NEW eBooks About Fiction

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Piano Teacher by Janice Y. Lee

The Piano Teacher is complicated, eloquent, haunting and thought provoking.   Not one of the characters is particularly sympathetic, never mind likable.  The story jumps between decades with wild abandon.  The plot is violent and explores the highly disturbing, damaging nature of war and its aftermath.  It is the story of love and ultimate betrayal.

If that sounds negative, than consider my other observations. Janice Lee's portrayal of Hong Kong are so vivid you can almost smell and hear the market place. The description of life in Colonies is pitch perfect; the gossip, the intrigue and the boredom. The language is eloquent.  The plot is carefully constructed. The character development is extraordinary.

The story presents two snapshots of life in Hong Kong.  The snapshots are ten years apart. Life before the war life is circumscribed by social status and ritual.  The Europeans, especially the English have created their own alternative universe right on the top of Victoria Peak.

Once the war is over the survivors (of both the war and the occupation) are deeply scarred.  They emerge forever changed by the circumstances of incarceration. starvation and torture.  And yet, apparently nothing much has changed.  Life has more or less picked up exactly where it left off.  The colony is back in business and the rigid social structures and rituals have survived. 

Claire Pendleton, the piano teacher, provides a stark contrast between the cynicism of the old and the naivety of the new.  In the end, she effectively provides a focus and a rather harrowing catharsis.

This book is a real hybrid; part historical fiction, part romance and part mystery.  I suspect you will either love or hate it.  I, personally, loved it.

In the sweeping tradition of The English Patient, a gripping tale of love and betrayal set in war-torn Hong Kong

In 1942, Will Truesdale, an Englishman newly arrived in Hong Kong, falls headlong into a passionate relationship with Trudy Liang, a beautiful Eurasian socialite. But their love affair is soon threatened by the invasion of the Japanese as World War II overwhelms their part of the world. Will is sent to an internment camp, where he and other foreigners struggle daily for survival. Meanwhile, Trudy remains outside, forced to form dangerous alliances with the Japanese in particular, the malevolent head of the gendarmerie, whose desperate attempts to locate a priceless collection of Chinese art lead to a chain of terrible betrayals.

Ten years later, Claire Pendleton comes to Hong Kong and is hired by the wealthy Chen family as their daughter's piano teacher. A provincial English newlywed, Claire is seduced by the heady social life of the expatriate community. At one of its elegant cocktail parties, she meets Will, to whom she is instantly attracted¿but as their affair intensifies, Claire discovers that Will's enigmatic persona hides a devastating past. As she begins to understand the true nature of the world she has entered, and long-buried secrets start to emerge, Claire learns that sometimes the price of survival is love.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Without Warning By John Birmingham eBook edition

parent-9780345502896 Removing the USA from the world political scene is a daunting task. Birmingham does a credible job of showing what a dangerous place the world would become without our power base.

This book examines a recent past in which the mainland USA was taken out of the world power equation. The plot devices and characters are well enough developed that by the end of this book you are ready for the sequel. Unfortunately, that next book is at least one year away from being published.

I like some of the story lines better than others. By and large though if you are a Science Fiction fan or a fan of the disaster novel this is a good read following an interesting premise.

Without the USA in play the world degrades quickly into disorder, as you might expect. Some outcomes seem likely and strategically correct. Others stretch credulity a bit but are plausible enough to carry your attention.

All in all Birmingham does a good job of drawing lines between the disappearance of the majority of US military power and the increase of chaos worldwide. This is a great spring break distraction or a really nice find if you haven’t read any of Birmingham’s other books. They are all worth reading if military fiction is one of the types of novels you enjoy. His knowledge base is solid and his writing skills are first class, so enjoy.

In Kuwait, American forces are stacked up, locked and loaded for the invasion of Iraq. In Paris, a covert agent, a woman who inhabits a twilight of lies and death, is close to cracking a terrorist cell. And just north of the equator, a forty-foot wood-hulled sailboat, manned by a drug runner, a pirate, and two gun-slinging beauties, is witness to the unspeakable. In one instant, all around the world, for politicians and peasants, from Gaza to Geneva, things will never be the same. A wave of inexplicable energy has slammed into the continental United States.

America, as we know it, is gone. . . . WITHOUT WARNING

Now U.S. soldiers are fighting a war without command or control. A correspondent records horrors for no one. Washington is gone and the line of succession is in tatters; the functioning remnants of government are in Pearl Harbor, Guantanamo Bay, and one desperate, isolated corner of the Northwest. For the jihads, it’s Allah’s miracle. For Saddam, it’s a chance to attack. Iran declares war on an America that doesn’t exist–except in the hearts and souls of the men and women who want it to.

In this astounding work of alternate fiction, John Birmingham hurtles us into a scenario that is unimaginable but shatteringly real: a world of financial ruin where a cloud of noxious waste–from America’s burning cities–darkens Europe, while men and women in offices around the globe struggle to make decisions that cannot hold and opportunists unleash their secret demons.

From a slick Texas lawyer who happens to be in the right place at the right time to a hard-working city engineer in Seattle who becomes his terrified city’s only hope, from the cancer-stricken secret agent to a drug runner off the Mexican coast and a U.S. general in Cuba, Without Warning tells a fast, furious story of survival, violence, and a new, soul-shattering reality. The first in an epic trilogy that will leave readers breathless and astounded, Without Warning offers a world without its policeman, its Great Satan, or its savior–as an unknowable future struggles to be born.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Local Knowledge by Liza Gyllenhaal eBook edition

This week got off to a slow start.  Kinda of like Goldilocks and the tree bears.  I tried three other books before I finally settled down and was able to actually read this one.  When it comes to the original three:  one was too boring, one was too depressing and the last one was written in a style I actually hated. 

So it was a relief to actually pick up a book that I could read more than the first chapter.  Local Knowledge is narrated by Maggie.  She tells the story by alternating along two distinct paths -- the present and the past.

Maggie is a precise and effective narrator.  She tells the story without sparing herself or glossing over her faults.  I could argue that some of the descriptions and the rehashing of the past are too long and possibly unnecessary.  But in the end, all of that background and all of those descriptions made the place and the characters live.  After awhile it was hard to remember that Red River, New York is really a fictional place.

This is a story about change.  Changes in community.  Changes in perceptions.  Changes in attitudes. It is about changing roles.

It is also a story about families and how they shape your life -- the resentments, the feuds, the quiet discontent.  About parents aging and dying and children growing up. 

And finally it is about friendships.  What we invest in them.  How easy it is to prejudge people and how seldom those prejudgments actually hold up. And the tempering of those prejudgments with experience, circumstances and time.  Ultimately friendships can alter us and our world view forever.

For a first novel, this cover a wide range of very complex themes.  It goes on my recommended list.

Here is what the publisher says:

From an exciting debut author, a novel about three people haunted by the mistakes of their past and their plunge into an uncertain future. Maddie Alden has always longed for more than her small town could offer. Now that it's being overrun by wealthy New Yorkers looking for a respite from the city, Maddie has gotten herself a lucrative new job in real estate. And her first sale brings her a charismatic new friend who is everything Maddie longs to be. Little does Maddie realize that the glamorous Anne will shake up her quiet marriage and will force Maddie to face the truth about the past, and the terrible secret she shares with her husband and his best friend.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Black Ops by W.E.B Griffin eBook edition

Henri shares his latest reading experience.

I’ve been on a reading binge and filling my spare time with books that stir up emotions around the themes of war, heroism, and patriotism.  The latest is Black Ops by W.E.B. Griffin.  He has been an author of note for nearly as long as I have been reading.

Griffin entered the military in 1946 and combines his experience with his considerable talent to draw plots and characters that compel you to keep reading.

Griffin’s main character is a blend of virtues and vices that compel me to like him. He is the son of two wealthy families who was raised in Europe and Texas. He has language skills and other capacities that made him stand out in the military roles he played but now he has become a Special Ops Warrior. How Griffin makes all of this work is a mystery to me but it works marvelously.

With Griffin you always feel like you have a seat at the big table and are watching significant events unfold. Black Ops is no exception. I bought it immediately and read it in two sessions separated only by family obligations. As usual it left me hungry for the next novel in the series.

I really enjoy reading novels that explore human values and the strengths and weaknesses of various social and political approaches to life. They do have to ring true in my ear past the fact that they are obviously only works of fantasy. Griffin’s latest book does ring true.

It comes down to something as simple as this, I read fiction to be entertained and if I am happy I chose that book at the end that is all I can ask of any author.

Black Ops delivers.

Here is the publishers take:

The Russian bear is stirring and its hungry in the #1 New York Times bestselling series thrilling fifth novel.The first disturbing reports reached Delta Force Lieutenant Colonel Charley Castillo in the form of backchannel messages concerning covert U.S. intelligence assets working for a variety of agencies suddenly gone missing and then, suddenly, inexplicably, found dying. Or dead. One in Budapest, Hungary. One in Kiev, Ukraine. One in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, mere klicks from the Iran border. And then one in Virginia, along the Potomac River, practically in the shadow of CIA headquarters.Castillo finds the information both infuriating and fascinating, particularly after a recent experience with two CIA traitors whose own deaths were swift and suspicious.

Despite there being some similarities, though, he thinks there's something different with these new cases, something he can't quite put his finger on. At first, its an idle thought, but Castillo expects it's only a matter of time before the commander in chief assigns him and his group of troubleshooters in the innocuously named Office of Organizational Analysis to look into the deaths while all those intel agencies fight among themselves trying to put the pieces together.

Meanwhile, Castillo has problems of his own; fallout from recent missions involving a clandestine rescue of a DEA agent from South American drug runners, and the confiscation of some fifty million dollars from thieves in the Iraqi oil-for-food scandal. He's made more than a few enemies, he knows both foreign and domestic. And then comes another back-channel message, this one delivered personally by his lethal friend, the Russian mobster arms dealer. All that has happened so far, he says, is just a warm-up for what's about to come out of the Kremlin.

Could sabers be rattling for a new Cold War? Or worse? Presidential Agent C. G. Castillo is about to find out. . . .

Filled with Griffin's trademark rich characters and cutting-edge drama, this is another exceptional novel in an exceptional series.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Lost Recipe for Happiness eBook editions

Ghost stories are not my thing.  Nor, frankly are lonely, deeply damaged individuals.  And yet, I was entranced by Barbara O'Neal's The Lost Recipe for Happiness.

It was a lazy Saturday afternoon.  A nap seemed like the thing so I picked this book up as something to read myself to sleep by.  Six hours later, ravenously hungry and snuffling slightly I put the book down with a sigh.  Seems I read the whole thing in one sitting.

The writing is fluid, the plot tight and the characters surprisingly complicated with out being terribly convoluted even if all of the characters are damaged in some way.  On some level, you have to admire them because they have found ways to function and cope. 

These are quintessentially lonely people who almost in spite of themselves begin to recover.  At some point each of them realizes that somehow happiness has crept up on them.  Even when they know that happiness never lasts.

As a sideline, one of my favorite aspects of the book are the recipes between the chapters.  They are bound to make you salivate -- especially if you love good Southwestern/Mexican cooking the way I do.  I might actually try a couple of them. 

O'Neal not only loves food, but she obviously loves the Southwest; particularly Colorado and New Mexico.  Her descriptions of the scenery are beautiful and evocative.  Made me want to take a quick trip to Aspen and/or Santa Fe.

This is a story of recovery, new starts and taking chances.  It will make you laugh and cry.  And I guarantee you these characters will haunt you long after you finish the last chapter. This is a great read; don't miss it!

Here are the publishers notes:

In this sumptuous new novel, Barbara O’Neal offers readers a celebration of food, family, and love as a woman searches for the elusive ingredient we’re all hoping to find….

It’s the opportunity Elena Alvarez has been waiting for–the challenge of running her own kitchen in a world-class restaurant. Haunted by an accident of which she was the lone survivor, Elena knows better than anyone how to survive the odds. With her faithful dog, Alvin, and her grandmother’s recipes, Elena arrives in Colorado to find a restaurant in as desperate need of a fresh start as she is–and a man whose passionate approach to food and life rivals her own.

Owner Julian Liswood is a name many people know but a man few do. He’s come to Aspen with a troubled teenage daughter and a dream of the kind of stability and love only a family can provide. But for Elena, old ghosts don’t die quietly, yet a chance to find happiness at last is worth the risk.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Revolutionary Road eBook edition

When I was in college, Revolutionary Road was one of those books that was considered de rigeur for anyone with intellectual pretensions.  Reading it gave you entrée into an exclusive club dedicated to disparaging the lives our parents lead.

Of course, I read it.

What I remembered was how dreary the book was.  These were dreary characters living in a dreary world.  The had boring, meaningless jobs and lives and were totally unlikable.  Reading it was like being smothered in a thick gray cloud.

So, you can imagine my surprise when the title popped us as a "must see" movie.  And now it is an Awards contender.  I will grudgingly admit that a DiCaprio/Winslett pairing is probably noteworthy, but Revolutionary Road??

Only one thing to do:  I bought and downloaded the book last week.  If nothing else, I wanted to see if my memory was failing.

Well, it turns out my memory was not exactly failing.  But it also turns out that there is a big difference between my young reading self and the adult I turned out to be which should probably be a relief.

What I failed to understand as a young person is the power of Yates' writing.  The vivid and stark simplicity of his narrative, the tight dialog and his quiet, relentless perceptiveness.  My biggest surprise was how humorous some of the dialog really is.  My younger self evidently totally missed that aspect of his writing.

Reading it this time, I actually found myself empathizing with these characters.  I know exactly what it is like to get caught up in a role, how subtly it all happens.  And how you wake up one day and wonder how you got here from there.   That particular theme is timeless -- not some relic of a 50s style American dream.  Surprisingly, the novel is as relevant to life today as it was when it was written.

Revolutionary Road got me to thinking about the subtle ways in which we differentiate ourselves from our circumstances.  The ways in which we hold ourselves above the reality of our daily lives.  And the tyranny of the belief that we are somehow special and different.

My adult self recommends this book for its narrative, dialog and social commentary.  In fact, I am going to got see it tomorrow and find out if Hollywood does it justice.

Here are the publisher notes:

In the hopeful 1950s, Frank and April Wheeler appear to be a model couple: bright, beautiful, talented, with two young children and a starter home in the suburbs. Perhaps they married too young and started a family too early. Maybe Frank's job is dull. And April never saw herself as a housewife. Yet they have always lived on the assumption that greatness is only just around the corner. But now that certainty is about to crumble.

With heartbreaking compassion and remorseless clarity, Richard Yates shows how Frank and April mortgage their spiritual birthright, betraying not only each other, but their best selves.

From the moment of its publication in 1961, Revolutionary Road was hailed as a masterpiece of realistic fiction and as the most evocative portrayal of the opulent desolation of the American suburbs. .

Monday, January 5, 2009

Lady Luck's Map of Vegas eBook edition by Samuel, Barbara

Barbara Samuel is an insightful and graceful author and  Lady Luck's Map of Vegas is an incredible story about love, loss, fear and a road trip.

This is not really a romance so much as it is a quiet family drama that starts slowly and grabs you by the throat.  The first few chapters are choppy as the narrative jumps between India and Eldora.  The styles are very different and the first couple of transitions are jarring.  But as the story builds, the transitions work to move you through the plot.

This novel explores family secrets and how they effect future generations.  What happens when a parent specifically obscures their past?  How important are genetics? What are the ramifications of choices made and roads not taken?  How do you live with the results of the choices made -- especially when they don't necessarily turn out well? 

I suppose I am going to overuse my allotment of cliches about families here, but somehow for this book they seem right.  So here goes:  Love is messy, complex and scary; nothing in life is certain;  relationships and families involve an incredible risk and much forgiveness. 

The synopsis below gives you the story line, but doesn't convey the emotional punch this book delivers. All I can say is grab your Kleenex and settle down to enjoy an incredible road trip.

And as side note (if you aren't up for the story)the book is worth reading just as a guidebook to New Mexico.  Samuel beautifully captures the landscape and the wildness of the west. 

Oh yeah, one more thing, look for Samuel's new book --The Lost Recipe for Happiness which is due out next week.

Here is the publisher synopsis:

A successful Web designer, forty-year-old India has a fabulously hip life in Denver and a sexy Irish lover in New York who jets out to see her on bi-weekly visits. The long-distance romance suits India just fine: Though Jack is the only man who has ever made India feel truly alive, she doesn’t want things to get too serious. But then her father passes away, and India must honor the promise she made to him: to look after her mother when he’s gone.

Suddenly India finds herself back in Colorado Springs with the woman who both intrigues and infuriates her. Eldora is sixty something and exquisitely gorgeous, but her larger-than-life personality can suck the air out of a room. True to form, Eldora throws India a curveball, insisting that they hit the road to look for India’s twin, Gypsy, a brilliant artist who lives a vagabond’s existence in the remote mountain towns of New Mexico. It looks like India can’t avoid her mother’s intensity any longer, especially after she discovers stunning secrets from Eldora’s past.

Thirty years ago, Eldora regaled her twin girls with glamorous stories about her days as a Las Vegas showgirl– stories of martinis and music at the Sahara, back when Frank and Sammy ruled the town. But the story of how she really ended up in Sin City, and the unsavory life she’d run from with her daughters in tow, is full of details she’s never seen fit to share–until now.
As mother and daughter sail down Route 66, the very road Eldora drove those many years ago, looking for Gypsy, while passing motels, diners, and souvenir shops, Eldora must relive a lifetime of memories that have tormented her before she can put them to rest once and for all. . . .

Award-winning author Barbara Samuel brings us a heartfelt story of second chances and unexpected detours. As two women come to terms with themselves and each other, the past unravels and the future spreads out before them like the open road.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Knit Two by Kate Jacobs eBook edition

No, I don't knit.  Nor do I live in Manhattan.  But I am a woman who is lucky enough to have a group of long-time women friends who meet weekly.  So of course, I absolutely fell in love with Kate Jacobs'  Friday Night Knitting Club.

When I saw that Knit Two, the sequel, had been released I could hardly wait to download and read it.

I finished it a couple of days ago and sat down to write this review.  I spent the next half hour or so staring a the title, cover art and a blank page.  A classic case of writer's block. . . not something that ever happens to me.  I finally got up and walked away.

Over the last couple of days I have idly wondered what the hell that was all about.  I mean, I enjoyed the book.  It was a pleasant and easy read that kept me entertained over the holiday weekend.  So why was I at a loss for words?

I think I finally figured it out.  I was disappointed.  I wanted to love the book, but I just couldn't do it.  Instead, I ended up with a mild case of like.

The first couple of chapters required a whole lot of work-- I had to go back into my memory bank a long way to find these characters and to remember why I cared about them.  Once that was accomplished I was faced with these characters in their current incarnations. 

Jacobs draws strong, fully rounded characters.  These women are believable and almost stride off the pages into your real life.  In fact they became so real that I found myself getting annoyed with them.  Anita and Catherine in particular indulge in way too much angst and high drama for my taste.

I found, however, that my annoyance with the characters was vastly reassuring.  I have certainly been annoyed with all the women in my group at one time or another.  And I am sure they have been as annoyed with me.  Face it, humans are often annoying!

The real problem with this novel is the plot; a real disaster.  Now, coming from me, who can stretch credulity to extreme limits, this is a pretty amazing statement. 

Knit Two, graphically reminded me that I prefer the classic "no discernable plot rambler" to a highly contrived plot with a neat and tidy resolution that has one in a million odds of actually ever happening that way. 

Trust me, the plot stinks, but the book is worth reading for the characters.  And no matter how I diss this story, when the inevitable third book in the series is published, I will read it too. 

Here is the publisher synopsis:

Knit Two returns to the Manhattan knitting store Walker & Daughter five years after the death of the store's owner, Georgia Walker. Georgia's daughter Dakota is now an 18 year old freshman at NYU, running the knitting store part-time with the help of the members of the Friday Night Knitting Club.

Drawn together by their love for Dakota and the sense of family the club provides, each knitter is struggling with new challenges: for Catherine, finding love after divorce, for Darwin, newborn twins, for Lucie, being both a single mom and caregiver for her elderly mother, and for seventysomething Anita, marriage to her sweetheart Marty over the objections of her grown children. As Kate Jacobs returns to the world of Walker & Daughter, she's once again keyed into many of the stresses and joys of being a mother, wife, daughter and friend.

Every woman who picks up this book will see themselves in its characters¿the very thing that made The Friday Night Knitting Club such a huge word-of-mouth success. A true love letter to the power of women's friendships, and, of course, knitting, Knit Two is entertainment with a heart. Tags: ebook,ebooks,ebook reviews,Knit Two,Kate Jacobs,The Friday Night Knitting club

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

'Tis The Season! A Novel by Lorna Landvik

Once I read Patty Jane's House of Curl, that was it. I was a Lorna Landvik fan. Whenever I see that she has a new book on the way, I impatiently wait for it to be released.

When I saw the title of her latest book -- 'Tis the Season -- I was disappointed. Christmas, after all, is not my favorite time of year. And I have a philosophical problem with books released to capture some sort of of cheap holiday sentiment.

I read the synopsis in Publishers Weekly. This is a book about a 26 year old Paris Hilton like celebrity. Now I was very disappointed.

But even worse, I saw that the novel was written as a series of email exchanges. I don't know about you, but I read more email each day then I want to. Who needs to read more for leisure? Now, I was bitterly disappointed.

Three strikes and your out, right? This was one Landvik novel I was going to take a pass on. Too bad, she used to be such a fun writer.

But then, I hurt my hand. I was in pain, I couldn't type and was totally out of sorts. I might have even been missing email (a little). So in spite of myself, I downloaded and started reading this novel.

Here is where I eat a little humble pie.

For the next 4 or 5 hours I was totally engrossed. Forgot about my hand. Forgot I hate email. Forgot my philosophical objects. Forgot to be annoyed by Christmas. Even forgot that I have no natural way to relate to a 26 year old spoiled heiress.

I admit it. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Is it great literature? No!

Is it up to Landvik's usual writing standards? No.

Is it a great way to escape for a few hours. Oh yes!

All I can say, is download, read and enjoy. In many ways it is the perfect remedy for the Holiday Blues.

Here's the publishers blurb:

Heiress Caroline Dixon has managed to alienate nearly everyone with her alcohol-fueled antics, which have also provided near-constant fodder for the poison-pen tabloids and their gossip-hungry readers. But like so many girls-behaving-badly, the twenty-six-year-old socialite gets her comeuppance, followed by a newfound attempt to live a saner existence, or at least one more firmly rooted in the real world.

As Caro tentatively begins atoning for past misdeeds, she reaches out to two wonderful people who years ago brought meaning to her life: her former nanny, Astrid Brevald, now living in Norway and Arizona dude ranch owner, Cyril Dale. While Astrid fondly remembers Caro as a special, sweet little girl left in her charge, Cyril recalls how he and his late wife were quite taken with the quick-witted teenager Caro had become when she spent a difficult period in her life at the ranch as her father was dying.

In a series of e-mail exchanges, Caro reveals the depth of her pain and the lengths she went to hide it. In turn, Astrid and Cyril share their own stories of challenging times and offer the unconditional support this young woman has never known. The correspondence leads to the promise of a reunion, just in time for Christmas. But the holiday brings unexpected revelations that change the way everyone sees themselves and one another.

At once heartfelt and witty, ’Tis the Season bears good tidings of great joy about the human condition–that down and out doesn’t mean over and done, that the things we need most are closer than we know, and that the true measure of one’s worth rests in the boundless depths of the soul. Tags: ebook,ebooks,landvik,tis the season,ebook reviews

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Wednesday Sisters eBook edition

The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Clayton is as close to a perfect beach read as you can get. 

It is a rare book that has one smart, engaging and has a well rounded and believable woman character.  Never mind five of them!  This is the story of five women living conventional lives in unconventional times.  

From a purely technical point of view, Clayton has pulled off an impressive feat.  She manages to make each one of these five women real and full character who all get equal time and equal voice.

The story starts with the assassination of Bobby Kennedy and traces these women's lives through roughly 10 years.  Those ten years include the Apollo space flights and burning bras; peace marches and Miss America contests, the birth of modern Silicon Valley and the first New York Marathon. 

The story is about women and friendship.  As the world around them changes these women are busy building relationships with each other and with books. 

In a broad sense It is about family.  The ones we come from and the ones we create.  It is about the frailty and fortitude.  It is about awaking, change and growth.

It is also laugh out loud funny and tear-jerkingly sad.  I mean really, how can you resist a book that starts out:

"That's us, there in the photograph. Yes, that's me-in one of my chubbier phases, though I suppose one of these days I'll have to face up to the fact that it's the thinner me that's the "phase," not the chubbier one. And going left to right, that's Linda (her hair loose and combed, but then she brought the camera, she was the only one who knew we'd be taking a photograph). Next to her is Ally, pale as ever, and then Kath. And the one in the white gloves in front-the one in the coffin-that's Brett."

I was hooked from the first paragraph.

So grab your suntan lotion, your favorite drink and a bag of chips, sit in your favorite lounge chair and prepare to enjoy!

Here's the publishers synopsis:

          Friendship, loyalty, and love lie at the heart of Meg Waite Clayton’s beautifully written, poignant, and sweeping novel of five women who, over the course of four decades, come to redefine what it means to be family.
          For thirty-five years, Frankie, Linda, Kath, Brett, and Ally have met every Wednesday at the park near their homes in Palo Alto, California. Defined when they first meet by what their husbands do, the young homemakers and mothers are far removed from the Summer of Love that has enveloped most of the Bay Area in 1967.
          These “Wednesday Sisters” seem to have little in common: Frankie is a timid transplant from Chicago, brutally blunt Linda is a remarkable athlete, Kath is a Kentucky debutante, quiet Ally has a secret, and quirky, ultra-intelligent Brett wears little white gloves with her miniskirts. But they are bonded by a shared love of both literature–Fitzgerald, Eliot, Austen, du Maurier, Plath, and Dickens–and the Miss America Pageant, which they watch together every year.
          As the years roll on and their children grow, the quintet forms a writers circle to express their hopes and dreams through poems, stories, and, eventually, books. Along the way, they experience history in the making: Vietnam, the race for the moon, and a women’s movement that challenges everything they have ever thought about themselves, while at the same time supporting one another through changes in their personal lives brought on by infidelity, longing, illness, failure, and success.
          Humorous and moving, The Wednesday Sisters is a literary feast for book lovers that earns a place among those popular works that honor the joyful, mysterious, unbreakable bonds between friends.    

Use Coupon Code BKS4ME at checkout to receive a 5% Discount on this ebook title.

Monday, June 23, 2008

All We Ever Wanted Was Everything eBook Edition

If you are interested in a study on how secrets warp relationships and families, this is your book. 

If you want to feel the pain of privilege, by all means read this book.

If you enjoy reading about addiction, denial and keeping up with appearance, then this book was written just for you.

If you want sharp social commentary with a little humor, find another author.

All we Ever Wanted Was Everything is an exercise in wretched excess.  From the multi-million dollar high tech executive's wife to the humorless feminist daughter, the characters are excessive, shallow and unsympathetic. 

I really wanted to like this book. From the blurb it sounded like great fun.  Unfortunately, it was pretty much torture to read.  The writer is about as humorless as the feminist daughter. 

Tell me doesn't sound like a great summer beach read:

When Paul Miller’s pharmaceutical company goes public, making his family IPO millionaires, his wife, Janice, is sure this is the windfall she’s been waiting years for — until she learns, via messengered letter, that her husband is divorcing her (for her tennis partner!) and cutting her out of the new fortune. Meanwhile, four hundred miles south in Los Angeles, the Millers’ older daughter, Margaret, has been dumped by her newly famous actor boyfriend and left in the lurch by an investor who promised to revive her fledgling post-feminist magazine, Snatch. Sliding toward bankruptcy and dogged by creditors, she flees for home where her younger sister Lizzie, 14, is struggling with problems of her own. Formerly chubby, Lizzie has been enjoying her newfound popularity until some bathroom graffiti alerts her to the fact that she’s become the school slut.

The three Miller women retreat behind the walls of their Georgian colonial to wage battle with divorce lawyers, debt collectors, drug-dealing pool boys, mean girls, country club ladies, evangelical neighbors, their own demons, and each other, and in the process they become achingly sympathetic characters we can’t help but root for, even as the world they live in epitomizes everything wrong with the American Dream. Exhilarating, addictive, and superbly accomplished, All We Ever Wanted Was Everything crackles with energy and intelligence and marks the debut of a knowing and very funny novelist, wise beyond her years.

You'd think you would have to love a feminist who actually names here 'zine Snatch.

You'd think that drug dealing pool boys, country club ladies and evangelical neighbors would add (at the very least) great color and a few laughs.

You'd think that a novel about women pulling together would end up being a "feel good" reading adventure.

In all cases you would be wrong.

Obviously, I hated this book!


Monday, June 16, 2008

The Scandal Plan: Or: How to Win the Presidency by Cheating on Your Wife (eBook edition)

I admit it. . . I am (or at least I used to be) something of a political junkie.   A regular watcher of CNN, MSNBC,CNBC and Comedy Central (Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert). 

This year has been something else!  Almost in spite of myself, I ended up watching all of the debates; both Democratic and Republican.  I am pretty sure I watched election night coverage for every primary. I even watched Hillary's concession speech on Saturday.  At this point, I am pretty well burned out on politics.

So if I am so sick of politics, why did I pick up The Scandal Plan by Bill Folman?  Probably because I couldn't help myself.

Satire appeals to my sense of the absurd and I am always a sucker for a good farce.  OK, I know it is hard to believe that anything could be more farcical then this year's election process; but actually this particular book is! 

Folman pokes fun at the American obsession with image and political correctness.  We want our candidates to be perfect; but not too perfect.  We want them to be Statesmen; but we want to sit down and have a beer with them.  We want them to be authentic; but we are unforgiving of any slips of the tongue or small gaffes.

Folman also has a little fun with the media.  He pokes fun at the 24 hour news cycle and the silliness of over reporting.  He points out how really easy it is to create a news story out of nothing.

The book is an easy read and it is tempting to pass it off as silly and overly cynical.  But I found it to be surprisingly insightful.  Folman takes dead aim at the current political landscape and almost always hits his marks. If nothing else it is a great morality tale on the unintended consequences of a lie. 

The Scandal Plan is highly entertaining; the perfect answer to political burnout and a great beach read!

The publisher says:

Senator Ben Phillips is the perfect man for the presidency. If only he weren't such a straight arrow. He's getting battered in the polls, and with only a few months until Election Day, his staff is growing desperate. Enter Thomas Campman, political guru. On a sudden inspiration, the eccentric Campman is convinced he can revitalize the candidate's image by creating a fake sex scandal for him. Nothing too over-the-top—just a little scandal to make Phillips seem more human. Maybe even cool.

Though it takes some convincing, Phillips gives Campman the green light. The plan is set in motion, and, right on schedule, a phony former mistress steps forward to accuse the senator of infidelity. But scandals—even the premeditated kind—rarely go as planned. Before long, Campman's scheme snowballs into a three-ring circus complete with a linguistically challenged Mexican chauffeur who thinks he's James Bond, a highly sexed middle-aged woman who's convinced she'll never land one of the really good guys, and a political cub reporter for TeenVibe magazine who's sure he's on the trail of the biggest story since Watergate.

For those too well acquainted with politics-as-usual, The Scandal Plan is the perfect antidote. It's a witty political farce in the tradition of Jon Stewart and Dave Barry that will have readers—and even candidates—laughing all the way to the polls.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Kyra eBook Edition, This One Will Surprise You...

Have you ever had the experience of reading a book that you aren't even sure you like, but somehow can't but it down?

Kyra by Carol Gillian was like that for me.  Part of my brain kept thinking, "why am I reading this, it is boring and painful".  But I still couldn't put it down.  I actually read the whole thing in one long lazy Saturday afternoon.

On the face of it, there isn't a reason that I should have even picked the book up, much less been unable to put it down.  I know almost nothing about architecture or urban planning and possibly less about opera.  I am not in the habit of analyzing cultures, music or art.  Mainly, I am not big on suffering for love.  Yet with all of those strikes against it, Kyra was a strangely compelling book.

Gilmore is a graceful and fluent writer.  She has a tremendous grasp of her subject matter -- architecture, opera and therapy.  Somehow (against all odds), she seamlessly weaves these complex themes into a kind of love story.  Interestingly enough, a love story with a "happily ever after" end.

The characters, Kyra and Andreas, are complex and have extremely complicated lives.  They are both sophisticated, brilliant and creative.  Their careers serve as the ballast for the emotional life.  As they work together and fall in love, everything they believe begins to morph into something different. 

This story of how they fall in love is strangely academic and cerebral.  It shouldn't work, but somehow it does.

Kyra is more than a love story but less than a romance.  Difficult to explain.  This is a book you need to experience.

I suspect that urban planners and opera fans would find this book a treasure trove of ideas and sensations.  Psychologist and people familiar with psychotherapy would find it challenging.  And yet it also works for the casual reader.  Certainly, it is not everyone's cup of tea.

This is a great book club selection.  The story and themes are great discussion material.  And yet, you don't need to belong to a book club to read and enjoy this book.

Use Coupon Code LIBMR8 at checkout to receive a Discount on this eBook Title.

Here is the publishers synopsis:

An unforgettable novel about love–and the first work of fiction by the author of the groundbreaking nonfiction bestseller In a Different Voice

Kyra is an architect, involved in a project to design a new city. Andreas, a theater director, is staging an innovative production of the opera Tosca. Both have come through political upheaval and personal loss. Neither wants to fall in love. Yet when she asks him, “What is the opposite of losing?” and he says, “Finding,” it galvanizes a powerful attraction, and they risk opening themselves to love once again.

When their love affair leads to a shocking betrayal, Kyra’s fierce determination to see under the surface, to know what was true and real, brings her to Greta, a remarkable therapist. As the therapy itself repeats the themes of love and loss, Kyra challenges its structure, and the struggle that ensues between the two women opens the way to a larger understanding.

Passionate and revolutionary, Kyra is an exquisitely written love story, imbued with gentle humor. This is an extraordinary work of fiction by one of the most brilliant writers of our time. Tags: ebook,e-book,book review,Kyra,architecture,opera,psychotherapy

Monday, May 5, 2008

Certain Girls (eBook Edition)

I loved Good in Bed. It is raw, funny, honest and wise. As a woman who has struggled with her body image, I certainly relate to Cannie Shaprio.  Most women can. 

Six months ago I read the advance review for the sequel, Certain Girls.  I could hardly wait to get my hands on it.  Usually that kind of anticipation is a set up for disappointment.  Happily, Certain Girls not only did not disappoint.  It actually surpassed my expectations.

  In Certain Girls Jennifer Weiner beautifully captures the complexity, pain and joy of motherhood, daughterhood, sisterhood and marriage. 

At the heart of this story is the relationship between a teenag

e daughter and her mother.  This is arguably, the most difficult and intricate relationship on the planet.  It is exceedingly problematic even in the most "normal" family.  Cannie and Joy, however, most definitively do not have anything as bland as a normal family. 

Joy is a teenager who alternatively loves and hates her Mom.  Cannie is a Mom struggling to let her baby grow up.  The story line alternates between their points of view as they war over Cannie's (fictionalized) past, their daily interactions and Joy's upcoming Bat Mitzvah. 

Joy's Bat Mitzvah is the overarching and powerful symbol of Joy's entry into adulthood. As she makes the transition she is overcome with the need to make sense of her convoluted family tree.  She wants to know all about her Mom's and Dad's secrets, her biological Dad's new family and her very absent Grandfather.

Cannie is still working out the complicated relationships she has with her over the top lesbian Mom and ditzy but lovable little sister, Elle. And to complicate thing further, just as she is letting go of one child, her husband is lobbying for a baby. 

Weiner's ear for dialogue, her wit and compassion are all on display as she examines these complicated relationships and events.

Too often Weiner is categorized as just  a "chick-lit" writer.  The pink cover certainly reinforces that impression.   Don't be fooled.  This is not a fluffy, girly book. This is a nitty gritty account of coming to terms with the messy, complex web of family. 

The Publishers says:

Readers fell in love with Cannie Shapiro, the smart, sharp-tongued, bighearted heroine of Good in Bed who found her happy ending after her mother came out of the closet, her father fell out of her life, and her ex-boyfriend started chronicling their ex-sex life in the pages of a national magazine.

Now Cannie's back. After her debut novel -- a fictionalized (and highly sexualized) version of her life -- became an overnight bestseller, she dropped out of the public eye and turned to writing science fiction under a pseudonym. She's happily married to the tall, charming diet doctor Peter Krushelevansky and has settled into a life that she finds wonderfully predictable -- knitting in the front row of her daughter Joy's drama rehearsals, volunteering at the library, and taking over-forty yoga classes with her best friend Samantha.

As preparations for Joy's bat mitzvah begin, everything seems right in Cannie's world. Then Joy discovers the novel Cannie wrote years before and suddenly finds herself faced with what she thinks is the truth about her own conception -- the story her mother hid from her all her life. When Peter surprises his wife by saying he wants to have a baby, the family is forced to reconsider its history, its future, and what it means to be truly happy.

Radiantly funny and disarmingly tender, with Weiner's whip-smart dialogue and sharp observations of modern life, Certain Girls is an unforgettable story about love, loss, and the enduring bonds of family.

Highly recommended.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Searching for Paradise in Parker, PA (eBook edition)

  Last week my reading took me from Armageddon to Paradise.  That sentence comes close to encapsulating what I love about books!

After Armageddon in Retrospect I was ready for something light and fluffy.  You know, something without an ounce of reality that would take me to a land where everything was heavenly.  What better than Searching for Paradise in Parker, PA!

The good news is that this books is vintage Kris Radish.  It features  strong women, clueless guys and the requisite lesbian.  The bad news is that it is vintage Kris Radish.  It seems like I've read this all before.

I really wanted to love this book like I did Elegant Gathering of White Snows or Annie Freeman’s Fabulous Traveling Funeral.  Unfortunately, I can't say I did. 

The relationship between Addy and her sister, Hell, didn't ring true, too saccharine sweet even when you include their fight midway through the book.  And why name a character Hell??

The clueless men in a space a very few months were transformed from numskulls to sensitive new age kind of guys.  But then I guess this is fiction.  

Addy's friends, the Sweat-hers (really!) are cartoon women with amazing empathy and almost magical powers of feminine insight.

And for the plot to come close to working, the town would need to have about fifty citizens.

About half way through I just wanted the book to end, already.  But since I am close to incapable of not finishing a book I start, I more or less sped read to the end. 

This is probably a great beach read for the uninitiated Kris Radish reader; but even then, I would recommend either Elegant Gathering or Annie Freeman, first.

I hate writing and posting negative reviews. . . I mean after all the whole point of this blog is to get you interested in reading something that is recently released and fabulous, entertaining, informative or otherwise noteworthy,  This particular book is none of those things. . .  Unfortunately, it was the only book I managed to slog through last week so it is all I have (that is current/new).

Maybe I am too jaded; so check it out for yourself and let me know what you think.

Here is the publisher's information:

After twenty-eight years of marriage to her husband Lucky, Addy Lipton feels anything but happily married. In fact, just thinking of their garage, filled to the brim with Lucky’s useless junk collection, drives Addy dangerously close to plowing her car through it. But when Lucky wins a trip to paradise—aka Costa Rica—Addy has a faint hope they may be able to turn things around. Or maybe they won’t. Either way, Addy never gets the chance to find out.

On the morning of their departure, Lucky fractures his back tossing their luggage into his truck. Now, with the man she feels she barely knows anymore parked indefinitely on her couch, Addy can’t see their already shaky relationship surviving much longer. It’s time to make some big changes—and some drastic choices.

With the love and support of her devoutly single sister Hell and her workout friends, the Sweat-hers, Addy begins a crusade to revive her dreams—and she takes the women of Parker along for the ride. Soon the men will realize they’ll have to step up to the plate to keep their wives and lovers happy. And Addy will have to decide if the paradise she’s creating in Parker is big enough for two.... Tags: Radish,Searching for Paradise in Parker PA,ebook. e-books,ebook review


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Great Bestsellers


'Nineteen Minutes' by Jodi Picoult. Ms. Picoult writes with an air of suspense: she doesn't reveal all of her cards right away, and little bits about Peter's actions and motive emerge as the page count grows. At times this tactic becomes repetitive and leaves you wishing she would just spill the truth earlier, but when it finally does come, it is worth the wait. I am a big fan of Jodi Picoult and have loved many of her earlier works, especially My Sister's Keeper and Plain Truth. This novel is well written and fast paced enough to keep somone turning from page to page. The only issues I have with the novel is some unsolved mysteries and the last chapter could have been a bit more filled out. All in all though it is a solid book that is a good read.

'REMEMBER ME' by Sophie Kinsella. This eBook is about a woman who loses her memory and has no recollection of the last 3 years. She has to struggle with learning who she has become in the last 3 years. This is a fun and quick read. However, in my opinion it is not the best from the author. Having read all of her other books this one is my least favorite, and I feel the most forgettable. But, if you are looking for something fun to take to the beach or read on an weekend. This book is for you. Use the Coupon Code below for a additional Discount on either or both of these eBook Titles.

Nineteen Minutes: eBook edition Novel by Picoult, Jodi,
In nineteen minutes, you can mow the front lawn, color your hair, watch a third of a hockey game. In nineteen minutes, you can bake scones or get a tooth filled by a dentist; you can fold laundry for a family of five....In nineteen minutes, you can stop the world, or you can just jump off it.
More Info

REMEMBER ME eBook edition by Kinsella, Sophie
How long have I been awake? Is it morning yet? I feel so rough. What happened last night? God, my head hurts. Okay, I'm never drinking again, ever. I feel so woozy I can't even think, let alone . . .
More Info

Buy either of these titles this week, and recieve an extra 5% off your total purchase - so read all you want - these titles and much more await you at!
Use the following coupon code at checkout:

Monday, March 3, 2008

My First Born

I read the flame and the flower when I was sixteen years old.. I loved everything about Heather Birmingham...Thirteen yrs. later I had a beautiful little girl and I named her Heather after the character in the book...I read that book about 16 times, and my daughter is now 26 years old,and still laughs about how she got her name...She knows her mother is a hopeless romantic and loves every bit of it...

By Patty Menery, Andover, MA


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Keefer's trilogy is the new 21st century novel

Keefer's brilliant wit and intellect infuse this massive masterpiece so that you get an unusual perspective on twentieth century media megalomania, and what 9/11 and the War on Terror did to clash and un-clash civilizations. The narrative style is so unique she should have won the Nobel Prize!

A viewer from The Big Apple, New York

Wonderful story with heart-warming characters!

I highly recommend Snowfall at Willow Lake, in my opinion the best of the Lakeshore Chronicles. I can't help but curl up by the fire and feel warmed by Susan Wiggs' books!

Dave Ryan Portland, OR USA

Monday, February 4, 2008

HOT Authors Of Our Time Do It Again...


'Duma Key' by Stephen King. I have fallen in love all over again. When I read "Memory" I knew I wanted more. When I got this eBook last week, I was so ready for it. I have not been disappointed in the least. The very first "adult" book I read was Misery by Stephen King. Since then, I've not only read everything he's written, I have recently revisited many of his works and found that they still captivate and enthrall me. Duma Key will leave a lasting impression based on the friendship between Fremantle and Wireman. Its gracious, loving and ultimately a realistic depiction of love and caring, things that are not at first associated with Stephen King's writing.

'The 6th Target' by James Patterson. Love James Patterson. Love the fact that he writes so much; I don't have to wait 2 years for his novels to be published. I started this book last night and could not stop until I turned the last page. It was 3:15 a.m. and now I am paying for it. The four ladies of the woman's murder club are back in action. A series of kidnappings have the city of San Francisco twisted in knots, and it is up to Lindsey Boxer and her new partner to figure out what is going on. Reading this book is like running all the red lights. You know you have to stop but can't; you know you have questions but don't ask them. Is it fun? Hell yes. It is literature? No but who cares? Read it for a quick satisfying romp. Use the Coupon Code below for a Discount on these two eBook Titles.

Duma Key eBook edition by King, Stephen
No more than a dark pencil line on a blank page. A horizon line, maybe. But also a slot for blackness to pour through... A terrible construction site accident takes Edgar Freemantle's right arm and scrambles his memory and his mind, leaving him with little but rage as he begins the ordeal of rehabilitation.
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The 6th Target eBook edition by Patterson, James
When a horrifying attack leaves one of the four members of the Women's Murder Club struggling for her life, the others fight to keep a madman behind bars before anyone else is hurt. And Lindsay Boxer and her new partner in the San Francisco police department run flat-out to stop a series of kidnappings that has electrified the city: children are being plucked off the streets together with their nannies.
More Info

Buy either of these titles this week, and recieve an extra 5% off your total purchase - so read all you want - these titles and much more await you at!
Use the following coupon code at checkout: