Stacy's Books

books, movies, and boy

When A Man Loves A Woman, by La Connie Taylor-Jones

Cover ImageFinished 8-17-08, rating 3/5, romance, pub. 2008

Let me start by saying that I was sent this book to review for this blog.  I was curious to read it since I like romances.  This is most definitely a romance, but it was more than that.  Long after the romance had sorted itself out there was a mystery to be solved.

A.J. loved Vic and wanted nothing more that to spend the rest of his life married to her.  Vic was not willing to let her heart get broken again and resisted the urge to find love in his arms.  Their large families wanted them together as did A.J.’s twin daughters and A.J. was willing to use them to help his cause.  A car accident forced them into close quarters and into the middle of a police investigation.

This book has a lot to offer – A.J. is as close to perfect as a hero can get, Vic was a ‘hot’ size 14, there is a large cast of characters, and there is no shortage of action.  It was also wonderfully written.  That being said, some of these things were also a detriment.  I don’t trust a perfect man. Even in romance there should be no such thing.  And the extra storyline stemming from the car crash was a little too convenient and somewhat unbelievable. 

This was the second book written about the Baptiste family and I would recommend starting with the first one, When I’m With You.  Taylor-Jones plans to continue writing about this large family and another Baptiste brother in her next novel.  She is a talented author who received writing awards for her first book.  I don’t think that you will be bored or disappointed with this book.

August 17, 2008 Posted by | 3 Star Books | , , , , | 2 Comments

I’ve been tagged!

Don over at  http://donstuff.wordpress.com/ tagged me with this.  I’m so new at this that I’m not exactly clear on what I need to do, but here goes.

Here’s how it goes (by Trish):

My Friend Amy (actually Trish’s friend Amy according to Don) started the whole thing and said: I am going to list three categories of books. 3 MUST Read Books, 3 Keep Your Eyes on These, and 3 Look For These Soon. Keeping with the theme, I am going to tag at least 3 bloggers. They should put these same lists on their blog but SUBTRACT one book from each list and ADD one of their own. Then they should tag at least 3 more bloggers. It will be fun to see how the lists change as it goes around the blogosphere. Please come back to this post and leave a comment so someone can see how the lists are changing as they go around the blogosphere. Since this is Book Buzz…please keep your lists to titles released in 2007-2009.

 (Bold Blue is mine. Red belong to donstuff):

3 MUST Read Books:

Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
Testimony by Anita Shreve

3 Keep Your Eyes on These:

The Woods by Harlan Coben

Odd Hours by Dean Koontz
The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

3 Look For These Soon:

Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You by Judith McNaught (5/09)
Bones: An Alex Delaware Novel by Jonathan Kellerman
A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson (Heather’s note: The 12th and final book in the Wheel of Time series, coming in 2009 – I can’t wait!)


Now I’ll tag three, but if I didn’t tag you, feel free to participate anyway.

August 16, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 1 Comment

Becoming Jane

Cover Image

Becoming Jane was released in 2007 and stars Anne Hathaway as Jane Austen (yes the Jane Austen of Sense & Sensibility, Pride & Prejudice, etc.) and James McAvoy as Thomas Lefroy.  It is inspired by the real relationship between Jane and Thomas.  They meet, sparks fly, numerous marriage proposals are offered by more than one man, and obstacles to true love abound.  It was a fun movie, especially for those who like Jane Austen or 20th century English tales.

Hathaway and McAvoy were great.  James Cromwell and Maggie Smith also make appearances.  If you want to punish your husband for not taking out the trash or some other such thing, make him watch too.  Otherwise, open up a bottle of wine, invite your book club over and have a girls night.

August 15, 2008 Posted by | movies | , | 1 Comment

Follow Your Heart, by Susanna Tamaro

Cover ImageFinished 8-14-08, rating 4/5, fiction, pub. 1994

“As you grow up, you’ll often get the urge to change things, to right wrongs, but every time you do, remember that the first revolution, the first and the most important, has to take place within yourself.  Fighting for an idea without having an idea of yourself is one of the most dangerous things you can do.”   -December 22

This is the brutally honest letter a grandmother who is nearing death writes to the granddaughter she raised alone.  Her granddaughter is obviously a headstrong young woman who has moved to America leaving her grandmother in Italy heartbroken and alone. 

The grandmother can feel death coming and wants to leave her granddaughter a letter of history and hope for the future.  She pulls no punches.  She is not afraid to illuminate her own shortcomings as well as those around her, granddaughter included.  It is difficult to read that she did not think about her daughter for several years after her death  or that she did not love her daughter enough without your heart breaking a little.  This is a woman who was not going to spare her granddaughter the truth.

I was pulled in right from the beginning.  It was real and honest and a great story of three generations of women who all seemed to be fighting the past.  It is definitely a worthwhile read.  It was translated from the original Italian.

August 14, 2008 Posted by | 4 Star Books | , , , , | 2 Comments

Reading

Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it. ~P.J. O’Rourke

It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it. ~Oscar Wilde

August 12, 2008 Posted by | Say What? | , | 4 Comments

The Savage Pen of Philip Roth

A local university, Case Western Reserve, offers continuing ed classes each semester.  Since they are taught in various suburbs I can usually find one of these classes within a 10 minute drive.  In the past I’ve taken classes on the First Ladies, Greatest Trials of the 20th Century (both of which I loved), and one on English Cottage literature.  This time I’ve decided to try the class on Philip Roth.  I’ve not read any of his books, but am looking forward to the three books and, of course, the class discussion.  This is the class description.

The Savage Pen of Philip Roth
Philip Roth is a savagely astute and witty writer of our times. The three novels we will explore are the Pulitzer prize winning “American Pastoral” dealing with the pre-Vietnam era, “I Married a Communist”, the McCarthy era, and “The Human Stain”, Roth’s final offering of this trilogy spotlighting his astute analysis of human psyche and his inventive linking that is terrifyingly funny and alarmingly heartrending. Books: American Pastoral, I Married a Communist, The Human Stain, P. Roth

If anyone on the east side of Cleveland is interested, the class is in Bainbridge on Wednesdays from 10-11:30am starting September 10.  The cost is $50.  Let me know if you want to sign up and I’ll get you the info.

Has anyone read any of these novels and what did you think?

August 11, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 3 Comments

Splendor, by Brenda Joyce

Cover ImageFinished 8-19-08, rating 4.5/5, romance, pub. 1997

Brenda Joyce’s historical romances are always top notch and this is no exception.  It’s the summer of 1812 in England and Napoleon is on the move across Europe.  The Russian Prince, Nicholas Sverayov, is in London to broker a treaty, but he finds himself the target of malicious gossip.  Carolyn Browne, the daughter of a bookshop owner, is the anonymous columnist that writes about the foibles of the powerful and Nicholas is her latest target.  Nicholas finds her out and begins a dangerous game of cat and mouse.

Nicholas is married to a beautiful woman and while Carolyn knows this she is drawn to him and unable to stop herself from loving him.  Nicholas, for his part, is falling in love with Carolyn too, and offers her the job as companion to his young daughter which she accepts with trepidation.  As war continues, Nicholas must go back to Russia to lead his men to battle and the story moves to St. Petersburg and Moscow.  The setting and the history make the story all that more compelling.

There is no shortage of obstacles for the two of them.  Her father is embroiled in the war, but on the wrong side and her grandmother has entered her life after disowning her mother before Carolyn was born.  Nicholas and Carolyn are two great characters and I was sorry to see their story end.  Carolyn is smart, audacious and witty, while Nicholas is strong, powerful and smart.  If you like romances, especially historicals I think you’ll fall in love with Carolyn and Nicholas and their story.

August 10, 2008 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books | , , , , | 2 Comments

Libraries

“Perhaps no place in any community is so totally democratic as the town library.  The only entrance required is interest.”                 -Lady Bird Johnson

Last week the Cleveland Plain Dealer did a story about the increased use of the local libraries.  Some already know everything that libraries have to offer, while some think there are just lots of books.  If you haven’t been to your local library lately I suggest that you visit soon and see what’s there.  There are books (surely), movies (of course), cds of music and books (without a doubt), but you will also find a multitude of other things.  There are programs for adults and kids, computers to use for free, paid subscriptions to online websites, old magazines (great to get ideas if you are renovating a room in your house like me), games…the list goes on and on.  And if you are having trouble finding what you’re looking for go to the reference desk and ask for help (maybe the person helping you will be me!).

Anyway, it is a great way for you and your family to spend an hour or two and it will also save you money.  And since your tax dollars are already funding the library, why not take advantage of everything it has to offer.  I saw a man come in today, sit down at a table, pull out his own book to read, and stay for a few hours enjoying the library without ever checking out a book.  That is a dedicated patron!

“I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library.”     -Jorge Luis Borges

August 7, 2008 Posted by | Say What? | , , | 5 Comments

3rd Degree, by James Patterson

Cover ImageFinished 8-6-08, rating 3/5, thriller, pub. 2004

“I have this very nice dog.  And my friends.  And this job.  And I’m good at it.  But I have no life.”   -Chapter 111

This is the third installment of the Women’s Murder Club.  The four women… homicide detective Lindsay, assistant DA Jill, medical examiner Claire, and reporter Cindy.

Lindsay witnesses a townhouse being blown to bits and rushes into the burning building and saves a child.  This begins the deadly terror that grips San Francisco at the hands of August Spies.  After the townhouse, a mall is blown up and ricin proves a bad end for a world renowned economist.  At the same time Jill comes clean about the abuse she’s suffered at the hands of her husband and Lindsay feels sparks around Joe, the point man from Homeland Security.  Then a shocking thing happens.  One of the four Murders Club women is murdered.

These books are so fast paced that I was almost done in no time at all, which was exactly what I wanted after Pillars of the Earth.  The problem is that nothing sticks.  The story was fast and kept me turning the pages, but I had no real emotional investment with the characters.  The death, while surprising, did not pack an emotional punch.  And I still think the relationship between the women feels off.  It is written by a man and you can tell.  For the page turner that it was it was good.  If you are looking to delve into the life of another character then you many need something more substantial.

August 6, 2008 Posted by | 3 Star Books | , , , , | 3 Comments

The Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett

Finished 8-3-08, rating 4/5, fiction, pub. 1989

This book takes place in 12th century England after King James has died and his crown is seemingly up for grabs.  While that is the backdrop the real story takes place at Kingsbridge, where the good Prior Philip has been appointed amidst some ugly politics.  Tom Builder has is a master builder who has a family to feed, but no job.  Tom ends up at Kingsbridge after losing his wife and child, but gaining a mistress and stepson.  Aliena, the privileged daughter of an earl, is brutally raped after her father wastes away in prison and she must rise above her circumstances to protect herself and her brother.  William is the heartless beast who becomes earl through devious plotting and help from a clever and power hungry bishop.

The quest of the story is the building of a great cathedral at Kingbridge.  All of these players and a few others, Jack and Alfred, are directly involved in getting the cathedral built (or not built).  The hardships and triumphs of these people pack an emotional punch.  The history of the time period is spectacular and the building of the cathedral from its first stone was fascinating.  There is a love story that spans most of the book, but the love for the cathedral overshadows it.

England is in a civil war, there is famine, and poilitical and religious intrigue abound.  I think everyone will learn from this book in an easily accessible way.  I would never pick up a book about building cathedrals or 12th century England, but this book with its many characters and stories made it interesting. 

I did enjoy it, but have some reservations about recommending it.  This is a book about good vs. evil, the good guys vs. the bad guys, but it is always very clear which side a character is on.  A good guy may do something questionable, but it is always explained in a very sympathetic way so that the halo around them is still intact.  While this always gives you someone to root for (and against) it seems too simple for such an epic novel.  When something good happened, you knew it would be countered with something awful and that did become predictable.  There are also some vulgar and graphic scenes that will repulse you.  I can get past them, but I know some can’t.

I enjoyed this book.  I know there is a sequel that takes place at Kingsbridge 200 years later, but I must admit I have no desire to read it.  The good outweighed the bad, but I was more happy to be done than with the so-so ending.  If you like grand sweeping epics or historically accurate fiction this is the book for you.

August 4, 2008 Posted by | 4 Star Books | , , , , | 7 Comments

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