Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Review: Corporate Ties by Ben Woods

Title: Corporate Ties
Author: Ben Woods
Publisher: Spumoni Press
Publish Date: August 19, 2011
Source: I received a copy from the author. This did not affect my review.

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a fiction fan.
  • You've ever worked in an office.
What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Jason Harris has found the perfect job as a web developer with a Fortune 500 financial subsidiary. He meets his cool and quirky co-workers and even scores a date with an Indian princess/database administrator.

This lasts all of eight days. Due to “organizational restructuring,” the parent company announces that all employees at Jason's location are being relocated to corporate headquarters in another state.

Each person mulls the idea of exchanging a laid-back, business casual dress environment for a cafeteria, a fitness center, and a strangling — by a necktie (corporate attire only, please) and organizational bureaucracy.

The men and women in suits arrive to document the documents, proactivate the buzzwords, and cage the project managers.

Is the job really worth it? And why exactly do people give up their independence to become company drones?"

My Two Cents:

This story is something that has happened to a lot of people in corporate America, especially with the Recession. Corporate restructuring happens. And this is exactly what happens to Jason and the rest of the people at Mettle when they're told they have to move to be with the new parent company. 

I really like Woods' style of writing. It's fast paced, funny, with a splash of cynicism (just how I like it) and kept me interested in the story. The writing is most definitely the highlight of this book. The humor is subtle, which I liked.

This is a workplace comedy, workplace being the operative word. Some of the business talk may be above and beyond what some people like. I used to work in IT so I was okay with it but other people who aren't so familiar with that world, you may be a little bit lost. This may limit the audience for this book. Throughout the book, I kind of felt like I was waiting for something big to happen and when the turning point in the book finally comes, it was a bit more subdued than I was expecting.

Bottom line: Read this one for the writing!

Monday, January 30, 2012

World Book Night!

World Book Night is a celebration of all things reading. It was originally started last year in the UK. Basically volunteers sign up to give away copies of some notable reads. The idea is to spread the love of reading with the people around you.

There's still time to sign up for World Book Night!!! See more details on World Book Night here and how to sign up to be a giver. You have until February 1st to sign up!

Are you participating in World Book Night?

Review: The Secret of Lies by Barbara Forte Abate

Title: The Secret of Lies
Author: Barbara Forte Abate
Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing, LLC
Publish Date: April 1, 2010
Source: I received a copy from the author. This did not affect my review.

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a fiction fan.
  • You like family stories (especially dysfunctional families).
What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Propelled by an insurmountable sense of desperation, Stevie Burke is recklessly abandoning home, husband, and outwardly contented life under cover of night; at last resigned to defeat in her long battle against the tortured memories of her past.

Days later, lost and floundering in a dreary motel room without plan or destination, it is a long ago song playing on the radio that gently tugs Stevie back through the dust of remembrance. 1957 - The last summer spent at the ancient house overlooking the North Atlantic. A season which had unfolded with abundant promise, but then spiraled horribly out of control - torn apart by a shattering tragedy that remains splintered in fragments upon her soul. And it is only now, when Stevie at last lifts her eyes to stare deep into the heart of her long sequestered memories, that the long held secrets of past and future are at last unveiled."

My Two Cents:

This is a story of how family secrets can change everything. Hiding those secrets can make things so much worse. This is exactly what happens to Stevie is this book. As a young teenager, she watches her sister, Eleanor, and the adults in her life make decisions that will change everything and hurt people. We see all of this through Stevie's eyes. She's still not an adult but understands enough that she knows the implications of everything that's going on.

I liked this book. The story is good and definitely kept me interested throughout the book. I thought that the story could have been streamlined a little bit. At one point, I wondered where the story was going to come back together after Stevie was a few years removed from the situation that happened at her aunt and uncle's beach house. It almost seemed like there could have been less "setting up" of the second part of the book. I spent a lot of time thinking about where the book was going and why some things were so unresolved from the first part of the book and I think it took away from the book a little bit. The story does come back together nicely eventually but it takes awhile.

I definitely felt bad throughout the book for Stevie. When the book begins, she's at that age where she wants to be more adult-like and to be taken seriously but she doesn't know how to. I kept wondering what would have happened if she spoke up about the things that she saw earlier. Would things have come out better? Worse? Later in the book, she still seems almost childlike. She sticks behind to live with her mother instead of forging out on her own as a young adult. I wondered also if that was tied to what happened at the beach house.

Bottom line: This is a good read for fiction fans!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Unputdownables: A Moveable Feast Read-Along

I'm taking part in the A Moveable Feast Read-Along for February through Unputdownables (sign up here). This is another classic that I've been very excited to read!

Book to Movie (Plus Author Interview): The Big Year by Mark Obmascik

I was very happy to get a chance to take a look at The Big Year (out on Blu-Ray/DVD on January 31, 2012) compliments of Think Jam (this did not affect my review). The Big Year was originally a book by author Mark Obmascik. It was adapted for the big screen and stars Steve Martin, Owen Wilson, and Jack Black.


From Goodreads.com: "Every January 1, a quirky crowd storms out across North America for a spectacularly competitive event called a Big Year—a grand, expensive, and occasionally vicious 365-day marathon of birdwatching. For three men in particular, 1998 would become a grueling battle for a new North American birding record. Bouncing from coast to coast on frenetic pilgrimages for once-in-a-lifetime rarities, they brave broiling deserts, bug-infested swamps, and some of the lumpiest motel mattresses known to man. This unprecedented year of beat-the-clock adventures ultimately leads one man to a record so gigantic that it is unlikely ever to be bested. Here, prizewinning journalist Mark Obmascik creates a dazzling, fun narrative of the 275,000-mile odyssey of these three obsessives as they fight to win the greatest— or maybe worst—birding contest of all time."

My Two Cents: 

A Big Year is something that every birdwatcher dreams of. And some are willing to go to any lengths in order to beat the records of the birds that previous watchers have seen. Enter three men: Brad (played by Black) who is ready to do something with his life even if his father is not convinced that The Big Year is really doing something with your life. There's Stu (played by Martin), the affable, over-worked businessman who is finally ready for his Big Year. Finally there's Kenny (played by Wilson) who is willing to do just about anything to make sure that no one beats his record.

I loved Brad and Stu! They are both nice, really well meaning guys. They really in the Big Year for the fun of it (although the glory is an added bonus as well). Kenny on the other hand is less than a nice guy. This is really the first movie that I've seen Owen Wilson in where I haven't really liked him. He's usually a pretty nice guy and funny. In The Big Year, he's less nice and very arrogant. It was definitely believable but I like Wilson as a kinder, gentler character.

The supporting cast is awesome too. Brian Dennehy is great as Brad's father. Anjelica Huston is hilarious as a crazy boat driver. John Cleese plays a narrator (I love his voice). It was such a nice surprise to see all these people in this movie.

This movie is funny. My husband and I both sat down to watch it last night. We both really liked it. It's good for a laugh and is a little bit off the beaten path. Comedy lovers will enjoy this movie.

Author Interview:

I'm pleased to have an author interview with Mark Obmascik on A Bookish Affair today.

1. How does it feel to have your book adapted into a movie?

I feel like I've been struck by lightning three times. The first was when Simon and Schuster took on my book about competitive birdwatching. The second lightning strike was when the movie rights were optioned. Actually making a movie of it was the third lightning strike. This explains my current hairline.

2. What sort of input did you have the writing of the screenplay? Did you
wish you could have had more input of any kind?

I had very little input. I never talked with the man who wrote the screenplay, and I never saw the screenplay that was put into production. I did have a nice phone talk with the director about characters, themes, and locations. Because my book is a non-fiction account of three living guys, I asked the director to change all names for his fictional movie, but I think he was going to do that anyway. A pet peeve of birders is the way Hollywood does stuff that would never occur in nature -- say, having the call of a red-tailed hawk come from the beak of a robin -- so I asked the director to hire a birding consultant to clean up the script. The director, David Frankel, hired one of the birders I wrote about, Greg Miller, to work on the set, and I think they all enjoyed it. I always figured that the book was my thing, and the movie was the director's thing.

3. Is it easier to tell a story through a book or a movie? Why?

I wrote the book myself, and it was edited by one great woman, Leslie Meredith, at The Free Press of Simon and Schuster in New York. By contrast, the movie was made by more than 200 producers, actors, photographers, editors, carpenters, electricians, make up artists, truck drivers, publicists, caterers, location scouts, etc. At one point, when our family was visiting the movie set in Vancouver, the director was planning to send the whole production up to the Yukon via a three-day caravan of semi-trailers on the Alaskan Highway. To me, the logistics of the movie business are staggering. To do my stories, I need only a cell phone, laptop, access to an airport, and caffeine.

4. Who is your favorite character in The Big Year? What was it like seeing
them on the big screen? (and now small screen with the  upcoming DVD/Blu-ray

As a longtime newspaper reporter who made a career out of reporting on murderers, rapists, and politicians, I was grateful to get a chance to write about people I liked. As a writer, I really enjoyed how the three guys seemed to bring out the best -- and sometimes the worst -- in each other. In different ways, Sandy Komito, Al Levantin, and Greg Miller each decided that having honesty and integrity was just as important as winning. I wish I could have covered a U.S. Senate campaign like that! As for what it's like to see it on the big screen, I'll put it this way: When the studio announced this movie would star Steve Martin, Jack Black, and Owen Wilson, my three young sons looked at me for a fleeting millisecond as if I were actually cool.

5. If you could bring 3 fictional characters with you on a deserted  island,
who would you bring with you.

I think that Raskolnikov, Peeta Mellark, and Hannibal Lecter would make for a fun picnic.

More Info:

Review: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Title: The Great Gatsby
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Publisher: My version was published by Scribner.
Publish Date: Originally published 1925
Source: Owned

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • It's a classic. Do you need another reason?
What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "In 1922, F. Scott Fitzgerald announced his decision to write "something new--something extraordinary and beautiful and simple and intricately patterned." That extraordinary, beautiful, intricately patterned, and above all, simple novel became The Great Gatsby, arguably Fitzgerald's finest work and certainly the book for which he is best known. A portrait of the Jazz Age in all of its decadence and excess, Gatsby captured the spirit of the author's generation and earned itself a permanent place in American mythology. Self-made, self-invented millionaire Jay Gatsby embodies some of Fitzgerald's--and his country's--most abiding obsessions: money, ambition, greed, and the promise of new beginnings. "Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter--tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther.... And one fine morning--" Gatsby's rise to glory and eventual fall from grace becomes a kind of cautionary tale about the American Dream.
It's also a love story, of sorts, the narrative of Gatsby's quixotic passion for Daisy Buchanan. The pair meet five years before the novel begins, when Daisy is a legendary young Louisville beauty and Gatsby an impoverished officer. They fall in love, but while Gatsby serves overseas, Daisy marries the brutal, bullying, but extremely rich Tom Buchanan. After the war, Gatsby devotes himself blindly to the pursuit of wealth by whatever means--and to the pursuit of Daisy, which amounts to the same thing. "Her voice is full of money," Gatsby says admiringly, in one of the novel's more famous descriptions. His millions made, Gatsby buys a mansion across Long Island Sound from Daisy's patrician East Egg address, throws lavish parties, and waits for her to appear. When she does, events unfold with all the tragic inevitability of a Greek drama, with detached, cynical neighbor Nick Carraway acting as chorus throughout. Spare, elegantly plotted, and written in crystalline prose, The Great Gatsby is as perfectly satisfying as the best kind of poem."

My Two Cents:

The last time that I read this book, I was in high school. This was one of the books that I read in school that I absolutely loved. I was excited when Unputdownables named it as their January Read-along book. It is so hard to get back to reading a book that you've already read. My TBR is massive that I almost feel a little guilty going back and reading some of my old favorites. The read-along gave me a perfect opportunity to read this old favorite!

It's easy to see why this book is a classic. Fitzgerald paints a picture of the roaring 20s. This isn't really a happy book but Fitzgerald does such a fantastic job with writing his characters that you can't help but to be pulled in. The characters are also not all that likable. They're forced together by fate and everyone seems to have their own connection with all of the other characters. This is the sort of book that shows you that you don't have to necessarily like the characters to enjoy the book.

This is definitely a classic that should be on your list!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Review: Exmortus by Todd Maternowski

Title: Exmortus
Author: Todd Maternowski
Publisher: Self-Published
Publish Date: August 1, 2011
Source: I received a copy from the author. This did not affect my review.

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a fantasy fan.
  • You like a good adventure story.
What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "A group of battle-weary knights from the ancient monastic fortress of Exmortus Abbey have unearthed something... unholy.
A new star hangs low in the horizon, directly over the hellhole where half the Abbey's knights lost their lives, a star that some of the men claim is following them...

And back at Exmortus, Ash Xavier, an impatient young knight-in-training, is beginning to unearth ages-old secrets beneath the Abbey's vaults, oblivious to the horrors hurtling at him through space...
EXMORTUS, BOOK I: TOWERS OF DAWN is a work of dark fantasy in the mold of George R.R. Martin or Gene Wolfe, in which every standard fantasy cliche is skewered and boiled alive, and where the heroes and villains are not what they seem."

My Two Cents:

This is the perfect book for anyone who likes a good adventure story. It is a fantasy and while I don't usually read fantasy, this one is not overwhelming with its fantasy elements. This book could be one to get me to read more fantasy! I liked that Maternowski was able to sort of "normalize" the world so that the reader was not bombarded with all these different creatures and powers that you have to then remember what they are and what they do, which can be overwhelming(a factor that has turned me off from many a fantasy book in the past).

Ash is a young knight. He belongs to an order of great knights who he greatly respects. He also believes that he is destined to be among the greatest of the knights when he gets a little older. He's very arrogant at first and looks down on a lot of the younger knights in the order. He eventually grows and changes and becomes way more likable throughout the book, which is sort of a neat transition. He goes on an adventure with several characters after the order of the knights are attacked by a mysterious demon who appears first as a star.

There were definitely some parts that were pretty crude and I was a little grossed out. This book is not for the weak of heart (or stomach for that matter). I almost felt like the crudeness of Steed, another character in the book, was over the top and I'm not sure if I understood the reasoning behind being bombarded with just how crude Steed was.

I would say that this book is a good cross-over for those who don't usually read fantasy books but want to try a good one.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

TLC Book Tour Stop: Our Man in the Dark by Rashad Harrison

Title: Our Man in the Dark
Author: Rashad Harrison
Publisher: Atria Books
Publish Date: November 15, 2011
Source: TLC Book Tours

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a historical fiction fan.
  • You like a story that moves quickly.
  • You like interesting characters.
What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Feeling underappreciated and overlooked, John Estem, a bookkeeper for Dr. King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), steals ten thousand dollars from the organization. Originally planning to use the money to seed a new civil rights initiative in Chicago, he squanders the stolen funds.

To the bookkeeper’s dismay, the FBI has been keeping close tabs on Dr. King and his fellow activists—including Estem—for years. FBI agents tell Estem that it is his duty, as an American and as a civil rights supporter, to protect the SCLC from communist infiltration. The FBI offers Estem a stipend, but in case he has any thoughts about refusing the assignment, they also warn him that they know about the stolen money.

Playing informant empowers Estem, but he soon learns that his job is not simply to relay information on the organization. Once the FBI discovers evidence of King’s sexual infidelities, they set out to confirm the facts to undermine King’s credibility as a moral leader and bring down the movement. This timely novel comes in light of recent revelations that government informants had infiltrated numerous black movement organizations. With historical facts at the core of Our Man in the Dark, Harrison uses real life as a great inspiration for his drama-filled art."

My Two Cents:

A couple months ago, I saw the movie J. Edgar. I really enjoyed it. J. Edgar Hoover was just a strange character that you almost can't believe that he was a real person. He was incredibly paranoid and was very afraid of the red scourge taking over America for much of his career. He was notorious for gathering informants to gather information about anyone he wanted. I'm not sure if he really thought that all of the people he had informants on were Communists or not but nonetheless, he got tons of information on some very famous people. It's still sort of crazy to think about.

Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the people that Hoover deemed as having red ties in real life. In "Our Man in the Dark," two G-men (FBI agents) come to lowly John Estem, an accountant with Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), to get him to pass them information about Dr. King. John agrees. He thinks it's a way to make a little money and he thinks he knows how to game the system. It's the 1960s and the world is changing. John thinks nothing of the consequences.

This book is billed as a historical noir book and dark it definitely is. It's fast moving and the characters are great, especially the character of John Estem. He's very realistic and so well written. He isn't exactly likable but Harrison does a fantastic job of showing his motives and his thinking. You can at least see where he's coming from.

This is a great book about real events. The author pulls the reader into the world of the late 1960s and the time of MLK. This is great book for historical fiction lovers and thriller lovers!

Follow The Rest of the Tour:

Tuesday, January 3rd: Unabridged Chick
Wednesday, January 4th: Life In Review
Thursday, January 5th: Mockingbird Hill Cottage
Monday, January 9th: Wordsmithonia
Tuesday, January 10th: Sidewalk Shoes
Wednesday, January 11th: Broken Teepee
Thursday, January 12th: Ted Lehmann’s Bluegrass, Books, and Brainstorms
Monday, January 16th: “That’s Swell!”
Tuesday, January 17th: Reads for Pleasure
Monday, January 23rd: A Bookish Way of Life
Wednesday, January 25th: Reflections of a Bookaholic
Thursday, January 26th: Layers of Thought
Thursday, January 26th: A Bookish Affair
Friday, January 27th: Joyfully Retired
Date TBD: Man of La Book

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

In My Book!

A lot of times, I feel like greeting cards are a waste of time; however, my mom taught me well and even if I think cards are pretty useless, I still send them out for everything. If you're anything like me, you get a greeting card, you put it on display for a little bit and then it either gets shoved in a keepsake box of some kind or thrown away. It's sort of a waste, no?

So I was excited when I was sent a couple In My Book greeting cards (Full disclosure: I received these for free; however, this did not affect my review). These greeting cards are perfect for the bookish people in your life. There's a wide variety of cards with cute sayings. They're adorable and best of all, they are more than just a greeting card. The front of the cards are perforated and can be removed and used as a bookmark! Perfect!

These are the In My Book Cards that I received plus a catalogue.

The "You're in between the covers" card is currently living my current read :)
 Check out the website! There are tons of cards to choose from for so many different occasions! You can order online but there are also tons of places that you can go to buy In My Book cards. All of them are listed on the website.

Thank you to Robin of In My Book for allowing me to review these very cool cards!

Review: The Truth About Us by Dalene Flannigan

Title: The Truth About Us
Author: Dalene Flannigan
Publisher: Self-Published
Publish Date: November 5, 2011
Source: I received a copy from the author. This did not affect my review.

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a fiction fan.
  • You like stories about friendship.
What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "What happens when the past catches up to the present and the truth surfaces? Three women, roommates back in college, find their lives forever altered when one of them feels compelled to confess the secret sin of their past.

And whose truth is it?

'The Truth About Us' weaves the past and the present in a page-turner that explores the shifting quality"

My Two Cents:

This book covers a couple heavy topics including whether we should be chained to our former actions if we've made a change in our life, does friendship outweigh truth, and what happens when the truth isn't wanted. Grace, Erica, and Jude became friends in college. They all seem to come from very different backgrounds and for the most part after college, they all go their separate ways. A secret unites them and when one of the former friends threatens to reveal the secret in order to repent and get it off her conscious, the whole thing threatens to fall apart.

I liked this book. There were a couple holes that I would have liked to see filled in. First, why does Jude's religious tranformation take place? It seems like such a massive change. Why does Jude seem so bent on doing something that could potentially ruin her, Erica, and Grace's lives after so many years? Was religion really the motive? What was the deal with Jude's pastor/spiritual leader and why was he so creepy? Why does what happens to Jude in the end happen? I think if these and other questions that I had were answered that it would have really helped.

That being said, it's a very interesting premise and the book and style of writing are very readable and very good. This is still a pretty good read.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

And The Orphan Master's Son Goes To...

Lucky number #11:

The winner has been emailed. If I do not hear from them within 48 hours, I will have to pick a new winner!

Review: Kodachrome by Jason Jahns

Title: Kodachrome
Author: Jason Jahns
Publisher: North Star Books
Publish Date: November 28, 2011
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.

Why You're Reading This Book?:

  • You like thrillers with good back stories.
  • You like really unique stories.
What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "A global revolution cuts across cultural, economic, and geographic divides; it is an epic conflict between the forces of rampant greed and demands for fairness and dignity.

Our two heroes are extraordinary yet solitary reluctant warriors who never meet. Miranda Carter is a cloistered graduate student dispatched to meet her estranged Mormon grandmother and examine a bizarre medical prognosis. Zhuli Cai is an unassuming young Chinese army officer willing to give everything to save the members of his unit. He holds a heavy secret.

Miranda and Zhuli are thrown headlong into technological and supernatural intrigue and deceit. They reckon with true impossibilities and face their own worst fears in a world of double-crosses, prophets, spies, presidential candidates, and Chinese revolutionaries.

On its way to a truly surprise ending, Kodachrome will beguile you with thriller-like tempo, the foresight of science fiction, deep social truths normally found only in historical novels, and a plot that you have never seen before ... anywhere."

My Two Cents:

How do you describe this book? It's a little bit of a thriller with a pinch of science fiction and a well written back story to help the reader understand the characters in the book and where they're coming from. At first, all of the characters seem on very separate trajectories. There are two main story lines. The first involves Zhuli, a man in China, who isn't exactly sure what's going on in his world. Everything is not always what it seems. Then there is Miranda, a scientist who is meeting her grandmother for a first time. She's pulled towards meeting her grandmother to explore some sort of mysterious power that her grandmother has.

I thought that it was pretty cool how at first the two story lines seem like they're so far apart from each other and you don't really know how they fit together and how amazingly and shockingly that they come together in the end. It's really awesome because I was not able to guess what was going to happen and I love a good surprise.

I'm not usually a thriller fan but this book had enough of a whiff of science fiction and a strong supporting back story to keep me happy. This book definitely has a wide appeal!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Review: Chocolate Chocolate by Frances Park and Ginger Park

Title: Chocolate Chocolate
Author: Frances Park and Ginger Park
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Publish Date: May 10, 2011
Source: Library

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a memoir lover.
  • You're a foodie.
  • You're a chocoholic!
What's the Story?:

From Publishers Weekly: "When their beloved father died suddenly, authors Frances and Ginger Park (To Swim Across the World) comforted themselves with chocolates and mused on opening a confectionery shop with their small inheritance. The idea felt right to them--"a shop our late father would've loved just by virtue of its contents: chocolates and daughters"--and despite their inexperience, they decide to go for it, with their mother as silent partner. In 1984, on the day their Washington, D.C., store, named Chocolate Chocolate, opened, they already were beset with difficulties, from crumbling walls and cracking floors installed by a shoddy, shady contractor to trying to conjure strategies to gain attention and sales. Bit by bit, their clientele grows; the sisters write fondly and often humorously of the recurring characters in their new, chocolate-centric lives, from favorite customers to the kooky sales rep who becomes an employee and dear friend. They easily move between musings on friendship and family, all the while offering inspiration and valuable lessons for budding entrepreneurs. The recipe for their house truffle rounds out this appealing, engaging memoir that's sure to appeal to a range of readers, chocoholics or not."

My Two Cents:

I came across this book randomly on the "new book" shelf at my local library. I was drawn in by the adorable cover and pulled in even more once I read the inside of the cover and realized this was a book set in Washington, DC that had nothing to do with politics (YES and YES!). I've talked about how much I love books about my city of DC that aren't political. There is so much more to this city! I had never heard of Chocolate Chocolate before even though it's so very close to where I am. I'm fixing this soon after reading this book! You better believe it!

Imagine Chocolat being set in the Nation's Capital and that's pretty much what you get with this book. Armed with a dream, sisters Frances and Ginger Park start a small chocolate shop just steps away from the White House. The road is hard to make the shop successful. They contend with a bunch of issues of a small shop just starting out as well as surly bunch of DC-ers but they're able to come through it all through perseverance and relying on each other. 

Each chapter is named after one of the chocolates in the story along with a little description of what the chocolate was. Oh man, what an amazing way to get the readers sucked in the story. I'm going to venture to guess that my chocolate consumption increased by, well, quite a bit as I read this book. The descriptions of the chocolate and this charming store just really made me want chocolate! Read this book and you won't be able to help yourself either. 

Bottom line: This is a delicious story!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Review: Theodora: Actress, Empress, Whore by Stella Duffy

Title: Theodora: Actress, Empress, Whore
Author: Stella Duffy
Publisher: Penguin Group
Publish Date: September 27, 2011
Source: Netgalley

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a historical fiction fan.
What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Roman historian Procopius publicly praised Theodora of Constantinople for her piety-while secretly detailing her salacious stage act and maligning her as ruthless and power hungry. So who was this woman who rose from humble beginnings as a dancer to become the empress of Rome and a saint in the Orthodox Church? Award-winning novelist Stella Duffy vividly recreates the life and times of a woman who left her mark on one of the ancient world's most powerful empires. Theodora: Actress, Empress, Whore is a sexy, captivating novel that resurrects an extraordinary, little-known figure from the dusty pages of history."

My Two Cents:

Theodora is a fascinating figure. She really was all three of the things listed in the title. For someone to be able to make jumps from one position to another is pretty crazy. The story itself is very interesting.

The writing in this book is sort of stiff though. At parts I felt like I was reading a sort of history book (first she did this, then that, then she did that) instead of a fiction. In other parts, I felt that the characters seemed way too modern for the times that they were supposed to be in, for instance: one character tells another to "f*** off", this way of using f*** seems a little too nascent to be used in this book. Admittedly making a character accessible to a modern audience is probably one of the most difficult parts of writing historical fiction. You have to walk a very thin line to be able to get readers into the frame of mind of the time and I'm not sure that this was successfully done here. Obviously an author is going to have to take some creative license with the way that people speak in various time periods but using really recent slang and phrases really only serves to take the reader out of the book, which is what happened for me.

If you are not picky about this sort of thing and you are a historical fiction fan, you may still like this book. Theodora really is a fascinating character and her rise through society truly is amazing!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Review: The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak

Title: The Winter Palace
Author: Eva Stachniak
Publisher: Bantam
Publish Date: January 10, 2012
Source: Netgalley/Publisher

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a historical fiction fan.
  • You're an armchair traveler.
What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Her name is Barbara—in Russian, Varvara. Nimble-witted and attentive, she’s allowed into the employ of the Empress Elizabeth, amid the glitter and cruelty of the world’s most eminent court. Under the tutelage of Count Bestuzhev, Chancellor and spymaster, Varvara will be educated in skills from lock picking to lovemaking, learning above all else to listen—and to wait for opportunity. That opportunity arrives in a slender young princess from Zerbst named Sophie, a playful teenager destined to become the indomitable Catherine the Great. Sophie’s destiny at court is to marry the Empress’s nephew, but she has other, loftier, more dangerous ambitions, and she proves to be more guileful than she first appears.

What Sophie needs is an insider at court, a loyal pair of eyes and ears who knows the traps, the conspiracies, and the treacheries that surround her. Varvara will become Sophie’s confidante—and together the two young women will rise to the pinnacle of absolute power.

With dazzling details and intense drama, Eva Stachniak depicts Varvara’s secret alliance with Catherine as the princess grows into a legend—through an enforced marriage, illicit seductions, and, at last, the shocking coup to assume the throne of all of Russia.

Impeccably researched and magnificently written, The Winter Palace is an irresistible peek through the keyhole of one of history’s grandest tales."

My Two Cents:

Guys, I've been bitten by the all things Russian bug. Lucky for me, 2012 is shaping up to be the year of Russian lit, especially in the genre of historical fiction, which is one of my favorites as you may have figured out.

I was so excited once I heard this book was coming out. Back in August, I visited Odessa in Ukraine, which had basically been planned out by Catherine the Great. There are statues and plaques of her everywhere in the city. It's a cool city; definitely one of the more traditional Western European looking places that I visited while I was in Ukraine.

I knew that Catherine the Great was one of the great Russian monarchs but I knew very little about her. This book covers her time from when she came to Russia as a young German princess (I didn't realize that she was not Russian born actually) to when she become Empress of Russia.

The story was told from the point of Varvara (or Barbara in her native Polish tongue; there isn't really a hard "B" sound in Russian), a book binder's daughter who rises through the ranks to become a trusted friend and advisor to the Russian monarchs. She's also tapped to become a sort of spy of the household. Which will she choose as her ultimate position?

I got sucked into this story. The Russian monarchy is sort of interesting in that there were foreigners on the throne and the monarch at the time that Catherine comes to Russia to be matched with the Grand Duke, Elizabeth, is sort of building the monarch from scratch. She claimed the throne and did not have any descendents so she pulls her Prussian nephew to be her successor and he becomes the Grand Duke. This is very different from a lot of the other monarchies that I've read about where the line of ascension was much straight forward.

Stachniak does a fantastic job of making Catherine and Varvara's world come alive. You can tell how much research she must have done on their world. The details like all of the different foods and the way things were decorated really add to pull you in the story.

The names of everyone in the book are a little bit difficult to follow sometimes but there is a key of the major players of the Russian court in the back (I read an ARC so the placement could be moved in the market version of the book) was really helpful but it would have been better to have it in the front of the book.

Stachniak is apparently working on a follow on book, which I am assuming will follow more of Catherine's actual reign. I could not find any date as to when the next book will come out, nor a title. I'm definitely looking forward to reading the next book. I just hope it comes out quickly!!! I'm impatient! 


Thursday, January 19, 2012

TLC Book Tour Stop and Give@way: Night Swim by Jessica Keener

Title: Night Swim
Author: Jessica Keener
Publisher: The Fiction Studio
Publish Date: January 10, 2012
Source: TLC Book Tours

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're into fiction.
  • You're a fan of coming of age stories.
  • You like family stories.
What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Sixteen-year-old Sarah Kunitz lives in a posh, suburban world of 1970 Boston. From the outside, her parents’ lifestyle appears enviable – a world defined by cocktail parties, expensive cars, and live-in maids to care for their children – but inside their five-bedroom house, all is not well for the Kunitz family. Coming home from school, Sarah finds her well-dressed, pill-popping mother lying disheveled on their living room couch. At night, to escape their parents’ arguments, Sarah and her oldest brother, Peter, find solace in music, while her two younger brothers retreat to their rooms and imaginary lives. Any vestige of decorum and stability drains away when their mother dies in a car crash one terrible winter day. Soon after, their father, a self-absorbed, bombastic professor begins an affair with a younger colleague. Sarah, aggrieved, dives into two summer romances that lead to unforeseen consequences. In a story that will make you laugh and cry, Night Swim shows how a family, bound by heartache, learns to love again."

My Two Cents: 

The Kunitz family is falling apart. From the outside, the family looks sort of perfect. They have parties. Both of the parents are social. The children are fantastic but the whole family is sort of falling apart at the seams. When Sarah's mother dies, the whole family's life changes and Sarah seems to be wondering if anything will ever be steady again.

This is both a coming of age story and a family story. Sarah, who is at the center of the story, is the one that really comes of age. She's very naive at first and gets in way over her head. She learns that there's consequences for everything and you can't really just stick your head in the sand.

The real star of this book is Keener's writing. She writes in such a way that you really feel for the characters even though some of them are not the most upstanding or make the best decisions but you still feel for them as fellow humans.

Keener also does a great job with building the world of that the Kunitz's live in: 1970s Boston area. It's still a time of change and turmoil as you can see from some of Sarah's dealings at school. The Kunitz family is Jewish and that group is still not fully accepted. Sarah doesn't understand why it has to be that way and in some small way tries to fight it by hanging out with her Italian friend.

Bottom line: This is a solid read with a story that will hook you. 

Don't Forget to Follow the Rest of the Tour:

Wednesday, January 11th: Elle Lit.
Thursday, January 12th: Reviews by Lola
Friday, January 13th: A Bookish Way of Life
Tuesday, January 17th: Coffee and a Book Chick
Wednesday, January 18th: Good Girl Gone Redneck
Thursday, January 19th: A Bookish Affair
Tuesday, January 24th: A Soul Unsung
Wednesday, January 25th: Boarding in My Forties
Thursday, January 26th: Sarah Reads Too Much
Monday, January 30th: Stephany Writes
Wednesday, February 1st: The Lost Entwife
Monday, February 6th: sidewalk shoes
Tuesday, February 7th: The Betty and Boo Chronicles
Wednesday, February 8th: Reflections of a Bookaholic
Tuesday, February 14th: The House of the Seven Tails
Thursday, February 16th: Tina’s Book Reviews
Monday, February 20th: Peeking Between the Pages
Thursday, February 23rd: Jenn’s Bookshelves


Thanks to the author and TLC Book Tours, I'm happy to be able to give you all a chance to get your hands on this book!

The Fine Print:
- You must be 13 and over
-  Open to US only!
- You must be a follower of A Bookish Affair
- Book will not be shipped until after the final tour stop.
- Giveaway ends January 30!

Just fill out the form below!


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Review: Untold Story by Monica Ali

Title: Untold Story
Author: Monica Ali
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publish Date: June 28, 2011
Source: Library

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a fiction lover.
What's the Story?: 

From Goodreads.com: "When Princess Diana died in Paris’s Alma tunnel, she was thirty-seven years old. Had she lived, she would turn fifty on July 1, 2011. Who would the beloved icon be if she were alive today? What would she be doing? And where? One of the most versatile and bold writers of our time, Monica Ali has imagined a different fate for Diana in her spectacular new novel, Untold Story.
Diana’s life and marriage were both fairy tale and nightmare rolled into one. Adored by millions, she suffered rejection, heartbreak, and betrayal. Surrounded by glamour and glitz and the constant attention of the press, she fought to carve a meaningful role for herself in helping the needy and dispossessed. The contradictions and pressures of her situation fueled her increasingly reckless behavior, but her stature and her connection with her public never ceased to grow. If Diana had lived, would she ever have found peace and happiness, or would the curse of fame always have been too great?

Fast forward a decade after the (averted) Paris tragedy, and an Englishwoman named Lydia is living in a small, nondescript town somewhere in the American Midwest. She has a circle of friends: one owns a dress shop; one is a Realtor; another is a frenzied stay-at-home mom. Lydia volunteers at an animal shelter, and swims a lot. Her lover, who adores her, feels she won’t let him know her. Who is she?

Untold Story is about the cost of celebrity, the meaning of identity, and the possibility—or impossibility—of reinventing a life. Ali’s fictional princess is beautiful, intrepid, and resourceful and has established a fragile peace. And then the past threatens to destroy her new life. Ali has created a riveting novel inspired by the cultural icon she calls 'a gorgeous bundle of trouble.'"

My Two Cents:

Monica Ali is a brave, brave writer. It's difficult to write about famous people no matter what time they lived in. It's even more difficult to write about someone as famous and contemporary as Princess Diana. This woman was once the most photographed woman in the world. Millions watched both her wedding and her funeral. There's been countless non-fiction books written about her. We all know a lot about her.

Ali's premise of what would happen if Princess Diana were to fake her death and come to live in America is out there to say the very least. I read a lot of books where you need that all important "suspension of disbelief" in order to buy in to the book. I just couldn't quite get there. I don't know if it was because I've read so much non-fiction about Princess Diana's life (and unfortunate death) that I was too close to the subject to believe or what. Although, that being said, I have to imagine that this book would really only appeal to Princess Diana fans in the first place who in turn have probably also read a lot about Princess Diana. The premise was just nuts. Ali makes a feeble attempt to discuss other people who have faked their deaths but I just can't believe it in this case.

There were also a ton of holes in the story, which really did not help it's case. For instance, it's been said that one reason that the car that Princess Diana was in crashed in the first place is because the paparazzi were chasing her, which then it would have been apparent if Diana were not in the car or if the accident had been faked in any way.

All this being said, Ali is a skilled writer even if this book fell flat for me. She draws you into the story and the writing itself is why I think I was able to finish this book in the first place. I would suggest reading Ali's "Brick Lane" instead to get a taste of her great writing. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Review: Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Title: Little House in the Big Woods
Author: Laura Ingalls Wilder
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publish Date: 1932
Source: Library

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a history fan.
  • You're hankering for some nostalgia.
  • You're in the mood for a childhood favorite.
What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Wolves and panthers and bears roamed the deep Wisconsin woods in the 1870's. In those same woods, Laura Ingalls lived with her Pa and Ma and her sisters, Mary and Baby Carrie, in a snug little house built of logs. Pa hunted and trapped. Ma made her own cheese and maple sugar. All night long, the wind howled lonesomely."

My Two Cents:

This series of books was one of my favorites as a little one. I read this series a couple times. I fully blame Laura Ingalls Wilder for my present day obsession with historical fiction and history books. This book is, of course, based off of things that actually happened to Laura and her family but is written is such a way that it feels like fiction. 

It's easy to see why this book and the entire series is now considered a classic. This book covers Laura's very young life in the Big Woods of Wisconsin. The book seems to cover about a year in the life of the Ingalls family. We see how the family prepares for winter and what these pioneers do during the long, cold winter. This is a very cozy read for winter that truly stands the test of time. I'm excited to read the rest of the series!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Review: Two Kisses for Maddy by Matthew Logelin

Title: Two Kisses for Maddy
Author: Matthew Logelin
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publish Date: April 14th 2011
Source: Library

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a memoir fan.
  • You like a good tearjerker.
What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Matt and Liz Logelin were high school sweethearts. The pair settled together in Los Angeles and they had it all: the perfect marriage, a beautiful new home, and a baby girl on the way. But just twenty-seven hours after they welcomed Madeline into the world, Liz suffered a pulmonary embolism and instantly died, without ever holding the daughter whose arrival she had so eagerly awaited.

Faced with devastating grief and the responsibilities of a new and single father, Matt coped by returning to the small blog he had created to keep friends and family updated on Liz's pregnancy, which today has become a place for him to share with over a million curious readers the day to day of two lives bound by loss and love. But there is more to his story than just raising a daughter alone: Matt Logelin is an extraordinary human being. Having been sustained through tragedy by the kindness and generosity of strangers, he is now dedicated to helping others in difficult situations by reaching out and inspiring those facing loss or adversity."

My Two Cents:

Be warned: this is definitely a tearjerker. I came across this book at the library and was intrigued. It sounded like a good (if not very, very sad) story about coming to terms with loss and finding peace and closure somewhat. I was not disappointed. This book made me cry and there are very, very few books that are able to do that.

I really feel for Matt. He was so ready to become a father but not like he did, not without his beloved wife. Life sometimes has other plans whether we like it or not. Matt thrusts himself into trying to care for his newborn daughter while wondering all the while if he was doing what his wife, Liz, would be doing if she were there. That's such an incredibly painful thing to have to wonder. 

This story does have a very hopeful ending, which I really liked. This is a great book for those who don't mind a cry or two while reading.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?: Tears and History

Just Finished:

Great book! A true tearjerker

This is a childhood favorite of mine!

Currently Reading:

Loving this historical fiction so far!

Curiouser and curiouser!

What are you reading?

Reader Rally: 1/17 -1/31 Books From All Participating Sites!!!

You have a whole bunch of chances to win a bunch of books from a bunch of great blogs by following the Reader Rally (a sort of book giveaway hop).

Here's what I'm giving away:

I'm giving away a e-book copy of Jeannie Lin's The Dragon and the Pearl, a historical romance that I really liked it!

Check out the other blogs participating in Reader Rally!

Also, Romance at Random has a GRAND PRIZE – commenters can enter a GRAND PRIZE drawing on www.romanceatrandom.com for a random drawing of free books, winner announced 2/1/2012.

The Fine Print:
- You must be 13 and over
-  Open to US only!
- You must be a follower of A Bookish Affair

- Giveaway ends January 31!
Just fill out the form below!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Review and Give@way: The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson

Title: The Orphan Master's Son
Author: Adam Johnson
Publisher: Random House
Publish Date: January 10, 2012
Source: Publisher

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a fiction fan.
  • You're an armchair traveler.
What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "An epic novel and a thrilling literary discovery, The Orphan Master’s Son follows a young man’s journey through the icy waters, dark tunnels, and eerie spy chambers of the world’s most mysterious dictatorship, North Korea.

Pak Jun Do is the haunted son of a lost mother—a singer “stolen” to Pyongyang—and an influential father who runs Long Tomorrows, a work camp for orphans. There the boy is given his first taste of power, picking which orphans eat first and which will be lent out for manual labor. Recognized for his loyalty and keen instincts, Jun Do comes to the attention of superiors in the state, rises in the ranks, and starts on a road from which there will be no return.

Considering himself “a humble citizen of the greatest nation in the world,” Jun Do becomes a professional kidnapper who must navigate the shifting rules, arbitrary violence, and baffling demands of his Korean overlords in order to stay alive. Driven to the absolute limit of what any human being could endure, he boldly takes on the treacherous role of rival to Kim Jong Il in an attempt to save the woman he loves, Sun Moon, a legendary actress “so pure, she didn’t know what starving people looked like.”"

My Two Cents:

I was really, really excited to score a copy of this book through Random House's Early Reads program. With Kim Jong Il just passing away, I've gotten very interested in reading more about the super secretive country of North Korea so this book really could not have made its way to me at a better time.

And what a way to kick-off my 2012 reading! The book is a little slow in the beginning but it picks up really quickly after about 100 pages or so (the first section is mostly about the protagonist, Jun Do's background, which is not all that connected to the real meat of the story). After that point, the book really picks up and doesn't let go until the final page. Jun Do is right in the midst of North Korean society and politics. He struggles with his own feelings of support and love for his country and the teeniest feeling that he isn't doing what he should be doing but making decisions on what you want to do is not really allowed for those in Jun Do's position.

His story is definitely interesting but I was way interested in how the book looked at North Korean society. The author uses radio addresses to the North Korean citizens (of which there are apparently a lot of) to introduce the different chapters throughout the book. Those were fascinating! 


This book is a great way to kick off your reading year too! I have a brand new copy of this book to one of you!

The Fine Print:
- You must be 13 and over
-  Open to US only!
- You must be a follower of A Bookish Affair
- Giveaway ends January 23!
Just fill out the form below!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Review: 33 Days by Bill See

Title: 33 Days: Touring In A Van. Sleeping On Floors. Chasing A Dream
Author:  Bill See
Publisher: Lulu
Publish Date: April 7, 2011
Source: I received a copy from the author. This did not affect my review.

Why You're Reading This Book:
  • You're a memoir fan.
  • You're a music fan.
  • You like a road trip story.
What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "For 33 days in the summer of 1987, Divine Weeks toured in a beat up old Ford Econoline van, sleeping on strangers’ floors, never sure they’d make enough gas money to get them to the next town. This deeply personal, coming of age, on the road memoir follows critically acclaimed 80s indie alt rock band Divine Weeks’ first tour. Liberated from alcoholic upbringings and rigid cultural constraints, all they have is their music and each other’s friendship. The road is filled with yuppies, brothels, riots, sleeping on floors, spiked drinks, DJs with no pants, and battles with racism. They set out on the road to discovery to drink in all they could and maybe sell a few records. They grew up instead."
My Two Cents:
It's the late 80s. MTV still played music videos. Bill See and his band are on the road for the first time. Traveling on a shoestring budget (and a ton of good luck and good will by others), Bill and the band are living the dream or what they think is their dream. Their tour will take them from LA to Canada and back again. The book reads like sort of a journal, a very no-holds barred journal. This style of writing may not work for everyone but it worked for me in this context. I really thought that the journal style added to the feeling of being right with the band as they experience their tour.

I really enjoyed this book. It was fun living vicariously through the band and their successes and failures. I'm not musical myself but I've always been fascinated with people who are and people who are able to turn their love of music into something really amazing like joining a band. All of the band members in the book are younger than I am now and for them to have the guts to step out there and do something like a tour.

I think that music lovers and memoir lovers alike will really enjoy this book!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Interview with Mitchell James Kaplan, Author of By Fire, By Water

Today I'm very excited to welcome Mitchell James Kaplan to A Bookish Affair!

1. How did you come up with the idea for By Fire, By Water? What interests you about the Spanish Inquisition?

Prosaically enough, the idea developed little by little as I sat in libraries reading. I didn't set out to write a book about the Spanish Inquisition. I became fascinated with all that was going on in Spain near the end of the fifteenth century – the Spanish “reconquest” of Islamic Granada; the expulsion of the Jews from Spain; the Spanish Inquisition – and how it all tied in with Christopher Columbus's discovery of the New World. As I read about these events and discovered the connections between them, the voices in my head started telling me: “Wait a second, this is not the way they taught it to you in grade school!” I felt it was incumbent upon me to tell these stories as accurately as possible, from the points of view of the people who actually lived and experienced them.

2. What was your research process like for this book?

The research went on simultaneously with the writing. The same thing, as it turns out, is happening with my second book, which is set in first-century Rome and Judaea. My brain isn't voluminous enough to hold all this information at once, so I have to do the basic reading first and then fill in innumerable details as I develop the story. I read books at home and in libraries, I visit the places where these stories took place (keeping in mind that, often, the architecture and even the landscapes have changed drastically), I look at paintings from the period, etc.

The first draft thus becomes an amalgam of story ideas and research. The challenge after that is to sift through it all, determine which pieces work and which don't, and find out how they all fit together. When I finish that process, I have a second draft. In the third draft, I flesh it out more thoroughly.
As I said, my research continues all the way through. Writing a good historical novel is a laborious and time-intensive.

3. What's the best thing about being an author? What's the most trying thing?

I'm not sure exactly what you mean by “being an author.” In my view, one is an author if one feels the need to write and acts upon that need. I don't know whether there's anything good or bad about it. It's like eating, breathing, or scratching an itch. It just has to happen.

Being a published author is a different matter. It's about receiving recognition for one's work. Unfortunately, one can be a great author and receive no recognition, or a lousy author and receive lots of recognition.

The best thing about getting published is that one's work suddenly starts to serve a purpose. The solitary sound of scratching an itch suddenly becomes music in other people's ears. The words on the page become bridges between minds. What I experience as the author becomes the experience of readers. We share these experiences, the lives of our characters. That is magical.

The most trying thing? Well, writing is hard. Juggling writing, living, and everything else that's expected of an author is even harder. But I'm not complaining. It is immensely gratifying and more than worth the effort.

4. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Don't write for the marketplace. Write what you care passionately about. There will be other people out there who will also care.

It's much easier to sell work that fits in with so-called literary trends, or with real-world trends. But work that is written to meet the demands of the marketplace tends to be shallow and contrived. If you write about what you care about, you may find it harder to get your work published, but once it is published, people will sense your conviction and respond to your work much more powerfully.

5. What three literary characters would you bring with you to a deserted island? What three books would you bring with?

The people I would want to share a deserted island with are not necessarily the best literary characters. Great literary characters tend to be complex and tortured. Think Hamlet, King Lear, Raskolnikov, Anna Karenina, Harry Haller, Holden Caulfield. I care about them. I love them. But I don't think I'd want to share a deserted island with any of them!

Even lively, charming characters like Elizabeth Bennett probably wouldn't be good companions for me. First, I don't think Lizzy would like me too much. I'm no Darcy. And then, she's so much part of the fabric of Regency England, as we have inherited it, that it would be a sin to rip her from that fabric and drop her into a place so, shall we say, uncivilized.

Perhaps, if we go all the way back to one of our oldest books, the Book of Genesis, we can find the kind of strong, resilient, and loving characters who could survive and even thrive in such circumstances – Leah, Rebecca, Rachel. These women are smart and they find value in the simple things of life, survival, love, mothering, all of which would be essential on that deserted island. I'm pretty sure that, surrounded with these three women, I would become a polygamist – and, if I was very lucky, perhaps the founder of a civilization, as their husbands were. But I'm not so megalomaniacal as to actually hope for such things. I'm happy enough in my warm little suburban lair, assured of no significant role in history.

Three books. (I assume you mean three works of what we call “literature.” This would exclude the Encyclopedia Brittanica, for example.) I would bring the Bible, the Iliad and the Odyssey (bound together in one volume, so they count as one book), and the complete works of Shakespeare.

What do these three books have in common? Brilliant writing, great characters, timeless stories.
However, before boarding the plane (or ship?) for this deserted island, I would try to slip two additional tomes into the lining of my jacket or an inner pocket of my suitcase, hoping the deserted island customs inspector wouldn't find them: Dante's epic triptych (Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradiso) in one volume and Chaucer's Canterbury Tales in another.

Unfortunately, these weighty tomes would create bulges. I would probably be caught, charged with the crime of possessing too many stories, and sentenced to... what? Life on a deserted island?

Ugh, those deserted island customs people are pesky, no? Thank you again, Mitchell!
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