Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Book of Joe

The Book of JoeThe Book of Joe by Jonathan Tropper

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I didn't care much for the format of the storyline (it jumped back and forth between a 17 year gap), but I loved the characters and I loved the story itself. It was a well-voiced book, witty and sharp. A perfect mix of poignancy and humor. I felt a little unresolved with the character Sammy. This author is going on my Must Read List.

Synopsis: Right after high school, Joe Goffman left sleepy Bush Falls, Connecticut and never looked back. Then he wrote a novel savaging everything in town, a novel that became a national bestseller and a huge hit movie. Fifteen years later, Joe is struggling to avoid the sophomore slump with his next novel when he gets a call: his father's had a stroke, so it's back to Bush Falls for the town's most famous pariah. His brother avoids him, his former classmates beat him up, and the members of the book club just hurl their copies of Bush Falls at his house. But with the help of some old friends, Joe discovers that coming home isn't all bad—and that maybe the best things in life are second chances.

Recommended Reading:
Everything Changes by Jonathan Tropper
How to Talk to a Widower by Jonathan Tropper
Plan B by Jonathan Tropper
Nothing Lost by John Gregory Dunne
What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman

Saturday, May 28, 2011

S'Mores Cookies

I found this recipe over at GillyCakes blog. I'm not a huge marshmallow fan, but there is something magical about S'mores so I had to try this. I struggled a little bit getting the cookies to bake without completely melting the marshmallows (which is why you're not getting any pictures), until I figured out that I didn't need to put the cookies back in the oven - my cookies were cooked through and still soft enough to hold the marshmallows and chocolate pieces. I did make one alteration because I find that most cookie recipes use more chocolate/nuts/raisins/candies than I care for (I'm the same way about DQ Blizzards - I ask for light toppings and it's just a hair over perfect) so I did reduce the chocolate chips by half. Next time I make this I'm going to try two alterations: a little less salt and a little more graham crackers. I've noted what I would use in brackets [ ].
1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup graham cracker crumbs [1-1/2 cups]
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt [3/4 to 1/2 tsp]
1 dash of cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups miniature chocolate chips  [1 cup]
1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
2 Hershey bars, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium bowl combine the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking soda, salt, and dash of cinnamon.

In a second larger bowl beat together the butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract until creamy.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Slowly beat in the flour mixture until smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 8 minutes, and remove from the oven.
 
Push 3 to 4 marshmallows and a few pieces of hershey bar into each cookies.

Return to the oven and bake an additional 3-4 minutes until fully cooked. [If your oven is temperamental like mine, I would bake the cookies fully. They should be soft enough to still hold the marshmallow and chocolate pieces.]

Cool cookies on a wire rack.

Makes approximately 4 dozen cookies.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Oh Good Grief!

I'm going to be honest here. I don't have my sh*t together. Things have come so far unglued that I can't even pretend to have my sh*t together. I'm hoping this 4-day weekend will be enough to help me get back on track. Starting with laundry (The Spawn is currently pants-less because I haven't done laundry all week, oops) and housework. Hopefully I'll have menu planning and grocery shopping done Saturday and then Sunday and Monday I can spend at the lake with The Diva and BB relaxing with a book (hopefully two).

So... books currently on the list:
Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade I'm still working my way through this one. It's picked up the pace a little bit which has helped. It will still be a good two weeks before I finish it though.

The Book of Joe A great read so far, very funny and emotionally involving.

Embassytown I haven't started it yet, but I need to.

The Ginger Tree the Book Club selection for June/July that I need to start. The summary is reminding me of The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel, so I'm hoping that it's a good read.

ETA: These Things Hidden I forgot that I have this ebook on loan from the library...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Neglecting The Bookshelves Self-Challenge Week Four

Nearing the end of the first month of my self-challenge. I've been a little frustrated because the TBR shelf is not getting smaller. I've had a lot of books come off my paperbackswap.com wishlist the last few weeks, which has made it a little difficult to maintain some momentum. Also, I've been a little busy doing stuff like, you know, buy a house (!!) Anyways, back to the selections for this week. The Book of Joe is by an author that I really enjoyed reading last year. As in I gobbled up the book during the first half of a flight to China. I'm looking forward to seeing if this holds up to my expectations. Embassytown was a surprise find. I won the copy on goodreads.com. I feel kind of obligated to read and review it ASAP.


The Book of Joe by Jonathan Tropper
ISBN: 0385338104
Paperback
Source: paperbackswap.com

Right after high school, Joe Goffman left sleepy Bush Falls, Conneticut and never looked back. Then he wrote a novel savaging everything in town, a novel that became a national bestseller and a huge hit movie. Fifteen years later, Joe is struggling to avoid the sophomore slump with his next novel when he gets a call: his father's had a stroke, so it's back to Bush Falls for the town's most famous pariah. His brother avoids him, his former classmates beat him up, and the members of the book club just hurl their copies of Bush Falls at his house. But with the help of some old friends, Joe discovers that coming home isn't all bad—and that maybe the best things in life are second chances.
Embassytown by China Mieville
ISBN: 9780345524492
Hardcover
Source: Goodreads.com giveaway

Avice Benner Cho, a human colonist, has returned to Embassytown after years of deep-space adventure. She cannot speak the Ariekei tongue, but she is an indelible part of it, having long ago been made a figure of speech, a living simile in their language. When distant political machinations deliver a new ambassador to Arieka, the fragile equilibrium between humans and aliens is violently upset. Catastrophe looms, and Avice is torn between competing loyalties—to a husband she no longer loves, to a system she no longer trusts, and to her place in a language she cannot speak yet speaks through her.

The Perfect Love Song

The Perfect Love Song: A Holiday StoryThe Perfect Love Song: A Holiday Story by Patti Callahan Henry

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I was very disappointed. I struggled through the first chapter, flipped through the rest of the book to see if the disjointed writing and over dramatic voice continues through the story - it does - so I dropped it. I don't even know how to clearly explain my aversion - maybe it was that the first two pages of the story throw twenty characters at you, and then you're supposed to keep who's who straight. Maybe it was the cheesy, melodramatic writing. Or maybe it was that the story wasn't making any sense at all, and the story had no ability to establish credibility for me. All I know is that I was very very disappointed.

Synopsis: Jimmy Sullivan has been living on the road with his brother, Jack, and his band The Unknown Souls. Without a place to call home, Jimmy and Jack lead a nomadic life filled with music and anonymous cities. When they return to a place Jimmy never wants to see again—their old hometown of Seaboro, South Carolina—he falls in love with Charlotte Carrington.

With his soul now filled with hope, Jimmy writes his first love song. When he performs it at a holiday concert to a standing ovation, the lyrics are dubbed the “Perfect Love Song,” so much so that Jimmy finds himself going on tour with famous country music stars, catapulted into a world where the trappings of fame and fortune reign supreme.

All too soon, the hope that had once inspired Jimmy to write such beautiful, genuine lyrics is overshadowed by what the song can do for him and his career. In his thirst for recognition, he agrees to miss Jack’s wedding in Ireland to sing at a Christmas Eve concert. And his ties to Charlotte seem to be ever so quickly slipping away.

Alone in New York City on Christmas Eve, Jimmy finally sees—with the help of a Christmas miracle or two—that his material gains are nothing compared to love, that he is losing all that really matters in his life. Is it too late to find his way to Ireland, to his brother, and to love?

Recommended Reading:
The Art of Keeping Secrets by Patti Callahan Henry
Losing the Moon by Patti Callahan Henry
Promise Me by Richard Paul Evans
The Storyteller of Marrakesh by Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya
Under Fishbone Clouds by Sam Meekings

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Chicken Lo Mein

Another recipe from Annie's Eats. I loved the lo mein noodles! Definitely use them if you can find them. I also used hoisin sauce instead of oyster sauce (not a fan of oyster) and frozen stir fry mix instead of fresh veggies. I wasn't happy with the stir fry mix I chose, so in the future I'll probably be using the same mix I used for the ginger beef stir fry.

6 oz. lo mein noodles
1 tbsp. hoisin sauce
2 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup chicken broth
Pinch red pepper flakes
1/2 tbsp. canola oil
1 medium chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 pkg frozen stir fry mix containing onion, bell pepper, snow peas and mushrooms, thawed
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. sesame oil

Bring a pot of water to boil. Cook the lo mein noodles according to the package directions. Drain and set aside. In the meantime, make the sauce by combining the oyster sauce, soy sauce, chicken broth and red pepper flakes in a small bowl. Whisk well and set aside.

Heat the canola oil in a large nonstick skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the chicken to the pan and cook until browned and cooked through. Add in the vegetables and cook just until tender-crisp. Add in the garlic and saute just until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the sauce to the pan, and then the cooked lo mein noodles. Toss the mixture well to coat everything. Drizzle with the sesame oil and toss once more. Serve immediately.

Delayed Due To...

I may have bitten off more than I can chew with the Diana Gabaldon book - not that it isn't good, it's great! It's just that, well, it's a hefty book both in size and reading. I can only get about 20 pages done at a time before I get overwhelmed and have to put it down. Add into it that life has been a little crazy this week... I bought a house (or at least made an offer on one), spent time with my boyfriend this weekend, trying to stay on top of house work and NetFlix DVD's for a change, and a friend passed away Monday which makes it hard to concentrate on anything... I'm going to have to extend this one another week.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Ginger Beef Stir-fry

Another recipe I picked up from Annie's Eats. This is my new "Go To" recipe. I made a few changes and instead of chopping my own veggies I used a frozen stir fry mix.

1 tsp. cornstarch
¼ cup cold water
3 tbsp. plum sauce
1 tbsp. grated fresh ginger
1 tbsp. low sodium soy sauce
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
1 lb. boneless sirloin steak, cut into thin strips
1 tbsp. vegetable or canola oil
1 pkg frozen stir fry mix containing some or all of the following: bell pepper, broccoli florets, carrot, and onion, thawed
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tbsp. salted peanuts, chopped (optional)
Rice, for serving
Sesame seeds, for garnish

In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and water; whisk until smooth. Stir in the plum sauce, ginger, soy sauce and red pepper flakes. Set aside.

In a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat, cook the steak strips until no longer pink. Remove to a plate and set aside, draining the excess fat from the skillet if necessary. Add the oil to the pan and heat through. Add the stir fry mix to the skillet and stir fry until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Mix in the garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Return the steak pieces to the pan. Add the sauce to the pan, stirring well to coat everything. Cook until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes more.
Stir in the peanuts.

Serve the warm stir fry over rice and sprinkle with sesame seeds for garnish, if desired.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Brownies with Mocha Sauce

I found this recipe over at mybakingdom.com and desperately needed to make these. I couldn't find the crackers, so I did without. I wasn't impressed with the brownies at all. I prefer mine [click here]. But, dude! We seriously need to talk about the mocha sauce. Un.believable. I want to eat it with everything (it's quite yummy with fresh strawberries). Now if I could just find something to combine mocha sauce with peanut butter frosting...

For the brownies:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

For the mocha sauce:
1/2 cup espresso or strong brewed coffee
6 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 oz semi sweet chocolate chips
2 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 2 pieces
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

To make the brownies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour an 8x8 inch square baking dish; set aside.

In a small sauce pan, melt the butter over medium low heat. Once melted, remove from heat and stir in the sugar with a whisk. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking quickly to prevent them from cooking. Stir in the vanilla extract.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the pan and whisk until thoroughly combined.

Pour batter into the pan and spread to the edges as needed. Bake for 28 to 33 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out with one or two crumbs clinging to it. Allow to cool completely before serving.

To make the sauce: Combine the coffee, sugar, and cocoa powder in a small sauce pan set over medium high heat and bring to a boil, whisking occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 seconds without stirring.

Remove from heat and whisk in the chocolate and butter until smooth. Stir in the vanilla. Let stand at least 1 hour before serving.

Once the brownies are cooled, drizzle them with some of the mocha sauce. Use remaining sauce to drizzle over ice cream, etc.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Flying Changes

Flying ChangesFlying Changes by Sara Gruen

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a difficult book to read, I really do not like the main character at all. I was hoping that this book would be from the daughter's perspective, but it wasn't. The main character is neurotic, impulsive and manipulative, which makes it hard to enjoy reading the story. Fortunately the storyline was not built entirely around her neuroticism, and the writing is just plain good, which kept me reading.

Synopsis: Anxiety rules Annemarie Zimmer's days—the fear that her relationship with the man she loves is growing stagnant; the fear that equestrian daughter Eva's dreams of Olympic glory will carry her far away from her mother . . . and into harm's way. For five months, Annemarie has struggled to make peace with her past. But if she cannot let go, the personal battles she has won and the heights she has achieved will have all been for naught.

It is a time of change at Maple Brook horse farm, when loves must be confronted head-on and fears must be saddled and broken. But it is an unanticipated tragedy that will most drastically alter the fragile world of one remarkable family—even as it flings open gates that have long confined them, enabling them all to finally ride headlong and free.

Recommended Reading:
Riding Lessons by Sara Gruen
Ape House by Sara Gruen
The Hearts of Horses by Molly Gloss
Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen [unabridged audiobook] [NOOKbook]
Riders by Jilly Cooper

Book 5 of 24 for Self-Challenge.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Neglecting The Bookshelves Self-Challenge Week Three

Week Two Recap: I struggled through Flying Changes. I'd forgotten that while the first book was really well written, I absolutely hated the main character. Water For Elephants was absolutely amazing and I was so glad that I decided to re-read it.

This week's selections should be a good mix of action and romance. Diana Gabaldon is an amazing writer and while I love her Outlander series, I haven't been as enthusiastic about her Lord John Grey series - not that I don't want to read them or I'm not excited about this selection, it's just not the "I have to read it NOW" excitement that usually accompanies a Diana Gabaldon book. I've read Patti Callahan Henry before, so when I heard she had a sequel to When Light Breaks I knew I had to pick this one up. I'm a sucker for romance novels about band boys. [grin]
Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade by Diana Gabaldon
ISBN: 9780385337502
Paperback
Source: paperbackswap.com

Seventeen years earlier, Lord John’s late father, the Duke of Pardloe, was found dead, a pistol in his hand and accusations of his role as a Jacobite agent staining forever a family’s honor. Now unlaid ghosts from the past are stirring. John turns to a man who has been both his prisoner and his confessor: the Scottish Jacobite James Fraser. War, a forbidden affair, and Fraser’s own secrets will complicate Lord John’s quest. Lord John, caught between his courage and his conscience, must decide whether his family’s honor is worth his life.

The Perfect Love Song by Patti Callahan Henry
ISBN: 9781593156169
Hardcover
Source: paperbackswap.com

Jimmy Sullivan lives on the road with his brother and his band, intent on getting away from unpleasant memories of his childhood. But when his brother, Jack, falls in love with childhood sweetheart Kara and returns home to be with her, Jimmy unexpectedly falls in love with her best friend, Charlotte, and writes her a love song that catapults him toward unexpected fame--but without Charlotte or his band along for the ride, Jimmy must decide what's most important to him.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

Muffins:
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup quick cooking oats
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup milk
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup mashed ripe banana
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Topping:
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease 12 muffin cups or line with paper muffin liners.

For muffins: Combine flour, oats, brown sugar, and baking powder. Whisk together milk, peanut butter, banana, egg, oil, and vanilla. Add banana mixture to dry ingredients, mixing just until moistened. Fill prepared muffin cups 3/4 full.

In a small bowl, stir together cup flour, melted butter and brown sugar. Sprinkle topping evenly over muffins.

Bake in preheated oven for 18 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm.

Recipe found at allrecipes.com posted by ADDO

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Water For Elephants

Water for ElephantsWater for Elephants by Sara Gruen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was just as amazing the second time as it was the first time. There were a lot of details I had forgotten, so it was like reading it new in some places. Usually I don't like stories that skip around between past and present, because this story was told sequentially between flashbacks it actually worked for me. The characters voices were very clear and well written. This book made me laugh and cry and hang on the edge of my seat. A hard book to put down and very easy to read. Definitely still one of my favorites.

Synopsis: As a young man, Jacob Jankowski was tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. It was the early part of the great Depression, and for Jacob, now ninety, the circus world he remembers was both his salvation and a living hell. A veterinary student just shy of a degree, he was put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. It was there that he met Marlena, the beautiful equestrian star married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer. And he met Rosie, an untrainable elephant who was the great gray hope for this third-rate traveling show. The bond that grew among this unlikely trio was one of love and trust, and, ultimately, it was their only hope for survival.

Recommended Reading:
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
A Thousand Splendid Sons by Khaled Hosseini

Book 4 of 24 for Self-Challenge

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Neglecting The Bookshelves Self-Challenge Week Two

Week One recap: Hit a little glitch when I lost a book. I'm still a little in awe that this happened. I more than made up for it though and spent much of my PTO either sleeping, eating or reading. It was quite nice!

This week is Sara Gruen Week. Or the Week of Sara Gruen, if you prefer. I have two of her books on the TBR list and I think I'm up for reading both. Flying Changes is the sequel to Riding Lessons, which I read quite a while ago and planned to read the second book shortly after... [clears throat] I hope I remember enough to keep up right from the start. Water For Elephants is a re-read, of sorts. I listened to the audiobook and loved, loved, loved it. Book Club is reading it this month and I decided I wanted to do a refresher and read the book this time. I hope I enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed listening to it.

Flying Changes by Sara Gruen
ISBN: 9780060790950
Paperback
Source: paperbackswap.com

Twenty years after her competitive riding career died, Annemarie Zimmer worries that her relationship with the man she loves is off course, and fears that daughter Eva's own dreams of Olympic glory will carry her far from home... and into harm's way. — When the teenage Eva is invited to audition for a world-class trainer, Annemarie realizes that she must give Eva a chance to soar. But when Eva falls in love with a spectacular blue roan Nokota who hasn't let anyone ride him since his arrival at the barn, Annemarie's doubts come crashing back.
It is a time of change at Maple Brook, when fears must be saddled and broken. And one remarkable family must learn how to deal with Flying Changes.

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
ISBN: 9781616200817
NOOKbook
Source: Barnes & Noble

As a young man, Jacob Jankowski was tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. It was the early part of the great Depression, and for Jacob, now ninety, the circus world he remembers was both his salvation and a living hell. A veterinary student just shy of a degree, he was put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. It was there that he met Marlena, the beautiful equestrian star married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer. And he met Rosie, an untrainable elephant who was the great gray hope for this third-rate traveling show. The bond that grew among this unlikely trio was one of love and trust, and, ultimately, it was their only hope for survival.

The Bad Girl's Guide to Getting Personal

The Bad Girl's Guide to Getting PersonalThe Bad Girl's Guide to Getting Personal by Cameron Tuttle

My rating: 1 of 5 stars


I picked this up a while back expecting some tongue in cheek humor, maybe a little usable insight, but what I got was pure ridiculous. I hope that was how this book was written - for humor and not for anyone to actually follow.



View all my reviews

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Fusilli with Sausage Ragu

1/2 lb. fusilli (spiral pasta)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lb. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
3 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup white wine (I used beef broth with a little white wine vinegar)
handful chopped fresh parsley (I skipped)
1 cup grated fresh parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package instructions, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water.

Heat olive oil and butter in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add red pepper, onion and garlic, and cook until onion turns translucent, about 5 minutes.

Raise heat to medium; add sausage and break into bits with the back of a wooden spoon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sausage is brown and starting to get crispy, about 10 minutes.

Add tomato paste and stir constantly, until sausage is coated and mixture is fragrant, 1 minute. Add wind and scrape bottom of the pan; cook until mostly reduced.

Remove from heat, add cooked pasta and 1/2 cup reserved pasta water, and toss. Throw in the parsley and cheese; toss until combined. Serve warm.

Recipe found at: Glamour magazine February 2011

Fireworks Over Toccoa

Fireworks over ToccoaFireworks over Toccoa by Jeffrey Stepakoff

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


This book was okay. The characters were flat, the plot was interesting but poorly written and executed, and the writing was flat-out clunky. The writing was really what killed it for me. I knew within the first two pages of the book that it was going to be a struggle for me. The first page is the random finding of a key piece of evidence by unrelated characters. The next few pages introduce the grand-daughter of the main character as a story witness (which in my opinion was completely unnecessary as the grand-daughter's relationship had so little to do with the storyline that it would have been better without those few pages of bulk). And then there's this crazy back to the past, back a little further into the past, forward into the past storyline. Which I hate. Just tell the story already! And finally the writing... clunky, overfed and a random POV. Seriously, there was one sentence that covered three topics and was over 200 words long! It was painful to read. The random POV kills me every time I read it - one character POV per chapter please. Especially when it's a story that someone is remembering - how do you read the other character's thoughts and memories? First rule of writing: Show it, don't say it. A very poorly written book (which at least gives me hope for publishing my own writing some day...), but an interesting love story. I particularly liked Lily's split personality and some of the tie-ins between past and future and legends.

Synopsis: An unexpected discovery takes eighty-four-year-old Lily Davis Woodward to 1945, and the five days that forever changed her life. Married for only a week before her husband was sent to fight in WWII, Lily is anxious for his return, and the chance to begin their life together. In honor of the soldiers' homecoming, the small Georgia town of Toccoa plans a big celebration. And Jake Russo, a handsome Italian immigrant, also back from war, is responsible for the elaborate fireworks display the town commissioned. But after a chance encounter in a star-lit field, he steals Lily's heart and soul—and fulfills her in ways her socially-minded, upper-class family cannot. Now, torn by duty to society and her husband—and the poor, passionate man who might be her only true love—Lily must choose between a commitment she's already made and a love she’s never known before.

Recommended Reading:
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
One Fifth Avenue by Candace Bushnell
The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf
On Mystic Lake by Kristin Hannah

Book 3 of Self-Challenge

Monday, May 2, 2011

13 Little Blue Envelopes

13 Little Blue Envelopes Free with Bonus Material13 Little Blue Envelopes Free with Bonus Material by Maureen Johnson

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Honestly, I'm not sure why I stuck this one out. I was hoping that the book would live up to its premise, but it never did. The main character was flat, one dimensional and boring. The guy she hooks up with is a creeper. There's a best friend that we never get properly introduced to (who might have had a chance to liven up this story). The aunt was really the only saving grace of the book. She was the classic flaky, fun artist aunt and I adored her. I would have like to seen more of her in this novel. The storyline that followed the plot just didn't follow through. The main character's attempts to fulfill her aunts requests were half-hearted at best - in some cases I wouldn't have even considered them accomplished. Some points of the story were missing, like there was something we were supposed to "get" but just didn't have enough information. There was some bad writing (in my opinion), quite a few "Americanisms" were incorrectly done - like the expression "Up and Adam". Seriously? It's "Up and at 'em." There were quite a few of this mistakes made throughout the book, which is probably an epic fail on the part of the editor.

Synopsis: When Ginny receives thirteen little blue envelopes and instructions to buy a plane ticket to London, she knows something exciting is going to happen. What Ginny doesn't know is that she will have the adventure of her life and it will change her in more ways than one. Life and love are waiting for her across the Atlantic, and the thirteen little blue envelopes are the key to finding them in this funny, romantic, heartbreaking novel.

Book Two of Self-Challenge

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Beat The Reaper

Beat the ReaperBeat the Reaper by Josh Bazell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was luke warm on reading this book. I really had my heart set on a bit of chick lit, but seem to have misplaced the damn book, so I read this instead. I'm not longer luke warm. I loved this book. There's no time wasted setting up a story, the main character if witty and funny - seriously laugh out loud stuff. The plot, while a tad outrageous seems to hold water. Really though, it was the characters that won me on this one.

Synopsis: Meet Peter Brown, a young Manhattan emergency room doctor with an unusual past that is just about to catch up with him. His morning begins with the quick disarming of a would-be mugger, followed by a steamy elevator encounter with a sexy young pharmaceutical rep, topped off by a visit with a new patient—and from there Peter's day is going to get a whole lot worse and a whole lot weirder. Because that patient knows Peter from his other life, when he had a different name and a very different job. The only reason he's a doctor now is thanks to the Witness Protection Program—and even they can't protect him from the long reach of the New Jersey mob. Now he's got to do whatever it takes to keep his patient alive so he can buy some time...and beat the reaper.

Recommended Reading:
The Winter Vault by Anne Michaels
The God of Animals by Aryn Kyle

Book 1 of 24 of Self-Challenge

Due To Technical Difficulties...

...we interrupt this regularly scheduled program...

I'm not sure how it happened. To be honest, I'm not even sure WHERE it happened. I know that I put my book on the kitchen table Friday morning. I'm almost certain that I took said book out to the car. What I'm not certain of is if the book made it into the car - and if it did, what happened to it after that. It's just disappeared.

I am certain that it isn't in the house, in the car or at work. I did a thorough check of my office before I left Friday because I'm on PTO (we won't even try to call it a "vacation") for an entire week and it wasn't there. I'm stumped, and possibly a little fearful that I may have left the book on the car trunk while buckling The Diva into her carseat. In which case, I can consider the book gone.

I've never lost a book before. This has me quite perplexed. In the meantime, I'll read this other book...