Archive for July, 2008

Some Assembly Required by Lynn Kiele Bonasia

This wasn’t the fun, light, chick-lit read I was expecting from the cover photo (flip flops on a clothesline) and  blurb from Claire Cook (a fave author of mine). No, it was better. Another intelligent women’s story in the vein of Leslie Schnur (who contributes a quote to the back).

Rose is 39 and trying to make a fresh start in the Cape Cod town of Nauset. She’s gone from writing instruction manuals (quotes from which cleverly foreshadow events at the beginning of each chapter) to wanting to be a journalist. After renting a cottage from Val, she meets her neighbor, Noel, an autistic savant, who is being cared for by the town after his mother dies. A piece Rose writes about Noel ends up in USA Today, where Simon, Noel’s estranged uncle, sees it and decides to travel back to Nauset to make amends. This is a town with lots of secrets and as the town gears up for the celebration of its 300th birthday many of those secrets are in danger of being exposed.

I enjoyed the story once I got into it (and past my preconceived ideas of what I thought it was going to be). The cast of characters is wonderfully diverse, and on the surface seem kooky, but they’re real people with real issues (the mother who lost her child, the man with a dark secret, an alcoholic) and I thought the author struck a good balance between reality and wanting a happy ending. There was also a good twist at the end(one of the secrets exposed) that I didn’t see coming, although it is foreshadowed. All in all a good read about family, love, friendships and the nature of secrets.


July 28, 2008 at 7:33 am Leave a comment

Eat This Not That by David Zinczenko

This little book caught my attention because I’ve been trying to eat healthier lately and this simple format (no mention of the dreaded d word) appealed to me. After reading through it (and finding out I’ve been ordering the totally wrong thing at Jimmy John’s) I think I might have to buy it (and I don’t buy a lot of books).

For a small book (it’s a square format – I think to make it easier to take with you) there’s a lot of information packed inside. In addition to the “Eat this, not that” choices for many restaurants, there’s an “Eat this, not that” section for holiday meals and for at the grocery store. Each page also has a “did you know” fact, and sprinkled throughout are “guilty pleasures” (for example, on your burger have a few pieces of bacon, just skip the cheese – as bacon as less fat and sodium) and “Weapons of Mass Destruction” which are those innocent sounding things on the menu that are chocked full of calories or fat.

This is quite the informative book and I would recommend it to everyone.

July 28, 2008 at 7:14 am Leave a comment

Good in a Room by Stephanie Palmer

This is an excellent business book for anyone who presents ideas at work, owns a small business, attends networking events or is involved in any type of selling. It’s subtitle is: how to sell yourself (and your ideas) and win over any audience.

The first section I skimmed a lot but once I got to the second part I really started to understand what Palmer was driving at and went back and re-read the first few chapters. Based on her experience as a movie studio executive who was pitched ideas day in and day out she tells you how to handle presentations. This is full of great practical tips and provides excellent examples through the use of four fictional case studies. A particular thing I liked was later in the book when discussing how to write an effective pitch email she footnotes the email to explain why something was good or bad. Very good advice and this book goes the extra step by showing you specifically how to apply it.

Definitely going on my recommended list.

July 25, 2008 at 11:42 am Leave a comment

Severance Package by Duane Swierczynski

This is different from what I normally read. But it was really good. A non-stop action thriller. Seven people come to work on a Saturday. When the group arrives the boss says their company is a front for a secret government agency and they are all to die. They can either drink the poison mimosas or wait to die in the fire that will develop from the explosives he’s rigged. However, the boss’ plan doesn’t come off and soon the office workers are pitted against each other – who’s good and who’s bad? Who can they trust? As the story shifts viewpoints, the reader is also privy to the two agents who seem to be behind this terror filled Saturday morning, but are they?

This was an exciting fast paced action story. The plot twists and turns. It is a bit gory, and violent but not in a gratuitous or terribly explicit way. And the ending, of course, is completely unpredictable. All in all much better than I expected.

July 20, 2008 at 11:42 am Leave a comment

Living Like Ed by Ed Begley, Jr.

Subtitled: A Guide to the Eco-Friendly Life.

Since “going green” is all the rage, I was thinking about picking this for book group; however, it came too late to be a pick, but I decided to read it anyway. I’ve never seen the show “Living Like Ed” and I don’t think I get it on my cable lineup, but I was fascinated by how green Ed lives.

The book is broken down into Home, Transportation, Recycling, Energy, In the Garden & Kitchen, Clothing/Hair & Skin Care. The book also includes a workbook at the end so you can try out Ed’s different suggestions and see how much you save (both money and energy). This was a good practical book of how Ed & his family live green. I appreciated his wife Rachelle’s asides which added some reality/practically since while I’m interested in being more environmentally conscious, I’m not quite as dedicated as Ed is. I was particularly intrigued by Ed’s discussion of electricity and gardening. We haven’t done any landscaping at our house, but I think we will soon and I want to make sure we plant native plants, and also I’ve toyed with starting a vegetable garden for the past two years so perhaps next year we’ll finally do it.

Anyway, I would recommend this book for an interesting read on what it means to be eco-friendly.

July 19, 2008 at 10:25 am Leave a comment

Sweet Love by Sarah Strohmeyer

I love Sarah Strohmeyer books. I am a big fan of her Bubbles Yablonsky mystery series and I’ve enjoyed the light-hearted chick lit books she’s been writing recently.

Sweet Love focuses on Julia, a divorced single mother who has been working in the tv news business for 20 years. She’s about the get her big break (reporting on the presidential election) if she clears a background check. This check involves her childhood crush, Michael Slayton, who was the campaign manager for a senator that Julie busted for sexual harassment. On another front, Julia’s mom has arranged for Julia & Michael to both take a Friday night cooking class – hoping love will blossom, since she kept Michael (the neighborhood tough kid) away from Julia when they were younger and now she wants to make amends.

This was a quick read. I enjoyed it but not as much as the others. Although there was a plot twist at the end I didn’t really see coming. I enjoyed the various Shakespeare quotes at the beginnings of the chapter which foreshadowed events.  And I totally wish I could eat the cupcake pictured on the cover – it looks delicious!

PS – with this and Comfort Food I’ve been reading a lot of novels involving food and cooking lately – wonder what’s up with that?

July 18, 2008 at 7:40 am Leave a comment

Outtakes from a Marriage by Ann Leary

This was a modern day take on marriage and motherhood, with fame thrown in.

Julia is married to tv star Joe. It’s the eve of the Golden Globes and Julia accidentally dials Joe’s voice mail and hears a message from another woman. This propels her to become a husband-stalking, botox-injecting crazy woman. It’s an amusing tale, although the ending did bring me up short, as I expected more resolution but I have an inkling of what will happen. (I liked my stories all wrapped up with a neat bow.)

The author clearly knows her subject (her husband is Denis Leary) and she is a wonderful writer – great descriptions and characterizations. I enjoyed the story and Julia’s character.

July 13, 2008 at 6:32 pm Leave a comment

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