Review: Love in Mid Air

Manic Mommies Book Club Selection (May 2010)

I brought this book on vacation with me and couldn't put it down.  I started reading it in flight from Omaha to Az and there were times when I had to close the book a little, I didn't want the person next to me reading the book!  Filled with funny moments, a little shock factor, friendship and self discovery.  The question to be answered is: when you marry the man, you marry the life so if you leave the man, do you leave the life?

Synopsis: A chance encounter with a stranger in an airplane sends Elyse Bearden into an emotional tailspin. Suddenly, Elyse is willing to risk everything: her safe but stale marriage, her seemingly perfect life in an affluent Southern suburb, and her position in the church. As Elyse embarks on a risky affair, her longtime friend Kelly and the other women in their book club begin to question their own decisions about love, sex, marriage, and freedom. In the end it will take an extraordinary leap of faith for Elyse to find--and follow--her own path to happiness.

Type: Fiction, 312 pages, Hardcover

Quick Take: Recommend - I might even give this a highly recommend...I'm still thinking about this story.  I have never read anything quite like it - the candidness of divorce and the process for one person leading to a life changing decision.  Elyse's journey takes us through many stages leading to the decision with wit and emotion, the story is engaging and keeps the reading wanting more.  I really appreciated the struggle's for all of the characters in the novel. 

After listening to an interview with Kim I am so excited to have the opportunity to discuss this book with her in June, for the Manic Mommies Book Club.  Kim mentions she has read many books with a divorced character and didn't feel they were realistic, I know what she's referring to... someone asks for a divorce in the opening chapters and the book focuses on self discovery with a perfect ending (or something like this).

Being divorced, she wanted to write about the impact divorce has on everyone (the family and a families social network).  The author found when a woman gets divorced friends have different reactions from distain to questioning their marriage and sometimes feel weak or jealous.  Female friendships are very important and some of Elyse's friends are disappointed with her decision.

Kim is working on a sequel from Kelly's perspective.  This is one of reasons why I love Emily Giffin - Kim Wright was just added to this list (if you enjoy Emily Giffin, you will enjoy this book). 

The author also mentioned she likes to examine how dreams change over time.  Think back to your life dreams at age 25, you can outgrow them and need to create new ones.

Be sure to take some time to read Kim's blog, which is filled with great content. 

More Reviews:
Booking Mama
Bermuda Onion
Red Lady's Reading Room

Click on the green arrow below to listen to our discussion with author Kim Wright:



Source: Review copy

Author Q&A

Tell us a little about yourself: I’m 54 with two grown children, a total southerner, and obsessed with my new hobby of ballroom dancing. Seriously. I tango in my dreams. Love in Mid Air is my first novel but for 30 years before that I supported myself as a food and travel writer. That’s a great gig because it took me all over the world.

Do you write daily? Almost daily, but I’m not one of those writers who does the same amount of work each morning, like 2000 words or four hours or something. When I’m in the grip of a project I tend to go on writing binges and then afterwards I’ll back off for a while.

What was it like getting your first novel published? When you’re writing a novel there’s always the feeling that it’s never going to be finished and that, even if you do somehow manage to complete the thing, you’ll never find an agent and sell it. I was lucky in that many of my friends are writers and when I got “Love” ready to go, my friend Alison introduced me to her agent. Even though it felt like the ultimate blind date, David and I connected over dinner in a little Italian restaurant in Brooklyn and he’s been a fantastic advocate for the book. I signed with him in November 2007 and he sold the book the next month. I’d worked on it for years so it was a bit of a shock how fast things actually came together. One of my friends says that being a writer is like being a cop – long stretches of boredom occasionally punctuated with moments of sheer terror. She has a point!

What do you think of the electronic book (kindles and such)? God bless anything that makes it easier for people to read, but, that said, I’m of the old school. I like to hold a book in my hand. I like the way they look on a bedside table and even the way they smell. A woman once told me she was a Kindle-ophile because she’s bought so many books through the years that her house is full of them and buying ebooks cuts down on clutter. I know what she means – every time I move I think “I have way too many books” – but for some reasons I still like the presence of books in my home. I would never define them as “clutter.:”

What is one tip that you can share with aspiring writers? Get to know other writers – either online, or by joining writing groups and attending conferences. Not only can we all help each other – like Alison did when she introduced me to David - but I think the isolation that most writers feel is simply unnecessary.

What are you reading now? Love Invents Us by Amy Bloom

Just for fun:
- Favorite Season: Fall
- Morning or night: Morning
- Favorite ice cream flavor: Butter Pecan
- If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go: I’ve never been there, but Australia has always been my dream destination, ever since I wrote a report on it in fourth grade. I think I was enchanted by a picture of children surfing on Christmas Day!

Review: The Girls from Ames

About a month ago I was listening their interview with the author of Queen Bees and Wannabes (Wiseman), the book behind the movie ‘Mean Girls’, and for some reason the thought that came to me was ‘I really need to read The Girls from Ames’. Just a random thought… a few hours later Lisa from TLC Book Tours emailed me to ask if I wanted to read this book for an upcoming book tour.... strange, but true. 

This the second book I have read by Jeffrey Zaslow, I loved The Last Lecture and had high expectations for The Girls from Ames. Click through to the website for The Girls from Ames to watch a video clip, meet the girls and much more.

Type: Biography, 330 pages, Trade paperback

Synopsis: As children, they formed a special bond, growing up in the small town of Ames, Iowa. As young women, they moved to eighth different states, yet they managed to maintain an extraordinary friendship that would carry them through college and careers, marriage and motherhood, dating and divorce, the death of a child, and the mysterious death of the eleventh member of their group. Capturing their remarkable story, The Girls from Ames is a testament to the enduring, deep bonds of women as they experience life's challenges, and the power of friendship to overcome even the most daunting odds.

The girls, now in their forties, have a lifetime of memories in common, some evocative of their generation and some that will resonate with any woman who has ever had a friend. The Girls from Ames demonstrates how close female relationships can shape every aspect of women's lives-their sense of themselves, their choice of men, their need for validation, their relationships with their mothers, their dreams for their daughters-and reveals how such friendships thrive, rewarding those who have committed to them. With both universal events and deeply personal moments, it's a book that every woman will relate to and be inspired by.

Quick Take: Recommend - Be patient when you start this book.  There are eleven characters to meet and this takes a little bit of time.  It took about 50 pages for me to feel a connection to the women. Once I reached page 50 I started wishing that I had friends from my childhood in my life today, a group of women who knew me from the cry room at church. 

When I finished reading this book I was a little sad, a good sad.  I don't have a group of friends like this and found myself a little jealous from time to time.  Being from Minneapolis may have helped me connect to parts of the story, I am familiar with the cities mentioned, demographics and more. 

Have you read this book?  Do you have any 20+ year friendships (are they acquaintances or close friends today)? 

Source: Review Copy

Giving YA a try...

I have read just a few young adult novels, the first books in the Harry Potter and Twilight series... that's it.  So many people have been raving about YA and there are many websites/blogs dedicated ONLY to YA.  I needed to find out what this is all about. 

I have read two titles this year, one historical fiction and one fiction.  The conclusion I have drawn is that YA just isn't for me.  **Don't yell at me** :) - I did try and might try again.  I didn't hate either book but I really couldn't wait for them to be over so I could pick up something I really wanted to read.  I don't have a daughter or sisters so I'm not familiar with all things girls.  Might this be the explanation?

Here are the books and my reviews.  Have you read either? 

Synopsis:  What if you had only one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?

Samantha Kingston has it all: the world's most crush-worthy boyfriend, three amazing best friends, and first pick of everything at Thomas Jefferson High—from the best table in the cafeteria to the choicest parking spot. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it turns out to be her last. Then she gets a second chance.  Seven chances, in fact. Reliving her last day during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death-and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing.

Quick Take: I picked this up thinking I have fond memories of high school and my friends, this book is getting great reviews and bloggers seem to love it.  This was the perfect book for me to add to my YA personal challenge.  This will sound silly but it was a bit repeatitive, the story is told seven times.  That said I enjoyed the last telling of Feb 12 to the end of the novel. 

Hare you read this?  Did you like it? Did your daughter(s) love it?

LOVING WILL SHAKESPEARE

Synopsis: Anne Hathaway is the wife to William Shakespeare and a strong woman in her own right. Anne lives with her callous stepmother, a woman who, in word and deed, holds Anne in disregard, awaiting impatiently the day when her stepchild will marry and no longer live under her roof. In the meantime, Anne spends her time working in the fields, celebrating the rare visit by the Queen, losing her closest friend to marriage and motherhood, and seeking a beau of her own.

Anne meets and finds passion with a young man named Kit but refuses to run away with him knowing that they share lust rather than love. She is then promised to Ned, a kind schoolteacher who helps Anne learn to read and write but is taken from her when illness sweeps through town. Next in line is Henry Ingram, called Hob, nephew of Anne's stepmother, a lush who attempts to rape Anne when she refuses to sleep with him.

Underpinning each of these relationships, however, are Anne's intermittent meetings with Will Shakespeare, a man eight years younger who comes in and out of her life as his quest for poetic greatness brings him home and sends him away repeatedly. Readers are invited to imagine the courtship and marriage of Anne and Will and the accompanying trials and tribulations involved with loving a genius. Meyer's attention to historical detail strengthens the imagined narrative and gives readers a sense of the daily lives and rituals experienced by those living in this time and place.

Quick Take: A delightful book. This was a quick read for me which might be expected since it categorized Young Adult, but still very enjoyable. I knew little about Anne (Agnes) Hathaway and this story was historical in nature but a fictional tale of her life since we know so very little about her. Girls will love this, mothers will love it. A Cinderella story worth reading.

Source: both books are from the Library

Review: Look Again

I'm not sure where I saw this book but I was interested in the subject matter.  Lisa Scottoline has a new book coming out that I want to read titled, Think Twice (good twin/bad twin).

Synopsis: The blockbuster New York Times bestselling author joins St. Martin's Press with a knock-out novel about a woman who comes to suspect that her adopted child is actually another couple's kidnapped child.

Type: Fiction, 416 pages, Trade paperback

Quick Take: Recommend - This book kept me on my toes for most of the book,   parts linger on a little to much but overall it's a great read (I didn't see the ending coming). I'm glad I read it and would recommend to others.

This is every adoptive parents worst nightmare.  The novel opens with Ellen looking at a missing child flier and is surprised to find the boy on the page looks just like her adopted son.  Ellen is a journalist and immediately starts digging in and looking to confirm the boy is not hers.  We follow Ellen as she goes through an emotional journey towards closure.  The characters are well written and you will be emotionally connected to the characters but not to the point where you can't read the book.

Source: Library (Audio

Review: The Yellow House

Manic Mommies Book Club Selection (April 2010)

I love reading about Ireland and historical fiction is one of my favorite genres so one can only conclude that I was excited to read this book.  Have you read it yet?  It's filled with one life turning event after another... hard to put down!

Patricia Falvey came to America at the age of twenty, with $200. She landed in New York and made her way via Greyhound bus to Omaha, Nebraska.

Synopsis:  THE YELLOW HOUSE delves into the passion and politics of Northern Ireland at the beginning of the 20th Century. Eileen O'Neill's family is torn apart by religious intolerance and secrets from the past. Determined to reclaim her ancestral home and reunite her family, Eileen begins working at the local mill, saving her money and holding fast to her dream. As war is declared on a local and global scale, Eileen cannot separate the politics from the very personal impact the conflict has had on her own life. She is soon torn between two men, each drawing her to one extreme. One is a charismatic and passionate political activist determined to win Irish independence from Great Britain at any cost, who appeals to her warrior's soul. The other is the wealthy and handsome black sheep of the pacifist family who owns the mill where she works, and whose persistent attention becomes impossible for her to ignore.

Type: Historical Fiction, pages, Hardcover

Quick Take: Recommend - We will be discussing this book with Patricia Falvey this Wednesday and I can't wait.  Eileen is one of the strongest women I have read, ever.  Life throws just about every challenge her way and she finds a way to persevere.   The Publisher's Weekly review below sum up my reading experience.

I have a list of questions for our discussion - this novel is steeped with so much history that I can't imagine how much time was spent researching this book.  Thank you Patricia for a wonderful story!

More Reviews:
Peetswea

Source: Review copy

To listen to our discussion, click on the green arrow below. The call is about 45 minutes - spoiler alert... we did talk about the book, in detail.  If you would like to download the call, please visit the MMBC page.



Author Q&A:

Tell us a little about yourself: I was born in Northern Ireland and lived in England before emigrating to the U.S. at age 20. I pursued a career in the finance area for many years, but finally was able to make the leap to my first love - writing. Becoming a writer is the realization of a dream.

Do you write daily? When I was writing The Yellow House I was also working full time and travelling a great deal for business. So I was not able to write every day but took chunks of time when I could on weekends and holidays. Now that I'm working on a deadline for a second book I find more and more that a daily writing routine is the only way to finish a novel within a set timeframe.

What was it like getting your first novel published? I met my agent through pure serendipity. I was on a business trip to New York and a friend cancelled a dinner engagement. Alone in the hotel restaurant I met a woman who runs a fitness studio in NYC and she invited me to join her and some of her clients on a wellness week in Jamaica. Something told me to grab the thread and so I took a chance and went. Lo and behold, two of the women there were literary agents, and I told one of them about a book I was planning. The rest is history. Although, I have to say that when I got the phone call that we had a two book contract I couldn’t think of anything to say for about a day.

What do you think of the electronic book (kindles and such)? At first I didn't like the idea of them. But since then I have spoken to a lot of people - mostly on airplanes - and they all say if the story is good you get caught up just as if you are reading a book. And I think people buy more books because its so easy to download them. In the end if it means more people read my book then I'm happy.

What is one tip that you can share with aspiring writers? First of all write about something that is really important to you – that fires your passion. Writing a novel is a major undertaking of time and emotional energy - so it should be about something you care deeply about. Second of all - it's true what they say about revising - a book is not so much written, as re-written, so be prepared.

What are you reading now? Colm McCann's Let The Great World Spin; Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout; and two memoirs: Nothing was the Same by Kay Jamison, and Just Kids by Patty Smith.

Just for fun:
- Favorite Season: Definitely Fall - which is what I miss most since I'm living in Dallas
- Morning or night: I think mornings are fantastic - full of promise - but unfortunately I miss most early mornings because I'm a "night person".
- Favorite ice cream flavor: Mint chocolate chip.
- If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go: Australia and Japan. But I would be delighted to travel almost anywhere in the world.

Source: Review copy

ANNA Read-a-long: Part 3

Several of the Manic Mommies are reading Anna Karenina as our 2010 classic read… you need to be committed to read this one (800+ pages)! We are using the Oprah discussion guide to facilitate the discussion. 

I finished reading part 3 last week and I am really enjoying it. I’m pleasantly surprised that this novel is so interesting and keeping my interest piqued. I didn’t expect anything less but I keep hearing people start Anna but do not finish it. I can’t wait to start reading part four, I need to know what happens next!

Since we didn’t get to fully discuss part two, let’s review parts 1-3 and then I have a few questions for you (if you are reading along with me or have read the novel and want to join in the discussion).

Part 1 (The Family Sphere):  The story starts with Oblonsky confessing that he had an affair to Dolly and we learn about life in Russia along with a little about each character. For me, the story really took off when at the train station, just before Anna arrives in Moscow.

Review: Arcadia Falls

Carol Goodman is a new author name to me - after reading some reviews I thought I should try reading a few of her books.  Do you have any recommendations for other Goodman titles?

Synopsis: There once was a girl who liked to pretend she was lost. . . .

Meg Rosenthal is driving toward the next chapter in her life. Winding along a wooded roadway, her car moves through a dense forest setting not unlike one in the bedtime stories Meg used to read to her daughter, Sally. But the girl riding beside Meg is a teenager now, and has exchanged the land of make-believe for an iPod and some personal space. Too much space, it seems, as the chasm between them has grown since the sudden, unexpected death of Meg’s husband.

Dire financial straits and a desire for a fresh start take Meg and Sally from a comfortable life on Long Island to a tucked-away hamlet in upstate New York: Arcadia Falls, where Meg has accepted a teaching position at a boarding school. The creaky, neglected cottage Meg and Sally are to call home feels like an ill portent of things to come, but Meg is determined to make the best of it—and to make a good impression on the school’s dean, the diminutive, elegant Ivy St. Clare.

St. Claire, however, is distracted by a shocking crisis: During Arcadia’s First Night bonfire, one of Meg’s folklore students, Isabel Cheney, plunges to her death in a campus gorge. Sheriff Callum Reade finds Isabel’s death suspicious, but then, he is a man with secrets and a dark past himself.

Meg is unnerved by Reade’s interest in the girl’s death, and as long-buried secrets emerge, she must face down her own demons and the danger threatening to envelop Sally. As the past clings tight to the present, the shadows, as if in a terrifying fairy tale, grow longer and deadlier.

Type: Fiction, 368 pages, Hardcover

Quick Take: Recommend - Let me start by saying I enjoyed most of this book.  I am not interested in folklore and witchcraft so the book did lose my interest a bit in these sections but the overall story was good.  There is a lot going on in this book so be prepared to meet several characters.  Each person is relevant to the story moving forward though and as you get to the end of the story you might find your self surprised with the outcome.  I figured out parts of the story but there was a twist towards the end that surprised me. 


This book kept my interest and was entertaining enough that I picked up another book by the author from the library last week.

There are several wonderful detailed reviews listed below for you to click to for more information.

More Reviews:
- Linus's blanket
- Mommy's Reading
- S. Krishna's Books

Source: Library (Audio Book)

Review: The Solitude of Prime Numbers


I knew nothing about this book until I read it on Diane of Bibliophile by the Sea's website -  if she gives the book a good review I will make time to read it. She and I seem to have similar taste and I really appreciate knowing I will enjoy the book without doubt.

Synopsis: A prime number can only be divided by itself or by one-it never truly fits with another. Alice and Mattia, both "primes," are misfits who seem destined to be alone. Haunted by childhood tragedies that mark their lives, they cannot reach out to anyone else. When Alice and Mattia meet as teenagers, they recognize in each other a kindred, damaged spirit.

But the mathematically gifted Mattia accepts a research position that takes him thousands of miles away, and the two are forced to separate. Then a chance occurrence reunites them and forces a lifetime of concealed emotion to the surface.


Type: Fiction, 288 pages, Hardcover

Quick Take:  Highly Recommend (everyone should read this book) - This book was translated from Italian to English which might make the story even better!  Beautifully written with every word having a purpose.   Several times during the book the author tells a story leaving you wanting more, not always sharing the outcome until later in the book which keeps you anticipating and hoping to find out how the story/situation would end.  If you have read the book you know what I mean (ie: the tomato incident).

I don't know how to explain this one... I have never read anything quite like it but I am happy I read it. 

The book cover to the right is the UK cover (thank you Diane from Bibliophile by the Sea for posting this) - I LOVE this cover and it has so much meaning to the storyline.  I wonder how many people would pick up the book based only on this particular book jacket (versus the American cover).

Source: Library

Review: The Postmistress

I keep seeing this book everywhere I turn, maybe it's the cover has catches my eye (it's an interesting cover).  I decided to bring Sarah Blake's novel The Postmistress with me on a recent vacation after a friend recommended the book and let me read her copy.  Historical fiction happens to be one of my favorite genres so I was excited to read this one.

Synopsis: What would happen if someone did the unthinkable-and didn't deliver a letter? Filled with stunning parallels to today, The Postmistress is a sweeping novel about the loss of innocence of two extraordinary women-and of two countries torn apart by war.

Type: Fiction, 326 pages, Hardcover 

Quick Take: Recommend - This story is told from the voices of three women, a reporter, a young wife and expecting mother, and the new postmistress.  Their story intertwines over a year's time during the war.  It's beautifully written, with wonderful descriptions making the reader feel like they are part of the story.  

Overall I really enjoyed the historical aspects of the story.  As several others have mentioned I was hooked with the opening only to find that the story isn't really about the postmistress which confused me a bit.  The author does add fictional elements to help tell the story, for example the recording device has not yet been invented during the time frame for the story - I wouldn't have known this so without the footnote but it did make me feel better knowing this was cited (trusting other historical references).  Some characters were more developed than others and as mentioned before it's important to note that the postmistress is a secondary character and not in the book all that much (similar to The Piano Teacher). 

More Reviews:
- Linus's Blanket

Source: Borrowed from a friend

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