Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Time For More Book Talk!

Hi All!

It is that time again! Time for book talk! This time I have quite a stack of books to talk about so, sit back, grab a favorite beverage, and enjoy!

First up is I Went To Vassar For This? by Naomi Neale.

I purchased this book at the school book sale for the cover and the title. I have never read a book by Naomi Neale before so I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

Luckily, it was a good experience for me.

The premise of this book is that a Vassar educated woman is thrust backwards in time due to an accidental explosion. The main character, Cathy Voorhees, finds her luck going bad, very bad. Recently fired from her promising advertising job, Cathy returns home to microwave a meal - she doesn't know how to cook. Not realizing that the meal she pops in the microwave is in a metal container never meant to be microwaved, Cathy finds herself the victim of an explosion during which she gets knocked out by a flying microwave door.

When Cathy wakes up, she finds herself in the 1950s living the life of a totally different Cathy! While the clothes of the era make Cathy look fabulous, the rest of this life leaves her . . . baffled.

While this book will probably never win a Pulitzer for literature, it wins my vote for a super beach read. It is classic chick lit and is a fun read from start to finish.

Next on the pile is Sweet as Sugar, Hot as Spice by Kimberly Raye.

This book is another that I picked up at the school sale for the cover. Again, I have never read any books by this author so . . .once more I found myself thrust into the unknown.

Linc Adams, a NASCAR driver from a wealthy family, and Eve Farrel, the owner of a video company which produces how-to sex videos, discover that they can help each other out of sticky situations and decide to get married - for pretend only.

Linc's family wants him to quit "messing around" with NASCAR and return to the tradition of politics - starting with a run for mayor. Marrying Eve with her rather scandalous profession seems like just the thing to get the voter base to turn against him and towards his best friend, who is also running for mayor. Eve's mother, a staunch feminist, has seen two of her three daughters do the unthinkable - get married. Eve is her last hope and by marrying Linc, Eve attempts to distance herself from her mother.

Will their plots work? Will Linc and Eve be able to maintain a "pretend" marriage without getting involved with each other? These are the questions which evolve in the course of the book.

Again, this is no prize winner but, it isn't unreadable. It isn't really my kind of "chick lit" but it wouldn't be bad for a beach read. Not my first pick for beach read simply because of the rather trite concept and the "interesting" background of Eve (which, by the way, isn't too explicitly detailed in the book).

Up now is The Lakeside Cottage by Susan Wiggs.

Having previously read one of Susan Wiggs' books, and enjoying it, I decided to pick this one up at the sale.

It was worth it!

Kate Livingston, a single mother of a very active son, Aaron, travels to her family's lakeside "cottage" to spend the summer as she does every year. This year, however will be a little different. Due to recent moves, the rest of her family will not be joining Kate and Aaron this summer leaving them alone in the palatial cottage.

A bit unhappy about missing her family, Kate is determined to show Aaron a wonderful summer. This plan is almost derailed when she finds a stranger living in the cottage. After almost being scared to death, Kate finds that the stranger is a young girl, Callie, who is part of the cleaning crew and who has no where else to go. In a spur-of- the-moment move, Kate invites Callie to live with them for the rest of the summer. After all, there is plenty of room in the "cottage."

Another unexpected surprise is the handsome man, JD, who is staying in the cottage next door. While he is mysterious about his past, for good reason, he intrigues Kate and seems like a good father figure for Aaron.

Can this be a good thing?

Susan Wiggs write a good book! These characters are believable and seem like they could by your friends. There are twists and turns throughout the book which leave you guessing. A superb example of perfect "chick lit." If you haven't read a Susan Wiggs book, I suggest that you check one out!

The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje is the next on the pile o' books.

Once more, this is a book sale purchase. Having heard of the movie (but never seeing it), I decided to see what the book was like.

Not really knowing what to expect other than what I had seen long ago on the movie previews, I went into this book with an open mind. Which soon got a little cloudy.

The story about Hana, a nurse who is dealing with the death of her father during the war, a severely burned patient who can't remember his name, a friend of Hana's from the past, Caravaggio, who has had his thumbs cut off by the enemy, and a bomb diffuser name Kip from India, is full of flashbacks and jumps into the future.

All four of the characters live, temporarily, in a villa in Italy which has been bombed almost into rubble. The water is cut off and there is little food besides what they can grow or scrounge. While the war, World War II, has moved out of the area, the remnants can still be seen in the landscape and the thoughts and memories of the characters.

Each of the characters seems to be searching for something in the book and their interaction with the others helps them find themselves in different ways.

Okay, I might get blasted for saying this but . . . I didn't really enjoy this book. The characters were superbly written and the circumstances they were living in were described well. However, the jumps forward and back and the darkness of the characters' thoughts, memories, and feelings left me a bit cold. Not divided into chapters but rather sections, the book seems disconnected. I had a difficult time keeping the stream of the plot straight in my mind. By the end of the book, which I reached by sheer will-power, I was left with more questions than answers.

Perhaps Michael Ondaatje intended his book to have that impact. I don't know. All I know is that I find myself with very little desire to see the movie after reading the book.

A friend of mine insists that the movie is MUCH better and that I should see it. I don't think I will. I just think . . . blah.

On a lighter note is our final book for this session, Vision in White by Nora Roberts.

I know, I know! The past few Nora Roberts books I have read haven't left me feeling to inspired to read more but I guess I am eternally hopeful because I picked this book up at Wal Mart when I saw it. I had heard about it on a podcast (Barnes and Noble Tagged) and was curious to see if Roberts was getting anything fresh and different written.

Luckily, this book surprised me. While there is a whiff of formulaic writing in it, it doesn't follow the same path as most of Roberts' other books. The concept is fresh and I found the book a very good read.

Four childhood friends, Mac, Parker, Laurel, and Emma, form a Wedding Planning company which features each of their specialties. Mac is the wedding photographer. Parker is the organizer. Laurel is the chef. Emma is the florist. The four live on Parker's family estate and run the business from her rather huge house. The four friends each bring different personalities and talents to the partnership and this makes their business one of the best.

This book, the first in The Bride Quartet, focuses on Mac, the photographer. Mac, short of Mackensie, accidentally runs into a "friend" from school, Carter. Mac doesn't really remember Carter too well since he was several years ahead of her but, when she meets him again, there seems to be a bit of a spark.

I enjoyed this book and am actually looking forward to the next in the series. If you are a Nora Roberts fan, or even just a wedding fan, pick this book up. It is a refreshing departure from the tired "norm" and shows why Nora Roberts is such a popular author.

That is it for now!

Skor Update: Skor is still not massaging my face but has decided to try to eat my earrings. I am determined to break him of the habit. This morning he got shoved away from my ears. Once his head "thunked" into the headboard and woke Hubby up. We will see if Skor learns this lesson soon!


Voice Update: My voice is doing well. However, I am in a funk about the whole SD thing. I don't want to deal with it. I want to ignore it (and that tends to get me in trouble!). This is a little difficult since I am planning the June 27th support group meeting. *sigh* I lead such a difficult life!


Flea said...

Kewl! I'll stay away from several of those. Thanks for the heads up. Maybe get them thru the library.

I just read Things Left Unspoken, by Eva Marie Everson. Definitely worth the time to read. Enjoyed it immensely.

Anonymous said...

Good reviews! I've been wondering when Nora Roberts would get out of her groove and do something fresh.

Sorry about your SD funk. I don't want to deal with my asthma sometimes either, but I find that's always a poor decision!

Liz said...

The Vassar one sounds funny -- and the cover is very reminiscent of those postcards you see sometime, of '50s women saying funny things. (I have one of a housewife and a fridge, saying "Make Your Own Damn Dinner." It's on the fridge..."

Some of the others ... well, I read the Nora Roberts a few weeks ago. I don't think it's up to her usual standards, but it was a nice light read. And I just finished a mystery (totally forgettable, and hd some plot lines I still don't understand," plus a couple non-fiction reads that were light enough to be fun and interesting. One is a very fun book of dating advice, "Why I Love Men: The Joys of Dating." And our single women readers (well, and men, too) will like it and find it useful and informative, I think. And all of us can learn from the tips on doing a beauty transformation and the truth about sex. Very entertaining!

And now, the library has just informed me the latest Lee child book is in for me...