Pick Your Poison

April 26, 2011

Pick Your Poison
By: Leann Sweeney
258 Pages

When Abby's gardener is murdered she decides she wants answers. A little digging uncovers more than she could have ever dreamed. What made the gardener come work for her father if he had plenty of money? Is it coincidence that both her gardener and his beloved wife die of the exact same poisoning? What do these questions- and more- have to do with illegal adoptions?

Meet Abby Rose. When her father died, he left her and her twin sister, Kate, tons of money. While Kate is pursuing a career in psychology, Abby hasn't found her calling yet. But all that changes when an afternoon of sunbathing leads to finding her gardener, Ben, dead. First, she seeks out information on him hoping to find some family she can notify. Ben left a wife behind who sheds light on him. For starters, he had plenty of money and didn't need to work. Abby also learns that Ben had been on a mission his first wife started- to find the twin daughters she gave up for adoption.

I loved this book!! I loved all the little twists in the story- both predictable & ones I didn't see coming. Ben is the strong, silent gentleman fulfilling a promise he made. Steven, Abby's ex-husband, gives new meaning to the phrase "ex from hell". Jeff is the hero who helps save the day. My review has not even come close to doing this book justice. I couldn't wait to see what was going to happen next.

Rating: Buy It/Borrow From The Library

Anxiuosly Awaiting...

April 25, 2011

Summer is a magical time in New York City and Carrie is in love with all of it—the crazy characters in her neighborhood, the vintage-clothing boutiques, the wild parties, and the glamorous man who has swept her off her feet. Best of all, she's finally in a real writing class, taking her first steps toward fulfilling her dream.
This sequel to The Carrie Diaries brings surprising revelations as Carrie learns to navigate her way around the Big Apple, going from being a country "sparrow"—as Samantha Jones dubs her— to the person she always wanted to be. But as it becomes increasingly difficult to reconcile her past with her future, Carrie realizes that making it in New York is much more complicated than she ever imagined. (bn.com)
Tomorrow the wait is over! I read the reviews from people who have already read the book and it's getting raves. I had a feeling when I read the storyline summary that this book is going to be one I'll thoroughly enjoy. I can't wait to read about New York City and how Carrie navigates it all. I look forward to meeting the city for the first time with her. I've always loved how the city became a character in the show. I get to vicariously live there and explore that world with the girls. I just might have to bump a book I planned on starting. I don't know how long I can wait to read Summer and the City!

Book Confessions-- Buying the "perfect" Book

April 22, 2011

I am the first one to admit that when it comes to books, I think I may need therapy. However, I live in that happy land of denial- I refuse to believe this is anything serious & should be completely ignored. Buying a book for me is a big deal. I see it as an investment. Sadly, like all investments, some were worth the priced I paid and others weren't. Oh well.

When I go to buy a book I love it if the store has more than one copy of it. In the cases of new releases, they usually do. The book I get is the "feel good" one. My husband always rolls his eyes at me, but he get5s over it.

The book I buy has to meet some strict criteria:
  • The spine has to be completely straight. No leaning in any direction.
  • The covers have to be in perfect condition. No tears, creases,or splits.
  • When I open the cover- ever so slightly- I listen for the cracking you hear when it's opened for the first time. I LOVE that sound. However, this isn't a deal breaker.
My preference tends to be hard covers and trade paperbacks. Rarely do the books I enjoy reading come in  mass-market paperback form, so I've gotten used to it. I love browsing through the bargain book sections of bookstores and used bookstores. I've found many gems in both places.

There you have it. What a book needs to have in order for me to buy it. I hope you've enjoyed this session of Book Confessions. I would love to hear what things you like out of a book you buy.

Shoot From The Lip

April 19, 2011

Shoot From The Lip
By: Leann Sweeney
276 Pages

Abby Rose is a detective specializing in adoption cases. TV show Reality Check has come to town to give Emma Lopez a new & better house after receiving an anonymous letter alerting them to her difficult life. However, when the house is torn down, more is found in the rubble than anyone expected. A mystery takes a whole new turn when skeletal remains are discovered. Who did they belong to? How did they get there? And, what does it have anything to do with Emma and her siblings?

Reality Check is a show much like Extreme Makeover. They go to people who deserve a dream to come true. An anonymous letter is sent to the show telling how Emma has been raising herself and her siblings for many years after her mother took off. They live in  a house that is falling apart and about to be demolished. On top of all that, Emma has a sibling who disappeared the day after she was born.

The show is now in Abby's town and they turn to her for help. However, she isn't willing to help them- but she is willing to help Emma. Working for Emma to get answers and find her missing sibling the two become friends. Once the skeleton is found, test results take everything in a direction no one saw coming. Are the remains related to Emma and her siblings? What happened to their Mother? Did she have anything to do with the body found under the house? So many questions arise and Abby Rose tries to get answers without the police, or Reality Check, getting them first.

Abby enlists the help of her psychologist sister, Kate. Not only does Kate have her own patients to take care of, she has just broken up with her boyfriend. Faster than anyone can blink, she's met a potential new guy. Will there be a happy ending or a broken heart?

This was a storyline got started right away and that moved along. I thought it was the first in the series, but it was actually the fourth. However, I had no trouble following along and getting the back story you may need. It was a fun trip to Houston with a great cast of characters. I look forward to future visits.

I loved reading this book. Let's face it, detective mysteries are a dime a dozen and rarely have anything setting them apart from the plethora of others published. However, Abby Rose deals with adoption cases, and that's not something I've come across. I think Leann Sweeney did an amazing job of telling a serious story in alight way that made you have a great time. I couldn't wait to see what was going to happen next.

Rating: Borrow From The Library/Buy It

Library Frustration

April 16, 2011

Grr!! Here's what happened. I was browsing through my library's paperback section and found a couple of mystery books that sounded good. I knew they were part of a series, but I was pretty sure at the time that I got the first two books. Turns out, I didn't. OK, no problem, right? Just go back onto my library website and request the first book in the series, no big deal. Wrong! Big deal! Apparently, my library has no record of any of the books in the series- not even the two I checked out a few hours before! What the heck?!

My Hubby had the answer to why there was no records for the books. You see, my library doesn't keep all the paperbacks information. In other words, some of the paperbacks show up in the system and some don't. Basically, you have to go to each library and check the shelves yourself to find out if they have it. This makes absolutely no sense to me. The books have a bar code, so why don't they show up in the system? Why does the library only register some of them? I get that there are many of them per library branch and that paperbacks can be ruined faster, but still!! If you have the book, you should have a record of the book!

Having said all that, I still love my library and have no plans to stop going. I wonder if they'd hire me to record all the books? That could be fun!

Sweet Valley Confidential

April 15, 2011

Sweet Valley Confidential: 10 Years Later
By: Francine Pascal

*** This review does include spoilers. ***


Twins Jessica & Elizabeth Wakefield are now 27, no longer speaking, & live on opposite coasts. What happened that tore these sisters apart?

"If it ain't broken, don't try to fix it." Francine Pascal, should have left well enough alone. I grew up reading about the Wakefield twins and their adventures in Sweet Valley High. I loved every minute of it so much, that long after I stopped reading the books, loyalty had me watching the TV show they made from them. It was great to live vicariously through these girls. However, 10 years later, everything has gone wrong and it's beyond what this once loyal fan can take.

So what happened that did do much damage? I'll tell you. The male lead who spent his youth in love with Elizabeth is now in love with her sister, Jessica. Not only are they together, but the live together and are planning a to get married. I had a hard time adjusting to this. In fact, I can't envision it. The whole series was about how close the sisters were and it went to great lengths to have Elizabeth and Todd the golden couple destined for the happily ever after ending. This book has gone against all of that.

I understand times, and feelings, change. But really? Jessica and Todd hated each other for years, and now their in love? I'm sorry, but you've lost me. This is too much for me to even do. The charm of the original series isn't here. In fact, very little beyond character names is still there. Granted, every one's around 27 and life happens, but it isn't even believable. I feel like Francine did such a butcher job on such a wonderful series and that damage is irreversible.

Rating: DO NOT BUY IT!!!!

A Childhood Series Favorite Revisited

April 14, 2011

When I think of the books I loved as a kid several series come to mind: The Babysitter's Club, Nancy Drew's Case Files, & Sweet Valley High. I enjoyed reading about the lives of twins Jessica & Elizabeth Wakefield. Jessica was the more popular one, while Elizabeth was the one I related to. Elizabeth led a quieter life, loved writing & reading books. I always lived vicariously through characters in whatever book I was reading, and I especially loved visiting these sisters and the world they lived in.

With the release of Sweet Valley Confidential, I began thinking: Can you revisit a series from your youth and enjoy it as much as you did then? Can a writer pick up a series written for a younger audience and make it interesting to an older one?

Sweet Valley Confidential picks up 10 years after Jessica & Elizabeth have graduated high school. These once close knit sisters are no longer speaking and live on opposite sides of the country. What tore them apart is part of the book's storyline. I am curious, but leery. When I began reading customer reviews I started to question whether I should even bother. Every review of this book was negative, save one. Customers forewarned it being awful and a waste of your time and money. I'm hoping that isn't the case for me, but we'll see.

I don't know how well an author can pick up a series that was originally geared for younger kids. I read the series around 4th and 5th grade. To my knowledge, and I could be wrong, the author stopped writing the series several years ago. I don't know if there is even an audience for these characters anymore. It will be interesting to see if the author can recapture the magic the original series had. For no other reason that sentimentality, I am going to give Sweet Valley Confidential a try.

Once Upon A Writing Time...

April 13, 2011

I first began dabbling in writing when I was in 5th grade. Not having anything else to write, I wrote down little paragraphs of my thoughts. I would sit down on my bedroom floor and type them out on the typewriter I was given. I wrote my little heart out as if I knew what I was doing.

When I got into junior high I began writing poetry and books. The first book I wrote was written at this time. Cheesy as it was, I loved every minute of it. I still have it to this day. One of my teachers had us do a career interview in class, I chose writing. I brought in the book I had been writing at the time and everything. It was also this time that I knew what I wanted to do when I grew up. I wanted to be a writer.

When I got into high school I began writing songs. For the next 10 years, that's all I wrote. The books of my junior high years took a backseat to this new passion I had. I've kept every one of them and am proud of how many I've written over the years. Anything and everything was subject matter to me. I felt so accomplished whenever I filled up a notebook. To date, I have almost 2 storage bins full of them. Good thing I have closet space for them!

My first adult fiction book was conceived in the early 2000s. I began researching a hefty project: a historical fiction novel that traveled through numerous time periods and historical events. I loved doing all the research I did for it. I knew next to nothing about most of the time periods I chose to use, so I was learning as I researched. Another lifelong passion was born. I never got to the writing part because I became pregnant with my oldest daughter. No longer having every waking minute to devote to my book, I had to put it on the back burner. After having my second daughter a few years later, I eventually accepted that my project was on hold until further notice. One day I plan to return to it and accomplish what I set out to, but for now I can dream and plan.

Writing has been a huge part of my life for the vast majority of it. My songs are little pieces of me and my imagination. I look at them as my venting sessions. They really are glimpses into the numerous sides of my personality. The books I've written were stories I wanted to write out. I loved sitting down with nothing but a pen and paper and writing whatever came to my head. I may never have my writing published, but I'm fine with that. I never wrote for anyone but myself.

44 Charles Street

April 12, 2011

44 Charles Street

By: Danielle Steel

319 Pages


When Francesca and her boyfriend of 5 years break up she discovers she can't afford to keep the house they bought on her own. Loving the house too much to let it go, she decides to get roommates. Chris is the single dad who takes a little while to open up about his life. Eileen, a teacher, is the youngest and enjoys meeting men online. Marya is the famous chef who's looking for a place to stay when she's in New York City working on her latest cookbook. What starts out as purely a living situation changes into more as these 4 people come together to help one another.

Not Danielle Steel's best work. This book is good for a one time read, but it isn't a book you'll go back to or have a hard time letting go of. Truthfully, I struggled through this book for the most part. In recent years, Danielle has developed a pattern of every other book not being very good. As I knew it would be, this one wasn't that great.

Francesca and Todd have been together for 5 years by the time they accept it's over. He wants marriage and kids, she doesn't. Together they bought a house and opened an art gallery. Todd no longer wants to be poor since the gallery is barely breaking even. He's also tired of constantly repairing things in the old house they jointly bought. Now that the relationship is over, Francesca can either buy him out of the house and gallery, or sell them. Rather than lose them both, she does whatever is necessary to keep them. In order to buy out his half of the gallery she sells several of her father's paintings. In order to keep the house she loves, she places ads for roommates.

Chris is carrying major baggage: his ex-wife is a heroine addict. He's tried for years to get sole custody of their son, but to no avail. However, things take a dramatic turn when she goes one step too far. The housemates come together to help him and his son.

Marya lost her husband a year before. She's kept busy with her chef career and brings the motherly influence to the group. Her meals bring everyone together. She never expected to find love again since she had the best there was in her husband. Funny how life takes you in directions you never thought you would go.

Eileen has a difficult past that she never really got over. She moves into the house after leaving San Diego to get away from her life there. However, old habits are hard to break and the Internet isn't the nest place to meet potential boyfriends. Sadly, she learns that lesson the hard way.

All four characters have their own healing to do. All four come together as strangers, never thinking it would go beyond that. But four strangers become a small family as they come together for one another.

Rating: Borrow From The Library

Could It Be?

April 11, 2011

I'm a HUGE fan of the movie You've Got Mail. I love that movie!!! Romance with books as a big aspect. Are you kidding me?! So imagine my surprise when I stumble upon this picture of an actual bookstore. Could it be?! Is this bookstore the same one used in the store? I have to say, the outside pretty much look the same to me. I sooo wish I could go to this store sometime. Guess what movie I'll be watching while I clean today?


April 6, 2011

Splendor (Luxe Series #4)

By: Anna Godbersen

391 pages


In the conclusion to the series find out how married life finds Elizabeth. See just how far she can be pushed and what she does when she pushes back. All is as far from paradise for the married duo of Henry and Penelope. Penelope catches the eye of a foreign Prince. Has she finally found a satisfying love or will she be made a fool of? Diana and Henry realize that in order to be together they have to leave New York. But can they do it, or will a family crisis force them both down different paths? Claire has the money she's always wanted, but can she get the love of the man she wants?

It is rare when a series stays as good in it's finale as it was in it's debut, but I think the Luxe series has. Reading Splendor was bittersweet. I couldn't wait to see what happened to the characters I've grown attached to, but I also knew this was it. Thankfully I bought the series so that if I ever find I have to revisit any of the characters, they're only a bookshelf away.

Elizabeth is settling into married life. Her tummy growing bigger every day with the baby she's carrying, life is going pretty well for her. However, all that changes when she stumbles upon paperwork her husband was hiding from her. On top of that, a man is now showing up at their new home demanding money to keep his mouth shut. Elizabeth figures out what's going on, but that's only half her battle.

Penelope has a bumpy re-entry into society after her "miscarriage". With her husband off fighting in the war, she gets distracted by a Prince who makes no secret his desires. Throwing caution to the wind, Penelope dances, dines, and sleeps with him all over the city. She is determined to be the Princess he says she should be.

Diana and Henry reunite and enjoy their time together. However, it's only to last while their abroad. When she's discovered in his barracks, both are sent back to New York. The plan is set for them to really be together and even leave New York for a lifetime of love, but one thing after another happens. A family tragedy strikes and it becomes the test of their love and future. Both are forced to take a look at what they want and what they need to do in order to be happy.

Claire has built a new life around lies. She has money to burn and has now got the love she's wanted. But her past isn't fading away quietly. An ugly, violent confrontation forces Claire to come clean about everything. Just when she thought she could breathe a sigh of relief, everything changes. But did it change for the better or worse?

I was satisfied with a couple of the endings, but not all. I wanted to see Diana & Henry live "happily ever after", but that was not to be. I really wanted to see Penelope stripped of everything she got through deceit and manipulation, but that was not to be either. I loved that Elizabeth finally found love after Will and went on to live a good life. Claire was never a character I was that interested in, so I didn't care how her ending came out to be. The biggest surprise to me was Diana. In book #1 she's the rebel daughter who plays by her own rules. Throughout the series you see that tested in various ways, but she and Elizabeth were the ones I was most invested in.

Rating: Buy It

This Blonde On A Mission

So, one of my favorite authors released a book yesterday. Since her work has been hit or miss the last few years, I didn't want to buy the book without knowing I'd like it. Instead, I planned on getting it from the library. According to the library website my branch was going to have 2 copies. I had every intention of getting one of them.

Tuesday morning: I make my way over to my library. I pull in to the parking lot and notice there's plenty of cars in it. Hopefully none of them came for what I did. I walk up to the doors and am rendered stupid when they don't open. What the heck?! Why aren't the opening? After several tries, they won't budge. I glance at the hours and realize they didn't open until 11am on Tuesdays. Oh! Well, fine. I'll be back!!!! (Never mind the people sitting in their cars getting a good chuckle out of this sight.)

11am: I arrive a few minutes early. As I walk up to the small crowd the doors open. Ha!! In my not so very nice and polite manner, I walk ahead of people to the new release section. I scour the tables and find.... NOTHING!!! Where the heck are they stashing this book?! When I do several looks and still don't see my book, I resort to checking the computers. Being Acquired By Library is what it tells me. In other words, they don't have it yet! DAMN!! I thought it said that because the book hadn't been released yet. DAMN!

Note to self: slow down while reading things that of importance. I put a hold on it and was 5th in line yesterday afternoon. By last night i was #1 line, so it could be ready for me any minute now!

I'm hoping the book is worth all this. My family got a big kick out this incident, so there's that at least. To the senior citizens I may have cut off in my attempt to accomplish my task, I apologize.

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