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.

 If you’ve read My Husband’s Sweethearts,

I’d appreciate your feedback via my SurveyMonkey!

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The Sunday Salon: This Week’s Books & News

October 18, 2008

This Week’s Reads, News & Updates

I am exhausted.  I’ve definitely caught a flu bug, cold, or something.  But, I’ve had a lot on my mind and my “plate,” so I haven’t gotten sufficient rest.  I think I’m cranky (don’t you just hate that when you feel that way?).  For this week’s The Sunday Salon, I just wanted to update my co-bloggers, readers & friends on this past week’s “haps” and share my “stuff.”

  • NEW BLOGSITE:  I’m undergoing a site renovation.  I have been working on a new theme, colors, etc.  It’s coming along nicely.  I’m going to try to “self-host,” but I am totally scared.  I have not the slightest clue as to what I’m doing. Hopefully, the transition will work out okay and I’ll figure out the self-hosting rather quickly.  I just can’t wait to show everybody the new, improved site… and am hopeful that you all enjoy it.
  • THIS WEEK’S BOOKS:  I’m doing some book tours, so I haven’t posted as many reviews as I usually do.  I have reviewed The Lost Diary of Don Juan (post coming October 30th) and am currently finishing up Life After Genius (posting October 29th).  What I can report is that I did enjoy both reads and the forthcoming reviews are favorable.  I was able to post my review of The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks.  My favorite part of this post is that somebody actually wanted to pick up one of his books to “check him out,” and noted so on my post.  She wanted to know my favorite one, if I could only recommend one… it was so hard… like picking out your favorite child.  So, I emailed her.  It was sooo cool!

  • THIS WEEK’S ENTERTAINMENT NEWS & HEADLINES:  I’m pleased to report that each week I will be sharing a sprinkling of entertainment news & current headlines.  I’m focusing on the news that isn’t necessarily “mainstream,” and is fun or quirky.  If you haven’t watched the “Joe The Plumber” video, it’s worth the couple of minutes.  If you caught it on TV, don’t waste the time… but, it’s pretty humorous, the press, that it.  DWTS is coming up tomorrow, so I’m looking forward to writing an update on the show.  The video herein is the most current ABC video feed on DWTS and shows the “countdown clock” as to the next show (fun, huh?).  My brother, Bill, keeps saying… “Cheryl Burrrrrr…..” because of how the announcer says “Cheryl Burke.”  Now the kids always say, when talking about DWTS, “Cheryl Burrrrrr….” 
  • [clearspring_widget title=”Dancing With The Stars on ABC.com” wid=”47df2410700a0b8c” pid=”48f43d5f4dce5a55″ width=”300″ height=”250″ domain=”widgets.abc.com”]

  • CONTESTS:  Well, I’ve written and reminded about Menagerie’s Halloween Haunt.  Entries are due by the 22nd.  I was really hoping for more entries due to the size of the prize…. so, if you or your kids have a story, a post, or a referral on a good scary book…. get your comment posted or email me at anovelmenagerie@aol.com.  I have a Second Chance Drawing for those who post the buttons on their blog post or sidebar, as well.  For all of you who have entered… thanks so much for your participation!  I appreciate it!  My kids are so excited to help me judge the entries!

  • BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH:  A Novel Menagerie and Thursday’s Thoughts are focused on promoting Breast Cancer Awareness.  I’ve prepared a button for your site, if you are interested in spreading the word… mainly to remind the women you know about self-exams and the benefit of mamograms.  Thursday’s Thought’s Contest for the week hasn’t received as many entries as I’d hoped for.  Since the “winning prize” is a donation to charity in the name of the winner, I may extend Thursday’s Thoughts for another week, rather than doing a new MEME/Contest next week.  I’m really keeping my finger’s crossed on spreading the word via posts and buttons (badges).  Thanks to Shana and Yasmin for all of their support on this effort.

Well, it’s time to take this cranky butt to bed.  Yes, that’s where I need to be!  I look forward to posting this week on The Fall Into Reading 2008 Challenge (where I’m at), Lit Flicks Challenge Update, and hopefully Home Girl and My Husband’s Sweethearts.


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

I’d appreciate your feedback via my SurveyMonkey!

The link is on the top right and it will only take a minute!

Thanks!

 

 


Another Menagerie… The Finest Dogs

October 7, 2008

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

A Novel by David Wroblewski

It’s amazing to me, the speed in which this novel rose to the top of the New York Times Bestseller List.  It’s been on that list for 4 months and is currently listed as #1.  Personally, I heard about  this book on another’s blog… a book review blog!  See?  Our writings may pay-off to others and they just may pick up that book and have a wonderful, mental adventure because of a post written.  Thank you, blogger!

Not long after I ordered it, I heard many things about the book popping up, seemingly everywhere!  Then, Oprah made the announcement of it making her Book Club list.  Now, it’s annointed and everyone’s reading it

What amazes me about this book the most is the fact that this is Wroblewski’s first novel!  If we could all be so lucky and talented!  This man, however, put much time and research into the writing of this book.  Another thing notable to mention is that he comes from the region that this novel’s setting takes place in.  As such, he is able to beautifully describe the landscape of this story in great detail.

It seems like I’ve been on quite the “kick” of reading and reviewing novels that include the stories of animals.  Recently, I reviewed The Art of Racing in the Rain and Dewey.  It’s apparent to me that I just cannot say “no” to books that include the stories of our non-human best friends!  I learned, however, much from this novel about the breeding and training of dogs… as it could be (man, would it be helpful on my pup, Claire!).

In short, this is a great book.  It’s however, a long book… one that, at times, I couldn’t go to sleep and put it down… other times… it seemed like the endless story that I’d never reach the end of.  However, as I finished it… I wanted to know what happened next… that’s always the sign, for me, of a book that I loved.

The Review

Title:  The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, A Novel

Author:  David Wroblewski

Type:  Fiction

Publisher:  Harper Collins

Pages (Hardback): 566

ISBN #: 978-0-06-137422-7

Website:  www.edgarsawtelle.com

This book is the story of a boy and his dogs; well, that and the history of his family.   The story is set in the region of rural Wisconsin adjacent to the Chequamegon National Forest.  The story begins with the construction of Edgar’s home… how the house, barn and silo were built and by whom.  We learn about how Edgar’s grandparents come to purchase the land and it’s accouterments and about their sons, Edgar (“Gar”) and Claude.

Eventually, the land and property is assumed by Gar and his wonderful wife, Trudy.  They attempt to have a child and are faced with multiple miscarriages.  Thereafter, they have what they believe to be a successful pregnancy, however the child was still born.  However, they become blessed with a viable pregnancy and the birth of their son, Edgar (named after his father).  Edgar’s greatest fan and best companion is the family dog, Almondine, who becomes my favorite character of the story.  There’s only one hitch, Edgar is born with the inability to speak.   He can hear, but cannot talk. 

Due to Trudy and Gar’s unbounding love and desire for a child, they do everything in their power to raise Edgar with every possible ability to live a “normal,” productive life.  They eventually teach Edgar to sign as his means of communicating with them and the dogs.  Oh yes… the dogs.  Well, their family business is the breeding of a very special line of German Shepherds.  The “specialness” of their breeding line can only be understood in your reading of this novel in its entirety.

Edgar has a tremendous quest for learning and has an amazing vocabulary by age 3.  He reads and reads… and is eventually given a dictionary to learn words… and, also to use for the proper naming of the pups reared on the farm.  Trudy is the trainer of the dogs and has a gift that “The Dog Whisperer” would be envious of.  Gar is the breeder, the researcher of blood-lines, hereditary factors, and the “x-factor” in certain dogs that should be bred into their line.  Gar’s attention to detail and record-keeping is impeccable and detailed doesn’t adequately describe his desire to understand the science of his specialized breeding techniques.

Edgar’s responsibilities with the dogs grow as his age increases.  He and his father share a remarkable bond with the dogs.  Gar allows Edgar to raise a litter of pups from the actual birth of them.  Unfortunately, Gar is unable to complete the process with Edgar due to an untimely death.  There are many factors surrounding his death and the characters then involved in the storyline that I will leave to the reader.

Conflicts arise after Gar’s death that lead Edgar to running away from the farm.  He takes along with him three of the pups from his litter.  In his attempt to cross into Canadian territory and commence a new life as a young man, he learns the skills of survival and the duty and responsibility to ensure the lives of the dogs who travel alongside him.  The tales of his journey remain undisclosed in this review and you will enjoy them in the reading of the novel.

Eventually, Edgar is faced with the duty to return home to his mother, for a number of reasons.  It is there that the climax of the story is reached, along with its conclusion. 

There is a mystical aspect to this work that kept me intrigued throughout.  That inexplicable, intangible component of our spirit and our minds that accompanies us on our travels through life.  It is this aspect of the book that, I believe, makes this book what it is.

My favorite part of the story is when Edgar meets a young girl at Mellen’s Diner.  The excerpt from the book relating to this is:

“Mama says I should learn some of that from you, but I can’t.  I tried, but things just come out of me!  I said a person who can talk ought to talk.  Don’t you think that’s true?”

He nodded.

“My gramma’s like me.  Wanna know what my gramma says?”

Now he was sure he didn’t know this little girl, and he didn’t know her mother or grandmother, either.  Yet, the more he looked at her face, the more familiar it became, as if he’d seen it often, but at a distance.  He glanced back at the corner booth.  Her family didn’t have one of their dogs-he would have recognized them at once if they had.

“Well, do you want to know or not?” the girl asked, stamping her foot on the linoleum. 

He shrugged again.  Okay.  Sure.

“She says that before you were born, God told you a secret he didn’t want anyone else to know.”

He looked at her.  There wasn’t much a person could say in response to a thing like that.  He considered scribbling out a note to the little girl:  I could just write it down.  But he thought that was not her point, and she was probably too young to read anyway.  He particularly wanted to tell her she didn’t have to whisper.  People made mistakes like that-talking extra lour or getting nervous.  But the little girl wasn’t nervous, not in the least.  She acted as if she had known him his whole life. 

She crooked her finger at him.  He leaned down and she cupped her hand by his ear.

“You could tell me the secret,” she whispered.  “I wouldn’t tell.  I promise.  Sometimes it makes it easier if just one other person knows.”

At first the little girl stood wide-eyed and placid. He sat back and looked at her.  Then her eyes squinted into crescents and her lips drew together into an angry little circle.

“You don’t remember, do you?” she scolded, and now she wasn’t whispering.  “You forgot!”

Edgar’s mother, on the far side of the dining room, stopped talking with Doctor Papineau and turned.

Don’t look at me, he signed.  I don’t even know who she is.

Abruptly, the little girl turned and stormed off.  She’d taken five of six steps before she whirled around to face him again.  She was a terribly dramatic child, and Edgar had a glimpse of what it must be like in her house.  She was probably staging little scenes like this all the time over eating her vegetables and watching television.

She scrunched up her face as though thinking through a knotty problem.

“Would you tell me if you did remember?” she asked, finally.

Yes.

Her expression brightened into a smile.  Her face was still oddly familiar, still impossible to place.

“Oh,” she said.  “Okay!”  Then she skipped away.  Before she reached the corner booth her attention was caught by a baby in a high chair and she stopped to poke the baby and ask questions when it started to cry.

“What was that about?” Trudy said when she slipped back into the booth.

I don’t know.

“Maybe you have an admirer,” she said.

And for the third time since they’d walked into the diner, he could think of no better reply than a shrug.

The secret, from God, that was given to Edgar is revealed as the story develops and concludes.  It is a secret that you will want to know!

As I have provided an excerpt from the book, this review, unlike my standard ones, will not include “favorite quotes.”  The above stated section is my favorite.

Author’s Questions: (I’ve only chosen a few)

  1. How would Edgar’s story have been different if he had been born with a voice? How would Edgar himself have been different? Since Edgar can communicate perfectly well in sign most of the time, why should having a voice make any difference at all?  His relationship with the dogs and method of communication would have been significantly different.  His ability to speak with his mind, his eyes, and his hands differed from all other humans around him.  In addition, his ability to communicate with his mother, without Claude understanding, was paramount to the story.
  2. At first glance, Henry Lamb seems an unlikely caretaker for a pair of Sawtelle dogs, yet Edgar feels that Tinder and Baboo will be safe with him. What is it about Henry that makes him fit? He understood the dogs through Edgar’s eyes.  He came to love them and appreciate them in a way that could not be communicated by verbal language.  Plus, the dogs chose Henry!  Would it have been better if Edgar had placed the dogs with someone more experienced? No.  Why doesn’t Edgar simply insist that all the dogs return home with him?  Because the dogs belong with Henry… they make him extraordinary.
  3. In the final moments of the story, Essay must make a choice. What do you think she decides, and why? To live as Edgar taught her and to live true to her spirit.  Do you think all the dogs will abide by her decision?   Most.

On Sher’s “One to Ten Scale:”

I am giving this one a 9 out of 10.  It was a very good book.  I enjoyed it very much.  I believe that many people will enjoy a considerable amount of aspects of this book.

Other Reviews:

Book Room Reviews

 

 

 

 

    Buy The Story of Edgar Sawtelle at Amazon.com.

     If you’ve read Edgar Sawtelle

    I’d appreciate your feedback via my SurveyMonkey!

    The link is on the top right and it will only take a minute!

    Thanks!