Saturday, July 31, 2010

Review # 77: Dismantled by Jennifer McMahon

Title: Dismantled
Author: Jennifer McMahon
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Harper Collins
Format: Autographed Copy from BEA
ISBN: 978-0-06-168934-5
Price/Pages: $13.99/422

Description from Author's Website:

Henry, Tess, Winnie and Suz banded together in college to form the Compassionate Dismantlers. Following the first rule of their manifesto – “To understand the nature of a thing, it must be taken apart” – these daring misfits spend the summer after graduation in a remote cabin in the Vermont woods committing acts of meaningful vandalism, and plotting elaborate, sometimes dangerous, pranks. But everything changes when one particularly twisted experiment ends in Suz’s death and the others decide to cover it up.

Nearly a decade later, Henry and Tess are living just an hour’s drive from the old cabin. Each are desperate to move on from the summer of the Dismantlers, but the past isn’t ready to let them go. When a victim of their past pranks commits suicide – apparently triggered by a mysterious Dismantler-style postcard – it sets off a chain of eerie events that threatens to engulf Henry, Tess, and their precocious nine-year-old daughter Emma. Is there someone who wants to reveal their secrets? Is it possible that Suz did not really die – or has she somehow found a way back?

My Review:

For those of you who have read The Secret History by Donna Tartt many years ago, this novel could be considered a good comparison but still wholly original. Edgy, twisted and well, almost psychotic at times, McMahon spins a disastrous tale of Henry,Tess, Winnie, Suz
and the young Emma.

They are four highly educated, somewhat pampered adults, egotistical, and completely smothered by the consequences of their youthful idiotic actions.

You get the elitism, the self absorbtion and the fear of their personalities in college and ten years later you still feel that. Henry and Tess are locked in their loveless marriage, tip toeing around the obvious and sheltering their daughter. Winnie continues to be manic, self destructive and lost. And Suz, well, that's for you to find out as the reader. Is she alive? Or...

The past comes back to haunt them, physically and emotionally.
I liked the twists and turns though it did drag at times. The reader got a full dose of how dysfunctional Henry was, how uptight Tess was and how strange Emma was. Their world could have been idyllic if they allowed themselves to really live in it.

I grew a tad bit impatient. I wanted to know what was happening and I wanted to know now!
I felt almost like I was taking on the personality of Suz, the former leader of the Compassionate Dismantlers. I wanted action, I wanted results and I didn't want to wait.

It was hard to really feel for them because of how spoiled it seemed each character was. Though genuinely interested in what happened to Suz, I didn't feel compassionate towards her in any way. She spear headed a lot of unnecesary harm towards others and was not a sympathetic character.

Rating: 4 stars/ 6 stars
McMahon does a great job with extensive character sketches of each character and as a fan of literary fiction, I appreciated that. I enjoyed it overall but it wouldn't be a favorite of mine. It was original, well written and thought out. If you have the patience for some twists and a bit of a drawn out riddle, then read away.

Book Club Note:
Though I did not read this one for my book club, I considered bringing it along as an option. Perhaps for the fall. I feel there is quite a bit of discussion here; the idea of the Compassionate Dismantlers, their philosophies, the consequences of youthful indiscretions, the impact of a loveless marriage on a child.

Author Profile:

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Review #76: Still Missing by Chevy Stevens

Title: Still Missing
Author: Chevy Stevens
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Genre: Suspense Thriller
Format: ARC from work
ISBN: 978-0-312-59567-8
Price/Pages: $24.99/352
Release Date: July 2010

My Review and Description:

I decided to read this book because of fellow bloggers Stacy from A Novel Source and Jenny from Take Me Away. They gave really great reviews that made this book sound heart pumping and terrifying and right up my alley.

Luckily, my bookstore had an ARC lying around that no one wanted so I snagged it!
It was a fast read but boy did it bring up a lot of emotion.

First, a brief description.
Annie O'Sullivan is a 32 year old realtor living a seemingly happy life.
She has a pesky mother, a patient boyfriend and a career that is successful.
Locking up after a routine open house, a man approaches her.
Would she mind one last tour?
Anything for a possible sale, she thought.

What follows is her abduction and year long captivity with this stranger; calculating, manipulating, violent, and terrifying.

She is locked in a remote cabin with no way of escaping. She is made to dress a certain way, eat at a certain time, use the bathroom at a certain time and read to him. Every night she is abused by him and every night she feels more and more removed from herself.

But she learns to play his terrifying game and goes through hell.

When she does eventually free herself from him she tries desperately to fit back into
her old life.

The first three quarters of the book were terrifyingly absorbing, like a train wreck you keep staring at. The entire time I was reading it I almost wish I wasn't. I kept thinking this crazy crap happens in real life. People are abducted, tortured, brain washed, and killed. The author certainly nailed the emotion of Annie and the bat shit crazy mind of the abductor.

It is told in two parts; Annie during her therapy sessions post abduction and Annie during her captivity. Very sharp and intense, the author's writing was at its finest.

The last quarter of the book, when she escapes, is where is loses it's punch. It gets wrapped up too quickly with a far fetched, unbelievable explanation. You throw in a quickie relationship with the detective on duty and poof, your awesome suspense thriller turns into a
mediocre who dunnit.

This could be a first time novelist mistake or the author's need to not leave you with such a heavy heart and head. As a reader, I was certainly looking for justice for Annie. The abductor needed an ass kicking, that's for sure. (Sorry for the sharp language but if you read it, you'll understand!) I wish, however, that it could have been resolved better.

Rating: 4 stars/ 6 stars
I do recommend this for suspense fans. Be aware that there is some graphic descriptions of violence and some plain ol' mean stuff going on in here. Not for the faint of heart or the cozy mystery lover. The ending is what prevents me from giving this book a higher rating.
It fell flat and short for me.

Author Website:

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Seriously, it's been how many days?

Gee, the days go by so fast in blog land. It's been five days since I've posted though I've been trying to peak at some of you and atleast keep up.
Good news. The money has been set aside.
The new computer has been reserved. I should be up and running sooner than later.
Goodbye, sweet man cave. I'll miss the lava lamp glow.


I have two reviews to post. I finished Dismantled by Jennifer McMahon and Still Missing by Chevy Stevens. My husband also will be posting a Guest Review for Samantha Bee's book.
Sign up for that Giveaway that ends August 1!

I'm thinking it's time for a cozy...mystery that is. I have officially sucked at this one little bitty challenge I signed up for months ago that I told myself would be super easy. HAH!
I am thinking either the first in the Tea Shop Mysteries by Laura Child (to continue on my new love for Charleston) OR Witch Way to Murder by Shirley Damsgaard
(it is about a librarian after all).

My library job is full of nerdy delight and I finish up my shadow shifts next week.
I will be official starting in September. Joy!

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Did I get your attention?


This Saturday marks my 1 year Blog Birthday and I feel like Red Headed Book Child is just learning how to walk, still enjoying the bottle and
apprehensive about solid foods.

In other words, I've come along way since the sleepy, burpy newborn that I once was.

I still don't really know what I am doing but I certainly feel more relaxed about the world of blogging. Reading back at my early posts, I definitely did not edit myself. I sound much like a rambling, drunk stand up comedian who thinks she knows a lot about books.

Now I'm slightly more refined, perhaps a tad more emotional and jazz handy, less intense but still passionate and enthusiastic about books.

Perfect that I should happen to have I know I am but what are you? by Samantha Bee to give away in honor of my blog birthday. This book shares my taste in sass, intensity, wit, and dry sense of humor (and much of my dirty crass side too!)
Here is the description from the publisher's website:


Candid, outspoken, laugh-out-loud funny essays from the much-loved Samantha Bee, the Most Senior Correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart .

Critics have called her "sweet, adorable, and vicious." But there is so much more to be said about Samantha Bee. For one, she's Canadian. Whatever that means. And now, she opens up for the very first time about her checkered Canadian past. With charming candor, she admits to her Lennie from Of Mice and Men–style love of baby animals, her teenage crime spree as one-half of a car-thieving couple (Bonnie and Clyde in Bermuda shorts and braces), and the fact that strangers seem compelled to show her their genitals. She also details her intriguing career history, which includes stints working in a frame store, at a penis clinic, and as a Japanese anime character in a touring children's show.

Samantha delves into all these topics and many more in this thoroughly hilarious, unabashedly frank collection of personal essays. Whether detailing the creepiness that ensues when strangers assume that your mom is your lesbian lover, or recalling her girlhood crush on Jesus (who looked like Kris Kristofferson and sang like Kenny Loggins), Samantha turns the spotlight on her own imperfect yet highly entertaining life as relentlessly as she skewers hapless interview subjects on The Daily Show. She shares her unique point of view on a variety of subjects as wide ranging as her deep affinity for old people, to her hatred of hot ham. It's all here, in irresistible prose that will leave you in stitches and eager for more.

Thank you all for being a part of my year long ride. I didn't know what to expect and I am so happy that there are wonderful people out there like you all who read and listen to what I have to say. Your comments and presence are greatly appreciated.

My blog may change like the seasons but I hope you all will continue to
grow along with me.

Thank you to Kristin at Simon and Schuster for offering this book to giveaway.

* It would be lovely if you would be a follower.

* It would help my pocket book if you lived in the United States.

* It would benefit my organization skills if you would leave an email address.

* It would feed my ego if you would leave a comment about what you like best about Red Headed Book Child!


Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Review #75: On Folly Beach by Karen White

Title: On Folly Beach
Author: Karen White
Genre: Fiction
Format: Review Copy from Publicist
Publisher: New American Library (Penguin)
ISBN: 978-0-451-22921-2
Price/Pages: $15.00/387

My Description:

Folly Beach, South Carolina is the setting for this magnificent novel. It is a special place for those born and raised and a sanctuary to those new souls needing refuge.

Emmy Hamilton has just lost her husband in Afghanistan. Feeling lost and heartbroken, her mother guides her to Folly Beach, a place she knew well as a child. Emmy, a librarian and book lover, is encouraged to buy the local bookstore, Folly Finds.
Perhaps this will be the distraction she needs to heal from her loss.

Though Emmy agrees, she is not prepared for the history that comes along with the store.
Lulu, the late owner's sister, is a permanent staple at the bookstore; opinionated, salty and not overly welcoming to Emmy. But Abigail, Lulu's niece, and current caretaker of the store, insists she stays. Lulu is a gifted artist of bottle trees and makes quite a good living in the backyard of the bookstore. Not wanting to disrupt a good thing, Emmy agrees to work side by side with Lulu and forgive her anti-social ways.

While adapting to the store and her new home on the beach, Emmy discovers love letters in a box of used books at the store. Written in the margins of several books are urgent messages of what seems like a passionate and dangerous affair. Intrigued she investigates further and finds a tangled web of secrets and lies that all involve Lulu, her sister Maggie, her cousin Cat and a stranger named Peter.

With Lulu's nephew, Heath, in tow and a cast of side characters, Emmy struggles through her own loss and grief while sorting out someone else's from the past.

My Review:

This novel was simply marvelous. I, unfortunately, had it on the back burner while trying to finish up several other books and finally finished it this week. I'm so glad I did. Karen White is becoming a favorite author of mine. After reading The Girl on Legare Street and The House at Tradd Street, I am such a big fan now.

This novel had a bit of everything, like her others. The Low Country setting of South Carolina and Folly Beach is enough for me, truly captivating and inspiring. The book is told in two stories. The story of Maggie in 1942 and the story of Emmy in 2009.

Maggie's time was full of the war, the rations, the simple times, and first loves. Maggie was the first owner of Folly Finds. After losing her mother, she forms a family with her little sister, Lulu and her cousin Cat. Cat loses her husband, Jim, in the war and comes to live with them. Beautiful and untamed, Cat has always been the one Maggie has to look out for.

Folly Beach at that time was host to many musicians and dances were a common past time on the weekends. Maggie meets and falls in love with Peter at one of these dances. But his presence will not bring all good things to Maggie's life.

The incidents that happen between Maggie, Cat, Lulu and Peter are briefly captured in the frantic love notes Emmy discovers. Through these little glimpses Emmy finds a love triangle, war secrets and murder.

And it takes 60 years to get the truth.

Rating: 6 stars/ 6 stars
I have to give this one my all as well. Karen White is a very accomplished story teller. She weaves romance, mystery and history all in one. Her characters are certainly flawed and real to the reader. She is not afraid to show the layers and give the story time. The other two books I mentioned above had a bit of paranormal in them. This one did not, though Emmy's character was written with a lot of intuitive feelings towards her surroundings. The emotion of her loss connected to the spirit of Maggie and the losses she experienced. Such a heartwarming read.

Book Club Note:
I sold it to my book club just last week and we are now reading it for August. So, yes! this would be a great pick for book clubs out there. It even has a little reading guide and Q&A in the back to help.

Author Profile:

Thank you to Joy for sending me a copy to read and review.

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Review #74: The Lies we Told by Diane Chamberlain

Title: The Lies We Told
Author: Diane Chamberlain
Genre: Women's Fiction
Publisher: Mira Books
Format: Autographed copy from BEA!
ISBN: 978-0-7783-2853-7
Price/Pages: $13.95/374

My Description:

Maya and Rebecca Ward are sisters; both physicians and accomplished in their respected fields. Outside of that they are different as night and day. Maya is cautious, reserved, thoughtful and kind. Rebecca is a fierce, thrill seeker who never feels settled. An accident years before as teenagers left their parents dead and Rebecca the hero for saving Maya.

Rebecca's focus as a physician is to help disaster sights all over the world and bring relief to the survivors. It keeps her pulse pumping and she knows she is doing good. Maya's husband volunteers on one of the missions in an effort to give back to the community.
While helping, he convinces Maya to come out and help as well. Hoping to save her troubled marriage, Maya reluctantly agrees.

When she agrees she find herself immersed in the care of the devastated victims. A few short days after arriving, Maya takes a helicopter ride to a crash site to help and it goes down.
A search begins but she is never found.

Rebecca and Adam are left to pick up the pieces of their lives and move on without Maya. They turn to each other for comfort not knowing that Maya did survive and is being held in captivity with people she is unsure she can trust.

My Review:

Okay, so you are probably thinking. Wow, that's awfully dramatic! And yes, it is and it's a bit difficult to sum it all up without giving anything away. Trust me,I thoroughly enjoyed this book! My book club picked it out from my stack of BEA books. I was happy to read something from that pile and try something new! Knowing that Diane Chamberlain has written quite a few books, I was really excited to read this one.

It was extremely easy to get into, very absorbing. I would almost say a lighter version of Jodi Picoult! (no offense to either Picoult or Chamberlain) Chamberlain definitely could spin a tale and keep your interest. She dove into each character just enough that you felt for them and wanted them to turn out okay. But at the same time it had that soap opera appeal that was engrossing and tragic and heartwarming and romantic.

The book packs a punch with how much happens. It's not a "romance" though Mira it a part of Harlequin. It had mystery, thriller, and romance all wrapped up into one. No character was perfect or "the hero" or the damsel in distress. Each character was written realistically and flawed. I liked that. And SO much excitement and drama happens that I could not put it down!

Rating: 6 stars/ 6 stars
I'm giving it my all. For how much it surprised me and how much I enjoyed it, I really have to recommend it as a great read. Fast paced, dramatic, heart pounding, romantic and engrossing. You can't lose.

Book Club Note:
My book club meets tomorrow to discuss this one and so far, all the ladies that I have briefly talked to have LOVED it! So, go for it, book clubs, pick it up!

Author Profile:

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Monday, July 12, 2010

It will almost be a year...

...that I started Red Headed Book Child.

Can you believe it?

I guess it would be my 1 year Blog-o-versary. Holy Cow!
Where did the time go?

Do I accept Cotton for celebrations like this? Wood? Time?
Oops, that's for that whole marriage thing. HA!

Well, perhaps it's time to do a little Giveaway. Haven't done THAT in awhile?


More to come.

red headed book child

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Happy 50th Anniversary To Kill a Mockingbird!

Today marks the 50th Anniversary of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. In celebration, events are taking place all over the United States. Please visit the website to take part in the fun even if you have not read it.

I discovered this important event at BEA where they had an enormous display of this upcoming celebration. Guests had the opportunity to share their memories of this timeless novel to win a free edition of the book. I, of course, like I shared with you all previously had NOT read the book and in shame, avoided this booth.
I know, real mature.

But since discovering the 50 year website and reading all about it in the Harper Newsletter I recieve, I decided it was time to finally read it. I can't tell you how crusty and old my copy is. I've had it THAT long. It has fallen apart several times while I'm reading it. It is now being held together with lots of tape. Good thing I just learned all about mending books at my library job. :)

I am only on page 60 but I am devoting the rest of this week to this wonderful novel.

This celebration got me excited for many reasons.
One, because I had not read it before and I enjoy jumping on bandwagons every now and then. Two, I was inspired by the stories of so many people in my life who had read this and loved it. And three, communities coming together over a little ol' book in mad celebration just pleases my book loving heart so.

My friend Trever called this book "a literary event" and my pal, Cheryl said it is one of her very favorite books of all time. I trust these people with my life so I'm going to really trust their strong feelings for this book.

How about you?
Do you have memories of this book to share?
Have you decided to read it finally in celebration?

Melissa at The Betty and Boo Chronicles just posted her review here.
And Marce at Tea Time with Marce is reading it along with many others on her blog.

I'm off to continue reading about Scout, Jem and Boo Radley.

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Review #73: Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner

Title: Fly Away Home
Author: Jennifer Weiner
Publisher: Atria (Simon and Schuster)
Genre: Women's Fiction
Format: ARC from Publisher
ISBN: 978-0-7432-9427-0
Price/Pages: $26.99/app.401
Release Date: July 11

My Description:

Sylvie Serfer is the perfect wife to her politician husband, Richard. Though when they met in law school she was a force to be reckoned with; big hair, sturdy body and a loud mouth. These days she has molded herself into a perfect other half; slim, blonde, professionally dressed and always polite. She was happy and comfortable being in Richard's shadow, his right hand at times, making sure he eats his breakfast and gets to his appointments on time.

But all her hard work and devotion towards Richard is shattered when the news story breaks that he is the newest politician to be caught cheating with a younger woman.

Sylvie retreats to her family home in Connecticut, away from the media frenzy and away from Richard and his "I'm sorries".

Sylvie is not alone in this scandal. Lizzie and Diana are the daughters who have emotional stories of their own. Lizzie, the younger daughter, is a recovering addict living with her older sister Diana trying to put the pieces back together of her own life. Diana is an ER physician and fierce, strong willed and very much in control of her life. Or so she thinks. She has a husband who loves her and that she tolerates and a son whom she adores.
She also has a lover who she can't get enough of.

The news of their father's scandal forces them all to take a look at their past as a family
and who they are now. Can they recover? Will trust be restored?
Will they continue on as a family unit?

My Review:

This, surprisingly, was my first Jennifer Weiner novel. I'm seeing reviews for it every where and it is being described as a perfect summer read. I would agree. Politicians cheating is certainly straight out of our headlines these days and it definitely adds the gossip factor in and keeps you reading. Surprisingly the idea of this book came over ten years ago according to the Acknowledgements from the author, before the most recent scandals in the news.

I really enjoyed the stories of Diana and Lizzie more so than Sylvie. Sylvie almost felt like the back story to me. It starts off really powerful with the realization of the affair and then Sylvie escapes. Left to weather the storm in their daily lives are the daughters. Diana, though strong on the outside, was strugglilng with an imperfect and unhappy marriage. Lizzie, though filled with mistakes from her past, was trying to move on.

I liked how honest and straight forward these characters were.
Richard and Sylvie were not the perfect parents. They were busy building his career. So this recent turn of events was just another loss for them when it came to their parents.
This seemed very true to life. How busy are we as parents to do so much and plug away?
Are we forgetting to nurture and raise our children?

Weiner has a very easy to read writing style. Beach readers out there could lose themselves in this story. It is a bit more involved and I would not call it a light chick lit/beach read but it is certainly compulsively readable.

Rating: 5 stars/ 6 stars
I would recommend this one for a summer read. It's quick and easy to get into. Each chapter is told from either Sylvie, Lizzie or Diana. It comes together quite nicely in the end and leaves you with a good feeling. I can see why Jennifer Weiner is a popular author. She definitely taps into the heart of real people making her characters very relatable (even if you don't have a cheating political husband).

Book Club Note:
This book could instigate some discussion on the current state of some of our politicians personal lives. Marriage, cheating, trust. For all of this, it may interest book clubs.

Author Website:

Thank you to Wendy at Simon and Schuster for sending me this ARC to read.
It is out in stores July 11!

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Friday, July 2, 2010

Where the heck are you?

You may be asking yourself this very question in regards to me in Blog Land.
Or maybe not. Perhaps my lack of presence means nothing at all to you. Sob.

Only kidding.

Here's the thing. My laptop crapped the bed. Yes, I will be blunt and not very eloquent. My husband and I have been trying to "figure out" what is wrong with it.
A trusted pal told us that it was the hard drive. So we replaced it.

It is not the hard drive. Thanks! Appreciate the loss of $100.


SO, needless to say, I have not been blogging much due to the lack of computer and
that whole "let's not nap every day" thing.
I am stuck to take VERY brief moments blogging on my husband's computer down in the basement where his music studio is or his "man cave". Instruments, wires, beer cans, Steely Dan records, Bob Marley pictures, and drumsticks every where does not really aide to my computer creativity time. No offense to my incredibly talented musician of a husband. :)

I blog with blinders as much as I can.


So, hopefully soon I will figure out the computer situation and actually be able to blog on a somewhat daily basis.

Good news, I AM reading. Atleast this hasn't fallen into the crap hole.

Happy reading to all of you on this holiday weekend, and
as always thanks so much for stopping by!

red headed book child