Sunday, November 28, 2010

Still Life With Husband by Lauren Fox

I hated this book.  But not in a "It's so boring I can't read it" kind of way, but in a "This character is so dumb I want to smack her upside the head" kind of way.  In a "This is the end of the book?  Seriously? You're going to leave me hanging even though I don't even know why I care to know what happens to this stupid character" kind of way.

Emily Ross is married to Kevin- a sweet, really good guy.  Emily and Kevin have a pretty good, comfortable relationship except that Kevin is ready to move to the suburbs and have kids and Emily doesn't want to.  But Kevin is trying to be patient with her.

Then along comes David.  They meet in a coffee shop and flirt and he asks Emily if she would be interested in writing for the paper he works for.  This is about the time you start wanting to smack Emily.  She is 30 years old and acts like a dumb teenager.  She isn't wearing her ring when she meets David and goes out with him a second time without telling him she is married!  Then she finally tells him, but they decide to "just be friends" (yeah right!)

You'll have to read the book to find out the other ridiculous activities that go on.  Will she have an affair with David?  Will Kevin find out?  Will Emily and Kevin stay together?  Will you hate Emily by the end of the book?

It was another one of those cautionary tales that getting what you think you want doesn't always make you happy.  It was realistic, but ugh, Emily...I just did not like her very much.  But for me to have this much passion about a character in a book, you know it had to be pretty good.

I give this one 4 out of 5 stars.

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

This is the follow up to one of my favorite books (and movies) of all time- The Time Traveler's Wife.  This book isn't so much a love story as it is a ghost story.  When Elspeth Noblin dies at the beginning of the book, she leaves her assets to the twin daughters of her long-estranged twin sister Edie with the condition that the twins must live in her London flat for one year before they can have any of the money or sell the flat.  The twins, Valentina and Julia, are confused because they can't remember ever having met their aunt and have no idea why their mother was estranged from her- so much so that the parents aren't allowed to set foot in the flat.  The twins are in their early twenties and decide to just do it.  They leave America and move in to their aunt's flat in London.

Living in the building with them in London is Elspeth's lover, Robert, and the upstairs neighbor Martin who has an extreme case of OCD and Elspeth's ghost who lives with them in the flat.  The girls have no purpose in London.  They don't go to school.  They don't work.  But they do get to know the neighbors and their aunt.  The book then takes an interesting turn when the characters in the book make their own way to get the things they think they want.  It is shocking and disturbing.  But it keeps you reading because you want to see how everyone turns out after the dust has settled.

The book was slow at times and the ending was just like "Really?"  I was disappointed how the characters turned out, but it was a good cautionary tale that not every story has a happy ending and I am liking that realistic view from the books and movies I watch right now which is probably why I didn't hate it.  But it was no where near the wonderful story of The Time Traveler's Wife.

I give this one 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Are You There Vodka? Its Me, Chelsea by Chelsea Handler

I finished this one a while ago, but never got around to blogging about it.  But I love Chelsea Handler.  I think she is hilarious.  I really enjoyed the first book of hers I read- "My Horizontal Life".  I also really enjoyed this one.  It is a collection of short stories that span elementary school to her late twenties.  In this one you get to hear some stories from her childhood and her crazy family.

The book kind of started off slow for me.  It was apparent Chelsea had a vivid imagination from a very young age as evidenced by her "movie star" story in elementary school. 

I loved her Mini-Me story when she got to hang out with a midget all day.  I think her obsession with them is hilarious.

But the best story by far is the last one where she takes her dad, best friend, and best friend's mom on vacation.  It is hilarious.

And I also found out the Chelsea has a thing for penguins just like I do which makes me love her even more.

I will warn you she is crass and disgusting and you could get easily offended reading this book, but for some reason I get her humor and I really enjoyed it.

I give this one 4 out of 5 stars.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Mercury in Retrograde by Paula Froelich

I really liked this book. It was a fun easy read and I needed that!

Mercury in Retrograde is a reference to astrology. Throughout the book the author jumps between the stories of the three main characters and uses little horoscope snippets for each one to give you a preview of what is about to happen. It was a cute.

The three main character are Mercury- a semi-frazzeled journalist who switches from a career at a newspaper to a local broadcast company, Lena (aka Lipstick)- a NYC socialite whose character I thought I was going to hate but ended up loving, and Dana- a over-achieving lawyer who is having a hard time dealing with her failed marriage.

The three characters end up living in the same apartment buiding in SOHO and they become friends through some mutual connections. They seem like an unlikely group of friends because they are all so different, but they end up helping each other just when they all needed it the most.

Mercury deals with her crazy bosses and new career. Lena deals with keeping up her social image and at the same time discovers her true self and stands on her own two feet. Dana finds out her ex-husband is going to have a baby with his new wife which makes her feel like even more of a failure, but ends up letting go of meeting her own unbelievably high expectations of herself and actually living life again. They all find romance (of course!)

It was a cute, fun, quick read.
I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

After You by Julie Buxbaum

I loved this book.  After You by Julie Buxbaum is really the story of Lucy, Ellie and Sophie.  Lucy and Ellie were life-long best friends, but Lucy is murdered by a mugger while walking her daughter to school one day and her best friend Ellie drops everything, leaves Boston, and goes to London to take care of he goddaughter Sophie following Lucy's death.

Lucy's husband, Greg, Sophie and Ellie all live under the same roof while dealing with their grief over the loss of Lucy in their own ways.  Sophie stops talking for a while and Ellie just knows she cannot leave Sophie to go home.  They start reading The Secret Garden together at night and it seems to help both of them.

Ellie then discovers things about Lucy that she never knew and her marriage starts falling apart when she refuses to go home to her husband.

I don't want to give away too much but this book covers a lot of issues from losing a mother, child, wife, husband to discovering secrets you never knew your best friend had.  I fell in love with the characters and appreciated that the author didn't just wrap everything up in a nice little bow or take the predicted path with the story.

I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars!  Highly recommended!

Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye? by Carolyn McCulley

I read this book on the recommendation of my small group leader.  In Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye? Trusting God with a Hope Deferred, Carolyn McCulley examines singleness being a Christian woman.  She does write well and with humor.  There were parts I could really identify with, but overall I was not a fan.

Here is the table of contents to give you an idea of the content:

1. "You're Still Single?": Hard questions, Godward answers
2. Esteeming the Gift: Why the Bible calls singleness a gift and for what purpose
3. God's Quiet Providence: God is still working when nothing seems to be happening
4. A Woman of Noble Character: The priceless worth of a virtuous woman
5. Do Him Good All the Days of Your Life: Why guarding your heart before marriage matters
6. Respected at the City Gate: Observing and serving the men around you
7. Food From Afar: Having a love for the home and hospitality when you're oftne gone
8. Out of Her Earnings: Wisdom in the workplace with an eye on eternity
9. The Blessing of Children: Investing in the Next Generation
10. Deceptive Charm: The heart issues of beauty, aging, and Worldliness
11. Wise Speech: The impact of women's words for building up or tearing down
12. Reaching Out to the Needy: Subduing self-centerdness through serving others
13. Laughing at the Time to Come: How to finish well in a youth-oriented world

The one good thing I think she reinforced was that you can develop Godly traits (al la the Proverbs 31 woman) and not be married with kids.  I am working on that after having a Bible study last year on Proverbs 31.  In case your curious here are the traits I am focusing on:  become strong physically to be prepared for life's challenges (workout), always be helping others (giving/volunteering), facing the future with confidence (trusting God), and being hardworking (utilizing my time better and not being lazy).

The rest of it just kind of makes me annoyed.  I don't think Singleness is a gift.  Yes, you have way more time.  Time to devote to God and time to help others, but frankly at this point I am done with this "gift" and ready donate it to Goodwill.   Also, I hate being constantly told the I need to find all my satisfaction in God.  It makes me feel like I'm not just because I desire to be married and have a family. 

It was just another book that made me feel bad about being single and like something was wrong with me.  I already feel guilty enough admitting that marriage is something I desire.  I already get enough advice that something is wrong with me- "you're looking too hard", "you're not out there", "you're too picky", "you're not happy with yourself enough", "blah blah blah.  You know what, those are all lies.  I'm not looking too hard- During the week I am so busy working, working out, keeping up with my house and my pets- I don't even have time to be "looking too hard".  I am out there- I take every social invitation I get, I try new things, I am as out there as you can be without being a bar fly or a cougar at the club.  I am not too picky!  I lower my standards with each passing year and give everyone a chance.  I can only remember one guy that I flat out turned down for a first date because I knew him very well already and he had an alcohol problem.  AND I am happy with myself!  I think I am awesome.  Sure I have insecure days like everyone else, but I am happy with myself and my life and I DO find my satisfaction in God...I am not looking for some man to fill a void or make me happy, it's just that life is so much better shared and I am ready to share and I would love to have a family. 

Ok sorry for the rant, but yeah this book just felt like the same old stuff you heard people telling singles all the time.  And the fact is, if I never get married and have a family, I will be disappointed and I am tired of people making me guilty for feeling that way.

Ok rant over.  I give this book 2 out of 5 stars.  I think you would be better off doing a study on Proverbs 31 from a single woman's point of view.

Before I Die by Jenny Downham

I was drawn to this book because in the description it says the main character makes a list of things she wants to do before she dies and you know how I love life lists!  Before I Die by Jenny Downham is the story of a young girl, Tessa, who is dying.  When the book starts she has been sick for some time and now she doesn't have long left. 

Tessa does make a list of things she wants to do before she dies, but they consist of most of the things you would think a typical teenager would put on such a list like "Have Sex" and "Try Drugs". She also steals her dad's car one day to experience driving.  I think she just wants to "be bad" and hey it is okay because she is dying anyway right? 

She has a friend who enables her in indulging her "wild side".  And sometimes she finds these things she thought would make her feel alive leave her feeling just a little bit empty. 

She does end up falling in love which is sweet and it was interesting to see the thoughts of a teenage girl facing death, but overall I was not a big fan of the book.  The end was pretty sad and I felt like her character really didn't grow that much over the course of the story.

It was an interesting book, but also really weird in a Catcher in the Rye type of way, and also pretty depressing.

I give it 3 out of 5 stars.

Veil of Roses by Laura Fitzgerald

I read this book when I was in Dubai and forgot to do a review on it.  Veil of Roses by Laura Fitzgerald is the story of a girl from Iran.  Her parents send her to stay with her sister in America in the hopes of her finding a husband there so she can stay in America permanently.  Tami enjoys the freedom of being a woman in America.  She enjoys little things like being able to walk to her English class by herself.  She has a passion for photography and captures these little moments of freedom- like a girl enjoying a coffee at Starbucks or her first pair of tennis shoes- with her camera.

She makes friends in her English class with people who are all very different from her.  But her main focus and the focus of her sister is to find her an Iranian husband before her visa runs out so she can stay in America.

The book follows her on her journey of discovering freedom and trying to find a husband.  Complicating matters is her developing friendship with an American guy named Ike.

It was a great book.  A quick and easy read.  I really enjoyed reading it while I was in Dubai because every woman I saw in a headscarf I would image as the main character.  It really opens your eyes to some of the little freedoms we American women take for granted everyday.  It was a funny and sweet story.

I give this one 4 out of 5 stars.

I just discovered Laura Fitzgerald has another book out called One True Theory of Love.  It's about a woman whose love of her life betrayed her and now she is afraid of getting hurt.  But when she unexpectedly meets an Iranian-American man who befriends her son in a coffee shop, she takes another leap of faith and begins to discover that in order to heal, you have to hurt, but most of all you have to live your life and put your whole self in.  It's already on my wish list!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella

I love all of Sophie Kinsella's books.  I especially like her non-shopaholic series books (but the Shopaholic series is good too).

Lara Lington is the niece of a man who started a famous branch of coffee shops.  Her last name is very recognizable.  The book opens with her family gathered for the funeral of her great aunt Sadie.  The funeral is really sad.  The only people there are Lara, her parents and sister, her famous uncle and his wife and their daughter.  That's it.  And none of them even knew Sadie at all.  And none of them want to be there.  There are no flowers.  Sadie suddenly appears to Lara and insists she can not be buried without her necklace.  This sets off a hilarious chain or events as they try to find the necklace so Sadie can rest in peace.

Through this process Lara really gets to know the 23 year old version of her great aunt Sadie.  They become great friends, have some really fun adventures together and Sadie even inadvertently helps Lara find love.

I loved it!  I loved the characters.  I loved the adventures.  It was all great!

And now I will put in my last will and testament that I want everyone to be served a cocktail or glass of champagne upon entrance to my funeral! :)

I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

At First Sight by Nicholas Sparks

Nicholas Sparks is so predictable.  Most of his stories are about love and they have some tragedy wrapped up in the plot.  I love most of them because they are set in North Carolina, my home.  I chose this one because I was in the mood for a gushy love story that would make me cry.  This one was different.

Yes, it was about love.  There really wasn't any great tragedy.  And I really did not like it.

Here is a synopsis from

Nicholas Sparks brings back two characters from his beloved bestseller, True Believer, in this continuing saga of extraordinary love. There are few things Jeremy Marsh was sure he'd never do: he'd never leave New York City; never give his heart away again after barely surviving one failed marriage; and most of all, never become a parent. Now, Jeremy is living in the tiny town of Boone Creek, North Carolina, married to Lexie Darnell, the love of his life, and anticipating the birth of their daughter. But just as his life seems to be settling into a blissful pattern, an unsettling and mysterious message re-opens old wounds and sets off a chain of events that will forever change the course of this young couple's marriage.

Basically Jeremy starts to doubt his relationship because of rumors and some drama.  It was all very boring and silly to me.  I did not enjoy it at all and I am surprised I even finished it.

I give it 2 out of 5 stars, simply because of the love aspect to the story and it being set in NC.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Perfect on Paper by Maria Murnane

The (mis)Adventures of Waverly Branson

Waverly Branson is engaged to marry the man of her dreams (in fact she kind of wonders if he is a little out of her league).  But two weeks before the wedding he calls it off.  He says he just doesn't love her anymore.  (Um...I might have to murder the guy for putting me through something like that!).  Waverly eventually starts to pick herself up and start living again with the help or her two friends.

She is embarrassed and feels like a failure about the end of her engagement so she proceeds to tell almost everyone that she was the one who called it off.  Meanwhile the guy goes on to get married shortly after and she actually runs in to them in the grocery store!  Talk about torture!

She has a great job in sports PR and her life over the next year or so just follows some of her (mis)adventures of being a single girl.  As a single girl I could relate.  But her life is much more glamorous than mine.  I mean she befriends a famous basketball player at one of her trade shows and then becomes BFFs and shopping buddies with his wife (a Olympic figure skater) later while in NYC.

It was kind of comforting that she doesn't automatically fall in love with a new prince charming.  In fact she kind of develops a crush which I enjoyed!

I also loved that her best friend's name was McKenna!  That is one of the names I picked if I ever had a baby girl (so don't steal it!  But ummm...the chances of that happening are looking pretty slim, so I may never get to use it!)

Overall this was a good, quick read!  A great chick-lit book for the summer!

I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Crazy Love by Francis Chan

I had heard good things about this book so I was looking forward to reading it.  This book explores what it means to be head over heels for God.  It starts with why you should have crazy love for Him.  It's because He has crazy love for you and if you really think about it and how undeserving you are of that after ignoring Him, treating him like a genie in a bottle and only going to him when you need something, how much pride you have in thinking you are "good enough" and how much you have ignored His instructions and broken His commandments, it is simply amazing the God continues to pursue us and love us!

He explores what it means to be a lukewarm Christian.  This one struck me: "Lukewarm people choose what is popular over what is right when they are in conflict."  I know I have been guilty of that one before.  Or this one "Lukewarm people gauge their morality or "goodness" to the secular world."  Well I mean I am more moral than a murderer or prostitute, right?  Or this one: "Lukewarm people love others but do not seek to love others as much as they love themselves."  Got to look out for #1 right?

This one is so me: "Lukewarm people are continually concerned with playing it safe; they are slaves to the god of control.  The focus on safe living keeps them from sacrificing and risking for God."  I hate risk.  I like feeling safe.  I like knowing that I have things under control  So much so that when one person tells me I don't have my sh*t together, it stays with me for months and months.  I don't like feeling scared and trusting God completely with a situation.  It makes me very uncomfortable.  But I can tell you that the times I have, He hasn't let me down.

He then walks you through what "obsessed" people look like.  How they act and think and what it really means to be in love with and trust God completely.  The point is crazy love like that is challenging.  You are never going to be "good enough" nor should you want to just be "good enough".  It gave some great tips and pictures of what it would look like if I stretched myself and my relationship with God to the max.

He ends the book with some profiles of real-life people who really turned over their whole lives to God and how God used them in amazing ways.  It is really inspirational.

I give this one 4 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Penny Pinchers Club by Sarah Strohmeyer.

Kat is in her 40s, married, living in the suburbs, and has a slight shopping problem.  Ok, maybe a major shopping problem. 
But when she discovers some emails and a secret bank account her husband has been hiding she realizes she needs to save some money and fast before her husband drops the bomb that he is leaving her.  After she discovers evidence of an affair, she meets with a divorce lawyer who confirms that her finances are in shambles and suggests she keeps her mouth shut and saves enough money for herself before her husband announces he is leaving her.
Kat joins a group called The Penny Pinchers Club who teaches her cost cutting ways to get her finances under control- from pumping gas at dawn when it is cheaper and thicker, to group shopping trips so they can maximize their coupons and buy in bulk, to dumpster diving for hidden treasures- Kat takes this stuff seriously.  An added benefit is that she starts to spend more time at home with her husband and they grow closer as a couple, even though it doesn’t seem as if anything has changed on the affair front.
Kat also has the added complication of taking on the man she almost married way back when as a new client.  He is newly divorced and a millionaire who has money to spend.  She would be stupid not to take advantage of that opportunity but will their past get in the way of everything?  Or was this who she was really meant to end up with?
I really enjoyed this book.  I liked reading about how Kat went about saving money and getting her finances under control.  Also the tangled web of secrets and lies that starts to unravel keeps things interesting right to the end.  And there is a twist near the end that even I didn’t see coming.
I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

All We Ever Wanted Was Everything by Janelle Brown

I really liked this book!  It had so much going on it was hard to ever get bored.  The three main characters are Janice and her two daughters, Margaret and Lizzie.  Janice's husband just had a very successful public launch of his pharmaceutical company but that day Janice learns that her husband is divorcing her and has been having an affair with her best friend.  Talk about timing!  Meanwhile 28 year old Margaret is in debt up to her eyeballs and is realizing she is finally going to have to give up on her homegrown magazine ever making it to the big time.  And 14 year old Lizzie finds out she is not becoming popular, but instead has made a name for herself as the school slut.

I think this except from sums up the story pretty well:

The three Miller women retreat behind the walls of their Georgian colonial to wage battle with divorce lawyers, debt collectors, drug-dealing pool boys, mean girls, country club ladies, evangelical neighbors, their own demons, and each other, and in the process they become achingly sympathetic characters we can't help but root for, even as the world they live in epitomizes everything wrong with the American Dream. Exhilarating, addictive, and superbly accomplished, All We Ever Wanted Was Everything crackles with energy and intelligence and marks the debut of a knowing and very funny novelist, wise beyond her years.

My heart broke for these three characters as they each dealt with their worlds falling apart in very different ways.  It opens your eyes to the fact that not everyone has it together, and as much as they try to make it seem like they do, one thing, or a series of events, can bring them tumbling down.  But at the same time it is inspiring because you see that no matter how far you fall you can always just pick yourself back up and start to put the pieces back together again.

I give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman

This book may just change my life.  I really think it is something everyone should read.

In this book Gary Chapman lays out the five distinct love languages we use to express love:

Words of Affirmation

Quality Time


Acts of Service

Physical Touch

He says that we all have a "love tank" and when that "love tank" is empty we feel unloved and it is hard for us to love our spouses because we don't feel loved by them.  And everyone needs to feel like they are loved!

There are quizzes in the back of the book to help you determine your primary love language.  This is what you need from someone to feel loved.  Mine was Words of Affirmation.  It wasn't the one I would have guessed, but it makes complete sense now that I know it.

I do need to have words of affirmation from my partner.  I need them to tell me I'm smart and pretty and that they love me.  I think my last two relationships failed because I didn't get that.

My last boyfriend never told me he loved me and at a lot of points in the relationship I felt like he just did not want to hear my opinion on anything which made me feel like he thought I was stupid or something.  I can't remember him ever telling me I was pretty either.  I lost a lot of my self-esteem and confidence in that relationship.

The guy I dated before that was different.  He did write some of the sweetest things ever to me.  He did tell me I was pretty.  But he never came out and said he loved me until after HE broke up with me.  I swear I will never understand guys.

I wasn't totally blameless in either of those relationships.  I did not show them or tell them how much I loved them either.  Love kind of scares me, because I have had so many heartbreaks.  I am physically tired of getting my heart broken so it makes me so scared to start anything new.

After reading this book though, I feel like I know what I need now and even better I know how to show love more effectively.  I really think everyone should read this book!

And even though it was written for married couples, the same principles apply to every loving relationship you have from your parents, to your friends, to your children.  I think knowing how to give love is a very important trait to have and after reading this book I think I will be much more effective at making the people in my life feel loved.

I give this one 5 out of 5 stars!

The Day I Shot Cupid by Jennifer Love Hewitt

I have always liked Jennifer Love Hewitt.  I loved her back on Party of Five and I love her now on Ghost Whisperer.  I mean I am not a raving fan, but I have really liked her.  Somehow it brings me comfort to know that someone that pretty and successful still has bad luck in love sometimes and is still single.

Her book, The Day I Shot Cupid: Hello My name is Jennifer Love Hewitt and I'm a Love-aholic is so cute.  Granted I did not care for the graphics on the cover and used throughout the book.  It makes it seem more of a sex book than a cute, funny book on dating and trying to find love.

Here is a description of the book from

For any woman who has ever bought a self-help book and wondered why she bothered. (P.S. Now that I know he's just not that into me, where do I go from there? Yeah, thanks for that advice.)

Jennifer Love Hewitt is a self-proclaimed "love-aholic" and hopeless romantic (her middle name is Love, after all!). She has been lucky and unlucky in love, and lived to tell--and she's done it all in the spotlight. Much has been written about her love life--some true, most made up to sell magazines. Now Hewitt shares the real story of what she's learned navigating the dangerous dating waters.

In The Day I Shot Cupid, Hewitt offers her hard-won wisdom and tells us how to embrace love with both feet on the ground. First, we have to shoot Cupid. We have to believe that happily-ever-after is hard work--it's not all flowers and symphonies and floating hearts.

Wise and wry and refreshingly honest, Hewitt talks about how to pick the right guy and how to know when to let the wrong ones go free, and she offers some surprising truths about the opposite sex.

From twenty things to do after a breakup, to ten things to do before a date, to the perils of text flirting (Note: You are waiting. By the phone. For his response.), Hewitt uses stories and dating secrets to illustrate the idiotic, romantic, crazy, depressing, hilarious, awkward, glorious moments we all experience in relationships. Funny, quirky, and empowering, The Day I Shot Cupid deserves a place on every woman's nightstand, bookshelf, or coffee table, or tucked inside her oversized designer handbag.

It is a really cute and funny book.  Her story about getting Vagazzalied was freaking hilarious.  I also loved all her cute titles to the chapters.  She also included fun little extras like 10 Hardcore Truths about Men and 20 Things to do After a Break-up.

I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Secret Society Girl: An Ivy League Novel by Diana Peterfreund

I like reading stories about secret societies. I don't know much about if any real ones exists or what they are like, but it makes for some really good fiction.

In this story Amy Haskel-who is the editor of one of the smaller publications on campus- gets tapped for a secret society, just not the one she was expecting. She was expecting to spend her senior year as a member of Quill & Ink. Every other editor has been in Quill & Ink, but instead she gets tapped by one of the most powerful secret societies on campus- Rose & Grave (think Skull & Bones).

She never expected this because a) why would they tap her? Most of the members are known for the wealth, power, and "ins" with powerful people. She does not fit that description. And b) they have never been known to have any female members.

You get to read about the "tapping" process and her initiation- which are interesting. She struggles keeping it all a secret from her roommate/best friend and the guy she is seeing.

Then as with any organizations an issue emerges. Apparently this is the first class that has had females and the alums are not happy about. They use their power and influence to start to intimidate the new class and the class that decided to open the society up to females.

Overall it was a good, quick read. It made me think about gender issues and reminisce about my old sorority days.

I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Keeping Faith by Jodi Picoult

Yes, I have been on a Jodi Picoult kick recently. This one sounded really interesting. Here is a description from Library Journal:

When seven-year-old Faith White and her mother, Mariah, swing by the house on the way to ballet class, they find that Daddy is home and he's brought a playmate. This is not the first time he's been caught cheating. After the fuss and feathers have settled and Dad has moved out, Faith begins talking to an imaginary friend who, it seems, is God. And God is not male but female. Faith is able to effect miraculous cures and is also occasionally afflicted with stigmata. When the media gets wind of this, the circus begins. The local rabbi takes an interest (Faith and Mariah are technically Jewish), and the local Catholic priest pays several inquiring visits. There is also a gaggle of psychologists. Throw in a professional atheist for the romance angle and a vicious custody fight with an egomaniacal lawyer, and you have a riveting read. Picot (The Pact, LJ 2/15/98) gets better and better with each book. If you can suspend disbelief on one or two points, this is an entrancing novel. Highly recommended

This book was pretty good, but not my favorite. I kept waiting for them to explain what was happening to Faith. I kept waiting for some big reveal, but it never really came. She apparently develops Stigmata- where you have the injuries Christ endured on the cross. There was no medical explination for it. I don't know if that is something that has happend to people in real life, but it was just kind of hard for me to believe. The story didn't move slowly or anything, but I just never felt like things were getting resolved. Also, the love story angle in the book seemed a little weak and unurealistic to me. There weren't any huge twists and turns like I've come to expect in Picoult's books.

I give this one 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

I have turned in to a huge Jodi Picoult fan. Her books are always about topics with grey areas between what you typically think of as right or wrong and always make me stretch outside of my normal thinking about situations. They are the kind of books you can't put down and have you talking about the topics of the book with anyone who will listen.

I don't ever remember being a bully or getting bullied in school. But apparently it happens often. In Jodi Picoult's book Nineteen Minutes, Peter is terrorized by bullies from the moment he steps on the school bus on his first day of school. Throughout elementary school he has his one and only friend Josie. But when Josie finds popularity, she feels it is so precarious a status and is so afraid of losing it, that she stops being friends with Peter. Peter endures the physical and mental abusive throughout high school until one final event sends him over the edge and he commits an act of violence that can't be taken back.

The book follows Peter, his parents, Josie, her mother, and basically the whole town through the aftermath, investigation, and trial. It is so interesting to see how the different characters in the book react and cope with what has happened and there is a twist in the end that you might not see coming.

Again it was another great book from Jodi Picolt and one of my all time favorites.

I give this one 4.5 out of 5 stars!

Monday, March 8, 2010

sTORI Telling by Tori Spelling

I read this book in 3 days. I like Tori Spelling. I liked her on 90210 and I like her on her newest reality shows Inn Love and Home Sweet Hollywood. So I liked getting this inside peek at her life.

She talks a lot about her feud with her mother on TV and I never really knew what it was about. The book gave me a little more insight into that. Basically they just aren't really close. Her mom does seem controlling and the money issues seem to be a lot of what the feud is about. But honestly I think Tori isn't all innocent in the situation either. I think she wants that super close mother/daughter relationship you see on TV and a lot of people just don't have that but it is no reason to be so petty about the whole thing.

I learned that she has been trying to work this whole time since 90210, but she just kept catching bad breaks. I was disturbed at how her and Dean hooked up. I get it, you both fell head over heels for each other, but you were both married but still slept together on the first night you meet?

She does come off as a little bit spoiled and I think she blames a lot of things on bad luck, that really could be blamed on bad decision making, but overall I like her. The book is funny and it is really cool to get a behind the scenes in Hollywood perspective from a non-tabloid source. She is open and honest and frank throughout the book and I really appreciate that.

I give this one 4 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

How to be Single by Liz Tuccillo

I went to Boarders last week to get an educational audio book because the no music in the car thing for Lent was killing me. I needed something especially for my long drive last weekend to see my mom.

I limited my search to the Bargain audiobooks. The selection was slim and there didn't seem to be many educational books, or even good books for that matter. But then I found this hidden gem for $9.99. It wasn't listed as educational, but it had "How to" in the title and it was written by the co-author of "He's Just Not That Into You" and that one is educational right? I decided this was the best it was going to get and bought it.

In the book Julie is tired of the most annoying and unanswerable question ever "Why are you still single?" Julie is 38 and single as most of her friends are. She decides to leave New York on a journey around the world to see how other single women live their lives and then write a book about it.

Even though this was a novel it was very educational. She visits France, Italy, Brazil, Australia, India, Bali, China, and Sweden (or Iceland, or somewhere like that) and everywhere she goes the women have different views. It was just so interesting to see how women in different parts of the world view relationships.

There are also several subplots of her friends struggles and even Julie falls in love during her journey. It was so interesting!

One of my favorite parts of the book was towards the end where Julie and her friends have an impromptu ritual where they write all their past hopes and dreams for their lives on a napkin and then burn them. Whether it was dreams of getting married young and having the perfect family or a blank napkin because you have so lost your hopes and dreams in the process of just living; they all burned these dreams saying it's ok to let go. We are not these women, but what we are is just as good.

I loved it. I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Driving Sideways by Jess Riley

I put this book on my wish list after a recommendation from Jen Lancaster on her blog about it. The story is about Leigh. In her early twenties, she was diagnosed with PKD and put an dialysis. The book opens right after she has finally received a new kidney and she is setting out on a road trip from Wisconsin to California by herself. Along the way she plans to meet up with her ex-boyfriend, meet her kidney donor's family, visit her best friend, and find her mother who abandoned them at a young age.

Sounds like a pretty packed agenda right? Well it gets even more crazy when she picks up a teenage runaway along the way who seems to have her own secrets. Her ex-boyfriend turns out to be almost unrecognizable. She finds out probably more than she wanted to know about her kidney donor. Deals with her older brother fretting about her health and safety. Her friend has her own drama and joins them for the last leg of the road trip.

As with any road trip they have some grand adventures along the way. They stop and see various landmarks and sights, meet some interesting people, and have more than a few mishaps.

I loved the concept of the book because it was like this girl trying to take her newly given life back before her 30th birthday. I mean I haven't been through half of what she has been through and that 30th year mark is stressing me out. And of course I loved the road trip aspect of the story (this is so going on my next list!).

It was a good book with lots of plot twists and turns and the characters were really relateable. However it took me a while to get through it. I wasn't pumped to read it every night and her writing style didn't excite me. But the storyline was enough to make it a good read.

I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Dear John by Nicholas Sparks

I used to be a huge Nicholas Sparks fan. He wrote about the "movie love" that I love and he is from NC so most of his stories are set in familiar places. I cried my eyes out reading The Notebook and to this day that book and movie are still on my all-time favorites list. I loved Message in a Bottle and A Walk to Remember too. But slowly his books became too predictable for even me.

But since I now have to watch commercials due to not having DVR, I kept seeing the commercial for the movie Dear John. What can I say? I am a HUGE sucker for movie love and Channing Tatum is HOT and the actress that plays the female lead is on one of my favorite shows- Big Love. But since the book is always better than the movie, I had to read the book first.

I still heart Nicholas Sparks. I flew through this book in 3 days. I was reading it in my car at stoplights. It's just such an easy romantic read that sucks you in.

The main character Savannah is from Lenior, NC which is literally 15-20 minutes from my hometown of Morganton. So needless to say I could relate to her. The boy John is from Wilmington which I have been to many times. Savannah goes to UNC which is right up the road from where I am now. So really the whole story felt like it could be written by people I actually might know.

Savannah meets John while he is on leave from his army base in Germany. She is staying with a group of students from UNC who are there for a month to build some houses for Habitat for Humanity. He is there for 2 weeks visiting his dad. Their paths cross and immediately they are smitten with each other. By the time John's leave is up, they are full blown head-over-heels in love.

The rest of the story is about how they try to keep their relationship and love going through letters and short phone conversations and visits. You'll have to read it to find out the rest, but I will tell you it made me think about what true love really looks like and acts like.

It doesn't have that happily ever after ending I love, but it doesn't have that tragic someone dies ending either. At first I hated the ending because it didn't wrap up everything in a nice little happy bow, but I appreciate it and what the author is trying to get across.

It's a story about soul mates and love- in many different forms.

I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

I still haven't seen the movie, but I heard they totally changed the setting and the ending.

Also last summer I listened to Nicholas Sparks other book The Last Song on my way to the beach. It was pretty good and apparently it is going to be made in to a movie too!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Flashbang: How I Get Over Myself by Mark Steele

This guy is freaking HILARIOUS! I saw this book reccommended on one of my pastor's blogs and he said it was great. He was right.

First of all I think this guy might have ADD because this book does not follow a normal flow. But it is great because it never gets stale. He has these conversations with himself that interrupt the story and backgroud autobiographical information breaks. It really was different than anything I've ever read.

It is some seriously funny stuff. The story of Claus literally had me putting the book down and exclaiming "No he didn't!"

I'm not good at explaining what books are about, so here's a summary from

"Mark Steele found himself trying to be a good Christian, but felt he wasn’t making any permanent difference. His life was turning into a flashbang — something that makes a lot of noise but leaves no permanent indentation. In this hilarious memoir, Steele gives autobiographical accounts of enduring 40 days of facial paralysis, suffering public embarrassment at a Presidential Inauguration, receiving treatments of shock therapy from a first-timer and giving blood in a Mexican hospital. Each story brings Steele closer to the realization that being a Christian is more than just saying you are. In the end, he reveals his secret to living a more meaningful life—how he got over himself."

It was very entertaining while helping me learn something at the same time!

I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

This was Oprah’s book club pick a few years ago and I got the impression from her shows that it was about the bond between dogs and their owners, so it was added to my “to-read” list. It is a thick book. I get intimidated by thick books because I have ADD and don’t know if I can concentrate on one book for that long.

When people asked me what the book was about it was hard for me to say. Even after finishing it, it is hard for me to say without giving anything away.

So here is a review from Publishers Weekly:
Starred Review. A literary thriller with commercial legs, this stunning debut is bound to be a bestseller. In the backwoods of Wisconsin, the Sawtelle family—Gar, Trudy and their young son, Edgar—carry on the family business of breeding and training dogs. Edgar, born mute, has developed a special relationship and a unique means of communicating with Almondine, one of the Sawtelle dogs, a fictional breed distinguished by personality, temperament and the dogs' ability to intuit commands and to make decisions. Raising them is an arduous life, but a satisfying one for the family until Gar's brother, Claude, a mystifying mixture of charm and menace, arrives. When Gar unexpectedly dies, mute Edgar cannot summon help via the telephone. His guilt and grief give way to the realization that his father was murdered; here, the resemblance to Hamlet resonates. After another gut-wrenching tragedy, Edgar goes on the run, accompanied by three loyal dogs. His quest for safety and succor provides a classic coming-of-age story with an ironic twist. Sustained by a momentum that has the crushing inevitability of fate, the propulsive narrative will have readers sucked in all the way through the breathtaking final scenes. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Basically it is the story of Edgar Sawtelle, just like the title says. Edgar is born without the ability to speak. He grows up on a farm where they breed dogs. His grandfather started breeding the dogs and now his father has given Edgar his first litter to raise. They are a different kind of breeder because they raise the puppies and make sure they are super-trained before giving them up. Sawtelle dogs are the best and they do a lot to keep up with their reputation and continue to breed better and smarter dogs. Most of this is epitomized by Edgar’s lifelong companion Almondine.

But Edgar’s father dies suddenly and very unexpectedly and Edgar and his mother have a hard time dealing with the tragedy. Edgar’s father’s brother returns to help with the farm and worms his way into Edgar’s mother’s affections. But Edgar knows there is something not right with Claude. After an unfortunate event, Edgar flees the farm with the dogs he has been raising.

They are on the run together and embark on a kind of crazy adventure. They have to learn to survive on their own. I can’t really describe it, but that is the most interesting part of the book.

But I did not like the ending. Literally until about the last 3 pages you do not know what is going to happen. It is good because the last 100-200 pages just fly because there is so much going on and you are just dying to know what happens. Then all of a sudden it ends and not in a happy way. I was very disturbed and mad.

But it is still a good book. If you like dogs, you’ll probably like this book.

I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Losing It by Valerie Bertinelli

I finished this book weeks ago, but never got around to posting a review about it. I really like Valerie Bertinelli. She is so cute and seems so sweet. I really didn’t think she looked that fat when she became a Jenny Craig spokeswoman. But isn’t that how most people are? Just overweight enough to feel not like yourself. Anyway I put her book on my wish list at and I was surprised when I got it so quickly. I thought it would be the perfect thing to inspire me to start the new year off right.

Well, this book is not really about weight loss. She mentions her weight issues a few times throughout the book and the last 2 or 3 chapters are about her Jenny Craig adventures. But the book is really just about her life. She does have an interesting life. From being a child TV star to marrying Eddie Van Halen, it does make for an interesting book. She is very open and honest throughout the book. It was interesting to see where her life took her from her teens through her twenties and thirties and then into her forties. It was comforting to see that you can still end up happy without living the ideal married with 2.5 kids in the suburbs kind of life.

I like memoirs and this was a pretty good one and even though I have a life far different from hers, I could relate to her thoughts and feelings throughout the book.

I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.
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