Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Review: Slow Love by Dominique Browning

Title: Slow Love
Author: Dominique Browning
Publisher: Atlas Books
Publish Date: Today!
Source: Netgalley

Why You're Reading This Book:
  • You like quirky memoirs.
  • You like stories about self-discovery.
What's the Story?:

From "In November 2007, former editor in chief of House & Garden magazine Dominique Browning experienced what thousands have since experienced. She lost her job. Overnight, her driven, purpose-filled days vanished. With her children leaving home and a long relationship ending, the structure of her days disappeared. She fell into a panic of loss but found humor despite everything, discovering a deeper joy than any she had ever known. It was a life she had not sought, but one that offered pleasures and surprises she didn’t know she lacked.

Slow Love is about wearing your pajamas to the farmers’ market, packing up a beloved home and moving to a more rural setting, making time to play the piano and go kayaking, reinventing yourself, and not cutting corners when it comes to love, muffins, or gardening. This elegant, graceful—and yet funny—book inspires us to dance in the kitchen and seize new directions."

My Two Cents:

I liked the very core of this book: taking time and not being afraid to slow down a little. I feel like myself and a lot of other people could do well to heed that advice. Dominique Browning faced what a lot of Americans faced during this recession that our country is still healing from; she lost her job. For so many people, particularly Americans, what they do for a living is a huge part of how they see themselves and how they feel about themselves. Without a job, they feel out at sea. Browning definitely feels this. She has no regular schedule and no idea how to move forward.

This is a very timely book and as I said, I think a lot of people could learn from the book; however, there was one major thing that really took away from the book and drove me a little batty. Browning is involved with a married man and is obsessed about why he won't leave his wife (and he's not even that nice of a guy to begin with so I don't see why she wanted him). She's obsessed with this imperfect relationship and hangs in there for way too long (several years). I just didn't get it. I felt the need to shake her and ask her WTH she was doing. This book in a way is about learning to love yourself but the whole part with Stroller seemed to totally go against that. I really found myself wishing that the author would have risen above miring herself in such a detrimental relationship.

The writing in the book was really good and really helped to pull the book together. It almost helped me get past the bad relationship in the book. Almost but not quite...

This book was not really for me.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Review: Sex and the Kitty by Nancy the Cat

Title: Sex and the Kitty
Author: Nancy the Cat
Publisher: Plume
Publish Date: August 30, 2011 (Today!!!)
Source: Netgalley

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're an animal lover. 
  • You relish quirky books.
  • You're not afraid of going off the beaten path.
What's the Story?:

From "Even as a kitten, Nancy knew she was different. Unlike her peers, who were content to hunt mice and sunbathe all day, Nancy was born with a thirst for adventure.

She first tastes local fame after hitching rides in strangers' cars and visiting neighborhood pubs, but soon the fearless feline has started a blog, become a Facebook sensation, and dipped her paw in the world of show business. With the help of an agent, she moves to London and meets Baron Romeo III, the country's #1 cat actor. Will they be the Brad and Angelina of the cat world?

A purr-fect gift for the legions who adore LOLCats, and for anyone who ever dreamed of being famous and meeting Mr. Right, Sex and the Kitty is an irresistibly catty mélange of silliness, wit, and feline charm."

My Two Cents:

I randomly picked this book up off of Netgalley and I was happy that I did. This was another book that I read on vacation. I loved how quirky and how different the story was. It's a lot of fun. Nancy is a small black cat who goes on a lot of big adventures. It took me a little bit of time to get used to the idea that I was reading a book told from the point of view of a cat. I know that it sounds a little odd but give it a chance.

Like I mentioned, this book is written from the point of view of a cat. It sounds like a premise that could possibly not work that well. Luckily in this case, the premise definitely works. The way that the book is written makes it seem not so weird that a cat is telling you her life story. 

This book is very funny and had a lot of laugh out loud moments. This is definitely a lot different than my usual book fare but in a strange way, it sort of fit in to my taste. Nancy is a fun narrator. If you're looking for a fun read with a lot of humor. Definitely take a look at this book!

Monday, August 29, 2011

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

Just finished:

Currently Reading:

Up Next:

***Don't forget to enter my giveaway for a copy of Pam Jenoff's The Things We Cherished. See rules and entry form here!

What are you reading?

Review and Giveaway: The Things We Cherished by Pam Jenoff

Title: The Things We Cherished by Pam Jenoff
Author: Pam Jenoff
Publisher: Doubleday
Publish Date: July 12, 2011
Source: Received a copy from the publisher. This did not affect my review.

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You love a good story with really well written characters.
  • You're a historical fiction fan.
  • You like a book with a lot of pieces to put together. 
What's the Story?:

From "An ambitious novel that spans decades and continents, The Things We Cherished tells the story of Charlotte Gold and Jack Harrington, two fiercely independent attor­neys who find themselves slowly falling for one another while working to defend the brother of a Holocaust hero against allegations of World War II–era war crimes. The defendant, wealthy financier Roger Dykmans, mysteri­ously refuses to help in his own defense, revealing only that proof of his innocence lies within an intricate timepiece last seen in Nazi Germany. As the narrative moves from Philadelphia to Germany, Poland, and Italy, we are given glimpses of the lives that the anniversary clock has touched over the past century, and learn about the love affair that turned a brother into a traitor.

Rich in historical detail, Jenoff’s astonishing new work is a testament to true love under the worst of circumstances."

My Two Cents:

Guys, please allow me to gush just a little bit. I am way excited about this book and even more excited about  I've read some of Pam Jenoff's other works and have fallen in love each time. You feel like you want to know her characters even better even though they are well written. You want to be able to ask them questions. Her books are the kind that you get pulled into and want to savor just so you don't get to the end too fast. The Things They Cherished is another wonderful work.

Gah, this story just grabs you. It has a little bit of mystery and romance. It's heavy on history and the characters are fascinating. The style of the book is also very grabbing. Sometimes books that switch back and forth between time can be hard to follow but it works really, really well in this story. It only helps to pull you deeper into the story. You find yourself wanting to get to the next chapters so you can follow the different veins of the story. I didn't want this book to end! Luckily, the ending seems to hint at maybe a sequel (oh please, oh please, oh please)!


Want to win a copy of The Things We Cherished? The publisher is graciously giving away copies to two lucky A Bookish Affair readers! Just fill out the form! You have until August 31st, 2011, 11:59pm EST to enter. Good luck!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

New Review Week at A Bookish Affair

I'm very excited to tell you all about New Review Week this week. From Monday to Saturday, I have reviews of new books that have either recently come out or are coming out this week. Oh, and there will be two giveaways during the week. I can't wait to share these awesome books with you.

So what books are you looking forward to being released in the near future?

Review: The Threat Matrix

Title: The Threat Matrix
Author: Garrett Graff
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publish Date: March 1, 2011
Source: Netgalley

Why You're Reading This Book:
  • You're looking for a good history of some of the major events that have affected the United States.
  • You're interested in politics and history.
  • You're interested in knowing more about what happened.
What's the Story?:

From "THE THREAT MATRIX is the story of a small group of FBI agents and FBI Director Robert Mueller, who believed that they could confront a new generation of international terrorist groups like al Qaeda without sacrificing America's moral high ground. From the corridors of the Hoover Building to the cells of Gitmo and the mountains of Afghanistan, Yemen and Pakistan, Graff tells the true story of how a generation of FBI agents taught themselves to confront threats no one had ever seen before. THE THREAT MATRIX is also the story of the war within the war: the fierce battles between the FBI and CIA and Bush Administration, and within the Bureau itself.

Spanning five decades and eight presidents, the product of unprecedented access and vast historical detective work, THE THREAT MATRIX is a landmark investigation that reads like a spy thriller."

My Two Cents:

With the advent of the 10th anniversary of 9/11 drawing near, I've been thinking a lot of how much has changed in the past 10 years with regard to the way that our world is. I very vividly remember where I was on 9/11 and everything on that day has totally changed the way that our Intelligence Community works. The FBI has been at the forefront of many of these changes and the way that the agency works and what it does has come into the spotlight. This book covers more of the history of the FBI but a great majority of the book covers just prior to 9/11 and the ten years after 9/11.

I took this book with me on vacation and it was a good pick (okay, maybe not so great to read on the airplane because of the subject matter but on the ground it was wonderful). I'm deeply interested in all things history and politics. The FBI has gone from a mostly domestic agency to an agency that has a presence in many parts of the world. This book is definitely engaging and is really accessible for those who don't really like non-fiction all that much. 

One of the best things about this book is to read about the back stories of the different investigations that the FBI has conducted. The lead up to 9/11 was also interested to read about. There were so many mistakes leading up to the event and I really hope that the FBI has learned something since then. Graff did a wonderful job making this book really readable and enjoyable for the most part. There were some parts that were a little more drawn out than they really needed to be.

Bottom line: This book should definitely be read by anyone that has an interest in the Intelligence Community.

My Review:
4 out of 5 stars

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Review: Shopaholic Ties the Knot by Sophie Kinsella

Title: Shopaholic Ties the Knot
Author: Sophie Kinsella
Publisher: Dial Press
Publish Date: March 4, 2003
Source: Library

Why You're Reading This Book:
  • You're a fan of the other Shopaholic books (you'll probably still enjoy this one even if you haven't read the previous books)
  • You like funny, romantic books.
  • You're looking for a fun read.
What's The Story?:

From "Life has been good for Becky Bloomwood: She’s become the best personal shopper at Barneys, she and her successful entrepreneurial boyfriend, Luke, are living happily in Manhattan’s West Village, and her new next door neighbor is a fashion designer! But with her best friend, Suze, engaged, how can Becky fail to notice that her own ring finger is bare? Not that she’s been thinking of marriage (or diamonds) or anything...

Then Luke proposes! Bridal registries dance in Becky’s head. Problem is, two other people are planning her wedding: Becky’s overjoyed mother has been waiting forever to host a backyard wedding, with the bride resplendent in Mum’s frilly old gown. While Luke’s high-society mother is insisting on a glamorous, all-expenses-paid affair at the Plaza. Both weddings for the same day. And Becky can’t seem to turn down either one. Can everyone’s favorite shopaholic tie the knot before everything unravels?"

My Two Cents:

I got married just about a year ago so the memory of how stressful wedding planning can be is still relatively fresh in my memory. In this book, Becky is torn between the wedding that her parents want to plan in her hometown in England and a all expenses paid wedding at the Plaza Hotel by her beau's mother, a woman who makes Cruella D'Vil look like a total sweetheart. Becky wants to make everyone happy but will she speak up before it's too late?

Becky Bloomwood is an incredibly lovable character. I love the Shopaholic books so much. They're light and fun and perfect mind candy type of books. This installation is another good one. This book continues the fun and I'm definitely looking forward to reading the next installation in this series. 

My Review: 
4 out of 5 stars

Friday, August 26, 2011

Review: The Van Alen Legacy by Melissa De La Cruz

Title: The Van Alen Legacy
Author: Melissa De La Cruz
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publish Date: October 1, 2009
Source: Library

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You've read the first three books in the Blue Bloods series.
  • You like vampire lore.
  • You like mysteries.
What's the Story?:

From "With the stunning revelation surrounding Bliss's true identity comes the growing threat of the sinister Silver Bloods. Once left to live the glamorous life in New York City, the Blue Bloods now find themselves in an epic battle for survival. Not to worry, love is still in the air for the young vampires of the Upper East Side. Or is it? Jack and Schuyler are over. Oliver's brokenhearted. And only the cunning Mimi seems to be happily engaged."

 My Two Cents:

This is the fourth installment of the Blue Blood series. This is definitely a book that if you haven't read the first three books in the series, you are probably going to be very lost. In this installation, we find more out about the backgrounds of the various characters. The most compelling is Bliss' story. She seems like one of the nicest vampires but she has something inside her that may not be that nice. When the story opens, she's been out of her mind (literally) for about a year. Since the vampire conclave is in chaos, she has no one to really confide in or even to figure out what might be wrong with her. She's terrified.
This series has stepped away again from the history ties that drew me to it in the first place but now I feel really caught up in the mystery and the story. I'm looking forward to reading the next books in the series.

My Two Cents:
3.5 out of 5 stars

Book Blogger Hop 8/26 - 8/29

Join in the fun here!
This week's question: “Non-book-related this week!! Do you have pets?”

I'm a huge animal lover and if I lived in a bigger place, I'd probably have more animals. Right now, I have two cats named Totoro and Winston. One's a grey tabby and the other is a brown tabby. My cats are awesome. They're the most un-cat like cats that I've ever met. They're actually really friendly and super cuddly. Seriously, if anyone of you were to come over to my house and sit down, I can promise you that within a few minutes, my cats would probably want to sit on your lap!

What about you guys? Do you all have any awesome pets?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Review: Pillow Talk by Freya North

Title: Pillow Talk
Author: Freya North
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publish Date: July 1, 2011
Source: Received as part of the British Babes Book Brigade Book Club

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You like quirky chick lit
  • You like a good story about fate
What's the Story?:

From "By day, Petra Flint is a talented jeweler working in a lively London studio. By night, she's a sleepwalker troubled by a past she can't put to bed and a present that leaves her clinging to an unsuitable boyfriend. Arlo Savidge was once a budding heartthrob musician. Then tragedy struck and he chose to forsake stardom and all future affairs of the heart for a quiet life in the countryside as a music teacher.Petra and Arlo haven't seen each other since they were teenagers-when their feelings ran deep but the timing wasn't right. Now, seventeen years later, they run into each other once more. Might first love get a second chance-or will what keeps them up at night keep them apart forever?"

My Two Cents:

I always love a good story, especially when there seems to be a little twist of fate. North spins a good story about two people destined to find each other again after many years apart. Petra has sleepwalked almost all of her life. She can't figure out why she does it. It's been detrimental to her and to her relationships. Then she runs into Arlo, her high school sweetheart. Is the timing better for them?

There were a few things that weren't necessarily bad about the book but still had me doing a bit of a double take. For instance (and I'll try not to give away too much), I was way confused about the thing that is keeping Petra sleepwalking. It seemed to come out of nowhere and was just really weird and almost out of place.

One thing that I really liked about the book was North's writing. She has a very quick wit and the ability to make me laugh (or rather chortle) out loud. The book is definitely quirky and not your run of the mill romance, which I definitely appreciated.  I kind of found myself wondering what happened to Petra and Arlo once the book ended. I think that if you find yourself wondering about the characters after the book ends, it means the characters were pretty awesome.

Bottom line: Want quirky romance? Here's your book!

My Review:
3.5 out of 5 stars

Booking Through Thursday: A Whole Lotta History

This week's question: "Sometimes I feel like the only person I know who finds reading history fascinating. It’s so full of amazing-yet-true stories of people driven to the edge and how they reacted to it. I keep telling friends that a good history book (as opposed to some of those textbooks in school that are all lists and dates) does everything a good novel does–it grips you with real characters doing amazing things. Am I REALLY the only person who feels this way? When is the last time you read a history book? Historical biography? You know, something that took place in the past but was REAL."

I love, love, love non-fiction history as well as historical biographies. I've always loved diving deep into a true story. Sometimes the true stories are even more fantastic than the fictional stories that I also love to read. I also think that it's incredibly important for all of us to have a decent background in our historical knowledge. It's so important to know how we got to where we are today. Probably my favorite historical period to read about is WWII. I can't get enough of it. So many things that happened during WWII still affect the way that our world and politics are today.

What say you?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Review: The Foreigners by Maxine Swann

Title: The Foreigners
Author: Maxine Swann
Publisher: Riverhead Books (ARC)
Publish Date: August 18, 2011
Source: Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Why You're Reading This Book:
  • You like interesting characters.
  • You appreciate stories about finding one's self.
  • You love exotic locales.

What's the Story?:

From "Buenos Aires is a city of Parisian affections and national anxiety, of amorous young lovers, seedy ports, flooded slums, and a dazzling social elite. Into this heady maze of contradiction and possibility enter two women: Daisy, an American divorcée; and Isolde, a beautiful, lonely Austrian. In Buenos Aires, Isolde finds that her blond European looks afford her entrée to the kind of elite, alluring social world she never would have had access to in her home country, but her ascension also sets her up for a long, surprising fall. Meanwhile, Daisy joins forces with Leonarda, a chameleonic Argentine with radical dreams of rebellion, who transfixes Daisy with her wild effervescence. Soon, Daisy is throwing off her American earnestness and engaging in a degree of passion, manipulation, and risk-taking in a way she never has before. Buenos Aires has allowed her to become someone else."

My Two Cents:

This book is a book about coming into one's own and leaving inhibitions behind. Daisy comes to Buenos Aires to get away from it all. A chance to study the city's water system lands her a free pass into the city. At first, she feels sort of at sea in the country until she meets Leonarda, the most interesting character of all in this book. Leonarda stands for everything that Daisy wants to be: intelligent, carefree, and wild. Leonarda helps Daisy cast off some of the trappings of her old life and really come into her own but not without consequences.

One thing that I most love to read in books is really wonderful descriptions of settings. This book definitely has it. I haven't made it to South America yet but if and when I do, I definitely would love for Buenos Aires. The Foreigners gives a good picture of this pulsing, exciting city and it's varied inhabitants. I felt like I could have been in the city itself with the wonderful way in some of the descriptions were written.

This book is a nebulous sort of book so if you like concrete, this may not be for you. You get to see how the characters grow and change throughout the book but you don't get a good sense of where they go once the book ends. And you know, I'm just fine with that. The process is really the main point of this book though, I think.

Bottom line: If you want a good story with good characters in an exotic locale, this is just the book for you.

My Rating:
4 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Review: The Memory Palace by Mira Bartok

Title: The Memory Palace
Author: Mira Bartok
Publisher: Free Press
Publish Date: July 5, 2011
Source: Free Press Book Tours

Why You're Reading This Book:
  • You like vivid memoirs.
  • You liked memoirs that cover tough topics like The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.
  • You're interested in mental illnesses like schizophrenia.
What's The Story?:

From "'People have abandoned their loved ones for much less than you’ve been through,' Mira Bartók is told at her mother’s memorial service. It is a poignant observation about the relationship between Mira, her sister, and their mentally ill mother. Before she was struck with schizophrenia at the age of nineteen, beautiful piano protégé Norma Herr had been the most vibrant personality in the room. She loved her daughters and did her best to raise them well, but as her mental state deteriorated, Norma spoke less about Chopin and more about Nazis and her fear that her daughters would be kidnapped, murdered, or raped.
When the girls left for college, the harassment escalated—Norma called them obsessively, appeared at their apartments or jobs, threatened to kill herself if they did not return home. After a traumatic encounter, Mira and her sister were left with no choice but to change their names and sever all contact with Norma in order to stay safe. But while Mira pursued her career as an artist—exploring the ancient romance of Florence, the eerie mysticism of northern Norway, and the raw desert of Israel—the haunting memories of her mother were never far away."

My Two Cents:

This book is hard to read but it's a very good memoir and an interesting one especially in the light of some questions that have recently come up in the news about what to do when a loved one refuses treatment for a mental illness (such as in the case of the shooting of Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords). Mira's mother refuses to have her schizophrenia treated and it really affects and harms the lives of Mira and her sister.

Mira Bartok weaves a heart wrenching family saga on her mother's decline into illness. You really feel bad for Mira and her sister throughout the book. They are torn between loving their mother and trying to preserve their own lives. At one point, Mira and her sister even change their names so that they can keep their distance from their mother. I can't imagine how difficult that situation must have been. On one hand, it's sad that they felt they had to totally abandon their mother but on the other hand, there is not much that can be done if a person refuses treatment for a mental illness even if their mental standing is questionable at best. It begs the question as to whether or not one should ever have the ability to ask for a person to be treated if they could potentially do harm to themselves or others? That's definitely a difficult subject with so many sticking points.

Bottom line: This book gave me a lot of subjects to ponder. It's heartbreaking to watch a loved one go through something so difficult. This book is a great read and truly shows the struggle of doing what's best for yourself and for your loved ones.

My Rating:
4 out of 5 stars

Monday, August 22, 2011

Small Blogs, Big Giveaways, Part Deux

The Small Blogs, Big Giveaways 2nd edition has started!

August 22, 12:01 AM GMT

 ENTER TO WIN and read the full list of prizes

34 books+ 9 GC = 43 prizes!

Follow the event on twitter

HOSTS & other giveaways

Organized by: Reading Romances
hosting other giveaways now? US$100 gift card giveaway!
Letters Inside Out
hosting other giveaways now? Yes - Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. It will be international.
Reads With Wreckless Abandon
hosting other giveaways now? Monthly Book Giveaway- It's international your choice of 1 from 5 books.
So Many Books, Here's Mine
hosting other giveaways now? Yes
Laurie's Thoughts & Reviews
hosting other giveaways now? YES - A Bonus Giveaway
Will be giving away a $10 Gift Card (winner's choice, Amazon, B&N, Book Depository) and more books.
The Magic Attic
‪hosting other giveaways now? Blog tour for Static by Tawny Stokes, and a The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton swag giveaway‬
hosting other giveaways now?  The Creed Trilogy.
Frequent Reader, Infrequent Blogger
‪hosting other giveaways now? a tour giveaway from Stacey Thompson Geer on the 24th‬ + 3 other contests still open one for a DVD of Something Borrowed, My 300 Follower Giveaway and another Tour Giveaway for the Gift of Illusion.
Red Hot Books
hosting other giveaways now? Storm's Heart by Thea Harrison (paperback) -- US/Canada
Frugal Experiments
hosting other giveaways now?The Spa For Ma Giveaway Event $100 spa basket giveaway Runs from Aug 18-31st
and The Back To School Giveaway Hop $25 school supply package Runs from Aug 22-26th
Book Nerd Reviews
hosting other giveaways now? August giveaway will be running from August 1st - August 30th. This month the winner will win two books though instead of one. And they will be able to chose from three genres. It will be international - anywhere Book Depository delivers to.
Can't Put It Down
hosting other giveaways now? it ends when my Facebook page gets 150 Likes.

Nicola Marsh
hosting other giveaways now? Yes, 2 double prize packs featuring current release Girl in a Vintage Dress & Overtime in the Boss's Bed
Small Blogs, Big Giveaways- 3rd edition: Sept. 23-30! Sign up to HOST the 3rd edition of this event, by answering this form!

We'll be selecting a random participant to win a gift card for every 100 entries till we reach 600!The first winner will choose 15 items from the prize list (including the maximum number of 1 gift card)The 2nd will choose 12 items after the 1st winner has chosen (2 gift cards maximum)The 3rd will get 10 items after the 2nd winner has chosen (2 gift cards maximum)
The remaining books and giftcards will be given to one of our lucky hosts - who'll  be selected using!
1.Sign up using the RAFFLECOPTER tool.
1.2Read the blog rules to know how to sign up for the prizes other blogs might be providing.
2.This is an INTERNATIONAL giveaway
3.You must be at least 18 years or older, or of legal age in your country.
4.The contest will end on AUGUST 29th at 11:59 pm GMT and winners will be posted after they have been selected.
5.Winners will be selected using the RAFFLECOPTER tool or
5.1The winners will be notified by email and announced on all hosting blogs.
5.2 The winners will have THREE days from the date they are posted to provide a mailing address. If you do not contact me within three days a replacement winner will be selected. NO EXCEPTIONS.
6.Each blogger will be responsable for mailing the prize they provided. No replacements will be made. Your email address will not be saved or used for any other purposes then to contact the winner in the contest for their mailing address.
6.The Bloggers not responsible for other prizes that are not honored, distributed in a timely manner, lost, stolen, or damaged during transit.
7. Prizes are subject to change/cancellation without prior written notice.

Review: Confessions of a First Daughter

First off, hello again! I missed you guys so much. I had a great time on my trip but more about that later.

Title: Confessions of a First Daughter
Author: Cassidy Calloway
Publisher: HarperTeen
Published Date: September 1, 2009
Source: Library

Why You're Reading This Book:
  • You're looking for a fun read.
  • You want to see Washington, DC in a different light.
What's the Story?:

From "Morgan Abbott has no social life and no privacy, and her every screwup makes front page news. That’s what happens when your mom’s the president of the United States—and Morgan is sooo over it. But now her mom needs a presidential stand-in! With the help of Morgan’s cute new secret service agent, a little makeup, and a lot of family resemblance, she’s soon seeing things from the other side of the desk."

My Two Cents:

There are very few books about my city of Washington, DC that aren't political thrillers (a genre that I generally don't care for anyhow) but everyone likes reading about things that they know and are familiar with. So, when I come across a book about DC that isn't all political theatre, I'm very excited. Confessions of a First Daughter also marks the first young adult book that I've ever read about Washington, DC.
This is a fun book. Morgan Abbott is constantly fighting for being treated like any other teenager, the only problem is that she happens to be the President's (first female President at that) daughter. While dealing with the constant spotlight, Morgan is also dealing with the normal teenage stuff: rebelling against her parents, boys, mean girls, and well, high school. I found Morgan to be a very lovable and relatable character.
This book definitely requires a little bit of a suspension of disbelief. At one point, Morgan has to fill in for her Presidential Mom while her mom jets off on a top secret mission. It would never, ever happen but it's fun to think about. This is definitely a light read but it's very fun. There is a sequel to this book, which I will definitely be reading.
Bottom line: If you're looking for a lighter book with some pretty funny moments, this is the book for you.

My Review:
4 out of 5 stars

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Review: Not Dead and Not for Sale by Scott Weiland

Title: Not Dead and Not for Sale
Author: Scott Weiland and David Ritz
Publisher: Carongate Books
Publish Date: June 2, 2011
Source: Library

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You like gripping memoirs.
  • You're a fan of Scott Weiland and Stone Temple Pilot
What's the Story?:

From "In the early 1990s, Stone Temple Pilots - not U2, not Nirvana, not Pearl Jam - was the hottest band in the world. STP toppled such megabands as Aerosmith and Motley Crue on MTV and in the mainstream charts. Lead singer Scott Weiland became an iconic frontman in the tradition of Mick Jagger, David Bowie and Robert Plant. Then, when STP imploded, it was Weiland who emerged as the emblem of rock star excess, with his well-publicized drug busts and trips to rehab. Weiland has since made a series of stunning comebacks, fronting the supergroup Velvet Revolver, releasing solo work and, most recently, reuniting with Stone Temple Pilots. He still struggles with the bottle, but he has prevailed as a loving, dedicated father, as well as a business-savvy artist whose well of creativity is far from empty."

My Two Cents:

It's no secret to rock and alternative fans of the 90s that Scott Weiland is a very talented artist. Unfortunately for him, he also struggled through much of his career with addiction and became well known for not only his music but also for (and perhaps more for) ending up in the news for getting busted for drugs. I've always been a fan of STP but it's been frustrating watching Weiland constantly get busted. 

Last year, I read his former wife's (Mary Forsberg) memoir, which talked about her and Scott's relationship in detail. I was anxious to see Scott's take on their life together. I really loved how Not Dead and Not for Sale was laid out. Scott included some of his art in the book, which I really thought made for an interesting story of his descent into drugs. He doesn't seem to hide anything. He goes through the origins of his music and the origins of STP. He also chronicles how he gets hooked on the drugs and it's very apparent that the people he chose to surround himself with did nothing to help the situation.

At the end of the book, he states that he's two months sober. I hope he stays that way.

Bottom line: This book is sometimes difficult to get through just because it's hard to see someone that you admire continuously go through crazy stuff.

My Review:
4 out of 5 stars

Friday, August 5, 2011

Review: Bumped by Megan McCafferty

Title: Bumped
Author: Megan McCafferty
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publish Date: April 26, 2011
Source: Library

Why You're Reading This Book:
  • You're a dystopian fan.
  • You're intrigued by shows like 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom
What's the Story?:

From "When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society. Girls sport fake baby bumps and the school cafeteria stocks folic-acid-infused food.

Sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and have never met until the day Harmony shows up on Melody’s doorstep. Up to now, the twins have followed completely opposite paths. Melody has scored an enviable conception contract with a couple called the Jaydens.

While they are searching for the perfect partner for Melody to bump with, she is fighting her attraction to her best friend, Zen, who is way too short for the job.

Harmony has spent her whole life in Goodside, a religious community, preparing to be a wife and mother. She believes her calling is to convince Melody that pregging for profit is a sin. But Harmony has secrets of her own that she is running from.

When Melody is finally matched with the world-famous, genetically flawless Jondoe, both girls’ lives are changed forever. A case of mistaken identity takes them on a journey neither could have ever imagined, one that makes Melody and Harmony realize they have so much more than just DNA in common."

My Two Cents:

This book has been making its way around the blogosphere for the past several months. I had seen both good and bad reviews of this book but decided to pick it up from the library. This is a strange little book. I can see where the author was trying to go with it; sort of trying to speak to teen pregnancy and the issues surrounding it but I don't really think the execution was all that great.

There were several things that kind of grated on my nerves. First, the slang. It was just weird. "Pregging" is becoming pregnant for the adults that contract the teens out to have babies. It just kind of skeeved me out and didn't become sort of the natural world building that should be present in any good dystopian story.

Harmony as a character just sort of rubbed me the wrong way. She's incredibly evangelical and comes from a community where "pregging" is not permitted. Her upbringing and her trying to profess to the other characters is so in your face that I couldn't really find common ground or see where she was coming from. Overall, the

This book is supposed to be the first in a series but I probably will not be reading the rest of the series.

Bottom line, this book was just a little too unbelievable for me to suspend my disbelief!

My Review:
2 out of 5 stars

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Review: The Girls of Murder City by Douglas Perry

Title: The Girls of Murder City
Author: Douglas Perry
Publisher: Penguin
Publish Date: July 26, 2011
Source: Unputdownables Early Reader Group

Why You're Reading This Book:
  • You like quirky history books
  • You're a Chicago (the musical or the city fan)
  • You're fascinated by all things 1920s
What's the Story?:

From "With a thrilling, fast-paced narrative, award-winning journalist Douglas Perry vividly captures the sensationalized circus atmosphere that gave rise to the concept of the celebrity criminal- and gave Chicago its most famous story. The Girls of Murder City recounts two scandalous, sex-fueled murder cases and how an intrepid "girl reporter" named Maurine Watkins turned the beautiful, media-savvy suspects-"Stylish Belva" and "Beautiful Beulah"-into the talk of the town. Fueled by rich period detail and a cast of characters who seemed destined for the stage, The Girls of Murder City is a crackling tale that simultaneously presents the freewheeling spirit of the Jazz Age and its sober repercussions."

My Two Cents:

I'm a big musical fan (I can often be found belting out various Broadway tunes) and I love quirky history non-fiction books. I like books that focus in on some minute part of history that I've never known about before. The Girls of Murder City had been on my TBR list for awhile so when I got an opportunity to read the book through Unputdownables Early Reader group, I was ecstatic. This book tells the true story behind some of the women that inspired the musical, Chicago. For you all not in the Broadway know, Chicago is the story of two gorgeous women convicted of murder during the Jazz Age in well, Chicago (surprise, surprise).
First off, I didn't realize that Chicago was based off of any true story so it was cool to learn that. The true story of the women is incredibly compelling. You have very differing cases between the women blessed with looks (many of them were let off) and the women who didn't have the looks to fall back on. The Girls of Murder City is also a story about the journalism during the 1920s, the height of the newspaper wars. You have newspapers covering these salacious stories of women killing people, most often their husbands or boyfriends being covered in a variety of ways by the competing newspapers out for the best and most gripping stories. The newspapers in Chicago fought against each other to provide the best (or at least most scandalous) coverage of these trials. The newspapers had the power to either glorify or condemn these women. In an age where newspapers are slowly losing their grip on their readership, it was sort of amazing to see this contrast of how it was back in the 1920s. 
The book also goes into a little bit of detail about how the musical came to be. Maurine Watkins, a young woman, became a reporter for one of the Chicago papers. While women reporters were uncommon, the women reporters who covered hard news like murders were even more uncommon. Maurine covers these murdererous women and almost creates sort of stories rather than hard news articles about these women. She eventually goes on to write a full play inspired by the women. Eventually her play is sold to Bob Fosse (Broadway extraordinaire) and Chicago became the musical that it is today.
Perry does a wonderful job of bringing this little piece of history to life. The way that he writes the story really pulls you in. It's so interesting to see how sucked in the public got through these newspaper articles and how the papers tried to one-up each other over each story about the murdering women.
Bottom line: This is a great non-fiction book and should be widely read!

My Review:
4 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Review: The Fates Will Find Their Way by Hannah Pittard

Title: The Fates Will Find Their Way
Author: Hannah Pittard
Publisher: Ecco
Publish Date: February 1, 2011
Source: Library

Why You're Reading This Book:
  • You're a fan of Jeffrey Eugenides.
  • You always wonder what if.
  • You're okay with the suspension of your disbelief.
What's the Story?:

From "Sixteen-year-old Nora Lindell is missing. And the neighborhood boys she's left behind are caught forever in the heady current of her absence.
As the days and years pile up, the mystery of her disappearance grows kaleidoscopically. A collection of rumors, divergent suspicions, and tantalizing what-ifs, Nora Lindell's story is a shadowy projection of teenage lust, friendship, reverence, and regret, captured magically in the disembodied plural voice of the boys who still long for her.

Told in haunting, percussive prose, Hannah Pittard's beautifully crafted novel tracks the emotional progress of the sister Nora left behind, the other families in their leafy suburban enclave, and the individual fates of the boys in her thrall. Far more eager to imagine Nora's fate than to scrutinize their own, the boys sleepwalk into an adulthood of jobs, marriages, families, homes, and daughters of their own, all the while pining for a girl–and a life–that no longer exists, except in the imagination."

My Two Cents:

This is definitely a book that is growing on me the more that I think about it. It took awhile to get used to how it was written (first person plural, thus the Eugenides likeness). I think a lot of us have episodes from our adolescence that stick with us. Traumatic events that seem to stick out in our minds for whatever reason. For the teenage boys in this story, Nora Lindell's disappearance is the event that haunts them all. With their collective remembrance, they piece together what happened and what may have happened to Nora after she disappeared.

At first I didn't like the first person plural writing style. It's not a very common style of writing and it's a little disconcerting. I found myself wondering why this group of people all had the same memory of Nora but Pittard kind of shows how little by little, this group of boys adds to the legend of Nora and to the sister that she left behind. I thought the writing style worked very well for that.

Bottom line, this book definitely will make you think a little bit and make you step outside of your comfort zone. The journey is well worth it.

My Review:
4 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Review: Something Maybe by Elizabeth Scott

Title: Something Maybe
Author: Elizabeth Scott
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publish Date: March 24, 2009
Source: Library

Why You're Reading This Book:
  • You're an Elizabeth Scott fan.
  • You like "slice of life" type of books.
What's the Story?:

From "Everyone thinks their parents are embarrassing, but Hannah knows she's got them all beat. Her dad made a fortune showcasing photos of pretty girls and his party lifestyle all over the Internet, and her mom was once one of her dad's girlfriends and is now the star of her own website. After getting the wrong kind of attention for way too long, Hannah has mastered the art of staying under the radar...and that's just how she likes it.

Of course, that doesn't help her get noticed by her crush. Hannah's sure that gorgeous, sensitive Josh is her soul mate. But trying to get him to notice her; wondering why she suddenly can't stop thinking about another guy, Finn; and dealing with her parents make Hannah feel like she's going crazy. Yet she's determined to make things work out the way she wants—only what she wants may not be what she needs...

Once again, Elizabeth Scott has created a world so painfully funny and a cast of characters so heartbreakingly real that you'll love being a part of it from unexpected start to triumphant finish."

My Two Cents:

I had heard a lot of good things about Elizabeth Scott from other bloggers but nothing specific about this book. On a whim, I picked up this book from the shelves knowing nothing about the book itself. I have to say that this book wasn't really for me. While Scott's writing is pretty realistic and she does a great job of capturing the way people actually speak. I think that can be really difficult

My real issue with this book is that it doesn't feel like it goes anywhere and I like books that have a true arc: a true beginning, middle and an end. This book just meanders a little bit too much and there doesn't seem to be any real conclusion. The writing of this story makes me want to give Scott another try but this book just didn't do much for me.

My Review:
2 out of 5 stars

Monday, August 1, 2011

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

Just finished:

Cute little book that takes place in Washington. It's so hard to find books set in DC that aren't political thrillers, a genre that I'm not wild about.

Currently Reading:

Let me put it this way, I almost missed getting off the train because I'm already so into this book.

Up Next:

I've always liked Stone Temple Pilots' music but watching Scott Weiland battle his addictions has been so hard to watch. I'm interested to see what he has to say.

What are you reading this week?

Review: Revelations by Melissa De La Cruz

Title: Revelations (Blue Bloods #3)
Author: Melissa De La Cruz
Publisher: Hyperion
Publish Date: October 28, 2008
Source: Library

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You've read the previous Blue Bloods books (you're going to be confused if you haven't read the first two books).
  • You're a vampire fan but like a little history with your vampire lore.

What's the Story?:

From "Have you ever wondered what secrets lurk behind the closed doors of New York City's wealthiest families? They're powerful, they're famous... they're undead. 

Schuyler Van Alen's blood legacy has just been called into question--is the young vampire in fact a Blue Blood, or is it the sinister Silver Blood that runs through her veins? As controversy swirls, Schuyler is left stranded in the Force household, trapped under the same roof as her cunning nemesis, Mimi Force, and her forbidden crush, Jack Force.

When one of the Gates of Hell is breached by Silver Bloods in Rio de Janeiro, however, the Blue Bloods will need Schuyler on their side. The stakes are high; the battle is bloody; and through it all, Carnavale rages on. And in the end, one vampire's secret identity will be exposed in a revelation that shocks everyone."

My Two Cents:

The saga of the Blue Bloods continues in Revelations. This time the Blue Bloods find that the Silver Bloods are endangering vampire-kind more and more. This book takes a little bit of a departure from the historical lore of the previous two books into more of the straight vampire lore. I kind of found myself wishing that the author had stuck a little bit more to the historical lore of the Roanoke colony and the Croatan and also the bit of Roman history intertwined in the books. I'm hopeful that in the next books that De La Cruz will get more back to the historical lore. I definitely thought that was one of the drawing factors for me to this series initially.

This book seemed to also focus more on the physical fighting between the Blue Bloods and the Silver Bloods. You get a little more understanding about their feud. Out of this first three books, this book is also the darkest and dreariest. Without giving too much away, there was a bit of a twist at the end that I didn't see coming. I definitely look forward to reading the rest of the series to see what happens.

Bottom line, this book definitely has a different flavor than the first two books but it will keep you reading.

My Review:
3.5 out of 5 stars

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