Saturday, July 31, 2010

July 2010 Wrap Up

I had a tough month! For the first few weeks I was stuck on some real chunksters and had to bring them back to the library unfinished, but I am finally back in the reading groove!

My reviews:

I actually enjoyed all four of these books, but Guernsey and This Must Be the Place were absolutely fantastic. I gave both books 5 stars!

How was your month?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Thank you for the award!

I was one of 50 wonderful book blogs that was recognized by Awarding the Web and Online PhD Programs. I want to thank everyone who voted for my blog and the wonderful people over at Awarding the Web for their dedication and support of book blogs (especially little ones like me).

To see the entire list of winners, please go to

Friday Finds -- 7/30

This meme is hosted by Should Be Reading.

My Friday find this week is The Embers by Hyatt Bass. Here is the Barnes and Noble description:

A novel about a once-ascendant Upper East Side family that has crumbled in the aftermath of a tragedy for which the father has been held responsible, and how they put the pieces of their lives back together.

I know it is a short summary, but doesn't it sound interesting? For more information, go to the Macmillian website. What did you find this week?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

My Favorite Reads -- 7/29

This meme is hosted by At Home With Books.

My favorite read this week is The Divorce Party by Laura Dave. This was a wonderful novel about a woman who throws a divorce party and how it affects her family. It is an engrossing read filled with interesting characters. (Divorce parties are unbelievably real, just google 'divorce party' and you get tons of sites devoted to the planning and preparation of divorce parties. One site even had 'divorce party games'.)

Check out the rest of my review: The Divorce Party Review

What is your favorite read?

3 W Wednesdays -- 7/28

This meme is hosted by Should Be Reading.

What are you currently reading? I am about 50 pages into A Wife's Tale by Lori Lansens (very sad so far) and 50 pages into Look Again by Lisa Scottoline (kind of dragging -- hope it picks up).

What have you recently finished? Last week I finished The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows and This Must Be The Place by Kate Racculia (both 5 stars -- click on the title to read my review).

What are you reading next? I think it's going to be One Day by David Nicholls or maybe Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven by Susan Jane Gilman.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Review -- This Must Be The Place by Kate Racculia

by Kate Racculia
Henry Holt, 2010
368 pages
*I received a review copy from the publisher.

Summary: When his wife unexpectedly dies, Arthur finds a mysterious postcard amongst her things and ends up in Ruby Falls. There he meets his wife's childhood friend, Mona and her daughter Oneida and he begins to learn who his wife was before she met him.

Review: How can I explain how much I loved this novel? The four main characters (Arthur, Mona, Oneida, and Eugene) are so wonderfully quirky that I couldn't help but love them. Author Kate Racculia really nailed the teenage angst and confusion as well as the intensity of a first relationship. The story is predictable but I think the author lets the reader in on the secret early so that we are able to bond with Mona and Arthur and dread the moment when the secret is revealed (this is just a theory). The story is engrossing and the writing is wonderful. I especially loved when the narrative progressed into the future to give the reader an understanding of how important the events of the story are and how they change the course of the character's life. Rating: ***** out of 5. (I had to, I LOVED IT.)

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Little Stranger Giveway Winner!





It's Monday! What are you reading? -- 7/26

Happy Monday! I am in such a good mood because even though my weekend was very busy I was still able to get a decent amount of reading done. Currently, I am reading Look Again by Lisa Scottoline (for book club) and A Wife's Tale by Lori Lansens (just started it last night). I finished the fantastic This Must Be The Place by Kate Racculia (review to come) and the outstanding The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (click on the title to read my review).

What are you reading?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Book Club Spotlight -- 7/25

Our book club will be reading Look Again by Lisa Scottoline for our September meeting. Here is the Barnes and Noble description:

The blockbuster New York Times bestselling author joins St. Martin's Press with a knock-out novel about a woman who comes to suspect that her adopted child is actually another couple's kidnapped child.

Sounds like an intriguing plot. Have you read this? If so, give it some love (or some dislike -- just no spoilers!) in the comments.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

What is your all time favorite book?

I know, I know -- It's like asking a mom to pick a favorite kid. It's really hard. Yet, once I sat and thought for a minute or two, it easily came to me. I guess you could break it down by genre. What is your favorite classic? Favorite historical romance or literary fiction? But that would take a long time and I am quite sure I wouldn't have a book for every genre.

So my pick? It is definitely Persuasion by Jane Austen. I could read Persuasion time and time again (in fact I have) and never get bored with it. I absolutely love Anne. She is the perfect heroine (okay, okay maybe not perfect -- she can be a bit of a doormat) who picks the perfect gentleman in Captain Wentworth (okay, okay he is not perfect either -- but very close). I love the family running away from the collectors, the hypochondriac sister and her sweet country in-laws. I love all the talk about the Navy and their trip to Lyme. I love the scandal in Bath and (of course) the perfect ending.

All right! Enough gushing! What is your all time favorite book?

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Little Stranger Giveaway

I am giving away one gently used copy of The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. Here is the Barnes and Noble description:

Set in rural Warwickshire just after the Second World War, The Little Stranger is her fifth novel, the first with a male narrator, Dr. Faraday. We meet the doctor at Hundreds Hall, a former grand structure now wasting away, and home to the Ayreses for close to two centuries. Members of the landed gentry now fallen to ruin, the Ayreses -- Mrs. Ayres and her two grown children, Caroline and Roderick -- seem steeped in a bygone, gentler age. Called upon to examine the housemaid, Dr Faraday finds himself strangely drawn to the dilapidated house, where his own mother used to work as a maid 30 years ago. What begins as mild fascination with the house and its residents will transform itself into something more pronounced as Dr. Faraday scrambles to make sense of the strange happenings that begin to haunt Hundreds. Unexplained marks appear on the walls, fires start on their own accord, and footsteps break the silence of unoccupied rooms. Acting both as doctor and confidant, Dr. Faraday's life becomes closely entwined with the Ayreses, even as a string of greater tragedies descend on the Hundreds. This is quintessential Waters territory -- involving madness, suicide, and an arguable murder -- perfected over the rather steep arc of her work. Dripping with psychological suspense, The Little Stranger keeps the reader guessing on whether it is an atmospheric horror story or a macabre murder mystery right to the end.

And here is my review: The Little Stranger Review

If you would like to enter the giveaway, then leave your name and email address in the comments section. The giveaway will close on Sunday, July 25th at midnight EST. Only US residents please. Good luck!

Friday Finds -- 7/23

This meme is hosted by Should Be Reading.

Happy Friday! My Friday Find is Bird In Hand by Christina Baker Kline. Here is the Barnes and Noble description:

The accident was just that -- an accident. It was dark, it was raining, ALISON had two drinks in her, and the other car ran the stop sign. She just didn't get out of the way fast enough. But now a little boy -- not her own -- is dead, and Alison finds herself trapped under the twin burdens of grief and guilt, and feeling increasingly estranged from her husband . . . CHARLIE, who has his own burdens. He's in a job he doesn't love so that Alison can stay home with the kids (and why isn't she more grateful for that?); he has a house in the suburbs and a long commute to and from the city each day. And the only thing can focus on these days is his secret, sudden affair with . . . CLAIRE, Alison's best friend. Bold where Alison is reserved; vibrant where Alison is demure, Claire has just had her first novel published, a thinly-veiled retelling of her childhood in South Carolina (which is also Alison's, in a sense). But even in the whirlwind of publication, Claire can't stop wondering if she should leave her husband . . . BEN, an architect who is thoughtful, kind, and patient. And who wants nothing more than a baby, or two -- in fact, exactly the kind of life that Charlie and Alison have . . . Four people, two marriages, one lifelong friendship: everything is about to change.

Sounds very interesting! What did you find this week?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Review -- The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Random House, 2008
288 pages
*I borrowed this book from the library.

Summary: Shortly after WWII, writer Juliet Ashton befriends the members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society.

Review: I absolutely loved this novel. It is a wonderful light, easy read that just transports you to another time and place. Told completely through letters, the characters (especially Juliet) shine through the page and give the novel a light and breezy tone. The story of a community living through the Occupation is an upbeat survivors tale with a little history mixed in. All of the society members are wonderfully unique individuals that the reader can easily love. I definitely recommend this novel. Rating: ***** out of 5.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

3 W Wednesday -- 7/22

This meme is hosted by Should Be Reading.

What are you currently reading? I am currently reading This Must Be the Place by Kate Racculia. So far it's a wonderfully funny read with really interesting characters.

What have you recently finished reading? The fantastic Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (review coming soon!).

What are you reading next? I am thinking either A Wife's Tale by Lori Lansens or The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Arriving Last Week

I received a copy of One Day by David Nicholls in the mail last week. Here is the Barnes and Noble description:

It's 1988 and Dexter Mayhew and Emma Morley have only just met. They both know that the next day, after college graduation, they must go their separate ways. But after only one day together, they cannot stop thinking about one another. As the years go by, Dex and Em begin to lead separate lives—lives very different from the people they once dreamed they'd become. And yet, unable to let go of that special something that grabbed onto them that first night, an extraordinary relationship develops between the two.
Over twenty years, snapshots of that relationship are revealed on the same day—July 15th—of each year. Dex and Em face squabbles and fights, hopes and missed opportunities, laughter and tears. And as the true meaning of this one crucial day is revealed, they must come to grips with the nature of love and life itself.

And I read that they are developing the book into a movie starring Anne Hathaway -- sounds great, right? Now I just need to find the time to read it.

Monday, July 19, 2010

It's Monday! What are you reading? -- 7/19

Happy Monday! Well, I just got back from a weekend of camping in Maine and had a fantastic time. I hope everybody had a wonderful weekend. So what's booking? Well, I am making some progress on The Passage by Justin Cronin (Amy just showed up again and I am intrigued). I am also loving the very funny, This Must Be the Place by Kate Racculia (and hoping to have a review up this week). I have also started the lovely The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (for book club). Wow is that title a mouthful!

Last week I reviewed the wonderful The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon and gave it 4 1/2 stars (click on the title to read my review). Since I have three books going at once, my goal is to finish one and post a review this week. Wish me luck!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Book Club Spotlight

For next month's book club meeting, we chose to read the very popular The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. For anyone who hasn't read it, here is the Barnes and Noble description:

"I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers." January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she's never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb....

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends--and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society--born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island--boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.

I am actually hoping to start this book while camping this weekend. Wish me luck! If you have read this book, give it some love in the comments section (or some dislike if you wish) -- but no spoilers -- I haven't read it yet!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

When do you throw in the towel?

I am currently reading a book that is HUGE, very buzz worthy, and most bloggers are raving about it. Yet, I am struggling to get through this massive tome and am only 1/3 of the way through. When do I throw in the towel? When do you make the decision to stop reading?

Normally if a book doesn't catch me in the first 100 pages, I call it quits. There are two exceptions to this rule: 1. the book is for book club and 2. I accepted the book for review. I feel that I need to make a concerted effort to read the novel a book club member picked out because I would want them to make the same effort for a book I chose. With review books, I feel they should be read cover to cover because I made a commitment to read and review a particular novel.

When do you say enough is enough? Do you have any reading rules?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Friday Finds -- 7/16

My Friday Find this week is I'd Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman (available 8/17). Here is the Barnes and Noble description:

Eliza Benedict cherishes her peaceful, ordinary suburban life. But her tranquility is shattered when she receives a letter from the last person she ever expects to hear from: Walter Bowman. There was your photo, in a magazine. I'd know you anywhere. In the summer of 1985, when she was fifteen, Eliza was kidnapped by Walter. He had killed at least one girl and Eliza always suspected he had other victims as well. Now on death row for the rape and murder of his final victim, Walter seems to be making a heartfelt act of contrition. Having wondered why Walter had let her live, she cautiously makes contact with him. Yet as Walter presses her for more and deeper contact, it becomes clear that he is after something greater than forgiveness. He wants Eliza to remember what really happened that long-ago summer. He wants her to save his life. And Eliza, who has worked hard for her comfortable life, will do anything to protect it—even if it means finally facing the terrible truth she's kept buried inside.

I am really interested in thrillers lately and this book had definitely peaked my interest. I actually read and reviewed another book by Laura Lippman called What the Dead Know (click on title to read my review) and am hoping to enjoy this one as well. What did you find this week?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

My Favorite Reads -- 7/15

This meme is hosted by At Home With Books.

My Favorite Read this week is the lovely Paper Towns by John Green. I reviewed this a few months back and wrote:

I absolutely could not put this novel down. The characters are fun, smart, and interesting high school students who are pulled into the mystery of Margo's disappearance. John Green keeps the story rolling with an intriguing plot, crisp dialogue, and wonderful characters.

It is an absolutely awesome read. What is your favorite read this week?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Did Everybody Get This Email?

I received an email from one of the publicists over at Viking/Penguin Publicity. Have you seen this?



Penguin Books invites you and your readers to join the celebrated mystery author, Tana French, for a chat at the Penguin Water Cooler on Tuesday, July 20th at 1:30 PM ET, hosted
here on the Penguin USA website!

I won't be participating because I will be at work (and I haven't read her new book). Will you be there?

3 W Wednesdays -- 7/14

This meme is hosted by Should Be Reading.

What are you currently reading? I am currently reading This Must Be the Place by Kate Racculia (my daytime / gym book) and The Passage by Justin Cronin (my nighttime / bed book).

What did you recently finish? I recently finished reading The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. It was fantastic (click on the title to read my review).

What are you reading next? I want to start next month's book club book early, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. I have heard nothing but fantastic things about this novel and am hoping it's a quick read.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Review -- The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Knopf Doubleday, 2010
554 pages
*I borrowed this book from the library.

Summary: After a difficult childhood, David Martin becomes a fiction writer who is commissioned to write a religious text for a mysterious publisher.

Review: My summary of this book is terrible because SO MUCH more happens in this book, but I am finding the plot difficult to explain without spoiling too much. So you are getting a bare bones summary and a YOU SHOULD READ THIS review. The characters are mysterious with a touch of supernatural, the plot is dark and fast paced, and the writing is wonderful. My only complaint is that parts of the plot were confusing and the ending did not answer all of my questions. I do think it will make a fantastic book club book and lead to a great discussion tonight. I loved all the main characters (even when they made decisions I did not support) and was completely immersed into the world that the author created. Rating: ****1/2 out of 5.

Monday, July 12, 2010

It's Monday! What are you reading? -- 7/12

This meme is hosted by Book Journey.

Happy Monday! Why am I so excited? Because yesterday I finished my book club's selection before tomorrow's meeting! YEA!!! And the book was GOOD. Really, really GOOD. What was it? The book was The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. If you enjoy plot driven books with a lot of mystery and a little supernatural element, then definitely check out this book.

Now that I am ready for book club, I am going back to reading The Passage by Justin Cronin (about 300 pages in). I received a few emails from other bloggers telling me not to give up on this chunkster, so I am going to take their advice and give it another week. No promises after that! I also started This Must Be the Place by Kate Racculia and so far am very intrigued.

What are you reading this week?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Are you an organized blogger?

What kind of blogger are you: do you schedule your posts ahead of time or do you fly by the seat of your pants?

Personally, I post on the days when I can. I very rarely schedule posts ahead of time, unless I have extra time during the day to crank out a few extra posts for days I don't blog (like the weekend). I have a tentative organized schedule in my head: Tuesdays/Thursdays I post reviews if I am done with a book and Monday/Wednesday/Fridays I do memes. On the weekends I post interesting books I have found around the web or in magazines or sometimes a discussion post (but I rarely post on the weekends).

So what about you? What is your blogging organizational style like?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Friday Finds -- 7/9

This meme is hosted by Should Be Reading.

Happy Friday! My Friday find this week is Blame by Michelle Huneven. Here is the Barnes and Noble description:

Patsy MacLemoore, a history professor in her late twenties with a brand-new Ph.D. from Berkeley and a wild streak, wakes up in jail—yet again—after another epic alcoholic blackout. “Okay, what’d I do?” she asks her lawyer and jailers. “I really don’t remember.” She adds, jokingly: “Did I kill someone?” In fact, two Jehovah’s Witnesses, a mother and daughter, are dead, run over in Patsy’s driveway. Patsy, who was driving with a revoked license, will spend the rest of her life—in prison, getting sober, finding a new community (and a husband) in AA—trying to atone for this unpardonable act. Then, decades later, another unimaginable piece of information turns up.

Doesn't this sound intense? I can't wait to read it. What did you find this week?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

3 W Wednesdays -- 7/7

This meme is hosted by Should Be Reading.

What are you currently reading? Well, The Host got put on the back burner so I could focus on The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (for book club next week) and The Passage by Justin Cronin (page 298 and climbing).

What have you recently finished reading? I just read and reviewed The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters (click on the title to read my review).

What are you reading next? I am not sure, but after The Host, The Passage, and The Angel's Game I am going to need a quick light read.

What are you reading?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Review -- The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

by Sarah Waters
Riverhead Books, 2009
510 pages
*I received this book from the publisher for review.

Summary: Taking place after WWII in the English manor house of Hundreds Hall, Dr. Faraday befriends the Ayres family as their home continues to deteriorate and odd things begin to happen. As each family member begins to hear, feel, and see strange and unexplainable things, Dr. Faraday acts as a confidante and tries to help the family understand what is happening to them.

Review: The Little Stranger is an amazingly well written and descriptive historical ghost story. Sarah Waters does a great job immersing the reader into the lonely and depressed world of the Ayres' family and Hundreds Hall. She also does a fantastic job of creating well rounded characters that you see develop throughout the story. Though many of the supporting character I very much enjoyed (especially Betty and Roddie) there were a few characters that I had a hard time liking towards the end (Dr. Faraday, Mrs. Ayres, Caroline). I especially had a hard time with Dr. Faraday and Caroline's relationship, he being so naive and she being with him for the wrong reasons. Overall, this book was a good read, but being so character driven and detail oriented the pace and plot was quite slow. My favorite parts were when odd and (sometimes) terrible things would happen to the family that were unexplainable. At those times, Waters had me on the edge of my seat. Rating: ***1/2 out of 5.

Have you read and reviewed this too? Leave a link to your review in the comments section!

Monday, July 5, 2010

It's Monday! What are you reading? -- 7/5

I hope everyone had a nice holiday weekend! It is HOT here in New England, so I am cozying up to the air conditioner with a few books.

This week I have to finish The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters (have to find out WHAT IS GOING ON in that creepy house) and The Passage by Justin Cronin (over 200 pages in and completely lost -- no clue what is going on) while I have stopped reading The Host by Stephenie Meyers (it's a re-read) because I really need to stop reading three books at once and finish one instead. I really need to start The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon this week for next Tuesday's book club meeting. The Passage may have to go on hold until after book club.

What did you read this week?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Disliking the Main Character?

As readers we all come across it -- a main character that we dislike or even avidly hate. So what do you do then? Do you give up on the book or do you push through in the hope of finding something about the character that is redeemable?

Personally, I am more of a plot driven reader. If you can give me a solid plot that moves along, then I am a happy reader no matter how awful the characters are. There are characters that I have disliked or even been indifferent too, but still enjoyed the book. Case in point, A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick -- horrible characters that do horrible things. I absolutely loved it. Another case in point, American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld -- doormat of a woman marries a ridiculous man who becomes president. I enjoyed this book as well. (Huh, I just noticed that the word 'wife' is in both titles. How interesting.)

Is there a book where you dislike the characters but still enjoy the book? Do you stop reading a book if you do not like the main character?

Friday Finds -- 7/2

My Friday Find for this week has been getting a ton of buzz on the blogs since BEA. It is Room by Emma Donoghue and will be available on September 13th (I know -- it seems so far away!). Here is the description from the Hachette Book Group website:

To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it's where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits. Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it's not enough...not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son's bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work. Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, ROOM is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.

What did you find this week?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

June 2010 Wrap Up

With June ending, here's a look at the books I read and reviewed this month. Click on the title to read my review:

5. The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson

Absolutely Loved: Stieg Larsson books

Just Okay: none -- this was a strong month

What did you read in June?