Friday, May 30, 2008

Going on vacation

I am leaving this afternoon on a vacation for the next week. I am excited because there's no tv, computers, etc there and so will be able to do lots of reading. (Course I'll also be going through computer withdrawal.) It's a challenge, though, to know how many books to bring. And which books to bring? I'm sure I'll have lots to say when I return. I don't know if I'll be able to check in - probably depends on how severe are my withdrawal symptoms. Have a good week!

Book catchup

End of week 2 of this blog thing and am still loving it. I am working through what all I'll put on here and what I won't. Should I post a review of everything I read? I haven't done that these last two weeks. That kind of seems like overkill but then if this blog is about books (and me of course) then maybe I should review each one. Do I only include books that really moved me one way or the other? Only newer books? Hmmm...

As I continue to contemplate this momentous decision (okay, really just procrastinating making the decision and hoping to get some input from others) I am just going to update one what books I've read in the last couple of weeks and didn't review. Okay..I wrote this up and started putting in the books I haven't reviewed. Turns out they are all book club books. I've already talked about the others. So, maybe I already answered my own question?

There's a (Slight) Chance I Might be Going to Hell by Laurie Notaro: This book is the September book for my book club. I enjoyed it. It was a little out there in the believability that all these things would happen in a small town. It made me laugh.

Compromising Positions by Susan Isaacs: This is also a book club book - for July this time. I was not a fan of this book. It sounded like my kind of book - murder, armchair female dective, etc. But I just couldn't get into it. Maybe it was the writing? I don't know. I look forward to discussing with the book club - maybe I missed something.

Gardenias for Breakfast by Robin Jones Gunn: This is for my book club at church. I gave it four (out of 5) stars in my library thing . It was a good story about mothers and daughters and the complicated relationships we all seem to have.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Jeffrey Tolliver and Sara Linton Series by Karin Slaughter

I started a new series this spring that I really like. Karin Slaughter is the author. The books I've read so far, in order:
A Faint Cold Fear

The stories center on police chief Jeffrey Tolliver and his ex-wife, pediatrician and part-time medical examiner, Sarah Linton. The books walk through murders in their town while keeping their relationship in the middle of the story. Some of the details of the murders are a bit gruesome, but those details are only a small part of the story. The majority is how they work through the investigation, which usually brings danger into their lives. The characters are well-developed and quite likeable, even while their flaws are displayed.

There is one more in this series already published, Beyond Reach. And upcoming is the latest, Fractured, due out later this summer. If you like mysteries, I recommend you pick up this series.

Top Reads for 2007

I dug back through my email and found one I sent out at the beginning of this year listing my top reads for 2007. I am putting it here to share and to help me keep track!

I wanted to share and pat myself on the back – 2007 was the first year that I kept track of all my books read for the entire year. Normally I lose track around July or August. Of course, this year also turned into the ‘No reading in the fall’ so that helped. J

In 2007, I read 95 books (85 Jan-Sep and only 10 after that..sigh). I kept track of them all on Library Thing. I rated each book and the following are the ones I rated 5 stars. Some are stand-alone and some are part of on-going series that I enjoy. They are in order of when read only because that’s how library thing is sorting them – LOL. I cannot pick one or two as the very top as I have a hard time remembering single books. That’s why rating them at the end of the book works best for me.

Bad Blood: A Novel by Linda Fairstein (Alexandra Cooper Series)
Innocent in Death and Creation in Death by J.D. Robb (Eve Dallas Series)
Sandcastles by Luann Rice
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Nineteen Minutes: A Novel by Jodi Picoult
The Witness by Dee Henderson
Dinner with a Perfect Stranger by David Gregory
The Virgin of Small Plains: A Novel by Nancy Pickard
The Department of Lost & Found: A Novel by Allison Winn Scotch
Bones to Ashes: A Novel by Kathy Reiches (Temperance Brennan series)
The Faraday Girls by Monica McInerney
We need to talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver
These is my words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine by Nancy E. Turner

I’ve also got some rated 4.5 stars but you can look at those yourself. For those who haven’t used library thing before, you can sort on any of the tags (just click on the tag name) or by any of the column headings. (For example, to get the above list, I clicked on 2007 tag and then sorted by rating.)

And I’d LOVE to see your top reads for 2007. Please share!

Book memory

"What was the name of the last Kinsey Millhone book?"
"Did I read the latest Lisa Gardner book? It came out last year."
And at book club - "When she talked about the mess in her office..." Me - "Uh, what mess?"

I have a TERRIBLE book memory. I don't know if it's related to my regular memory which isn't very good either. But I am horrible at remembering even the main plots of books. Or even if I've read the book at all! I read alot of books and would say that what I do read is not really many different genres. I tend to stay with the mystery/suspense and 'chick lit'-ish (technical literary term there! LOL).

If it's a series of books, I can definitely tell you about the main characters and their lives. It's almost like they become a friend of mine. I can even tell you about some of their adventures, but definitely not everything. If you asked about a specific book in the series, I could not even remotely tell you what happened, even if it's the last one I've read. Singleton books - nope! I generally can tell you my long term impression of the book but nothing else usually pops into mind.

In fact, I could not tell you many details from even the last book I've read. This seems so odd to me. I feel like I should be able to talk about that. Is this memory issue normal? I tend to think not but who knows. For the record, if someone is talking about the book to me, I can usually recall what they are discussing (so, yes, I can talk at book club!).

For 2007, I was just keeping track of the books I'd read and the basic rating (out of 5 stars) on Library Thing, not really commenting. So I could look and see if I'd read a book but not really recall much about it. At the beginning of this year, I saw that a friend puts comments on her books so I started doing that. Made a big difference in helping me recall the book. Course, now with this blog, I hopefully will remember even more about the books. Or really, I still won't remember. But I can just look here and wow myself with my recall!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Good Yarn by Debbie Macomber

I just finished A Good Yarn by Debbie Macomber. This is the second in the series that starts with The Shop on Blossom Street. In the first book we meet Lydia, shop owner, as she opens her shop and discovers three new friends in her first knitting class. She also becomes friends with her sister, something they never were before. I felt like I also befriended those ladies and enjoyed seeing how their lives changed through their friendships - and the knitting, of course.

In A Good Yarn, we find the shop has been open a year now. Another class is started at the beginning of the summer and we meet three new friends. Their stories intertwine with each other along with the original group of knitters. I came away with more friends and look forward to seeing where this group goes.

The stories are written with chapters from each person's point of view. In this second book we hear from Lydia - shop owner, Elise - grandmother who due to being swindled lives with her daughter's family temporarily, Bethanne - recently divorced mother to teens, and Courtney - teen who had to move to Seattle to live with her grandmother for her senior year of high school.

The books are a feel good, easy read where you'll either rejoice in your joy of knitting and friendships or want to become a knitter and experience it for yourself.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Takeover by Lisa Black

This book was my first book in the Early Reviewer program at Library Thing. It totally got me hooked on the program. Because I absolutely loved author Lisa Black's first novel, Takeover! I couldn't put it down!

It has a great female character in a forensic role that is thrust into a bank robbery and hostage situation where she is out of her element. But she is able to use her instincts and her experience to help resolve the situation. I look forward to reading more of this author and hopefully this character. Definitely one of the best 'first novel' mysteries I've read in a long time.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Comfort Food by Kate Jacobs

I totally loved Kate Jacobs first book Friday Night Knitting Club. So when I saw on Amazon a few months ago that she was coming out with another book, I immediately reserved a copy from the library! Somehow I thought Comfort Food was a sequel. So when I started reading about Gus, her daughters, her cooking show and her new rival, I wondered how she would end up being a knitter! However, it's not a sequel!

Once I figured that out, the book made alot more sense! I enjoyed the cast of characters within the book - a rival cooking host, boyfriends and potential boyfriends for her daughters, the tv producers and execs. It was a nice, fluffy, quick read.

My first challenge group!

I just joined the Suspense & Thrillers Reading Challenge! The idea is that the suspense and thrillers genre really has many sub-genre's. And the challenge is to read a book from at least 6 of the different sub-genre's in 2008 and another 6 in 2009. Due to my love of this type of book overall, I think I already hit quite a few of them, but it will be fun to ensure a variety! Thanks to J. Kaye for putting this together!

Library Usage

I went to the library yesterday and picked up six books that were waiting for me. I just love having so many books to read but worry that I won't get them done in a timely manner! But since I have no idea when I request books when they'll come in, it sometimes works out this way.

It's interesting for me to think about how I use the library now versus how I used the library growing up or even 10 years ago. When I was growing up, I always had a book with me to read. And I found those books by spending lots of time at the library looking at the shelves. First I would look at the new book section. Then troll through the various shelves with my favorite authors. And of course, there was always the paperback racks to look through too. I would spend hours at the library, especially in the summer, with my head cocked to the side reading titles. Then pull out book after book reading the information on the front flap and the back of the book. I never read the reviews printed on the book - of course they'll be good! And if a book didn't have any summary information on it, back on the shelf it went. (I never really understood why there was nothing about the book there - how was I supposed to know if I wanted to read it or not?)

These days I hardly ever look for books on the shelf. Or if I do, I am looking for a specific book that was recommended or is the next one of an author. I am never just browsing the aisles. Requesting books to be held - I pick up 90% of my books that way. I find that I get recommendations either from friends, my book clubs - both in real life and online, and even from exploring Amazon and other shopping sites. (Course I do like to go into a book store and browse their shelves. And write down what looks interesting and get from the library! Shh! Don't tell! I couldn't afford to buy all the books I want to read!)

As I think about it, the change has to do with the technology available and my available time. Clearly as a kid, I didn't have access to the internet for recommendations nor was I able to request books online. I suppose I could have called and asked for them to pull from the shelf but the library wasn't even really computerized until my high school time frame (yes, I'm old!). And now, I don't have time to spend hours looking up books at the library. I'd rather spend my time reading them (or talking about them).

It's interesting to think about how I will use the library in another 10 years. How will the changes in the technology affect it? And in 10 years, both kids will be in college (OMGosh!) - will I take more time to browse the shelves again? Time will tell!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

These is My Words by Nancy E. Turner

These is My Words is definitely my favorite book from the last few years. It starts out with 18 year old Sarah Prine traveling across the country with her family in 1881. As you can imagine, it's hard and stressful on all of the family. We see Sarah through the trip, the settling down with her family in the Arizona Territory, and starting her life in the harshness of the time.

The book is written as Sarah's diary. As she grows older, so does her writing. Sarah Prine is such an engaging character - very strong and brave even though she doesn't always want to be strong. She falls in love, works hard on her ranch, and survives. It sounds like it could be a very depressing book, and I suppose there are books written about this time that are depressing. But throughout the book I was rooting for Sarah, shared in her triumphs and cried with her in the sadness. And I was inspired by her.

I believe you will fall in love with Sarah as I did. After you've read this book, you will want to read more about Sarah in the next two books in the series. And you won't be disappointed. My book club is scheduled to discuss These is My Words in August and I can't wait to discuss it with them.

Decisions, decisions

Last night I had to force myself away from the computer. I was having so much fun playing with the blog here and looking at other blogs for ideas that nothing else was getting done! So, what did I do? Fold Mt. Laundry? Clean the kitchen? Put away the tables and chairs from Bunco on Friday? Of course not! I picked the next book from my pile, crawled under my covers and started reading! I started reading There's a (Slight) Chance I Might be Going to Hell: A Novel of Sewer Pipes, Pageant Queens, and Big Trouble by Laurie Notaro. It's for one of my book clubs but not due to be discussed until September. Think I'll remember it by then? So far it's definitely enjoyable. A little bit stretched in believability but has made me laugh.

Now I have some decisions to make. Continue playing here or clean the house? That's an easy one! Go back into my reading list and put more reviews up or just review books going forward? Search out topics in other blogs or just wait until they pop into my head (could be scary)? And the every day decision - do I use the hair dryer or let my hair air dry?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Summer reading clubs

This is the last week of school for my kids. One of my favorite parts of summer is the reading club at the local library. Our library has one for the kids and one for adults. The kids get to earn points based on the type of books they read and can win a variety of things, including erasers, book marks, toys, food coupons at local restaurants and, of course, books. I just love watching them at the beginning of the summer as they anticipate all the things they can get - and it's all just from reading! Some summers they've done really well and earned all the points they can. Other summers we've started well but fizzled out on earning points because we never make it to the library. But throughout the summer they are reading. And, to me, that is one of the best things they can do.

One a side note, the adult version of the reading club gives you something for each book you read up to 4 books. Needless to say, I get all of the giveaways the first time I come back. I've taken to not turning them all in just to drag it out a bit.

I just love reading!

The List by Robert Whitlow

Renny Jacobson is a newly graduated lawyer. His father, who he never had a good relationship with, has recently passed away. In the will, Renny finds that he's not getting the money he expected but rather a position in a secret group called The Covenant List. On his trip back home to find out more about the list, he meets a young lady who has also just received a similar inheritance from her estranged father. His new friend has a strong faith and does not miss the spiritual connection within the group. This book chronicles Renny's journey with the group and the battles, both physical and spiritual, for his attention and his soul.

I couldn't put this book down and ended up reading it all in one day. As it's not a short book, I got nothing else done that day. Well worth the time spent!

Home Girl: Building a Dream House on a Lawless Block by Judith Matloff

I received this book as an advanced copy through
Library Thing and their Early Reviewer program.

I was a little leary at first as I am not one to read much non-fiction and memoirs I've read run the gamut from boring to extremely engaging and fun. I am pleased to say that Judith Matloff's story of her family's experience was very interesting and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Judith worked for years as a foreign correspondent living in a variety of other countries. After getting married in her late 30's and having two miscarriages, she starts longing to put down roots closer to her family. While her Dutch husband waits back in Russia for his visa, she moves into her mother's basement in New York and starts looking for a house. She ends up finding a 'home with potential' in West Harlem among the dealers and the crack addicts. This story tells of their journey with contractors, the neighbors, the dealers and many others.

Her history of being a foreign correspondent blended well into relating the experience of moving into a 'lawless block' in New York. I worried for her, shook my head at her foolishness and how naive she was. But I also smiled with her choices on friends, the workers, and as she became a mom. And also as the 'lawless block' turned into something great. I recommend this book to all.

My first post

I am excited and nervous about starting my own blog. My thought is that I would love to blog about books I am reading in order to share with others my joy in those books. Or my disappointment. To share the anticipation of new books from favorite authors. And the excitement of finding new favorites. But will anyone care? Will anyone read what I write? Will I even be able to figure out this blogging software? I look forward to starting this blogging journey and pray that you will enjoy coming along for the ride with me.