Stacy's Books

books, movies, and boy

Husband and Wife, by Leah Stewart

Husband and WifeFinished 7-21-11, rating 4.75/5, fiction, 344 pages, pub. 2011

When Nathan and I married, I was a poet.  When we met, I was a poet.  When Nathan confessed, I was a mother, a business manager, a wife.  I’m not saying I held this against him.  I’m saying he held it against me.

Chapter 1

Nathan is a stay at home dad and author.  Sarah works a 9-5 job to provide financial stability for their family.  On the day the galleys arrive for his new book, Infidelity, Nathan confesses that he had cheated at a writer’s conference.  Sarah tries to stay sane, but after only a few days she kicks Nathan out and finds herself a mostly single mother.

This book spoke to me.  As a new mom, Sarah’s struggle to find her identity was one I could understand.  I think any mom and wife, especially ones with young children now, will find themselves nodding in agreement with many of Sarah’s thoughts.  I felt completely understood.

That being said, Sarah is no saint and some of the things she does are destructive and dangerous.  But Stewart does such a good job of making me understand Sarah that I never totally wrote her off.  I felt her pain.  I didn’t like Nathan either, he seemed like a loser with a capital L, until I started to understand their relationship and marriage- the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I love stories about marriage and all the complications that inherently make themselves known.  When one person cheats, can trust be restored?  Can she stay in the marriage?  When a woman becomes a mother, is she still the same woman she was before?  Should she be?  Is there a way to be a mother and retain your identity and your dreams?  Again, the identity issues are ones I’m struggling with right now so I loved this book.  As an older mom this passage made me nod my head,

“My mother was twenty-two when she had me.”

“My mother was twenty-five.”

“Can you imagine?  That was when we were in grad school.  Can you imagine having had kids at that age?  I didn’t even know who I was.”

She settled back into the couch cushions.  “Don’t you think knowing who you are makes it harder?  I mean, you know who you are, and then it becomes really hard to be who you are.” 

Chapter 16

For some reason this book inspired me.  It made me take a step back to look at me, not just the mom or the wife.  And then I had to go back to being mom, but those minutes mattered!  I highly recommend it.  I look forward to reading Leah’s other two books.

I bought this book on Tuesday night, read my post here.

July 21, 2011 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books | | 16 Comments

A Room with a View, by EM Forster

A Room with a View and Howards EndFinished 6-7-11, rating 4.5/5, classic, 246 pages, pub. 1908

This she might not attempt.  It was unladylike. Why?  Why were most big things unladylike?  Charlotte had once explained to her why.  It was not that ladies were inferior to men; it was that they were different.  Their mission was to inspire others to achievement rather than to achieve themselves.  Indirectly, by means of tact and a spotless name, a lady could accomplish much.  But if she rushed into the fray herself she would be first censured, then despised, and finally ignored.

Chapter 4

Lucy is a young Englishwoman who is blessed with a loving mother and brother, a comfortable home and the ability to travel.  When she and her cousin, Charlotte, visit Florence, Italy, they enjoy their time spent with others of their ilk.  When Mr. Emerson and his son, George, are thrown in to the mix, people respond to their unconventional and brutish ways by cutting them off or trying to ignore them.  Lucy, in her youth, was confused and intrigued by the two who paid no attention to social norms.  She is looking for something big, something more and the Emerson’s offer her a way of viewing the world that is fresh and new.

I loved this short gem of a romance.  It addresses a young woman’s coming of age during the early 1900′s, a time that demanded little from her.  Lucy knew she wanted more, but she didn’t know what more meant.  Because she was scared of her feelings for a man who did not follow society’s rules she fled home to the security of a place that told her what her place was in the world.

I loved Lucy’s transformation and the humor Forster used to make this book fun and still important.  I loved the whole thing and was especially charmed by the end.  I’m looking forward to finding this on film.

This book is from my personal library and was chosen for me by Candice and Jenny.  Here’s what they had to say…

“Short, sweet, and enjoyable.”  Jenny

“A personal favorite.”  Candice

This book counts toward Molly’s

A Classic Bribe

at Quirky Girls Read.  Why not join in the fun?

June 10, 2011 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books | | 19 Comments

HeartSick, by Chelsea Cain

Heartsick (Gretchen Lowell Series #1) by Chelsea Cain: Book CoverFinished 5-10-11, rating 4.25/5, thriller, 324 pages, pub. 2007

He picked up the phone. “Yeah,” he said.  He was sitting in his living room in the dark.  He hadn’t planned it that way.  He had just sat down a few hours before and the sun had set and he hadn’t bothered to turn on the light.  Plus, the dingy apartment, with its sparse furnishings and stained carpet, looked slightly less cloaked in blackness.

Henry’s gruff voice filled the phone line.  “He took another girl,” he said. And there you had it.

The digital clock that sat on the empty bookcase blinked insistently in the dim room.  It was an hour and thirty-five minutes off, but Archie had never bothered to reset it.  He just did the math to calculate the time. “So they want to reconvene the task force,” Archie said.

Chapter 2

Archie is a damaged police detective out on medical leave until a serial killer reels him back in.  Susan is a damaged newspaper reporter asked to cover Archie and his new task force as they investigate a series of murdered high school girls.  Gretchen is a damaged serial killer (is there any other kind?) who still has her hooks in Archie, even from prison.

So, this is your standard serial killer thriller until you add all of the baggage these three are carrying.  I love flaws and Archie has many.  He gets aroused by a woman who held him captive and tried to kill him, takes way too many pills, and has abandoned a family who loves him.  And the worst part?  He knows his fate and doesn’t want to be saved.

Susan was my favorite character.  The reporter with the pink hair who has father figure issues and while Archie uses pills to deal with his pain, she uses sex to deal with hers.  But she also had a vibrant  humanity.  She still cared about not exploiting victims and being a real reporter who did stories that matter.

Gretchen is one crazy serial killer.  She and Archie’s relationship really creeped me out.  That she could creep me out from prison is saying something.

It’s the characters that made the story, even though the plot was good too.  My only complaint is that the end felt a little too much like a standard thriller wrap up when the rest of the story had been unique.  But that is not stopping me from adding the next book in this series to my reading list.  I can’t wait to revisit these characters.

I almost forgot to mention how much Portland, Oregon comes alive.  I’ve always wanted to visit and now I feel as though I have!

Highly recommended for thriller fans.

This book is from my personal library.

May 11, 2011 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books | | 20 Comments

Agatha Christie #1 The Mysterious Affair at Styles

The Mysterious Affair at Styles (Hercule Poirot Series) by Agatha Christie: Book CoverFinished 4-22-11, rating 4.5/5, mystery, 224 pages, pub. 1920

Emily Inglethorp- wealthy mistress of Styles.  Murdered in front of her family.

Mr. Inglethorp- Gold digger and hated and suspected by all.

John Cavendish- Oldest member of the family and in need of money.

Mary Cavendish- Wife of John who is carrying on with another man.

Lawrence Cavendish- Younger brother without charm or influence.

Cynthia- Lives at the house at the invitation of the family.

Miss Howard- Companion to Mrs. Inglethorp.

Dr. Bauerstein- A little too familiar with certain memebers of the family.

Captain Hastings has been sent home to recover from sickness on the field of WWI, but has nowhere to go when he runs into his old friend, John Cavendish who invites him to stay at the family estate of Styles in Essex.  While there Hastings sees his old friend and ex-Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, who is also familiar with the family.  When Emily is murdered in locked room (and yes, also in front of her family), Hastings and Poirot are on the case and find no shortage of suspects.

So, I’ve never read an Agatha Christie novel (but I did listen to one on a car trip last year).  Yes, I know, why then sign up for a challenge to read ALL of her over 80 novels?  I have no good reason except that I kept reading Margot’s posts for the challenge, I like mysteries and I wanted to do it.  The challenge is to read them in order, so I started with this, her first, and confess that it was better than I thought it would be.  I was really impressed by how easy  and entertaining this book was.  Captain Hastings and Hercule Poirot are both characters I look forward to seeing again in later books and am going to see if I can track down the movie for this one.  I loved the mystery and did not figure it out until I was told by Hercule.  Hopefully, I’ll get more adept at recognizing the clues as I continue.

I am happy I signed up for this challenge and recommend this book to all mystery lovers.  It does not feel as though it was written in 1920 and I think you’ll be impressed at Christie’s debut novel.

Fun Agatha Christie fact – Agatha Christie is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the World’s Bestselling Author. Her books have sold over 2 billion copies in 44 languages.

I checked this book out of the library.

April 23, 2011 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books | | 14 Comments

Live Wire, by Harlan Coben

Live Wire (Myron Bolitar Series #10) by Harlan Coben: Book CoverFinished 4-17-11, rating 4.5/5, fiction, 371 pages, pub. 2011

Book 10 of the Myron Bolitar series.

“I’m not going to rehash my mistakes right now.  That’s not the point anyway.  We were good parents, I guess.  Most are.  Most are trying their best and if they make mistakes, it’s from trying too hard.  But the truth is, we parents are at the most, say, auto mechanics.  We can tune up the car and make sure it has the proper fluids.  We can keep it running, check the oil, make sure it is road ready.  But the car is still the car.  When the car comes in, it’s already a Jaguar or Toyota or Prius.  You can’t turn a Toyota into a Jaguar.”

(Myron’s dad)  Chapter 8

Myron started his business, MB Reps, working as a sports agent after a knee injury ended his NBA career before it began.  He is an agent with a heart and his business has expanded to represent all types of jocks and artists.  When one of his first clients comes to him for help, he doesn’t hesitate to do what he can.  And when he does what he can he gets caught up in a mess that has serious repercussions for everyone he loves.

Myron’s best friend, Win, is there to back him up with his influence and muscle even when he knows Myron is making a mistake.  His Dad tells him to step away, but Myron can’t, not when his estranged brother’s wife shows up hooked on heroin and he sees his 15-year-old nephew for the first time.  Now all Myron needs to do is figure out why his brother’s wife is harassing his client.  There are rock stars, mob bosses, and drug dealing teachers all in the way of Myron and his quest to save his client and maybe even his brother.

Myron is a smart ass, but one with a certain humanity and goodness and I am always rooting for him and his even bigger smart ass friend, Win, to save the day.  And they usually do, but this time they do not come away unscathed.  I love this series but by the end of this one I was sad.  Not because I didn’t want it to end (although there was that), but because the series felt like it was winding itself down and now I wonder if we’ll see Myron and gang in the same way again.  I don’t think I’m spoiling anything here by saying that Myron’s nephew, and by association Myron, will be the focus of Coben young adult book due out in the fall.   I hope Myron will be back front and center someday.  That being said, if you have not read any of the other Myron books, this is not the place to start and I think you will be missing very important background info.

Coben is the king of pop culture references.   If you haven’t read him yet, you are missing out on a witty and current author.

This book is from my personal library.

April 20, 2011 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books | | 22 Comments

The Lake Effect, by Les Roberts

The Lake Effect (Milan Jacovich Series #5) by Les Roberts: Book CoverFinished 1-19-11, rating 4.5/5, mystery, 310 pages, pub. 1994

Book 5 of the Milan Jacovich series ( Book 1) (Book 2) (Book 3) (Book 4)

“But mainly we want to utilize you for security.  You’ll be with Barbara whenever she makes public appearances.  You’ll go in, check the microphone and the lights, and make sure she presents herself in the best possible light.  And with your police background-I told you we know all about you-you’ll be right there in case any troubles starts.”

“I can’t imagine there being that kind of trouble in a place like Lake Erie Shores.”

Her eyes narrowed just a millimeter.  “Why?  Because it’s all middle-class whites?”

“No,” I said quickly.  “Because…” I blushed furiously.  “I’m sorry.  I guess that’s exactly what I meant.”

Chapter 3

Private investigator, Milan Jacovich owes the mob family in Cleveland a favor and they are ready to collect.  They assign Milan to protect and help a candidate for mayor in an upscale Cleveland suburb.  Barbara Corns is a terrible candidate and with a week before the election Milan knows there isn’t much he can do but stay close and put in his time.  The other candidate and current mayor of the city is slick and he has plans for a casino on Lake Erie that would benefit the city.  Things are pretty tame until the mayor’s wife is run down and killed.  Then Milan uses his police contacts and detective talents to investigate the many people surrounding the campaigns.

I love this series.  The mystery is always good and Milan is a great main character.  He’s a divorced middle-aged man with two teen boys that he sees every other Sunday and a lonely lifestyle between girlfriends.  He is a Clevelander who is proud of his Slovenia heritage and knows the streets and the people well.  As for the mystery this time around I had a suspicion, but I was wrong so another successful book by Roberts!  Any mystery lover will love this series and most Clevelanders have already discovered it.  I got started a little late so I’m just catching up, but I haven’t read a dud yet.

If you are trying the States reading challenge or just want to read a book set in Ohio I would highly recommend this series.  This book is set in the 1990′s, but the series continues today so you could probably pick up any of them to get a feel for Cleveland.

I checked this book out of the library.

January 26, 2011 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books | | 11 Comments

Sundays With Gage and On Becoming Baby Wise by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam MD

This is the perfect picture of what a sleeping newborn should look like – and yes, I do see the resemblance to a frog.  Sleeper, check.  Baby on back, check.  Absolutely nothing else in crib, check.  As you can see Gage knows the correct procedure.  At least every time but nighttime.  I consider it a little funny that this night owl has a son who seems to think daytimes are for napping and when the sun goes down it is time to party.  I won’t go into the sleeping woes of this new mama because my parents came for the weekend and I got two nights of extra sleep.  I’m feeling good and ready for the mostly sleepless nights of the upcoming week. 

The following book was given to me for a pregnancy gift, but I only read it after Gage arrived.  My loss.  It has proved invaluable.

This photo was taken when Gage was 2 weeks old.  He’s pushing 4 weeks now ;)

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On Becoming Babywise by Gary Ezzo: Book CoverFinished 11-6-10, rating 4.5/5, parenting, revised & updated 2006

I am not a huge fan of schedules but I think that babies and children can benefit from them so I was happy to read this book on how to give my baby some structure.  The book recommends forming and maintaining a routine for your infant that is based on sleeping, feeding, and waketime.  There are tips on how to establishing a schedule for your child and I have found it useful.  I have not been able to follow it to the letter (Gage is only a newborn, after all!), but by using the guidelines loosely I have found my day to have a little more certainty. 

I think there may be a danger if you try to follow it too closely.  I’ve tried that and there are some things that I think will not work for Gage.  Making him nap when he wants to play for a few hours seems counterproductive to getting him to sleep at night.  But keeping in mind the three blocks of time and shaping them to suit your needs I think will help many first time parents feel more in control and knowledgeable.  Having a plan, whether you follow it to the letter or not, goes a long way in making you feel prepared.

While I think the first chapter called Your Baby Needs a Family was well intended it did seem to lack empathy for most mothers and fathers out there that for whatever reason do not have the ideal nuclear family.  If you are one of them, as are most families these days, I might just skip that chapter altogether.

This book was a gift from my friend, Kate.

November 14, 2010 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books, Gage | , | 24 Comments

What to Expect When You’re Expecting, by Heidi Murkoff with Bonus Belly Shot :)

What to Expect When You're Expecting by Heidi Murkoff: Book CoverFinished 10-16-10, rating 4.5/5, pregnancy, revised pub. 2008

When I found out I was pregnant I made the decision to buy and read only one pregnancy book and this is the one I chose.  I’ve heard women complain about it being outdated or not detailed enough, but I found it to be very useful.  I did not read it cover to cover and the last section on things that could go wrong I didn’t read, although I did reference it early on when I was afraid I might be having trouble.  I felt like it gave me just enough information to feel comfortable, but not too much to cause increased worry, which is some thing I struggle with anyway.  I definitely have a worry gene and I hope I haven’t passed it on to Gage!

Not only does the book cover eating for two, but its week by week updates were so much fun to read with Jason every week.  It also helped for Jason to see some of my symptoms in print so he didn’t think I was making them up :)  As a first time mom who has spent very little time around pregnant women I thought this book was a wonderful resource and I would recommend it.

As a bonus I thought I’d share the last picture we took of me ‘expecting’.  We took this Saturday afternoon and I went to the hospital later that evening.  I gained 45 pounds during my pregnancy.  Hard to believe I gained all that belly for a 6 pound little guy!

This book was from my personal library.

October 30, 2010 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books, Pregnancy | , | 9 Comments

The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan

Cover ImageFinished 10-12-10, rating 4.5/5, fiction, pub. 1989

The novel starts after the death of Sunyan Woo when her daughter Jing-Mei is asked to take her place at the mahjong table.  And so begins the stories of four Chinese mothers and their American daughters.  Jing-Mei finds out that before leaving China her mother abandoned two daughters and now Jong-Mei’s sisters have been found.  Waverly Jong has a daughter, but not much respect for her mother or her heritage.  Lena St. Clair is in an unhappy marriage and her mother considers herself a ghost.  Rose Hsu Jordan is getting divorced much to the consternation of her mother.

The most interesting parts of this book are the stories of the mothers and their youth in China.  I loved learning about the culture and history and how their lives changed when they moved to San Francisco.  They all seemed to have real issues with the American way of life and values and lamented how it affected their children.  It was fascinating.

As much as I loved the stories of the women there were too many to invest in completely.  There was not a resolution for every  story and that’s okay, but I would have liked one.  This didn’t really detract from the beauty of the book, but it is worth mentioning. 

I didn’t expect to love it, but I did.  It wasn’t what I expected, it was so much better.   It was fun escaping into another culture for a few hours. I will definitely be checking out more books by Amy Tan. 

This is from my personal library and was chosen by Hannah, Golda, Margot, Jackie, Staci, Jenners, Mystica, and Mom.  Here’s what they had to say…

“A modern classic, I think. Really well done.”  Jenners

“Fantastic book by a wonderful author. You’ll remember this one well after you’ve read it!”  Staci

“Because it’s an engaging tale of immigrants and generations, but also because this is one of those books that will be (or already is) a part of our collective consciousness.”  Hannah

October 13, 2010 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books | | 20 Comments

Good in Bed, by Jennifer Weiner

Cover ImageFinished 10-6-10, rating 4.5/5, fiction, pub. 2001

“You called me fat in a magazine.  You turned me into a joke.  You don’t think you did anything wrong?”

“Face it Cannie,” he said.  “You are fat.”  He bent his head.  “But that doesn’t mean I didn’t love you.”

The box of tampons bounced off his forehead and spilled into the parking lot.

Chapter 1

Cannie has a good job as a reporter, close friends, a dog she loves, but she is unhappy with the extra weight she carries.  To make matters worse her ex-boyfriend of five years has just written an article in a national magazine titled “Loving a Larger Woman.”  Although she was the one to initiate the break-up she’s not sure she did the right thing and she makes some questionable decisions.

Cannie is a great character, full of humor, intelligence, laughter, and wit. It is light at first, but also addresses serious family issues with both of her parents that I found very real.  And the fact that the reality wasn’t all tied up with a pretty bow at the end made it great for me.  It managed to maintain the fun while still showing that not all things in the real world can be solved the way we want.  It is chick lit at its best, but moves beyond that to a heartfelt story about starting to love yourself.

This was a great debut novel and I’m not sure what took me so long to read it.  Oh wait, it’s the hundreds of other books I own.  Anyway, I’m happy to discover a new author who I look forward to reading.  My only complaint comes from the fact that I’m pregnant.  The pregnancy storyline was a little flat for me only because it felt like Weiner just took things from a pregnancy book and threw them in.  I’m sure that if you are not pregnant this would not bother you, but since I’ve had over eight months of living it it just didn’t ring true for me.  Still loved the book!

This is from my personal library and was chosen by Shanyn, Debbie, Em, and Mom.

“Hilarious, love her.”  Em

“I became an instant fan after I read this one.”  Debbie

“I love that book.”  Shanyn

October 7, 2010 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books | | 21 Comments

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