Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Book Review: All There Is

'All There Is: Love Stories from StoryCorps'
Author: Dave Isay


Format: Hardback
Published: Penguin Press HC; Feb. 2012
Pages: 176
Genre: Essays; Love stories
Grade: A
Source: TLC Book Tours


Synopsis: In All There Is, StoryCorps founder Dave Isay shares stories of love and marriage from the revolutionary oral history project, revealing the many and remarkable journeys that relationships can take. In stories that carry us from the excitement and anticipation of courtship to the deep connection of lifelong commitment, we discover that love is found in the most unexpected of places—a New York tollbooth, a military base in Iraq, an airport lounge—and learn that the course it takes is as unpredictable as life itself.  As the storytellers in this book start careers, build homes, and raise families, we witness the life-affirming joy of partnership, the comfort of shared sorrows, and profound gratitude in the face of loss.


My Take: Short stories and essays aren't normally my thing but when it's about love and it's almost Valentine's Day well I just might get all mushy inside and change my mind! First, I would like to start with a little background about where the essays from this collection came to be. In case you didn't know StoryCorps "is an independent nonprofit whose mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives. Since 2003, StoryCorps has collected and archived more than 30,000 interviews from more than 60,000 participants. Each conversation is recorded on a free CD to share, and is preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. StoryCorps is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind." Um, seriously, how cool is that? Have any of you participated in this before? I would like to make my grandparents do this right now!

So this collection came to be from a collection of approved, recorded stories around the central theme of LOVE! All There Is is divided into three sections: Found, Lost, and Found at Last and I will tell you right now that each and every one of these sections made me cry. I swear to God up until about 3 years ago I never used to cry when reading books but lately books make me cry all of the time and this one was a doozy! Possibly because you know these stories actually happened and you are hearing them from the horses mouth some of them are so heartbreaking, I was just lying in bed, devouring this slim book in one whole night sobbing my eyes out like a big baby!

This book isn't sad, it just makes you appreciate how wonderful and precious true love actually is. My favorite stories in each of the three sections were by far those told from the older folks who had experienced life-long love. They were either talking to each other about how they had met many years ago and it had been the most wonderful and life changing thing that had ever happened to them or one of them was talking to a child/friend about their deceased spouse and how they miss them every day because they were the best partner a person could ever have. Seriously I am tearing up right now just thinking about it. I want that to be the love story I am about to embark on with Rob. 

If you are doubting the point of relationships then do yourself a favor and pick up this book!

For other opinions on this book, please check out the full TLC Tour here!

Cover Lust: It's simple and clean with little, tiny hearts floating. Not the biggest wow factor but nothing to hate either.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Mailbox Monday: January 30, 2012

It's Mailbox Monday time! Mailbox Monday is going on tour and January is being hosted by Alyce at  At Home With Books! 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 and audio books do). Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists!


How was everyone's weekend? After a rainy weekend last weekend we got another gloriously sunny weekend! We ended up having a pretty relaxing weekend which is always nice but we ended it on a high note by having dinner at an underground restaurant. Do you have these in your cities? The one we ate at is called Lazy Bear and it is always in our neighborhood but we just heard about it. They host it in a different location every month but only host dinner for two nights a month and you have to sign up in advance to get in. Normally, I would think it was too much work to go out to dinner but since it was supposed to be the best food in the city I thought I would give it a try and guess what? It was great and cool and a totally unusual experience!


Oh that's right, you came here for books, not food! Ok as usual I am totally overwhelmed by the amount of books I received! Here's what came in this week:


From Random House:
1. Paris in Love by Eloisa James




















From Putnam:
2. The Song Remains the Same by Allison Winn Scotch




















From Atria:
3. There Goes the Bride by Holly McQueen




















From BlueBridge:
4. Mr. Langshaw's Square Piano: The Story of the First Piano and How They Caused a Cultural Revolution by Madeline Goold




















From Ballantine Books:
5. Point, Click, Love by Molly Shapiro






















From PBS:
6. The Brightest Star in the Sky by Marian Keyes




















7. Homecoming by Cathy Kelly




















What did you get?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Book Review: The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady

'The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady'
Author: Elizabeth Stuckey-French


Format: ARC
Published: Doubleday; Feb. 2011
Pages: 352
Genre: Humor; Contemporary fiction
Grade: A
Source: Publisher


Synopsis: Glowing with dark humor, Stuckey-French's fabulously quirky second novel (after Mermaids on the Moon) spotlights a wild would-be killer: Marylou Ahearn, a 77-year-old retired teacher in Memphis, Tenn. She's obsessed with killing Dr. Wilson Spriggs, who gave pregnant Marylou a radioactive cocktail in 1953 during a secret government study. Helen, the daughter Marylou gave birth to, died in 1963 from cancer. Accompanied by her Welsh corgi, Buster, and as "Nancy Archer" (the heroine of the 1958 movie Attack of the 50 Foot Woman), Marylou moves in 2006 to Tallahassee, Fla., where Wilson lives with his daughter, menopausal Caroline; her husband, Vic Witherspoon, who's contemplating an affair, and their children: 18-year-old Elvis-obsessed beauty Ava; 16-year-old science geek Otis, who's secretly building a nuclear breeder reactor; and overachieving, attention-deprived 13-year-old Suzi. As "Radioactive Lady," Nance creates mucho mischief for Wilson, but her revenge plans mutate after discovering the old doc has Alzheimer's, and dang it, she really likes his kinfolk.


My Take: I don't read a lot of kooky books just for the sake of them being kooky. I tend towards books that will move me. Now, I don't know why, maybe it was the 1950s cover or the totally wacky concept but something about this book just totally captured my attention. And you know what, every once and a while it's nice to read something unlike anything else I normally read and totally, freaking off the wall! Makes you feel real good about yourself!


The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady is alternately told from each of the main characters in the book so you can really get an idea of everyone's viewpoints in this book. The title character, the 'radioactive lady', is Marylou. She has recently moved to Tallahassee, renamed herself to Nancy Ahern, and as a 77-year old woman, is finally ready to exact her revenge on a doctor from when she was pregnant as a young woman. That doctor is Wilson Spriggs. He now has Alzheimer's but in Nancy's younger days, he gave her a 'vitamin cocktail' to help her unborn baby which was really radiation as part of a study she didn't know she was participating in. Eight years later her daughter died from cancer and eventually her marriage broke up. You could say Dr. Spriggs ruined her life. Now Marylou/Nancy wants to ruin his. Of course since he has Alzheimer's will he even know?!


So now that Marylou/Nancy is in Tallahassee she starts to meet the rest of Dr. Spriggs' family in order to get close to him. He has moved in with his daughter Caroline (harried mother of three), her husband Vic (professor, soon to be philander), their daughter Ava (has Asberger's), Otis (has Asberger's), and Suzi (the 'normal' child). You better believe this is a busy family! Marylou/Nancy decides instead of exacting her revenge on Dr. Spriggs, she will exact it by ruining his family's life instead.


Chaos, as you can imagine, ensues. You kind of just have to sit back and laugh because it's not a serious book. At least I didn't take it as some sort of serious commentary on society, I took as a break from my normal stressful life and was all like 'holy crap this book is full of some seriously crazy people'. It was kind of like watching reality tv. I can say that this book probably isn't for everyone, but if you are in the right mood, it's certainly worth a fun read! Out now in paperback, be sure to get your hands on a copy, or one for the the favorite kook in your life!


Cover Lust: As I said above, I was drawn to this book because of the 1950s cover with the sinister edge!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Book Giveaway: Blood, Bones and Butter!

In honor of the paperback release of Gabrielle Hamilton's fabulous memoir Blood, Bones and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef (click title for my review), Random House has been kind enough to let me offer up a brand new copy for giveaway!

I listened to this fabulous memoir last September on audio and thoroughly enjoyed it! Of it, I said, " I admit that I was drawn into this book because it looked a little, well, bad-ass, so I thought it might be a little different from your average food memoir. And it was."


Fans of memoirs and food stories alike will enjoy Blood Bones and Butter!


Giveaway Details!

The deadline for this giveaway is February 8th; entries open to those in the US.

To Enter (Mandatory)!
Comment below, indicating which book(s) interest you and a way for me to contact you. You can enter for both but you will only win one.

For Extra entries (Optional), indicate in the comments below that you are:
+1 Follow this blog on Google Connect (see right sidebar)
+1 Follow me on twitter and tweet about this giveaway (include @amusedbybooks in your tweet)
+1 Blog/Post about this giveaway on your sidebar

Three extra entries available. Giveaway open until 11:59pm PST February 8th. I will draw the winners using random.org and announce them here on my blog. Good luck!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Book Review: Tolstoy and the Purple Chair

'Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading'
Author: Nina Sankovitch 


Format: ARC
Published: Harper; June 2011
Pages: 256
Genre: Memoir
Grade: B
Source: Publisher


Synopsis: When Sankovitch lost her older sister to cancer, she was determined to "live her life double" in order to make up for her family's painful loss. But after three years spent at a frenetic pace, Sankovitch decided to slow down and rediscover the pleasure of books in order to reconnect with the memory of her sister. Despite the day-to-day responsibilities of raising four sons—and the holidays, vacations, and sudden illnesses that accompany a large family—Sankovitch vowed to read one book a day for an entire year and blog about it. In this entertaining bibliophile's dream, Sankovitch (who launched ReadAllDay.org and was profiled in the New York Times) found that her "year of magical reading" was "not a way to rid myself of sorrow but a way to absorb it." As well as being an homage to her sister and their family of readers, Sankovitch's memoir speaks to the power that books can have over our daily lives. Sankovitch champions the act of reading not as an indulgence but as a necessity, and will make the perfect gift from one bookworm to another.


My Take: When I saw this book I thought I would find my reading soulmate. A year of magical reading. Who doesn't want that?! That sounds fabulous! I figured this slim little memoir would give me the new vigor I needed to read even more than I already do. Well that didn't happen but it didn't stop me from enjoying this slim memoir!


Sankovitch has lost her beloved sister to cancer and felt that in order to make up for the guilt she feels at still being alive while her beloved sister is not she will live life like she never has before. As a mother to four young boys, wife, daughter, and sister after a few years she has worn herself out but find that she is no more over the grief of losing her sister. She decides instead to do the complete opposite. To go back to her roots. She was raised in a family of readers, where you would spend your free time reading and sharing books. So maybe she could find some comfort in books and learn how to slow down and therefore deal with the grief of losing her sister in the process. 


As a stay at home mom Sankovitch decides this will become her new job. She will read one book a day for a full year and review each book at her site Read All Day. This is a noble task if I ever heard of it. I can't say that I wasn't a little taken aback by it. I mean I can't find the time to read more than a couple hours max on a good day, how does someone with four kids find the time to read a book a day. It was hard for me at first not to think she was being a little selfish or for me to maybe be a little jealous of this plush life she was getting the chance to lead but as I got over it I enjoyed the story more.


As sometimes happens with books that tell a story through other books, if I haven't read the books that they reference then I find myself not connecting as deeply to the book. For the most part while we may have somewhat similar taste in books, and I don't think I am a slacker in the reading department, I can honestly say that of the 365 books she read, I have read four. Four! Makes me feel like I hardly read at all!


However, as one lover of books to another this book did ring true to me on the parts when she was talking about connections and family which was actually the vast majority of the book so for that I kept reading and because I kept reading I cheered her on until the full end of her year.


Cover Lust: That is one cool looking chair!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Mailbox Monday: January 23, 2012

It's Mailbox Monday time! Mailbox Monday is going on tour and January is being hosted by Alyce at  At Home With Books! 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 and audio books do). Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists!


We had one of our first real stormy weekends of the winter here this weekend and I loved it! Finally a reason to be all snugly and lazy all weekend long! That's not to say I didn't do some stuff. Friday night was my company's holiday party (we always have it in January ... kinda weird I know!) and on Sunday I went to another bridal faire (the last one of those I think I will subject myself too!) but overall it was a little more casual and I liked it. I hope you had a fabulous weekend too!


My mailbox was full this week! Here's what came in:


From Random House:
1. Blood Bones and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton (look for a giveaway later this week!)




















From Harper Perennial for an upcoming TLC Tour:
2. Gillespie and I by Jane Harris




















From Crown:
3. The Baker's Daughter by Sarah McCoy




















From Dutton for an upcoming TLC Book Tour:
4. Sonoma Rose by Jennifer Chiaverini




















From PBS:
5. One Moment, One Morning by Sarah Rayner




















6. Pictures of You by Caroline Leavitt




















What did you get?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Book Review: Night Road

'Night Road'
Author: Kristin Hannah


Format: Hardback
Published: St. Martin's Press; Mar. 2011
Pages: 400
Genre: Literary Fiction
Grade: A
Source: Publisher


Synopsis: For eighteen years, Jude Farraday has put her children’s needs above her own, and it shows—her twins, Mia and Zach—are bright and happy teenagers.  When Lexi Baill moves into their small, close knit community, no one is more welcoming than Jude.  Lexi, a former foster child with a dark past, quickly becomes Mia’s best friend.  Then Zach falls in love with Lexi and the three become inseparable.   
Jude does everything to keep her kids on track for college and out of harm’s way.  It has always been easy-- until senior year of high school.  Suddenly she is at a loss.  Nothing feels safe anymore; every time her kids leave the house, she worries about them. 
On a hot summer’s night her worst fears come true. One decision will change the course of their lives.  In the blink of an eye, the Farraday family will be torn apart and Lexi will lose everything.  In the years that follow, each must face the consequences of that single night and find a way to forget…or the courage to forgive.


My Take: Looking at the inside flap of this novel I couldn't believe I hadn't read any of Hannah's books before. She is a prolific writer and so I was glad to finally have the chance to read one of her novels. St. Martin's Press was generous enough to send copies over for my whole book club so Night Road was our January Book Club pick. I believe it was a great way for our book club to start off the new year as it was a dramatic read that offered up plenty for discussion.


When you open up Night Road you can immediately tell that it is building towards something big. Naturally I assumed the worst. Something bad must be going to happen and when will it just occur already! The story is told alternately from two points of view: adults and teenagers. We have Jude who is the mom. She is your textbook helicopter parent. She has a beautiful home on an island on the outskirts of Seattle with a loving husband and two teenage twins, Mia and Zach. She is a stay at home mom and other than her passion for gardening, her focus is on making sure her teenagers have the best life possible. While admirable and understandable, at times Jude makes me crazy. 


On the first day of high school Mia and Zach meet Lexi. Lexi might be described as being from the 'wrong side of the tracks'. She is a foster child who has recently found an aunt to finally call her own and is now learning how to live in a permanent home. She has never known a life long friend and doesn't want to believe Mia could be that for her and yet her and Mia quickly become BFF's. Zach, the twin brother, is one of the cool kids. He is also really good looking. So while they are all three friends, he is off limits for Lexi.


It's hard to write this review without exposing the crux of this story. To talk about why this story was so moving, why it made me cry into my pillow and made some of our bookclub members question ever wanting to be parents would be to expose what happens to change everything that one fateful night so you know what, I am going to have to stop my review here and just say that I would definitely recommend reading it. I found it very moving and emotional. While not everyone in my bookclub loved it, many did. And it was well worth reading and sharing! I also want to point out that I think this is one of those rare books that could work for both mature young adults and adults because of the narrators. 


Night Road is now in paperback so be sure to grab yourself a copy!


Cover Lust: I think this cover fits perfectly with the title and the dark theme of the book. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Upstairs Downstairs

Studio: BBC Worldwide
Originally Released: Apr. 2011

Synopsis: Remade from the hit 1970s serial, this new version of Upstairs, Downstairs, condensed into three hour-long episodes, creates for a modern eye a vision of what 1936 in England must have looked like. That is, if you were royalty, and ran a fantastic mansion at 165 Eaton Place, in one of London's poshest neighborhoods. This show, as indicated in its title, revels in its overall ability to convey life as it unfolds upstairs, among the elite, and downstairs, among those who work tirelessly to keep the palace running. From the first episode, "The Fledgling," the plot is placed politically, socially, and romantically as newlyweds Sir Hallam Holland (Ed Stoppard) and Lady Agnes (Keeley Hawes) decide to sweep the cobwebs out of the old family haunt in favor of modernization. While mundane house dramas unfurl, increasing tenfold once Sir Hallam's nosy, old-fashioned mother, Maud (Eileen Atkins), decides that she and her pet monkey will be moving in, larger political dramas pepper the personal landscape. For example, in "The Fledgling," as well as the next episodes, "The Ladybird" and "The Cuckoo," Agnes's sister, Lady Persephone (Claire Foy), is increasingly misled by the newly formed fascist party, and mounting tensions between Jewish household members and Persie's ilk, including German official Ribbentrop (Edward Baker-Duly), loom large. As would be expected in this royal tale, much of the plot comprises Agnes's ability to bear children and the political expectations Sir Hallam must meet even when morally conflicted.


My Take: In my quest to watch or read everything even somewhat remotely like Downton Abbey (yes, season two is finally back thank God!!!), I turned to the BBC's remake of Upstairs Downstairs. Has anyone else seen this? I felt the need to share this because it was a fascinating look at 1930s London, a time period I love reading about so why wouldn't I love watching it.


Ok, so it's not quite as good as Downton Abbey but it has a lot of similarities to make it worth watching! It's set in the 1930s so obviously it's a different time period but for the clothes and the decor alone I think we can all look past it. The cast of characters of the elite is similar to that in The King's Speech. I think from the title you can gather that we get to know the rich who live upstairs at the beautiful 165 Eaton Place in London and the servants who work downstairs. How they all interact and come to live in the house is what makes this show sing.


One of the stand out characters in this series is Maud, played by Eileen Atkins. Much like Maggie Smith keeps the humor rolling in Downton Abbey, so does Eileen Atkins. As the mother or mother-in-law she is a bit of a know-it-all which sometimes gets her into trouble but I loved the interplay between her and her daughter-in-law Lady Agnes played by Keeley Hawes.


As you can imagine, with it being the 1930s, there is much talk of a coming war and politics in the series so if you don't know much about the time period you might find yourself a little lost but if you do know some, you will find yourself easily immersed. Well worth a couple cold evenings passing the time immersed in this period drama!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Book Review: Here Comes the Guide

'Here Comes the Guide: Northern California: Wedding Locations and Services'
Author: Jan Brenner


Format: Paperback
Published: Hopscotch Press; 11th Edition; Dec. 2008
Pages: 900
Genre: Wedding Planning
Grade: A
Source: Personal Copy


Synopsis: Often called the “location bible,” Here Comes The Guide features multitudes of Northern California event sites, including private estates, historic gardens, yachts, museums, wineries, hotels, and many others. Engaging descriptions give readers a clear picture of each place, while details about pricing, services, and amenities help streamline the selection process. Here Comes The Guide also includes over 125 prescreened vendors, such as photographers, caterers, florists, and cake makers, along with tips on how to hire and work with event professionals.


My Take: First and foremost let me start by saying that this blog is not about to turn into a wedding blog. However, when I first started wedding planning I did look for reviews of wedding planning books out there on sites other than wedding blogs and Amazon and couldn't find any so I thought it might be useful to review those that I found good and not so good as I go along through this process. Because as I am quickly discovering, wedding planning is not the most painless process in your adult life! 


Obviously in this technological age there are countless wedding blogs, pinterest is a timesuck, and google docs is a freaking wedding planning godsend, but sometimes a good old fashioned book is what I crave. Oddly, miraculously (?), a lot of people around me got engaged around the same time I did and we formed some sort of book, websites, and tip swapping cult. These women include both close friends, coworkers, and people I had even lost touch with. It's like, hey I heard you were getting married 'use this, it rocked my world!' and that's how this little gem of a book fell into my hands. Oh wait, it's not little. It's the size of a phone book! Now don't let me fool you, not all women planning weddings are nice. Outside of those who you know, those you might meet just on the street, or at say a bridal faire or interviewing a potential vendor you too want to use, those women with the crazy glint in their eye? Stay away from them. They think you are their competition for some reason. You will steal their date, their ideas, their vendors. It's a jungle out there. I had no idea.


So, anywho this tome fell into my hands called Here Comes the Guide and I was all, 'whatever' I already googled and yelp'ed the heck out of 'cheap wedding venues' and 'inexpensive wedding venues' for San Francisco. Yes, an oxymoron but I am determined! But, I decided to flip through it anyway and what do you know, every venue they have listed in here has the location, what they offer, the amount they cost, how many people they can fit, all amenities, you know all of the useful stuff, all condensed into two pages per site. And wait! There were sites in here I didn't find before. Hmmm, maybe I was onto something! So, I set up a few more site visits and low and behold the very last one we went on, which was one we found courtesy of Here Come the Guide, is to be our very lovely site!


Inside Here Comes the Guide for Northern California you will find some tips on what to think about when hiring a venue and then it is broken down into Northern California's various regions (this place is big, yo). They also offer event services but those are just ads that don't say anything. The real meat is in the middle. At this point they appear to only offer the guides for Northern and Southern California but if you are planning a wedding in this state, I can recommend these guides! 


Cover Lust: Two things: She looks like she really likes her bouquet but I'd be more worried that she is ripping up the hem of her dress on those rocks!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Mailbox Monday: January 16, 2011

It's Mailbox Monday time! Mailbox Monday is going on tour and January is being hosted by Alyce at  At Home With Books! 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 and audio books do). Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists!


Well let me just say that I am currently enjoying a three-day weekend! It totally snuck up on me but happy MLK, Jr. day to you and if you have it off too, congrats! On Saturday we were greeted to a beautifully sunny day which was awesome because we were doing our engagement photos! We went up to a local park that overlooks the city and is near our house and spent a couple of hours taking some fun photos. I am so excited to see them! I promise to share a couple with you when I get them back in a few weeks but as our lovely photographer showed them to us on her camera they were looking good so here's hoping they turn out! First and foremost we want one for our Save the Dates. 


As for my books, I only received two in the mail this past week which is pretty good since I am trying really hard to cut down so I can catch up. A constant battle of wills for me!


From The Penguin Press:
1. All There Is: Love Stories from StoryCorps by Dave Isay




















From PBS:
2. The Island by Elin Hilderbrand




















What did you get?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Book Review: A Visit from the Goon Squad

'A Visit from the Goon Squad'
Author: Jennifer Egan


Format: Paperback
Published: Anchor; Mar. 2011
Pages: 352
Genre: Literary fiction
Grade: C
Source: Personal copy
Awards: Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (2011), Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction (2010), National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction (2010)


Synopsis: Readers will be pleased to discover that the star-crossed marriage of lucid prose and expertly deployed postmodern switcheroos that helped shoot Egan to the top of the genre-bending new school is alive and well in this graceful yet wild novel. We begin in contemporaryish New York with kleptomaniac Sasha and her boss, rising music producer Bennie Salazar, before flashing back, with Bennie, to the glory days of Bay Area punk rock, and eventually forward, with Sasha, to a settled life. By then, Egan has accrued tertiary characters, like Scotty Hausmann, Bennie's one-time bandmate who all but dropped out of society, and Alex, who goes on a date with Sasha and later witnesses the future of the music industry. Egan's overarching concerns are about how rebellion ages, influence corrupts, habits turn to addictions, and lifelong friendships fluctuate and turn. Or as one character asks, How did I go from being a rock star to being a fat fuck no one cares about? Egan answers the question elegantly, though not straight on, as this powerful novel chronicles how and why we change, even as the song stays the same. 


My Take: I am well aware that just because a book wins a lot of awards I may not like it, or God forbid, even 'get it'. Perhaps it will even call into question if I am even hip enough to 'get it', and as I read this book I go into some sort of downward spiral of whether I was ever hip enough like all of these kids in these books. Did I ever do enough drugs (no, I had this look about me where people didn't even offer them to me)? Did I ever have enough piercings (I tried to get my ear double pierced and woke up with my ear bleeding and the earring out)? Did I listen to enough cool-kid music (does Backstreet Boys count? Didn't think so)? So yeah this book could have sent me into some sort of downward spiral as I am now the ripe old age of 30. But instead, I realize that I often don't like awards books and I know that I don't like books that have jumpy prose so I was set up to not like this one so screw the cool kids and if this is where literature is going then I'll be reading classics in my old age.


Enough of that though, A Visit from the Goon Squad was the Literary Buzz Book of 2011. It's been everywhere, won every award and so my book club decided to read it. I thought that was a great idea because I knew I wanted to read it too. Rather than a novel though, this one seems almost like a series of short stories with interconnecting people. I was intrigued by the fact that you would be introduced to a certain cast of characters and one particular person from that chapter would be who would lead the next one and so forth. You never knew who were going to get throughout the book. It was interesting. If you didn't like someone, no biggie, you wouldn't have to read about them the whole time. The problem for me was the disjointedness of the story. If all of these stories were supposed to go together to prove Egan's thesis about how everyone will just get old anyway someday and lives and influences change, for me it was messy. For the literati it worked. That's fine. For me it didn't.


Some of the characters you meet include Bennie Salazar. We meet him as a kid in the glory days of the punk rock scene, at the height of his career in the music business, and again when he is trying to rebuild his business. His story is more linear. Others like Sasha's are not. We meet her as a young woman with a great career but a strange addiction. Later we discover her sad childhood and how she developed that addiction. There are many other characters. For me, the story that I liked most and wished the story could have centered around was Stephanie. She was a strong woman in a sad marriage. However, we got her for two short chapters.


I do believe this book is worth reading. It is vastly different from anything I've ever read before and for that reason alone I enjoyed experiencing it. It pushed me. So what, I didn't like it. It happens. Life goes on. I am happy that I can formulate my reasons why and join the conversation. That's worth so much and once again, I remain not the cool kid.


Cover Lust: I love this cover. There are many covers for this book out there. This is mine. I am attracted to pop-art covers and this one is beautiful with people dancing in a circle.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Comment Upgrade!

Hey ya'll, just a quick note to say I can now respond to your comments directly. This is SO exciting! If you have any issues with the comment system, please don't hesitate to tell me. Bye!

Booking Through Thursday: Interview Part 2

Sometimes I like to participate in the fun Booking Through Thursday meme and today is one of those days! They have a fun meme going on so you can find out some more about me. Here it goes:

But enough about interviewing other people. It’s time I interviewed YOU.



1. What’s your favorite time of day to read?
At night, when I am all snuggled up in my bed and the day is finally all my own.
2. Do you read during breakfast? (Assuming you eat breakfast.)
Nope. During breakfast I check in with my blog, email, bank accounts, news, etc. 
3. What’s your favorite breakfast food? (Noting that breakfast foods can be eaten any time of day.)
Bacon!
4. How many hours a day would you say you read?
1-2 hours
5. Do you read more or less now than you did, say, 10 years ago?
Well 10 years ago I was in school and had a lot of required reading so I did a lot more. However, I do a lot more reading just for fun now than I ever did!
6. Do you consider yourself a speed reader?
I wish!
7. If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
Time travel.
8. Do you carry a book with you everywhere you go?
Heck yeah! Often to the detriment of my shoulders.
9. What KIND of book?
A physical book, not an e-reader. Today I am reading Tolstoy and the Purple Chair
10. How old were you when you got your first library card?
First Grade. I remember the library as I thought it was beautiful.
11. What’s the oldest book you have in your collection? (Oldest physical copy? Longest in the collection? Oldest copyright?)
It's probably a tie between Lonesome Dove and To Kill a Mockingbird. Both of those have been in my possession since high school.
12. Do you read in bed?
Um, yeah, see question 1!
13. Do you write in your books?
No!
14. If you had one piece of advice to a new reader, what would it be?
Keep reading until you can find a genre you like. I promise there is one out there for you. 
15. What question have I NOT asked at BTT that you’d love me to ask? (Actually, leave the answer to this one in the comments on this post, huh? So I can find them when I need inspiration!)
For all other answers to this and the above come on over to BTT and find them, and of course participate yourself! 
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