Saturday, August 29, 2009

Barney's Online Book Club Discussion -- August 2009

Welcome to the second discussion post of Barney's Online Book Club! This month we are discussing Julie and Julia by Julie Powell. Below are questions to start the discussion, feel free to raise your own questions in the comments section. Please note that the questions and the comments sections may include spoilers! Read at your own risk. Please also note that I will be commenting live tomorrow night at 7pm EST. Anyone online at that time is welcome to join me!

Let the discussion begin!

Discussion Questions:

1. How did you initially feel about Julie and the Julie/Julia project? Did your perceptions of Julie change during the course of the book?

2. What do you think was Julie's true motivation for the Julie/Julia project?

3. Do you feel that all of her family and friends were supportive of the project?

4. Did anything in the book surprise you?

5. What were your impressions of Julia Child's dislike of the Julie/Julia Project? Do you think Julie handled Julia's dislike appropriately in the book?

6. What were your overall feelings about the book?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday Finds -- 8/28

My Friday Find this week is The Opposite of Love by Julie Buxbaum. This is my library book club's October selection. Here is the Barnes and Noble description:

When successful twenty-nine-year-old Manhattan attorney Emily Haxby ends her happy relationship just as her boyfriend is on the verge of proposing, she can’t explain to even her closest friends why she did it. Somewhere beneath her sense of fun, her bravado, and her independent exterior, Emily knows that her breakup with Andrew has less to do with him and more to do with...her. “You’re your own worst enemy,” her best friend Jess tells her. “It’s like you get pleasure out of breaking your own heart.” As the holiday season looms and Emily contemplates whether she made a huge mistake, the rest of her world begins to unravel: she is assigned to a multimillion-dollar lawsuit where she must defend the very values she detests by a boss who can’t keep his hands to himself; her Grandpa Jack, a charming, feisty octogenarian and the person she cares most about in the world, is losing it, while her emotionally distant father has left her to cope with this alone; and underneath it all, fading memories of her deceased mother continue to remind her that love doesn’t last forever.

What did you find this week? Friday Finds is hosted by Should Be Reading.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Review -- Julie and Julia

Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously
by Julie Powell
Little, Brown and Company, 2005
307 pages
Barney's Online Book Club Selection -- August 2009

Summary: Julie is unhappy with her life. So she decides to cook her way through Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking over the course of one year.

Review: This book was not what I anticipated. I thought it would be Julie's account of cooking through Mastering the Art of French Cooking and all the crazy kitchen mishaps that happened along the way. It is that and so much more. Julie feels stuck in a dead-end job, is nearing thirty, and is concerned about her ability to have children. So she decides to take on a project to help her feel more fulfilled. The project ends up changing her life. Julie Powell's account of her year of cooking is entertaining, revealing, and down right funny. There were times when I was reading and unsure of the point she was trying to make (such as connections between cooking and The Joy of Sex or Buffy The Vampire Slayer), but eventually she makes her point. Through these analogies you feel like she is a friend telling you an interesting yet complex part of her views on life. This book is an interesting memoir, filled with funny stories of Julie's family and friends and the year in which she completed the impossible. I only wish there was more then a glimpse of Julia Child's life, although you do feel the connection that Julie has with her. Rating: **** out of 5.

**** On Sunday, August 30th, there will be a discussion of Julie and Julia on Barney's Book Blog. All are invited. Click here for more information!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Review -- Dancing with Ana

Dancing with Ana
by Nicole Barker
Golden Road Press, 2009
170 pages
Thanks to author Nicole Barker for sending me a copy of this book.
Summary: Beth becomes obsessed over her weight in a way of controlling her feelings over her parent's divorce. As her friends watch her slowly waste away, they try to help her overcome her obsession with the help of the boy she loves.

Review: A compelling read, Dancing with Ana takes on the issues of body image, anorexia, cutting, and underage drinking in a sparse 170 pages. Nicole Barker does a fantastic job writing a novel that flows with interesting characters and the problems they face individually and as a group. I especially loved the subplot with Beth's friend, Rachel, a girl whose pain is hidden inside as she grapples with a disturbing home life and finds hope as she falls in love with a local surfer boy. A novel that should promote discussion amongst teens and their parents, Dancing with Ana is a great read. Rating: **** out of 5.

It's Monday! What are you reading?

Currently Reading:
Julie and Julia by Julie Powell (discussion is Sunday, August 30th -- all are invited!)

Destined for an Early Grave by Jeanniene Frost (good, but so far not my favorite of the series)

Dancing with Ana by Nicole Barker (almost finished, review this week)

Want to play along? Go to J.Kaye's Book Blog and join the fun!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Julie and Julia Discussion Reminder!

Just a quick reminder that there will be a discussion of Julie and Julia by Julie Powell on Barney's Book Blog on Sunday, August 30th. I am hoping to have the discussion questions posted on Saturday night. After the questions are up, everyone is welcome to post comments or questions of their own. I am going to try blogging live on Sunday night from 7-8pm EST, so anyone who is near their computer at that time is welcome to join me for a real time chat. Any questions? Just email me at Everyone is invited and please spread the word to anyone you know who has read the book. See you next Sunday!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Saturday Stuff -- 8/22

Good morning! This has been a slow reading week for me. I am currently reading 3 books (Dancing with Ana by Nicole Barker, Destined for an Early Grave by Jeanienne Frost, and Julie and Julia by Julie Powell) but I can not seem to finish anything!

I reviewed No One You Know by Michelle Richmond this week. This was my library book club's selection and our meeting was Monday. We even spoke to the author herself. She was wonderful and gave us a lot of information about how she wrote the book. My mom absolutely loved this book and we both recommend anyone who enjoys a character driven mystery to check it out.

In other news, Barney's Online Book Club's discussion of Julie and Julia by Julie Powell is next Sunday (August 30th). This should be a fantastic discussion and I invite anyone who has read the book to join us next Sunday. The more the merrier!

Also, this week the BBAW nominations were announced and I was very lucky to be nominated for 4 awards (Best New Blog, Most Concise Blog, Best Literary Fiction Blog, and Best Book Club Blog). Thanks so much to the bloggers who nominated me. I am thrilled!

Okay, so I am off to try and finish a book and enjoy my Saturday. I hope you have a great day as well!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday Finds -- 8/21

Happy Friday! My find this week is my library book club's selection for September: The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff. Here is the Barnes and Noble description:

It is 1875, and Ann Eliza Young has recently separated from her powerful husband, Brigham Young, prophet and leader of the Mormon Church. Expelled and an outcast, Ann Eliza embarks on a crusade to end polygamy in the United States. A rich account of a family’s polygamous history is revealed, including how a young woman became a plural wife. Soon after Ann Eliza’s story begins, a second exquisite narrative unfolds–a tale of murder involving a polygamist family in present-day Utah. Jordan Scott, a young man who was thrown out of his fundamentalist sect years earlier, must reenter the world that cast him aside in order to discover the truth behind his father’s death.

Have you read this book? If so, what did you think?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!

I just wanted to say a quick thank you to the lovely bloggers who nominated me for 4 (!) different BBAW awards. I am speechless and just wonderfully surprised by the fantastic recognition. Thank you so very much!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Review -- No One You Know

No One You Know
by Michelle Richmond
Bantam Books, 2009
352 pages

Summary: Twenty years after the death of her sister Lila, Ellie comes face-to-face with her sister's lover, the man she believes killed Lila. After their brief encounter, Ellie begins to investigate what really happened to Lila on that fateful night.

Review: An interesting look at how traumatic events can change the life of those left behind, No One You Know is an engaging read. Michelle Richmond describes the very different lives of two sisters. Lila, a mathematical genius, whose life is taken away too soon and Ellie, an average girl whose life is scarred by the death of her sister. The novel is part character piece and part mystery as Ellie looks for her sister's killer more than twenty years later. The murder and it's outcome are strongly written and the ending was satisfying for this reader. I was struck by the intensity of Ellie's perceptions of herself and her place in the world, which are questioned and altered due to the death of her sister. The only difficultly I had with this book was the mathematical puzzles presented, not being interested in math I had a hard time understanding and concentrating on those sections. Rating: **** out of 5.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

It's Monday! What are you reading? -- 8/17

This meme is hosted by J. Kaye over at J.Kaye's Book Blog.

Currently Reading:
Dancing with Ana by Nicole Barker (just started, getting some good blog buzz)
Julie and Julia by Julie Powell -- Barney's Online Book Club Selection
A Kiss of Shadows by Laurell K. Hamilton (a re-read)

Read / Reviewed / Reviews to come:
Montana Rose by Mary Connealy -- review
Already Dead by Charlie Huston -- review
Evermore by Alyson Noel -- review
High Five by Janet Evanovich -- S. Plum Challenge -- review
No One You Know by Michelle Richmond -- Library Book Club -- review to come

What are you reading?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Friday Finds -- 8/14

This meme is hosted over at Should Be Reading.

This week my find comes from Entertainment Weekly. It is The Magicians by Lev Grossman. Here is the Barnes and Noble description:

At once psychologically piercing and magnificently absorbing, The Magicians boldly moves into uncharted literary territory, imagining magic as practiced by real people, with their capricious desires and volatile emotions. Lev Grossman creates an utterly original world in which good and evil aren't black and white, love and sex aren't simple or innocent, and power comes at a terrible price.

Sounds utterly fantastic, doesn't it?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Review -- Evermore

by Alyson Noel
St. Martin's Griffin, 2009
301 pages

Summary: Ever moves to Southern California after her family is killed in a car crash. After the accident, Ever is left with psychic gifts and struggles to control them. She is drawn to Damien, a new student at her school, who can tone down the intensity of her new powers with his touch.

Review: A paranormal romance for the young adult crowd, Evermore is an entertaining novel. The story is strong in the beginning and Alyson Noel had a great gift for storytelling. Noel develops interesting characters and gives readers an unique twist on the paranormal genre. I felt the main character of Ever was interesting -- racked with guilt over the accident, determined to live a normal life, and enraptured by a boy she just met. There were parts of the plot I found somewhat confusing, especially at the end when the villain needs to be defeated. Overall, a quick and fun read that should go over well with the Twilight crowd. Rating: *** out of 5.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Review -- Already Dead

Already Dead
by Charlie Huston
Ballantine Books, 2005
268 pages

Summary: Joe Pitt is a rouge vampire and private investigator living in Manhattan. While looking for a zombie infecting the population, he is called in to investigate the disappearance of a wealthy teenage girl.

Review: Wow -- this book is not for the faint of heart. Already Dead is gritty, morose, and action packed. Joe is a vampire who is living on his own and is balancing his individual lifestyle around the politics of neighboring vampire clans. Much of the story revolves around vampire politics and how Joe can make a living without getting too involved. Joe is tough and makes no excuses for his choices. He is a fantastic character that jumps off the page. The writing is strong, especially the dialogue, and the plot is fast paced. Most likely not for the vampire romantics, but overall this novel is a great read. Ratings: **** out of 5.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Review -- Montana Rose

Montana Rose
by Mary Connealy
Barbour Publishing, 2009
318 pages

Summary: When Cassie Griffin's husband dies, she ends up marrying rancher and preacher Red Dawson before other area cowboys can claim her as a wife. Pregnant and alone, Cassie learns to love Red and their life together even as it is threatened by the obsession of local goon Wade Dawson.

Review: A fun story that is filled to the brim with scripture and lessons on how to be a good Christian, Montana Rose is a fun read. If Christian fiction is not your genre, I would pass on this book. There is very little violence and bad language and a whole lot of love thy neighbor. Even though I read very little religious fiction, I couldn't help but enjoy this book. Mary Connealy tells a great story, filled with interesting characters, and the pages just fly by. Rating: *** out of 5.

Monday, August 10, 2009

It's Monday! What are you reading? -- 8/10

This a meme that is hosted by J. Kaye. It's Monday! What are you reading this week? is a weekly event to celebrate what we are reading for the week as well as books completed the previous week.

Sorry I am late with my post but I have the day off of work and have been sleeping and reading and laying around most of the day. It has been fabulous!

Currently Reading:

No One You Know by Michelle Richmond (very good, for book club)
Persuading Annie by Melissa Nathan (just started)

Read / Reviewed / Reviews To Come:

Montana Rose by Mary Connealy -- review to come

Evermore by Alyson Noel -- review to come

Glitter Baby by Susan Elizabeth Phillips -- review to come

Already Dead by Charlie Huston -- review to come

The Bronte Project by Jennifer Vandever -- review

The Lost Recipe for Happiness by Barbara O'Neal -- review

What are you reading this week?

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Saturday Stuff -- 8/8

I hope everyone in bloggerland is having a wonderful Saturday. Lots to do today, so let's get to the books!

Question of the Week: Do you read author interviews on blog sites? Do you post author interviews on your blog?

I have posted one author interview a few months ago and was surprised by the small response I got from the post. I asked pretty generic questions, but the post was short and I thought the author's answers were very interesting. So what makes a great author interview? As a reader, what makes you stop and read?

Currently Reading:
Glitter Baby by Susan Elizabeth Phillips (I may stop reading this, not really liking any of the characters, will give it another 20 pages or so)

Finished Reading This Week:
Already Dead by Charlie Huston (vampire noir -- not for the faint of heart)
Mona Lisa Awakening by Sunny (paranormal romance a la Laurell K. Hamilton)

Reviewed This Week:

***Book Recommendation: I am looking for a historical fiction recommendation. I would like to submit a review to the upcoming Bookworm's Carnival but read very little historical fiction. Is there a fantastic book from this genre that is a must read?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Friday Finds -- 8/7

My Friday Find this week is by a local author, J. North Conway. His book, King of Heists, is not my normal fare (being non-fiction) but I absolutely love stories about bank robberies. Here is the Barnes and Noble description:

King of Heists is a spellbinding and unprecedented account of the greatest bank robbery in American history, which took place on October 27, 1878, when thieves broke into the Manhattan Savings Institution and stole nearly $3 million in cash and securities—around $50 million in today’s terms. Bringing the notorious Gilded Age to life in a thrilling narrative, J. North Conway tells the story of those who plotted and carried out this infamous robbery, how they did it, and how they were tracked down and captured.

What is your Friday Find?

*** Interested in joining an online book club? This month Barney's Online Book Club is discussing Julie and Julia by Julie Powell. All are welcome! Click here for more information.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Review -- The Lost Recipe for Happiness

The Lost Recipe for Happiness
by Barbara O'Neal
Bantam, 2009
447 pages

Summary: Elana gets the chance to run her own kitchen in celebrity director Julien Liswood's newest restaurant. The offer couldn't come at a better time as she breaks up with her boyfriend and is fired from her job. But as she starts over in Aspen, she is overwhelmed by the demands of a new job, the difficulty of a rival chef, the attraction she feels towards her new boss, and the memories of her terrible past.

Review: I thought this would be a quick chick-lit read and was very surprised by the depth of the characters and the immense sadness which is woven throughout the plot. The story is filled with great characters, all of whom have difficult pasts which they must overcome. The plot is fast paced, but the complexity of it is overwhelming. There are secrets, lies, romances, fate, soul mates, murder, car accidents, ghosts, recipes, and teenage angst all rolled into one story. Barbara O'Neal's writing is wonderful, but is sometimes overshadowed by the tremendous plot. Rating: *** out of 5.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Review -- The Bronte Project

The Bronte Project: A Novel of Passion, Desire, and Good PR
by Jennifer Vandever
Shaye Areheart Books, 2005
278 pages

Summary: Sara is a Bronte scholar and has always believed in romantic and torturous love. That is until her fiance leaves her, she loses her job because of Princess Diana scholar, and her ideas for a movie based on the Brontes is turned into anything but historically accurate.

Review: The Bronte Project is an interesting ride. The novel is one woman's journey to live the romanticism of the Brontes' novels. Jennifer Vandever shows the funny side to academia, the humorous competition and the ridiculous controversies. Sara is a wonderful character -- funny and smart. As she tries to get over a broken heart, she stumbles through her life making decisions not based on what will make her happy. It is only through a unique cast of supporting characters that she does truly find the ending that is right for her. This novel is not chick-lit, it works in the same way that Jennifer Johnson is Sick of Being Single works, it has the characters making hard decisions that the reader may not agree with. Rating: ***1/2 out of 5.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

It's Monday! What are you reading? -- 8/3

Currently Reading:
Dead Already by Charlie Huston (really intense, about 1/2 way through)
No One You Know by Michelle Richmond -- Library Book Club (just started)
Read, Reviewed, Reviews to Come:
High Five by Janet Evanovich -- review to come (Stephanie Plum Challenge)
The Bronte Project by Jennifer Vandever -- review to come
The Lost Recipe for Happiness by Barbara O'Neal -- review to come

In other news... Barney's Online Book Club has chosen Julie and Julia by Julie Powell for their August 2009 selection. All are welcome to join in the discussion! Click here for more information...

What are you reading this week?

Month in Review -- July 2009

Read and Reviewed:
Barney's Online Book Club August 2009 Selection -- Julie and Julia by Julie Powell. All are welcome to join us!
Bookworms Carnival -- my review of Something Rotten was featured!
Favorite Books? Curse of the Spellmans, The Late, Lamented Molly Marx, Something Rotten
Just Okay Books? Mr & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy, Burn, Fragile Eternity
How was your July?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Barney's Online Book Club -- August 2009 Book Selection

The book selection for August 2009 is Julie and Julia by Julie Powell! Thanks to everyone who voted. The discussion will be held on Sunday, August 30th. If anyone is interested in joining us, please leave your email in the comments section so I can send you book club updates or just jot down the date and come back for the discussion! All are welcome. If you have any questions, please email me at
Happy Reading!