Monday, May 27, 2013

Book Club Update

Remember my 2 book clubs? They are still very much going on. Have I posted about them recently? Absolutely not. Why? Because I'm plum lazy, that's why. I wrote a post last fall about my struggles with keeping up with reading the titles picked for these clubs and I want to say it's gotten better.  Ahem. It hasn't. But darnit I do try and I am honest when I know I just won't like something. Like Cloud Atlas. No thank you. 
Luckily my ladies in both clubs really understand and are truly laid back. Gotta love that.
The Ladies Book Club continues to meet every month at someone's house and we dish about life and enjoy loads of treats that are really not good for us. Our picks are varied and sometimes on the lighter side, like in next month's case; Let's pretend this never happened by Jenny Lawson. HILARIOUS!!!

Books, Bottle or Bars book club is every other month and our list is picked and settled at the beginning of the year. Last month was Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. I cracked it open, attempted the audio and promptly ignored it after that. Our next choice is Looking for Alaska by John Green. I can do that one.

My update is simply to assure you all that the book clubs are still in existence and I will try to post something more often than not but it may  not be every month.

I did get the opportunity to go to a Reader's Advisory Round Table/MLA Book Club with a library co-worker called Tomes on Tap.  We read Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver and I chose to listen to it.  It was pretty good. Next up is Keeping Hope Alive by Dr. Hawa Abdi. Being the new addition, I got to pick! No pressure. Guess that means I'm in  a third book club somewhat officially.

I can do this.

Sure I can.

That's it for now.

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Audio Review: Carrie and Me by Carol Burnett

“More than anything, we are remembered for our smiles: the ones we share with our closest and dearest, and the one we bestow on a total stranger who needs it right then, and God has put us there to deliver.” — Carrie Hamilton

You are about to meet an extraordinary young woman, Carrie Hamilton. The daughter of one of television’s most recognizable and beloved stars, Carol Burnett, Carrie won the hearts of everyone she met with her kindness, quirky sense of humor, and wonderfully unconventional approach to life. Living in the spotlight of celebrity, but in an era when personal troubles were kept private, Carrie and Carol made a brave display of honesty and love by going public with teenager Carrie’s drug addiction and recovery. Carrie lived her adult life of sobriety to the fullest, enjoying happy and determined independence and achieving a successful artistic career as an actress, writer, musician, and director. Carrie’s passion for life and her humorist’s view of the world never wavered as she aggressively battled cancer. Carrie died at the age of 38.

Carrie and Me is Carol Burnett’s poignant tribute to her late daughter and a funny and moving memoir about mothering an extraordinary young woman through the struggles and triumphs of her life. Sharing her personal diary entries, photographs, and correspondence, Carol traces the journey she and Carrie took through some of life’s toughest challenges and sweetest miracles. Authentic, intimate, and full of love, Carrie and Me is a story of hope and joy that only a mother could write. (Simon and Schuster website)

What I remember of Carrie Hamilton is sadly her troubled past and the rocky relationship she had with her mom, Carol Burnett. I was blown away while listening to the complex and inspiring woman she truly was. Her struggle with addiction was such a small (although impactful) piece of her life. Narrated by Carol Burnett herself, this audio experience was hugely emotional. Burnett's trademark crack in her voice made me smile. Her love for her daughter really comes through and their relationship certainly is one every mother and daughter would hope for. They managed to make it through the rough times and come out shining. He unfortunate death at such a young age broke my heart.

Carrie and Me briefly chronicles the hard time Carrie had as a teen and young adult with drugs but mostly concentrates on her growth as an adult and how she finds peace in Colorado. You learn about her music and writing career and  a little bit about Carol's life at the the same time.

The last portion of the book is Carrie's story she wrote before she died. 

I listened to this right around Mother's day and found it to be the perfect thing to listen to. I recommend it for fans of Carol Burnett and/or memoirs of mother, daughter relationships. You get a little Hollywood thrown in but it's mostly the power of that bond and the story of a great woman taken too soon.

Publisher Website

Happy Listening and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Monday, May 20, 2013

Win a Kindle Fire!

Andrew Gross is back! NO WAY BACK, that is!

Join BookTrib to chat live with New York Times bestselling author, Andrew Gross to discuss his new book, NO WAY BACK on 5/22 at 7:30 p.m. ET and you can win a brand new Kindle Fire loaded with a selection of Andrew’s books!
One woman is framed for a horrific crime, and desperate to prove her innocence. Wendy Gould is an attractive, happy suburban mom, and an experienced ex-cop. A chance meeting with a stranger in a hotel ends when the man is murdered and she’s the only witness, forcing her to run from rogue federal agents determined to keep her silent, even if it means killing her. Things only get worse when the authorities—the wrong ones—find their way to her door, giving her no recourse but to flee from her only safe haven.
A breathtaking tale featuring two strong, sympathetic women who must rely on each other to take down powerful, lethal forces, No Way Back is a riveting tale full of twists and thrilling surprises from the bestselling author who is “coming up on the rails behind Harlan Coben and Lee Child” (Evening Standard, U.K.)

*Sample Tweet* Win a Kindle Fire! If you tune in on 5/22 for a #BTLiveChat w/ @The_AndrewGross at 7:30pET!

I have not read Andrew Gross but this sounds awesome! And a chance to win a Kindle Fire? Okay! Sign me up.

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Theater Review: Sound of Music Sing-a-Long

Sound of Music Sing-long
Ordway Theater

I had the amazing fortune to be able to see this last night at the Ordway Theater in downtown St. Paul as part of another Blogger Night. I don't think I've had that much fun in a long, long time.

For those of you not familiar, this event is a showing of the movie Sound of Music in beautiful technicolor. You get a goodie bag of props to use at specific points during the film, subtitles to help you sing your little heart out and witness a pretty fun costume contest. The emcee was a blast as well!

I had not seen this movie in its entirety in years. My friend and +1 however, is an addict. We are talking Twilight level of fandom here, people (and she wasn't the only one). The shouting, the whooping when they kissed. The booing of the Baroness. Oh, how the audience got feisty for their faves.

It was a lot of fun. Unfortunately it was only for one day with two performances but it's something I definitely think all fans should participate. Really, to sing all those songs that most people know and love, it just brought on a whole other level of endearment. 

There are a host of wonderful events coming to the Ordway this summer. Next in line, starting May 28-June 2 is the Flint Hill International Children's Festival. Check out the Ordway website to learn more.

I leave you with one of my favorites from the film, Edelweiss.

Happy Listening and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Book Review: The Silver Star by Jeannette Walls

The Silver Star 

The Silver Star, Jeannette Walls has written a heartbreaking and redemptive novel about an intrepid girl who challenges the injustice of the adult world—a triumph of imagination and storytelling.

It is 1970 in a small town in California. “Bean” Holladay is twelve and her sister, Liz, is fifteen when their artistic mother, Charlotte, a woman who “found something wrong with every place she ever lived,” takes off to find herself, leaving her girls enough money to last a month or two. When Bean returns from school one day and sees a police car outside the house, she and Liz decide to take the bus to Virginia, where their Uncle Tinsley lives in the decaying mansion that’s been in Charlotte’s family for generations. (Goodreads)

When The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls came out many years ago, it hit the bookselling world like a ton of bricks. EVERYONE was reading and recommending it. It was a book that you just told everyone to read. The writing was raw, powerful and endearing. The storyline was impossible to relate to but you cared so deeply for everyone involved, you just couldn't put it down. 

I missed her follow up Half Broke Horses simply out of sheer neglect on my part, not because it didn't sound wonderful. I am very pleased with myself that I got around to reading The Silver Star, her third book due out in June. I even made it before it was released. 

The Silver Star is different than her first two because it is an honest to goodness novel, where as Glass Castle and Half Broke Horses were about her own family and fell into that memoir category.

I picked this one up on Mother's Day morning because I was given the luxury of "sleeping in", having my coffee in bed and reading (what?!) all morning. This doesn't happen EVER in my house. EVER. I went with it. I was able to read half of the book just in that day. It was the perfect pick because it lured me in from the get go. 

Walls has such a simplistic, straightforward delivery, that it's almost impossible to realize how much emotion you are really being handed until you are done with it. I was amazed at myself for how much I cared for these two girls, Bean and Liz. I wanted to take them home with me and throw their kooky mother to the wind. 

Overall, it is not an original story. 2 sisters forced to fend for themselves because mother is unable to for whatever reason. They come up against hard times but are savvy enough to get by. But the way in which they stumble along is endearing and honest and with that came something unique.

The only issue I had with it was the ending. The climax of the book came closer to the end and it didn't get wrapped up as well as I hoped it would. There were some questions left unanswered and it seemed a bit too simple.

I still recommend it, especially for book clubs. There is much to discuss from the role of a parent and life in the South.  I think fans of her earlier work will enjoy this one as well. Honest writing and endearing characters will pull readers in.

Very excited to go and see her speak at Common Good Books in St. Paul, MN in June with my friend Rachell. 

Author Page:

Release Date:
June 11, 2013

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child


Monday, May 13, 2013

Cover Reveal: Noah's Rainy Day by Sandra Brannan (Book #4 in the Liv Bergen series)

Who's excited about this upcoming release? This girl right here. The cover is haunting. The story sounds thrilling. And I'm sure, once again, Brannan's writing will pull me in.

Mark your calendars!

Available September 3, 2013!

Newly minted Special Agent Liv Bergen races against time to solve a child kidnapping (which could take a fatal turn) with the help of her gifted nephew Noah.
From birth, Noah Hogarty has lived with severe cerebral palsy. He is nearly blind, unable to speak, and cannot run, walk, or crawl. Yet his mind works just as well as any other twelve-year-old’s—maybe even better. And Noah holds a secret dream: to become a great spy, following in the footsteps of his aunt, Liv “Boots” Bergen.
Now, freshly returned from training at Quantico, FBI agent Liv Bergen is thrown into her first professional case. Working side by side with veteran agent Streeter Pierce, enigmatic agent and lover Jack Linwood, and her bloodhound Beulah, Liv must race to find five-year-old Max—last seen at the Denver International Airport—before this Christmastime abduction turns deadly. Meanwhile Noah, housebound, becomes wrapped up in identifying the young face he sees watching him from his neighbor’s bedroom window, but he can neither describe nor inscribe what he knows.
And his investigation may lead to Noah paying the ultimate price in fulfilling his dream.
Noah’s Rainy Day (the fourth novel in Brannan’s mystery series) combines classic Liv Bergen irreverence and brainpower with an unflinching look at the darkest of human motivations, all while a whirlpool of increasingly terrifying events threatens to engulf Liv and Noah both in one final rainy day.
Click on JKS Communications for details of the upcoming blog tour.
Visit to learn more about the Liv Bergen Mystery Series!

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Theater Review: Anything Goes at the Ordway

Ordway Theater, St.Paul

All aboard for Roundabout Theatre Company’s saucy and splendid production of Anything Goes, winner of three 2011 Tony Awards including Best Musical Revival and Choreography! When the S.S. American heads out to sea, etiquette and convention get tossed out the portholes as two unlikely pairs set off on the course to true love… proving that sometimes destiny needs a little help from a crew of singing sailors, an exotic disguise and some good old-fashioned blackmail. Peppering this Cole Porter, first-class comedy are some of musical theater’s most memorable standards including “I Get a Kick out of You,” “You’re the Top,” and of course, “Anything Goes.”

Doesn't everyone really love Cole Porter? I do, I guess, more than I thought after seeing this delightful romp last night at the Ordway Theater in downtown St.Paul. A losing Wild Hockey game dampen my spirits as I went back in time to the 1930s and a caught a ride on the S.S. American. The set design was bright and simple, the main focus being the deck of the ship. The music was, dare I say, "delovely!" And the dancing! The dancing! I had a hard time sitting in my seat. The lady in front of me was dancing from the waist up about 60% of the time. It was so much fun to be a part of.

You are not going to get an in depth story line here. It is simple cat and mouse game, peppered with quite a bit of miscommunication, comedic mishaps and disguises and a love triangle or square, perhaps? What you are going to get is amazing music and singing and dancing. Seriously, where are my tap shoes? By far, the star of the show is Reno Sweeney, played by Broadway actress, Rachel York. Her throaty voice and sex appeal were riveting to listen and watch. 

Anything Goes is playing now through May 12. Click on the link above to secure your tickets. It's not one you want to miss.

Happy Theater going and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Monday, May 6, 2013

Guest Review: Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted by Jennifer Armstrong

Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted

Because The Mary Tyler Moore Show is my friend and wonderful Guest Reviewer's favorite show, this book and post is all hers.


Cheryl's Review:

Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted by Jennifer Armstron

Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted will tell the story behind the making of TV classic The Mary Tyler Moore Show. To be published by Simon & Schuster in 2013, the book will offer readers a glimpse inside the lives of the groundbreaking female TV writers who lent their real lives to scripts, the men who created the indelible characters, the lone woman in the network executive ranks who cast the legendary ensemble, and the colorful cast of actors who made it all work. James L. Brooks, Grant Tinker, Allan Burns, Valerie Harper, Cloris Leachman, Betty White, Gavin MacLeod, Ed Asner, Ted Knight, Georgia Engel — they all came together to make a show that changed women’s lives, and television. Here’s how they did it.”

I’ve been a huge fan of The Mary Tyler Moore Show for about twenty years, ever since I took a TV writing class in college and my professor showed us an episode. I own all the DVDs and I still laugh, even at the episodes I’ve watched numerous times. Over the years, I read After All by Mary Tyler Moore, recently finished I, Rhoda by Valerie Harper (thanks to Michelle’s suggestion), and own trivia books about the show. I once won movie tickets in a radio contest for correctly answering a trivia quesiton about the show. In sum, it’s my all-time favorite television show. When I saw there was a new book coming out about the show I was excited and am incredibly grateful to Michelle for getting me the advanced copy. For a new book written more than forty years after the show started demonstrates the show’s long-lasting effect on the history of television and culture.

As a fan, much of the book, though enjoyable to read, was more or less the same information readily available through other books and documentaries. Armstrong utilized numerous books, articles, and interviews for her tribute but surprisingly, nowhere in her index was Love is All Around: The Making of the Mary Tyler Moore Show by Robert S. Alley and Irby B. Brown (1989). Essentially, Armstrong’s book was an updated and expanded version of Love is All Around.

Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted chronicles how the producers and writers met and created the show, casting, character development and relationships, and plots and storylines. It contained anecdotal details, such as how the creators and writers met, but the core was the oft-heard story of how CBS didn’t like the original premise of making Mary a divorcee (fearing people would think she divorced Dick Van Dyke), the first taping of the pilot was not well-received, and the overall prediction by many was that it wouldn’t last beyond its committed thirteen episodes. Yet the show takes off and still ranks as one of the top Emmy winning shows in all of television history.

Where Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted differs from Love is All Around is that there are more details about people’s personal lives, relationships with each other, and background prior to joining The Mary Tyler Moore Show. These details were interesting, especially the parts about how the show, for the first time in television history, purposely hired and elevated female comedy writers. From her introduction, I expected the book to mostly be about the female writers and was disappointed there wasn’t more about them. Armstrong also briefly interweaves how the show and its characters affected feminist and women’s history. Mary Richards was the first thirtysomething woman on television to focus more on a career than finding a husband. Recent shows with a similar premise (Sex and the City, 30 Rock) are often tied and compared to The Mary Tyler Moore Show for that reason.

Overall, the book was an enjoyable read, even though I only learned a little bit more about the show and the people involved. For readers who do not know the behind-the-scenes details of the show, it will be a great read. For readers who know the history, it will be a pleasant walk down memory lane about the people and characters from one of the greatest shows in television history.

Thank you to Wendy at Simon and Schuster for sending me a copy and thanks, once again, to my awesome friend and passionate book reviewer, Cheryl.

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

                                              red headed book child

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Featured Book: Children of Liberty of Paullina Simons

At the turn of the century and the dawning of the modern world, Gina from Belpasso comes to Boston’s Freedom Docks to find a new and better life, and meets Harry Barrington, who is searching for his.

The fates of the Barringtons and Attavianos become entwined, on a collision course between the old and new, between what is expected and what is desired, what is chosen and what is bestowed, what is given and what is taken away.

As America races headlong into the future, much will be lost and much will be gained for Gina and Harry, whose ill-fated love story will break your heart (Goodreads)

This was sent to me for possible review and with my schedule I haven't had time to read it. Paullina Simons is an old favorite author of mine, even though I've only read one of her novels. The one I read I loved SO much, I recommended to everyone I knew at the time. Red Leaves
is the one that knocked my socks off. My friend Cheryl bought it to my attention many years ago when we were roomies.

When this book came to my attention I was immediately curious. She has written several more books, more in the historical fiction category and I've heard wonderful things about them. 

Check out her website for a full bio and list. 

Author Website:
Paullina Simons

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Book Review: Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

A stunning debut novel in which a single mother reconstructs her teenaged daughter's life, sifting through her emails, texts, and social media to piece together the shocking truth about the last days of her life.

Litigation lawyer and harried single mother Kate Baron is stunned when her daughter's exclusive private school in Park Slope, Brooklyn, calls with disturbing news: her intelligent, high-achieving fifteen-year-old daughter, Amelia, has been caught cheating.

Kate can't believe that Amelia, an ambitious, levelheaded girl who's never been in trouble would do something like that. But by the time she arrives at Grace Hall, Kate's faced with far more devastating news. Amelia is dead. 

Seemingly unable to cope with what she'd done, a despondent Amelia has jumped from the school's roof in an act of "spontaneous" suicide. At least that's the story Grace Hall and the police tell Kate. And overwhelmed as she is by her own guilt and shattered by grief, it is the story that Kate believes until she gets the anonymous text: 

She didn't jump.

Sifting through Amelia's emails, text messages, social media postings, and cell phone logs, Kate is determined to learn the heartbreaking truth about why Amelia was on Grace Hall's roof that day-and why she died.

Told in alternating voices, Reconstructing Amelia is a story of secrets and lies, of love and betrayal, of trusted friends and vicious bullies. It's about how well a parent ever really knows a child and how far one mother will go to vindicate the memory of a daughter whose life she could not save. (Goodreads)

My pace of reading has definitely slowed a bit and it took me a lot longer to read this than I thought it would especially since I loved it!  I read a quick blurb review as I was reading this and the reviewer said it would be the "next Gone Girl".  It definitely had the psychological suspense that Gone Girl had but a completely different type of story line.  I think it will appeal to the thriller lover and the literary lover. I enjoyed it just as much as I enjoyed Gone Girl.

The author really nails the impact of social media has on teens to the point I don't ever want my child to be on Facebook, Tweet or text EVER. Kids are cruel and they use social media as a nasty weapon.

The story goes back and forth in time and is told from Amelia and Kate's perspectives. Some chapters are just texts, others blog posts. All in the all it was intriguing and made me anxious to find out how it was going to turn out. I did not figure much out until the very end which I like.

For a debut book, I think McCreight did a bang up job. I recommend for any reader and fan of thrillers.

Author Website:
Kimberly McCreight

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child