Wednesday, September 30, 2009

September Reading in Review

September was a gorgeous month weather-wise, a good month reading-wise, and a pretty good month for donating unwanted books (26 last week and 14 more this week).

In September I read (16) books (exactly the same # as last month). The quality of my reads was good. (Just (1) book was pretty bad: Stuart Woods – Loitering With Intent). My favorite book was an audio: Lisa Gardner’s: The Neighbor.

Of the (16) books I did read, (9) were review books. I read (5) non fiction books and listened to (4) audio books. (11/16) books were from my stacks, and 5/16 came from the library (the same as last month). Here is a summary:

134. The Woodstock Story; Sackett and Levine -  (review/NF)
135. The Neighbor; Lisa Gardner -  (audio)
136. Dragon House; John Shors -  (review)
137. The Shimmer; David Morrell -  (review)
138. The Hidden Life of Deer; Marshall-Thomas -  (review/NF)
139. Brooklyn; Toibin 
140. Loitering With Intent; Stuart Woods - not recommended (audio)
141. Bird in Hand; Kline -  (review)
142. Homer and Langley; E.L. Doctorow -
143. Saving Sammy: Curing the Boy Who Caught OCD; Beth Maloney -  (review/NF)
144. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind; Kamkwamba & Mealy - (review/NF)
145. I Was Told Ther'd Be Cake; Sloane Crosley - (audio/NF)
146. Day After Night; Anita Diamant - (review)
147. Yes, My Darling Daughter; Margaret Leroy 
148.  The Sari Shop Widow; Shoban Bantwal - (review/tour)
149. The Broken Window; Jeffery Deaver - (audio)

Open Challenges
  • A-Z Challenge - 23/26
  • Read Your Own Books Challenge - 83/100
  • John Steinbeck Mini Challenge - 1/2
  • War Through the Generations WWII - 3/5
  • R.I.P. IV Challenge - 2/4
  • Fall Into Reading Challenge – 1/15

    Hope you had a good month as well!

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is the brain child of Jill from Breaking the Spine. Check out her blog for more upcoming releases that bloggers are waiting patiently for.

Author: Michael Crichton
Pub Date: November 24, 2009

Synopsis: The Caribbean, 1665. A remote colony of the English crown, the island of Jamaica holds out against the vast supremacy of the Spanish empire. Devoid of London’s luxuries, Port Royal, its capital, is a cutthroat town of taverns, grog shops, and bawdy houses. In this steamy climate, life can end swiftly by dysentery—or dagger. But for a daring soul like Captain Edward Hunter, this wild outpost in the New World can also lead to great fortune, if he abides by the island’s code. In the name of His Majesty King Charles II of England, gold in Spanish hands is gold for the taking and the law of the land rests with those ruthless enough to make it.

Word in port is that the Spanish galleon El Trinidad, fresh from New Spain, is awaiting repairs in nearby Matanceros. Heavily fortified, the impregnable Spanish harbor is guarded by the bloodthirsty Cazalla, a favorite commander of King Philip IV. With the Jamaican governor’s backing, Hunter assembles a crew of ruffians to infiltrate the enemy island and commandeer the galleon and its fortune in Spanish gold. The raid is as perilous as the bloodiest tales of Matanceros legend, and Hunter will lose more than one man before he makes it onto the island’s shores, where dense jungle and the firepower of Spanish infantry stand between him and the treasure.

With the help of his cunning band, Hunter hijacks El Trinidad and escapes the deadly clutches of Cazalla, leaving plenty of carnage in his wake. But the danger—and adventure—are only just beginning.

Wordless Wednesday


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Clear Off Your Shelves Challenge

Thanks to Swapna at S. Krishna's Books for hosting this challenge which runs from October 1 - November 30, 2009. If you need something to help motivate you to read more of your own books, this might be the challenge for you??
  • This challenge will work a little differently than other challenges. Instead of picking a set number of books to read during this time period, you will pick a percentage. This means that a certain percentage of the books you read during these two months will have to qualify for this challenge. For example, let’s say you pick 40% and you end up reading 10 books in October and November. 4 of those books would have to qualify for this challenge in order for you to complete it. I am setting a minimum percentage of 20%.
  • As a result, there is no need to make a list of books prior to starting the challenge, though please feel free to do so if you want to! Your wrap-up post should have a list of the books you read for the challenge, though, so please do keep track of what you read!
  • For more information on details, please go here.
Completed Books from my Shelves:
  1. A Change in Altitude; Anita Shreve - disappointing
  2. The Brutal Telling; Penny - recommended
  3. What the Dead Know; Lippmann - recommended
  4. Tortilla Flat; Steinbeck - recommended
  5. Solace; Temes -  recommended
  6. A Duty to the Dead; Martin - recommended 
  7. Gift of the Sea; Lindbergh - recommended
  8. Sworn to Silence; Castillo (audio) - recommended
  9. Haunted Island; Nadler - ?? - okay   
  10. The Recipe Club; Israel and Garfinkle - recommended
  11. The Christmas Cookie Club; Pearlman - recommended  
  12. The Haunting of Hill House; Shirley Jackson - recommended 
  13. Picking Bones from Ash; Mockett - recommended 
  14. The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane; K. Howe - recommended
  15. Away; Amy Bloom - (audio) - recommended
  16. Her Fearful Symmetry; A. Niffenegger - recommended 
  17. The Christmas Dog; Carlson - recommended
  18. Await Your Reply; Chaon - recommended
  19. The Christmas List; Evans - recommended
  20. Wishin and Hopin: A Christmas Story; Lamb - recommended    

Calling all BLOGGER Users - HELP

Okay, I am not sure what's up, but for about the last week when some changes were made to Blogger, my home page has been so PAINFULLY SLOW to load. It is also true when I try to make changes on posts and then, I wait and wait and wait to view them. 

When I check the blogs of other Blogger users, you page seems to load much quicker, so I'm not sure if it's Blogger or Window's VISTA causing my frustration.

Anyone else having problems??

Tuesday Teasers

MizB of Should Be Reading hosts the Teaser Tuesdays weekly event

Here are the rules:

* Grab your current read

* Let the book fall open to a random page

* Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12

*You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!

* Please avoid spoilers!

"Was it some form of payback---"gotcha"--for the person she no longer was, the mother Vincent had endured after the kidnapping, the skeletal scaffolding of a human being who lived years, woke and slept in the same clothes until Pat ran a bath and led her to it?  As Candy use to say, the answer was usually the question."
*** I'm still reading,  A Change of Altitude; Anita Shreve, last week's Tuesday Teaser, but it's slow going for me :(

Monday, September 28, 2009

Mailbox Monday - September 28th

Thanks to Marcia of the Printed Page for hosting Mailbox Monday.
(7) new books arrived in my mailbox, plus I purchased (3) on Saturday BUT I donated (26) to the library during the week, so I did good right????


Await Your Reply; Dan Chaon
Across the Endless River; Thad Carhart - FSB Associates
The Water Giver; Joan Ryan - Simon and Schuster
Sun Going Down; Jack Todd - Simon and Schuster
The Woman in White; Wilkie Collins (everyone who blogged about this one is to blame)
Last Not in Twisted River; John Irving (Random House / Shelf Awareness)
Medea and Her Children; Ludmila Ulitskaya (purchase)

Did you receive any that you can't wait to read?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

My 10 Book Bucket List

I saw this at Lilly's blog: Reading Extravaganza, but the original idea is slightly different and came from Pam at

Like Lilly, my list consists of 10 books I  MUST read before I die.  If I could only read 10 more books, I think I'd take my chances, and read from my own shelves (I own 9/10) of these:

  1. The Master and Margarita; Mikhail Boulgakov
  2. The Woman in White; Wilkie Collins
  3. The Poisonwood Bible; Barbara Kingsolver
  4. Brazzaville Beach; William Boyd
  5. Garden of Eden; Hemingway
  6. Affinity; Sarah Waters
  7. The Wayward Bus; John Steinbeck
  8. I Am a Cat; Natsume
  9. Moonflower Vine; Jetta Carleton
  10. Into the Wilderness; Sara Donati
Have you read any of these? Did I make good choices?  How about your pick 10?

Sunday Salon - September 27th

I can't believe I'm writing this post so late on Sunday, but it has been on hectic weekend, but in a good way.  My husband's son was here from PA, arriving on Friday and leaving this morning.  Friday was spent just hanging out here at home (it was the first time he saw our new condo since we moved in on April 27).  We had a great dinner at home (I surprised myself with a salmon stirfry, and rice dish; it was pretty great). Then apple and cherry pie for dessert, as well as Italian pastries.  My SIL and brother, who has pancreatic cancer, and are our neighbors now, stopped over to meet Mitch and have dessert. It was great fun.

Saturday, was another gorgeous day, and guess where we went?? has to do with books...LOL
We went for a long drive to this wonderful place called "The Book Mill".  It use to be a grist mill in the 1800's and was converted into a used bookstore and coffee shop, Add WiFi, comfy couches and chairs, and sometimes entertainment at night, and it's a booklover's dream. I had not been there in 12 years so I was thrilled, and my husband and son enjoyed being there as well.

The GPS worked fine getting there, but then we travelled in circles trying to get to our nex destination which was meeting up with my children for dinner in a town about 15 miles away.  Honestly, this book mill is out in the middle of nowhere. Their store's motto is : Books You Don't Need, in a Place You Can't Find"...LOL

Of course who among us can resist visiting a place that sells books, and leave empty handed?  Especially, when it is some place that you might not get back to in another 12 years!!! So this is what I picked up:
Lady Oracle; Margaret Atwood - The Haunting of Hill House; Shirley Jackson and Independent People; Halldor Laxness, and a book bag and tee shirt with the store's motto.
 Then it was off to dinner at a great place where we met my son, his wife, and my daughter and her partner.  It was great to all be together as it had been a while since they had seen Mitch.

Today after Mitch left I had to change the linens, wash clothes, run to a few stores, and now think about supper. Now when things around here are back to normal, tomorrow they will begin putting a new roof on our condo! Let me tell you, our cats are not going to be happy with all the noise (one is really nervous around strangers and with noise).  It is suppose to be a 2-3 day project.

Enough for now, need to make dinner before sundown, as my husband, who is Jewish, will be fasting for Yom Kippur.  Have a great week everyone.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

149 - The Broken Window; Jeffery Deaver

Lincoln Rhyme has his work cut out for him in this Jeffery Deaver book: The Broken Window. For readers who are not familiar with the Lincoln Rhyme character, he is a NY City forensic specialist; he is also a paraplegic. He is intelligent and testy.

The Broken Window is a story about a high tech version of identity theft taken to the extreme. It is not just someone who just steals your money, but one who assumes your identity to commit awful crimes using your name.

This master criminal thinks that he has what it takes to pull off repeated "perfect crimes" without getting caught, as he's been getting away with it forsome time. He sees his victims as numbers. The killer is dubbed UNSUB 522, by Rhyme, because the first known crime happened on May 22.

This killer made a one big mistake. He has framed Lincoln Rhyme's cousin, Arthur Rhyme, for murder. The evidence looks like Arthur may have been responsible, but, there is no way that he could have possibly murdered the first victim, Alice Sanderson.

Rhyme investigates the evidence against his cousin to see if he can uncover any mistakes by police, but he discovers something worse. They are dealing with a computer genius who also happens to be a sociopath. As Rhyme and his staff work on the crime, they discover a business that collects every bit of available information about every man, woman and child in the US. They know where you were, what you did, what you bought etc, and the fact that a sociopath has access to this data, makes everyone wonder...just who is safe?

The Broken Window was a very long audio book ( 12 cds)  read by Dennis Boutsikaris, who always does an amazing job. A good thriller with a clever, engaging plot, but probably not the best type of book to listen to each night before bed like a did, given the fact a sociopath, is at work. Recommended

Friday, September 25, 2009

148 - The Sari Shop Widow; Shobhan Bantwal

About The Sari Shop Widow

[Pungent curry, sweet fried onions, incense, colorful beads, and lush fabrics - THE SARI SHOP WIDOW is a novel set on the streets of Edison, New Jersey's Little India, where a young businesswoman rediscovers the magic of love and family. When Anjali Kapadia's posh sari boutique in New Jersey is on the verge of financial ruin, her wealthy uncle from India comes to her rescue. But the wily, dictatorial uncle arrives with some unpleasant surprises--a young Indo-British partner named Rishi Shah for one--and a startling secret that disturbs Anjali.

Falling in love with the mysterious Shah only adds to Anjali's burgeoning list of complications. Torn between her loyalty to her family and her business on the one hand and her growing attraction for a man who could never fit into her life on the other, Anjali turns to her family and cultural roots to make a life-altering decision.]

My Thoughts: I really loved the character Anjali, a Hindu widow from a conservative family. Widowed at twenty-seven, when her husband died unexpectedly, she sold their condo, moved in with her parents and sunk her money into her parent's shop which was on the brink of bankruptcy. She poured her heart and soul into making the sari shop: Silk & Sapphires, beautiful......."it was the place she buried her grief and more or less resurrected herself".

The writing was very descriptive. I was able to visualize the gorgeous, colorful silk garments which hung in the shop---each so unique, the jewelry, beautiful crystal chandeliers, and rich plush carpeting etc. I love reading books about Indian women, and I enjoyed the Americanized Anjali very much -- although her parents are very conservative, she has a secret boyfriend who is some 9 years older. He is described as an "American Don Juan". Her feelings for him are based on "lust and genuine affection", and there is more romance to be found as the story progresses.

Honestly, it was the lovely cover, and Indian-American widow theme that attracted me to this book. I typically do not read romance novels, but this book held my interest. A story that deals with the agony of loving someone and losing them, and then allowing oneself to be vulnerable to love once again. A quick easy read and, in my opinion, a book that should appeal to a variety of readers, and one that I am happy to have had the opportunity to read and review. Recommended.

About Shobhan Banwal
Shobhan Bantwal calls her writing “Bollywood in a Book,” romantic, colorful, action-packed tales, rich with elements of her own Indian culture -- stories that entertain and educate. She is an award-winning women's fiction author of three published novels and has contributed to an anthology of short stories. Shobhan writes for a variety of publications including The Writer magazine, India Abroad, Little India, U.S. 1, Desi Journal, India Currents, Overseas Indian, and New Woman India. Her short stories have won honors/awards in contests sponsored by Writer's Digest, New York Stories and New Woman magazines.

For a preview of the book, visit -
For more information on Shobhan Bantwal's new and other books and to enter a drawing to win a number of prizes, please go to her website's “Contests” page and sign up between Sept 1 and Sept 30, 2009 at

Friday Finds

Friday Finds is hosted by Miz B at Should be Reading.

Author:  Merlinda Bobis
Pub. Date: Oct. 27, 2009

Amazon Product Description

From the award-winning author of Banana Heart Summer—“[a] wonderful debut…[that] resembles Sandra Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street and is destined to be a hit among book club members”*—comes a wondrous tale of hope, secrets, and family devotion.

It’s six days until Christmas, and on the bustling streets of Manila a mute ten-year-old boy sells his version of the stars: exquisite lanterns handmade with colorful paper. But everything changes for young Noland when he witnesses an American tourist injured in a drive-by shooting of a journalist and imagines he’s seen an angel falling from the sky. When Noland whisks her to the safety of the hut he shares with his mother, the magical and the real collide: shimmering lanterns and poverty, Christmas carols and loss, dreams of friendship and the global war on terror. While the story of the missing tourist grips the media, Noland and his mother care for their wounded guest, and a dark memory returns. But light sneaks in—and their lives are transformed by the power of love.

Find anything interesting you'd like to share this week?

Library Loot - Sept 24

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.

I still have not stopped going to the library. Here's what someone slipped into my book bag this week:

Amigoland; Oscar Casares

The Lovers; John Connolly

The Magician's Elephant; Kate DiCamillo

No Time To Wave Goodbye; Jacqueline Mitchard

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Booking Through Thursday - The Saddest Reads

Today’s Booking Through Thursday carries on with the ‘recent theme’ and asks us “What’s the saddest book you’ve read recently?”
I tend to read a lot of books with sad themes for some reason.  I think some people, me included,  are naturally drawn to things that evoke an emotional response like sadness. I guess there is nothing written in the book of life that says we as human beings must be happy all the time.  I can think of several sad stories I read and loved:
Two more recent titles that I read in the last several months were:
I so loved these books, even though they brought tears to my eyes (something that does not happen very often). Both are HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

What are your saddest reads recently? Why do you read sad books? Have you read the books I mentioned, and, if so, did they move you?

You can read more Booking Through Thursday answers here.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday: Mean Mothers

Title: Mean Mothers

Author: Peg Streep

Pub. Date: October 13, 2009

Publisher: William Morrow

(Amazon - Product Description)

An exploration of the darker side of maternal behavior drawn from scientific research, psychology, and the real-life experiences of adult daughters, Mean Mothers sheds light on one of the last cultural taboos: what happens when a woman doesn't or can't love her daughter.

Mean Mothers reveals the multigenerational thread that often runs through these stories—many unloving mothers are the daughters of unloving or hypercritical women—and explores what happens to a daughter's sense of self and to her relationships when her mother is emotionally absent or even cruel. But Mean Mothers is also a narrative of hope, recounting how daughters can get past the legacy of hurt to become whole within and to become loving mothers to the next generation of daughters. The personal stories of unloved daughters and sons and those of the author herself, are both unflinching and moving, and bring this most difficult of subjects to life.

Mean Mothers isn't just a book for daughters who've had difficult or impossible relationships with their mothers. By exposing the myths of motherhood that prevent us from talking about the women for whom mothering a daughter is fraught with ambivalence, tension, or even jealousy, Mean Mothers also casts a different light on the extraordinary influence mothers have over their female children as well as the psychological complexity and emotional depth of the mother-daughter relationship.

Join in the fun..... "Waiting on Wednesday" is hosted by Jill @ Breaking The Spine. It spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. What's your pick?

Wordless Wednesday

Ribbit! Frog All Lit Up by Swallowed Christmas Light

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

147 - Yes, My Darling Daughter; Margaret Leroy

Grace is a single mom, who works in a flower shop full time, and spends her free time with Sylvie, her sweet little four year old daughter. The two live a simple life, in a not so great part of London, but their life seems happy enough. All seems perfectly normal with Sylvie until she begins having problems in preschool. She has outbursts, exhibits an extreme fear of water, and says odd things to her playmates. She also refuses to call her mother “mum”, and always called her “Grace” instead. She also tells her mother that she does not like living where she does, and wants to go home.
Grace is not sure what to do about the way Sylvie has been behaving. She takes her to a therapist who tends to blame the behaviour on her lifestyle. One day while Sylvie is flipping through a magazine, she becomes fixated on a photo of an Irish fishing village called Coldharbour. Her response to the picture is :

“It’s my seaside….I lived there…I lived in a little house, a white house….I had a cave and a dragon”.

Is it possible Sylvie lived in a past life? Grace and Sylvie are invited by Adam, a university professor involved in the paranormal , to go to Ireland on a research grant, and see whether there is any merit to what Sylvie has been saying.

Part, mystery, part Gothic tale, Yes, My Darling Daughter, had me anxiously turning pages to find out how it would all end. Although things got wrapped up, just a little too neatly, I still really enjoyed this book. I loved that it really held my interest, and that I was able to read it in one day.