Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Halfway To Forever by Karen Kingsbury

I decided to read the books in Karen Kingsbury's Forever Faithful Series out of order. I was so taken with the family in the first book, that the second book just didn't sound that interesting to me, so I skipped ahead to the third book, figuring that I would want to go back and read the second book once I was finished. And I was right! The third book, focused on Hannah and Matt. Hannah and Matt had just met at the end of Waiting For Morning, Matt was Hannah's lawyer in the trial against Brian Wesley. They have seen married, and currently live on the beach in Southern California with Hannah's daughter, Jenny. Their close friends, Tanner and Jade, live close by with their 13 year old son, Tyler. Tanner and Matt were partners at a law firm that specialized in religious rights. Both families are going through multiple struggles during the book. Jade is diagnosed with brain cancer, and is currently undergoing treatment for that. Meanwhile, after having a miscarriage, she gets pregnant again, and this time gives birth to a little girl, Madison Jade, 8 weeks early. Shortly after the birth, she undergoes a very risky surgery to remove her tumor. No one knows whether this will be successful or not, they simply must rely on the power of prayer. Through some miracle, the surgery is successful and later tests show absolutely no signs that there was ever a tumor.

Hannah and Matt are ready to add to their family. They decide to adopt a little girl, Grace and are waiting for the 6 month period to be up, to finalize the adoption, when the social worker calls and informs them that Grace's grandmother has shown up and wants Grace to live with her. They give her back, despite their devastated feelings. Then, a short while later, Hannah is volunteering at the hospital when a lady who has overdosed on drugs brings her 6 week old son to the hospital, so she can get help. The mom dies, and there is no next of kin. So Hannah and Matt end up adopting the baby, whose name is Kody Matthew. Then, right around the time of Jade's surgery, Grace's grandma decides to give Grace back to them so that her real mom will never be able to find her and put her in any more danger. Grandma feels this is the best situation involved, and once again this is an example of the many miracles that happen in this book.

I am now anxious to go back and read the second book. I know that book mostly centers around Tanner and Jade, but now that I know them I'm more interested to hear about their history. And I don't think the fact that I've already read the next book will give away too many spoilers for me. Once again, Karen Kingsbury did NOT disappoint!

I finished this book on 4/28/2009

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunset Bay by Susan Mallery

This was one book that had me hooked right from the beginning. It starts off when Megan is 18 years old, and she will be starting college soon. She goes to a party with her friend, Allegra where she runs into her ex-boyfriend Travis, who had been sent to jail. Megan and Travis go off to Vegas for a weekend, which causes Megan to lie to her parents about her plans. This would be a good time to explain Megan's family situation. Megan's mother is a hypochondriac, drama-queen who thinks the world revolves around her and who expects everyone to drop what they're doing and cater to her needs. She also never hesitates to tell Megan how ugly she is and how she'll never find happiness because she's not pretty enough. Mom also compares Megan to her sister, Leanna and keeps telling Megan how she's the uglier of the two. Leanne is an aspiring actress who seems to get whatever she wants, no matter what the cost is. Megan is the apple of her dad's(Gary) eye, and it's pretty much them two against Leanne and Mom. Megan also has dreams of becoming a Fashion Designer, a dream that her mom thinks is foolish. Her dad doesn't even take her dreams seriously.

When Megan and Travis return from Vegas, Megan's dad is furious and forces her to quit Design school and grounds her and banishes her to her bedroom for the entire summer. I personally thought this was a bit harsh, considering the fact that Megan IS, in fact, 18 YEARS OLD!

Thats nothing compared to what happens in Megan's life 10 years later. The book jumps ahead 10 years later. Megan is a successful accountant dealing with the entertainment industry, she has beautiful condo, and is getting ready to marry her fiancee, Adam. She is STILL the apple of her dad's eye.

Until one day, when her life comes crashing down. Megan gets a visit from an attorney who informs her that Gary is not her real father; that her REAL father has just passed away and has left her $250,000 inheritance. Megan discovers that her mom cheated on Gary and tried to pass Megan off as HIS daughter. Gary has no idea Megan isn't his either, until he walks in on Megan confronting her mother. He then refuses to speak to, or have anything to do with Megan. This leaves Megan crushed. THEN, Megan's co-worker, Carrie, is trying to get Megan fired, because she wants the promotion Megan is up for soon. As if all this weren't enough for poor Megan to deal with, Megan's fiancee Adam confesses that he has been in a relationship with someone else while they've been dating and even after they were engaged, but he assures her that this won't happen again once they are married. HA! what a bunch of BS. I wanted to smack Adam several times!! Adam kept coming crawling back (at the worst times too) begging Megan's forgiveness, and he couldn't understand why Megan didn't want to marry him. Soon after, Megan runs into Travis in Las Vegas, and finds out he is returning to Los Angeles to help his mom get her business ready to sale. They start seeing each other, and soon admit the love each other. I would've liked to have seen them get married!! THAT would've been the perfect ending.

I didn't like some of the characters in this book, obviously, but I think the characters are what made the story. I'm glad Leanne redeemed herself in the end and the sister started becoming closer. Their mom was another story though. I don't think I know anyone like her. And the Dad...I don't know which of the parents was worse!!

I finished this book on 4/19/2009

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Duggars: 20 and Counting by Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar

I read this book in March 2009. This is the story of The Duggars, stars of TLC'S 18 Kids and Counting. It basically told the story of how Jim Bob and Michelle met, the early years of their marriage, and how they raised their children all the way up to how they're doing currently. I had only seen this show a few times before reading the book, so I learned alot about them while reading. I really enjoyed this book and hope that they will write more books in the future.

Their personal website is here!

I finished this book on 3/25/2009.

Eight Little Faces by Kate Gosselin

I went to Borders the other day and looked throught this book. It is a very cute little book with about 50 pages of photos of the Gosselin kids who are featured on TLC'S Jon and Kate Plus 8. I LOVE this show, and I have never missed a single episode. I read their other book Multiple Blessings: Surviving To Thriving With Twins and Sextuplets. I loved that book also!

Their website is here!

I finished this book on 4/14/2009.

Why I blog

I'm struggling with how to write my thoughts on a book, yet at the same time, convey what I really feel about that book. Sometimes I worry that my writing abilities aren't good enough to truly represent how I felt about a book. I look at alot of other people's book blogs, who are GREAT writers and whose blogs look so professional compared to mine. However, I'm really only keeping up with this blog for my personal use. So that I can remember what books I've read and I can go back someday and remember what they were about, and what I thought about them. I've tried several different ways of capturing my thoughts on a book....1) answering a series of questions, using a pre-made survey and tweaking it, a little bit. 2) writing my own version of a book description and my thoughts. and 3) copying/pasting a book description from somewhere else and writing my own thoughts. I think the best option is #2, which I will keep working on. I want this blog to be MY OWN and I'm not sure I like the idea of copying/pasting from somewhere. So I will try some different things in the future....some books I might only have my thoughts and not necessarily a description of the book. Others I may use discussion questions as my entry for that book. And OTHERS, may have my personal thoughts and the descriptional all mixed together. I also shouldn't worry about giving away spoilers, because this is, after all, MY blog, and the whole purpose of me keeping this blog is so I can remember what happened in the book. I also want to add some other things, not just book review entries. Hopefully I can work on this as time goes on.

Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani

I first heard about Very Valentine from friends in one of my online book groups. When they said it centered around an Italian family, I knew I had to read it right away! Very Valentine tells the story of the Roncalli and Angelini families. They own a customer Shoemaking business, Angelini Shoe Company, in Greenwich Village. The book centers around Teodora the matriarch of the family, and her granddaughter, Valentine, her apprentice. Valentine has two sisters, Jaclyn and Tess, and a brother, Alfred, who get to know quite well, along with their parents. This is the story of a typical Italian Family. Angelini Shoe Company was founded in Italy in 1903, and specializes in designer wedding shoes. The company is suffering financially, and Valentine fights to keep it in the family by trying some new designs that have a more contemporary look to them. During this time, She enters this contest at a department store for them to use one of her shoes in their display windows. During this time, she also meets and begins dating Roman Falcona, who's a chef at a nearby restaurant. We hear alot about their relationship and the struggles they go through trying to meet the damands of business while finding time for each other. Valentine also goes to Italy with Gram, to find new material for creating her shoes. When she returns from Italy, she finds that changes are happening all around her. She continues to work hard to increase the variety of their shoe designs to include current trends as well.

I really enjoyed this book from start to finish. I had read some reviews from people who didn't like all the detail, but I LOVED it. Perhaps that is because I am part Italian myself. I loved hearing about the shoemaking, AND about the Italian food and the vivid descriptions of Italy itself. I also loved reading about the special bond between Grandmother and Granddaughter, as well as the hilarious Banter back and forth between various family members. Trigiani sure has a way with words, and I laughed more reading this book than I have with most other books. This book will definitely go on my list of favorites. The only character I didn't really care for was Roman. He seemed pretty flaky. I was also intrigued by frequent mention of Lucia, Lucia, which is another one of Trigniani's books, that I plan to read very soon.

I am anxious to read the sequels coming out in 2010 and 2011 and to hear what's in store for readers in those books. I only wish we didn't have to wait so long.

I finished this book on April 16, 2009. **ALSO** This was the first E-BOOK that I read from start to finish!!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Handle With Care by Jodi Picoult.

Blurb from Bookbrowse:

Things break all the time.
Day breaks, waves break, voices break.
Promises break.
Hearts break.

Every expectant parent will tell you that they don't want a perfect baby, just a healthy one. Charlotte and Sean O'Keefe would have asked for a healthy baby, too, if they'd been given the choice. Instead, their lives are made up of sleepless nights, mounting bills, the pitying stares of "luckier" parents, and maybe worst of all, the what-ifs. What if their child had been born healthy? But it's all worth it because Willow is, well, funny as it seems, perfect. She's smart as a whip, on her way to being as pretty as her mother, kind, brave, and for a five-year-old an unexpectedly deep source of wisdom. Willow is Willow, in sickness and in health.

Everything changes, though, after a series of events forces Charlotte and her husband to confront the most serious what-ifs of all. What if Charlotte should have known earlier of Willow's illness? What if things could have been different? What if their beloved Willow had never been born? To do Willow justice, Charlotte must ask herself these questions and one more. What constitutes a valuable life?

Emotionally riveting and profoundly moving, Handle with Care brings us into the heart of a family bound by an incredible burden, a desperate will to keep their ties from breaking, and, ultimately, a powerful capacity for love. Written with the grace and wisdom she's become famous for, beloved #1 New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult offers us an unforgettable novel about the fragility of life and the lengths we will go to protect it.

My thoughts:

I was born with a birth defect myself, though not as severe or life-threatening as Osteogenesis Imperfecta, so this book kind of hit home for me and gave me alot to think about. I didn't really like Charlotte, I thought she was selfish, and she was really only doing this for herself. So life would be easier for HER. And also it's not so much that she says she would've aborted...I just don't know why she waited 6 whole years to go ahead with this lawsuit. I can see why Sean changed his mind and chose to side with the Defense. I also really felt for Piper. And Amelia...alot of her problems were caused by Charlotte. I can only imagine how I would feel, having been born with a birth defect, if I found out people thought I should never have been born.

I finished this book on April 11, 2008

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Paradise Valley by Robyn Carr

Marine corporal Rick Sudder is home early from Iraq—his tour ended abruptly on the battlefield. The carefree boy is gone, replaced by a man who believes his future is as bleak as his mirror image. But can the passion and commitment of a young woman who has never given up on him mend his broken body and shattered heart?

As the people of Virgin River rally around Rick, another recent arrival tests the tightly knit mountain town's famous welcoming spirit. Dan Brady has a questionable past, and he's looking for a place to start over. He'd like it to be Virgin River…if he can find a way in. But he never expects to find it in the arms of a woman who was as much an outcast as himself.

For a favorite son returned from war and an outsider looking for a home, Virgin River offers them a chance to make peace with the men they once were…and to find the dreams they thought they'd lost.

My Thoughts:

Well, I can't believe I've already read the last "new" book in the Virgin River Series for 2009. I don't want to wait until 2010 to read more. The more of these books I read, the more I love this little town and all the residents who live there, my most favorite being Jack and Mel. I really felt for Ricky in this book. He came home from Iraq wounded, and in all of his grief, pushed away those who were closest to him. But I'm glad everyone gave him the space that he needed. I LOVED Liz in this story, and how she held her own around Ricky and didn't let him screw her around, and I was especially glad that Ricky got past his feelings of Liz deserving someone better. I think this was my favorite storyline. I liked hearing about Cameron and Abby. I thought her ex-husband was a loser, especially with the way he came crawling back to "try" and make amends. And Walt and Muriel...they're a cute couple. There wasn't too much about the other residents. I was hoping Shelby would've been pregnant by now.

My favorite book of this second part of the Series was Second Chance Pass, and my favorite book of the first 3 was Shelter Mountain.

Between now and 2010, while I'm waiting for the next books to come, I plan to read some of Robyn's stand-alone books including: Blue Skies, Runaway Mstress, Never Too Late, The House On Olive Street, and To Mother With Love.

I finished this on April 6, 2009.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

While My Sister Sleeps by Barbara Delinsky

BLURB from Bookbrowse since I am too lazy to write my own.

Once again Barbara Delinsky brings us a masterful family portrait, filled with thought-provoking ideas about the nature of life itself, how emotions affect the decisions we make, and how letting go can be the hardest thing to do and the greatest expression of love all at the same time.

Molly and Robin Snow are sisters in the prime of their lives. So when Molly learns that Robin—an Olympic athlete and the favorite child—has suffered a massive heart attack, the news couldn’t be more shocking. At the hospital, the Snow family receives a grim prognosis: Robin may never regain consciousness.

Feelings of guilt and jealousy flare up as Robin's family struggles to cope and their relationships are put to the ultimate test. It’s up to Molly to make the tough decisions, and she soon makes discoveries that destroy some of her most cherished beliefs about the sister she thought she knew.

My thoughts:

I liked this book, for the most part. I definitely can identify with Molly and it was interesting reading her relationship with Robin. I hoped that Molly and Dave would get together. And I didn't really care for Kathryn at times. Robin was too into herself. Honestly, this wasn't my most favorite of Delinsky's books. I kept putting the book down to read other books, and then it became a chore to finish it. I'm not sure what it was about the second half that made it drag on. Maybe part of it is my mood lately. Nevertheless, I gave it 4 stars.

Finished on: April 2, 2009