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Monday, May 31, 2010

Books read

Here's a collage picture of the books I read in the month of April and May:

Sunday, May 30, 2010

"Brava, Valentine"

by Adriana Trigiani, 2010, 332p, rating=3.75

What a pretty cover and the story line wasn't too shabby either. I didn't realize that this is the sequel to the author's Very,Valentine novel so I'm not sure if I missed out by reading this first. Anyway, it was a nice read. It had some bigger than life characters. The turning point for me was when the relationship between Valentine and her brother got better and from then on it wasn't just a bunch of crazy family members being crazy. Because underneath the craziness was a strong close-knit family of generations. I also like how friendship, bigotry, marriage, infidelity, forgiveness, trust, and motherhood vs career hood was addressed. And of course, the love stories that unfolded because of these dynamics. --You'll find some chuckle moments too.

Gram at her 80s gets married again and her new life is now to be in Italy. This leaves her to hand over the New York family shoe business to her granddaughter and grandson. But Valentine and Alfred do not get along. Also, while in the wedding in Italy, Valentine's love for Gianluca is rekindled but the ocean is not the only obstacle that will keep them apart. Moreover, Valentine stumbles into a missing family link and that proves to open a can of worms!

**My quotables:
"Sex is life...Sex is what tells us we're alive, and we're connecting, and roots us in the present." pg318

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

"The Locket"

by Richard Paul Evans, 1998, 361p, rating=5

Finally, a tug the heart book. I enjoyed reading this. I needed the cry. I like stories that talk about decency, passion, and integrity. This book grabbed my heart and squeezed it! I'm speechless.

An excerpt from the front/back flap: "The Locket, like all of my novels, is a love story. A story about the young love of Michael and Faye and the challenges they face. It is a story of old love, between Esther and the man she lost so many years before. But, ultimately, it is a story of the love between generations, and the nurturing and forgiveness those relationships always require. My hope is for you to come to understand the many gifts the elderly can bring to our lives. And, most of all, that in reading The Locket, you, and those with whom you share my story, will be brought closer to those you love and those whom you should." Sincerely, (author's signature)

**My quotables:
"We are chained to that which we do not forgive." pg 186
"...without passion we are doomed to mediocrity." pg 277

Monday, May 24, 2010

"Something, maybe"

by Elizabeth Scott, 2009, 217p, rating=2

This was too teeny-bopper for me. It was cute, charming, and current but certainly a far far far far far far far far far far cry from the Twilight series kind of teen love ... not that I was expecting it to be like it but I don't know what else to say about this book. Maybe that I can see this as one of those Hillary Duff--Lindsay Lohan kind of teen flicks. However, I did like the heartbreaking father-daughter story... not the heartbreaking part, but the tragedy that a father can be so self absorbed therefore it makes for a character building moment. Also, the story of an atypical mom turning out to be a typical mom after all was nice to read. Oh, of course the he-was-there-all-along kind of romance. Spoiler? Maybe. Speaking of maybe. Strange book title. Enough said.

Hannah stays low key because she has the ultimate embarrassing parents ... a Hugh Hefner kind of dad and a Hugh Hefner girl kind of mom. She tries to live a normal high school life like pining over Josh, her soul mate, and holding a burger joint job. She even makes a couple of friends, Teagan and Finn. In the end (of the book) she will discover true romance ...maybe?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

"A Matter of Class"

by Mary Balogh, 2010, 190p, rating=3.5

Let me see, how do I put this without setting fire on my cheeks? Well, this did not tug my heart but certainly something else so hence an extra half a point in rating for that!! So if you want a quickie, read this book! blushing blushing blushing...

I don't think I can sum it up without spoiling it for you so the following is a summation from the front in-flap (btw, I must tell you that I guessed the ending!):

"From New York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh comes a classic historical tale that sizzles with romance and unforgettable drama.

Reginal Mason is wealthy, refined, and by all accounts, a gentleman. However, he is not a gentleman by birth, a factor that pains him and his father, Bernard Mason, within the Regency society that upholds station over all else. That is, until an opportunity for social advancement arises, namely, Lady Annabelle Ashton. Daughter of the Earl of Havercroft, a neighbor and enemy of the Mason family. Annabelle finds herself disgraced by a scandal, one that has left her branded as damaged goods. Besmirched by shame, the earl is only too happy to marry Annabelle off to anyone willing to have her.

Though Bernard wishes to use Annabelle to propel his family up the social ladder, his son does not wish to marry her, preferring instead to live the wild, single life he is accustomed to. With this, Bernard serves his son an ultimatum: marry Annabelle, or make do without family funds. Having no choice, Reginal consents, and enters into a hostile engagement in which the prospective bride and groom are openly antagonistic, each one resenting the other for their current state of affairs while their respective fathers revel in their suffering.

So begins an intoxicating tale rife with dark secrets, deception, and the trial of a love story in which very little is as it seems."

***Now I need to take a cold shower! ;) ***

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Ch. 11: The Life of Christ

from Gospel Principles:

The life of Christ was predicted long before His birth. The story of the birth and life of the Savior is found in the New Testament in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. There we learn that Jesus was born of a virgin name Mary. The angel told her that she was to be the mother of the Son of God. Hence, Jesus is the only person on earth to be born of a mortal mother and an immortal Father and so why He is called the Only Begotten Son.He inherited divine powers from His Father and from His mother He inherited mortality and was subject to hunger, thirst, fatigue, pain, and death.

Jesus led a perfect life. By the time He was 12yo, he had grown in His understanding that He had been sent to do the will of His Father (see Luke 2:46-49). When Jesus was 30yo, He came to John the Baptist to be baptized in order to fulfil all righteousness. Soon after He was baptized, He fasted for 40 days and 40 nights to be with God. After that, Satan came to tempt Him. Jesus firmly resisted all Satan's temptations. Then Jesus began His public ministry. He taught that there are two great commandments: first, to love God with all our heart, mind, and strength; and second, to love others as we love ourselves (Matt 22:36-39). His life is an example of how we should obey these two commandments... if we love God, we will trust and obey Him and if we love others, we will help them meet their physical and spiritual needs.

Jesus wanted His gospel taught to people all over the earth, so He chose twelve Apostles to testify of Him. They received the authority to act in His name. Moreover, near the end of His mortal ministry, He prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice for all the sins of mankind (more about the Atonement in the next chapter). Through the atonement, cruxifixion, and resurrection (see Matt 26-28, Mark 14-16, Luke 22-24, John 18-20), He redeemed us from our sins and saved us from death. His sacrifice showed His love for His Father and for us. Jesus taught: "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you" John 15:13-14. He willingly and humbly went through the sorrow in Gethsemane and the suffering on the cross so we could receive all the blessings of the plan of salvation. To receive these blessings, we must come unto Him, repent of our sins, and love Him with all our hearts.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

"the last time i saw you"

by Elizabeth Berg, 2010, 244p, rating=2

Cute concept, classmates meet up for their 40th high school reunion and the wonder of curiosities develop. At their late fifties now, what is everyone up to? Well, Lester is a widower, Mary Alice a spinster, Pete still a hunk but on the verge of divorce, Candy just found out she has ovarian cancer, and Dorothy is divorced and determined to get a man. They and other classmates reminisce the old times and wonder who's going to hook up with whom by the end of this reunion.

I thought I might like it since it gave me a few chuckles but I just didn't. Can't seem to pinpoint what and why but it just didn't stir me (except for the few foul language, but that was a hurt my eye kind of stir). The ending was good in that it quickly summed up what ended up with the main characters and that the book ended!! Don't get me wrong, this wasn't a bad book. The writing was easy to follow and generally the characters were believable. I don't know ...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

"Hannah's List"

by Debbie Macomber, 2010, 412p, rating=2.5

I was disappointed. I didn't like this book as much as a thought I might. It was a smooth and simple read for a thick book but much of it was predictable and lacked richness. I like a couple of the supporting characters; Ritchie the brother-in-law and Harvey the old man neighbor. I liked Ritchie's enduring family support and Harvey's spunk!

Michael's wife dies of cancer and a year later he reads a letter from Hannah (his wife) that Ritchie (his brother-in-law) kept until this designated time. In the letter Hannah professes her love for her husband and encourages him to move on and even provides a list of women he might try to find companionship with. On the list were: Winter, her cousin; Leanne, her oncology nurse; and Macy, a model that she befriended. Of course initially Michael was against the idea but by Hannah's "ghostly" doings, he was able to meet the women. Each had their own heartaches and he found understanding for the first two women but Macy was definitely his total opposite! What was Hannah thinking, he thought. So lots of getting to know you moments and crazy hangups later, Michael ends up with one of them. I'm sure you guess right!

Oddly enough, all the women gets a happy ending. I like happy endings. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough for me this time. Bummer.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

"Open House"

by Elizabeth Berg, 2000, 241p, rating=2.75

I see-sawed on this book. I like it, I don't like it, I like it. Well, it was a quick read and it did give me some chuckles so that's a plus. Hence, Rita's my favorite character here. She's the main character's say-it-as-it-is best friend and so she's a hoot! Reminded me of Kit De Luca in Pretty Woman.
So Sam (Samantha) finds herself surprised that her husband, David, wants a divorce. David moves out and one of the first things Sam does is go shopping. Not any kind of shopping, but Tiffany spree. She comes out spending $12,000 break my heart and I break the bank. Then reality sets in and she needs to pay the mortgage so she decides to rent out a couple of rooms in her house. Her eleven year old son was not happy about this, but he's got issues of his own. So the winners are ... an old lady, a crazy college girl, and a gay hairdresser. Oh, Sam also needed to find a job and there she is at the mercy of a job agency so she gets odds and ends kind of work. With all of this and a mother that quickly sets her up on blind dates are enough to make Sam nuts. In all of this finding myself moments, she is supported by long time friend Rita and a new gentleman friend King. By the end of the book she finds happiness. Hurray!!

This is a light book about some issues that might come of divorce. I don't know what it really is like to be divorced so I can't recommend this to a divorced person. I don't know if it would help or hurt. But I believe it hits the cliche mark that divorce sucks, you'll go nuts, but moving forward you'll be stronger in the end.

**My quotables:
""Stress hormones get released when you cry, that's why it works. It's amazing how smart the body is." pg14
"I don't feel sorry for a victim who keeps choosing to be a victim." pg 85

Friday, May 14, 2010

"The Help"

by Kathryn Stockett, 2009, 444p, rating=4.5

I was the 4th person to put a hold on this book at my local library about a month ago. At that rate I calculated getting it in June! Then a few days after putting a hold on it, I checked the status and it was up to 7 holds!! I guess the library noticed it was popular and managed to get a hold of another copy so I ended up with just over 3wks of wait. Anyway, this certainly was worth the fifty cents to put it on hold! What a wonderful novel. This is the author's first book and in my opinion will not be her last. I'll certainly read another of her books. She got herself a fan ... me!

I love the characters in this book! They were seriously jumping out of the pages for me. This would definitely be a great movie to see and sure enough according to the author's website (just looked), there's one in the works from DreamWorks. Really interested in the cast they come up with because as I was reading the book, I was trying to picture who I'd choose to play certain roles. If Morgan Freeman was a woman, he'd be perfect as Aibileen! Still working on the rest. I'll be sure to let you know what I come up with later. :)

Set in the early 1960s in Jackson, Mississippi and told from the point of view of three of its residents, one white and two blacks... Miss Skeeter, an awkward and gentile white woman; Aibileen, a seasoned black maid, strong and matriarchal; and Minny, a take-no-crap from anybody kind of black maid. Together they (along with several others) brave to write a book about what it really is like to be a maid to a white woman. A very scary task given white and black segregation was still happening in that town and of course the wrath from Miss Hilly, the town's pompous white witch! From this secret endeavor, the community of blacks found an outlet to have their voice heard and perhaps something, anything , might stir up because of it.

Stories about oppression seem to attract many people. Perhaps because at some point many have been oppressed in some way ... economically, socially, culturally, racially, religiously, etc. But more so, many are reminded that our ancestors suffered much to pave a better life for us. Hence, those stories are personal links to our heritage and adding to knowing who we are and the legacy we ought to leave the next generation.

If you're a book lover, this is worth the $13 (from Sam's Club) to purchase this book otherwise check it out at your local library or borrow from a friend 'cause this is an excellent read.

**My quotables:
"All I'm saying is, kindness don't have no boundaries." pg 312
"Wasn't that the point of the book? For women to realize, We are just two people. Not that much separates us. Not nearly as much as I'd thought." pg 418
" Sometimes, changing diapers can be like opening treasure." pg 426

Monday, May 10, 2010

"I Was Amelia Earhart"

by Jane Mendelsohn, 1996, 146p, rating=2.5

I don't know what to say. I like the concept of the story of what might have become of Amelia Earhart after her disappearance back in 1937, on her second round-the-world flight. That was what attracted me to the book. Perhaps this was too short of a read. Maybe more details would have probably worked better ... yet what was here was intriguing.

By this time Ms Earhart was a famous aviatrix and flying was her escape from her demanding husband, paparazzi, and life. In the air she finds a recognized passion... a love affair. So when her husband sets out to promote another round-the-world flight but this time with a navigator, Amelia was not enthusiastic; especially since this navigator was a chronic drunk! A couple other technical unalignments also foreshadowed a dangerous outcome for this trip, but off they went. Surely the plane crashes somewhere off the Pacific Ocean but Amelia manages to land them in one piece. In the deserted island the two begin their lives as castaways. What happens there? Fear, fantasy, silence, love, madness, understanding, peace, acceptance, ... by products from intertwining of two personalities and unusual conditions.

I'll have to ask my sister-in-law how she likes it. I gave her the same book for Mother's Day yesterday (the one I have now, I checked out from the library today to read for myself). ~Perhaps I should have read it first before I gave her the book, but it was on sale! :)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Ch. 10: Scriptures

from Gospel Principles:

scripture=words spoken or written by the Lord's servants under the influence of the Holy Ghost

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints accepts four books as scripture called the standard works of the Church: the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. The inspired words of our living prophets are also accepted as scripture (come to us through conferences, the Liahona or Ensign magazine, and instructions to local priesthood leaders).

**The Bible:
Writings from the time of Adam through the time when the Apostles of Jesus Christ lived. Written by many prophets who lived at various times in the history of the world. It is divided into two sections: the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament foretell of the coming of a Savior and Redeemer. The New Testament tells of the life of that Savior and Redeemer, who is Jesus Christ.

**The Book of Mormon:
A sacred record of some of the people who lived on the American continents between about 2000 B.C. and A.D.400. It contains the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

**The Doctrine and Covenants:
A collection of modern revelations. This was published to the inhabitants of the earth to prepare them for Christ's coming.

**The Pearl of Great Price:
Contains the book of Moses (an account of some of the visions and writings of Moses, revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith), the book of Abraham (translated by Prophet Joseph Smith from a papyrus scroll taken from the Egyptian catacombs...contains info about the Creation, the gospel, the nature of God, and the priesthood), and some inspired writings of Joseph Smith.

If we desire to avoid the evils of this world, we must feed our minds with the truth and righteousness found in the scriptures. We should each study the scriptures every day along with our children. We will grow closer to God and to each other as we read and ponder the scriptures together. Ask God for understanding as we read and allow the Holy Ghost to bear witness to us. By this way, we will each know for ourselves that these things we read are true.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

"Alex Cross's Trial"

by James Patterson & Richard Dilallo, 2009, 315p, rating=3

(vague spoiler alert!!)
This was an easy and interesting read because it had the feel of the classic book, To Kill A Mockingbird. Then the ending came and I was disappointed. I don't understand what the author wanted me to get out of it. It wasn't necessarily that I didn't like the verdict but the whole Theodore Roosevelt electoral game and leaving it at "You did fine, Ben. You did fine." just didn't cut it for me. OK, come to think of it, maybe my disappointment had a lot to do with the verdict. It was disheartening.

During the early 1900s, as a city lawyer in Washington DC, Ben Corbett took cases that fought against oppression and racism. So when President Roosevelt enlisted him to investigate lynchings in Ben's hometown of Eudora, Mississippi he could not refuse. There he discovers that the onced outlawed KKK over forty years ago still exists. He experiences personal retaliation and have come to be regarded on the side of the blacks. In aid to protect Abraham Cross, a black man, he finds himself in the midst of a crime. A trial finally takes place and a nation awaits its verdict.

As one expects of a story of racial injustice, you will find integrity, ignorance, horrors, courage, compassion, impatience, etc. in the story line. Mr. Patterson did a good job in making these come to light. Moreover, he also gives his character, Ben, a personal consequence and the conflict of saving a marriage comes to play. Yeay, for the ending there!

**My quotables:
"I guess strength doesn't help, if you don't have some brains to go along with it.". pg 47
"Now, Judge, you know as well as I do that outlawing something does not guarantee that it ceases to exist. As a matter of fact, that's one of the best ways to ensure its continuing existence--to forbid it!". pg 124

Monday, May 3, 2010

"Memoirs of a Geisha"

by Arthur Golden, 1997, 428p, rating=3.5

What a slow and looong read! But so worth it. I was entranced with Sayuri's life story. It makes me wonder if reading a REAL autobiography is like this. I suppose it would depend on who it is and whether I could relate to the person. In this case, maybe I found this story interesting because I knew zip about geisha and this book had an engrossing way of giving you a glimpse of what it may be like.

Told in a first person from a now old woman in her 70s being interviewed by a New York professor who is the narrator/translator. Here Sayuri accounts her life from a child of nine year old being sold and sent to a brothel to the current old age of a retired geisha. Major events set in Japan around the time of the Depression. Here we are transported to Sayuri's hardship, learning's, and endurance. We discover insights of geisha life through her experiences. We read about pain, jealousy, cruelty, innocence, kindness, secrets, chivalry, romance, tradition, heartache, ecstasy, etc. Truly a spectrum of human conditions and emotions. The main and supporting characters were amazing in developing Sayuri's disposition. Moreover, the exhausting read was perhaps purposeful to get the reader to feel of Sayuri's exhausting life. The ending was incredible!

My take out ... a simple act of kindness may bring a motivating hope for the receiver to change his destiny or better yet, having hope is what makes one move forward whether or not the desired outcome would unfold in the end.

**My quotables:
"Couldn't the wrong sort of living turn anyone mean?" pg 94
"Hopes are like hair ornaments. Girls want to wear too many of them. When they become old women they look silly wearing even one." pg 295 (I personally don't agree with this statement!)
"I don't think any of us can speak frankly about pain until we are no longer enduring it." pg 419

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