Tempest in Eden by Sandra Brown

Tempest in EdenTempest in Eden. Finished 3-24-16, rating 1.5/5, romance, pub. 1983

Unabridged audio performed by Renee Raudman. 5 hours 39 minutes.

A renowned artist’s model, Shay Morrison thinks nothing of exposing her body to inspire great works of art. Hidden inside her, where no one can see, is the pain of a failed marriage. Then she accidentally walks in on Ian Douglas as he steps from a shower. Every gorgeous bit of him is immediately apparent — as is his disapproval of Shay. What isn’t so obvious is his profession: Ian is a minister in a very staid community. Challenged and hurt, Shay decides to seduce him. But waiting for her are the traps of her own weaknesses and the potent force of sexuality …  from Goodreads

I’d been reading some heavy things lately and thought this quick romance by an old favorite would be a fun, light listen.  Well, it was light and fit my needs in that area, but I spent at least half of the book rolling my eyes at the characters.  Shay was insufferable and every time I thought she’d turned a corner I was disappointed.  A minister and nude model fall in love over a weekend, after finding themselves in bed together?  Of course. 

There were one or two nice moments, so it wasn’t a total loss.

Just Ask the Universe and Keep Calm and Ask On by Michael Samuels

fpoJust Ask the Universe. Finished 5-7-15, self-help, 119 pages, pub. 2011

Just Ask the Universe is a realistic guide to personal development. By creating a blueprint for self-growth and commanding your subconscious mind, the Universe will manifest all your dreams. For over two decades, Michael Samuels has studied and methodically tested hundreds of books on self-improvement, spirituality, and the metaphysical. Just Ask the Universe accumulates the wisdom from “thought teachers” like: Wallace Wattles, Anthony Robbins, Rhonda Byrne, Joseph Murphy, Robert Collier, and Napoleon Hill, and compiles it under one unified lesson: if your thoughts are clear and in harmony with your mind and the truth of your surroundings, your life can be filled with all the richness the Universe has to offer. As a culmination from these teachings, Michael will show you how to use simple and fun techniques to create a more desirable future. This approach, coupled with real-life stories, will teach you how to achieve personal power to overcome any barrier.   from Goodreads

Hm. I don’t really read these types of books but the author sent it and it was short enough to pick up.  There isn’t anything bad about this book (I like the way he made personal religious beliefs, whatever they are, fit with his vision) but there wasn’t anything great about it either. I did the ‘want’ exercises and if all 60 things come true then I will come back and revise my rating!

It was too short and too repetitive, but the ideas were good. I also think maybe there weren’t enough of them. The book did leave me in a good, happy place.

 

 

fpoKeep Calm and Ask On. Finished 12-4-15, rating 1.5/5, self-help, 108 pages, pub. 2014

Hot off the heels of his international best seller “Just Ask the Universe” and his critically acclaimed follow up “The Universe-ity”, Michael Samuels returns with a fun and witty practical manual called “Keep Calm and Ask On: A No-Nonsense Guide to Fulfilling Your Dreams.” With a few easy and entertaining steps, Samuels will inspire you that living the life of your dreams is not all that hard. It’s actually easier than you think. He will show you how to further develop your “I want” list to make your goals become a reality. He will also show how music and laughter are the two keys to unlocking a greater life. Samuels has studied the teachings of the greats just to pass the word around in a simple and no-frills manner. This is not some drawn-out, monotonous Law of Attraction book that only teaches you a small piece of the subconscious puzzle. The answers are here and Samuels did the research to give you the total picture with no hype or tricks. If you want something, the universe will deliver! Just remember to keep calm and ask on…   from Goodreads

Having read his first one in the spring and not hating it I picked this one up so I could maybe reach my reading goal by the end of the year (short is good).  Unfortunately, this continuation on the law of attraction (think it and it will come true) that he started in the first book suffered from a meandering writing style that essentially only added two new things to the first book – make a playlist for your life EVERY SEASON and laugh a lot.  There I saved you  the hour or so it would take you to read it.

 

 

You by Caroline Kepnes

fpoYou. Finished 10-28-15, rating 2.5/5, fiction, pub. 2014

Unabridged audio read by Santino Fontana, 13 hours

When a beautiful, aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.

There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight—the perfect place for a “chance” meeting.

As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way—even if it means murder.  from Goodreads

So this creepfest begins in a New York City bookstore where our neighborhood psycho, Joe, becomes obsessed with Guinevere Beck during the few minutes she was in the bookstore.  Using all of the tools that technology allows he finds and follows her and finds a way to secure her cell phone and boyfriend, leaving Beck little chance but to fall into his web. 

Everyone I know and love as bloggers has loved this one and I tried to take some time after I finished to figure out why I didn’t like it.  I really, really didn’t like it.  Was it that Fontana’s narration was too good and made me feel like I had just spent time with a scary sleazeball at a bar?  Was it the 2nd person point of view that left nothing redeemable in Joe?  Could it have been the glaring holes/ridiculous plot points that made this seem silly?  I don’t know.  Everyone else loved these things about the book but they didn’t work for me.

Joe was a scary dude and I was relieved when our time together was over.

Kathy sent me the cds and I would be happy to pass them on if anyone is interested.  Listen and see for yourself if you love it like the masses 🙂  Leave me a comment and I’ll send it your way.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Secret Garden (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)The Secret Garden. Finished audio 5-12-15, rating 2.5/5, children’s fiction, pub. 1911

What secrets lie behind the doors at Misselthwaite Manor? Recently arrived at her uncle’s estate, orphaned Mary Lennox is spoiled, sickly, and certain she won’t enjoy living there. Then she discovers the arched doorway into an overgrown garden, shut up since the death of her aunt ten years earlier. Mary soon begins transforming it into a thing of beauty–unaware that she is changing too. But Misselthwaite hides another secret, as Mary discovers one night. High in a dark room, away from the rest of the house, lies her young cousin, Colin, who believes he is an incurable invalid, destined to die young. His tantrums are so frightful, no one can reason with him. If only, Mary hopes, she can get Colin to love the secret garden as much as she does, its magic will work wonders on him.

from Goodreads

Unabridged audio read by Finola Hughes. 8.5 hours.

PARTY POOPER ALERT!

This beloved children’s classic, that details the healing of the spoiled, irritating Mary Lennox and her similarly unlikable cousin Colin, can certainly be appreciated as a coming of age story. Mary had bad parents who died and she was shipped off to an equally distant uncle in the lonely moors of England. Spending time with the saintly Dickon and the robin who communicates with them (my two favorite characters of the book) helped to turn these two brats (Mary and Colin) into good kids.

The idea of nature being a healer was a good one and I liked the transformation of the children and even the adults.  Spending days working in a secret garden is certainly something that holds a magical appeal to lots of people.  And Burnett’s writing did make me feel like I was on the moor and the isolated nature of it really brought home the lavishness of the garden they were creating.

Let me say a word about the narration because I do think it’s possible it contributed to this book leaving me cold.  Mary and Colin’s voices were so whiny and irritating all the way through that even as they grew into better kids they were still grating on my nerves.  This might not have happened if I had read the book.

Mary did manage to grow on me a bit and the end was as expected for a children’s book, but I was bored most of the time.  It moved too slow and add that to the annoying narration and it just didn’t work for me.  I read the reviews of the people who loved it (almost everyone!) and in theory I should have loved it too. Oh well, maybe my next classic for The Classics Club will be a better fit.

So what was your favorite part of the book?  Did you like the audio if you listened to it?

The Invisible Man by HG Wells

The Invisible Man by WellsThe Invisible Man. Finished 4-23-14, 2.5/5 stars, classic, 192 pages, pub.1897

Unabridged audio, 5 hours 30 minutes. Read by James Adams

I loved The Time Machine by Wells and started this book with high hopes.  A scientist finds a way to make himself invisible.  It sounds cool right?  The scientist, Griffin, does have the power, but the basic necessities of life are lost to him.  When he eats, the food can be seen moving through his system and how does he find basic shelter for himself?  Griffin isn’t very likeable, maybe due to the potion or maybe he’s just a narcissistic jerk.  He finds himself having to swaddle his body and face in clothing so he can appear human and live a real life.

The possibilities for this premise are endless and by today’s standards are definitely lacking, but even giving credit for the originality of it at the time it was published, 1899, I just couldn’t appreciate it.  This may be another case of the audio not doing the novel justicel.  I tried to listen to the audio once several years ago and only made it an hour before giving up.  I’ll be reading my next Wells, War of the Worlds,  the old-fashioned way, as it was intended.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby

The Diving Bell and the ButterflyThe Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Finished 10-13-13, rating 2.5/5, memoir, 132 pages, pub. 1997

In 1995, Jean-Dominique Bauby was the editor-in-chief of French Elle, the father of two young childen, a 44-year-old man known and loved for his wit, his style, and his impassioned approach to life. By the end of the year he was also the victim of a rare kind of stroke to the brainstem.  After 20 days in a coma, Bauby awoke into a body which had all but stopped working: only his left eye functioned, allowing him to see and, by blinking it, to make clear that his mind was unimpaired. Almost miraculously, he was soon able to express himself in the richest detail: dictating a word at a time, blinking to select each letter as the alphabet was recited to him slowly, over and over again. In the same way, he was able eventually to compose this extraordinary book.

By turns wistful, mischievous, angry, and witty, Bauby bears witness to his determination to live as fully in his mind as he had been able to do in his body. He explains the joy, and deep sadness, of seeing his children and of hearing his aged father’s voice on the phone. In magical sequences, he imagines traveling to other places and times and of lying next to the woman he loves. Fed only intravenously, he imagines preparing and tasting the full flavor of delectable dishes. Again and again he returns to an “inexhaustible reservoir of sensations,” keeping in touch with himself and the life around him.

Jean-Dominique Bauby died two days after the French publication of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.   (from Goodreads)

I read this memoir during the 24 hour read-a-thon last month for the same reason I read the others, it was on my shelf and short.  I think I have owned this book since I lived in the Washington DC area 16+ years and 4 moves ago so I felt good about finally reading it!  Unfortunately, as much as I was riveted by the real life of Bauby and the tragedy of his end, this memoir just didn’t work for me.  And, yes, I feel bad saying that since the man wrote it by blinking his one good eye to convey every. single. letter.  It’s hard to critique that sort of accomplishment so I won’t.  I will just say that I think I would have preferred to read a biography capturing his whole life rather than this memoir version, but I totally respect the power of the human mind to overcome and Bauby is a perfect example.

Sweetheart by Chelsea Cain

Sweetheart (Sheridan and Lowell Series #2)Sweetheart. Finished August 11,2013, rating 2.5/5, thriller,

Book 2 of the Archie Sheridan/Gretchen Lowell series (Book 1)

Oh, Archie. what a waste you’ve become.  You have good friends, a great family and a detective job that you are great at and you can only obsess about the one mistake you made.  Obsess and throw love back in the face of those who love you.  Your wife accepted that it would take time to heal, but she was there because she loved you.  Your kids are at that young age when having their dad around is so important.  Your best friend Henry who looks out for you and your family because you can’t or won’t do it yourself.  Susan,  who has a crush on you but is also a fan and friend, sees you at your worst and still accepts you.  These are all things that count.

Gretchen, serial killer/your abductor and tormentor, is difficult to accept.  You respect her and are hot for her, but it’s hard to see why.  She seems to get men to do exactly what she wants even locked up in a maximum security prison, especially you.  When you revealed your secret I understood your thing for Gretchen better, but after that your behavior ruined your story for me.  Might you redeem yourself in the next book?  I don’t know but I’m probably not going to find out and that’s a shame because I really liked your first story, the one where you were a real person.

You should thank your skilled storyteller, Chelsea, it’s her skilled writing that made your story readable.

This was from my personal library.

Laws of Love by Lisa White

The Laws of LoveFinished 10-18-12, romance, pub. 2012

I like to read debut novels.  It’s like you’re getting the scoop on a really great sale or gossip about who’s going to win Project Runway.  I stopped accepting debut books a few years ago because there were just so many seasoned writers I wanted to read but when Trish offered a romance for the TLC tour (other tour stops here) I said yes.  I don’t read enough romances.

Because having it all does not necessarily mean having it all at once…

In a small, Virginia town where fly-fishing is the favorite pastime and Hampton Steel is essentially the only employer, Associate General Counsel Livi Miller believes she has reached the top rung of Hampton Steel’s corporate ladder. With her alcoholic boss retiring soon, Livi is the presumptive heir to Hampton Steel’s general counsel position. However, in the midst of proving herself promotion-worthy, Livi’s high school sweetheart, Jake Cooper, returns from Iraq and causes long-lost butterflies to alight in Livi’s emotionally charged stomach. The resulting loss of her promotion to slimy newcomer Edward Winston combines with her rekindled feelings for Jake to place Livi on track to choose between her career and her heart.

If she chooses Hampton Steel, she saves her hometown. If she chooses Jake, she saves her butterflies as well as herself.

I liked Livi.  She was a driven career woman, but one who also lamented not having it all.  She wanted a relationship and a family of her own but was was married to her job.  And when things got funky at work she wasn’t afraid to get right into the middle of it, even though there was real danger.  I was happy to see that Jake came back and offered her a chance at personal happiness.  I would have liked a little more about Jake. He came back from serving in Iraq with his best friend dead and I wanted to know more about his transition.

This is a short read, which is always a plus for me, but maybe in this case it was a bit too short.  There were a few storylines that were brought up and then just dropped (like when Jake attends church) and the whole reunited with your first and only love was a good story that happened so quick.  I wanted more.  I actually felt like I spent more time with Livi at work and all the craziness there, which I liked, but it felt like less of a romance because of it.  That could be good or bad depending on if you like romances 🙂

This was a solid debut.

Thanks to Trish at TLC for putting the tour together.

Unclutter Your Life in One Week by Erin Rooney Doland

Unclutter Your Life in One WeekUnclutter Your Life in One Week. Finished 7-31-12, rating 2.5/5, Organization, 237 pages, pub. 2009

Remember, the less you own, the less you have to clean.”  page 164

If only I could remind myself of this every time I pick something up in a store.  In April we learned that Jason would be out of a job by October (in reality that date was last Friday) and my immediate thought went to selling the house if we had to move.  I am a master collector of clutter and knew that I’d need to get rid of much of it before it was possible to put the house on the market.  So, I saw this book at the library and thought it might help me start the process of de-cluttering the house.  If you are hoping to de-clutter in one week based on the title you should probably readjust your time frame.

I liked the first chapter, it was part therapy and part inspiration.  As a clutterer I often think if I could just live a little cleaner/more tidy/more organized I might accomplish more.  What am I letting this clutter keep me from?  Probably some very great things.  Finally, someone who understands!

On the first day I started with Monday morning’s assignment, weeding your wardrobe.  I was able to donate 8 bags of clothes and our master closet is so much nicer to walk into every morning.  I no longer feel the guilt by looking at those too-small-for-me clothes because they aren’t there.  Hooray!  I thought there were excellent suggestions, but it did take me the equivalent of one whole day.  This was supposed to be a morning assignment before you went to work and started de-cluttering there.  And then when you came home you were supposed to come home and create a reception station.  I don’t know about you but I found this a fairly silly expectation.

On Wednesday you were supposed to rid the clutter from your bedroom before you went to work to do the same there before you came home to de-clutter you kitchen AND dining room.  Here’s the thing, if you pick up this book, it’s because you have piles and stacks and random things where they shouldn’t be.  The kitchen is not an evening excercise.  The total unrealistic nature of the book and especially the false advertising of the title (which by the way gives you the weekend off, LOL) in one that was hard to get past.

I appreciated the tips (and therapy) and can recommend checking out the book if you want to work your way through it in your own time frame.  Or maybe you have less clutter and this will work for you, but I still think it would be difficult.  Even if you don’t have a little one to keep track of.  This is a useful book, the low rating is due to the promised fast results.

I checked this book out of our library, which is still our library since we are still here.  No move on the horizon, but our house is better prepared if that changes.

Death by Chocolate by Julie Anne Lindsey

Death by ChocolateDeath by Chocolate Finished 6-27-12, rating 2.5/5, 289 pages, pub. 2012

I briefly met Julie at the Ohioana Book Festival and picked up her book by the title alone.  This is her first book, but she already has plans to publish books 2 and 3 in the series.  I love her blog Musings from the Slush Pile. This is my fifth stop on my Ohio author tour.

Ruby Russell has just found out her husband has been cheating on her with a much younger woman.  Instead of confronting the jerk she mixes his Viagra with some chocolate mousse and leaves it as a treat when he arrives home.  The next morning Ruby wakes up to a dead husband and some very incompetent detectives.  Ruby goes on to use her deadly culinary skills to deliver justice to her town and her best friend Charlotte is along for the ride.  When Ruby’s son comes home with a bride-to-be the crazy reaches a fever pitch.

This book is completely over the top.  Ruby, who you realize is stark raving mad about 50 pages in, goes on to kill many more people before, well, I can’t tell you that.  I had a major problem with Ruby.  I did not like her at all and I didn’t find her craziness funny.  I couldn’t relate to anything that was going on in the book which made the book drag on for me.  I wanted to like it and maybe it’s just because there’s a lot going on around here right now and I’m in no mood to suffer fools.

When I looked around it seemed that the other bloggers who have read it liked it, so what do I know?  The storytelling was okay and all of the characters were full of interesting foibles.  If you like high body counts in your mystery with a dash of nuttiness them maybe this would work for you.