Thursday, July 28, 2011

Stealing Jake by Pam Tillman

Livy O'Brien used to be known as LightFingered Livy, but that was back in the days when pickpocketing was a way of life for her--a survival mechanism. Now she is a Christian and living in a small, but burgeoning town outside of Chicago. She lives with Mrs. Brooks at the local orphanage. Her experiences from the harsh childhood of living on the streets and stealing to survive have become a catalyst to her heart for saving children stuck in similar circumstances. All she wants to do is save the children and show them God's love.

Livy is not looking for love or marriage. Although, life has a way of sneaking up on us and she finds that out first hand. She never expected she'd literally run into the man of her dreams. Jake Russell is the Sheriff's Deputy and he has his own problems to deal with--an outstanding loan on his family's farm, investigating the culprits behind a surge of robberies in town and dealing with grief over the loss of close family and friends, in a mining accident. He wasn't looking for love either. God has different plans for their lives and He shows up in the little town of Chestnut, a big way.

Stealing Jake stole my heart from the get-go. Ms. Hillman's writing style easily swept me into the story and I wanted to devour each chapter and actually went to bed late several nights all because I wanted to read just one more chapter.

One of the most appealing factors was the character development. I really got to know Livy and Jake and all of the other fascinating people of Chestnut. Ms. Hillman's attention to detail was just the right amount to give me enough information about the historical setting and to see the scene without boring me to tears with endless, useless minutiae.

After I finished reading Stealing Jake and I visited Ms. Hillman's website, I was surprised to learn that this was her debut novel. It read nothing like a debut. I thought I was reading the work of a seasoned multi-published author. I will definitely be keeping an eye out for more of Ms. Hillman's future novels. Stealing Jake is one book that I highly recommend. This is a free Kindle book!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Coming Soon To A Theater Near You

Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game
by Michael Lewis

Moneyball is a quest for something as elusive as the Holy Grail, something that money apparently can't buy: the secret of success in baseball. The logical places to look would be the front offices of major league teams and the dugouts, perhaps even in the minds of the players themselves. Lewis mines all these possibilities - his intimate and original portraits of big league ballplayers are alone worth the price of admission - but the real jackpot is a cache of numbers - numbers! - collected over the years by a strange brotherhood of amateur baseball enthusiasts: software engineers, statisticians, Wall Street analysts, lawyers, and physics professors." "What these geek numbers show - no, prove - is that the traditional yardsticks of success for players and teams are fatally flawed. Even the box score misleads us by ignoring the crucial importance of the humble base on balls. This information has been around for years, and nobody inside Major League Baseball paid it any mind. And then came Billy Beane, general manager of the Oakland Athletics." Billy paid attention to those numbers - with the second-lowest payroll in baseball at his disposal he had to - and this book records his astonishing experiment in finding and fielding a team that nobody else wanted. Moneyball is a roller coaster ride : before the 2002 season opens, Oakland must relinquish its three most prominent (and expensive) players, is written off by just about everyone, and comes roaring back to challenge the American League record for consecutive wins.

The book is recommended by Dominic and Tony.

The movie is starring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Slim to None by Jenny Gardiner

The book is very funny, often unexpectedly touching and insightful. It also includes recipes at the end of many of the chapters. Overall it left me hungry for chicken and crab with cheese in phyllo and for more of Jenny Gardner's writing. Jenny Gardiner's Slim to None is simply great fun.

Jenny Gardiner's new novel, Slim to None, starts with a marvelous premise. Abby Jenning's, the food critic for a major New York newspaper, eats her way out of her job. One of the job requirements of reviewing restaurants is to remain incognito. After a photo of her appears in a competing newspaper, and her girth makes the prospect of disguising herself unlikely, her editor reassigns Abby to a desk job for six months. In that time she needs to lose weight, as well as come to terms with her relationship with food, her husband and a family she didn't know existed. She is assisted in her efforts by a homeless man who may not be as he seems, her dog Cognac, and a philandering friend. She must also do battle with a decidedly sneaky and corrupt colleague, who is standing in for her as restaurant reviewer and wants her job on a permanent basis.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thank You Notes by Jimmy Fallon

I started reading this book on a whim and I am so glad I did. I am a huge Jimmy Fallon fan which was my basis for picking up the book, but I never expected to laugh out loud at it. It is short and comical; easily read in an hour.

Jimmy Fallon is very thankful. And in this first book to come from his TV show, he expresses his gratitude for everything from the light bulb he's too lazy to replace to the F12 button on his computer's keyboard. He thanks microbreweries for making his alcoholism seem like a neat hobby. He thanks the name "Lloyd" for having two L's. Otherwise it would just sound like "Loyd." He thanks the slow-moving family walking in front of him on the sidewalk. Without this "barricade of idiots," he might never have been forced to walk in the street and risk getting hit by a car in order to get around them. He's thankful to you, the person reading this right now. It means you're considering buying this book. You should do it. You will be thankful that you did.
About the Author
Jimmy Fallon is the host of Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. Fallon was chosen by NBC as the replacement host when Conan O'Brien left in 2009. Before landing his own show, Fallon was a beloved cast member on Saturday Night Live for 5 years. Fallon has hosted several awards shows, and acted in numerous films, including Woody Allen's Anything Else and Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Fahrenheit 451

I thought I would highlight this book today because the title sounds HOT and todays high temperatures are forecast to be over 100 degrees!

I have never read this book, or any books from Ray Bradbury, I wonder why? It sounds like the kind of book I like.

The system was simple. Everyone understood it. Books were for burning, along with the houses in which they were hidden.

Guy Montag was a fireman whose job it was to start fires. And he enjoyed his job. He had beena fireman for ten years and he had never questioned the pleasure of the midnight runs or the joy of watching pages consumes by flames, never questioned anything until he met a seventeen year old girl who told him of a past when people were not afraid. Then Guy met a professor who told him of a future in which people could think. And Guy Montag suddenly realized what he had to do.

This book was originally published in 1953!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Group Picture-Never Let Me Go

It's safe to say that this was not one of our favorite books. Overall, we didn't like it. Our biggest complaint, among others, was that it never really seemed to fully develop. We wanted more answers and more explanations of certain things. Maybe we just weren't smart enough to figure it all out! I don't think we'll rule out science fiction in the future, though (we did like our previous science fiction selection, The Time Traveler's Wife). The book still allowed for a great discussion.

The Truth About Dating by Julie Christensen

Lifelong introvert Quinn Malone was sick of spending her evenings at home, doing crossword puzzles and watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer re-runs. Successful, smart, and funny, 38-year old Quinn embarks on a quest to find a man, using blind dates, speed, and internet dating to get things moving. Quinn overcomes her shyness to suffer through dates that are so bad, they’re funny (see the chapter on hunchbacks). With the help of good friends, she successfully transitions through the seven stages of dating: excitement (I’ve still got it!); infatuation (he makes me feel beautiful); disappointment (he looks nothing like his online photo); anger (why is he online if he’s married?); fatigue (I can’t bear the thought of another date); depression (I’m going to grow old and die alone); and acceptance (dating: it is what it is). Through the triumphs and heartbreaks of dating, and of life in general, Quinn uncovers the resilient, dynamic person she’s always been. The question is, has Mr. Right been waiting in the wings all along?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Faith by Jennifer Haigh

The book FAITH begins in the spring of 2002 where a perfect storm has hit Boston. Across the city's archdiocese, trusted priests have been accused of the worst possible betrayal of the souls in their care. In Faith, Jennifer Haigh explores the fallout for one devout family, the McGanns.
Estranged for years from her difficult and demanding relatives, Sheila McGann has remained close to her older brother Art, the popular, dynamic pastor of a large suburban parish. When Art finds himself at the center of the maelstrom, Sheila returns to Boston, ready to fight for him and his reputation. What she discovers is more complicated than she imagined. Her strict, lace-curtain-Irish mother is living in a state of angry denial. Sheila's younger brother Mike, to her horror, has already convicted his brother in his heart. But most disturbing of all is Art himself, who persistently dodges Sheila's questions and refuses to defend himself.

As the scandal forces long-buried secrets to surface, Faith explores the corrosive consequences of one family's history of silence—and the resilience its members ultimately find in forgiveness. Throughout, Haigh demonstrates how the truth can shatter our deepest beliefs—and restore them. A gripping, suspenseful tale of one woman's quest for the truth, Faith is a haunting meditation on loyalty and family, doubt and belief. Elegantly crafted, sharply observed, this is Jennifer Haigh's most ambitious novel to date.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Once Upon a River: A Novel by Bonnie Jo Campbell

Once Upon a River: A Novel, is the story of Margo Crane, a young woman who lives near a river in a rural area of Michigan in the 1970's. Margo, who is about 15 when the story begins, is no ordinary teenager. She can shoot, hunt, skin an animal, and does not appear to be afraid of much. Margo will need these skills when she finds herself forced to assert her independence earlier than most teenagers do.

Be aware that this is not really a plot-driven book. This is a painting with moving characters. The backdrop of the river provides a rich canvas on which the author can place Margo and the various people she meets. As she searches for something that she has lost, she experiences fear and violence; and like many young women of her age, she often mistakes sex for love.

It is a heavy story and doesn't start to show some rays of sunshine until the very end. However, the deeper themes explored in this book are worth sticking with it. It is truly a unique story of growing up, and it raises the very legitimate question of whether we all need to have the suburban house and picket fence to be happy. The book also explores how judgmental we can be about the way that others choose to live, simply because they are different from us. The characters in this book find contentment all around them just by paying attention to life. And these are just some of the issues explored; in reality there is a kaleidoscope of concepts from which to choose for further examination after closing the book.

This is a strong recommend, but with the caveat that this is not a "beach read". This is an intense book that will keep you thinking.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Grimm's Fairy Tales

Jacob Ludwig Carl Grimm was born in January 4, 1785, in Hanau, Germany. Just over a year later, in February 24, 1786, his little brother Wilhelm Carl Grimm was born. Their father was a lawyer, and they had six more brothers and one sister.

In 1802, Jacob went to university to study law at the University of Marburg. As always, his little brother followed him, and entered law school in 1803. During their university years they began to collect folk and fairy tales. Folklore is stories that have been passed down from parents to children, by word of mouth, but at that time many had not been published in books. The Grimms were especially interested in stories that included Germany and German culture.

Jacob and Wilhelm published their first book of fairy tales – “Children’s and Household Tales” - in 1812. There were 86 folktales. Readers were so happy to see the stories they had been told as children all collected together that the book was a success. In the next volume of “Grimm’s Fairy Tales”, the brothers added 70 more stories. It went on growing like this for six more editions. Finally, the book contained over 200 stories! It is probably the best-known work of German literature. Even if you don’t know the Brothers Grimm, you definitely know a Grimm fairy tale.

If only all brothers were as close as the Brothers Grimm. They were always together – even when Wilhelm married his wife Henriette, Jacob continued to live with them! The Brothers Grimm were both professors and scholars. In fact, Jacob Grimm is considered to be the father of the study of German history. They both taught as professors in Germany’s capitol, at the University of Berlin. They became known throughout Europe as experts on anything to do with folktales, language, and anything German. They were so into books that they both became librarians as well! During their lifetimes they published many more very important books, including “German Mythology”, “Old German Tales”, “The History of the German Language”, and even the German Dictionary.

Grimm fairy tales include stories of kings, magic, and talking animals. Even though the stories are sometimes scary, fairy tales allow us to work through our fears. They often teach us a lesson about moral values, and right and wrong.

We had a conversation last week about all the safety devices we have for children, we even noticed that "the little red wagon" now has seat belts! Grimm's fairy tales have "Disney". How long has it been since you read an "original" fairy tale? Do you remember that there is NO fairy godmother in Cinderella? If not, you can read some free at
You may be surprised at the outcome of some of the stories....when you are bad you have BAD things happen to you! mwahahahaha

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Dating a Cougar by Donna McDonald

After several decades of looking for true love and never finding it, aging model and lingerie designer, Alexa Ranger, has finally given up the search. A couple years ago, she got tired of the game completely and just stopped dating. Now friends and family keep her mostly content, so it’s shocking at 50 yrs old to find herself suddenly wanting a sex life again. It’s even more shocking to be attracted to a much younger man this time. She definitely thinks Casey Carter is sexy, but not handling her own age well, Alexa just can’t get passed their twelve year age difference to even consider a fling. Not that it matters anyway, anything resembling a normal dating relationship is totally out of the question because Casey is related to and living with her daughter’s boyfriend. The very last thing Alexa needs is yet another talk-show worthy drama in her already complicated life, no matter how amazing Casey’s kisses make her feel.

For a couple of years, 38 yr old, medically retired Marine, Casey Carter, believed his military injury had made him impotent. Having lost his wife to cancer, he hadn’t exactly been worried about the problem. Most days walking with cane was enough challenge for him. But now that he was ready to move on with his life, he had become more worried when none of the females his cousin brought around held any interest for him. So the last woman in the world he expected to start his engine revving again was the mother of his cousin's girlfriend. Even at fifty, Alexa is drop-dead gorgeous, and his libido certainly keeps reminding him she is the first woman he has wanted in a long, long time. Ironically, the more Casey gets to know and like Alexa, he finds out desiring the older woman is the easiest part. Jaded and cynical about love, Alexa is a difficult woman to convince of anything, but her kisses are all the proof he needs that they belong together. The former Marine decides his next mission is figuring out how to fit himself into her life.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Now You See Her by James Patterson

I'm away from home this week and since I have access only to my iPad I could not post a picture. I am an avid fan of James Patterson so I am anxious to get started on this book.

What a fun book! The mega-bestselling team of James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge have whipped up a woman-on-the-run story that's perfect summer reading. Nina Bloom is drawn back into her murky past by a series of unfortunate events, and forced to confront the bad guys who almost destroyed her long ago. It seems her name wasn't always Nina, and she...well, see for yourself. The vivid central character and the relentless pace kept me reading straight through to the end.

James Patterson's solo books are my favorites, particularly the Alex Cross series, but I think Ledwidge is the best of his many collaborators. This stand-alone thriller is as swift and engrossing as their series about the NYPD cop with the 10 kids (Run for Your Life, etc.). And Nina--a.k.a. Jeanine--is a terrific heroine. Take this one to the beach and enjoy.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Mommy's Little Girl

When news broke of three year old Caylee Anthony's disappearance from her home in Florida in July 2008, there was a huge outpouring of sympathy across the nation. The search for Caylee made front-page headlines. But there was one huge question mark hanging over the case: the girl's mother.

*Why did Casey Anthony wait one full month before reporting her daughter missing?

*Why were searches on chloroform and missing children found on her computer?

* Why did she go out partying with friends less than one week after Caylee disappeared?

As the investigation continued and suspicions mounted, Casey became the prime suspect. In October, based on new evidence against Casey-her erratic behvior and lies, her car that showed signs of human decomposition-a grand jury indicted the young single mother. Then, two months later, police found Caylee's remains a quarter of a mile wawy from the Anthony home. Casey pled not guilty to charges of murder in the 1st degree, and she continues to protest her innocence. Did she or didn't she kill Caylee? This is the story of one of the most shocking, confusing, and horrific crimes in modern american history.

I thought this was a fitting book for today, as the trial came to an end yesterday, and the jurors have found the "tot mom" not guilty on 1st degree murder, child abuse, and manslaugter! They have convicted her on 4 counts of lying to the authorities! It looks like Diane Fanning's book on the subject has become an "Edgar Award finalist".

I guess, like the OJ trial, we will all have to come to terms with the jury's verdict and hope that Casey Anderson will be paid back by Karma and God!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Food Drive at the Library

The St. Louis Public Library is sponsoring a food drive from July 1 through the 31. It's called Food for Fines. For each item brought in, $1 will be subtracted from overdue fines. There is a $25 limit. They are accepting donations even if you don't have a fine. Remember, no perishables or glass. Let's all pitch in!

Friday, July 1, 2011

August Book Choices!

It's time to vote for the August book!

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot | Paperback, 381 pages

Henrietta Lacks was a mother of five in Baltimore, a poor African American migrant from the tobacco farms of Virginia, who died from a cruelly aggressive cancer at the age of 30 in 1951. A sample of her cancerous tissue, taken without her knowledge or consent, as was the custom then, turned out to provide one of the holy grails of mid-century biology: human cells that could survive--even thrive--in the lab. Known as HeLa cells, their stunning potency gave scientists a building block for countless breakthroughs, beginning with the cure for polio.

Meanwhile, Henrietta's family continued to live in poverty and frequently poor health, and their discovery decades later of her unknowing contribution--and her cells' strange survival--left them full of pride, anger, and suspicion. For a decade, Skloot doggedly but compassionately gathered the threads of these stories, slowly gaining the trust of the family while helping them learn the truth about Henrietta, and with their aid she tells a rich and haunting story that asks the questions, Who owns our bodies? And who carries our memories?

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks has won several awards, including the 2010 Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize for Nonfiction, the 2010 Wellcome Trust Book Prize, the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Award for Excellence in Science Writing, the 2011 Audie Award for Best Non-Fiction Audiobook, and a Medical Journalists’ Association Open Book Award. It was also featured on over 60 critics’ best of the year lists for 2010.

Here We Go Again by Betty White | Paperback, 272 pages

Betty White first appeared on television in 1949 and has gone on to have one of the most amazing careers in TV history, starring in shows such as Life with Elizabeth, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and The Golden Girls, among many others. She is one of the hardest-working actresses of any era, and her sense of humor and perennial optimism have seen her through half a century of industry changes and delighted millions of fans.

Now, during Betty’s sixty-first year on screen, a year in which she has enjoyed a huge resurgence of popularity, her 1995 memoir makes a comeback too. Here We Go Again is a behind-the-scenes look at Betty’s career from her start on radio to her first show, Hollywood on Television, to several iterations of The Betty White Show and much, much more. Packed with wonderful anecdotes about famous personalities and friendships, stories of Betty’s off-screen life, and the comedienne’s trademark humor, this deliciously entertaining book will give readers an entrĂ©e into Betty’s fascinating life, confirming yet again why we can’t get enough of this funny lady.

Betty has been very busy lately (at the age of 89) and has also recently released a new book, If You Ask Me.

Letters from a Nut by Ted L. Nancy with intro by Jerry Seinfeld | Paperback, 196 pages

Letters From A Nut is an insanely inspired, truly madcap collection of Nancy correspondence, a laugh-out-loud-in-public-places aggregation of official — and officially certifiable — requests, complaints, fan mail and questions that could not possibly have been taken seriously...but, amazingly, were!

Ted L. Nancy is a pseudonym and it was often rumored until recently that he was the alter ego of Jerry Seinfeld. He is now known to be former Seinfeld writer Barry Marder.

Natalie is hosting the August meeting!
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