It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – January 14, 2013

It's Monday What Are You Reading

The It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? meme is hosted at Book Journey.

*****

Analog (dead tree version), at home:

Girl in the Glass

From Goodreads:

Since she was a child, Meg has dreamed of taking a promised trip to Florence, Italy, and being able to finally step into the place captured in a picture at her grandmother’s house. But after her grandmother passes away and it falls to her less-than-reliable father to take her instead, Meg’s long-anticipated travel plans seem permanently on hold.

When her dad finally tells Meg to book the trip, she prays that the experience will heal the fissures left on her life by her parents’ divorce. But when Meg arrives in Florence, her father is nowhere to be found, leaving aspiring memoir-writer Sophia Borelli to introduce Meg to the rich beauty of the ancient city. Sofia claims to be one of the last surviving members of the Medici family and that a long-ago Medici princess, Nora Orsini, communicates with her from within the great masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance.

When Sophia, Meg, and Nora’s stories intersect, their lives will be indelibly changed as they each answer the question: What if renaissance isn’t just a word? What if that’s what happens when you dare to believe that what is isn’t what has to be?

So I’m reading this at home, but it’s been sitting for a few days.  It may or may not make it.  We’ll see.

*****

Digital (on my Kindle), anywhere I want:

The Queen Gene

From Goodreads:

Lucy’s friends have always told her how lucky she is to have a mother like Anjoli. But as much as Lucy adores her theater-savvy, melodramatic mom…well, some relationships just work better at a distance, even if Anjoli still calls ten times a day to say, “Darling, I’m in crisis!” Lucy’s got crises enough of her own, including trying to keep her marriage hot with a two-year-old underfoot, babysitting the artists in residence at her Berkshires artists’ colony, resisting her attraction to a drop-dead-sexy man, and trying to rid her 100-year-old home of ghosts. Lucy’s about ready to start living her life on her own terms, and mother-daughter relations will never be the same again…

*****

Digital (Audiobook) through the iphone, in the car:

Long Gone

From Goodreads:

After a layoff and months of struggling, Alice Humphrey finally lands her dream job managing a new art gallery in Manhattan’s trendy Meatpacking District.

According to Drew Campbell, the well-suited corporate representative who hires her, the gallery is a passion project for its anonymous, wealthy, and eccentric owner. Drew assures Alice that the owner will be hands off, allowing her to run the gallery on her own. Her friends think it sounds too good to be true, but Alice sees a perfect opportunity to make a name for herself beyond the shadow of her famous father, an award-winning and controversial film maker.

Everything is perfect until the morning Alice arrives at work to find the gallery gone–the space stripped bare as if it had never existed–and Drew Campbell’s dead body on the floor. Overnight, Alice’s dream job has vanished, and she finds herself at the center of police attention with nothing to prove her innocence. The phone number Drew gave her links back to a disposable phone.

The artist whose work she displayed doesn’t seem to exist. And the dead man she claims is Drew has been identified as someone else.

When police discover ties between the gallery and a missing girl, Alice knows she’s been set up. Now she has to prove it–a dangerous search for answers that will entangle her in a dark, high-tech criminal conspiracy and force her to unearth long-hidden secrets involving her own family . . . secrets that could cost Alice her life.

Waiting in the wings (i.e., bought at Audible.com and living on my iPhone) is the rest of the Caster Chronicles series:

–  Beautiful Darkness
Dream Dark
Beautiful Chaos
Beautiful Redemption

Ya, I was gonna go straight from #1 on down the series.  But I got into the car this morning and realized I hadn’t downloaded it anywhere – not to the Music App on the iPhone Nor into the Audible App, and without wi-fi that just takes too damn long and sometimes just won’t happen at all.  So, I’m listening to “Long Gone” instead, and will get back to the Caster Chronicles after that.

Copyright Ridingthebcrollercoaster.com 2012-2013 All Rights Reserved

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – January 7, 2013

It's Monday What Are You Reading

The It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? meme is hosted at Book Journey.

*****

Analog (dead tree version), at home:

The Marriage Plot

From Goodreads:

Are the great love stories of the nineteenth century dead? Or can there be a new story, written for today and alive to the realities of feminism, sexual freedom, prenups, and divorce? It’s the early 1980s. In American colleges, the wised-up kids are inhaling Derrida and listening to Talking Heads. But Madeleine Hanna, dutiful English major, is writing her senior thesis on Jane Austen and George Eliot, purveyors of the marriage plot that lies at the heart of the greatest English novels. As Madeleine studies the age-old motivations of the human heart, real life, in the form of two very different guys, intervenes—the charismatic and intense Leonard Bankhead, and her old friend the mystically inclined Mitchell Grammaticus. As all three of them face life in the real world they will have to reevaluate everything they have learned. Jeffrey Eugenides creates a new kind of contemporary love story in “his most powerful novel yet” (Newsweek).

So I loved Middlesex by the same author.  Mom was reading this for her book group.  I figured since I loved one, I’d love the other.  I’m about 80 pages in to this one and I keep putting it down.  I’ve found some passages I’ve highlighted (see upcoming Book Excerpts post containing same), but I think this one’s going on the Abandoned Shelf.  We’ll see if you ever see a review of this one (this will be the review of it unless I finish it).

*****

Analog (dead tree version), also at home:

Girl in the Glass

From Goodreads:

Since she was a child, Meg has dreamed of taking a promised trip to Florence, Italy, and being able to finally step into the place captured in a picture at her grandmother’s house. But after her grandmother passes away and it falls to her less-than-reliable father to take her instead, Meg’s long-anticipated travel plans seem permanently on hold.

When her dad finally tells Meg to book the trip, she prays that the experience will heal the fissures left on her life by her parents’ divorce. But when Meg arrives in Florence, her father is nowhere to be found, leaving aspiring memoir-writer Sophia Borelli to introduce Meg to the rich beauty of the ancient city. Sofia claims to be one of the last surviving members of the Medici family and that a long-ago Medici princess, Nora Orsini, communicates with her from within the great masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance.

When Sophia, Meg, and Nora’s stories intersect, their lives will be indelibly changed as they each answer the question: What if renaissance isn’t just a word? What if that’s what happens when you dare to believe that what is isn’t what has to be?

*****

Digital (on my Kindle), anywhere I want:

Reinventing Mona

From Goodreads:

What’s new? Me, for starters…

It all began when my job offered me a buy-out package. That’s when the realization hit: I’m young, I’m rich (thanks to a hefty inheritance), and I’m boring. Not “needs a little zip” boring, either. More like “mustard stain on a Sears tweed couch” drab. French’s in a squeeze bottle, that’s me. But suddenly I have Grey Poupon aspirations! Things are gonna change-starting now…

Building a better mantrap…

First things first: Exercise. Carrot juice. Straight hair. Whiter teeth. Clothes that fit (I have breasts? Who knew?) But wait-there’s more. Life’s kicked me around a bit, and I’ve been nursing my wounds for too long. I’m finally ready to take a chance on love with the perfect guy. He’s handsome. He’s smart. He’s reliable. He’s my CPA. Problem is, I’m clueless about winning him over. It’s time to call in an expert. It’s time to call in The Dog.

Down, boy.

Mike “The Dog” Dougherty is a man’s man. A guy’s guy. Okay, he’s a chauvinist pig, and his sty is “The Dog House,” a testosterone-charged column in Maximum for Him magazine. On one hand, I abhor all he stands for. On the other hand, who better to coach me? So here I am. Learning the complex unspoken language of the American male (Talk, bad. Sex, good.); trying exciting new things (Stripping lessons are empowering. Really.); falling for Mike. Uh oh. But the Mike I’m getting to know is different from The Dog. And the Mona I’m becoming isn’t quite who I expected, either.

This whole makeover scheme is getting crazier by the minute. But “crazy” beats “boring”…right?

So far, this is a light, easy read – it was a Kindle freebie, so it’s the first one I’ll review for the “Why Buy The Cow Reading Challenge?”  It immediately (even before I downloaded it, let alone started reading it – just from reading a plot synopsis) struck me as a take-off on The Ugly Truth, which, for me, is a nice light, keep-you-company-while-doing -chores-around-the-house kinda movie, and I thought handled the expected boy-and-girl-opposites-find-each-other elements pretty well.  We’ll see how the book does on that score.

*****

Digital (Audiobook) through the iphone, in the car:

Beautiful Creatures

From Goodreads:

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

Waiting in the wings (i.e., bought at Audible.com and living on my iPhone) is the rest of the series:

–  Beautiful Darkness
Dream Dark
Beautiful Chaos
Beautiful Redemption

Copyright Ridingthebcrollercoaster.com 2012-2013 All Rights Reserved.

Book Reviews: An Introduction

[Originally posted as a page on 10/8/12; transferred to a standard post on 1/3/13.]

Books

I happily live in an all-Apple household electronically (where possible): iPhones, iPads (both of which I’m really never without), MacBooks (of different flavors), Apple wireless equipment and a Nest thermostat (not technically an Apple product, but designed and manufactured by a former Apple employee and built with the same competent user-friendliness and design aesthetic as Apple products).  For more information on the Nest, see here.

Before iPads existed, I had a Kindle and a Nintendo DS, both of which got sold when I got my first iPad.  Since then, I’d entirely given up paper books.  With the various reading apps at my disposal, I was perfectly happy to give up the weight of multiple books, the choice of which ones, and the worry (whether traveling, which I’ve never been able to do as much as I’d like and am doing none of now, or just heading to work for the day and knowing I’ll be able to read at lunch) of finishing one book without having another to start (getting the impression “hand over the books and nobody gets hurt” yet?) – for having all my books with me at all times, and the ability to get a new one anytime, anywhere, all in a package a little more than a pound in weight that will stay on all day long.

No, this isn’t an ad for an iPad, but I do warn all you Apple haters, anti-Apple comments will not be approved.  🙂  This is my playground and I make the rules.  No, this is about me and books.  Bear with me, I’ll get there (or not if you prefer, skip ahead or bail entirely – your choice).

Anyway, I figure as long as I don’t spend the mortgage payment on books (which, so far, I’ve managed to restrain myself from doing) it’s a harmless, even a positive addiction.  Ask any English teacher.

I knew when the prospect of surgery came up, I’d be stuck at least at home, if not in bed, for a while, feeling very not myself.  It was a given.  What I had not counted on amidst significant other preparations (kitchen full of comfort food, laundry done, house tidied up, surgery specific clothing and supplies bought and packed in case of an unexpected hospital admission) was how physically weak I would actually be when I came home.  Part of that was not knowing precisely how extensive the surgery would have to be – which is a normal result of not being able to fully know until my CSurg actually got in there.  Turns out she had to remove more than any of us had planned, since the tumor turned out to be 50% bigger than multiple tests had led us all to believe and then she had to make sure she got clean margins, including part of the chest wall because of the tumor’s proximity.  All together (although a slightly more ovoid, less round shape) the amount of tissue that had to be removed is about the mass of a hockey puck.

But I digress, again…See the upcoming post “A Tornado In My Head.”

Okay, getting back on track here…I was surprised the morning after my first surgery that my iPad was too heavy to hold onto with my left (surgery) hand – at less than a pound and a half!  But holding it in my left hand actually hurt!  Luckily it was Mom to the rescue…

Now this plot detour is intentional – let’s talk about Mom.  I am as unlike my Mom as a natural-born child can be from a parent.  Most of my life I would joke that it’s a good thing that the women in this species bear the offspring, otherwise we’d wonder who my mother was.  I look like, think like, and have the same tastes as my Dad’s side of the family (there are some seriously strong genes over there).  As I’m getting older I do find a few more ways I’m like my mom (yes, yes, move along, nothing to see here); I think adding the 3 physical traits we’ve found we’re now up to a grand total of maybe 9 similarities.  That overwhelming amount of difference between us has meant that Mom and I haven’t necessarily had the relationship I was socialized to expect, or one as close as either one of us wanted it to be.  Often, Mom and I simply don’t speak each other’s language.  And yet even when I’m pissed at Mom, when our communication has broken down yet again, there is one thing I will always admire about her and be thankful for: she is a spectacularly good caretaker of someone in (even an extended) crisis.

At least with me (and from who else’s perspective can I really see this anyway?), she has a wonderful way of being very attentive, and yet unobtrusive – allowing the crisisee (a new word I just made up for fun) to rest as needed, without the pressure of having to “entertain a guest,” and yet being instantly there to make a meal, get some meds, or refill a glass of water.  Mom has a sense of the right distance to allow the crisisee to test her limits as they improve over time, but is still close enough to be a safety net if the crisisee overreaches.  It’s a hard thing to describe – I think you’ll either get what I’m trying to convey or not.  In any case, my Mom rocks!

So it was that the day after my first surgery my Mom showed up at my house with a stack of paperbacks she had already read.  They were perfect: the kind of light chick lit that would keep me occupied while my body healed some, but nothing I had to really concentrate on or remember.  In retrospect, the first surgery wasn’t too bad – went into it full strength, they only worked on one side – I was hanging out downstairs the very next day.  Not feeling great by any means but not needing to be in bed.  And awake enough to read…alot…4 books in the first 4 days.  Everyday Mom came up to hang out that week there was another book waiting for her to take home (this was before she told me to just pay them forward).  And a few days later, I could deal with the iPad for a bit to check email and Facebook, but still didn’t want to hold it for reading – too heavy.  I ended up reading paper books the whole time between the 2 surgeries (exactly 14 days apart).

So, the Sunday before surgery #2, Hubby and I were going through a similar drill as for surgery #1 – filling the fridge, making sure anything I might want to wear was clean, tidying up the house, packing a bag as insurance against an unexpected hospital admission (which worked both times, btw) and…

He floated the idea of getting me a Kindle again so that should I have the same experience with the second surgery (or worse, since the second time we were working on both sides) I could read when I was up to it with something even lighter than the paperbacks I had been holding.  So, we headed over to Best Buy and picked one up, went home and charged it up, and tucked it into the packed bag.

Let me tell you it was a godsend.  The second surgery was much harder than the first one!  Working on both sides, not just one.  I wasn’t even close to fully recovered from the first one – which was actually deliberate but also made things more difficult.  And the procedures that were done were just inherently more traumatic to the tissues than ones in the first surgery.  Let’s just say I was basically in a narcotic fog for the first two days after the surgery.  There were still short periods when I wanted to read (I read myself to sleep every night, so it was the perfect thing to do while waiting for the next dose of pain meds to kick in and send me blessedly back to dreamland), but I’m not sure I could have dealt with a book then.  Thankfully I didn’t have to.  I had my Kindle.  I could just prop it up against a pillow and use a single touch to turn pages until my eyes closed again.

No, this is also not meant to be an ad for a Kindle (but if you want one I’ll make it easy, click here).  It’s more about how Hubby takes good care of me too, and yay, I got to have my books still even though I was in considerably worse shape the second time around!

Anyhoo, both Mom and Dad (where’d you think I got it from anyway?) Always have a book with them.  Last week at one of my many appointments Mom was reading a book I said I wanted to read when she was done and I may post a review of it eventually:

The Doula

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

It's Monday What Are You Reading

The It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? meme is hosted at Book Journey.

*****

Analog (dead tree version), at home:

The Winter Palace

From Goodreads:

From award-winning author Eva Stachniak comes this passionate novel that illuminates, as only fiction can, the early life of one of history’s boldest women. The Winter Palace tells the epic story of Catherine the Great’s improbable rise to power—as seen through the ever-watchful eyes of an all-but-invisible servant close to the throne.

Her name is Barbara—in Russian, Varvara. Nimble-witted and attentive, she’s allowed into the employ of the Empress Elizabeth, amid the glitter and cruelty of the world’s most eminent court. Under the tutelage of Count Bestuzhev, Chancellor and spymaster, Varvara will be educated in skills from lock picking to lovemaking, learning above all else to listen—and to wait for opportunity. That opportunity arrives in a slender young princess from Zerbst named Sophie, a playful teenager destined to become the indomitable Catherine the Great. Sophie’s destiny at court is to marry the Empress’s nephew, but she has other, loftier, more dangerous ambitions, and she proves to be more guileful than she first appears.

What Sophie needs is an insider at court, a loyal pair of eyes and ears who knows the traps, the conspiracies, and the treacheries that surround her. Varvara will become Sophie’s confidante—and together the two young women will rise to the pinnacle of absolute power.

With dazzling details and intense drama, Eva Stachniak depicts Varvara’s secret alliance with Catherine as the princess grows into a legend—through an enforced marriage, illicit seductions, and, at last, the shocking coup to assume the throne of all of Russia.

Impeccably researched and magnificently written, The Winter Palace is an irresistible peek through the keyhole of one of history’s grandest tales.

*****

Digital (Audiobook) through the iphone, in the car:

The Crown

From Goodreads:

When novitiate Joanna Stafford learns her cousin is about to be burned at the stake for rebelling against Henry VIII, she flees Dartford Priory. But when she and her father are arrested, she finds herself a pawn in a deadly power struggle.