Saturday, February 28, 2009

This Week in Books...

The first part of my week was filled with books, but the end was a bit of a dry spell. I have plenty to keep me busy for a while, though.

--The Uncrowned Queen by Posie Graeme-Evans from Bookmooch
--Mounting Fears by Stuart Woods from Paperback Swap

--Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach from Paperback Swap

--Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian from Paperback Swap
--The Splendor of Silence by Indu Sundaresan from Bookmooch

This week I finished a couple of Young Adult books, 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson and A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson. I don't usually read a ton of YA, so these were a nice, light change of pace.

I also read Dry by Augusten Burroughs and really enjoyed it. Forgive Me by Amanda Eyre Ward was ok, but not quite what I had hoped for.

What books made it to you this week?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Booking Through Thursday...Collectibles

Hardcover? Or paperback?
Illustrations? Or just text?
First editions? Or you don’t care?
Signed by the author? Or not?

First off, I have to admit I'm trying really hard not to be a collector of books any more. I have come to the conclusion that there are very few books that I will actually go back and re-read when there are so many books still waiting to be read for the first time.
That being said, when I do keep a book, like the Outlander series, I prefer hardback. For everyday reading my favorite version is trade paperback.

I don't have any illustrated versions, but I would shy away from them. It would be surprising for the pictures in the book to match the pictures in my head. I'm not terribly particular about first editions. Yes, they would be nice, but they usually are worth the extra expense to buy after the fact.

Signed would be wonderful, but also not a must have. I don't have very many signed books, which is good as I find these harder to give away, even if I never pick them up again.

What does your keeper collection look like?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Review: Tell Me Where it Hurts by Nick Trout

Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Broadway (March 3, 2009)
Genre: Non-fiction
Rating: 3.5/5

From the front lines of modern medicine, Tell Me Where It Hurts is a fascinating insider portrait of a veterinarian, his furry patients, and the blend of old-fashioned instincts and cutting-edge technology that defines pet care in the twenty-first century. For anyone who’s ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes at your veterinarian’s office, Tell Me Where It Hurts offers a vicarious journey through twenty-four intimate, eye-opening, heartrending hours at the premier Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston.

You’ll learn about the amazing progress of modern animal medicine, where organ transplants, joint replacements, and state-of-the-art cancer treatments have become more and more common. With these technological advances come controversies and complexities that Dr. Trout thoughtfully explores, such as how long (and at what cost) treatments should be given, how the Internet has changed pet care, and the rise in cosmetic surgery.

You’ll also be inspired by the heartwarming stories of struggle and survival filling these pages. With a wry and winning tone, Dr. Trout offers up hilarious and delightful anecdotes about cuddly (or not-so-cuddly) pets and their variously zany, desperate, and demanding owners. In total, Tell Me Where It Hurts offers a fascinating portrait of the comedy and drama, complexities and rewards involved with loving and healing animals.

I expected to love this book, and I didn't. Don't get me wrong, I liked it, and thought it was worth reading, but I didn't love it.

I have always loved animals, and entertained the idea (briefly) of becoming a vet so I thought this glimpse into the behind-the-scenes world of a vet would be exciting. Some of the cases profiled were exactly what I was hoping for. I got to know the animals and learned about some interesting medical techniques. But there wasn't as much of this as I hoped for.

In addition to the cases there were discussions, for lack of a better word, of some of the problems facing vets today. These ranged from the ethics cosmetic surgery for animals, to when is the right time to say goodbye to your beloved pet. I found these discussions interesting and relevant, but not quite what I was expecting. I wanted to hear more about the individual animals! I don't know why I didn't expect this book to include these kind of discussions, but I didn't.

I thought this was a well written account of a animal surgeons day. It was interesting, even if it wasn't quite what I expected. 3.5 stars

Order Tell Me Where It Hurts: A Day of Humor, Healing and Hope in My Life as an Animal Surgeon

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tuesday Teaser & Tuesday Thingers

Welcome to my 200th post!

Tuesday Teaser is hosted by Should Be Reading and asks you to...
1. Grab your current read.
2. Let the book fall open to a random page.
3. Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page. You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
4. Please avoid spoilers!

Ginny had a strange feeling that leaving laundry on the kitchen chairs was something Aunt Peg didn't allow when she was here. For someone who lived pretty randomly, she was a bit of a neat freak.

--13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

Today's Tuesday Thinger question from Wendi: Do you have a specialized blog where you only review a certain genre or type of book? If so, what is your favorite thing about that type of book? If not, what is/are your favorite genre(s)? What makes that genre(s) a favorite?

I try to post reviews of everything I read, so my blog features a bit of a mixed bag. I read a lot of fiction, including bestsellers, mysteries, historical fiction and some young adult.

I also read a lot of non-fiction. Most of these are memoirs, but I also enjoy books on travel, food and social issues. I also love audio books and review these too.
I really can't pick a favorite genre. When I can't decide what to read next, like now, I usually fall back on a mystery. I can get lost in the action of a good mystery. The characters may not be terribly complex, but they usually feel familiar. I love complex characters that make you think, but sometimes the escapism of a fast paced mystery is just what I need.

What's your favorite genre?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Winner's Choice Giveaway winners!

Thank you to everyone who entered! I was thrilled to have such a wonderful turnout.

My randomizer chose Holly of On My Bookshelf... as the first winner. I have emailed her to get her pick and when I hear back from her, I will email the next two people from my randomizer to get their picks.

The following books have been spoken for:
Holly of On My Bookshelf... chose Lethal Legacy
Sharon chose Beat the Reaper
and Heather of Book Addiction choose Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.

My ARC pile is growing again, so check back soon for another giveaway.


I was tagged by Sandy at You've GOTTA Read This quite some time ago, and I finally have time to get this posted!

Here are the rules:

1. Link to the person who tagged you
2. List 6 things that make you happy
3. Post the rules and tag six more people. I'm going to skip this step and just extend the invitation to anyone who is reading this
4. Let your tagger know when you have completed your mission

6 things that make me happy:

1. My family. I have a great family, including my in-laws. And, I have a brand new niece.

2. Warmth. This could be sunshine or a heavy blanket. I hate being cold!

3. My books. I love being surrounded by them. You can see a couple of my bookshelves here.

4. My boys. No human kids for me right now, but I do love my furry kids.

5. Bread. I know there is a saying that man can not live on bread alone, but I could. Honestly.
6. Email. People say email is impersonal, and it can be, but I am terrible about keeping in touch by phone. Email is the only thing that keeps me in touch with some friends.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

This Week in Books...

My book pile on my kitchen counter grew a lot this week! I'm going to need another bookshelf before long.

--Run for Your Life by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge from Paperback Swap
--Mermaid in a Bowl of Tears by Cindy Brandner from Paperback Swap
--Cruel Intent by J. A. Jance from Paperback Swap

--The Four Corners of the Sky by Michael Malone from Sourcebooks

--Malice in Miniature: A Miniature Mystery by Margaret Grace from the author, by way of Lori's Reading Corner
--Julia's Chocolates by Cathy Lamb from Paperback Swap

What books made it to you this week?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Review: Damage Control by J. A. Jance

On a beautiful sunny day in the Coronado National Monument, an elderly couple's car goes off the side of a mountain and into oblivion. The terrain is so rocky that a helicopter must be flown in to retrieve the bodies, and to make matters worse, a thunder-storm is looming on the horizon. Hours later and miles away, the subsiding rain reveals gruesome evidence: two trash bags containing human remains.

It's just another day in the life of Cochise County sheriff Joanna Brady.

Back at home, Joanna has a newborn baby, a teenage daughter, a writer husband, and a difficult mother to deal with. But in the field, it turns out that she has much more on her hands. The remains are those of a handicapped woman who had wandered away from a care facility with a suspicious track record. Another resident, with whom the woman may have been involved, has also been reported missing.

Meanwhile, a note is found in the glove compartment of the car lying twisted down the mountainside, stating that its occupants intended to take their own lives. Yet a contradictory autopsy report surfaces, and when the deceased's two daughters show up to feud over their inheritance, Joanna knows there is more to this case than just a suicide pact.

And she will go all out to find the truth—no matter where it leads.

I have been reading this series for quite a while and always enjoy it. Joanna Brady is a strong character and does a very good job of balancing being a wife and mother with a demanding job.

This installment in the series was interesting because Joanna had so much going on. There were multiple cases taking her attention, and her mother was even moodier and more unpredictable than usual.

This is by far my favorite Jance series. I have only read one book in the Beaumont series and it was ok, but I haven't taken the time to go back and read them all. The Ali Reynolds series is the weakest of the three, in my opinion. I have read all of them so far, but have not been impressed and don't know if I will continue reading the series. Joanna Brady is a character to check out though! 4 stars

Order Damage Control

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Booking Through Thursday...Storage

This week’s question is suggested by Kat:

I recently got new bookshelves for my room, and I’m just loving them. Spent the afternoon putting up my books and sharing it on my blog . One of my friends asked a question and I thought it would be a great BTT question. So from Tina & myself, we’d like to know “How do you arrange your books on your shelves? Is it by author, by genre, or you just put it where it falls on?”

I have to admit, right off the bat, that I am very OCD about how my bookshelves are organized! But the simple answer is by size.

All the big hardbacks have to been together, with book club size hardbacks separate, if I have enough shelf space. Trade paperbacks, which are my favorite format, are separate from MMPs. All of my bookshelves are also double stacked, so the books that are in the back of the shelf sometimes get neglected.

This post wouldn't be complete without a picture of a couple of my bookshelves, so that will be up later today.
ETA: My bookshelves!
What do your shelves look like?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Review: Waiting to Surface by Emily Listfield

It takes just one phone call to change your life...

On a steamy August morning, Sarah Larkin drops her six-year-old daughter, Eliza, off at camp and heads to her office, where she works as an editor of a women's magazine. Sitting at her desk testing a $450 face cream, she is just rubbing it into her forearm when the phone rings.

Detective Ronald Brook, speaking softly and deliberately, tells Sarah that her husband has vanished. A keening sound escapes from Sarah's throat as the detective lays out the few facts he knows.

A noted sculptor, Todd Larkin went swimming at midnight off the coast of Florida and hasn't returned. He was staying with a woman. He was drinking. He left behind his keys, wallet, cell phone, and his return airline ticket. They also found two drawings and pieces of a sculpture. But there is no trace of him or his body. The coast guard has been scouring the shoreline, but no one has seen a thing.

Has Todd run off to start a new life or is he dead? Could it have been an accident, suicide, or homicide? Immediately, Sarah's life spins into a world of uncertainty, hope, and fear as she grapples with the mystery of his disappearance.

I had high hopes for this book, and it didn't quite live up to my expectations. It wasn't bad by any means, but it also didn't grab my attention like I'd hoped it would.

I never found Sarah to be very engaging. I know she was going through a lot and was juggling her job, her daughter and her sorrow, but as a whole she fell flat for me. I actually found the parts about her job as a magazine executive much more interesting than her struggle over her missing husband.

Maybe this book just didn't fit in with my mood at the time I read it...I have heard good things about Ms Listfield's other books, especially Acts of Love, so if you have read other books by her I would be interested in hearing your thoughts. 3 stars

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tuesday Teaser & Tuesday Thingers

Tuesday Teaser is hosted by Should Be Reading and asks you to...

1. Grab your current read.
2. Let the book fall open to a random page.
3. Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page. You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
4. Please avoid spoilers!

A moment later Rhyme heard his aide's footsteps returning solo. Rhyme was wondering if someone had delivered a package. But then his mind jumped: Sunday. A visitor could be in street clothes and running shoes, which would make no sound on the entryway floor.

--The Broken Window by Jeffery Deaver
I love the Lincoln Rhyme series! With some of the series I read, the later books haven't been as good, but this series never disappoints.

Today's question: How do you get your books for reviewing? Do you track them somehow (excel, database, etc), or just put them in a tbr (To Be Read for anyone that doesn't know) pile?

I review everything I read so my books come from all over. My own TBR pile consists of three bookshelves, double stacked so I always have something available to read! Most of the audio books I read come from the library, with a few coming from publishers for review.

When I am fortunate enough to receive review copies I keep track of release dates in a Google Calendar. I try to have my reviews posted right around the time a book hits stores. I think this gives the publisher and author the most exposure, and hopefully brings book buyers their way.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Clay Jensen's first love records her last words.

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker,his classmate and crush, who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah's voice explains that there are thirteen reasons she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out why.

Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a first-hand witness to Hannah's pain, and learns the truth about himself, a truth he never wanted to face.

Through Hannah and Clay's dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heart-rending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.

When I picked up this audiobook from the library I knew it was a young adult book about suicide, but I didn't know that the format of the story included cassette tapes. Because the story revolves around these tapes of Hannah's, it makes for a very powerful audio book. You are hearing Hannah's words through the speakers, just as Clay would.

There was both a male and female narrator on the audio, and they both were very well done. The emotion of the story came through strongly, and throughout the story I would get goose bumps.

Sometimes as Clay was listening to Hannah's tapes his thoughts and reactions to her statements would break into her narrative. While these often clarified or added to the story they were also a little distracting. I would be so engrossed in Hannah's story that I didn't want any interruptions.

This is a powerful and well-written story. It is definitely not just for teens, as suicide is a subject that doesn't just affect them. I highly recommend this book, especially the unabridged audio version. This is a story that will stay with me. 5 stars

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Day Giveaway - Matrimony by Joshua Henkin

In honor of Valentine's Day Joshua Henkin has graciously allowed me to host a giveaway of his New York Times Notable Book, Matrimony! Joshua will send the book directly to you and it will come personally inscribed. Mine included a wonderful note!

Since I haven't had a chance to read my copy yet I wanted to provide links to some other blog reviews of Matrimony. Musings of a Bookish Kitty has a wonderful review here, and The Boston Bibliophile has her thoughts on the book here, and The Book Lady's review is here.

Joshua is very involved in the blogging community and reading groups in particular. Be sure to check out his website as he is willing to visit with your book group, either in person or by phone!

Now onto the rules:

--Leave a comment here for one entry
--Blog about the giveaway and link back here for a second entry
--Follow me or add me to your Google Reader for a third entry. Current subscribers are eligible for this too.

Please make sure you have a email address listed in your comment or on your profile. If I can't reach you, your entry won't count.

This contest will run until midnight Feb 28 and the winner will be chosen by random and posted on March 2. This contest is open worldwide.

This Week in Books...

I had a early-week book drought and was afraid that I was going to end up with (gasp!) only one book. My postman came through with a couple more, though.

--Sixpence House: Lost in A Town Of Books by Paul Collins from Bookmooch

--Secret Daughter: A Mixed-Race Daughter and the Mother Who Gave Her Away by June Cross from Author Marketing Experts, Inc.
--Breakneck by Erica Spindler from LibraryThing and St. Martin's Press

This week I finished one audiobook, Thirteen Reasons Why, which was wonderful. My review on it will be up next week. I also finished Waiting to Surface and its review will be up soon.

Hope you all had a fabulous week in books!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Review: Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

In this stunning new book, Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of "outliers"--the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. He asks the question: what makes high-achievers different?

His answer is that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing. Along the way he explains the secrets of software billionaires, what it takes to be a great soccer player, why Asians are good at math, and what made the Beatles the greatest rock band.

I'd known of Malcolm Gladwell's books for a while, but hadn't picked one up. Now I wish I hadn't waited so long as I loved this audio book. It was entertaining, interesting and educational without being dry, as some non-fiction can be. It was read by the author and I enjoyed him as the narrator.

This book was an eye opening look at successful people. When most people think success they think hard work, but Gladwell shows that it is so much more than that. His examples come from all walks of life and from many different professions, yet they all get you thinking about success in a whole new way.

The section on Asians being good at math was one of my favorites. My mom, who is a teacher, and I were recently discussing Gladwell's thoughts on the topic. She mentioned that the district she teaches in has been redesigning the math curriculum's language to more closely resemble that of Asian speakers. I love it when things I'm reading about apply to everyday life!

I highly recommend this book, even for those readers or listeners who don't normally read non-fiction. Now, I'm off to track down his other books! 4 stars

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Review: Lethal Legacy by Linda Fairstein

When Assistant District Attorney Alex Cooper is summoned to Tina Barr’s apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, she finds a neighbor convinced that the young woman was assaulted. But the terrified victim, a conservator of rare books and maps, refuses to cooperate with investigators.

In this beguiling mix of history and suspense, the New York Times bestselling author of Killer Heat truly outdoes herself as she takes readers on a breathtaking ride through the valuable first editions, lost atlases, and secret room and tunnels of the great New York Public Library.

This was my first Linda Fairstein book, but it won't be my last. I don't usually start a series in the middle, but I had heard such good things about this series that I made an exception, and I wasn't disappointed. I could tell that there was some history with the characters that I was missing out on, but it didn't distract from the mystery.

For a book lover like me the behind-the-scenes look into the New York Public Library was fascinating. The detail on the rare books and maps really added to the story, and the few details I looked up proved to be well researched.

One thing that I found slightly distracting was that ADA Alex Cooper seemed to be right in the middle of crime scenes. There were a few times that I found myself thinking she shouldn't touch that...Since I am not in law enforcement all of my (very limited) knowledge comes from books and TV so I may be wrong, but it did catch my attention.

This was a well done mystery, and even though I hardly need another series to keep up on, this is one that I will be following from now on. 4 stars

Order Lethal Legacy

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tuesday Teaser

Tuesday Teaser is hosted by Should Be Reading and asks you to...
1. Grab your current read.
2. Let the book fall open to a random page.
3. Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page. You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
4. Please avoid spoilers!

They stared at each other with mounting frustration, each feeling righteous, misunderstood, resentful.

Todd slammed the spoon he had been holding down. "I've had it," he said, and stormed out.

--Waiting to Surface by Emily Listfield.

I am enjoying the book but it hasn't grabbed me like my last read and listen. The Help and Thirteen Reasons Why were both wonderful, and sometimes its hard to find a book to follow up great reads.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Review: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

Minny, Aibileen's best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody's business, but she can't mind her tongue, so she's lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.

Wow! I flew through this book. It is a large book, over 450 pages, but it flows so well, and I was so engrossed in the story, that I read it in three days. The characters aren't only well written, they are all the type of character that linger with you after the end of the story. Once I finished The Help I actually waited until the next day to start another book because I wasn't ready to walk away from them quite yet.

One thing that I couldn't decide if I liked or not was that the book was written in first person, but the narrator changed every few chapters. In one way, I really liked it because it gave you more insight into each of the characters. On the other hand, it always took me a little while to get into the rhythm of the new narrator. The maid's portions are also written as they would speak, and at times I found this to be a little overdone.

All in all, I thought this was a very impressive debut. The characters emotions really came through, and I felt their anger, fear and hope right along with them. 4.5 stars

Order The Help