Monday, December 28, 2009

The New Yorkers by Cathleen Schine

From the author's website: This a novel about living and falling in love on one block in New York City. It’s a kind of love letter to New York City, the New York that I know, which has neighborhoods and seasons and the rhythms, sometimes, of a small town. In The New Yorkers, neighbors fall in and out of love, and it is their dogs– a dignified old white pit-bull named Beatrice, a puppy named Howdy discovered in the closet of a dead man, a boisterous Rottweiler named Kaiya, and Jolly, a vicious little mutt– who act as cupids.

I listened to this one on audiobook and it took me two tries to get going. I put the first disc in while driving to Greenville, NC with the Nurse from my office for a training. After disc one, I looked at her and said, "I can't take six more hours of this." and out it came. (Replaced by White Oleander.)

A few months went by and I tried again and this time, it clicked. I started to care about the characters both human and canine. It was still on the slow side, a contrast to the way New York actually feels to me - fast, fast, fast, but I stuck it out and enjoyed it. There were several storylines going at once but because nothing was moving too quickly, I was able to keep it all straight. It was all about relationships and that's my favorite kind of story.

My regret on this one is that I really considered saving it for the Literate Housewife's "The Dog Days of Summer" that will be coming back around again this summer but couldn't make myself wait. I'm in an audiobook dry spell - haven't come across any great ones at the local shops and haven't made the trek to Barnes and Noble over on Hilton Head so there was no postponing this book, I'm out of alternatives. Desperate times and'll understand how true that is when I post my reveiw of the "Dr. Phil" book I am listening to now!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Her Last Death by Susanna Sonnenberg

From the author's website: Her Last Death begins as the phone rings early one morning in the Montana house where Susanna Sonnenberg lives with her husband and two young sons. Her aunt is calling to tellSusanna her mother is in a coma after a car accident. She might not live. Any daughter would rush the thousands of miles to her mother's bedside. But Susanna cannot bring herself to go. Her courageous memoir explains why.

Fascinating story in a "watch the train wreck" kind of way. It's hard to imagine a mother who gifts her daughter cocaine for her 16th birthday and celebrates the loss of her virginity but Susanna brings her to life. Along the way she describes travel and money that have some appeal until they disintegrate into drugs and sex. She is a vivid writer with intimate details of every sexual milestone but at the same time, she says that others, "may remember shared experiences differently" - hmmm.....a little James Frey maybe? I read somewhere that her father, Ben Sonnenberg, had also written a memoir and I wonder if I should know who he is but I don't. I listened to this on audio and it was several CD's long. The author read it and I really didn't like her voice at first. But I got used to it and determined I can't decide the voice doesn't sound right becuase she is the real voice, she's right no matter what!

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

Friday, December 11, 2009

Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris

I love David Sedaris and this book was no exception. This collection of essays was sharp and funny. The essay on David's experience playing an elf in Santa's Village at the mall was a treat - the insider's look at something mysterious, and then, of course, David's witty take on all of it.

This is one of my books for the Holiday Reading Challenge hosted by all about n. Click on the button to check my progress.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Humility...a virtue

God sent me a humbling message this past week. I went to the hairdresser to get my regular six week cut. He sat me in the chair, made a little small talk, and then he said, "I saw you out in town recently, you were getting out of your car." "Oh really," I said. "Yes," he said, "And when I saw you, I thought to myself, we have got to do something about her hair."


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Christmas Train by David Baldacci

From the Amazon product description: Tom Langdon, a weary and cash-strapped journalist, is banned from flying when a particularly thorough airport security search causes him to lose his cool. Now, he must take the train if he has any chance of arriving in Los Angeles in time for Christmas with his girlfriend. To finance the trip, he sells a story about a train ride taken during the Christmas season. Thereupon begins one of the most hilarious-and heartwarming-journeys ever told. Along the way, Tom encounters a ridiculous cast of characters, unexpected romance, and an avalanche that changes everyone's Christmas plans. As the mighty Southwest Chief chugs along, Tom learns what really makes the holiday special in a remarkable novel that will charm all who read it.

You know I love David Baldacci, I've said that here and here! But this one was kind of a stinker. He broke out of his crime/suspense mode and made this more light-hearted Christmas story. It did not "charm" me as the description above promises. It was slow and not very interesting. There was a little bit of a mystery but not much, a little suspense but not much. There was a twist at the end but I was beyond really caring at that point, I just wanted it over. The characters were very caricature - the lead African-American character was portrayed in such a stereotyped way that I am hesitant to pass this on to my office mate for fear she will be offended. The one way this book succeeded was that it really made me want to get on a train and go. I've ridden a train a few times and it is a great way to travel.

This book is on my list for the Holiday Reading Challenge. Click on the button to see my progress.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Progressive Dinner Party - time for a drink!

Welcome, if you have arrived for the party, I hope you enjoyed your last stop at The Amethyst Princess for Jalapeno Poppers!

Here at The Round File house, we like martinis, and this is a special one for Christmas called Santa's Little Helper. I think the recipe originally came from Southern Living or Paula Deen about four years ago but when I did an Internet search to give credit to the original source, I couldn't find it anymore. If you come across it, please come back and let me know!

Santa's Little Helper

Prepare glasses by chilling them in the freezer and then sugaring the rim by rubbing the edge of the rim with a cut lemon and dipping it into sugar.

Put ice. and equal parts vodka and lemonade into a cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously and pour into the prepared glasses, straining the ice out as you pour. Add a splash of pomegranate juice and a few seeds as a garnish. Because of the laws of physics (which we don't care about unless we're drinking)the pomegranate juice will sink to the bottom making a red bottom with a white top that looks like a stocking- hence the name, Santa's Little Helper.

Enjoy your drink and then your off to Notes from the North for Glogg- Swedish Mulled Wine.

Be sure to visit the Book Blog Social Club where we will be collecting all of the recipes, courses, and posts throughout the week.

Happy dinner party from all the hosts of appetizers and drinks!

Dana's Scrap Therapy - Cheese Dip
Book Club Girl - - Stilton Watercress Spread
epiBloguer - - Creamy Artichoke Dip
Angel's Kisses - - Cinnamon Apples with Red Hot Candies and Sugar
eclectic / eccentric - - Green Bean Bundles
As Usual, I Need More Bookshelves - - Parmesan Star Puff & Heavyset Cheese Ball
Joyfully Retired - - Shrimp Dip
Galleysmith - - Gingerbread Martinis
The Amethyst Princess - - Jalapeno Poppers
My Round File - - Santa's Little Helper (Martini Drink)
Notes from the North - - Glogg- Swedish Mulled Wine

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

There is a plot summary and such on the author's website but in a nutshell, it's Langdon again from Brown's other popular books, The DaVinci Code and Angels and Demons. He's doing the same thing, using symbols to crack a conspiracy, but this time the setting is Washington, D.C. Langdon getting embroiled in these mysteries has become the Dan Brown formula and this time around it's just not as good. It lacks the fresh feeling of his earlier works but also, D.C. even with the awe-inspiring monuments just didn't hold my interest like Italy and the art did. I thought because I have thoroughly enjoyed all of his other books that a "not as good" Dan Brown would still be great compared to other books but it really wasn't - it was just OK.

This is one of the books on my list for Fall Into Reading 2009. Click on the logo to see my progress.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran

From the author's website: In ancient Egypt, a forgotten princess must overcome her family’s past and remake history.

The winds of change are blowing through Thebes. A devastating palace fire has killed the Eighteenth Dynasty’s royal family—all with the exception of Nefertari, the niece of the reviled former queen, Nefertiti. The girl’s deceased family has been branded as heretical, and no one in Egypt will speak their names. A relic of a previous reign, Nefertari is pushed aside, an unimportant princess left to run wild in the palace. But this changes when she is taken under the wing of the Pharaoh’s aunt, then brought to the Temple of Hathor, where she is educated in a manner befitting a future queen.

Soon Nefertari catches the eye of the Crown Prince, and despite her family’s history, they fall in love and wish to marry. Yet all of Egypt opposes this union between the rising star of a new dynasty and the fading star of an old, heretical one. While political adversity sets the country on edge, Nefertari becomes the wife of Ramesses the Great. Destined to be the most powerful Pharaoh in Egypt, he is also the man who must confront the most famous exodus in history.

I think Michelle Moran did a great job bringing this story to life. It is the first book about this time period that I can remember reading and yet I was able to follow the story with little difficulty. The history needed to make the story work was included in such a way that it didn't seem heavy-handed. She made Nefertari an interesting, sympathetic character. I was rooting for her and so proud when she matured and won the people's respect through her hard work. The shenanigans at the Egyptian palace were as manipulative and self-serving as any Tudor court - I guess some things never change!

This was the November 2009 selection for the Facebook Historical Fiction book club led by Jennifer over at The Literate Housewife.

This is one of the books on my list for Fall Into Reading 2009. Click on the logo to see my progress.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Holiday Reading Challenge

I LOVE THIS BUTTON! Is that a good enough reason to join a challenge? I think so! But, just in case, I aleady have three holiday books in my TBR pile that I can use for this challenge so it's a win-win situation!

I imagine everyone else has already heard about this challenge because it started November 20th - EEK - I'm so late! So I won't give too many details but it is hosted by all about n and if you click on the gorgeous button above, it shoud take you to the sign-up post - hooray!

Here's what I plan to read...
Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris
The Christmas Train by David Baldacci
The Purpose of Christmas by Rick Warren