Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Ratmammy's March 2008 Reads

Here are the books I read in March 2008
(rating based on 5 Stars being the best)
#13 MADNESS by Marya Hornbacher Pgs 320 - 4/5 stars
#14 ONE MORE SUNRISE by Michael Landon Jr and Tracie Peterson Pgs 358 - 3.5/5 stars #15 PLEASURE by Eric Jerome Dickey Pgs 442- 4/5 stars
#16 DESIGNED FOR PASSION by Francine Craft Pgs 248 - 3/5 stars
#17 REMEMBER ME? by Sophie Kinsella Pgs 389 -4/5 stars

My favorite book this month was a tie between MADNESS and REMEMBER ME. Both are different types of books, but both books were ones that I had a hard time putting down.

My least favorite book was DESIGNED FOR PASSION. I didn't think the writing was as good as it could have been, but gave it a 3 for it's subject matter (beauty in the body of a large woman). I'm actually reading another book by the same author, and I think this will be the last time I read this author. Something about her writing is off, like she's writing for a totally different time period...

Average 56.67 pages per day

Average pages per book: 351.4

I'm spending less time reading, but the books are growing longer...

Of the 5 books I read this month, all were either books for Review Or requests from the author/publisher--

MADNESS - review for Curled up
ONE MORE SUNRISE - review for Love Romances
PLEASURE - review for
DESIGNED FOR PASSION - review request by author for Love romances
REMEMBER ME - review for Love Romances

This was an interesting reading month, since I read a diverse set of books. One was a psychological memoir, another was African American romance, another was African American erotic, another was Christian fiction, and one was chick lit!

Now that I'm off work again, I hope to fit in more reading time, but so far I haven't been too successful.

#17 REMEMBER ME? by Sophie Kinsella

Number of Book #17
Date Began and Finished 3/26- 3/28 2008
Genre - chick Lit
Year It Was Published - March 4, 2008
Publisher - Dial Press
Number of Pages 389
Reason for reading: Review for Love Romances and More
Rating 4/5 stars

Blurb or Synopsis: I've only read the Shopaholic series by Kinsella so wasn't sure if one of her standalones would be worth reading. But REMEMBER ME? was a very delightful book, so I'm looking forward to reading more by this author.

The story starts with the main character, Lexi Smart, having drinks with friends in a bar. As they leave the place, she falls and hits her head. Next thing she finds herself in hospital and is told it's now 3 years later? She is flabbergasted! She has lost her memory and all that had happened to her in the last 3 years. Her last memory was of the drinks she had with her best friends Carolyn, Debs, and Fi. She was slightly over weight, and was called Snaggletooth by loved ones. But, upon looking at herself now, 3 years later, she's got really nice nails, her hair has been nicely done, she's got very expensive clothes and handbag, and she's lost a lot of weight. Furthermore, she's no longer Snaggletooth. Her teeth had been straightened out! What the hell happened?

REMEMBER ME is Lexi's journey as she tries to put together the puzzle of the last 3 years. She cannot understand how she had changed so much, and why she married a very wealthy man who doesn't seem to be a good fit for her, at least for the old Lexi Smart. She has new best friends, her new job is being the head of the department she used to work for (Flooring), and lives in a very wealthy home in a very wealthy neighborhood. And, she's been told, she was on television. She finds her way as she "meets" her new friends and old, and asks questions that slowly bring her back to where she left off. The ultimate question, though, is why?

I found this a very fun read, reminiscent of the Shopaholic books but the main character is not as aggravating as I know many readers found Becky Bloomwood, the shopaholic. Lexi is a lot smarter than Becky, as is shown from her track record from just another flunky in flooring, to a director who has saved the company from ruin. But REMEMBER ME? is Lexi's quest to find her real self, to try to remember who she was and where she came from, and where she should be going, whether it be with her new wonderful husband Eric, or someone else entirely.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

#16 DESIGNED FOR PASSION by Francine Craft

Number of Book #16
Date Began and Finished 3/21- 3/26 2008
Genre - African American contemporary romance
Year It Was Published - March, 2008
Publisher - Kimani romance #082
Number of Pages 282
Mass market paperback
Reason for reading: Review by Author's request (Love romances)
Rating 3/5 stars

Blurb or Synopsis: Melodye Carter has always been over weight, and her sister and mother never let her forget it! Despite her sister and mother's cruel behavior, Melodye has always been her own person and has done quite well for herself. She's got a successful boutique for plus-sized women and had been married until her husband died in a shooting. She's conflicted over her feelings for her deceased husband, because their marriage wasn't as perfect as it could have been.

Detective Jim Ryman is helping out with the case of Melodye's husband's murder,and while he gets to know Melodye better, he feels drawn to her. There are sparks flying between them, but to start anything now would be inappropriate. Still, he looks forward to spending time with her and her two children. His mother helps Melodye out by baby sitting the kids, and through the children he's gotten to know Melodye too.
Jim has his own history. His wife had also passed away and he's not ready to start fresh. But if he ever did love a woman again it would be someone like Melodye.

While part of the focus of DESIGNED FOR PASSION is the find the person who killed Melodye's husband Rafael, the core story centers on Melodye's blossoming relationship with the detective assigned to the case, Jim Ryman. He proves to her that larger woman are beautiful too, and one of the main themes of the book is to show that you don't have to be thin to be beautiful. Melodye has a successful career despite her mother's disinterest and lack of moral support. Despite the type of environment she grew up in, Melodye made a name for herself.

Melodye's sister and mother are portrayed as two very mean-spirited people, but by the end of the book it is explained why they became the people they were, and why they treated Melodye the way they did. Nothing excuses that type of behavior, but I found it interesting and was also relieved to discover there was a reason for this bad behavior, and not just an element of the book to make it more interesting.

I had some issues with the writing; I wish I had written these down but there were moments in the book that the language didn't ring true; "who talks like that??" is what I wanted to say. Because of that I'm only giving this book a 3 star rating. I think the moral of the book is important, but the story could have been written much better. I plan on reading another book by this author soon to see how it compares to this most recent one. She's written a number of books and I can't believe someone with bad writing skills would be contracted to write more for one publisher.

TMI Tuesday #133

1. Early bird or night owl? Early Bird

2. Where was the first place you ever had sex? a bed

3. On a scale of 1-10, how happy are you? (1 is lowest, 10 is highest) 8

4. Are you more submissive or dominant? dominant

5. Do you believe in love at first sight? yes!

Bonus (as in optional): Describe your bed time habits. What side do you sleep on? What do you usual wear? Any night time rituals?

I sleep on the right side, wear a HUGE tshirt (size XXXL) and i like to read a bit before going to sleep. I also journal for the day - my eating habits, weight, good things of the day...

Monday, April 28, 2008

Friday Fill-Ins: Friday Fill-In #69

Friday Fill-Ins: Friday Fill-In #69

1. When I fell in love I knew it would be "the one"!
2. I get allergies when the flowers bloom and it heats up outside!
3. Oh no! The internet connection is down, and I'm really pissed off!!!.
4. SURREAL LIFE is the craziest tv show ever.
5. Cheese and crackers make a great meal!
6. The perfect house has a garden.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to My cousin's wedding in Japan (we just got home today) , tomorrow my plans included shopping in Shinjuku, and Sunday, I want to rest after the wedding!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

#15 PLEASURE by Eric Jerome Dickey

Number of Book #15
Date Began and Finished 3/12- 3/21 2008
Genre - Erotic Fiction
Year It Was Published - April 1, 2008
Publisher - Dutton
Number of Pages 442
Reason for reading: Review for
Rating 4/5 stars

Blurb or Synopsis: While I'm a big fan of Eric Jerome Dickey, I was a bit hesitant when I heard that this book was erotic fiction. I have always imagined erotic fiction to be plot-less stories with non-stop sex scenes. And when I started reading the book, it did seem to be just that. But as the reader progresses with PLEASURE, one will find out that there is more to this book than just plain sex. Yes, Nia Simone Bijou makes her living as a writer who dabbles in erotic fiction and yes, she admires the writings of Anais Nin, famous for her erotica. But there is a plot!

The book opens with Nia having an erotic fantasy. But when it ends, she finds a text message waiting from her ex-boyfriend Logan. The reader soon learns that Logan is pretty much stalking her. He can't accept that their relationship is over. He cannot accept that she's moved to a different state to get rid of him. He continues to pursue her, which gets Nia angrier every time he tries to contact her. Thank God he doesn't know where she lives...

Move to a scene with Nia running up a hill and she encounters a really fine looking black man. She wants to get to know him better. Surprise! She finds out he's one of two identical twin brothers, and that their meeting is the first of many future encounters that opens up a new world of sexual delights. The two men are twins but they are different. One is married, and he's the one that touches Nia's soul. She relates to him and wants to get to know him. The other brother has a rougher edge; he's single but he's got a past that still haunts him. A tattoo of KENYA is his secret, and she's a woman that he cannot let go.

A good part of the novel is sex. The three of them experiment and bring Nia to new highs. She meets a friend of theirs, Kiki Sunshine, who models for Karl, the single brother who is a professional photographer. Nia is attracted to Kiki's beauty, and eventually the three of them get together for more sex. But it's a one on one encounter between Kiki and Nia that gets Nia excited. She cannot get Kiki off her mind.

The book continues with the sexual encounters, but then another person enters the equation - Mark's wife is an unknown person to Nia, but she finds out by accident who the wife is. Mark happens to be married to the most famous person in Atlanta, a morning show reporter that is beloved by all, Jewell Stewark. On TV Jewell appears as a very classy and sophisticated woman, a professional. But when Nia encounters Jewell by accident as Nia and Karl are driving to his condo, Jewell appears and it's not pretty. There is a lot of hate and anger in Jewell when she sees Karl, and Nia cannot figure out why this is happening.

For long time Eric Jerome Dickey fans, PLEASURE is his wildest book yet. Dickey has been slowly drifting towards a more erotic form of novel with his past few books, getting away from the urban tales he's had centered around Los Angeles and Southern California. The few sex scenes he's had in past books, however, showed that he is good at writing them. Not all writers can get away with writing sex scenes, but Dickey knows how to do it right. PLEASURE is filled with hot, sexy, over the top scenes. If this were a movie, it would be rated XXX. But it's not all about sex. PLEASURE is a woman's search for happiness as she explores her sexual side, while at the same time coming to terms with a relationship that went wrong. The subplot involving the twins and their story of tangled love and the mess they made is just as tawdry as it sounds. I didn't think I'd like this book as much as I have his older books, but I was surprised and found that once again Eric Jerome Dickey has done it again. He's written a fast moving book that the reader will not be able to put down.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

#14 ONE MORE SUNRISE by Michael Landon Jr and Tracie Peterson

Number of Book #14
Date Began and Finished 3/6/- 3/12 2008
Genre - Christian fiction
Year It Was Published - Jan 1, 2008
Publisher - Bethany House
Number of Pages 358
Trade paperback
Reason for reading: Review for Love Romances and More
Rating 3.5/5 stars

Blurb or Synopsis: Michael Landon Jr's debut novel, ONE MORE SUNRISE falls under the Christian Fiction category and centers on a man, Joe Daley, whose life did not follow the route that he had mapped out as a young man. The book opens in August of 1941, and young seventeen-year old Joe is intent on sneaking out of the house in order to meet his girlfriend Meg. He is in love and wants to surprise her with a plane ride and a marriage proposal. it is a romantic scene out of the movies, and at this point in his life, Joe feels that he has the world to look forward to, a future bride, and a promising future.

Chapter two jumps forward to the summer of 1958, and Meg is looking through some old papers and books from high school, and remembers the joy she felt before she and Joe were married. However, the years since have been difficult, as one thing or another happened to change the happy future the newlyweds were looking forward to. Meg rarely sees Joe now, and when she does they argue. Joe spends most of his time either at work or in the bars, and all he can think about is how pitiful his life has become. He feels sorry for himself, and lets this attitude take over. Meg does her best to keep the family together, but the longer this goes on, the more frustrated and unhappy she becomes.

Out of the blue, several people enter their lives that alters their futures in a big way. First off, an high school admirer shows up back in town, a boy who had to leave before finishing high school because of something his father had done. Now, Luke Ramsey has returned, claiming that he wanted to make up for what his father had done to the townspeople years ago. Luke works for a corporation that is buying out the local farmers and making life "better" for everyone. He proposes to help out Joe and Meg by hiring Joe as one of the company's pilots. Joe doesn't want anything to do with Luke, but he eventually gives in.

Another person to show up is Meg's old friend Norma, who shows up in town with three foster children and no husband. They want to start a new life working the farmland she had inherited, and wants to come back to her roots. Luke's company needs her land, but Norma doesn't want to sell.

Then, Joe has a life altering experience while flying his plane one day. He loses control of his plane when something hits it (probably a bird) and he promises God to change his ways if he lives. Joe finds it hard to keep this promise, and unfortunately Meg doesn't believe he will keep that promise to mend his ways. She knows he's an alcoholic, and she wants nothing more to do with him.

ONE MORE SUNRISE is about a man, Joe, who has lost faith in God and in life, and has given up. But it is with the help of a stranger that appears to him after a near fatal plane accident that changes his life and steers him in the right direction. It is not easy,and Joe makes many wrong moves because he gets back on track. And even when he thinks he's back on track, he isn't sure his wife will take him back after disappointing her too many times. For those who enjoy Christian fiction and a story about a man's search for his lost faith in God, this is it. While I felt the writing was a little weak, it is still an uplifting story that follows in the family tradition that the Landon's have created over the past decades, family fare that has a lesson or moral and at the same time is enjoyable.

#13 MADNESS by Marya Hornbacher

Number of Book #13
Date Began and Finished 2/29- 3/6 2008
Genre - Memoir
Year It Was Published - April 9 2008
Publisher - Houghton Mifflin
Number of Pages 320
Reason for reading: Review for Curled Up
Rating 4/5 stars

Blurb or Synopsis: MADNESS was the memoir of a woman suffering from bipolar disorder, and the journey she took to get to where she is today. A very candid and blunt view of a typical life of person afflicted with bipolar I, the more severe of the two forms of bipolar disorder. Symptoms include weight issues, runaway money issues and spending sprees, memory losses, manic highs and depressive lows, and mixed episodes which can lead to suicide. Other symptoms include various forms of self-mutilation, excesses with alcohol, drugs, and sex. Marya Hornbacher had all these symptoms, and more, but was not diagnosed until much later in life.

Marya Hornbacher is a gifted writer, as evidenced by this book. What is remarkable about her is her courage, and the strength she had to write down her experiences and make her condition known to all. She tried to hide her disorder through most of her life, "pretending" to be normal and to now acknowledge her problems, so that she never really dealt with her problems for a very long time. But her candid observations on her life and how she went from one phase of her disorder to another is what i think helped her in the long run. Despite long periods of memory loss, where she doesn't' even remember what happened during those periods, she was able to write down the many different episodes and events that marked her disorder, and finally acknowledge the fact that she is indeed "not normal", and that she needed help. I truly appreciated Hornbacher's candid writing, and applaud her bravery in divulging what she has gone through for most of her life.

MADNESS is a book that I think is an eyeopener to those who know nothing about bipolar disorder, and at the same time can be used as a "guide" to those who live with or have family that are afflicted with bipolar disorder. It certainly has helped me understand some of my friends who are afflicted with it. MADNESS should be a "must read" for all who are dealing with bipolar disorder and those who have loved ones who are living with it.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Ratmammy's February 2008 reads

Here are the books I read in February 2008

Rating based on 5 Stars being the best

#7 LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA by Gabriel Garcia Marquez Pgs 348 -3.5/5 stars
#8 THE FICTION CLASS by Susan Breen Pgs 296 - 4/5 stars
#9 THE LAST PROMISE by Richard Paul Evans Pgs 303 - 4/5 stars
#10 NEARLYWEDS by Beth Kendrick Pgs 333 - 4/5 stars
#11 HER BETTER HALF by CJ Carmichael Pgs 296 - 4/5 stars
#12 SEAVIEW INN by Sherryl Woods Pgs 383 - 3.5/5 stars

My favorite book this month was THE FICTION CLASS. It was a book i related to very well. There weren't any books I could say I didn't like. LOVE IN THE NAME OF CHOLERA was a book i was hoping I'd like more, but had a hard time getting through it.I enjoyed 100 YEARS OF SOLITUDE much better.

Average 67.55 pages per day

Average pages per book: 326

Of the 6 books I read this month, the following were either books for review Or requests from the author/publisher--

THE FICTION CLASS - review for Curled Up
SEAVIEW INN - review for Love Romances

Another good reading month, although I'm still reading a lot less than i did last year. Will try to stick with the 6 books a month, so I hope to read about 70 books this year.


Number of Book #12
Date Began and Finished 2/24- 2/29 2008
Genre - Women's Fiction
Year It Was Published - March 2008
Publisher - Mira
number of Pages 383
Mass Market paperback
Reason for reading: Review for Love Romances
Rating 3.5/5 stars

Blurb or Synopsis: I've been collecting Sherryl Woods' books but this is the first one I've actually read, and I know I'll read more by her.SEAVIEW INN is women's fiction at its best, centering on Hannah Matthews, a single mom who is in remission from breast cancer. Her mother had just died from the same disease, and it's not surprising that Hannah is a little scared about her own life and whether the cancer is going to reappear, just like her mother.

Besides dealing with cancer, Hannah needs to take care of her grandmother, her mother's mother. Grandma Jenny was getting on in years, and Hannah believes that grandma needs to be placed into a home where people can look out for her. In the mean time, they need to sell the old Seaview Inn that has been in the family for generations. Grandma refuses to cooperate, and instead is trying to reopen the inn.

To complicate matters, Luke Stevens is back in town. Luke was at one time Hannah's best friend's boyfriend, but Hannah had always had a big crush on Luke, never letting anyone know because she didn't want to hurt her best friend or embarrass herself. Luke doesn't tell anyone why he's back in town, but he has just returned from Iraq some six months ago or so, and is still dealing with the pain in his leg, as well as a pain in his heart. During his stay in Iraq, his wife decided to start an affair with his business partner and best friend, and now Luke is single and very bitter. He has two children that are being traumatized by their parents divorce, and he wants to make it up to them somehow.

Hannah's college age daughter Kelsey is also having problems. She's announced to Hannah that she is pregnant, but she does not want the baby, nor does she want to marry the father, Jeff. Kelsey returns to Seaview Inn to be with Hannah and Grandma Jenny to sort things out.

With two "strays" living in the Inn with them, Grandma Jenny makes good use of them both and they work on getting the Inn back in shape. Hannah hopes this will help them sell the Inn faster, but Kelsey has other plans - to run the Inn which she will eventually inherit after her Grandma Jenny passes away.

And now, Hannah's old high school crush is back, and while she'd love to start something with Luke, she thinks that her life will be cut short and refuses to make any commitments to him , or anyone else.

SEAVIEW INN moves at a moderate pace, and what I found I liked about the book was it's "comfort" feel. It's not a book with a lot of highs and lows, but it does have a number of serious themes that will hook the reader. I really enjoyed the book, the characters, and the setting, a beach side inn in the Florida Keys. I recommend SEAVIEW INN for all readers who love contemporary women's fiction and want an escape.

#11 HER BETTER HALF by CJ Carmichael

Number of Book #11
Date Began and Finished 2/20- 2/24 2008
Genre - Women's Fiction
Year It Was Published - 2006
Publisher - Harlequin (Next)
number of Pages 296
Mass Market paperback
Reason for reading: TBR
Rating 4/5 stars

Blurb or Synopsis: I still cannot get over the demise of this wonderful brand of books by Harlequin. The NEXT books were different at first, in that they did not fit into a set formula. They were not all romances or women's fiction or whatever genre you can think of. I have read paranormal NEXT books, women's fiction, but every book was different. Towards the end they changed the formula to fit a certain type of reader, and this brought down the quality of the series. But HER BETTER HALF still showed how diverse these books can be and how creative harlequin books can be if given the chance.

HER BETTER HALF is the story of two women - one is the mother of twin teenage daughters and she's newly divorced and ready to start a new life. She's down financially and has to move into a rough neighborhood, after living in luxury and privilege for many years. Laurens's husband had run off with his yoga instructor and was now living in India. She and her two daughters just don't know what to think anymore.

Lauren needs a job, and answers an ad placed by Erin, a younger single mother who has her own private investigating business. This is quite a different type of career move than what Lauren had expected but she figured why not? Soon, Lauren is working side by side with Erin, spying on unfaithful husbands and doing criminal checks on others.

When Lauren first meets Erin, her first impression is that Erin must be a drug user, or maybe a prostitute! Erin seemed much too lose to be a straight and narrow sort of woman, but as the two women get to know each other, Lauren realizes she's been wrong about Erin, but she still cannot figure her out. There is something Erin is hiding from Lauren, and the only person that probably knows is Murphy Jones, who runs a greasy diner nearby.

This story caught me by surprise. By the end of the book it had me in tears. I have read other books by CJ Carmichael, mostly through the Harlequin superromance line of books, and i have to say she's one of the better writers around. HER BETTER HALF was a very good reading experience and i highly recommend it to readers who enjoy women's fiction. It's definitely not a romance, but a story of two women who as they become friends, realize how much they need each other and how fleeting life can be.

#10 NEARLYWEDS by Beth Kendrick

Number of Book #10
Date Began and Finished 2/18- 2/20 2008
Genre - Chick lit
Year It Was Published - 2006
Publisher - Down town Press
number of Pages 333
Trade paperback
Reason for reading: TBR, trade with friend
Rating 4/5 stars

Blurb or Synopsis: This was a fun, easy going tale of three women who discover their marriages were never legal. Each of them are notified that the minister that performed their ceremonies has died, and unfortunately he never signed the documents to make their marriages legal.

The thing is - each of the three women are actually having second thoughts on their newly married statuses, and this problem with their marriages may be a good thing. NEARLYWEDS had all three women, Stella, Casey and Erin, look at their relationships with their new husbands and now have to decide whether to tie the knot again. All three are very different women from different walks of life. Told in a very light tone of voice, NEARLYWEDS is a funny look at the mistakes these women make as they try to figure out where they want to be once the dust has cleared, and it is a wild guess which of these women will stay married, or move on without their husbands.

I was surprised at how well-written this book was, and how much I enjoyed it. It's not a literary masterpiece but it's the type of book that one enjoys to escape. What are the odds that all three women meet? Not very high, but one ignores facts like that to focus on the three women and their very different situations. NEARLYWEDS was very enjoyable, and worth the time spent.

#9 THE LAST PROMISE by Richard Paul Evans

Number of Book #9
Date Began and Finished 2/15- 2/18 2008
Genre - Fiction
Year It Was Published - 2002
Publisher - Signet fiction
number of Pages 303
Mass Market paperback
Reason for reading: TBR
Rating 4/5 stars

Blurb or Synopsis: THE LAST PROMISE is the story of two people that meet and fall in love in the Italian countryside. Eliana is an American woman who marries an Italian man and moves with him back to his native Italy to help manage a family vineyard. Her husband is rarely home, as he says he's traveling for business. Their son, a highly asthmatic child, Alessio, stays with Eliana while her husband travels. It is fate that brings her together with another American, Ross Story, who is now living in Italy for reasons not immediately made known to the reader. All we know is that he's decided to get away from America and start a new life in Italy. The place he chooses to stay is a room on the vineyard where eliana lives.

The two are attracted to each other right away, and then Eliana tells Ross she is married. The two strike up a friendship and the attraction is apparent to them as well as to others who watch them together. But they keep the friendship platonic, because she has made it clear that she is married and has no intentions of leaving her husband, despite how unhappy she is. But despite what she says, it is inevitable that one day they may cross that fine line. But would she risk losing her son for the love of another man and her happiness?

I've read a number of books by Richard Paul Evans and I think this was my favorite so far. I loved the Italian back drop, and i also think Evans did a good job with the characters. They felt real to me, and not just characters in a book. I'm definitely recommending this book to those who enjoy reading love stories.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday Fill-Ins: Friday Fill In #68

Friday Fill-Ins: Friday Fill In #68

1. The last time I lost my temper I slammed the door and yelled out "f*** you"!
2. The government is what I'm fed up with!
3. The next book I'd like to read is a book by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
4. Our trip to Japan next week is what I'm looking forward to.
5. If you can't get rid of the skeleton[s] in your closet, then move on!
6. The best thing I got in the mail recently was toys for my kitties!.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to a nice quiet evening with my husband, tomorrow my plans include a possible 10k walk and Sunday, I want to read my book!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

#8 THE FICTION CLASS by Susan Breen

Number of Book #8
Date Began and Finished 2/10- 2/15 2008
Genre - Fiction
Year It Was Published - Feb 26 2008
Publisher - Plume
number of Pages 296
Trade paperback (Advanced Readers Copy)
Reason for reading: Review for Curled Up
Rating 4/5 stars

Blurb or Synopsis: Arabelle Hicks is a frustrated writer who teaches a weekly fiction class in New York. Her mother, who she never got along with, is currently living in a nursing home. As the dutiful daughter, Arabelle visits her mother once a week, dreading the visit every single time. However, when Arabelle mentions to her mother that she is now teaching a fiction class, her mother takes interest. Arabelle makes it a point now to tell her mother about the class that week, the lesson she taught and the homework that her students were to complete for the following class, and through these discussion, Arabelle and her mother find a common ground.

The students in Arabelle's class become more than just students for her.As the weeks progress, the class bonds and to a point they become friends. Each student has their own personalities and quirks, and Arabelle learns about each of them as they do their home work assignments and participate (or not) in class. One student stands out, a rather disruptive older student who eventually becomes a potential love interest for Arabelle, a man that she finds out later is more than just a disruptive student, and becomes someone she can lean on when things with her mother become rough.

THE FICTION CLASS starts out slow. As a reader i wondered where this book would lead me. there are pieces of a book interspersed with the actual action of the story, and the author of the book is revealed by the end. Breen does a good job at weaving the story of Arabelle and her mother's relationship with the blossoming relationship she has with her students, with both sets of relationships changing as the class progresses. I felt this book was well written, and did a good job at showing the change and growth between two women who never got along, with Arabelle seeking the resolution of a difficult relationship with her mother before it was too late. I was able to relate completely to the main characters, reminding me of my own relationship journey with my mother, a relationship that resembled Arabelle's.

THE FICTION CLASS is a short and fast read, but it gets its point across. I'm looking forward to more by Susan Breen.

#7 LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Number of Book #7
Date Began and Finished 1/27- 2/10 2008
Genre - Literature
Year It Was Published - 1985
Publisher - Knopf
number of Pages 348
Trade paperback
Reason for reading: TBR (Group read)
Rating 3.5/5 stars

Blurb or Synopsis: OK, the reason for the rather low rating for such a highly touted book is because I think I didn't quite get it. When I read 100 YEARS OF SOLITUDE, i finished that book and felt satisfaction at such a wonderful read. I did not feel the same for LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA. I loved the details of the book, and i laughed out loud a lot as i read the story of the love sick Florentino, his great love for Fermina Daza, who ends up marrying another man, Dr Urbino. The book is written on an epic scale, as the author takes us from the beginnings of the relationship between Florentino and Fermina, to her marriage to Urbino, and beyond. The book actually starts with Dr Urbino, who dies early on in the story (I loved the whole scene with the parrot!) and thus starts backtracking to Fermina's childhood and her infatuation with the very odd Florentino.

I don't even know how to write my thoughts on this book, which is why it took me this long to even write this post, but i think LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA is not for the faint of heart. It's long and drawn out, and the reason I think i even enjoyed it is because I sat and read big chunks at a time in order to keep in the mood of reading it. I focused on the details, which Marquez is very good at. He seems to relish in bodily fluids, at least in this book, and while I thought a lot of this was funny, others may not. Florentino knows he'll one day be reunited with his Fermina, but he also knows that it will have to take the death
of Urbino to see this happen. In the meantime, Florentino lives out his years without Fermina going from one woman to another, and again Marquez does not hold back. Florentino is also a very disgusting man, and half the time he's ailing from one thing or another. He shows the symptoms of cholera, but was told that it was only love that he was going through.

Anyway, I hope I can do a decent review of this book. I think i would have to read this book again to really appreciate it.

#6 VANISHING ACTS by Jodi Picoult

Number of Book #6
Date Began and Finished 1/24- 1/27 2008
Genre - Fiction
Year It Was Published - 2005
Publisher - Atria Books
number of Pages 418
Reason for reading: TBR
Rating 4/5 stars

Blurb or Synopsis: Another page turning book by Jodi Picoult, VANISHING ACTS tells the story of a woman who learns that her real identity is not who she thinks she is. Her father had kidnapped her when she was around 3 years old, and since then he had told Delia that her mother was dead. The news comes to her as a shock, learning that she has a mother who she does not remember, and a father that has been lying to her all these years.

Delia is about to be married to the father of her daughter. she has her own business, a search and rescue service. Things were going well but now they are falling apart. Her father is now in jail for the kidnapping and has been extradited to another state, Arizona.

Besides the drama surrounding her father's case and the fact that her fiance Eric has become her father's lawyer, Delia is having problems with her relationship with Eric, mainly because he's keeping her out of the loop. But it's all about client confidentiality, yet Delia feels she's being shut out.

In the mean time, Andrew, Delia' father, is learning what it is like behind bars, and it is not pretty. What he goes through may offend some readers. It's traumatic, it's brutal. But the entire time Andrew insists he plead guilty, while Eric tries to get Andrew to change his mind.

Fitz, Delia's other best friend, does all he can to be supportive. What Delia doesn't realize, is that all this time, throughout their entire friendship between the three of them - Eric, Delia and Fitz - Fitz has had feelings for Delia. But he's been the good guy and has kept his distance from her except in the capacity of a best friend. Delia begins to lean on Fitz more for emotional support, as Eric begins to distance himself from her.

Eric is also going through some trauma of his own. The case has brought back on his drinking problems, and as he learns more about Andrew and the women he had been married to in the past, Eric finds a connection between this life and that of little Delia, when she was living her first life with her mother and father in Arizona.

Jodi Picoult's books are always riveting and hard to put down. I've never been disappointed by any of her books and was glad I finally picked up VANISHING ACTS.

#5 BETWEEN SISTERS by Kristin Hannah

Number of Book #5
Date Began and Finished 1/20- 1/24 2008
Genre - Women's Fiction
Year It Was Published - 2003
Publisher - Ballantine Books
number of Pages 428
mass market paperback
Reason for reading: TBR trade with friend
Rating 4/5 stars

Blurb or Synopsis: This was my first book by Kristin Hannah and i loved it!I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the story and how fast it went for me. Meghann Dontess is a high powered divorce lawyer and is obviously very successful based on where she lives and how she lives. she goes from man to man, never seeing anyone for very long, avoiding commitments. her life is empty.

Part of Meghann's problem is a guilt that she's lived for nearly her entire life. she and her younger sister Claire Cavenaugh were separated when Meghann decided to leave Claire with Claire's biological father. Their mother rarely around to take care of them, and in order to save themselves, Meghann had gone in search of Claire's biological father, who promptly took them in. But Meghann and Claire's father clashed, and so Meghann ran away, knowing she was leaving Claire in responsible hands. But since that parting, the two sisters have not been close, and every time they do talk, they fight. Meghann actually took care of Claire as a mother would a daughter, because their own mother was not responsible enough or ever there to take care of them herself. being an actress was much more important.

Now, Meghann and Claire are reunited. Claire has decided to marry a man that she had met recently, and Meghann feels it's her responsibility to steer Claire in the right direction. Meghann had kept out of Claire's life for the past 27 years ,but now she feels it's time to fix things. Claire, however,doesn't want her older sister to meddle. All she wants is Meghann's blessing.

When everything seemed to fall into place, something happens that may bring short the sisters's new found friendship. The story becomes a near tragedy by the end of the book, and will have the reader in tears.

Meghann meets a man while visiting Claire and helping her get ready for the big wedding. He's a mystery at first, until the reader and those around them realize who he is, the brother of one of Claire's best friends. his story is tragic and ties in together in a way with Claire's as it will be revealed in the last half of the story. Meghann may have finally found the man of her dreams, but is afraid to go that extra step. Commitment had never been her strong point.

BETWEEN SISTERS was a highly enjoyable piece of women's fiction. Good writing, characters were believable, and i wanted to know how the book ended. I'm definitely reading more by this author.

#4 SECRETS OF MY SUBURBAN LIFE by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Number of Book #4
Date Began and Finished 1/18- 1/20 2008
Genre - Teen Fiction
Year It Was Published - January 2008
Publisher - Simon Pulse
number of Pages 225
Reason for reading: Review request by author
Rating 4/5 stars

Blurb or Synopsis: This was one of my rare ventures into the world of YA books and Teen Fiction. When i was first offered to read this book, I had no idea and I'm glad i wasn't told because I would have refused the book.

Instead, I got to read a really funny yet somewhat poignant story about a teenager, Ren (Lauren) who is learning to deal with life with a single Dad, moving to a new city , going to a new school, and trying to fit in.

Ren's mother was a writer who happened to be killed by Harry Potter - a stack of Harry Potter books fell on top of Ren's mother and killed her.So, instead of continuing life in New York, Ren and her writer father are in the suburbs of Connecticut, very boring in comparison to New York.

Farrin is the most popular girl in school. Ren and Farrin "connect" when Ren is forced into the cheer-leading squad (since Ren was a failure at all other sports). They also have some of the same classes, and it's during one of these classes that Ren learns an awful secret that Farrin has been keeping, and it's so bad that Ren's life changes because of it. Farrin has been secretly communicating with an older man via the Internet, and Ren is afraid that Farrin is about to make a big mistake. Farrin figures out a way to impersonate Farr in on line to intercept the pervert, but the "joke" is on Ren when she finds out who this pervert is that Farr in is about to meet!

The book is told from Ren's point of view, along with letters and email communications between a girl (Sexgurl) and an older man (FDA), and Ren's letters to her mother, who she confides with and misses terribly. At times Ren seemed a lot older than her years and i wasn't sure if this was the author's intention, but if you have seen JUNO, i imagine Ren to be a somewhat milder version of the title character of that movie, who also seemed wiser than her teenage years and spouted off words of wisdom that had the audience laughing.

SECRETS OF MY SUBURBAN LIFE is populated by all sorts of people typical to the average teenager. Ren's got a best friend, Shannon, who she left behind in New York and misses a lot. Shannon, however, has moved on with her life, and has some secrets of her own. Ren's got a crush on Jack, who unfortunately is dating Farr in. jack and Ren strike up a friendship, and secretly Ren is hoping Jack may start to have feelings for her. But the competition is pretty fierce. what guy wouldn't want Farr in as a girlfriend? Lucky for Ren, she manages to get involved with jack's family by mentoring his little sister Amanda, a girl who is as obnoxious as they can get. Ren can't believe that the two are even related.

Ren's making new friends at school, in particular T'Keyah who's related to a famous basketball player, but the two don't hit it off right away.It's a lot of work being the new girl in school, and Ren wishes that her mother never died.

I'm going to recommend SECRETS OF MY SUBURBAN LIFE because it was such a delightful surprise. I enjoyed it a lot and am glad i had the chance to read it.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

#3 THE PALACE OF ILLUSIONS by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Number of Book #3
Date Began and Finished 1/5 - 1/18 2008
Genre - Fiction
Year It Was Published - Feb 2008
Publisher - Doubleday
number of Pages 277
(ARC) Trade paperback
Reason for reading: Review for
Rating 4/5 stars

Blurb or Synopsis: The retelling of the tales from the Mahabharat,one of the longest epic poems in history, THE PALACE OF ILLUSIONS takes place between 5000 bce and 6000 bce and comprises of kings and queens and deities, spanning decades and revolving around Panchaali, a princess that is forced to marry 5 men. the story is told from her point of view in the first person, and we learn of her birth, her childhood, and her marriages to the five Pandava brothers. As a child she's a willful girl and lives an unconventional childhood when she finds ways to learn things that only boys are taught in school. She doesn't want to be a typical woman, but wants to learn the ways of men in power. A sage tells her early in her life that she will end up marrying 5 men, and that she will be the reason for a great war which will destroy the THIRD AGE OF MAN. Panchaali doesn't believe this, but as one by one the prophesies come true, she begins to learn that the sage is right... and that her life will not be an easy one...

Women are strong characters in this version of the tale, taking center stage, and Kunti, Panchaali's mother-in-law, is a formidable woman, doing what she can to make Panchaali's life miserable. The two clash most of their lives, but there will come a time when the two will finally see eye to eye.

Panchaali's friendship with Krishna is a continuing thread throughout the story, the main person in her life that she constantly refers back to. She's known him most of her life, and even through her marriage to the 5 brothers, he is still there for her, if not in person, then in her heart. She doesn't realize how much she loves him. Her secret passion however is for Karna, the man she rejected initially on her wedding day, and her love for him consumes her. When she learns of a secret that involves him and her mother-in-law, it is all she can do to keep from telling her husbands. No matter how angry she is with Karna, or how much he hates her for her rejection of him, her passion for him smolders until the day she dies.

THE PALACE OF ILLUSIONS spans decades, from Panchaali and her brother Dhri's childhood, to her marriage to the 5 Pandava brothers, to the great war and their downfall. It is as grand as the epic poems by Homer, and as tragic. The story is complex, as political relationships twist and create friends and enemies, leading to battles and wars that will eventually destroy them all. I found that while I personally didn't connect with the political themes of the novel, i felt connected to the tragic story line and the fate that Panchaali was born into. THE PALACE OF ILLUSIONS is an admirable attempt to recreate the epic Mahabharat from the view point of a strong woman, Panchaali.

#2 JEMIMA J by Jane Green

Number of Book #2
Date Began and Finished 1/2 - 1/5 2008
Genre - Fiction
Year It Was Published - 1999
Publisher - Broadway Books
number of Pages 373
Trade paperback
Reason for reading: TBR/group read/trade with friend
Rating 4/5 stars

Blurb or Synopsis: I had forgotten how much I love books by JANE GREEN! JEMIMA J has to be my favorite Jane Green book so far, and to think this one was published nearly 10 years ago. Amazing! Despite being dated (at this stage, the characters are just discovering the Internet as if it's a brand new invention) I enjoyed the story of Jemima Jones and her need to be loved.

Jemima Jones is hugely overweight, and while she seems to have good self esteem and has her group of friends, she notices that it's the thinner prettier people that move up the corporate ladder and get boyfriends. It's not that Jemima hasn't had relationships in the past, and she's had her share of sex, but she's never had a real boyfriend.

Currently she works for the Kilburn Herald, a small town outside of London, and she's in love with Ben, a colleague that may be moving on to greener pastures. She and Ben socialize, usually with another colleague Geraldine, who is beautiful yet finds the time to befriend overweight Jemima, but there is nothing romantic going on. In fact, Ben and Jemima get along famously, but she can never get him to see her in a different light other than as friends.

Jemima discovers a new world in the Internet, when she, Ben and Geraldine take a class, and while Geraldine finds the whole thing boring, Jemima and Ben go ape over it. Jemima soon discovers the world of chatting, and through this new world she meets a really good looking man named Brad, who lives in far away California. They exchange photos, but Jemima sends him an altered photos of herself, a photo that would BE her if she lost 100 lbs. Jemima sees how beautiful she could be, and is determined to lose weight. ASAP. So she can meet Brad and prove to the world she can be desirable.

Jemima joins a gym, and soon the pounds start to drop. Fast. Geraldine is ecstatic, and helps Jemima with a makeover. By now Ben has moved on to his new career, that of a TV personality, and drops out of sight, except via the telly. Jemima misses Ben but she has moved on, and now is focused on meeting Brad and starting a new life. When Jemima hits her goal and Geraldine does the makeover, the world sees a new Jemima J (or JJ as Brad knows her as) and the world is now Jemima's oyster....

JEMIMA J was a wonderful duck to swan story but the twists to the story is what makes this book unique. The only thing that bothered me is that while i read the book, i felt that i had read this story before, and maybe JEMIMA J's story isn't unique and maybe it's been done before, but I still loved it and enjoyed it. This is the type of book that is reminiscent of BRIDGET JONES' DIARY. They don't write them like this anymore it seems, and you have to go back 10 years to find something as charming as JEMIMA J. I highly recommend it.

Monday, April 14, 2008


Number of Book #1
Date Began and Finished 12/29 - 1/2 2008
Genre - Non Fiction/ Psychology
Year It Was Published - February 2008
Publisher - Jossey-Bass
number of Pages 277
Advanced copy trade paperback
Reason for reading: Review for VINES Amazon program
Rating 4/5 stars

Blurb or Synopsis: Having been told I have anxiety and learning that this equated to a fear of death, I jumped at the opportunity to read STARING AT THE SUN when it was offered to me by Vines Amazon. This is my first book by Irvin D Yalom,and i was very impressed with the contents and writing style of a topic that can be pretty heavy duty.

Yalom discusses anxiety and the fear of death by throwing in examples from the patients he's known, each of them having diverse symptoms and traits, but all of them having a fear of death. a lot of what he went over I already knew from therapy, and it was good to see it all in print. he also talks of methods to use to help overcome this fear, helping many of us to cope with daily anxiety and learn to relax and live life as if THERE IS A TOMORROW. Case studies include a woman who fears death by stating that she had so many things to do before she died. It's a classic case, in which I can relate to,where we simply cannot relax until our ever growing to-do lists are completed. It's the unlived life that many fear, the fear of not accomplishing everything one had meant to do throughout a life time, but for some they feel this life may end too soon, thus the anxiety to finish things asap, before it's too late.

Others begin to have anxiety after the death of someone close, possibly a husband or a close friend. often times any life changing event can set anxiety off. in each case, Yalom gives explicit details of a particular patient, using a very reader-friendly voice that anyone will feel comfortable in reading.

The only chapter that i felt was as reader-friendly was the last, in which he warns the reader that this particular chapter is aimed at therapists. it is still helpful to read this last chapter, but i felt my eyes glazing over at times, as it was a little too technical for me.

I found STARING AT THE SUN a fascinating and informative book regarding anxiety and the fear of death. while I may have a long way to go in conquering my own fears, I feel that this book was helpful enough in that it confirmed a lot of what I've learned about anxiety over the past 9 months or so. I definitely recommend STARING AT THE SUN.