Thursday, July 29, 2010

Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas by James Patterson

James Patterson is another very well known author who I've never read.  Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas is probably not representative of most of Mr. Patterson's works but was written from his heart.

If you're in the mood for a touching love story, this is just the ticket.  Matt is the guy every woman dreams of falling in love with, kind, caring, calm and cute.  Suzanne was the doctor on the fast track when her health forced her to find a simpler life.  That's how she found Matt.  And then came Nicholas.  Dear, sweet, Nicholas.

Katie also falls head over heals for Matt not knowing anything about his past.  Matt leaves Suzanne's diary on her doorstep when he's unable to tell her himself.

This story also contains heartbreak that will bring tears to your eyes.  But the power of a new love can heal all wounds.

I rate Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas a 3 out of 5.  It's a nice, sweet, fast summer read perfect for beach or to relax with.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Distant Memory?

I think I've told you that Richard and I have been on diets.  I've lost fifteen pounds.  Another ten to go and those will be the hardest.  Actually about seven of those pounds fell off quite rapidly when I stopped drinking.  Those were the easiest.

Monday I had a regular appointment at the primary doctor.

"Pay close attention to that number," I said to the nurse as I stepped on the scale.
"Wow.  That's a good number," she replied.

The doctor came into the exam room and we chatted.
"Take a look at my weight,"  I told her.
"Wow.  How'd you do that?  So many women have trouble losing weight.  I always like to know."
"I eat alot more salads and I stopped buying chips and pretzels." I told her. "Plus I'm walking three to four miles every day."
"Keep it up.  You're doing great," the doctor told me.

I went on my merry way feeling healthy.  Tuesday I went to see the endocrinologist.  She was also impressed by my weight loss and asked the same question.  I gave the same answer.

When I recounted these conversations to Richard later, it was then and only then that it dawned on me.  I hadn't told either doctor that I'd stopped drinking.  I'm sure I never told then that I drank in the first place.  I'm a very private person.  I'm sure I never told anyone that I thought I had a drinking problem.

I thought for awhile.  Did it not enter my mind because subconsciously I wanted to hide it?  Or has the need for alcohol left me once and for all?  Believe me there are days I'd love to sit down and relax with a big glass of wine.  In three months has wine become a distant memory?  Probably not.  But I'm working on it.  And that's a good thing.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Empress by Shan Sa

Empress is a true story of a woman who ruled in China.  She had to be pretty special to achieve that title.  Women were meant to follow behind the man and serve his sexual needs.  When they weren't needed for that purpose, they sat around learning how to embroider.  Empress is full of ancient Chinese politics of slaves and concubines, and people all trying to make their way to the top inside the Forbidden City.  Each child born is given a name with special meaning to guide his or her life.  The color and style of clothing is carefully chosen for each event.  The jewels in the Empress' topknot send a message to her subjects.  It also has its fair share of attempted poisonings, banishments and beheadings.  I loved every minute of it but it's not for the faint of heart.

Somewhere in a past life I experienced all these things first hand.  I love the Chinese culture and love reading about it.  Empress is translated from Mandarin so again this book is not for everyone.  I've read many novels based in China over the years.  In fact Amy Tan and Lisa See are two of my favorite authors. Titles from both are waiting in the wings to be chosen from my list.  If you're looking for something different and exotic Empress may be it.  But be aware it takes deep concentration to make it through this story.

I rate Empress 4 out of 5.

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Thousand Days in Tuscany by Marlena De Blasi

A Thousand Days in Tuscany was a very tough book to read.  Now I want to go to Tuscany, rent a villa and live among the locals.  I'm under employed therefore my ability to travel to wonderful and interesting places is out of the question.  The stories of cooking and baking and gathering chestnuts and olives from the field made me hungry.  My mouth drooled while reading the author's descriptions of each meal.  I'm on a diet.  It was torture.

And then there's the whole wine thing.  All her wondrous cooking was washed down with chilled bottles of white wine or warm, bold reds.  I wanted to be in Tuscany eating and drinking to my heart's content.  Someday I'll be in Tuscany, eating freshly baked Tuscan bread, savoring each and every bite.  I'll be skipping the wine part, which may be difficult but I won't enjoy myself any less and probably more.

This is a wonderful, sense filled story of a simpler life full of love, friendship and the fine art of breaking bread together.  If you love to travel, eat, drink, A Thousand Days in Tuscany will satisfy your cravings leaving you full and satisfied.

I rate this book 4 out of 5.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen

This is one of those books that I stared at in the bookstore for months.  I had to have it.  It'll be for research I told myself since I'm writing my own memoir at the moment.  One trip to the store with Richard when he told me to buy what I wanted.
"You deserve it," he said.
My willpower had ebbed to a low point where I couldn't push his kind and loving words to the back of my mind.  I bought the book.  He wanted me to have it.  I gave myself permission to blame my impulsiveness on Richard.

To the book itself.  In the beginning we learn of Rhoda's surgery and tragic car accident.  Then we learn of her failed marriage to the bipolar and really wacko Nick, who dumps her for Bob from  Supposedly she goes home to her Mennonite roots to convalesce.  Only the problem with the whole thing is that I never had a clear sense of where Rhoda actually was during this time.

Were there some absolutely belly laugh funny moments.  Yes!!  Her stoic parents and stories about lunch pails and long skirts were delightful.  They seemed to move back and forth through time and place so that I never really knew where exactly they happened or what prompted her memory of them.  She's cooking in her mother's kitchen and then she's back to work teaching living in her Michigan lake house.  All in all the story was very disjointed and lacked any kind of transition. 

I rate this story a 2 out of 5, not because the story didn't show some promise.  It did.  It lacked flow and transition and left me feeling out of sorts.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

I've Got a Best Seller

Today was book review day in the USA Today.  I love to read their book review.  Today was especially interesting about the 50th anniversary of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird.  It's a novel that's transcended time.  It's also a movie that's done the same.

I found it interesting that Harper Lee never wrote another novel.  Never.  And she's even turned down Oprah for an interview.  The rest of us writers can't wait to be invited by Oprah.  I would never dream of turning her down!  I had a fascinating time on the book page.

And then something else caught my eye.  Something odd, handwritten on the New York Times Bestseller list.  #11 - One Clown Short by Linda C. Wright.

You see Richard gets up much earlier than I.  He gets the paper around four in the morning.  Ginger, also being sound asleep much prefers that she be able to get the paper from the driveway each morning, a habit she learned as a puppy, but Richard enjoys reading without teeth marks.  He reads it and then leaves it in the living room for me.  He snuck me on the list when no one else was looking.

I'm saving the paper from the day I made it onto the bestseller list as all proud writers would.  Maybe 50 years from now one of my novels will be celebrating an anniversary.  Maybe Oprah will be calling me soon after all.   No matter what, in Richard's eyes I'll always be a best seller.

The Emperor of Ocean Park by Stephen L. Carter

I know a few of my friends will scream and shout for joy when they read this blog post.  I skimmed most of this book.  There.  I said it.  I didn't actually read the entire book.  I gave up.  It was just too much for me.

Talcott or Tal or Misha or whatever his name was, bored me.  As a law professor he seemed so stupid.  As a father, a son, a husband he was also clueless.  And he talked on incessantly about why he was the way he was.  If he called his wife, Kimmer, mercurial, one more time, I thought I was going to die.

The Emperor of Ocean Park is over 600 pages long.  Each page is jam packed with big vocabulary describing the characters, the locations and the back story.  At first I thought I'd stick it out because the story itself intrigued me.  I did begin to tire early on of characters being described as either from the 'paler nation' or the 'darker nation'.  I really began to lose interest when I discovered that the last line of each chapter was a clue to solving the mystery.   I only needed to read the first paragraph of the next chapter to see where the clue was headed.

I read the book until about page 300, so halfway.  I was ready to put the book down and turn the bedside light out when I thought I should flip to the last chapter.  All the pieces to the puzzle were answered in about 3 pages.  It would be a waste of my time and energy to suffer through the endless pages since I now knew how it ended.

I rate this book 2 out of 5.   The author's style is repetitive and predictable.  I found my step-mother's signature on the front page with the year 2002.  I have a feeling she couldn't make it through this novel either that's why the book's been sitting on my shelf all these years.  I'm sending it back to her to be polite.  She'll give it away again, I'm sure of it.  

Monday, July 5, 2010

Lead Me Not Into Temptation

My local Walmart is in the process of being remodeled.  I'm happy about that.  It's shaping up nicely.  Since I'm there just about everyday I check on its progress often.

I browse the aisles with my new shopping cart, peer through the clear glass of the new freezer cases, and tap my shoes on the new faux wood floors.  I make my way to the back of the store to find Ginger some treats in the new pet section.  Out of the corner of my eye I spot a section I've always been able to avoid while in Walmart.  The books.

I must say I'm impressed.  I gaze through a rather large section of trade paperbacks the likes of which I've never seen other than in a big box book store.  I didn't check any prices since at the moment I was only interested in the selection.  I moved to the left to see an even larger section of romance mass market paperbacks.  Again it looked like a fine collection to suit a variety of tastes and pocketbooks.

A twinge of anxiety flows through my body.  I no longer need to talk Richard into making a trip to the mall.  I can hide new books in with the groceries.  Will I adore them as much if the pages smell like broccoli or have a splotch of red strawberry juice dribbled across them?  I don't think that will bother me.  I just have to be sure to keep the books away from the dog treats.  Ginger, I'm sure won't be able to tell the difference.  

Thursday, July 1, 2010

I'm Having a Rough Day

Yesterday was a really rough day.  I set up an appointment with the district manager at HR Block to discuss my possibilities for next season's employment.  Not bothering to ask what office she was working out of that day, I drove to the wrong one.  When I finally arrived at the right place, I was an hour late.

The meeting went well however.  When I got home Richard and I worked out on paper roughly what I would be able to earn doing taxes next year.  I then freshened my makeup and headed out to my next interview.  It was for a position at a new retail store opening down the street.  Only problem is they hire people temporarily to open the store.  They want to check  you out before they offer any permanent positions.  Normally that would be OK but in this case I'd have to quit my part time gig handing out samples at the local warehouse club.

My dilemma is exasperated by the fact that my medical insurance premiums are going up to $400 a month and won't cover some pre-exisiting conditions at all. So should I quit a sure thing part time job for a maybe full time job with insurance and if that doesn't work out wait to start doing taxes in January.  Or should I just pray for the Congress to extend my unemployment benefits?  Or should I pray that the space program doesn't layoff 7000 workers so my part time sure thing may still exist if I need to get it back?

I think I need a drink.

Don't panic.  I haven't had one.  But boy I really want one.  I sent Richard out to bring me back some mint chocolate chip ice cream.  That ought to cure what ails me.

City of Thieves by David Benioff

City of Thieves by David Benioff It's World War II in Leningrad, Russia.  17 year old Lev elected to stay behind in the city when h...