Stacy's Books

books, movies, and boy

Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story, by Carolyn Turgeon

Cover ImageFinished 10-24-09, rating 3/5, Fantasy, pub. 2009

I loved the scribbles in the margins, the notes in the front of the books that told their stories, the ways they passed from one person to another.  “To Jennifer, Christmas 1921.  May these words stay with you.” The stray phrases and numbers jotted on the side of a page – “Indian Taj, 74th Street” emerging from the margins of Utopia, “BUY PUMPKINS” blaring up at me from the back cover of To the Lighthouse.  As I sat behind the register, carefull erasing the penciled marks, I felt as if each book had a secret to tell, only to me.

 Chapter 1

Lil is a fallen fairy, one who broke the ultimate sin by falling in love with a human.  And not just any human, but the fantasy of many a young girl, Prince Charming.  Lil was the fairy godmother to Cinderella and in charge of getting her and the Prince to meet and marry, but she made the mistake of taking a peek at the Prince in advance and her heart’s fate was sealed.

Now, Lil is living as an old woman in New York City working as small used bookstore.  The owner of the store is a friend who finally recovered from his divorce and when  a beautiful young woman walks in to the store, Lil thinks getting them together will be her way back home.  There is a charity ball coming up and the couple agrees to attend together and Lil can feel the fairy world coming for her.

This is not your average fairy tale retelling.  It is dark and offbeat, which I liked, but Lil was not a character I fell in love with, even though I wanted to.  I mean who wouldn’t love a fairy godmother?  I liked the way the story was told, alternating between New York and her past life as a fairy.  I really wanted to like it more, but it did keep me interested the whole way through.

I recommend this if you like fairy tale retellings or fairies. 

This was a library copy.

October 31, 2009 Posted by | 3 Star Books | , , , | 13 Comments

9 in ’09 with Barbara Delinsky

Barbara Delinsky, NYT bestselling author, has graciously taken some time to answer a few questions.  I reviewed her book, While My Sister Sleeps here and the book is out in paperback just this week. 

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and Barbara is a survivor and continues to fund research.  You can visit her website for more information about her books and her wonderful blog. 

Here’s the nine with Barbara…

1. While My Sister Sleeps is the story of a family in crisis and each of the characters travels a personal journey that leads the book full circle.  Which character do you think grew or changed the most?

I’d have to vote for Molly, partly because that’s how I conceived of this book.  I see it as a coming of age story about a 27-year-old who has always lived  in the shadow of her star sister and felt secondary in the eyes of her Type A mother.  Suddenly, with her sister comatose and the rest of the family unable to act, Molly rises to the occasion.  In speaking for her sister, she finds her own voice, helping even her mother grown in the process.

2. When I posted my review of this book, commenter Violet asked if it were a movie.  I know it’s not, but there are so many wonderful characters in this book that it would make a great one.  Who would be your dream cast if While My Sister Sleeps made it to the big screen?

Honestly?  I have no idea.  I’m so not a movie or TV person.  Given that I spend so much time writing, what free time I have is spent knitting, talking with friends, and doing things like laundry.  I’m always curious to know, though, who readers would choose.

3. You have a big presence online with a website, blog that you started in 2005, and many other social outlets.  How has your life as a writer changed over the years since the explosion of online social networking?

Oh my, a loaded question there.  I have to confess that at times I do pine for the old days, when all a writer had to do was write her books!  Today, I spend roughly one-third of my work time maintaining that online presence – website, blog, and now Facebook and Twitter – meaning that I have to work even longer hours to get each book done on time.

The plus side, of course, is that online social networking has given me a vehicle to communicate with my readers, which is – and always has been – hugely important to me.  My readers have put me where I am today.  Their enthusiasm and loyalty keeps me going.  I love communicating with them!

4. You are a breast cancer survivor and wrote the book Uplift: Secrets from the Sisterhood of Breast Cancer Survivors in 2001.  I love that all the proceeds from the sale of this book go to your own charitable foundation.  Can you tell us a little about the foundation?

From the very beginning, I knew that I didn’t want to personally pocket a single cent from the sales of Uplift, and was able to shamelessly shop it from publisher to publisher for this reason.  The entirety of my proceeds from Uplift go into the charitable foundation, which has, to date, funded four years of a breast research fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital.  Each May, I have the joy of meeting the fellow just finishing her year and hearing about the work she’s done.  How awesome is that?

5. Who or what inspires you?

People do.  I take a gesture here, a physical characteristic or manner of speech there, and create characters that interest me.  As for what those characters do?  My plots are almost always inspired by current events.  When I’m in the process of writing a book, I keep a file on my computer for “Next Book Ideas.”  Inevitably, the idea I pick is either the most recent one entered, or an idea based on news occurring since then.  My agent calls me a prescient, in that I write more about things that are about to happen, but it’s truly just being attuned to people’s concerns in the here and now.

6. I love quotes.  Do you have a favorite?

Here’s one from my father.  When faced with different people having different opinions or preferences, he always said, “That’s why there are menus in restaurants.”  I think of this often, when readers say that they loved my latest book but that their favorite is still – and then they name one of my other books.  Another thing my dad always said was, “Taxation is the price of civilization.”  I agree with him there, too.  Some folks don’t – but, hey, that’s why there are menus in restaurants.

7. What are you currently reading?

Homer’s Odyssey by Gwen Cooper.  It’s a gem of a book about a blind cat.  Being a cat person, I’m loving every page.

8. If you were trapped in the life of one fictional character who would you choose?

Given that fictional characters have to experience some form of angst to keep the reader turning pages, I’ll opt out of this choice.  I have enough on my own plate, thank you!

9. What are you currently working on?

Just finished, actually.  Not my Daughter – not to be confused with an earlier book of mine, For My Daughters.  This new one, Not My Daughter, tells the story of three high school girls, all good students from good homes, who make a pact to become pregnant.  I know, I know, TV is currently loaded with shows about pregnant teens, but this book is different.  The heart of the story is the fallout of the pact, with accusing fingers pointing to the girls’ mothers.  Here is an exploration of what it takes to be a good mother, whether at 17, 35, or 45.

Thank you so much for stopping by, Barbara!

October 30, 2009 Posted by | Author Interviews | , , , | 8 Comments

A-Z Challenge Completed

I finished another challenge!  The challenge was to read 2 books for each letter – one for the title and on for the author.  So, 52 books later I can cross it off my list of challenges.

I liked the fact that I had to find books that I never would have looked at before.   I started on one shelf at the library and read the first book that had a title that started with K (Killer Mousse by Melinda Wells) and loved it.  I also used the library to find an author for X and discovered the sweet gem, Sky Burial by Xinran.  And I never would have considered The Xibalba Murders by Lyn Hamilton without the need for an X title.  If you are titling your book, consider starting it with an X!

You can find the list of books I read for this challenge here.

 This was fun and I hope to do it again next year.  Thanks for hosting it, Becky!

October 29, 2009 Posted by | challenges | , | 17 Comments

The Housekeeper and the Professor, by Yoko Ogawa

Cover ImageFinished 10-24-09, rating 4.5/5, fiction, pub. 2003 in Japanese & 2009 in English

In school, I had hated math so much that the mere sight of the textbook made me feel ill.  But the things the Professor taught me seemed to find their way effortlessly into my brain – not because I was an employee anxious to please her employer but because he was such a gifted teacher.  There was something profound in his love for math.  And it helped that he forgot what he’d taught me before, so I was free to repeat the same question until I understood.

Chapter 2

The mathematics Professor was in a car accident in 1975 and as a result he lost his short-term memory.  Every 80 minutes his brain resets and the only memories he has are the ones made before the crash.  He spends his days in a cottage on his sister-in-law’s property solving math problems for prize money.  To make it through he writes notes on scraps of paper and pins them to his suit jacket, which he wears every day.

The Housekeeper, a single mom, is hired to take care of him and the cottage during the day.  When she starts bringing her son, who the Professor nicknames Root, the three form a bond over math and baseball. 

This Japanese story is charming and original.  There are actual math problems in the book and not being a math lover myself (or maybe math doesn’t love me?) I was surprised at how I was drawn into the heartfelt story.  There was beauty in the simplicity of the writing and in the math.  I was rooting for these three who needed and loved each other.  There were even some nice surprises to be found along the way.

I highly recommend this one. 

This was a library copy.

October 29, 2009 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books | , | 13 Comments

Murder on Nob Hill, by Shirley Tallman

Cover ImageFinished 1024-09, rating 4/5, mystery, pub. 2004

Book 1 in the Sarah Woolson series

Despite claims to the contrary – some, I fear, voiced by members of my own family – I pride myself on being an honest woman.  As a matter of principle, I hold dissimulation of any kind in contempt.  That said, I probably should add that I also subscribe to the old adage “God helps those who help themselves,” even if this sometimes entails being economical with the truth.

First paragraph of the book

Sarah Woolson is a strong young woman living in a time when strong women were frowned upon.  It’s 1880 and she has managed to get an interview with a leading law firm, but she is promptly shown the door because of her sex.  Not willing to step aside she steals a client and the firm takes her in to save face.  Now she must travel around San Francisco trying to prove her client innocent of murdering her rich husband and one of his powerful friends. 

Sarah is take no prisoners kind of gal and this really irks the lawyer who is assigned to following/helping her with the case.  And her brothers prove helpful as does her judge father.  She is not afraid of getting her hands dirty, but her mind is her best asset.  There is a lot to like about Sarah. 

The mystery was good.  I didn’t figure it out until right before Sarah did and it was a satisfying ending.  The family was a warm and fun and accepting of Sarah, well except for one brother running for California Senator, and I look forward to learning more about them as Sarah continues her adventures in the next book.

This did remind me of the Deadly series by Brenda Joyce if you are a fan.  Not any romance in this one, but I do see potential.

This was a library copy.

October 28, 2009 Posted by | 4 Star Books | , , , | 8 Comments

Teaser Tuesday – Seduce Me

teasertuesdays31Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following: Grab your current read. Open to a random page.Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!). Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

 

“We can hide in there,” he said, pointing to the sarcophagus.

“Are you mad?” Esme stopped and stared at him.  “We cannot hide in a coffin.”

Chapter 14

Cover Image

I won this at Book Reviews by Bobbie and was thinking I would get to it during the read-a-thon, but the first time I opened it was to find a teaser today.  I’ll let you know if I’m seduced by it later 😉

October 27, 2009 Posted by | teaser tuesday | | 17 Comments

Common Thread Quiz

The last two quizzes are here and here and there is still time to participate.  If you are the first one with the right answer in those quizzes or this one you will earn an extra entry in my Birthday Book Giveaway.

What is the common denominator in these book combinations?  Tell me the number and what you think the five books have in common,  Go ahead and take a guess – you could be right!  And #10 is movies.  I got the idea from my 9 in ’09 last Friday.

1.A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore: Book CoverCover ImageCover ImageCover ImageCover Image

Set in San Francisco – Mark (who is probably voting for Michael Irvin right now in Dancing with the Stars)

 

2.Cover ImageCover ImageCover ImageCover ImageCover Image

2nd book in a trilogy – Candice

 

3.Cover ImageCover ImageCover ImageCover ImageCover Image

Books made into movies starring Emma Thompson – Candice

 

4. Primary Colors by Joe Klein: Book CoverCover ImageCover ImageCover ImageCover Image

Fictional US Presidents as chracters – Debbie (Wrighty Reads)

 

5. Cover ImageCover ImageCover ImageCover ImageCover Image

Main characters are named John – ‘Nise

 

6. Cover ImageCover ImageCover ImageCover ImageCover Image

One of main characters is gay – Strangelove

 

7. Cover ImageCover ImageCover ImageCover ImageCover Image

Edgar Award winners for Best Novel – Mark

 

8. Cover ImageCover ImageCover ImageCover ImageCover Image

Set in Ireland – Stranglove

 

9.Cover ImageCover ImageCover ImageCover ImageCover Image

Redheaded Protagonists – Strangelove

10.Sleepless in SeattleMixed NutsMichaelBewitchedJulie & Julia

Directed and written by Nora EphronKathy (bermuuda onion)

October 26, 2009 Posted by | Quizzes | , | 18 Comments

Read-a-Thon Wrap up

I just finished The Post man Always Rings Twice by Cain.  It was my 6th book.  950 pages, 7 hours of audio book listening and no sleep.  Here’s what I read…

Murder On Nob Hill by Shirley Tallman: Book CoverThe Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa: Book CoverGodmother by Carolyn Turgeon: Book CoverThe Funny Thing Is... by Ellen DeGeneres: Book CoverManhunting by Jennifer Crusie: Book CoverThe Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain: Book Cover

My favorite was The Housekeeper and the the Professor.  Here are the wrap up questions…

1. Which hour was most daunting for you?  6:30-7:30 AM
2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?  The Ellen Degeneres book helped me laugh, so probably any hunor book would work.
3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? I thought it was great.
4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?  Everything.  Liked the mini challenges – even if I didn’t win anything.
5. How many books did you read? 6
6. What were the names of the books you read? see above
7. Which book did you enjoy most? The Housekeeper and the the Professor by Ogawa
8. Which did you enjoy least?  Manhunting by Crusie
9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?  Too tired to come up with anything right now.
10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?  I would love to participate again.  I would probably devote some hours to cheering as well as reading. 

I had a great ime in my first read-a-thon and look forward to posting this and heading to bed.  Even as the sunslight streams into the room.

October 25, 2009 Posted by | Read-a-Thon | , | 15 Comments

The Final Few Hours Are Here!

dreamstime_readathongI just finished listening to the audio book Manhunting by Jennifer Crusie.  It was nice to be mobile for a few hours.  The light, fluffy romance was perfect for this time of the morning, except maybe the end dragged a bit.  Of course, it could be that anything is going to drag a bit when I’m this tired!

Books finished-5

Pages read – 830

Hours spent listening to audio book – 7 hours

I think I have just enough time to read The Postman Always Rings Twice.

October 25, 2009 Posted by | Read-a-Thon | | 4 Comments

Reading, Laughing, and Honoring

Dewey is a book blogger I’ve heard a lot about in the past year.  She’s the one who began the Read-a-Thon and less than a year ago she passed away.  I think the tremendous outpouring of love from the bloggers who knew her and the continued success of the Read-a-Thon are great tributes to Dewey.

I have finished my 4th book, The Funny Thing Is…by Ellen Degeneres.  Some chapters made me laugh out loud which has pepped me up a bit.  Not sure what I’ll be reading or listening to next.  Still need a few minutes to recover from the last second Michigan State loss.

Books completed-4

Pages read – 830

October 24, 2009 Posted by | Read-a-Thon | | 9 Comments