Monday, April 30, 2012

Mailbox Monday: April 30, 2012

It's Mailbox Monday time! Mailbox Monday is going on tour and April is being hosted by the lovely Cindy's Love Of 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!


Holy crap people this weekend was jam packed for us! I think I need a weekend to recover from my weekend :) However we are able to cross a lot of wedding stuff off our list! I had my hair and makeup trail (didn't even know this was a thing a few months ago) to pick my 'stylist' for the day and am happy with the look! Saturday we went to an all day pre-marital counseling which we both really enjoyed. It was nice to be able to focus on the marriage instead of just the wedding which is one day of our lives and has been sucking up so much time lately. It got us to talk about a lot of important things and meet lots of other couples just like us. Then we picked out the grooms and groomsmen's outfits for the big day. They are going to look so handsome! But yes, that was a full weekend!


This week I only received one book in the mail (yay!):
From St. Martin's Griffin:
1. Effie by Suzanne Fagence Cooper






















What did you get?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Quick Note to Say ...

I'll be back to regularly scheduled programming next week! I have two (yes, woohoo!) two book reviews scheduled for next week for book tours and a book giveaway too so stay tuned. Plus some other fun things. I thought about doing a Booking Through Thursday today, and while I've read many (so many!) wonderful books in my life, I can't think of one that has made me make a drastic change in it. Although I sure would be interested to read about others who have.

Hope you all are having a fabulous week!

Love,
Amused

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Book Review: How to Love an American Man

'How to Love an American Man'
Author: Kristine Gasbarre


Format: ARC
Published: William Morrow Paperbacks; Aug. 2011
Pages: 304
Genre: Memoir
Grade: B
Source: LibraryThing EarlyReveiwers


Synopsis: An endearing and unforgettable memoir of love, self-discovery, and enduring, old-fashioned values.
Kristine Gasbarre made a New York career of dating driven, inaccessible men. When she realizes her love life will never result in happiness if she continues on the same path, she makes a big decision—relocating to Italy to discover her roots and find out what defines her adoring grandpa. But upon receiving the news of his sudden passing, she is lured away.
With nowhere left to go, Krissy returns to her small hometown for the first time in a decade to help care for her grandmother—a refined, private matriarch suffering from early dementia along with the loss of her husband. In her reluctant agreement to share the nearly lost love stories and transformative lessons from her rich sixty-year marriage, Krissy’s grandma becomes the one offering comfort as she coaches her granddaughter through the fear of loving. Grandma’s unapologetic femininity and secret giving spirit opens Krissy’s eyes about relationships, teaching her the single most important requisite for loving a man: first a woman has to learn the power of her own inner beauty.


My Take: Make no mistake, I love memoirs. I have just finished two in as many weeks. They may be wildly different, but I can't get enough of learning how other people live. More than likely it's to see if I live like them or if I live differently then them. I rarely read celebrity memoirs. I read memoirs that speak to me somewhat. These non-fiction books about real people, I want them to usually be about real people that I would relate to. Perhaps even be friends with.


What we have in my latest memoir read is Kristine Gasbarre as she takes us on her journey of How to Love an American Man. I enjoy a good love story as much as the next gal. While reading this book, I was reminded of a similar dating memoir I read last year: 51/50: The Magical Adventures of a Single Life by Kristen McGuiness (click on title for my review). In much the same way as 51/50, there is something so universally cringe-worthy about dating mishaps and break up scenes that you want to stop reading but you can't look away.


When the story opens, Gasbarre is in her mid-twenties living the single life in New York and finding it hard to meet a decent man. Then one night she stumbles on Adam in a bar. A dashing Englishman that she feels an instant connection with. The problem? He is about to go back home. She decides to soon go off to Italy for a nannying job, but the real reason is to be closer to him. Cringe! She barely knows the guy and she is moving to Europe. Yikes! Now, these feelings from me are coming from a woman who did many desperate things for men in her day so don't think I am sitting on any high horse. Because I am not. But that would be a different blog. Sadly, this relationship doesn't work out and to rub salt in the wound, her beloved grandfather passes away.


Gasbarre moves home to be closer to her family and heal her own broken heart, while helping her grandmother heal hers. Now, let me stop the review here. From this point on, if I were to tell too much more of the story it would give the whole book away. I don't want to do that but I will say this: it is a turning point in the memoir and a point in which makes me have a love/hate relationship with the book. The love part is this: this is one of those books that will make you cherish your grandparents like no other. I am blessed to still have all of my grandparents in my love except for one sorely missed Grandpa Bob. I love them all and talk to them on a regular basis. The love Gasbarre has for her grandma and the relationship they have is so sweet. What I didn't like is this (I think hate is a bit of strong word): the American man she ultimately falls for I think treats her like crap for most of the book yet everyone is rooting for him. I just don't get it! I can not get behind a love story where I don't like the hero. I just can't.


However, at the end of the day, I can say that I appreciate the words of wisdom contained within and think this would make a fabulous book for a book club discussion because it clearly brings up some strong feelings in me! So, if you liked this book, tell me what you thought of it!


Cover Lust: Honestly, I think it's just ok. I don't think there was ever a tea kettle mentioned but whateves :)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Mailbox Monday: April 23, 2012

It's Mailbox Monday time! Mailbox Monday is going on tour and April is being hosted by the lovely Cindy's Love Of 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!


Did everyone have a lovely weekend?! Mine was great and I had a good time participating in the read a thon on Saturday too, even if I didn't read as much as I had hoped!


Here's all the great books that came in the mail this week:
From Doubleday:
1. Goodbye for Now by Laurie Frankel




















From the author:
2. Ninepins by Rosy Thornton




















From Crown:
3. In My Father's Country by Saima Waham




















From Minotaur Books:
4. Dandy Gilver and the Proper Treatment of Blood-Stains by Catriona McPherson




















From PBS:
5. Left Neglected by Lisa Genova




















What did you get?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Dewey's 24 Hour Read a Thon: The Wrap Up!


Well, I didn't post a wrap up last night! I ended up just going to bed. That can happen! I also didn't end up reading as much as I hoped but having a day mainly carved out for just relaxing and reading: well I can't ask for much more than that right now so I loved every minute of it!

Let's see how it all broke down:

  1. Which hour was most daunting for you? I didn't really push myself much this year. Sorry! I read until I wasn't having fun with it anymore and then I stopped. It was just that kind of read a thon for me this year!
  2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? Well I read 1/2 of two books! The most entertaining of the two was definitely The Queen's Lover by Francine Du Plessix Gray. Perhaps because it was fiction.
  3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? Nope! I love everything about it! (Except the West Coast start time but that's my own problem with early mornings!)
  4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? I liked it all!
  5. How many books did you read? Well ... not my best showing. I was easily distracted by the amazingly warm day we had we (we get like 5 of these a year!) so I finished one book and started half of another. 
  6. What were the names of the books you read? How to Love an American Man by Kristinne Gasbarre (review coming on Tuesday) and The Queen's Lover by Francine Du Plessix Gray (review coming on Friday). 
  7. Which book did you enjoy most? Maybe The Queen's Lover by Francine Du Plessix Gray although I've only read half of it at this point.
  8. Which did you enjoy least? I enjoyed both books so I am not answering this one!
  9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders? N/A
  10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? As long as it fits in my schedule (who knows what October will bring!) then I will for sure be there!
How was your read a thon?!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

24 Hour Read a thon: Hour 13 Update

How is it already hour 13 and I've only read 1/2 a book. Granted this means I've now finished a book but I feel like it's cheating a little!

Let me catch you all up! You may remember from this morning that I mentioned I was going to try acupuncture for the first time to try to find an alternate cure for my frequent migraines. Obviously, I don't have any noticeable change yet BUT it didn't hurt and that was what I was most afraid of. It does start to itch though which is weird! She said it was the energy being released :) They recommend at least 10-12 visits to see if you feel a different so I will keep you posted.

Then, since as I mentioned it is SO unseasonable warm here, we took advantage of the weather and met up with some friends for a nice lunch. Delightful!

Therefor I only started reading a little bit ago but I am dedicated now people!

Here's the survey for me to answer:

1) How are you doing? Sleepy? Are your eyes tired?
I'm feeling energized and ready to keep reading! It's 6pm here and I might be starting to get a little hungry but I am ready to attack another book!
2) What have you finished reading?
I finished reading How to Love an American Man. It was ok. Now I will begin The Queen's Lover by Francine Du Plessix Gray. 
3) What is your favorite read so far?
Well, that's a trick question! I've only read one book so far :)
4) What about your favorite snacks?
I just had a popsicle and it was delish!
5) Have you found any new blogs through the readathon? If so, give them some love!
I am about to go visiting a bunch of blogs - can't wait!

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon!

Hi you all! Yes, I am participating and yes, I am a couple hours late! It always happens to me because I can never get up at 6am for most things let alone reading for 24 hours! I need my reading sleep! But now I am refreshed and ready to go and so excited to have a relaxing day of reading fun, fun, fun! Who's with me?

Now, let me do the Introductory Questionnaire:

 
1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
Sunny San Francisco, California! It is currently around 8:30am and it is going to be an usually hot day today folks (in the low 80s) so I am hoping to read outside for some of it!

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
I am trying not to make a stack and be a little more flexible at this point and time. First up though, I want to finish How to Love an American Man by Kristine Gasbarre. I am about half-way through and it's a short book so should be a quick one to wrap up and it's an enjoyable read. 

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?Oh goodness. I'm not really prepared in that department. Currently I am eating a bowl of frosted Mini-Wheats. Hardly exciting!

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!
Well my day is all free except for this morning, in which I have my first ever acupuncture appointment! Have you ever tried it? I am really excited/nervous. I suffer from frequent migraines and am on medication but have been told this will help and so I am interested to see. Fingers crossed!

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?
I have participated in quite a few read a thons and this time I am going to try not to make a big stack of books because then I always feel defeated when I, inevitable, don't get through them all. I am just going to read what I can and that will be enough!

So good luck to everyone and I'll be checking in periodically! Happy Reading!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Book Review: This Life Is in Your Hands

'This Life Is in Your Hands: One Dream, Sixty Acres, and a Family's Heartbreak'
Author: Melissa Coleman


Format: ARC
Published: Harper; Apr. 2012
Pages: 352
Genre: Memoir
Grade: A
Source: Publisher


Synopsis: A true story, both tragic and redemptive, This Life Is in Your Hands tells of the quest to make a good life, the role of fate, and the power of forgiveness.
In the fall of 1968, Melissa Coleman's parents pack their VW truck and set out to forge a new existence on a rugged coastal homestead. Inspired by Helen and Scott Nearing, authors of the homesteading bible Living the Good Life, Eliot and Sue build their own home by hand, live off the crops they grow, and establish a happy family with Melissa and her two sisters. They also attract national media and become icons of the back-to-the-land farming movement, but the pursuit of a purer, simpler life comes at a price. In the wake of a tragic accident, idealism gives way to human frailty, and by the fall of 1978, Greenwood Farm is abandoned. The search to understand what happened is at the heart of this luminous, heartbreaking, and ultimately redemptive memoir.


My Take: I'll start off right now and say I am not a hippy. Many people take one look at me and think I am kind of prissy. However, being raised where I was (Pacific Northwest) and living where I do now (San Francisco) I can't help but have a respect for nature. So while you will never find me moving to the backwoods to take up homesteading like those in this book, I do have a great respect for the planet.  For example, we compost and recycle far more then we send to the landfill, I take public transportation far more than I drive, and pretty much everything we eat is organic and bought locally. So naturally, I found Melissa Coleman's This Life Is in Your Hands fascinating because, while I understood everything they were talking about, it was so far removed from my own life that I felt like a voyeur.


When the memoir opens we have Coleman telling us about how her parents came to want this lifestyle. The time was the late 1960s and her mother was a young, somewhat impressionable woman, and her father was a teacher needing a greater purpose. They read a popular homesteading book of the time, Living the Good Life, and decided to give it a try. Moving to the back woods of Maine, both of their families were a little shocked but Eliot and Sue were so passionate about it they just knew it would work. Soon after, their daughter Melissa was born and two became a family.


What I really liked about the memoir was that every new chapter opened with a photo of the family or some sort of work on the farm so you could really visualize what was going on. I also liked that Coleman would tell us what was going on historically at the time. It was almost as through their little farm was the antithesis of the rest of the world, with the energy crisis, Roe vs. Wade, and many other movements going on, one little family planting fruits and vegetables and not having running water was enough to provide their own counter-culture without saying much of anything.


What I thought was a little odd, was the fact that my copy gave away the whole crux of the story on the back blurb. Something that didn't even happen until the last bit of the book and would forever change this family was just given away and was clearly what this story was building towards the whole time. It appears as though they've fixed that now so I am not going to give that away anymore but publishers or whoever writes these blurbs: STOP DOING THAT!


If you are at all interested in gardening, eating organic foods, or giving back to the earth, I think you will find this book totally fascinating and I wholeheartedly recommend it!

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


Cover Lust: I love this cover with a picture of little Melissa on the homestead! I think it's just perfect.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Are You Scheduled?

I used to be such a regimented blogger. For about a year and a half there, I had read enough books in advance that I always had book reviews scheduled in advance. I wasn't caught up on review requests or anything. Ha! But I was certainly not running to read reviews in time for scheduled posts or to try to at least get one review up a week. I always had two. This year though, life has become a little more chaotic and with that my schedule has flown out the window.

It hasn't all been bad though. For the most part I haven't read any bad books and we are four months in. All of the books I have chosen to spend time with this year have been rated Grades A and B which is awesome. However, I can't help but feeling like a bad blogger, only getting review up here and there. I mean that is the point of a book review blog isn't it, to review books?

So I ask my fellow book reviewers out there, are you regimented and always have scheduled book reviews ready to go? Or do you find yourself sometimes unable to meet the demands you set yourself?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Mailbox Monday: April 16, 2012

It's Mailbox Monday time! Mailbox Monday is going on tour and April is being hosted by the lovely Cindy's Love Of 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!


This weekend I needed some time to just chill after a somewhat stressful week and I was able to get that. Ahhh it was nice! One of my good friends had her bridal shower on Friday so I went to that and it was so sweet to be able to see all of her friends and family surround her with love. Saturday and Sunday I ran a few errands, enjoyed the sunshine, and generally relaxed. Just what a weekend should be!


This past week I got three books that I am really looking forward to reading:


From the fabulous G. P. Putnum's Sons:


1. The Hypnotist's Story by Liane Moriarity




















2. Overseas by Beatriz Williams




















3. The Chaperone by Paula McLain




















What did you get?!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Winner of In Search of Lucy!


Thank you to everyone who entered to win In Search of Lucy by Lia Fairchild! Using random.org, the winner is Lillian!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

What's On My Mind ...

So this week has kind of gone a little crazy. I had all of these great plans for a post a day like I used to do and it would be all lovely and I would appear to be in control of my life and then bam! stuff started happening and things just kind of went out of my mind. Now when I come home at night this week, I look at your lovely blogs and stare at the TV, and that's all my brain can handle! However, here's what else is on my mind:

Dewey's Read a Thon:

It's coming up on April 21 and I am so excited for it. I have been all go, go, go and not reading nearly as much as I would like to this year so to get to just lie around all day and just read, well my goodness people, this could not be more exciting! I even think my fiance has some friends visiting that weekend so we will be entertained. Perfection!

What I am Currently Reading:

This Life is In Your Hands by Melissa Coleman. I'm about 70 pages in and it is totally fascinating. I didn't think anything could rock my socks off after reading and loving The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani but it's totally different and I think because it's set in the 60s and 70s, and I am all mid-century modern obsessed thanks to Mad Men, I am totally digging the return to the earth opposite hippiness of this book. Have you read it? My review will post next Friday so stay tuned!

What I am Watching on TV:

Are you guys watching New Girl because if not you should be! It is serioulsy the funniest thing out there. Rob and I laugh out loud to it every week. Love it so much.

So tell me, what's on your mind? How's your week going? Anyone else can't wait for the weekend because seriously ... it can't come soon enough over here :)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Book Review: Marriage Confidential

'Marriage Confidential: The Post-Romantic Age of Workhorse Wives, Royal Children, Undersexed Spouses, and Rebel Couples Who Are Rewriting the Rules'
Author: Pamela Haag


Format: ARC
Published: Harper; May 2011
Pages: 352
Genre: Non-fiction
Grade: B
Source: Publisher


Synopsis: Pamela Haag has written the generational "big book" on modern marriage, a mesmerizing, sometimes salacious look at the semi-happy ambivalence lurking just below the surface of many marriages today. The spouses may rarely fight—they may maintain a sincere affection for each other—but one or both may harbor a melancholy sense that something important is missing.
Remarkably, this side of the marriage story hasn't been told or analyzed—until now.
Meticulously researched and injected with insightful firsthand accounts and welcome doses of humor, Marriage Confidential articulates for a generation that grew up believing they would "have it all" why they have ended up disenchanted. Haag introduces us to contemporary marriages where spouses act more like life partners than lovers; children occupy an uncontested position at the center of the marital relationship; and even the romantic staples of sexual fidelity and passion are assailed from all sides—so much so that spouses can end up having affairs online almost by accident.
Blending tales from the front lines of matrimony with cultural history, surveys, and research covert-ops (such as joining an online affair-finding site and posting a personal ad in the New York Review of Books), Haag paints a detailed picture of the state of marriage today. And to show what's possible as well as what's melancholy in our post-romantic age, Haag seeks out marriages with a twist—rebels who are quietly brainstorming and evolving the scripts around career, money, social life, child rearing, and sex.
Provocative but sympathetic, forward-thinking and bold, here, at last, is a manifesto for living large in marriage.


My Take: If you have been reading my blog this year then you know that I am getting married later this year (squueeee!). My fiance and I dated for quite sometime beforehand, wanting to go into this marriage being sure that we knew each other because both being from divorced parents, we are well aware that marriage is hard. When I got the opportunity to review Pamela Haag's Marriage Confidential I thought this would be a good opportunity to look at some of the reality's of modern marriage so that I could maybe take the blinders off a bit.


Um, I am not sure if this was a good idea or not. This book kind of freaked me out. It's not that what was inside was bad or anything, it just didn't contain a lot of love. I realize that marriage is for life and life can be a really long time and it can through a lot of things at you and therefore as a partnership the two of you may deal with what life throws at you differently but what should start was passion, I felt that Haag almost always would say spiraled down into just a working relationship as a way to 'survive' marriage. And also, that kids almost always ruin marriage. Yikes!

Haag's book appears to be very well-researched, although it doesn't cite any notes in the footnotes when there are studies talked about. It's all in the back. Sometimes that makes me wonder where specific facts and figures come from. A lot of it does appear to be from her own marriage or people she knows. Regardless, it is not a book that you read to 'fix a problem' it is more a study on the people, such as Betty Friedan's seminal work The Feminine Mystique was.

I would recommend this book perhaps if your own marriage is in some sort of a malaise and you are looking for a 'thank God I am not alone' feeling but I know that to assume all relationships are the same, or that what goes on behind closed doors is anything like what goes on within your own is to assume something wrong. So perhaps you will get something more out of this work than I did. It did open my eyes and I did enjoy it but perhaps it also made me a little frightened too!

Cover Lust: The ARC has these pop art characters which I think add a lot to the cover. Sadly, what they chose isn't quite as entertaining!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Mailbox Monday: April 9, 2012

It's Mailbox Monday time! Mailbox Monday is going on tour and April is being hosted by the lovelyCindy's Love Of 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!


I hope you all had a fabulous Easter if you celebrate it! We don't get any time off for Easter so we just relaxed at home. The rest of the weekend was spent enjoying the sunshine and time with friends, a very enjoyable weekend!


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


From Atria Books:
1. Between You and Me by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus




















From Minotaur Books:
2. The Mysterium by P.C. Doherty




















From Harper:
3. An Uncommon Education by Elizabeth Percer




















4. The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones





















5. The Cottage at Glass Beach by Heather Barbieri




















6. I Never Promised You A Goodie Bag by Jennifer Gilbert




















7. Women from the Ankle Down by Rachelle Bergstein




















What did you get?
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