Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Kids Are All Right

WOW! Just finished The Kids Are All Right By Diana, Liz, Amanda and Dan Welch. I did not expect to like this book as much as I did. I could not put it down. Four kids growing up  in an upper middle class family in NY. Horses, tennis, country clubs, big house, big family, big love. The stuff dreams are made of. Maybe too good to be true because it all falls apart. Sadly, so sadly their handsome loving father dies and not soon after their beautiful mother begins a long battle with deadly cancer. This is their story. It is superbly written in an easy to read fashion where each sibling speaks. At first the reader is trying to remember whos who (and I even looked at the photos for a visual) and very quickly I felt like I knew them. The memory is an interesting part of human life. We all see and remember things so differently. In addition siblings and parents of, constantly repeat how surprising it is that we can we all be raised in the same house and be so different. This book reminds us deep inside how alike we really are. Sisters and brothers are gifts. Your history is theirs and that never changes. Throughout your life, they are the people that know you best. If you nourish that relationship as you grow then you are able to appreciate that. Some people never have that opportunity. They all suffer through these tragedies but the beauty shines through their love for each other, no matter what. Life certainly does not seem fair and our paths continue to change but your memories, your childhood can be the anchor to all the chaos. (If you have ever been to a highschool reunion it is amazing what memories people have of you and your family. ) Going down memory lane must have been a tough trip for these four but man, they did it. Bravo to them.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Brightest Star in the Sky

The Brightest Star in the Sky, By Marian Keyes. I am thrilled to announce I just finished my first Early Review Book from Library Thing, my first Marian Keyes book and LOVED it. It was light, happy, funny and a perfect way to get through the busy holidays. The writing was entertaining and the characters were enchanting. This book  reminds me of Cecilia Ahern books (which I adore, ie PS I Love You), also set in Ireland and a bit magical. Think fairy god mothers, magic spells, love potions! If it wasn't written so well, I would not have thought I could get through it but with The Brightest Star in the Sky I looked forward to continuing with these characters that quickly became friends, everyday. These Dubliners share a building on Star Street. Their lives all interconnect in one way or another and although they could not be more different they share the  search for love, their soul mate and the ultimate ... happiness. Check out this read and take a fun trip to Ireland!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Girl with No Shadow

The Girl with No Shadow  By Joanne Harris    If you loved Chocolat (thank you Johnny Depp), you have no doubt waited to see what may have happened to Vianne Rocher and her daughter Anouk. Years later they reappear in Paris. Vianne now rents a small chocolaterie in Montmarte and they live above the shop. She has another child, Rosette who is a bit mysterious but much beloved and Anouk is now called Annie. They are accepted by the community and have finally found peace and quiet. That is until the day Zozie de l'Alba whooshes like the wind into their shop and into their lives. She befriends Anouk and Vianne and runs the shop like it has never been run before. It is almost like a magical spell has been cast on them all. And maybe it has. Adorable, lively, let your imagination take you away! Most certainly you will need a box of chocolate at your side.

A Year in the Merde

A Year in the Merde, by Stephen Clarke. Funny, light, entertaining and easy to read. If you are in the mood to take a humorous (very British) trip to Paris or reminisce about a past adventure, you will enjoy this read.  The "merde" exudes multiple meanings. The story is told through the eyes of "Pol" (Paul), a British twentysomething that moves to Paris to open tea rooms for a very questionable character named Jean-Marie. Paul inevitably steps in merde (of the doggie nature) and other kinds, at every turn, symbolic of his difficult new life in Paris.  The reader follows Paul through his romantic adventures or misadventures, and work life, where work is accomplished in little bits between strikes, vacations and coffee breaks. Paul both loves, hates and is bewildered by the French. If you like British authors, (think Peter Mayle, Nick Hornby) and would like to take a little trip abroad, get out your passport and be ready to laugh out loud! (And yes ladies, Hugh Grant could definitely play the part of Paul if this were a movie!)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Little Bee

Little Bee, By Chris Cleave. This book was different. I read a lot of English authors. The humor is different, the themes are different, the vocab is different. There is often a very subtle underlying meaning that takes some work to figure out. Sometimes I really get it and sometimes I don't. I almost always enjoy them. Little Bee is about about a girl from Nigeria that winds up in a detention center for people trying to enter England without papers. She is a unique, electrifying character. She says what most people only think but would never say out loud. She is wise beyond her years and speaks from her heart. Little Bee witnessed atrocities in her village and now is on the run to find freedom. Her only hope is and English couple she met by accident on a beach when she was fleeing her village. They have never forgotten her but they are  not sure how they can help her, or rather save her, which they feel inclined to try and do. Their relationship is love/denial of existence.  I dislike the men in the story that treat Sarah (the English woman who wants to help her) with utter disrespect. Her husband is an obnoxious, negative, whining character and her lover is no better. On the other hand I am disappointed by some of Sarahs actions because she seems to be smarter than some of the moves she makes. Her heart is in the right place but her head is in the clouds. Still, an interesting read and if you like English authors, it is worthwhile.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Museum Guard

The Museum Guard   By Howard Norman        Unique is a nice way of labeling this book just plain old strange! It is the mid 1940's in a small, very quiet town in Halifax Nova Scotia. The main character is a very odd DeFoe Russet who lives with his Uncle Edward. They both work as guards at the Glace Museum which displays small shows of art. DeFoe is in secret love with Imogen Linny who is the caretaker of the small jewish museum, none of them are jewish. There is absolutely nothing about her that is remotely normal. In fact they are all alittle crazy! Yet, as only an avid reader can understand, the writing is excellent and the author somehow manages to keep the readers confusion at bay. Imogen is in love with a painting showing at the museum. This book is different but I cannot say I would have put it down without finishing. Would I read another of his books? I have to say maybe.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Help

The Help By Kathryn Stockett. Yesterday my book club discussed this authors fabulous first novel at our holiday meeting. We unanimously loved it. The story is set in Jackson, Mississippi in 1962. Civil Rights is active and hot, Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King, segregation is a serious issue in the deep south. Skeeter Phelan, the daughter of a cotton farmer tells the story. Although her family is well off, she is a down to earth, tom boyish sort of girl. After arriving back in Jackson after college, Skeeter decides she wants to be a writer. The other main characters are Minny, a sassy maid who speaks her mind and loves her family and gets fired over and over again. Aibileen, another maid that works for a friend of Skeeters is more of a wise, lovable nanny that adores the children she looks after and swallows her pride at the unfair treatment she does not deserve. These three women tell the story of what it was like to live and work in this town, at this time. Racial tension is heated in every aspect of their lives. The whole country can feel change is coming but it is a rough and rocky road to get there. Perhaps we are still traveling that road.  As a club we cast the movie (no doubt it will be). Aibileen reminds us of Queen Latifah (as she was in Secret Life of Bees, wise and calm) Minny can be played by Wanda Sykes (funny and sassy) and Skeeter ... we were stuck on but I think of Claire Danes, pale, shy, smart and lovely. A really enjoyable book, fantastic characters and one that I didn't want to end.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Saving Agnes

Saving Agnes   By Rachel Cusk      Naive young Agnes Day is the main character of this quirky, funny tipsy turvey story. Agnes has recently finished school and lives in London with a wacky roomate, works for a small magazine with crazy coworkers and falls in love for the first time. Not a lot of meat to the story but enjoyable if you can deal with the bizarre characters and laugh at the bad choices Agnes makes, over and over again. The author, Rachel Cusk captivated audiences (including myself) with The Country Life, which I adored. Saving Agnes has the same type of quirky characters but a less interesting storyline. *Warning to readers: Unless you enjoy English style writers and dark, English humor, this is not for you!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The End of the Alphabet

The End of the Alphabet  By C.S. Richardson     Ambrose Zephyr is an Englishman, nearing 50. He is simple, he is kind and he is madly in love with his wife Zipper. All seems well until one day the doctor alerts him of an illness and he is told he has one month to live. What would you do? What would anyone do? Ambrose and Zipper, who abruptly takes leave from her job, venture on a journey to travel to places loved or always had dreams of visiting, from A to Z. Amsterdam to Zanzibar. Together they try to keep their love alive and enjoy each moment together. This kind of information makes everything else so trivial. Our daily worries, burdens and concerns seem frivolous if we knew we would not be here in a month. This small novel takes us inside their hearts and minds. It is a most unique story that mesmerized me in a quirky, not necessarily sad way.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Someday My Prince Will Come

"A" is for adorable!!! This first book by Jerramy Fine (yes, she knows that Jerramy is a boys name!) was an absolute pleasure to read. Like taking a little vacation into her world for a few days.

Jerramy has dreamed her entire life of living in England. She is madly in love with Peter Phillips, son of Princess Anne (his grandmother is the Queen). As Jerramy grows up with "hippie" parents in a small town in Colorado she dreams of the day she can finally escape to fulfill her true destiny which, as she sees it, should be as a real life princess. She completes a semester in London and after college decides to get a masters at London School of Economics.

Jerramy takes the reader on all her adventures. She shares her accomplishments, and her heartaches. Every girl dreams of finding their soul mate, other half, prince charming. She can find romance in a smile. She meets dozens of fun loving interesting characters along the way and magically always lands on her feet. (These are the adventures you look back on 20 years later and are glad you somehow survived) As I read and reminisced about my college adventures abroad (and love interest at the time!) I cannot help but smile, laugh out loud and cheer for this charming girl that wants it all and believes, truly believes there is no reason she cannot find her dreams come true. (me too!) I remember that carefree life as if it was yesterday. Where did that girl go? I highly recommend this book if you are in the mood to kick back relax and have a great time.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Shanghai Girls

Shanghai Girls   By Lisa See.  Pearl and May Chin are sisters in Shanghai in the late 1930's. They are beautiful, educated, modern girls having the time of their lives. Romance is blooming for the first time in their lives.  Sadly, their father loses all his wealth gambling. In conjunction with political problems brewing, their father feels he has no other choice but to settle his debt by selling the girls into marriage with businessmen from Los Angelos. The girls are shocked, scared and helpless as they can see no other way out. Trying hard to make the best of it, they travel to California and attempt to adjust. New husbands, a love that does not exist, language barriers, new culture and the lights of Hollywood. The sisters ensue a love/hate relationship filled with jealousy and loyalty at the same time. Their lives are completely intertwined as they struggle to find happiness and create family of their own in this new land. As this story evolves the reader is immersed in the detail that Lisa See vividly describes through their triumphs and failures. Easy read, enjoyable, cannot compare to Snowflower, although probably nothing can.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Someone Knows My Name

Aminata Diallo is born in Bayo, Africa. It is the late 1700's when she is stolen from her village, taken away from her family and everything she knows by slave traders. She is 11 years old, afraid and alone. Aminata survives a horrendous ocean crossing to the colonies. She is auctioned as a slave to an indigo plantation. The first friend she makes is Georgia who nurses her back to good health and takes her under her wing. Aminata helped her mid wife mother catch babies and now helps Georgia. Another slave that is in charge secretly teaches her to read and write and this dramatically changes her life. She moves on to other towns and eventually escapes to live on her own. Being educated makes Aminata unique. Her compassion and love brings her many friendships and relationships that are both surprising and heartfelt. Her journey through her life is astounding. The people places and events she survives make this novel one you cannot put down. The reader is brought deep into Aminata's life and this is a book you are sad to finish. It isn't often I find a story so touching and a character I can connect with that lived hundreds of years ago. Ah ..... if this was a movie (and I would bet that it will be) I think Aminata could be played by Queen Latifah. I say this because I think of her in Secret Life of Bees and find her to easily fit into this smart strong loving female role.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Girls From Ames

I am very open minded. There are good books that I tell people about. There are ones I don't. There are great books that I cannot put down and spend every waking moment reading. Then there is this mediocre category that has no name when you are waiting for something to happen, anything, pleeeeeease! My book club met yesterday and discussed this book. We are in agreement that the hype did not match our experience. On the positive side we were able to have a discussion. Unfortunately, most of the talk was about how boring the story and the writing were. I love the idea of friendships lasting forever. I completely agree that the girls you grow up with know you in a way that noone else does. I have attended 3 highschool reunions and enjoyed them immensely. I have a handful of friends I grew up with that are deeply embedded in my heart and will be forever, regardless of how often we see each other. I get it! BUT ... this book was all over the place. Too many names. Too many dates. I connected with not a single character. None of them led terribly interesting lives. My entire club struggled to finish. Sorry girls from Ames. I am sure you are all very nice but this book just didn't cut it. How these types of books make it to the best seller list, I will never understand. Power of the media and marketing, I guess. Thanks anyway. Can't cast a movie, I would sleep through it.

The Flame Tree's of Thika

I have an affinity to stories about Africa (see list on blog for additional suggestions!), especially about people from other places settling there. This memoir tells the story of a family in 1907, living in England. They decide to move to Africa and start a coffee plantation/farm. They have little or no knowlege or experience with either of these two businesses. It amazes me that without a glance back a family would make a move this extraordinary. They arrive with a mere curiosity and interest but their love of the land and people grows intensely and it undoubtedly becomes their home. They live in grass huts with furniture they have brought with them to Africa. They manage to find and make foods that are palatable. They read any material they can lay their hands on to assist them with their new endeavors. They admit there is not much written about this area at this time. Their money is limited, they have a young daughter that they attempt to home school. Who does this sort of thing???? Do people still have this sense of adventure? They are not alone. A handful of Europeansand Austrailians become their neighbors. All quirky characters, one more nuts than the next. The author was the young girl in the story. Through her eyes we see Africa. We feel Africa and sometimes we can smell it! She is wonderful at detailing her story sometimes with the great emotion of a child and then as an adult trying to understand what the adults in her life were accomplishing and struggling with. Thoroughly enjoyed this classic. Can't cast this movie because although I have not seen it, I am told there is a mini series!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Lemon Tree

The Lemon Tree.  By Sandy Tolan           Whether I enjoyed this book is not important. Whether the author was fair in his interpretation is only my opinion. What is vital is that I read this book. The Lemon Tree is an education for the heart and mind. The story begins in 1936 when Bashirs muslim family builds a beautiful stone house in Ramla, Palestine and plants a fragrant lemon tree in the yard. In 1948 when war changes everyones lives and borders, Dalia's jewish family moves into this empty house. The Lemon Tree is a symbol of all the families that work hard to have a home and safe haven for their children. It is the story of the most unlikely friendship between Dalia and Bashir. It touches on the most contraversial issue of modern day middle east politics that started a long long time ago. Who does this belong to? Who does any land belong to? Who is most hurt, most right, most wrong. To put yourself in someone elses shoes for just a moment, it doesn't right the wrongs, just put the arguments aside and face the people.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Her Fearful Symmetry

BOO! Do you believe? In ghosts? As the weather changes and pumpkin is in the air, it is the ideal time to read this new novel by Audrey Niffenegger. Her first book, The Time Travelers Wife was a huge success. This author may be the only one who could lead a non believer down the path of ghosts! She creates the elusive world of Valentina and Julia Poole. Identical twins growing up in Lake Forest Illinois. The twins are inseparable and when they inherit a London apartment from their estranged Aunt Elspeth, they jump at the chance to go on an adventure. The apartment complex is adjacent to a famous cemetery and the two gentlemen that live in the apartments above take your imagination on a wild ride. Robert, previously the aunt's younger lover is a historian of the cemetery. Martin is a crossword puzzle maker, a linguist and suffers from an extreme case of OCD, agoraphobia and other phobias that make his life reclusive and lonley. The twins befriend both of them and begin to explore London. The authors descriptions of characters and place is so intense the reader cannot help but create the scenes as they are read. If you are in the mood for an otherworldly, noone really knows the truth, just the slightest bit creepy journey then you should read Her Fearful Symmetry ... and have a ghostly Halloween! Of course, if this ever comes to the big screen Keira Knightley could definitely play the twins and perhaps Meryl Streep should play Elspeth.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Thanks for the Memories

Thanks for the Memories   By Cecelia Ahern    "A" if for adorable. There is just no other way to explain this vivacious, smart, witty, funny, sincere, author who book after book takes me away to fairytale land!  In this story Joyce Conway is in a terrible accident and gets a blood transfusion. Justin Hitchcock has just donated blood for the first time. Joyce begins to have strange visions and thoughts, kind of like memories. You get the idea! This is a happy romantic story set in the most quaint, Ireland (as are all her stories!). The characters are completely loveable and if you haven't read any of her books yet, get started, they are terrific!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sarah's Key

WARNING: Only read this book if you have 2 days with absolutely nothing to do. You will not be able to put it down or think about anything else while immersed in this memorable, historical, loving saga. Sarah is a ten year old girl living with her family in Paris. It is July, 1942 and the Germans have forced the French police to round up all the Jews and force them into holding areas to be deported to the concentration camps. Sarah leaves her little apartment with her parents but locks her brother, 4 yrs old in a cupboard, which has been their secret hiding place. She is sure she will be back soon and they will all be together again. Noone can believe they are really never coming back to their home. Noone can believe they are really being sent to their deaths because they have done nothing wrong. Nothing wrong except they were born Jews. She innocently questions why would everyone hate the Jews for no reason? What could they have possibly done wrong? The story changes chapter to chapter from Sarah's story to the present day of a journalist Julia Jarmond. An American living in Paris researching the upcoming commemoration of the "Roundup" in Paris that so few know about and fewer ever speak of. Both characters are captivating and the story flows smoothly and quickly, which is why the reader cannot stop until the end. We all know what happens in the end.  Sarah could be played by Dakota Fanning and Julia, Kate Hudson.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Girl Who Played With Fire

The Girl Who Played With Fire  By Stieg Larsson.  Fabulous on the edge of your seat murder mystery. Just as suspenseful as the first book [Girl With The Dragon Tattoo] and wonderfully written. Lisbeth Salander is the main star this time around. Now she has grown on us and and the reader finds themselves rooting for this most unique challenging character. She is more clever than all her counterparts and very hard to love, but love her we do and only want her innocence to be proven when she is accused of a triple murder. Naturally, Mikael Blomkvist, and Millenium magazine are involved and Mikael has lost contact with Salander but feels indebted to her for saving his life in the first story so must help solve the mystery. Once again there are an enormous number of characters and towns that are equally hard to pronounce and keep track of but worth the effort. This book can be read even if you haven't read the first one but personally I would go in order to get to know the characters. As for the movie, it must be out there in someone's mind! A box office thriller for sure. Possibly starring Brad Pitt as Blomkvist and Kristen Stewart [Twilight] as Salander.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Book Thief

The Book Thief   By Markus Zusak.      This is a story narrated by Death. At first glance that may be hard to grasp but as the reader becomes immersed in the life of Liesel, it begins to flow and Death is never questioned again. In Germany during WWII Liesel finds herself alone. She is a young girl and taken in by a foster family. Books and the notion of reading is something Liesel dreams of and her foster father enables her with the little bit he has, to bring words into her life. They take in a jewish man and hide him in their basement. Liesel develops an important relationship with him as well as with a boy her age that becomes her only true friend. This is a unique story, written from a perspective like none other. This is a story filled with compassion, love, friendship, good, evil, pain and suffering. Death is looking down at all of us and thinking what is with all this killing, I can barely keep up, are you people crazy? Yes, they were.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Best Friends Forever

Best Friends Forever, By Jennifer Weiner. Addie Downes is a quiet, talented artist that has led a lonely existence. The only true friend she ever had was Valerie who grew up across the street. As highschool progressed, their friendship was destroyed and they have not been in touch for 15 years. The weekend of their class reunion, Valerie shows up at Addie's door and drags her into a mystery, chase and ultimate reunion of their friendship. Can a friendship be revived after all these years? What is the meaning of true friendship and forgiveness? There is no doubt, you must like Jennifer Weiner (books) to enjoy her latest novel. If by some chance you have not read them, by all means give her a try! It is by no means earth shattering, it is field trip back in time. Her clear depiction of an adolescents uncertainty and emotions is uncanny. She mixes it all with a wonderful sense of humor and camaraderie (we are all in this together).  You will find yourself laughing out loud (or at least quietly smiling). If we see this on the silver screen any time soon, it may star Cameron Diaz and Melissa McCarthy.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

People of the Book

People of the Book, By Geraldine Brooks. The story of Hanna, a rare book expert from Austrailia who  traces the history/mystery of the Sarajevo Haggadah. This book is a rare Jewish codex that has traveled extensively, survived many wars and been rescued by the most unlikely people. The story is based on historical facts of the Haggadah but as a novel, enmeshed in the lives of interesting characters completely fabricated by the author. Hanna has some of her own personal troubles that are borderline unrealistic and she is bitter as well, but that aside the focus is the Haggadah and Hanna is the tool to take us on this journey. This book takes place during the year 1996 and flashes back through hundreds of years of persecution, war and a quick history lesson of peoples lives that is most interesting to imagine. The story would be an excellent book club discussion. For one, it covers a range of emotions. Everything from religious persecution (and for those who don't want to read yet another Holocaust story, a chance to learn that this persecution started way before that!) to the mother daughter relationship between Hanna and her own (horrible) mother. Secondly, there are tons of book club questions out there which of course is always a plus. Definitely worth the read, wouldn't be surprised to see it as movie in the future, maybe starring Charlize Theron.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Time of My Life

The Time of My Life  By Allison Winn Scotch   Fantasy like story featuring Jillian who seems to have it all. Loving husband Henry, adorable baby girl Katie, house in the burbs, etc. Only the grass always seems greener on the other side. The "what if" side. If I chose this or had done that.  One day Jillian wakes up and it is seven years prior! She is in bed with the past love of her life Jackson and those what ifs become real. Could she actually enjoy this dream like state, could this be real if it feels real. Could Jillian really start over and what about her beautiful baby that she loves with all her heart? Original story that gives the reader a chance to explore these questions through someone elses drama! Enjoyable summer read, and by the way, the grass is never that much greener.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Motion of the Ocean

The Motion of the Ocean By Janna Cawrse Esarey.    1 Small Boat, 2 Average Lovers and A Woman's Search for the Meaning of life.  This memoir details the adventure of a lifetime, one that most people only dream about. Janna and Graeme are both adventurous, intelligent, young and in love (most of the time) and set out to fulfill their dream of sailing around the world. She is a teacher, he a businessman. They fix up an old boat, prepare, document, and determine a course for their trip. They plan for a long time and finally sail off into the sunset. Janna needs a hobby, as some fellow boat lovers warn her. The men tend to fix and putter around the boat at each marina (as they call their trip "fixing your boat in exotic locations") and the women also need something to focus on besides conquering what they call "divorce docking" (been there! not pretty!) Janna starts to write, hence, the memoir and column post her trip. This memoir is a fun loving, enjoyable story about two young people following their dreams and making new ones. It is both funny and sweet, touching on real issues of marriage, family and relationships. Reading this book can only make you wonder; what would you do if you knew you wouldn't fail?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict

Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict.  By Laurie Viera Rigler. This story is the follow up to the smash hit Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict (which I loved!) by this talented author. A clever twist on time when Jane Masfield, who resides in 1813 England wakes up in the body of Courtney Stone, present day Los Angelos. The dress, technology, verbage, and relationships are completely disarming and totally opposite of what Jane is used at home. One thing that never changes is human nature, men and women, lust and love. This hilarious journey is an adventure that is a pleasure to tag along. It is not quite as rivoting as the first book but enjoyable nontheless.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Rigged  By Ben Mezrich.   After graduating Harvard, David Russo goes back to where he was born and bred in Brooklyn, NY. He is going to show/prove to the world (NY) that he has/will make it. With his Italian good looks and charm he finds his way completely by chance, to a job at the Merc in NYC. Thats the mercantile exchange of which I knew nothing about until I read this book. With the excitement and easy reading of Ben Mezich's other novels, Rigged is about Davids Merc education. The world of commodities is more than a numbers game and mostly about handshakes and relationships. He makes an interesting one with a Saudi man and together they want to start another exchange in Dubai and change the world as we know it. Thoroughly enjoyable read, cannot wait to see the movie.

Just Who Do You Want To be?

Just Who Do You Want To Be? By Maria Shriver.   Maria Shriver is the epitome of womanhood in America. Growing up as part of the Kennedy clan, success at everything she challenged herself with, marrying a "political nice guy" (is that really possible?!) and raising four healthy children. Wow. This journalist is independent, intelligient and talented. With that said, this book would be the type of gift you may give someone about to enter college, the workforce or at any time real life big changes are about to take place. It is a sweet, poetic rambling of life. Totally enjoyable on a sunny day. Take a moment and think about who you may want to be when you grow up, even if the world keeps telling you, you already are.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Beautiful Boy

Beautiful Boy. By David Sheff. What ever happened to my beautiful boy? This is what David Sheff says after finding his beautiful, smart, healthy, lovely teenage boy who just started Stanford laying, drugged, beaten , filthy in a dirty back alley. Drugs are bad, just say no, yadda yadda. We hear it everyday. WAKE UP PEOPLE. These are our children, we cannot let them throw their lives away. David has a beautiful family in Northern California. He is a writer. He is involved in his childrens lives. But Nick is curious. Nick tries drugs. Nick covers it up. The drugs get stronger. Then he is addicted to Meth. It is evil. There is no going back. This is now his sad reality. This is not one persons fault. But the one thing for sure is how deeply sad this is. Noone aspires to be a drug addict. Noone dreams to of living on the streets, sick and alone after having a magnificent childhood. The pull to this drug is so strong. David is a wonderful writer and this memoir is an eyeopener for every parent, every child. You cannot be afraid to read this, you must find some lesson to learn, something to take away to help yourself, your family or a friend. No matter where you live, no matter how hard you try, noone is exempt from this tradegy they call drugs.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

365 Nights

365 Nights. By Charla Muller. Okay, where to begin. She is a hoot! This is a memoir written by first time author Charla Muller. It is funny, laugh out loud, I can't believe she just said that funny. Charla gives her husband the most unique birthday gift ever, sex everyday for one year, for his 40th birthday. He is thrilled to say the least. It is definitely the gift that keeps on giving. Raising two kids, working and life can get in the way of finding the time for real intimacy. This memoir is her year, her experience, her story. There are definitely truths to to this story that can be almost anyones story. So, she says, shut off the t.v., computer and phones and after the kids are in bed, so are they! Does it take away spontaneity, thrill and chills? Will they enjoy being on demand after a long busy day, EVERYDAY?????? I cannot tell you. You must read Charla's adventure to find out! Enjoy!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Loving Frank

Loving Frank By Nancy Horan. At first, this title didn't interest me. The main character Mamah has an odd name I did not like nor did I know how to pronounce. She had an inappropriate, dramatic, obsessed yet loving affair with a famous then and now, Frank Lloyd Wright. This account of historical fiction is based on their love affair. How it affected both of their families and tore them apart. The historical buildings being built, the absurd relationships, the deep love that would not dissolve. Nancy Horan hooked me in the first chapter. This book travels through so many lives, so many cities and continued to amaze me. Mamah was no ordinary woman but did she deserve more than everyone else. Could she do whatever she wanted, hurt whomever she needed to to fulfill her heart? Could Frank, who was already famous and getting more so with each passing year? All these questions and more will go through you rmind as you read this page turner. I was surprised how very much I liked this book. Excellent read but word of advice, do not research before or during because the information is readily available and you will ruin the story, especially the end. If you don't know the details prior, only look after you are finished! Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Among Other Things I've Taken Up Smoking

Among Other Things I've Taken Up Smoking  By Aoibbeann Sweeney. Miranda lives on tiny Crab Island off of Maine with her father. It is just the two of them. They live a painfully quiet, lonely life on this practically nonexistent island. Her father translates ancient stories and she tries to get any attention of love he can spare. He deeply cares about her but has no ability to have true relationships or show affection. It seems he changed when her mother died years before and he is hiding from the world at this remote location. Miranda, completely naive to world starts to slowly step into town and see outside the island, her father decides she needs to visit  NY where he used to live and work. She stays with his old friends and begins to explore life, sexuality and the world. This novel is unique, funny in a dark humor sort of way. It's hard to say whether I really liked it because I did not care for any of the odd characters but the writing is so good the reader becomes involved and must continue to the finish.

Friday, April 10, 2009

How To Be Good

How To Be Good  By Nicky Hornby.  Okay, first rule - you are only allowed to read this if you really want a laugh! This story is about Katie and David Carr. Katie is a doctor, David is a columnist better known as "The Angriest Man in Holloway" (name of column), they have two children and live in the suburbs of London. If you appreciate English humor you'll truly enjoy this adorable, surprising story! Katie wants back the man she married. She is miserable and as cliches go, looking for love in all the wrong places. David writes a local column about how unfair and miserable life is. You name it, he is angry about it. Sound familiar? Katie wishes everyday, if only David would change their lives would be so much better. Be careful what you wish for! David "magically" changes and she wants to eat her words. He becomes the absolute complete opposite and she cannot stand him! There is alot of underlying meaning in this story, so when you are done laughing it really gives you somthing to think about! Enjoy, I did!!!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Marrying Anita

Marrying Anita.  By Anita Jain. Think Sex and the City from New York to India. Anita's memoir is a journey of her dating life. It is filled with feeling, experiences and laugh out loud humor. She is witty, intelligent, warm and caring. After growing up in California, later attending Harvard, this writer lived and worked in NYC. She was on the dating circuit literally unable to keep up with the scene. Like SATC Anita was able to find humor in her crazy dating experiences and bizarre guys she meets. Nearing 30 which is when girls in America start to fret, Anita is influenced also by her families Indian traditions (where 30 is way old) and she decides to get serious and find a mate! She decides to live, work and date in India for one year and give that a try. This memoir records in hilarious detail her relationships or lack thereof and her feminine feelings about needing to get married and have kids on this strident deadline the world (and our bodies) has put us on. Could not put this one down, even wrote this wonderful new author a letter and she kindly took the time to write back. I hope she keeps us posted with a sequel!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Brick Lane

Brick Lane  By Monica Ali.  Hazneen moves to England from Bangladesh to an arranged marriage. Chanu is kind, older and truly cares about her. They have two daughters. They live in a low income housing filled with other Indian families. Hazneen has trouble adapting. She is influenced to break away from certain Indian traditions that she finds restricting. She wants to learn, wants freedom. She begins to have an affair with a younger man who is angry and political. He is involved with protests. Hazneen believes that real love and affection exists. She sees herself as an individual and the Indian customs that her husband treasures seem outdated to her and unfair. Chanu dreams of going back to India and he spends his time scheming to make business so he can go back successful and be considered richer and more prominent. The more time that goes by, the less Hazneen wants to go back. It is a depressing story and with characters that are not very likeable. Hazneen is admirable but I struggled to hold my interest through the story.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict

Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict. By Laurie Viera Rigler.  Courtney is a woman living in modern day California that is Obsessed with a capital "O", anything regarding Jane Austen and her novels. After a bad bump on the head in a pool, she awakens to find herself in England, in Jane Austens England. It takes Courtney quite awhile to first understand where she is, how she may have gotten there and Yikes! What is she to do now! She focuses on the two most important things, her love life with Edgeworth and ultimately getting back home. She marvels at both the luxury of Janes life ie. house like a castle, maids etc. and is terrified of the ways of this world at that time, ie. bloodletting when you are not feeling well and hygiene habits in general. This novel is laugh out loud funny and a most enjoyable easy read. If you are a Jane Austen fan, the correlation between the two worlds and many characters will be thoroughly hysterical. If you have never read her, No Matter! Still alot of fun. Take this trip back in time and enjoy the ride.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Honolulu  By Alan Brennert.   If you remember the beauty of his novel, Molokai, get ready to once again be immersed in this engaging story of Jin. Korea, 1914, country is unstable, future is unsure. Jin becomes a picture bride which is very popular at this time. There are many Korean men working the fields in Honolulu but hardly any women to take care of them. They are lonely and want families, so these men search magazines for picture brides. Unfortunately, similar to internet dating today, what you see is not always what you get! Jin is matched with a man in Honolulu. It all sounds promising and her voyage is financed. On arrival he is not what she expected. He abuses her and she is lonely and afraid. Jin escapes his wrath, finds work for herself and ultimately rebuilds her life. These characters are timeless and the reader can easily visualize this magnificent island where life is anything but easy.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Free Food For Millionaires

Free Food For Millionaires  By Min Jin Lee  

"It's free food for millionaires... In the International Equities Department--that is, Asia, Europe, and Japan Sales--the group you're interviewing for--whichever desk that sells a deal buys lunch for everyone in the department."

Casey Han is a recent grad of Princeton. She's got it all, well almost all. She is beautiful, smart, excellent golfer, funny and feels the world is at her fingertips the one problem being; neither she nor her family has alot of money. She has acquired very expensive tastes throughout her college years and has slid by by her wits, looks and choice of friends but after graduation she finds herself jobless, lacking connections and feels extreme pressure to suceed. Her sister is in medical school and in the small Korean neighborhood she was raised, her parents expect the very best for her future. The best for them is a Korean husband of the right caliber and a solid prestigious career. They are sorely dissapointed in her choices and this story is about those months and years when many overachieving graduates find they don't know what they want to do with their lives. Casey's strong streak of independence puts her at war with both the Korean world her parents live in and her family in general. Although there is a touch of Sex and the City as far as fashion and hip mentions throughout the book, even a bit of truth about post college blues, Casey for the most part is not a likeable character. The writing in this debut novel is good and kept me going but at some point I just hoped it would end sooner than later because frankly, I couldn't stand her whining anymore.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Home Game

Home Game  By Michael Lewis.   This is a memoir about the authors experience of fatherhood.  Great cover photo. Good writing. At first the reader (I can only speak for females here) thinks how cute and sweet and funny to hear some (very true!) feelings and experiences that new parents all go through. But ... there really wasn't enough meat in this story to keep me on the edge of my seat. After some "Oh, that's happened to us!" and what a cute dad he is, there is a lot of whining. What women have been accomplishing for all of time, namely motherhood and all that comes with it, can be written a hundred times over. The only thing that is remotely interesting is that guys rarely express themselves and most don't say what they really feel when it comes to parenthood. He seems like a nice guy and entertaining writer but for me, my TBR list is way too long for this.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Happy Family

Happy family  By Wendy Lee.  When Hua Wu arrives in New York City she is like most other immigrants in the big melting pot. She starts working in a restaurant in China Town. One afternoon while resting in a park and dreaming of the future she meets Jane Templeton. Upper class Jane with little Lily befriends Hua and their repor is so great that she hires Hua to be Lily's nanny. Hua continuously relives her past in her mind while adjusting to her new life. She is overworked, taken advantage of and misled in many directions. Quietly she is falling in love with Lily who is adopted and rather resembles Hua more than her mother Jane. While out with Lily people believe she is her mother. As Hua watches Janes marriage deteriorate, she dotes more and more on Lily to protect her from any unhappiness. Interesting idea for this story. Weird twist, unexpected conclusion, not particularly fond of any of the characters.

Happens Every Day

Happens Every Day  By Isabel Gillies.   Like watching a train wreck, this memoir is hard to put down. The reader knows what is coming, can feel it coming, knows how sad it will be, wants to warn Isabel! Isabel and Josiah have known each other all their lives. They come from similar waspy backgrounds. Both prestigious and educated, wealthy and elite. She is beautiful, talented and smart. He is romantic, poetic, warm and familiar. They fall in love, have two little boys and Josiah accepts a job in Ohio at a university. It is a big move. They easily melt into small town quaint life.  They spend their time adjusting, renovating their small home, teaching and repeating how wonderful it will be be to raise their two boys in this beautiful enriching environment. Their relationship hits a bumpy road when Josiah and Isabel befriend a new teacher who is married but living alone in Ohio. It is the beginning of the end for Isabel as her life slowly disintegrates. This memoir can be viewed from many angles depending on your experiences, your fears and perhaps the present state of your marriage or singleness. Sadly Isabel is told by none other than the culprit, it happens every day.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

In the Land of Invisible Women, A Female Doctor's Journey in the Saudi Kingdom

In the Land of Invisible Women  By Qanta A. Ahmed, M.D.        Dr. Ahmed is denied a renewal of her US visa where she has studied and practiced medicine for the past few years. Of Pakistani descent and raised in England, Qanta is quite the woman of the world. This memoir is written about her life at 31, when she accepts an opportunity to work in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The facility is high tech, many of the physicians are U.S. trained and she is looking forward to the exciting adventure of working in this part of the world. Dr. Ahmed is pleased, surprised, apalled and shocked by the many diversities she discovers in this land where one side of the road you may see a camel and the next moment a Porsche zooms on by! She rediscovers her muslim identity and makes a Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, a once in a lifetime dream. She makes many friends from around the world and learns to work in this extreme environment. In the hospital she is an intelligient, outspoken, confident physician saving lives and in the streets she must be covered head to toe and watch very carefully what she says, whom she is with and where she goes. The differences of many worlds clashing together is both a learning process and frustrating experience. Excellent memoir and insight into another country, another world and a brilliant young womans mind.

Friday, January 16, 2009


Iodine  By Haven Kimmel.  Trace Pennington is a brilliant, troubled, small town girl that grew up in extreme poverty. By pure luck she makes her way to college where although she is a complete isolated loner who only spends time with her dog, she does have the opportunity to hone her intelligient creativity. Trace is haunted by her past, her crazy unbalanced family and scary childhood memories. It is amazing she is even remotely normal. She begins a relationship with Dr. Jason Matthias, a professor that appreciates her intelligience and inner beauty but takes controlling advantage of her naiveness. I truly enjoyed both of Ms. Kimmels memoirs called A Girl Named Zippy and She Got Up Off the Couch. The authors stories about growing up in Indiana during the 70's and 80's. She is witty, smart and a great storyteller. This novel Iodine, caught me off guard, I almost do not know what to make of it, neither liking it nor wanting to put it down.