Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday Finds -- 2/25

This meme is hosted by Should Be Reading.

Happy Friday! My find this week is A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. Here is the Barnes and Noble description:

Bennie Salazar, an aging punk rocker and record executive, and the beautiful Sasha, the troubled young woman he employs, never discover each other's pasts, but the reader does, in intimate detail, along with the secret lives of a host of other people whose paths intersect with theirs in the course of nearly fifty years. A Visit from the Goon Squad is about time, about survival, about our private terrors, and what happens when we fail to rebound.

What did you find this week?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday Finds -- 2/18

This meme is hosted by Should Be Reading.

Happy Friday! My find this week is The Secret of Everything by Barbara O'Neal. Here is the Barnes and Noble description:

At thirty-seven, Tessa Harlow is still working her way down her list of goals to “fall in love and have a family.” A self-described rolling stone, Tessa leads hiking tours for adventurous vacationers–it’s a job that’s taken her around the world but never a step closer to home. Then a freak injury during a trip already marred by tragedy forces her to begin her greatest adventure of all. Located high in the New Mexico mountains, Las Ladronas has become a magnet for the very wealthy and very hip, but once upon a time it was the setting of a childhood trauma Tessa can only half remember. Now, as she rediscovers both her old hometown and her past, Tessa is drawn to search-and-rescue worker Vince Grasso. The handsome widower isn’t her type. No more inclined to settle down than Tessa, Vince is the father of three, including an eight-year-old girl as lost as Tessa herself. But Tessa and Vince are both drawn to the town’s most beloved eatery–100 Breakfasts–and to each other. For Tessa, the restaurant is not only the key to the mystery that has haunted her life but a chance to find the home and the family she’s never known.

I read The Lost Recipe of Happiness by Barbara O'Neal and really enjoyed it (click to read my review). Can't wait to read this one! What did you find this week?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Review -- Finny by Justin Kramon

by Justin Kramon
Random House, 2010
384 pages
*I purchased this book.

Summary (from Barnes and Noble): We meet Finny Short as an observant, defiant fourteen-year-old who can’t make sense of her family’s unusual habits: Her mother offers guidance appropriate for a forty-year-old socialite; her father quotes Nietzsche over pancakes. Finny figures she’s stuck with this lonely lot until she meets Earl Henckel, a boy who comes from an even stranger place than she does. Unhappy with Finny’s budding romance with Earl, her parents ship her off to Thorndon boarding school. But mischief follows Finny as she befriends New York heiress Judith Turngate, a girl whose charm belies a disquieting reckless streak. Finny’s relationships with Earl and Judith open her up to dizzying possibilities of love and loss and propel her into a remarkable adventure spanning twenty years and two continents. Justin Kramon has given us a wickedly funny odyssey with a moving and original love story at its core. Finny introduces us to an unforgettable heroine, a charmingly intricate world, and an uncommonly entertaining and gifted young novelist.

Review: When the reader first meets Finny, she is a scrappy sarcastic teenager that feels out of place within her own family. Then she meets Earl and the love she feels begins to change her and as the story continues a variety of events change the course of her life. The book is a great character driven novel and a surprisingly lovely love story. Though, at the heart, it is really a story about growing up and the people and places who influence how a person sees the world and themselves. The author has a wonderful writing style that just flows and the reader gets caught up in Finny's world. A really beautiful story that I could envision as a wonderful movie. Really beautiful, entertaining, and a fantastic read. Rating:****1/2 out of 5

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

3 W Wednesdays -- 2/16

This meme is hosted by Should Be Reading.

What are you currently reading? On Sunday night, I started My Life in France by Julia Child and Alex Prud'homme.

What have you recently finished reading? Last week I finished Secrets to Happiness by Sarah Dunn and am hoping to have a review posted soon.

What are you reading next? My mom gave me a copy of The Red Thread by Ann Hood and recommended it as well.

What are you reading?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!

I just received an email from the very lovely Julie over at Booking Mama. I was lucky enough to snag a copy of The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly in her latest giveaway. Thanks Julie! Here is the Barnes and Noble description:

Mickey Haller has spent all his professional life afraid that he wouldn't recognize innocence if it stood right in front of him. But what he should have been on the watch for was evil. Haller is a Lincoln Lawyer, a criminal defense pro who operates out of the backseat of his Lincoln Town Car, to defend the clients at the bottom of the legal food chain. It's no wonder that he is despised by cops, prosecutors, and even some of his own clients. From bikers to con artists to drunk drivers and drug dealers, they're all on Mickey Haller's client list. But when a Beverly Hills rich boy is arrested for brutally beating a woman, Haller has his first high-paying client in years. It's a franchise case and he's sure it will be a slam dunk in the courtroom. For once, he may be defending a client who is actually innocent. But an investigator is murdered for getting too close to the truth and Haller quickly discovers that his search for innocence has taken him face-to-face with a kind of evil as pure as a flame. To escape without being burned, Haller must use all of his skills to manipulate a system in which he no longer believes.

This sounds intense. Have you read it? If so, what did you think?

And if you haven't checked out Julie's blog, then you can click here for Booking Mama!

Monday, February 14, 2011

It's Monday! What are you reading? -- 2/14

This meme is hosted by Book Journey.

Happy Valentine's Day! This Monday I am reading My Life in France by Julia Child and Alex Prud'homme. Last week was okay. I was able to finish Secrets to Happiness by Sarah Dunn but decided to return As Always, Julia to the library. I have a very busy day planned with work and then class and then a lovely dinner with my boyfriend and friends. I hope everyone has a lovely Valentine's Day and spends time with the people they love and eats lots of chocolates!

What are you reading?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Friday Finds -- 2/11

This meme is hosted by Should Be Reading.

Happy Friday! My find this week is After You by Julie Buxbaum. Here is the Barnes and Noble description:

The complexities of a friendship. The unexplored doubts of a marriage. And the redemptive power of literature...Julie Buxbaum, the acclaimed author of The Opposite of Love, delivers a haunting, gloriously written novel about love, family, and the secrets we hide from each other-and ourselves. It happened on a tree-lined street in Notting Hill to a woman who seemed to have the perfect life. Ellie Lerner's best friend, Lucy, was murdered in front of her young daughter. And, as best friends do, Ellie dropped everything-her marriage, her job, her life in the Boston suburbs-to travel to London and pick up the pieces of Lucy's life. While Lucy's husband, Greg, copes with his grief by retreating into himself, eight-year-old Sophie has simply stopped speaking.

The book club I belong to read Julie Baxbaum's first novel The Opposite of Love (click to read my review), so I am looking forward to reading this. What did you find?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!

I am very lucky to have a won a copy of Mudbound by Hillary Jordan from Mary over at (the fabulous blog) Bookfan! Thank you Mary! Here is the Barnes and Noble description:

In Jordan's prize-winning debut, prejudice takes many forms, both subtle and brutal. It is 1946, and city-bred Laura McAllan is trying to raise her children on her husband's Mississippi Delta farm—a place she finds foreign and frightening. In the midst of the family's struggles, two young men return from the war to work the land. Jamie McAllan, Laura's brother-in-law, is everything her husband is not—charming, handsome, and haunted by his memories of combat. Ronsel Jackson, eldest son of the black sharecroppers who live on the McAllan farm, has come home with the shine of a war hero. But no matter his bravery in defense of his country, he is still considered less than a man in the Jim Crow South. It is the unlikely friendship of these brothers-in-arms that drives this powerful novel to its inexorable conclusion.

This sounds fantastic. Have you read it? If so, what did you think?

If you haven't visited Mary's blog, definitely go check it out here.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

3 W Wednesdays -- 2/9

This meme is hosted by Should Be Reading.

What are you currently reading? Right now, I am reading Secrets to Happiness by Sarah Dunn and am just a few pages into As Always, Julia edited by Joan Reardon.

What did you recently finish reading? The last book I finished was A Hopeless Romantic by Harriet Evans. I also recently reviewed The Book Club by Mary Alice Munroe.

What are you reading next? I am not sure. Maybe A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron.

What are you reading?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Review -- The Book Club by Mary Alice Munroe

The Book Club
by Mary Alice Monroe
Mira, 2008
368 pages
*I borrowed a copy from the library.

Summary (from Publisher's Weekly via Barnes and Noble): Monroe's (Girl in the Mirror) new novel opens as five friends, all members of a monthly book club, face turning points in their lives. Eve's husband dies suddenly, shattering her comfortable lifestyle, while Midge's mother makes an unannounced and unwelcomed reappearance. Annie finally feels ready to have a child, only to find her health and her marriage in jeopardy. Gabriella strains to make ends meet after her husband is laid off; Doris slides into depression as she tries to deny signs of her husband's infidelity. Sometimes close to and sometimes at odds with each other, the friends struggle to face harsh realities and, in the process, gain new independence.

Review: I had two big problems with this novel. First, I really don't think that I am the target demographic for this novel. Being in my thirties (without children) and reading about women and mothers in their late forties and fifties, I really had a hard time connecting with the characters. My other concern about this novel is the structure. The author spends a lot of time writing about certain members of the book club (such as Eve) and completely disregards others (such as Gabriella). Doris is a no show for many chapters as well. I would have enjoyed it more if there was more symmetry to the story lines and equal time given to the characters. Also, each chapter begins with a quote from the book that the club is reading at that time. Truthfully, I haven't read any of the books (except Pride and Prejudice) but most of the time I didn't understand how the quote and the book tied into the storyline. Other times, I felt the author beat me over the head with an explanation of how the book relates. I read this book for my book club and am looking forward to hearing what everyone has to say about this novel. For me, it just wasn't my cup of tea but I did read the entire book and found portions interesting (especially Doris's transformation). Rating: *1/2 out of 5.

Monday, February 7, 2011

It's Monday! What are you reading? -- 2/7

This meme is hosted by Book Journey.

Happy Monday Everybody! I am about halfway through Secrets to Happiness by Sarah Dunn. Every spare second that I am not working or completing school work, my nose is in this book. Last week, I reviewed the wonderful Ines of My Soul by Isabel Allende (click on title to read my review). I am missing book club tonight because of class but you can read my review of The Book Club by Mary Alice Monroe tomorrow!

What are you reading?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Friday Finds -- 2/4

This meme is hosted by Should Be Reading.

Happy Friday! My Friday Find for this week is The Silent Land by Graham Joyce. Here is the Barnes and Noble description:

In the French Pyrenees, a young married couple is buried under a flash avalanche while skiing. Miraculously, Jake and Zoe dig their way out from under the snow—only to discover the world they knew has been overtaken by an eerie and absolute silence. Their hotel is devoid of another living soul. Cell phones and land lines are cut off. An evacuation as sudden and thorough as this leaves Jake and Zoe to face a terrifying situation alone. They are trapped by the storm, completely isolated, with another catastrophic avalanche threatening to bury them alive . . . again. And as the couple begin to witness unset­tling events neither one can ignore, they are forced to con­front a frightening truth about the silent land they now inhabit.

Sounds creepy good! What did you find?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Currently Reading!

Even though classes have started, I am trying to read for pleasure about 1/2 an hour to an hour every night. I realize quite quickly that I really needed a light and entertaining read at that time of day, so I picked up Secrets to Happiness by Sarah Dunn and am really enjoying it so far! Here is the Barnes and Noble description:

Holly Frick has just endured the worst kind of breakup: the kind where you're still in love with the person leaving you. While her wounds are still dangerously close to the surface, her happily married best friend confesses over a bottle of wine that she is this close to having an affair. And another woman comes to Holly for advice about her love life—with Holly's ex! Holly decides that if everyone around her can take pleasure wherever they find it, so will she. As any self-respecting 30ish New York woman would do, she brings two males into her life: a flawed but endearing dog, and a good natured, much younger lover. She's soon entangled in a web of emails, chance meetings, and misguided good intentions and must forge an entirely new path to Nirvana.

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

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

3 W Wednesdays -- 2/2

This meme is hosted by Should Be Reading.

What are you currently reading? Right now, I am reading Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell. It is good but I am thinking that I need something light to read before bed. Any suggestions? You know, a little chick-lit or a funny romance?

What have you recently finished reading? I recently finished A Hopeless Romantic by Harriet Evans, a very fun book. I am hoping to post a review next week.

What are you reading next? Like I said before, I am looking for something light. Or maybe an adventurous YA novel. Any suggestions?

What are you reading?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Review -- Ines of My Soul by Isabel Allende

Ines of My Soul
by Isabel Allende
HarperCollins, 2006
336 pages
*I borrowed a copy from the library.

Summary (from Barnes and Noble): In the early years of the conquest of the Americas, Inés Suárez, a seamstress condemned to a life of toil, flees Spain to seek adventure in the New World. As Inés makes her way to Chile, she begins a fiery romance with Pedro de Valdivia, war hero and field marshal to the famed Francisco Pizarro. Together the lovers will build the new city of Santiago, and they will wage war against the indigenous Chileans—a bloody struggle that will change Inés and Valdivia forever, inexorably pulling each of them toward separate destinies.

Review: This novel is so richly descriptive and wonderfully written. The novel's heroine, Ines Suarez, is a strong woman living during a turbulent and tragic period of Spanish history. The great strength of this book is author's description of the lengths that the Spaniards went to in order to conquer Chile. The journey is impossibly difficult but Ines takes the reader through it one step at a time in her strong and proud point of view. However, there are breaks in her story that show the humble and wise old woman she becomes. A remarkable character driven novel that also educates the reader about a time period very rarely written about. Rating: **** out of 5.