Sunday, January 25, 2015

Book Review - Big Little Lies

Big Little Lies

My enjoyment rating: 5 of 5 stars
Hangover rating: 5
Source: Personal copy
Genre: General fiction/women's fiction
Objectionable material: F-bombs

This was such an engrossing read and a brilliant look at the complications and secrets of a seemingly ordinary neighborhood and the families that are brought together by a public elementary school.

School fundraisers are brutal -- and in this case, deadly.

And PTA moms are very, very mean.

Couldn't put it down.




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Thursday, January 22, 2015

2015 Reading Bingo!

Ready for some Bingo?!

Last year my kids and I tracked much of our reading on a bingo card created by  RetreatbyRandomHouse.ca -- it was a lot of fun for all of us and I was eagerly anticipating this year's edition!

However, their current bingo card includes numerous Canadian-type books, for obvious reasons, so most of their options I can't access at our local library, so I created my own!

This is the card I will be following this year!  I hope you will join me!




Monday, January 19, 2015

Book Review -- Serena

Serena

My enjoyment rating: 5 of 5 stars
Hangover rating: 5!!! OMG!
Source: Personal copy
Genre: General fiction
Objectionable material:  Very little language, some sexual innuendo, but nothing explicit, and the violence all happens "off stage."

Lady Macbeth meet Serena Pemberton -- I'm not sure which one of you would survive in a throwdown, but I'd love to watch.

Serena has one goal -- and that's to cut every tree down on the Western Hemisphere and make a truck load of money while doing it. With her husband, of course.

Oh -- and whatever you do -- do not get in her way.

I loved this book.

The writing was impeccable.

The characters gloriously complex and simple at the same time.

If Shakespeare had written a play about the Appalachian timber industry -- he would have written Serena.

Amy Dunne (Gone Girl) wouldn't stand a chance with Serena either.

The woman had acid in her veins.


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 -- The Year Very Few Books Were Read

2014

The year I read far fewer books than I planned and blogged very little about those few books.  It is not a literary year I'm proud of.

I took a lot of naps instead.

I did complete a 2014 Reading Bingo, published by RetreatbyRandomHouse.ca.  Both my daughter and I finished bingo cards.  That my friends, is an accomplishment.

Behold my completed reading bingo card:

A Book with more than 500 pages:  The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley
A Forgotten Classic:  A Separate Peace by John Knowles
A Book that became a movie:  If I Stay by Gayle Forman
A Book Published This Year:  Glitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan
A Book with a Number in the Title: Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan
A Book Written by Someone Under 30:  Popular by Maya Van Wagenen
A Book with Non Human Characters:  Things Invisible to See by Nancy Willard
A Funny Book:  The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
A Book by a Female Author:  The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
A Book with a Mystery:  The Bookman's Tale by CharlieLovett
A Book with a One Word Title:  Landline by Rainbow Rowell
A Book of Short Stories:  I Work at a Public Library by Gina Sheridan
A Book Set on a Different Continent: The Voices of  Heaven by Maija Rhee Devine
A Book of Non Fiction:  Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey
The First Book by a Favorite Author:  I'll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan
A Book You Heard About Online:  Under the Jeweled Sky by Alison McQueen*
A Best Selling Book:  Fault in Our Stars by John Green
A Book Based on a True Story:  Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
A Book at the Bottom of Your TBR Pile:  Change it Up by Amanda Dickson
A Book that Scares You:  Before I Go to Sleep by S J Watson
A Book More than 10 Years Old:  The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
The Second Book in a Series:  Cracks in the Kingdom by Jaclyn Moriarty
A Book with a Blue Cover:  The Time Between by Karen White
A Book your Friend Loves:  The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

I hope your reading endeavors were far more accomplished than mine.

Here's to a new year and new books!


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Book Review -- Texts from Jane Eyre

Texts from Jane Eyre: And Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Characters

My enjoyment rating: 3 of 5 stars
Hangover rating:  3 (I've re-read several "texts" since I finished the book)
Source:  ARC received from the publisher -- I was not compensated in any other way for my review.
Genre:  Humor non-fiction
Objectionable material: Multiple uses of the f-bomb


If your favorite literary characters (like Lizzie Bennett, Jane Eyre, Sherlock Holmes) could text -- what would their 21st century conversations sound/read like?

Fortunately, Mallory Ortberg has given us an extremely clever and humorous glimpse at the perceived texts of these classic, fictional icons.

Some of my favorite exchanges were:

Sherlock Holmes & Watson: "there's only one thing we're missing...only one thing we need that will help us solve this case...Cocaine, Watson....scads of it..."

Edgar Allan Poe: "...where do I even start...there's a heart in the floor and it will not shut upppp...but that's not the main thing, there's a cat with one eye that keeps calling me a murderer..."

The best sequences were Pride & Prejudice, Jane Eyre (duh!) and Gone With the Wind. (You'll have to read those for yourself).

Unfortunately, for me, nearly half of the texts/references were from literary works that I'd either not read or had long forgotten. So the text exchanges for Plato, Circe, Rene Descartes and others were totally and completely lost on me. A sad reflection of my feeble mind and education.

This is, however, a fun, quirky volume that will keep you highly entertained.


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Book Review -- I Work at a Public Library

I Work at a Public Library: A Collection of Crazy Stories from the Stacks
I Work at a Public Library: A Collection of Crazy Stories from the Stacks by Gina Sheridan
My enjoyment rating: 4 of 5 stars
Hangover rating: 4 (I've taken the book to the library -- my co-workers have enjoyed it as well)
Genre:  General non-fiction
Source:  Publisher (Other than a review copy, I was not compensated in any way for my review)
Objectionable material:  None

Life is never dull when you work in a public library.

It's the melting pot of humanity.

Gina Sheridan, in her blog inspired book, I Work at a Public Library, perfectly captures the crazy, humorous, odd, quirky, sometimes questionable scenarios one may encounter at the library.

As a library employee, I thoroughly related to this book. Library patrons seem to be the same regardless of where you live.

One of my favorites: Gina helps a patron indulge on Krispy Kreme donuts. It's precious. A must read.

It made me wish I'd chronicled all of my patron queries over the years.

It was delightful.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Book Review -- What Alice Forgot

What Alice Forgot
What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
My enjoyment rating: 5 of 5 stars
Hangover rating: 5 -- I really want to discuss this with someone!
Source: Personal copy
Genre: Literary fiction
Objectionable material: Honestly, I don't remember anything.

Who knew spin class could be so risky? But for Alice, a fall off her stationary bike and a "bonk" on the head, causes 10 years of memories to disappear.

I loved it. I loved it. I loved it. I loved reading about Alice's discovery that before her accident she was a suburban, overachieving mom with three kids with an estranged husband, to the realization that she was none of the above after her accident. I loved her family members -- especially her sister, Elisabeth, whose infertility woes and letters to her therapist are truly crushing. And Gina -- the friend that everyone knows, Alice most of all, but who can't remember the depth of their relationship.

I loved the author's writing style -- using glimpses of memory, epistles, and diary entries -- made this so interesting and unique and added necessary depth to all the characters.

This was such an enriching read and a brilliant look at the complications of a seemingly ordinary domestic family life.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Book Review -- Landline

Landline
Landline by Rainbow Rowell
My enjoyment rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Hangover rating: 2
Source: Goodreads and St Martin's Press (Other than a free review copy, I was not compensated in any way for my review).
Genre:  Fiction
Objectionable material:  Multiple Fbombs
 

Determined to meet her deadline, comedy writer Georgie McCool chooses a meeting with her sitcom co-creator, Seth and studio execs over Christmas with her husband, Neal, and children in Nebraska. The results of her decision lead to a personal downward spiral of doubts, reliving the past, and wondering if her marriage will survive the separation.

Rainbow Rowell is a master at writing relationships -- whether it's teenagers dating (Eleanor & Park), or Twentysomethings (Attachments), or in this case, a married couple experiencing a marital crisis AND a writing partnership on the brink of disaster. With every word and sentence I could totally relate to what the characters were experiencing. Her dialogue is equally outstanding: it's witty, honest, painful.

I also loved her use of the yellow trimline-landline phone that she uses to converse with Neal. So, so clever.

She had equally quirky characters to add to the mix: Georgie's sister Heather, her mother and step father, her mother-in-law and deceased (or is he?) father-in-law; even her mother's beloved pugs are necessary additions to the storyline.
 
And...for someone who is terrified of flying (me!), she absolutely NAILS the terror a person experiences on an airplane.  Just sayin...

I loved two of Rainbow Rowell's previous books, Eleanor & Park, and Attachments (I couldn't finish Fangirl) , and I liked this one too, although not as much as the others. She's very fond of the Fbomb, which felt so unnecessary in the book, almost distracting. And the ending seemed so abrupt. I liked the end...but I felt cheated. I wanted more.

Thanks to Goodreads and St Martin's Press for the preview copy.


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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Book Review -- The French House

The French House: An American Family, a Ruined Maison, and the Village That Restored Them All
The French House: An American Family, a Ruined Maison, and the Village That Restored Them All by Don Wallace
My enjoyment rating: 4 of 5 stars
Hangover rating:  4
Source:  A review copy provided by Sourcebooks (I was not compensated in any monetary way for my review)
Genre:  Memoir; Travel memoir
Objectionable material:  None

Buyer's remorse: a term used to describe the feeling of regret or change of heart when making a significant purchase, like a house.

What Don and Mindy Wallace experience isn't so much buyer's remorse as, buyer's "oh my g*% what the Hell have we done?"

Surveying the condition of their French island ruin cottage, the enormity of their decision comes crashing down -- almost literally: they own a house they can't afford, in a place they don't live, and with repairs/reconstruction that needs to be done that is beyond their skill level. Their efforts seem doomed from the beginning.

But over the course of 30 years (this wasn't a property "flip" project) Don and Mindy create a second home where they become ensconced within this special Belle Ile community.

I loved this book. It was charming and witty -- full of hope and despair about this crumbling structure they chose to inhabit and make a home. I loved the friends with whom they associated -- from local farmers to immediate neighbors to vacationers -- it was truly a sense of community. I loved the history of the island from the Druids, to the Romans to the Germans.
I think we all dream about having a second home -- to live in a faraway paradise and to become a "native." The beautiful thing about the Wallaces -- is over the course of 30 years -- they made their dream come true.


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Little Rock's Listen To Your Mother!

I was honored to be cast as a participant in the Little Rock edition of the nationally syndicated group, Listen To Your Mother.

The video clips from the shows were posted today -- and here is mine!