Book Review: My Husband’s Sweethearts

October 21, 2008

My Husband’s Sweethearts, a Novel

by:  Bridget Asher

I read a review of this book in People Magazine.  It was published along with the review of Yesterday’s Weather.  It was a good review and peaked my interest.  I purchased them both, simultaneously.

There’s not an elaborate discussion about why I chose this book, other than the premise of it really intrigued me.  In reading it, that intrigue kept me glued.  I very much enjoyed reading this novel.  I must say… this book has “Screenplay” written all over it!  Personally, I could imagine it as a movie that I would definitely go and see… I hope it makes it way to The Big Screen.  It would be interesting to see who they’d cast for the characters.

This book is simple, yet complex.  It is written at just the right pace, with wonderful little “nuggets” of wisdon and insight into love, death, and family.  Simply, I would recommend this book along with many of the other ones that I’ve reviewed this Fall.  Speaking of Fall, this book is on my Fall Into Reading 2008 Challenge (link is below).

The Review:

Title:  My Husband’s Sweethearts, a novel

Author:  Bridget Asher

Author’s Website: http://www.bridgetasher.com/

Publisher:  Bantam-Dell / Delacorte Press

Publisher’s Website: www.bantamdell.com

Type:  Fiction

ISBN #:978-0-385-34189-9 (Hardcover)

Pages: 271

This book is a story of Lucy, a woman married to Artie, a dying man.  Lucy is an auditor with a well-established career and leading a “successful” life.  We meet Lucy, and her assistant Lindsay, while she is on a business trip.  The reader discovers that her dying husband has been cheating on her during her 4-year marriage to him.  She has been away from Artie for 6 months on trips in order to avoid him due to his “transgressions.”  Artie makes, what I believe to be, the sweetest attempts to win her back.  He does so by sending her flowers, wherever she is at on her business trips, accompanied by small flower cards with numbered reasons as to why he loves her.  These cards span from memories they shared to actual things about her and/or their relationship.

She arrives home, takes up residence in the guest bedroom, and is faced with the fact that Artie has only, at most, one month left to live.  In summary, he gives her his “black book” of sweethearts.  The reason being is that she is bitter that she must endure his death alone… and why should she when he has these other women in his life?  Why aren’t they enduring this as well?  So, back to the guest bedroom she heads, black book in hand.  In a drunken mindset, she makes a few calls, after midnight, to these women and leaves them messages to “schedule their time with Artie” while he is on his deathbed.  Most hang up or ignore the call… but, two women do not: Eleanor and Elspa. 

Elspa is an eccentric young woman, piercings, crazy hair and all.  She left college to stay at Lucy’s home to share Artie’s last days.  Eleanor, a bitter woman who is closer to Artie’s age (early 50’s), also arrives to read him the riot act.  Lucy’s Mother, Joan, is also a presence in Lucy’s home… keeping up the garden and attempting to be there for Lucy.  She brings along her dachshund, Bogie, who is overly endowed and wears homemade “jockstraps” to keep his appendage from scraping on the ground (we love Bogie and Lucy’s Mom).

Lucy makes the managerial decision to have Eleanor orchestrate the visits of all of the sweethearts in the blackbook.  In addition, Elspa is to reach her dream of getting her 3-year old daughter back from her parents.  Joan is to handle Artie’s funeral arrangements, as she is a multiple-time widow and the right person for the job.  Lastly, Lucy’s goal is to reunite Artie with his grown son, John, and for John to learn about is father before his death.

This host of characters is a perfect compliment to Lucy and Artie’s journey of healing and forgiveness during his last days.  What they discover, is that there is a common love shared amongst them all.  How they get to that familial love is for the reader to discover when they pick up this great read.

My Favorite Quotes From the Book:

 “Love isn’t logical,” I insist.  “It’s immune to logic.”

Title of a Chapter: “You Can’t Always Eat Your Way Out of a Problem-but If You Want to Try, Begin with Chocolate”

“He has a depth of attention that comes with his love that is keen and sharp.”

“Everyone should hear their own eulogies-but the notes, aren’t they kind of a love song?  And aren’t the best eulogies a kind of love song?”

“We need to love each other again, with all that love entails-even the hard things, like forgiveness and acceptance.  I don’t think it makes logical sense-that one love can bring back another love-but it’s true.”

“Does my soul look fat in this body?”

On Sher’s “One to Ten Scale:” 

I like the kind of books that keep me up, in bed, at night… that I just can’t close my eyes because I want to keep learning the story.  This story did that for me.  Mainly, I think, because this is a story that I could see really happening to somebody.  And, Lucy is such a great protagonist… a person that I can relate with as to how she deals with things.  When I read a story like this… and it grabs me… not because of anything other than my soul can relate… then, I have to say I really liked the book.  Bridget Asher earns a 9!  I’d share this book with a girlfriend, no qualms about it.

Buy My Husband’s Sweethearts at Amazon.com.

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I Can Totally Park Like This! (hee hee)

October 20, 2008

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “LiveLeak.com – Parallel Parking Record“, posted with vodpod

 


Can You Eat a 20 Lb Hamburger?

October 16, 2008

The Associated Press Reports:

CLEARFIELD, Pa. – It took Brad Sciullo 4 hours and 39 minutes to finish a marathon. A meat marathon, that is.

The 5-foot-11, 180-pound western Pennsylvania chef is the first person to eat a monstrosity called the Beer Barrel Belly Bruiser: a 15-pound burger with toppings and a bun that brought the total weight to 20.2 pounds. The mountain of beef is the product of Denny’s Beer Barrel Pub, about 100 miles northeast of Pittsburgh in Clearfield.

Sciullo, 21, of Uniontown, said he was surprised he finished the sandwich Monday. “About three hours into it, things got tough,” he said.

When asked what possessed him to eat a burger that big, Sciullo said: “I wanted to see if I could.”

The burger included a bun, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, onions, mild banana peppers and a cup each of mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard and relish, pub owner Dennis Liegey said.

For completing the challenge in the under-five-hour time limit, Sciullo won $400, three T-shirts, a certificate “and a burger hangover, as I call it,” Liegey said.

Dear God, he is going to be pooping for weeks!  He’s so thin… how did he get it all in?  It would take WAY MORE than $400 and some t-shirts to get me to eat that!  Holy COW!

 


I just love…. NICHOLAS SPARKS!

October 16, 2008

Love is in the air….

My hunky, romantic writer, Nicholas Sparks, is one of my all-time favorites and not because he’s a Pulitzer Prize winner (at least, I think not ?!?).  I like him because reading one of his books is like going to a good romantic comedy… or drama movie… I just get lost.  I dream.  I think that I could fall in love with that guy who just came to town, or that men really are as great as his heroes.  Like I said… I just get lost.  And, I don’t care.. because I LOVE TO!

Now, I have to share… ever since I started blogging about Book Reviews, just a mere 2 months and 8 days ago (only that long?), my reading eye has changed.  I’m almost ashamed to admit it.  Before, I was just really happy to get an easy book… a fun book… something for the bubble bath or soccer practice.  Now, after reading so many great works, my reading tastes are starting to change and my reading eye is becoming more discerning.  How did that happen?  Lisa did not warn me about that!  So, after Shana reminded me that I had two “not so good” reads/reviews in a row…. I was determined to read A GOOD ONE! 

Guess what happened?  The first 4 chapters of my wonderful Nicholas Sparks’ book, I yawned through.  I was totally disconnected from.  It forced me to take a look at myself.  I am NOT the world’s appointed book critic for literary perfectionism… no, I am Sher… who loves cheesy, fun, funny, romantic, and not scary books!  So, for Goodness Sakes, Sher, snap out of it and FRIGGIN’ ENJOY THIS BOOK! 

Guess what?

I did!

The Review:

Title:  The Lucky One

Author:  Babe-A-Licious aka Nicholas Sparks

Publisher:  Grand Central Publishing/Hachette Book Group USA

Author Website: www.nicholassparks.com

Publisher Website: www.hachettebookgroupusa.com

Type:  Fiction

Pages (Hardcover): 326

ISBN 10#: 0-446-57993-9

ISBN 13#: 978-0-446-57993-3

This is a typical, lovely, and heart-warming story, Nicholas Sparks’ Style!  The setting is in Hampton, North Carolina, a relatively small community.  Our heroine is Elizabeth (“Beth”), a single mom who lives with her Nana on a farm-type property with a wonderful old house and a kennel.  Nana is a dog trainer and has quite the customer base who bring their dogs for “Doggie Boot Camp” from as far away as Florida.  Beth’s son, Ben, is a wonderful kid who is intelligent and soft-hearted.  His less-than-desirable father, Keith Clayton, is a P.I.T.A. for Beth and Ben.  He is a local sheriff and is the grandson of the town’s wealthiest man, also “Ben,” who practically owns 1/2 the town, or at least the real estate in it.  Beth and Keith met when they were young, had an unplanned pregnancy, married, and shortly thereafter divorced.  That was when Beth and Ben went to live with Nana and the doggies!

We come to find out that Keith Clayton is a womanizer and a heavy drinker.  He still, in some preverse way, is possessive over Beth and wants her to desire him again.  Hence, he bullies everybody in town and ensures that any good candidates for her are shot down!  So, she’s single forever and has no idea that her ex is the mastermind behind it.  In addition, Keith treats Ben like garbage and expects him to be a different kind of boy than that of who he actually is.  He wants him to be some jock, over-testosterone’d boy… while Ben likes activity but also plays chess and the violin.  Keith practically treats Ben like a cleaning person when he comes once a month to visit.

Our “hero” of the story is Logan Thibault (“Thigh-Bolt”).  Logan… what a name!  Anyway, he served in the desert wars and was deployed 3 times.  Each time, he manages to escape death and return home.  As not to “spoil” the book, I won’t go into much about his history or why he ends up in Hampton… but, eventually he does.  There, he meets Elizabeth. 

As you can imagine, all sorts of calamities ensue as a result of his interaction with Beth, as far as Keith-the-Jerk-O-Haulic is concerned.  It’s nice to watch the development of that relationship.

The ending is saved for the die-hard Sparks Fans… who haven’t gotten around to it yet!

Other Reviews & Author Interviews:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2008/09/12/DI2008091202569.html

Did You Know (From His Website):

He is a black-belt in Tae Kwon Do?

He is a black-belt in Tae Kwon Do?

He still holds a track and field record at the University of Notre Dame?

After selling The Notebook, the first thing he bought was a new wedding ring for his wife?

Nicholas Sparks and J.K. Rowling (of Harry Potter fame) are the only contemporary authors to have a novel spend more than a year on both the New York Times hardcover and paperback best-seller lists?

In a poll of Entertainment Weekly readers, he was selected as the favorite author?

He was selected by People Magazine as the “Sexiest Author?”

He is a major contributor to the Creative Writing Programat the University of Notre Dame?

 

 

 

On Sher’s “One To Ten Scale:” 

For the sheer “fun” of this book and it’s ability to bring me back to ME, I give this book an 8!  It isn’t as wonderful as A Walk to Remember or The Notebook, and maybe not even as good as True Believer and At First Sight.  But, it’s good, old fashioned Sparks.  And, it makes my tummy all warm inside!

 Buy The Lucky One at Amazon.com.

 If you’ve read The Lucky One

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The Sunday Salon: Yesterday’s Weather

October 12, 2008

The Sunday Salon:  Yesterday’s Weather by Anne Enright

I found out about this novel via People Magazine’s review section on books, some time ago.  I ordered it immediately after reading the great review and 4 out of 4 stars rating. 

I couldn’t wait to read it and had hated putting it behind the publisher-provided books and book tour books… So, again.. for me a bad case of the “expectations” for me on this book.  How do I stop that?

Now that I am reading 1-2 books per week and writing my thoughts on them, I find myself a different person… more critical of my reads and my time.  What happened to the old me that was just excited to have a new book?  I’m feeling bad about it.  I’m changing my pace, starting the next book!

So, Yesterday’s Weather.  The author, Anne Enright, is the winner of the Man Booker Prize for The Gathering.  She is definitely a talented author.  This book is a compilation of short stories.  Ms. Enright is from Ireland, so much of her English doesn’t mirror the “United States’ Version” of English, so there is a bit of a barrier there.  Each chapter is a story in and of itself.

The Review:

Title:  Yesterday’s Weather

Author:  Anne Enright

Publisher:  Grove Press, of Grove/Atlantic, Inc.

ISBN-10#: 0-8021-1874-7

ISBN-13#: 978-0-8021-1874-5

Type:  Short Stories, Fiction

Publisher’s Website:  www.groveatlantic.com

Author’s Website:  http://www.groveatlantic.com/grove/bin/wc.dll?groveproc~genauth~1603~0

This book is comprised of 29 short stories, all of them in chapter format.  Somewhere along the line, I missed understanding this, so for the first 6 chapters, I could not find the connection between the characters.  DUH!  I went back and read the “inside cover” to discover that I was on the wrong reading path and needed to re-start the book. 

I love short stories and usually devour a book that contains them.  This book, however, I had a bit more trouble with.  It’s almost as though a chapter, for me, is too short for a “short story.”   I need, for my PERSONAL TASTE, more depths to the characters and the stories.  Like, in Unaccustomed Earth, the stories were rich and just the perfect length for my taste. This book, however, the stories were too short.  Now, this may be just me.  I realize that. 

Enright does a great job in her prose and her absurdly EXCELLENT writing skills.  Her ability to describe a setting and its characters is WONDERFUL.  I just didn’t get enough of the stories I liked… and wanted to skip the stories that held no interest for me.  It’s almost as if I feel guilty about my reading or review of this book… like I need to take WAY MORE TIME and approach it with a different mind-set to fully appreciate this work. 

This book may be up so many other’s alleys.. and, this may just be me.  She, obviously, is an INCREDIBLE writer.  I just couldn’t connect with Yesterday’s Weather, for the most part.  There are some chapters, like “Until the Girl Died,” that I loved.  And, others that were just outside of my realm of understanding and taste.  But, do not let that preclude you from reading this book if you are interested in it.  This book may be your favorite!  Again, I think it’s just me.  This writer seems to have the ability to look into the psyche’s of others unlike anything I’ve ever seen.  So, give it a chance if you like short stories and interesting takes on the “norm.”

On Sher’s “One Out of Ten Scale:”

Like, Being Written,  I don’t want to give this book a rating because it’s so different from the books that I normally gravitate torwards.  This author is obviously SO TALENTED and, I’m sure it’s just me on this one.  But, in my PERSONAL opinion, which others may plainly disagree with, I have to give this book a 5.  Some chapters… a definite 8… but, overall, for me, a 5.  There are just some of the short stories that left me thinking… “what?” or “what else?”  I’m sorry Ms. Enright…. I really did look forward to this book and PAID FULL PRICE PLUS SHIPPING FOR IT.  (Oh, the guilt over the 5).

 Buy Yesterday’s Weather at Amazon.com.

 If you’ve read Yesterday’s Weather

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Wednesday Wrap-Up: What’s Wonderful About Wednesday & Wordless Wednesdays

October 8, 2008

I usually do a “What’s Wonderful About Wednesday” on this hump day of the week.  This week, due to the weather changes we’re having in So. Cal., I am suffering a ridiculously horrible allergy attack and sinus migraine.  It’s awful.

So, my friends and fellow bloggers/readers, I’m going to give a short “Wrap Up” today and am thankful for your forgiveness of my lack of imagination and creativity today…

 

Well, last night’s “elimination night” ended up having nobody be eliminated at all.  Due to Misty May’s injury and her pulling out of the contest, there was no need to let a couple go last night.  So, they all stayed.  Instead, next week’s scores will be combined with this week’s scores and the couple with the lowest combined score will be voted off.  OK, that’s cool with me.

Also, I apparently pissed a few people off with my post about DWTS.  I certainly didn’t mean to offend and it’s strictly MY opinion of the show and the dances.  BTW… I have over 20 years of dance training and performance in my background.  I was a performing arts major in college with my emphasis in musical theater.  Now, that doesn’t make me and expert… but, I’m pretty decent at recognizing excellence at dance vs. awkwardness in dance.  But, to the pissed of people…. I apologize.  Apparently, I need to soften my opinion a bit on this show… as to not further raise any hackles!

But, before I leave this topic… Lance and Lacey have good talent and are being judged a bit unfairly.  Watch them next week and you’ll the technique and ability far outweighs that of say, Rocco or Susan.

I started Yesterday’s Weather by Anne Enright last night.  I’ve completed the first chapter… really liked it, and have started the second.  I read an excellent review on this book in People Magazine, so I am hopeful that I will enjoy this book.  I’ve been looking forward to it. (That’s Anne’s picture to the left.  She won the Man Booker Prize for The Gathering

I would like to thank everybody for their comments and feedback on The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, as well. 

I also have a job interview on Friday… fingers crossed.

Hey… everybody, don’t forget about Menagerie’s Halloween Haunt.  The twins tell me that they want to help judge the scariest story… or tale… or book nomination for the basket.  They are SOOO excited.  This contest is open to anybody and I even had a high school gal submit her creative writing story for school.  So, if your kids want to write a story, submit it!  That’d be super!  Speaking of which, I’m going to Knott’s Scary Farm tomorrow night.  When I went as a high-schooler… I got the PAJEEMERS scared out of me.  As such, I am not really looking forward to going… but, this is important to my daughter… so, off I go.  I should bring pepper spray!  Hee Hee.

Well, I’m off to handle 1 Million “Mom Things” and have soccer practice tonight.  I’m praying this allergy attack will release me, that would be What’s Wonderful About Wednesday!

Oh, I almost forgot… Wordless Wednesday… the man of my life…. so in LOVE!

I just want to hold him, and smell him, and squeeze him!  He’s so cute!

And, for What’s Wonderful About Wednesday…. I’m celebrating my 2-month anniversary of A Novel Menagerie’s Blog!  I am grateful to all of you!

Sher

 

 


Harper Perennial’s “Being Written”

October 8, 2008

Being Written… The Review

This is one of the first books that I have received from a publisher for review.  I find it interesting that via the book tours and the publisher submissions that I am being introduced to such different genres of novels…. definitely ones that I’d never pick out from the bookstore shelves myself. 

This book is definitely eclectic.  It’s different from the other types of books that I have read and I find it a bit difficult to review… for the lack of comparison to other works of a similar nature.  But, what you don’t know is what stretches you, I believe.

The Review:

Title:  Being Written, A Novel

Author:  William Conescu

Publisher:  Harper Perennial/Harper Collins

Author Website: www.williamconescu.com

Publisher Website: www.harperperennial.com

Type:  Fiction

Pages (Paperback): 193

ISBN #: 978-0-06-145134-8

This is a very interesting story… told from, I believe, the second person point of view.  Although, in the beginning of the book, I wasn’t exactly sure if it was written in first person from the narrator’s viewpoint.  I, at first, believed that the protagonist of the story was the author of the story, Daniel.  I later changed my mind to believe that Delia, the love interest was my protagonist.

Daniel, an aspiring writer, believes that he is actually a character in a book that is being written.  Simultaneously, he is the author of the same story that unfolds around him.  What the reader discovers is that the story doesn’t necessarily “unfold around him.”  Rather, his actions tend to affect the direction of the story in the way he intends it to play out.

The main characters of the story are as follows:

  • Daniel, the “author” and main “character” of the story… is he insane?  Or insightful?
  • Delia, the “love interest” in the story… a beautiful singer from a wealthy family.  She is in a dysfunctional relationship with a man who prostitutes himself with other men to pay his share of the rent.
  • Graham, Delia’s boyfriend… the man-whore who only takes the dominant role in his “prostitution” ways.
  • Monty, Delia’s friend.. an eclectic, yet insightful friend.
  • Jon, Delia and Graham’s gay friend… most likely more so a friend to Graham.

These characters intertwine and Daniel’s actions tend to advance the lives, or rather yet, alter the lives of these characters.  He sees his actions as components of the story that is being written, the one that he is a part of, rather than a direct result of his actions.  Simply, although he attempts to write, he in actuality hears the sound of a writer’s pencil scratching paper writing the story about his life (and the other characters’ lives) as he lives it out day by day…. almost as if his actions were led by the writer of the novel and not his own.  I know this is difficult to grasp in reading a review, but the book does a much better job of explaining this than I do.  You understand the approach in the novel as it unfolds.

In attempts to not be a “spoiler” of the story, I will, once again, avoid discussing the ending of this novel.  Although, I must say that the last 1/3 of the novel was miles above the first two-thirds of it, as far as grabbing my attention and keeping it there.

It’s a short novel, and if you are interested in a different approach to writing and story telling, it’s a quick read and one that is interesting to know.  If you are more the type of the “classical reader,” this may not be your taste.  Like I said, it’s a hard book to review… at least, for me.  But it did expand my horizons to think about the possibilities that writing a novel could bring to your world.

All of my other reviews contain my “favorite quotes” or “favorite sections” of the work.  Due to the nature of this book, I can’t offer that in this review.  Although, there are cleverly written scenes and very descriptive narrations of the characters and their lives.  It’s more of a “read it and you’ll see” type of book.

Sher’s “Out of Ten Scale:”

Automatically, I feel that I’m at a disadvantage to rate this book in comparison to the others that I have reviewed on my site.  There are definitely good components to this work that make be glad that I read it… however, because it is so different than what I am used to… I tend to want to give it a rather “average” score.  That’s not entirely fair to the author, who I believe, is far more creative than I to come up with the approach that he did in writing this book. 

The other issue is that, I have always given a ranking in my reviews.   If I neglect to do so for this, I wouldn’t be true to myself, my readers, or the publisher who sent me this book to read.  Therefore, I’ve decided to rate it on my scale as follows:  I give it a 6 for overall content and read-ability.  I give it an 8 for originality.

 Buy Being Written at Amazon.com.

 If you’ve read Being Written

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