Sunday Salon

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Haven't done a Sunday Salon in a while! Happy Halloween!

The last 3 years we haven't had any trick-or-treaters, but this year there seem to be a ton of kids on our street so we got some candy just in case. I'm really not into Halloween, though, so I can't wait for it to be over!

There's really not a whole lot interesting going on here which also means not much reading. =( I'm getting closer and closer to finishing school but in the meantime I'm going through periods of crazy that leave little time for doing what I enjoy.

I utterly failed at reading the books for the Dueling Monsters challenge. I started Dorian Gray but never got very far in it. I want to finish it eventually but it will feel so wrong since I was supposedly reading it for a Halloween-type challenge. AND I had hoped to read Jekyll and Hyde too... haha!

I did get my October Afghanistan book read for the world challenge, but the review will have to wait since I just finished that yesterday. And then I've got to finish Hummingbirds for my blog tour Wednesday.

In other news, tomorrow is Wednesday which officially starts the holiday season in my eyes!! Yay! I've got many fun and exciting things planned for the next couple months including the wedding of a good friend of mine (in which I'm a bridesmaid), Thanksgiving, Young Frankenstein play (if I can still get tickets!!), more Orlando Magic games, the annual kids Christmas party by my work which is a amazing event, a Christmastime trip to NYC!!!!! full of lots of fun NYC outings such as Spiderman on Broadway, the Rockettes, the New York Giants game, etc. etc., then back in Florida have tix to see Trans-siberian Orchestra, then Christmas, etc. And maybe I'll get to fit in a couple more things! Love this time of year. And hopefully I'll fit in some reading too. ;)

Throwback Thursday: Ceremony

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Throwback Thursday – this is an event hosted by me! It used to take place weekly, but is now once a month on this blog. It is the time 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! Also feel free to do this on as many Thursdays as you like. =)

This month's throwback is:

Ceremony by Leslie Marmon-Silko
Published: 1977

Synopsis from

Tayo, a young Native American, has been a prisoner of the Japanese during World War II, and the horrors of captivity have almost eroded his will to survive. His return to the Laguna Pueblo reservation only increases his feeling of estrangement and alienation. While other returning soldiers find easy refuge in alcohol and senseless violence, Tayo searches for another kind of comfort and resolution.

Tayo's quest leads him back to the Indian past and its traditions, to beliefs about witchcraft and evil, and to the ancient stories of his people. The search itself becomes a ritual, a curative ceremony that defeats the most virulent of afflictions -- despair.

I just recently saw a review for this at The Little Reader and before I even read her review I remembered how absolutely wonderful this book was. And I couldn't believe I forgot about it! I had to read this book in high school; it was not one I expected to enjoy. For starters, I didn't like any books that were assigned reading in high school (even if I later learned to enjoy them as an adult). And second, despite my own cultural diversity, I often found it difficult to relate to books about other cultures of which I knew little. So I didn't expect to like it. And I was surprised to find Ceremony to be one of the only assigned reading books in high school that I really enjoyed. That I found powerful. And could realize even at that time was a well done, important read! I had this copy for a while and after I saw Little Reader's review I went to look on my shelf for my copy.

And then I remembered.

In my desperation to post books on when I first joined, I swapped this book. My beautiful copy of this book. I guess I really believed I wouldn't ever read it again. Or maybe I just thought I could buy a new copy one day. Anyway, the day has come and I really want this book again, lol! I want to read it again and see how I feel about it now.

Summer at Tiffany

Monday, October 25, 2010

Title: Summer at Tiffany
Author: Marjorie Hart
Pages: 258
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Harper Collins (William Morrow - Hardcover; Avon - Paperback)
Release Date: April 3, 2007 (hardcover); March 30, 2010 (paperback)

This is a memoir about the best summer of the author's life (1945) when she worked at Tiffany in New York City. She and her friend, Marty, journeyed from Iowa to NYC together to spend a fabulous summer there.

I read a review for this by Jennifer at Justice Jennifer Reads and decided I needed to read this too. What could be more fun than to revel in the shared love for the best city ever? Then when I was browsing the local bookstore one night I was trying to remember the name of the author; I randomly looked up from the books I was looking at and saw this book sitting on a special end cap display! I kid you not, it was literally when I was already thinking about it. I really can't think of a whole lot to say about this book except that I really enjoyed it. It was a fast read (I read it in less than a day) and read like fiction. The author did a great job of putting the reader in 1940's New York along with her and her friends as they fell in love (with the city and with men). Marjorie Hart had an experience that every young woman dreams of having and now has fabulous stories to tell her grandchildren about. And she has personal experience working in the best jewelry store ever! A delightful, engaging read!

And I just wanted to point out the cover. That's an actual picture of Tiffany in NYC during the 1940's. Love it!

I have a confession to make...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I have not read all the Harry Potter books.

I know!!

I feel like one of the only people on the planet who has not read all of them. Even my parents have read the entire series, and they typically stick to political thrillers and the like!

I believe I was in 9th grade when either the first book was published or became popular. I had asked for books for Christmas. I remember my dad saying my relatives were wondering if I was interested in this Harry Potter book that seems to be so popular... about a boy wizard... considering I grew up on The Babysitter's Club, Sweet Valley High, etc. and was leaning, at the time, toward classics like Pride and Prejudice, I'm pretty sure I responded in a repulsed manner. Probably along the lines of, "ew, no! that's the last book I'd want to read!"

Oh how my 14-year-old self so unfairly judged, naively unaware that this would become a billion dollar enterprise that adults and children the world over would fall in love with and read over and over and over. And ironically, I had asked for classics that Christmas. If only I'd known Harry Potter would become a modern classic of its own.

One night, in college, my roommate and I made a typical middle-of-the-night in-our-pajamas run to Wal Mart. We grabbed various odds and ends, and a stack of Harry Potter books sat on a display near the register. I thought, "you know, I've heard great things about this. I think it's finally time I read it." And that's how I finally succumbed.

Now, I've read the first book approximately three times. And books two and three approximately twice. I've read most of book four twice as well. And for some reason, I never get past there. I promised I'd be caught up at least through book five prior to the movie release. But when I wasn't, I acquiesced and watched the movie anyway, as my husband and parents could not wait. I've managed to hold them off on watching movie six.

Now with the release of first half of the seventh movie coming up, and with Oprah's recent hour long interview of J.K. Rowling, it's been on my mind again. I don't know why I keep putting it off. I need to come up with a plan to finish this series! I am just always swayed by other shorter, more typical contemporary fiction, and can't figure out when to fit them in! Then by the time I decide to read it again, I figure I should start back at the beginning again... thus, the reason some of them have been read multiple times. I'm already reading practically 10 books as it is and have a million other reading goals!

So... there is my reader's confession.

What to do, what to do...

Last Night at Chateau Marmont

Monday, October 18, 2010

Title: Last Night at Chateau Marmont
Author: Lauren Weisberger
Pages: 384
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Atria (Simon and Schuster)
Release Date: August 17, 2010

Last Night at Chateau Marmont was a fairly straightforward novel about the effects of celebrity on a marriage. By straightforward I mean that the plot followed the typical formula (not a bad thing) of a woman who marries a man, he shoots to stardom, it's fun until they realize the negative aspects of said stardom, rumors start circulating in the tabloids, and they reap the consequences of said benefits. Last night didn't have any crazy twists but was, rather, a typical chick lit that I really enjoyed reading. For a moment I worried about the direction of the book and how I would like it, but I ended up being happy with where it ultimately went. I read this during my vacation in North Carolina and all I wanted to do the whole time there was return to the story!

This book was also a great representation of New York City. I felt like through the actions of the characters, I was given quite the immersion into the city. I felt like I was right there alongside Brooke Alter in the beginning as she follows Julian, local singer/songwriter/musician, around to all the NYC dive bars for his gigs. Eventually they meet and marry. The book opens up to when they've been married for five years. Brooke is working two jobs to support her musician husband but feels no resentment as she is genuinely passionate about her career. Brooke and Julian seem like the perfect couple.

One of the things that impressed me was that the author was given 300-400 pages to illustrate the jump start of a career and then show the slow disintegration of the marriage. Lauren Weisberger paced it so well that I never felt things were unnecessarily rushed. Sure, you might have to suspend belief slightly at how fast the jump to stardom, but even that didn't come off as far-fetched.

I've read throughout the blogosphere regarding other readers who intensely dislike reading about affairs or any type of cheating. While I won't go into how this relates completely, there is talk and mention of it in this book that might make those readers feel uncomfortable. However, this concept was vital to the plot... if you pay any attention to the tabloids, pop culture, celebrity entertainment, then I'm sure you would understand that it shouldn't be skipped over in this story because temptation abounds in the land of celebrity for sure!

In all, Last Night at Chateau Marmont was a fairly typical chick lit story, but one that engaged me and had me returning for more. About three quarters through the book the tension rose and I had conflicted feelings, but that was right on cue for the pacing. And though I worried about where it was going, I have to say I really enjoyed the ending. But bet that will be a hot point for many readers to debate! Recommended for readers who enjoy chick lit and/or have enjoyed Weisberger's previous books.

Starting a Book Club

Thursday, October 14, 2010

October is National Reading Group Month which works out because it brings up a topic I've been wanting to discuss.

Starting a book club.

I've never participated in a real life official book club with multiple members and monthly meetings with in depth discussion about the topics brought up in a book. I picture good food and drinks and lots of interesting discussion and laughing.

And I realize most people don't have much time for anything extra, but I do know that many people out there have successful book clubs. How do you do it? Where would I find a group of girls with whom I want to spend time who are willing to commit? Do I do it at work or try to convince the few readers I know outside of there to commit even though geographically we're fairly far apart? And realistically, do I even have time to commit? Maybe it's something I should aim for sometime next year after I'm done with school. Or maybe I should join in on one through a bookstore or something like that?

What thoughts and/or experiences can you share?

DNF: The Doctor and the Diva

Monday, October 11, 2010

Title: The Doctor and the Diva
Author: Adrienne McDonnell
Pages: 432
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pamela Dorman (Penguin)
Release Date: July 22, 2010

This is my first Did-Not-Finish review, and I think it's a good book to do it on; the part I read was actually good, but I had a small issue with how it was -- marketed -- for lack of a better word.

The Doctor and the Diva is a historical fiction about a woman who has been unable to conceive a child for the six years she's been married. Furthermore, she is passionate about her opera singing and has to choose between pursuing motherhood and her career. The synopsis contains a sentence, "After struggling for years to become pregnant, Erika believes there is no hope." It also was marketed as a book about the beginnings of fertility treatments. Many people don't realize that even in the very early 1900's, the research and resources were available for doctors to provide fertility treatments.

As a woman who has personally dealt with the struggle of unexplained infertility and all the emotional ups and downs that goes along with that, I was really looking forward to reading this book that I thought I could relate to. And I enjoyed the part I read; it was scandalous and engaging and I thought it looked like it would be a fun book. And for that I would actually recommend this book to others. The part that bothered me was that to advertise this as a book about her infertility was somewhat of a misnomer... I don't want to give too much away, although it's really explained right in the beginning of the book, but it turned out I could not relate to the main character. And I felt that based on the details of the storyline, it was fairly insensitive to market this book as one about a woman who was unable to get pregnant. Because that's not quite how it is. It's like marketing a book to divorcees about a woman learning to cope with the aftermath of a divorce only to find out the character in the book wasn't actually married and really was only with this guy for a couple months. No, their struggle is not quite the same, no matter how in love the character in the book was.

Because of this discrepancy, I felt slightly betrayed. I think that anyone in my personal situation would feel the same way. And this led to me feeling a little frustrated with the story. I found that it was a great story anyway, but because it turned out to be different than what I expected in a way that is very sensitive to me, I felt the need to put this book down and move on to something else. But like I said, I think a lot of people will enjoy this book... these are just my reasons for the DNF. And I also just wanted to point out, I don't know if it was the author or someone else (I'm not sure how that works) who wrote the synopsis on the dust jacket that I felt was improperly marketed.

Girl in Translation

Title: Girl in Translation
Author: Jean Kwok
Pages: 304
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Riverhead (Penguin)
Release Date: April 29, 2010

I'd been interested in reading this book since it came out but kept putting it off because I wondered if it would be too similar, for me, to other books I've read recently about the Asian culture. I ended up reading it, though, and am so very glad I did because it quickly became one of my favorite reads this year!! I love, love, loved it!! I absolutely adored this book and the character of Kimberly Chang, the author's techniques in showing us this world, and watching Kimberly grow up.

Girl in Translation tells the story about Kimberly Chang and her mother who move to Brooklyn from Hong Kong in the 1970's. Back in Hong Kong, Kimberly is a very smart girl who excels in school. But due to the language barrier once in New York, Kimberly struggles academically. Her experience as an immigrant to the United States is further thwarted and made difficult by the cultural differences she experiences in school, in her living arrangements, being forced to work "under the table" in a sweatshop, etc. The book starts when Kimberly is in the sixth grade, goes through her experiences in high school, and gives us a snapshot of what happens after that.

The author, Jean Kwok, did a fantastic job of bringing the situation to life. She showed me (and helped immerse me in) the world of an immigrant to the United States. She illustrated the cultural differences and adjustments Kimberly and her mother had to make, as well as the importance in the Asian culture of education and "saving face". She also provided an inspiring character that I loved and rooted for and absolutely admired. At the same time, I felt for her as a child trying to protect her mother while trying to fit in at school.

Another thing I loved was how the author used dialogue between the characters to display some of the Chinese culture. Much of the time, the Asian characters spoke in proverbs and metaphors which was normal (and considered clever) for their language but, interpreted to English, made them even more of outsiders than they were. This too, however, exemplified the significant factors of their culture. The author did a fabulous job of explaining things to the reader while keeping it a part of the story.

Despite the extreme poverty that Kimberly and her mother lived in, and the awful ways they were sometimes treated, they were also very lucky because of Kimberly's motivation and intelligence. I got a an insightful (and scary) glance into what things could be like for many immigrants, especially those who didn't embody the skills and drive that Kimberly did.

I loved everything about this book! At times it reminded me of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn -- after all, it's about a young girl coming of age in Brooklyn after her family immigrates to New York. Call it the Asian ATGiB, if you will... especially if that entices you to read this gem! I have been wanting to read this again from the moment I finished!

Sunday Salon: Weekend in Raleigh

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Hope everyone has had a good Sunday and weekend!

As for me.... I had a read-a-thon FAIL. =( I really didn't even get to attempt much because we ended up being out of the house almost the entire day. We were home for about 1 1/2 hours in the middle of the day but I slept for an hour of it! I tried to sneak in reading during the car drives but apparently everywhere we had to go was fairly local, lol. So, I'm really hoping that next time I can truly participate -- read the whole time, take place in the mini-challenges, help cheer others on, etc. We shall see...

But as I've mentioned, Jason and I spent the weekend in Raleigh, NC. My brother-in-law was kind enough to indulge us, among other things, in our love of bookstore hopping. ;) We went to a very small used book store, Reader's Corner, that was full of some much older books. I did find two treasures there to take home though... I bought the young adult book, Monster by Walter Dean Myers, that I have had my eye on for a while. (Thought it would be great for the read-a-thon, but, well...) I also bought for Jason The Truth About Chuck Norris which gave us some hearty laughs as he read aloud from it in the car! Then we headed right down the street to Nice Price Books which was fairly big. They also had old cassettes and records on sale there. I didn't end up purchasing anything there. After that we headed over to what appears to be THE indie bookstore of Raleigh, NC, Quail Ridge Books & Music. They had a beautiful store and wow, author events GALORE!!! If I lived in this area I would certainly be there a lot. I'll have to look out for events there during any future trips to Raleigh.

One of the funnest things about Quail Ridge Books surprised me.... I took a quick trip to the bathroom and was surprised to walk into what appeared to be a living room with a toilet...

You can't see it but there is a chair in the opposite corner from the toilet, and there is a rug on the floor. See all those pictures? Those are all autographed pictures of authors!! Many of them had a little comment in their autograph about how they are being displayed in the bathroom. =) It was hilarious! I apologize to the woman waiting outside the bathroom for me while I held up the bathroom an extra minute to take some pictures...

Those three bookstores were on Saturday. Then today we went to another used book store that was enormous! They had their books organized very well and had many older books and many newer books that just came out. I was able to pick up some books there as well: Shattered: Six Steps from Betrayal to Recovery to add to my collection of books to use for therapy, The Bluest Eye and Beloved because I've been inspired to read some books by Toni Morrison, and The Falls because I've had my eye on this book for a while, I adore Joyce Carol Oates, and because the copy they had there was beautiful with a gorgeous cover. =) Jason picked up Waiter Rant which I'm sure I'll read and find hilarious since I spent some years with wait(ress) rants of my own!

And those are it. We did many other things while in Raleigh, I promise! =) I just wanted to highlight the bookish parts of the trip for everyone. I definitely recommend checking out all these stores if you're in the area!

Read-a-thon post: Gearing up!

Friday, October 8, 2010

This will serve as my current read-a-thon post until I am able to post my first update.

As I mentioned just the other day, due to being on vaca and visiting my brother-in-law, I'm faking the read-a-thon again. In all reality I'm not sure how much reading I'll get done since we're going to be out and about. But I'll have my nook with me and will be squeezing in time where I can.

Most of the books I've contemplated reading are on my nook since I'm vacationing, but maybe I'll find something good at one of the bookstores we're heading to tomorrow.

For those participating, have fun!!

Dealing with Non-Readers?

Said to me on the plane (randomly) by my seat mate today as I happily read away in To Kill a Mockingbird.... "Are you actually reading that voluntarily?!?!?"

Me, with a tone more condescending than I intended: "yeeahh....."

Him: "Wow, I didn't realize people actually did that. That was the kind of thing we had to read in school."

Me: "Yeah me too... I'm just reading it again."

Returned to my reading.

I shouldn't feel so annoyed by these types of comments, but I find them incredibly obnoxious and have nothing to say in return!

I'm faking the read-a-thon again....

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

I've been wanting to participate in the semi-annual 24-hour read-a-thon for a while but it just hasn't been plausible for me. With being in school and having an internship (alongside my full time job), I work almost every day and can't afford to spend an entire day only reading -- especially since it means I would also need the next day off to catch up on sleep!!!

I'll be finished with my internship in March 2011 so I have high hopes that I'll be able to fully participate in the April one. That leaves this one.

And I've decided I'm going to try to fake it again this time... sort of like i did last April!

This time I have Saturday AND Sunday off.... BUT it's because my husband and I will be visiting my brother-in-law in Raleigh, NC. That means I'll be hanging out and not necessarily reading. However, I believe! I believe I may be able to get a LOT more reading done, if not all day. And then maybe I can challenge myself to stay up as late as I can to keep reading until 8:00 am, hehehehe. I think I'll do every quarter updates, or maybe every 4 hours if I get a lot done.

My only dilemma... I had grand plans to read Freedom while I was on vacation and I really want to read it still... but it seems adverse to read a book over 500 pages for an event that works best when reading a bunch of short ones.

Anyone have any advice on how I should go about doing this? Thanks!!

The Wrong Mother

Monday, October 4, 2010

Title: The Wrong Mother
Author: Sophie Hannah
Pages: 402
Genre: Thriller/Mystery/Fiction
Publisher: Penguin
Release Date: September 29, 2009 (US)

I have been wanting to read a Sophie Hannah book for a while now, especially after I continued to hear great things about her and her books. I finally picked up The Wrong Mother by her which I've had on my TBR for a while. The first thing I noticed was the language used. Hannah is a fantastic writer and has a natural talent for telling a story. Her books were originally published in the UK and the tiny differences in word usage, slang, etc. was so interesting to me.

The Wrong Mother tells the story of Sally Thorning who last year spent a week away on a trip where she essentially "hooked up" with a man named Mark Bretherick. Then current day, she's watching the news with her husband (whom she actually completely loves) one night when she sees a man whose wife and daughter were both killed. The man is named Mark Bretherick. The names of the wife and daughter are the same as what he told her during that trip, in fact all the details of his life are the same, but there's one difference: the man on the news is not the Mark Bretherick she spent a week with a year ago.

The rest of the book is the investigation of the deaths of Geraldine and Lucy Bretherick as well as finding out who the man was that Sally met the year before. It alternates from Sally's first person point of view to the third person point of view of the investigators (or detective constables as they're apparently called in the UK). This book was absolutely thrilling! It wasn't the obvious jump up and grab you thrill, but rather the subtle kind which is more creepy. And the mystery was complex. This also wasn't your typical, somewhat cheesy, whodunnit. It was convoluted and nothing I could have ever thought up. Near the end, for a moment, I thought I wasn't going to understand what was happening,but no worries... I did. =) This was one of those where I was fully engaged in the story, but then when I reached the middle, I didn't want to put it down until I was done; you know when you've reached the point of no return... it's like crossing a rope bridge (or any kind if you're afraid of heights or water) -- you can't stop once you get to the middle no matter how freaked out you are about walking the rest of the way. That's how I felt with this... once I got to the middle there was no stopping me from finding out how it ended! There was also some interesting discussion about the research into family annihiliation killings, where one family member kills the rest of the family and sometimes themselves. Very interesting... and then randomly someone at work started talking about something similar after I had read this book and for a second I felt like "wait, didn't I just read some research about that?.... oh no wait, that was a thriller I was reading, lol" But I'm sure the info is still real.

This was another mystery/thriller with more of a literary feel to it... I'm really loving this "sub-genre"! I will definitely be reading more by this author!

Sunday Salon

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Happy Sunday!

I've been a little absent this week from commenting and I apologize! I had to go to Tampa (a couple hours from here) for work from Wednesday through Friday and even though it didn't seem like that long of a time, I didn't get much of a chance to go through my google reader. =( So the number of unread posts has been over 1000 for a while now! I'm trying to catch up but it's going slow.

My reading ADD is still in effect... I'll even get over 150 pages through a book and decide I want to start something else. I'm really into the book I'm reading right now though (yes, the Patches of Gray book that is listed as my current read on my page is on a short hiatus) so I should finish it soon. And the book I'm really into right now is one I borrowed on my nook from The Lend Me Library... seriously, if you have a nook, check it out! We need more titles to choose from over there and it's a great place to share the books you've read on your nook. I probably wouldn't have started reading what I'm reading right now if it weren't for that, but I really wanted to try out the lend me feature; I really like it!

I also got another book in the mail today that I am soooooo excited about!! I requested it for review because if I like it, it will go perfectly on my New York shelf... the book is Brooklyn Story by Suzanne Corso. Apparently it's the beginning of a trilogy and is already being made into a movie. Anyway, it doesn't come out until the end of December so I won't be reviewing it on here until closer to then, but I hope to read it soon! And I absolutely loooove the cover!

I'm contemplating joining another challenge... I don't know why because I never complete any challenges... I even removed the page of challenges from my blog, but I still sometimes want to join more. The one I'm thinking of is the World Party Reading Challenge hosted by Suzi at Packabook (taken over from Jill at Fizzy Thoughts). So, while this isn't my official "I'm joining" post, I'm highly contemplating it. Are any of you joining it?

I did actually join a read-a-long, though, hosted by Jill at Fizzy Thoughts: Dueling Monsters, Round 2. We will be reading The Picture of Dorian Gray, while Heather's group at Age 30+... A Lifetime of Books will be reading The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde. I've been very interested in the Dorian Gray book for a while so I'm looking forward to reading that. I'd read both but I don't think I'll have time.

In non-book news, my husband and I went and checked out our new Amway Center today, the home of our Orlando Magic, at their community open house. I think everyone is really excited about this new season. We were able to get a partial plan this year (15 games) and found our seats today which are awesome (for being on the second level)! We're so excited!!

And that's about it for today! Have a great week!