My Fair Lazy

Friday, April 30, 2010

Title: My Fair Lazy
Author: Jen Lancaster
Pages: 366
Publisher: NAL (Penguin Group)
Release Date: May 4, 2010

In My Fair Lazy, Jen Lancaster returns with the same wit, humor, hilarious self-reflections, and tangential footnotes that made her so popular with her first books Bitter is the New Black and Bright Lights Big Ass. Now, I have to admit that, for me, those first couple books were definitely her best and funniest books. While I enjoyed Such a Pretty Fat and Pretty In Plaid, I found them not quite as full of the laugh-out-loud humor I found in the first ones. But in this one, I thought Jen Lancaster brought back the same hilarity I was used to.

My Fair Lazy chronicles Jen Lancaster's attempts to sophisticate herself by turning off all the reality television she's addicted to and going to wine and cheese tastings, reading classics, watching opera, etc. This all started for her when, in an attempt to impress and befriend Candace Bushnell (Sex and the City), she pretended to know what/who Baudelaire is.

I was able to relate to all her reality show references -- some because I, too, had watched that show, or because I could relate to being addicted to a similar show. (Jen professes that the only reality show she doesn't watch is Keeping up with the Kardashians which I can't understand because that show is sooo entertaining, lol. I managed to stay away from it for a while but got caught up in some marathons... that's besides the point though). Jen is honest and doesn't pretend to be someone she's not (well, except for when she's being interviewed by Candace Bushnell, lol) so I was able to put myself in her shoes when she had these experiences and laugh along with her.

Jen Lancaster's humor is so funny specifically because she says what she thinks without worrying how others will respond. The things she says are often the things that I know people are thinking and just can't say! But her humor is also intelligent and witty which is why I think she's so well liked by readers. She's also gutsy and will do things or talk to people that I'd be scared to. There were a couple parts in My Fair Lazy that I remember her posting from her blog... other parts she mentioned on her blog but elaborated on in the book. I was disappointed in two specific incidences because she wrote about something she had written in previous books; one of these things I specifically remembered because I thought it was so outright hilarious when I read it the first time. But those are literally the only ones I could remember.

In all, this was another great and hilarious book by Jen Lancaster. If you've never read anything by her, though, I recommend starting with her first two books, Bitter is the New Black and Bright Lights Big Ass, because those are the funniest and they will introduce you to who Jen is and how she got to where she is now. These things are all sort of assumed by the time you read this book and those who haven't "gotten to know" her yet may not appreciate the book as much as they otherwise would.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Title: The Forest of Hands and Teeth
Author: Carrie Ryan
Pages: 308
Publisher: Delacorte Press, Random House
Release Date: March 10, 2009

Let me preface this review by saying I am not at all a zombie kind of girl. I've seen maybe 2 zombie movies with my husband, if that. Dawn of the Dead wasn't as awful for me as expected, but again, it may have been because it took place at the mall. So despite all the acclaim about this book, I was hesitant to try it. But it kept on my mind, and I adore the cover, so I decided to pick this book up and give it a try.

And I loved it!! I, for real, absolutely adored this book, and then I went out and bought the sequel the next day! The Forest of Hands and Teeth is a story about Mary and the village she lives in; the village is entirely fenced in to keep out the zombies, or the Unconsecrated, as they are referred to repeatedly throughout the book. (At one point I wondered to myself how many times the word "Unconsecrated" was used in this book.... it's a lot, haha). Their village is protected by The Guardians who monitor the fences to make sure there isn't a breach. In the case of a breach, when the Unconsecrated make it into the village, an alarm sounds and all the villagers climb their platforms to escape. The Guardians are ruled by The Sisterhood who know the background about "The Return" of the Unconsecrated.

Mary, inspired by her mother's stories of life in the past, yearns for a world beyond the "forest of hands and teeth" which is how they refer to the surrounding forest. Despite learning to live with constant zombie moaning in her ears and the sight of the Unconsecrated clamoring at the fences, Mary dreams about this world, specifically the ocean, whether it exists, and how she can get there. Throw in some romance and a love triangle, and this book is the perfect draw for young adults. In fact, I'm honestly surprised I haven't heard more about it. I suspect, though, that when the movie comes out (for which the author is currently writing the screenplay from what I gather) it's going to be big. I'm thinking Twilight big, but I guess we'll see.

As for the different aspects of the book, I was entranced from the beginning by the writing and the story. Just read the first chapter and you'll get a feel for the beauty I found in this book. The story is narrated by Mary in first person, present tense. I'm almost always not a fan of present tense. Surprisingly though, it didn't hit me that this was written in that tense until about 100 pages in. I thought it was well done in this book. The book was riddled with Mary's emotion. I've read other reviews refer to this as "whiny" and/or "selfish". While I can understand this perception, I found Mary's emotion to be genuine anguish. She is an independent girl, and despite falling in love, still feels the need to serve her own needs which I think is important for young women to see. While many young girls will develop powerful feelings for others, it's vital they learn not to let go of their dreams for a relationship. And Mary demonstrated the difficulty in this decision as well, which again, I thought was authentic. The love triangle I referred to is in regards to whom Mary is supposed to marry and to whom she is actually in love. It actually gets a little more complicated than that, but you have to read the book to learn more about that!

There were a couple parts that confused me. It seemed like I was supposed to just get some things that I didn't... for instance, in one section Mary is talking to one of the Sisters and all of a sudden she realizes the big secret the Sisterhood has been keeping from the village. I was thinking to myself, what? How did she get that from that conversation, because I certainly didn't. And in another scene, she's running out somewhere and she randomly lights her nightgown on fire. I was thinking to myself, was she near a fireplace? Did she start the fire herself? I didn't get where and how she did that. But these things were very minor and didn't take from the story. And there's always the possibility it was my own reading comprehension; after all, I've had a lot on my mind lately!

Anyway, I was drawn to this book; I kept wanting to read more and more to find out what could possibly happen next to these characters. Would they fall victim to the Unconsecrated and be "turned" themselves or would they make it out alive? How scary it must be not only to try and escape from these zombies (in addition to all the typical teen angst) but then to know if anyone you know doesn't make it, it's only a matter of time before they, too, are coming after you? Ew!

Despite how much I loved this book, I still don't think I'm a zombie person. I mean, I may be more open to seeing a zombie movie with my husband now... but I found this book, though heavily involving The Unconsecrated in the plot, more about the characters and their world. Zombie lovers will definitely have enough zombie love to be satisfied, but those like me will appreciate the other facets of this book!

The Ocean Between us (review and giveaway)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Title: The Ocean Between Us
Author: Susan Wiggs
Pages: 407
Publisher: Mira (Harlequin)
Release date: (reprint) April 27, 2010
(1st print) April 2004

I almost didn't read this one because I didn't think I'd finish it in time since I didn't get to start it until Friday night. I had also just finished another book in the similar genre and thought I might need a change. But I'm so so glad I decided to read it because I really really enjoyed it (and finished it in plenty of time)!

The Ocean Between Us takes place over the course of one year in the Bennett family as they experience yet another year as a Navy family. Grace Bennett has always stuck by her Navy husband, putting up with moving every 3 years and spending half of that time without her husband while he's away on the ship. The children (twins Emma and Brian, age 17, and Katie, age 15) have also learned to manage while having their father home only part time. They also learn quickly about the politics of being in the Navy, how to make new friends with every move, etc. There are various plot points that all work together to illustrate the military family lifestyle. Grace starts to have what can be referred to as a mid-life crisis and feels the need to sort of re-invent herself. This is only exacerbated when a secret about her husband's past bombards the family. Steve, the husband, doesn't realize what effect his expectations and absences have on his family; he wants his son, Brian, to join the Navy as well and isn't pleased that Brian would prefer art school. Then a crisis occurs on the ship that changes the lives of the Bennett family as well as that of their fellow Navy friends.

The book starts out in the current time with the big crisis. At this point it alludes to some problems that have been building. Then the story rewinds 9 months and shows all the events that led to where they were at the beginning of the book. One of the things I thought Susan Wiggs did excellently with this book was the pacing. The main point of the book was to illustrate the lives of Navy families. Wiggs was able to illustrate the daily nuances of this lifestyle over the course of a year (in 407 pgs) and also adds enough plot points to keep the reader interested. The characters were also well written and genuine. I constantly found myself just wanting to pick up the book and read more. The teen characters were great because they were real but they were good kids and really cared about each other and their family. I just adored reading about all the characters in this book.

I thought this book was a great peek into what life is like for these families. Some aspects seem fun and exciting, but others are frustrating and scary. I cried in different places while reading this -- sometimes out of sadness and sometimes out of happiness. I would definitely recommend this book as one for those who want some insight into what it's like being married to a someone in the Navy. I grew up with my father in the Air Force, and even though I can relate to some experiences being a military family, it was still completely different than this branch of the military (as I'm sure this is from the others). Definitely a good read.

The Ocean Between Us



One (1) Grand Prize winner from Take Me Away receives:

* $25 VISA gift card
* Copy of The Ocean Between Us

Two (2) additional winners will receive a copy of the book!

This giveaway will run for 2 weeks. It is for the U.S. only. All you have to do to enter is fill out the form below. Winners will be announced on May 11, 2010!

Learn more on the author's website:

FTC: I received this book for review from Big Honcho Media as part of this promotion, but the review was my honest opinion.

Perpetual Challenges

Okay, like I said, I joined 2 challenges with no time limit. Each of these are geared towards reading all the books of a certain publishing imprint. First, I jointed the Amy Einhorn Perpetual Challenge hosted by Beth at Beth Fish Reads. Amy Einhorn is an imprint of G.P. Putnam's Sons with Penguin Group. I've also already read 2 books for that I can count for this. They are The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott (2010) and The Help (2009). I highly recommend both these books!! (And if you know me in real life I own both of these so feel free to borrow... although my mom has The Help for right now).

The second challenge I joined is the Reagan Arthur challenge hosted by both Kathy of Bermuda Onion and Julie of Booking Mama. The challenge has its own page though here. Reagan Arthur is an imprint of Little, Brown and Company with Hachette Book Group. I've actually already read a book for this one too, and that is The Unnamed.

Sunday Salon

Saturday, April 24, 2010

I haven't done a Sunday Salon in a couple weeks! I've just been so busy I guess. In that time I posted the following reviews:

The Housekeeper and the Professor
The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott (if you haven't watched the book trailer yet that I added at the bottom of that review, you need to... it's so funny!)
The Third Rail
Hannah's List (this one has a giveaway for the book and a chance to win a visa gift card until April 30 so go check it out!)

Tomorrow I'll be posting another similar review with 3 chances to win the book and a chance to win a visa gift card again so stay tuned!

This week an update came out on the Nook so I was able to download that. It has games, a separate wifi button, and turns pages faster. The new update also allows you to read e-books for free for an hour a day if you are in the store. I'm not completely sure what the point is since if you're in the store you could read as much of the actual book as you wanted. But then, I guess it works better for me because I would feel totally guilty if I read very much of a book in the store and then I'd also have to worry about keeping the book in brand new shape. So anyway, I tried that out for like a minute and need to go back sometime. I'm not sure if it will keep what page I'm on or not so I'll have to look into that.

I've decided to join a couple more challenges and they're both for publishing imprints: I'll be joining the Reagan Arthur challenge (I read The Unnamed earlier this year that is part of that challenge) and I'm going to join the Amy Einhorn challenge (of which The Help is one of the books). I think they are both ongoing challenges created to support the imprints, so should be fun.

I feel like there really isn't anything interesting to say. I'm going to finish up another book today for which the review will be posted tomorrow. OH, I finished reading both The Forest of Hands and Teeth and its sequel The Dead Tossed Waves and loved them both! This is surprising for me because I've never liked or been at all interested in zombies, lol. But the review for those will be up in a few weeks. That is all for now. Hope everyone has a great week!

Hannah's List (review and giveaway)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Title: Hannah's List
Author: Debbie Macomber
Pages: 412
Publisher: Mira (Harlequin)
Release date: April 27, 2010


Occasionally, we get an opportunity to change our lives—whether it’s another chance at love, changing the path we’ve chosen or going back and making amends for the past. Hannah’s List is the story of a widower who is given an unexpected letter from his wife on the first anniversary of her death. In a remarkable act of love, Hannah includes a list of three women for him to consider marrying. With a unique twist and intriguing element, readers will be in for a wonderful story of a love that transcends time, hope that is exceptionally unselfish, and the possibility of a future otherwise unfathomable. An unexpected letter. An impossible request. The gift of a second chance.

There is something comforting about this type of book. It's one that you know you can turn to when you need a light read that can take you away for a minute. I don't read this genre of book that often because I sometimes feel like it's too predictable and sappy. And in some ways it was. But I have to say I also was pleasantly surprised by some aspects of this. First of all, while this book is not in the Blossom Street series, it apparently has some of the same characters; readers of that series will get to re-visit some characters and learn more about them. Those who haven't (me) won't know the difference. Most of the book was written in first person from the point of view of the widower, Michael. Macomber's style of writing works best, for me, in first person because of the manner in which she inserts a lot of the character's thoughts. I thought she built Michael's character well; but there were approximately 2 times when I thought "okay, I don't care how great and sensitive a guy he is, a real guy would't do/think that". But then, I suppose 2 times isn't too bad. The three women in the book are narrated in third person. This works well, but I also felt that the women (especially two of them) had very similar voices and it was hard to tell them apart. But the one I could tell apart I really liked!

What I think Macomber does well is the dialogue between the characters. The majority of the book involves conversations, and I appreciated these parts of the book the best. I don't care for being told too much what someone is thinking. I liked the direction the story went and was really enjoying the book. But then at one point in the end the story became a little hokey for me... but, I will say it was in a way what I expected. What's important is the book kept me wanting to read more. I loved the character of one of the women (won't tell you which one!) and of Hannah. She wasn't really in the story except for when the husband referred to or thought about her, but she is the type of woman I hope I can/will be. This book was good for me, I think. Sometimes you need a book like this, sort of like you need a Lifetime movie every now and then for a good cry, even if it's not your typical genre.

Hannah’s List



One (1) Grand Prize winner from Take Me Away receives:

  • a $25 VISA gift card (that you could use to enjoy other Debbie Macomber books!)
  • Copy of Hannah’s List
Two (2) additional winners will receive a copy of the book!

The Giveaway will run from today
April 23, 2010
for 2 weeks. The winner will be announced on May 8, 2010. The giveaway is for U.S. addresses only. To enter, just fill out the form below. (Make sure you scroll down!!)

stop by the official website:

FTC: I was given a copy of this book to review with an honest opinion for this giveaway promotion.

Waiting on Wednesday

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Wuthering Heights read-a-long will return next week!

Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Here's my pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection:

Edgar Award winner Meg Gardiner returns with a third propulsive, groundbreaking thriller about forensic psychiatrist Jo Beckett and the lies that are even more dangerous than fame. Tasia McFarland is a washed-up country-pop singer desperate for the break that will get her topping the charts again. The tabloids have raked over every part of Tasia's rocky life, following every high and low, her addictions, her breakdowns, her increasingly erratic behavior—and every broken relationship. The highlight of this lowlight reel: her failed marriage to an ambitious Army officer whose political talents earned him a spot in the nation's highest office. Tasia McFarland is the ex-wife of the President of the United States. So when Tasia writes a song with politically-charged lyrics, people take note and her star begins to rise anew. In the spectacle-driven opener of her comeback tour, she is lowered into a stadium on a zip line and as helicopters fly overhead she fires her prop Colt 45 at the fireworks-filled stage. Tasia is riding high. Until she's killed by a bullet to the neck, before the shocked crowd of 40,000. When video can't prove that the shot came from Tasia's own Colt .45 and the ballistics report comes up empty, the authorities call on forensic psychiatrist Jo Beckett to do a psychological autopsy and clean up the potential political disaster. But as Jo sifts through the facts, she only finds more questions. Was Tasia's gun loaded? Did she kill herself in one last cry for attention? Were her politically-charged lyrics the rantings of a paranoid woman losing her grip? Or warnings from a woman afraid and in danger? For Jo, pouring over Tasia'spast quickly becomes a race to extinguish the conspiracy rumor mill before it incites a level of violence that reaches America's highest corridors of power—and tears apart the very fabric of our nation.

I love this series!! Check out the first two in the series: The Dirty Secrets Club and
The Memory Collector

The Third Rail

Monday, April 19, 2010

Title: The Third Rail
Author: Michael Harvey
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday
Release Date: April 20, 2010
Pages: 304

The Third Rail is the 3rd in the Michael Kelly series but was the first one I read. Michael Kelly is a private investigator who unwittingly finds himself connected to a serial killing spree as he waits for the L train in Chicago one morning. As the killer progresses with his plans, however, Michael Kelly learns his connection wasn't as accidental as it may have originally seemed. In fact, utilizing some old friends as resources, Michael astutely pieces together the facets of the crime that match up with a significant incident from his own childhood. He then sets out to learn more about how it's all connected so he can prevent any more from being murdered.

I enjoyed this book, but there were aspects I liked and some I didn't. The main narration was by Michael Kelly and was in first person; there were parts that were narrated by the killer, and these were in third person and worked well to give the two narrators different voices. I had a little trouble connecting with the characters, though, and it took me a while to find Michael Kelly very likeable. I attributed this to the fact that this was the third book in the series and assume that by this point I may have been expected to know the characters a little better. (I do plan on reading from the beginning though, so I'll update you on that). Another interesting aspect to this book was the type of mystery it was. I saw it more of a regular mystery than a thriller. The beginning starts immediately with action, but it simmered out into more of a mystery story. This wasn't a negative thing, just not what I had expected.

The author, Michael Harvey, impressed me with the adept manner in which he brought everything together in the end. I was skeptical when the character, Michael Kelly, first started surmising as to his connections to the current crime. But as the story progressed more and more was revealed that solidified the earlier theories that initially seemed shady, at best. The ending of the mystery surprised me both for who the killer was and why. And then it didn't actually end there as I thought, because there was even more to the story. In a way, this book had two separate mysteries that sort of crossed paths; though different, the first mystery led to the second.

And lastly, I enjoyed the author's descriptions of the city of Chicago. I've never actually been there (will be soon!) so I don't know how accurate the portrayals in my head were from the descriptions, but I thought he did a good job with this.

I will also be checking out the first two in this series, The Chicago Way and The Fifth Floor, (which I already bought, so stay tuned!)

Winner: Between Friends

Sunday, April 18, 2010

We have a

for the BETWEEN FRIENDS giveaway!

Michelle at Red Headed Book Child

Michelle, please e-mail me your address and I will send you the book! Thanks everyone for entering!

The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcot

Friday, April 16, 2010

Oh, I loved this book so much!! In The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott, Kelly O'Connor McNees tells the story of the author of Little Women. The main thing I knew about Louisa May Alcott prior to reading this book was that she wrote Little Women and that she never married. Now, I honestly don't know that I've ever read all the way through Little Women... I know I read the Great Illustrated Classics version for children when I was young, and later I read maybe half of the actual version but just never finished it for whatever reason. But I still remembered most of the main points.

In the author's note at the end, McNees explains where she gleaned all her information from regarding Ms. Alcott. She appears to have thoroughly researched her life, including reading actual letters by her, and effectively incorporated the learned facts into a fictional accounting of Ms. Alcott's life. The title of this novel is also explained in the author's note, and I found the story behind it so intriguing! Basically what I'm saying, read the author's note when you're done... it adds a lot to the experience of this book and answered some of the questions I had.

It was so interesting to read about Louisa's life because there were, of course, may similarities to the characters in Little Women. Ms. Alcott was one of four children. She had a unique personality at the time in that she was very independent and wanted nothing more than to write even at the cost of her other desires. I found the character of Louisa easy to relate to. I related to her desire to always read and write. I related to her ambitions for autonomy. While I have always wanted to marry and have children, I can relate to her independence and the conflicts she feels in pursuing this as opposed to maintaining loyalties to her family. But the biggest conflict, one which Kelly O'Connor McNees imagines may have taken place, is the love affair Louisa experiences during that lost summer. Readers and scholars have questioned how Louisa May Alcott was able to write a book that encompasses so much love and relationship issues since she had never been married. And they've wondered who are these characters in Little Women based upon... specifically Laurie? In McNees's historically accurate, fictional accounting, Louisa did experience love. But you'll have to read this book to find out what happens and if Laurie is a representation of anyone or not.

Kelly O'Connor McNees did a fantastic job in putting this book together. And her writing ability is also not indicative of the debut novelist she is! This book definitely made me want to pull Little Women off the shelf for another read and also all the related books like March etc. AND I found myself wanting to read more of Walt Whitman's poetry (though poetry rarely interests me) because of the place his book, Leaves of Grass, has in Louisa's life. This was a love story in many ways that will be enjoyed by fans of Little Women, of historical fiction, of empowered women, or anyone who wants to read a good story.

Here is the trailer for the book... it's hilarious!! You have to watch it!

Wuthering Heights Read-a-Long: Chapters 1-3

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

This post is for the
Wuthering Heights read-a-long hosted by Jill at Fizzy Thoughts that I am participating in. I have read this book 3-4 times and have considered it one of my favorite books, if not my actual favorite book. But it's been a while since I read it and I've never written any thoughts about it! I think this will be a fun process for me to record my thoughts and discuss the book with others at the same time. I will try not to post too many spoilers; however, I won't completely shy away from the main points, as I will assume most people have an idea what the book is about.

This post is re: chapters 1-3 I'm actually behind 3 chapters! Will catch up soon!

Chapters 1-3
The beginning of well loved books always seem to have a familiarity to it that is so comforting. In opening up the book and starting the first page I instantly am drawn back into the world of the characters that I have loved reading about in the past. In these chapters, Heathcliff's new tenant at Thrushcross Grange, Mr. Lockwood, has just started living there and has made the treck across the moore to Wuthering Heights to visit his new landlord. I was amused by Mr. Lockwood's awkward introductions as he mistakens who everyone is, assuming the teenaged Catherine Heathcliff is Mr. Heathcliff's wife rather than his daughter-in-law. The scene with the dogs and Mr. Lockwood is hilarious. Poor Mr. Lockwood... he seems like such a nice and friendly man... he means so well but is completely taken aback by the grim nature of Mr. Heathcliff and his household. Chapter 3 has always been sort of confusing for me. I can't picture what the oak chest is that Mr. Lockwood sits/lies down in. Is it a bed? a closet? what? Then the whole nightmare he has that turns out to not be a nightmare but is actually real confuses me. That part always has confused me. And then the part where Mr. Heathcliff freaked out has always caught me off guard. He seems so in control of his faculties, but then all of a sudden he a crazed man. I guess that's what tragic love will to do a man, hehe.

Book Signing with Kristy Kiernan

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I recently posted the review for Between Friends by Kristy Kiernan. I decided to attend her signing this past Sunday, 4/11, at the Vero Beach book center.

My sister, Jackie, agreed to go with me so after working a little bit that morning, I drove down to Melbourne to meet up with my sister. We went from there to Vero Beach which was about an hour from her house. We had lunch at Panera and then headed over to the venue. Vero Beach Book Center is a wonderful independent book store. I hadn't known about it before but it's a great store! Right across a small parking lot they also have another building that has children's books on the entire first floor. Almost the entire second floor was bargain books with one part sectioned off for new young adult books. We loved it there! (We both bought some books at the main building and the children's building, hehe).

Anyway, Kristy Kiernan spent about 45 minutes talking about her book and, also, her experience in writing. My sister and I were both fascinated to hear about her experiences in publishing and the books she wrote prior to becoming published. Kristy is a great speaker! After that she answered some questions and then everyone had a chance to talk to her and take pictures. My sister had actually not read any of her books yet but is really interested now! (I bought her a copy of Between Friends and she ended up buying herself a copy of Kristy's previous novel, Matters of Faith). We're both really glad we went, and it was great to meet Kristy! Here are some pictures.

Me and Kristy

My sister, Jackie, me, Kristy

Also, don't forget to enter the giveaway for the book,
Between Friends, which is now autographed by the author! =)

The Housekeeper and the Professor

Monday, April 12, 2010

Title: The Housekeeper and the Professor
Author: Yoko Ogawa
Pages: 180
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Picador (Macmillan)
Release Date: February 3, 2009

The Housekeeper and the Professor
is beautifully written and a short read at 180 pages. The characters are so endearing I can't imagine them not growing and finding a place in anyone's heart. This is also a book about numbers and how harmonious they can be; I would consider this the number version of what Ella Minnow Pea did for language and the alphabet. Those who love numbers will find themselves even more engrossed in this book, but those who don't won't find the numbers take from the story.

None of the characters are given actual names, other than the housekeeper's son, whom the professor names Root because of the shape of the top of his head. The lack of names wasn't something that drew away from the story or that I even noticed, although I worried it would. In fact, I think this may have made the story even better because it changed the focus for me; the characters were just as real, though. The professor is an elderly man who has only a short term memory of 80 minutes. At the beginning of every 80 minutes, he believes he's still back in the late 70's when he lost his memory initially. Because of this, he clips post it notes all over his daily suits so he can remind himself of his situation.

Over the years, 9 different housekeepers have been through the home and all have to leave for one reason or another. Then "the housekeeper" starts to work there and is able to acclimate herself to the situation and meet the professor's needs for socialization, while still completing all her work. She then starts bringing Root to work with her. Root and the professor then begin a loving relationship, reminiscent of many loving grandfather/grandson relationships. The professor dotes on Root and they share a love for baseball.

While we don't learn much about the professor's past, or even that of the housekeeper's, for that matter, this story is about how the three characters love each other and are able to care for each other despite all their challenges. They build a family of their own during the day when the Housekeeper and Root are at the home. The juxtaposition of numbers and the harmony they create added an intellectually stimulating dimension to this novel. But the main factor this novel boasts is the beautiful writing and the charming characters. It's short, but Ogawa does an excellent job focusing on the parts of the story that are important to tell so in that short amount of time you really feel like you know the characters and have lived with them through this stage in their life. This was such a beautiful book. It will go on my keeper shelf to read again and again!

Sunday Salon/In My Mailbox

Sunday, April 11, 2010

It's Sunday again! I don't have a whole lot to say today. I'm tired. This week I posted my review for Between Friends as well as the interview with the author. I've finished a lot of books lately but have yet to write the reviews!! Need to get on that. Right now I'm reading The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott and hope to finish it soon. I couldn't participate in the 24 hour read-a-thon, but I tried to fit it in here and there. I participated in probably about 8 hours and finished one book. I found that when I first start reading, I read much slower than later. I was reading about 50 pages every 60 minutes at first, but once I was "in the zone" I found I read 100 pgs in 80 minutes. So thought that was interesting! Problem is I have such little spurts of time where I can read. If I had more time, my reading would increase exponentially, LOL.

So that's that. Here's my short In My Mailbox for this week:

Books Mentioned
My Fair Lazy by Jen Lancaster
Pretty in Plaid by Jen Lancaster
The Ocean Between Us by Susan Wiggs
Hannah's List by Debbie Macomber
Fables, Volume 2: Animal Farm

Update #3 -- my own mini read-a-thon

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Had a busy night but just finished my first book of whatever part of the read-a-thon I was able to do. I tried to focus more on just reading since the 5 hours I spent last night was reading and getting on the computer and I really didn't read as much as I could have.

I read another 30ish minutes on the way to my parents' house and then for an hour and 20 minutes when I came home. Finished My Fair Lazy which was great and which I'm still so excited about. =) Now I'm off to get a couple things done (laundry, etc.) and maybe try to fit in another short book in the remaining few hours I will be able to participate!

Update #2 -- my own mini read-a-thon

Ok, I made it home from my morning/early afternoon appointment and was able to fit in an hour of reading. I finished about 54 pages of My Fair Lazy. Unfortunately didn't get to do any other reading earlier.... I set the alarm and woke up at 9:15 am, after most of you had officially started. Then my dear hubby made breakfast, I took a shower and got ready to go. Drove far away to my appointment, met with clients for 2 hours, drove all the way back, read for an hour, and here I am now!

Next up is dinner with the parents, SO, I will be reading just a little more here, then on the way there (assuming my husband agrees to drive) and then I'll have another break. I assume I'll be back in time to join back in around hours 13 or 14 and participate until hour 20... but I'll have to get to bed since I have another appointment in the morning!

Update #1 -- my own mini read-a-thon

Well, it's 2:45 am of my head start on the read-a-thon and I'm calling it quits for the night. I really don't have a lot to update. I have only been working on one book. I started at 10:00 pm which puts me at 4 hours 45 minutes and I've only read 190 pages of My Fair Lazy.... that's about 40 pages an hour which I guess isn't so bad considering I wasn't actually reading that whole time... I was off and on the computer checking twitter and blogs, etc. Plus near the end of this time frame I realized I was reading words but not processing anything, haha. Sure, I just started the reading part, but I had a long day which included work AND class afterwards. =)

Be back in the morning! And if I'm not here yet, to all of you startingat 8:00 am, have fun!

My Own Mini Read-a-Thon

Friday, April 9, 2010

I had been looking forward to this read-a-thon ever since I watched the one last October and it seemed like so much fun! Unfortunately, my schedule just doesn't permit me time to fully commit to this event. I even thought about not scheduling clients and all that this weekend just so I could do this, but considering there was Easter, and I'll be in Chicago one weekend, and there's a baby shower another, etc. I really couldn't afford to do that. SO, I just decided to do my own "24 hour read-a-thon" by fitting in my hours whenever I can, starting now, and going until I can't say up any later. (Watch it be early like 1:00 am or something, lol). I haven't planned much beyond that. I have kept a running list of books in my head that I would read if I participated (though I just bumped a different one up to the very top since it came in the mail today and I'm sooo excited!)

So tomorrow... I have a new client at 11:00 am (if she keeps her appointment) which means a couple hours, plus the drive there and back. Then I also agreed to dinner at my parents' house and a movie, so I'll be there for most of the night. But then I'll be back and most of you will only be just over halfway through the read-a-thon, so I can join back in!

I may do challenges and otherwise participate like normal but only for the hours that I am available. Plus I'm starting early so the first many hours will be by myself. My husband is going to stay up with me as late as I can, but he will be doing other things like playing video games, etc. haha. We'll see how I do! Knowing me, though, if I get tired I'll throw in the towel and say forget it, haha.

Off to start the coffee and read!

Interview with Kristy Kiernan

Thursday, April 8, 2010

I'd like to thank Kristy Kiernan, author of Between Friends, Matters of Faith, and Catching Genius for allowing me to interview her! Also, thanks to her publicist, Kathryn, for arranging this!

1. I really enjoyed reading this book! The topics in the book varied and made me think. What was your inspiration for this book?

Between Friends is about many different things, and so there were many different inspirations,but one that I remember clearly was visiting a friend who lives in Gainesville, which is a bog college town. In almost every public restroom I went in, there was a big ad on the back of the stall door for an infertility clinic that was paying a lot of money for egg donations. It got me to thinking about the ethics of paying to make a life versus organ donation, in which it is illegal to pay to save a life.

2. Yup, I know Gainesville.. my sister went to school there. =) I really thought the topic of paying for egg donations vs. paying for organ donation was very thought provoking! What kind of research did you do, if any, about fertility and reproduction? Did you learn anything you didn't expect?

I do a tremendous amount of research for my books. Sometimes I get lost in the research and forget that I need to actually write a book. All of the research doesn't wind up in the books, but I think readers can tell whether you know what you're talking about or not, and if they question it, then they question the story, and worse, they question the characters. My research consists of any and everything I can get my hands on. I read non-fiction, magazine articles, online articles and discussions boards, watch documentaries, e-mail with experts, visit locales (which is really tough as I most often write about the beach). The only thing I don't do is read fiction about what I'm writing about. I don't want to inadvertently use something. Or, worse, find out that someone else has done something similar, freak out, and get stuck or abandon the project altogether.

3. I agree... I have read books before where I thought the author really didn't do the research and it was frustrating because they had some facts wrong! (I can think of one book in particular that I stopped reading for that issue).

I loved how the different storylines/issues you wrote about all sort of came together unexpectedly in the end! When you write, do you tend to map out the entire book first, or did any of the events just come to you after you had already started writing? How much did the book change from what you initially envisioned when you started writing it?

I map out the book ahead of time in broad strokes, but the details tend to change as I write. There were two major plot points that completely changed about half-way through that surprised me, but they were clearly what had to happen. I don't want to give anything away, but if, after you've read the book, you really have to know, send me a note.

4. I think I might go ahead and send you a note. =)

Each of your books has been told from alternating characters. How did you come to the decision to write the books in this way? Do you find yourself able to relate better to any of the characters when you do this?

It never seems to be a conscious decision on my part. I tend to start a book with one character's POV, and then realize that I really want to know--and I want readers to know--what the other characters are thinking, and what their motivations are. I find that people do have reasons for the things they do and say, but you have to be patient and ask a lot of questions about their life and how they grew up and what their desires and fears are before you can understand their actions. And exploring alternate points of view helps me to do that.

5. How was writing this book similar to or different from your past two books? Was it easier or more difficult having already written (and published) two books?

The writing part hasn't gotten easier yet. If anything it's become more difficult because I keep learning and struggle to apply those lessons. The publishing part, the stress of it, has definitely gotten easier. I have gotten all ridiculously Zen about it, in fact. My friends are concerned that I'm repressing my anxiety and on publication day might actually explode. But I think I'll be good. Check the news on April 6th for "Author Explodes" headlines.

6. The 6th passed and I didn't see any headlines! Looks like everything was okay! =)

What, if anything, do you hope readers take away from reading
Between Friends?

This is always a tough question. I want readers to take away as much as they want to take away from my books. Some people want a character-heavy exploration of family dynamics, and I think I can provide that. Some readers want a juicy story, and I think I can do that, too. I've had reader reviews that said my books were deep, and ones that said they were light. I believe it's the reader who decides what to take away from a book, and that can depend on mood and stage of life. If I could ever send a message that would really be heard with my books, I would most like for it to be: Take it easy on each other. You have no idea what another person's life is really like. Give the benefit of the doubt. Be kind, be generous, and forgive when your loved ones are
selfish...because you're selfish, too, sometimes.

7. Very true!
One of the things I enjoyed about Between Friends and Matters of Faith was the pacing. Was this something that was specifically learned?

Definitely. If you read Catching Genius you'll definitely note that it's a slower pace. I do have to work on pacing, because in "today's fast paced world" readers seem to want a very fast pace, with something big happening on ever third page, and short chapters. The problem is that I'm an old-fashioned reader. If the characters are written well enough, I don't even need a plot. I'll read a 700 page novel filled with beautiful language and absolutely nothing happening and I'll love it. So, yes, pace is a learned skill for me, and I tend to fight it a bit.

8. I know what you mean, and I'm guilty of wanting the fast pace too. =( But there are times when I enjoy the character aspect alone as well.

Now, I know (from your author bio) that you are a fellow Floridian! I've noticed that all your books so far have taken place in Florida. I've written about how I love reading books that take place in cities. But I also think it's fun to read books that take place locally, and I love Florida! What made you decide to keep the settings local? And what settings do you like to read about in other books?

I've been in southwest Florida for forty years, and I have a genuine and abiding love for it. I find my home continually fascinating, and beautiful, and awful all at once. Why would I want to write about anyplace else? I have to say that I don't care about setting when I read. I mean, I want a setting, and I want it authentic, and beautifully rendered, and an integral part of the story, but I don't care about where it is, as long as it's well-written.

9. For fun, let's say Between Friends is being made into a movie...
who would you choose to play each of the characters?

I am so bad at this, because I imagine and write my characters completely as new human beings, but I'm doing a guest blog on this very subject, so I've had to give it some thought, and here's what I've come up with so far:

Ali - Eva Mendes
Cora - Cameron Diaz
Benny - Benjamin Bratt
Letty - Abigail Breslin

I'm stuck on Seth though. All the teenage boy actors today seem to be cut from the Justin Bieber-so-sanitized-and-pretty-as-to-be-slightly-creepy mold. They just don't have that dangerous edge that Seth has. Any suggestions from anyone? Any arguments about who I've chosen, and suggestions as to replacements?

Great choices! I agree about the Seth thing though... Although, I think Zac Efron might be able to pull it off....OH, how about Taylor Lautner?? Actually, yeah, I'll go with him. ;)

10. Is there anything else you would like the readers to know about
Between Friends?

That buying a copy will make your teeth whiter, your skin clearer, and you'll immediately drop ten pounds. If you buy a copy to give to your best friend, your mother, or your daughter, you'll
double the benefit. Send me before and after pics.

Haha, awesome!!! AND on top of that it's a great book with wonderful characters! Yay!

Thanks for allowing me the interview!!
Hopefully I'll get a chance to stop by one of your tour stops!

Giveaway Info
I will be giving away my own gently used copy of the book to one lucky winner. Anyone can enter. You do not need to be a follower of the blog. HOWEVER, I will not be e-mailing winners. The winners will be posted here at the end of the contest and will have 48 hours to e-mail me their addresses. This contest will go through Friday, April 16, 2010, and the winner will be announced on Saturday the 17th!

(Once you've entered, I suggest stopping by Crazy-For-Books for 10 more chances to win!)

To enter this giveaway, just fill out the form below:

Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday – this is a weekly event hosted by me! It is the time each week to recognize those older books… an older book you’ve always wanted to read, or one that you have read and love; maybe one from your childhood; or review an older book -- how about even a classic! Leave a comment here and feel free to take an icon and use it on your blog!

This week's throwback is:

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Publish date (original): 1847

Set amid the wild and stormy Yorkshire moors, Wuthering Heights, an unpolished and devastating epic of childhood playmates who grow into soul mates, is widely regarded as the most original tale of thwarted desire and heartbreak in the English language.

I've read this one approximately 3-4 times. I have considered many books my favorite, but this is one of the ones I've always considered my absolute favorite. Unfortunately, there's still a lot I don't remember about it. I recently joined the read-a-long by Jill at Fizzy Thoughts so I will be re-reading this again and posting my thoughts here! I'm a little behind since I was supposed to have read the first 3 chapters by yesterday. No worries though... I started on yesterday's lunch break and read the first 2. So I'll be posting my thoughts soon!

Waiting on Wednesday

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Here's my pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection:

Last Night at Chateau Marmont by Lauren Weisberger
Release date: May 25, 2010


Two college sweethearts are living a happy, rather ordinary life in New York but there’s a slight twist — she’s the breadwinner, supporting her musician boyfriend. Until the tables are turned when he’s discovered by a Sony exec and their worlds are turned upside down. Soon they are holidaying in the Hamptons, adorning the cover of Vanity Fair and attending every glitzy party in town — all the while his career is reaching new, dizzying heights. But the trappings of this elite lifestyle mean our heroine must face the wrath of the US press.

Scorned for having a less-than-perfectly-honed LA body and brutalised for being ‘ordinary’ things couldn’t get any worse! Then news erupts that her best friend, who’s been her confidante through these months of misery, has sold her innermost secrets to the press and her life spirals out of control. She finds solace in a secret support group: The Civilian Ex-Wives and Girlfriends of Celebrities Group — a place to gossip, lubricated with lashings of shared experiences and strong cocktails. As this sassy group right the wrongs of their past relationships, our heroine must decide if she’s going to sink or swim.

Between Friends

Monday, April 5, 2010

In her latest novel, Between Friends, Kristy Kiernan delivers another compelling story about two women tackling real, life-affecting issues.

Ali Gutierrez couldn't have children of her own. Her best friend, Cora, didn't want children. So Cora donated her eggs to Ali and her husband so they could still have children. Ali's daughter, Letty, was born in this way and was even featured in People for her miracle birth (to Letty's later chagrin). Almost 15 years have passed and Ali is ready for another child. She plans on using the embryos she secretly froze after conceiving Letty but still wants to ask Cora's permission. Cora, meanwhile, has been struggling with a secret of her own -- one that will ultimately affect Ali and her family in ways they never imagined.

Between Friends was a powerful book that took on multiple issues. Fertility/reproductive technology was obviously one issue, though it was more subtle. There wasn't a message as to the opinions of this type of technology but, rather, it focused on the effects it has on the people involved. Whether it was her frustration with this or just typical teenage rebellions, Letty finds herself in trouble with her boyfriend and in discord with her parents. Ali has to deal with her conflicted feelings of love for Cora that are mixed with the desire to distance herself because of fear related to Cora being Letty's biological parent. Cora manages her secret and tries to connect with the family more which leaves Ali feeling threatened. Meanwhile, Ali's husband, Benny, is overcoming a difficult case as a law enforcement investigator in which a child's life was taken.

The book is alternately narrated by Ali, Cora, and Letty. In this way the reader is able to understand how each of these women is affected by the the decisions regarding fertility and Letty's birth. But each storyline also focuses on other issues each of these characters face throughout the book.

I so enjoyed reading this book by Kristy Kiernan because, as with her other books, her writing flows so well. The dialogue between the characters is realistic, helps to really define the characters, and moves the story along. I found myself finishing this book in a day, as I did with her last book, Matters of Faith. The author does a great job of progressing the story and bringing everything together in the end -- an ending that will certainly induce a strong reaction in readers. This book/author is another one I definitely recommend for fans of contemporary women's fiction.

**Stay tuned for an interview with the author and a GIVEAWAY!!**

Sunday Salon/ In My Mailbox

Sunday, April 4, 2010

First of all, to those of you who celebrate, Happy Easter!

My Sunday Salon is a little late today. I had planned on doing a lot of work/housework/reading this afternoon but I was called out for work to a local hospital. Then my husband and I went to the Magic game tonight so instead of coming back home I just hung out and did some shopping. So this is really the first chance I have had to even log in!

So I obviously haven't read much either today. The two books I'm working on are ones I got this week, so I will just proceed to the In My Mailbox portion of the post!

Books Mentioned
Dead End Gene Pool by Wendy Burden
The Third Rail by Michael Harvey
Hotel Iris by Yoko Ogawa
Fables, Volume 1: Legends in Exile

Blogger Mentioned
Trisha from Eclectic/Eccentric

Do song lyrics count for Poetry Month?

Friday, April 2, 2010

I didn't get to post about that book I used for Throwback Thursday this week like I planned. I waited until last night to write it and was entirely too exhausted. So, on a different note, I thought I would join in today on the celebration of Poetry Month. Well, assuming that song lyrics count. I thought it would be fun to post the lyrics to Pocket Full of Sunshine by Natasha Bedingfield because it sort of correlates to my blog title/theme (although for a disclaimer: I don't know, at all, what the singer was referring to when she sang this, so this is totally my own interpretation of her song). I didn't think of the correlation until much later after picking my blog title. But I like that it sort of fits. Even thought about putting the chorus in my header or on my business cards... but I didn't want to get into any trouble whatsoever with copyright laws or anything, so I'll just post the lyrics here for fun.

Pocket Full of Sunshine by Natasha Bedingfield

I got a pocket, Got a pocket full of sunshine
I got a love and I know that its all mine
Oh, woah
Do what you want
But your never gonna break me
Sticks and stone are never gonna shake me no
oh I got a pocket, Got a pocket full of sunshine
I got a love and I know that its all mine
oh, woah
Wish that you could but you aint gonna own me
Do anything but you want you cant slow me down, no,

Take me away
A secret place
A sweet escape
Take me away

Take me away
To better days
Take me away
A higher place

I got a pocket, Got a pocket full of sunshine
I got a love and I know that its all mine, Oh,
Do what you want, But you never gonna break me
Sticks and stone are never gonna shake me no, oh

Take me away
A secret place
A sweet escape
Take me away

Take me away
To better days
Take me away
A higher place

There's a place that I go, That nobody knows
Where the rivers flow, And I call it home
And theres no more lies, And the darkness is light
And nobody cries, Theres only butterflies

Take me away
A secret place
A sweet escape
Take me away

Take me away
To better days
Take me away
A higher place

The sun is on my side, It takes me for a ride
I smile up to the sky, I know I'll be alright

Maybe I should ask my husband to add butterflies to my background. ;)

Throwback Thursday

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Throwback Thursday – this is a weekly event hosted by me! It is the time each week to recognize those older books… an older book you’ve always wanted to read, or one that you have read and love; maybe one from your childhood; or review an older book -- how about even a classic! Leave a comment here and feel free to take an icon and use it on your blog!

This week's throwback is:

Arrows of the Queen (Heralds of Valdemar #1) by Mercedes Lackey

Chosen by the Companion Rolan, a mystical horse-like being with powers beyond imagining, Talia, once a runaway, has now become a trainee Herald, destined to become one of the Queens's own elite guard. For Talia has certain awakening talents of the mind that only a Companion like Rolan can truly sense.

But as Talia struggles to master her unique abilities, time is running out. For conspiracy is brewing in Valdemar, a deadly treason which could destroy Queen and kingdom. Opposed by unknown enemies capable of both diabolical magic and treacherous assassination, the Queen must turn to Talia and the Heralds for aid in protecting the realm and insuring the future of the queen's heir, a child already in danger of becoming bespelled by the Queen's own foes.

I'm not going to say very much about this book right now... but stay tuned tomorrow because I will be posting more about this book and genre!