life, has encountered one–or many.
Women everywhere will see themselves in these witty, wise, and entertaining personal essays by some of the literary world’s most accomplished and bestselling authors, including Jane Smiley, Audrey Niffennegger, Jacquelyn Mitchard, Ntozake Shange, Roxana Robinson, Marge Piercy, and Ann Hood. Readers will delight in the array of Mr. Wrongs encountered in these pages–from harmless and charming to revolting and offensive–and ultimately relish the notion that even if we succumb to the temptation of an utterly reckless romance, we can emerge with our hearts intact.
By turns wry and heartfelt, lighthearted and redemptive, these insightful, uplifting real-life stories run the emotional gamut, from Whitney Otto’s satisfying tale of a Mr. Wrong who receives his comeuppance in an unexpected way, to Robin Westen’s steamy account of lust with a zen master, to Monika Ekk’s rueful “I Married a Wanker!” Some are hilarious, like Marion Winik’s “The Ten Most Wanted,” while others, like Catherine Texier’s “Russian Lessons,” take us to the dark side of love and longing.
For every prince charming there are a million frogs. If you’ve ever trusted a man you couldn’t trust, Mr. Wrong will make you laugh, cry, and shake your head in recognition atyourself and your friends.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Born Standing Up

Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life by Steve Martin


My rating: 5 of 5 stars
What I liked: This book was incredibly well written. The author took us inside his head, explained the how and why of his comedic creation. Some parts of the book were intimate and personal and some parts were vague - which I felt added to the biography. It wasn't endless droning on and on about his personal life or his career in show business, it was a pleasurable mix of both that never crossed the "TMI" line.

What I didn't like: I can't, honestly, think of anything I didn't enjoy about the book. It even had pictures! I love biographies with pictures sprinkled throughout the book (and not just clumped into the middle of the book).

Final Thoughts: I'm not a Steve Martin fan, but this book was enjoyable to read. It was funny and insightful and moving. It took me completely by surprise.

Pub. Date: November 2007

Synopsis: At age 10, Steve Martin got a job selling guidebooks at the newly opened Disneyland. In the decade that followed, he worked in Disney's magic shop, print shop, and theater, and developed his own magic/comedy act. By age 20, studying poetry and philosophy on the side, he was performing a dozen times a week, most often at the Disney rival, Knott's Berry Farm.

Obsession is a substitute for talent, he has said, and Steve Martin's focus and daring his sheer tenacity are truly stunning. He writes about making the very tough decision to sacrifice everything not original in his act, and about lucking into a job writing for The Smothers Brothers Show. He writes about mentors, girlfriends, his complex relationship with his parents and sister, and about some of his great peers in comedy Dan Aykroyd, Lorne Michaels, Carl Reiner, Johnny Carson. He writes about fear, anxiety and loneliness. And he writes about how he figured out what worked on stage.

This book is a memoir, but it is also an illuminating guidebook to stand up from one of our two or three greatest comedians. Though Martin is reticent about his personal life, he is also stunningly deft, and manages to give readers a feeling of intimacy and candor. Illustrated throughout with black-and-white photographs collected by Martin, this book is instantly compelling visually and a spectacularly good read.

Recommended Reading:
Shopgirl by Steve Martin
Home by Julie Andrews

Saturday, April 3, 2010

My Best Friend's Girl

My Best Friend's Girl My Best Friend's Girl by Dorothy Koomson


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
What I liked: This book was amazing from page 1. I cried, I laughed, I "awww"'d through every page. The characters were well formed and the storyline was well done. I enjoyed that the story line often moved from the present to the past and the transition was well-done.

What I didn't like: Some times the dialogue was "unreal". I had to knock my rating from 5 stars to 4 because the ending of the book didn't fit with the characters, it was too neatly done. It almost seemed like the author tacked it on as an after thought because someone said "it needs a happy ending". Really, if the book had ended at the second to the last chapter, it would have been a 5-Star book for me.

Final thoughts: I am so happy that Toni recommended this book to me. It is definitely a book worth sharing. I'll be adding this author to my TBR list.

Pub. Date: March 2008

Synopsis: How far would you go for the best friend who broke your heart? This internationally bestselling novel tells an enchanting tale of life’s most unpredictable loves and heartaches, and the unforgettable bond between a single woman and an extraordinary five-year-old girl. From the moment they met in college, best friends Adele Brannon and Kamryn Matika thought nothing could come between them—until Adele did the unthinkable and slept with Kamryn’s fiancĂ©, Nate. Now, after years of silence, the two women are reuniting, and Adele has a stunning request for her old friend: she wants Kamryn to adopt her five-year-old daughter, Tegan.
Besides the difference in skin color—many will assume that headstrong, impulsive Kamryn is Tegan’s nanny—there’s the inconvenient truth that Kamryn is wholly unprepared to take care of anyone, especially someone who reminds her so much of Nate. With crises brewing at work and her love life in shambles, can Kamryn somehow become the mother a little girl needs her to be?

Recommended Reading:
Marshmallows for Breakfast by Dorothy Koomson
The Bright Side of Disaster by Katherine Center
The Next Thing on My List by Jill Smolinski
The Book of Bright Ideas by Sandra Kring
Veil of Roses by Laura Fitzgerald