Monday, January 31, 2011

The Three Weissmann’s of Westport by Cathleen Schein

The Three Weissmann’s of Westport by Cathleen Schein is engaging right from the first page. The emotional tow between the sisters, one no-nonsense in the extreme and the other erratic remind me of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility and easily translate into any era.
This setting is twenty-first century, and in this novel, those sisters are contemporary New Yorkers, as is their mother, Betty. And while the sisters fill their roles quite enjoyably, Betty’s component is more multifaceted.
Joseph Weissmann divorced his wife Betty under the irreconcilable differences excuse when he was seventy-eight years old and she was seventy-five. Betty was flabbergasted and confused. She really did not see this coming.
Of course the involvement of another woman was discovered. The tale of the dissolution of a long marriage could be exceptionally miserable, but Schine handled the subject with tenderness. Her take on the painful circumstances is dead-on in appearance at the emotional, financial, irreparable cost of Joseph’s words and actions.
Betty and her grown daughters Annie and Miranda find comfort in one another. The daughters leave their own apartments when Betty is forced to leave her on Central Park West at the insistence of the other woman.
The three women find sanctuary in a rundown cottage in Westport, CT. The place is owned by Betty’s peculiar relative, Lou.
This book touched me on many levels. Schine’s take on what constitutes a family strikes an approachable chord in the reader. She introduces new associations, a new way of life for her characters and she allows healing to happen over time. She also acknowledges that healing may never be complete. The book is well-worth the energy of reading it.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Derik's Bane by Mary Janice Davidson

Derik Gardner is an alpha werewolf but Derik’s pack already has an Alpha who is also his best friend, and two Alphas in one pack can cause problems. Derik decides to leave and a mission comes on at the right time for his departure.
Derick has been given the task of killing Dr. Sara Gunn is the reincarnation of Morgan Le Fay, King Arthur’s half-sister who was believed to be the downfall of the King and a sorceress to boot.
Sara on the other hand is having a bad day. Her cars dies and is predicted to cost her a lot of money, men show up at her hospital and try to kill her, and Derik tries to strangle her in her own home. Derik cannot kill Sara so the two decide to hit the road to change her fate and save the world from men who are trying to kill her in the name of King Arthur.
This book is so full of idiosyncratic that halfway through the book I had to put it down and that has never happened with any of Davidson’s books before. Somewhere in the middle of all the wise cracking discourse, the romance gets lost. In fact, you get the feeling that besides the great sex they have what they really like is the quest they are on.
Davidson certainly has a very unique voice and you’ll either love this book or hate it – there is no middle ground here. It’s not that this book isn’t humorous, there is just absolutely nothing tossed in to add breadth and multiplicity.
2 Stars

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Towelhead by Alicia Erian

I picked this book up in the bargain bin simply because of the title. Any author who has the guts to name their book such a degrading name should be a good read. Well the book was riveting and thought provoking. Jasira is a thirteen year old girl who has to deal with rape, racism and dysfunctional parents. The story is sad but yet you can't help blaming Jasira at the same time for some of her problems. She asks/allows her mothers boyfriend to shave her pubic area and tries to manipulate the man who eventually rapes her. All in all a good read but the ending leaves you hanging and wondering what happens next.
4 Stars

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Annabel by Kathleen Winter

When a child was born to Treadway and Jacinta Blake their lives were thrown into turmoil and a decision that a parent should never have to make. Wayne Blake was born a hermaphrodite and raised as a boy with the help of surgery, pills, and a father who is determined not to see the feminine side of his son. Treadway is a wonderful character, he is a thoughtful, loyal man who has great difficulty accepting a child who is both male and female. There is also a backstory concerning Thomasina, a friend of the Blakes, who lost her husband and daughter named Annabel. Thomasina would call Wayne by the name Annabel in private confusing him even more. At the end of the story you see Waynes father come to terms with his sons decision to go off his medication and possibly live as a woman. The relationship between Wayne and Treadway, is the main focus of the book, although there are many other great characters.
This story was riveting!!

5 Stars!!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Her Last Death by Susanna Sonnenberg

I picked up Susanna Sonnenberg’s memoir Her Last Death in the bargain bin at Border’s and it was one of my better finds among the myriad of books.
The book opens with a phone call in which that Sonnenberg learns that her mother, who lives in Barbados, has been in a horrible car accident, and there is a good chance she is going to die. The story is about her decision to not go to her mother and why. There is too much history, too many lies, too many faked illnesses and almost deception about dying. She just can’t go through it again. Her real life, with her husband and sons, has weight and meaning, but her mother fictional life just wasn’t Sonnenberg’s real life anymore.
The book continues to tell the story of Sonnenberg’s manifestation of what she believes her life was like with her mother. Her mother is addicted to painkillers, has a cocaine habit, engages in uncontrolled, irresponsible sex tryst’s, and could almost certainly be diagnosed with a mental health disorder. Growing up at a young age, Susy how her mother lost her virginity, watches her mother having sex with a stream of bizarre men, and learns that sex is power and money equals independence.
Susy has a very early strong interest in sex and she becomes fascinated with Penthouse magazines and almost fanatical with the development of her body and masturbation. Her mother acknowledges and condones Susy’s problem telling her simply “Go on, my little pervert. We have no secrets.”
When this behavior extends into Susy’s life during college and in the early years of her adulthood, it really becomes quite exasperating. She is used to being used, to feeling empty, to lying and being lied to, and it seems that she is going to continue the cycle her mother modeled so graphically.
Her Last Death is ultimately about the buoyancy of the individual spirit; it is also about how strongly the messages we collect as children profile our outlook. Sonnenberg’s writing is immediate and razor-sharp. She pulls you into her experiences and her point of view from the very first page, and she is not afraid to confront those topics that are upsetting, complex, and illicit.
It is really hard for me to judge this book as a like or a dislike because I felt sorry for Susy from the first page. The book touched subjects usually left alone by authors. I am giving this book five stars because of the way it evoked such emotion and how well written it was.
5 Stars

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Alienists by Caleb Carr

Another Recommendation by the Infamous Ray- In late 1800’s New York, a killer is viciously slaughtering adolescent boys. An alienist (another name for a psychologist) joins detectives and a reporter to unearth not only who is behind the killings but why these killings are being carried out. I could not put this novel down and read it in one night. I loved the historical details and the growing sense of friendship among the unconventional investigating team. The book is a truly superb read that feels so real you can see the street corner gaslights. It is long and exciting, but not long enough because by the time you finish you feel like many of these people are your friends and you unquestionably want more. This novel will hold a unique position among my books.
5 Stars!!

Thanks Ray !!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Ray recommended Outlander and this is one of those books I wish I had read long ago. I am not a huge fan of historical fiction but I cannot believe that I had never read this novel before. Outlander is a historical romance, and it utterly encompasses most of these genres. Claire learns about the past in Scotland when she is transported to the earlier time. I was worried the whole time I was reading the book: what choice would Claire make? Would she stay in the past or go home to the present? Not only did Diana Gabaldon give me an answer to the question, but her cliffhanger was first-rate but not agonizing. Unlike some series, this novel was complete within itself. I cannot wait to read the next one, but I feel satisfied with the way it ended.
5 Stars !!

Mercury in Retrograde by Paula Froelich

I thoroughly enjoyed Mercury in Retrograde by Paula Froelich's . I expected a hint into a kind of daily life that I have always wanted, one with money, glitz, and glamour. What I got was a comedic story that archives real people. It entails three women whose positions place them in each other's pathways and whose choices create new lives for each of them.
Penelope Mercury, the first character and the namesake of the novel has to go to great lengths to keep what is in effect a horrible job but when a series of events coincide to cause her to lose her job; she finds a way to land on her feet with a new job and co-workers that are much more promising.
Froelich weaves prophetic and amusing horoscope information in skillfully, giving a preview of what's in store for each of the characters. Thus we realize that it was mercury in retrograde that led to the occurrences for Penelope. Her new friends in her apartment building are prone to similar occurrences.
Dana Gluck has become more or less a hermit in the building, because of the disintegration of her marriage. She's into yoga, and that prompts an invite by her yoga teacher to Penelope and Lena Lippencrass to join in the yoga classes. Once the three of them meet, they form a clique that sticks together and encourages each other.
Lena's on the run from her parents, who've cut her off monetarily. That fuels her yearning to establish herself and she does so in an inventive and resourceful way, with the help of her new friends. Dana and Penelope equally follow paths of self-discovery, not without drawbacks, but those of course center on the horoscope!
I think Froelich has superior insight on the types she has cast working in the industry that she does and I look forward to a next book from this author. 4 Stars

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook: A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal

Accidental Billionaires is about the founding of Facebook. This book is based on interviews done by the author. Most of the book reads pretty easy anyone who has a Facebook account should definitely give it a go.

Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin, students at Harvard, both geeks who lack much of a social life. Eduardo is more interested in social activities than Mark and tries to join the Phoenix Harvard club. Mark, out of frustration, creates Facemash a site for rating girls which almost gets him kicked out of Harvard. Months after that, perhaps based on inspiration from what became the connectyou site, he created a first version of TheFacebook. At first, this site was exclusive for colleges and it grew very fast. Mark moved to California and got additional funding to build Facebook to what it is now, Facebook. During that period, Mark got into several conflicts with Eduardo and the founders of ConnectYou.

I say that the book is definitely worth reading if you are interested in the founding of Facebook, but it is not a definitive must read. The book was pretty much what I expected when I picked it up. 3 Stars

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchet.

At work we have been picking books for other people to read so Ray gave me Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchet. OK so here goes their attempts at off the wall humor fall so flat it’s excruciating. The authors often say things sarcastically, and then say "Ha ha, I lied," and this is supposed to pass for Douglas-Adams-style droll word play. I find no trace of the hilarity others recognize, and I barely broke a smile.

I would have stopped reading from boredom but I felt that I had to give the book and Ray a chance so I plundered on.

So for this book I give 1 star.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich

I have read Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich. Now I love Janet's Stephanie Plum character in her between the numbers series and I love Diesel and his being an unmentionable but I have a problem with the pairing. I think that I like that Diesel likes and Flirts with Stephanie and now I have a problem seeing him with someone else. Maybe I imagine myself as Stephanie because I don't mind any stories where Steph is with Ranger, Joe or Diesel but I mind when the male characters are with an other character. Hmmm well all in all the book was good and a very quick read (I read it in 1.5 hours). Definitely recommend.
3 Stars---- Simply because I should be with Diesel :)

Dead Sexy by Mary Janice Davidson

Today I read Dead Sexy by Mary Janice Davidson. This is another story about supernaturals and of course I loved it. Garnet Lacey is a bookstore manager/witch who accidentally unleashed the dark goddess Lilith who uses Garnet's body in order to kill Vatican assassins. She also has other things to worry about-like pesky frat boy zombies, a gorgeous FBI agent hot on her trail, love spells gone wrong, and keeping her vampire boyfriend a safe distance from her vampire ex-boyfriend. The story was great and since I love vamps so much it fell right into my favorite category.
4 Stars

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Chbosky

The novel does not belong on the banned books list....... A coming-of-age novel that appeals to teenage readers, As Chbosky's first book it hopefully a great start to many more. Charlie, the wallflower goes through a ton of stuff in his 10th grade year, which is 1991. The story is told through a series of letters to an unnamed "friend," the first of which reveals the suicide of Charlie's friend Charlie's response is to cry. The crying soon gets out of hand.. Charlie has the usual dire adolescent problems,sex, drugs, bullies and they baffle him in the usual teen ways.In the end we learn the root of Charlie's problems, and we confront, with him, the coming rigors of 11th grade, ever hopeful that he'll find a suitable girlfriend and increase his vocabulary.
Yada Yada Yada... Good book... I am not a fan of the format but all in all it was a good book.
3 Stars

Balancing on High Heels by Eileen Rendahl

Rendahl has taken serious situations; divorce, infidelity, crime, and self-worth, and put a bittersweet twist on them. The situations are sad and has you shaking your head and saying, "been there, done that." Alissa seems like she could be your sister, or your friend. The could be you feeling of the story brings it close to home, and close to your heart. After Rendahl's last book I couldn't wait for this one. What worked for me was that the author wrote great characters I could relate to, and it was hard for me to put down. Also, the author had me rooting for the Butterfly Brigade. It was a great read and I liked how each chapter starts with a page from the Anger Management workbook.
3 Stars

Undead and Unfinished by Mary Janice Davidson

Undead and Unfinished
In what I am assuming is the last of the Queen Betsy series I was not happy at all. There were over 70 chapters that were short and unsatisfying. The end of the book in where Betsy and Laura turned Sinclair into the book of the dead was by far a completely unexpected and unwelcome ending. In fact from someone who works in a book store having this book of the series listed as romance is so far off the mark that I was tempted to move it (not that I would). The sad part is I would recommend all Mary Janice Davidson’s other books. I am hoping that this is the exception and not the rule for any of her new endeavors.
One Star

My Lobotomy by Howard Dully

My Lobotomy
Dr. Walter Freeman invented and promoted the ice pick lobotomy. He performed this procedure on approximately 10,000 patients who all manner of mental illness.

At the age of 12, Howard Dully was one of Dr. Freeman’s patients. Dully’s neurotic, jealous,stepmother scheduled the lobotomy. Even though other doctors stated that Dully did not demonstrate any behaviors other than that of a typical preteen boy. After being manipulated by the stepmother Dully’s father agreed on the labotomy, and the family paid $200 to Freeman.
The book chronicles Dully’s life before and after his lobotomy. His childhood was cruel, and not just the normal amount of cruel a child of the ‘50s could expect. His stepmother was verbally and physically abusive; his siblings verify the treatment he received as the family’s whipping post.
Dully began to act out even more when he was labeled a problem child - petty crimes and a bad attitude were the norm. It is difficult to determine if he was actually a troubled child or just living up to the expectations of his stepmother.
Dully’s lobotomy went off as expected, and the results were immediately positive. Eventually, though, the positivity faded away when Dully began to have greater issues that further strained his family relationships, found him in and out of the system, and secured an adult life of instability for him.
At the age of 54, with children of his own, Dully set out to discover the circumstances of his young life and the lobotomy that altered it forever.
My Lobotomy is remarkable as a survivor story, but also as a commentary on medicine and abuse. It answers tough questions and poses important new questions as well.

Sounds Like Crazy by Shana Mahaffey

Holly Miller, the main character of Shana’s novel, has Dissociative Identity Disorder. Her personality has five different identities, together known as “The Committee”. And as much as they make Holly’s life miserable, Holly thinks she can’t live without them. Then one of those identities, southern bell, Betty Jane, lands Holly a cartoon voiceover position. Betty Jane wants nothing more than to be the center of attention though the rest of The Committee wants Betty Jane to shut up. Holly’s therapist, Milton, wants to get to the bottom of her wrecked psyche. And Holly? She’s just along for the ride.

During the trip down life’s glorious highway we discover a that Holly’s father is an abuser, her mother is a control freak, and her sister plays her due to a guilty conscience but most of all we find out the original trauma that caused Holly’s first or should I say second identity to show up. This book will both touch your heart and have you laughing out loud.
Five Stars

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Lamb by Christopher Moore

After reading another book by Christopher Moore I picked this one up again upon the advice of Aiden. Maybe it's because I am not very religous but this one was a bit disappointment.

This book just wasn't up to the last one I read. It's almost more of a collection of party jokes than anything else. And a lot of it is actually kind of inane.

If you've never read Moore, this is not a good representation of what he can actually do. Start somewhere else. One Star!!

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

In "Unbroken," author Laura Hillenbrand tells the story of Louis Zamperini, restless teen that became a track star, that participated in the 1936 Berlin Olympics and even met Hitler. almost getting arrested for attempting to steal a Nazi flag, Zamperini returned home, failed as a pilot and ended up in the Army Air Corps as a B-24 bombardier.

In May 1943, his plane goes down. He and one of his crewmates endure over 47 days before they find land, but they end up in enemy territory, and are sent to a POW camp, where the story gets even more harrowing and brutal. The story of Zamperini's ordeal, survival and eventual return home is one of the best books if not the best book that I have ever read. Five-plus stars.