Friday, September 19, 2014

mystery and magic.

Fourteen-year-old Trevor Riddle was plucked from his seemingly normal life with his two parents in Connecticut and moved to Riddle House, his father's family's ancient estate after his parents announced that they were not only bankrupt, but separating. Riddle House is a mansion where Trevor's grandfather still lives, and is not planning on going anywhere anytime soon. Many readers have assumed that fourteen-year-old Trevor is narrating the story, and that is kind of true, but really it's adult Trevor's account of what happened twenty-three years earlier, in 1990, which is why our narrator sounds so much more mature than a young teenage boy. Just to clarify. Moving on.

A Sudden Light by Garth Stein is actually a ghost story, which our precocious narrator quickly learns as he explores his ancestral estate and discovers spirits as well as dark family secrets. If you enjoy multi-generational family stories and lots of twists and turns, you will surely love this novel.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

from the mouth of nixon.

In a nutshell, The Nixon Tapes: 1971-1972 transcribes Nixon's most interesting and influential year as president of the United States from the actual tapes that recorded him and his staff in office during that time period. Historical experts, Douglas Brinkley and Luke A. Nichter have been through all the tapes, plucked out the important stuff (well, the stuff they found important for the sake of this particular book) and edited it in a way that readers can easily follow. There is much on the tapes that made Nixon look bad, but I enjoy that the authors decided to show his intelligence as well. I mean, he was super jealous and extremely paranoid, but he was also pretty fricken brilliant. Although the authors do not focus on Watergate, they do focus much of the book on foreign relations, which may either make or break your interest in picking up a copy.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

five ladies and a baby.

Ocean Beach by Wendy Wax is an amazing follow up to Ten Beach Road. The crew is back together to give a house in South Beach Miami a facelift. The only difference is that they are now being filmed 24/7 by...Lifetime. Madeline, Avery, Nicole, Kyra and Deirdre (Avery's prodigal mother) blew away the YouTube world during their first stint remodeling Bella Flora, when a hurricane tore through the town and the beautiful house, Lifetime decided to pick this bunch up and turn them into a reality show titled Do Over.  So the ladies fixed up Bella Flora (again, in the same way they did the first time with Kyra filming), and now the pilot is set to run sometime this summer while they are fixing up the Millicent in Miami for their second season (hopefully) of the show. That's all back story, Ocean Beach is set specifically in Miami and The Millicent belongs to an elderly man named Max Golden who promised his wife on her death bed that he would return the home to its former glory. All the ladies fell in love with this ninety-year-old former Comedian, it was impossible not to. All of their stories easily pick up where Ten Beach Road left them 8-9ish months ago, Kyra is raising her son (remember she was knocked up by a movie star) alone, Maddie and Steve still have some major tension, Nikki and Giraldi also have some major tension, but it's the sexual kind, and Avery and Deirdre are still on the outs. It's a great story with excellent details included on how The Millicent was brought back to life.  

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

blue-eyed boy.

It took forty years for journalist and veteran Robert Timberg to write his memoir covering some of the time he spent overseas in the Marines during the Vietnam War, and his recovery afterwards. He was shaving for the umpteenth time, over the scars on his face caused by third degree burns from a land mine that ended his 13-month tour a mere 13 days early, and just got really pissed, pissed enough to finally sit down and write his story. A what a story it is.

In Blue-Eyed Boy, Timberg describes his journey through the realities of his disfigurement, thirty-five surgeries that didn't do much to hide his scars, and his search to find meaning in his new life. This meaning turned out to be journalism. Timberg recalls getting his first real story as a cub reporter about a woman who had jumped off a bridge. He pushed for that story, questioning everyone at the scene, letting his work overtake him and his insecurities, he realized afterwards that he wasn't thinking about his scars. At the height of his career he was a White House correspondent for The Baltimore Sun, which in turn, lead to his first book, The Nightingale's Song. I know readers will be thrilled (like I am) that Robert Timberg decided to finally face his past and share his story with the world.

Monday, September 15, 2014

it's an Everygirl world.

Maria Menounos used to be a little fat, (I mean, she was more normal sized than fat but it still makes me feel better about my life). I just love that she's not one of those celebrities that responds to questions about their amazing figures with "oh, I have good genes", she DOESN'T have good genes. She has real life Greek eating genes. And in her book, The Everygirl's Guide to Diet and Fitness: How I Lost 40lbs And Kept It Off - And How You Can Too! is filled with ways for you to get a girlish figure without yo-yo dieting, she even includes interviews trainers, dieticians, researchers and even celebrities who add to her fountain of information.

Personally, I love how Maria includes HER story. She grew up being a healthy kid, but once she hit high school and college, she gained weight, and didn't stop. Her addiction to Brown Sugar Pop-Tarts makes me realize that celebrities really ARE just like us, I'm with ya girlfriend. It was 1999, after she had attempted every fad diet in the book, that she finally woke up. She created her own diet/fitness plan that worked for her and her lifestyle and in turn lost 40 pounds within a year. Slow and steady does win the race when it comes to weight loss. But when she got into the entertainment industry, she was always strapped for time and found herself eating fast food 1-2 times a day. It didn't affect her weight much because she kept her portions small, but it did affect her health, and even hospitalized her! Maria shares all of her secrets of being healthy AND slim, without spending a ton of cash or having very much time at all. And that my friends, is the life of an Everygirl.

Friday, September 12, 2014

beachy series.

I just began Ocean Beach by Wendy Wax (LOVE her), which is the second installment of a series (not sure what the name of the series is, but it involves the ocean and the beach). Anyways, I just remembered that I never reviewed the first book in this nameless series titled Ten Beach Road, which totally kicked ass. So here I am.

Madeline, Avery, and Nicole have one thing in common. They were all swindled by their financial advisor (in Madeline's defense, her husband was) who disappeared with their life savings, along with many others. A once beautiful beachfront house down in Florida has brought them together because the only hope they have to regain any of their lost money is to fix it up and sell it. Madeline is a recent empty nested housewife. Avery is a cute little thing and part of a popular television series where she fixes houses, and Nicole is a (prissy) millionaire matchmaker. Three completely different women picked to live in a house and fix it up to save their pathetic lives. Very real world-esque. And when Madeline's pregnant out of wedlock daughter comes down to stay with the girls and catch the whole process (the good and the bad) on tape with her video camera, this project blows up in more ways than one.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

so THIS is love.

I finally got a chance to read A Fault in Our Stars by John Green, and while I do understand the hype around it - star-crossed lovers but with cancer, it wasn't as good as I thought it was going to be. Don't get me wrong, it was good, really good. It was metaphorical and Shakespearean, annnnd a little over my head at times since these are teenagers we are talking about here, and I'M an English teacher, (not a good one mind you), but I do think parts were probably over a lot of younger reader's heads as well.

Sixteen-year-old Hazel Lancaster was diagnosed with thyroid cancer when she was thirteen. She has to carry around a mini oxygen tank because the tumors moved to her lungs, keeping them from being able to function properly. She takes classes at the local community college (as she got her GED at home during her treatments), and attends a support group for cancer kids where she meets the dreamy Augustus Waters who lost his leg to osteosarcoma, but really just attended the meeting to support a friend, as he was in remission. The two fall in love, and in return give each other a better quality of life. As a whole, the central idea, main characters as well as supporting (Isaac and Hazel's parents especially) are what made this novel kick ass.