Friday, July 31, 2009

Friday Finds: The Devil's Queen by Jeanne Kalogridis

"Catherine de Medici has been considered history’s most ruthless and cunning queen. Even today, it is commonly accepted that Catherine resorted to astrology and black magic to keep her family, and herself, in power at all costs. Here, for the first time, bestselling author Jeanne Kalogridis (author of THE DEVIL'S QUEEN) opens the pages of history to reveal some of Catherine’s favorite black magic spells and dark charms in the 'BOOK OF BLACK MAGIC: The Devil’s Queen Grimoire'..."

How can you possibly resist a book about Catherine de Medici? And especially one that has a special ebook created all about her black magic?

Just one click will let you inside the Book of Black Magic.

The Devil's Queen: A Novel of Catherine de Medici by Jeanne Kalogridis hit stores July 21.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Review: The Natural Laws of Good Luck by Ellen Graf

by Ellen Graf
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Trumpeter (August 4, 2009)
ISBN-13: 9781590306918
Genre: Nonfiction
Rating: 2.75/5

The quirky and funny story of a woman in upstate New York who marries a man from China whom she barely knows. They don’t share a language or a culture, but together they discover what matters most—a story of taking risks, culture clash, and the journey to real love.

Ellen was lonely and having no luck with personal ads when her Chinese girlfriend suggested that she meet Zhong-Hua, her brother in northern China. Ellen soon finds herself going to Beijing to meet him, and although they speak only a few words of each other’s language, they decide to get married.

Ellen and Zhong-Hua settle at Ellen’s farmhouse in upstate New York where they face a host of challenges, including the language barrier, financial problems, and profound cultural differences. When Ellen tries to teach Zhong-Hua to drive, explaining to him the concept of right-of-way and the meaning of a red light, he cheerfully replies, “I don’t think so,” and develops his own free-form, heart-stopping style of driving. A character worthy of first-rate fiction, Zhong-Hua rarely fails to surprise and entertain us, whether by his driving style, his culinary tastes (Ellen must learn to appreciate rock fungus, among other unusual delicacies), and his creative low-budget home maintenance solutions (who knew that concrete had so many uses?).

If you've read this blog for very long you know I read a lot of non-fiction, mostly memoirs. For the most part, I really enjoy them. I enjoy learning about other people lives and experiences, especially from other cultures. So, The Natural Laws of Good Luck sounded like a wonderful book, but it didn't quite deliver like I'd expected.

Zhong-Hua was a kick. I admired his courage in coming to an unknown country without knowing the language or customs. And, as you'd expect, this brought about some funny and unexpected stories. I particularly liked the parts about the differences between the cultures and how misunderstandings could easily come about because of it.

What I found a little lacking was the writing. Maybe the style just didn't work for me, but I found it a bit unfocused and rambling at times. I also prefer memoirs, for the most part, to be in chronological order. Natural Laws was close, but there were also some tangents that I couldn't tell where exactly they fit. This is a fairly short book but it took me well over a week to finish. All of the tangents in the story just didn't hold my attention.

If you are interested in other cultures, especially Chinese, I would recommend The Natural Laws of Good Luck. Otherwise, I'd say get it from the library instead of buying it. 2.75 stars

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Guest Post by Elle Newmark, author of The Book of Unholy Mischief

I am very happy to welcome Elle Newmark today, author of The book of Unholy Mischief, as a guest blogger.

The Book of Unholy Mischief
Elle Newmark

Like Susan Boyle, I am gobsmacked. While lots of people are talking about The Book of Unholy Mischief, precious few are talking about the point it makes.

In writing this book, I wanted to say something about the potential for magnificence we all hold within us. But in the seven months since the release of The Book of Unholy Mischief, the only reviewer who touched on that was Kirkus. They said, “…Intelligence is the daily special on Newmark’s menu, served with facility and skill.”

Thank you.

On the other hand, The New York Times compared me to Dan Brown. Apologies to Dan, but I am not amused. How can you compare a contemporary thriller to a historical picaresque? I was in London when that review appeared, and I paced my hotel room with steam coming out of my ears. It was a good review and sales went up, but that’s not the point. Well, it kind of is the point for my agent and publisher, but not for me.

I happen to be obnoxiously proud of writing historical fiction that uses food metaphors to illustrate ideas. It’s not something you see every day. The Book of Unholy Mischief is about a chef and his apprentice in Renaissance Venice embroiled in intrigues involving a mysterious book, a corrupt church, powerful bad guys, a sexy nun, and a syphilitic doge. All this serves to teach the apprentice how to become the best man he can be.

Now honestly, when was the last time you read that?

The Book of Unholy Mischief is dedicated to teachers because the chef is a teacher the way Sean Connery mentored Christian Slater in the Name of the Rose. It also uses food as metaphor and magic as Juliette Binoche did in Chocolat. In both cases, these devices were used to make a point.

If you want to know more about Unholy Mischief please visit my website If you want to know even more, read the book. Paperback will be out in November 2009.

Elle, thank you for stopping by my blog today, and thank you to Pump Up Your Book Promotion for putting together this tour.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Bottom Line, #3 James Patterson Edition

The Bottom Line is a feature to designed to give quick and dirty reviews of books I've read, but I either don't have the time or the inspiration to write full reviews on them.

Run for Your Life by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (February 2, 2009)
ISBN-13: 9780316018746
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Rating: 3/5

This is the second book in the Michael Bennett series, and I'm not sure I'll continue reading them. It wasn't awful, the mystery was decent, if forgettable, but I really don't feel any connection to Bennett. If you don't want to know more about the main character in a series, maybe it's time to quit reading.

Lifeguard by James Patterson
Mass Market Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (August 1, 2006)
ISBN-13: 9780446617611
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Rating: 2.5/5

Lifeguard is a typical Patterson book. Short chapters, a fast read, but nothing memorable. I finished this one a couple of weeks ago and honestly cannot tell you a single thing about the book. It's books like these that really make me wonder why I keep reading Patterson...

Beach Road by James Patterson and Peter de Jonge
Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Vision (June 1, 2007)
ISBN-13: 978-0446619141
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Rating: 3.5/5

Most Patterson books are very predictable. Beach Road had a lot of predictable moments in it, but the ending was one I didn't see coming. I don't usually analyze a book too much while I'm reading it. I prefer to let it unfold and let what happens surprise me. Others may have seen the ending coming, but for a quick summer read, I enjoyed Beach Road.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Review: Honey, It's All in the Shoes by Phyllis Norton Hoffman

Book Info:
Honey, It's All in the Shoes: Celebrating the Footsteps of the Contemporary Woman by Phyllis Norton Hoffman
Paperback: 170 pages
Publisher: Health Communications (July 2009)
ISBN-13: 9780757307577
Genre: Non-Fiction

Can you remember the magic you felt when you slipped on your mother's high heels; your very own first pair of pumps; your excursion for the perfect professional pair; the glory of finding the most comfortable shoes; and your first ballet slippers, Mary Janes, or running shoes?

In these pairs of shoes reside distinct journeys, phases of life, triumphs and tragedies, precious memories, and lessons learned. In Honey, It's All in the Shoes Phyllis Norton Hoffman takes you on a journey examining these defining moments, sharing what she has learned when she was required to wear different shoes - from a mother and wife to entrepreneur and businesswoman to publishing powerhouse to doting grandmother - and provides advice for women on putting their best foot forward, not matter their role, circumstance, or stage of life.

I've never considered myself a shoe person. Now, don't get me wrong, I like shoes and have a wide variety to choose from, but choosing from work or play, weekend or dressier seems pretty limited compared to the variety in some people's closets!

Even with my (relative) lack of shoe choices I found Honey, It's All in the Shoes a delightful read. Hoffman tells her stories of everything from business to family with relation to her shoes and the result is a fun and entertaining read. Hoffman is always upbeat and her words are often inspirational as well.

Each chapter ends with a mini history lesson about either a style of shoe, or about a famous person and their love of shoes. This was a wonderful way to end each story and I actually ended up learning a lot! I would recommend Honey, It's All in the Shoes to shoe lovers and memoir lovers alike. 4 stars

A special thank you to TLC Book Tours for my review copy. Be sure to check out the page for the other tour stops.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Booking Through Thursday...Preferences

Which do you prefer? (Quick answers–we’ll do more detail at some later date)

Reading something frivolous? Or something serious? Depends on my mood
Paperbacks? Or hardcovers? Paperback, preferably trade size
Fiction? Or Nonfiction? Both
Poetry? Or Prose? Prose
Biographies? Or Autobiographies? Autobiographies
History? Or Historical Fiction? Historical Fiction
Series? Or Stand-alones? Both
Classics? Or best-sellers? Best-sellers
Lurid, fruity prose? Or straight-forward, basic prose? Straight-forward
Plots? Or Stream-of-Consciousness? Plot
Long books? Or Short? Doesn't matter, but needs to be long enough to adequately tell the story
Illustrated? Or Non-illustrated? Non-illustrated
Borrowed? Or Owned? Owned, I consider my books part of my decorating scheme
New? Or Used? Used, I'm too cheap to buy new unless I'm going to keep the book

(Yes, I know, some of these we’ve touched on before, and some of these we might address in-depth in the future, but for today–just quick answers!)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Attention Historical Fiction Lovers...

Pope Joan author Donna Woolfolk Cross is giving one lucky reader a chance to walk the red carpet!

You can find all of the details on the Walk the Pope Joan Red Carpet website, but here are the highlights:

Buy a new copy of Pope Joan online or at a bookstore on or before August 9, 2009. Make sure your receipt lists the title and date clearly.

Enclose the receipt with:
your name
your phone number and/or
your email address

(Don't forget the contact information, or I won't be able to reach you if you are selected!)

Mail your dated receipt with the title of the book or the ISBN number*, and your contact information to:


c/o Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency

216 East 75th Street

New York, New York 10021
*ISBN: 978-0307452368

This is a unique book identifier often used on receipts.

Want more than one chance to win?

Multiple book purchases will each count as an entry (i.e, five books count as five entries, for I'll duplicate your receipt five times).

So get out there and buy your books for a chance to win this wonderful trip!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Review: What I Thought I Knew by Alice Eve Cohen

Book Info:
What I Thought I Knew by Alice Eve Cohen
Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Viking Adult (July 9, 2009)
ISBN-13: 9780670020959
Genre: Non-fiction
Rating: 5/5

At age forty-four, Alice Eve Cohen was happy for the first time in years. After a difficult divorce, she was engaged to an inspiring man, joyfully raising her adopted daughter, and her career was blossoming. Alice tells her fiance that she's never been happier.

And then the stomach pains begin. In her unflinchingly honest and ruefully witty voice, Alice nimbly carries us through her metamorphosis from a woman who has come to terms with infertility to one who struggles to love a heartbeat found in her womb, six months into a high-risk pregnancy.

What I Thought I Knew is a page-turner filled with vivid characters, humor, and many surprises and twists of fate. With the suspense of a thriller and the intimacy of a diary, Cohen describes her unexpected journey through doubt, a broken medical system, and the hotly contested terrain of motherhood and family in today's society.

I read a lot of memoirs, and I've honestly been in a bit of a slump with them lately. Even books that I'd thought I'd love have just been ok for me. I haven't read a memoir that has kept my attention all the way to the end in quite a while. When I picked this one up last night, I wasn't expecting too much, but was very happily surprised.

Cohen's writing flows amazingly well. I originally sat down in my hammock and planned on only reading a few chapters. Before I knew it, I was halfway through the book. I only got up to move inside because it had gotten too dark to read outside. Her voice is honest, wistful at times and even included a few laughs. She sets the perfect tone for the telling of her amazing story.

The smooth writing along with an incredible story made What I Thought I Knew a book I couldn't put down. Cohen is brutally honest in telling her story. As the story unfolded I almost expected to dislike Cohen, but that was never the case. She simply came across as a very conflicted woman trying to do the best she could with a completely unexpected situation. I highly recommend this one, even for those readers who usually don't read non-fiction. 5 stars

Friday, July 17, 2009

Review: The Associate by John Grisham

Book Info:
The Associate by John Grisham
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Doubleday (January 27, 2009)
ISBN-13: 978-0385517836
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 3/5

Kyle McAvoy grew up in his father’s small-town law office in York, Pennsylvania. He excelled in college, was elected editor-in-chief of The Yale Law Journal, and his future has limitless potential. But Kyle has a secret, a dark one, an episode from college that he has tried to forget.

The secret, though, falls into the hands of the wrong people, and Kyle is forced to take a job he doesn’t want -- even though it’'s a job most law students can only dream about. Three months after leaving Yale, Kyle becomes an associate at the largest law firm in the world, where, in addition to practicing law, he is expected to lie, steal, and take part in a scheme that could send him to prison, if not get him killed.

I haven't read much Grisham lately. His books are ones that I remember loving when they first came out, but his new stuff hasn't impressed me nearly as much. When The Associate arrived on audio at the library I decided to give it a try.

Was it amazing? No, but it was enjoyable. The story was well paced with lots of action to keep me interested, but it was pretty standard. There wasn't a character I loved, or a twist that had me at the edge of my seat. It was a suspenseful read, but not one that will stay with me.

One thing I do want to mention, if you prefer your endings to be neatly wrapped up with all the questions answered, this one might not be for you. About halfway through disk 6 the story was still going strong. When I noticed the book was 8 disks long, I was a little worried the ending was going to be terribly rushed. It didn't really come across that way, but there were a lot of loose ends. This doesn't bother me, but I think the ending could be a little disappointing to some. 3 stars

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Review: 8th Confession by James Patterson

Book Info:
The 8th Confession by James Patterson
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (April 27, 2009)
ISBN-13: 9780316018760
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Rating: 3.5/5

As San Francisco's most glamorous millionaires mingle at the party of the year, someone is watching--waiting for a chance to take vengeance on Isa and Ethan Bailey, the city's most celebrated couple. Finally, the killer pinpoints the ideal moment, and it's the perfect murder. Not a trace of evidence is left behind in their glamorous home.

As Detective Lindsay Boxer investigates the high-profile murder, someone else is found brutally executed--a preacher with a message of hope for the homeless. His death nearly falls through the cracks, but when reporter Cindy Thomas hears about it, she knows the story could be huge. Probing deeper into the victim's history, she discovers he may not have been quite as saintly as everyone thought.

As the hunt for two criminals tests the limits of the Women's Murder Club, Lindsay sees sparks fly between Cindy and her partner, Detective Rich Conklin. The Women's Murder Club now faces its toughest challenge: will love destroy all that four friends have built?

I haven't been terribly impressed with many of James Patterson's recent books. I remember when I first discovered the Alex Cross series and they were really good. They had lots of twists to keep you guessing and some very likeable characters. But now, most of his books just don't impress me. I have enjoyed The Women's Murder Club series, but this installment fell a little flat for me.

Most of the reason I keep reading this series is that I enjoy the characters. They still have me interested even though this book didn't have too much going on. There was the usual interaction between the girls, but they mostly seemed to be working on their own things. There wasn't a lot of the teamwork that was in the earlier books.

The cases the girls were working on were interesting, but nothing out of the ordinary, nothing memorable. I hate to see this series decline as well, but maybe that just means I need to quit reading Patterson...3.5 stars

Monday, July 13, 2009

Review: Handle With Care by Jodi Picoult

Book Info:
Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult
Hardcover: 496 pages
Publisher: Atria (March 3, 2009)
ISBN-13: 9780743296410
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4/5

When Charlotte and Sean O'Keefe's daughter, Willow, is born with severe osteogenesis imperfecta, they are devastated -- she will suffer hundreds of broken bones as she grows, a lifetime of pain. As the family struggles to make ends meet to cover Willow's medical expenses, Charlotte thinks she has found an answer. If she files a wrongful birth lawsuit against her ob/gyn for not telling her in advance that her child would be born severely disabled, the monetary payouts might ensure a lifetime of care for Willow. But it means that Charlotte has to get up in a court of law and say in public that she would have terminated the pregnancy if she'd known about the disability in advance -- words that her husband can't abide, that Willow will hear, and that Charlotte cannot reconcile. And the ob/gyn she's suing isn't just her physician - it's her best friend.

Handle With Care explores the knotty tangle of medical ethics and personal morality. When faced with the reality of a fetus who will be disabled, at which point should an OB counsel termination? Should a parent have the right to make that choice? How disabled is TOO disabled? And as a parent, how far would you go to take care of someone you love? Would you alienate the rest of your family? Would you be willing to lie to your friends, to your spouse, to a court? And perhaps most difficult of all -- would you admit to yourself that you might not actually be lying?

I enjoy Picoult's books, but have to put a little time in between reading them, or else they seem way too similar. Her books all follow the same formula of a moral dilemma, followed by a "twist" right at the ending of the book. While it's obvious that the formula works, it can be a bit repetitive.

Like all of Picoult's books, Handle With Care, brings up tough issues. I think this aspect of her books are very interesting, because they are very real issues, but things that most people don't discuss as they are emotional issues. I've never been in a book club, but I've always thought that Picoult's books would be a wonderful discussion starter.

My biggest complaint about the book, besides the formulaic nature of it, is that the writing is a bit heavy handed at times. There is no subtlety in the writing. For example, there are 4 or 5 situations in the book where Picoult specifically calls them "catch-22 situations". This is a pretty basic concept and I think most readers would have picked up on it, without it being repeatedly spelled out.

Overall, I found Handle with Care interesting for the issues it brings up, and think it would work well for a book club discussion. 4 stars

Friday, July 10, 2009

Review: Lost Boy by Brent Jeffs

Book Info:
Lost Boy by Brent Jeffs
Hardcover: 256 pages
ISBN-13: 9780767931779
Genre: Non-Fiction
Rating: 4/5

Brent Jeffs is the nephew of Warren Jeffs, the imprisoned leader of the FLDS. The son of a prominent family in the church, Brent could have grown up to have multiple wives of his own and significant power in the 10,000-strong community. But he knew that behind the group's pious public image, women in chaste dresses carrying babies on their hips, lay a much darker reality. So he walked away, and was the first to file a sexual-abuse lawsuit against his uncle. Now Brent shares his courageous story and that of many other young men who have become "lost boys" when they leave the FLDS, either by choice or by expulsion.

Brent experienced firsthand the absolute power that church leaders wield, the kind of power that corrupts and perverts those who will do anything to maintain it. Once young men no longer belong to the church, they are cast out into a world for which they are utterly unprepared. More often than not, they succumb to the temptations of alcohol and other drugs.

Tragically, Brent lost two of his brothers in this struggle, one to suicide, the other to overdose. In this book he shows that lost boys can triumph and that abuse and trauma can be overcome, and he hopes that readers will be inspired to help former FLDS members find their way in the world.

I have always been fascinated with the FLDS church and polygamy. I have a lot of books on the subject but haven't made the time to read most of them yet. When I received Lost Boy to review from LibraryThing I was very excited.

Jeffs story is fascinating. I was pulled into it right from the start and read the entire book in two sittings. The detail he provides along with all the colorful, and unbelievable, people in his life, make Lost Boy unforgettable.

The story is told in almost a conversational tone, and while that worked great in some parts, in other parts in came of as unpolished. I was actually surprised that there was another author credited on Lost Boy with the informal feel of the book.

If you are interested in polygamy or the FLDS Church I highly recommend Lost Boy. 4 stars

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Booking Through Thursday...Unread

An idea I got from The Toddled Dredge (via K for Kat). Here’s what she said:

“So here today I present to you an Unread Books Challenge. Give me the list or take a picture of all the books you have stacked on your bedside table, hidden under the bed or standing in your shelf – the books you have not read, but keep meaning to. The books that begin to weigh on your mind. The books that make you cover your ears in conversation and say, ‘No! Don’t give me another book to read! I can’t finish the ones I have!’ “

Ok, I have so many unread books, probably over 1,000, that there is no way I could provide a list. Even my LibraryThing TBR tag is incomplete. Instead, I'll show you my unread books. All 3 bookcases of them!

Well, 2 pictures anyways. The third bookshelf is buried as we are repainting one of our bedrooms and I didn't feel like unearthing it. All 3 of my bookshelves are all unread books, and all of the shelves are double, if not triple stacked. I rarely keep books after I'ver read them, they usually get swaped or donated.
What does you unread pile look like?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Review: The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

Book Info:
The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Bantam (April 14, 2009)
ISBN-13: 978-0553384840
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5

Twenty-seven-year-old Josey Cirrini is sure of three things: winter in her North Carolina hometown is her favorite season, she's a sorry excuse for a Southern belle, and sweets are best eaten in the privacy of her hidden closet. For while Josey has settled into an uneventful life in her mother's house, her one consolation is the stockpile of sugary treats and paperback romances she escapes to each night... Until she finds it harboring none other than local waitress Della Lee Baker, a tough-talking, tenderhearted woman who is one part nemesis -- and two parts fairy godmother...

Fleeing a life of bad luck and big mistakes, Della Lee has decided Josey's clandestine closet is the safest place to crash. In return she's going to change Josey's life -- because, clearly, it is not the closet of a happy woman. With Della Lee's tough love, Josey is soon forgoing pecan rolls and caramels, tapping into her startlingly keen feminine instincts, and finding her narrow existence quickly expanding.

Before long, Josey bonds with Chloe Finley, a young woman who makes the best sandwiches in town, is hounded by books that inexplicably appear whenever she needs them, and -- most amazing of all -- has a close connection to Josey's longtime crush.

As little by little Josey dares to step outside herself, she discovers a world where the color red has astonishing power, passion can make eggs fry in their cartons, and romance can blossom at any time -- even for her. It seems that Della Lee's work is done, and it's time for her to move on. But the truth about where she's going, why she showed up in the first place -- and what Chloe has to do with it all -- is about to add one more unexpected chapter to Josey's fast-changing life. Brimming with warmth, wit, and a sprinkling of magic, here is a spellbinding tale of friendship, love and the enchanting possibilities of every new day.

First, I must apologize for the super long book description. I usually try to shorten these a bit, but I didn't really know what to leave out on this one, so it all stayed.

I read Sarah Addison Allen's first book, Garden Spells last year, and while I enjoyed it, I didn't love it. Friends at PaperbackSwap had raved about it so much that I expected something more. It was good, but I didn't fall in love with it.

The Sugar Queen was another story. I hadn't heard much about the book, but knew it would include a little bit of magic. Since I went in with no expectations I found myself completely wrapped up in the story.

The characters were all believable, quirky and people I could easily see myself being friends with. They were all a little bit flawed and this made them all the more likeable. I really enjoyed how all the story lines came together and were intertwined.

I also loved the little bit of magic throughout the entire story. I'm not usually one for unbelievable things happening in books, but this time around it had me charmed. Just as the tree was one of my favorite parts of Garden Spells, I loved the books in The Sugar Queen. The Sugar Queen is a wonderful story, and I will definitely be on the lookout for Allen's next book! 4.5 stars

Monday, July 6, 2009

Review: The Blue Notebook by James Levine

Book Info:
The Blue Notebook by James Levine
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau (July 7, 2009)
ISBN-13: 978-0385528719
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 4/5

An unforgettable, deeply affecting tribute to the powers of imagination and the resilience of childhood, The Blue Notebook tells the story of Batuk, a precocious 15-year-old girl from rural India who was sold into sexual slavery by her father when she was nine. As she navigates the grim realities of the Common Street, a street of prostitution in Mumbai where children are kept in cages as they wait for customers to pay for sex, Batuk manages to put pen to paper, recording her private thoughts and stories in a diary. The novel is powerfully told in Batuk's voice, through the words she writes in her journal, where she finds hope and beauty in the bleakest circumstances.

I knew The Blue Notebook would be difficult to read, and it was. The subject matter is not light and the truthfulness of the situation weighed on me as I read. You know things like child sex slaves exist, but it's easier not to think of them. That's why books that tackle tough subjects are so important. They bring subjects that are difficult to discuss into the public eye.

While the subject matter was tough, the writing was very beautiful, and that made it seem almost surreal. It was strange to be reading about abuse and to enjoy the writing. Batuk had a wonderful imagination and this escapism helped her to survive a horrible situation.

While not an easy read, I think The Blue Notebook is very worth reading. The wonderfully descriptive writing and the authenticity of Batuk's voice alone make it a wonderful book. 4 stars

All of the U.S. proceeds from this novel will be donated to the International and National Centers for Missing and Exploited Children (

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Bottom Line, #2

The Bottom Line is a feature to designed to give quick and dirty reviews of books I've read, but I either don't have the time or the inspiration to write full reviews on them.

Briar Rose by Jane Yolen
Publisher: Tor Teen (March 15, 2002)
ISBN-13: 9780765342300
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 3.5/5

I would never have thought of Sleeping Beauty in regards to the Holocaust, but it nicely done. I really enjoyed the first 2/3 of this book. Rebecca travels to Poland to figure out if there is any truth to her Grandmother's story of living in a castle. The final third of the book has a different narrator and I thought this was a little choppy. For parents reading with kids, there is some mention of homosexuality. ETA: Until I was writing this post I never noticed the face behind the barbed wire. I guess I'm not very observant...

The Plague by Joanne Dahme
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Running Press Kids (May 4, 2009)
ISBN-13: 9780762433445
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 2.5/5

I was really excited to read a YA historical fiction as it seemed a bit different. I didn't find the story quite as smooth as I would have liked though. It seemed like there were characters randomly popping up and I found it a little hard to follow at times. There is a little bit of black magic in the book, which might appeal to some.

The Broken Window by Jeffery Deaver
Paperback: 624 pages
Publisher: Pocket Star (April 28, 2009)
ISBN-13: 9781416549987
Genre: Mystery
Rating: 4/5

The Lincoln Rhyme books are one of my favorite mystery series. Deaver never fails to amaze me with the twists he includes, but they never seem contrived or too convenient. I have to admit, I can't even tell you want this book was about anymore (I read it in Feb), but if you haven't read this series, and you enjoy mysteries, definitely check it out. The Bone Collector, the first in the series, was also made into a movie starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie, and it's worth watching.

**If any of you graphics wizards would be so kind as to help me out with a button for this feature I would be forever grateful!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Booking Through Thursday...Celebrities?

Do you read celebrity memoirs? Which ones have you read or do you want to read? Which nonexistent celebrity memoirs would you like to see?

I read a lot of memoirs, it's one of my favorite genres, but I have read very few celebrity memoirs. The one I've read that comes instantly to mind is Michael J. Fox's, Lucky Man, which was wonderful. I recently picked up his latest book, Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist and hope to have time read it soon. The only other "celebrity" memoir I can think of that I've read (if you can even call her a celebrity) was by one of the Playboy bunnies about her time at the Mansion.

There aren't any celebrity memoirs that I am itching to read. It seems like we get an overload of celebrities anyways, and it seems like most of them wouldn't have too much new info to share.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Review: A Final Arc of Sky by Jennifer Culkin

Book Info:
A Final Arc of Sky: A Memoir of Critical Care by Jennifer Culkin
Hardcover: 248 pages
Publisher: Beacon Press (April 1, 2009)
ISBN-13: 9780807072851
Genre: Non-Fiction
Rating: 2.5/5

Buckling herself into the rear of an Agusta A109A, Jennifer Culkin prepares for the moment of lift. The deafening thrum of the helicopter announces the unknown perils and potential havoc that await.

A critical care and emergency flight nurse, Culkin treats patients who are most often in mortal danger. Aboard the Agusta, she is entrusted with the life of a seventeen-year-old pulled from the wreckage of a head-on collision as his father calls out a wrenching plea from below; she cares for a middle-aged man who is bleeding to death internally, remembering the four daughters who have kissed him goodbye, possibly for the last time. It is the arduous and acute struggle to keep her patients alive en route to the hospital that is Jennifer Culkin's most profound duty.

I've always loved medical dramas. ER and House are a couple of my favorites. What I like best about these shows is the suspense of them. Can the doctors and nurses figure out what's wrong and save the patients? I love the glimpses into the medical world and the look at the individual cases. That is what I was hoping to get from A Final Arc of Sky, and unfortunately, it wasn't quite what I was looking for.

I think my biggest problem with the book was that you never really got to know any of the patients. As a flight nurse Culkin didn't spend much time with any of them. You got a little info about what the case was going to be as she got ready for the flight, a little bit about the treatment during the flight, and then the patients were handed off. It kind of left an incomplete picture.

The middle section of the book deals with Culkins parent's medical problems. I have to admit, I didn't feel enough of a connection with Culkin to find this section of the book very interesting. I actually set the book aside for a number of weeks before picking it back up and finishing.

The book ended a little stronger with stories of pilots and nurses lost in crashes of the medical helicopters. Culkin told stories about those lost, and while I liked this section, it seemed a little choppy coming off of her parent's medical problems. A Final Arc of Sky wasn't quite what I hoped for, but it might be more interesting to those in the medical field. 2.5 stars