Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Review: The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold

The Almost MoonPublished: September 8, 2008
Publisher: Back Bay Books UK
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 320
Source: Purchased
Challenge: 100 Books in a Year

A woman steps over the line into the unthinkable in this brilliant, powerful, and unforgettable new novel by the auther of The Lovely Bones and Lucky.
For years Helen Knightly has given her life to others: to her haunted mother, to her enigmatic father, to her husband and now grown children.  When she finally crosses a terrible boundary, her life comes rushing in at her in a way she never could have imagined.  Unfolding over the next twenty-four hours, this searing, fast-paced novel explores the complex ties between mothers and daughters, wives and lovers, the meaning of devotion, and the line between love and hate.  It is a challenging, moving, gripping story, written with the fluidity and strength of voice that only Alice Sebold can bring to the page.
First Sentences
"When all is said and done, killing my mother came easily.  Dementia, as it descends, has a way of revealing the core of the person affected by it."

My Thoughts
Honestly, I've heard a lot of bad things about this book, which is probably why it sat unread on my shelf for so long.  Lucky and The Lovely Bones were both great books, so I was expecting a lot when I purchased the book.  After hearing how awful people thought it was I didn't want to ruin Alice Sebold for myself, so I just left it on the shelf.  I don't know what made me pick it up this time, but I did and was pleasantly surprised.  Clearly, this book is a little is very dark, and very depressing, but I thought it was well written and I thought it was quite the page-turner.  While most people would read that first sentence and probably think "WTF", I was extremely intrigued.  Please understand that I have the most amazing mother in the world.  Honestly, I don't know what I would do with out my mommy!  I'm not demented, nor am I a crazy psycho killer, and I harbor no ill feelings towards my mother -- I just was drawn into the first line -- and maybe because I have such a great relationship with my mom and I can't understand someone actually going through with something so absurd.  Maybe it was just like a train wreck...I saw it, and I couldn't stop watching (or reading)...
Anyway, the book starts off with Helen killing her mother.  I was expecting the death to be because Helen had to take her mother off life support or something...not because I was about to read 20 pages about an old woman with dementia that just crapped her pants...but alas, I digress.
After I got past the crappy pants, and mother killing it was quite an interesting read.  Again, maybe that is because it is just so weird to me that I just couldn't stop, but either way.  I still think that Alice Sebold's writing style is incredible, and even a story as morbid and horrifying as this can be well written and keep my attention.
If you really liked The Lovely Bones and Lucky I would recommend this to you as well -- but know that you must go in with an open mind...If you have not read anything by Alice Sebold before, this might not be a good starting point, so go grab The Lovely Bones instead (and please don't cheat by watching the movie---they are nothing alike...).

Favorite Quotes
"The thing about dementia is that sometimes you feel like the afflicted person has a trip wire to the truth, as if they can see beneath the skin you hide in."
"How can you apologize for the mother you love?  The mother you, too, hate.   The only thing I could hope was that Mrs. Murdoch would have plenty of people to console her and listen to the story of how she lost her son.  My mother would have only my father.  Then she would have me."
"The moon is whole all the time, but we can't always see it.  What we see is an almost moon or a not-quite moon.  The rest is hiding just out of view, but there's only one moon so we follow it in the sky.  We plan our lives based on its rhythms and tides."

My Ratings
Cover: 4/5
Characters: 3/5
Writing Style: 3/5
Plot: 3/5
Ending: 4/5
Overall: 3.4 

Happy Reading!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

In My Mailbox (7)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme brought to you by The Story Siren.  It is a fun little way to share what books you've received over the last week, whether you bought them, borrowed them or were sent them!

This week I'm getting back into the swing of things, and had some fun on Amazon.  I've still got some credit on there so I figured I would get myself a few books!  Here's what I got!

Dating A Cougar (Never Too Late Series)

After several decades of looking for true love and never finding it, aging model and lingerie designer, Alexa Ranger, had finally given up the search.  A couple of years ago, she got tired of the game and just stopped dating.  Friends and family keep her mostly content, so it's shocking at 50 years old to find herself suddenly wanting a sex life again.  It's even more shocking to be attracted to a much younger man this time.  She definitely thinks Casey Carter is incredibly sexy, but not handling her own age well, Alexa just can't get passed their twelve year age difference to even consider a fling.  Though she figures it doesn't matter anyway.  Anything resembling a normal dating relationship is totally out of the question because Casey is related to and living with her daughter's boyfriend.  The last thing Alexa needs is another talk-show worthy drama in her already complicated life, no matter how amazing Casey's kisses make her feel. 
It was true 38 year old retired Marine, Casey Carter, believed for a couple of years that his military injury had made him impotent.  Having lost his wife to cancer, he hadn't exactly been worried about the problem.  Most days walking with a cane was enough of a challenge for him.  But now that he was ready to move on with his life, he had become slightly more worried when none of the females his cousin brought around held any interest for him.  The last woman in the world he expected to start his engine revving again was the mother of his cousin's girlfriend.  Even at fifty, Alexa is drop-dead gorgeous, and his libido keeps reminding him she is the first woman he has wanted in a long, long time.  Ironically, the more Casey gets to know and like Alexa, he finds out desiring the older woman is the easiest part.  Jaded and cynical about love, Alexa is a difficult woman to convince of anything, but her kisses are enough for him.  The former Marine decides his next mission is figuring out how to fit himself into her life.

Forever Young

A non-erotic tale of how a single moment in time can change a life forever; that the joy of love is worth the sorrow of losing it one day; and that allowing yourself to love again is what makes life worth living.

"Tina Fey's new book Bossypants is short, messy, and impossibly funny (an apt description of the comedian herself).  From her humble roots growing up in Pennsylvania to her days doing amateur improv in Chicago to her early sketches on Saturday Night Live, Fey gives us a fascinating glimpse behind the curtain of modern comedy with equal doses of wit, candor, and self-deprecation.  Some of the funnies chapters feature the differences between male and female comedy writers ("men urinate in cups"), her cruise ship honeymoon ("it's very Poseidon Adventure") and advice about breast feeding ("I had an obligation to my child to pretend to try").  But the chaos of Fey's life is best detailed when she's dividing her efforts equally between rehearsing her Sarah Palin impression, trying to get Oprah to appear on 30 Rock, and planning her daughter's Peter Pan-themed birthday party.  Bossypants gets to the heart of why Tina Fey remains universally adored: she embodies the hectic, too-many-things-to-juggle lifestyle we all have, but instead of complaining about it, she can just laugh it off." - Kevin Nguyen

Lies that Chelsea Handler Told Me
"My tendency to make up stories and lie compulsively for the sake of my own amusement takes up a good portion of my day and provides me with a peace of mind not easily attainable in this economic climate." - Chelsea Handler, from Chapter 10 of Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang.  It's no lie: Chelsea Handler loves to smoke out "dubmassness," the condition people suffer from that allows them to fall prey to her brand of complete and utter nonsense.  Friends, family, co-workers - they've all been tricked by Chelsea into believing stories of total foolishness and into behaving like total fools.  Luckily, they've lived to tell the tales, and for the very first time, write about them.

Easily Amused

Twenty-nine year-old Lola Watson has two best friends, a dream job editing a parenting magazine, and a charming old house inherited from a great-aunt she barely knew.  Life would be perfect if only she could avoid her intrusive neighbors.  And for that matter, she also wouldn't mind being happily married like her friend Piper, or even engaged like her younger sister Mindy. 
Lola's peaceful existence is shattered when high school buddy Hubert moves in with her after a break-up, her sister changes her wedding date to Lola's 30th birthday, and the nosy neighbors take Hubert under their wing.  Life gets more complicated when Piper sets Lola up with a good-looking stranger who turns out to be the talk of her neighborhood - the mystery man from across the street.

A Whisper To A Scream

Ovulation detectors.  Hormone surges.  Anxiety-ridden dreams. This is the world in which Annie Jacobs is thrust when she and her husband John receive a diagnosis of unexplained infertility.  A 37-year old PR executive, Annie has wanted to be a mother since she first cuddled her Baby Tenderlove at age five.  She is dreading another Christmas of relatives asking when they will be hearing the pitter patter of little feet, and Uncle Joe slapping John on the back, telling him to relax and take a cruise.  Lots of people get pregnant on vacation, you know.
Across town, stay-at-home mom of two, Sarah Anderson, attempts grocery shopping with a toddler intent on hurling items from the cart at passersby.  She notices a box of rice heading straight for a gray-haired head.  Leaping across the aisle, Sarah grabs it, saving the woman from certain doom, or at least a minor head injury. Little Alex screams at being thwarted.  The unknowing octogenarian shakes her head and admonishes Sarah for not knowing how to keep her child quiet in public.
A Whisper to a Scream is the story of two women on opposite ends of the child-bearing spectrum who come to realize the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side of the fence.  A vivid portrayal of contemporary marriage and it's problems, the novel speaks to a longing in all of us, a yearning that might start as a vague notion, but eventually grows into an unbearable, vociferous cry. 

A Scattered Life
When free-spirited Skyla marries proper and predictable Thomas Plinka, she finally finds the love and stability she's craved since childhood.  She also acquires a new family: mother in law Audrey, disapproving and suspicious of Skyla's nomadic past; father in law Walt, gruff but kind; and Thomas' brothers, sofa-bound Jeffrey, and Dennis who moved across the country seemingly to avoid the family.
Skyla settles into marriage and motherhood, but quiet life in small-town Wisconsin can't quell feelings of restlessness.  Then into her life comes Madame Picard, and new neighbor, Roxanne, whose goal in life is to have twelve kids even though she can't manage the five she has. Despite her family's objections, Skyla befriends Roxanne and gets a job at the bookstore, and life gets fuller and more complicated than she ever imagined.
Exceptionally heartwarming and inevitably bittersweet, A Scattered Life is a story that will stay with the reader long after the last page is read.

Romantically Challenged
When L.A. entertainment lawyer Julie Burns becomes convinced that finding The One is "just a numbers game," she sets out on a dating frenzy.  From chance meetings and blind dates to dating services and the wonderful world of the internet, Julie will try anything to meet her man.  And in the process, she discovers a secret or two about the single life: Sometimes love sneaks up on you when you least expect it - and even the worst first impressions can have surprising results. 

Life on Hold

Fifteen-year-old Rae Maddox just wants to stay in one place like everyone else, but there's no chance of that happening - not with a free-spirited mother who thrives on cross-country moves.  When the two of them land in Wisconsin sophomore year, things are off to a great start: her mom promises they'll stay until graduation, Rae makes two good friends and finally gets a chance at love.  Her newfound happiness is jeopardized when the vice-principal at the high school pairs her with Allison Daly, a new girl with a bad attitude.  As Allison's secrets unravel, and Rae's mother gets involved, Rae is forced to take charge of her own life, or risk losing everything important to her.

Happy Reading!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Book Blogger Hop (20)

Book Blogger Hop

I love love, love, love the Book Blogger Hop that is hosted by Jennifer at Crazy For Books. The rules are simple, and this is am awesome opportunity to get your blog out there! Post the hop on your blog, then make sure to include a link in the Mr. Linky on Crazy For Books's blog...and then -- GET TO HOPPING!


Your blog should have content related to books, including, but not limited to book reviews.

1. Enter your book blog link in the Linky List at Crazy For Books
          (In your link, please state the main genre that you review: eclectic, contemp. fiction, ya, paranormal, mystery, non-fiction, etc.)
2. Post about the Hop on your blog. Spread the word about the book party! The more the merrier! In your blog post, answer the following question (new question each week!)

This weeks question come from Elena who blogs at Books and Reviews!

When did you realize reading was your passion and a truly important part of your life?

My Answer:  This is such a difficult question.  I know that as a young child I was always reading, but I remember hating required reading in school.  I always felt like they picked the most boring books possible and then made you read them really quickly.  For a while, I know that turned me off from reading, so once I was no longer required to read, I didn't.  I remember a summer about 5 years ago when a friend lent me a book by Sophie Kinsella and told me how cute it was and that I had to read it.  I thought about it for a while, but finally gave it a shot, and I ended up finishing the book within an hour and had the whole series completed that weekend.  I guess that is when my extreme obsession with reading started, although like I said, I was an avid reader as a child, before required reading. 

What about you? 

Thank you so much for stopping by!  I hope you are having a great week!  A very warm welcome to my new followers, and a huge thanks to my old followers for sticking around! 

Happy Reading!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Review: The Rest of Her Life by Laura Moriarty

Published: August 7, 2007
Publisher: Hyperion
Format: Hardback
Source: Purchased
Challenge: 100 Books in a Year

In The Rest of Her Life, Laura Moriarty delivers a luminous, compassionate and provocative look at how mothers and daughters with the best intentions can be blind to the harm they do to one another.

Leigh is the mother of  high-achieving, popular high school senior Kara.  Their relationship is already strained for reasons Leigh does not fully understand when, in a moment of carelessness, Kara makes a mistake that ends in tragedy -- the effects of which not only divide Leigh's family, but polarize the entire community.  We see the story from Leigh's perspective, as she grapples with the hard reality of what her daughter has done and the devastating consequences her actions have on the family of another teenage girl in town, all while struggling to protect Kara in the face of rising public outcry.

Like the best works of Jane Hamilton, Jodi Picoult, and Alice Sebold, Laura Moriarty's The Rest of Her Life is a novel of complex moral dilemma, filled with nuanced characters and a page-turning plot that makes readers ask themselves, "What would I do?"
My Thoughts
I'm sure you can tell exactly why I picked this book out, as the cover likens Moriarty to Jodi Picoult, and we all know about my love for Jodi.  Anyway, I really expected a lot from this book, and had really high hopes for Moriarty to be on my top 5 favorite authors list.  Now, I'm not saying this was a terrible book by any stretch, I just felt like comparing it to something Jodi Picoult wrote was a little misleading.
About halfway through the book, I really started disliking the main character, Leigh, although I don't think that was Moriarty's intention.  She was nagging, self centered and annoying.  I know that part of the reason she was that way was so that she could come to the great realization that she ended up just like the one person she didn't want to be like -- her mother.  I was also annoyed with the fact that there were large chunks of the book that would go back in time to let the reader better understand Leigh's perspective on things, but honestly....I just wanted to know what was going on with Kara and what was going to happen. 
I can see the relation between this plot and the plot of a Jodi Picoult book, however the writing style just isn't quite up to par.  Jodi's books are very emotional, and I felt that through this book as well, I just wasn't interested in it I guess.  Like I said, I really wanted to know what was going on with Kara, not what happened to Leigh when she was 16.  
The storyline was somewhat jumpy, but I think the main idea of the book was a good one.  I really enjoyed Kara's character and I did ask myself a few times what I would do in that situation.  I honestly can't tell you.  I think that Kara was wise beyond her years and did what was best for everyone in the end.  

Favorite Quotes
"Maybe, Leigh considered, children just want whatever it is they don't get.  And then they grow up and give their children what they wanted, be it silence or information, affection or independence -- so that child, in turn, craves something else.  With every generation, the pendulum swings from opposite to opposite, stillness and peace so elusive."
"This was perhaps what it was like to mother anyone, Leigh decided, far away or close.  You could only try your best, then wait to see if what you sent was needed or even wanted.  If it wasn't, then you packed a new box, and tried again."

My Ratings
Cover: 5/5
Characters: 3/5
Writing Style: 3/5
Plot: 4/5
Ending: 3/5
Overall: 3.6

Happy Reading! 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Teaser Tuesday (20)

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly event held by MizB at Should Be Reading.  I love this event and love giving you a little teaser into what I'm reading!  This can either suck you in, and you will enjoy reading the book, or it can make you realize that this just isn't the book for you!

The rules are simple:
- Grab your current read
- Open to a random page
- Share two "teaser" sentences from somewhere on the page
Please do not include spoilers!!!!! (Please be sure that what you post doesn't give too much away -- we want this to be fun for those who haven't read the book as well!)
- Make sure you share TITLE and AUTHOR so that other TT followers can add the book to their TBR pile.
- Always be sure to check out the host's blog and leave your Teaser Tuesday link!

My Teaser
"It was one thing to have a friend who made you feel as if you had microphones planted all over town so you could listen in on other people's pain and tell yourself it made you kinder.  It was quite another, Leigh understood now, to look across your table and see that same microphone, waiting, absolutely silent, and pointed directly at you."

Happy Reading!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Review: My Horizontal Life - Chelsea Handler

Published: June 6, 2005
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Format: E-book
Source: Amazon
Challenge: 2011 E-book Challenge 100 Books in a Year
My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night Stands

In this raucous collection of true-life stories, actress and comedian Chelsea Handler recounts her time spent in the social trenches with that wild, strange, irresistible, and often gratifying beast: the one night stand.   
You've either done it or know someone who has:  The one-night stand, the familiar outcome of a night spent at a bar, sometimes the sole payoff for your friend's irritating wedding, or the only relief from a disastrous vacation.  Often embarrassing and uncomfortable, occasionally outlandish, but most times just a necessary and irresistible evil, the one-night stand is a social rite as old as sex itself and as common as a barstool.   
Enter Chelsea Handler.  Gorgeous, sharp and anything but shy, Chelsea loves men and lots of them.  My Horizontal Life chronicles her romp through the different bedrooms of a variety of suitors, a no-holds-barred account of what can happen between a man and a sometimes very intoxicated, outgoing woman during one night of passion.  From her short fling with a Vegas stripper to her even shorter dalliance with a well-endowed little person, from her uncomfortable tryst with a cruise ship performer to her misguided rebound with a man who likes to play leather dress-up, Chelsea recalls the highs and lows of her one-night stands with hilarious honesty.  Encouraged by her motley collection of friends (aka: her partners in crime) but challenged by her family members (who at times find themselves a surprise part of the encounter), Chelsea hits bottom and bounces back, unafraid to share the gritty details.  My Horizontal Life is one guilty pleasure you won't be ashamed to talk about in the morning.

My Thoughts
Oh Chelsea, you kill me.  You are brilliantly hilarious, yet you say things that I only have the cajones to think.
I have yet to read a Chelsea Handler book that I do not love, and do not spend the entire time laughing so hard I pee my pants.  There were so many times while reading this that I thought, "seriously, how do you end up in situations like this?"  Maybe I'm sheltered -- which doesn't sound like it is really all that bad.  I can live vicariously through Chelsea's awful experiences and never really have to deal with them myself.  
Anyway, if you are a Chelsea Handler fan and you haven't read this yet -- I don't know what you are waiting for.  If you are not a Chelsea Handler fan -- crawl out from under that rock and check her out.  You obviously don't know how to laugh yet -- so let her teach you

.Favorite Quotes
"Seeing your mother naked and jumping from one side of a king-sized bed to the other with a nurse's hat on while your father, who is also naked, is chasing her with a bandanna around his neck, is reason to put yourself up for adoption."
"I fall a lot, but other than that I can pretty much control my liquor."
"The great thing about sleeping with a midget is that first you get to have sex with them, and then you can use them as a pillow."
"Lydia was the kind of friend whom people referred to as a "party favor" - always fun to be around but she really doesn't have an patience for suffering unless it's her own."
"I never say the things I really want to.  If I did, I'd have no friends."
"You know you've slept around a lot when you walk into your bank and see someone you've had sex with on a life sized poster for 'Small Business Loans.'"
"There are two kinds of people I don't trust: people who don't drink and people who collect stickers."
"I'd have to be Helen Keller not to have seen that one coming."
"There are three words that gross me out: "panties", "moist", and "slick".  They all seem like words a child molester would use.  Together."

My Ratings
Cover: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Writing Style: 5/5
Plot: 5/5
Ending: 5/5
Overall: 5/5   

Happy Reading!

Review: The Summer I Dared - Barbara Delinsky

Release Date: 5/22/07
Publisher: Random House
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 512
Source: Purchased
Challenge100 Books in a Year 
The Summer I Dared

On Big Sawyer island, life is as steady as the routine of the lobestermen who leave with the tide each morning and return with their haul each night.  But for forty-year-old New Yorker, Julia Bechtel, life and what's important in it are about to be forever altered when she survives a terrible boat accident en route to the island.  Now, in the company of her aunt and daughter, Julia finds herself strangely connected to the tragedy's other survivors - Noah, a divorced lobsterman, and Kim, a young woman rendered mute since her rescue - and newly outraged at the state of her marriage to a domineering man.  Seeing the world with new eyes, Julia vows to embrace life with all of its joys and uncertainties.  And the journey begins on Big Sawyer...
First Sentences
"The Amelia Celeste was born a lobster boat.  An elegant lad, she ran a proud thirty-eight feet of mahogany and oak, from the graceful upward sweep of her bow, down her foredeck to the wheelhouse, and, on a straight and simple plane, back to her stern."

My Thoughts
I have only read one other book by Barbara Delinsky and I really enjoyed it.  I purchased this book on a whim, and thought it would be a nice summer read.  It was a good story, but I knew from the beginning how it would end.
I'm not one for predictable love stories, but I love the way Delinsky writes, and it was hard not to get into the story and fall in love with the characters.  The main character Julia was very well developed, but she also could have been me, she was so easy to relate to.  The setting was so descriptive that throughout each scene I could picture myself there with the characters, and Big Sawyer sounds delightful!  After all the stress I've been going through recently a week at Big Sawyer is just what the doctor ordered!
Julia is on her way to Big Sawyer to spend a little time away from the hustle and bustle of New York City, but finds a lot more than she bargained for.  She is visiting her aunt, Zoe, who I immediately fell in love with.  She was the cool aunt that everyone has, that is a little wacky, but everyone loves her for it.  I felt bad about Julia's marriage situation, but as soon as we were introduced to Noah, I knew they were destined to be together.  
It is truly a heartwarming story, and one that I would recommend, however it was a little lengthy and drawn out.  I haven't had as much time to read lately, so it probably seemed like it was a lot longer than usual since I couldn't read as quickly as I do.  While it wasn't my favorite book this year, it was a good one, and I will continue to pick up Delinsky's books wherever I can find them!

Favorite Characters: Zoe
Least Favorite Characters: Monty
Cover: 5/5 - The cover perfectly portrays the way I feel Big Sawyer would be.
Characters: 4/5
Writing Style: 5/5
Plot: 3/5
Ending: 3/5
Overall Rating: 4

Happy Reading!

hello? this thing on?

  So, it's been quite a while since I've posted, and I'd like to apologize.  I'm not going to give you a long grocery list of all the reasons why, but it has been a nice little break.
I got a promotion at work, we are in the process of purchasing a house, and I was able to take care of sweet Molly after her surgery.  I haven't had a lot of time to read, but I did get through two books -- one great, one not so great, and I will post reviews of them now.

I'm looking forward to getting back into the swing of things on here.  I'm settled in my new position - still learning things on a daily basis, and as of right now we are just waiting to hear back about the house.  I'll have a little more free time now, and I can get back to what I love!  I'm going to try to keep it as fun as possible and not stress myself out with it, but I miss it so much!

Anyway, I'm back!!

Happy Reading!


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