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Friday, June 25, 2010

On My Reading Pile

Today's going to be a completely gorgeous day. Mid-70's and sunny with little humidity. YEAH! Given that, I'm getting work done early. My goals are to lounge out on the back deck and enjoy some reading time! Upcoming reviews will include:

This Is Where I Leave You: A Novel

Our Red Hot Romance Is Leaving Me Blue: A Novel (Domestic Equalizers)

Heart and Soul


On another note, I did just finish a young adult novel by a debut author. The Space between Trees is a new release from Chronicle Books. It's dark, especially given the subject matter involving the death of a high school girl, but it's a cross of a coming-of-age story and mystery. Definitely kept me hooked from start to finish.The review is posted at Roundtable For Kids.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Psych: The Call of the Mild - William Rabkin (Series Mystery)
















Released January 2010

www.penguin.com
www.usanetwork.com

Based on the popular television show, Psych: The Call of the Mild finds Shawn Spencer and his buddy Gus out in the wilderness. What starts with a simple request to find a missing piece of jewelry leads the men on a journey they never expected. Ellen Svaco's necklace came off during a class field trip and she wants Spencer to find it. Seems easy enough, but then nothing is ever easy. They face an evil mime, killer trains and much, much more. There is a lot more to this plot, but as much of the action takes place in the second half of the book, I don't want to give any potential spoilers.

I've never gotten into the television show. It's good, but given the time it's on here, I rarely stay awake for it. I am, however, a huge fan of the book series. I love the witty nature of Shawn and Gus and definitely find them intriguing.

From the start, The Call of the Mild drew me in. I loved the banter as they tackled their latest case and especially their dealings with the gun toting mime. However, as the story progressed, I found myself losing interest. That's unusual for me. By the end of the book, I was struggling to keep going.

Perhaps it was the different sub-plots that distracted me. I'm really not sure, but it seemed that the story lost steam in the middle and that's when I started struggling.

Given that, I'm hesitant to decide what others would think. Long-time fans of the show will find that the story is told from Gus's point of view, which is a nice change of pace. Just like the Monk books are told from Natalie's POV, I do like getting more insight from someone other than the main character. But, even then, this book just wasn't enough for me to think I'd ever want to pay full price for it. Great find if you come across it at a book sale or flea market, but otherwise, it's one I would have skipped.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Mr. Monk Goes to the Firehouse - Lee Goldberg (Mystery Series)
















Released January 2006

www.leegoldberg.com

One thing I really miss is Monk. The popular television series ended its long run leaving fans to re-watch old episodes or indulge in Lee Goldberg's book series. While I have each book and have re-read many of them, I'd never read the first in this series, Mr. Monk Goes to the Firehouse.

In this series opener, Monk must move in with Natalie while his apartment building is fumigated. He's busy sterilizing most everything, but soon he'll be up to his ears in not one, but a series of murders. Julie, Natalie's daughter, is distraught, someone killed a nearby fire department's cherished fire dog while the crew were at a fire. Monk offers to solve the case. As if this isn't enough, there's a body in the charred remnants of the blaze the fire crew were battling.

Monk's convinced the murders are linked, but finding evidence isn't as easy as it might seem, especially when most of it appears to have gone up in flames. Monk's determination to solve the case is definitely put to the test.

This book sets the stage. Narrated from Natalie Teeger's point of view, the series captures Monk, Captain Stottlemeyer, Natalie, Julie and Randy Disher perfectly. It's simple to visualize the characters as you read. Every character's nuances shine through, especially Monk's quirky compulsive behaviors. In fact, I've come to love the books just as much as the show. Best of all, the book series featuring Monk isn't over. Mr. Monk is Cleaned Out is due in book stores next month.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Nickel and Dimed - Barbara Ehrenreich (Non-Fiction)

 














Released May 2002

www.henryholt.com

I find myself wondering what this "experiment" would be like now that the economy, housing market and employment market have tanked and are trying to recover. It scares me to think of how many doors would have been slammed in Barbara Ehrenreich's face because, at least in my area, even jobs at McDonald's, grocery stores and other low-wage companies became difficult to land.

In the late 1990s,, Barbara Ehrenreich headed to various locations around the United States and attempted to learn if she could survive in a minimum wage job. Her goals were to have food, housing and a car. As she traveled from Key West to Portland, Maine, to Minnesota, she quickly discovered that one job wouldn't cut it.

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America is one of my son's high school reading requirements. I picked up a copy for him, but decided to read it out of curiosity. I've seen a similar experiment take place on Morgan Spurlock's 30 Days and he barely squeaked by.

I appreciate that the author touched on some of the more challenging aspects for the low-income. While we're middle-income where we live, taxes, electricity costs, heating bills and housing prices make it difficult for middle-income to make ends meet.

We have neighbors who have it harder and they seriously survive on boxed macaroni and cheese and the dollar a pack hot dogs found at area grocers. They'll throw in half a bag of frozen peas, corn or green beans to get some vegetables. As a result, their younger daughter is frequently suffering from a cold, flu or other virus. They know their diet sucks, but they can't afford better, and yet make too much money to qualify for government assistance.

It's interesting for me to see how little has changed. I know a teen who has now had two babies and was able, receives welfare, WIC and additional government help for teens who've had a baby. She has a three bedroom house that she pays little for, groceries, diapers, baby needs, they're all paid for through aid. She's even going to an online college thanks to grants and special programs. She doesn't have to work. I hope it helps her improve herself. At the same time, when her first child neared his second birthday, when aid is reduced, she had another baby so that nothing was lost. It's milking the system and she's admitted it's much easier to stick on welfare than try to make it on her own. This is where I'm really want to see reform occur.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Hiatus

It's been a very weird week here. Incidents with a neighbor that made my daughter uncomfortable enough to call police to a very ill family member... Regardless, I'm focusing on family before reading. Posts will return as soon as things have settled down.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Best Gift - Wendy Markham (Time Travel Romance)
















Released November 2009

www.penguin.com
www.wendymarkham.com

The Best Gift picks up where If Only in My Dreams left off.  Clara is married to Drew and expecting their first child. They've moved to California, a big change, and Clara's still settling into life on the opposite coast. When an earthquake hits, Clara wakes up a few years into the future. She's hugely pregnant, but Drew and the baby she should have given birth two a couple years earlier are sadly absent from her life. Uncertainty abounds as Clara tries to figure out what's happened to her happily ever after and with the catastrophic earthquake that sent her forward in time.

I adored If Only in My Dreams and was eager to see where the story would go with The Best Gift. For those who didn't read Clara's previous story, enough back-story is given to catch you up. The Best Gift is absorbing. I curled up in bed and read it from start to finish in a couple of hours--hooked into the story from the first page!

My only issue with this latest book was the bouncing from past to future. Claire doesn't stay in the future and resolve the mysterious absence of her child and Drew, she bounces back and forth frequently making it necessary to keep on top of which year she's in. For me, it aggravated me having to go back to the present when I was dying to know what happened with Drew and their child.

 Nonetheless, stick with the story. The ending offers a few surprises that definitely made this story worthwhile! And if you haven't read If Only in My Dreams, I definitely urge you to get that book too!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Love 'em or Leave 'em - Angie Stanton (Contemporary Romance)
















Released February 2010

www.avalonbooks.com

Ashley Reynolds opts to help out a friend by agreeing to be a last-minute replacement of a contestant on a new reality show Love 'em or Leave 'em. She agrees knowing that if she acts disinterested the bachelor in question will dump her quickly from the show.

Football pro Luke Townsend is fascinated with Ashley. He gets that she wants off the show, but he's determined to keep her on until he can figure out her angle. The more time he spends chasing her, the more he realizes she might just be the woman of his dreams.

Love 'em or Leave 'em definitely caught my interest from the start. The chemistry between Luke and Ashley is spot on. Given that, I'm not sure I'd be willing to pay the hardcover price for this debut novel. If you can get it for a little less, it's worthwhile.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Long Division - Jane Berentson (General Fiction)
















Released June 29, 2010

www.janeberentson.com

Let me start by saying, this is not a new Jane Berentson novel. Long Division is simply a new name for April 2009's Miss Harper Can Do It: A Novel.

In Long Division, Annie Harper, a third grade teacher, is missing her boyfriend something fierce. He's off in Iraq fighting a war Annie doesn't really support, but she's there for her loved one every step of the way. Through emails, the occasional phone call and letters, Annie and David keep in touch even though they are miles apart.

To pass time, Annie decides to write a memoir. Readers are treated to a very personal view of Annie as she starts to form new activities ranging from volunteering at an elderly home to raising chicken, and form closer bonds with her friends, particularly long-time best friend Gus. What Annie learns about herself in the process is really the heart of the story.

Honestly, I couldn't stop reading Annie's story, but I was surprised it took her so long to figure out a few things. I kept reading simply because I couldn't understand how she could be so blind to the woman she really is and where her passions truly leaned. Would I say this is the greatest novel of all time? No! However, it does have a quirky fresh feel that shows promise. I'm eager to see what the author does next.