Monday, December 31, 2012

The Fault in our Stars

 If you haven't read a book in a while, this is a MUST READ. Absolutely one of the best books of 2012. It is up there with Tell the Wolves I'm Home. The author writes with honesty, wit, humor, and sorrow which kept me intrigued throughout the entire story.... One of those books you become obsessed with and can't think about anything else. I listened to this book on audio. The narrator did an excellent job. I would recommend this on audio to everyone. 

Hazel Lancaster is a young teenager living with terminal cancer. She has outlived her life expectancy due to an experimental medication. The story begins with Hazel's mother trying to lift her from a depression; forcing her to go to cancer support group. She would much rather lay around all day watching America's Next Top Model and Top Chef on DVR. To appease her mother, she begins to go. She meets witty, smart, and sarcastic Augustus Waters and her life is changed. He is in remission from cancer; which he traded in a leg for. Immediately upon laying eyes on Hazel, he is smitten.

The two are drawn to each other. They have much in common having known cancer so intimately. They bond over books, poetry, and how they want to be remembered after they die. They relationship is so raw; they talk of death freely as it is a part of life for them. I enjoyed how the two of them spoke to one another; here is an excerpt from their first meeting:

“He shook his head, just looking at me.
- "What?" I asked.
- "Nothing" he said.
- "Why are you looking at me like that?"
Augustus half smiled. "Because you`re beautiful. I enjoy looking at beautiful people, and I decided a while ago not to deny myself the simpler pleasures of existence." A brief awkward silence ensued. Augustus plowed through: "I mean, particularly given that, as you so deliciously pointed out, all of this will end in oblivion and everything."
I kind of scoffed or sighed or exhaled in a way that was vaguely coughy and then said, "I`m not beau-"
- "You are like a millennial Natalie Portman. Like V for Vendetta Natalie Portman."
- "Never seen it."
- "Really?" he asked. "Pixie-haired gorgeous girl dislikes authority and can`t help but fall for a boy she knows is trouble. It`s your autobiography, so far as I can tell."
His every syllable flirted. Honestly, he kind of turned me on. I didn`t even know that guys could turn me on - not, like, in real life.”
John Green

The Fault in Our Stars is a heartbreaking love story fit for both teens and adults. It left me thinking about how I would want to be remembered when I die. This book will stay with me for a long time to come. Do yourself a favor and read it! You won't regret it. I give this book 5/5 stars.

Sunday, December 30, 2012



My latest read is Mudbound by Hillary Jordan. You might recognize this author from my previous post about the book When She Woke.  These two books could not be more different in their themes or setting.
Mudbound takes us to 1940s rural Mississippi. Henry and Laura McAllen move to Mississippi from Tennessee in order to fulfill Henry's dream of being a farm owner. Along with them comes their two young daughters and Henry's father, who is nothing but mean and nasty to everyone. Laura is less than thrilled to be leaving her fancy city life in Tennessee to a farm house in Mississippi without indoor plumbing or any of the common luxuries she took for granted. 

After the war, Henry's younger brother Jamie returns from the war and goes to live on the farm. Once he enters the scene, the plot thickens. Jamie becomes friends with another ex-solider, Ronsel Jackson, a tenant on Henry's farm. Ronsel's parents are sharecroppers and his mother is Laura's housekeeper. Ronsel was one of the first black men to serve on the front lines in the Army. When he returns to Mississippi, he soon realizes that racial prejudices have not changed. He isn't allowed to use the front door of public buildings, ride in the front seat of the car with a white person, or be friends with white people. Ronsel and Jamie bond about the war and the difficulties of being back in Mississippi. They break all of the rules and Jamie's father, Pappy, is less than thrilled about it. He threatens Ronsel and forbids their friendship. One day, Pappy finds evidence that Ronsel has been with a white woman and violence ensues. 

Laura, alone and unhappy, begins to fall in love with her husband's brother, Jamie. She lusts after him and her husband may or may not notice. She sticks up for Jamie's recklessness  and drinking problem that developed as part of PTSD from the war. He begins to notice Laura's unhappiness with living on the farm...

This book was a very quick read. I enjoyed the story and recommend it to everyone who enjoys this genre. The only thing that I would have liked better was more character development. That is also something that I was missing in Jordan's other book. There are many things that I was left wondering about the characters... I was left craving more descriptions about their thoughts and personalities. I give it 4/5 stars for plot. It was a very entertaining book and a must read. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Sharp Objects

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn is my latest read. I love creepy psychological thrillers that keep the pages turning. Camille Preacher, the main character in this story, is a reporter for a crappy newspaper in Chicago. She came to the city 8 years ago in order to flee her dyfunctional family. Camille has a lot of pent up grief that she never dealt with after the too soon death of her younger sister. She and her mother have a difficult relationship because of it. The only attention Camille's mother paid to her in 8 years was during a stay in a psychological hospital. Other than that, her mother is cold, distant, and neurotic. After Marion's death, a new daughter came along...a sister Camille bearly knows.

Begrudgingly, Camille travels to her hometown on her boss's assignment in order report on what may be a serial killing spree. Two girls were murdered within one year of one another. Both girls were found strangled to death with all of their teeth extracted post mortem. Camille is determined to find out the truth behind these murders if only to appease her boss. Being back in her hometown brings out the worst in Camille and requires her to deal with her skeletons. The descriptions of the town were creepy. Seemingly insignificant characters left me feeling uneasy.

Flynn toys with her readers in this book. Initially, the reader is forced to infer details about the plot line. I felt as if I were being dragged along without any of the details that I really wanted to know. The next chapter would be filled with immense detail answering many of my questions. I felt as if Camille, the narrator, could only open up at certain times; other instances appearing closed off and distant. Each page was a different Camille. 

As with Gone Girl, this story is best read without knowing much, if any, about the plot line. This book both entertained and scared me. As I write this, I don't want to be in a room by myself. I was left haunted by the mystery of mental illness and how it can drive people to do unthinkable things to themselves and to others. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

One for the Money


Ok, you guys have heard me say this before. I HATE books with the author's name printed ginormously on the front cover of books. I typically don't even like mystery series. I really just wanted to know what these were about.... plus I like chick flicks based on books. Great for netflixing right? Plus, I like Katherin Heigl.

Stephanie Plum, divorced Jersey girl, recently lost her job in the lingerie business. As she contemplates having to move in with her parents, she begs her cousin Vinny for a job. She convinces him to take her on as a "recovery agent" AKA Bounty Hunter. Her target is an old booty call from high school, Joe Morelli. Stephanie attempts to take in her old flame, a cop accused of murder who skipped bail. Can Stephanie get Morelli in so she can collect her bounty money? Is Joe Morelli really a bad guy?

A little mystery, a little sex, a little humor. Quick and easy listen on audiobook. Now, I am putting the movie on my netflix cue, but I will probably not read up to Notorious Nineteen by Evanovich (most likely not even the 2nd one).

Has anyone read these books? What are your thoughts??

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close


I am the worst blogger. You want to know why? Well, it's for a few reasons. 1) Because I have an addiction to other people's blogs and Teachers Pay Teachers. I can't stop looking at speech therapy blogs and browsing materials online. 2) I can't stop laminating 3) I got engaged YAY! and 4) the book that I have been reading is really bad.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close has been on my night stand for OVER A MONTH. I finally came to the realization that yes I am really busy, but if this book were that good then I would have finished it by now. I just picked it up to read it again and I decided it wasn't worth it. I will just check out the movie. I am over the whole "I will read a book until it's finished" thing. 

This book is about a young boy named Oskar who lost his father on 9/11. He finds a key that belonged to his father and he sets out to find out what it unlocks. I thought the plot sounded intensely emotional and I wanted to hear how a child narrator would explain how 9/11 affected him and his family.

The reason that the book isn't that great is the writing. I think the plot is fantastic. I actually wish that I had enough patience to read the whole thing, but I just can't follow it. The story has parts narrated by Oskar (who may or may not be on the high functioning end of the autism spectrum). His part didn't bother me. There are other sections of the book that are written by Oskar's grandmother. his grandfather, and his father; however, you as the reader are never told that. You just have to figure out who is telling the story. Also, the dialogue is not written with quotation marks! You just have to figure out who is talking to who.

Basically, I am just over this book. If I would have read it start to finish in a more timely manner I am sure that I would have enjoyed it more. The reason I am not that into it is probably my own fault. I am definitely going to watch the movie. Maybe that will spark me into picking it up and finishing it.

I think that where I currently am with my life that I need a very fast paced book.... I think I am going to go pick up a Gillian Flynn book.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Where We Belong by Emily Giffin


Sometimes I just like a good girlie novel. Emily Giffin is a great author for this kind of thing. I have read every one of her books which include: Something Borrowed (which is now a movie starring Ginnifer Goodwin and Kate Hudson), Something Blue, Heart of the Matter, Love the One You're With, and Baby Proof. I can hardly remember what any of the books are about, but when I was reading them I loved them. She has nice writing style and her stories are plot driven. They are all easy to read page turners

Where We Belong is about 36 year old Manhattan TV producer Marion; and Kirby, an 18 year old high school senior living in St. Louis. Back in 1995 Marion and her high school boyfriend got pregnant, only he didn't know it. She hid the entire pregnancy from everyone except her mother. Marion had Kirby and gave her up for adoption. When Kirby becomes 18, she shows up at Marion's front door. This is where the novel begins. The story takes us through their new relationship and all the twists and turns that comes along with meeting birth parents. I enjoyed the characters, the plot, and the themes in this story. It was all around a worthwhile read! :)

Goodreads gives us 3.88 stars on average. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

I am one of those psycho Harry Potter fans. I read all of the books, some more than once, and have seen all of the movies a million times. I can't wait to have kids so I can read the series to them. It might be the only reason I would want to have kids. HA. The Harry Potter books may be my favorite books that I have read EVER. Seriously, if you haven't read them I don't know what's wrong with you. I honestly don't know if I can be friends with people who haven't read Harry Potter. They are THAT good.  So, when J.K. Rowling announced that she was going to write a book for adults, I couldn't wait to read it. I pre-ordered it so I wouldn't have to wait in line at the bookstore or be disappointed if  they ran out of copies. I anticipated The Casual Vacancy along with everyone else who is a J.K. Rowling fan.

J.K. Rowling has sold 450 million copies of her books. So, of course people will compare her new book to her Harry Potter series. I was determined not to read any reviews before I read it myself. I made the mistakes of seeing how many stars people were giving it on goodreads. It told me that people were judging it pretty hard. I closed the site and didn't look at anything else until I finished the book.

The Casual Vacancy begins when Barry Fairbrother, a Parish Counselor (a member of their small town government), dies of a brain aneurism. After his death, the town has a "casual vacancy" within the counsel. Sounds pretty boring, but I gave Rowling a chance. The book was difficult to get into initially. I found myself almost blacking out; turning pages but not remembering what they were about. There were so many characters and I couldn't keep them straight!! About a quarter way in, things started to fall into place. I was right to trust the author; the book started to get good.

Rowling has the ability to create characters in a way that the reader can actually understand what they are thinking, see their facial expressions, and interpret their emotions. Very reminiscent of Peyton Place (the New York Times also saw the resemblance), The Casual Vacancy depicts the lives of the inhabitants of a seemingly average small town and examines real life issues; martial woes, teen bullying, rape, heroin abuse, child neglect, socioeconomic status clashing, self-entitlement, mental heath issues, teenage lust, self-mutilation, and domestic violence.

The underlying theme was to examine people on the outside and then discover how different they are when you get inside their heads and know their thoughts. The characters were all twisted; mothers dreaming about underage boys, parents disliking their children, children trying to ruin their parents lives, and teens trying to get pregnant in order to get out of the projects. The story builds up to a final climax which will finally change all of the characters.

Overall, I was slightly let down. I did not enjoy the political side of the story. I did enjoy the way the characters all intertwined with one another and how all of their stories came full circle at the end of the book. It's not memorable based on the plot alone. It was a good; but it is not memorable. I can see myself forgetting the plot all together in a few years. I give the book 3/5 stars for plot and 4/5 stars for character development and theme.

If you are going to read this book, don't compare it to Harry Potter. It is NOTHING like Harry Potter. There is no magic or adventure. Read it with an open mind and without expectations.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Great day at Barnes and Noble!

Yesterday was my designated "sleep in day." I had been planning it for two weeks. I just wanted to SLEEP until I couldn't sleep anymore. I woke up at my usual time of 5:30am, but was able to fall back asleep a few hours at a time until 11. At 11 I woke up, drank some coffee, and then sat down to work on my progress reports for work. After about 3 hours of that, I got sucked into my speech therapy blog addiction. I follow about 3 religiously. ALL I did for the rest of the day until like 12pm that night was get therapy activities online, print, cut, and laminate them. I seriously almost had to call intervention was how bad it got. Anyway, I started planning my therapy for my Tuesday preschool class and I decided to do the book The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid Of Anything. I was too late to get it at the library for the season so I placed an order for my local Barnes and Noble. It's a super good perk that the bookstore has if you ever want to reserve a book for pick up. So, today I go into Barnes and Noble to pick up my ONE book and I left with 5. The woman at the counter introduced me to the Educator's Card which entitles you to 20% off all educational purchases! She also told me that today was the last day of Educator Appreciation Week and that it would apply to personal books as well. I was PUMPED. I ran around the store trying to find other books that I wanted. I had been looking to buy Go Away Big Green Monster by Ed Emberly a few weeks ago (super cute for Pre-K), but I bought that on my iPad yesterday.... It's awesome on the iPad. It comes with a song version! So, I found Where is Baby's Pumpkin? by Karen Katz. It's a great book for  working on basic concepts (under, behind, inside etc). I hammer basic concepts into my preschoolers so I thought this was a great book!! Can't wait to use it this week in therapy.

THEN, I found this section that was BUY TWO GET ONE FREE. I was so excited. Remember my post about When She Woke? The futuristic Scarlet Letter by Hillary Jordan? Well I picked up another book of hers called Mudbound which is apparently better than When She Woke. It has been on my list for a while. I also picked up Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn, the author of Gone Girl. I can't wait to read this one. It's a short one (only about 250 pages) which is great. I keep reading really long books. And the last one I picked up is called The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow. I hadn't heard of this book until today, but it looks pretty good. Soo, I just added these three to my never ending collection of books that I have to read. I probably have 30 books on my shelf that I just HAVE TO BUY and then it takes me year to read them.... but I just love buying books. I think I need intensive therapy for my book buying and speech therapy blog addiction. Buy hey, I guess it's better than crack....

Here's a pick of my awesome buys today:

Anyone pick up any good books recently?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

City of Thieves

So the first quarter of the new school year is over at my new job. I am loving my new district and my kids. This job is much more demanding than my last job, so I am sleeping less and working more. My part time job is keeping me busy, too. I get home at 7pm 4 days a week and am literally falling asleep on the couch by 9:30. So lame, I know. So I am getting through books I am actually reading pretty slowly, but I'm still listening to audiobooks quickly because I am in the car so much. This next book actually helped me to get in the car earlier each day before work because I couldn't wait to hear what was going to happen next.

Based during the siege of Leningrad, David Benioff, the author, takes us on a week long adventure with two unforgettable characters. Lev, the story's 17 year old insecure and virginal narrator, comes across a dead German body in his hometown of Leningrad. The army catches him looting the dead German's belongings and arrests him. While in jail he meets Kolya, a 20 year old deserter of the Russian army. Kolya is a romantic, mysterious, and confident womanizer. The unlikely pair form a bond as they are forced to find a dozen eggs for a Russian general in time for his daughter's wedding in exchange for their lives. 

Throughout the mission, Lev and Kolya discover the devastation that the war has brought to Leningrad. They find rooms draped with human body parts, homes inhabited by Russian girls living as German sex slaves, and they endure brutal cold and intense hunger. I literally wanted to close my eyes during the brutal and gruesome descriptions of what the Russian girls lived through. I gasped out loud as I learned what these German soldiers were capable of.

On the surface this story appeared to be a serious novel, however, it was one of the funniest books I have read in a while. Kolya's accounts of his past sexual encounters left me laughing out loud. Lev's reactions to Kolya's endless stories were hilarious. Because he was a horny virgin, Lev was furious with Kolya. He was jealous of Kolya's vast experience. The relationship between Lev and Kolya was what made the book the most memorable for me. Now that the book is over, I find myself missing Kolya.

For those of you you enjoy historical fiction, sexual humor, and adventure this is a book for you. Men and women alike will be sucked into this fast paced story.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Lone Wolf

A few years ago I swore off Jodi Picoult. I loved My Sister's Keeper, Nineteen Minutes, and Plain Truth. After those I started to think they were all the same. Her writing was always the same. But, somehow I was in the library and picked this up on audiobook. I thought I would give her another chance to wow me. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, I was let down. I finished the book thinking SO WHAT?? This book is based upon the controversial topic of whether or not to take loved ones off of life support if there is little to no chance of life without machines. Basically, take that topic and put it into every other Picoult book.Not to say this topic is not interesting, but her books are just not the page turners they once were for me. I'm obviously not the best person to review a Picoult book because I have a bias, so here's her synopsis from her website if you are a Picoult fan:

Edward Warren, 23, has been living in Thailand for five years, a prodigal son who left his family after an irreparable fight with his father, Luke. But he gets a frantic phone call: His dad lies comatose in a NH hospital, gravely injured in the same accident that has also injured his younger sister Cara.
Cara, 17, still holds a grudge against her brother, since his departure led to her parents’ divorce. In the aftermath, she’s lived with her father – an animal conservationist who became famous after living with a wild wolf pack in the Canadian wild. It is impossible for her to reconcile the still, broken man in the hospital bed with her vibrant, dynamic father.
With Luke’s chances for recovery dwindling, Cara wants to wait for a miracle. But Edward wants to terminate life support and donate his father’s organs. Is he motivated by altruism, or revenge? And to what lengths will his sister go to stop him from making an irrevocable decision?
LONE WOLF looks at the intersection between medical science and moral choices. If we can keep people who have no hope for recovery alive artificially, should they also be allowed to die artificially? Does the potential to save someone else’s life with a donated organ balance the act of hastening another’s death? And finally, when a father’s life hangs in the balance, which sibling should get to decide his fate? 


 Are you on Goodreads yet? Check out more books I've read at this awesome site!! :)

Monday, October 1, 2012

Gone Girl

If you are a reader and haven't heard of this book, you have been living under a rock. It's currently #5 on the New York Times bestseller list. I bet it would be higher if it weren't for Fifty Shades. I'd never heard of Gillian Flynn prior to hearing about this book, but after reading this one I think I am going to check out her other books.

 This is not your typical husband allegedly slaughters wife mystery. It's a fast paced psychological thriller with haunting characters. I still find myself cursing the culprit..and being grateful for my normal life. Amy and Nick Dunne are seemingly normal on the surface, but underneath they are both complete psychopaths which is what makes the book different from other mysteries. 

I recommend not reading many reviews before checking this book out. You don't want to know anything before you pick it up. It makes it much more fun. All you need to know is that this book is exciting, full of plot, and will not disappoint you.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Malcom, or Mal, is over half a ton. He is the fattest man in England. He went to bed on his 25th birthday, never to arise again. This is the novel equivalent of the TLC special "The Half Ton Teen" or "Half Ton Man." 

Mal grew up as a fairly popular boy and teen. Girls liked him, his brother envied him, but he was eccentric. He began taking his clothes off in public, walking around naked never providing a reason  why. Mal's mother is a woman who only knows how to care for others. She is the type that cannot function if she is not doting on another person, doing everything for them. She enabled Mal to become the size of a whale. Mal's father, distant and full of regret, hides away in the attic working on various projects trying to overcome his demons. Mal's brother, the narrator of the story, falls in love with Mal's girlfriend and is often forgotten about. Even as I am writing this I cannot think of his name off the top of my head.

A dysfunctional family saga, "Bed" chronicles Mal's and his brother's childhood leading up to the day the family home must be opened with a crane to finally remove Mal after 20 years. 

David Whitehouse attempts to write with humor; however, I did not find this to be a comical story. I found it depressing, yet real. The family dynamic is one that is often seen throughout America; the Black Sheep, the enabling parent, the distant non involved parent, and the forgotten about "decent" child. 

 I was often horrified by this book just as I am when I watch Hoarders on TV. How can someone feed their son to be over 1,000 pounds? How can two other family members allow it to go on for over 20 years? How can this happen in real life?? This book is a complete train wreck, and I am still not completely sure about my thoughts of it. I recommend it because it is so different, but also do not recommend it because it left me feeling sickened.

Read at your own risk.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Litigators by John Grisham


The school year is officially underway. So far, I have not stopped reading. I hope that I can keep it this way. I have a few books that have been on my list because they were on my grandmother's kindle when she passed away. If I read a book that she read close to her death, I somehow feel closer to her. Her favorite author was John Grisham and this was on her kindle. I knew I wouldn't be able to get to it my huge "to-read" list anytime soon, so I decided to pick it up at the library on an audiobook.

The story was entertaining, but not memorizing like past John Grisham novels have been for me. Every other Grisham book has kept me up all hours of the night. The plot was fairly "ho hum." The storyline is about two sleazy lawyers (Findley and Figg) and their small practice. They chase after ambulances to try and get clients and advertise on bingo chips. A big firm lawyer, David Zink, leaves his old demanding job behind to work at the small firm of Findley and Figg. Wally Figg chooses to go after a big drug company because one of its cholesterol drugs supposedly causes heart problems. This case is the premise of the story. The book is marketed as a legal thriller, however, I didn't find anything thrilling about it. Never once was I on the edge of my seat to find out what was going to happen next. I would simply call this a predictable novel based on a boring law suit. Not John Grisham's best. I look forward to "legal thrillers" for big court room scenes. There was a courtroom scene in this one, but it was only a fraction of the story and I knew the outcome before I even heard the verdict.

Maybe I didn't LOVE it because I was not really interested in what the case was about....A cholesterol drug case didn't really do it for me. There was a side case that David Zink pursued about a little boy living with permanent brain damage due to lead poisoning. In my opinion, there could have been an entire book written on that story. I kept wanting to hear more about how David was going to get money out of the toy company for the family. 

For anyone wanting to read a good legal thriller, this is not the book for you.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Girls in White Dresses


While perusing Barnes and Noble one day, I read the back of this book. The synopsis reads as follows: "Wickedly funny and utterly recognizable, Girls in White Dresses tells the story of three women grappling with heartbreak and career change, family pressure and new love--all while suffering through an endless round of weddings and bridal showers." So I thought, hmm, this sounds like a book I could relate to. 

Erin picked it for our book club. It was on her "to-read" list also. I was excited to have a "girly" book for a change. I hadn't read many of those this summer. I just have to say it. This book was MISERABLE. I wouldn't even call it a book. It was a collection of short stories about, supposedly, three main characters named Isabella, Mary, and Lauren. I didn't know that these girls were supposed to be the main characters because each chapter talked about another "character." The author chose to not develop characters, a setting, or a plot. I think she literally just wrote random stories and put girls' names on them. There was NO story line in my opinion. There was NO beginning, climax, or resolution. NO story grammar elements whatsoever.  I don't even classify myself as someone who only reads "excellent writing." If you read my blog, you know I read some books with poor writing, but this book can only be described as BAD WRITING.

The book was actually a quick read. I somehow was able get through it in about 3 sittings. Maybe this was because I wanted it to be over. I would not recommend this book unless you are a fan of poor character development and invisible plot lines. I really wanted to like this book, but I just couldn't. 

Has anyone else read it? I hope not. 

Right now I am listening to The Litigators by John Grisham. I am loving audiobooks right now. I also have two highly rated books in line for my next posts. Don't worry. They are supposed to be good.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

In the Woods by Tana French

I had wanted to read this book for a long time. Everything that I heard about it was  fantastic. It took me a while to find a chance to read it. I always saw it in the bookstores and it was always on my list of to-read books. Finally, when I was in the used bookstore a few weeks ago, I found it and decided to start right away. Erin and I were between books, so it was the perfect opportunity.

This story is about a man, named Adam Ryan (or Rob Ryan as he calls himself in the book). When he was a child, he was playing with his two friends in the woods. They went missing for a while, and when Ryan was found, his friends were not. Ryan was found bloody and in shock. He lost all memories of what happened. Even as an adult he could not remember what happened on that fearful day. 

Ryan grew up to be a detective. One day, he is assigned a case near where he grew up, not far from the woods in which he was found. Soon, memories start coming back and he thinks that the two cases may be related. 

To be perfectly honest, I couldn't wait for this book to be over. For a mystery, it was simply not fast paced enough. For the first half of the book NOTHING happened. I kept thinking that the two cases were going to align very quickly and that the plot would thicken. Each chapter was a let down. I didn't feel like the character development was rich enough either. FINALLY, the last few chapters were good. I stayed up to see what happened. I had so many unanswered questions and I thought they were finally going to be answered. Unfortunately, I was let down yet again in the last chapter. 

Who of you enjoyed this book? Anyone? Is there something that I missed? Please let me know. For those of you who haven't read it, I would not recommend this if you enjoy mysteries. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Naked by David Sedaris

David Sedaris, author of Me Talk Pretty One Day, chronicles his life in a hilarious collection of essays. I listened to the abridged version on audiobooks, and enjoyed how he and his sister performed the book. It was fantastically done. Their voices made the story so hilarious.

Sedaris begins the book with his memories of his Obsessive Compulsive Disorder behaviors during his grade school days. Even though OCD is not something to laugh about, the way he describes it is hilarious. His teachers did not understand his disorder and year after year they made their way over to his house to talk with his mother about his compulsion to lick light switches 100 times a day. Sedaris's alcoholic mother always invited them in for drinks and to discuss her son. The subject matter could have been interpreted a completely different way, but how Sedaris decided to write about his past was with humor rather than sadness or seiousness.

Family relationships, his sexuality, and nudist colonies are some of the other topics explored in this memoir. The way Sedaris writes will have you laughing out loud. This book is unusual, funny, and memorable.

Monday, August 13, 2012

My Horizontal Life


Okay. So, I know how I am going to keep up with my reading when the school year starts.  AUDIO BOOKS. I decided to get an audiobook when I drove 2 hours both ways to my friend's wedding. When I was in grad school and I would drive back and forth to visit Chip I would often times listen to a book. So, the other day I went to the library to see what they had. This particular branch did not have a wide selection, but I hadn't read this Chelsea Handler book yet so I decided to pick it up. It was only 5 disks so I thought that would be good for a weekend trip.

This book was the best Chelsea book in my opinion. She channels her early to late 20s in this one night stand tell all book. I still cannot be sure how much of her books are true and how much are fabricated, but either way I was laughing out loud as I was driving up highway 77. She chronicles her intoxicated late nights with strange men and how they turned out. SUPER funny, laid back, easy to listen to audiobook. As you know by now, I really enjoy stories that are mindless and don't require much brain power every now and again.

I've already picked up two more audiobooks from the library. I am back to work now and my commute is 30-40 minutes, so as I take it, that's more than an hour of "reading" per day. I should be able to get through quite a few books even if I don't have as much reading time.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Gold by Chris Cleave

Gold by Chris Cleave

As a fan of Chris Cleave's previous two novels, and a strong follower of the Olympics, I eagerly awaited his newest novel, Gold. With the thirtieth Olympiad drawing near, I chose to read this book as the games began in London.

Three track cyclists, all three bound together by the most tedious of circumstances, train for the Olympic games. Zoe, damaged and selfish, takes her aggression and sadness out on the bike rather than facing her demons head on. Kate, her best friend who always seems to take second place in the duo, is so kind that she has been taken advantage of more times than she can count in her life. She has lost more than one gold metal picking up after Zoe's fallen pieces. And Jack, the man whose decisions shape these women's lives forever, seems to not believe how he got into his position in life. Not only is this story about these three cyclists, but the true soul of the story is based upon Jack and Kate's StarWars loving 8 year old girl, Sophie, who fights for her life from Leukemia's tight grasp.

The first half of the story was disappointing to me. I was used to Cleave's novels and their striking themes straight from the get go. This one took some warm up time to get the plot spinning on its wheels (pun intended). Once I read to the halfway point, I couldn't put the book down. I thought the book was going to turn out one way, but Cleave surprised me so much that my hand came to my mouth as I gasped out loud at my surprise.

Gold had me cheering, crying, screaming, cringing, and sighing with relief. I loved and hated the 3 main characters as they made choices which complicated their personal and athletic lives. Sophie's spunk reminded me of the resiliency of the human spirit. Fans of Cleave will experience an Olympiad of emotions in this captivating read.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What We Keep

I am tearing through books this summer. I go from having one post a month to having a few a week. I guess that's what working in the schools will do to you. I am only working 2 days a week right now  so I have plenty of time to read. I go back to work starting August 15 so expect fewer posts once the school year starts. I feel like I'm on a roll now, so maybe the reading will continue. This book was given to me by my friend Erin last summer. It had been sitting on my shelf for a while, so I picked it up as I headed to the pool.

This is a great read-in-one day while sitting at the pool book. Berg knows how to create characters that tug at your heart strings and make you die laughing at the same time. I give this book 3/5 stars because it is not a book that will stay with me for years to come. It was a pretty good story about two sisters (Ginny and Sharla) living seemingly normal childhoods in the 1950s who then lose their mother out of no where. The girls' mother has a midlife crisis and chooses to focus on her own life. Thirty five years later the two girl decide they are ready to face her. The book jumps back and forth from Ginny's perspective as a 12 year old girl to being in her 40s flying to see her mother 35 years later. I recommend this for people sitting at the beach or on a 3 hour plane ride. Good, but not great novel. 

Elizabeth Berg is a great author. I have read a few of her books (see one of my post from a year ago to find more Berg books.)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Peyton Place

Peyton Place by Grace Metalious

This book was the Fifty Shades of Grey of the 1950s. Not to say that the book was necessary erotic, but it was similar in the fact that many housewives hid the book because they felt shameful reading it. Back in the 50s this book was banned in many places throughout the country. The author was made into an infamous celebrity based upon this book which dealt with sex, rape, alcoholism, domestic violence, incest, racism, extramarital affairs, and murder. To be honest, I had not heard of this book until just over a week ago. I blame this on my age. If anyone asks their mother if they have heard of this book, I can bet you they will say "that book caused an uproar" or "it was so scandalous." I felt as if I, a fanatic of literary fiction, HAD to read this book. I mean, this book topped the charts along with Gone With The Wind (another one of my ALL TIME favorite books) in its time!

Peyton Place, a tiny New England town, thrives on gossip. Everything that the inhabitants of this town do is based upon what will be said about them. A woman lies about her child born out of wedlock so that the town will think she is a widow; a mother says her son is a war hero when he is truly was discharged for a mental disorder; and a doctor keeps his mouth shut about child abuse to keep the victim feeling "normal." The town talks and talks about its people in the nastiest ways. Rumors are spread so quickly, not unlike today's small towns (believe me, I'm from a town of under 4,000), but the second an outsider says one negative word about a neighbor the town sticks up for him/her like they were a family member. What I thought was so interesting about this book, was that it was mostly the MEN that talked about everybody, rather than the women.

This story would not be considered shocking if it were published today. It is truly a fantastic novel, but today we are too used to novels with striking themes. As I researched this book, I learned that it will be apart of American pop culture for years to come. It sparked a movie and long running TV series. (I already have the movie coming from Netflix). The only part of the book that was lacking was more in depth character development. I would have enjoyed getting to know the characters more.

Has anyone read this book??

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Right now I am reading Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James which is the third book in the Fifty Shades series. To be honest, I am SO over this series. I enjoyed the first one. It was a page turner and I read it in a few days. The second one was also worth the read up until the last 1/4 of the book. It started to get too mushy and I became bored. I am forcing myself to get through the third one. It's not THAT bad, but I am eager to get into my next book. I am learning that I am just not a trilogy or series book reader for the most past (NOT including my beloved Harry Potter series. I wish there were 15 of them). I read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl who Played with Fire, but I needed a break from the stories before I could read The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest and it has been about a year and a half and I still haven't started the third. I am hoping to read it by the time the movie comes out, so I figure I have a few years. Also, The Hunger Games series had the same effect one me. I loved the first two, but by the time I read the third one I was simply craving another set of characters and plot line. So, while I am finishing up my current read, I thought that I would let my friend Erin share her review of a book that she enjoyed. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby is a book that has been on my "to read" list for many years. In one of my SLP classes in undergrad, my professor told all of us to read it. I just haven't gotten around to it yet. After reading Erin's review, I am going to put it a little higher on my list. 
Review by Erin Andreani
The Diving Bell and The Butterfly
Anyone who can parallel his “last moments as a functioning earthling” with Beatles lyrics is genius. 
This is the all-too-true story is authored by a man with locked-in syndrome... all written by blinking his left eye at an alphabet board. Now, yes, I am a speech-language pathologist (and yes, I DID enjoy the chapter titled ‘Guardian Angel’, referring to his speech therapist), but this is an incredible book that should be read by the masses. It should be on high school reading lists, it should be discussed in college literature courses. The implications of your mind surviving what your body does not are just incredible. I recommend this to ... everyone.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Tell the Wolves I'm home

Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt 

Fourteen year old June, uncomfortable in her own skin does not understand the depth of her beloved Uncle Finn. Uncle Finn, a gay man, dies of aids in 1987. Before he died, he painted a portrait of June and her sister Greta titled, "Tell the Wolves I'm Home." Through the painting, Finn is able to tell his family everything that he could not say when he was alive.

June and Finn had a special relationship, but the rest of June's family cannot flush out the stigma of AIDS just as America could not in the 1980s. June was left in the dark about another very important person in Finn's life, his partner, or as Greta refers to him, Finn's murderer. June's quest to discover who her uncle really was begins when Toby contacts her. This story reminds us all what it is like to be young and naive to adult situations and adult opinions. Sometimes parents leave children in the dark as a way to "protect" them from the adults' own prejudices and familial embarrassments.
June, in her journey to uncover the mystery that was her uncle, copes with death for the first time. Not only does she miss Finn, but she is also dealing with her unconventional love for him. June is elusive, somber, embarrassed, odd, confused, and ambiguous. As I the reader tried to figure her out, June herself goes through self discovery. June doesn't like to talk or ask questions for fear of looking or feeling stupid. I found myself wanting to scream at her because she would ask questions in her head rather than out loud. She is unsure of how to interact with people or form relationships. The only person she could ever do this with was her uncle, which perhaps is why she feels as though her love for him is strange or abnormal.

Her relationship with her sister is tedious at best. June and Greta deal with becoming young women and they both grieve the end of their childhoods. Greta is mean and cruel because she is hurting inside. She wants to be friends with her sister, but the only way she knows how to interact with her is to be mean. As someone who has two sisters, I found myself relating to their relationship. The author did a phenomenal job of making their sister relationship authentic. Sister relationships are some of the most complex relationships people have in their entire lives. June and Greta despise and love each other in the same moment as many sisters do.

June's mother was the most complex character. I find it interesting when authors choose to make someone other than the narrator be very difficult to figure out. All we get are the observations and descriptions given to us, rather than first hand thoughts. I felt as if Mrs. Weiss was remorseful about something, that there was something she had chosen to hide from her past about her brother Finn. She carried around a large burden that her daughter could not know.

I have never read a book like this. The character development was perplexing and astounding. Now that I have finished the book I find myself wondering how June and her family are doing. You MUST read this book.

I highlighted many quotes in this book and I want to share my favorites:

On Greta:
"Greta's talk is like a geode. Ugly as anything on the outside and for the most part the same on the inside, but every once in a while there's something that shines through." (p. 60)

On Greta, June and the painting:
"All I could see was me and Greta shoved into that frame together. No matter what happened, the two of us would always be trapped inside those four pieces of wood." (p. 52)

June on herself:
"I thought about myself from head to toe. It was like being forced to read the most boring part of the Sears catalog. Like leafing through the bathroom accessories pages. Boring brain. Boring face. No sex appeal. Clumsy hands." (p. 194)

"I was doomed to mediocrity." (p. 215) 

"You get into habits. Ways of being with certain people." (p. 221)

"I was the girl who never understood who she was to people." (p. 236). 

"Sometimes I go around pretending I'm a medieval kid dropped into our time so that everything around me looks strange and fresh and ridiculous. Okay? Now that you know just how weird I am, you're free to laugh or tell all your friends or whatever..." (p 169) 

"Maybe all I wanted was for Toby to hear the wolves that lived in the dark forest of my heart. And maybe that's what it meant. Tell the Wolves I'm Home. Maybe Finn understood everything, as usual. You may as well tell them where you live, because they'll find you anyway. They always do." (p. 346)

On June's mother:
"How could someone act so strong and normal and under it all be so desperate and sad." (p. 234) 

"I needed to know that my mother understood that her hand was in this too. That all the jealousy and envy and shame we carried was our own kind of sickness. As much a disease as Toby and Finn's AIDS." (p. 370)

Below is Erin's review of the book:  

My only disappointment with this novel was that I bought the iBook version; I needed this book to be tangible. I needed to hold this book the way it held me. "Wolves"  had so many deeply haunting themes, that I'm not sure I could touch on them all at once. This is a book I need to keep coming back to, time and again. 

I have always loved period pieces- WWII, the 20’s, basically any story that can take me back to another time, I enjoy. The setting of this novel, in the height of the 1980‘s at the US’s first real awareness of AIDS, was no exception. Off that bat, one might not consider this  “period novel”. It was, after all, not that long ago, chronologically speaking. But socially, it was ages ago. It’s interesting to be thrust into that time when AIDS was just emerging and there was so much confusion and uncertainty. 
In addition to the setting, the characters are all phenomenal and very well developed. This is something I base most of my “favorites” on- character development. I loved how each of June’s family members has their own personality that unfolds throughout the story. While June is ultimately the main character, she serves as a vehicle for the others to move and grow along with the story. Through her voice and observations, we learn of her mother’s regret, her father’s sadness, and her sister’s loneliness. It is through June’s keen, wise-beyond-her-years observations that we learn of the details that make up each member of her family and ultimately how they all function together as a “normal” family, despite underlying feelings of sadness and remorse. Similarly, it is through Toby’s character that we really get to know the dead Finn. I loved this piece of writing- Finn is still a main character throughout the novel, fully developing along with the rest of the family, although he dies quite early on.
The point that the author made to make the family fairly normal and functioning, despite it’s controversy, was something I really took away from this book. My initial instinct was to paint this family as dysfunctional, to give a reason behind June’s eccentricities and her sister, Greta’s loneliness. But that was not the case. They were a typical American family made up of busy accountants and scared teenagers. The main story line -June’s “wrong” love for her AIDS ridden Uncle Finn- is a provocative subject that paved the way for more typical traits of the American family: loving parents, busy and just slightly too absent to keep close enough tabs on the kids, a sad teenager putting on a brave face, and a quirky girl muddling through adolescence.  I found myself identifying with both sisters’ feelings of growing up faster than they were ready. (This was another interesting thread: both sisters ultimately in similar turmoil, but showing it in different ways.)
In the end, I was never quite sure whether or not June actually was “in love” with her uncle, in the “wrong” way, or if she just deeply loved him for the person he was and the person he made her feel she was. Ultimately, despite this being the main story line, it didn’t matter. All that mattered was that a loved family member was gone and the remaining were left to move through life without him, each person changed by Finn in some way. 
This is the book I have been waiting for all year. I recommend it to all. Again, I wish I had the hard-back so I could share with fellow readers. 


Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Book Loft

Today I want to share with everyone who lives around Columbus about the best book store EVER. It is called The Book Loft and I can't believe I have not been to it until recently. I mostly get my books from Barnes and Noble, Amazon, or Half Price Books. The Book Loft is a indepdently owned book store in German Village that has not one, not two, but 32 rooms of books! Each room is separated by genre. The entire building is practically a maze. I literally got lost in there and it took me a few minutes to find my way out. Every inch of the store is fully covered in books. Another great thing about it is that they have awesome online coupons which I plan to take advantage of soon. The website is: You have got to check it out!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Piano Teacher

This book was recommended to me by, can you guess? yes, Erin. She gave me quite a few books and I read some of them and others sat on my shelf. This was one of the books that sat on my shelf for a while. To be honest, I was not thrilled with the cover of the book. I judged it and thought that it was going to be cheesy, so it was not on my priority list of books. I brought it with me to Montana as a back up in case I got through the books I had planned to read. I finished my other books so I decided to read it, and I am so glad that I did.

The internet would not let me copy and paste a picture in my blog, so here is a link to a New York Times book review. Also, here is the author's website. Below is my review:

Will Truesdale, a life loving, easy going British man moves to Hong Kong and falls madly in love with exotic and outgoing Trudy Liang. She is a beautiful Eurasian (half Chinese, half Portuguese) socialite. The two of them go to parties, social events, and the beach constantly. Life could not be any better for these two. Their relationship is threatened when World War II starts and Japan invades Hong Kong. Anyone who is not Chinese is forced to go to POW camps which are separated by nationality. People on the inside of the POW camps are treated like criminals and people on the outside are witnesses to terrible crimes committed by the Japanese; lynching, rapes, and looting. Can their relationship survive the war?

Ten years later, Will is still in Hong Kong. Something happened to Trudy and Will will never be the same. He is no longer the man who loved life. He works as a driver for Trudy's cousin as opposed to running around in the same social crowd. He lives his life remorseful, regretful, and completely full of sorrow until he meets Claire Pentleton who also works for Trudy's cousin. Claire moved to Hong Kong from England with her husband that she did not marry for love. She is a young girl who is dying for opportunities and wants nothing more than to be "someone."  They begin an illicit affair and Will begins to show some small signs of happiness again, although he mostly remains miserable. Throughout their affair, Will begins to bring up the past and what happened during the war. Secrets are revealed and pain is brought back to the surface. 

I enjoyed this book because I am a fan of historical fiction. The story was also deeply layered. The author intricately revealed information at just the right time to make the entire story come together in the end to reveal a breath taking and shocking secret. My only negative about the book is that I did not truly understand Claire, the piano teacher's role. She was important in the fact that many people chose to tell her information about the past because she was close to Will. If people told Claire things then they hoped that she would tell Will. Claire was a pawn in the story where Will was the main character. Overall it was a good book. On a scale of 1-10 I would give it an 8. It was a New York Times Bestseller and was worth the read! 


PS I am super excited about the next few books that I am going to post about. Stay tuned for some great summer reading!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Joy Fielding

 Normally I am not the novel reader who picks up the books with the AUTHOR'S NAME in large print. Do you know what I'm talking about?? The James Patterson style of books are not my thing (but I have vowed to read a couple so I can have a better opinion rather than just judge a book by its cover... ha). I picked this book up when I was vacationing in Montana. My friend's mom had huge bins full of books. Most of them were the thriller murder mystery with the large print on the front, so I wasn't too thrilled. I did, however, find this book called Charley's Web by Joy Fielding.


I had read a Joy Fielding book before called Still Life which was AWESOME. It's about a woman who is struck by a car and goes into a coma. When she "comes to" she has locked in syndrome which is where she is basically in a comatose state, except her brain is not. She can hear and comprehend everything around her. She soon finds out that the people she thought loved her unconditionally may have had something to do with her accident. Ok, well I'm off on a tangent on another book, but it was really good. Here's the cover:

Anyway, back to Charley's Web. This book is about a successful journalist who writes a weekly column in the local newspaper. She has two children from two different men whom she never married, has estranged relationships with her family, and is more or less seen as a bitch by coworkers and neighbors. When a convicted murderer named Jill contacts her to write a "tell all" book about the brutal murders of 3 young children, Charley thinks that it could be her way to fame. There were always rumors that Jill had not acted alone in the crimes, and Charley thinks she will be able to identify her accomplice. As she begins to learn more about Jill's background, Charley starts to reevaluate her life. She begins to date rather than just make babies with men, makes an effort to mend the relationships in her family, and starts being friendly with her neighbors. One day, Charley begins to get threats from an unknown source who is targeting her children. The mystery to who is targeting her children may or may not be directly related to her new book deal. This story is very fast paced entertaining book. I read it in about 2 days. For anyone who enjoys fast paced thrillers, this would be a great summer read.

Enjoy. Has anyone else read any good Joy Fielding books?