Thursday, August 28, 2008

Review : The G[r]ift

The G[r]ift by Debra Ginsberg. Shaye Areheart Books (2008).

Marina Marks has never believed in the gift she claims to have. She has relied on her honed powers of observation to make her living as a psychic. Suddenly, however, her purported gift becomes real. Debra Ginsberg's The G[r]ift charts the journey of Marina and a handful of her clients over a two year period in which all their lives undergo drastic changes. Ginsberg expertly weaves these threads together and shows how small the world really is, even in a city like San Diego.

Despite their many, many flaws, Ginsberg characters are likable. Their struggles are typical--fertility, adultery, sexuality--and their reactions, however unfortunate, are fairly typical as well. You can identify with them, and it keeps you engaged. As Marina comes closer to discovering her true gift, her clients begin to fall apart, and they all blame Marina. By the time tragedy strikes, anyone could be responsible. Ginsberg keeps the reader guessing throughout the novel. I was constantly wondering what would happen next as several mini-mysteries evolved and resolved throughout the narrative. I thoroughly enjoyed The G[r]ift and recommend it highly to other readers.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

My second giveaway!

It is time for another giveaway. This time the winner will get to choose between two advanced reading copies.

You can read my reviews
here and here.

1. Leave a comment on this post for one entry.
2. Comment on my review for one of the books for a bonus entry.
3. Comment on both reviews for another bonus entry.
4. Link to this contest on your blog and tell me about it in your comment for a bonus entry.
5. Total of 4 entries possible.
6. Enter by Friday, September 5 at 5pm EST.

I will select the winner using I will then contact the winner to see which book they want to win! Second place winner will receive the other title if he/she wants it.

Monday, August 25, 2008

One More Year Reviews

Okay, so I have totally been procrastinating when it comes to One More Year by Sara Krasikov. I put it down and can't make myself pick it back up so I thought I would just post some links to reviews others have written.

A Writer's Pen (recommends)

Kathleen's Book Reviews (5 stars)

In the Shadow of Mt. TBR (2.5 stars)

Obviously, I tend to agree with In the Shadow of Mt. TBR...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Review : The Terminal Spy

The Terminal Spy by Alan S. Cowell. Broadway/Random House (2008).

The Terminal Spy is the story of the life and death of Alexander Litvinenko, a former K.G.B./F.S.B. agent turned Russian exile. Alan Cowell has closely researched the life of Litvinenko and those who surrounded him in Russia and his home in exile, London. This insider's look into Russia since the collapse of the U.S.S.R. is truly mesmerizing at times. While I enjoyed the story and the mystery behind it all, I found the level of detail tedious and unnecessary at times. I frequently skipped pages of detailed finances, etc. I would recommend this book to those with an interest in Russian history or journalistic accounts of our times.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

And the winner is...

Thanks to, I have randomly selected the winner of Maybe Baby: An Infertile Love Story.

Congratulations, Becca!

Thanks to those who entered. Watch for another giveaway soon!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Review : Mass Historia

Mass Historia: 365 Days of Historical Facts and (Mostly) Fictions by Chris Regan. Andrews McMeel Publishing (2008).

Mass Historia is a mix of actual day-by-day history with "funny" fiction thrown in. I'm a fan of The Intellectual Devotional books so I thought this would put a fun spin on the daily learning idea. I was more excited when I received the book and saw the Stephen Colbert endorsement on the front cover. Unfortunately, I just couldn't get into it. Maybe I like my history too much, but I found the fictional parts of each day ridiculous and not very funny. Here's an example for you to judge for yourself:

January 4, 1896 - Welcome, Utah!
On this day in history in 1896, Utah became state number forty-five, which was also the average number of wives enjoyed by most Utah men at the time.

Utah was settled in 1847 by Mormons seeking religious freedom, Leader Brigham Young arrived with a band of 148 pioneers at the Valley of the Great Salt Lake and declared, "This is the place." Most settlers then began setting up tents before he could finish his statement with "...for me to take a whiz," but Young didn't bother correcting anyone because the evening was just beginning and he had twenty wives who were expecting "vacation sex."

A few years later, Young was named governor of the state, but soon Washington, D.C., began to bristle at the flagrant Mormon violations of anti-polygamy laws. (Jealous.) In 1857, President James Buchanan (a lifelong bachelor---REALLY jealous) removed Youn
g from his post and sent the army to the state to maintain order. (The only other time the army was sent to Utah to maintain order was in the 1970s, when a herd of perennially dieting Donnie Osmond groupies rioted in Salt Lake City over the scant availability of Tab soda.)

That's as far as I got in this book--January 4. If you found Chris Regan's take on Utah amusing, please, go get this book and read on. As for me, I'll stick to The Intellectual Devotionals where I'll actually learn something without having to read stupid jokes.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

So Long at the Fair...follow up

Unfortunately, the more time that passes after reading So Long at the Fair, the more I find myself questioning it. I haven't been able to put my finger on it, but she reads and reads just posted a great review. I feel like she really nails this one so check it out here.

If you need a refresher, my review is here.

Review : Confessions of a Contractor

Confessions of a Contractor by Richard Murphy. G. P. Putnam's Sons (2008).

I'm not normally a fan of books where the narrator talks directly to me, giving me advice (in this case about remodeling my home), but Confessions of a Contractor grew on me. Author Richard Murphy cashes in on the home improvement/remodeling craze by combining his own years of real experience with a fictional look at two clients of his main character, contractor Henry Sullivan. I seem to be getting a lot of books with themes of troubled marriages and infidelity right now, and this one was fun to read. Henry gets caught up in the drama of two former friends, Sally, a single forty-something, and Rebecca, whose marriage is rapidly failing. Along the way, he falls for them both and lets his own life slide as he tries to unravel the mystery of their shared past. Eventually, he does and then manages to right the drifting ship of his life. There isn't a great deal of substance to the story or Henry Sullivan, but he is likable and amusing. If you are looking for a fun, easy read (and some remodeling tips), give Confessions of a Contractor a try.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Review : The Richest Season

The Richest Season by Maryann McFadden. Hyperion (2008).

The Richest Season is a story of self-discovery. It charts the journeys of Joanna, a woman who runs from her role as a corporate wife; Paul, her estranged husband; and Grace, the older woman Joanna cares for after leaving her husband. I thought this book was well-written though very predictable. Each character does exactly what you would expect them to over the course of their journeys in this feel-good novel. I could see the resulting transformations coming a mile away. The Richest Season is a quaint and well-worn story. If you are looking for a light beach read, go for it. Otherwise, leave this one on the shelf.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

some other book lovers...

I've started compiling a list of other like-minded book lovers/bloggers. If you'd like me to add you to list, please post a comment with your URL.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

My First Giveaway!

I received an extra copy of Maybe Baby: An Infertile Love Story, so I'm giving it away.

Just post a comment on this entry to express your interest. Receive two entries by commenting on another blog post. I will randomly select a winner on August 20, 2008.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Review : Isaac's Storm

Isaac's Storm by Erik Larson. Random House (1999).

Isaac's Storm, published in 1999, is the story of the most horrible hurricane in American history. While reading, I wondered if Hurricane Katrina had outstripped the Galveston hurricane described by Larson. It did not. The Galveston hurricane claimed at least 6,000 lives and the entire town. Hurricane Katrina, however, claimed less than 2,000 lives according to most estimates. While Katrina is the most tragic natural disaster of our age, our forebears experienced even worse. The Isaac of the title is Isaac Cline, the U.S. Weather Bureau's chief observer in Galveston. Larson weaves meteorological details of the storm with the story of Isaac and other Galveston residents as well as the bureaucratic failures that left the city vulnerable. The story is touching and, at times, horrifying. Larson clearly conveys the fear residents felt during the storm and the way it changed the lives of survivors forever. I cannot imagine living through such an ordeal. This is a wonderful precursor of Larson's later work, The Devil in the White City. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoyed that book.