Sunday, June 28, 2009
Published by Grand Central Publishing, a division of Hachette Book Group
Rating: 4 stars
Portia Nathan is an admissions officer at Princeton University but the endless hours and dedication to her job are starting to take a toll. As Portia's quiet life takes some unexpected turns, she is forced to reevaluate her priorities and come to terms with the changes.
Admission provides an interesting glimpse into the world of academia and the process of selecting the elite students that comprise an Ivy League university. It's clear that Jean Hanff Korelitz has done a great deal of research, in addition to her background as an outside reader for Princeton's Office of Admission. This was both an advantage and disadvantage in my reading of the novel. On one hand, I enjoyed hearing all about the intricate details and getting an insider's look into something I've always been curious about. The downside is that there were parts I felt I needed to skim through because they were a little too detailed for me and detracted from the bigger picture and overall storyline.
Though the narrative is somewhat detached and lacking in emotion, I still felt surprisingly connected to Portia and invested in her outcome. While reading the book it seemed like I was getting to know her pretty well and so when she makes a decision near the end of the book that seemed contrary to her character, I was really shocked. That particular choice was a life-altering one for Portia, even though it was still executed and narrated in a very subtle manner.
Admission is a very quiet novel. The primary focus is on Portia and her reflections on her life and the important choices she must make. This is not the type of book that features any action or huge plot twists, but it makes for enjoyable reading due to its subtlety and intelligence.
BIG THANKS to Miriam and Hachette for my review copy.
Friday, June 26, 2009
Published by Little, Brown and Company , a division of Hachette Book Group
Rating: 4 stars
Publisher's description of the book:
On a summer day in 1946 Sally Werner, the precocious young daughter of hardscrabble Pennsylvania farmers, secretly accepts her cousin's invitation to ride his new motorcycle. Like so much of what follows in Sally's life, it's an impulsive decision with dramatic and far-reaching consequences. Soon she abandons her home to begin a daring journey of self-creation, the truth of which she entrusts only with her granddaughter and namesake, six decades later. But when young Sally's father--a man she has never known--enters her life and offers another story altogether, she must uncover the truth of her grandmother's secret history.
My review: (although I did participate in the Early Birds Blog Tour, I wasn't able to post a review in time for the tour)
What I found most interesting about this book is how Sally manages to reinvent herself, changing her last name and lifestyle to adapt to each new setting. There is something subtly suspenseful about her escapes and read on in anticipation . Even though I became frustrated with Sally at some points because I really wanted her to confront her past, I was still rooting for her until the very end.
What made it sometimes difficult to get into the story was the unique writing style. I'm not used to paragraphs of such literal writing, particularly with respect to thoughts in the characters' minds and even sounds.
Alhough I began to predict the major plot development before it occured, there was another surprise that came later. I'm not sure if I would have chosen for the storyline to veer in that direction, however I admire how it was all pieced together, nonetheless.
Though this book is not for everyone, I enjoyed the interesting narrative and unique characters, despite the unconventional writing style.
BIG THANKS to Miriam and Hachette for my review copy.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Perfection by Julie Metz
Published by Voice, an imprint of Hyperion Books
Rating: 4.5 stars
Perfection is Julie Metz's intriguing memoir about coping with death and then betrayal. Her husband of twelve years, Henry, died suddenly of a pulmonary embolism leaving Julie and their six-year old daughter to deal with their grief. Just as Julie was coming to terms with his death and recovering from her loss, she finds out that her marriage to Henry had been filled with affairs, secrets and lies. Not only did Henry have multiple affairs with other women but he also had an ongoing relationship with one of Julie's good friends. After hearing about this, Julie let go of the perfect image she had of her husband and began investigating his past lovers to get to the truth.
Perfection reads like a work of fiction, with its complex characters navigating plot twists and tragedy. It is unfortunate that Julie had to live through such painful events however it is clear from this book that she has emerged a new woman. Just as a fictitious character grows and develops from a book's beginning to its end, Julie takes us from her naive and unsuspecting beginnings to grief, pain, anger, exploration, acceptance and finally renewal.
While I cannot even begin to imagine how it must have felt to be in her position, the way Julie narrates her own life story made me feel like I was right there with her. Though I couldn't relate to her predicament, I did relate to her passion, her depth and her strong sense of emotion throughout her journey to acceptance. I felt her anger and her pain and though I usually shy away from foul language in my reading, there were times when certain words were justified and even I relished in their usage!
Some of the greatest parts of this book are those that touch upon topics of friendship and family. Julie shows us the importance of supportive friendships and unfortunately, the detriment of having friends who betray you. There are also heartwarming chapters illustrating Julie's special relationship with her daughter that nearly brought tears to my eyes.
With its passionate writing and elaborate narrative, I'm sure this book will capture your attention and especially your heart, as it did mine.
BIG THANKS to Hyperion for my review copy
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby
Published by Harper Perennial, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
Rating: 4.5 stars
BROWSE INSIDE to read the beginning of the book!!
This book is the fascinating memoir of Jean-Dominique Bauby, who suffered a massive stroke in 1995. Once he regained consciousness after a three week coma, Bauby was left with an active mind trapped in a functionless body, known as Locked-in Syndrome. The only muscle that retained any movement was his left eyelid and so he spent most of 1996 dictating this book letter by letter by blinking as someone read out the alphabet to him. In 1997, three days after the book was published in France, Jean-Dominique Bauby died.
Bauby was a well-known journalist and author and editor of the French version of ELLE magazine. Though he must have had many interesting stories to recount about his days as an editor and journalist, he decided that the book's content would focus on the smaller joys of life. It's a much quieter and more subtle book than you'd expect from such a high-profile man but I think that is really where the beauty of this book resides. Day to day events and memories of spending time with his children fill the pages of this book. Focusing on the little tasks of everyday life after his stroke, it makes you realize just how much we take for granted by simply being able to move our muscles.
For this man to have lost his basic functioning and still maintain hope and the strength to transcribe this book LETTER BY LETTER in itself is quite remarkable. It was clearly important to him to pass on his insights to the world and make the most of his last days. With the insight he gained from his experience, this book makes for a powerful read that will stay with you for a long time.
This memoir was made into a film in 2007, with the same title as the book. As you can see, this cover is from the movie tie-in version (which I usually find pretty corny), but I really like this particular one. I haven't seen the movie yet but it has won awards at the Cannes Film Festival and the Golden Globes, plus it received four Oscar nominations.
As you may expect, given the unique form that this book was written, it is quite short. However I would certainly not equate brevity with a lack of substance, because this book is both inspirational and meaningful, in short - a very worthwhile read.
BIG THANKS to Deanna and HarperCollins Canada for my review copy
Monday, June 22, 2009
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Annie's Ghosts by Steve Luxenberg
Published by Hyperion Books
Rating: 4 stars
Annie's Ghosts is a real-life mystery about Beth Luxenberg (the author's mother), who always claimed to be an only child until one day at almost eight years old, she casually revealed the existence of a disabled sister. After Beth's death in 1999, more information about a secret sister was discovered, and Steve Luxenberg used his journalism skills to find out more. He tracked down old acquaintances and friends and persuaded people to offer records about his mother sister, Annie, who it turned out was hospitalized at age twenty-one and remained in a mental institution until her death many years later.
This book is incredibly interesting and rare, being a true account of a family's secrets and a mystery that the author set out to solve. The events that are uncovered as just as intriguing as one might imagine they would be.
Though there were some instances when the narrative was bogged down by too much detail, for the most part I enjoyed reading about the intricacies of the story. The most fascinating thing about this story is how each detail discovered led to another revelation and helped Luxenberg get one step closer to the truth. As such, this book also contains information about Beth and Annie's ancestry and provides a very well-rounded account of all that transpired in these women's lives.
This book also features information about the state of mental institutions years ago and provides an insider's look into how someone can fall through the cracks of the system. The terrible treatment of Annie and her physical and mental health is truly unfortunate, but the fact that Steve Luxenberg has searched for meaning and answers about his aunt, pays tribute to her name and respect for the life she lived.
For a wonderful combination of mystery and history, this book comes highly recommended.
BIG THANKS to Julie of FSB Associates for my review copy
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
Imagine that Raymond Chandler wrote The Winds of War and you can begin to understand why House of Ghosts is such different and compelling detective story. Detective Joe Henderson is the modern incarnation of Philip Marlowe--hard boiled, hard drinking, hard loving, delightfully cynical, offering wry observations of life in the age of Starbucks.
The tale begins in the sweltering summer of 2000 when Preston Swedge, an alcoholic recluse and World War II veteran, has died in Westfield, New Jersey. At his estate sale, retired local police detective Joe Henderson discovers a 1944 diary describing a rogue attempt by a Jewish-American pilot named Paul Rothstein to drop his bombs on Auschwitz's killing complex where nearly 300,000 captives were about to be murdered.
With the fortitude of a Maccabean zealot and the patriotism of an American freedom fighter Rothstein had set out to defy his commanders who had prohibited any attempt to save Jewish lives. Joe Henderson's curiosity launches him on a crusade for the truth and a shocking revelation when he tracks down the last living witness who can solve the mystery of why the raid never happened.
Epic in its breadth, House of Ghosts sweeps effortlessly from contemporary Westfield, New Jersey to the Princeton University of 1939, and on to the aerial battle above Italy and Poland in 1944. Along the way you'll meet up with notables such as Charles Lindbergh, Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau, Jr., General Fulgencio Batista, and Alina Gilbert, the exotic dancer who helps to make this the hottest summer on record.
As I began reading House of Ghosts, I wasn't sure if it would be my cup of tea since it starts off like a traditional mystery book and I usually like mysteries that have a unique slant to them. However, as I continued reading further, I realized how intricate the storyline is and found myself fascinated with the descriptions of the war and how it affected each character in different ways.
The book is a compelling novel that combines elements of mystery with historical fiction. The inclusion of the historicals aspects adds depth and authenticity to the story and allowed me to become increasingly invested in the story. The shift in narrative from the different characters from the past, as well as the present allow for a wide range of perspectives and interesting sub-plots.
My one small issue was that one of the characters included in the book is an exotic dancer and while that may have been incorporated to spice up the book, for me that sexual content was unnecessary and detracted from the story. Nonetheless I really enjoyed my reading of the book and was intrigued by all that transpires. Not only does the book have an interesting storyline, it is also well-written and features great characters that I got to know very well.
Despite some extraneous material included throughout the novel, House of Ghosts makes for a very interesting and appealing mystery book that expertly combines historical fiction into its plot.
Lawrence Kaplan is a 1979 graduate of New York University School of Dentistry, runs a dental practice in New Jersey, and lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, with his wife and menagerie. House of Ghosts is his first novel. For more information, visit his website.
Now for the giveaway details .......
Larry Kaplan is giving away a signed copy of his book, House of Ghosts, to one lucky tour visitor. Go to Larry’s book tour page, http://larry-kaplan.omnimystery.com/, enter your name, e-mail address, and this PIN, 7975, for your chance to win. Entries from Bookopolis will be accepted until 12:00 Noon (PT) tomorrow. No purchase is required to enter or to win. The winner (first name only) will be announced on Larry’s book tour page next week.
Be sure to visit Larry's book tour page for more reviews, author interviews and guest posts!
BIG THANKS to Lance of Omnimystery for arranging this great tour.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Published by Shaye Areheart Books, a division of Random House
Rating: 4.5 stars
The Story Sisters opens with three sisters who are the closest of friends, and then as time goes on, their common bond begins to unravel. The book spans many years and we follow the girls from teenagers to grown adults and witness love, heartache, despair and hope. With the inclusion of magical and mystical elements weaved in throughout the novel, this family saga makes for an engaging and certainly unconventional reading experience.
I think Alice Hoffman has succeeded in writing another wonderful story with its own unique mystical undertones, that can inspire both awe and even a little fear. This story is by no means a horror, however certain parts are pretty creepy and somewhat disturbing. The plot fluctuates from warm and heartfelt to dark and sinister, but the majority of the book seems to slant towards oldest daughter, Elv, who appears to be haunted by her own demons and is constantly engaging in self-destructive behavior. There is so much more to say about the other characters as well but I think it's best to read about them without any pre-conceived notions and to judge for yourself.
Despite the melancholy feel that the book tends to elicit, there is an overall message of hope and triumph that takes shape as the book nears its end. Many tragedies have taken place, certainly more than any typical family, but each character attempts to find peace with themselves, even if it takes years to do so.
Though it sometimes feels like there is too much taking place and the plot gets a little chaotic, that is also what makes the book so intriguing. From the first chapter, I was pulled into the world of the Story sisters and was engaged and ultimately moved by them and their tale.
Alice Hoffman is a magnificent writer and I think both fans and newcomers will enjoy this latest novel.
BIG THANKS to Jessica and Random House of Canada for my review copy
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Published by HCI Books
Rating: 4 stars
This book is Jessica Bram's memoir about her life in the aftermath of divorce and its repercussions on the family and most of all herself. This book takes a complex and serious subject, and tries to look at it from a lighter and more positive point of view. Through the use of short chapters and vignettes, Bram lets readers inside her private life so that she can impart some of the wisdom she has gained over the years.
Although this book can be seen as a "self-help book" because there is some practical advice as well as lessons discussed, it feels more like an old friend discussing the tough times she has gone through and what she learned from it all. The book explores topics such as appreciating time spent alone, how to help children cope with the divorce, and my favorite (and funniest part of the book) - getting back onto the dating scene.
Some sections of the book were more serious and other more humorous, but the general feel of the book is towards the lighter side. Some of the chapters or sections did include some repetition and I think that had they been combined together into fewer, yet longer chapters, the reading experience could have been more enjoyable. I also would have liked for the chapters to have been in chronological order or at least grouped together better by topic.
Although the target audience for this book is those who have experienced or are currently going through a divorce (i.e. not me - I'm not even married yet...), there are certainly life lessons throughout its pages that can apply to anyone at any stage of life. Positive thinking and cherishing a sense of independence are examples of universal messages that can benefit anyone.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Book Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
BIG THANKS to Jessica and Random House of Canada for my review copy
Monday, June 15, 2009
Published by Random House of Canada
Rating: 5 stars
Hattie's sister Min has just been checked into a psychiatric hospital and now it is up to Hattie to make sure that Min's kids, Logan and Thebes, are looked after. In a fit of desperation Hattie decides to go on a road trip in search of the children's father, who has been estranged from them for years. Along the way, they encounter a cast of colorful characters and get into a number of interesting predicaments, which helps they become allies and band together. The reader also gets an occasional glimpse into Hattie's own childhood memories with Min, as she reflects back on Min's unstable mental history and their own fractured relationship.
I think the real testament to Miriam Toews' talent as a writer is that even though I couldn't really relate to any of the characters, I truly fell in love with each of them. As I kept reading, I grew attached to them and learned their mannerisms and all I would have to do is read the dialogue to know who said what, without it being explicitly written. Thebes, in particular, captured my heart with her hilarious expressions and unique sense of self. How can you not love an eleven-year-old who conducts art classes from the backseat, considers bathing optional and sports purple hair and fake tattoos?
It doesn't surprise me that book has won a number of awards and prizes, given the way it spoke to me and engaged me until the very end without any tricks of suspense or drama. This novel is purely character-driven and thrives on its unique dialogue and humour. There is also a more profound side to this book, that teaches us about the nature of family and how that definition can sometimes be a malleable one.
It's clear that I loved this book, but I can however acknowledge that it is not for everyone. I happen to relish this type of quirky dialogue among the characters that has the potential for deeper meaning. Instead of being bothered by the zany plot and crazy characters, I was intrigued and amused. Though this book may be too unconventional for some, for me it really got to the heart of families and relationships with the just the right blend of wit and humour.
BIG THANKS to Jessica and Random House of Canada for my review copy.
Friday, June 12, 2009
Holly decides that if everyone around her can take pleasure wherever they find it, so will she. As any self-respecting 30ish New York woman would do, she brings two males into her life: a flawed but endearing dog, and a good natured, much younger lover. She's soon entangled in a web of emails, chance meetings, and misguided good intentions and must forge an entirely new path to Nirvana.
Sarah Dunn has moved from Los Angeles to New York five times, and from New York back to Los Angeles four times, which means, at the moment, she is happily residing in New York. Her first novel, The Big Love, has been translated into 23 languages.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
This book really spoke to me and I was touched by Willow's story. Willow is NOT just for young adults - I am positive that even someone who has never read any YA books will love this book!
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Published by Riverhead Books, a division of Penguin Group
Rating: 3.5 stars
American Eve chronicles the life of Evelyn Nesbit, the original "it" girl, whose popularity soared after being photographed to sell many different products, using her innocent sexuality to their advantage. Evelyn was known to be the most photographed woman of her era and was pursued by many men. The two most important men in her life, Stanford White, and her millionaire husband Harry K. Thaw, mistreated her and then ultimately fought over her until their demise. This "crime of the century" initiated a nation's fascination with celebrity and beauty that has continued on into the next century.
This book provides a wonderful look into the world of the rich and powerful during the early 1900s. However, having been written by a professor, it is to be expected that it reads more like an academic text then a regular work of non-fiction. Although someone looking for a casual biography could be very interested by this book, there is a lot of well-researched information in it for those who want a more scholarly approach.
The book itself is very well-written and captures the tone and feel of life at the turn of the century quite nicely. There is extensive detail about the inner workings of both Evelyn's personal and professional life, leaving no stone unturned. This is both a disadvantage and a benefit. On the one hand, there is a great amount of detail which can seem unneccesary in certain instances, but alternatively it provides an extremely close look at every detail of Evelyn's life and the lives of those around her.
Having never heard of this scandal, it was intriguing to read about, while simultaneously hard to hear about the horrible way Evelyn was treated. From exploitation to rape, there is no shortage of brutal acts and scandalous behavior to read about. Despite the amount of detail though, I never felt very connected to Evelyn. Perhaps this is the consequence of the book's biographical nature, as opposed to memoirs, which I generally read. Regardless, I realize that the point is not to sympathize with the main character, which is probably why I had some trouble with it.
Overall, American Eve is very well-researched and perfectly written for its subject matter. Although I myself found some parts to be too detailed and would have liked a more personal slant to the narrative, I am certain that others who read more of this type of biography will enjoy it very much.
BIG THANKS to Jennifer and Penguin for my review copy.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Published by NAL, a division of Penguin Group
Rating: 4.5 stars
With the guidance of fashion to narrate her stories, Jen Lancaster's Pretty in Plaid is about her childhood, teenage years and transition into adulthood, serving as a "prequel" to her first book, Bitter is the New Black. From tales of Junior Girl Scouts to sorority mayhem, this latest memoir offers readers an invaluable glimpse into how Jen Lancaster came to be who she is today. True to her signature writing style, Jen includes letters and memos as visual aids, illustrating all the embarassing, triumphant and especially hilarious moments of her youth up until her first entry-level position.
It is important to note that Jen Lancaster's books are not your garden variety memoirs. There is a certain je-ne-sais-quoi about her writing and most importantly the woman behind the writing that have mass appeal and keep readers coming back for more (including myself!). Yes, she is funny and yes, she is quirky. She is also not afraid to speak her mind. These are all part of the reason why she has such a huge fanbase (8665 fans on Facebook and counting...not to mention reaching the bestsellers list multiple times)but there is also so much more that can only be discovered after reading her books because once you do, you instantly feel like her very best friend.
After waiting what felt like an eternity for my next Jen Lancaster fix, I was really excited to delve in Pretty in Plaid and hear about Jen's earlier years. While I didn't find this book to be as "laugh-out-loud funny" as her previous ones, there was a different kind of magic to it that can only come from a flashback to the past and all the accompanying nostalgia.
I realize that I'm not necessarily the target readership for this particular Jen Lancaster book, (considering I was born in the eighties, rather than having been a teenager at that time), however I still found myself relating to different experiences and events, which really says a lot about how universal the book is. Common themes of longing for acceptance, facing those who tease us, dating dilemmas, new schools, new jobs, and um of course fashion and shopping are relevant to everyone. I may not have known what each piece of clothing looked like but I could appreciate its message and how it affected Jen's life for better or worse.
If you are new to the writing of Jen Lancaster, I'd suggest reading her earlier works first to better appreciate this latest look into her life. (For a feel of her writing style and quirky personality, check out her popular website, but be prepared to laugh until you cry). For those who are already Jen Lancaster converts, you will not be disappointed with all that is offered in Pretty in Plaid!
Watch the following trailer for Pretty in Plaid - it's hilarious:
BIG THANKS to Melissa and Penguin Group for my review copy
Monday, June 8, 2009
Published by Random House
Rating: 4.5 stars
Shanghai Girls begins in the late 1930s, amidst a frenzy of glamour, excitement and a vibrant nightlife where beautiful sisters, Pearl and May Chin, are leading extravagant lives. They have everything they could ever desire and they take advantage of their abundant means, until their father gambles away his fortune and must pay off his debt by turning over the girls as wives. They are forced to abandon their comfortable lives and as they take the harrowing journey towards Los Angeles to marry strangers, the girls encounter many obstacles and endure much strife. Once in Los Angeles, they must navigate the treacherous waters of their new lives and fight to stay afloat in a city that constantly discriminates and has the potential to bring out the worst in people. This book spans many years and readers have the chance to follow Pearl and May from teenaged girls into adulthood and beyond.
Since I know Lisa See is a very talented writer, I had high expectations for Shanghai Girls and thankfully I was not disappointed. I really enjoyed reading about both Chin girls and their family saga, especially about how far they travelled to get to where they ended up, in both the literal and figurative sense. Despite their flaws, these girls are passionate and driven people who had to overcome so much and I really respect them for that. From the way I'm writing about them, it's easy to tell just how real they became for me and how vivid the whole book became, which is certainly a direct reflection of Lisa See's powerful writing.
Not only is the writing itself wonderful, but the plot is really well-crafted and I'm always a fan of twists and turns in the storyline, especially when secrets are revealed later on. It's amazing that so much happens throughout its pages and yet I never felt like the story was dragging on or the book was too long.
I'm not sure if there will be a sequel to Shanghai Girls in the future but I hope so because the ending is left open for one and I'm dying to find out what happens next to the Chin women.
BIG THANKS to Random House for my review copy
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, a division of Hachette Book Group
Rating: 4.5 stars
Frankie is spunky and outgoing, while Anna is studious and reserved but despite their differences, the two teenagers are best friends. Along with Frankie's older brother, Matt, they spend all of their free time together but for weeks Anna and Matt have been keeping a secret. Anna's crush on Matt finally turned into something more but Matt insists on keeping it from Frankie because he thinks it will hurt her. Before Matt can tell Frankie the truth, he is killed in a horrific car accident, leaving everyone shocked and heartbroken. The next year Frankie's family decides to return to their annual summer vacation spot with Anna in tow but nothing will ever be the same. Frankie convinces Anna that they should have a string of summer flings - a twenty boy summer -but Anna is still deeply in love with Matt.
Twenty Boy Summer has something for everyone. For those who enjoy a great summer read this book is a perfect combination of summer romances, close friendship and beautiful beaches. Those who seek a more profound read will also be pleasantly surprised because within the book's pages, there is much depth if you look beyond the surface.
Anna not only has to handle her own grief over losing Matt, but she also must come to terms with the guilt she feels from keeping such an important secret from Frankie. If only Frankie understood just how much Matt meant to Anna, they could grieve together. The dynamics of Frankie's family is also suffering and Frankie's parents are dealing with their pain in their own way. This book clearly deals with the sensitive and difficult issue of death and although I sympathized with the characters, I never felt overwhelmed.
Teen sexuality is also explored throughout the book but always in good taste. There were times when I was just appalled by Frankie's attitude towards losing her virginity and sex, as if it was something you need to get over with and move on. However, you soon learn that nothing everything is as it seems and much of that attitude stems from the loss of her brother and the grieving process. There are important lessons to be learned and eventually the right message is conveyed.
This story is perfect for reading in one sitting and even those who don't typically read YA books will enjoy and benefit from reading this book. Much to my surprise, this is Sarah Ockler's first novel and I really look forward to seeing (and reading!) what she comes up with next.
BIG THANKS to Caitlin of FSB Associates for my review copy
Friday, June 5, 2009
For the past couple of months I have been using ReadingComfort.com's Book Buddy and I have to say that I'm very impressed. Like many others I often struggle trying to find a comfortable position to read in and thanks to the Book Buddy I no longer have that problem. Especially those who have arthritic pains will certainly benefit from a hands-free reading experience. It is perfect for holding both hardcover and paperback books in place with its adjustable ribbons and the pillow is very comfy on my lap. Mass market paperbacks are a little harder to get in the right position but it's not too much of an issue.
In addition to its usefulness when reading books, the Book Buddy also comes with an acrylic desktop that fits right on top of it and comes in handy as a mini-writing desk. Since I have a laptop that desktop really comes in handy because it is the perfect way to prop up my laptop and use it comfortably. I actually took the Book Buddy travelling and it served an extra function of being a pillow on the airplane.
Overall, the Book Buddy is a really wonderful product with multiple functions (and pretty patterns) and would also make a really great gift!
To see the many Book Buddy patterns and/or to order the Book Buddy online click here
In addition to the Book Buddy, ReadingComfort.com also carries lap blankets in matching fabrics, elegant paperweights to hold books open, classy book covers to spruce up the look of your books, elastic 4-ribbon bookmarks, and glittermarks.
Become a fan of Readingcomfort.com on Facebook!
To find a retail store that sells these products near you click here
BIG THANKS to Amanda Crawford Designs for sending me a wonderful Book Buddy to review
Thursday, June 4, 2009
"Well reader, you might as well follow me since you've come this far. I'm not quite sure what you expect to get out of all this. Maybe you're just killing time. But you'll have to excuse me if I don't analyze your motives any further. I've got a job to do."
BIG THANKS to Ara 13 for my review copy
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
* BROWSE INSIDE for a glimpse into the book!
Published by HarperOne, a division of HarperCollins Publishers
Rating: 4.5 stars
Living a Charmed Life is an adorable little book that is filled with 50 short essays that are meant to empower and inspire to live the best life possible. At the end of each lesson there is a 'lucky charm' that outlines a specific action we can take to fulfill the given message. For example, cutting your to-do list in half in order to slow down or getting rid of clothing that doesn't make you feel special. Victoria Moran often applies each message to her own life giving clear examples of how to apply these lessons and the what can happen if you don't try to follow the enlightening advice. These essays have the ability to change attitudes, and improve every aspect of daily life.
What first appears to be a cute and light book (complete with adorable cover) is really so much more. There is a lot of insight to each message and so much to gain from applying them to everyday life. I would recommend reading one or two essays each day as I did to fully grasp their meaning and take them in.What I really appreciate about this book is that its goal is not only to benefit the self but also to help others and the world we live in. Some examples of this include the idea of giving something away each day (can be big, small, tangible, your time or kind words ...etc.) and making one change a week that brings the way you live more into harmony with what the earth can accommodate.
This is the type of inspiring resource that can and should be re-read and consulted to enhance daily life and truly work towards a "charmed life". I have bookmarked my favorite ones that I will be returning to and reminding myself of in the future. Although it's probably difficult to follow each and every one of the 50 lessons, it is easy to find ones that relate to your life and follow those that speak to you. Some of them are little things that make a big difference, such as bringing back chivalry (open doors for people and give up your seat on the bus) or add a splash of red, either as an accesory or even flowers in your home can brighten up your day.
The following is written by Victoria Moran and is a great example of what is included in the book:
Lucky Charms Aren't Just for Breakfast Anymore -- Use These Lucky Charms and Find Yourself Living a Charmed Life
Sometimes all it takes to shift the direction of your life is to start the one day differently. You set the tone for your day first thing in the morning. Each of the actions that follow is an a.m. lucky charm to help you to a totally glorious day. Put a string of days like this together, and you’ve got yourself a charmed life.
- Set your clock for 15 minutes earlier than usual. This will put extra room in your morning so there's a bit more time for tending to your own needs before the world starts putting demands on you.
Start with a little quiet. Instead of blasting into your day like being shot from a cannon, take five or ten of those extra minutes to be still with yourself and compose your day. You can use this time for prayer, meditation, journal writing, or just being and breathing and deciding that, for the next twenty-four hours, you're going to seize opportunities, shine like the dickens, and make a difference in the world.
- Have a keynote thought, one positive idea to set the tone for your day. You might try. "It's wonderful to be alive," or "I fully intend to make this a great day." This thought is independent of circumstances. It isn't wonderful to be alive because you just got the raise or the last 38-C on the sale table, but because you've been given a day which is, by definition, filled with possibility.
- Get to the gym. "No matter who you are or how much money you have, you can't buy muscle," says New York City trainer Sasha Lodi. "The only way to get it is to build it yourself." And knowing you've done it, you'll feel terrific about yourself.
- Wear something you love. It may not be new (it may very well be old) and it probably won't be the most expensive thing you own, but choose today to wear something that makes you feel like a million bucks.
- Have some fresh juice in the morning. Whether you like breakfast light or substantial, try starting with fresh juice (try apple, kale, lemon is yummy). This gives your body an infusion of vitality since you're ingesting vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals in their most easily assimilable form.
- Cut today's to-do list in half. And trust that it won't cause the world to end. Prioritize the thousand things you "ought" to do so that you get the important tasks for work, family, and yourself taken care of. Everything else can take a number.
- Tend to the intimidating assignments first. When you've tackled what's scary or overwhelming first, you're won out over procrastination. And you've already succeeded today, even if it's only 9 a.m.
- Be completely, utterly yourself. From the moment you open your eyes. Nobody can do "you" the way you can. All sorts of great stuff is heading your way, but it can't find you when you're impersonating someone else. Cherish your individuality and relish your authenticity.
- Make a point that today you'll remember your own worth. Nothing will give you a better shot at having your best day ever than remembering your own innate worth. Choose a common action (like looking in a mirror or walking through a door), and every time you do it today, remind yourself that you are worthy. Because that's the truth.
Victoria Moran, author of Living a Charmed Life:Your Guide to Finding Magic in Every Moment of Every Day, is an inspirational speaker, a certified life coach, and the author of ten books including The Love-Powered Diet, Lit from Within; Fat, Broke & Lonely No More; and the international bestseller Creating a Charmed Life. Her articles have appeared in numerous publications including Body + Soul, Natural Health, and Yoga Journal. Her blog, "Your Charmed Life," is published daily on BeliefNet.com. She lives a charmed life in New York City.
Monday, June 1, 2009
Published by Atria, a division of Simon & Schuster
Rating: 4.5 stars
Best Intentions follows narrator, Lisa Barkley's life, as she struggles with her marriage, her teenaged daughters and her career. After suspecting her husband Sam of having an affair, Lisa listens to his voicemail and hears a woman's mysterious message. As the story progresses, more red flags are raised regarding Sam's suspected affair and other obstacles and misunderstandings arise. When Lisa's best friend Deirdre gets involved, things become even more complicated until the second part of the book, when a murder takes place.
Although the book starts off relatively slow, it more than makes up for it with all of the secrets and mysteries that unravel throughout the story. The first part of the book reads more like a women's fiction book, when we get an insider's glimpse of Lisa's life and her worries and complex relationships. Emily Listfield does a wonderful job of capturing Lisa's middle-aged angst. I felt connected to Lisa and her inner circle and hoped that she would pull through despite all of the complications in her life.
Since the second part of the book is mostly devoted to the murder mystery, it seemed like a somewhat abrupt transition from the first part. Nonetheless, thinking about the suspects and trying to determine who the killer was kept me intrigued. There is a noticeable shift in narrative tone, as the plot centers around the murder and all the potential suspects, leaving you guessing until the very end.
The combination of women's fiction and mystery seems to be an emerging new genre, as can also be seen in books like The Laws of Harmony by Judith Ryan Hendricks and The House on Tradd Street by Karen White. Although I would have appreciated a more gradual transition and combination of women's fiction and mystery in Best Intentions, it is a worthy addition to this new type of novel and one that I truly enjoyed reading. I hope this trend of combining women's fiction and mystery continues!
Be sure to check out this website for more information about the book and the murder suspects!
BIG THANKS to Lauren for my review copy