Books are cheaper than heroin, but they DO add up....

Amy, Carrie, Chanin and Sarah buy (and read and review) their own stuff. They've been known to shop around from dealer to dealer looking for the best price. If you're interested in slipping them something to try out, just contact us.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks

I could sit in that chair
for days.  With coffee, of course.
This is for all of you Nicholas Sparks lovers out there.  You are out there, aren't you?  I love his stories.  They are chock-full of emotion, feeling, connection and love.  But they are also chock-full of sadness.  Heavy, heavy sadness.  That is why I can only read one of his works every year or so.

This year I decided on The Best of Me.  It features two high school sweethearts with the odds HEAVILY stacked against them.  Dawson is from the wrong side of the tracks and hails from a family known for violence and numerous run ins with the law.  Amanda comes from money and a family that expects her to marry nothing less.  After a  mostly secret courtship during high school, Dawson pushes Amanda to go to college and forget about their relationship.  The pain endures over the years as Dawson  endures a stint in prison (for a traffic accident that killed a man) and as he performs his lonely duties on an oil rig in the middle of the ocean.  Amanda on the other hand, fulfills her families wishes, marries well and goes on to have three children.  Her adult life is consumed by child rearing and charity work with Dawson always in the back of her mind.  And then one day they are both summoned back to Oriental, their hometown.  Unbeknownst to each of them, a man they had in common in their past included them in his will with very specific instructions.  Their feelings and desires are still present after all of the years apart and their future will be determined by the how they spend the next 48 hours.

For those of you that are frequent Sparks readers, this book will not disappoint.  It has all the marks of a classic Sparks tale.  You have your love, your serene surroundings for more love, and the tell-tale family drama for even more love.  What I do love about Nicholas Sparks is his ability to paint such a clean, clear picture.  Whether it was the dusty garage where Dawson and Amanda would sit for hours and talk while Dawson fixed old cars or if it was the field of wildflowers they discovered hidden away next to a flowing stream, I was there.  It was THAT real.  And I'm not sure how he does it time after time, but his characters are also always so very real.  He creates such seemingly normal people.  Could I picture myself as Amanda?  Totally.  Is it easy to imagine falling for a guy like Dawson?  Again, yes.  And that is what I think makes this book (and all of his others) so hard for me to read.  If I can put myself there, then it could actually happen!  I don't want to have someone I love taken from me.  I don't want to live a life full of regret.  And I certainly don't want to live through having to make such heart-wrenching choices over and over again.  The sadness is just too overwhelming!

Every time I read a Nicholas Sparks book I cry my eyes out.  This time was no exception.  I can't imagine what would happen if I actually watched one of the movie adaptations.  I think I will stick to reading them in the privacy of my own home....once a year. Pin It

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Devil's Corner by Lisa Scottoline

My first autograph from a
non-baseball player.
I'm somewhat of a book nerd.   Ok, who am I kidding?  I blog about books I've read.  I'm not SOMEWHAT of a book nerd, I AM a book nerd.  Need more proof?  Check the picture.  That's right.  That is an autograph (and an 'xoxo' thank you very much) from one of my new favorite authors,  Lisa Scottoline.  She was at the National Book Festival in September and when I was supposed to be in the Mary Pope Osborne line with my kids, I snuck over to see her.  Her line was relatively short (everything was short compared to Ms. Magic Treehouse), my kids had water, and their aunts were kind enough to wait with why not?  She relayed to me some of her personal experiences surrounding her work in Save Me and even gave me a hug! A hug! It was pretty cool, if I do say so myself.

I swear I had already reviewed Save Me here at TFA, but it seems I did not.  (Ugh, I hate getting old and forgetting things.  I'll have to review it in the next month or so.).  But anyway, after meeting her and having my book signed, I wanted more. Meeting an author does that to you, I think.  I went to the library the next day and checked out Devil's Corner. 

So did I like Devil's Corner as much as Save Me?  Yes.  Possibly even more.  Devil's Corner is Scottoline's 12th novel and tells the story of US Attorney Vicki Allegretti in the midst of her most recent case.  The book opens with Vicki and her ATF partner Morty, calling on an informant for a scheduled interview.  The informant is home but so are the thugs who are robbing her.  Vicki then falls victim to a robbery, watches her partner die in the ensuing firefight and finds her pregnant informant dead upstairs.  All of that is just in the first two chapters, my friends.  The deeper Vicki digs however, the more she finds that Morty's death may have not been an accident.  Her findings lead her to one of the most notorious drug rings in Philadelphia.  There, she finds an unlikely accomplice/ally in an ex-con just released from prison.  oh, and did I mention she gets the added pressure of trying to suppress her deep desire for a married man who is also her best friend?  In short, Vicki is one busy gal.

This book reminded me of some of the older Patricia Cornwell novels that featured Kay Scarpetta, only with less technical jargon and more likeable characters.  With Scarpetta I got a rough-around-the-edges feel versus a tough but also more sensitive vibe from Allegretti.  I like the tough and sensitive better.  I thought it was refreshing to let your lead female character show her vulnerabilities every once in a while without letting it sacrifice her professionalism.  Allegretti also had the influence of her parents (both lawyers) in the story.  That was an interesting twist that allowed us to see a more complete picture of Allegretti.

I am pretty sure (Google told me) that this is the only one of Scottoline's novels that features Vicki Allegretti.  I'm bummed, but maybe I shouldn't be.  There are plenty of other Scottoline novels out there that sound like they would make for some great reads.  I will probably save some of those to read next summer.  For now, I'm researching who will be attending the 2013 installment of the National Book Festival.  Who needs a hug?

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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire

Anyone frantically looking for a place to let their attention rest while the talking heads on TV pretend they know what's going on with this election?

Me, too.

I voted, and I hope you did, too.  I just CAN NOT STAND the part of Election Night where everyone tries to predict an outcome with only 3% of precincts reporting.  So in the vein of providing you something else to think about, I give you Toby Daye.

Or, rather, Seanan McGuire gives you Toby Daye.

(If that author names sounds familiar it's because I reviewed the first of her InCryptid novels here.)

Toby Daye is a changeling, which in Toby's world means one parent is fae while the other is human.  She's a fairly weak changeling for her kind, and at the beginning of the Rosemary and Rue things aren't going well for her. In the human world, Toby is a private investigator, but in Faerie she's a knight-errant.  Her liege sends her on a mission that uses her P.I. skills, and unfortunately, Toby gets turned into a koi.  Yes, you read that right.  Toby becomes a big goldfish.

She spends 14 years this way before, inexplicably, she changes back.  By then the human world has moved on without her, and she's furious with Faerie for all she's lost.  The loss of a fae friend and ally pushes Toby back into the fae world so she can identify her friend's murderer.

I actually started Rosemary and Rue twice.  Toby is at a loss when the book opens.  I don't blame her; if I spent 14 years of my life in a pond I'd probably be a bit aimless, too.  But this makes for a dreary opening for a story set in a really interesting world.  There are bridge trolls and selkies and Cait Sidhe.  So? Interesting.  There's also well justified bitterness (well, ruefulness, more likely) in Toby, and she's basically ignoring everything but her cats.  So? Dreary.  That made is easy to set Toby aside for me.  Finally, though, based on my love of Discount Armageddon I went back to Rosemary and Rue, and I'm glad I did.

Toby is tough and loyal and smart, and she takes you on a crazy journey into the magic of Faerie trying to solve the murder of Countess Evening Winterrose.  Rosemary and Rue is a mystery, and a fantasy, and the opening of redemption story all rolled into one.  If you like your mysteries served amidst a world of Daoine Sidhe, this is the story for you.

By the end of the book, Toby's bitterness isn't limited to her feelings about her time as a koi, so this isn't an easy book.  It is, however, an good introduction to an amazing series.  (You know I couldn't just offer up one book to you, yeah?) There are currently six books in the Toby Daye series, and I devoured all six of them since the beginning of the school year.  Toby grows a lot across the series, and right now, after six, she's in a pretty good place.  If you want to find her there, you'd best pick up Rosemary and Rue. Pin It