Saturday, December 5, 2009

Love The One You're With

I listened to this book a few months ago, but forgot to post about it. Here is the summary from Emily Giffin's website:

This is a story for everyone who has ever wondered: How can I truly love the one I'm with, when I can't forget the one who got away? Ellen and Andy's marriage doesn't just seem perfect, it is perfect. There is no question how deep their devotion is, and how naturally they bring out the best in each other. But one fateful afternoon, Ellen runs into Leo for the first time in eight years. Leo, the one who brought out the worst in her. Leo, the one who left her heartbroken with no explanation. Leo, the one she could never quite forget. When his reappearance ignites long-dormant emotions, Ellen begins to question whether the life she’s living is the one she's meant to live.

I really enjoyed this one and honestly couldn't decide how I wanted it to turn out. I don't want to give anything away, but the ending was good!

PS - I just found out Emily Giffin is publishing a new book this Spring! Can't wait!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Twenties Girl

I always enjoy Sophie Kinsella's novels because they are entertaining and fun. Twenties Girl was no exception. I really enjoyed reading it.

Here's the synopsis from Barnes & Noble:

When the spirit of Lara’s great-aunt Sadie–a feisty, demanding girl with firm ideas about fashion, love, and the right way to dance–mysteriously appears, she has one last request: Lara must find a missing necklace that had been in Sadie’s possession for more than seventy-five years, and Sadie cannot rest without it. Lara, on the other hand, has a number of ongoing distractions. Her best friend and business partner has run off to Goa, her start-up company is floundering, and she’s just been dumped by the “perfect” man.

Lara and Sadie make a hilarious sparring duo, and at first it seems as though they have nothing in common. But as the mission to find Sadie’s necklace leads to intrigue and a new romance for Lara, these very different “twenties” girls learn some surprising truths from each other along the way. Written with all the irrepressible charm and humor that have made Sophie Kinsella’s books beloved by millions, Twenties Girl is also a deeply moving testament to the transcendent bonds of friendship and family.

Read: September 2009
Pages: 448 (hardcover)

Monday, August 31, 2009

Sarah's Key

My friend Sara gave me this book for my birthday. It is about a Jewish girl whose family was part of a round up of Jews in Paris in WWII. She locks her little brother in a cupboard in their apartment so that he will be safe, but her family is sent to the camps and she has to escape to try to find him. The story goes back and forth between Sarah, the girl, and a journalist in current time who is doing a story on the anniversary of this little-known round up in Paris (called the Vel d'Hiv). The journalist, Julia, uncovers Sarah's secret and how it links to her family. I learned a lot about WWII and how Jews were treated in France, which is not something you usually hear about. The story was sad and heavy, but I'm very glad I read it. It is not one I will forget anytime soon.

Length: 330 pages
Time: August 5-15
Up Next: Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella

Friday, August 7, 2009

Julie & Julia

I read this book in a few days on our vacation to Ireland. I actually finished it too fast and ran out of things to read for the last two hours of the flight home (Brian let me read one of his Economist magazines, which is NOT the same as chick lit). I loved the book! Its so quick and fun. A little heavy on language, but really, it just made Julie more real. As you probably know unless you have been under a rock, Julie Powell cooked her way through Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a year and blogged about it all. And the movie version comes out today. As a blogger myself, I love the story of a regular girl turned blogger turned writer turned subject of a movie with Meryl Streep and Amy Adams! I loved the book so much that I couldn't wait to get on the computer and do a little googling to investigate about Julie Powell. You can go back and read her blog about the Project (as she calls it) and you can catch up on her current blog about the movie, her new book, etc. Fun!

Can't wait to see the movie!

Read: July 29-August 2
Next Up: Sarah's Key

Monday, August 3, 2009

American Wife

I really enjoyed this book. It is (very) loosely based on the life of Laura Bush but definitely a fictionalized version. The book hits the some of the highlights of Laura's life - only child, marries late, husband drinks a lot then finds religion, ends up as president - but is otherwise fictional (different names, different places, etc). I liked it a lot and read it very quickly, covering Alice's life from childhood up to the presidency. Curtis Sittenfeld is the same author who wrote Prep, which is now on my list of books to read.

Read: July 19-28 (partly while on vacay)
Up Next: Julie & Julia

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Secret Life of Bees

Another great book! I listened to this one over the last two weeks and sometimes it was hard to turn the car off because I wanted to know what happened next. This is about 14-year-old Lily, a girl from South Carolina who runs away from home in search of love and information about her mother. She finds acceptance with 3 black sisters, where she learns about bees and life. Sounds kind of crazy, but I loved it! Funny, heartwarming and so good. Read it.

Read/Listened: July 7 - 21

Next Up for the Car: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (I read it when it came out in 2007 but I'm dying to re-read, especially after I see the 6th movie)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Devil in the Junior League

Emily let me borrow this book several months ago and I finally got around to reading it. I loved it!! Devil in the Junior League is one of those quick-witted chick lit novels that manages to make you laugh and surprise you. The plot is this: The fabulous Frede Ware, Junior Leaguer extraordinaire, is shocked when her husband leaves her and takes her money. To get back at her ex and recover her money, Frede hires her uncouth neighbor, lawyer Howard Grout. In exchange, she has to get his leopard-print wearing wife Nikki into the Junior League. The book is set in a small town in Texas and captures Texas high society perfectly. Think a cross between Highland Park in Dallas and Bellaire in Houston. Its fun and witty and I couldn't put it down. Perfect for laying by the pool!

Read: July 11-18
Up Next: American Wife

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Reading Lolita in Tehran

Amazon Book Review: An inspired blend of memoir and literary criticism, Reading Lolita in Tehran is a moving testament to the power of art and its ability to change and improve people's lives. In 1995, after resigning from her job as a professor at a university in Tehran due to repressive policies, Azar Nafisi invited seven of her best female students to attend a weekly study of great Western literature in her home. Since the books they read were officially banned by the government, the women were forced to meet in secret, often sharing photocopied pages of the illegal novels. For two years they met to talk, share, and "shed their mandatory veils and robes and burst into color." Though most of the women were shy and intimidated at first, they soon became emboldened by the forum and used the meetings as a springboard for debating the social, cultural, and political realities of living under strict Islamic rule. They discussed their harassment at the hands of "morality guards," the daily indignities of living under the Ayatollah Khomeini's regime, the effects of the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, love, marriage, and life in general, giving readers a rare inside look at revolutionary Iran. Threaded into the memoir are trenchant discussions of the work of Vladimir Nabokov, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jane Austen, and other authors who provided the women with examples of those who successfully asserted their autonomy despite great odds.

My Review: I'm not quite sure what I thought about this book. I was intrigued about the idea of a memoir about a women's book club, classic English novels and Iran. I liked the general idea and story, but got lost a bit lost when the author discussed books I have never Lolita and anything by Henry James. At times it read more like a lecture than a memoir and, to be honest, I had to force myself to keep reading. I really liked the parts of the book that focused on the girls in the book club and their struggles to find freedom and identity in Iran...but I had to skim to get to those parts. So, I do recommend the book sort-of, but only if you've read the books she discusses.

Read: June 15-July 10
Author: Azar Nafisi
Pages: 340

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Thousand Splendid Suns

I finished listening to this book a few days ago but I had to let it gel before I could write a review. I really enjoyed this book. I think I liked it even a little more than Kite Runner. This book tells the story of two women, Mariam and Laila, as they each grow up in Afghanistan and how their lives come together. The story really grabs you and at the end of the book, I literally could not get out of the car because I had to know what happened next! Its similar to Kite Runner in that you get some of the history of the wars in that area, mixed with a really good story that is a bit emotional. I recommend!

Read (listened): June 2009
Related books: Kite Runner (same author, story is unrelated)
Next Up (for my commute): Secret Life of Bees

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Other Queen

This is Philippa Gregory's newest book about Mary Queen of Scots. I was less than impressed by this one. Aside from learning a little bit about Mary and her relationship with Queen Elizabeth, the book was pretty uneventful. For the entire 330 pages, Queen Mary is imprisoned with one of Queen Elizabeth's courtiers. The novel goes back and forth with Mary's attempts to escape and reclaim her throne. Nothing terribly exciting happens and I didn't get as wrapped up in the characters. I almost stopped reading halfway through.

So overall, unless you have a thing for English royalty, skip this one.

Philippa is coming out with a new one at the end of the summer called the White Queen. I hope its better.

Read: May 7 - June 11 (a whole month...that means it was dull)
Author: Philippa Gregory
Related Books: This is the last book in the series on the Tudor family. It comes after The Virgin's Lover chronologically.
Next Up: Reading Lolita in Tehran

Monday, May 25, 2009

Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict

I recently listened to this book during my commute and loved it! Perfect for anyone with a hint of a Jane Austen obsession. Courtney, a 21st century gal and avid Jane Austen fan, wakes up in the body and life of Jane Mansfield, circa 1814 (ie right after P&P was published). As Courtney adapts to life with corsets, men in tights, and no plumbing, she must discover as much as possible about Jane and how they traded lives. This book was very entertaining and fun. Sometimes it was hard to turn off the car when I got home because I wanted to find out what happened next.

Read (Listened): May 2009
Author: Laurie Viera Rigler
Related Books: Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict (a sequel about Jane Mansfield's experience waking up in Courtney's life in the 21st century!)
Just for Fun: check out the author's website! Lots of Jane Austen fun.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Water for Elephants

This book really surprised me. In January, I was getting a pedicure and the woman next to me was reading it. We had a little discussion about books (I was reading Twilight at the time and so we talked about it). Anyway, she had about 10 pages left of this book when her pedicure was done, and I said she should just stay and finish the book (because we all know how hard it is to stop reading with only 10 pages to go!). So she finished the book and left. But less than a minute later, she walked back into the shop, handed the book to me, and said to enjoy. Total stranger just gave me her book. It caught me off guard and was a gesture I won't forget anytime soon! So I finally got around to reading it!

Water for Elephants is about Jacob, a young guy in the 1930s who hops on a circus train, ends up becoming the show's vet and falling in love, with a girl and Rosie the elephant. The story is punctuated with scenes from Jacob's life as an elderly man, looking back on his crazy days in the circus. The story reels you in quickly and is really hard to put down! I learned a lot about the early circus days and what life must have been like. I had no idea what to expect from this book and ended up loving it. I highly recommend!

Read: April 21 - May 3
Length: 330 pages
Next Up: The Other Queen (Philippa Gregory's newest book). I am also on a little Jane Austen kick so I'm re-reading P&P. Then I really want to read her other novels! Has anyone read any Austen besides P&P? Which one should I start with?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Sammy's Hill and Sammy's House

This is a two-for-one book review! I read Sammy's Hill sometime last year and just finished the sequel last week. The author is Kristin Gore, as in Al Gore's daughter. Given her upbringing, she has good insight on how things work "on the hill" and "in the house". Although her views tend to be a tad negative about the former president (who is clearly modeled after Bush) and a tad liberal, it wasn't prevelant enough to turn me off.

Sammy's Hill - Sammy is a staffer with a democratic Senator (or maybe he's a congressman, I can't remember). The book covers her adventures on the hill and eventually on the campaign trail. Sammy is a cute chick lit heroine - witty, a little clumsy, and insightful. This ranks high on my chick lit list!

Sammy's House - Sammy now works in the White House where she uncovers a few secrets about the administration and deals with a long distance relationship. Just as cute and entertaining as the first one!

Each book is about 300 pages and you should add them to your chick lit list!

Next Up: Water for Elephants (because all 3 of my readers voted for it)

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Marley and Me

Tonight I finally watched Marley & Me the movie! I read the book several years ago and was dying to see the movie at Christmas but I got over-ruled. So of course I rented it the day it came out on BluRay!! I loved Marley & Me - both the book and the movie. Of course, the book is always better because you get so much more detail, but the movie was cute and accurate. I felt like the movie conveyed all the emotion and humor of the book. Plus, who doesn't love Owen Wilson, Jennifer Anniston and cute labs?? Seriously.

Just a little word about a pet peeve of mine. I really don't like it when people refuse to read good, well-written, insightful, delightful books just because the end might be sad!! Yes, Marley & Me is a book about a dog so you can guess how it ends and yes, the end IS sad. Yes, after reading it I felt sad about my dog's mortality. BUT the rest of the book is so good it made me appreciate every sweet moment with my dog, even when she is driving me crazy. Plus, I think all good books take you on some sort of emotional journey. Thats part of the fun!

Plot - Although I'm sure you all know, this is about "life and love with the world's worst dog". Really its the story of a young couple and the beginning of their family, filled with lots of very funny moments with Marley.
Read - 2006?
Length - 300 pages

Monday, March 30, 2009

Blog Karma

The other day, my brother called me narcissitic for having two blogs. I told him that my book blog was mainly for me to keep track of what I read and that I am always looking for good books/recommendations from my friends and that maybe the blog would become a forum for that. He called it blog karma - I was putting book reviews into the blogosphere in the hopes that I what I put out there would come back to me.

Well, I am happy to report that the very next day, I got my blog karma! My friend Sara started her own book blog!! Sara has recommended some good books to me over the years, and I can't wait to see what she has to say. Sara has a rating system, so I am thinking about creating my own rating system as well. Anyway, feel free to leave comments with recommendations of what I should read (or avoid reading)!

Three Cups of Tea

This book was eye-opening to what is going on in Pakistan as a result of the Taliban. It details the efforts of Greg Mortenson to raise money to build schools in rural villages of Pakistan on the belief that education is the key to fighting terrorism. I learned a lot about how people live over there and how poverty, lack of options, and lack of education contribute to the rise of terrorists. I highly recommend reading this book (even if it did get a little long and choppy at the end).

Read: March 8-29, 2009
Length: 330 pages
More info: Three Cups of Tea website
Next Up: Sammy's House by Kristin Gore

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Baby Proof

I just finished listening to this book on CD on my way to work. It was read by Cynthia Nixon (of Sex and the City) so that made it fun. Anyway, I really like Emily Giffin's style and the fact that she is a lawyer turned novelist. Its like she is living my dream. Anyway, I think I liked the other two books a little better, but this is still a fun read (or listen...anything to get your mind off traffic).

Plot: Claudia and her husband do not want to have children...and then he changes his mind!

Read: March 16-25

Also by Emily Giffin: Something Borrowed and Something Blue

Still Reading: Three Cups of Tea

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Something Blue

Since this book is the sequel to Something Borrowed, I wasn't sure what to expect, especially because the main character switched. But I loved it! Maybe even more than the first one. I can't wait to get the other two that she wrote. Anyway, Something Blue has great character development: The author makes you hate Darcy in the first book but somehow I loved her in the second.

Plot: Darcy breaks off her engagement because she is prego with someone else's bebe and a little soul searching ensues.

Read: March 1-7, 2009

Related Books: Something Borrowed (book #1) and Baby Proof (same author, don't know if the characters overlap)

Next Up: Three Cups of Tea

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Virgin's Lover

I'm not quite as interested in Queen Elizabeth as I was in Henry VIII's wives, but this was still a good book and I learned a lot. It actually made me want to learn a little more about Elizabeth's reign, in particular why she never married. This book covers the first few years of her time as queen, which was more tumultuous than I thought. Definitely worthwhile if you like Philippa Greggory's other books!

Plot: Elizabeth becomes queen and falls in love with Sir Robert Dudley...but he's married and she's queen...drama

Read: February 2009

Related Books: The Other Queen (next chronologically)

Next Up: Something Blue

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Philippa Gregory Books

I love the books about the wives of Henry VIII by Philippa Greggory. She really brings the queens to life and makes you relate to them. I don't know what order they were published in, but I recommend reading them in chronological order:

The Constant Princess
This is the sweet, sad story of Katherine of Aragon, a princess of Spain who first married Henry VIII's older brother Philip. When Philip died, she hung around England until she managed to marry Henry and become queen. I loved reading about Katherine's love story with two brothers and her quest to be England's queen.

The Other Boleyn Girl
This book focuses on Anne Boleyn's sister Mary, who was one of Henry's mistresses before Anne lured Henry in and convinced him to divorce Katherine and separate from the Catholic church. Even though its a little long, the book is sooooo good! The author really brings out the relationship between the two sisters and the king and the struggle of the Boleyn family to rise (and stay) in power. So so so good.

The Boleyn Inheritance
This picks up after Anne Boleyn is killed and after wife #3 (Jane Seymour) dies in childbirth. Henry picks wife #4, a German princess, from a painting and when she shows up, he does not like her at all. So then Kitty Howard, Anne Boleyn's cousin, flirts her way on to the throne instead. Its written from the perspective of wife #4, wife #5 and Anne Boleyn's sister-in-law. Very interesting (although a tad long). It really makes me think Henry VIII was off his rocker toward the end of his reign. Too much power.

If you read these, let me know what you think!

After these books, read The Queen's Fool (about Henry's children and their ascent to the throne), then The Virgin's Lover (about Queen Elizabeth, I'm reading this right now) and then The Other Queen (about Mary Queen of Scots, this one is still on my list to read).

Thursday, February 5, 2009


My mom and Brian both gave me this book for Christmas because I had been wanting to read it so badly. My grandma was raving about it over Thanksgiving and Dewey's face on the cover is too cute. I flew through the book, which read a little bit more like a memoir of the head librarian than I expected (although I don't know why I was surprised - its not like you can fill 200 pages with silly cat stories and make the best seller list). Cute, touching book overall.

Plot: Kitten is dropped in library drop box and brings together a small town in Iowa.

Read: late January 2009

Next Up: The Virgin's Lover

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Breaking Dawn

Um. Wow. I loved this one the most even though it was so long. It felt like two different books (maybe even three) since the plot was so intricate. And I think there is room for a sequel...or at least a follow-up even if the main character was different.

Plot: Bella and Edward get married...and I can't spoil the rest because its too good!

Read: Jan. 2 - 29

Next Up: Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron

Monday, January 26, 2009


Well, I did not end up reading The Virgin's Lover next. After seeing the Twilight movie, I had to go get the last two books ASAP! I found them at Half Price Books in perfect condition. I was not as impressed with Eclipse. To be honest, the plot of this one sort of dragged. I wanted to read it so that I would know what happened, but I just could not get into it as much. Maybe that was partly because I tried to read it during a really busy time at work and over the holidays so I never had the opportunity to read a whole lot at once? I don't know. Still worth reading if you have read the rest (especially becasue the last one is SO good!!).

Plot: Something to do with an evil vampire chick and an army of newborns. I won't spoil it for you.

Read: Dec. 8 - Jan. 1

Next Up: Breaking Dawn