Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (2-27-13)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Each week, you highlight an upcoming release that you are eagerly anticipating. This week, I'm looking forward to Don't Go by Lisa Scottoline (release date: April 9, 2013).

Synopsis (from Amazon): When Dr. Mike Scanlon is called to serve as an army doctor in Afghanistan, he’s acutely aware of the dangers he’ll face and the hardships it will cause his wife Chloe and newborn baby.  And deep inside, he doesn’t think of himself as a warrior, but a healer.

However, in an ironic turn of events, as Mike operates on a wounded soldier in a war-torn country, Chloe dies at home in the suburbs, in an apparent household accident.  Devastated, he returns home to bury her, only to discover that the life he left behind has fallen apart.  His medical practice is in jeopardy, and he is a complete stranger to the only family he has left - his precious baby girl.  Worse, he learns a shocking secret that sends him into a downward spiral. Ultimately, Mike realizes that the most important battle of his life faces him on the home front and he’ll have to put it all on the line to save what’s dearest to him – his family.  Gripping, thrilling, and profoundly emotional, Don’t Go is Lisa Scottoline at her finest.

I always enoy Scottoline's books and I hope that this one is as good as her last few. So, what are you wating on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday (2-26-13)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Each week, 
they post a different topic, and you get to create your own top ten list. So, this week's 
topic is:

Authors On My Auto-Buy List

1) JK Rowling - I think this is someone on most people's lists. She is such an amazing author and it's easy to see why she would be on such a list.

2) Kristin Hannah - a gifted writer who just gets women. I love her work and become so excited whenever she announces that she has a new book!

3) Sophie Kinsella - I fell in love with Kinsella just about a year and a half ago, but I've gobbled up every single book that she's written. I love listening to them in audiobook form because they are so hilarious, and I always need a good laugh during a long commute.

4) Jacqueline Winspear - I LOVE the Maisie Dobbs series and am anxiously awaiting the next one (coming out in March, so I don't have to wait much longer!)

5) Bill Bryson - Bryson is such a great writer, mostly because he just seems like this old friend that knows a lot of random things and travels a lot. Anytime a new book of his comes out, I'm in the bookstore the first day of it's release!

6) Catherine McKenzie - I may have just discovered her this year, but McKenzie is a fantastic chick lit writer. I love reading her books and getting lost in the world of her characters ... I hope she has a new one coming out this year!

7) David Sedaris - Sedaris is one of the funniest people alive and reading one of his books just takes you away from everything and get lost in his weird world. He also a new book coming out this spring, so I can't wait to get a copy and devour it.

8) Emily Giffin - I fell in love with her writing in Something Borrowed and have loved (most) of her books since then. When she announced last year that she would have a new book coming out, I bought it within a few days of its' release.

9) J. Courtney Sullivan - Sullivan understands what it is like to a be woman in your early twenties, and it's because of that reason alone that I run out to buy her books. I've never read another author who understands that age so well, let alone write about it so perfectly.

10) Pete Hamill - I not only love Hamill's stories, but his setting of New York City is just wonderful to get lost in. Having a true New Yorker describe the ins and outs of this city is a treat, which is why I gobble his books right up.

There are so many auto-buy authors on my list that it was hard to narrow down! Who do you automatically buy? Let me know!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Review: Heads in Beds by Jacob Tomsky

Heads in Beds
Author: Jacob Tomsky
Published: November 20, 2012
Genre: memoir
eBook: approx. 256 pages
Source: borrowed from the library

My Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis (from GoodReads): Jacob Tomsky never intended to go into the hotel business. As a new college graduate, armed only with a philosophy degree and a singular lack of career direction, he became a valet parker for a large luxury hotel in New Orleans. Yet, rising fast through the ranks, he ended up working in “hospitality” for more than a decade, doing everything from supervising the housekeeping department to manning the front desk at an upscale Manhattan hotel. He’s checked you in, checked you out, separated your white panties from the white bed sheets, parked your car, tasted your room-service meals, cleaned your toilet, denied you a late checkout, given you a wake-up call, eaten M&M's out of your minibar, laughed at your jokes, and taken your money. In Heads in Beds he pulls back the curtain to expose the crazy and compelling reality of a multi-billion-dollar industry we think we know. 

Heads in Beds is a funny, authentic, and irreverent chronicle of the highs and lows of hotel life, told by a keenly observant insider who’s seen it all. Prepare to be amused, shocked, and amazed as he spills the unwritten code of the bellhops, the antics that go on in the valet parking garage, the housekeeping department’s dirty little secrets—not to mention the shameless activities of the guests, who are rarely on their best behavior. Prepare to be moved, too, by his candor about what it’s like to toil in a highly demanding service industry at the luxury level, where people expect to get what they pay for (and often a whole lot more). Employees are poorly paid and frequently abused by coworkers and guests alike, and maintaining a semblance of sanity is a daily challenge.

Along his journey Tomsky also reveals the secrets of the industry, offering easy ways to get what you need from your hotel without any hassle. This book (and a timely proffered twenty-dollar bill) will help you score late checkouts and upgrades, get free stuff galore, and make that pay-per-view charge magically disappear. Thanks to him you’ll know how to get the very best service from any business that makes its money from putting heads in beds. Or, at the very least, you will keep the bellmen from taking your luggage into the camera-free back office and bashing it against the wall repeatedly.

My Thoughts: As someone who works in the hospitality industry (I'm a restaurant manager), I'm always looking for a good memoir detailing someone's life in the hospitality industry. Since I deal with crazy guests all day, I like to read someone else's funny guest stories. It helps me to know that I'm not alone in the service industry. So, when Jacob Tomsky's book came out, I knew that I would have to read it. Chronicling his time in a hotel in New Orleans and then New York City, Tomsky tells you all about working front desk in a hotel. He began his journey in the hospitality industry after graduating from college with no job prospects and looking for some easy money while he looked for work elsewhere. Little did he know that he would become hooked in the service industry for much longer than he would like.

My only problem with this book was that Tomsky made it sound like he has worked in a variety of cities and positions, spanning decades (well, at least one decade). Instead, this book focuses on the two properties that he worked at and how you can get free stuff out of these hotels or get free upgrades. It was basically a book with his stories interspersed with how to take advantage of hotels. As someone who works in the service industry, I hate people who walk into a place trying to get as many freebies as possible. Afterall, these places are businesses, places that have the goal of making money. When you come in and nickel and dime everything out of the place, it's not only annoying to the staff, but you can guarantee that you will get the worst service possible. To Mr. Tomsky, I would like to say this: just tell people to not be mean, to be kind to the people working in these places of hospitality. They are human beings, they are not slaves, and they are not meant to be screamed at. I feel like he should have preached that more than how to get free movies and stuff from the mini-bar (also, the nicer you are to the people working in these establishments, the better service you will receive, and the more likely they are to pass along freebies to you.) 

I enjoyed this book because it did make me laugh at several points and brought a smile to my face. If you are looking for a memoir that will make you laugh and give you a peek inside the hospitality industry, then you should check this book out. While I hope that you don't go out and seek the freebies that Tomsky loves to talk about, it does give you some ideas to what you should look out for in hotel properties.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Audiobook Review: The Witness by Nora Roberts

The Witness
Author: Nora Roberts
Published: April 17, 2012
Genre: chick lit, thriller
Audiobook: 13 discs (approx. 15 hours)
Source: borrowed from the library

My Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from GoodReads): Daughter of a controlling mother, Elizabeth finally let loose one night, drinking at a nightclub and allowing a strange man's seductive Russian accent lure her to a house on Lake Shore Drive. The events that followed changed her life forever. 

Twelve years later, the woman known as Abigail Lowery lives on the outskirts of a small town in the Ozarks. A freelance programmer, she designs sophisticated security systems--and supplements her own security with a fierce dog and an assortment of firearms. She keeps to herself, saying little, revealing nothing. But Abigail's reserve only intrigues police chief Brooks Gleason. Her logical mind, her secretive nature, and her unromantic viewpoints leave him fascinated but frustrated. He suspects that Abigail needs protection from something--and that her elaborate defenses hide a story that must be revealed.

My Thoughts: I often find good audiobooks hard to find. Either the narration doesn't fit with the story, the plot is too confusing to be read aloud, or the book just isn't something that I would enjoy, even in print form. I often turn to the authors whose work I really enjoy in the form of audiobooks, because I know that it's difficult to let me down when I typically enjoy their writing. This is the case with Nora Roberts. Her books are engaging and quick reads, and her latest book is no different. In fact, this is the best Nora Roberts book that I've read/listened to. Combining the thrill of the Russian mafia with a woman determined to outrun her past, Roberts weaves an amazing story of bravery, heroic acts, and a little humor, along with some romance, to really make you love this story.

It's a great plot and one that kept me wondering if Elizabeth/Abigail would be able to live with the Russian mafia looking for her. I didn't know if she would be able to last living the way that she does. She meets a wonderful man, someone who changes her view on the world and the people in it. It takes time for the story to develop and progress, but Roberts uses that time to show you Abigail's life and her struggles with people. She shows you how Abigail is able to open up, slowly, and let others in. It's moving to see how Brooks changes her view on the world and how one person can really change your life.

If there was one thing that took away from the experience of listening to this book, it was the narration. At times, it became so stilted, especially with Abigail's dialogue, that I almost tuned out. I understand that Abigail is all logic and comes across as very cool, but that doesn't mean that she's a robot. Overall though, it was a great listening experience and it has me looking forward to my next Nora Roberts audiobook.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Book Blog Hop and Follow Friday (2-22-13)

Happy Friday everyone! Can you believe that February is just about over? I don't know where the month has gone, but it certainly has flown by! Let's see what this Friday has in store for us ...

Billy at Coffee Addicted Writer asks:

Which do you prefer most: a printed book or an Ereader?

Even though I have been loving my eReader as of late, I still love a printed book. Just something about the weight of it in my hands is so nice. But the portability of the eReader is great, too!

Parajunkee asks:

We always talk about books that WE want. Let’s turn it on its head. What books have you given other people lately?

Great question! I can't remember a physical book that I've given someone, but I have been recommending Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn to just about everyone I know. It's a great book and I loved every second of it! I also recommend Bossypants by Tina Fey to just about everyone because it's hilarious and I think that everyone should read Fey's memoir (if you haven't, then you need to. Just trust me.)

So, do you prefer a printed book or eReader? What book have you given someone recently? Let me know and have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (2-20-13)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Each week, you highlight an upcoming release that you are eagerly anticipating. This week, I'm looking forward to Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris (release date: April 23, 2013).

Synopsis (from Amazon): From the unique perspective of David Sedaris comes a new book of essays taking his readers on a bizarre and stimulating world tour. From the perils of French dentistry to the eating habits of the Australian kookaburra, from the squat-style toilets of Beijing to the particular wilderness of a North Carolina Costco, we learn about the absurdity and delight of a curious traveler's experiences. Whether railing against the habits of litterers in the English countryside or marveling over a disembodied human arm in a taxidermist's shop, Sedaris takes us on side-splitting adventures that are not to be forgotten.

I LOVE Sedaris' work and cannot wait for this book to come out! What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday (2-19-13)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Each week, 
they post a different topic, and you get to create your own top ten list. So, this week's 
topic is:
Favorite Characters in the Chick Lit Genre
1) Lara Lington (Twenties Girl)- Lara is one of my favorite characters of all time, regardless of genre! She's smart, witty, funny, and just an all-around wonderful person. I loved reading this book and getting to know her as a character (and wishing that Kinsella would write a sequel to this book!)
2) Samantha Sweeny (The Undomestic Goddess) - another Kinsella character making the list! Samantha realizes that her life needs to change, so she makes one! Maybe not for the better, but you have to admire her determination to lead a better life.
3) Valentine Roncalli (Very Valentine series) - I LOVE this series! It's engaging, focuses on one of my favorite things (shoes), and is centered around wonderful storytelling, not a dumb woman. Valentine makes the best decisions, not the ones that allow her to love a man. I love how strong she is and so unlike other leads in chick lit novels.
4) Fiona Bristow (The Search) - I love Fiona because she doesn't let her circumstances define her or the life that she wants to lead. She may have had some bad experiences in her past, but she continues to look on the bright side of things.
5) Emma Tupper (Forgotten) - Catherine McKenzie is such a wonderful author and her leading ladies are so real and relatable. Emma is just like someone I would know (and probably be friends with), but following a horrific accident, must completely rebuild her life from the ground up. It may sound like a depressing novel, but it's not.
6) Annie Adams (The First Husband) - I love Annie because not only does she follow her heart, she is strong. She is a real person, someone who is grounded and realizes that things are complicated, but life continues on around while you try to figure things out. This was a short little novel, but Annie comes across boldly within the first few pages.
7) Meg Koranda (Call Me Irresistible) - Meg is so tough and kick-ass, she should probably have her own TV show. She doesn't care what others think of her, which is refreshing in this genre where so many characters center around preconceived notions of what a woman should be.
8) Tully Hart (Firefly Lane) - this book follows Tully and her bestfriend, Kate, from childhood through motherhood. Tully is a hard woman to love, but as the novel progresses, you really start to root for her. Definitely anxious to read the sequel to this one!
9) Andrea Sachs (The Devil Wears Prada) - I love Andy and how she goes from this girl who has no idea about the fashion to world to someone who not only knows a lot about it, but how to play the game. And anyone who can deal with the worst boss in the world is one of my favorite characters!
10) Elizabeth Bennett (Pride & Prejudice) - the ultimate in chick lit, Elizabeth is headstrong and doesn't need a man. You can't help but love her!
I could really make a top 100 list for this genre! So, what genre did you choose and who made your top 10? Let me know!           

Monday, February 18, 2013

Review: The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen

The Girl Who Chased the Moon
Author: Sarah Addison Allen
Published: January 1, 2010
Genre: chick lit
eBook: approx. 292 pages
Source: borrowed from the library

My Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis (from GoodReads): Emily Benedict has come to Mullaby, North Carolina, hoping to solve at least some of the riddles surrounding her mother’s life. But the moment Emily enters the house where her mother grew up and meets the grandfather she never knew, she realizes that mysteries aren’t solved in Mullaby, they’re a way of life: Here are rooms where the wallpaper changes to suit your mood. Unexplained lights skip across the yard at midnight. And a neighbor, Julia Winterson, bakes hope in the form of cakes, not only wishing to satisfy the town’s sweet tooth but also dreaming of rekindling the love she fears might be lost forever. Can a hummingbird cake really bring back a lost love? Is there really a ghost dancing in Emily’s backyard? The answers are never what you expect. But in this town of lovable misfits, the unexpected fits right in.

My Thoughts: I read The Peach Keeper, a later work of Sarah Addison Allen, sometime last year and wasn't in love with it the way that many people were. I thought that the characters weren't flushed out enough, the plot wasn't strong, and it left me wanting more. I decided to give her another chance since so many people (especially some bloggers who I love) seemed to enjoy her work so much, and I'm glad that I did. While this book is by no means a classic, it's a wonderful little story to get lost in and forget the outside world for awhile.

The story is so charming and sweet that it may hurt your teeth if you aren't in the right mindset to read a book like this. Set in a quaint North Carolina town, you follow Emily as she adjusts to living with her grandfather after her mother has died. You meet a cast of characters who all contribute something to the story, no matter how small the role is. Emily is a teenager, so you can expect some of those sappy teen love stories, but it didn't take away from my reading in anyway.

For me, there were a few problems with the book. For starters, it was too short! There was so much that could have been flushed out and expanded upon, but it was just a little too rushed in trying to wrap everything up. Then there was the ending. While I won't give anything away, I will tell you that it didn't really end the book like it should have. It left me with a lot of questions about the characters and wondering what happened to all of them. While it isn't a perfect novel, it was the perfect time for me to read it. I will look for more of Sarah Addison Allen's work in the future when I am looking for something quick and easy to get lost in.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Review: The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe

The End of Your Life Book Club
Author: Will Schwalbe
Published: October 2, 2012
Genre: memoir
eBook: approx. 336 pages
Source: borrowed from the library

My Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from GoodReads): “What are you reading?”

That’s the question Will Schwalbe asks his mother, Mary Anne, as they sit in the waiting room of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. In 2007, Mary Anne returned from a humanitarian trip to Pakistan and Afghanistan suffering from what her doctors believed was a rare type of hepatitis. Months later she was diagnosed with a form of advanced pancreatic cancer, which is almost always fatal, often in six months or less.

This is the inspiring true story of a son and his mother, who start a “book club” that brings them together as her life comes to a close. Over the next two years, Will and Mary Anne carry on conversations that are both wide-ranging and deeply personal, prompted by an eclectic array of books and a shared passion for reading. Their list jumps from classic to popular, from poetry to mysteries, from fantastic to spiritual. The issues they discuss include questions of faith and courage as well as everyday topics such as expressing gratitude and learning to listen. Throughout, they are constantly reminded of the power of books to comfort us, astonish us, teach us, and tell us what we need to do with our lives and in the world. Reading isn’t the opposite of doing; it’s the opposite of dying. 

Will and Mary Anne share their hopes and concerns with each other—and rediscover their lives—through their favorite books. When they read, they aren’t a sick person and a well person, but a mother and a son taking a journey together. The result is a profoundly moving tale of loss that is also a joyful, and often humorous, celebration of life: Will’s love letter to his mother, and theirs to the printed page.

My Thoughts: I love a good memoir, one that makes you look at your own life in a different way because of someone else, who you probably have never met. This is the case with this book by Will Schwalbe. Following the nearly two years of his mother's battle with pancreatic cancer, Schwalbe details how they came to form a special bond over that time, learning more about one another and the world than they could have without the aid of some great books.

I find if hard to review memoir's because it's hard to tear apart someone else's life and comment on it. So, I won't. Instead, let me tell you that this is a wonderful book about a mother and son bonding with one another over literature. Now, they do read a few classics, but most of what they read is newer or focused in the Middle East (Will's mother does a lot of volunteer work with organizations focused in that area). While it didn't take away from my understading of the book, it sometimes did make it hard for me to relate. But the way that Schwalbe tells you about the books that they are reading is great. If you are nervous that he is going to blow any books ending, then don't worry about it. While he is able to give you enough background on the book so you understand the topics that he is discussing, he never gives anything away (which was one of my concerns with the book.)

If you know someone who is battling cancer or whose battle with the disease has ended, then this would be a great book to read. While the word "book club" is in the title, this memoir has little to do with books, but more with the way we handle the battle of this awful disease, not only as the afflicted, but also as the family members. Definitely something that should be read!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Book Blog Hop and Follow Friday (2-15-13)

Happy Friday everyone! Did you have a good Valentine's Day? I hope that someone (it doesn't have to be a sweetheart), got you something sweet this year. If you are planning on going out this weekend to celebrate, I ask that you take pity on this serving/waiting/assisting you. This is a crazy weekend for them and you have no idea what kind of weird things people ask for or do (believe me, I work in a restaurant, and it's the busiest, but also the strangest, week of the year). Well, let's get onto the Friday fun ...

What upcoming book in 2013 are you most looking forward to reading?

There are so many! At this moment in time, I'm most looking forward to the new Maisie Dobbs novel by Jacqueline Winspear. I love those books and now that I'm all caught up on the series, I just have to wait for her newest one to be released! (Good news is that in comes out in March, so not much longer now!)

Parajunkee asks:

Write a letter to your favorite character. Rant, rave or gush…just pretend like they are real and you just want to let them know a “few things”.


Well, I'm not going to write a letter, but here are a few characters that I would consider writing to:

1) Maisie Dobbs - just to vent.

2) Mr. Darcy - to gush and try and steal him away

3) Harry Potter - to see if he could get me into Hogwarts


That's all I could think of wanting to write to! Well, who would you write, given the chance? Let me know and have a great weekend! 



Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (2-13-13)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Each week, you highlight an upcoming release that you are eagerly anticipating. This week, I'm looking forward to Fly Away by Kristin Hannah (release date: April 23, 2013).

Synopsis (from Amazon): Tully Hart has always been larger than life, a woman fueled by big dreams and driven by memories of a painful past. She thinks she can overcome anything until her best friend, Kate Ryan, dies. Tully tries to fulfill her deathbed promise to Kate---to be there for Kate’s children---but Tully knows nothing about family or motherhood or taking care of people.
Sixteen-year-old Marah Ryan is devastated by her mother’s death. Her father, Johnny, strives to hold the family together, but even with his best efforts, Marah becomes unreachable in her grief. Nothing and no one seems to matter to her . . . until she falls in love with a young man who makes her smile again and leads her into his dangerous, shadowy world.
Dorothy Hart---the woman who once called herself Cloud---is at the center of Tully’s tragic past. She repeatedly abandoned her daughter, Tully, as a child, but now she comes back, drawn to her daughter’s side at a time when Tully is most alone. At long last, Dorothy must face her darkest fear: Only by revealing the ugly secrets of her past can she hope to become the mother her daughter needs.
A single, tragic choice and a middle-of-the-night phone call will bring these women together and set them on a poignant, powerful journey of redemption. Each has lost her way, and they will need each one another---and maybe a miracle---to transform their lives.
An emotionally complex, heart-wrenching novel about love, motherhood, loss, and new beginnings, Fly Away reminds us that where there is life, there is hope, and where there is love, there is forgiveness. Told with her trademark powerful storytelling and illuminating prose, Kristin Hannah reveals why she is one of the most beloved writers of our day.

I love Kristin Hannah and cannot wait for this book! So, what are you waiting on this Wednesday?