Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Misery Loves Cabernet by Kim Gruenenfelder

Misery Loves Cabernet, by Kim Gruenenfelder, is a very funny book. Having a funny book to read was a really nice thing for me as life in general wasn't very funny over the last few days. That being said, I enjoyed this book much more than I thought I would.

I received the book as an advanced readers copy through Library Thing. I knew nothing about the author and was very pleasantly surprised. My big concern was that the book is a sequel and I was afraid I would miss out on some important back story. The good news is that the book can stand alone, and does so rather well.

Charlie has a job working as a personal assistant for one of the biggest movie stars in the world, Drew Stanton. Drew is probably my favorite character in the book. He is spoiled, charming, and I find his affection for Charlie to be very sweet. Of course he's not the romantic interest for her but in my opinion he could be. . . Maybe in the next book? Charlie is caught up in her work, her romantic entanglements, and the lives of her friends and families.

I enjoyed the characters a lot. They were unique, quirky, and fun. Anyone who is a fan of women's fiction, and enjoys a good fun read, should pick up this book.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Teaser Tuesday - April 28

Today's teaser comes from Misery Loves Cabernet by Kim Gruenenfelder. It's a hilarious book that I am close to being done with. I hope to have a review up tomorrow.

This teaser is in response to a character pointing out the lack of wedding ring on a guy she is checking out. . .

From Page 52

"I'm not wearing my ten-year-old sweatpants with the hole in the butt. But that don't mean I don't put 'em on the minute I get home from the party."

Friday, April 24, 2009

Everyone Is Beautiful by Katherine Center

Everyone is Beautiful, by Katherine Center, is a witty, smart book that tackles everyday issues in a beautiful way. Lanie is a woman who recently moved across country with her husband and three young children. She is lost in the role of mother and wife. She doesn't seem to have any other identity. She is frumpy, tired, stressed and hundreds of other adjectives that describe a typical woman.

I think that's the reason I loved this book. Lanie is a typical woman. She loves her children fiercely even though they are normal, naughty little boys. She loves her husband even though they barely communicate anymore. She doesn't love herself. Her story is one of finding herself again, while rescuing a marriage. Peter, her hard-working musician husband, is also given an accurate portrayal. I can only imagine that across this planet there millions of men (and women for that matter) who work hard and feel disconnected to the family they love so much.

The writing is clever. The author gives Lanie a voice that I could relate to. There are scenes that just make you laugh out loud and there are some that you don't want to happen because your heart will break along with the characters. The epilogue itself is worth reading. Her view of women, and the beauty that is in all of us, despite our flaws, is truly beautiful.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Booking Through Thursday - April 23

It's one of those smart people questions today. . . I'll still try my best! :)

Question suggested by Barbara H:

My husband is not an avid reader, and he used to get very frustrated in college when teachers would insist discussing symbolism in a literary work when there didn't seem to him to be any. He felt that writers often just wrote the story for the story’s sake and other people read symbolism into it.

It does seem like modern fiction just “tells the story” without much symbolism. Is symbolism an older literary device, like excessive description, that is not used much any more? Do you think there was as much symbolism as English teachers seemed to think? What are some examples of symbolism from your reading?

I was not one of those who read looking for hidden meaning. I still have trouble finding the symbolism when I know it's supposed to be there. I think I got through my high school and college English classes by making a lot of stuff up. I'm a pretty straight-forward person. I don't like hidden meanings and big secrets. In my opinion, I don't think this makes me less intelligent or less of a reader than anyone else. It's just the way I am made. We all learn in different ways.

When I think of books that are loaded with symbolism, I do find that they tend to be older books. I think it is an older literary device that isn't used as much. I'm pretty convinced that there are no hidden meanings in some of the books I read these days. Some books are so cut and dry that I can't imagine they mean something more.

I think the example that comes to mind for me when I think of symbolism is the Narnia series. It's well known that C.S. Lewis used Christian imagery and symbolism in his stories. Even I can see some of that! He did a great job too. Anyone who wasn't looking for it, would just think the books were great fantasy, adventure books. Which they are of course. My 5th grade teacher read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe to the class but never mentioned anything having to do with Christianity. She couldn't, it was a public school, but still I never noticed. It was several years later that I found out that they were "Christian" books.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Host by Stephenie Meyer

The Host, by Stephenie Meyer, has been sitting on my shelf for a long time. I purchased it last spring - right before I broke my arm. It quickly became apparent that reading a hardcover - and a big hardcover at that - was not going to be possible with only one good arm. I tried. I propped it on my cast, tried putting it on my lap, and finally just gave up. It went back on the shelf and paperbacks became my friends.

I'm very happy to say that I finally read it. Guess what? I loved it! It took me about 50-75 pages to really "get it" but after that I just sailed along.

The Host take place here on Earth but an Earth that has been overtaken by an alien species. They are a parasitic species, they need hosts. Here on Earth, it's human hosts. The story is about one of those aliens - called souls - who is implanted into a human named Melanie. What they don't expect is that Melanie doesn't leave. Her spirit is still very present in the body. As the soul, Wanderer, attempts to assimilate to life in a human body, Melanie convinces her to try to find her family.

It sounds confusing, and at first it was. By the end, it all makes sense. Trust me on this. While it sounds like a science fiction book, it's really not. It's a book about humanity, love, and friendship. I found it disturbing at times, but in a good way. How do I as a human, want Wanderer, the parasitic alien, to succeed? I liked Wanderer and wanted a happy ending for her.

This is Stephenie Meyer's first book for adults that has nothing to do with the Twilight series. That being said, it's appropriate for teens in my opinion. There isn't any bad language and the love scenes are very chaste. I would recommend it for anyone who likes to look at the world in different ways.

Teaser Tuesday - April 21

Today's teaser comes from The Host, by Stephenie Meyer. I just finished the book on Sunday night and a review will be up on Wednesday - that would be tomorrow. I didn't get a chance to do a teaser for it so I wanted to make sure I did that.

From page 245

The pallid man with the white hair was Walter. He was sick, but Doc didn't know what was wrong with him - there was no way to find out, not without labs and tests, and even if Doc could diagnose the problem, he had no medicine to treat it.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Musing Mondays - April 20

Another good question for this week's Musing Monday!

Coming towards the end of April, we’re a third of the way through the way through the year. What’s the favourite book you’ve read so far in 2009? What about your least favourite? (question courtesy of MizB)

Looking back, I have to say that my favorite is the one I just finished last night. I haven't even posted a review but The Host is my favorite so far. I don't know if it's the books or me but I haven't been overly excited to read in 2009. The Host, by Stephenie Meyer was the first book to really get me going and excited to keep reading.

In 2nd place would be Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver. It was the first book I started and finished in 2009. After a rough start, I enjoyed that one as well.

My least favorite was The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory. I'm still a fan of the author but I just couldn't get into this book. It was long and dull. There were few surprises.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Booking Through Thursday - April 16

Today's prompt:

Yesterday, April 15th, was Tax Day here in the U.S., which means lots of lucky people will get refunds of over-paid taxes.

Whether you’re one of them or not, what would you spend an unexpected windfall on? Say … $50? How about $500?

(And, this is a reading meme, so by rights the answer should be book-related, but hey, feel free to go wild and splurge on anything you like.)

As I am not one of the lucky recipients of a refund this year, I can only dream. *sigh* If I were to somehow receive some unexpected money, and I wasn't allowed to be practical with it, I can think of a few things I might splurge on.

Let's just say that $500 showed up one day. I couldn't use it for paying bills and I couldn't put it in my savings account. I would buy a Kindle. Yes, something that I've been on the fence about for a while. It would be wonderful for traveling. Because I know it will never replace an actual book in my heart and my bookcase, it's something I wouldn't use every day. This makes it frivolous and therefore could only be purchased with unexpected money.

There are a few non-book related things I'd buy as well. I want a Flip Mino video camera so I can capture my naughty puppy in the act of dragging my shoes through the house. I'd like to do some re-organizing which requires baskets and shelves, so I'd buy that too. Hmm. . . I think my $500 is spent.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Teaser Tuesday - April 14

Today's teaser comes from Everyone is Beautiful by Katherine Center.

I have to confess that I handpicked this quote. And it's more than two sentences. I'm breaking all the rules today. I'm just so in love with the voice of the main character. She's a real woman and the author is brilliantly bringing her to life. Any book that can use the word "goober" is a good one.

From page 41

I stayed on the floor. The fall had deflated me. I didn't belong here. What kind of goober falls off a treadmill?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Booking through Thursday - April 9

Here’s the question:

Some people read one book at a time. Some people have a number of them on the go at any given time, perhaps a reading in bed book, a breakfast table book, a bathroom book, and so on, which leads me to…

  1. Are you currently reading more than one book?
  2. If so, how many books are you currently reading?
  3. Is this normal for you?
  4. Where do you keep your current reads?

I usually have two books going at a time. Rarely more than that. I am currently reading two books. This is pretty common for me as I keep one book by my bed and one book in my car. They occasionally change places if I'm wanting to finish one or the other, but generally they stay in their spots.

I read during my lunch breaks which is where the "Car Book" comes in. I usually get 1/2 hour to read every day which is nice. The "Bed Book" is the book I will drag around the house and read before bed. I like for it to be a lighter read, not one that will keep me up all night thinking!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Musing Mondays - On Tuesday

I'm a little late this week but better late than never!

As a follow up to last week's question, Joseph asked how you keep track of your tbr list. Do you have a paper list or on your computer? Do you take it with you when you go shopping? How do you decide what gets added to it?

I have a spreadsheet listing the books I own but haven't read yet. They are sorted alphabetically, first by author and then by title. This makes it easy for the A to Z challenge. This reminds me that I need to update it again. . .

As for books that I want to read but don't have in my possession, I usually have some sort of list in my purse. I wish I could say it was an organized list, but normally it's just a post it note stuck in a pocket of my purse. I'll be going to a library book sale this weekend and I'm usually looking for specific authors vs. titles.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris

I have to say that it's a good thing I gave this series a second chance. I didn't love the first book, Dead Until Dark. It was fine but nothing that made me really want to go out and get the second book. I did anyway. I'm sure glad I did. I found Living Dead in Dallas to be a lot more fun, a lot scarier, and it had a better plot. I'm not sure what happened with the first book. I might have been in a Twilight fog about then, wanting all my vampires to sparkle and dazzle.

This book continues the adventures of Sookie Stackhouse and her vampire boyfriend Bill Compton. For much of the book she is out of Bon Temps, so many of the characters introduced in the first book are minor players in this one. Eric is quite the intriguing character in this book but I'm not sure of his motives.

Sookie and Bill travel to Dallas so that Sookie can use her mind reading skills to help find a missing vampire. She quickly gets caught up in a trap -not by vampires, but by humans. I don't want to give anything away so I'm not going to get into the plot much at all.

I am looking forward to continuing this series. I'm working my way through the alphabet but as soon as I finish all 26 books, I'm going to re-visit Sookie and Bill. I recommend this to any reader who likes a little supernatural, a little humor, and a bit of adventure.