Monday, May 31, 2010

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

Released: 2008

Olive Kitteridge is Elizabeth Strout's third novel and was the 2009 Pulitzer Prize winner in the fiction category. While I don't normally hunt down and read every award-winning novel, Olive Kitteridge piqued my curiosity.

Olive Kitteridge is quite the character of a woman living in small-town Crosby, Maine. A retired schoolteacher, Olive is well-known by the townspeople and has developed a reputation for being bold and strong-headed with a domineering presence. Each chapter in the novel is comprised of short stories or narratives that in one way or another involve Olive; whether it be someone telling of how they were influenced by Olive or whether she is playing an active role in that particular chapter.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Garden of Last Days by Andre Dubus III

Released: 2008

The Garden of Last Days is a perfect literary example of masterful storytelling. It doesn't matter that the book is lengthier than average at over 530 pages because you won't notice it or feel overwhelmed; you'll simply enjoy the reading experience.

Andre Dubus III opens The Garden of Last Days on a lazy Florida afternoon and we are introduced to April and Franny; a single young woman who works for a strip club and her three-year old daughter. April's usual babysitter, Jean, is in the hospital, and because April cannot risk calling in sick, she must take her daughter Franny with her to the strip club where she will be watched by the club's "house-mother". As readers can presume, a strip-club is no place for a toddler, and drama ensues when Franny goes missing.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Falcon Prince by Karen Kelley

Released: 2010

The Falcon Prince is the second paranormal romance novel in Karen Kelley's "Princes of Symtaria" series.

Rianna Lancaster is a small-town Texan dog groomer who has always had a special connection with animals. In addition to this special "gift", Rianna has always heard an alter-ego voice in her head that challenges her to be more adventurous and daring.

When handsome and sexy Prince Kristor materializes out of the fog to rescue Rianna from her boring life, she learns that she has LOTS more in common with Prince Kistor than she initially expects. The two embark on some crazy experiences together as Rianna discovers more about her powers and background.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Hell Yeah by Carolyn Brown

Released: 2010

Although Hell Yeah is the second book in Carolyn Brown's "Honky Tonk" series, this fun, sassy, fast-paced romance novel stands strongly on its own without needing to read its predecessor, I Love This Bar.

Cathy O'Dell is the most recent owner of the Honky Tonk country bar and absolutely loves her lifestyle. When handsome, sexy, rugged and smart oil-rigger Travis Henry comes to town for a temporary project, Cathy must re-evaluate her desire to stay in small-town Mingus to run the Honky Tonk or consider leaving to be with Travis. In the midst of all the love-drama, Cathy experiences a traumatic situation, and hopes that Travis can come to her rescue.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Master of Lies by Graham Masterton

Released: 1992

Master of Lies by horror-maestro Graham Masterton follows an investigation to nail a serial killer with the nickname of Fog City Satan. The Fog City Satan brutally murders entire families in a ritualistic-cult style and with help from the supernatural, is nearly unstoppable. The lead detective on the case, Larry Foggia, is drawn in against his will to become involved with this cult murder mayhem.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Bye-Bye, Black Sheep by Ayelet Waldman

Released: 2006

Bye-Bye, Black Sheep is the final book in the "Mommy-Track" cozy mystery series by Ayelet Waldman. Mom and ex-lawyer Juliet Applebaum is back to help a transsexual named Heavenly solve a mystery surrounding the death of her prostitute sister, Violetta. Because the cops have discarded the murder case given Violetta was not only a hooker, but a drug user too, Juliet becomes aggressive to obtain justice for Heavenly and her family.

The tone of Bye-Bye, Black Sheep is much darker and more somber than the series' previous books. The humor is sparse if at all present, and Juliet's narration voice is much more powerful, sending a serious message about the dangers in today's world from the standpoint of a mother. I really love Juliet's soliloquy-ish pieces throughout the book about being a realist versus a pessimist, as well as her mothering fears and worries about keeping her children safe. What mother doesn't feel the same way these days? These specific components are what really make this book great!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Wired for Work: Get a Job FAST using LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter by Steve Weber

Released: 2010

Wired for Work is perfect for any job-hunter trying to establish themselves (and their online presence) in today's job market. The author touches base on the most important piece of getting hired: effective online social networking including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and even MySpace.

Before Weber jumps into how to use all of these websites as tools in searching for a job, he explains to us why this method is incredibly important. The majority of employers today will conduct web searches on your name as part of their background check. Weber stresses the do's and don'ts in regards to maintaining your personal profiles on these networking sites and gives pointers on how to professionally market yourself.

Speaking in Tongues by Jeffery Deaver

Released: 1995

Speaking in Tongues is a stand-alone thriller by Jeffery Deaver, best known for his Lincoln Rhyme series. The novel is extremely fast-paced and I'll bet fans of Deaver and suspense alike will finish this book within a few hours of picking it up.

Megan McCall is a troubled teenager who visits a therapist on a regular basis. Estranged from both parents, Megan is still damaged by the divorce between her free-spirited mother Bett and her attorney father Tate Collier. When Megan is kidnapped by a man posing as a stand-in therapist, Bett and Tate come together in a search for her. Little do they know that the kidnapper, Aaron Matthews, has distant ties to Megan's parents and is out to hurt the entire family in the process.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Classic Wisdom for the Professional Life by Bryan Curtis

Released: 2010

Classic Wisdom for the Professional Life is a collection of inspirational quotes compiled by Bryan Curtis aimed for career-minded professionals. However, despite its title, this book can be utilized to engender inspiration for anyone ready for a lifestyle change as well as a career change.

A large number of the quotes in Classic Wisdom for the Professional Life stress how massively important it is for people to work at what they love doing best in order to gain the most out of their lives. Loving what you do for a living equals success, and this is very true!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Anatomy of the Soul by Curt Thompson, MD

Released: 2010

In Anatomy of the Soul, psychiatrist Curt Thompson teaches us how to manipulate our brains to further enrich mental wellness and relationships with our families and God.

Anatomy of the Soul combines elements of faith and science, and provides us anatomy lessons alongside with incorporating Scripture and prayer into daily meditation routines to alter the brain's patterns and thinking methods.

From a scientific standpoint, Thompson gives us a thorough breakdown on how the left and right hemispheres of the brain correlate (left-brained and right-brained in layman's terms), as well as the differences between several types of emotional attachments. Thompson also explains how trauma and stressful situations presented to us in childhood affects us in our adulthood, and provides examples of how to overcome these barriers using faith as a stepping stool. We learn how to become better "known" to our families and Christ by revealing and discussing our fears about what others may think and perceive about us as people.

Give the Dog a Bone by Leslie O'Kane

Released: 2002

Give the Dog a Bone is the last book in the 'Allie Babcock' series, as well as the last book written under the author's real name. O'Kane now writes under the pseudonym Leslie Caine for her 'Domestic Bliss' series.

In Give the Dog a Bone, expert dog behaviorist and therapist Allie Babcock is back to her routine, nosy sleuthing. This time she helps a crazy man named Ken Culberson (who is a millionaire yet lives in a trailer) train his dog when he thinks its channeling his dead wife's spirit. Soon enough, Ken dies and since Allie is named the dog's legal guardian, becomes smack-dab in the middle of figuring out who whacked him for his money.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian

Released: 2008

Holocaust books are very much in abundance these days more than ever. Due to the intense subject matter, its hard NOT to be moved by the author's story in most cases.

Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian should be moved to the top of your reading list versus any other recent and popular Holocaust books; such as The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows or The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

        The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Random House Reader's Circle)  The Book Thief

I want to warn you though - Skeletons at the Feast is NOT for the faint of heart. Bohjalian pretty much incorporates explicit violence within the first 2-3 pages of the novel which may be his way of preparing readers for the events ahead.

Magic Study by Maria V Snyder

Released: 2008

Magic Study is the second book in Maria V. Snyder's "Study" series featuring Yelena Zaltana, a prisoner turned-poison taster, and now turned-magician who embarks on mastering her magic talent.

Yelena has escaped the kingdom and now meets her estranged family, who teaches her how to gain more insight into mastering her natural powers. In comparison to Poison Study, Magic Study contains less intrigue, action and adventure, but explores further character development as this book sets us up for the rest of the series. Magic Study almost reads like a teaser to the next book, which is called Fire Study, and is mostly comprised of training sequences as Yelena embraces her talent.

                                               Poison Study        Fire Study (Study, Book 3)