Saturday, August 29, 2009

BBAW meme

I'm running a little late on this ....!

1) What has been one of the highlights of blogging for you?Reading challenges! I started blogging just to have a place to express myself; I envisioned spreading my innermost secrets out like a deck of cards and reviewing my life with a critical eye. But then I found a reading challenge and it took my blog a very different direction. I occasionally post about "life" but the books really keep me busy!
2) What blogger has helped you out with your blog by answering questions, linking to you, or inspiring you?I'd have a three way tie here with bermudaonion, Beth Fish Reads, and the Literate Housewife. I am probably a speck on their scope but they have been important to me.
3) What one question do you have about BBAW that someone who participated last year could answer?I'm still at the point where I don't even know what questions to ask!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Anyone But You by Jennifer Cruise

From the Amazon product description: Part basset, part beagle, all Cupid . . . can a matchmaking hound fetch a new love for his owner?

For Nina Askew, turning forty means freedom -- from the ex-husband whose career always came first, from their stuffy suburban home. Freedom to have her own apartment in the city, freedom to focus on what she wants for a change. And what she wants is something her ex always vetoed -- a puppy. A bouncy puppy to cheer her up. Instead she gets . . . Fred.

Overweight, smelly and obviously suffering from some kind of doggy depression, Fred is light-years from perky. But for all his faults, he does manage to put Nina face-to-face with Alex Moore, her gorgeous, younger downstairs neighbor.

I picked this one out hoping to read it and The Art of Racing in the Rain for Jennifer at the Literate Housewife's Dog Days of Summer week. She had this cute logo that I'll stick here so you can see it and if you'd on over and check out what everyone who did get their reading done had to say! I didn't even get The Art of Racing in the Rain started so now I'll have to decide if I am going to read it or save it for next year!

Anyone But You was a fun, romantic escape. I liked all the characters, especially the dog, Fred. I could identify with the over forty heroine. Although I am married, the idea of freedom to do what you want is appealing - don't we all sometimes feel restrained by our roles - worker, wife, mother? A little fantasy about a hunky young doctor downstairs was a delightful diversion!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder

From the author's website: Strength in What Remains is the story of Deo, an African immigrant who survived the genocide in his home country, Burundi, near Rwanda. The first part of the story alternates between Deo's past in Burundi, and his more recent time spent in New York City. These parts are each in turn horrific and hopeful. As Kidder describes Deo's challenges in each location we can compare and contrast the parallels like having to sleep outdoors as part of the culture in Burundi and then as a homeless person in the city.

The second part of the book is in Kidder's voice as he and Deo revisit the places of Deo's past. The story really slowed down for me here. The first part of the book was a challenging read emotionally and a somewhat confusing read with the switching back and forth but I was so fascinated that I stuck with the story. In the second half, the challenge became sticking with it even when my mind wandered, the story was still good but somehow having it filtered through Kidder it seemed to lose it's sense of urgency.

Even with the loss of momentum at the end, Strength in What Remains was a satisfying read. This is a good story and an important one to tell. It adds to our knowledge of what man is capable of - both the evil of the genocide and the compassion of those that helped Deo to heal.

I read this book for the Library Thing Early Reviewers program.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wondrous Words Wednesday August 26, 2009

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our reading. Feel free to join in the fun by clicking on the logo to go to bermudaonions.

These wondrous words are from The Year of Pleasures by Elizabeth Berg.

"I turned off the engine and checked myself in the visor mirror. I didn't look deranged, as I feared I might; I could feel my over eagerness knocking about me. I thought surely I would look at least somewhat exophthalmic." p. 10
exophthalmic - adj. Of or relating to exophthalmos. Marked by prominence of the eyeball.

" But not tired enough to sleep. I'd need to be somnambulating before I went to the bedroom." p. 49
somnambulate - verb (used without object), -lat⋅ed, -lat⋅ing. to walk during sleep; sleepwalk.

"Later, when we talked about it, we agreed we had felt her.....beneficience, you know? We had felt her telling us it was all right - that she was all right." p. 119
beneficence – noun 1. the doing of good; active goodness or kindness; charity.
2. a beneficent act or gift; benefaction.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What's On Your Nightstand? August 2009

***This was supposed to be up at the end of August and now here it is the middle of September, let's just pretend it's still August!***
From last month's list I read and reviewed Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (I think I will get to see the movie this weekend - hooray!) and Bridget Jones's Diary, the latter for the Everything Austen challenge hosted by Stephanie's Written Word. I didn’t have to read nearly as much of my boy's summer reading assignment selections as I expected - I guess they are growing up sniff, sniff! So I just read a smidgen of Holes, Pollyanna, and Treasure Island. I started and abandoned Reading Lolita in Tehran; it has gotten good reviews so I will give it another chance another time but I just wasn't in the mood for it right now. That leaves me still in need of an R book for the A-Z Reading Challenge . And - big news - yesterday was my one year blogoversary! Happy Blog Birthday to me, if you click back you will see I have had a giveaway to celebrate. (But I am so late posting this that it is done - boo, hiss.)Here's what this month looks like….

John Adams still anchors the bottom of the nightstand, no progress there. Next is Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder, an ARC from Library Thing that I have almost finished. It's a great tale about a young African man, Deo, who survived the genocide in his home country Burundi and again in Rwanda. It alternates between his life there and his new start in New York City - they are each horrifying and hopeful in their own way. Next is Nefrititi which is the August selection for the Facebook Historical Fiction book group. The author is available for questions Thursday so I need to get cracking on that one or I will miss out - all the book clubber's reviews so far have been great! Then I have The Art of Racing in the Rain - it's another I wanted to read this week for Jennifer at the Literate Housewife's Dog Days of Summer. If I called in sick the rest of the week maybe I would get both of these read on time!

Monday, August 24, 2009

My Blogoversary (and a Giveaway)

Happy Birthday to me! It's been a year today that I started this blog. I started the blog as an exercise in self-reflection but the book community sucked me in like a forceful whirlpool and I have enjoyed the ride! Blog netiquette would seem to dictate a giveaway and so I'm taking the giveaway plunge now. It really seems a bit silly since I have all of 9 readers - I could easily just mail you each a small sum and a thank you card! But I am a nothing if not a conformist so here comes the giveaway...

I was introduced this year to the world of audio books. I've supported this new addiction by haunting used book stores and the sale rack at Barnes & Noble whenever I have an excuse to drive the hour to the closest one. As I finished each one, I passed it on to my office mate, The Nurse, she listened to them and returned them to me where they have stacked up on my desk at the hospital probably causing the cleaning crew to wonder if I ever actually work. I'm donating most of them to the church bazaar but there are a few that are a little bit racy to donate. Hence the giveaway...

The Gently Used, Slightly Slutty Audio book Collection.

It includes...
Got the Look by James Grippando
The Unquiet by John Connolly
Long Lost by Harlan Coben
Undead and Unreturnable by Mary Janice Davidson
Lifeguard by James Patterson
When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris

If you would like to enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment. I don't know that I'll try to master using "random number generator", but I can put all the names in a hat and pull one out! And now despite the fact that it is my blogging birthday...I have to go to work! Thanks for visiting.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding

Meet Bridget Jones -- a 30-something Singleton who is certain she would have all the answers is she could:

a) lose 7 pounds
b) stop smoking
c) develop Inner Poise

This was a reread for me for the Everything Austen Challenge. It was just as much fun the second time around. Having seen the movie, I had the characters firmly in place as Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth, and Hugh Grant. I liked the book better because I liked her self-recriminatiosn as she logged her weight gained and cigarettes smoked - that didn't come across real well in the movie. On the flip side, I have to admit I really missed the line they added to the movie about Hugh Grant loving her granny panties!

Because this was the Everything Austen Challenge, I read the book this time knowing that it referenced Pride and Prejudice, and looking for the parallels. Obviously there was Colin Firth THE Mr. Darcy playing the new Mr. Darcy. There was the story theme of prejudging others - Bridget dismisses Mark Darcy wearing his Christmas sweater handknitted by his mother as arrogant and rude, just as Jane dismissed Mr. Darcy at the dance. And the storyline of the two male leads having a past together that leaves them as enemies with Mr. Darcy actually being the noble gentleman who comes to the aid of the heroine.

Just for the heck of it, let's finish with eye candy....

Got the Look by James Grippando

From the author's website: Miami lawyer Jack Swyteck has a new girlfriend, Mia, and life is good—until Mia goes missing. Then Jack gets a one-two punch. Mia is married to one of Florida's richest men. And she is the victim of a kidnapper with a chilling ransom demand: “Pay me what she's worth.” It turns out that Jack is up against a serial kidnapper who is being tracked by FBI agent Andie Henning (Under Cover of Darkness)—a woman who both infuriates and fascinates Jack. If the kidnapper's track record is any indicator, the consequences of paying too little are positively deadly.

Again, I'm popping into a series in the middle of it but it was not a problem. The story here was good and certainly stood alone without having to read the series from the start. I liked the main character, a lawyer named Jack who has a nice sense of humor and is smart, but isn't super-hero unbelievable. He has the somewhat annoying sidekick that seems to pop up in these crime books - the guy with money and connections that can solve the problem. I think if the author starts digging some problem hole, he needs to come up with a better solution to get out of it than a friend with everything - a little pet peeve of mine. Got the Look was your basic crime/detective/thriller - nothing outstanding that made the book extra special but an interesting, fast paced story that wiled away my drive time easily enough. But I didn't sit in the parking lot unwilling to turn the car off because it was so engrossing - I was able to walk away.

I've finished up the audio book challenge but I'm adding the extras as I finish them.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Unquiet by John Connolly

From the author's website: Daniel Clay, a once-respected psychiatrist, has been missing for years following revelations about harm done to the children in his care. Believing him dead, his daughter Rebecca has tried to come to terms with her father's legacy, but her fragile peace is about to be shattered. Someone is asking questions about Daniel Clay, someone who refuses to believe that he is dead: the revenger Merrick, a father and a killer obsessed with discovering the truth about his own daughter's disappearance. Private detective Charlie Parker is hired to make Merrick go away, but Merrick will not be stopped. Soon Parker finds himself trapped between those who want the truth about Daniel Clay to be revealed, and those who want it to remain hidden at all costs. But there are other forces at work. Someone is funding Merrick's hunt, a ghost from Parker's past. And Merrick's actions have drawn others from the shadows, half-glimpsed figures intent upon their own form of revenge, pale wraiths drifting through the ranks of the unquiet dead.

The Hollow Men have come . . .

Spooky stuff here. The topic - child sexual abuse is horrific enough without adding the "Hollow Men". The first time the Hollow Men appeared I was uncertain whether or not they were real men - were they characters in the story, figments of the main character's imagination, or actual ghosts? - and I pretty much stayed in that foggy state throughout the book. There was just enough question left each time to make you wonder what was really going on. On a different note - Oops, I've done it again! - I jumped into an established series by picking up this particular book before reading any of the ones that have come before but, no fear, the story was complete enough to stand alone and still be captivating. This book made me glad I work, and thus do my driving/listening, during daylight hours - creepy!

I've finished up the audio book challenge but I'm adding the extras as I finish them.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling

I read parts of this book when it came out years ago - just skimmed enough to know what happened. At that point, I was in a Harry Potter slump - just kind of sick of it all. I came back to read this one cover to cover before I go to see the movie and I'm so glad I did. I really enjoyed it this time. I was able to relax about it and enjoy the details. When you read these books, if you allow yourself the luxury of reading with attention - something I don't do nearly enough because I'm perpetually rushed - the world J.K Rowling has created is enthralling with it's rich detail. Even the things like Quidditch matches, which I really could not care less about, come to life and feel exciting when I take the time to really process what I am reading. The romantic in me was so happy that "It" finally happened -and just in case I'm not the last one to read the book, I won't spoil it by saying what "It" is! I am now patiently waiting for the movie to come to the theater on base where admission is only $2.00 and you can get a tub of popcorn, a large candy, and a large drink for less than $5.00. See - that's what 23 years in the Marine Corps can provide your family - discount movies for the rest of your life!

I wish I felt ambitious enough to go back and start the series over from the beginning because if I did, I would join the new Harry Potter Reading Challenge hosted by Michelle at Galleysmith

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Whole Truth by David Baldacci

From the author's website: A rising threat has startled the world. Armies are preparing to fight. And as nations slip ever closer to open conflict, the struggle to reveal the truth might be the most dangerous battle of all...

“Dick, I need a war.”

Nicolas Creel is a man on a mission. He heads up the world's largest defense contractor, The Ares Corporation. Dick Pender is the man Creel retains to “perception manage” his company to even more riches by manipulating international conflicts. But Creel may have an even grander plan in mind.

The narrator for this audio book, Ron McLarty, is excellent. He makes each character come alive with such ease transitioning from one to the next that you are really able to get lost in the story. There's not much to say about a David Baldacci story - they are well done and there are a lot of them out there. The man must work like a machine to crank these out! This one was not as good as The First Family but that was because it wasn't as developed and intricate - this was only five CD's compared to 12 for The First Family. I've yet to read a Baldacci but I am enjoying listening to them.

I've finished up the audio book challenge but I'm adding the extras as I finish them.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Short Girls by Bich Minh Nguyen

Short Girls is the story of two sisters, Van and Linny, and how they are each defined in some part by their Vietnamese heritage. The book contrasts the sisters - Van who is studious and determined versus Linny who is flirtatious and fashion conscious, they are the age old good girl/bad girl, except that the book is too good for the author to leave it there and they are both fleshed out with great detail. As the book alternates viewpoints between the sisters, we learn their stories and see their relationship evolve. There is also the contrast between their parents, first generation immigrants, and the daughters who were born in the States and are essentially American but can still feel like outsiders. Each parent has their own way of handling their immersion in America and the differences there provide some of the book's more lighthearted moments.

I enjoyed Short Girls. Once I started I didn't want to put it down because I wanted the whole story revealed. Nguyen writes with a very authentic sounding voice about the experience of being considered foreign in your own home; it made me curious about her as a person. I had all my questions answered at her website - The site's Q&A with Bich was interesting reading and now I am eager to get a look at her memoir, Stealing Buddha's Dinner.

I read this book for the Library Thing Early Reviewers program.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


I'm down to my last book for the A-Z Reading Challenge..."R" and it's giving me troubles. I had three R books in my TBR pile, Reading Lolita in Tehran, Revolutionary Road, and The Red Tent. I decided on Reading Lolita in Tehran so I loaned Revolutionary Road to a friend and stuck The Red Tent back in my TBR. Then I started reading Reading Lolita in Tehran and after a chapter or two, it didn't grab me and I put it down. So I went and tried a little bit of The Red Tent and it didn't grab me either. Then I roamed the bookstore and grabbed Anne Rice's Road to Cana, I liked it but it's the second in a series and I decided I wanted to read the first book first so that's been set aside as well. Finally a friend gave me a book by a local author, Resurrection Road and that one left me dry too. I think there are some deep seated psychological issues at work here - fear of challenge completion, R phobia - something has me stumped.

On the other hand, I finally got my first Library Thing Early Reviewers book, Short Girls and I am enjoying it! I also started Nickled and Dimed and that one caught my attention right away too. I've finished a David Baldacci The Whole Truth that I need to review and Diane Mott Davidson's The Dark Tort that was a fun little mystery too. I finished HP6 but haven't seen the movie yet, did see the movie, My Sister's Keeper, about which all I can say is, "hmmm, why would they do that?" And if you've seen it, you know exactly what I mean. I've also made some progress on the Everything Austen challenge by re-reading Bridget Jones' Diary.

I've been absent from blogging due to another college road trip with Bookworm and the normal whirlwind of back to school shopping and such. And, I've probably been spending a bit too much time on FarmTown on Facebook - it is strangely addictive! I have thirteen posts in draft status - time to get off the farm and back to city living!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Second Time Around by Mary Higgins Clark

From the author's website: When Nicholas Spencer, the charismatic head of a company that has developed an anticancer vaccine, disappears without a trace, reporter Marcia "Carley" DeCarlo is assigned the story. Word that Spencer, if alive, has made off with huge sums of money -- including the life savings of many employees -- doesn't do much to change Carley's already low opinion of Spencer's wife, Lynn, who is also Carley's stepsister and whom everyone believes is involved. But when Lynn's life is threatened, she asks Carley to help her prove that she wasn't her husband's accomplice. As the facts unfold, however, Carley herself becomes the target of a dangerous, sinister group that will stop at nothing to get what they want.

This one was just OK. The mystery part was fairly interesting, it was a corporate intigue/espionage type thing and there were plenty of players to chose from as I mulled over who the "bad guy" might be. I think my problem with the book was that I didn't grow to like any character enough to really care about them. The female lead character Carley is a reporter so she isn't heavily invested emotionally in all of it and thus I wasn't either. The male lead character was actually missing, presumed dead, so we get to know him a bit through other peple's memories but, again, not enough to really care. There was a little suspense when you knew the potential for harm was coming but let's be real, it's Mary Higgins Clark, we know the heroine will esacape so the suspense is not really suspenseful.

I have two more of Mary Higgins Clark's books in my TBR pile and I'll slip them in between books I have selected for challenges and such. Even though this book didn't win me over, I like Mary Higgins Clark it's just that sometimes she hits a home run.. and sometimes she doesn't.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason

From the back cover: It's Easter at Princeton. Seniors are scrambling to finish their theses. And two students, Tom Sullivan and Paul Harris, are a hair's breadth from solving the mysteries of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili—a renowned text attributed to an Italian nobleman, a work that has baffled scholars since its publication in 1499. For Tom, their research has been a link to his family's past — and an obstacle to the woman he loves. For Paul, it has become an obsession, the very reason for living. But as their deadline looms, research has stalled — until a long-lost diary surfaces with a vital clue. And when a fellow researcher is murdered just hours later, Tom and Paul realize that they are not the first to glimpse the Hypnerotomachia's secrets.

This is one of those books that makes me wonder how out of touch I am with the rest of the world. The web site promoting the book has some grand figure for sales and for number of weeks on the best seller list but I didn't like it. The story was very flat - lots of scholarly information that sounded like reading a textbook aloud for conversation. the four young men who were the main characters didn't coem to life enough that they each had their own disinct personalities; they stayed kind of a bland mash-up the whole time. There were glimpses of interesting and quirky Princeton traditions, insider scoop always appeals to me, but this came off kind of arrogant so I didn't get a lot of pleasure there. The whole book felt like these two Princeton guys had read and loved Angels and Demons and said, "Hey, we could write a book like that!" and Rule of Four is the result. But apparently I am really in the minority with this opinion so go ahead and buy it - you may love it1

I've finished up the audio book challenge but I'm adding the extras as I finish them.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Short Guide to A Happy Life by Anna Quindlen

I like Anna Quindlen but all I could think in the fifteen minutes that it took me to read this book was, "She must have needed a little quick cash." This is basically a be thankful for life pep talk, perhaps an old commencement address she gave, spread out over fifty or so pages with about half of those pages devoted to greeting card style sentimental pictures. Really. It would be good in a guest bedroom because it is such a quick read, if only I had a guest bedroom!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Don't let my head explode in the new car!

I posted recently that I had finished two rather hefty audio books, First Family by David Baldacci and Long Lost by Harlan Coben, anyone who put some thought into it may have paused and wondered, "How did she listen to both of those and finish at the same time?" Well, no one asked, but I'm telling you anyway! The Navy bought me a car. In the course of my job, I do a lot of driving. For the last five years the Navy has just had me record my mileage and then would issue me a check based on miles driven. As the price of gas went up and up and up, my mileage check got fatter and fatter. Finally it got so fat, that it attracted the attention of the bean counters in the Navy and they/he/she decided it would be cheaper to buy me a car.
So I have a cute new red Ford Focus. But I still, much to the disappointment of the Navy, insist on having a life outside of work! And that life includes shuttling my children around in my regular old gray Honda Civic. So I started First Family (12 CDs)in my old gray Honda Civic, and Long Lost (7 CDs) in my shiny new red Ford Focus. This meant that every time I ignited an ignition, I had to take a few minutes and orient myself to a plot line. I'd have this moment of "where am I" and "Who are these people?" and when you add in the plot lines of the two or three print books I always have going at the same time, I had moments where I thought my head would explode! But, please, don't let my head explode in the new car because the upholstery is so clean and the car has such a nice smell...let it happen in the old gray Civic.