Monday, December 28, 2009

2009 Book List Recommendations -- Maureen Corrigan's

1.  The Woman Behind the New Deal (Kirsten Downey)
2. Fordlandia (Greg Grandin)
3.  Dancing in the Dark (Morris Dickstein)
4.  Happens Every Day (Isabel Gillies)
5.  The James Deans (Reed Farrel Coleman)
6.  The Believers (Zoe Heller)
7.  A Gate at the Stairs (Lorrie Moore)
8.  Brookly (Golm Toibin)
9.  The Man in the Wooden Hat (Jane Gardam)
10. The Financial Lives of the Poets (Jess Walter)

Source: Best Books of 2009

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Christmas Clock Kat Martin

This is a little feel good novel -- more like a short story.  There is never any doubt about where the story is headed from the very beginning, but the brevity of the  work makes that bearable.  Very quick read - recommended for a plane ride.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Winter Lodge by Susan Wiggs (Book 2 of the Lakeshore Chronicles)

I just finished the 2nd book in the Lakeshore Chronicles series.  This is another piece of sappy chick-lit, but oh-so pleasant to listen to in the car after looking at spreadsheets all day.
Easy and happy -- the guy always gets the girl and vice versa.  :-)

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Girls From Ames by Jeffrey Zaslow

I just finished this book based a  friendship between high school girls who managed to maintain a connection over decades despite geographical challenges, differences in religion, variable socio-economic situations, and different home life philosophies.
I did enjoy reading about how they maintained their connection.  Quite honestly though, while I was reading about their bonding during highschool, I couldn't shake the idea that they were a mean girls clique.  I wonder how a sequel "All the Other Girls from Ames" would read?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

READING LIST -- "For Heartbreak"

1.  Anna Karanina by Leo Tolstoy
2.  The Beans of Egypt Maine by Carolyn Chute
3.  The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
4.  Empire of the Sun by J.G. Ballard
5.  The Famished Road by Ben Okri
6.  The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles
7.  Kate Vaiden by Reynolds Price
8.  Heartburn by Nora Ephron
9.  Middlemarch by George Eliot
10. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Taken from 1001 Books for Every Mood

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

READING LIST -- "For Intrigue"

1.  All the President's Men by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein
2.  Brotherhood of Rose by David Morrell
3.  The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
4.  The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth
5.  The Faithful Spy by Alex Berenson
6.  The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford
7.  Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith
8.  The Last Spymaster by Gayle Lynds
9.  The Pelican Brief by John Grisham
10. The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan
11.  Tinker, Tailor, Solder, Spy by John Le Carre
12.  The Untouchable by John Banville

I have ready # 3 and # 9.    #9 is one of Grisham's best novels.
Does anyone else have comments on any of these?

Taken from 1001 Books for Every Mood.

Empire Falls by Richard Russo

This book was written by the same author as one I previously posted (The Bridge of Sighs) below. 
I thought "The Bridge of Sighs" was okay, but not great -- howeer I frequently read an author in more than one work before I jump to a conclusion.  In this case it was fortuitous.  "Empire Falls" was an excellent character study.  Humor with a bit of an underlying dark side and some surprises toward the end.  

Sunday, November 29, 2009

READING LIST -- "To Celebrate the Season"

1.  A Child's Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas
2.  A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
3.  Christmas Story by Jean Shepherd
4.  Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris
5.  An Idiot Girl's Christmas: True Tales from the Top of the Naughty List by Lauri Notaro
6.  Miracle on the 17th Green by James Patterson and Peter de Jonge
7.  The Physics of Christmas: From the Aerodynamics of Reindeer to the Thermodynamics of Turkey by Roger Highfield.
8.  Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
9.  The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore.

Has anyone read any of these?  If so, please review.

1001 Books for Every Mood

I picked this up at the library and have had some fun reading it.  I'll post a few of the book lists here - for fun.  It is an interesting way to create a reading list (by mood), and I was impressed that there is an eclectic selection of books listed.  So there is a little something for everyone, not necessarily pigeon-holed to one style.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Celebutantes -- (really?)

This book was something that any of us (talent or no talent) could write if we had the background smut.  No literary awards here - for sure.  Still -- I didn't stop reading because I was captured by my weakness to gauk at the shallow personalilties & weirdness of the Hollywood-types.  This is fiction, yes -- but one wonders if there is much truth written within those lines....
Don't bother unless you are trapped without anything to do or read -- or unless you are a lurker, like me.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A work of art, in both a good and bad way.

I read this one a while back, but I'm about to read another one of his so it reminded me to post it.

Boy, it's hard to describe because it transcends so many genres; science fiction, politics, social science, Native American, etc. It's about a self described "time traveling mass murderer", however not in a fun Terminator II way, more in like a thoughtful profound way. Eh, it's just too hard to describe.

While it was a great book and the writing was stellar, I'm not sure I can recommend it to people. It was so crushingly heartbreaking for me that I literally sobbed openly during it and almost didn't finish. You know how there are some things you wish you could unsee or unknow? This is one I wish I could unread because it hurt me so much. However, it's a testament to the writing that it was able to affect me that profoundly, which is what a work of art is meant to do.

I'll leave it up to you.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Sugar Queen

A bit predictable, but overall a lighthearted, magical, feel good book. It was an easy and quick read and I am definitely a fan! SAA also has a book called Garden Spells that is supposed to be even better and one called The Girl Who Chased the Moon, which I haven't heard much about. However I would give them both a try!!! :)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Summer at Willow Lake -- Susan Wiggs

Yep, I got involved with another romance "series" - this one is called the The Lakeshore Chronicles, Book 1. Summer at Willow Lake. Go to sleep boys -- this one is for the girls. I tend to read more than one book at a time, and this one was read in snippets here and there, because let's face it -- it doesn't take much brain power to digest romance novels. This one is a very sweet story. Nothing more, nothing less.

The Associate -- Grisham

Did I mention that i was longing for a suspense? This one fed some of that craving, but it wasn't his best effort and left a lot of things hanging.
Grisham's formula seems to be writing about a scenario involving "real-life" events (however incredulous), and although the plot set-up is "nearly" unbelievable -- it doesn't stray away from possibility so far as to become totally implausible, however far-fetched it may be.

I'll admit that I like this easy and entertaining style, and although most of the books are basically the same -- I get involved enough to blow away a little stress.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. Lee

This is first novel for this author. The story was quite engaging, and I particularly loved listening to the audiobook. The narrator had a beautiful English accent. I learned a few details about the historical events in Hong Kong in the 40's and 50's.

Although I liked this book...I'm yearning for one of my favorite genre's -- suspense!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Jodi Picoult tackles a variety of tough real-life situations. This one is no exception. However, I found myself at odds with the main character's actions from the beginning, and I was unconvinced to give her a pass for her behavior because she had such a strong love for her child.
Nonetheless, the circumstances surrounding the event were compelling enough to keep me reading. There is even a very neat "genetic twist" involved that Melissa, in particular, might enjoy.
The books by this author are very formula oriented, however it is quick entertainment. I read this one in the car. I know...cheating.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Widow of the South

This is the author's first novel.
This novel is a nice blend of fact with reasonable fiction inserted. An interesting view of this tragic war from the perspective of various individuals, but primarily from one Southern woman in Tennessee.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Bridge of Sighs, by Richard Russo

This was an interesting character study of families who originated in a small town setting. I enjoyed most of the book, but in the end it was a bit more ho-hum, when I really prefer a little intrigue.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Vagrants, by Yiyun Li

This was recently on one of the booklists for summer reading, so I picked up at a copy at the library. It is set in the late seventies and revolves around the counterrevolutionary struggle that included the "democracy wall" in Bejing. The characters are well developed and intertwined in a creative and interesting way which forces the reader to use the memory tracks in their brain. I was not aware that the kind of issues described in this book were still prevalent in 1979.
It's not a "happy" book, but it was a fascinating (albeit somewhat depressing) look into another culture.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Story of Edgar "Sorry-tale"

Sorry - I just didn't like it. Initially interesting to see why the potent elixir was purchased, then snoozing for several chapters. Toward the end it was somewhat intriguing to see whether Claude would be discovered for his crimes. But the end was like a giant firecracker that whimpered, fizzled and went out with a sputter. I listened to the discs in the car. That's right - there were 18!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Wife of Martin Guerre by Janet Lewis

Josh was reloading his book shelf and suggested I read this quick piece which is the basis for the story told in the movie "Sommersby". Very interesting to read this story and think about how the story was later created in a more dramatic fashion, different era, different country -- for a movie.
Very quick read - and fun!
Josh -- I'll pop this book back into the mail to you. Thanks.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Woman's Day Reading List

I took a peek. Some I have already read, some I want to read, and others I've never heard of. Have you read any of these? Any of them on your book-list for the summer? Discuss!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Eight -- (chess anyone?)

I listened to this complex and detailed novel in the car. Nearly caused me to miss my exit a few times.

Robin Carr Series - Book 2 & 3

I have now finished the 2nd and 3rd book in the series -- which is really Chapter 2 & 3 of a very long book. As usual, everything turns out perfectly for the main characters.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Robyn Carr Series -- Virgin River, Book 1

MaMa has been hounding me to read this series for a while. It finally came up on my library booklist and I plunged in. Simple writing style, simple story, predictible -- but I got hooked on the characters nonetheless.
Reality isn't a factor, so forget about the fact that nobody has to worry about money ever and the seemingly utopian community -- it's still a fun read for the beach.
Contrary to what you might think, it does NOT make me long to live in an obscure, rural area. I"m reading the 2nd in the series now. (Shelter Mountain)
Chick-Lit warning to all you macho guys out there.


Okay, so I don't see 'eye to eye' with all of the material in this book, it still was worth the read and most of the principles were in alignment with my own values and beliefs. I liked the male vs. female perspectives.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Story of a Marriage by Andrew Sean Greer

Ho-hum. Some beautiful style, but after "The Confessions of Max Tivoli" I probably expected too much.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

An American Wife - by Curtis Sittenfeld

I just finished this novel that is fiction, but based on Laura Bush. I listened on CD's and the narrater was very good.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner

Interesting look into the life of a pre-teen in a Jewish household. This is somewhat of a sequel to Weiner's novel "Good in Bed"
Don't break your neck getting a copy, but if you're going to the beach...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Man Who Doesn't Exist

Hey guys -- In addition to tweeting my novel (#tweetednovel @johnmbaird on twitter), I'm also archiving the previous posts on my blog The Man Who Doesn't Exist. Check it out. Please follow me too. Let me know if you love/hate, etc. thanks.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan

I recently finished this poignant story of a woman who is a mother, wife and daughter, and defining herself in each area. The characters were rich in style and I identified with so many things in the story.
I listened to this one in the car, and the narrator is absolutely delightful. Her enunciation and tone are captivating.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Thirteen Moons

If you enjoyed Cold Mountain, or perhaps even if you didn't, you'll like Thirteen Moons. This is not a fast read. Rather, it is ponderous. But Frazier's beautiful writing and amazing command of dialect and speech pattern make the book thoroughly enjoyable, like a lazy gray day at the beach, if not riveting. Oh yeah, and since this is a Chick Lit blog, it does have a love story.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sequel time -- "Sweetheart"

"Sweetheart" is the sequel to "Heartsick" (see below). I liked the sequel much better than the intial novel - which is a real switch from the normal. This is a sicko crime thriller, and the ending left the door open for Book 3 since the main characters are alive at the end and lots of things are unresolved.

Monday, March 16, 2009

"The Given Day" By Dennis LeHane

I just finished this book set in the era of Babe Ruth. Lots of information regarding changes in labor practices at the time and the famous Boston Police Department strike. The characters are well developed and I enjoyed. The books was written by the author of Mystic River.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Traveler -- Book 1 of The Fourth Realm

I just finished this book on Audio CD.
Hmm. If you like paranoia and a certain level of weirdness, you just might like this.
Seriously, J12H may have some issues. I'm kicking around the thought of reading the Second one...

Monday, February 16, 2009

My favorite Dean Koontz Novel

My favorite Dean Koontz novel, although he has written many that kept me entertained. This one had the elements of time that I find so very interesting.

Heartsick by Chelsea Cain

I just finished the first crime drama in this series. Be prepared for some gruesome details and some messed up emotional wrecks -- but it held my attention. I will probably read the sequel to follow-up my curiosity on the characters.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A Constant Heart Siri Mitchell

I just finished this love story set in the Elizabethan era. Nice love story, good insight into the life of a courtier, mystery solved at the end.
It's not deep, but it's not bad.

Friday, January 23, 2009

SELF Magazine...not a book

No, it's not a book. But, it is my favorite magazine!!! Full of healthy eats, all over body workout tips (cardio and toning), motivational success stories, fashion tips, celebrity refrigerators...what's not to love? Anyway, I look forward to my SELF Magazine in my mailbox each month and treasure the happiness that it brings!!! Enjoy!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

One Fifth Avenue

Yawn. If you are into gossip, sagging morals, back-biting, and irrelevant one-upmanship -- this one's for you.
I felt like a voyeur to a bunch of spoiled, misguided people.

This book was written by the author of Sex and the City and Lipstick Jungle. Need I say more?