Wednesday, May 30, 2012

50 Shades; Yes, I read it. Yes, I'm reviewing it.

So, I'm not going to even mention the book details, publisher, author, yada yada because unless you've been under a rock lately, you should all know about Fifty Shades of Grey or as I call it "Just Fiddy". I hemmed and hawed about reading this. I knew it wasn't really my cup of tea but whenever a book hits this hard, I always find my way to it and givie it a shot.

Things I've heard about this book before reading it.
"It's smut!'
"It's Twilight fan-fiction"
"It's hot, right?"
"I'm so embarrassed but I love it!"
"It's a great read for the beach this summer!"
"I hide it beneath another book and read it on the bus"

How did I feel about it? Well, I'll get to that in a sec.

The craze for this book is creepy and amazing. I work at an independent bookstore in a pretty trendy neighborhood in Minneapolis. We sell more Murakami than Erotica. But this book we simply just threw up our hands and ordered in the masses because, like Hunger Games, it seemed every third customer was buying it. No one I work with will read this. Trust me. Of course, I had to. I'm a nosy nose and a curious cat. Also, I love to gossip with people about this kind of book phenomenon.

I am not a person who judges what others read. Never have been. Never will be. Sure, I think some literature is more high brow than others but I read Jackie Collins, so who the hell am I to judge. You read what you want for your own enjoyment. That's what reading is all about. If you read creepy S&M erotica, that's just fine. Just don't tie up your neighbor unwillingly, kay?

So with that said, you may think I'm all for this book and okay with so many people reading it.

On one hand (the whole non judging thing), yes, I'm cool with it. Read what you will.

BUT, I have a few little issues with it.

On simply the book itself, I feel this:
1. I am not a fan of the writing. The inner dialogue of Anastasia is like nails on a chalkboard.
2. Anastasia and Christian are highly dysfunctional and about as annoying as Bella and Edward. Co-dependent. Needy. Completely unable to communicate like adults.
3. The sex got old. Yep, I said it. 500 pages was too much.

On the topic of the book, I feel this:
I was reading along just fine through most of it, with quite a few eye rolls and skimming. Once I got towards the end, I was just done with them. I didn't like what they were doing to one another, emotionally, mostly and I didn't think it sent out a good message.
I know, I know. I'm not trying to say every book has to follow a high moral ground, it's not that.  There are plenty of romance novels where the man always rescues the woman and plenty of erotica that does even more crazy things.

But when you have a book like this, very graphic in nature, portraying a very specific intense lifestyle and it's being gobbled up by the millions, millions! I just hope that those reading it will take it maturely. The critics are saying women are loving this book because this day and age,  women are doing more than the men and they want their men to take more control. Okay, I hear that. I guess. From the massive sales of this book, are that many women unhappy? What do the men think?  I witness couples buying it up. I witness men say they are buying it for their wives, their girlfriends. 

Do they know it's wicked graphic? Intense? The women completely giving herself over to the man? Is that the appeal? Where did it get it's start? 

I don't know. I found myself shaking my head a lot and just getting annoyed. I know this book isn't really going to be responsible for crazy bedroom things for everyone who reads it but it will introduce the reader to a very intense world. I hope all readers are prepared for that and can handle it. 

I, for one, am just trying to forget it. That's just me. 

Recommend: Obviously not. 

Thoughts, dear readers. Am I being too harsh? Too literal? Thinking it has took much control over the book buying population right now? Or is our society just going to look at it as a fun read?

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Monday, May 28, 2012

Ladies Book Club: May 2012

Book Read: When She Woke by Hillary Jordan

Ladies in Attendance: 9

Treats Shared: Sweet potato chips, blue corn chips, hummus, sweet salsa, chocolate chip cookies, strawberries, DQ Buster Bars!!! Merlot and White Zinfadel

To Read or Not to Read: 2 read 1/2, 6 read it all, 1 didn't read it 

My Reaction: I was one of the folks who read half of it, due to a busy schedule and well, not getting it in time from the library. What I did read was really interesting and held my attention. I went into it expecting a bit more of a literary novel but it read simply, almost like a psychological thriller. It had a lot of drama, love, good and evil and a bit of dystopian thrown in there that I generally have a fancy for.

If you are not familiar with the story, here is a description from Goodreads:

I am red now. It was her first thought of the day, every day, surfacing after a few seconds of fogged, blessed ignorance and sweeping through her like a wave, breaking in her breast with a soundless roar. Hard on its heels came the second wave, crashing into the wreckage left by the first: he is gone.

Hannah Payne’s life has been devoted to church and family. But after she’s convicted of murder, she awakens to a nightmarish new life. She finds herself lying on a table in a bare room, covered only by a paper gown, with cameras broadcasting her every move to millions at home, for whom observing new Chromes—criminals whose skin color has been genetically altered to match the class of their crime—is a sinister form of entertainment. Hannah is a Red for the crime of murder. The victim, says the State of Texas, was her unborn child, and Hannah is determined to protect the identity of the father, a public figure with whom she shared a fierce and forbidden love.

A powerful reimagining of The Scarlet LetterWhen She Woke is a timely fable about a stigmatized woman struggling to navigate an America of the not-too-distant future, where the line between church and state has been eradicated, and convicted felons are no longer imprisoned but chromed and released back into the population to survive as best they can. In seeking a path to safety in an alien and hostile world, Hannah unknowingly embarks on a journey of self-discovery that forces her to question the values she once held true and the righteousness of a country that politicizes faith and love

Pretty crazy, huh? Can you imagine? The colors of our crimes visible on our skin? How many folks would be colorful? This was a perfect book that opened up a lot of talk about the what ifs of the reality of this.  I really thought it was well written, thought provoking and different. I know the author had written a novel previously that had gotten some acclaim but I was not familiar with her work. I am planning on finishing it even though the discussion led to some spoilers.

The Ladies Reaction: All the ladies that read any part of it enjoyed it. They found it to be completely absorbing once you got started. Some brought up that our society already has ways to showcase our crimes (i.e tattoos of how many people you have killed, gang colors, etc). Though the characters were flawed and made some interesting choices throughout, we all agreed we were eager for it all to resolved in a happy ending. Unfortunately, the ending was a bit abrupt for some and did end up leaving some questions. 

Good Book Club Pick? Overall, the Ladies agreed that this was definitely a great pick for our book club and some were eager to check our her other titles. 

Next Book Up: The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson.

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Feature: The Car Thief by Theodore Weesner

Title: The Car Thief
Author: Theodore Weesner
Genre: Fiction
Purchase: IndieBound

From Goodreads:
It’s 1959. Sixteen year-old Alex Housman has just stolen his fourteenth car and frankly doesn’t know why. His divorced, working class father grinds out the night shift at the local Chevy Plant in Detroit, kept afloat by the flask in his glove compartment and the open bottles in his Flint, Michigan home.

Abandoned and alone, father and son struggle to express a deep love for each other, even as Alex fills his day juggling cheap thrills and a crushing depression. He cruises and steals, running from, and to, the police, compelled by reasons he frustratingly can’t put into words. And then there’s Irene Shaeffer, the pretty girl in school whose admiration Alex needs like a drug in order to get by. Broke and fighting to survive, Alex and his father face the realities of estrangement, incarceration, and even violence as their lives hurtle toward the climactic episode that a New York Times reviewer called “one of the most profoundly powerful in American fiction.”

I have been slowing down, waaaay down on what I am accepting for review. But that hasn't stopped me from offering up a chance to "feature" a title that seems interesting to me. I did a bit of this last fall and earlier this winter to "catch" up on some of those titles that have been sitting on my shelves waiting for a little attention from me. It doesn't feel as satisfying as a full on review from my heart but I do feel better knowing that I am giving some attention to some seemingly interesting and unique titles.

This title is even more interesting in that it is part of a launch of "Digital First" Publishing, Astor + Blue Editions. Titles that were first published in digital format are given a chance to be published in print. Check out the article in Publisher's Weekly

Thank you to Serena at Blue Dot Literary for bringing this title to my attention. 

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Blog Tour Review: The Anti-Romantic Child

Title: The Anti-Romantic Child
Author: Priscilla Gilman
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Format: Review copy from publisher

As a parent, I enjoy reading stories from other parents about what it is like to naviagte the world of  parenting. I tend to lean more towards the serious, heartwarming type rather than the " I need a drink before noon" type simply because I prefer the honesty over humor. Don't get me wrong, I OFTEN joke and kid about how I could easily start drinking at 7am on any given day but in reality, that doesn't help me get through the day. I like to know the ins and outs, the struggles, the reflections, the joys and the concerns of real every day parenting. This book had that for me.

Gilman was raised in a very smart, percocious, literary world and grew to be a lover of the written word, most notably romantic poetry. She was looking forward to sharing this love with her own children and creating that idyllic childhood world she had. But her first born son is diagnosed with the developmental disorder, Hyperlexia and she is faced with the challenges of supporting his needs.

From Wikipedia:
Hyperlexia was initially identified by Silberg and Silberg (1967), who defined it as the precocious ability to read words without prior training in learning to read typically before the age of 5. They indicated that children with hyperlexia have a significantly higher word decoding ability than their reading comprehension levels.

As a lover of language and books, Gilman found it hard to recognize a problem with her son because he exhibited such "smart" tendencies. As time went on, however, other issues came to light and she made those tough decisions to get as much help as she could to make him as successful as he could be.

I loved everything about this book. I loved the relationship between mother and son. I loved the son and everything he could do and how he communicated. As a mother of a son who has some "needs" that could be considered special, I found the whole story heartwarming. Yes, it's hard. Yes, it was a struggle at times to figure out the best course of action. Yes, it put a strain on the marriage. But overall, any parent goes through ups and downs and reading stories like this that display a family that may have a few more struggles, makes you learn and hope for the best for them and for your own family. 

Nobody has it easy. All you can do is love the child and the family you have and support them and advocate for them as long as you breathe! Gilman did just that and I applaud her for that. And what a strong bond she has with her son. Amazing!

Parents, especially should read this, whether you have children with special needs or not. It is a testament of the true love between parent and child. 

Book Club Pick?
I think it would appeal to folks who are parents more than those who are not but it is a wonderfully written book overall, with many quotes of romantic poetry as well.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for having me on this tour. Click on the link for the other stops.

Happy reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Ladies' Book Club: April 2012

Book Read: Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey  

Ladies In Attendance:
5 members 

To Read or Not to Read:
All 5 read it. (I'm the 6th that was not in attendance). 3 liked it, 2 "ok read", 1 disliked it.

Treats Shared:
Wine, Black Box Moscato and Shiraz
Taco dip & chips, chocolate chip cookies, red velvet cake, Girl Scout
Cookies, Cheese Curds, Chips & Salsa, Wheat Thins & Hummus

My Reaction:
I had read this several years ago before it was released and loved it. I was one of those who read The Time Traveler's Wife late, really late. But I loved it, just like everyone else did. I was very excited to read her follow up. Though different and quite a bit darker, I still enjoyed Her Fearful Symmetry. Here is my review from 2009. I was happy when the ladies picked this one because, a) I didn't have to read another book and b) it's a good one with lots to discuss.

In case you are not familiar, here is a description from Goodreads:
Six years after the phenomenal success of The Time Traveler's Wife, Audrey Niffenegger has returned with a spectacularly compelling and haunting second novel set in and around Highgate Cemetery in London.

When Elspeth Noblin dies of cancer, she leaves her London apartment to her twin nieces, Julia and Valentina. These two American girls never met their English aunt, only knew that their mother, too, was a twin, and Elspeth her sister. Julia and Valentina are semi-normal American teenagers--with seemingly little interest in college, finding jobs, or anything outside their cozy home in the suburbs of Chicago, and with an abnormally intense attachment to one another.

The girls move to Elspeth's flat, which borders Highgate Cemetery in London. They come to know the building's other residents. There is Martin, a brilliant and charming crossword puzzle setter suffering from crippling Obsessive Compulsive Disorder; Marjike, Martin's devoted but trapped wife; and Robert, Elspeth's elusive lover, a scholar of the cemetery. As the girls become embroiled in the fraying lives of their aunt's neighbors, they also discover that much is still alive in Highgate, including--perhaps--their aunt, who can't seem to leave her old apartment and life behind.

Niffenegger weaves a captivating story in Her Fearful Symmetry about love and identity, about secrets and sisterhood, and about the tenacity of life--even after death

The Ladies' Reaction:

"Unrealistic plot. Pregnant & switching people. Didn't like
anything about the plot.  C
ontrast to The Time Traveler's Wife which had a strong core relationship. Odd interpersonal relationships,
Unbelieveable. Scenery, etc. very detailed & believeable ... I enjoyed that."

"Everyone is "trying to pull a fast one over on someone else" but
no one is telling them."

"Something kept her spirit on earth ... what" no unresolved
issues? How/Why was she trapped in the house? Interesting ghost
stories. Intriguing but not believable. Quick read"

" Some strange parts, but an entertaining
read.  Swaps character focus mid-paragraph sometimes ... odd writing style
Twins relationship was creepy, almost incestuous."

These were snippets from the conversation taken from my pal Kari. It seems like it was a rather heated discussion. Even though I rather enjoyed it, I can certainly see the points that the ladies made.

Good Book Club Pick?
Overall, yes. Though opinions were divided, it still brought on a good, healthy discussion.

Next Book up?
When she Woke by Hillary Jordan (which we have already read and discussed. Post to come)

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Monday, May 14, 2012

Audio Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Genre: Young Adult
Format: Audio
Publisher: Razorbill
Challenge: 2012 Audio Book Challenge
Purchase: Indie Bound

13 Reasons Why you should listen to (or read) Thirteen Reasons Why:

1.It has stellar narrators.
2.It deals with bullying.
3. It deals with peer pressure.
4. It deals with body image.
5. It deals with depression.
6. It deals with our kids.
7. It deals with suicide.
8. It deals with the definitions of friendship.
9. It speaks to any age of reader.
10. It is bold, brash, in your face, no holds barred.
11. It made me cry and laugh.
12. It made me, above all, relate.
13. It captures the "voice" of teenagers perfectly, shockingly and unapologetically.

Goodreads Description:
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier.
On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out how he made the list.
Through Hannah and Clay's dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers. 

I was riveted from disc 1. Listening to it brought an edge and weight to it that I don't think reading it would have. The voice of Hannah made me ache and want to reach in to help her. The voice of Clay was so honest and endearing, he felt like a son to me.

All parents should read/listen to this book. When you think  you know your children, you might not. This book shows us, sadly, what can go horribly wrong with our kids when they deal with their lives in school.

Rating: Highly Recommended

Author Website:
Jay Asher

Book Club Pick?
Most definitely.

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Audio Review: Stories I Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe

Title: Stories I Only Tell My Friends
Author: Rob Lowe
Genre: Memoir
Format: Unabridged Audio
Challenge: Memorable Memoir Reading Challenge

Let's be honest. It wasn't necessarily all the glowing reviews of this title that prompted me to listen to this. It was this cover of Vanity Fair.

Oh I knew he had written a memoir. It was great and wonderful and it was definitely on my list. I must say though, I had forgotten about Rob Lowe. I hadn't caught up with the rest of the world in watching The West Wing, or Parks and Rec or Tommy Boy. My relationship with Rob Lowe started shortly after Outsiders and Youngblood and ended right after St. Elmo's Fire and About Last Night.

There were just too many others to fawn over at that time, mostly going by the name of Corey.

So, this fabulous cover shot ( Way to stay up on it Rob!) zoomed Mr. Lowe squarely in the center of sight. As I was on an audio kick, I thought hearing his smooth voice would be an awesome way to spend time driving in my car.

I was right.

These  discs were filled with candid, funny, heartwarming, sad, hopeful and sarcastic stories of his life in the spotlight. Starting from his Midwest upbringing with dreams of being an actor to his transformation into the stereotypical Hollywood party boy, I loved it all. He goes into great detail over some of his times in his life especially during the making of the Outsiders, his big break. I have always loved that movie and it was a blast hearing tales of all of those well known names.

Though he has had his share of bad times overall, you do get a very blessed life story. He managed to reign it all in in time, meeting the love of his life, his wife Cheryl, raising a family and managing to reinvent himself after a stalled career for over a decade.

Rating: Recommend
I'm glad he chose to read his own memoir. It would have seemed off it someone else was narrating it. His voice was warm and inviting and it was indeed like you were sitting next to him listening to him tell his stories to his friends. Children of the 80s would probably appreciate this more but even if you are simply a television and movie fan, this is an awesome listen.

Book Club Pick?
Sure. It's a fun one to "gossip" about.

Happy Reading (or Listening) and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

The Year of Mysterious Giveaways: May 2012

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

I wrote my review for this a few weeks back and it was the last book I have completed in over a month. Yay me! But it was a good one!  

I'm very excited to be able to give away my ARC copy. It is not released until June 5 so that is when the contest will end. 

Here is a description from Goodreads:

"'What are you thinking, Amy? The question I've asked most often during our marriage, if not out loud, if not to the person who could answer. I suppose these questions stormcloud over every marriage: What are you thinking? How are you feeling? Who are you? What have we done to each other? What will we do?'"

Just how well can you ever know the person you love? This is the question that Nick Dunne must ask himself on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, when his wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police immediately suspect Nick. Amy's friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn't true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they aren't his. And then there are the persistent calls on his mobile phone. So what did really did happen to Nick's beautiful wife? And what was left in that half-wrapped box left so casually on their marital bed? In this novel, marriage truly is the art of war...

Contest Rules:
Contest runs from May 3-June 5
Please leave an email 
Please reside in the United States
Please be a follower of my blog

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child