Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall & Denver Moore

I rarely read non-fiction or memoirs, but this one I made an exception for since it was chosen for our November book club. And I am so grateful to my friend Julie who picked it, because I may not have otherwise given it a chance.

Same Kind of Different As Me alternates chapters in telling the story of Denver Moore and Ron Hall and how a courageous woman's love & selflessness brought these two men together to make a difference in their community and in their own lives. I was deeply moved by their conviction, their passion and their courage. It wasn't difficult for our book club to find things to discuss and bring up examples that made us really think and evaluate our own life in regards to service to others. This story will stick with me for some time to come. I highly recommend picking this one up!

If you hadn't heard of it before, you're about to. Mark Clayman, producer of Pursuit of Happyness has been signed on to produce the film and Samuel L. Jackson will be playing the role. The movie is set to release sometime in 2010. For more info, you can visit their website: www.samekindofdifferentasme.com My suggestion though, don't look at the photos on their website or in the book itself until after you have finished reading the book, it can be a bit of a spoiler for the ending.

There's also another book that was published this last September in response to Same Kind of Different As Me, called What Difference Do It Make?: Stories of Hope and Healing. It is filled with stories from readers who were inspired and went out to make a difference in their own communities and within their own lives.

Description: A dangerous, homeless drifter who grew up picking cotton in virtual slavery. An upscale art dealer accustomed to the world of Armani and Chanel. A gutsy woman with a stubborn dream. A story so incredible no novelist would dare dream it. It begins outside a burning plantation hut in Louisiana...and an East Texas honkey-tonk...and, without a doubt, in the heart of God. It unfolds in a Hollywood hacienda...an upscale New York Gallery...a downtown dumpster...a Texas ranch. Gritty with pain and betrayal and brutality, it also shines with an unexpected, life-changing love.

Rating: ****

Recommend: Without any hesitation.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent

I think I'll go ahead and put the blame of my pathetic lack of reading on this book. Because it bored me to no end. And I being a Type-A personality, cannot just leave a book unfinished and move on. Nope, I have to sit there and drown myself in all 332 pages of blahness. Thanks Dad, you get the credit for that one. :-P

The Heretic's Daughter was a huge disappointment to me. It was chosen as our November book club pick and I went into it with pretty huge expectations. But unfortunately it fell super short for me. By the time I was about 200 pages in, it started to get interesting, but then the scenery didn't change for like another 100 pages and I was ready to poke my eyes out with a pencil. (Sorry Kathleen, I really hope you're not reading this.) True, there were parts in the story that were completely gut-wrenching and the fact that so much of it is based on history, is just horrific to me. But the delivery just really lacked for me, and I think it was because the story was told from the young daughter's perspective, whereas I think I would have enjoyed it more if it was written from the mom's. And the red book! What on earth? Can someone please explain that to me??!! That was the thread of motivation I was holding onto and then what the heck happened? I didn't get it - so were they witches? Were they not? SO confused here people.

Description: Martha Carrier was one of the first women to be accused, tried and hanged as a witch in Salem, Massachusetts. Like her mother, young Sarah Carrier is bright and willful, openly challenging the small, brutal world in which they live. Often at odds with one another, mother and daughter are forced to stand together against the escalating hysteria of the trials and the superstitious tyranny that led to the torture and imprisonment of more than 200 people accused of witchcraft. This is the story of Martha's courageous defiance and ultimate death, as told by the daughter who survived. Kathleen Kent is a tenth generation descendant of Martha Carrier. She paints a haunting portrait, not just of Puritan New England, but also of one family's deep and abiding love in the face of fear and persecution.

Recommend: Not really, unless you're a huge history buff - then you might really enjoy it.

Rating: **

The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks

SO at the beginning of 2009, I set myself a New Years goal to read 50 books this year - yea, not gonna happen. Does it annoy anyone else to set themselves New Years goals only to miss them? Cause it drives me nuts and I wonder why every year I continue to torture myself. Grr...

All you Nicholas Sparks haters - plug your ears.

LOVE THIS BOOK. I honestly thought it was one of his better books in a while. I seriously think I devoured this one too fast - man I hate it when I do that! I thought Ronnie was adorable and I loved her dad. But do yourself a HUGE favor. Do NOT research who will be playing the part of Ronnie when the movie comes out - IT WILL RUIN IT FOR YOU. As much as I was head over heels in love with this book, I still couldn't get the chick who will be playing Ronnie out of my head and it added all sorts of imagined cheesiness to it. And that kinda sucked. But still, there was tears by the end, so my expectations were fulfilled. Sigh....so good.

Haters - you can unplug your ears now.

Description: #1 bestselling author Nicholas Sparks's new novel is at once a compelling family drama and a heartrending tale of young love. Seventeen year old Veronica "Ronnie" Miller's life was turned upside-down when her parents divorced and her father moved from New York City to Wilmington, North Carolina. Three years later, she remains angry and alienated from her parents, especially her father...until her mother decides it would be in everyone's best interest if she spent the summer in Wilmington with him. Ronnie's father, a former concert pianist and teacher, is living a quiet life in the beach town, immersed in creating a work of art that will become the centerpiece of a local church.The tale that unfolds is an unforgettable story of love on many levels--first love, love between parents and children -- that demonstrates, as only a Nicholas Sparks novel can, the many ways that love can break our hearts...and heal them.

Recommend: Of course, I always recommend Nicholas Sparks.

Rating: *****!

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Whoa did I get behind on my book reviews. I'm quite surprised some of you are still out there actually. And for you faithful followers, thank you for holding out and being patient with me :-)

Ok, on to Catching Fire. I absolutely loooved it, though I think I liked Hunger Games a bit more, but STILL this book was rockin. When I turned the last page, I just kinda sat there reeling from what had just happened and trying to take it all in. I really hope it doesn't take too long for the third one to come out, because my memory sucks so bad, I might have to re-read them to remember what happened! A perfect sequel though, so if you haven't read these yet - get. on. it. ;-)

Description: Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.

Recommend: Yes and yes.

Rating: ****

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Dear John Trailer

SOOOO Pumped about seeing this movie! I'm a huge fan of Nicholas Sparks (boo to all you haters!) and can't wait to see his new movie that comes out February, "Dear John". I remember I enjoyed the book, but now I just need to remember how it ended. My memory is so bad. :-(

Monday, October 26, 2009

Too Cute Not To Share.

I came across this video over at Busy Bee Lauren (who I think is completely adorable) and fell head over heels in love with these little otters.

Watch the WHOLE thing.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

If you haven't heard of The Hunger Games by now, well then you must be living in a cave because it's all the rave in the book-blogging world. But hey, I'm not too far out of the cave myself, because I think I was one of the last people to read it. In September it was my turn to host our book club which also meant I got to choose our next month's selection. So with my fingers crossed, I chose The Hunger Games based completely on all the amazing reviews I had seen from my fellow book bloggers. Then a couple weeks ago our book club met up again to discuss what everyone thought. I was nervous to see how all the ladies would respond, since most everyone had never heard of it before and also because it happened to be a YA novel. But as it turned out, not only did most everyone love it - BUT many of them had already gone on to read the sequel, Catching Fire!

Normally, this is not the type of book I would normally gravitate toward. But this awesome book blogging community has introduced me to a whole new world of honest reviews and recommendations, and without them I would never come across such amazing fiction! Thank you faithful book bloggers, I do appreciate all your reviews!

I'm almost finished with The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks (SSHHH! all you NS haters!) and I'm absolutely loving every page of it! And soon as I finish (probably tonight), I'll be diving in to book #2 Catching Fire! I'm pumped to see what happens next! If you haven't read The Hunger Games yet, seriously just do it - you will be glad you did! The best way I can describe what type of book it is - is Gladiators meet Survivor.

Up next for our book club - The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent. I've had this one on my radar for a while and am so excited it's our next pic! Which reminds me, I need to go to the library to pick up my copy on hold.

Description: Katniss is a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used be the United States. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, "The Hunger Games." The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When Kat's sister is chosen by lottery, Kat steps up to go in her place.

Rating: ****

Recommend: Definitely, but it is a futuristic sci-fi type book with a twist of romance. And even though its YA, I would say it's best for ages 13+.

Monday, September 28, 2009

I Apologize by Bradley Booth

Oh boy, this isn't going to be easy. First of all, I received this book through a Goodreads Giveaway, and the author even signed the inside cover which was very sweet and thoughtful.

The premise of the story was so intriguing and being that it was based on the author's life experiences, I had really high hopes while reading it. Unfortunately, it fell very short of my expectations and I was put off quite a bit by the dialogue between the two main characters, Tony & Christina. Every time I would pick up the book to continue reading, I found myself in the midst of a Spanish soap opera. The lines shared between the two were just so over dramatic and cheesy. At first Christina came across as mysterious and charming, but then started to freak me out with the shaving scene and things she would say. I thought it was going to turn into a psycho murder mystery. She was so insecure and controlling and I was hoping Tony would make his escape.

Honestly, I think it would have been more impacting and relatable if the author would have just written a memoir. I'm curious if the author really did experience all that was written about Tony or was it a bit embellished? By the last page, I just kinda just sat there stunned wondering - "Huh? What the heck?".

Mr. Booth, I am so, so sorry. I really wanted to enjoy it, but I just couldn't relate or even empathize with the characters at all. You have some definite potential though, and I wish you the best in your future novels!

Description: “It’s been five years—why does her memory still haunt me so? Have I not paid my penance? Why won’t the demons of my past leave me in peace?”

These are indeed troubling times for entrepreneur Tony Richardson. After years of living an insipid and orderly life on Long Island, the events that led to the tragic death of his fiancée return with resounding fury . . . starting, oddly enough, when he consents to dine in the company of the beguiling, intrusive Christina Jaloqua.

When Christina declares her love and desire to marry him, Tony is overwhelmed by fear that his world will be torn apart again. Unwilling to admit that his petulant attitude is because of his growing affection for her, Tony devises a plan to liberate himself from Christina’s intrusiveness and return his small, methodical world to order.

Tony soon finds out that logic serves no purpose in affairs of the heart; Christina’s elaborate ruse engulfs him into an unplanned marriage and, worst, an unwanted pregnancy.

Now, locked in a labyrinth of fear, Tony struggles to escape the winding corridors filled with ghastly images from the past. As he reaches a dead end, will Tony vanquish them once and for all—or will they again steal his chance at happiness?

Rating: **

Recommend: No, and not just because the storyline wasn't gripping, but also because the love scenes were way too explicit.

Friday, September 25, 2009

I have a co-dependent relationship with my library.

So yeah, basically I justify my weakness with checking books out at the library, because they are free. Why do I feel guilty then? I'm not quite sure. I walked out of the office yesterday with my loot and was trying to sneak to the elevators just in time to get caught by a co-worker. Yes, I'm a nerd and I love books. Mkay?

Now that that's all out in the open - here's the loot I brought home!
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Had this one on hold & can't wait to start it this weekend!)
True Colors by Kristin Hannah (I'm a fan of Kristin Hannah and this one is about 3 sisters, so of course, I'm intrigued already!)
Delicate Edible Birds and Other Stories by Lauren Groff (This is one I wouldn't normally pick up, but it's not very big and I'm kinda curious.)
Hold Love Strong by Matthew Aaron Goodman (I'm a little nervous about this one. It was a complete impulse-shelf-pick-up and I haven't heard anything about it, though the ratings on Goodreads look fairly high. Thoughts anyone?)
And then earlier this week, I picked up my hold of Nicholas Spark's latest The Last Song. (Yippee! Every fall he publishes a new book and its something I look forward to every year!)

I'm super excited and can't wait to get started on Hunger Games! It's this months book club selection (chosen by Mwah) and I keep hearing nothing but amazing things about it. And then I'm also dying to crack open Nicholas Spark's latest, because he is truly my favorite author and I will read anything he puts out. Looks like I know what I'll be doing this weekend!!

Has anyone read any of these titles and have any thoughts to share on them?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Fall Into Reading Challenge 2009

I've decided to join my first Reading Challenge by participating in the Fall Into Reading Challenge 2009 hosted by Callapidder Days.

It's a laid back challenge that allows me to make out a list however long I like with the books that I would like to read between now and December 20th!

So here's my list:

1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

2. The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks

3. I Apologize by Bradley Booth

4. The Possibility of Everything by Hope Edelman

5. The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls

6. The Year of Fog by Michelle Richmond

7. The Shack by William P. Young

8. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

9. Best Friends Forever by Jennifer Weiner

10. Mrs. Kimble by Jennifer Haigh

11. The Widow's War by Sally Gunning

12. Matrimony by Joshua Henkin

13. The Girls by Lori Lansens'

14. Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult

15. True Colors by Kristin Hannah

16. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

17. The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent

With a 3 day camping trip coming up next month, plus the Dewey Read-a-Thon and a Fall Reading Weekend with the girls in November, I'm hoping I have plenty of opportunities for getting some quality reading in!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

Oh you guys, it was just so painful. I NEVER leave a book unfinished, but I'm telling you, I was THIS close. The Devil in the White City was chosen for last month's book club and I just couldn't figure out what was so great about it. I really think it just depends on whether you happen to be a big history buff or not. I was talking with a friend of mine and likened reading this book to reading parts of the Old Testament. You would read pages and pages of mind-numbing information along with insane amounts of details in making buildings, which I likened to all the "begats" of the Old Testament. And then every once in a while you would come across something cool and interesting. But overall. P-A-I-N-F-U-L. It wasn't my thing, but hey, that's what book clubs are for right?

This month it was my turn to choose and I decided on Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. When I made the announcement, all I got was blank stares. And a lot of the women weren't even there to hear the announcement. My hope is that everyone will give it a shot and in turn end up loving it. I've just heard too many awesome things about it through the blogging community and can't wait to get my hands on a copy. Come on library - hurry up!

Description: Author Erik Larson imbues the incredible events surrounding the 1893 Chicago World's Fair with such drama that readers may find themselves checking the book's categorization to be sure that The Devil in the White City is not, in fact, a highly imaginative novel. Larson tells the stories of two men: Daniel H. Burnham, the architect responsible for the fair's construction, and H.H. Holmes, a serial killer masquerading as a charming doctor. Burnham's challenge was immense. In a short period of time, he was forced to overcome the death of his partner and numerous other obstacles to construct the famous "White City" around which the fair was built. His efforts to complete the project, and the fair's incredible success, are skillfully related along with entertaining appearances by such notables as Buffalo Bill Cody, Susan B. Anthony, and Thomas Edison. The activities of the sinister Dr. Holmes, who is believed to be responsible for scores of murders around the time of the fair, are equally remarkable. He devised and erected the World's Fair Hotel, complete with crematorium and gas chamber, near the fairgrounds and used the event as well as his own charismatic personality to lure victims.

Rating: **

Recommend: Seriously, I'd prefer dental work over reading this again.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Why the heck not?

It's that time of year we like to call BBAW, (or Book Blogger Appreciation Week) and I came across this fun little ABC meme-diddy and felt like giving it a shot. Why the heck not right?

Sooo here's a few personal tidbits about myself so you could get to know me a little better!

Available or single? Married for 3 1/2 blessed years now!

Best Friend? My husband. And my sisters. And my friends Tina, Jessica, Suzanne, Julie, Alicia, Amy, Ida....I really could go on and on. I can't pick just one.

Cake or Pie? Bolth. (No spelling error, that's how I say it :-) )

Drink of choice? Coffee or G2. I drink a lot of bolth. (ha! there it is again!)

Essential item for every day use? Q-Tips. I'm obsessed with them.

Favorite color? Greys, blacks & whites.

Google? Of course.

Hometown? Kenmore, WA

Indulgences? McKay's Books, Chocolate, Shipley's Donuts, sleeping in :-)

January or February? January. It's our wedding anniversary and the anniversary of the day we met.

Kids and their names? Wouldn't you like to know? Too many name stealers out there, sorry.

Life is incomplete without…? My man.

Marriage date? January 14, 2006 (1-14-06! We used to say that when we were engaged all the time! "Want to make out?" "1-14-06!"

Number of siblings? 2 Fabulous Sisters, Kristin & Katrina.

Oranges or apples? Apples.

Phobias and fears? Anything creepy-crawly. Roller Coasters. Puking. Expired Foods. Losing someone I love.

Quote for the day? My friend Julie sent me this today - "Do more than belong: participate. Do more than care: help. Do more than believe: practice. Do more than be fair: be kind. Do more than forgive: forget. Do more than dream: work." - William Arthur Ward

Reason to smile? It's Friday.

Season? Fall!

Tag 3 people: Yeah no.

Unknown fact about me? Well then where would the mystery be?

Vegetable you hate? Cauliflower

Worst habit? Biting my nails.

X-rays you’ve had? My hand and my chest.

Your fave food? Desserts.

Zodiac sign? Taurus

If you decide to "play," just leave a comment with a link to your ABCs!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Just Breathe by Susan Wiggs

I loved, loved, loved this book! It was so cute and so fun, a perfect light read. I completely fell in love with Sarah Moon and thought Will Bonner was just too adorable. I even loved his teenage daughter and felt for her as she struggled through figuring out who she was and learning about her difficult past.

It wasn't too mushy and wasn't at all flaky - not your typical chick lit, but definitely more like a sweet women's fiction. I also loved how the author incorporated the comic strips throughout the story, just too fun and so hilarious.

I'm looking forward to checking out some of her other stories - though if I could suggest anything to the author it would be to re-release her prior books with more catching covers. The cover of Just Breathe is really what drew me in and I can't deny it, I'm a total cover snob. :-P

Description: Chicago cartoonist Sarah Moon tackles life's real issues with a healthy dose of sharp wit in her syndicated comic strip Just Breathe. As Sarah's cartoon alter ego, Shirl, undergoes artificial insemination, her situation begins to mirror Sarah's own difficult attempts to conceive. However, Sarah's dreams of the future did not include her husband's infidelity: snag number two in Sarah's so-called perfect life.

With Chicago—and her marriage—in the rear view mirror, she flees to the small Northern California coastal town where she grew up, a place she couldn't wait to leave. Now she finds herself revisiting the past—an emotionally distant father and the unanswered questions left by her mother's death. As she comes to terms with her lost marriage, Sarah encounters a man she never expected to meet again: Will Bonner, the high school heartthrob she'd skewered mercilessly in her old comics. Now a local firefighter, he's been through some changes himself. But just as her heart is about to reawaken, Sarah discovers she is pregnant. With her ex's twins.

It's hardly the most traditional of new beginnings, but who says life and love are predictable… or perfect? The winds of change have led Sarah here. Now all she can do is just close her eyes… and breathe.

Rating: ****

Recommend: Definitely!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday Fill-Ins

1. I remember, I remember rarely anything.

2. Dear Family I want you to know that I miss you terribly.

3. Is that my weight !!??

4. I'm trying to resist the temptation of getting anxious and impatient.

5. I'm saving a smooch just for you!

6. If I made a birthday list a Nikon digital SLR would definitely be on it!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to catching up with my best friend Tina, tomorrow my plans include baking my Daring Bakers Challenge with Jill and Sunday, I want to clean my house, nap and read!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I love me some ARC's!

Eeek! I received an ARC of The Possibility of Everything by Hope Edelman in the mail this week through Shelf Awareness and I'm super excited to read it! I feel beyond blessed that publishers send me books to review, it really has become a dream come true! Thank you!!

Here's the description from Goodreads.com:

From the bestselling author of Motherless Daughters, here is the real-life story of one woman’s search for a cure to her family’s escalating troubles, and the leap of faith that took her on a journey to an exotic place and a new state of mind.

In the autumn of 2000, Hope Edelman was a woman adrift, questioning her marriage, her profession, and her place in the larger world. Feeling vulnerable and isolated, she was primed for change. Into her stagnant routine dropped Dodo, her three-year-old daughter Maya’s curiously disruptive imaginary friend. Confused and worried about how to handle Dodo’s apparent hold on their daughter, Edelman and her husband made the unlikely choice to take her to Maya healers in Belize, hoping that a shaman might help them banish Dodo–and, as they came to understand, all he represented–from their lives.

An account of how an otherwise mainstream mother and wife finds herself making an extremely unorthodox choice, The Possibility of Everything chronicles the magical week in Central America that transformed Edelman from a person whose past had led her to believe only in the visible and the “proven” to someone open to the idea of larger, unseen forces. This deeply affecting, beautifully written memoir of a family’s emotional journey explores what Edelman and her husband went looking for in the jungle and what they ultimately discovered–as parents, as spouses, and as ordinary people–about the things that possess and destroy, or that can heal us all.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Book Club: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

So I've mentioned briefly before that I had joined a ladies book-club. Well back in July I wasn't able to attend the meeting due to scheduling conflicts so I wasn't there when they announced that our next assignment was to read The Help by Kathryn Stockett! I was so ecstatic when I found out because finally it was a book I hadn't read yet! And not only that, but it was one on my TBR pile. Double bonus!

I ADORED this book! Yeah! Finally a book I could rave about! After the last couple reviews I was starting to feel like a Negative Nancy and was really hoping I would have something positive to say :-) And Lawd (that's how they say it in The Help) have mercy! I'm sure glad I read it!

The story revolves around three women set back in the 60's in Jackson, Mississippi. It was a time of uproar and turbulence as the lines drawn between races were challenged and crossed. The author gracefully switches between the three character's points of view in such a way I was never confused or lost. I absolutely fell in love with the characters and was completely emotionally tied up in the well-being of Skeeter, Aibileen and Minnie. Though I have to admit, Minnie was my absolute favorite! There is a scene in there that will have you rolling on the floor. I felt as if Minnie were in the room herself telling me about the "something terrible" she did! I really don't want to give anymore away than what the synopsis already portrays - but you will absolutely fall in love with these characters and be astounded that this is a first-time novelist. Put this one at the top of your TBR list! Kathryn Stockett is sure to become a favorite of mine and I'm looking forward to see what she comes up with next!

Here's my bookclub meeting at the Arrington Vineyards in Arrington, Tennessee for dinner and discussion on The Help!
Can you honestly imagine a more beautiful location to have a book and some wine?
Description: Be prepared to meet three unforgettable women:

Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody’s business, but she can’t mind her tongue, so she’s lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.

In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women—mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends—view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don’t.

Rating: *****!

Recommend: Completely!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Secrets to Happiness by Sarah Dunn

Altogether Secrets to Happiness was a bit too much of a soap opera for me. I felt the friendships between Holly, Amanda and Betsy were all really shallow with hardly any moral-redeeming qualities. At times I was impressed with Holly's stand against infidelity, but then she had her little 22 year old boy-toy on the side of which she broke his heart. And then there's Amanda who seems to have a great marriage and a small child and she's off having an affair with some other guy that Holly ends up falling for herself. Betsy thinks she's too old to find a man, so she's contemplating the door man. Oh and then there's Holly's ex who's off cheating on his girlfriend with some crazy floozy. I mean really - is being happy all about who you're having sex with? How shallow can we be? I thought it was sad that each character was desperately grasping at something else that might possibly fill that void and make them happy.

The only redeeming element for me was the little sick dog that Holly adopts who has a brain tumor. Finally a part of the storyline that has to do with giving and selflessness. That part of the story actually reached me a bit and I was glad it was included. Oh that and the cover, I love the cover!

I really do hate writing a negative review, but I feel I need to be honest of my impression of Secrets to Happiness. But to be fair, please check out these other reviews:

Everyday I Write the Book
Booking Mama
A High and Hidden Place
S. Krishna's Books

Description: Holly Frick just went through the worst kind of divorce: the kind where you're still in love with the person divorcing you. Alex had left her on January 3rd like a benevolent CEO who holds off the pink slips until after the holidays. Holly is left to wonder if she'll ever find happiness again. Like Jane Austen's Emma Woodhouse, Holly is intimately involved in the lives of those around her, and she's compelled to give advice with unwavering moral certainty. And, like Emma, she is often completely off the mark. Soon, her advice will get her in over her head, and she'll find herself playing therapist to her ex-boyfriend's new girlfriend while at the same time falling for her married friend's lover. Smart and touching, Secrets To Happiness is a hilarious look at the funny things people do to be happy.

Rating: **

Recommend: Sorry, not this time.

Precious by Sandra Novack

The storyline of Precious just altogether irked me. The majority of the book centered around the Kirsh family and hardly any attention towards Vicki Anderson who went missing at the beginning of the story. Then way too much detail was given on the relationship between Eva and her pathetic married high school teacher. He was such an idiot I wanted to flick him in the forehead! Then there's Eva's mom, Natalia who left her two daughters to discover herself with another man overseas and then returns back home which just about made me want to throw the book across the room. She behaved as if leaving her family shouldn't affect them at all and she could pick up right where she left off. I know life is messy and I wasn't asking for rainbows and butterflies, because I can tell you I've experienced my own fair share of mess - but still!

I mean sure, the characters were all complicated and flawed, but there was no redemption to them and they were so independent of each other. The story didn't drag on at all and was actually written really well in a way to pull you in therefore it was easy to get into, but at the end I was just blah about the whole thing and eager to fill my head with something else.

I'm so sorry, I'm not trying to rag on the author at all - it was just the storyline and premise that I was disappointed with. Not my cup of tea, but there are others out there who fully enjoyed it. So please check out their reviews for a more well-rounded opinion!

Book Addiction
Booking Mama
The Literate Housewife
Fizzy Thoughts

Description: The summer of 1978, ten-year-old Vicki Anderson rides her bike to the local park and goes missing. Her tight-knit blue-collar Pennsylvania neighborhood, where children roam the streets at night playing lightning tag, above-ground pools sparkle in backyards, and flowers scent the air, will never be the same.

Down the street from Vicki’s house, another family is in crisis. Troubled by her past, headstrong Natalia Kisch has abandoned her husband and two daughters for another man. Frank Kisch, grappling with his anger, is left to raise their girls alone, oblivious to his daughters’ struggles with both disappearances: Eva, seventeen, plunges into an affair with her married high school teacher, and nine-year-old Sissy escapes to a world of imagination and storytelling that becomes so magical it pierces the reality of the everyday.

When Natalia unexpectedly returns, the struggles and tensions that have built over the summer erupt into a series of events that change the Kisches irrevocably—forcing them to piece together their complicated pasts and commitments to each other.

In this haunting, atmospheric debut, Sandra Novack examines loss, loyalty, and a family in crisis. Lyrical and elegiac, Precious illuminates our attempts to make sense of the volatility that surrounds and consumes us, and explores our ability, even during the most trying times, to remember and hold on to those we love most.

Rating: **

Recommend: I'm sorry, but I really can't recommend this one. But the other reviewers definately would, so don't forget to check out what they had to say!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Still breathing, still reading

I have GOT to get better about posting. It's been a crazy last few weeks with family in town visiting and I just haven't had much time to read or get online. And I also am finding it increasingly difficult to stay motivated to read with it being absolutely gorgeous outside! We've started taking the puppies to the dog park and heading to the drive-in, taking long walks or drives, hanging out with friends and then a friend of mine recently had her baby.

Right now I'm in the middle of Precious by Sandra Novack and its been a struggle to get through. As intense as the storyline is, its really not grabbing me and the affair between the 17 year old girl Eva and her married, high school teacher is a huge deterrent. Ick. I really wish there was more focus on the missing 10 year old girl, Vicki Anderson rather than Eva's little rendezvous'.
But on to much more exciting news! I came home yesterday to a brown paper package (who doesn't love those?!) and discovered that Simon & Schuster had sent me a beautiful new copy of Best Friends Forever by Jennifer Weiner!!! Whohooo!!!!!! Thank you Simon & Schuster, you rock my world!! I leave for CA in a week and a half and I can't wait to bring some reading material along with me and relax for 10 days straight! It's going to be heaven. And one of the books I really need to get started on next is The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Its this month's book club pick and the first that I haven't actually read already. I LOVE my new book club and all the ladies that I'm getting to know better! We meet once a month and everyone brings tons of yummy treats and goodies. This next month we'll be meeting over at the Arrington Vineyards, which I've never been to before so I'm super pumped!

So that's about it for me, I hope you all are having a fabulous summer yourselves!

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Actor and the Housewife by Shannon Hale

Alright, so how many of you have one of those "lists" of celebrity's that are like your top 5? BE HONEST! I sure do and I know Jason has some lady celebrities that make him weak in the knees as well. He's a sucker for Ashley Judd and Lisa Hartman. My faves have always been Johnny Depp, Christian Bale and Matthew McConaughey.

The Actor and the Housewife is a story that makes you think, what would you do if you had the chance to become best buds with one of those on your top lists? As a matter of fact, it really just brings up good questions in general of where a married woman or man should draw the lines in relationship to someone of the opposite sex, even as friends. I'm a big fan of boundaries. I think they are there for you and your spouse as a blessing and for the protection of your marriage. The author, Shannon Hale addresses the issue of "the appearance of evil" and I'm a believer that even the appearance of something suspicious is best to be avoided. I really don't agree that there should be two men in which you share your heart and your deepest thoughts with. Your best friend should be your husband and should be the first and only man you turn to when sharing your heart, your thoughts and your dreams. I wouldn't be surprised if some of you disagree with me on that one. But marriages today are not nearly respected and protected as much as they used to be and therefore its not surprising to see covenants and hearts broken over and over again.

As for the book itself, the dialogue was extremely witty and engaging and I looked forward to picking it back up and seeing what would happen next. Though it was similar to watching a scary movie, because you want to watch but yet your peeking through your fingers. I was so hoping that Becky would make good choices and establish boundaries, but unfortunately I didn't agree where she drew them. I was glad that at times Shannon conveyed how a situation such as this could cause pain and division in the marriage. But even still, they were playing with fire and it was a fantasy in my opinion to think that this could be a realistic relationship for any of them. I mean seriously, how many husbands are ok with their wife getting a phone call at 2am from their best guy friend? Maybe if he was gay? But even still?!

The ending came as a complete surprise, and concluded that God was instrumental in how it all played out, that He was the orchestrator of these relationships. Seriously. Seriously? For me, that was stretching it a bit far.

I wouldn't say this book is for everyone And even though I disagreed with some main principles and choices throughout the story, I think it would make for a very good book club discussion. I wouldn't be surprised at all if this became a motion picture, because it's an interesting storyline and I could totally picture Ginnifer Goodwin as Becky and Ryan Reynolds as Felix.

Thank you to Bloomsbury USA for sending me an ARC to review!

Description: From New York Times-bestselling author and Newbery Honor winner Shannon Hale comes an utterly satisfying new novel that asks the question: Can a seemingly normal, happily married Mormon mother-of-four be best friends with Hollywood's hottest (happily married) heartthrob.

Becky is seven months pregnant with her fourth child when she meets her dream actor Felix Callahan by chance. Twelve hours, one elevator ride, and one alcohol-free dinner later something has happened, though nothing has happened… it isn't sexual. It isn't even quite love. But soon Felix shows up in the Utah 'burbs to visit and before they know what's hit them, Felix and Becky are best friends. Really. Becky's husband is pretty cool about it. Her children roll their eyes. Her best (girl)friend can't get her head around it. But Felix (think Colin Firth) and Becky have something special… something unusual, something completely impossible to sustain. Or is it?

Shannon Hale's latest novel is at turns hilarious and heartbreaking, completely real, and utterly surreal too. One of those magical stories that explores all the permutations of what happens when your not-so-secret celebrity crush walks right into real life, and changes everything…

Rating: ****

Recommend: yes, I think it would make for a great book club discussion.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

You know you've come across a great book when you're still thinking about it as you lay down to go to bed for the night. I was stunned by how real Alice was to me. It gave me an insight into this disease that I might not have otherwise had.

There was a scene in Still Alice, where Alice, a Harvard professor heads to one of her classes thinking she's going as a student, and doesn't even realize that this is a class she's supposed to be teaching. After 20 minutes go by, she gets up and checks her watch, glances over at another student and remarks, "Well I don't know about you, but I have better things to do with my time." I was awestruck after that. Wow. Alice mentions that she struggles with wishing she was diagnosed with cancer instead because at least she could have the option to fight. But with Alzheimer's, she was very aware that her memory was fading and she had to live through the humiliation of what episodes she would endure in front of her family, her colleagues and friends. I was brought to tears at times because it was so sad and others because it was so touching. It took me a while to process the entire story once I was finished. And I knew the author ended it the way she did, because she wanted the reader to really think through the entire situation. Powerful. And totally amazing that this is Lisa Genova's first novel.

I look forward to more from Lisa Genova and applaud her thoroughness and detail in describing for her readers in a very accurate, clinical and emotional way what Alzheimer's can do to an individual and a family.

Description: Still Alice is a compelling debut novel about a 50-year-old woman's sudden descent into early onset Alzheimer's disease, written by first-time author Lisa Genova, who holds a Ph. D in neuroscience from Harvard University.
Alice Howland, happily married with three grown children and a house on the Cape, is a celebrated Harvard professor at the height of her career when she notices a forgetfulness creeping into her life. As confusion starts to cloud her thinking and her memory begins to fail her, she receives a devastating diagnosis: early onset Alzheimer's disease. Fiercely independent, Alice struggles to maintain her lifestyle and live in the moment, even as her sense of self is being stripped away. In turns heartbreaking, inspiring and terrifying, Still Alice captures in remarkable detail what's it's like to literally lose your mind...

Reminiscent of A Beautiful Mind, Ordinary People and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Still Alice packs a powerful emotional punch and marks the arrival of a strong new voice in fiction.

Recommend: In a heartbeat.

Rating: ****

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister

Reading about food never sounded, tasted or smelled so good. I could swear the flavors were melting on my tongue and the aroma's were filling my senses all through the author's writing. Heavenly would be a perfectly suited word to describe the ambiance this book creates. It was incredible. I loved the food descriptions, the atmosphere, the characters, the relationships, it was all so balanced together like an incredible recipe itself. But here was my only regret - it was too short. There was so much more I wanted to know about these characters. I wanted to see more of their lives after the cooking school, what they did with their new found knowledge and passion. It just felt so unresolved at the end. I was left salivating for more!

I highly recommend this read; its light, delectable and will leave you wanting more! Thank you Erica for writing such a beautiful story! Oh and please, please, please write a sequel!

Description: The School of Essential Ingredients follows the lives of eight students who gather in Lillian’s Restaurant every Monday night for cooking class. It soon becomes clear, however, that each one seeks a recipe for something beyond the kitchen. Students include Claire, a young mother struggling with the demands of her family; Antonia, an Italian kitchen designer learning to adapt to life in America; and Tom, a widower mourning the loss of his wife to breast cancer. Chef Lillian, a woman whose connection with food is both soulful and exacting, helps them to create dishes whose flavor and techniques expand beyond the restaurant and into the secret corners of her students’ lives. One by one the students are transformed by the aromas, flavors, and textures of Lillian’s food, including a white-on-white cake that prompts wistful reflections on the sweet fragility of love and a peppery heirloom tomato sauce that seems to spark one romance but end another. Brought together by the power of food and companionship, the lives of the characters mingle and intertwine, united by the revealing nature of what can be created in the kitchen.

Recommend: Absolutely!

Rating: ****

Friday, June 5, 2009

I got two new ARC's in the mail this week and I'M FREAKING OUT!!! Excited freak out, not bad freak out.

I can't wait to get started on them, cause they both look fabulous :-)

First, Bloomsbury sent me "The Actor and the Housewife" by Shannon Hale. For more info you can visit the author's website here.
Then the second book I recieved yesterday was through GoodReads.com, "I Apologize" by Bradley Booth. And the cherry on top? The author autographed the inside with a sweet note :-) I have a strong feeling this one is going to rock my world. For more info, you can click here.

I can tell already, this is going to be an AWESOME summer! Ok gotta run, I have some serious reading to do!!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe

I received an advanced copy of this book through Shelf Awareness and am so glad I did!! I didn't actually know a whole lot about the Salem Witch Trials and I was intrigued to learn more about them, especially written in the form of a story taking place between that era of history and modern day.

I thoroughly enjoyed the story - there was a perfect combination of mystery, suspense, history, intrigue, magic and even a little romance. I was a bit nervous to be honest, because I'm not a huge fan of the idea of witches or witchcraft whatsoever. But then at the same time I very much enjoy movies like Indiana Jones and there is socery weaved into the plot of those, so I was very much interested to see where this would go. And it did not disappoint. I found myself stealing away whenever I could so that I could finish it and find out what happens in the end between Connie and her professor. I will be honest there were times in the book that the spells written out made me uncomfortable and I would scan over them, because I believe there is power in words and the spiritual realm does exist and I didn't want to give anything demonic access into my life. That may sound wild to some of you, but that's honestly where I'm coming from when reading this book and would be my only caution to anyone else who wants to read it.

This author did her homework, and I can really appreciate that so much! She just didn't spew out a bunch of fiction, but she really tied in a lot of history and research, and it makes a big difference in the storyline. I also want to point out that author herself is a direct descendent of Elizabeth Proctor, who survived the Salem witch trials and Elizabeth Howe, who did not. It appears to be Katherine Howe's first novel and I think she nailed it.

I'm really grateful I had the opportunity to read it and if you might be interested in learning more about The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane or Katherine Howe, just click here.

Description: A spellbinding, beautifully written novel that moves between contemporary times and one of the most fascinating and disturbing periods in American history-the Salem witch trials.

Harvard graduate student Connie Goodwin needs to spend her summer doing research for her doctoral dissertation. But when her mother asks her to handle the sale of Connie's grandmother's abandoned home near Salem, she can't refuse. As she is drawn deeper into the mysteries of the family house, Connie discovers an ancient key within a seventeenth-century Bible. The key contains a yellowing fragment of parchment with a name written upon it: Deliverance Dane. This discovery launches Connie on a quest--to find out who this woman was and to unearth a rare artifact of singular power: a physick book, its pages a secret repository for lost knowledge.

As the pieces of Deliverance's harrowing story begin to fall into place, Connie is haunted by visions of the long-ago witch trials, and she begins to fear that she is more tied to Salem's dark past then she could have ever imagined.

Written with astonishing conviction and grace, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane travels seamlessly between the witch trials of the 1690s and a modern woman's story of mystery, intrigue, and revelation.

Rating: ****

Recommend: Yes, I think it was a great story!

Monday, May 4, 2009

My Sisters Keeper Trailer

I saw this trailer the other day and got so excited I marked my calendar for June 26th when the movie comes out!!! If you haven't read the book yet, you should read it before the movie hits the theatres - its one of my favorites! AND not to mention, my sister Kati will be in town, so I can go see it with her!!!!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Summer Affair by Elin Hilderbrand

I absolutely have a thing for beach books and then you add the fact that I'm completely fascinated with glass-blowing, I knew that this book would have all the ingredients for a great novel. But I think I should have kept my expectations down just a tad, because I really wasn't prepared to read 400 some pages of Sheila cheating on her husband. I know - duh, Kim, "A Summer AFFAIR". For some reason I had it in my head that it was referring to a grand party. After all, the story revolves around the elaborate planning of the Nantucket's Children Summer Gala. Yeah, that was my bad. Still, I have little to zero tolerance for people who have affairs and because the story centers around Sheila, I really had no desire to see things work out for her and felt no sorrow when she struggled. I just felt like - "girl, you made your bed, so deal with it". Oh and then the ending....grrrr.....I WISH I could go off on that one, but there may be some of you who are really interested in this one and I don't want to ruin it for you.

Even still, though I wasn't jumping up and down over the story line and there were times that I could slapped Sheila Cook more than once, and I wasn't satisfied with how it all turned out... I found myself captivated by Elin Hilderbrand's writing style. The story itself didn't completely turn me off to Elin as an author and I've heard wonderful things about Barefoot, which is still on my TBR list. I'm definately giving her another shot, but just keeping my expectations a little bit more in check.

Sheila Crispin Cook, mother of four young children and nationally renowned glassblower, bites off more than she can chew when she agrees to co-chair the Nantucket's Children Summer Gala. Sheila is asked to chair the benefit, in part, because she is the former high school sweetheart of rock star Max West. Max agrees to play the gala and it looks like smooth sailing for Sheila-until she promises a "museum-quality" piece of glass for the auction, offers her best friend the catering job, goes nose-to-nose with her Manhattan socialite co-chair, and begins a "good-hearted" affair with the charity's Executive Director, Lockhart Dixon.Hearts break and emotions are pushed to the limit in this riveting story of one woman's attempt to deal with loves past and present, family, business, and high-powered social pressures. Elin Hilderbrand's unique understanding of the joys and longings that animate women's lives will make this her newest summer bestseller.

Rating: **

Recommend: Meh.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Cause That's How We Roll

The 24-hr-read-a-thon was somewhat of a success. I say somewhat because a bunch of girls got together over at our friend Julie's home with books in tow and ready to enjoy a full long day of catching up on some much needed reading and relaxation...
Aww...can't you feel the heat of the sunshine just by looking at this picture? That would be myself, Amy and Julie out on the lawn reading and Tabby up on the porch. It was so lovely and so serene. And I even have the sunburned back to prove the hours of enjoyment!
Books, bare feet and blankets.
This is not a posed picture, we truly were sitting in our chairs, enjoying each other's presence and reading our books with either a glass of wine or in my case a bottle of G2 :-) Divine isn't it?
But then.....
We started to get a little distracted...
Maybe the heat was getting to us....
Or maybe we were taking an afternoon break to celebrate Melanie's birthday ghetto style. (click on picture for larger view)
Ain't nothing but a G-thing, right Rachel?
Here's Master-C blowing out her candle and receiving her dirt cake. (which is basically a cake made to look like a potted flower)
Cause that's how we roll yo.
It was such an awesome weekend. I almost finished one book, but I had puppy-duty from 5pm on and they took up a lot of time to watch. We are definitely going to do this again! And next time, collectively we'll track how many pages read.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

24 Hour Read-A-Thon (or Don't Be a Hater Cause I'm a Booknerd!)

I'm finally going to do it!

This Saturday, April 18th is the 24 Hour Read-A-Thon!! I'm super excited, a little nervous and a tad bit overwhelmed. And because I didn't want to feel like a complete geek and isolated all alone, I've asked some of my girl friends to join me for a relaxing day of nothin but readin in the sun! (I might have just left out the words "Read-A-Thon" when explaining it to them) But even still, there's some interest and we're all pretty pumped up to give it our best shot, even if we don't make it the full 24 hours!

Books will be read, sweet tea will be served, lounge chairs will be brought, snacks will be prepared and hopefully tans will be gained! Yea!!!

I'm going to do my best to get access to a computer while at Julie's house, cause sadly I do not own a laptop, and post pictures and updates of our girly reading weekend!

I don't have over ambitious expectations to be knocking out a stack of books, but I'm selecting a choice few I've had in mind!

And dude, if you're all about showing some love and supporting this endeavor, please make a donation over at Saint Jude Children's Hospital!

More to come!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Riven by Jerry B. Jenkins

This book took me FOR-EV-ER to read. I thought that because I loved the Left Behind series, I couldn't go wrong with another book by Jerry B. Jenkins, but dude, seriously 544 pages?? I honestly could have done without the first 350-400 pages and still have gotten the same message without ALL THE DETAIL. Brady Wayne Darby's life was described in detail from the time he was 14 through 33 years of age! For reals! Less is more my friend, less is more.

The other thing that was very difficult for me was the character descriptions. I just felt like they were inaccurate to what someone of that age would be like or how they would think. At one point he described a young girl in a scene and I could have sworn she was like 5, but then I find out she's like 12 - what??! It was hard to follow and even after 500 some pages and all the drama, I didn't feel much for the characters. And seriously, I should have been bawling by the time this sucker was over. It really did have a great message, but the delivery really lacked for me. Sorry folks, I was just overall disappointed with this one.

Description: When a condemned man with nothing to lose meets one with nothing to gain, everyone washed by the endless ripples of that encounter will forever recall the day a little bit of heaven invaded a whole lot of hell. Brady Wayne Darby and Thomas Carey could hardly have been more disparate individuals. Yet when Darby, a no-account loser raised in a dingy suburban trailer park, encounters Carey, a weary man of God, an entire--state indeed, a nation--is affected. Embark on a wondrous journey where death, guilt, and despair are unfathomably trumped by rebirth, forgiveness, and hope.

Author Jerry Jenkins says: “This is the novel I have always wanted to write. I determine whether a fiction idea has merit by how long it stays with me. Does it rattle in my brain, and do I find myself telling it to my wife and other confidants? Is it the type of a tale that will draw me back to the keyboard every day? Two-thirds of my published books have been novels, and only three have had that effect on me. I give my all to every one, but special joy and anticipation attend those that genuinely feel like the best ideas. Riven is my fourth such labor of love. The two main characters have remained in my memory since high school 40 years ago. The story idea is perhaps 20 years old. And those mystical, interweaving elements I hope make it all work have been tugging at me for more than a decade. If a novelist has a life’s work, this is mine. I hope in the end you agree and that Riven stays with you long after the final page.”

Rating: **

Recommend: Not really.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Trans-Sister Radio by Chris Bohjalian

I'm getting back on the horse and making time to read once again. I had to take a little break there for a while, and now that I spend so much time outside with my adorable puppies, I'm finally getting back into reading.

I picked up Trans-Sister Radio at McKays Used Books and thought it sounded intriguing since I had recently seen an episode of 20/20 titled, " 'I'm a Girl' - Understanding Transgender Children". I was so moved by this show, I thought it was just heartbreaking to see these kids born physically inside one body and hormonally born with the other. I also recently saw an episode of Private Practice, where they discussed the birth of a hermaphrodite baby and the burden placed on the parents to choose this child's fate as to which sex it should be. These issues are rarely discussed in our society and I think people are afraid to recognize how real they are. What if something like this happened to your child, or your best friend's child? How would you respond? How would you love them and encourage them through it?

The book was definitely interesting, though there were issues touched on that even made me a bit uncomfortable. It's not a memoir or a biography, it is a work of fiction. I definitely wouldn't say run out and read this, if your not prepared to keep an open mind on what these lifestyles and issues can include. But nonetheless, I'm glad I read it, for I believe it gave me some insight into the struggles and thoughts of people who live their lives with these circumstances.

Description: This sympathetic novel about the effect of a sex change on a romantic relationship, a family, and a community could almost be sold as a textbook--a kind of transgender Guide to the Perplexed. With its calming tone and scrupulous sensitivity to the feelings of all involved, it sometimes reads like a textbook, too. But while nobody is likely to launch a protest campaign over the cautious revelations of Trans-sister Radio, that's precisely the subject of Chris Bohjalian's seventh novel, in which a male college professor in a small Vermont town transforms himself into a woman. Even Dana Stevens's initial step in this direction--donning women's clothing--elicits a powerful reaction from the community.

And what about Dana's new girlfriend Allie Banks, a beloved local schoolteacher who fell in love with him before learning of his plan? Her initial instinct is to end the relationship. Then she decides to stand by Dana, inspired rather than daunted by her stuffy ex-husband Will's opposition to the "effeminate" guy she's dating, and by the horrified reactions of the parents at her school. She does, it's true, continue to love Dana after the sex reassignment surgery. And she stoically endures the threatening notes in her school mailbox and the crude graffiti on her front door, as well as the minor vindication of a local public radio story on their battle. Yet Allie never makes the emotional shift from heterosexual woman to lesbian. Breaking off the affair, she spends months mourning the man she had fallen in love with.

Assuming, as we are meant to, that Dana is outwardly becoming the person she always was inside--that biology is anything but destiny--there's only one character who undergoes a profound change over the course of the novel.
Structuring his story around the transcript of a fictional National Public Radio feature on transgender, Bohjalian shifts the point of view with every chapter: the characters often seem to be enlarging on comments they had made for broadcast. We hear from Dana, Allie, and Will in turn, as well as Carly, the daughter of the divorced couple. In this sense, Trans-sister Radio gives everyone equal time. And for good or ill, it has none of the bluster or transgressive charge of Gore Vidal's late-1960s bombshell, Myra Breckinridge. Instead it brings transgender home, rendering it (to quote Dana herself) "domestic as a balloon shade or a perennial garden. And just as harmless." --Regina Marler

Rating: ***

Recommend: I think it takes a certain audience to process this kind of material.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Happy Friday!!!!!

1. Give me the space heater back and I'll not hurt anyone.

2. Whenever I'm bored, I bite my nails.

3. I wish the work day was already over.

4. Sugar Cookies was the last thing I ate that was utterly delicious.

5. To live in this world is a blessing.

6. Other than this one, Katie Hallstrom is the last blog I commented on.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to catching up on some tv and reading, tomorrow my plans include sleeping in and snuggling with my man, making homemade soup then chilling with my friends and Sunday, I want to spend the entire day with my man!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

OK so I've been unmotivated in finishing the book I've been reading lately. It just isn't doing it for me. But what IS doing it for me, is all the fun I'm having with this little guy ;-)My dear friends, the Frees family, bought me a TIVO for my birthday last year and after saving up for the wireless router & transmitter and getting it all set up a while back, I have been overjoyed with being able to record all my favorite shows!!!!

Here's a taste of what you would find in my TIVO playlist:
What would I find in your TIVO playlist?