Stacy's Books

books, movies, and boy

Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe

Stories I Only Tell My Friends: An AutobiographyStories I Only Tell My Friends. Finished audio 9-28-12, rating 4.5/5, autobiography, pub. 2011

Unabridged audio read by Robe Lowe.

It’s no secret that I am a child of the 80’s and lover of the teen movies of the day.  Rob Lowe was never one of my favorites, he was just too pretty, but he starred in some great 80’s films.  I picked up the book at a library sale but then remembered that a few bloggers (maybe Mary is one?) recommended the audio so I tried that instead and the audio is definitely the way to go with this one.  Lowe’ charm and intelligence come through loud and clear and I looked forward to getting in the car and visiting with him every day because that’s what it felt like.  He was very conversational and it was just a fun and easy listen.

Lowe knew he wanted to be an actor at an early age in Dayton, Ohio, and was involved in an acting group called Peanut Butter and Jelly.  He even had a few star encounters, a favorite of mine is when he knocked on Liza Minnelli’s hotel door and was allowed in to chat!  His parents divorced, his mother remarried and her behavior became erratic.  When she moved the family of three boys to Los Angeles it was culture shock for Rob, but the perfect place to really pursue his goal of becoming an actor.

Lowe is a master name dropper.  It is amazing to me how many famous people he came in contact with at a young age.  I LOVE Cary Grant and Rob got to watch his first after school special on Cary Grant’s bed with Grant and his daughter.  So cool (and not creepy at all).  The Sheens, Janet Jackson, Ron Howard and many others all come into Rob’s orbit before his first big break, The Outsiders (1983).   The Outsiders takes up a nice percentage of the book, but we get to meet these new upstarts as Rob does, Tom Cruise, Patrick Swayze, Matt Dillon…

I highly recommend this for any fan of the 80’s, Hollywood memoirs, or the man himself.  You’ll feel like Hollywood insider.  I think it could have been more complete, he does choose to gloss over chunks of his life, but what is included is very entertaining and insightful.  A man who has been on both the inside and the outside of the Hollywood scene and has managed to survive with sanity intact.

After finishing the book I immediately put The Outsiders on hold at the library.  I feel like I know so much about behind the scenes that the movie will be extra fun to watch.  I think my favorite role is Sam Seaborn from the West Wing.  What’s yours?

October 1, 2012 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books | , , | 18 Comments

The Violets of March, by Sarah Jio

The Violets of March: A NovelFinished 4-7-12, rating 4.5/5, fiction, 293 pages, pub. 2011

The moving story told in its pages, of love and loss and acceptance, of secret passions and the weight of private thoughts, forever changed the way I viewed my own writing.  It may have been why I stopped writing.  Joel had never read the book, and I was glad of it.  It was too intimate to share.  It read to me like the pages of my unwritten diary.

Chapter 1

Emily, author of one bestselling novel years ago, has just signed her divorce papers.  Not able to write and not sure what to do about it her best friend convinces her that a change of scenery will help, so Emily contacts her Aunt Bee on Bainbridge Island, Washington.  Once she’s back on the island where she spent the wonderful summers of her youth, she finds a hidden journal written by the mysterious Esther, and Emily wonders if she is somehow connected to her family.  Totally immersed in Esther’s story and frustrated by her aunt’s refusal to talk about family secrets, Emily found the perfect way to forget about her divorce and the muse to start writing again.

The story in the journal parallels current day Bainbridge Island and as Emily pieced together who was who I tried to keep up.  I admit I had some ideas, but did get a bit confused by the large cast.  I didn’t really care though, I was just happy to be along for the ride.  One of these days I hope I find my way to Bainbridge Island.  The place felt magical.

I loved this book.  The writing was beautiful, there was such depth and beauty on every page.  The awesome writing coupled with the two addicting storylines make this one easy to recommend.  I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump (probably because I have so little time for it these days so I tend to choose shorter books) but this one had me reading well into my sleep time and that’s not something I give up lightly!

There are two things that kept this from being perfect for me.  I wish there could have been another chapter to wrap things up a little more and I was surprised by how fast Emily recovered from her divorce.  She did not waste any time jumping back into the dating pool and seemed to think very little of her old life.  This felt a bit odd, but I’ve not gone through a divorce so maybe it is that easy to forget (and I mean forget a week later).  Both of these are minor complaints.

This is my favorite book this year, so far, and it was from my personal library.

Enter to win a copy of The Day the World Ends by Ethan Coen here.

April 11, 2012 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books | | 33 Comments

A Place to Call Home, by Deborah Smith

A Place to Call HomeFinished 3-12-12, rating 4.5/5, southern fiction/romance, 414 pages, pub. 1997

Pampered Claire has been in love with Bad Boy Roan since she was five and he stood up for her against a bully.  The two were an unlikely pair, especially given their five year age difference.  Their friendship caused tongues to wag and Claire’s parents concern, but it remained and strengthened until Roan proved himself worthy and Claire’s family took him in. Five years later they would send him away not knowing what became of him.  It’s twenty years later and Claire is all grown up and has never forgotten Roan or quite forgiven her parents, but her life has gotten complicated and she must return home to her childhood home and to her family.

This is one of those wonderful stories about love, redemption, acceptance, secrets, and family.  It is a love story, but it is much more than that too.  Claire is from a huge family and I can relate, although I’m an only child I have 14 first cousins and a whole lotta seconds and thirds.  Claire couldn’t do anything in her small southern Georgia town without a relative knowing about it – she even had three lively grandmothers living in her house.  I loved the multigenerational feel of the book, the feeling of a deep connection to the land and the people.  It was warm and inviting.

As much as I enjoyed Claire and her family it was Roan’s story that broke your heart and made you want to keep reading.  Roan, who grew up poor, filthy, beaten, and judged because his father was the town embarrassment.  When Roan disappeared you just knew he would make something of himself, but how and why did he stay away?  The reason was one I didn’t quite see coming and it made this book more than a great romance with something extra, a great story.

I loved this one.  The characters were all well-developed, even the secondary ones. It was great comfort reading as I’ve come to expect from Deborah Smith.  I’ve read several other of her novels, but this is ny favorite.  One thing of note, Claire was a reporter but she didn’t know what had become of Roan those twenty years and I kept thinking, “Just Google him!” or “He’s gotta be on Facebook.”  Isn’t it funny how technology can intrude on a perfectly lovely story?

If you like romances like the old Lavyrle Spencer novels or great southern reading I highly recommend this one.

Thsi was from my personal library.

March 14, 2012 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books | | 10 Comments

Without Fail, by Lee Child

Without Fail (Jack Reacher Series #6)Finished 1-24-12, rating 4.5/5, thriller, 549 pages, pub. 2002

Jack Reacher series, Book 6 (Book 1) (Book 2) (Book 3) (Book 4) (Book 5)

“A handshake isn’t enough,” she said.  “You’re going to do it for us.”  Then she paused.  “And you were nearly my brother-in-law.”

He said nothing.  Just nodded and shuffled out from behind the table and glanced back once.  Then he headed up the stairs and out to the street.  Her perfume was on his hand.  He walked around to the cabaret lounge and left a note for his friends in their dressing room.  Then he headed out to the highway, with ten whole days to find a way to kill the fourth-best-protected person on the planet.

Chapter 1 

Series Main Character- Jack Reacher.  Many series have a main character or two and many recurring characters.  This series only needs one, loner extraordinaire, Reacher.  He’s a badass.  He makes his way around the country righting wrongs and fighting injustices.  He doesn’t have a home, an ATM card, close friends, but he does have a heart and lots of confidence.  He’s retired military police so he knows his stuff and his talents and he is not afraid to give into his baser instincts for vengeance.  Oh, and he absurdly attractive to women.  Me included.

Story- His dead brother’s ex-girlfriend works for the Secret Service and she is in charge of  protecting the Vice President elect.  When he begins receiving death threats, Froelich tracks down Reacher to help her figure out if they could do it.  Reacher brings in an old military friend, Neagley and the two of them start tracking the would be assassins.

How it stacks up-This is right up there with the best of the series so far.  I love good political intrigue and this was a fun look inside the Secret Service.  The pseudo history with Froelich and the comfortable friendship with Neagley made this one more appealing than some of the others.

Who should be reading this series- A must read for anyone who likes a great fast-paced thriller.

This was from my personal library.

January 25, 2012 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books | | 17 Comments

My Personal Best: Life Lessons from an All-American Journey, by John Wooden with Steve Jamison

My Personal Best: Life Lessons from an All-American JourneyFinished 12-26-11, rating 4.5/5, non-fiction, 202 pages, pub. 2004

Never lie

Never cheat

Never steal

Don’t whine

Don’t complain

Don’t make excuses

Joshua Hugh Wooden’s “two sets of threes” to live by (John Wooden’s father)

John Wooden, a basketball coaching legend, won 10 national championships in his 27 years at UCLA, but it was his honest and positive approach to life that won him a multitude of fans.  This book chronicles some of the biggest moments of his life and how they influenced him, from his father reading poetry to he and his brothers to the death of his beloved Nell in 1985.  He loved his family, respected others, and was always striving for success, on the court and off.

Jason and I read this aloud to each other for a few minutes each night as Gage listened or played, a perfect book for it.  I hope that Jason will read this with Gage when he gets older.  Wooden is role model because of the way he lived his life.  He had success after success and yet he was always trying to learn lessons from perceived failings.  It was so refreshing to read about someone considered the best in their field who was also just a decent human being. He was 99 when he died in 2010.

The book had lots of pictures and lots of basketball talk and is a perfect read for fathers & sons. 

This book was from my personal library.

December 27, 2011 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books | | 6 Comments

The Missing Ink, by Karen E. Olson

The Missing Ink (Tattoo Shop Series #1)Finished 12-16-11, rating 4.75/5, mystery, 299 pages, pub. 2009

Book 1, Tatoo Shop series

“Can I help you, Officer?” I politely asked his profile.  I knew how to talk to cops: Keep it cordial, no sudden moves.

He was studying the frosted letters on the window, his hands on his hips.  He didn’t look ready to grab the gun or the nightstick that flanked his stocky frame.  He turned his head slowly, his mouth set in a grim line, eyes narrowed as they settled on my face.

It unsettled me.  Usually people stared at the ink on my left arm-a detailed replica on Monet’s water lily garden, complete with a weeping willow and footbridge-or the dragon that creeps up over my right breast under my tank top.

Chapter 1

Brett Kavanaugh, owner of The Painted Lady tattoo shop in Las Vegas, is the last person to have seen a prominent runaway bride.  Brett is caught up in the mystery and finds herself doing some investigative work of her own, leading her to a dead body and big trouble.  Her brother and roommate, Tim, is a detective and tries to save her from herself with limited success.  She also teams up with a rival tattooist and a sexy Brit who obviously knows way more than he should about the missing woman and the dead man.

Brett is awesome.  She owns her own tatoo shop, but she also has a fine art degree in painting, so she’s got credentials.  She moved out to Vegas when she needed to leave the east coast and remains unimpressed with all the trappings of Vegas.  She sees it as an illusion and that makes her a smart cookie.  She is independent (which leads to some dumb decisions) but relies on the help of her friend and co-worker, Joel.  She obviously is too brave for her own good or she wouldn’t be involved in the murderous mess at all.  What’s not to love?

I have no interest in getting a tatoo and I am no fan of Las Vegas (Was there once, stayed at the Four Seasons and the Luxor.  Was sick the entire week so maybe Vegas didn’t get a fair shake) so it was a bit of a surprise to me that I loved this book so much.  I’d seen all the positive reviews, but was turned off by the cover for some reason.  This will end up being one of my favorite books this year and I can’t wait to read the next one in the series.  Who knows, maybe Brett will eventually convince me that tats are cool :) (I do think that a high proportion of people with tattoos are cool, but remain less enamored with the tattoos themselves)

This book had the perfect voice and a strong mystery to make it a fast and fun read.

I checked this book out of the library.

December 20, 2011 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books | | 15 Comments

Killer Summer, by Ridley Pearson

Killer Summer (Walt Fleming Series #3)Finished audio 12-1-11, rating 4.5/5, thriller, pub. 2009

Unabridged audio, 9 hours 12 minutes.  Read by Phil Gigante

Book 3 in the Walt Fleming series

County sheriff Walt Fleming is a man on the verge of divorce, a presence in the life of his nephew, and the lawman in charge of securing the elite wine sale in Sun Valley.  Millions of dollars will be paid for three bottles of wine once owned by John Adams.  When Walt discovers a murdered man he detects his way to a complicated plan to steal the wine.

There were so many twists, turns and red herrings that this was a home run for me.  There were a lot of interesting subplots that kept me interested on many levels.  Not only was Walt a good investigator, but his personal relationships made for great storylines and I loved the way all aspects of his life came together for this mystery.

I picked this up because it was set in Idaho and I didn’t realize that this was part of a series until I was done.  I loved this as a standalone, but if you are interested the first of the series is Killer Weekend.

I checked this audio out of the library.

December 8, 2011 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books | | 7 Comments

Buried Prey, by John Sandford

Buried Prey (Lucas Davenport Series #21)Finished 9-29-11, rating 4.5/5, mystery, 390 pages, pub. 2011

#21 in the Prey series

Series main character  Lucas Davenport has been in Minnesota law enforcement for all 21 novels.  He started as a detective and now works as an investigator for Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.  He’s married to a surgeon and has three children with another on the way.

What makes him special? Lucas is a tough guy who doesn’t mind bending the rules to catch the bad guy.  He has the smarts to track down leads and the muscle and charm with the ladies to make them talk.  He’s also filthy rich and a clotheshorse.

This is what Sandford said about him in 2004, “I’ve always thought of him as a kind of sociopath who is slightly warped. Of course, Davenport changed a lot throughout the stories, he became calmer… “

Supporting Cast His police friends Del, Jenkins, Shrake, Marcy and Sandy are all on the case.  A pregnant Weather and adopted daughter Letty try to keep him from doing something stupid.  Should I tell you that one of them won’t be in the next book?  Oops.  Forget I said anything.

The story Two young sisters disappeared in the 1980’s and were discovered buried under a house in 2011.  The sisters were the first case Lucas worked on and a good portion of the book is a flashback to that case with a young Lucas getting his first big break.  Now that the bodies have been discovered he is ready to find the murderer who got away.

How does it stack up with the rest of the series?  I fell in love with Lucas in the first half of this series, but felt that the last few have been uninspired.  This one is as good as some of the first and it feels like the series is back on track.

Can it be read as a stand-alone?  I always think it’s better to read a series from the beginning, but because of the flashback section I think this is one of the rare occurences where it would be it okay to read alone.

Who should read it? Fans of police procedurals and fans of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series.

This was from my personal library.  I picked it up (and way too many other books from my wish list) from Border’s for practically nothing.

September 29, 2011 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books | | 14 Comments

Dead Until Dark, by Charlaine Harris

Dead until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse / Southern Vampire Series #1) (True Blood)Finished 9-26-11, rating 4.5/5, Vampire mystery, 292 pages, pub. 2001

You can tell I don’t get out much.  And it’s not because I’m not pretty.  I am.  I’m blond and blue-eyed and twenty-five, and my legs are strong and my bosom is substantial, and I have a waspy waistline.  I look good in the warm weather waitress outfit Sam picked for us: black shorts, white socks, black Nikes.

But I have a disability.  That’s how I try to think of it.

The bar patrons just say I’m crazy.

Either way, the result is that I almost never have a date.  So little treats count a lot with me.

And he sat at one of my tables-the vampire.

Chapter 1

Sookie is a waitress in Louisiana.  Bill is a vampire trying to assimilate into the human world.  While vampires are now legal beings they are not really accepted so when dead waitresses start showing up, Bill is in trouble.

I really don’t read vampire stories.  I did read the first Twilight and was entertained, but not so overwhelmed that I wanted to read more.  So, I skimmed all the reviews on this one and thought that I would give it a try someday, but it wasn’t until I picked this first one up at Border’s and then realized it would help me on two challenges that I started to read.  The verdict is still out on vampires in general, but I totally loved this book.

What’s there to say about Sookie that has’t already been said?  Sookie knows who she is and isn’t afraid to show the world. She hadn’t really considered the upside of her ‘disability’ and it was fun to see her start to see herself in a new light.  I loved that she was brave and impulsive and looking for some excitement.

The plot had more serious twists than I was expecting and that’s a good thing.  The mystery was solid, but it was much more fun finding out more about vampire protocol.  A vampire book I loved.  Who knew?

This was so much fun to read that I know I will be continuing on with Sookie, Bill & Co.  It was light and fun and told with great humor and sass.

This was from my personal library.  I picked it up (and way too many other books from my wish list) from Border’s for practically nothing.

September 28, 2011 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books | | 17 Comments

The Secret Adversary, by Agatha Christie

The Secret Adversary (Barnes & Noble Library of Essential Reading)Finished 7-27-11, rating 4.5/5, mystery, 158 pages, pub. 1922

Tuppence and Tommy are two old friends who run into each other in London after WWI is over and jobs are scarce.  Both are out of work and need money.  They decide to advertise in the paper,

“Two young adventurers for hire.  Willing to do anything, go anywhere. No unreasonable offer refused-if pay is good.” 

Before they place the ad a man approaches Tuppence with an offer of easy money.  What she walks into is a world of men bent on ruining England and she and Tommy are thrust into work as spies for the government.  The two are searching for a woman named Jane Finn and the papers she saved when she survived the sinking of the Lusitania.  There are many who befriend them, but they never know quite who to trust.  I didn’t either.

I loved Tuppence.  She was quick and sharp and smart.  Tommy grew on me too.  He was described as slow, but able to see facts for what they were and not to be swayed by lies.  Together they were a perfect team.  I was completely entertained by this duo as they survived by their wits.  I know she wrote more stories about the two of them and I can’t wait to read more of their later adventures.

I enjoyed this one more than her first book.  It felt different, less of a murder mystery, more of a spy novel.

This was from my personal library.

This is my second book for this challenge and Christie’s second novel.

Fun Fact-One of the reasons poison figures so prominently as a means of murder in her
books is because Christie herself worked with pharmaceuticals during WWI.

July 27, 2011 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books | | 9 Comments

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