These Books Aren't All New??

Books are expensive. I tend to pick and review books that are both new & old. Many of these books you will be able to find on the shelves on your library as opposed to the front of your bookstore.

I believe that there are many hidden gems from years gone by & I enjoy highlighting those as well as today's best sellers.

Monday, August 30, 2010

See by Mary Beth Chapman, co-authored by Ellen Vaughn


I was contacted by Revell books and sent a copy of the amazing book Choosing to SEE: A Journey of Struggle and Hope by Mary Beth Chapman and Ellen Vaughn.

Here's what Revell has to say about it.

Choosing to SEE: A Journey of Struggle and Hope by Mary Beth Chapman, wife of Christian music artist Steven Curtis Chapman, and co-authored by Ellen Vaughn. In this compelling book, Mary Beth shares a clear message of hope, in spite of her struggles with disappointment, tragedy and grief. Mary Beth’s first-hand story will have you alternately laughing and crying and wishing you lived next-door to the Chapmans.

This book is not an easy book to read, yet I didn't set it down until I had finished it in one setting.  We have very close friends who lost their daughter 2 years ago and as a mother myself the sheer honesty about the raw pain they felt is stunning.  I read most of this book through tears, but it is just an amazing book. 

Not only did the Chapmans lose their daugter, but it was in an accident involving their teenage son, who was driving. 

The faith the Chapman family has and the way they have loved each other & been loved by the Christian community is awe inspiring. 

I really don't think I can honestly convey how moving this book is, I'm actually somewhat at a loss for words on how good it was.  How much anyone who lives in God, doubts God or is unsure of God can actually see faith revealed on the pages of this book. There but for the Grace of God go I.

But this is not just a book of tragedy, it is also a book of celebration of life, family & God.  Head out & pick this one up, you will not be sorry.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

America's Boy: A Memoir, Wade Rouse


Publisher's Copy:

Growing up in the Missouri Ozarks in the 1960s and ’70s, Wade Rouse was always a bit of an outsider. While some of his roughneck peers wore Wrangler jeans and had stylish crew cuts, Wade feathered his golden hair and sported a handmade leatherwork belt bearing his unfortunate childhood nickname, Wee-Pooh.

Taunted by his classmates, Wade finds comfort in his offbeat but lovable family, but when a tragic motorcycle accident takes his brother’s life, Wade buries his sexuality along with his brother, vowing to be the son he believes his family wants.

America’s Boy is Wade Rouse’s tale of self-denial and self-discovery, and a tender tribute to the eccentric family that carried him through it all. Wade’s battle with himself—and the long road back to self-acceptance—forms the heart of America’s Boy, an arresting and utterly moving memoir about a boy learning to live (and love) in his own skin. Told with humor, courage, and boundless joy, America’s Boy is a love letter to a singular time in America’s heartland, to family, and to the growing pains that accompany self-discovery.

My Review:

Since I read one of his later books first, At Least In The City Someone Would Hear Me Scream, this book was not quite as good, but still full of great stories.

Realizing that he is a homosexual in a small Missouri town is hard enough, but when his brother dies tragically as a teen, Rouse feels that he can't let his family down by admitting the truth about himself. He eats through his pain and avoids relationships all together until he's in his 30's. Finding true love & coming out to his family saves him.

This book is set up in small chapters of individual stories, some only a page or two long, making it an easy book to set down & pick up again later. This book of self discovery and homey memories is worth your time.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Driving Sideways, Jess Riley

Publisher's Copy:
Driving Sideways tells the story of Leigh Fielding, a twenty-eight year-old kidney transplant recipient who—six years, hundreds of dialysis sessions, and a million bad poems after being diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney Disease—finally feels strong enough to pursue a few lofty goals she’s been mulling for years: find herself, her kidney donor’s family, and the mother that abandoned her over twenty years ago. And what better way to do just that than a solitary road trip across the country? Well, maybe not entirely solitary, because Leigh suspects she may have inherited more than just an organ from her deceased donor. It’s this sneaking suspicion that takes her trip down some unexpected detours—and the juvenile delinquent who blackmails Leigh into giving her a ride is only the beginning.

My Review:

Let me say unconditionally that I loved this book! Jess Riley has a great way with words and everytime I thought that this story was about to zig it zagged, and in a good way.
I find that so many times when I read a book you can telegraph what is coming a mile away, but this one kept me guessing, laughing, and entertained the whole time. One of those books that you don't want to end.
This book was published in 2008 and according to she doesn't have anymore out yet or even on the way, which is a disappointment.
With lines like "Maybe he's roasting in hell with Goebbels, Pol Pot, and Falco, who ended up there for unleashing 'Rock Me Amadaeus' on an unsuspecting public" and "I'm playing Marco Polo with normalcy" the writing really had me.
I have several books waiting to be posted, but I loved this one so much I wanted to publish this one right away.
It's available from Kindle for $9.29 and probably can be ordered through your local library network.
Don't miss this one, it's a gem.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

If Andy Warhol Had A Girlfriend, Alison Pace


Publisher's Copy:

Jane Laine used to know a lot about art. But that was before she started managing a prominent gallery, and long before she met "it" artist Ian Rhys-Fitzsimmons. Jane can't seem to put a finger on what exactly is so "it" about his work. In fact, as far as she can tell, he's a big fraud and his fifteen minutes of fame should be over by now. Which could be kind of a problem --since Jane is the one who has to accompany him on a five-month international art fair tour.

To get through it all, Jane figures she'll be a good sport and keep her critiques to herself. Until, traveling with this alleged genius from London to Rome and beyond, she starts to understand the connection between art and love --and the fact that, in both, perspective is everything...

My Review:

This books was a fun diversion. The New York art world gets a little poke as Alison Pace questions what makes art amazing as opposed to just art. As her character Jane Laine follows the newest hot artist around the country she gets an opportunity to ruminate on her life and why she doesn't "get" the art of her superstar client.

The side story about her mom's miniature schnauzers is a little too far fetched for my tastes, but this book made me want to read the rest of Pace's works which all have a dog theme. I'll let you know how they are.

This ended up being another book that doesn't stick with you for too long after, but it's a fun diversion.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Orange Is The New Black, Piper Kerman


Publisher's Copy:

When Piper Kerman was sent to prison for a ten-year-old crime, she barely resembled the reckless young woman she’d been when she’d committed the misdeeds that would eventually catch up with her. Happily ensconced in a New York City apartment, with a promising career and an attentive boyfriend, she was suddenly forced to reckon with the consequences of her very brief, very careless dalliance in the world of drug trafficking.

My Review:

This book should have been really great. An educated woman who ended up in a woman's prison, but it was just OK for me.

Maybe it was because Kerman had a fairly easy time of it or maybe there just wasn't enough drama for me.

It did shine a lot of light on the plight of women in prison. The lack of educational opportunities and the absence of ways to reform themselves is really astonishing. I understand that prisoners are there to be punished, but if we don't teach them ways to succeed on the outside the cycle will never be broken.

All in all I thought this was worth reading.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Diary Of A New Mum, Jools Oliver


Publisher's Copy:

Being pregnant for the first time changed Jools Oliver’s life. Having longed for children as far back as she can remember, she was suddenly faced with an array of unfamiliar, unexpected, and sometimes downright embarrassing emotional and physical reactions. So when Poppy (and a year later, Daisy) was born, she had to learn a whole new set of skills.

From "minus nine" (her first positive pregnancy test) to "one" (Poppy’s first birthday), Jools takes you through the worries, surprises, excitement, miracles, and very hard work that she -- and all new moms in their own different ways -- had to face along the way.

Down to earth, personal, and very very funny, this is the book no aspiring mother will want to be without.

My Review:

Even though my baby-making years are long behind me, I enjoyed this look at Jools Oliver's pregnancys. Wife of celebu-chef Jamie Oliver, this book shows the stuggle many people face in conceiving, dealing with the true emotions of pregnancy, and struggling through that first year.

When she finds herself pregnant when her first daughter is only 4 months old, life truly turns upside down. Part instructional guide, part memoir, this book includes resources for new moms, recipes for feeding young children in a healthy way, and even terms and definitions for those who aren't familiar with pregnancy terms.

While obviously more helpful for those who are new moms or hope to become new moms, this is a great read.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Miracle On The Hudson, written by the Survivors of Flight 1549


Publisher's Copy:

In this heart-stopping, page-turning tale of fear, heroism, and redemption, the passengers of the Hudson River crash landing tell their remarkable stories.

Millions watched the aftermath on television, while others witnessed the event actually happening from the windows of nearby skyscrapers. But only 155 people know firsthand what really happened on U.S. Airways Flight 1549 on January 15, 2009. Now, for the first time, the survivors detail their astounding, terrifying, and inspiring experiences on that freezing winter day in New York City. Written by two esteemed journalists, Miracle on the Hudson is the entire tale from takeoff to bird strike to touchdown to rescue, seen through the eyes and felt in the souls of those on board the fateful flight.

Revealing many new and compelling details, Miracle on the Hudson dramatically evokes the explosion and "smell of burning flesh" as both engines were destroyed by geese, the violent landing on the river that felt like a "huge car wreck," the gridlock in the aisles as the plane filled swiftly with freezing water, and the thrill of the passengers' rescue from the wings and from rafts—all of it recalled by the "cross section of America" on board.

Jay McDonald, a thirty-nine-year-old software developer, had survived brain-tumor surgery just two years earlier and now faced the unimaginable.

Tracey Wolsko, a nervous flier, suddenly became other people's rock: "Just pray. It's going to be all right." Jim Whitaker, a construction executive, reassured a nervous mother of two young children on board, only later admitting, "I was pathologically lying the whole time." As the plane started sinking, Lucille Palmer, eighty-five, told her daughter to save herself: "Just leave me!"

Featuring much more than what the media reported—moments of chaos in addition to stoicism and common sense, and the fortuitous mistakes and quick instincts that saved lives that otherwise would have been lost—Miracle on the Hudson is the chronicle of one of the most phenomenal feel-good stories of recent years, one that could have been a nightmare and instead became a stirring narrative of heroism and hope for our times.

My Review:

This story really put the reader in the seats with these survivors. What was really only seconds becomes riveting when relayed from so many passengers personal recollections.

Everybody in the story wasn't a saint, there was some pushing and shoving, but quick thinking and an amazingly clear headed captain made the story truly a miracle.

This short read is uplifting and life affirming. The story of strangers coming together to help one another when it really counted, is a great, true life story.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Department Of Lost And Found, Allison Winn Scotch


Publishers Copy:

It didn’t start out as the worst day of Natalie Miller’s life. At thirty, she is moving up the political ladder, driven by raw ambition and ruthless determination. As the top aide to New York’s powerful female senator, she works hard, stays late, and enjoys every bit of it, even if the bills she’s pushing through do little to improve the lives of the senator’s constituents. And if her boyfriend isn’t the sexiest guy alive, at least he’s a warm body to come home to.

Then he announces he’s leaving. But that news is barely a blip compared to what Natalie’s doctor tells her: She has breast cancer. And she can’t cure it by merely being headstrong. Now the life Natalie must change is her own.

All her energy, what little of it she has left, must go into saving herself from a merciless disease. So when she’s not lying on the sofa recovering from her treatments and indulging in a curious addiction to The Price Is Right, she realizes it’s time to take a hard look at her choices. She begins by tracking down the five loves-of-her-life to assess what went wrong. Along the way, she questions her relationships with her friends, her parents, her colleagues, the one who got away, and, most important, with herself: Why is she so busy moving through life that she never stops to embrace it?

As Natalie sleuths out the answers to these questions, her journey of self-discovery takes her down new paths and to unexplored places. And she learns that sometimes when life is at its most unexpected, it’s not what you lose that makes you who you are ... it’s what you find.

My Review:

Try finding a book that tackles breast cancer seriously while being funny and warm at the same time...not that easy.

I was blown away by this book & it's ability to keep things funny and interesting without being morose and sad. The characters are engaging and the book is really well written.

I have already read Time Of My Life, by Allison Winn Scotch & am awaiting her third book from the library. Totally worth your time.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

At Least In The City Someone Would Hear Me Scream, Wade Rouse


Publishers Copy:

In this rollicking and hilarious memoir, Wade and his partner, Gary, leave culture, cable, and consumerism behind and strike out for rural Michigan–a place with fewer people than in their former spinning class.

There, Wade discovers the simple life isn’t so simple. Battling blizzards, bloodthirsty critters, and nosy neighbors equipped with night-vision goggles, Wade and his spirit, sanity, relationship, and Kenneth Cole pointy-toed boots are sorely tested with humorous and humiliating frequency.

And though he never does learn where his well water actually comes from or how to survive without Kashi cereal, he does discover some things in the woods outside his knotty-pine cottage in Saugatuck, Michigan, that he always dreamed of but never imagined he’d find–happiness and a home.

My Review:

If Jen Lancaster, Augusten Burroughs & David Sedaris had a love-child, Wade Rouse would be the result. A committed gay couple moving to Sagatuck, Michigan (a widely gay area) is not a surprise. To find them making their way in the forest, previously foreign to these city slickers, is hilarious!

These short, autobiographical stories had me laughing so hard I was crying. (I may have peed my pants a little too, but let's not dwell on that!)

If you like Lancaster, Burroughs or Sedaris, you will love this book, I promise you. Pick it up today!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Spinster Sisters, Stacey Ballis


Publishers Copy:

With a radio show, speaking engagements, and two bestselling books, they've built a thriving cottage industry helping other single women find happiness and empowerment. Their futures have never been brighter. And that's when Jill turns out the lights - by announcing her engagement.

Jodi's in a tailspin. How can they be the Spinster Sisters if one of them if married? Complicating things is her own love life, involving three vastly different paramours offering three different kinds of happiness - none of which Jodi is sure she wants. And her ex-husband, backed by his nighmarish manipulative new girlfriend, may be angling for a piece of the Spinster Sisters empire.

Now Jodi must make some tough decisions, keep the buisness afloat, and get to the altar to stand by her sister - even if it means that from now on she'll be single all by herself.

My Review:

Stacey Ballis is a fiction author, with a bent towards chick-lit, but with more substance. The story of Jodi & Jill is one of the love and sacrifices we make for family, even when we don't necessarily want to.

I found the book a good read that kept me interested and guessing, even if a couple of the characters (the ex-husband & his girlfriend) are a little overblown.

Ballis is an author that I will follow & read any time I get the chance!

Monday, August 2, 2010

I'm Down, A Memoir, Mishna Wolff


Publisher's Copy:

Mishna Wolff grew up in a poor black neighborhood with her single father, a white man who truly believed he was black. “He strutted around with a ...more Mishna Wolff grew up in a poor black neighborhood with her single father, a white man who truly believed he was black. “He strutted around with a short perm, a Cosby-esqe sweater, gold chains and a Kangol—telling jokes like Redd Fox, and giving advice like Jesse Jackson. You couldn’t tell my father he was white. Believe me, I tried,” writes Wolff. And so from early childhood on, her father began his crusade to make his white daughter Down.

Unfortunately, Mishna didn’t quite fit in with the neighborhood kids: she couldn’t dance, she couldn’t sing, she couldn’t double dutch and she was the worst player on her all-black basketball team. She was shy, uncool and painfully white. And yet when she was suddenly sent to a rich white school, she found she was too “black” to fit in with her white classmates.

I’m Down is a hip, hysterical and at the same time beautiful memoir that will have you howling with laughter, recommending it to friends and questioning what it means to be black and white in America.

My Review:

Although I read tons of Young Adult books, I had no idea I'm Down was classified as a YA book. I wonder if my library didn't label it wrong.

Anyway, this was a book I was excited to read, it seemed right up my alley, but it just never grabbed me. It's not a bad book and Mishna's stories and situation are interesting, but something didn't click for me.

I wouldn't tell you not to pick it up, you probably need to try this one out for yourself!