Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Hardly Knew Her by Laura Lippman

From Goodreads: Lippman sets many of the stories in this anthology, Hardly Knew Her, in familiar territory: her beloved Baltimore, from downtown to its affluent suburbs, where successful businessmen go to shocking lengths to protect what they have or ruthlessly expand their holdings, while dissatisfied wives find murderous ways to escape their lives. But Lippman is also unafraid to travel - to New Orleans, to an unnamed southwestern city, and even to Dublin, the backdrop for the lethal clash of two not-so-innocents abroad. Tess Monaghan is here, in two stories and a profile, aligning herself with various underdogs. And in her extraordinary, never-before published novella, Scratch a Woman, Lippman takes us deep into the private world of a high-priced call girl/madam and devoted soccer mom, exploring the mystery of what may, in fact, be written in the blood.

Wow, this one was great! The title, Hardly Knew Her, is apt as each short story takes the lead character places I couldn't imagine when they are first introduced. Not literal places, of course, but the dark places - deceit, murder, adultery. The Pollyanna in me has always believed that ordinary people are really capable of extraordinary things given the opportunity to shine. But this book takes it to the flip side of that coin, are we also, we "ordinary people", capable of horrific evil if that opportunity presents? Fun, quick read. This was the first Laura Lippman I have read. Not sure if I am ready to commit to a new series - I think her Tess Monaghan character has a series of books but I'll look and see what else she's got.

This works for these challenges..

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What's On Your Nightstand? September 2011

This monthly feature is hosted by 5 Minutes for Books on the last Tuesday of every month. Click on the logo to go and check out all the participants.

This weekend was the library Fall book sale so this pile is my result! I didn't just shop willy-nilly - these are books that I have had on my mental wish list, or that complete a series, or are by my "must have" authors so I am very excited about working my way through this stack! From the bottom up...

Back When We Were Grown Ups by Anne Tyler Anne Tyler is a favorite, I try to read all of her books.

Shopaholic & Sister by Sophie Kinsella The shopaholic series is the Chinese food of books, you read until you're stuffed and then ten minutes later you have to read again. So it turns out when I read the description more carefully, that I have read this one already - just forgot. Oh well.

The Miracle at Speedy Motors by Alexander McCall Smith This is another series I abandoned and now want to return to and wrap up. These read so quickly and are very sweet - will enjoy this one.

Between, Georgia by Joshilyn Jackson Probably my most exciting purchase. I loved Backseat Saints and Gods in Alabama, I am an official Joshilyn Jackson fan girl.

Magical Thinking by Augusten Burroughs More Running with Scissors type stories, I assume, we'll see.

The Shadow of Your Smile by Mary Higgins Clark Another author that I just read every book no matter what. I don't buy them at full price but I do read them...eventually.

The Day of the Storm by Rosamunde Pilcher yes, she wrote the Shell Seekers.. that seems to be all anyone ever remembers of dear Rosamunde. But I am loyal - I read them all, eventually.

Still Missing by Chevy Stevens and I See You Everywhere by Julia Glass Saw these two when they were making the rounds on book blogs and have had them on my mental wish list ever since.

Magic Hour by Kristin Hannah I think I was kind of late to the Kristin Hannah lovefest but have since read a few and enjoyed them very much - looking forward to this one too.

Innocent Traitor by Allison Weir At one point the Facebook Historical Fiction book club chose an Allison Weir and I liked that one so am hoping this one will be as good.

The Abortionist's Daughter by Elisabeth Hyde Title caught my attention awhile ago and it sounds interesting.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday started by Marcia at A Girl and Her Books is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week (checked out library books don’t count, eBooks & audio books do). This month Mailbox Monday is being hosted by Amused at Amused by Books. Stop by there to check out everyone else's mailboxes.

From Goodreads: One sparkling summer day, Jill Abramson brought home a nine-week-old golden retriever named Scout. Over the following year, as she and her husband raised their adorable new puppy, Abramson wrote a hugely popular column for The New York Times's website about the joys and challenges of training this rambunctious addition to their family. Dog-lovers from across the country inundated her with e-mails and letters, and the photos they sent in of their own dogs became the most visited photo album on the Times's site in 2009. Now Abramson has gone far beyond the material in her column and written a detailed and deeply personal account of Scout's first year. This one came from the Library Thing Early Reviewers program. Looks cute, I do love dogs and hers looks very sweet.

From Goodreads: Quinn Cummings is perhaps best known as the Oscar-nominated actress who played Marsha Mason's daughter in The Goodbye Girl and, somewhat less visibly, as the creator of the HipHugger, a sling-like device for carrying a baby. With the publication of this book, it is possible that Cummings will be remembered too for her unique insights and observations. For example: "I live in Los Angeles where it is now socially acceptable to carry a Starbucks cup anywhere, including a funeral." "Nearly everything I knit quickly develops an uncanny resemblance to a double helix. The only things which don't resemble a double helix are the potholders I knit. They resemble tumors." A delightfully undomesticated, unforgettable first book. This was just an impulse buy - the front cover caught my eye and the back cover read as something I would enjoy.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday started by Marcia at A Girl and Her Books is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week (checked out library books don’t count, eBooks & audio books do). This month Mailbox Monday is being hosted by Amused at Amused by Books. Stop by there to check out everyone else's mailboxes.

It's Audiobook time - I purchased a handful this past week and I am very eager to give them a listen!

From Goodreads: "It took ten seconds for Web London to lose everything: his friends, his team, his reputation. Point man of the FBI's super-elite Hostage Rescue Team, Web roared into a blind alley toward a drug dealer's lair, only to meet a high-tech, custom-designed ambush that killed everyone around him." Now coping with the blame-filled words of anguished widows and the suspicions of colleagues, Web tries to put his life back together with the help of his psychiatrist, Dr. Claire Daniels. To do so, he must discover why he was the one man who lived through the ambush - and find the only other person who came out of that alley alive...a ten-year-old boy who has since disappeared. I love David Baldacci on audio - he can make the time in the car just fly by. And, I particularly like Ron McLarty as narrator - he's great. This is a win-win! Really looking forward to it!

From Goodreads:Twenty years ago, four teenagers at summer camp walked into the woods at night. Two were found murdered, and the others were never seen again. Four families had their lives changed forever. Now, two decades later, they are about to change again. For Paul Copeland, the county prosecutor of Essex, New Jersey, mourning the loss of his sister has only recently begun to subside. Cope, as he is known, is now dealing with raising his six-year-old daughter as a single father after his wife has died of cancer. Balancing family life and a rapidly ascending career as a prosecutor distracts him from his past traumas, but only for so long. When a homicide victim is found with evidence linking him to Cope, the well-buried secrets of the prosecutor's family are threatened. Is this homicide victim one of the campers who disappeared with his sister? Could his sister be alive? Cope has to confront so much he left behind that summer twenty years ago: his first love, Lucy; his mother, who abandoned the family; and the secrets that his Russian parents might have been hiding even from their own children. Cope must decide what is better left hidden in the dark and what truths can be brought to the light.' I've listened to at least one other Harlan Coben book and it was very good - this one sounds great!

From Goodreads: The news that he had incurable cardiomyopathy struck Ryan Perry as hard as any heart attack. The 34-year-old Internet tycoon felt that his days were numbered; but thanks to a transplant, he was able not only to survive but to move forward, enjoying every day with the gratitude of a true survivor. Then one day a gift arrives; a heart pendant accompanied by a Valentine's Day box of candy hearts. With it comes a chilling message ("Your heart belongs to me") and an even more frightening video. Suddenly, Ryan's healthy, throbbing heart has become the target of a madwoman. A thriller ripped from the pages of our nightmares. I haven't read any Dean Koontz because I don't like reading scary books. Listening on the other hand seems like it might be fun...we'll see!

From Goodreads: Kay Scarpetta's return to her old Richmond stomping grounds is even more depressing than she expected. The medical examiner's department is in disarray; Kay's former lab is in the final stages of demolition; incompetence is everywhere, and personal conflicts abound. Fortunately, a murder case arises that strains even Dr. Scarpetta's forensics skills. A taut crime scene investigation thriller. I've heard a few peopel rave about these Kay Scarpetta books - figured I'd try this one since it turned up on the bargain shelf!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Cocktails for Three by Madeleine Wickham

From Goodreads: Roxanne: glamorous, self-confident, with a secret lover -- a married man
Maggie: capable and high-achieving, until she finds the one thing she can't cope with -- motherhood
Candice: honest, decent, or so she believes -- until a ghost from her past turns up
At the first of every month, when the office has reached its pinnacle of hysteria, Maggie, Roxanne, and Candice meet at London's swankiest bar for an evening of cocktails and gossip. Here, they chat about what's new at The Londoner, the glossy fashion magazine where they all work, and everything else that's going on in their lives. Or almost everything. Beneath the girl talk and the laughter, each of the three has a secret. And when a chance encounter at the cocktail bar sets in motion an extraordinary chain of events, each one will find their biggest secret revealed.

I just read 40 Love another Madeleine Wickham book and remembered that I had never gotten around to posting this one last year. I had to give it a super quick reread which tells us something right off the bat - it doesn't stick with you! But it was a cute book and I enjoyed just as much the second time around - which is about three stars worth! It has a Sex in the City feel for me with the girls meeting at a favorite bar and hashing out all their troubles over cocktails. They each have their own unique problem so the book alternates between the three story lines. It was quick moving and interesting - a fun "read in an afternoon" book. I preferred this book over the other.

40 Love by Madeleine Wickham

From Goodreads: Everyone wins this game of literary tennis, a comedy of manners about envy in which Wickham skewers the nouveau riche. At their country estate, Patrick Chance and his wife host a weekend tennis party. As four couples gather on the sunny terrace, it seems obvious who among them is succeeding, and who is falling behind. But by the end of the party, nothing will be quite as certain. While the couples’ children amuse themselves with pony rides and rehearsals for a play, the adults suffer a series of personal revelations and crises. Wickham’s nonstop action reveals at every turn that matters may not be as they seem, and in the end one thing is crystal clear: the weekend is about anything but tennis.

This was a win from the Library Thing Early Reviewer Program. I love Sophie Kinsella (who uses her alternate name Madeleine Wickham to pen this one) so I was expecting to enjoy it. I liked it a little bit but not very much. With Brit chick lit I expect a plucky female lead who is pursuing career and/or romance, some laugh out loud funny scenes, and a happy ending. This didn't have any of that. The four couples come for a tennis weekend and their lives just unravel. Relationships sour, finances plummett, and friendships are tested. I felt bad for them and at the same time somewhat confused keeping up with who's who among the four couples, the extra guest, the nanny and cook and all their children - that's a lot of characters to figure out in what is supposed to be a "fluffy" book! There are some witty moments but it's such a dark story that it is hard to really laugh out loud. It was entertaining but it just wasn't a favorite for me.

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

It also counts for some of my other challenges....

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Last Odd Day by Lynne Hinton

From Goodreads: From the bestselling author of Friendship Cake comes a remarkable story of love, loss, infidelity, and forgiveness

I've read a few of Lynne Hinton's books that are part of the Friendship Cake series and they've been okay. They are slow paced small town kind of stories. They've tackled some heavier topics - cancer, infidelity - but never felt heavy. This one, however, ugh, it was on the depressing side. The light hearted hopeful moments were few and far between instead we had angst and apathy and decline and death. One little blurb toward the end hit too close to home for comfort...

"What is strange, what has been strange, is that with everything that has happened to me, the deaths, the loneliness, the hard choices, all of it, the oddest thing of it all is that I thought I could lock it away, put it out of reach, protect myself, and never deal with any of it. And that somehow as long as I didn't share it with anyone else, it would be forever harmless to me and everyone around me."

Just went to the eye doctor Friday and he found a blister on my retina, inside of the eye ball on the back of it. He was puzzled because they are usually caused by stress and I appear so at ease. I guess that is a sign that my compartments of emotions are overly full! At this point we do nothing and check it again in two weeks to see if it is shrinking or growing. Keep your fingers crossed for shrinking!

This works for these challenges..

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Ex-Boyfriend's Handbook by Matt Dunn

From Goodreads:"It's not me-it's you."
When Edward Middleton hears those words from Jane, his girlfriend of ten years, he knows he's in serious trouble. Determined to get her back, Edward realizes he must learn how to make women want him again. But one thing is certain: if he's to be Jane's Mr. Right, he needs to turn himself around. From Atkins to waxing, Edward works his way through the makeover alphabet. But can he rise from the ranks of discarded exes, or will his journey take him in another direction entirely? With over 100,000 copies sold in the UK, this is a hilarious look at relationships from a man's point of view.

Chick lit from the boy's side. This was great fun. The same story written from a girl's point of view would not have been nearly as interesting. We see girls jumping through these hoops to get the guy all the time - dull, but the guy doing it, well that is something different! There really is not anything deep or meaningful to be said about this one but it was loads of fun!

This counts toward the e-book challenge. Click on the logo to see my progress.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio by Terry Ryan

From Goodreads: Evelyn Ryan is an enterprising woman who kept poverty at bay with wit, poetry, and perfect prose during the "contest era" of the 1950s and 1960s. Evelyn's winning ways defied the church, her alcoholic husband, and antiquated views of housewives. To her, flouting convention was a small price to pay when it came to raising her six sons and four daughters. The story of this irrepressible woman is told by her daughter Terry.

Another memoir to feed my addiction. The mind blowing part of this one is supposed to be how the mother lifts her family up with her incredible jingle writing, contest winning skills but instead the part that blows me away is how bad women's situations could be at this time without the community being in an uproar. The husband is such a loser - an alcoholic who drinks his paycheck away and yet, he still has respect simply because he is the "man of the house". You just want to reach through the pages and slap him and everyone else who turns their head away and doesn't help. Despite my irritation with all that, I did enjoy the book and am adding it to my list of movies I need to rent and watch.

This works for these challenges..

Monday, September 5, 2011

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday started by Marcia at A Girl and Her Books is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week (checked out library books don’t count, eBooks & audio books do). This month Mailbox Monday is being hosted by Amused at Amused by Books. Stop by there to check out everyone else's mailboxes.

Mine are all thrift shop finds this week - yes, I have an addiction.

From Goodreads: One of the world’s most beloved and bestselling writers takes his ultimate journey -- into the most intriguing and intractable questions that science seeks to answer. Taking as territory everything from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization, Bryson seeks to understand how we got from there being nothing at all to there being us. To that end, he has attached himself to a host of the world’s most advanced (and often obsessed) archaeologists, anthropologists, and mathematicians, travelling to their offices, laboratories, and field camps. He has read (or tried to read) their books, pestered them with questions, apprenticed himself to their powerful minds. A Short History of Nearly Everything is the record of this quest, and it is a sometimes profound, sometimes funny, and always supremely clear and entertaining adventure in the realms of human knowledge, as only Bill Bryson can render it. Science has never been more involving or entertaining. BookTiger loves everything Bill Bryson, so I figure I need to give him a try. Although I am not sure that this big thick thing is the right choice to start with. Might should have held out for A Walk in the Woods.

From Goodreads: Daniel has spent centuries falling in love with the same girl. Life after life, crossing continents and dynasties, he and Sophia (despite her changing name and form) have been drawn together-and he remembers it all. Daniel has "the memory", the ability to recall past lives and recognize souls of those he's previously known. It is a gift and a curse. For all the times that he and Sophia have been drawn together throughout history, they have also been torn painfully, fatally, apart. A love always too short. Interwoven through Sophia and Daniel's unfolding present day relationship are glimpses of their expansive history together. From 552 Asia Minor to 1918 England and 1972 Virginia, the two souls share a long and sometimes torturous path of seeking each other time and time again. I read the Sisterhood stories and they were cute and fun. Let's see how she does with more grown up fare.

From Goodreads: From the Bestselling Author of Friendship Cake Comes a Remarkable Story of Love, Loss, Infidelity, and Forgiveness That's not much of a description now is it?! Hinton is an old friend kind of author, I don't need to know what it is about. I'll pick it up and read it.

From Goodreads: Caretta Rutledge thought she’d left her Southern roots and troubled family far behind. But an unusual request from her mother coming just as her own life is spinning out of control has Cara heading back to the scenic Lowcountry of her childhood summers. Before long, the rhythms of the island open her heart in wonderful ways as she repairs the family beach house, becomes a bona fide “turtle lady” and renews old acquaintances long thought lost. But it is in reconnecting with her mother that she will learn life’s most precious lessons true love involves sacrifice, family is forever and the mistakes of the past can be forgiven. Continuing my Mary Alice Monroe quest to read them all - love her!

From Goodreads: In a new thriller, worldwide bestselling suspense writer Mary Higgins Clark weaves the mystery of twin telepathy into a mother's search for a kidnapped child, presumed dead." "Margaret and Steve Frawley celebrate the third birthday of their twin girls, Kelly and Kathy, with an afternoon party in their new home, a modest fixer-upper in Ridgefield, Connecticut. The evening of the twins' birthday party, Steve and Margaret attend a black-tie dinner in New York. When they return home, the police are in the house, and they are told that the babysitter had been found unconscious, the children are gone, and a note demanding an eight-million-dollar ransom had been left in their room." "Steve Frawley's firm, a global investment company, agrees to pay the ransom. The kidnapper, who identifies himself as the "Pied Piper," makes his terms known - on delivery of the ransom, a call will come, revealing the girls' whereabouts. The call comes, but only Kelly is in the car parked behind a deserted restaurant. The driver is dead from a gunshot wound and has left a suicide note, saying he had inadvertently killed Kathy and had dumped her body in the ocean." "At the private memorial Mass for Kathy, Kelly tugs Margaret's arm and says: "Mommy, Kathy is very scared of that lady. She wants to come home right now." More unexplainable occurrences follow, indicating that Kelly is in touch with Kathy. At first, no one except the mother believes that the twins are communicating and that Kathy is still alive. As Kelly's warnings become increasingly specific and alarming, however, FBI agents set out on a search for Kathy. The novel reaches a breathtaking climax as they close in on the Pied Piper and his accomplices, while Kathy's life hangs by a thread." In delving into the well-documented but still unexplained phenomenon of twin telepathy, Mary Higgins Clark tells a spellbinding tale that takes us deep into the minds of her characters while lifting us to the heights of suspense. This sounds a little wacky to me (reminds me of the "heart" book where the transplant person started having images of the donors life. Maybe MHC is trying to keep it fresh but I like her unfresh just regular old stuff. Why am I whining about a book before I have even read it? and still planning to read it? Because it's MHC, I read all her books - no matter what, until death do us part.

From Goodreads: Ellen and Andy's first year of marriage doesn't just seem perfect, it is perfect. There is no question how deep their devotion is, and how naturally they bring out the best in each other. But one fateful afternoon, Ellen runs into Leo for the first time in eight years. Leo, the one who brought out the worst in her. Leo, the one who left her heartbroken with no explanation. Leo, the one she could never quite forget. When his reappearance ignites long-dormant emotions, Ellen begins to question whether the life she's living is the one she's meant to live. I liked her series that started with Something Borrowed so thought I would try this one too. It looks like it is part of the series because the cover is so similar but I don't think it is.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Room by Emma Donoghue

From Goodreads: To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it's where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it's not enough...not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son's bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.

Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, ROOM is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.

Doubt that anyone who reads book blogs actually needs the description above - this book has been EVERYWHERE! I went into it assuming this was a 5 star once in a lifetime read because the praise had been so consistent. It probably was a once in a lifetime read as I doubt I will ever forget this one as I do some others. But I only gave it 4 stars on Goodreads, it was interesting and emotional and parts were even thrilling but it just had that touch of sensational that made me not love, love, love it. Just one love! The very first time I heard the narrator was a child, I thought, "Yuck!" but then I read so many people who said it was okay that I felt assured and they were right, it really is okay. In fact, having someone else narrate would have been such a fundamental change that I doubt the book would have been nearly as intriguing. Then it really would have been just tabloid yuck. So, even though it is only 4 stars in my mind, it is also a must read simply becasue it is quick and so popular - it's more fun to be part of the discussion!

This works for these challenges..

Friday, September 2, 2011

1984 by George Orwell

From Goodreads: Written in 1948, 1984 was George Orwell's chilling prophecy about the future. And while 1984 has come and gone, Orwell's narrative is timelier than ever. 1984 presents a startling and haunting vision of the world, so powerful that it is completely convincing from start to finish. No one can deny the power of this novel, its hold on the imaginations of multiple generations of readers, or the resiliency of its admonitions a legacy that seems only to grow with the passage of time.

Summer reading for Teen = summer reading for Mom too. I read the paperback. For Teen we originally bought the paperback, then we bought the Kindle edition, then we bought the Cliff's Notes, and finally we downloaded it off of and he listened. World's most expensive summer reading book ever!

I thought it was a pretty good read; often times, the Classics leave me cold but this one held my attention throughout (with one small exception, I really wanted to find out what would happen to the characters. Interesting to me that the dystopia that is all the rage now, is preceded by this book from 50+ years ago! I skipped over a hunk of "the book" within the book - man, that was D-R-Y! Skipping that bit didn't seem to keep me from understanding and enjoying the rest of the book so no guilt here. I am certainly glad that this version of 1984 didn't come to reality and now I know the whole story behind "Big Brother is watching you!" One more classic I can check off my list!

This works for these challenges..