Monday, June 30, 2008

June Wrap-up

I was inspired to check my monthly progress for June from Naida over at The Bookworm. June was somewhat of a disappointment, with only 5 books read. That bring my total to 36 books for 2008. I was hoping that I would surpass 50 which I most likely will but not by much. I was on a very good pace until Summer hit! Anyway, here is my June recap:

Blackwave by John and Jean Silverwood
Songs for the Missing by Stewart O'Nan
The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
The Dangerous Joys of Dr. Sex and Other True Stories by Pagan Kennedy
Matrimony by Joshua Henkin

I have been very fortunate to receive many books this month and now need to kick my reading up a notch! I have about 50 pages left of The White Mary so hopefully I can sneak that in before July officially begins.

Literature Map

I saw this fun site on Librarything today and thought I would post on it. You type in your favorite author's name and it aligns authors who are similar. How fun! Here's an example, I typed in Jane Austen and it mapped up to Harper Lee, Tolstoy, Maeve Binchy, C.S. Lewis, Charlotte Bronte, Edith Wharton and Charles Dickens to name a few. Give it a try!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Great Book Giveaway

Trish over at Hey Lady Whatcha Reading is having a HUGE giveaway! Hachette Book Group has graciously given her 14 books to giveaway in honor of Summer. The best part is up to 5 people can win totaling 70 books to giveaway!

There are several ways to enter so be sure to check it out and tell her I sent you!

Sunday Salon

Good Sunday Morning! I managed to finish one book this week, Matrimony by Joshua Henkin. It was a quick read and very reminiscent of my college years. Last night I started White Mary and was immediately drawn in. So far it is fantastic and will probably make it to my top 5 reads of 2008 along with The Gargoyle.

I also started The Watercooler Effect yesterday which is a study of the psychology of rumors. So far it is very interesting. My only complaint is that it is a bound manuscript so the text is very small making it very difficult to read but I'll get past that, hey it was free!

Congratulations to all of the 24 hour read-a-thon participants! I wish I would have found out about it sooner, I would have loved to participate. Although I am not sure how my husband would react to me reading for 24 hours straight!

Unfortunately, this week will not be a great reading week. I have neglected laundry and housework long enough and really need to take care of that today. This week we are having 3 barbecues, yes, I know crazy! This has become an annual event over the 4th of July. Our town has a festival that we can walk to with live music and a beer garden so we usually bbq here and then walk over to the fest. I did take two vacation days this coming week so hopefully I will sneak some reading in somewhere!

That's it folks, I hope you have a great reading week!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Addictive Blog Award

Naida over at The Bookworm was kind enough to award me with her addictive blog award. Thanks Naida! Head on over to her blog to read her great reviews and see what she is crocheting.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Review of Matrimony by Joshua Henkin


Joshua Henkin


Matrimony is the story of Julian Wainwright and Carter Heinz who meet at Graymont College. Julian and Carter come from different worlds, Julian the son of wealthy New Yorkers and Carter the son of working class parents from California. Carter meets and falls in love with Pilar and Julian meets and falls in love with Mia. The two couples develop a friendship and spend much time together in college.

Senior year, Mia's world is crushed when her mother is diagnosed with breast cancer. This sends her looking for security with Julian and the two marry shortly before the end of their senior year. Carter spends most of his time trying to make Julian feel bad about where he came from. Always throwing comments about being a "trust fund baby" his way. He always feels inadequate to Julian and this is his own doing.

Things come out into the open when Julian visits Carter for his law school graduation and a dirty little secret is revealed. Julian's whole world is crushed when he finds this out. He and his wife separate. Julian spends the next few years soul searching and finds forgiveness.

This story was very reminiscent of friends of mine from college. Sadly, my friends did not end up the way that Julian and Mia did. I am sure many people can identify with the main characters and the issues that they face. I would have liked another chapter going into Julian's reconciliation with his parents and his relationship with Carter. Overall, this was a good, fast-paced book that brought back many memories from my own college experience.

Joshua Henkin has been kind enough to offer an autographed copy of the paperback when it is released in August so stay tuned for your chance to win!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sunday Salon

Good Sunday Morning! This week I managed to finish The Dangerous Joy of Dr. Sex and Other True Stories by Pagan Kennedy and really enjoyed it. My full review is below. Most of the stories were very inspiring and this was a welcome break from all of the fiction that I have been reading.

I am almost finished with Matrimony by Joshua Henkin. I hope to finish it today. Henkin has been gracious enough to offer a signed copy to giveaway so be sure to check back here in August for giveaway details.

Up next, The Fires by Alan Cheuse which is another book from Santa Fe Writers Project. I must start The Laws of Manu today, I must! I have been dragging my feet on starting this. I received it 3 weeks ago and only have 3 weeks to read and review it for Penguin Classics. It may take me 3 weeks to finish it!

While I was out of town this week my husband called me to inform me that our car was stolen from right in front of our house. Horrible! I felt so helpless being in another state while hearing this news but honestly what could I do here, drive around to look for my car? Unfortunately, my Ipod was in the car with 6 audiobooks loaded on it. I know, I should not have left it in the car and normally don't leave it in there but I was running late and honestly forgot about it. I know, my car was stolen and I'm complaining about my Ipod, sick, I can't help it! I also had 3 books in the car. Our insurance company said it will take 30 days to process the claim. This just sucks.

On another note, have you checked out the "Unsuggester" on Librarything? I had no idea about this feature until I read about it on koolaidmom's blog. Here are the top 10 books that Librarything does not see as a good fit based on the books listed in my library.

The new 'Mayflower' by Alan Villiers
The pleasures of God : meditations on God's delight in being God by John Piper
Benedict's way : an ancient monk's insights for a balanced life by Lonni Collins Pratt
The Purpose Driven Church: Growth Without Compromising Your Message & Mission by Rick Warren
Christian-theistic evidences (In defense of Biblical Christianity) by Cornelius Van Til
Brothers, we are not professionals : a plea to pastors for radical ministry by John Piper
The Radical Reformation (Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought) by Michael G. Baylor
The American College Encyclopedic Dictionary by Clarence Barnhart
The Passion of Jesus Christ: Fifty Reasons Why He Came to Die by John Piper
My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers

What are your "unsuggesters"?

It looks like it is going to be another stormy day here in Chicago. I plan on curling up with a good book until the Cubs game starts. Game 3 of the cross town classic, hopefully the Cubs will sweep the Sox today! I hope you have a great reading week!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Review of The Dangerous Joy of Dr. Sex and Other True Stories

The Dangerous Joys of Dr. Sex and Other True Stories
By Pagan Kennedy
Publisher: Santa Fe Writers Project
Release Date September 2008
The Dangerous Joys of Dr. Sex and Other True Stories are 15 short stories written by Pagan Kennedy. The main story is about Alex Comfort, author of the 1970s hit Joys of Sex. Kennedy interviewed Comfort's son Nick for the story and really dug deep into the heart of what inspired Comfort to write such a provocative book.
My favorite story was How to Make (Almost) Anything on Saul Griffith. Griffith is an MIT Grad student who is working on a machine to make eye glass lenses for third world countries. He realized after traveling to hand out used glasses to the poor that there was a need for this type of inexpensive equipment and set out to invent it. He is currently working on funding for production. The most inspiring part of his story is that he has created a cartoon for children to inspire them to invent things. When he was a child he would tinker around with miscellaneous items around the house to come up with some type of "machine". He feels that today's kids do not have this same desire due in part to our culture of video games. The comic strip gives the kids ideas on how to become inventors or "mad scientists" while using critical thinking and their imagination.
Kennedy really captured the passion of 12 everyday people who are trying to change the world. Often these people are overlooked and not given the credit they deserve for their work. All of them, in some way, are trying to make this world a better place for us. I really enjoyed reading this and look forward to other books written by Pagan Kennedy.
Special thanks to The Santa Fe Writers Project for sending me this copy for review. For more information please visit their website.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tuesday Thingers

Today's Tuesday Thinger Question(s): What's the most popular book in your library? Have you read it? What did you think? How many users have it? What's the most popular book you don't have? How does a book's popularity figure into your decisions about what to read?

The most popular book in my library is The Davinci Code with 23,291 members listing this in their libraries. I read it after much convincing by a co-worker a few years ago and thought it was ok. To be honest, I don't know what all of the hype was about. I have not seen the movie so I have no idea how it compares.

The most popular book that I don't have is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone with 32,518 members listing this in their libraries. I have never read any of the Harry Potter books. They are something that I would like to read I just have never gotten around to it. Some of my friends had reading parties when the last book was released. They literally sat around to read and eat with friends. I have to admit I felt a little left out but oh well!

I have read some popular titles such as The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns but read those long before all of the hoopla. I also read The Alchemist based on friends recommendations and hated it. I am not opposed to reading popular titles if they happen to peak my interest. Lately, my book club selections seem to be the most popular fiction that I am reading.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Review of The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

Review of The Gargoyle

Andrew Davidson

Release Date August 5, 2008

Sent by Publisher Random House

In Andrew Davidson's first novel, he takes the reader on a roller coaster ride. This book is not for those with a weak stomach. Davidson's story begins with a drug addicted pornographer crashes his car after a night of partying. As his car goes off a cliff, he describes the whole accident and what he feels when his bones are broken and he is severely burned.

While in the hospital recovering from his injuries and burns he meets Marianne Engel who claims was his lover from 700 years ago. Marianne Engel is not your typical caretaker, however, she is a mental health patient. This begins the story of friendship and redemption as one man comes to terms with his life, his past and his future and finally allows love into his life.

Sound a bit far-fetched? That's what I thought before I read this but what I found was one of the best novels I have read this year. Davidson has such a gift for writing. Everything is made believable in this, his first novel. I will forewarn you that much of this novel is gruesome in his details of the burns and subsequent healing process. If you can get past that then you are really in for a beautiful love story. Andrew Davidson is definitely an author to watch out for!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sunday Salon

Good Sunday Morning and Happy Father's Day! It is storming outside so what a perfect day to stay indoors curled up with a good book. My husband is gone for the day golfing with his dad and I have the whole house to myself. Yay!

I finished up The Gargoyle this week by Andrew Davidson and loved it. I will have a review up today. This book is in my top 5 for 2008. The subject matter is far fetched but underneath it all is a beautiful love story.

I have several books waiting to be read this week that are up for review and I still have my bookclub book The Tea Rose waiting to be read. I will be out of town this week so I will miss out on the bookclub discussion but still want to read this. At least the pressure is off!

Today I will most likely start The Dangerous Joys of Dr. Sex by Pagan Kennedy and The Aviary Gate. We'll see how those two work out. I was reading at a steady pace this year until May and everything went downhill because of work. My travel schedule has let up a bit but not much. I will be gone for four days this week visiting lovely Pittsburgh for work.

Well that's it for today folks. I am off to change the laundry and take a Claritin and then will grab a book and enjoy the day. I wish you all a good reading week and Happy Father's Day!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Review of Songs for the Missing by Stewart O'Nan

Songs for the Missing
Stewart O'Nan
Release Date October 30, 2008
Barnes and Noble First Look
Songs for the Missing is the story of one family's tragedy as they deal with their daughter Kim's disappearance. This was the first book that I have read by O'Nan, I had read many great reviews on Late Night at the Lobster and Circus Fire that my expectations were pretty high.
The book starts from Kim's point of view and describes her last day with her family. Each chapter then flips points of view, I was confused a few times as to who was narrating the story! A few times I actually had to go back to reread the first few paragraphs to figure out who was telling the story.
I have no first-hand experience with the disappearance of a family member, however, I found some of the story unconvincing. Kim's mother, for example, turned into a media magnet and had to carefully consider everything she said in front of the media. Perhaps this is what society has taught us. I felt that she should have been a bit more emotional that her daughter was missing! Because of this I was unsympathetic toward her and really started to not like her.
I felt sorry for Kim's little sister. I thought she was old enough to deal the reality of her sister's disappearance. Her parents protected her throughout the story. Again, having never gone through this I may be off the ball here.
Overall, this was not a terrible book. I would have liked to see more character development and the story told from one person's point of view.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tuesday Thingers

Today's question is about tags- do you tag? How do you tag? How do you feel about tagging- do you think it would be better to have standardized tags, like libraries have standardized subject headings, or do you like the individualized nature of tagging? What are your top 5 tags and what do they say about your collection or your reading habits?

When I started on Librarything I was just looking for a place to keep a log of what I was reading in a given year. Because of this my tags are labeled by year, TBR, ARC, audiobooks, etc. My top tags are TBR and 2008 list.

I really need to go and revise my tagging method and will do this someday but for right now this is what works for me. It's also very easy for me to find things this way. I am amazed at the elaborate tagging methods some people use.

Monday, June 9, 2008

A day late and a dollar short...

seems to be the theme lately. Since I missed my Sunday Salon post yesterday I thought I would post an update on my projects for this week. When I arrived home last week from New Orleans there were 7 packages of books waiting for me. I finished Songs for the Missing by Stewart O'Nan and started The Gargoyle which I can't put down.

I was not all that thrilled with Songs for the Missing. I am behind in my reviews but will have them posted this week.

How do you choose what to read next? Do you read books in the order you buy/receive them? Do you have to be in a certain mood to read something? Lately I have been trying to read things in the order I receive them. I have committed to reviewing books so I feel that I owe a review in a timely manner.

I hope you have a great reading week!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Review of Black Wave

Black Wave

John and Jean Silverwood

Early Reviewer Edition

On Sale July 1, 2008

Jean and John Silverwood have it all, a beautiful family and a thriving business in California yet they felt something was missing. Both Jean and John spent a large part of their young adult life traveling and sailing. They always knew they would one day return to the sea. With four young kids in tow they decided to spend their retirement savings on a sailboat, Emerald Jane, to travel the world.

Black Wave is their story of sailing around the world and what happens one fateful night when they struck a coral reef and almost lose it all. The first half of the book is told from Jean's perspective. I thought much of the first section was repetitive. The second half was told from John's perspective. John went into great detail on another tragedy at almost the exact same point. While it was interesting to read this eeery similarity I wanted to hear more of his perspective on giving up everything to sail around the world. Jean went into this in her section but I felt she was only speaking from her point of view.

I would have also liked to read about their kids and how they dealt with the aftermath of this horrible accident. Perhaps they will save that for another book. Overall, this was a good book, Jean has a gift for story-telling. I admire their courage for actually living their dream at a point in their lives where they could actually enjoy it.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Sunday Salon

Hi Everyone, I apologize for missing my Sunday Salon post yesterday. I am in New Orleans for work and did not have a chance to post. It is hot and humid here this week with record temps reaching 90 degrees and 50-60% humidity. When I left Chicago it was in the 50s so I was not used to this humidity and heat.

I started reading Songs for the Missing by Stewart O'Nan on the plane and haven't picked it up since Friday because of work. I am hoping tonight will be an early night and I'll be able to read . This is my last big trip for a while (thank god!). I will be traveling but not gone for 6-7 days at a time.

My husband told me that my Penguin Classic, The Laws of Manu arrived on Friday so I will be starting that when I get home. I have six weeks to read and review this on the Penguin Classic blog. There are two other packages waiting for me at home, yay!

That's it for this week. I hope to be back next week well rested and back to reading. Have a great reading week!