Book Review: Endless Love

Why I picked it: I saw the trailer for the movie and wasn't able to judge thriller or love story.

If you know me at all my next comment will not surprise you... I have no knowledge of the 1981 movie, starring Brooke Shields. To my defense, I was fourteen, spending hours and hours playing the violin, piano, and I was in Sweden.

It's the summer I discovered The Beatles!  A day I will never forget, I was visiting family a few hours from Vastervik and excited at the opportunity to listen to music in English... Strawberry Fields my first song.

I digress...

Synopsis: Endless Love tells the story of David Axelrod and his overwhelming love for Jade Butterfield.

David's and Jade's lives are consumed with each other; their rapport, their desire, their sexuality take them further than they understand. And when Jade's father suddenly banishes David from the house, he fantasizes the forgiveness his rescue of the family will bring and he sets a "perfectly safe" fire to their house. What unfolds is a nightmare, a dark world in which David's love is a crime and a disease, a world of anonymous phone calls, crazy letters, and new fears — and the inevitable and punishing pursuit of the one thing that remains most real to him: his endless love for Jade and her family.

Quick Take: The writing is stunning and keeps the reader vested.  While reading this book, I kept wondering how creepy it must have been, as a new release, in the seventies.

The first sentence hooks you: "When I was seventeen and in full obedience of my heart's most urgent commands, I stepped far from pathway of normal life and in a moment's time ruined everything I loved---I loved so deeply, and when the love was interrupted, when the incorporeal body of love shrank back in terror and my own body was locked away, it was hard for others to believe a life so new could suffer so irrevocably."

Read the reviews on goodreads and you will find people have a love/hate relationship with this novel.  For me, it was an uncomfortable read, creepy, obsession.  Quite the opposite to Forever (Judy Blume) which I read in 1981.

I struggle reviewing this book, while I'm happy I read it my skin crawls when thinking about the characters.

Check out these comments/reviews from goodreads:
- Scott Spencer blew me away. Depicts first love, er,.. obsession, perfectly...
- Made me feel like my skin was on backwards.
- I have always loved this book. A nice primer on love and sex. It's a great portrait of obsession. 

Here's one that best represents my view: a collection of awkward, characters, none sane enough to function in this world. All slightly askew and strange. David was basically a crazy stalker, so lost and attached to this family that hated him. A family he repeatedly destroyed "by accident". Obsessed with a girl and a love that was completely twisted and in the past. He is so lost and the way he views the world and processes what's happening to him, it's just so strange. I can't say I would recommend it...

Yet... somehow I find myself giving this book 4 stars, while saying 'thank goodness it's fiction'!

Rating: 4 stars
Source: Personal Copy

Podcast: let's talk books

Hello friends,

What a fun post today!

I have known Erin (from the Manic Mommies) for years and am always threatening to visit, but life is busy and we haven't found a way to make this happen... yet. I have several friends near Rochester and should plan a weekend meet up this summer.

So, how did this happen? A few weeks ago while listening to their podcast, Erin mentioned needing a guest while Kristin off to run in the Disney half marathon (go Kristin). I reached out, and they took me up on the offer.

Podcast: click here to listen, or here to listen/download as an mp3

I should have thought to ask Erin for a few favorites (fiction, memoir, historical, classic), how her book club is doing, and if she rereads books.  Instead we talked about how to say my name (a common question), life, books, allowance, food issues, and dogs.

Books mentioned:
Brain on Fire (Cahalan)
Cold Antler Farm (Woginrich)
Life after Life (Atkinsen)
Lot's of Candles, plenty of Cake (Quindlen)
Million little Pieces (Frey)
Stories I only tell my friends (Lowe)


Book Love: If we had hours to talk about books, below are a few I want everyone to enjoy. I hope everyone can find something to read from this list. A solid mix of favorites, fright, page turners, and authors I have been reading for decades.  (listed alphabetically)

Always at the top:
The English Patient (Ondaatje)
The Red Tent (Shreve)
The Time Traveler's Wife (Niffenegger)

Books that haunt me:
I'd know you anywhere (Lippman)
Still Missing (Chevy Stevens)
We need to talk about Kevin (Shriver)

Devoured quickly:
Goodnight June (Jio)
Helen of Pasadena (Dolan)
Love in Midair (Wright)
The Good Wife (Porter)
The Singles (Goldstein)
The Underside of Joy (Halverson)

My go-to-authors:
Lisa Genova
Emily Giffin
Elin Hilderbrand
Audrey Niffenegger (The Time Traveler's Wife, Her Fearful Symmetry) 
Anita Shreve (Resistence, The Weight of Water, The Last Time we met) - LOVE her early books
Thrity Umrigar (The Weight of Water, The Space Between Us)

Book Talk: Books I can't wait to read


Oh my goodness, I woke up to snowflakes falling from the sky. I have meetings most of the morning but plan to strap on my snowshoe's this afternoon. Let the snow fall!

While I enjoy a snowy day, I leave you will a few books I've discovered and can't wait to read.  But first a cute story about a dear family friend who introduced me to the world of Emily Giffin.

I started reading Emily Giffin novels to support my 'People Magazine is the only novel I need to read' friend when she bought a copy of Something Borrowed. For the next five years, this book sat on her coffee table, with a bookmark in chapter one.  It's become a family joke, but she will tell you she still plans to read it... some day.

Two of my go-to authors are publishing this year {whoop}.

What's on your list?

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The One and Only (pub May 20): Shea has always lived in the orbit of her best friend Lucy Carr's family. Lucy's dad is the indomitable and beloved Coach Carr, one of the winning-est coaches in college football. Mrs. Carr was the elegant and kind all-around surrogate mother, fundraiser, and therapist for the team. Together they are like local royalty, so even if football wasn't a religion in their Texas town, it would still be the center of Lucy's, and by extension, Shea's life.

It is practically a foregone conclusion that Shea will marry Lucy's brother Lawton, if Shea can ever break it off for good with Miller, the cutest (and dumbest) guy in Texas. But when Mrs. Carr dies soon after a brief and terrible bout with cancer, it sets off a chain of events that upends Shea's very existence.
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The Matchmaker (publishes June 2014): The Matchmaker is a heartbreaking new novel from Elin Hilderbrand about losing and finding love, even as you're running out of time.

Dabney Kimball Beech has always had a gift for matchmaking. Some call her ability mystical, while others - like her husband, celebrated economist John Boxmiller Beech, and her daughter, Agnes, who is clearly engaged to the wrong man - call it meddlesome, but there's no arguing with her results: With 42 happy couples to her credit and all of them still together, Dabney has never been wrong about romance.

Never, that is, except in the case of herself and Clendenin Hughes, the green-eyed boy who took her heart with him long ago when he left the island to pursue his dream of becoming a journalist. Now, after spending 27 years on the other side of the world, Clen is back on Nantucket, and Dabney has never felt so confused, or so alive.

But when tragedy threatens her own second chance, Dabney must face the choices she's made and share painful secrets with her family. Determined to make use of her gift before it's too late, she sets out to find perfect matches for those she loves most.
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Waking the Buddha (pub May 20): Is there more to Buddhism than sitting in silent meditation? Is modern Buddhism relevant to the problems of daily life? Does it empower individuals to transform their lives?

Waking the Buddha tells the story of the Soka Gakkai International, the largest, most dynamic Buddhist movement in the world today—and one that is waking up and shaking up Buddhism so it can truly work in ordinary people’s lives.

Readers will be inspired by the struggles and triumphs of the three founding presidents— These three men dared to revolutionize Buddhism by restoring it to its true purpose: to help people transform their lives and the world they live in. The result is a uniquely relevant form of Buddhism—one that “just makes sense” to the modern mind and is ready to meet the challenges of a global age.

(discovered on NetGalley)

Book Review: Mad about the Boy

Why I picked it: What can I say... I read the first two and was curious.

Synopsis: With her hotly anticipated third installment, "Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy," Fielding introduces us to a whole new enticing phase of Bridget's life set in contemporary London, including the challenges of maintaining sex appeal as the years roll by and the nightmare of drunken texting, the skinny jean, the disastrous e-mail cc, total lack of twitter followers, and TVs that need 90 buttons and three remotes to simply turn on.

Quick Take: It's with much sadness that I share my first DNF of 2014.  My first thought, while reading this novel, was 'did I enjoy the first two'? I'm 10-15 years older/wiser and found myself bored listening to so much detail that didn't move the plot forward.

I don't know any fifty year old women who nitpick/obsess about every detail. My advise to Bridget? Sign up for pinterest and start pinning motivational quotes.  (ha)

About half way through the book... I empowered myself to stop listening.

Lian Dolan's review sums up my experience nicely (from goodreads): ... The moments where we do see a real 51 year old woman who finds herself widowed and still grieving 4 years later are the best moments in the book. I wish Fielding's editor had trusted the "Bridget Jones generation", like me, to have grown up, too. We didn't need to see the Bridget of 20 years ago, so the dating- the- younger- man subplot seemed very tired and contrived. A Grown-Up Bridget for Grown-up readers would have been great. 

Rating: DNF
Source: Library (audio)

Book Review: The life List

Why I picked it: I'm sorry to tell you that I saw this online but don't remember where.  I was looking for something light/fresh to listen to as I prepared to travel, it was a great choice for me.

Synopsis: Brett sets out to complete her old list of childhood goals, and finds that her lifelong dreams lead her down a path she never expects.

1. Go to Paris
2. Perform live, on a super big stage
3. Have a baby, maybe two
4. Fall in love

Grief-stricken, Brett can barely make sense of her mother’s decision. Some of her old hopes seem impossible. How can she possibly have a relationship with a father who died seven years ago? Other dreams (Be an awesome teacher!) would require her to reinvent her entire future. For each goal attempted, her mother has left behind a bittersweet letter, offering words of wisdom, warmth, and—just when Brett needs it—tough love.

As Brett struggles to complete her abandoned life list, one thing becomes clear: Sometimes life’s sweetest gifts can be found in the most unexpected places.

Quick Take: I loved this book. The plot moves at a quick pace, with twists along the way to keep a reader interested. Imagine falling in love and becoming a mother within twelve months, yet this is what Brett needs to do according to her mother's will.

It's a delightful novel.

Rating: 4 stars
Source: personal copy (audio)

Book Talk: Books I can't wait to read

The house is quiet and I'm sitting at the kitchen table, enjoying a cup of white peach tea while my dogs nap at my feet. I'm sneaking time online to read email and the news, only to find myself distracted by the books I'm adding to my ever growing book list.

One thing leads to another and I'm staring at my 'want to read' list on goodreads.

There are so many books on my virtual bookshelf that I ponder starting over, often looking at the title and wondering why I added it in the first place.  In the end, I keep them for the history of it all. My list dates back to when I started blogging about books, making it a keepsake.

Here are a few new adds that you may want to add to your list: from literary fiction to chiclit, and a cookbook.  A nice variety of books that I hope to read soon.

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The Frangipani Hotel: Based on traditional Vietnamese ghost stories told to the author by her Vietnamese grandmother but updated to reflect the contemporary ghost of the Vietnam War, here is a mesmerizing collection of thematically linked stories, united by the first and last story of the collection.

Violet wrote these unusually accomplished stories as an undergraduate at Mt. Holyoke College in an attempt to update the traditional Vietnamese ghost stories her grandmother had told her, to incorporate the more relevant ghosts of the aftermath of the Vietnam War on a generation of displaced Vietnamese immigrants as well as those who remained in Vietnam.

publishes April 1, 2014
(discovered on Netgalley)
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The Here and Now: Follow the rules. Remember what happened. Never fall in love.

Meet seventeen-year-old Prenna James, who immigrated to New York when she was twelve. Except Prenna didn’t come from a different country. She came from a different time—a future where a mosquito-borne illness has mutated into a pandemic, killing millions and leaving the world in ruins.

Prenna and the others who escaped to the present day must follow a strict set of rules: never reveal where they’re from, never interfere with history, and never, ever be intimate with anyone outside their community. Prenna does as she’s told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will one day ravage the earth. But everything changes when she falls for Ethan Jarves.

publishes April 8, 2014
(discovered on the whynott blog)
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I am having so much Fun here without You: Despite the success of his first solo show in Paris and the support of his brilliant French wife and young daughter, thirty-four-year-old British artist Richard Haddon is too busy mourning the loss of his American mistress to a famous cutlery designer to appreciate his fortune.

But after Richard discovers that a painting he originally made for his wife, Anne—when they were first married and deeply in love—has sold, it shocks him back to reality and he resolves to reinvest wholeheartedly in his family life . . . just in time for his wife to learn the extent of his affair. Rudderless and remorseful, Richard embarks on a series of misguided attempts to win Anne back while focusing his creative energy on a provocative art piece to prove that he’s still the man she once loved.

Skillfully balancing biting wit with a deep emotional undercurrent, debut novelist Courtney Maum has created the perfect portrait of an imperfect family—and a heartfelt exploration of marriage, love, and fidelity.

Publishes Jun 10, 2014
(discovered on Edelweiss top 40 books of Summer)
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Under the Walnut Tree: Sweden's most famous cooking family take you on a culinary global adventure, from Spain to Thailand and from avocados to cardamom, in Under the Walnut Tree, a beautiful collection of recipes showcasing Anna and Fanny Bergenstrom's favourite foods. Each of the 17 chapters is dedicated to a different ingredient and includes simple recipes that have an emphasis on freshness and flavour. You will find recipes to suit all tastes: quesadillas from Mexico or Kerala-style chickpeas, rum-baked mangoes from the Caribbean or Moroccan mint tea. With dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner, you will be inspired to create, taste and enjoy the delights of your favourite ingredients in this gorgeous and accessible cookbook.

(discovered while looking for books on Thailand from Hardie Grant publishing)

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