February 27, 2009

(20) Rise and Shine by Anna Quindlen (audiobook)

It has been a while since I have blogged about an audio book. Since I moved, my commute has been cut in half, so I don't listen to audio books as much as I did before.


I found this little gem in the bargain section at B&N. Rise & Shine by Anna Quindlen was a great book to listen to. There are three main characters in this book. Bridget Fitzmaurice, Megan Fitzmaurice & New York City.


Bridget & Megan have come along way since they were orphaned at such young ages. Megan, the older Fiztmaurice sister, is the star of a network morning show (think Katie Couric on the Today show). And Bridget is a social worker in the projects. They are as close now as they were when they were kids.


One morning, Megan shocks the country when, thinking her mic is off, calls a guest "fuC%^& a$$%^&%. Her career & her marriage have spiraled out of control.



The fallout from Megan's little mistake doesn't just affect Megan. But Bridget and Leo as well. Not to mention the millions of people who are used to Megan being a part of their daily life. When Megan disappears to the Caribbean to recover from her mistake, can Bridget hold the family together & survive without her? Will Megan's career ever recover from the insult that was heard around the world?


I thoroughly enjoyed Rise & Shine. When talking with Jane, a Bookseller Extraordinaire, about reading Chick Lit books, she told me she had read Rise & Shine. But, I would not put in in the same classification as some of the "fluff" that I read. Not that "Chick Lit" books are bad, I just wouldn't recommend them to every customer. Rise & Shine is an intelligent, well written book. I would recommend it to any woman, no matter what their age. It is not Chick Lit, not fluff, and not a story to miss.

February 24, 2009

(19)Everyone is Beautiful by Katherine Center

As a single woman with no kids, there is a part of me that always think that married women have it better than me. Kind of a "the grass is always greener" type of feeling.

Well, guess what. Everyone is Beautiful will certainly dispell that myth. Marriage is hard. Motherhood is messy. Days go by when the only kiss you get from your husband is when he kisses you good-bye on his way to work.

Lanie & Peter met in college. Their story was a romantic one, but it went the wayside of many other romantic love stories. In quick succession they had three children, all boys. Peter is accepted into a special music school half way across the country from their family. So, there is Lanie. 33 years old. Living in student housing with three young boys. The lady down stairs is a mean witch. The extra weight from Baby Sam is still hanging around like a pet. And her young landlord just saw her naked. She has no friends & is grossly unhappy.

Oh yeah, motherhood & marriage is the glamorous life.

And then something changes. Lanie makes a friend, she joins the gym, and she starts to take photography classes at the extention center. Suddenly life is starting to look up. But what about her relationship with Peter? Can they find their way through the dirty diapers & sick kids to continue their romantic story before it is too late?

Everyone is Beautiful was a satisfying book to read. The main character knew her life was falling apart & she took great steps to stop the bleeding. I always enjoy a strong character, one who doesn't just sit back & wait for life to happen to her. She makes it happen for her. We all, single & married women alike, could learn a little something from Lanie.

February 23, 2009

(18) Thanks For The Memories by Cecelia Ahern -- On Sale April 7th


I love to laugh. There is nothing like a good belly laugh to brighten your day. So last night, I am in bed, reading Cecelia Ahern's, Thanks For the Memories and I get to the airport security scene, I started laughing so loud & so hard, I scared the dog. I have not laughed so much at a book, at anything, really, in a very, very long time.

I know you know who Cecelia Ahern is. She wrote the book that was made into theItalic movie, P.S. I Love You. She is also a writer for the quirky, fun comedy, Samantha Who? She is the quintessential "Chick Lit" writer & I always look forward to reading her books. Thanks For the Memories did not disappoint.

Joyce is a 33 year old woman who wakes up in a hospital room with her father sitting next to her bed & the anguish of knowing that she just lost her baby. The bleeding was so bad that she had to have a blood transfusion. Joyce does not leave the hospital the same person she was when she entered. The tragedy of the miscarriage, coupled with her blood transfusion has left her a different person. She knows that her marriage is over & she moves in with her father.

But that is not all. She suddenly has memories of a young child that she can not explain. She is speaking languages that she never could speak before. And she has detailed knowledge of architecture in places she has never visited before. What is this strange Deja Vu? Who is Justin Hitchcock? Who is the little girl?

Justin Hitchcock is a divorced American who followed his teenage daughter to the UK. He is working as a Guest Lecturer in various Universities throughout the UK. When one day he stumbles into the wrong Lecturer Hall & before he knows it, he finds himself donating blood. And ever since he finds himself drawn to this lady. He ran into her while he was getting a haircut, then she shows up in the strangest places. He is sure that he has never seen her before, but he has a feeling as if she is someone he should know. Someone special...

The concept of organ donor recipients taking on characteristic traits of their donor's in not unusual. It has been written about before, but Cecelia Ahern's unique brand of humor, written in the form of Joyce's seventy-something Father, makes this story one of the best of the year. He is a quirky old Irish man who will do anything for his daughter. And his love & devotion carries Joyce through the tough times.

Thanks For the Memories is a well written, hysterical, unique love story that will brighten your day from the inside out.

February 18, 2009

(17) True Colors by Kristin Hannah


Coming from a large family, I thought I knew a little something about sibling rivalry. But let me tell you, The Grey girls know how to do sibling rivalry.

Winona, Aurora, & ViviAnn are just young women with their mother passes away. ViviAnn, at twelve is the youngest. She seeks solace in her mother's beloved horse, Clem. Aurora & Winona try to survive & earn their father's respect & love. But through it all, the Sister's stay strong. That is until one man walks into their lives.

Dallas Raintree is a renegade. He is different from the Grey's in more ways than you can possibly imagine. That doesn't stop ViviAnn from falling in love with him & ripping apart her family. And causing a rift that may be irreparable. Can the Grey girls come together & survive the tragedy that threatens to destroy their family?

Kristin Hannah has written an amazing tale of family, love, intrigue & betrayal. Her characters are deeper than it first appears. They are three tough women who all want the same thing. Love, Happiness, & their father's respect. True Colors is a fabulous book. Fans of Kristin Hannah will not be disappointed & if this is the first book you read of hers, then load up on the caffeine, for you will be up all night reading.

February 15, 2009

Local Knowledge by Liza Gyllenhaal


Life is too short to struggle through a book. And if it takes me a week to finish any book (that is not Russian), that is too long in my opinion. I made it about 150 pages into the book, before I just couldn't read another page.

The premise is a good one. An East Coast town that because the weekend home to wealthy New York families & the local real estate agent that sold them their homes. But it just didn't grab hold of me.

The book was very hard to get into & the story never really seems to take off.

So to honor the Daytona 500, this one goes down as a DNF.

February 9, 2009

(16) Never Tell A Lie by Hallie Ephron



Within the first few pages of this book, I thought, I could see this as a movie. Maybe Reese Witherspoon or Kate Winslet as Ivy and Jude Law or Luke Wilson as David. This book was written to be a movie.

But only if the screenwriter alters some details.

Ivy & David, high school sweethearts, have recently moved into a big, old, Gothic house in their hometown. The previous owner, a renowned eccentric, has left lots of stuff behind. So, in preparation of the birth of their first child, they decide to have a yard sale. Imagine their surprise when the class outcast from high school shows up at their yard sale. Ivy is more than a little uncomfortable & David tries to "save her" by offering Melinda (the outcast) a tour of the infamous house.

Melinda is never seen again. 24 hours past & soon both David & Ivy are suspects in her alleged murder. But where is the body? Did anybody see her actually leave the house? What happened in High School that David is keeping from her?

WARNING : Spoilers MAY slip out in the following paragraph!

So, the plot has some good "bones", but the author really wrote the HOUSE to be another character. And I liked that, because I love houses & architecture. I had figured out that Melinda wasn't dead. And I had figured out that she was inside the house planting evidence. But having her sneaking out to her late Mother's house? REALLY? When you lay the groundwork of a Gothic, mansion type house, you lay the groundwork for hidden rooms. And THAT is what would have made the story perfect. Instead, Ms Ephron had the crazy lady sneaking back into the house. Have her hide out in secret rooms & sneaking out to plant the evidence. It was really kind of disappointing.

So, while I can see a screenplay developing from this plot, there needs some tweaking, in my opinion, before it will be a big moneymaker. Never Tell A Lie was a fast read. I read it in about 90 minutes after I went to bed last night. It is a bit predictable, even without meeting my expectations of the house, I had figured out the twist not very far into the story. But I still stuck with it to see how the author was going to get to the "happy ending". It wasn't the best suspense novel I have ever read, but it wasn't the worst.

February 6, 2009

(15) The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes by Diane Chamberlain


It is February 6th & I spent this afternoon sitting on the porch wearing flip flops & reading a good book. It is by far, the best way to spend a Friday afternoon.

The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes turned out to be a far better book than I had anticipated. It had romance, suspense, bad boys, & shocking secrets. All key components of a great book.

It is 1977 when sixteen year old orphan, CeeCee Wilkes gets swept off of her feet by 22 year old Timothy Gleason. He is intelligent, witty, handsome & from a wealthy family. CeeCee is at his beck & call. She does his laundry, cooks his food, does his laundry, but when he asks her for a special favor she hesitates before saying yes.

You see, Timothy has told CeeCee about his sister, Andie. He told CeeCee that Andie was on Death Row for murdering her rapist and he had a plan that would force the Governor to set her free. He wants CeeCee to help kidnap the Governor's wife & hold her hostage until their demands have been met. Afraid of losing Tim's love, CeeCee agrees.

That one decision, made by a teenager changes the lives of half a dozen people. And dooms CeeCee to a life on the run.

Fast forward almost thirty years. CeeCee Wilkes has become Eve Ellison. She is a respected therapists and has two wonderful daughters. But bit, by bit the lies of her past are being exposed. Will it ruin the life she has built & send her to prison forever?

The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes is on par with the likes of Jodi Picoult. A tragic story that threatens to destroy everyone involved. It is a fast, but consuming, read. The characters are likeable even with their epic flaws. A fabulous book for the next time you get to sit on the porch reading.

February 5, 2009

(14) The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan



If you read only one book I ever blog about. Please choose The Middle Place a biography by Kelly Corrigan. It is the most inspiring, uplifting & at the same time, heart wrenching book I have read in a very long time.

The Middle Place refers to that "place" that so many of us find ourselves in. That "place" where you are still your parent's child, but at the same time you are a parent to your own children. That place where you want to go to your parent's house when bad stuff happens at the same time your kids are wanting to crawl into bed with you.

"It's a giant Venn diagram where you are the only member of both sets."

And The Middle Place is a horrible place to be when you & your beloved father are both diagnosed with Cancer within weeks of each other. And on opposite sides of the country, no less.

Kelly Corrigan has written a funny memoir. She takes the time to really introduce us to her family. To her father, "Greenie" , to her mother, Mary & to her two older brothers, GT & Booker. She goes back & forth between the memories of her childhood & the realities of now. She tells us what it was like to grow up in an Irish-Catholic family with brothers who are as devoted to sports as they are to their sister. Like so many other people in this world, myself included, our families shape us into the people we are today. And that is never more evident than when a crisis hits & your world is rocked.

With the support of her wonderful husband, Edward, & her two daughters, Georgia & Claire, Kelly fights the Breast Cancer. And she fights for her Dad's bladder cancer, all the way across the country.

I laughed. I cried. I wanted to go & drink wine with Kelly. And watch Greenie's Lacrosse team. Even though I desperately love my family, I wanted to be a part of the Corrigan family. In Kelly's world, The Middle Place isn't a bad place to be.

If you would like to meet Kelly, check out her website http://www.kellycorrigan.com/ but please, be sure to pick up her book. I predict that it will win the B&N 2009 Discover New Writers Award for Non-Fiction. It will be a great injustice if she doesn't win.

February 4, 2009

(13) Dog On It by Spencer Quinn -- On Sale February 10, 2009



I wanted to like this book. I really, really wanted to like this book.

I love dogs. As I have said before, my dog is my baby. So when I heard that this was a mystery book told from the view point of the dog, I thought "SWEET!". But it just didn't "wow" me. And because of my own puppy dog, I find myself sensitive to animal cruelty & when even the hint of animal cruelty graced the pages of Dog On It it nearly turned my stomach.

The story itself is a bit predictable. Bernie is a Private Investigator in Arizona & his trusty companion, Chet, is the narrator of the story. They travel the desert in a beat up old Porsche & try to survive life after divorce. Just a dog & his man.

Bernie & Chet get a call from divorced mother, Cynthia Chambliss. Her teenage daughter never came home from school. Less than an hour passes from the time Chet & Bernie show up on the scene & Maddison walks in the door & all is well. Until two days later, when Cynthia calls back & Maddison never came home last night. Is this a typical runaway teen story or is there something more sinister at work?

Dog On It is a mystery with a gritty, rough around the edges Private Detective, told from the viewpoint of his expelled K-9 dog, Chet. The first few chapters are fun & interesting because it is fresh & Chet is a cool dog. But after the 100th time Chet says "Have I mentioned that already?" I was ready to shut the book & move on. If you love dogs & you love mysteries, go ahead & check it out. It may be that I am way off base. I would love to hear what you think.

February 3, 2009

(12) Marshmallows For Breakfast by Dorothy Koomson


I was so excited to see Dorothy Koomson's new book that I bought it instantly. I read her book My Best Friend's Girl last spring & recommended it for weeks. Here is my review http://charlotteswebofbooks.blogspot.com/2008/03/30-my-best-friends-girl-by-dorothy.html.

While Marshmallows for Breakfast was not as easy for me to get into, once I did, I couldn't put it down. It is just as wonderfully written as her last book & her characters are so vividly real, you just want to reach through the pages & scoop them into your arms.

Kendra Tamale has just moved transferred back to the UK from spending a few years in Austrailia. She has taken an apartment above the garage of a man. She gets the scare of her life when two kids are standing there when she emerges from the shower one Saturday morning.

Kennie finds herself falling deeper & deeper into love. With Jaxson & Summer. The six year old twins of the landlord. And the landlord is pretty hard to resist, too. But they both have their pasts & they both have issues that hold them hostage from love.

Can this makeshift family work through everything to find permanent happiness?