Review: Beginner's Greek

I picked this book up at the library, after someone mentioned it could be Oprah’s next pick (funny). I didn’t believe it would be her next pick but after reading a few reviews I thought I would give it a try.

About the author: I wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember, and I wrote my first collection of poems in a small blue spiral notebook when, I think, I was seven. In school my strengths were subjects like English and History and I wrote for literary magazines and so on. In college, though, I had a difficult time in general and was able to write almost nothing. When I graduated, I hadn't established a record that would lead to a literary career (or any career), and there were practical reasons for me to try working on Wall St., so I did. I thought to myself that it would be easier to go from that to writing and that the experience would be helpful if I did ever make the change. (source: author website)

Beginner’s Greek is the story of a man searching for love. In the beginning of the book Peter makes a connection with Holly while flying from NYC to California. She gives him her number and invites him to dinner. Peter loses her phone number and they never see each other again. The story begins about ten years later when Peter is married but can’t seem to forget about Holly. As luck would it their paths will cross again.

This is not a story I would pick up on my own, I feel I need to share this since it might explain my comments. Gayle with EDIWTB reviewed it earlier this year and I remembered the title from her blog when I saw the Oprah teaser. One part of the story that didn’t make much sense to me from a plot perspective was that Peter’s best friend married to Holly, Peter’s long lost potential love interest. How is it that they didn’t meet again until now? I liked the writing style and the book was entertaining (a lot of drama to keep you engaged). I found it interesting to read guy-lit, exposing the insecurities that are written in the chic-lit genre are also there for guy-lit.

Author interview (Click here to read the complete interview):Your book is a wonderful exploration of a young man's unrequited love. Would you consider the book a member of the new genre, male lit? It’s funny, a couple of people have mentioned that they were struck by the fact that protagonist of a book like this was a man. It never occurred to me to think of that as being unusual, since it seemed to me that male heroes of love stories have always been very common. “Boy meets girl…boy loses girl…boy gets girl back” is the classic formula. So, no, I don't think of it as being part of a new genre, and, while I really like Nick Hornby, whose success started the "lad lit" trend, I actually hope my book has a bit more "lit" and a lot less "lad" than the typical one in that category.

Have you ever met someone remarkable on a plane? Something like the incident in the book actually happened to me, but I knew the other person slightly and there were no romantic consequences, so it wasn't really the same. Otherwise, I find as I get older I am less shy about talking to strangers, and while I haven’t met anyone truly remarkable, I have had some enjoyable conversations. I know much more about shark-fishing and theatrical lighting and how a Dollar Store makes money than I did before, and I have gotten a look into other people’s lives, which is endlessly fascinating, no matter who they are.

Type: Fiction, 464 pages, Trade paperback

Synopsis:When Peter Russell finally meets the woman of his dreams he falls as madly in love as you can on a flight from New York to LA. Her name is Holly. She's achingly pretty with strawberry-blonde hair, and reads Thomas Mann for pleasure. She gives Peter her phone number on a page of The Magic Mountain, but in his room that night Peter finds the page is inexplicably, impossibly, enragingly...gone.

So begins the immensely entertaining story of Peter and his unrequited love for his best friend's girl; of Charlotte and her less-than-perfect marriage to a man in love with someone else; of Jonathan and his wicked and fateful debauchery; and of Holly, the impetus for it all. Along the way, there's the evil boss, the desirable temptress, miscommunications, misrepresentations, fiendish behavior, letters gone astray, and ultimately, an ending in which every character gets his due.Both incisive and wonderfully funny, this is a brilliantly understated comedy of manners in which love lost is found again.

Reviews:"James Collins has written a romantic, funny and insightful page turner about love in modern times, missed opportunities and the wheel of fate (with a blow-out!) that is so engaging and real, you will find it impossible to put down. Peter Russell is an everyman filled with longing, lust and good sense. I promise you will root for him as fate throws him curves aplenty on his path to true love. BEGINNER'S GREEK and Peter Russell are keepers." — Adriana Trigiani, bestselling author of Big Stone Gap

Review: Extreme Dreams Depend on Teams

Thank you Pump up your Book Promotions for sending me a copy of Extreme Dreams Depend on Teams. I read motivational/leadership books for work all the time, this is a perfect selection for me.

Pat Williams is the senior vice president of the NBA’s Orlando Magic. As one of America’s top motivational, inspirational, and humorous speakers, he has addressed thousands of executives in organizations ranging from Fortune 500 companies and national associations to universities and nonprofits. Pat is also the author of over 50 books.

He and his wife, Ruth, are the parents of 19 children, including 14 adopted from four nations, ranging in age from 23 to 36. (Source: author website)

Like many of you, I have read several motivational books. They help reinforce behavior and if lucky something clicks in a book, and we carry a life lesson/strategy beyond the pages.

Extreme Dreams is a solid book, the layout is one that you can easily refer to over time. There are eight main principles: Talent, Leadership, Commitment, Passion, Brainpower, Empowerment, Respect & Trust, and Character which build on each other to help create the perfect scenario.

I enjoyed the format of this book, bold titles and subtitles throughout the book make it easy to refer to. I rely on several leadership books for work when coming up with ideas for emails, contests and more. I have added Pat Williams book to my bookshelf.

Type: Management/Leadership, 315 pages, Hardcover

Their accomplishments are hailed as amazing "individual" feats: Charles Lindbergh crossing the Atlantic. Thomas Edison creating a thousand patented inventions. Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel. Lance Armstrong winning seven straight Tours de France.

Yet all of these so-called individual feats were achieved through teamwork. Lindbergh, Edison, Michelangelo, and Armstrong were master team-builders who recruited people with diverse skills, talents, and temperaments. They reached "impossible" heights through teamwork.

If you want to achieve a grand vision. If you want to make "impossible" dreams comes true, then you need the power of teamwork. Extreme dreams really do depend on teams.

Reviews:Whatever field you compete in, you must read this book – Gen. Tommy Franks

The facets and essence of teams and teamwork are vividly illustrated. I read this with great interest. – Bill Parcels

Review: What I Thought I Knew

I don’t remember where I saw this book but I did request it, this much I know.

I read this book in one day, I couldn’t put it down. While I was reading I kept thinking, Alice Eve Cohen should be on Oprah. Imagine my surprise when I click on the author’s website and find this: 25 BEST BOOKS OF SUMMER—Oprah Magazine

This is Alice Eve Cohen’s story. A forty something woman enjoying all life has to offer. She has a wonderful man, a little girl and a full life.

Imagine her surprise when she learns she is six months pregnant after being told she was infertile, fourteen years ago… try to absorb that for a moment.

I don't want to share any details beyond what I have already shared (and what's listed in the synopsis below); I want to talk about this book, need to talk about it but I would ruin the story for you. I will tell you that my Dad called last night while I was reading and I told him about Eve’s story. He called me today to find out how it ended.

I brought the book to my book club last night and one gal couldn’t put the book down. This book is definately on the memoir short list for 2010.

The author generously sent me an extra copy of this book for a giveaway. If you would like the chance to win a copy, please leave a comment with your email address. I will pick a winner at random next Monday, Sept 28. Drawing closes at 8pm central.
Click here to watch a 5 minutes video clip.

Type: Memoir, 191 pages, Hardcover

Synopsis:Alice Cohen was happy for the first time in years. After a difficult divorce, she was engaged to a wonderful man, she was raising a beloved adopted daughter; and her career was blossoming. Then she started experiencing mysterious symptoms. After months of tests, X-rays, and hormone treatments, Alice was diagnosed with an abdominal tumor and sent for an emergency CAT scan that revealed the cause of her symptoms. She was six months pregnant.

At age 44, with no prenatal care and no insurance coverage for a high-risk pregnancy, Alice was inundated with opinions from doctors and friends telling her what was ethical, what was loving, what was right. With the suspense of a thriller and the intimacy of a diary, Cohen describes her unexpected odyssey through doubt, a broken medical system, and the complexities of motherhood and family in today's world. Ruefully funny, wickedly candid, What I Thought I Knew is a mystery, a love story, a philosophical quest and a personal tour de force.

Review: Last Night in Montreal

Last Night in Montreal is the September book selection for the Omaha Bookworm’s. A special thanks to Lisa for coordinating the book selection and author interview! Lisa is better known to some as Lit & Life.

Emily St. John Mandel was born on the west coast of British Columbia, Canada, in 1979. She studied dance at The School of Toronto Dance Theatre and lived briefly in Montreal before relocating to New York. She lives in Brooklyn. (source: author website)

Synopsis: The book opens with Lilia and her boyfriend current day, Lilia leaves the apartment early in the morning and never returns. This is the story of a woman living life on the run, she knows no other way to live.

Quick Take: I will keep this brief today since I will post a detailed recap of our book discussion next week… it's a quick read, well crafted and the author will keep you engaged.  I was curious to see how the book would end. I’m looking forward to discussing the book next week.

Links of interest:- There is a great interview with the author at Author exposure
- Be sure to click over to I’m Booking it for another review. Laura gave the book 4 of 5 stars

Type: Fiction, 247 pages, Hardcover

Author Q&A:
Tell us a little about yourself: I'm thirty, and I live in Brooklyn with my husband and two cats. I grew up on the west coast of British Columbia, Canada, and lived in Toronto and Montreal before I came to New York.

Do you write daily? I don't, although I probably should. I work as an office administrator three days a week, and once I get home from work and cook dinner I'm usually too tired to write, although that's sometimes a good time of day for revisions. However, I'm extremely fortunate in that my job's only part-time, so I can write on my days off.

What was it like getting your first novel published? It was a long process, with a lot of luck involved. When I thought I had a final draft of my novel (which seems funny in retrospect, since it's gone through so many revisions since then), I found a website that had a long list of agents, and just started working my way down the list; I sent a query letter and the first three chapters out to four or five agents at a time, and the thirteenth or fourteenth agent I queried took me on.

Nearly two years later, I was finishing up a fairly tedious afternoon at work; my task for the day was to scan hundreds of pages of legal documents, and I'd taken my cell phone into the photocopy room just to keep track of time. Five minutes before I was scheduled to leave for the day, my cell phone rang. It was my agent, and she'd sold my novel. It was possibly the most exciting phone call I've ever received in my life, and the publication process that followed has been a great experience for me; I really like my publishing house, and I've met some truly great people over these past few months.

What do you think of the electronic book (kindles and such)? I prefer paper books, but can definitely understand the appeal of ebooks. I think they're a great thing for booksellers and reviewers, who are typically swamped with piles of advance review copies that need to be read. That said, I'm not so into the Kindle -- in my understanding, it's proprietary to Amazon, and personally I prefer to support independent bookstores whenever possible. If I were to get an e-reader, I'd probably get a Sony Reader so that I could buy ebooks from places other than Amazon.

What is one tip that you can share with aspiring writers? Don't assume that the publishing world is closed to you. I come across a lot of writers online who seem to think that you can only get published if you have some sort of inside connection to the publishing industry, and that therefore the only way to get your work into print is to self-publish. This just isn't true; there's definitely some luck involved in getting a book published, but there are always people in publishing whose job it is to find good new work. You just have to keep writing and getting better at what you do, and keep sending your work out.

What are you reading now? I'm reading Wake Up, Sir! by Jonathan Ames. I like it.

Lastly, share one or two of your all time favorite novels read, excluding classics: I just read Lowboy by John Wray, and I thought it was incredible. My all-time favourite novel is probably Hopscotch, by Julio Cortazar.

Just for fun:
Favorite Season: Fall.
Morning or night: Night.
Favorite ice cream flavor: Mint chocolate chip.
If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go: I'd really like to go to Greece someday.

Review: Somebody Else's Daughter

Omaha Bookworm’s October 2009 book selection: we will be discussing this book with the author on October 20th.

Book giveaway ends today, click here if you would like to enter.

In writing Somebody Else's Daughter, I was interested in exploring identity and the variety of ways in which we struggle to understand ourselves in a complex world. Writing about adoption was something I have wanted to do for a long time, not only because I am a happily adopted person, but because it was an opportunity to unravel certain misconceptions about what it means to be adopted, how it feels to be an adopted teenager, and how not knowing about one's history is sometimes more disruptive than knowing the truth.

Elizabeth Brundage holds an MFA in fiction from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where she received a James Michener Award. Before attending Iowa, she was a screenwriting fellow at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. Her short fiction has been published in the Greensboro Review, Witness magazine, and New Letters. She is currently at work on her third novel and lives with her family in upstate New York. (source: authors website)
I’m not sure where to start. This is really Nate, Catherine and Willa’s story. Nate and Catherine give Willa up for adoption at the beginning of the book and we quicly jump forward sixteen years.
Nate is no longer addicted to drugs and has taken control of his life. He accepts a teaching job at Willa’s high school to learn a little about her. He wants to see her but he doesn't want her to know who he is. We learn bits and pieces of the characters as the book progresses (I mentioned this on twitter last week… this storytelling style reminds me of Olive Kitteridge). Each chapter is a story about someone in the community and their interactions with one of the main characters. I can’t share more about the plot or I might ruin the reading experience for members of the Omaha Bookworm’s. It’s a fast paced book with a lot to discuss. Messy characters, moral issues, lies and deception.

I read a review on BN.COM where the reader didn’t care for this book until the last 50 pages. This threw me a bit, I really enjoyed the book until the last 20 pages. I didn't see the ending coming but it’s worth noting the author may have wrapped this book up too quickly. Do you find endings as challenging as I do? I’m often a bit disappointed with the ending, even if I really liked the book. Watch for another post late October, to recap our discussion with the author.

Type: Fiction, 352 pages, Trade Paperback
Synopsis:A taut, complex psychological thriller from the author of The Doctor's WifeLike The Doctor's Wife — which The Boston Globe called "a compelling read"—Somebody Else's Daughter is a literary page-turner peopled with fascinating and disturbing characters. In the idyllic Berkshires, at the prestigious Pioneer School, there are dark secrets that threaten to come to light. Willa Golding, a student, has been brought up by her adoptive parents in elegant prosperity, but they have fled a mysterious and shameful past.

Her biological father, a failing writer and former drug addict, needs to see the daughter he abandoned, and so he gains a teaching position at the school. A feminist sculptor initiates a reckless affair, the Pioneer students live in a world to which adults turn a blind eye, and the headmaster's wife is busy keeping her husband's current indiscretions well hidden. Building to a breathtaking collision between two fathers—biological and adoptive, past and present— Somebody Else's Daughter is both a suspenseful thriller and a probing study of richly conflicted characters in emotional turmoil.

Review: Now & Then

I enjoyed Sheehan’s novel Lost & Found and when Book Club Girl was offering copies in preparation for an upcoming show, I jumped at the chance to read this.

Jacqueline Sheehan, Ph.D., is a fiction writer and essayist. She is also a practicing psychologist. She is a New Englander through and through, but spent twenty years living in the western states of Oregon, California, and New Mexico doing a variety of things, including house painting, freelance photography, newspaper writing, clerking in a health food store, and directing a traveling troupe of high school puppeteers. (source: author website)Having enjoyed Lost & Found so much, which was a story about family dynamics and love, I thought the themes would carry into this novel. I was enjoying this book but the story lost my interest when Anna and her sixteen year old nephew travel back 164 years to the pre-potato famine in Ireland. I found myself skimming to see how the story would end. It’s no secret that I enjoy ‘realistic’ stories, I didn’t realize most of this book takes place in the past (think Kate & Leopold in reverse). After visiting the authors website, I am going to pick up a copy of Truth (historical fiction) when I visit the bookstore.

I do have a question for the BCG’s show:
- I’m curious how the storyline came to the author. Did she want to write about Ireland and the plot developed from there? Anna’s story?

Type: Fiction, 400 pages, Trade paperback

SynopsisAnna O'Shea has failed at marriage, shed her job at a law firm, and she's trying to re-create herself when she and her recalcitrant nephew are summoned to the past in a manner that nearly destroys them. Her twenty-first-century skills pale as she struggles to find her nephew in nineteenth-century Ireland. For one of them, the past is brutally difficult, filled with hunger and struggle. For the other, the past is filled with privilege, status, and a reprieve from the crushing pain of present-day life. For both Anna and her nephew, the past offers them a chance at love.

Will every choice they make reverberate down through time? And do Irish Wolfhounds carry the soul of the ancient celts?

The past and present wrap around finely wrought characters who reveal the road home. Mystical, charming, and fantastic, New York Times bestselling author Jacqueline Sheehan's Now & Then is a poignant and beautiful tale of a remarkable journey. It is a miraculous evocation of a breathtaking place in a volatile age filled with rich, unforgettable, deeply human characters and one unforgettable dog named Madigan.

Reviews:“Spellbinding…an altogether enjoyable adventure with a heavy helping of magic.” –Publishers Weekly

Review: Holly's Inbox

I enjoy books written in letters and email so when I saw this book at the bookstore I had to pick up a copy (the only copy). This book was popular in the UK a few years ago and is just starting to get notice in America.

Holly Denham is a pseudonym of someone who is intimately acquainted with the world of receptionists. Based in an office in the heart of London, they know all the secrets no city girl wants their boss to find out.

Ever wanted a peek at someone else's e-mail? Discover the secrets of HOLLY'S INBOX. Meet Holly Denham. It's her first day as a receptionist at a City investment bank and, with no corporate front of house experience, Holly is struggling to keep up. Add to this her mad friends, dysfunctional family and gossipy colleagues, and Holly's inbox is a daily source of drama, laughter, scandal and even romance. But Holly's been keeping a secret from everyone - and the past is about to catch up with her...Launched in February 2007, became a website phenomenon, with thousands of visitors from all over the world logging on daily to read Holly's e-mails. This novel tells Holly's story in full, and also includes exclusive extra material not available on the site.

We follow Holly, a Bridget Jones character, through the highs and lows of her life by sneaking a peak into her inbox. When the book begins, Holly has just started a new job and is single. Most of the email exchanges are between friends and colleagues. A cute fun book, at 668 pages a 100+ pages could be removed without impacting the story. Don’t let the size scare you, each page is only 50-60% filled with text. Definitely a light read!

Kim from Chapter Chit Chat also loved this book and has identified the author!

Type: Fiction, 668 pages, Trade paperback

Holly Denham has a lot on her plate. It's her first day as a receptionist at a busy London corporate bank and, frankly, she can't quite keep up. Take a peek at her email and you'll see why: what with her crazy friends, dysfunctional family, and gossipy co-workers, Holly's inbox is a daily source of drama. But it's the laughter, friendship, and a hint of romance that keep Holly going.

Reviews:“Fantastic” – OK! Magazine

“It’s like Bridget Jones’s Diary in the digital age” – Irish Eyes Serencipity

Review: That Old Cape Magic

There was so much hype about Richard Russo’s new novel that I just had to read it.

Richard Russo gives us the story of a marriage, and of all the other ties that bind, from parents and in-laws to children and the promises of youth.

That Old Cape Magic is a novel of deep introspection and every family feeling imaginable, with a middle-aged man confronting his parents and their failed marriage, his own troubled one, his daughter’s new life and, finally, what it was he thought he wanted and what in fact he has. The storytelling is flawless throughout, moments of great comedy and even hilarity alternating with others of rueful understanding and heart-stopping sadness, and its ending is at once surprising, uplifting and unlike anything this Pulitzer Prize winner has ever written. (source: Random House website)
Griffin, a near 60 year old man, spends most to this novel reminiscing life’s journey. He carries his father’s ashes with him, with the intent of laying him to rest but can’t bring himself to do it (which is a secondary theme throughout this novel). Sharing stories from yesteryear, we get a sense of an unsettled man trying to find the next step in life.

Below is a review that sums up my reading experience, I wonder if men like this book better than women... Review (3 Stars): Yep, I was a bit disappointed in TOCM. Not overly so, and it's still a fine book and a very good story, and Russo still does his amazing job of capturing the essence of fascinating, but somehow still believable characters. His delicate mixing of humor and tragedy is still strong. His ability to get the reader into the scene is amazing, and he writes the marital argument better than anyone, I think. This book was missing some of the more comedic foils in Russo's other books, but he's still drawn together an impressive cast. So what's wrong with the book? Maybe it's just a bit short. Maybe there was more story to tell. That was the feeling I came away with. If you are already a Russo fan, by all means, pick it up and read it; it's better than 99% of the other novels on the shelf. If you are new to Russo, however, save this one for later. Go back to Nobody's Fool or The Risk Pool or the Pulitzer Prize winning Empire Falls. Solid three stars for now, but I reserve the right to come back and bump it a bit after I've reflected for a while.
Author Q&A with Doubleday:You have said that That Old Cape Magic began as a short story. What was the moment you knew it was calling out to be a novel? Griffin, my main character, begins the story on his way to a wedding with his father’s urn in the trunk of his car. I planned for him to scatter the ashes (his past), put his future in danger at the wedding (his present) and then pull back from disaster at the last moment. But then he pulled over to the side of the road in his convertible to take a phone call from his mother, at the end of which a seagull shits on him. At that moment, in part because Griffin blames her, he and I both had a sinking feeling. You can resolve thematic issues of past, present and future in a twenty page story, but if you allow a shitting seagull into it, you’ve suddenly moved on to something much larger. Click here to read the complete interview.Click here to watch a video clip posted on the authors website

Type: Fiction, 261 pages, Hardcover

Following Bridge of Sighs—a national best seller hailed by The Boston Globe as “an astounding achievement” and “a masterpiece”—Richard Russo gives us the story of a marriage, and of all the other ties that bind, from parents and in-laws to children and the promises of youth.

Griffin has been tooling around for nearly a year with his father’s ashes in the trunk, but his mother is very much alive and not shy about calling on his cell phone. She does so as he drives down to Cape Cod, where he and his wife, Joy, will celebrate the marriage of their daughter Laura’s best friend. For Griffin this is akin to driving into the past, since he took his childhood summer vacations here, his parents’ respite from the hated Midwest. And the Cape is where he and Joy honeymooned, in the course of which they drafted the Great Truro Accord, a plan for their lives together that’s now thirty years old and has largely come true. He’d left screenwriting and Los Angeles behind for the sort of New England college his snobby academic parents had always aspired to in vain; they’d moved into an old house full of character; and they’d started a family. Check, check and check.

But be careful what you pray for, especially if you manage to achieve it. By the end of this perfectly lovely weekend, the past has so thoroughly swamped the present that the future suddenly hangs in the balance. And when, a year later, a far more important wedding takes place, their beloved Laura’s, on the coast of Maine, Griffin’s chauffeuring two urns of ashes as he contends once more with Joy and her large, unrulyfamily, and both he and she have brought dates along. How in the world could this have happened?

That Old Cape Magic is a novel of deep introspection and every family feeling imaginable, with a middle-aged man confronting his parents and their failed marriage, his own troubled one, his daughter’s new life and, finally, what it was he thought he wanted and what in fact he has. The storytelling is flawless throughout, moments of great comedy and even hilarity alternating with others of rueful understanding and heart-stopping sadness, and its ending is at once surprising, uplifting and unlike anything this Pulitzer Prize winner has ever written.

Review: Brooklyn: a novel

With my parents growing up in Brooklyn in the mid-40’s/50’s, this book was a must read for me. I was interested to see if the novel resembled any of the stories my parents have shared from growing up in Brooklyn.

This is the story of Eilis, a young woman, who lives with her family in Ireland before immigrating to America. We follow her through her everyday life, working in a local store, small town gossip and the importance of status in town, socials for singles and family dynamics.

Eilis is moving through life, reading this book you sense that she is not leading a fulfilling life but she’s doing what is expected of her. Everything changes when her older sister (also single and living at home) arrives home one day letting Eilis know that she has negotiated for Eilis to move to Brooklyn. The rest of the book deals with Eilis building a life for herself thousands of miles from home, the decisions she makes and the consequences.

I don’t want to give the story away by sharing too much… the central themes include Irish society, living abroad and finding ones personal identity. I couldn’t put this book down, wanting to see how it would end. I didn’t expect the ending, which is another plus! If you like books like Olive Kitteridge, The Wednesday Sisters, The Help and Sarah’s Key you will love this one.

I was able to find another bloggers review, click here to read Compulsive Over Reader’s review.

I wasn’t able to find any information about the author online other than his bio as listed in Wikipedia.

Links of interest:LA Times review
UK Times online
NY Times review
BWAV rating of this book: 5 stars
Type: Fiction, 272 pages, Hardcover

Small towns everywhere can seem like stage sets in the theater of respectability. Sidewalks are washed, the facades are painted, the performers go to church in their Sunday best. But in fiction, such towns fester with whispery gossip, small betrayals, hidden hypocrisies, petty tyrannies, and calculated arrangements of everything from jobs to marriages. The residents could be living in Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio, or in Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford, in the Republic of Ireland.

Enniscorthy is a real town (today's population: about 3,700), located on the River Slaney, dominated by St. Aidan's Cathedral. It's the homeplace of the fine Irish novelist Colm Toíbín and has inspired much of his fiction. But in his previous novel, The Master (2004), Toíbín gave us, to high critical applause, a portrait of Henry James and lived imaginatively in London, Paris, Rome, and Florence. In Brooklyn, he returns to Enniscorthy.

"Brooklyn" is a modest novel, but it has heft. The portrait Tóibín paints of Brooklyn in the early '50s is affectionate but scarcely dewy-eyed; Eilis encounters discrimination in various forms -- against Italians, against blacks, against Jews, against lower-class Irish -- and finds Manhattan more intimidating than alluring. Tóibín's prose is graceful but never showy, and his characters are uniformly interesting and believable. As a study of the quest for home and the difficulty of figuring out where it really is, "Brooklyn" has a universality that goes far beyond the specific details of Eilis's struggle… click here to read the complete review

Review: The Wife's Tale

I discovered this book while working on 2010 book club selections for the MMBC. A special thank you to HBG for suggesting it, and sending me an advance reader copy.

With sharp humor and delicate grace, The Wife’s Tale follows Mary Gooch – morbidly obese and living in denial – as she pursues her husband across the country.Lori Lansens was a successful screenwriter before she burst onto the literary scene in 2002 with her first novel Rush Home Road. Her follow-up novel, The Girls, was in international success as well. Born and raised in Chatham, Ontario, Lori Lansens now makes her home in Los Angeles with her husband and two children. (source: author's website)
This is the story of a woman trapped in a self created mundane existence. Mary has been married for 25 years and just tipped the scale over 300 pounds when the story begins. We quickly understand some of the life moments that have contributed to her weight gain and current state of mind. The story continues as we follow her on her journey to understand the woman she is today, the highs and the lows. At the end of the book she is starting to take ownership of her life and the decisions she has made/is making.

I just finished this book yesterday and can’t wait to talk about it. It’s at the top of my best read list for 2009! A smart, well written novel, solid plot with A LOT to discuss for book clubs.

MMBC: If you enjoyed Driving Sideways & Eating Heaven you wil love this one!
Below is a great video clip of a bookclub discussing the book with the author.
Type: Fiction, 368 pages, Hardcover

Mary Gooch was once young and slender and carefree. But with each passing year she’s accumulated an excess of pounds and a warehouse of worries and has become stuck in the run of her small-town existence. Then, on the eve of her 25th wedding anniversary, her handsome husband does not come home. Shocked out of her inertia, Mark boards a plane for the first time in her life in pursuit of him across America, discovering a boundless supply of human kindness in unexpected places – runaway children, single mothers, taxi drives, migrant workers, and bitter relatives. With a surge of energy that she hasn’t felt in years, Mary fights for her husband and starts to see a new world bursting with possibilities for change, happiness, and fulfillment. Accustomed to hiding behind hunger, worry, fear, she’s forced to look up from the pavement in her new surroundings, astonished by how the shift in perspective has let in the light.

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