Thursday, September 29, 2011

Big Sis' September Reads

I know, September isn't really over until tomorrow, but I'm working from home today and have a few moments, so I thought I'd get a head start on this post...  At least THIS month's won't be late!!!

Always Something There to Remind Me, by Beth Harbison - We all have a first love, that man (or boy! or significant other!) who, 10 or 20 years later, even though you've moved on and married and wouldn't trade your husband in for anyone, can still make your heart just go pitty-pat...  Well, Nate is Erin's first love, and all of a sudden, while she's involved with Mr. Apparently Right, he appears in her life again.  Beth does a good job of making us "feel" what Erin is feeling, and the resolution, Mr. Now vs. Mr. Then...  I like it.

Kill Me If You Can, by James Patterson and Marshall Karp - What would you do if you found a bag full of diamonds, no one knows you have them, and you could travel the world, sell a few of them in Amsterdam, and live forever on the money?  Regardless of your answer, this book has a tremendous twist and a surprise ending!

1105 Yakima Street, by Debbie Macomber - Another in the Cedar Cove series...  Jolene is Bruce's daughter, and she and Rachel became close friends.  Jolene needed a woman in her life, and Rachel was happy to be involved.  Then Rachel and Bruce fell in love, got married and got pregnant, and Jolene is 100% opposed to this version of their family.  I'm happy that there's a happy ending, and I liked this story...

Decision Points, by George W. Bush - This was a great read!  I learned a lot.  Of course it was great to hear his side of 9/11, but what I found more interesting, almost, was how important the interpersonal relationships between his staff and employees was to him.  I already knew how important his family is to him, how patriotic he is...  But the background to choosing a Supreme Court justice?  Choosing a running mate?  A Defense Secretary?  A Secretary of State?  Fascinating!

In Good Hands, by Kathy Lyons - Back in the day, when I worked at The Printed Word Bookstore, we got paid every Wednesday.  And I bought all 6 new Harlequin romances once a month, in several of the series.  Harlequin Blaze is a current series, and it's got a lot more sex in it than the old innocent romances did!  This one includes some hospital politics, holistic healing, and a high-powered businessman - and some good old-fashioned sex! 

In the Line of Fire, by Jennifer LaBrecque - Girl next door is getting married, boy next door is stationed overseas, in the line of fire.  Her brother is supposed to come home to give her away, but can't so he sends boy next door in his place (they happen to be best friends).  Girl next door decides, at the last minute, NOT to marry her fiance and escapes out the church window.  Boy next door helps her escape and eventually they find each other.  Predictable, but I've always loved this formula...

Bossypants, by Tina Fey - Not really a fan, but it was a fun read.  She herself is a funny lady, and I enjoyed her twist on telling the story of her life.  I wasn't all that interested in the 30 Rock or SNL stuff, since I don't watch either, but since I read a friend's copy and didn't spend a dime on it, it was a good book.

Lethal, by Sandra Brown - Honor and her daughter come face to face with an apparent felon, and even after witnessing a murder, they opt to run with him, and eventually they solve the mystery of the factory murders, they find out who's who, and they all learn a lot about themselves.  I "know" how it ends, but I must say I would have preferred it to get wrapped up a bit more prettily, with a nice pink bow...  There's nothing missing, but I like the whole "and they lived happily ever after" thing...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I Knew If I Waited Long Enough....

The one advantage that the Barnes and Noble Nook had over the Amazon Kindle was the ability to borrow books from the library. However, when I decided I wanted a e-reader last year, I knew that I'd never buy a Nook (I'm still loyal to you, Frankie and the PW). I also knew that Amazon would eventually enable library lending, and when they did, it would be fabulous.

And it's here! And it is! I borrowed my first book last week--an older Elizabeth Peters (my copy is in Mom's house somewhere). I put an Sidney Sheldon on reserve for La Madre, since I bought her one earlier this year for her Kindle that she enjoyed.

So one of you will have to do us an enormous favor and load it on her Kindle when it arrives. Since we have the K2, our model doesn't have WiFi like the current models, which it needs to download automatically; we have to use our USB ports. A small price to pay for having just doubled the books available for us.


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Little Sis' September Read

There may not be another one!
I read "Room" like Big Sis (I borrowed her book). It was compelling to read, for sure. Few spots had me at a loss, how a 5 year old had such complex thoughts and a huge vocabulary...I know, I know, nothing byt time to learn on his hands while in Room, but c'mon...You have to keep going, this book has the snowball effect, you can't put it down & ignore it for a while & go back to it. Kudos to the author for taking on such a formidable challenge!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Big Sis' August Books

The Ideal Man, by Julie Garwood - I like Ms. Garwood's contemporary books and this was a good one.  Dr. Ellie Sullivan witnesses a crime and needs protection from the bad guys, the Landrys.  Enter Max Daniels, FBI man extraordinaire!  I like the interaction between the two of them; sparks fly and of course, they get together eventually, but it's not a sappy ending...

A Stolen Life, by Jaycee Dugard - I watched the special on World News Tonight, where Diane Sawyer interviewed Jaycee.  I admit to thinking, "Okay, she was 11.  But really, when she HAD a chance to look up her mom on the internet, or escape when they were out in public, she didn't?!?"  But her book really makes you understand the sense of safety she felt even though she was kidnapped and raped and forced to live in a single room in the backyard of those two nutcases.  She explains why safety for her and her daughter(s) became more important than escaping to find the mom who might not even remember her...  Of course, we know Mom never gave up and my heart leapt when they were reunited.  Jaycee explains about the therapy she's going through, and will continue to go through.  She admits that she doesn't know if a relationship with a man is in her future but she seems content and happy to be mom and daughter and self for now.

Cold Vengeance, by Preston & Child - Another Pendergast novel, and in this one, we locate Helen!!!  Without giving anything away, I do think you should read these in order, otherwise this one will make no sense whatsoever!

Finding It, by Valerie Bertinelli - I bought this book when it came out but never bothered to read it.  And I didn't read Losing It yet, but I will.  She's an actress I've always liked and reading this book, well it felt as though you were just sitting over a cup of coffee with an old friend.  She talks about losing the weight, enough to appear on a WW commercial in only a bikini.  We get to know Tom, and her love for her son and ex-husband really comes across.  It's nice that they're still friends, able to co-parent as a team.

Shoe Addicts Anonymous, by Beth Harbison - Toni introduced me to this series and I LOVE it!  It's a quick read, a bit of mystery thrown in but the best part is meeting the women and making friends with them as they make friends with each other!

Secrets of a Shoe Addict, by Beth Harbison - #2 in the series, we meet sisters and new friends, we watch them make stupid decisions and work their way out of the consequences, eventually to become friends forever...

Thin, Rich, Pretty, by Beth Harbison - Although not part of the Shoe series, it's fun, too.  Holly and Nicola meet at camp at about age 12, go through all the angst of not being thin enough, pretty enough or rich enough.  Twenty years later, they're still friends, going through their own adult issues.  Holly runs into Lexi, one of the thin, rich and pretty girls at camp, whose life now is not so wonderful.  It's sort of fun how they meet up again, what they do to resolve 20-year-old issues, and even though the 80s nostalgia is almost better than the storyline, I liked it a lot...

Never Tell a Lie, by Hallie Ephron - Saw this recommended on a blog I read and thought, for $10 from Amazon, I'll try it...  and it was pretty good!  Melinda is last seen at Ivy's garage sale, and we find out later that she's not all there.  Melinda, that is...  It turns out she's a bit unstable, and eventually, when we find out where she's been, well it was a creepy stalker mystery and I liked it!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Middle Sister's August Books

Not so many books read this month, as I was reading some textbooks and rewriting lectures for this semester's class. Here are the few books on the fiction/nonfiction front I managed to squeeze in.

  1. The Agony Column by Earl Derr Biggers Fun historical mystery from 1916, Biggers is best remembered for his Charlie Chan novels, but he also wrote stand alones, including this and Seven Keys to Baldpate (one of my favorite classic films). Our narrator is a young man about the town drawn into a mystery in London when he decides to pursue a chance acquaintance. The plot twist is key: he falls madly in love with a woman he sees in a restaurant, writes a note to her via the newspaper's agony column (today's personals), and then writes her a series of letters describing the perilous mystery swirling around him. Extremely enjoyable! I recommend this one highly.
  2.  Lye in Wait by Cricket McRae (2007) First in the Home Crafting mystery series, this cozy introduces us to Sophie Mae Reynolds, her friend Meghan, and Meghan's daughter Erin, all sharing a house outside Seattle. When the neighborhood handyman is killed in Sophie Mae's soap making workroom, she's drawn into a mystery that threatens everyone she loves. Naturally, the investigating officer becomes her love interest (really, authors, this is getting to be a boring cliche), and the coincidences that come with the identification of the murderer are a little farfetched, this is not a bad introduction to the series and the characters. 
  3. The Knitter's Life List by Gwen W. Stenge (2011) Nicely illustrated and laid out introductory guide for new knitters, this books stakes its own claim to the over-saturated knitting book market by providing life lists to introduce each chapter. These life lists include yarn goals, pattern goals, and other bucket list entries (Who came up with the silly term bucket list anyway?). Honestly, this was the part of the book I disliked. I am not less of a knitter because I have no inclination to learn to knit socks; I only wear socks out here for about 3 weeks of the year. Heavy on Internet-promoted designers, with only a few of the older, pre-web designers mentioned. Limited in the kinds of patterns it discusses (scarves, sweaters,socks,, gloves, and bags) when there are tons of other things one can knit.  But, great photos, great hand drawings illustrating the different kinds of sweaters and how their constructions differ (surely a big help to new knitters or those who've never tried a wearable), and hooray for the discussion on various knitting styles and how they are all the right way to knit if it's comfortable to you.Nice bibliography.
  4. The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook by Deborah Robson and Carol Ekarius (2011) Great guide to all animals that provide fleece that can be carded and processed into yarn. This is a unique addition to the knitting literature out there. While it's for serious spinners and weavers out to expand their horizons, knitters with a passing interest in what they are working with will find the book useful for its easy to follow, well executed layout, great photography, and inclusion of more breeds of sheep than I knew existed. The authors included chiengora (spinning dog fur, and yes, they include a photo of a gorgeous Samoyed!), rabbit fur, and other unusual fiber options. Love the photo spreads showing the unprocessed raw fleece, the spun fiber, and gauge swatches for each fiber source. I don't harbor secret fantasies of living on a sheep farm to get all the yarn I want, but maybe some knitters and crocheters do, and if so, this is the book for them. To the rest of us, it's a handy reference to what a qiviut really is.
  5. All Wound Up by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (2011) Latest collection of essays by the Yarn Harlot of blog fame. Pearl-McPhee muses on yarn, stashes thereof, and other mysteries of life. Fans of the Yarn Harlot will love this latest collection. Enjoyable light read. I was only disturbed to find that Pearl-McPhee can't even have dinner with her husband and children without knitting. Really, Stephanie, it's okay to let the needles lay and enjoy the moment. Those girls will be all grown up soon, and gone, and you'll wish you remembered more more about restaurant dinners with them than what socks you were working on. Hopefully, the socks will trigger a memory of the jokes they told, the food they ate, they way their eyes twinkled. But too many new knitters take the words of Serious Knitters like Pearl-McPhee to heart and think it's okay to knit anywhere, including church services, concerts, and anywhere they want to. It's just knitting, folks. You won't die taking an hour off from your current WIP.
I'm hesitant to include the next title, which sucked up several nights of precious reading time. It's one of the few books I've ever stopped reading. Cooking the Books by Bonnie S. Calhoun has a great premise: woman's mother dies, leaves her a bookstore (love that location for a mystery), and as daughter is looking to restart her life, she decides to at least give running the bookstore a try, despite not knowing anything about the business nor being interested in it.This backstory takes place before the book opens. When the story starts, Sloane has already been at the bookstore for a few months, has met a doctor she's romantically interested in, and is trying to figure out what to do with the bookstore. Some developers are trying to buy out the local small business owners to turn this block of Brooklyn into a high rise development, and Sloane is determined not to sell when she knows her mother would have resisted. Sounds great, right? But the book was in need of serious editorial help. After having read one-quarter of the the book, the most mystery we've had is two threatening emails. The author spends an inordinate amount of time trying to develop her characters into quirky, one-of-a-kind eccentrics but failed. Typos, grammatical errors, and ridiculous copy--no thirty-four-year old, even one who doesn't cuss, is going to use the phrase "great googa-mooga!" repeatedly. I stopped reading this galley, the first I've had to decline from NetGalley. As a first draft, this showed some promise, but it needs a lot of editing. A lot.