May 31, 2011

(79)Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived In That House by Meghan Daum

It is no surprise to some of you that I have "House Lust". I have had it for years. I am one of those women that HGTV is specifically geared towards and I eat it all up.

Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived In That House is about a young woman who has restlessly moved from rental house to rental house while moving back and forth from California to Lincoln, Nebraska. She finally takes the big plunge in the shark infested waters of Los Angeles real estate. Let me just say that for what Meghan Daum paid for her hovel in LA - would have bought her a mansion in Wyoming. For real. But, having lived in Lincoln, she knew that when she took the plunge.

I enjoyed Life Would Be Perfect if I Lived In That House, but I need to tell you now that the majority of the book is about the rentals she lived in leading up to her purchase. I did enjoy how she told us what she paid in rent for each home, that gave me a chance to compare to what I have paid in rent over the years. My cheapest rent was $250/month in Red Oak, Iowa and my most expensive is $1400 in Casper, Wyoming.

If you have House Lust, this book will hit the spot. But don't go into it thinking it will be all about home ownership. It is more about being a rental dweller on the path to becoming a home owner.

May 30, 2011

May 27, 2011

(78)The Inner Circle by Brad Meltzer (Audio)

Since the weather has gotten nice (kinda) in Wyoming I have been out walking a lot. I figured that rather than listen to music while walking I would renew my Audible subscription and listen to books. They have a handy-dandy little app that makes it so easy.

For me, an audiobook has to be engaging and suspenseful or it will not generally hold my attention. My mind will wander and I will miss key parts. Brad Meltzer's, The Inner Circle, fits the bill. It is about a young archivist, Beecher White, who tries to impress an old friend, Clementine Kaye, by finding out about her father. In that simple process, Beecher uncovers a secret society as old as the country and his close friend, Orlando is killed. As Beecher searches for the truth about what happened to Orlando he learns some truth about his country and his President. Truths that shakes him to his core.

The Inner Circle was the perfect choice for a walking book. It kept me walking so I could hear what was going to happen next. The characters were well written and the narrator did a fabulous job. Overall it was exactly what I needed to encourage me to hit the trails again.

May 26, 2011

(77)Between Here & Forever by Elizabeth Scott

Teen literature sure has changed since I was a teen. I was a huge Christopher Pike, Sweet Valley High and honestly, Danielle Steele. Until the whole Twilight phenomenon I avoided teen lit like it was the plague. After reading the Twilight series I became a little more open to reading teen lit and I was a bit surprised to find out how much I was missing out on.

Between Here & Forever is the story of Abby and her sister Tess. Abby has lived in the shadow of Tess her whole life. Tess was always the "perfect" sister, loved by all. We, the reader, only know Tess after her accident. The accident that left her in a coma. Abby is struggling with Tess as she is now, she is desparate for the Tess she knew to come back. But as time goes on, Abby discovers that there was a whole side to Tess that she did not know.

Between Here and Forever is a teen lit novel packed full of the heavy stuff. There is self esteem issues, teen pregnancy,bullying, mental illness in the form of OCD, and same-sex teen relationships. By no stretch of the imagination could it could be considered "fluffy" because that is okay. Rarely is a teen's life all fluff. Don't be afraid to let your teen read this book though, Elizabeth Scott was very tasteful in addressing all of these issues without being graphic or gratuitous. I do think if you have a teen wanting to read this book, read it with them, the content is sure to lead to some wonderful conversation.

May 25, 2011

(76)Semi Sweet by Roisin Meaney

Roisin Meany has gathered a wonderful cast of characters in her new book, Semi-Sweet. She has written a tale of a small Irish town & how the life of one connects with the lives of many.Link

Hannah Robinson is living the dream. She is in love with an amazing man and she is just about to open the doors to her dream, a Cupcake Shop. On the day she is set to open, Patrick tells her he is leaving her for another woman. To say she is devastated is an understatement.

Hannah relies heavily upon her best friend, Adam and the shop to get her through this rough time, but now she is concerned if her shop going to survive the tough economic times. Will Hannah get her "Happy Ever After" or will she have to give up on her dreams?

Semi-Sweet is a sweet Chick Lit novel set in a small Ireland town. The author was creative in her story telling and for once not only do we get to see the Heroine get her heart broke, but we get to see what happens to the dirtbag after the fact. In this case, that was kind of fun.

May 24, 2011

(75)It's All Relative by Wade Rouse

There is NOTHING that cures what ails you like good old belly laughter. I, like many in this country, have been mesmerized by the tragedy in Joplin. After I found out my friend was safe, I just parked my butt in front of the television. But, much like after 9/11, there is only so much I can take.

Wade Rouse is the cure. A writer from the SW Missouri area himself, he has got to be one of the funniest writers I have ever read. It's All Relative is a collection of stories about Wade's holiday experiences. His tales range from hunting (make that digging for) Easter eggs as a kid to his first Thanksgiving with the "In-Laws" but NOTHING is funnier than his tale of his first Valentine's Day with his partner, Gary. I swear to God I nearly wet myself.

I never really got the humor of Augusten Burroughs or David Sedaris (don't hate me) but Wade Rouse ranks right up there with Jen Lancaster in my book. He finds humor in every situation and can turn it into a literary masterpiece with ease. Some call it witty, some call it sarcastic, but I call it perfect. If you are looking for something to take your mind off of the wrath of Mother Nature, pick up one of Wade Rouse's books and tell me what you think.

May 23, 2011

(74)What I Learned When I Almost Died by Chris Licht

It seems like recently, anyone who has had a near death experience gets a book deal. Famous not famous, good story or not a good story they sell their story to the closest publisher.

What I Learned When I Almost Died is a bit different and I will tell you why. Chris Licht, executive producer of the MSNBC morning show, Morning Joe, did not give up everything and move to a topical island, he didn't give up his high powered job to work with kittens. The title indicates that Chris Licht did change, by giving up his Blackberry, but really, when Chris Licht almost died, he got to truly see how many people loved him and that they would do ANYTHING, including asking Vice President Joe Biden to pull some strings. For the record, he did.

That realization, that he was loved by many, was almost more powerful to Chris Licht than the fact that he almost died. To read it on paper and watch the realization spread over him was a powerful thing for the reader.

I have never watched Morning Joe, heck I had to google to put faces to the names, but Chris Licht's story was powerful little story. It is a very fast read at just shy of 200 pages, but there is a great possibility of a huge impact. If there is a guy in your life who really doesn't get how loved they are, this might be the perfect Father's Day gift for him.

May 22, 2011

(73)The First Husband by Laura Dave

So, Annie Adams is living the dream. Her job as a travel writer takes her all over the world, she has the most amazing best friend, and even better yet, her best friend's brother, Nick, has been the love of her life for five years. Life is simply amazing.

Until that one fateful day she watches Roman Holiday. It seems to be a cursed movie for Annie, with bad things happening in her life right after watching the classic movie. This time is no different. Nick announces he wants to break up. After five years together to say Annie is crushed is a great understatement. She rebounds with the ever charming Griffin and in three months she is married to Griffin and moving to the other side of the country. Married life turns out to be tougher than Annie expected and to make matters worse, Nick shows up with an engagement ring. Will Annie give up Griffin for Nick or will she stick with The First Husband?

The First Husband was a fast read. I enjoyed Annie and her story, I even felt I could relate to her in certain situations - you know like the whole getting married fast and moving across country. I was really happy with her decision in the end, because it was a tough decision to make and I really think she stayed true to herself, which is sometimes a rare thing to find in some Chick Lit novels.

May 21, 2011

(72)The Bake Off by Beth Kendrick

The Sister relationship can be a tenuous one. Beth Kendrick illustrates just how tenuous in her new novel, The Bake Off.

Amy and her younger sister, Linnie, have been estranged for years. They both have resentments that they feel are justified. Amy feels that because Linnie was a child prodigy she was her parents favorite. And Linnie feels that because Amy was always surrounded by friends and was so popular, she had it easy. Their competition has carried on into adulthood. When their Grandmother enlists their help in a bake-off, they both agree, but for very different reasons. Will they be able to put their differences aside in order to win the big bake-off or is their relationship too damaged to survive?

I will be honest, I have read a lot of books by Beth Kendrick and this is not her best. The plot is a bit predictable and it feels as if I have met these characters before. But if you are looking for a bit of fluff to wile away the afternoon hours, go for it! Let me know what you think!

May 20, 2011

(71)Signs of Life by Natalie Taylor

Sometimes things happen in life that really test our strength.

Signs of Life is a biography about a young woman. A young, married, pregnant woman, who loses her husband to a tragic accident just a few short months prior to the birth of their son, Kai. In the Signs of Life, Natalie Taylor walks us through the unspeakable grief that envelopes her after his death. She tells us about how her incredible family and friends surround her and Kai. How they help her pick up the pieces of her shattered life. It is with their love and support, albeit sometimes overwhelming, that she is able to find a few "Signs of Life."

Signs of Life is not an easy read. It is emotionally raw and you are looking in on someone at the worst possible moments in her life. She shares her grief in an eloquent and witty way. As the book goes on, you know that Natalie is a fighter. She will never be "normal" again, but she will be okay, and that is enough for now.

May 19, 2011

(70)The Tender Mercy of Roses by Anna Michaels

The Tender Mercy of Roses was a haunting, mysterious novel about a young woman who was brutally murdered and the people who are desparate to find her killer.

Former detective, Jo Beth Dawson has been living at the bottom of a bottle for far too long. She is pulled back in to police work when she is the unfortunate soul to discover the body of Rodeo star, Pony Jones. She claws the way out of the bottle to start digging around and discovers that Pony Jones is more connected to her than she thought, but will she work with Pony's father Titus, or will Titus take matters into his own hands and handle the killer with deadly revenge. What neither of these people truly realize is that Pony is still with them, hovering over them as they work together to solve her murder.

The Tender Mercy of Roses was a great novel, along the same vein as The Lovely Bones. But this novel is set in a world known as the deep south, where the rodeo circuit is the real All American sport and Native American folklore is more common than fairy tales. The story is a haunting story that will capture your attention until the very last page. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it, but only mildly surprised at who the real killer was.

May 18, 2011

(69)Not Dead & Not For Sale by Scott Weiland

I was never really a big Stone Temple Pilots fan, sure I liked Interstate Love Song and other tunes played on mainstream radio, but I absolutely *loved* Velvet Revolver. The song below was the "anthem" of a certain time in my life and it brings back a LOT of memories.

So when I saw that Scott Weiland had an autobiography coming out & I had a chance to snag an early copy, I jumped on it. Not Dead and Not For Sale is your pretty standard rockstar bio. He tells us about his childhood, not as rough as you would think, and his relationship with his parents. He tells us about his marriages and their ultimate demise. And of course he tells us about the drugs. Lots & lots of drugs. And lots & lots of stints at rehab. Throughout the book though, the one thing I found admirable was his his utter devotion to his kids.

Not Dead and Not For Sale is not one of those bio's that is all about the name dropping and shocking tales. Yeah, some of his experience while on drugs is a bit jaw dropping, but overall it is just a book about a talented guy struggling to stay clean in a world where drugs are like candy.

May 17, 2011

(68)Blackberry Summer by RaeAnne Thayne



Claire's morning goes drastically downhill when she walks into her bead store to find out that it had been burglarized. It gets even worse when her ex-husband's new wife walks in and the new Chief of Police turns out to be her best friend's younger brother. Riley McKnight has certainly grown up. No longer is her the pesky little boy that she remembers from childhood, but instead he is the strong, sexy, take-charge Chief of police. And someone that Claire has a hard time resisting.

Blackberry Summer was a decent, but extremely predictable. Claire is a divorced woman struggling to find happiness after her divorce. Riley is the bad boy turned cop returning home to redeem himself as the small town Sheriff. Like I said it was decent, but predictable. If you are looking for mindless fluff, pick it up. If you are looking for something with a little more substance, move on.

May 16, 2011

(67)Don't Breathe A Word by Jennifer McMahon

WOW! Jennifer McMahon knows how to write a novel!

Don't Breathe A Word is a novel about Sam and his missing sister, Lisa. Lisa has been missing for fifteen years. After a childhood of fairy tales and being told the fairies lived in the woods, Lisa disappeared into the woods that summer all those years ago, leaving her brother Sam with unanswered questions.

Fifteen years have gone by. Sam is about to become a Father for the first time. His girlfriend Phoebe is everything to him and they are the perfect couple. Until Sam receives a letter from Lisa, she is ready to come back from the fairies. That letter stirs up the memories of that long ago summer and as things unfold, Sam and Phoebe start uncovering the deep, dark secrets of Sam's family. Is the woman who emerged from the woods really Lisa? Where has she been all of these years and was it really the King of Fairies who had her all this time?

At first I did not know what to think about Don't Breathe A Word. It starts off a bit slow and a bit confusing, but the deeper you get into the novel, the more the pieces start coming together. The line between fantasy and reality is definitely blurred, but in a way that makes you believe that maybe fairies really do exist! I really did enjoy Don't Breathe A Word, the last 100 pages had my heart racing and my jaw dropping when the truth became clear. If you pick it up, don't give up, the ending is really worth the read!

May 15, 2011

(66)Long Drive Home by Will Allison

Long Drive Home is a unique novel about a man in a unique situation. Glen Bauer was driving home with his daughter like thousands of nights before. But this night is unique. Not once, but twice, Bauer encounters aggressive drivers on the road. After handling the first encounter in a way that left him shaken, Glen handles the next encounter in a way that kills a young man and changes Glen's life forever.

But there are no witnesses except for his young daughter. Glen can just keep his mouth shut and he will walk away unscathed. But can he count on young Sara to keep a secret?

Long Drive Home is an unique look at a unique ethical dilemma. What Glen did was wrong, without a doubt, but the way he and his wife handled it, well it wasn't exactly right, but who am I to say? I am not sure what I would have done in his position.

Long Drive Home is a short, fast read. At just under 200 pages you will be able to whip through it fairly quickly. But even for a quick read, I see hours of book club discussion coming from such a unique read.

May 14, 2011

(65)The Girls Guide to Homelessness by Brianna Karp

Brianna Karp has not had an easy life. I will not dispute that. She grew up in a strict Jehoveah Witness household, a religion she refers to as a cult. She was sexually, physically, and emotionally abused. In the tough economic climate that defined 2009, she was laid off and became homeless. Well, if you go by the most strict definition of the word. In reality she is a young, unemployed woman living in a 30 foot trailer that is parked in a Walmart parking lot. The Girls Guide to Homelessness is her tale of what her life as a "homeless" woman is like.

I have really mixed emotions about this book. It is really hard for me to have empathy for someone who calls herself homeless, yet has a roof over her head and a door that locks. Granted, there is no plumbing or electricity. To me it is a little more like "roughing it" than being homeless. It is also hard for me to feel empathy when I could see her choices lead her down a path that would only draw out her "homelessness". For example, flying her boyfriend in from Europe multiple times, giving him her laptop & buying a netbook herself. And yes I am including her entire relationship with that sleazeball, Matt. Oh & don't get me started on the whole Fezzik (her dog) situation. I nearly through my nook across the room at that point. I got a huge sense of "poor me, look at how bad my life is" and not enough "I will do ANYTHING to rectify my situation".

Bottom line, The Girls Guide to Homelessness, is one of those train-wreck type of books that you can't put down because you just want to see what happens next. Maybe it was her youth that kept her making stupid choices and kept her "homeless". Maybe it was her childhood issues and lack of a positive role model. Maybe it was a combination of everything. The Girl's Guide to Homelessness is worth the read, but be prepared to question the validity of the title. I know of a lot of truly homeless people who would give anything to be able to call a trailer in a Walmart parking lot "home." Maybe a title like "The Girls Guide to Bad Relationships" would be a more appropriate title.

May 13, 2011

(64)If You Were Here by Jen Lancaster

They say the line between fact and fiction is sometimes a thin one. Well that is most certainly the case in Jen Lancaster's new novel, If You Were Here. Jen's new novel is her first attempt at fiction, but the characters and the general plot is a thinly veiled interpretation of her hilarious real life escapades.

Mac & Mia McAllister are a couple living in Chicago and after finally getting tired of the local hipsters and gangsters, they decide to take their dogs Daisy & Duckie, and their troop of cats and head to the suburbs. Not just any suburb, but THE suburb. You know, the Chicago suburb made famous by John Hughes. In fact they decide to buy Jake Ryan's home. And it has not changed one bit since the days that Sixteen Candles were filmed there. Now take the house from Sixteen Candles, throw in the plot from The Money Pit, mix in Jen Lancaster's witty repertoire and you have If You Were Here.


It is my imaginary BFF, Jen Lancaster, so of course the book was entertaining and laugh out loud funny, but my friends, let this be a lesson to you. Jen Lancaster book do not translate well to nook color. You know how Jen writes those witty, entertaining footnotes? Well with the nook color you tap the footnote number & it takes you to the end of the book. Where you have .025 seconds to read the note & hit the back button before the back button disappears. In which case, you have to try and remember which page you were on and scroll backwards to find the page you were on. Entirely too much work for a Jen Lancaster novel. And frankly it ruined the whole reading experience for me. Lesson learned. Next years book I will purchase a hard copy.

May 11, 2011

(63)The White Devil by Justin Evans

Just in case you didn't know, I am a huge freaking chicken. I have night lights galore, I hide my eyes during scary movies, and I scream when startled. But even knowing how easily I get scared, there are times when I just *love* to be scared. I mean I KNEW Paranormal Activity was a scary movie, yet I couldn't WAIT to watch it with my husband.

The White Devil is an utterly terrifying ghost story. Andrew Taylor is a seventeen year old screw up. His parents have had it with him and have sent him to England to finish his senior year at the 400 year old hallowed Harrow School for boys. From the minute he arrived people commented on his uncanny likeness to the schools famous student of 200 years ago, Lord Byron. They even cast him in the role of Lord Byron in the school play. Then Andrew starts having strange dreams and even when awake he sees things that can not be explained. He starts piecing it together that the man from his dreams and sitings is John Harness. Lord Byron's lover from their time at Harrow. When students start dying and contracting tuberculosis, Andrew realizes that there is a sinister force at work. Will he be able to exorcise the ghost before more of his classmates die? Or will he have to sacrifice himself to appease the wretched ghost of John Harness.

The White Devil is truly a terrifying,Literary ghost story. Justin Evans did a fantastic job of weaving Literary history into his fictional ghost story. It was one of those books that drove me to hit Wikipedia, where I discovered that Lord Byron was a bit of a Lothario. He did have a young lover while attending Harrow, although his name was not John Harness. As the story progressed, I found myself not wanting to put the book down, yet dreading what the next page would bring.

If you love reading about Literary history and are willing to terrify yourself, be sure to pick up The White Devil. It goes on sale today.

May 10, 2011

(62)The Ninth Wife by Amy Stolls

Should a 35 year old single woman say yes to the first marriage proposal that comes along?

35 year old Bess Gray is on the verge of giving up on love. Until she meets handsome, Irishman Rory. He is charming and funny and everything she wants in a man, so why does Bess freak out when he proposes after three months of dating? Well, because she discovers that Rory has been married eight times before. Bess will be The Ninth Wife.

The earth shattering news on Rory's past prompts Bess to use her mad googling skills and starts her on a journey to find Rory's eight wives. Well, at least six of them. Her grandparents have been married for 65 years, so a man who has been married eight times must be defective, right? That is what Bess has set out to find out. She embarks on a cross country roadtrip with her Grandparents, her best friend Crickett, his Shar-Pei, Stella and a mannequin named Peace. What will the Ex's tell her? Will she find the answers she is seeking? Will she be able to define "true love" or will she just chuck Rory aside as damaged goods? Read to find out!

I really, really enjoyed The Ninth Wife. As a single woman who got her first proposal at the age of 34, I can somewhat relate to Bess's feelings and desires to find "the one". I can also understand her trepidation at finding out her beloved has been married eight times? Wouldn't you freak out a bit, too?

The Ninth Wife was told in alternating voices. One chapter was Bess, the next chapter was Rory, as he was explaining his history to Bess. It was a unique way of telling the story and made it considerably harder to just "tell" Bess to dump him. The characters are funny, intelligent, and real. I debated hard about giving it a "Best of". I do think it is the best "Chick Lit" novel I have read so far this year, but it didn't evoke the type of emotional response I come to expect from my "Best of Labels". But trust that it is a strong contender and a book you should run right out and pick up!

May 9, 2011

(61)Everything is Going to Be Okay by Bruce Eric Kaplan

It is that time of year! Everyone is hunting for the perfect graduation present. A bookstore has all sorts of great graduation presents. Dictionaries, jouranals, and of course, the ever popular, Oh The Place's You'll Go.

There is a new book on the Graduation gift scene. Everything is Going to Be Okay by Bruce Eric Kaplan is a wonderful little book about a man who has been invited to give a commencement speech. The problem is he has no idea what to talk about. With the speech looming will he be able to put together the inspiring speech that everyone is hoping for?

Everything is Going to Be Okay is a cute little book that will be a great gift for the graduate in your life. The message is simple. Everything will be okay. Even when it isn't. It is a message that will resonate with all of those graduates who are afraid of what is to come. Be sure to pick it up at bookstores everywhere tomorrow.

May 5, 2011

(60)Skinny by Diana Spechler

It is not unusual for me to make a lunch time run to the library. I go to pick up holds. In and out and back to work. But, not before making a walk-by the new release wall. You never know when a book will strike your fancy,right? Well there was a teen girl and her mother and the teen had picked up Skinny. Of course, the bookseller in me couldn't resist the opportunity to handsell a book. And it felt good to do so!

Skinny is a wonderful book about body image and the belief that true beauty is what is on the inside. Gray Lachmann is cruising along enjoying life with her comedian boyfriend. Even after her father expressed his disapproval, Gray continues her relationship. Then her father dies expectantly on her 26th birthday, leaving Gray lost, confused, and eating everything in sight, she discovers she is the executor to the estate. Something, or someone, listed in the will ends up sending Gray to "Fat Camp". It is there as a counselor she discovers just as much about herself as she does about the young woman mentioned in her father's will. Will she emerge from "fat camp" Skinny or will the weight of her father's past keep her heavy?

Every woman young or old has a body image issue of some type. Big nose, big hips, fat thighs, or all of the above. It is a rare woman that does not have a body issue of some type. After Gray eats her grief, "fat camp" is really the place for her. She is not the most perfect heroine by any stretch of the imagination. She is deeply flawed in several ways, but it wasn't until camp that she started to realize that being flawed is okay. I think that is a critical message for all women, particularly teens. Overall I think Skinny was a good book. Another book for the beach bag, bikini or not.

May 4, 2011

May 3, 2011

May 1, 2011

(59)Shine by Lauren Myracle

While reading the initial pages of Lauren Myracle's new novel, Shine, I thought it might be similar to Cryer's Cross, but the deeper I got into the novel, I realized they were not even remotely similar.

Shine is a mystery set on a different planet, well not really, but might as well be, as a small rural community set in the hills of the South is about as far away from my life as you could possibly get. Sixteen year old Cat was shocked when she heard that her close, childhood friend, Patrick is in a coma after been savagely beaten while at work. Due to the nature of the crime she knows that the local police will make little effort to solve the crime, for Patrick is gay, and she knows that being gay is nearly a crime itself in her community. So Cat decides to take it upon herself to find Patrick's attacker and bring them to justice.

I was really impressed with Shine. Cat, the main character, is a very courageous young woman. Taking on the social injustices like she did in her small little town takes courage. She didn't let the bully's stop her from finding out the truth, no matter how much they scared her.

Lauren Myracle takes on a lot of social issues in her new book, Shine. Poverty, bullying, and acceptance of others is the ones that really "Shine" through. We follow Cat as she searches for answers and learns some hard truths about her town and her friends. I really enjoyed Shine, I think it is one of those books that readers of all ages can learn from.