Friday, September 26, 2014

Just Finished Reading...

I actually finished reading these two awhile ago, but never got around to posting about them, so here goes:

Friendship is the story of two best friends, Bev and Amy.  They are nearly thirty years old, struggling to make ends meet, and unsure of what they want to do with their lives.  Their friendship consists of calling each other "dude", whinging about men and work, and pretending to support/encourage one another.  Its a pretty vapid pair of characters, but for some reason I found myself hooked on their story.  I think it had to with the fact that this book reminded me of an episode of Girls (a show that I love), except it didn't have the intelligence and wit of a Lena Dunham script.  And yet, I could easily imagine these two women being a Marnie, Hannah, Jessa, or Shosh.  Why?  Well, because they just happen to be two of the laziest and most self-absorbed people I've ever read about.  Seriously!  They view dates (both friend and romantic) as a means of getting free meals, jobs as a place to socialize with friends (via Gchat), and money as something they should just be given (because why should they have to actually work for it).  They constantly make bad decisions - like sleeping with their 'friend's' husband while they are all staying under the same roof, or deciding that said 'friend' should raise Bev's baby (because she's rich and Bev's not).  How crazy is that!?  They are a bad reality show that I just couldn't stop watching.  Oh, and as for their friendship, well lets just say that it goes kaput when Amy can't seem to wrap her head around Bev's decision to become a baby mama.  Yep, Bev's keeping her baby.  Talk about a dramatic friendship, eh?  Gould really seemed keen on exploring the bad and good that go with being best friends and I absolutely loved it.  She showed Amy and Bev being unsupportive, jealous, petty, and very critical of one another; at the same time, she did share moments when their love for one another shone through and those were the moments I enjoyed reading.  I definitely enjoyed getting to know Bev and Amy, in spite of their attitudes of entitlement - they were two women figuring out what it means to finally grow up. 

As for My Salinger Year - OMG!! Love, love, love!!  This book was fantastic!  I absolutely loved getting to know Joanna Rakoff through her book about her year working at The Agency, a literary agency in NYC, in 1996.  Having just graduated, this if her first actual job and she throws herself into it with gusto.  Of course, she quickly learns that her boss isn't the kind of boss you want to show your 'gusto' off to.   As Joanna navigates the ins and outs of office life, she begins to learn more and more about her boss, Salinger, her boyfriend, her friends, the literary world, her writing, and her self.   We also get to read about NYC through Joanna's eyes - her daily trek into work via the subway, the Plath-ish style of dress favored by the literatti, the shabby apartment she shared with her writer boyfriend, the icy cold weather that blankets the streets, the hotels and restaurants she desires to eat in, and the bustle of the crowds surrounding her.    Joanna writes about her life in such a relatable manner, that you can't help but find yourself lost in her life story.  When she gets to read Judy Blume's latest work before anyone else has, you are excited for her.  When she meets Salinger and he remembers her from their phone calls, you cheer for her.  And when she finally reads Salinger's books and discovers for herself why they are so beloved - you can't help but envy her just a bit, because who doesn't love discovering a new favorite writer for the first time?  My Salinger Year is a memoir that is delightful, engaging, and unputdownable.  I loved it!

Now, I'm off to read more of It.  I'm at the part where Ritchie's reminiscing about his first encounter with It, so I'm eager to find out where his memories take him.  Hope everyone's enjoying a good book as well.  Happy reading!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Non-Bookish Thoughts...

I have been reading up a storm lately and loving every minute of it.  The only problem is that I haven't been too eager to post about these reads.  I'm hoping that I get a chance to rectify the situation this weekend.   Then again, I've been feeling a bit out of sorts regarding my blogging - I just feel that I'm in a slump.  Everything I review feels too similar - its like I can't think of new ways to write about how much I loved a book. Ugh!  Maybe its the weather - Fall is nigh.  Of course, I have noticed other bloggers mentioning their blogging slumps as well, so maybe its something the water.  Aside from blogging, my thoughts are wrapped up in...
  • Planning my mom's 60th birthday bash.  My sis and I are throwing it for her next month and we are excited!  We've booked the location, picked the food, made the guest list and checked it twice.  Now we just need to get the DJ a play list, pick the cake, make the party favors, and write a little speech to make the toast with.  We are so looking forward to good food, lots of dancing, and visiting with all of our out-of-town guests!  Can't wait!
  • The Cosby Show.  Yep, I'm currently addicted to watching the Huxtable family and all of their non-drama.  That show is hilarious and I can't help but laugh out loud each time I watch an episode.  Binge-watching a TV show is the best!
  •  De-cluttering my desk.  It is a huge mess at the moment - full of books, papers, receipts, pens, notebooks, etc.  I just need to organize it and shelve those books.  Looking at it drives me bonkers!
  • Figuring out what foods I can't eat.  My acid reflux is acting up and I just need to tackle the problem, which is eating all the foods that activate it - ugh!  I'm going to miss orange juice, chocolate, and pizza. 
  • Listening to the new Better Than Ezra CD, All Together Now.  I am just loving it to bits!  Reminds me of college when I was obsessed with their music.  I've seen them three times in concert and they get better each time.  

  •  Fall.  I'm already thinking about the upcoming holiday season.  I can't help it when all the stores already have Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas decorations up.  Its crazy, but I love it!  I'm already planning the Thanksgiving menu - yum!  And, I'm excited about decorating for Fall - I want to do it before the relatives start showing up for my mom's party next month.   Oh, and I can't wait for The Walking Dead to start.  How are they going to get out of that train?  Are Rick and Carl going to reunite with baby Judith?  And what about Beth - where is she?  So many questions to be answered and I can't wait! 
Hope everyone has a great weekend! I'm off to tackle some more party planning and hopefully sneak an episode or two of The Cosby Show. Cheers!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

I'm Currenly Reading...

Derry, Maine is where It's at!  Ack!  Isn't that a creepy cover?  Well, its the kindle cover for King's bestselling book about the murderous clown who terrorizes a group of best friends.  And right now I'm in deep with this book.  I want to read it all the time, but can only manage to do so during daylight hours.  Why?  Because this book is freaking me out and reading it at night when its dark and things go bump in the night is not an option.  So far, I'm at the part where Ben is at the library and those three bullies are waiting outside for him.  I'm hoping they don't get a hold of him, but I'm thinking this might be where he gets that "H" carved in his stomach - I could be wrong though.  I hope I'm wrong!

King has me hooked on this little town and its disturbing history.  I'm eager to find out just what "It" is and what exactly happened that summer when this group of kids befriended each other and made a pact to come back home if "It" happened again.  I'm also loving the way King goes back and forth in time with these characters - its such a great way to get to know them and "It".  I have to admit that I teared up at the beginning when Georgie died - that was just awful.  That sweet little boy!  And reading about Mellon was so hard, because I just wanted to save him from those monsters and the clown.  I can't believe that no one came out to help him and Don - you know they heard the screams and fight.   I can't help but imagine that evil clown biting Mellon's armpit - ugh!  King is just killing it with this story - it is frightening, maddening, and addicting.  I am loving this book!  I really can't wait to find out how these friends will banish "It", because I'm sure as hell hoping that they do.

This book is my first spooky read for R.I.P. IX, because it the epitome of scary.  Or at least the cover is.  And now, I'm off to try and get a few more chapters in before it gets really dark outside.  Wish me luck!

Monday, September 15, 2014

The New Agatha Christie Hercule Poirot Mystery: The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah

(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

The bestselling novelist of all time.
The world’s most famous detective.
The literary event of the year—an all-new mystery featuring
Agatha Christie’s legendary hero Hercule Poirot.

Since the publication of her first novel in 1920, more than two billion copies of Agatha Christie’s books have been sold around the globe. Now, for the first time ever, the guardians of her legacy have approved a brand new novel featuring Dame Agatha’s most beloved creation, Hercule Poirot.

‘I’m a dead woman, or I shall be soon…’

Hercule Poirot’s quiet supper in a London coffeehouse is interrupted when a young woman confides to him that she is about to be murdered. She is terrified – but begs Poirot not to find and punish her killer. Once she is dead, she insists, justice will have been done.

Later that night, Poirot learns that three guests at a fashionable London Hotel have been murdered, and a cufflink has been placed in each one’s mouth. Could there be a connection with the frightened woman? While Poirot struggles to put together the bizarre pieces of the puzzle, the murderer prepares another hotel bedroom for a fourth victim…

my thoughts:

Agatha Christie is an author whose work I've never felt inclined to read before.  So, when I was offered the chance to dive into the latest Hercule Poirot Mystery by acclaimed author, Sophie Hannah, I jumped at the chance.  I know it doesn't count as reading Christie, but I figured it would be a good way to meet the famous mustachioed Belgian detective that everyone seems to rave about.  Plus, I just love the idea of an author paying homage to another author in this manner - its rather exciting.  It reminds me of how thrilled I was when I heard that Sebastian Faulks would be penning a new Jeeves story last year - as a fan of Wodehouse, I was eager to read more Jeeves. 

The Monogram Murders finds Hercule Poirot on vacation in London, or actually in hiding.  He's trying to relax and remain incognito - he wants to give his tiny grey cells a break.  Of course, murder and intrigue never take a break and Poirot manages to find himself involved in a new case - a triple murder at the posh, Bloxham Hotel.  His friend Catchpool is in charge of the investigation and relies heavily on Poirot for guidance in solving this mysterious case.  There are red herrings, secrets, misconstrued statements, monogrammed cufflinks, a famous artist, and so much more to deal with during this triple turned quadruple murder investigation and Hannah manages to keep you guessing all the way through.  I loved Poirot and his obsession with making sure things were in order - from cutlery to bookshelves - along with his mustache and proclivity to suss out the truth.  He was adamant about letting Catchpool figure things out for himself, which only added to Catchpool's frustrations when he couldn't.  In fact, there were many a times that I couldn't help but wonder why Catchpool was even a member of Scotland Yard - he just didn't seem able to handle the job.  As for Poirot, he's the type of man you would definitely want on the case.

This story had me chuckling, gasping in shock, and reading until the wee hours - I couldn't help myself!  I loved getting to know Poirot and reading about him solving a crime - it was fascinating.  He picked up on things that no one else would even think to notice - his attention to detail was fantastic.  And, I really did admire the way he believed in Catchpool - he was a true friend and mentor.  Poirot is most definitely a character I would love to read again and again.  I plan on reading Christie's books about this wonderfully charming character in the future and look forward to getting to know him through her own words.  I do think Hannah did a superb job in creating a rich, detailed story that was engaging, mysterious, and utterly enjoyable to read.  I would definitely read her work as well.  

Here's the link to the TLC Book Tour schedule for: The Monogram Murders
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Story Hour: A Novel by Thrity Umrigar

(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

From the critically acclaimed, bestselling author of The World We Found and The Space Between Us comes a profound, heartbreakingly honest novel about friendship, love, and second chances.

An experienced psychologist, Maggie carefully maintains emotional distance from her patients. But when she agrees to treat a young Indian woman who tried to kill herself, her professional detachment disintegrates. Cut off from her family in India, and trapped in a loveless marriage to a domineering man who limits her world to their small restaurant and grocery store, Lakshmi is desperately lonely.

Moved by Lakshmi’s plight, Maggie offers to see her as an outpatient for free. In the course of their first sessions in Maggie’s home office, she quickly realizes that what Lakshmi really needs is not a shrink but a friend. Determined to empower Lakshmi as a woman who feels valued in her own right, Maggie abandons protocol, and soon doctor and patient become close. Even though they seemingly have nothing in common, both women are haunted by loss and truths that they are afraid to reveal.

However, crossing professional boundaries has its price. As Maggie and Lakshmi’s relationship deepens, long-buried secrets come to light that shake their faith in each other and force them to confront painful choices in their own lives.

With Thrity Umrigar’s remarkable sensitivity and singular gift for an absorbing narrative, The Story Hour explores the bonds of friendship and the margins of forgiveness.

my thoughts:

The Story Hour by Thrity Umrigar is utterly fantastic!  It is a slow-going, mesmerizing read that deftly explores the themes of friendship, secrecy, betrayal, and loyalty.  I absolutely loved it!

Maggie and Lakshmi are two very different women whose lives intersect upon a chance meeting.  Lakshmi hates her life - she works for her husband, has no contact with her family in India, and endures the aching pain of loneliness.  Maggie is confused about her life - she's a successful shrink, has a terrific husband, but finds herself committing adultery.  Both women meet when Lakshmi winds up under Maggie's care at the local hospital.  At first, Lakshmi is determined to ignore Maggie - she doesn't trust her - but sooner than you can imagine she is spilling the beans about her unhappy life in America.  As the story progresses and the lines of doctor/patient are blurred, we find ourselves learning more and more about these two strong women and the horribly wrong choices they have made in their lives - its riveting!

Umrigar has written a quiet and powerful story about two unforgettable characters, Maggie and Lakshmi.  Their differences and similarities were spellbinding, heartbreaking, and shocking at times. 
I really enjoyed getting to know them and learning about their past mistakes and their hopes for the future.  I really loved this book - Umrigar's writing style and voice is a revelation to me.   I would happily recommend The Story Hour to fans of Umrigar's works and fans of literature - you will love this book!

Here's the link to the TLC Book Tours schedule for: The Story Hour
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!