Can't Put It Down

Some very biased opinions of the pages I encounter

Love who you are October 22, 2010

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This was my first time reading Beth Harbison, but it definitely won’t be my last.  Thin, Rich, Pretty was a great book and could have easily been read in one sitting.  Strong story with strong characters and an even better message: love who you are, not who you think others want you to be.

Twenty years ago our three protagonists were at summer camp.(Who doesn’t like a summer camp story?  I can so relate!!)   Holly was overweight, Nicola had a big nose and Lexi was the “rich” one.  Harbison does an excellent job switching between the present and the bad days at camp and talks about how our actions always have consequences.

What I particularly loved about the book was the message.  After Holly lost some weight (because her boyfriend said he would only marry her if she did…nice guy!) and Nicola got a nose job (because she wasn’t a pretty enough actress) and Lexi lost all her money, we see the true beauty in all three.  They realize that changing for someone else is never the right motivation and being honest with who you are will make you the happiest.

 

 

What Matters Most October 18, 2010

Never having read or watched “The Devil Wears Prada” I thought I would give Lauren Weisberger a try and read her latest book Last Night at Chateau Marmont.  It was ok but nothing that kept me from wanting to put it down.  It actually took me longer to get through than most books (of course that could be because I’ve been sick for the last week).

Brooke and Julian are a happily married couple who have two very different professions.  Brooke is a nutritionist and Julian is a struggling singer.  One day, all that changes as Julian is discovered and he goes from being a nobody to being on the Leno show and singing at the Grammys.  It seems Brooke takes a back seat and even though she has worked her butt off to provide for the couple, it is her job that seems to have to take a back seat.  Then one day a racy picture is published that shakes Brooke’s world and she needs to figure out what her marriage is all about.

The one thing I did like about this book is it very much showed the world of a famous artist and how it can change so instantly.  This book made me feel for all those spouses out there who have famous significant others and have to go through trust issues everyday.  Yes, the paparazzi is famous for showing things that are not true, but what about when they are?  What do you do?  I was glad that Julian finally stood back and analyzed what mattered most.  Making compromises is the key in every relationship, regardless if you are famous or not.

While this book wasn’t a “can’t put it down” it did a very good job of showing the “not so nice” lifestyle of someone rising to fame.  I hope that there are more famous people out there that have the guts to get their priorities straight and put their marriage first.

 

 

Training on Instinct October 12, 2010

I’ve always enjoyed Nora Roberts’ works and so I thought I would try one of her latest.  The Search was the perfect combination of romance and suspense and kept me wanting to read more and more.

She opens her book introducing us to a couple who realizes their daughter has wandered away out of their house.  As a mom, this tore my heart out and I was immediately hooked.  This led us to the main character, Fiona, a dog trainer and search and rescue expert.  The little girl is found (big smile on my face) and we get to see what type of person Fiona is on and off the job.  She has a horrible past, but she has managed to pick up the pieces and start a new life.  Just when things seem to be picture perfect a person from her past comes back and she is once again fearing for her life. I found her so likeable especially her fiesty attitude and the way she handled herself when she had no control of the situation.  I think my favorite thing about Fiona, though, was her choices in food.  The first paragraph of  chapter three was one of my favourites.

With a day loaded with classes, Fiona needed a jump start to the morning.  Over sweetened black coffee, she debated the relative fuel rations of Froot Loops versus Toaster Strudels.”

Hilarious! I don’t know how many mornings I have done the exact same thing.

The romance in this book is very different than the average romance you often read about.  You can see that the two main characters fall in love with each other but it is done in a very abrupt way.  There’s very little that is gentle about the whole thing.  They say what they mean and come to accept each other for exactly who they are and how they feel about different situations.  It was nice to see and I think a little closer to reality than a lot of relationships depicted in fiction.

Another thing I really enjoyed about this book was the whole aspect of training.  Fiona trained on instinct, whether it was her dogs or the new man in her life.  She didn’t even think about it, it was a natural action.  Paralleling her was the training of the “new” scarf killer by the “old” scarf killer.  It was interesting to see how motivation was a key element during this training and how when Fiona faced her biggest fear, it was her instinct that brought her back in control.

The only thing that was slightly disappointing was the scene where the killer comes face to face with Fiona.  I was expecting huge lead up and quite a lot of action.  I think the lead up was there but the face to face moment is over so quickly it made you wonder whether that was the climax of the story or not.  Oh well, still a really good book.

If you are a Nora Roberts fan, this is a book that won’t let you down.  Read it and tell me what you think.

 

God’s will or your own? October 9, 2010

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So I figured I would read another historical fiction seeing as how my brain was already in that space.  I have to say I wasn’t a big fan of this one.

Phillipa Gregory’s The Red Queen is story about Margaret Beaufort.  At a very young age Margaret hears the story of Joan of Arc and nothing is the same for her after that.  She believes she is so “holy” and knows the will of God like no one else simply because she spends hours on her knees.  What does she believe God wants for her? To be the mother of the King of England.  The story follows everything she does in order for this to occur.  Since when does God’s will for someone include, lying, cheating, murder and deceit?  I think that is why I didn’t enjoy this book.  Margaret is such an unlikeable character.  There were times when I almost felt sorry for her (when she doesn’t get to be with the man she loves) but the fact that she confused her wants and desires with that of God’s was a hard one for me to get past. The one thing I will say for this book is the battle scenes were very descriptive and Gregory deserves kudos for that.

I’ve read other books from Philippa Gregory and this one doesn’t come close.  Sorry, but I did say this was a blog of my very biased opinions.  Perhaps her next one will be better.

 

“When had I a choice to be other than I was?” October 4, 2010

Every once in a while I get in the mood to read some historical fiction.  Looking for a little romance and intrigue I picked up The King’s Mistress from Emma Campion.  This is not a short read, but a really good one and I found it hard to put down.

This book follows the life of Alice Perrers who was the mistress of King Edward III.  Historical accounts makes her out to be manipulative and cold-hearted but this book portrays her in a very different light.  After all, how much power can a merchant’s daughter have in the 14th century.

Like all women, during that time, Alice was married off at the age of 12 to man she did not know.  She was lucky enough to fall in love with him and he took good care of her until he was killed.  Then comes along the “eye” of the King and once again choices are made for her.  She will be at his beck and call and will live with the scandals that go along with it.  Even after his death, decisions are continually made that she disagrees with and she must do the best with what she has.  It is an interesting look at the life of a woman in the 14th century.  The phrase that repeats itself throughout this book is “When had I a choice to be other than I was?” Honestly, I think she did the best with what she had and made the most of every situation.  She was wise in her choices to take care of her children and she truly loved both her husband and the King.  I think my only criticism of her character was that she did a lot of complaining when many women in her time would probably kill to have the attention, riches and love that she ultimately had.

I highly recommend this book, especially if you are a “royal” lover.  Reminds me very much of Philippa Gregory’s works.  What do you think?

 

“Fly Away Home” September 27, 2010

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I have to say that Jennifer Weiner is probably one of my favorite authors.  She writes believable characters and sets them in believable circumstances.  This book is no different, in fact it could easily be an accurate account of what you read in the news headlines.

What would you do if you were a high profile person, in a very public place, and you have just found out (along with everyone else in the world) that your husband has been having an affair. Probably run away right?   That is just what happens to Sylvie when word of her politicians moral failure is announced.  She returns to the families vacation home and starts to evaluate her life and who she has become.  She realizes that she has been living for her husband and has lost who she once was.  Now she has to figure out what she’ll do next.

Sylvie’s two daughters are also major characters in this book and to watch their response to their father’s infidelity is interesting.  One sister seems to fall apart as she too is involved in an affair (can’t really get mad at dad when you’re involved in the same behavior).  She loses her job and recognizes that besides her son, she has very little happiness in her life.  The other sister takes this opportunity to turn her life around and make sense of her mom and dad’s relationship.

The relationships between all the characters in the book are brought together at a Thanksgiving dinner.  Secrets are exposed, feelings are brought to the for front and decisions are made.  I think my favorite part of the book is when Sylvie decides that she will work on her marriage but she is going to be the woman she wants to be and not just a shadow following her husband around.  She is strong and admirable.

How many things in life happen that make us consider we are and who we are meant to be?  I think that is what this book is ultimately about.  Carefully written, wonderfully characterized and a book you really can’t put down, Fly[ing] Away Home is what anyone would do when faced with these circumstances.

 

The moment when everything changes September 18, 2010

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Once again Emily Giffin has done it.  Heart of the Matter will definitely be put on my Can’t Put it Down List.  This book had me crying and smiling but most of all sympathizing with all the characters involved.

The moment that Tessa’s husband answers the phone at their anniversary dinner is the moment that everyone’s lives change.  He dashes off  to the hospital to treat a young boy who was badly burned in an accident and slowly but surely he has to deal with what a good “bed side manner” is supposed to mean to a physician and what he turns it into.   We hear alternate points of view between what Tessa deals with (suspicions that her husband is having an affair) and what Valerie (the young boy’s mother) is going through (falling for her son’s physician).

The characterization in this novel is wonderful and just when you think that the book will mirror society and show another marriage falling apart, you see two people willing to fight for what is right.  This book is one of mistakes, forgiveness and the will to fight for true love.   I hope that if I was faced with similar circumstances, I would have the spirit to fight at that moment when everything changes.