Happy Birthday

July 28, 2011

Happy Birthday
By: Danielle Steel
352 Pages

Valerie has just turned 60 and she is not happy about it. Though she's the source on home decor, she doesn't want anyone to know she's now 60. April, Valerie's daughter, has just turned 30. Owner of a hugely successful restaurant that keeps her busy with 20 hour days, life is about to give a whopper of a birthday present. Jack has turned 50. The former football star is spending his birthday with a thrown out back when his fling the prior night is more than he can handle. These 3 characters are going to meet and become connected in ways they never thought they would.

It's been my experience over the last several years with her books, that Danielle Steel has become hit or miss with her stories. Sad to say, I didn't go into this book with high expectations. Truthfully, the story didn't sound like one of hers that I was going to melt into. Happily, I was wrong. I really liked this book. Color me shocked, but I actually thought she did a great job with Happy Birthday.

Valerie is the fictional Martha Stewart. She's made a very successful career out of it. Still, being 60 is not something she's embracing. While once upon many a year ago she was married, she doubts she ever will find love again at her age. Life for Valerie hits a massive turning point when several armed gunmen storm her building, taking over her floor. Valerie and numerous other people become hostages fearing for their life. While she is one of the survivors, she doesn't walk out of the situation unchanged. Can an almost stranger, turned hero be her knight in shining armor?

April has had one dream for as long as she can remember: own her own restaurant that people flocked to. Now that she has done it, she realizes that she only has her restaurant and not the husband & kids most people have by the time they were 30. However, a bad review alters everything. A one night stand turns into the one night stand that leaves a gift. The Daddy-to-be is anything but happy about it. Having lived through a miserable childhood, Mike is now afraid of repeating history. Can he overcome his fear? And will a kitchen fire change everything?

Jack is the former football player, now turned sportscaster. He plays the field with girls young enough to be his daughter. The king of one night stands may find love creep up on him when he least suspects it. But will he give it up when his network wants to relocate him to another state?

Happy Birthday was a great light read. It was nice seeing the stories unfold and connect. I liked watching Mike struggle with childhood demons. I have to admit, I didn't expect the outcome of it. I really had him pegged in a different outcome.

Rating: Borrow From Library/ Buy It (if in mass paperback or bargain)

1105 Yakima Street

July 26, 2011

1105 Yakima Street
By: Debbie Macomber
400 Pages

Dear Reader,
You've probably heard that my wife has left me. Rachel's pregnant, and she says she can't handle the stress in our household anymore. My thirteen–year–old daughter, Jolene, is jealous of her. Maybe it's my fault. As a widower I spoiled her—
Jolene was reading over my shoulder just now and says that's not true. She claims Rachel ruined everything. But that's not true. The real question is: How can I get my wife back? I don't even know where she is. She's not with Teri Polgar or any of her other friends from the salon. The other question is…when will Jolene grow up and stop acting like such a brat?
Of course, I'm not the only one in town with problems. Linc Wyse's father–in–law is trying to destroy his business. And you know Charlotte Rhodes? Seems she's becoming forgetful, and the family's worried about her and Ben. Lots of other stuff going on—but Rachel is better at keeping up with it than I am.
If you have any idea where my wife is, give me a call. Please.

***Before we get this review started, I should let you know I didn't read this book. No, I enlisted my Mom- a HUGE fan of Debbie Macomber books. Seeing as this book is the latest in a series already well established, I thought she would be able to do a better job. ***

My Mom loved this book as much as all the other books she's read by Debbie Macomber. Like most of Debbie's fan, Mom loves how the story lines revolve around some of unwanted things that can happen, yet, shows the good that can come from them. In the case of 1105 Yakima Street, some of the characters are forced to deal with the affects of Alzheimer's, others deal with a stressful marriage and home environment. While Debbie Macomber doesn't shy away from these heart wrenching topics, she does leave you with a happy ending and the excitement to read the next book. She keeps you glued to the story to see how things play out.

My Mom loved the storyline involving Olivia the most. Olivia is a judge and, along with her brother, are noticing that Mom and Dad have begun forgetting things. For example, her parent's kitchen catches fire when her Mother leaves the stove on. A major decision is forced upon Olivia and her brother when, once back in their own house, Olivia discovers her parents not using the new stove because they don't know how to work it. Popcorn and cereal have become their new meals. At that point, the siblings have no choice but to accept a new reality. However, in classic Debbie Macomber fashion, this seemingly sad story has an incredibly happy ending.

Mom also loved the dynamic of Olivia's brother, Will, and the local artist he hires to help run his art gallery, Miranda. The two butt heads and eventually fall in love. Mom enjoyed watching Will grow from an adult/child into an adult.

She felt the storyline involving a pregnant Rachel who flees the house she shares with her husband, Bruce, and his daughter, Jolene, was good. Rachel and Bruce are expecting their child, but life in the house has become more than anyone can stand. Drastic measures are taken when Rachel moves out of the home they share and in with an old boyfriend and his roommates. Rachel doesn't want anyone to know where she is out of fear that Bruce will think she's now with the old boyfriend.

My Mom loved 1105 Yakima Street. In her words: "Debbie Macomber never fails to deliver a good story. The characters are people you would like to meet and be friends with." I think my favorite comment from my Mom about one of her favorite authors is: "Her books are like warm chocolate chip cookies." Enough said. I just may have to read this book myself.

Rating: Borrow From The Library/ Buy It!

The World Among Us

July 24, 2011

The World Among Us
By: Beth Ann Masarik

In The World Among Us, Hades, the god of the Underworld, plots to take over the world, and remove Gaia, the head Deity, from power.  In order to do so, he plots against his own son, Damien, and cons him into killing his soul mate, the beautiful goddess of the moon, Selene.  Hades does so, because Gaia is his natural enemy, and Selene is her favorite grandchild.  He thinks that by killing off Gaia’s favorite grandchild, he will weaken her.  With Selene out of the way, Hades then moves in on the Creatures of the Night.  He wants to kill off their leader, Jason Aysel.  Jason is the go-between person between worlds, and another person that Gaia highly regards.  Hades manipulates and cons Jason’s best friend, Leon Greene, into murdering him, by offering him Jason’s position as his reward.  Because of these actions, a war is to take place on earth between the gods and other Creatures of the Night.  During this time, Selene is reincarnated, and kept hidden as a secret weapon to win the war against Hades.  In order to win the war of wars, the gods and some of the demons will have to fight together, and learn to co-operate with each other.  Will the Titans and Olympians be able to set aside their differences, and take back the world from Hades?  Or is the world as we know it, doomed to fall under dark shadows, forever? -- author

Imagine having to live through 3000 years of teenage angst. That is what the main character of this story seems to be forced to do. The story focuses around Damien, the son of Hades, who is also a vampire. He is a prince of hell and is due to inherit all of the powers of his father, but he is put into decisions that are very hard to make. On one hand he wants to please his father, and on the other hand he wants to break away from him. Hades wants to rule the universe, and his machinations require war with all of the other gods and titans. He has elaborate plans that force Damien to chose sides. Damien makes choices and regrets them; so he tries to make amends for his misdeeds. He dedicates himself to protecting his true love which forces his allegiances to be tested.

This book is written primarily for a teenage audience, so the plot is pretty straight-forward. The character development is not as advanced as it would be if it were intended for adult audiences. Sometimes the logic of the characters is not easily followed. For example: one character is having an audience with Hades, and Hades asks this person to promise to perform a deed before he is told what it is. If that were me, I would have serious reservations about agreeing to anything before I knew what it was; especially if it were for Hades. In the story it seemed that Leon Greene had little thought before agreeing to the deed, which of course he regretted as soon as he found out that he had to murder his best friend. The book makes good use of the Greek mythology, incorporating gods, titans (predecessors and often fathers/mothers of the gods), and even Gaia (the mother of all the titans). If you have teens that are into the “vampire” genre, this could be an interesting read for them. This isn't a genre I read, but I can see how others can be fascinated with it.

Blog Update...

July 21, 2011

I haven't been as diligent with posting as I should be. I have several reviews that need to get done, and I've got to get back on top of everything. The last couple of weeks I've enjoyed the summer with my family & taking it easy. However, I have now got to get back to the reviews.

Stay tuned because they are coming soon. I even have a guest review by dear Hubby. Yeah, I roped him into it. I hope you all have been having a good summer so far. I look forward to being back in the swing of things.  Again, I'm sorry for the lack of entries.

Jane Erye (Book Memories)

July 16, 2011

Jane Eyre
By: Charlotte Bronte

Prior to me ever reading this book, I had heard nothing but good things about it. Still, I had not idea what I was in for. This book was an unforgettable read. It has everything- romance, drama, suspense. By the time I finished Jane Eyre I felt like I had been on an emotional journey with Jane herself.

From the beginning of Jane Eyre to the last page you are rooting for Jane. Your heart breaks for her when she's sent to the school only to later lose her best friend there. Hope and anticipation for the future flows from the book's pages to you as she takes on the governess position. It isn't just Jane's curiosity that peeks as one experience or encounter after another occurs with the unknown house guest. With every passing page I found myself unable to put the book down. I couldn't wait to see what was going to happen next. There were times I was gripping the book so hard my fingers hurt. I loved every second of it!

If you're looking for a book that will take you on an unforgettable journey, have you traveling all over the emotional map, and grab you with an iron grip Jane Eyre is a book you need to read. It is one of those books that I have to have on my bookshelf. I know I will re-read this book numerous times.

Reader Frustration!!!! (HELP!!)

July 11, 2011

What the heck?!?!?!? The last several books I've read have sucked! There's no way around it- they were awful! Most of them didn't even make it to my blog because there was no point. For the most part, I didn't even finish them. What in the world?!

The last book I loved was The Last Letter From Your Lover. I should have known that it would be hard to top, but I had hope. Every book since that one has been bad. And these are all review requests! A part of me is just about ready to take a break from the requests and hit my long missed bookshelves.

I hate when this happens. I know it's bound to happen and there's really no way around it. Sometimes these slumps are brief. Sometimes they are lengthy ruiners of a beloved past time. All I know is that when they happen to me, I am nothing short of miserable. I miss getting sucked into a storyline. I miss not being able to wait to see what will happen next. I miss being drawn to the characters and their world.

AARRGGHH!! Has this happened to you? How did you get through it? Was there one book or author that restored everything? Any advise?

A Catered Affair

July 10, 2011

A Catered Affair
By: Sue Margolis
374 Pages

When Tallulah gets jilted at the altar, she gets very drunk and starts making passes at the male wedding guests. She even propositions the caterer. But in the next few weeks, reality comes crashing down around her. Her difficult mother becomes more impossible than ever. Her lesbian sister starts trying to have a baby. Nana Ida gets busy matchmaking. What Tallulah is about to discover is that happiness doesn't always come in the form of the perfect doctor- and that sometimes real love doesn't require a catered affair.  --bn.com

I went into this book with high hopes. Sadly, it didn't deliver. By the time I was nearing on 100 pages, there was no wedding in sight. I felt that Sue Margolis spent too much time describing things that could've been done so in several paragraphs- not several pages. While you're waiting for the plot to kick in, you aren't amused much by the secondary characters and their own plots.

I feel this book has the potential to be good, but more editing needs to be done. Trim the excess and pointless. Beef up the secondary characters. If your book is going to be slow going, then make sure you have enough to keep the reader interested while they wait. Unfortunately, A Catered Affair didn't. I got to the point where I was no longer curious to see what would happen and how everything would play out. I had no doubt the ending would be happy. But I didn't care.

Rating: Borrow From Library

Smokin' Seventeen

July 8, 2011

Smokin' Seventeen
By: Janet Evanovich
308 Pages

Dead bodies are showing up in shallow graves on the empty construction lot of Vincent Plum Bail Bonds. No one is sure who the killer is, or why the victims have been offed, but what is clear is that Stephanie’s name is on the killer’s list.
Short on time to find evidence proving the killer’s identity, Stephanie faces further complications when her family and friends decide that it’s time for her to choose between her longtime off-again-on-again boyfriend, Trenton cop Joe Morelli, and the bad boy in her life, security expert Ranger. Stephanie’s mom is encouraging Stephanie to dump them both and choose a former high school football star who’s just returned to town. Stephanie’s sidekick, Lula, is encouraging Stephanie to have a red-hot boudoir “bake-off.” And Grandma Bella, Morelli’s old-world grandmother, is encouraging Stephanie to move to a new state when she puts “the eye” on Stephanie.
With a cold-blooded killer after her, a handful of hot men, and a capture list that includes a dancing bear and a senior citizen vampire, Stephanie’s life looks like it’s about to go up in smoke. --bn.com

I've been a long-time reader and fan of the Stephanie Plum series. Every time I read the books I know I'm going to be laughing at the hilarity that ensues in each book. While this book was no exception, I didn't seem to enjoy the plot as much as some of the previous books in the series. The book itself, isn't lacking for much, I just wasn't as grabbed by it as I have been before.

Joe's Grandma gives Stephanie Vordo- a sex spell. So, there's a lot more sex in this book than there usually is. Stephanie and Lula endure one calamity after another in the name of chasing down bail jumpers. One has an enormous problem, that is usually front and center. Stephanie's mom wants her to settle down and finds her the "perfect" man in David, a guy Stephanie went to high school with. While he's an amazing cook, there's more to his frying pan than meets the eye. A not so blast from her past is looking to get revenge on Stephanie.

This book will have you laughing pretty much non-stop. It was a fun read.

Rating: Borrow From The Library/Buy It

The Last Letter From Your Lover

July 6, 2011

The Last Letter From Your Lover
By: Jojo Moyes
398 Pages (my review copy)

It is 1960. When Jennifer Stirling wakes up in the hospital, she can remember nothing-not the tragic car accident that put her there, not her husband, not even who she is. She feels like a stranger in her own life until she stumbles upon an impassioned letter, signed simply "B", asking her to leave her husband.
Years later, in 2003, a journalist named Ellie discovers the same enigmatic letter in a forgotten file in her newspaper's archives. She becomes obsessed by the story and hopeful that it can resurrect her faltering career. Perhaps if these lovers had a happy ending she will find one to her own complicated love life, too. Ellie's search will rewrite history and help her see the truth about her own modern romance. --- bn.com 

This book is such an amazing read! I was glued to it the entire time. I couldn't wait to see what was going to happen and where the story was going to lead me. Absolutely beautiful. It was like I was there when Jennifer woke up and there when she finds the first letter. I was given the privilege of watching two characters fall in love and maneuver the hurdles thrown in their path. Like Jennifer, I was shocked to learn the lengths her husband went to. Through Jojo Moyes' writing style, I felt like a fly on the wall for all the highs and lows. I didn't want the book to end, but couldn't wait to see what was going to happen next.

The story begins with Jennifer waking up in the hospital after being the lone survivor of a car crash. She has no clue who the other passenger was or how the accident happened. The only thing she does know is that something doesn't feel right once she gets to her house and resumes her life. while cleaning her closets, she discovers a letter. Things start to come together after she discovers several more. Once she has these letters in her life again, nothing is the same again. Is the writer of the letters the fellow passenger in the car accident?

I don't want to give anything away, so I won't say too much more. I will say this: once you start reading The Last Letter From Your Lover, you will want to curl up and never stop reading it. Jojo Moyes has a bright and successful future ahead of her. She wrote a beautiful, telling story you don't want to put down. If you enjoyed The Notebook,  you will love The Last Letter From Your Lover. I fully intend for it to have a welcome place on my bookshelf.

Rating: BUY IT!

New Mystery Series!!!

July 5, 2011

Attention all mystery lovers!! There is a new series to get lost in! Famed mystery writer Jenn McKinlay has released book 1 in her new A Library Lover's Mystery series! Read and enjoy!

Lindsey is getting into her groove as the director of the Briar Creek Public Library when a New York editor visits town, creating quite a buzz. Lindsey's friend Beth wants to sell the editor her children's book, but Beth's boyfriend, a famous author, gets in the way. When they go to confront him, he's found murdered-and Beth is the prime suspect. Lindsey has to act fast before they throw the book at the wrong person.  --bn.com

I'm getting my copy today and can't wait to get started! I hope you enjoy it!

Growing Up Amish

July 3, 2011

Growing Up Amish
By: Ira Wagler

"...in this heartwarming memoir, Ira paints a vivid portrait of Amish life—from his childhood days on the family farm, his Rumspringa rite of passage at age 16, to his ultimate decision to leave the Amish Church for good at age 26." bn.com

Prior to reading this book, I knew very little about what it's like to be Amish. I didn't know there were different types of Amish, let alone the rules for their church. To say the very least, reading Growing Up Amish gave me knowledge I wouldn't have otherwise.

Ira really does take you into the life of the Amish. You learn the courting ways, the church ways. You find out what it's like to attend a regular church service and a baptism. By the time I had finished the book, I felt like I had been living next door to the Amish. And while I may not be able to live the life they do, I have a respect for their choice I didn't have before.

Growing Up Amish not only takes you among the people, but it also takes you on the emotional journey Ira Wagler went on. Through the course of the book, you will read how he leaves the church numerous times only to come back. However, every time he returns he isn't able to find the peace he was hoping would be there. By the fourth time, he finally has a firm understanding on his life direction. My heart broke for him every time he left and every time he came back.

Rating: Borrow From The Library

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