Friday, May 30, 2008

Let's talk about sex, baby...

Review - Instant Orgasm by Steve Bodansky and Vera Bodansky

Steve and Vera Bodansky offer a crash course in preparing for pleasure. They encourage readers to find out what feels good to them, and then communicate that to their partner. They also instruct readers to make "connections" between their pleasure areas and a secondary body part, which can increase sensitivity during sexual encounters. They give specific, explicit instructions, complete with illustrations, on techniques to create and intensify the orgasmic response.

I had a mixed reaction to this book. I think the authors offered some interesting and useful information, presented in a clear, easy to understand manner. However, I found myself put off by the style of writing the authors chose. Their switches from technical, medical terminology to slang for female genitals felt awkward, and their attempts at humor often fell flat. I think the authors tried to write in an informal, conversational style. This did not work for me, but I understand it might appeal to a larger audience. I did not find this a book I would choose to keep in my collection, but because it has so much good information, can see that it could be helpful to other readers.

Finished: 5/30/08
Rating: 4/10
Source: Hunter House Publishing review copy

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I seriously cannot let my husband see this post...

So the question this week is- how many books do you have cataloged in your LibraryThing account? How do you decide what to include- everything you have, everything you've read- and are there things you leave off?

My current count is.......(drumroll please)....1,103. These are all books I physically have in my house, except for the Early Reviewer books (6) that I have passed along. I'm pretty sure I know own more books that the library in the little town I lived in before I moved to Des Moines. I don't have room for a china cabinet because I need that space for books. I have very little of that tagged, mostly because the idea of going back and tagging everything seems overwhelming. I have to admit it is a lot of fun, though, to watch the number go up when I acquire something new. Now you all have to promise not to tell my husband......=)

Find Your Magic

Woo Hoo!!

I just got notification today that I get to take part in this:

Farworld 2008 Blog Tour

I am very excited - this book sounds like it will be right up my alley. And, of course, this also means I get to come up with a fun contest to give one of you, my faithful readers (heh) a free copy of the book too!! Okay, now if anyone has any great ideas for questions, I'll take them! =)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Book Meme

Instructions: In the list of books below, bold the ones you’ve read, italicize the ones you want to read, cross out the ones you won’t touch with a ten-foot pole, put a cross (+) in front of the ones on your book shelf, and asterisk (*) the ones you’ve never heard of. Books in regular font are ones that I am ambivalent about - you can try to change my mind if you'd like. =)

(shamelessly stolen from A Reading Life)

1. +The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. +Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)

3. To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
4. + Gone With the Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. +The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (JRR Tolkein)
6. +The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (JRR Tolkein)
7. +The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (JRR Tolkein)
8. +Anne of Green Gables (LM Montgomery) - love, love, love this series

9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. +A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. +Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (JK Rowling)

12. +Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. +Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (JK Rowling)
14. +A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)

15. +Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
17. Fall on your Knees (Anne-Marie McDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
19. +Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (JK Rowling)
20. +Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. +The Hobbit (JRR Tolkein)

22. The Catcher in the Rye (JD Salinger)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. +The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. +The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. +Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. +The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (CL Lewis)
29. +East of Eden (John Steinbeck)

30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom) - tried to read once, couldn't finish.
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks) - one instance where I'm pretty sure I will prefer the movie.
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
34. 1984 (George Orwell)
35. +The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. +The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)

37. *The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. +I Know this Much is True (Wally Lamb)
39. +The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean Auel)
42. The Kite Runner (Khalid Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People you Meet in Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. +The Bible
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela's Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. She's Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. Ender's Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. *The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. +Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (JK Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. +The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveller's Wife (Audrey Niffenegger) - tried to read once - this book really creeped me out.
61. Crime and Punishment (Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. Interview with a Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. *Fifth Business (Robertson Davies)
66. One Hundred Years of Solitude (Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (Anne Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. +Les Miserables (Victor Hugo)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. +Bridget Jones' Diary (Helen Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez) - watched the (Horrible) movie, don't think I can handle the book
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. +The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. +The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)

77. +A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According to Garp (John Irving)
79. *The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte's Web (EB White)
81. Not Wanted on the Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice and Men (John Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. Wizard's First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. +Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down (Richard Adams) - tried to read, had to ditch
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. *In the Skin of a Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding) - was supposed to read in school, hated it, quit.
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. *The Outsiders (SE Hinton)
97. +White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce) - supposed to read in school, never made it.

So what this shows me is that I really need to read more classics.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Wednesday Sisters

Meg Waite Clayton gives us a look into the lives of five very different women who share their lives and their literary ambitions while they meet once a week in the park. On the surface, Linda, Frankie, Brett, Kath, and Ally have little in common. But when they decide to meet and share their attempts at writing, they begin to develop a strong bond. At first, they are afraid to say what they really think - everyone's work is "nice". As they are able to start being honest with each other, about their writing and their lives, they are each changed by the friendships that they forge.

Clayton is able to give each character her own voice, even though the book is narrated by Frankie. I felt like I knew each of the women by the time the book came to an end, and cared for them all. By setting the book in the late 60's she was able to tackle issues such as the burgeoning feminist movement, racism and the Vietnam war, and give insight from a perspective that would be much like that of my own family members. Clayton's writing style was warm and engaging, and I found myself quickly drawn into the lives of these 5 women. I hope to read more by this author in the future!

Finished: 5/23/08
Rating: 7/10
Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewers program

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A Call to anyone who prays....

If you believe in prayer, please pray for this family tonight.

Steven Curtis Chapman's daughter struck, killed by car.

Steven Curtis Chapman's music is part of the soundtrack to my life - I grew up singing his songs at the top of my lungs in my room. I can't even imagine what his family is going through but please, pray if you can.

The Other Side of the Story

The Other Side of the Story by Marian Keyes

Gemma is an event planner dealing with a crisis in her family. JoJo is a literary agent having an affair with her boss. Lily is an author who is represented by Jojo, and who just happened to steal her best friend Gemma's man. The three women's lives intersect as book deals are made, boyfriends are found and lost, and old hurts are revisited.

I almost ditched this book about 20 pages in, because I found myself completely uninterested in Gemma's troubles. Going against my usual rule - if it's not entertaining you, stop reading it - I decided to keep going. By the time I got to JoJo, it was better. When I reached Lily, I was committed, and made it through to the end. I'm not sure I can say that I enjoyed this book, though. There were parts that were entertaining, especially the sections with JoJo in the publishing world, but a lot of the time I thought the characters were just whiny. Poor Gemma, who has to take care of her mom. Poor Lily, who can't think up another book. Poor JoJo, who has to be in love with a married man. I don't think I was ever really able to sympathize with any of the characters, so I didn't really care what happened to them. I did find Keyes' style of writing entertaining - I think I would enjoy another book she has written if I was more engaged with the characters. I will probably give her another try at some point, but I won't be in a rush. Lots of other good stuff to read!

Finished: 5/21/08
Rating: 6/10
Source: public library

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tuesday Thingers - Discussion groups

This week's Tuesday Thingers question is about online discussion groups - specifically, how many do you belong to and do you actually participate. I belong to 8 or 9 on LibraryThing, and a whole bunch on YahooGroups. I started in the the Yahoo group world when I was in college years ago, and had unlimited time to spend reading group emails. I can't remember the last time I checked those groups, or that email address. I participate somewhat regularly on 3 groups on LT - Battlestar Galactica, Early Reviewers, and the Green Dragon. I am not online every day, so sometimes miss out on discussions I might have participated in, but in general I find the LT groups to be a lot of fun!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A Little About Me

I've been a member of LibraryThing for a while - it's a fabulous way to keep my books in order. Last year, I joined the LT Early Reviewers program, and have had the opportunity to review several books. Recently, I've started exploring the social aspects of LT, and have discovered a fun and enjoyable community of readers to interact with. A bunch of people from the Early Reviewers group have started a blogring of sorts, and invited anyone who wants to start posting themed posts every tuesday. I, in my typically late fashion, didn't discover this until today, so I guess better late than never. I'm Elizabeth, from the great midwest, married with no kids, 1 dog, and 1 ferret. I've been reading as long as I can remember - my mom is an English teacher, and I come from a family of readers. I got a library card before I was in kindergarten, because the librarians loved me and I could sit still during story hour. *grin* I would rather read than do just about anything else, as anyone who visits my house can probably tell. I'm just starting out in the blogging world, but it seems like fun, so here goes!

Review - A Delightful Compendium of Consolation by Burton L. Visotzky

A Delightful Compendium of Consolation is a fictional account based on actual documents discovered in the Cairo Geniza that date back to the ninth century. Several of the characters in the novel are real people, while others are fictional creations. Visotzky organizes his book as a series of letters between four of the main characters detailing the reaction of a family to a daughter's choice to run away with the man she loves, and the daughter's adventures away from the family.

There were parts of this novel that I truly enjoyed. However, I often found the structure to be frustrating - just as I was getting into the story, the narrator changed, which disrupted the flow. I eventually found myself skimming through to get to the parts about Karimah, which I thought were the most interesting. I think my main problem was that I could never quite lose myself in the story because of the abrupt changes. I did find much of the historical information fascinating, and enjoyed learning more about a period of time I know little about. I am not sure I can say that I enjoyed this novel, but I can certainly appreciate the opportunity to read it. Thanks Early Reviewers and Ben Yehuda press!

Finished: 05/13/08
Rating: 6/10
Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewers program

Review - How Doctors Think by Jerome Groopman

How Doctors Think is an interesting examination of the ways in which doctors arrive at medical diagnosis. By explaining the methods students are taught to use when dealing with patients, Groopman illustrates how misdiagnoses can occur, and steps doctors and patients can take to avoid them.

Groopman uses real case studies to demonstrate the many ways doctors good intentions can go wrong. In the initial chapters, he also offers suggestions to lay people about how to ask questions that can direct doctors to different ways of thinking. Towards the end of the book, however, he seems to be focusing more specifically on doctors themselves, and the advice for the patient is omitted. I found the book to be interesting and informative, with some good suggestions to take to my next doctor's appointment.

Rating: 7/10

Finished: 5/9/08

Source: BookBrowse First Impressions program

Review - The Translator by Daoud Hari

The Translator is the first-person account of Daoud Hari, a Sudanese native who experiences firsthand the genocide perpetrated by his government. After watching his village burn to the ground, Daoud offers his services to international reporters and investigators. Because he has contacts in many villages, as well as within rebel fighting groups, he is able to take reporters into areas of active fighting and bring them back out, often at great risk to his own life.

Because this is a first-person account, it is easy to feel like Daoud is in the room with you, telling you his adventures face to face. His ability to find humor in horrifying circumstances makes his story all the more remarkable. He speaks often in the book about the importance of making friends - after reading The Translator, I feel like I have made a new friend, and plan to share his inspiring work with as many of mine as possible.

Finished: 02/08/08
Rating: 7/10
Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewers program

Review - The House at Riverton by Kate Morton

Kate Morton shows her love for the traditional Gothic novel in this story of an old woman finally revealing her secrets. Grace Bradley has never told anyone what happened on the night that the poet Robbie Hunter died. She was a lady's maid serving Hannah Hartford when she witnessed the event. Now, in tape recorded conversations for her grandson Marcus, Grace finally reveals the truths of her life - the events of that night, and the secrets of her lifetime.

Morton writes beautifully, and builds the tension of the novel slowly as she reveals each mystery. It took a while to get into the pace of the story, but by page 150 I was hooked. I hope to read more by this author!

Finished: 02/06/08
Rating: 7/10
Source: BookBrowse First Impressions program

Review - The Winter Rose by Jennifer Donnelly

I can't remember the last time 700+ pages flew by this quickly...

India Selwyn Jones is a recent graduate from medical school in London, young and eager to change the world. She has dreams of opening a free clinic for poor mothers and children in Whitechapel, not understanding the true horrors of poverty that accompany life in that neighborhood. One night she treats Sid Malone, the notorious but charming gangster, and her life changes forever. He shows her what life is really like in Whitechapel, encourages her in her quest to help the people that live there, and eventually becomes her love. Somewhat predictable confusion and mayhem ensue, as we certainly can't leave the couple happily ever after at page 400, and eventually everyone winds up in Africa to bring the relationships to resolution.

I found this book to be a lot of fun - having previously read The Tea Rose, I enjoyed catching up on the lives of Joe, Fiona, and Seamie, and was pleasantly surprised by the resurrection of brother Charlie. Fiesty new characters (Ella, Willa, and Gemma), and delightfully evil villians (Freddie Lytton and Frankie Betts) are welcome additions to the cast. The main characters, India and Sid, are slightly predictably stock, but it doesn't seem to matter in this story which is just plain fun. I certainly hope Donnelly revisits this family again - I just have to know the story of Seamie and Willa! Historical fiction with a lot of romance and some exciting adventure thrown in - I'm certainly glad to have read this novel. Thanks Early Reviewers for a great opportunity!

Finished: 01/05/08
Rating : 8/10
Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewers program

Review - Tipperary by Frank Delaney

Tipperary takes us to Ireland at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, where a revolution is beginning to stir. It is the story of Charles O'Brien, a wandering healer, and his pursuit of a woman and a dream. We hear Charles' story in his own words, and in the words of a modern-day narrator, who interrupts Charles' story with bits of history about the characters and the times.

The parts of the book in Charles' voice were an interesting read. I found myself rooting for the simple, naive man as he tried over and over to win the heart of his true love. Many times, the other narrator felt more like a history text and less like a work of fiction. It wasn't until the last third of the book that his part in the story started to become clear. Perhaps the story would have worked better for me in a different format - one third of the book in Charles' voice, one third in the other narrator's voice, and the last third with the two combined. Ultimately, I don't think this book will persuade me to seek out more by Delaney, but I did appreciate the chance to give him a try.

Finished: 8/8/07
Rating: 5/10
Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewers program

Review - Whitethorn Woods

You know, I like Maeve Binchy. She just does what she does so well - nothing fancy, nothing earthshaking, probably will never win a Pulitzer. But if what you want is a good book with engaging characters that will make you feel happy when you are done, Binchy is your girl. This particular effort finds a local priest struggling with the misplaced faith of his congregation - they insist on believing a local well can work miracles. His own sister even seems to believe! And when a proposition to build a highway through the area creates conflict, it's the townsfolk who figure out a way to save the well. Just makes you feel warm and fuzzy all over.

Finished: 3/31/07
Rating: 8/10