Archive for March, 2007

Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

March 30, 2007

From the Publisher
Rebecca Bloomwood just hit rock bottom. But she’s never looked better….

Becky Bloomwood has a fabulous flat in London’s trendiest neighborhood, a troupe of glamorous socialite friends, and a closet brimming with the season’s must-haves. The only trouble is that she can’t actually afford it — not any of it.

Her job writing at Successful Savings not only bores her to tears, it doesn’t pay much at all. And lately Becky’s been chased by dismal letters from Visa and the Endwich Bank — letters with large red sums she can’t bear to read — and they’re getting ever harder to ignore.

She tries cutting back; she even tries making more money. But none of her efforts succeeds. Becky’s only consolation is to buy herself something … just a little something….

Finally a story arises that Becky actually cares about, and her front-page article catalyzes a chain of events that will transform her life — and the lives of those around her — forever.

Sophie Kinsella has brilliantly tapped into our collective consumer conscience to deliver a novel of our times — and a heroine who grows stronger every time she weakens. Becky Bloomwood’s hilarious schemes to pay back her debts are as endearing as they are desperate. Her “confessions” are the perfect pick-me-up when life is hanging in the (bank) balance.

My Comments:
Yet another series I put off getting into. Who knows why? I suppose because I have so many I enjoy now, and one more seemed like it would tip me over the edge. But thanks to paperbackswap.com, the cost of my reading habit has been cut dramatically!

My book group buddy, Lori, was all excited about the latest in the series to come out, Shopaholic and Baby (the newest in the series) and Lori never steers me wrong. I hopped right onto PBS to order it and when I finished my last book, it happened to show up in the mail! Kismet! And I happen to be fighting off a cold or something and needed rest. Providence! I started it last night and couldn’t put it down. Those flu-like aches and pains that kept me awake weren’t so bad because I had Rebecca to keep me company.

The only un-fun thing was that I’m rather in a similar financial state as Rebecca. Only I don’t have a shopping problem, but rather just an income problem. It can feel rather bleak, but once we got past the letters from the credit card companies, which I’m currently dealing with myself, it became much more enjoyable.

I had to really fight with myself to not peek ahead. I really wanted to find out if she ends up with the dreamy Luke or not. I didn’t peek. You have no idea how hard that was! But well worth it when I got to the end!

My friend Kristin also loved the Shopaholic series. I remember buying one of them for her as a surprise long ago. Because, afterall, gifts to friends don’t count when you’re tallying up your bills! If only, right? Just last week I saw the cutest little Shopaholic themed mug at Barnes and Noble that immediately made me think of Lori and I so wanted to get it for her as a thank you gift for finally getting me off my butt to enjoy Shopaholic. But the little “But you’re in debt” alarm went off in my head, and I sat it back down. It’s the thought that counts, right? I used to love picking up little things like that that reminded me of someone. *sigh* One day, I’ll be able to do that again. If Rebecca can do it, surely I can!

Keep It Or Pass It On?
I posted it on PBS. I’m desperate for more points! Because I had to order Shopaholic Takes Manhattan right away!

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Seduction in Death by JD Robb

March 30, 2007

From the Publisher:
It’s Dante’s first date with his cyberspace lady love, and he’s got the whole evening planned — soft music, candlelight, a bed covered with rose petals and, just in case the lady is shy or unwilling, a rare, undetectable date-rape drug that’s worth a fortune on the streets. He hadn’t planned to kill her so quickly. He never guessed how thrilling it would be. And there’s nothing to stop him from plying his fatal art of seduction on yet another unsuspecting woman, except invincible police lieutenant Eve Dallas, who’s back on the beat and determined to stop this Casanova killer before he kisses — and kills — again.

My Comments:
I am trying to live up to my New Year Resolution. Which is to catch up on this In Death series by reading one a month. I slipped up last month, but I’m not going to beat myself up too badly for it. I’m back on track!

Seduction in Death was typical of the series. No big stand outs for me. The story was good. The characters are fabulous and the best part about this series is all the little nuggets of the supporting characters. The relationship between Peabody and McNab is so adorable. Reading about them is really what kept me reading this book, because frankly, as good as these books are, they are all pretty much the same. But Eve’s relationship with Roarke grows deeper, Sommerset even shows some deeper qualities in his care for Eve through Roarke. Charles, Peabody’s friend even gets to grow in a relationship in this book. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t much care if I picked up another book in this series or not. JD Robb (Nora Roberts) is very clever to give us such vivid characters to grow and evolve.

While I can’t say I’m truly looking forward to reading the next one I have scheduled in April (Reunion in Death), I will read it. And I will like it. It’s like a comfortable pair of shoes you look forward to putting on. They aren’t the best pair of shoes you own, but they feel really good and get you from one place to another.

And I do have a history with this series. I wrote before about my Grandmother and how she would read these and pass them on to me. It was fun sharing that with her. And I miss that. It took me a while to pick them back up again after she passed away. But I’m really glad I did.

Keep It Or Pass It On?
I already posted it on Paperbackswap.com. These books usually go pretty quickly.

Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause

March 27, 2007



From the Publisher:

Publishers Weekly
Sixteen-year-old Vivian isn’t fiction’s most likable heroine, and not only because she’s a werewolf. She’s preoccupied with admiring her own “full breasts, small waist [and] tawny hair.” She’s viciously competitive with other girls, gloating, “Look at me…. I’ve got him. You don’t. Too bad.” Her pack, temporary leaderless and dislocated after the death of her father, is living in some low-rent Maryland suburbs. Expected to mate with one of the rowdy, blood-hungry werewolves her own age, Vivian rejects them as well as 24-year-old Gabriel, who flirts with her aggressively as he prepares to assume leadership of the pack. Instead, she nourishes a crush on a “meat boy” (human) from school, a retro-hippie poet-type who professes a yen for the supernatural. With the darkly sexy prose and suspenseful storytelling that gave such luster to The Silver Kiss, Klause lures readers into the politics of the pack, their forbidden desire for human flesh and the coming of age of their future queen. Though some readers may be alienated by Vivian’s self-absorption, and others shocked by her eventual union with Gabriel, most will find this sometimes bloody tale as addictive as chocolate. Ages 14-up. (Sept.)
When a 16-year-old werewolf falls in love with a human, she begins to live uncomfortably between two worlds. Klause propels her bloodthirsty tale with “darkly sexy prose and suspenseful storytelling,” said PW. Ages 14-up. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.


My Comments:

My daughter loves fantasy books and vampires and werewolves in particular. On a trip to Barnes and Noble, she excitedly bought this book. Well I decided to go ahead and read it for myself beforehand. I’m really glad I did. It was pretty sexually charged and my daughter is uncomfortable with a lot of that in her reading material. The main character wasn’t anyone I would want my daughter to be around. At 16 years old, Vivian was arrogant, vain and sexually permissive, would drink, claim she smoked pot as an excuse for lying about why she was grounded. Vivian would continually try to get in a situation where she could have sex with her boyfriend. She had a very clear idea that she could exude power through sex and would tease older men at the bar where her mother worked and even teased her boyfriends father. She ends up in the role of Queen of the pack to a 24 year old King with all that entails. At 16, reading about having sex with a 24 year old is out of hand. Vivian thinks she killed someone, but chooses to keep this to herself and try to figure out who she killed. Morals are thin if they exist at all.

The good aspects of Vivian’s character just weren’t enough to equal out all the other behaviors. She was loyal to her mother, even though her relationship with her was usually strained. She could be loyal to her pack (but usually just when it suited her) and tried to be loyal to her code of the Moon.

As a Mom I get really torn with decisions like this. This book was really well written. A lot of kids her age seem to really love it according to book reviews on Amazon. It won a lot of awards. It was chosen for the Junior Literary Guild selection, which we’re members of, so we get the selected books for her age group. So on that hand, I was tempted to let her read it.

On the other hand, the main character in this book isn’t someone I would want to come to my house. She’s not someone I would want my daughter to be friends with. She emulates behavior that isn’t acceptable for us. Books are friends. And this isn’t a good friend for my daughter.

I worry about all the kids her age that read this book and think Vivian is wonderful! I read the reviews on Amazon and Barnes and Noble and these girls think Vivian is fantastic because she’s so powerful! She can get away with anything. She can party. She can have sex. She can be a Wolf Queen and live with no consequences. Kids in reviews say they love this book because it’s about cliques in school and all kids have to deal with that. Um. No. School is mentioned when she meets her boyfriend and she does have to deal with his friends later on, but I wouldn’t say this book is a great relationship tool for helping your kids deal with social issues.

If I wasn’t reading this book with my daughter in mind, I could have enjoyed it more. But I find it disturbing to read about a 16 year old and her permiscuity not only with boys her own age, but men much older. I hate to focus on that, but the book does, so I have to. Not all kids in this age group are ready for books with this subject matter. Mine is embarassed to read about it, and was glad I let her know before she cracked the cover.

Keep It Or Pass It On?
Totally passing this one on.

Lover Revealed by JR Ward

March 27, 2007

From the Publisher
Butch O’Neal is a fighter by nature. A hard living, ex-homicide cop, he’s the only human ever to be allowed in the inner circle of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. And he wants to go even deeper into the vampire world to engage in the turf war with the lessers. He’s got nothing to lose. His heart belongs to a female vampire, Marissa, an aristocratic beauty who’s way out of his league. If he can’t have her, then at least he can fight side by side with the Brothers…
When Butch sacrifices himself to save a civilian vampire from the slayers, he falls prey to the darkest force in the war. Left for dead but found by a miracle, the Brotherhood calls on Marissa to bring him back, though even her love may not be enough to save him.

My Comments:
I was surprised that JR Ward’s next book was going to be about Butch. There are other members of the Black Dagger Brotherhood I wanted to find out about, why Butch? He’s not even one of The Brotherhood! But I had faith in the author. She knew what she was doing after all. Hah!

This series truly does keep getting better with each installment. It amazes me that the author gets so in touch with her characters that she can give us a glimpse of them in a previous book and completely change them in their own principal story.

It’s intriguing to follow Butch as the layers are peeled back. His relationship with his roommate, Vishous is taken to a deeper and wonderfully symbiotic level that I can’t want to enjoy in the next Black Dagger Brotherhood book. They truly need each other as they continue to fight against the evil in the war they are such an integral part of.

Keep It Or Pass It On?
My husband is currently reading it. I love that the man has no shame reading a book in public with a cover that looks like this one does! Talk about being secure in your manhood.

This series will be staying on the shelf for a long while to come!

Patrick: Son of Ireland by Stephen R. Lawhead

March 23, 2007

From the Publisher:
Slave, soldier, lover, hero, saint,—his life mirrored the cataclysmic world into which he was born. His memory will outlast the ages.

Born of a noble Welsh family, he is violently torn from his home by Irish raiders at age sixteen and sold as a slave to a brutal wilderness king. Rescued by the king’s druids from almost certain death, he learns the arts of healing and song, and the mystical ways of a secretive order whose teachings tantalize with hints at a deeper wisdom. Yet young Succat Morgannwg cannot rest until he sheds the strangling yoke of slavery and returns to his homeland across the sea. He pursues his dream of freedom through horrific war and shattering tragedy—through great love and greater loss—from a dying, decimated Wales to the bloody battlefields of Gaul to the fading majesty of Rome. And in the twilight of a once-supreme empire, he is transformed yet again by divine hand and a passionate vision of “truth against the world,” accepting the name that will one day become legend . . . Patricius!

My Comments:
A friend I respect very much recommended this author to me years ago. I love St. Patrick’s Day, and thought this would be a great time of year to crack this book open. As I started it, I was momentarily put off by the language. I was afraid it would be too epic, too verbose. About 40 pages in and I was hooked! My fears were for not!

Lawhead is known as a Christian author I suppose. Some of the reviews I read were disappointed in Patrick, because the character Lawhead wrote about was less then saintly. He was very human. He could be selfish, he could be very flawed. But he was also very brave and courageous. I so enjoyed Patrick’s journey from spoiled Nobleman, to abused slave, to potential druid to soldier to husband and father and statesman to holy man. It was an inspired story that I was sad to see come to an end. I wanted more. The book came full circle, and ended beautifully, but I still wanted more.


Keep It Or Pass It On?
My husband wants to read it because I gushed and bubbled about it so much. I look forward to reading more of Mr. Lawhead’s books. I visited his website and he’s doing a book on Robin Hood now. It sounds so fantastic!

Awaken Me Darkly by Gena Showalter

March 20, 2007



From the Publisher:

RIDDING THE WORLD OF EVIL,

ONE ALIEN AT A TIME.

In a time and place not too far away, Mia Snow is an alien huntress for the New Chicago Police Department, and she’s the perfect girl for the job. Tough and sexy, she’s earned each of her scars battling the elusive enemy among us. Now, investigating a series of killings, she is shaken to the core when a burst of violence leaves her partner Dallas fighting for his life. A tall, erotic stranger holds the power to heal the injured agent — and to bind Mia in an electrifying and dangerous seduction. He is Kyrin en Arr, of the deadly Arcadian species — an alien, a murder suspect — who has Mia walking a knife’s edge, risking her badge and even her life. . . and edging closer to a shocking revelation that will shatter everything she’s ever believed.

My Comments:

I think my expectations were just too high. The story was pretty good, but the dialog could be lame. I guess I was hoping for old Anita Blake and got candy corn. I made the mistake of letting my husband read the first few pages because he’s usually interested in my paranormal books, but this one made him laugh out loud. Not a good sign.

I did enjoy the story though. The character of Mia Snow seemed like she was just forced and was trying too darn hard. Her alien lover more then made up for any of Mia’s shortcomings. He was an interesting and fully developed character that brought out the best in Mia’s somewhat flat character.

I’ve heard so many good things about this author, I hate to let this one (that wasn’t really bad, it just didn’t grab me) cloud my judgment. But I have to admit, I’m not as excited to pick up Heart of the Dragon and Jewel of Atlantis as I was before. I don’t know. Someone, change my mind!

Keep It Or Pass It On?
I posted it to Paperbackswap.com and it was gone within hours. If they keep their expectations lower then I did, I think they’ll be okay.

On Mystic Lake by Kristin Hannah

March 20, 2007

From the Publisher:

Annie Colwater’s only child has just left home for school abroad. On that same day, her husband of twenty years confesses that he’s in love with a younger woman. Alone in the house that is no longer a home, Annie comes to the painful realization that for years she has been slowly disappearing. Lonely and afraid, she retreats to Mystic, the small Washington town where she grew up, hoping that there she can reclaim the woman she once was—the woman she is now desperate to become again.

In Mystic, she is reunited with her first love, Nick Delacroix, a recent widower unable to cope with his grieving, too-silent six-year-old daughter, Izzie. Together, the three of them begin to heal, and, at last, Annie learns that she can love without losing herself. But just when she has found a second chance at happiness, her life is turned upside down again, and Annie must make a choice no woman should have to make. . . .

On Mystic Lake is the story of one seemingly ordinary woman, but the novel speaks to all of us, to anyone who has ever had to choose between what is . . . and what could be.

My Comments:

Another very nice story by Hannah. You grow to know and really care about these characters. It was just an enjoyable read and I look forward to reading more by this author.

The ending wasn’t handed to you. Which I confess to kind of yearning for. After all Annie went through, I wanted something more concretely happy for her. But you just have to have faith that it all works out in the end!

Keep It Or Pass It On?
A lovely story, but I’m passing it on like it was passed on to me. To PBS it goes, unless my Mom gets it first. Thanks, Lori! You’re the best reading buddy EVER!

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

March 7, 2007



From the Publisher:

In nineteen minutes, you can mow the front lawn, color your hair, watch a third of a hockey game. In nineteen minutes, you can bake scones or get a tooth filled by a dentist; you can fold laundry for a family of five…. In nineteen minutes, you can stop the world, or you can just jump off it. In nineteen minutes, you can get revenge.
Sterling is a small, ordinary New Hampshire town where nothing ever happens — until the day its complacency is shattered by a shocking act of violence. In the aftermath, the town’s residents must not only seek justice in order to begin healing but also come to terms with the role they played in the tragedy. For them, the lines between truth and fiction, right and wrong, insider and outsider have been obscured forever. Josie Cormier, the teenage daughter of the judge sitting on the case, could be the state’s best witness, but she can’t remember what happened in front of her own eyes. And as the trial progresses, fault lines between the high school and the adult community begin to show, destroying the closest of friendships and families.

Nineteen Minutes is New York Times–bestselling author Jodi Picoult’s most raw, honest, and important novel yet. Told with the straightforward style for which she has become known, it asks simple questions that have no easy answers: Can your own child become a mystery to you? What does it mean to be different in our society? Is it ever okay for a victim to strike back? And who — if anyone — has the right to judge someone else?

My Comments:
Through some sort of wonderful fluke, Barnes and Noble sent me my re-order early and I read this last week.

Picoult is by far my favorite author. She’s only mildly disappointed me once with one of her early works, Picture Perfect. And while this book moved me right down to my toes, I feel that she’s gotten a little political this time. Picoult has a gift of taking all sides of an issue and showing you things you never considered. She acomplished that this time as usual, but I felt she was more one-sided. That is most likely because I’m very sensitive to certain issues. I’m very conservative politically and I don’t like conservatives being protrayed as bad guys in books, or at least more accurately in this case, never the hero. I’m also very pro second ammendment rights, and I knew this book would tough on some issues close to home for me, but I trusted Picoult to handle it with her typical even handedness. I was a little disapointed this time. Maybe I’m the one who has gotten political, but I was hoping for something different.

Politics aside, it was a wonderful, deep read. I stayed up reading into the wee hours simply because I literally could not put it down. I wept openly after reading the final page. It made me ask so many questions about myself as a parent and I felt so hopeless. This mother thought she knew her child, and she did. Better then so many of us I think. But she still didn’t *know* him. She didn’t know what was going on inside his heart and his mind. And it led to tragedy I can only imagine. Do we ever really know our children as well as we think we do?

It made me so grateful that we home school our children. Bullying isn’t a small thing anymore. It can’t be ignored. And it’s only one challenge of many that affect our children in a serious way, especially at school. It made me really stop and listen to the words my children use with each other. They are usually very kind to each other, but it doesn’t take much to start a bad habit of hurt feelings that can build and build.

While I am slightly disappointed in the manner in which Picoult handled parts of some issues, this book was amazing. I’ve yet to find another author who has touched me to my very soul. I can hardly wait for her next book to come out and I look forward to reading the few I haven’t read yet.

And she’s a very nice lady! I wrote her an e-mail once about her book Tenth Circle and she e-mailed me back very quickly and was so wonderful. Her readers truly matter to her.

Keep It Or Pass It On?
I’ll be keeping this one. At least until Mom’s visit when she can borrow it!

Size 12 Is Not Fat by Meg Cabot

March 6, 2007

From the Publisher:
Or, at least, she did. That was before she left the pop-idol life behind after she gained a dress size or two — and lost a boyfriend, a recording contract, and her life savings (when Mom took the money and ran off to Argentina). Now that the glamour and glory days of endless mall appearances are in the past, Heather’s perfectly happy with her new size 12 shape (the average for the American woman!) and her new job as an assistant dorm director at one of New York’s top colleges. That is, until the dead body of a female student from Heather’s residence hall is discovered at the bottom of an elevator shaft.
The cops and the college president are ready to chalk the death off as an accident, the result of reckless youthful mischief. But Heather knows teenage girls . . . and girls do not elevator surf. Yet no one wants to listen — not the police, her colleagues, or the P.I. who owns the brownstone where she lives — even when more students start turning up dead in equally ordinary and subtly sinister ways. So Heather makes the decision to take on yet another new career: as spunky girl detective!

But her new job comes with few benefits, no cheering crowds, and lots of liabilities, some of them potentially fatal. And nothing ticks off a killer more than a portly ex-pop star who’s sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong . . .

My Comments:

I loved Heather Wells. It was a fun, light mystery that had a good reading pace. This isn’t rocket science. It’s not deep, thought provoking reading. Don’t we all need that from time to time? I do, and this cute little mystery fit the bill.

This is my first adult Meg Cabot. It reads the same as a young adult Meg Cabot except with a few more expletives and implication of sex and some other more mature themes. So in other words, I didn’t have to get out my dictionary but that’s okay. The story was good and I looked forward to each turn of the page.

Heather is someone I think most of us can relate to on some level. I admire her spirit and her willingness to pick up and start all over again even when pride would get in the way with most people. But I’ve been craving a Dove ice cream bar ever since reading it!

In this copy, there was a section in the back where the author discussed how she puts a little of herself in all her characters. She lived in New York and was an assistant dorm director and was a size 12. Looking at her picture on the back of the book, I remembered thinking,”what would this skinny minnie know about being a size 12?” So, yes, I respect the author that much more for not pretending to be a size 12 to write about it. Go Meg!

Size 14 Is Not Fat Either is happily awaiting me to pick it up on my To Be Read Shelf and it won’t have to wait very long!

Keep It Or Pass It On?
Well, I’m passing it on. It was snatched up at Paperbackswap.com the second I posted it. I wanted to keep it, but realized that was because I liked the book, not because I would read it again. *sigh* I love my books. It’s hard to let them go.

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by JK Rowling

March 6, 2007

From the Publisher
The war against Voldemort is not going well; even Muggle governments are noticing. Ron scans the obituary pages of the Daily Prophet, looking for familiar names. Dumbledore is absent from Hogwarts for long stretches of time, and the Order of the Phoenix has already suffered losses.
And yet…

As in all wars, life goes on. Sixth-year students learn to Apparate — and lose a few eyebrows in the process. The Weasley twins expand their business. Teenagers flirt and fight and fall in love. Classes are never straightforward, though Harry receives some extraordinary help from the mysterious Half-Blood Prince.

So it’s the home front that takes center stage in the multilayered sixth installment of the story of Harry Potter. Here at Hogwarts, Harry will search for the full and complex story of the boy who became Lord Voldemort — and thereby find what may be his only vulnerability.

My comments:
One of the most difficult in the series, but also one of the most poignant! I’m not too old to admit to shedding a tear at least once or twice while reading the last 3 or 4 in the Harry Potter series. This one was far from different.

I tried to make myself wait to read this one until closer to the release of The Deadly Hallows, but in the end I gave in and was so glad I did. There’s nothing like reading a fantastic book like this. Taking your time. Enjoying it. Reading because you want to, not because you should. And that’s why I gave in.

The powerful themes continue in this book. Friendship, loyalty (oh I shudder wonderfully when the Minister of Magic accuses Harry of being Dumbledore’s man through and through), love and sacrifice. And there is also the dance Harry does on the side of wrong when he cheats in potions class and the lessons learned there. I do wish Harry had taken the high road, but that just shows you even hero’s make mistakes. No one is perfect. Not even The Chosen One.

Keep It Or Pass It On?
While we let Sandi borrow Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, I don’t generally let these leave our hands!