Friday, July 30, 2010

In Case You Missed It: July

How is it already the end of July? I don't know about you all but my July was slam packed with activities so I am actually looking forward to a little rest and relaxation come August! I am a bridesmaid this weekend in a dear friends wedding and then after this hopefully things will calm down a little bit around here. Earlier this month my aunt and uncle came to visit and I took them hiking through San Francisco's Presidio and that was one of the picture's I took. Pretty nice, huh? It's called Lover's Lane. My boyfriend was out of town but you gotta take in the scenery when you can find it!

Anywho, in case you missed it, here's what I've been up to here at Amused headquarters:
Phew, that was quite the month! August is shaping up to be lots of fun as well! I hope you all have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Out in the Jungle

'The Man from Saigon'
by Mart Leimbach


Format: ARC
Published: Feb. 2010
Pages: 352


Synopsis: Leimbach sets her vivid and powerful new novel in 1967 Vietnam to tell the story of Susan Gifford, a women's magazine writer who arrives in-country to write human interest stories about the war. Instead, she ends up covering combat and finds an intense friendship with Son, a Vietnamese photographer, and an equally intense love affair with Marc, a married American journalist. During an ambush, Susan and Son are captured by the Vietcong and are marched into the jungle. When they are reported missing, Marc drops a potentially big story to find them. Meanwhile, Susan begins to suspect that Son may not be who he seems. Leimbach masterfully conjures the hothouse atmosphere of foreign correspondents in Saigon in the late 1960s, and in Susan she has created a heroine who is a worthy counterpart to the real life reporters who covered the war. Whether describing a convoy taking fire, a farcical press briefing, a quiet moment between Susan and Marc, or the ironic aftermath of Susan's ordeal, Leimbach expertly captures the contradictions of the war, making this a solid addition to the literature of an endlessly reconsidered conflict. 

My Take: First things first, I don't read a lot of books set during the Vietnam War. Something about this time period gives me the willies. Aside from the fact that war is war and it's never good, I don't know if it's because usually the books are set in the jungle and everyone is all hot and sweaty and covered in bugs or if its because they might delve into horrid flashbacks or something, for some reason war stories set in Vietnam freak me out like no other so I read this book at a snails pace. It probably took me a month all told to get through this one. I kept putting it down and picking up something else. I couldn't stay with the story, I just didn't have the will power. I guess this shows how wrong the army was to try to recruit me when I graduated from high school!

At any rate, the story was interesting and different from other Vietnam books I've read, however few and far between those might be. Susan is a young woman who is a journalist sent from her woman's magazine to cover the war. I found this mildly far fetched but I wasn't alive then so what do I know. However, today Glamour and Marie Claire don't have someone full time reporting from Afghanistan or Iraq on 'women's interests' in wartime they just do some op-ed's from time to time so maybe I'm not completely off base here. At any rate that's why Susan is there so just go with it. 

Susan was pretty easy for me to relate to which I liked. She didn't know what to expect and when she got to Saigon she was kind of overwhelmed at first which is a very honest portrayal I think. Growing up in America couldn't prepare you for that. She was thrown into all kinds of situations before being captured by the Viet Cong (I didn't just give anything away there that they don't tell you on the back of the book). She was doing pretty well with her writing and had even started a love affair with another man before all this went down in the jungle. Unfortunately for her the unthinkable happens and she is captured.

You learn how strong Susan is and what the human body is able to endure. There is also some mystery and intrigue, while back in Saigon Susan's boyfriend is trying to figure out how to rescue her. Overall, while the story was told from a different standpoint than most Vietnam War novels, I do think that it was slow for me, and I found my mind wandering while reading it. It didn't grab me like I thought it would.

*If you would like to have my ARC, I will happily send it to you. Just put your email in the comments letting me know and I will draw one name on Sunday.*

(I received this from LibraryThing Early Reviewers)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I'm Going to Be on That's How I Blog Next Wed Aug 4th!

Hey everyone this is just a quick note to say that I would really appreciate it if you all would tune in next Wednesday Aug. 4th at 9pm EST/6pm PST as I talk books, blogs, and book blogs with Nicole from Linus's Blanket on That's How I Blog on Blog Talk Radio! I am so excited and I would be even more excited if you all join in and listen online. Just click the link at the time and listen in by streaming it through your computer.

If you've never listened to the show before, we will be talking about all kinds of fun bookish stuff and at the end we will have a 20 minute book club to talk about 'The Blind Assassin' by Margaret Atwood so if you've read that or are looking for something to read next tune in to that as well!

Wish me luck on my radio debut!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Olive Oil and Water

'Olive Kitteridge'
By Elizabeth Strout


Format: Paperback
Published: Random House; Sept. 2008
Pages: 304


Synopsis: Thirteen linked tales from Strout present a heart-wrenching, penetrating portrait of ordinary coastal Mainers living lives of quiet grief intermingled with flashes of human connection. Strout's fiction showcases her ability to reveal through familiar details—the mother-of-the-groom's wedding dress, a grandmother's disapproving observations of how her grandchildren are raised—the seeds of tragedy. Themes of suicide, depression, bad communication, aging and love, run through these stories. 


My Take: I read this book solely because it won the Pulitzer Prize. I am not sure I've ever done that before. I think when I picked it up I thought it would be 'Fiction', as in a story all told, say about Olive Kitteridge the woman the story is named after. Believe me, there were plenty of reviews around the blogosphere, and while I am an avid reader of reviews, I'll admit to skimming them if it's a book I haven't read yet and know I want to read to make sure nothing major is spoiled for me just to make sure a blogger liked it or didn't and it seemed overall people liked it. What I failed to notice is that overall this seemed to be more short-story than a novel. I would have liked to have known that. I'll have to read closer next time! The reason I would have liked to have known that is because I don't really like short stories, however it's good for me to brake my mold every once in a while and so I did.

The common theme in this book is Olive. I can't say whether I liked her or not. Basically she would appear as the main character in the story about every other chapter and just appear in the story in the others, does that make sense? It all takes place in a small town in Maine and I generally like books set in small towns because you can really get a feel for the characters, this was no exception. I particularly liked Olive's husband Henry. Henry was really sweet and friendly to everyone in town. Olive, however was not. She was much more abrasive. She taught at the local school so she touched most people's lives in this small town. Olive and Henry had an only child Christopher and some of the stories also revolved around him and his life.

The stories that didn't directly include their family would take place with the other townspeople and would have some sort of super sad or dramatic event. Basically if you are looking for a nice, uplifting read this is not it. This was probably my main problem with the book. I get it, life is hard. Believe me I know this. But this book really kind of shoved it down my throat. Olive had a hard time letting people into her life throughout and it made for a difficult read for me. Not that I didn't understand Olive, just that I could see why you wouldn't want to be her friend.

I don't know why this beat out every other book the year it won but that's cool, I don't often agree with award winning book choices but I do often feel like they broaden my reading horizons and that's often the bigger point.

(I got this book from PBS)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Mailbox Monday - July 19th - 24th, 2010




It's Mailbox Monday time! Hosted by Marcia over at the Printed Page, Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week (checked out library books don’t count, eBooks & audio books do). Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists!



How did another week already fly by? Did you all have a great weekend? I did! It was the only weekend in July that I got to spend in town so I really took advantage and relaxed and got all caught up! Loved it :) Now onto the books! Hope you all got some good ones. Let me know! Here's what I got:


Sent to me by Harper Collins:


1. 'Mackenzie Blue' by Tina Wells






















2. 'Mackenzie Blue: The Secret Crush' by Tina Wells
























3. 'Mackenzie Blue: Friends Forever?' by Tina Wells

































Winner of Jill Mansell Books

Congratulations are in order for Mystee who is the winner of two Jill Mansell books of her choice from amazon as chosen by random.org! I''ll be emailing her shortly. I had so much fun participating in the Got Books Event and meeting everyone who stopped by my blog for a visit! Hope to see you next time!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Advice Please - Which Audio Book Site Do You Use?

DryIcons
So after a failed attempt at listening to an audiobook and hearing rave reviews from you on multiple books I decided to try again. I felt that while yes, I don't drive a ton, I do have time at work when I can plug in my headphones and tune people out. Lo and behold I have found an audiobook I love thanks to you all and I am ready to download some more! Alas I want to know which site is the best to use but I am totally overwhelmed as to where to go and that's where you all come in. I thought, I bet I know who might have some advice. My blogging buddies?

So here's my situation: I have an iPod Nano and I download my audiobooks to that. Nothing too revolutionary there. I have uploaded one book from the traditional cd format, that took forever and was clunky so checking audiobooks out from the library is kind of unappealing in that sense. My second audiobook (review forthcoming!) was downloaded from iTunes but that is at cost so that, while easy, is expensive for me to just delete it after a one time use.

One site I've looked into joining is audible. This one appeals to me because they charge a monthly fee to download as many audiobooks as you want and they have a huge selection. I was thinking of going with this one but I only decided on this because I saw a commercial for it. Am I missing an obvious choice? Is there a major pro or con to one? Please let me know in your comments and I'll let you know what I eventually go with! I appreciate all of you advice!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Got Books Giveaway: July 23rd - 25th!


This weekend is the Got Books Event. Stop by the Got Books blog for a list of all the blogs giving away awesome prizes this weekend!

I thought long and hard about what an appropriate giveaway for this weekend would be and I have decided to give away a copy of two Jill Mansell books since I love her books so much and have reviewed so many here this year! I will pick one winner Sunday night at midnight and email them for their address. At that time they can choose two Jill Mansell books of their choice to have me ship from Amazon. Whoo hoo!

To see the Mansell books that I have reviewed and loved click the covers:





























































































Giveaway Details
To enter - just leave a comment telling me why you'd like to win and leave your email. You don't have to pick your two Mansell books yet. The winner can pick those when I email them. They have to be available on amazon.com. If the winner does not respond to me within 48 hours I will choose another winner. Good luck!

(Contest open to US and Canadian Residents only. Open until 11:59 pm PST July 25th.)

Podcasts

This week's Booking Through Thursday asks:

Do you ever listen to book-related podcasts?

If so, which ones and why? (Include the URLs for people who aren’t familiar with them.)
Or, of course, there’s the flip side … did you even know that such a thing existed? (I ask because I know a lot of people who have no idea what a podcast is.)


Yes I do! Well one main one: That's How I Blog on Blog Talk Radio hosted by Nicole from Linus's Blanket (click on the title of the show for the link and to replay all back shows!). She hosts book bloggers and authors alike. It's great for book related news, blogging scoop and tips. Basically if you are a book blogger or are thinking about becoming one this is the place to be. Oh and not to plug myself, but I am going to be on the show on Wed. Aug 4th at 6pm PST so check it out :)

Now dish, where do you guys get your bookish news from podcasts?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

My First Completed Challenge

This is a very proud moment for me folks! When I signed up for a bunch of challenges at the end of last year I had no idea really what I was doing since this is my first full year of blogging. I just thought, oh these look like fun and like something I could totally accomplish - let's see! And what do you know, I've managed one and this one I feel like I could have totally kept going!



1. 'Millie's Fling' by Jill Mansell
2. 'Open House' by Jill Mansell
3. 'Love Rules' by Freya North
4. 'Thinking of You' by Jill Mansell
5. 'Wolf Hall' by Hillary Mantel
6. 'The Love of Her Life' by Harriet Evans
7. 'Falling for You' by Jill Mansell
8. 'A Hopeless Romantic' by Harriet Evans

I would have to say that Brit Chick Lit was the clear winner here and I wouldn't change my read along experience with Melissa from Gerbera Daisy Diaries for 'Wolf Hall' for anything! So this challenge was really fun to complete! Off to finish the next one now!

A Fairy Tale Romance?

'A Hopeless Romantic'
By Harriet Evans


Format: Paperback
Published: Downtown Press; Oct. 2007
Pages: 531


Synopsis: Laura Foster is a hopeless romantic. Her friends know it, her parents know it - even Laura acknowledges she lives either with her head in the clouds or buried in a romance novel. It's proved harmless enough, even if it hasn't delivered her a real-life dashing hero yet. But when her latest relationship ends in a disaster that costs her friendships, her job, and nearly her sanity, Laura swears off men and hopeless romantic fantasies for good.


With her life in tatters around her, Laura agrees to go on vacation with her parents. After a few days of visiting craft shops and touring the stately homes of England, Laura is ready to tear her hair out. And then, while visiting grand Chartley Hall, she crosses paths with Nick, the sexy, rugged estate manager. She finds she shares more than a sense of humor with him - in fact, she starts to think she could fall for him. But is Nick all he seems? Or has Laura got it wrong again? Will she open her heart only to have it broken again?

My Take: After my success with 'The Love of Her Life' by Harriet Evans I was looking forward to jumping right in with another one of her books. I love discovering new-to-me Brit Chick Lit and when I do I will often devour it. The premise of this one really enchanted me. 

Laura, our lead is a hopeless romantic, hence the title. I had a hard time falling in line with her life though. She started out being in love with Dan. She was having an affair with a man who had a girlfriend. She justified this because he didn't like his girlfriend and she didn't like the girlfriend. However, 6 months later he still hadn't broken up with the girlfriend and her whole life was in tatters because of Dan. Hopeless is right! I don't know, women like this make me crazy. Who beleives that you start a relationship with a man like that and he won't turn around and do the same to you? At any rate her life falls apart, like really falls apart. So she escapes from it all for awhile.

This leads her to a vacation with her parents and grandma and the real story begins where she meets someone really worth falling in love with. The question is can she begin to love again or will she mess this one up to? Is she ready to fall in love again? Are their lives too different? Once the book got to this part of the story I liked Laura a lot more. I wanted her to get her life back on track and I wanted to believe that she was genuinely a good person whose life just faltered for awhile. Everyone hits a low sometimes. 

One other minor complaint: a lot of sentences started with, 'Er'. As in, "Er, I don't know". This would be fine if it was every once in a while but I felt like it was ALL the time. I think that Evans refined her style a lot by the time 'The Love of Her Life' was written is all I'm saying. Still I enjoyed this book and it made for a fun summer read.

(I got this from PBS)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Books Made Into Movies: The Time Traveler's Wife

'The Time Traveler's Wife'


Studio: New Line
DVD Released: Feb. 2010
Running Time: 107 Minutes
Rated: PG-13


Synopsis:  A genuinely old-fashioned Hollywood romance with a science fiction angle, The Time Traveler's Wife stars Eric Bana as Henry DeTamble, a Chicago librarian with a genetic disorder causing him to travel through time involuntarily. The screenplay by Bruce Joel Rubin (My Life), based on a novel by Audrey Niffenegger, incorporates some of those crazy paradoxes that are a part of time-travel fiction, but without beating one over the head. Take Henry's introduction to his future wife, Clare (Rachel McAdams), who tells him they've already met even though they haven't actually met. Brain teasers, however, are not what The Time Traveler's Wife is about. In a quite haunting way, the story really concerns what it means to know and love someone at every phase of his or her life. The fact that Henry's life, from Clare's perspective, is hardly linear--he can disappear and turn back up again at different ages--means that she must cherish what is essential about him. Which doesn't mean the couple is immune to periods of unhappiness, including a painful sequence about trying to bear a child--perhaps a child that might also carry the time-traveling gene.


My Take: Has everyone else already seen this movie already? Well I'm going to talk about it anyway because I was pleasantly surprised! I don't know what took me so long to watch the darn movie in the first place because I remember when I read the book a few years back I kept thinking "this would be so much better as a movie!" because honestly, I wasn't a huge fan of the book. I know a lot of people out there are, and I wasn't blogging back when I read the book but suffice it to say that I couldn't keep up with all of the time travel. How old was he, where he was in time, I found it all pretty confusing in book form and I thought if I could see it visually I might be able to grasp it better. Suffice it say, I am not much of a science fiction reader, and this is sci-fi lite.

As for me liking this story in movie form, I was right. I knew the story line but it did a fabulous job portraying the time traveling. I could really picture when he was in time and how it affected those around him. The relationship with his wife was much more moving on screen because in the book it was mildly child-molestry for him to constantly be visiting a child in the woods naked. In the movie they quickly touched on it and he didn't seem at all creepy. She was instantly in love with him and their relationship seemed sweet.

I know it's gotten mixed reviews but if you've seen it what did you think of the movie?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Mailbox Monday - July 12th - 17th, 2010

It's Mailbox Monday time! Hosted by Marcia over at the Printed Page, Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week (checked out library books don’t count, eBooks & audio books do). Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists!

Did everyone have a great weekend? I was at a bachelorette party all weekend up in Santa Rosa, CA and boy did we have fun! I'm a little exhausted from all of the activities but that's probably a sign of a good time :)

I received lots of great books this week in my mailbox. Here's what I got:

Sent to me by Plume:
1. 'How to Buy a Love of Reading' by Tanya Egan Gibson




















Sent from LibraryThing Early Reviewers:
2. 'The News Where You Are' by Catherine O'Flynn
















A prize from Biblophile by the Sea - Thanks!
3. 'Whiter Than Snow' by Sandra Dallas




















From PBS:
4. 'The Forgotten Garden' by Kate Morton




















5. 'The Believers' by Zoe Heller




















What did you get?!

Friday, July 16, 2010

A Family Affair

'The Way Things Look to Me'
By Roopa Farooki


Format: Paperback
Published: Pan; Sept. 2009
Pages: 360


Synopsis: At 23, Asif is less than he wanted to be. His mother's sudden death forced him back home to look after his youngest sister, Yasmin, and he leads a frustrating life, ruled by her exacting need for routine. Everyone tells Asif that he's a good boy, but he isn't so sure.



Lila has escaped from home, abandoning Asif to be the sole carer of their difficult sister. Damaged by a childhood of uneven treatment, as Yasmin's needs always came first, she leads a wayward existence, drifting between jobs and men, obsessed with her looks and certain that her value is only skin deep.

And then there is Yasmin, who has no idea of the resentment she has caused. Who sees music in colour and remembers so much that sometimes her head hurts. Who doesn't feel happy, but who knows that she is special. Who has a devastating plan.

My Take: I am mildly uncomfortable writing this review. Maybe it's because I feel bad because I don't know why I didn't really like this book. Maybe it was my mood. Maybe it was the book. I don't know. I've been sitting on it for a while but it's not coming to me. Ultimately, I think it's the fact that the characters really got under my skin and that was probably not the hope of the author and what does that say about me? These are philosophical debates I am not sure I want to have so let's just go forth here and discuss. 

I picked this one up because it was longlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction and the topic intrigued me. I've read a few books lately where the main character has autism, this seems to be a popular one of late. I enjoyed 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time' and 'Lottery'. Yasmin, in this story has Asberger's she is 18. Her parents have passed away and her older brother Asif is caring for her. Asif was probably the character I liked the best in the novel. He was genuinely sweet and was trying really hard but man his life sucked. He had to give up all of his hopes and dreams to take care of Yasmin. He seemed to be out of his depth. Their other sister Lila is dealing with her life a little less well and has a lot more resentment towards Yasmin and so is not a good choice as a caretaker. 

The story goes back to how it used to be just Lila and Asif with their parents and then when Yasmin came along they felt like they no longer had a mother. I thought it was really sad and hard to read. I can imagine as a mother you wouldn't really know what to do. The child with autism needs your help more but you shouldn't really desert your other children. However, every time Yasmin didn't get what she wanted all hell would break lose so that's exactly what happened. It was really uncomfortable to read.

In present day, there is now a documentary to be made about Yasmin because she is considered high performing so that's kind of where the action centers around. A lot doesn't 'happen' so to speak in the book. It's more felt, portrayed. Things are lived through, feelings are dealt with, people try to progress as humans. It was hard for me to read. Basically if I don't like most of the characters, its hard for me to form a bond with a book, however I think others might like this more. 

If you have read this, what did you think?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Hot!

This week's Booking Through Thursday asks:

Well, folks, I don’t know about where you are, but right here, it’s HOT.
So … when you think about “hot reading,” what does that make you think of? Beach reading? Steamy romances? Books that take place in hot climates? Or cold ones?


Funny you should say that because the weather in San Francisco is very up and down. Some days it will be warm, like today it's mid-70s which I think is just perfect, but some days it is cool here like low 60s and foggy - not summery at all! It can get kind of old.

At any rate, what do I think, when I think of 'hot reading'? Honestly, I don't think of any of the above! I think of reading a 'hot' release! As in, reading the most popular book out there, what everyone is talking about, the newest, latest and greatest because people can't get enough. The reason I probably associate the term 'hot' with this is because I never do this! I purposefully avoid reading books that everyone is talking about! I think I do it because I start to think that there is no possible way they can live up to the hype.

For example, feel free to gasp, I've never read the 'Harry Potter' series. I am just now contemplating possibly downloading the first book on audio. I have yet to read 'Eat, Pray, Love'. I didn't understand the vampire excitement over the 'Twilight' series. Just this last weekend, we were laying by the pool, and hand on my heart, every single person was reading a book in the Steig Larsson Trilogy and I was reading a couple of paperbacks from two years ago. I am always out of the popular 'hot book' loop. By choice. But I am starting to feel like maybe I am missing out! The only hot book that maybe I've read is 'The Help' and I wasn't going to read it but my mom gave it to me for Christmas and I ended up loving it!

How about you. How do you define 'hot reading'?

We Have A Winner!

The winner of the CSN Stores $30 Gift Certificate using random.org is: Carmen! Congratulations! I'll be in touch via email with the details. Thanks to everyone who entered.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Guest Post: Scene of the Blog


Today I am featured on Cathy from Kittling: Books's fabulous feature 'Scene of the Blog' where bloggers talk about where they do what they do. I'd be so honored if you'd check out my guest post and tell me what you think!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Literary T-Shirts! Oh My!

I was reading through one of my trusty magazines the other day when I stumbled upon a blurb that mentioned a cute site for book lovers to find clothes: outofprintclothing.com! Have you checked this site out before? They have lovely tees for both men and women with designs from the popular, classic, and some strange books from decades past with their original covers. Be still my heart! The prices are totally reasonable, and what's more, for each shirt they sell they donate a book to a community in need through their partner Books for Africa. I've already ordered the above shirt and I'm contemplated ordering 'Lolita'. Which ones would you get?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Mailbox Monday - July 5th - 10th, 2010

It's Mailbox Monday time! Hosted by Marcia over at the Printed Page, Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week (checked out library books don’t count, eBooks & audio books do). Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists!

This past weekend, we took Friday off and spent a fabulous 3 days on the Southern California coast at a little resort for some much needed rest and relaxtion. So much fun! I finished two books and almost finished a third so I am looking forward to catching up on some new books. Here's what I got in my mailbox this week:


From PBS:

1. 'The Lace Makers of Glenmara' by Heather Barbieri




















2. 'O, Juliet' by Robin Maxwell




















What did you get?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Rules Beyond Attraction

'Were You Raised by Wolves?: And Seven Other Crucial Questions to Ask the One You Just Might Marry'
By Toben Heim


Format: Paperback
Published: Kregel; Apr. 2010
Pages: 128


Synopsis: Honest questions to help dating couples start and stay talking. Find out what your significant other believes about family, friends, faith, communication styles, money and more, and you'll find out if the relationship can stand the test of time.


My Take: I fear that by even suggesting that I read this book my mother will instantly get on the phone and go, "did you need to tell me something?!" Here's the thing, my boyfriend and I have been happily dating for three years now. We just hit that landmark and well, it's no surprise that as time marches on people continually ask us, so when are you two going to get married in varying degrees of probing ways. I still wish I had a witty response for, 'when it's time!'. At any rate, when I saw this book on the LibraryThing Early Reviewers shelf I thought, well maybe it will teach me something and we'll have some deep discussions.

When this book showed up it was nothing more than what I might call a brochure. I mean it's tiny, which is probably good because if the man is reading this he might quickly lose interest, but let's be honest, the woman in any relationship is going to read this and tell the man what they do or don't need to work on as a couple.

At any rate, it was easily broken down chapters that at the end had 'Discussion Questions' and 'Red Flags'. The chapters covered things like how to have an argument, what to look for in each others families, how to have conversations about money and finance and so on. Believe me, all good things to know and discuss with the person you want to live with for the rest of your life. The chapters started with quotes from real life couples and I think the one that resonated the most was me was that it's one thing to argue when you are dating but when you are married, it's for life so get these issues dealt with ahead of time if you can. Or at least know where you stand on these issues.

Ultimately though I think these would be good for couples if they were in the earlier dating stage, say one year, or were maybe rushing things but, well, I didn't find a whole lot of revelations here. In some ways it was good because I could breathe a sigh of relief. However, I was hoping for a hip, kitschy book on relationships based on the cover and title and was instead given a book fed with a heavy dose of religion.  The author went so far as to say that a marriage with a 'non-believer was doomed to failure'. Yikes! Well, that's just not going to work for all of the different couples in the world out there.

Like I said, I think this would be a good book for couples who were maybe a year into a relationship and headed towards marriage or maybe weren't that good at having major discussions but for me, I was looking for something more.

(This book was sent to me for review from LibraryThing. Thank you for this opportunity)

(I got this book from LibraryThing EarlyReviewers)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Discussion

This week's Booking Through Thursday asks:




Do you have friends and family to share books with? Discuss them with? Does it matter to you?

My answer is both yes and no. Let's brake this question down a little here first.

Do you have friends and family to share books with? Yes, I have some. Not a ton, but some friends who read a lot and a couple of family members who also love to read. Believe me, nothing brings me such joy as chatting with them about a great book. The joy of discovery when their eyes light up because they are telling you of their favorite read and when you just know that  they are going to read your new favorite. Some of my friends and, a couple of my relatives, share similar taste in books so we do like to chat about it and since I've started this blog, it's out their now that well, I am kind of obsessed with reading.

Do we share these books? Sometimes. I don't live near any family so when we swap I have to say goodbye to my books and vice versa for a long time. Friends, I would rather just give them my new favorites as gifts for some reason.

Does it matter that only a couple of my friends and family share this passion for reading? Not really. Everyone has different interests and I have found a great outlet for my reading passion here online. I would say that by reading and talking about it more online, its made some of my friends and family talk about it more and get more interested in it but, by and large, by the time you reach adulthood you probably read recreationally or you don't and I'm fine with it. That's why I love you all so much too.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Books Made Into Movies: Lost in Austen

'Lost in Austen'


Studio: Image Entertainment (originally produced for ITV)
DVD Released: Apr. 2009
Running Time: 180 Minutes
Rated: NR


Synopsis: Amanda Price is sick of the modern world. She yearns for the romance and elegance found in the books by her favorite author, Jane Austen. But she's about to get a rude awakening as one fateful evening, she is propelled into the scheming 19th century world of Pride and Prejudice while that book's Elizabeth Bennet is hurled into hers. As the book's familiar plot unfolds, Amanda triggers new romantic twists and turns within the Bennet family circle as she clumsily tries to help the sisters nab husbands and even captivates the tantalizing Mr. Darcy herself. But what about Elizabeth...and what will become of one of the world's greatest love stories?


My Take: I have been seeing this movie (mini-series) around the book blogosphere for quite some time and I have to say I was pretty intrigued. I love pretty much any modern-retelling of an Austen novel and I am probably a certified Anglophile so the fact that it was produced by a British TV channel (ITV) made me sit up. I thought, ok, this is worth checking out when the boyfriend's away (since it's a good three hours long and super girlie!).

Basically, it takes place in 'Pride and Prejudice', yes, in. Amanda Price is your modern Londoner who loves Austen and re-reads P and P whenever she gets the chance. She has a boyfriend who wants to marry her but he is just not quite the man Darcy was. One day, in her apartment bathroom (which is in an old building) a wall opens up that was painted over and out walks Elizabeth Bennent! Cut to the chase, they swap places. Elizabeth feels like she is living in the wrong era and definitely belongs in the modern age and Amanda belongs in the past.

The story goes from there and it is pretty hysterical. Amanda is very believable plopping into the past and trying to fit in and not doing a very good job. Believe me, it makes for some funny and cute scenarios. Things quickly go off of the story line because Elizabeth isn't there to make sure they happen the way they are supposed to but Amanda tries her hardest.

My favorite part of the movie was when Amanda makes the Darcy character get in the water and slowly walk out in a Colin Firth moment for no other reason than because she wants to relive the BBC miniseries. Hysterical! My least favorite part, while Darcy was certainly brooding enough, he wasn't cute enough for me! Regardless I highly recommend this movie for a lazy afternoon!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Trouble in a Small Town

'Falling for You'
By Jill Mansell


Format: Paperback
Published: Headline Book; Feb. 2004
Pages: 442


Synopsis: As a teenager, Maddy Harvey was a bit of an ugly duckling, but thankfully she’s blossomed since then. But when she meets Kerr McKinnon one summer’s night and discovers, days later, who he really is, that’s when the real problems start. Because everyone in Ashcombe knows what happened 11 years ago, and as far as her mother Marcella is concerned, she would rather tear that family to pieces with her bare hands than see Maddy associate with a McKinnon. And, okay, maybe Marcella isn’t her real mother, but Maddy owes her so much. It’s Romeo and Juliet all over again. Quick, hide those sharp knives and that little bottle of poison.

My Take: Did you guys know you were along on a ride as I make my way through my own personal challenge to read Ms. Mansell's entire back catalog this year? Ok, I didn't either as this year started out but I am sure as heck enjoying this ride! I stumbled upon her, as you may know, late last year and haven't looked back, reading both recently re-released books and her older books which this one was, all to my delight having been entertained thoroughly. Maybe I should have started a Mansell challenge? Luckily, I joined the Typically British Reading Challenge and these books all fit quite nicely in there.

This latest installment on my quest, 'Falling for You' takes place in Ashcombe, a quiet little town a little outside of Bath in England. I've actually been to Bath a couple of times and loved it so I kept thinking of my visits when I was reading this book. Our heroine Maddy, loves her family dearly, and she should because they are a loyal clan who would do anything for each other and have been through a lot. When this story takes place it is 11 years after the death of Maddy's younger sister at the hands of a drunk driver. Nobody in her family, naturally, likes the family that did this to her sister. Unfortunately one night Maddy and Kerr, the brother of the drunk driver, fall in love, not recognizing each other. You with me? 

They aren't allowed to see each other, sadness ensues. From there the story plays out. I liked it. It would have been boring and trite if that was the whole story because of course you know what's going to happen, it's chick-lit after all but there are lots of other fabulous characters in this small town to fill our time with as well. I don't know what it is about British authors but when they set books in small towns they make these towns seem so darn charming that I just want to move there! Everyone seems so friendly and nice. Granted some of these people are surly, and for good reason, but they work through their issues and they are all really funny. Of all the Mansell books this one had some of the funniest lines to me. I could really picture it all coming alive for me.

This would make for a great summer read!

(I got this book from PBS)

Monday, July 5, 2010

Mailbox Monday - June 28th - July 3rd, 2010

It's Mailbox Monday time! Hosted by Marcia over at the Printed Page, Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week (checked out library books don’t count, eBooks & audio books do). Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists!

Did all of my readers from the US have a fabulous 4th of July yesterday? Enjoy some fun firework shows? Great! Ok, onto the books!

Here's what I got this week. From PBS:

1. 'April and Oliver' by Tess Callahan




















2. 'Lift' by Kelly Corrigan




















And finally, from my boyfriend's mom:
3. 'Follow the River' by James Alexander Thom



















What did you get?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Summer Readin' and the Livin' is Easy

Nothing says summertime to me like a glass of lemonade, a reclining chair set up outside in a gentle breeze and a good, easy reading book. What about you? I know you may be thinking summer, it's July already! Well around San Francisco summer seems to be from July through September and we all know that famous quote from Mark Twain where he said, 'The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Fransico' so bear with me on my late post!

So there are lots of books piling up on my shelves and some of them look like they would really fit this bill! Here's a look at what I am hoping to read this summer. Let me know what you are looking forward to read this summer too!



Thursday, July 1, 2010

Dissapointment

This week's Booking Through Thursday asks:


Name a book or author that you truly wanted to love but left you disappointed. (And, of course, explain why.)

I knew right away when I read this what my answer would be: 'The Lacuna' by Barbara Kingsolver (click for my review). I read this book with great excitement back in January because Ms. Kingsolver is one of my absolute favorite authors of all time. I love her books. They changed they way I thought about modern fiction. Her women were plucky and witty and I devoured them all. And then she finally came out with a new piece of fiction and I was thrilled and it was such a letdown. 'The Lacuna' was just a large combination of so many different mediums and time periods. The main character was a male which was a major letdown and it felt like he was just thrown into situations in history in order to be there for the most important parts of the book, not because they were integral to the plot. I know this book has won the Orange Prize this year but, well, read it for yourself and let me know what you think! I still love you wholeheartedly though Barbara!

In Case You Missed It: June

Can you believe another month has already come and gone? Does everyone have some fun 4th of July plans? We are sticking around for the 3 day weekend which is a blessing because the rest of our July is jam packed! San Francisco has been blessed with some delicious summer fruit this year so here is a picture of some yummy cupcakes I made with some of them!

Anyway, in case you missed it, here's some of the highlights of what I've been up to in June:


  • I read some fabulous books this month! These included: Two Guys Read Jane Austen, The Life O'Reilly, The Love of Her Life, and The Piano Teacher. I think my favorites for this month are probably tied with The Love of Her Life and The Piano Teacher. What was your favorite read in June?
  • There were a couple of great discussion posts here. One was about finding time to blog. I loved hearing everyone's thoughts! Check the post and comments out for some great tips. Another was about everyone's feelings on magazines versus books. Lots of different opinions on that topic!
  • Bloggiesta was this month and man, oh man did I have a fun time! I reorganized my blog and finally completed my tabs up above. Please check them out if you haven't yet!
  • I listened to my first audio book, much to my apparent chagrin! Check out my review of The Swan Thieves.
  • Wanna find out what I read when I was little? Check out my guest post 'When I Was Young'!
  • Finally, have you entered the contest for a $30 gift certificate to CSN Stores yet?!
I hope you have a great July! 
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