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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Updates

  • Even though I hadn't been posting (busy at work, then got a cold), I'd been reading. Read a couple of good ones too so I'm glad!
  • Argh I'm sick of the cold and snow already... already have 2 feet of snow and expecting 5-7" today/tomorrow.... Last week it was -30F with windchill... It's nice to have a white Christmas when you get to be inside by a fire with a hot chocolate (or your choice of drink) - but more than one day of it is enough :) Have just watched New In Town with Renee Zellweger and Harry Connick Jr. Gotta laugh (supposedly set in a small town in MN, not the one I live in though but we went there last year during Oktoberfest.) They filed in Winnipeg, Canada though at -57F, so I shouldn't complain too much!
  • Anyway, here's a list of reviews coming up!
  • Not by Chance Alone: My Life as a Social Psychologist by Elliot Aronson - love this! May not appeal to others though
  • The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood - disappointed
  • Semper Cool: One Marine's Fond Memories of Vietnam by Marry Fixler - interesting
  • Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls - really enjoyed this!
  • Simply from Scratch by Alicia Bessette - eh.
  • Reading now: PS I Love You by Cecelia Ahern (no haven't watched the movie). 1/3 to go... okay so far but already wish it's shorter. Since I don't usually read chicklit, I thought I'd at least give it a couple of try this year (this one and Simply from Scratch - both with similar themes - widows at an early age (30/early 30's). 
  • Hopefully I can have the reviews up by this weekend... we're not hosting anything so should give me some time! 
  • Stay warm!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Book Review - Red in the Flower Bed: An Illustrated Children's Story about Interracial Adoption by Andrea Nepa















Title: Red in the Flower Bed: An Illustrated Children's Story about Interracial Adoption 
Author: Andrea Nepa
Year: 2008
Page: 28
Genre: Children's Book, Graphic Book


New to me author? Yes
Read this author again? Maybe
Tearjerker? No
Where did it take place? Anywhere
FTC Disclosure: Given an electronic copy to review by Tribute Books as part of the December Blog Tour

Summary (from goodreads.com):
The journey of adoption is beautifully depicted with the comforting imagery of a poppy flower who is welcomed into a garden family. It is a charming story of "seeds" being planted in the perfect place - exactly where they belong. Children and adults will enjoy this simple yet meaningful story and homespun illustrations. The book's loving approach helps children to understand adoption. Andrea Nepa has captured the essence of adoption and family, and has illustrated it beautifully with images and poetry that even a small child can comprehend and enjoy.


First Sentence:
One day, a seed dropped from a poppy flower onto the earth below.
  
Why did I pick this book?
I was approached by Tribute Books to see if I was interested in reviewing this book. Since I don't have children so I hardly read any children's books. However, since this book was about adoption, and one of my sisters-in-law was adopted, I was curious. 

My thoughts:
  • What a cute and colorful book!
  • It is hard for me to rate this book since I don't usually read children's book, and with no children, I won't know how they'd like it. So I'd have to judge it from an adult's perspective
  • I think this is a book that would be understood more by an adult than a child - the implied message, the symbolism, and the metaphor. The description said "the book's loving approach helps children to understand adoption" -- I wonder how much children would truly understand about adoption from this book. Maybe I am underestimating how much children know nowadays... or maybe I was just a dumb kid :) (I suppose, children can be anything from 0-18 years old... so it's hard to say at what age would the child see through the story)
  • I hope when the author's adopted daughter read it when she grew up, she'd understand the love from her mother for her

    Quote:



    Rating: 3.5 Stars



     
    Have you read this book? 
    If you have, I would love to hear what you think! I'll link your review here if you wish!


    Challenges:
    100+ Reading

    Sunday, December 5, 2010

    Give Away - Chronicle Books Happy Haulidays!








    Wow, Chronicle Books is having a amazing give away!


    Post a list of Chronicle Books valued at up to $500 that you’d like to haul in, and you’ll be automatically entered into a drawing to WIN your list of books! And, one of your readers who comments on the post will win the list too! Last day to submit entries is December 10th!

    http://www.chroniclebooks.com/happyhaulidays/


    $500 worth of books!! Okay, here are my choices, I am choosing mostly cook books as I'd love to learn to cook better! I'm so grateful that my husband cooks everyday (I'd probably cooked a total of 5 dinners during our 6 years of marriage...)


    Be sure to leave a comment if you wish to win these books (if I win, you win these books too!)





    I Love Macarons

    I Love Macarons By Hisako Ogita

    The Big Book of Easy Suppers

    The Big Book of Easy Suppers By Maryana Vollstedt


    Flour

    Flour By Joanne Chang with Christie Matheson. Photographs by Keller + Keller


    Crème Brûlée

    Crème Brûlée By Lou Seibert Pappas. Photographs by Alison Miksch

     


     

     

     

    Biscotti By Lou Seibert Pappas. Illustrated by Piet Halberstadt


    Luscious Chocolate Desserts

    Luscious Chocolate Desserts By Lori Longbotham. Photographs by William Meppem


    Luscious Lemon Desserts

    Luscious Lemon Desserts By Lori Longbotham and Photographs by Alison Miksch


    Luscious Creamy Desserts

    Luscious Creamy Desserts By Lori Longbotham. Photographs by France Ruffenach


    Luscious Coconut Desserts

    Luscious Coconut Desserts By Lori Longbotham. Photographs by Lucy Schaeffer


     

     

     

    Milk and Cookies By Tina Casaceli. Foreword by Jacques Torres. Photographs by Antonis Achilleos


    Sweet Miniatures

    Sweet Miniatures By Flo Braker. Photographs by Michael Lamotte


    Quick & Easy Korean Cooking

    Quick & Easy Korean Cooking By Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee. Photographs by Julie Toy and Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee


    Quick and Easy Thai

    Quick and Easy Thai By Nancie McDermott. Photographs by Alison Miksch


    Love in Spoonfuls

    Love in Spoonfuls From the editors of Parenting

     


     

     

     

    Eat Ate By Guy Mirabella. Photographs by Earl Carter


    Savory Baking

    Savory Baking By Mary Cech. Photographs by Noel Barnhurst


    The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever

    The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever By Beatrice Ojakangas. Photographs by Susie Cushner

     


     

     

     

    Sunday Soup By Betty Rosbottom. Photographs by Charles Schiller


      Pops!

    Pops! By Krystina Castella


    Foodie Fight

    Foodie Fight By Joyce Lock


     

     

     

    Perfect Pops By Charity Ferreira

    The Glorious Pasta of Italy

    The Glorious Pasta of Italy By Domenica Marchetti. Photographs by France Ruffenach

    Brittles, Barks & Bonbons

    Brittles, Barks & Bonbons By Charity Ferreira. Photographs by Karen Steffans

    kittenwar Card Game

    kittenwar Card Game By Fraser Lewry and Tom Ryan

     

     


    Total = $498.9!




    Remember to comment if you want to win these books too!


















     

    Book Review - Open: An Autobiography by Andre Agassi















    Title: Open: An Autobiography 
    Author: Andre Agassi
    Year: 2009
    Page: 388
    Genre: Non-Fiction - memoir / autobiography

    New to me author? Yes
    Read this author again? Maybe
    Tearjerker? No
    Where did it take place? US
    FTC Disclosure: Borrowed from the library

    Summary (from goodreads.com):
    A stunning memoir by one of the world’s most beloved athletes—a nuanced self-portrait, an intensely candid account of a remarkable life, and a thrilling inside view of the pro tennis tour. 


    First Sentence:
    I open my eyes and don't know where I am or who I am.  

    Why did I pick this book?
    I enjoy reading memoir. I have heard that this is a brutally honest memoir. While I am not a big tennis fan (don't watch it anymore), I used to watch quite a bit of tennis, especially the Australian Open when I lived there - and that was exactly when Agassi, Sampras, Graf, Seles were at the top of the rankings. I read Seles' memoir, Getting A Grip: On My Body, My Mind, My Self, last year and enjoyed it - brought back memories of the games and found new respect for tennis players. So why not give this one a try?


    My thoughts:
    • I have to admit, during the Agassi Vs Sampras rivalry, I preferred Sampras - I liked that he was quiet and not flashy, seemed well mannered and nice. Well some called him dull and boring, but hey he was a tennis player not a Hollywood star! In contrast, Agassi seemed like such a bad boy with the funny hair and loud mouth. Now that I'd read his memoir, it could be said that he was misunderstood. I won't spoil it for you about what he revealed about his hair (if you haven't already heard from TV talk shows!) Let's just say that I would have never guessed!
    • I didn't know that his father was born in Iran, and he came to the US illegally, and Americanized his name.
      • He was really quite honest about his childhood and tennis career. While some may not like that he badmouthed some other players and Brooke Shields and their marriage, he also had nice things to say about other players too so it wasn't just all negative. Oh, I didn't know Brooke Shields' middle name is Christa!
      • I am not good at any sports, and had no idea how brutal tennis could be physically (well apart from seeing players having to play in extremely hot weather in Australia sometimes). I mean, they physically had to be hoisted onto a trainer table after a tough match because they couldn't move (but they still looked like they were fine at the end of the match!)
      • It was interesting to read about how Agassi read his opponents - like where they were going to served by the little gestures they unknowingly did (where they looked, how long they looked, where their tongue pointed etc), and how his coach helped him analyzed how to tackle the next player (their strengths, weaknesses, what it means if they started playing like this or that...)
         
      • It was fun to see how he matured over time, and I think Graf really is good for him. It sounds like they have a great relationship. And his children changed him and his outlook (now, I don't really like that he started pursuing Graf when he hadn't even divorced Shields yet... but that's besides the point. I hope Shields didn't get too upset about how he talked about their marriage... it sounded like they had some great things going in the beginning, and then they just grew apart and probably both were at fault)
         
      • I was touched by his farewell speech. And admired the charter school he has built for disadvantaged children, even though he dropped out in 9th grade himself.
         
      • While this wasn't the best memoir I'd read, I enjoyed reading it. It made me want to watch highlights of the games he mentioned (though they could get a bit repetitive and long, but he had an amazingly long career, so it's a fine balance how much to include and how much to omit). It showed us a side we didn't know about him - especially since he lied quite a bit throughout his career, to please his fans and father properly.  

        Quote:
        It is no accident, I think, that tennis uses the language of life. Advantage, service, fault, break, love, the basic elements of tennis are those of everyday existence, because every match is a life in miniature. (p8)

        "Que lindo es sonar despierto, he says. How lovely it is to dream while you are awake. Dream while you're awake, Andre. Anybody can dream while they're asleep, but you need to dream all the time, and say your dreams out loud, and believe in them." (p155)

        Her suffering, her resilient smile in the face of that suffering, my part in easing her suffering -- this, this is the reason for everything. How many times must I be shown? This is why we're here. To fight through the pain and, when possible, to relieve the pain of others. So simple. So hard to see. (p256)


         
        Rating: 3.5 Stars



         
        Have you read this book? 
        If you have, I would love to hear what you think! I'll link your review here if you wish!


        Challenges:
        100+ Reading
        Memorable Memoir

        Book Review - The Secret of Chanel No. 5: The Intimate History of the World's Most Famous Perfume by Tilar J. Mazzeo














        Title: The Secret of Chanel No. 5: The Intimate History of the World's Most Famous Perfume
        Author: Tilar J. Mazzeo
        Year: 2010
        Page: 304
        Genre: Non-Fiction

        New to me author? Yes
        Read this author again? Maybe, depends on topic
        Tearjerker? No
        Where did it take place? France, US
        FTC Disclosure: ARC from HarparCollins (in exchange of an unbiased review)

        Summary (from goodreads.com):
        In a world saturated with perfume aromas, Chanel No. 5 stands out. For nine decades, this celebrated fragrance has maintained its popularity even against thousands of more recent competitors. In fact, this iconic scent remains the world's bestselling perfume: According to Chanel, a bottle is purchased every 55 seconds. Tilar J. Mazzeo's The Secret of Chanel No. 5 unwraps the package of its captivating history and elusive appeal. Intimate and elegant.


        First Sentence:
        For the better part of a century, the scent of Chanel No. 5 has been a sultry whisper that says we are in the presence of something rich and sensuous.  

        Why did I pick this book?
        I was contacted by HarperCollins to see if I was interested in reviewing a few of their upcoming books. I looked through their catalog, and was especially interested in their non-fiction offerings. Now, I am NOT into designer brands, and I don't even use perfume (I work in healthcare, even though I don't have direct patient contact, I see a lot of patients in the hallway / different buildings each day. Due to their conditions, some may be sensitive to perfume smell, so I choose not to wear perfume to work. While our policy does not ban perfume - just can't wear strong scent - I hardly ever smell perfume from others at work either). However, I was interested in reading about the business of luxury products, and I have heard of Chanel No.5, so thought I'd give this a try to see why this perfume is so famous.

        My thoughts:
        • As mentioned, I don't really know anything about designer brands, so I learned quite a bit about Coco Chanel. I didn't even know Coco wasn't her real name (it was Gabrielle). I didn't know that after her mother passed away, her father gave her up to the orphanage. I didn't know about her love life, or what her earlier "career" was before becoming a designer. So it was quite interesting to read about that. Even though this book concentrated on Chanel No. 5, it also provided some background of Coco so we understood why she designed to make a perfume
        • Also learned a little bit about the science / chemistry of perfume (e.g. aldehydes are a major component). I didn't know that "nearly 350 pounds of jasmine  -- over a half-million flowers -- go into a pound of jasmine concrete, and in each small, 30ml bottle of Chanel No. 5 perfume is the essence of more than 1000 jasmine flowers and the bouquet of a dozen roses". Today, a pound of jasmine absolute sells for more than $33,000! (p145)
        • I didn't know back at the beginning of the twentieth century, "there was a noted difference between the scent of a courtesan and the scent of a nice girl. Some aromas -- like jasmine and musk, patchouli and tuberose -- made a woman smell openly sexual, and only an actress or courtesan would dare to wear them. Respectable girls wore delicate floral scents of roses or violets." (p18)
        • What made Chanel No.5 different is that it is a blend of the 2 scents from the 2 worlds - a respectable girl who can also be sexy - using jasmine and roses. I don't even know what Chanel No.5 smells like, but after reading this book, I'll go find a perfume counter at the department store next time I am at the mall, to see if it smells like the way it was described in the book!  
        • Did you also know that a bottle of Chanel No.5 is sold every 30 seconds? (p xvii)
        • Many of you probably heard of the saying, that a perfume smells differently on each woman because everyone has a different skin chemistry? Well, it was actually invented for a Chanel No.5 ad campaign! (p189)
        • The most interesting tidbits, I found, was how Coco decided to test how the public would receive Chanel No.5. She wore it to a restaurant, and tested people's reaction to it. She got this idea from someone else when they were trying to get shelf-space for their perfume - the person went to a department store, and while talking to the manager, he accidentally dropped his perfume so the bottle would shatter. This way, the manager, and the other shoppers in the store, had no choice but to smell the perfume. And because it smelled so good, everyone wanted to know what the smell was! Clever huh?
        • While I did learn quite a few interesting facts from the book, I found the book a little dry and took me over a week to read it even though the actual story was about 217 pages (the rest of the books were notes - yes the author did a lot of research, which I applauded her for).
        • I also didn't quite like the writing style - there were quite a lot of references about what would happen next in a previous paragraph or chapter, before it then went into details what happened. Now I know sometimes this technique was used to entice the readers to keep reading, but when overused, it just took the surprise away and made it predictable. E.g. "Coco Chanel decided that it might be a good idea to place the product in the hands of a talented marketing professionals whose job would be to manage not just its distribution but its image. Soon afterward, she would do precisely that. She would always regret it." (p91);
        • And sometimes it got a bit too repetitive: E.g. it kept referring to the fact that "Chanel had no thought yet of creating a signature perfume" on p14, p15 and p22 (granted, the actual words were not exactly the same, but they pointed to the same thought)!
        • So overall, not a bad read and I am glad I learned a few things. But for someone who doesn't care too much about perfume or designer brands, I think a magazine article on the topic would have been enough. For those who ARE Chanel or perfume fans, you will probably like it. 

          Quote:
          "Suffering makes people better, not pleasure." (p90)

           
          Rating: 3 Stars



           
          Have you read this book? 
          If you have, I would love to hear what you think! I'll link your review here if you wish!


          Challenges:
          100+ Reading
          Read Your Own Books

          Monday, November 29, 2010

          Updates

          • Reading is a bit slow, but hopefully work will be slightly slower in December, so I'll have more time to read! Actually reading multiple books at the moment for different purposes (all non-fiction, some ARC, some work related, some for husband and I to read together like books on cooking and finance). I'm definitely in a fiction mode, which doesn't help... So many books, so little time!
          • We still have a month to go till the end of the year (which will mark my 1 year anniversary as I started on Jan 1, 2010!) - already thinking about my favorite books this year, most disappointment books, what I plan to do for next year... 
          • All 3 kitties are doing great, getting along very well. Phew! Hopefully will have some pictures soon...

          Sunday, November 28, 2010

          Book Review - Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters by Mark Dunn














          Title: Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel In Letters
          Author: Mark Dunn
          Year: 2001
          Page: 208
          Genre: Fiction - Epistolary

          New to me author? Yes
          Read this author again? Probably!
          Tearjerker? No
          Where did it take place? US - fictional island Nollop
          FTC Disclosure: Borrowed from the library

          Summary (from goodreads.com):

          Ella Minnow Pea is a girl living happily on the fictional island of Nollop off the coast of South Carolina. Nollop was named after Nevin Nollop, author of the immortal pangram,* “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” Now Ella finds herself acting to save her friends, family, and fellow citizens from the encroaching totalitarianism of the island’s Council, which has banned the use of certain letters of the alphabet as they fall from a memorial statue of Nevin Nollop. As the letters progressively drop from the statue they also disappear from the novel. The result is both a hilarious and moving story of one girl’s fight for freedom of expression, as well as a linguistic tour de force sure to delight word lovers everywhere.

          * pangram: a sentence or phrase that includes all the letters of the alphabet



          First Sentence:
          Dear Cousin Tassie,
          Thank you for the lovely postcards.
            
          Why did I pick this book?
          I have heard of this book before. I thought the title sounded interesting then and had no idea what it referred to. I remember I'd read the book description before but did not remember what it was about at all - I probably thought it was too boring and not something I was interested in. I'd totally forgotten this book until I read Bermudaonion's Weblog's review and it really sparked my interest!

          My thoughts:
          • What a delightful, cute, and clever book! It totally not what I expected, and I am glad I read it. Though I don't love it.
          • NOTE - the review may have some spoilers - it's hard to talk about this book without talking about this book! 
          • I am a sucker for WITTY books - and this book fits the bill. We have all heard of A Quick Brown Fox Jumps Over the Lazy Dog - can you form another sentence using all 26 alphabets, but no more than 32 alphabets total? This was the challenge set forth in the book. How about being punished for using certain letters in spoken or written language, e.g. you cannot use D (and B and Q and L...) anymore? I don't think we really appreciate each alphabet until we can no longer use it! I can't help but think that when Dunn wrote this book, he must have used the "search" function a lot to make sure his story avoid using certain letters at different point of the story
          • This book was written in Epistolary style (in letters) - and I enjoyed reading books in this format
          • This book reminded me of Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows in many ways - I resisted to read both books in the beginning, thinking they are not something I'd like; both are written in letters format; I found both delightful (and it's not a word I use often, to describe books or otherwise); even the characters and atmosphere of the two books were similar somewhat.
          • There were some elements I didn't quite like though - the beginning was a little slow, and we didn't really get to know any of the characters too well 
          • I also don't quite understand why the book was titled Ella Minnow Pea? It is one of the main characters (but really not that big of a role since there are multiple characters and none of them really stood out). Anyone can share insight? I do like the subtitle "A Novel In Letters" - it really is, in 2 different ways! [NOTE - google is my friend - found out this possible explanation of the title).
          • I also don't quite get the cover design? There are several covers but none of them really reflect the story I don't think.
          • Not to get political, but this story definitely touched on how ridiculous some rules/laws could be, set by the government (or council or management or leadership or whatever). I don't typically like symbolic story too much, but this book wasn't too abstract
          • While it probably won't be a All Time Top 10 books, I quite enjoyed its cleverness and it was a fast read. It falls into the "I'm glad I read it" and "surprise" categories. I think it's just one of those books you just have to be in the right mood to read - I obviously didn't feel like reading it before, but perfect for what I wanted to read a couple of days ago (something light but still make me think)

             
            Rating: 4 Stars



             
            Have you read this book? 
            If you have, I would love to hear what you think! I'll link your review here if you wish!


            Challenges:
            100+ Reading

            Wednesday, November 24, 2010

            Book Review - Up From the Blue: A Novel by Susan Henderson














            Title: Up From the Blue: A Novel
            Author: Susan Henderson
            Year: 2010
            Page: 336
            Genre: Fiction - Family

            New to me author? Yes
            Read this author again? Possibly
            Tearjerker? No
            Where did it take place? US
            FTC Disclosure: Borrowed from the Library

            Summary (from goodreads.com):
            Tillie Harris's life is in disarray—her husband is away on business, the boxes in her new home aren't unpacked, and the telephone isn't even connected yet. Though she's not due for another month, sudden labor pains force Tillie to reach out to her estranged father for help, a choice that means facing the painful memories she's been running from since she was a little girl.

            An extraordinary debut from a talented new voice, Up from the Blue untangles the year in Tillie's life that changed everything: 1975, the year her mother disappeared.


            First Sentence:
            It starts like a tingling at the top of my abdomen.  

            Why did I pick this book?
            Stephanie The Bookworm had a GREAT review (5/5!) of this book - I love that she said it is full of emotion and twists. I need some good reads right now so I picked this up from the library, even though I have a big stack already from the library... okay so some of you may not think it's a fun thing to read emotional books... but I much prefer an emotional one than a "light" read.

            My thoughts:
            • I am a bit torn about this book. It was a fast read, and I was able to finish it within my normal 2-3 days time frame. I do enjoy Henderson's writing, as it was quite engaging.
            • I did like the 8 years old Tillie (in 1975), even though she wasn't the best student. The story jumped between 1975 and 1991 when Tillie was pregnant. The majority of the book focused on Tillie's childhood. However, I felt like there was a gap between 1975 and 1991 that didn't really explain Tillie's behavior in 1991. She almost seemed like a different person. I didn't quite understand her attitude towards her dad in 1991, when back in 1975 she had finally had some insights about her mother (sorry can't really elaborate without spoilers). Sometimes the 8 years old Tillie almost seemed too mature and wise beyond her age, and then at 24 years old, she seemed to have gotten more immature
               
            • Tillie's friendship with Hope and Shirl also seemed a bit half-developed, especially Shirl's. It almost seemed like there were going to be some side-plots going on, but got forgotten. I did like Mr Woodman, Tillie's teacher who was quite understanding, and just the type of teacher we need more
               
            • I also thought there was another side-plot going on with Anne, Tillie's dad's secretary, as I thought she might play a bigger role but didn't
               
            • So apart from Tillie, all the other characters didn't really get to develop (especially the mother's story) and just felt a bit short. I also thought Tillie's love for her mother and brother was touching
            • The "Cootie" story about Tillie's parents was cute, and I wish it had gone into a bit deeper
            • I read a review that said this book, which some thought almost read like a memoir, was often compared to the Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. I have to say I much prefer The Glass Castle - there was more of a story, whereas this book was more character-driven. While I like Henderson's writing fine, there was just something about Walls' writing that really, really captivated you and drew you in. You laughed and cried with her, and admired how she turned out the way she did. I should go read her second book, Half Broke Horses. While I felt for Tillie and sympathized with her, I didn't laugh or cry with her.
            • Overall, not a bad debut. But I thought it could go a little deeper and let the characters developed a bit more. The adult Tillie part didn't add much to the story. Also the big twist of the story wasn't that realistic either... I guess I was just a bit disappointed that the story wasn't quite as depressing as I'd hoped... (you know, every so often you just want a sad story to have a good cry? And be grateful that you have a pretty good life after all?)

              Quote:
              "... and a notebook of poems that were better in my head than they are on paper." (p1)

              Who you want to be out in the world is hardly ever the same as who you need to be at home. (p242)

              Rating: 3 Stars



               
              Have you read this book? 
              If you have, I would love to hear what you think! I'll link your review here if you wish!


              Challenges:
              100+ Reading

              Sunday, November 14, 2010

              Book Review - Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half with America's Cheapest Family: Includes So Many Innovative Strategies You Won't Have to Cut Coupons by Steve & Annette Economides











              Title: Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half with America's Cheapest Family: Includes So Many Innovative Strategies You Won't Have to Cut Coupons
              Author: Steve Economides, Annette Economides
              Year: 2010
              Page: 217
              Genre: Non-Fiction - Finance

              New to me author? Yes
              Read this author again? Maybe
              Tearjerker? No
              Where did it take place? US
              FTC Disclosure: Borrowed from the library

              Summary (from goodreads.com):
               
              America's Cheapest Family shows readers how to save up to $3,000 annually on groceries with their proven strategies, tips, tools, and tricks.

              The average American family spends 10 to 15 percent of its take-home pay on groceries. Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half gives them a sure-fire opportunity to reduce that number forever. With the proven plan in this book, the average family can save more than $3,000 a year on its grocery bill.

              "Can cutting coupons do that?" a consumer might ask. Of course, these money-saving experts teach coupon-clipping strategies, but they don't stop there. Readers learn how to plan their shopping to save big bucks, effectively store food and save cash, identify products that save time and money, beat the grocer at pricing games, and more!

              The Economides learned to deliver healthy, tasty food to their family of seven on $350 a month. In this authoritative manual, the average family can follow their lead and fill its grocery cart without emptying its wallet.

              First Sentence:
              Cut my grocery bill in half?
                
              Why did I pick this book?
              Well, who wouldn't want to know more about cutting the grocery bill in half! While we're doing "okay", I am always looking for more ways to save for the future.


              My thoughts:
              • There are some good tips there, but most of the tips aren't very new - e.g. check unit pricing, stock up when things are on sale and freeze them, use coupons, price check... their biggest tip is to go shopping once a month, and cook (and freeze) once a month. Husband and I don't like shopping much, so we tend to do one big trip a month, though he does go and stock up other things as needed (or if he sees them on sale) since there is a smaller grocery store on his way home from work. Since we don't have a chest freezer, it's difficult to do the things they suggest. Is it worth getting one? We need to think about it. Husband has been wanting one for a while, but I fear that we'd just put stuff in their and forget about it, then the food would get bad or have freezer burned - you need to be pretty organize and stay on top of things...
              • It's nice that they include other resources, e.g. the chapter on coupon, they includes links to other websites, and state some pro and con about such sites. I don't really coupon, when I come across one, I'll print it out... but then I usually forget to bring it with me, or that it expires before I get to do grocery shopping... 
              • I did learn a little bit of new info, e.g.:
                • (1) eggs - egg suppliers try to have the majority of their hens mature around the largest egg-consumption holidays (times when people do lots of baking such as Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas). At those times, with most of their chickens laying large or extra large eggs, they sometimes run short of medium eggs. Egg producers can exceed the USDA weights, so they often will substitute large eggs in the medium cartons - so we should check the size and weight of medium eggs to get more for the money at those times.
                • (2) pre-bagged vegetables, e.g. potato or carrots - weigh the bag, usually they weigh more than what the label said. If so, it's a better deal than getting it "loose" per pound.
                • (3) Sometimes, some brand name products do work better than generic products, so you end up using less. Their example was Dawn detergent - while it is more expansive than the others, their did a little experiment (not scientific by any means) and found out they used less than half. Husband and I love watching America's Test Kitchen, especially their product and taste test! And husband loves reading the Consumer Reports, so we try to buy something that gives the best value
              • Now, a lot of the "money saving" tips take time. So I guess my question is, is it worth spending the time to do this? Or is it going to make me more stressed to save a bit of money? I guess I won't know until I try and tally up the time spent and money saved... but with coupons, I found that a lot of time, I need to spend a lot of time to vett the offerings, and usually there are only 1 or 2 coupons I'd likely use (on products we'd buy regardless). Plus I don't want to have to go to several grocery stores to get different due to the time added and extra gas used... 
              • So, I think if you are already pretty savvy about cutting your grocery bills or being frugal, you won't get as much out of this book as someone who never pays much attention about their spending on food
              • You can also go to their website for more info: http://americascheapestfamily.com/
                 
                Rating: 3.5 Stars



                 
                Have you read this book? 
                If you have, I would love to hear what you think! I'll link your review here if you wish!


                Challenges:
                100+ Reading

                Book Review - Edge by Jeffery Deaver














                Title: Edge
                Author: Jeffery Deaver
                Year: 2010
                Page: 416
                Genre: Fiction - Murder / Mystery / Thriller / Suspense

                New to me author? No
                Read this author again? Yes
                Tearjerker? No
                Where did it take place? US
                FTC Disclosure: Borrowed from the library

                Summary (from goodreads.com):
                Behind the well-known U.S. security organizations— the FBI and CIA among them—lies a heavily guarded, anonymous government agency dedicated to intelligence surveillance and to a highly specialized brand of citizen protection. 
                 Shock waves of alarm ripple through the clandestine agency when Washington, D.C., police detective Ryan Kessler inexplicably becomes the target of Henry Loving, a seasoned, ruthless “lifter” hired to obtain information using whatever means necessary. While Loving is deft at torture, his expertise lies in getting an “edge” on his victim—leverage—usually by kidnapping or threatening family until the “primary” caves under pressure.

                The job of keeping the Kessler family alive falls to a man named Corte, a senior federal protection officer known as a “shepherd.” Uncompromising, relentlessly devoted to protecting those in his care and a passionate board game aficionado, he applies brilliant gaming strategy to his work. For Corte, the reappearance of Loving—the man who, six years earlier, had tortured and killed someone close to him—is also an opportunity to avenge his friend’s death. The assignment soon escalates into a fast-paced duel between Corte and Loving, a dangerous volley of wits and calculated risks.

                As he shepherds the Kesslers to a concealed safe house, Corte must anticipate Loving’s every step as the lifter moves in on his prey, and with the help of razor-sharp investigator Claire DuBois and his longtime ally, FBI agent Paul Fredericks, pinpoint which of Kessler’s seemingly insignificant cases has triggered Loving’s return. As the team digs deeper, each of the Kesslers comes under close scrutiny, and in captivity their family bonds are stretched to the breaking point—as the lifter draws near, Corte must ultimately choose between protecting his charges and exposing them to a killer in the name of long-awaited revenge.


                First Sentence:
                The man who wanted to kill the young woman sitting beside me was three-quarters of a mile behind us, as we drove through a pastoral setting of tobacco and cotton fields this humid morning. 
                  
                Why did I pick this book?
                I have always enjoyed Jeffery Deaver's books, though I prefer his Lincoln Rhyme series (2nd is Kathryn Dance series) more than his stand-alone. I was very disappointed with the last stand alone book, The Bodies Left Behind (can't believe it was 2008 when I read it! Seemed like it wasn't that long ago...) Looking at my list of books I read, I also read another of his stand alone earlier in 2008, called Mistress of Justice, and I have NO recollection of that book! That's the primary reason of starting this blog, so I can refer back to the books I'd read, and what I thought of them. 

                My thoughts:
                • I am glad to say I like this better than the last two stand alone books he wrote! For those of you who like the cat-&-mouse type thrillers, you will probably enjoy this
                • Now, this book isn't perfect, and some may find the protagonist not very likable as he seems cold and detached - but I think it just showed that's the personality required to take such a job - to be a "shepherd," basically a bodyguard working for an unnamed U.S. government agency, charged with keeping witnesse safe from threats - as "lifter" go after these witnesses for information
                • There are lots of twists and turns, and some I could guess ahead of time (after you have read so many murder/mystery books, you knew it couldn't be that easy), and some I didn't. I did guess the final reason why the Kessler was targeted, but the real twist for me was the last chapter, titled "endgame", about some people related to the protagonist. Didn't see that one coming!
                • Another thing I didn't quite like is that, the protagonist is supposed to be very clever (he needed to outsmart the bad guys, and plot their next move!), but some choices he made weren't that quite smart in terms of tactics. But I supposed he wasn't perfect (and well, I couldn't do what he does in real life... so I shouldn't speak about how well or badly I would handle the same situation.)
                • I read an interview with Jeffery Deaver, and I thought it was quite interesting when he was asked if he preferred series or stand alones (full interview here:) "I have no preference really. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. With stand-alones, for instance, I can always imperil my main characters and risk killing them off (yes, I love messing with my readers' minds!), which I can't do with series. But I have to invent a whole world every time, whereas with series novels I know the characters, locations, institutions, etc. The real key is deciding which category is best for the story idea. For instance, the Lincoln Rhyme books are best for technical subjects, the Kathryn Dance for more psychological thrillers. The stand-alones let me experiment, often combining the two and trying out new forms (like the first-person in Edge). I think more people like series, so that's what I stick to most of the time."

                  Quote:

                  "You know, sometimes you can tell more about somebody from what he doesn't tell you than what he does." (p105)


                   
                  Rating: 4 Stars





                   
                  Have you read this book? 
                  If you have, I would love to hear what you think! I'll link your review here if you wish!


                  Challenges:
                  100+ Reading

                  Sunday, November 7, 2010

                  GIVE AWAY - Girard's Salad Dressings (and review)

                  A while back, I was contacted to see if I'd like to receive some Girard's Salad Dressings to try, as they had 3 new flavors - Apple Poppyseed, Creamy Balsamic, and Peach Mimosa. They were also going to send their signature flavor, Champagne.



















                  Now, I have to admit, I am not a big salad person. I like having my vegetables cooked. But I'd like to try liking salad more (usually I like salad when it's with ranch which is not the most healthy dressing, or something sweet like strawberry vinaigrette). So I thought, what a great opportunity to try something different - the Peach Mimosa really intrigued me!

                  Even though a review of the product was not required, I thought I would anyway because I want to share :)

                  My favorite, which is not surprising, is definitely the Peach Mimosa. Bear in mind that I have a sweet tooth, and this dressing is more on the sweet side than on the vinegary side (I don't like thing too sour - a combination of sweet and sour is good, but not just sour). My husband, who prefers vinegary dressing, thinks it's not bad. It's a prefect summer dressing I think, especially if you can add some fruits like strawberries or blueberries in the salad! I would definitely buy this again.

                  My second favorite is the Apple Poppyseed. I think it has an interesting combination of favor. I wasn't too sure of it at first, and it is a bit difficult to describe how it actually taste, but I like that it's a bit sweet and a bit savory. Husband also likes it okay, but thought he has had something similar before.

                  Husband definitely prefers the Creamy Balsamic and Champagne. I don't hate them, and would use them in my salad, they just wouldn't be my first choice. But I still like them better than some other dressings.

                  So overall, it was a fun trial, and I am very glad to have some more options than just ranch!

                  Now, YOU have a chance to try them too (if you live in the US that is!) The Give Away includes ALL FOUR FLAVORS - of FULL SIZE Bottles! With the holidays coming up, wouldn't it be great to have all these different flavors for your guests to choose from?


                  Details:
                  • Up to 5 winners - each winner with receive a package of 4 bottles of Girard's Salad Dressings (1 flavor each - Apple Poppyseed, Creamy Balsamic, Peach Mimosa and Girard’s Signature Champagne)
                  • US only
                  • Tell me which flavor you most want to try and why!
                  • Leave me your email (and I'll ask you for your mail address later, to be shared with Girard's so they can send you the package)
                  • The FIRST FIVE people who responds first WIN!!!
                  • Respond by 11/30/10!

                  Book Review - The Door to December by Dean Koontz














                  Title: The Door to December
                  Author: Dean Koontz
                  Year: 1985
                  Page: 528
                  Genre: Fiction - Horror

                  New to me author? Yes
                  Read this author again? Maybe...
                  Tearjerker? No
                  Where did it take place? US
                  FTC Disclosure: Borrowed from the library

                  Summary (from goodreads.com):
                  The #1 New York Times bestselling author delivers a truly suspenseful novel of a mother who must save her daughter from a threat she can hardly understand. What happened to nine-year-old Melanie during the six years she was subjected to terrifying experiments? And what is the unstoppable power that she can unleash from behind the "Door to December"? 


                  First Sentence:
                  As soon as she finished dressing, Laura went to the front door and was just in time to see the Los Angeles Police Department squad car pull to the curb in front of the house.  

                  Why did I pick this book?
                  Was in a reading rut. Very busy at work, so wanted to read something "fun" (but not chick lit) that won't require too much brain power - tried reading non-fiction, but just can't focus when I am too tired. Anyway, saw a thread on a forum where suggestions for scary books were made. I thought it may be fun to read a scary book (yeah I have a twisted sense of humor...) as I hadn't read any horror for a while, especially something that is chilling. There were two instances where I got scared after reading a book (1) after watching IT, I got scared turning the faucet on (okay that wasn't technically reading, but I did read the book later). (2) Hostage to the Devil: The Possession and Exorcism of Five Contemporary Americans by Malachi Martin (non-fiction). That was over 10 years ago so I am ready to read something scary again :) I had heard of Dean Koontz, but haven't read any of his books (if I did, it was a long time ago and I don't remember). I know he's often compared to Stephen King (I'd only read IT, but watched a few other movies and liked them, e.g. Misery, and other non-horror ones like Stand by Me and The Shawshank Redemption). This particular book was recommended on the forum, so I thought I'd give Koontz a try.

                  My thoughts:
                  • For a 528 pages book, I expected a lot of twists and turns and scary stuff
                  • Truth is? I guessed the one twist within the first few chapters of the book, but just read on to see if I guessed it right, and I did. That spoiled the fun. I don't think I'm particular smart, but I think after reading many murder / mystery / suspense / thrillers type of book, even if this one is more of a 'horror' book, you tend to pick up the clues a bit easier
                  • So I was disappointed as it got a bit too predictable. The premise is interesting, but the book could've been shorter
                  • The characters are fine, feel indifferent about them really. But you do get a sense of who they are. In fact, when I was reading, I could imagine this being made into a B-grade tele-movie. 
                  • Would I give Koontz a second chance? I did borrow another one of his books, False Memory, when I was browsing the library shelf while looking for this book. Will see if my mood feels like it. If you have read Koontz before, any recommendation? I don't mind that it has a bit of a paranormal edge. I used to read a lot of John Saul's books and really enjoyed them back then. Don't remember why I stopped... maybe time to pick one up again?
                     
                    Rating: 2 Stars



                     
                    Have you read this book? 
                    If you have, I would love to hear what you think! I'll link your review here if you wish!


                    Challenges:
                    100+ Reading

                    Sunday, October 31, 2010

                    Book Review - The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf













                    Title: The Weight of Silence 
                    Author: Heather Gudenkauf
                    Year: 2009
                    Page: 373
                    Genre: Fiction

                    New to me author? Yes
                    Read this author again? Maybe
                    Tearjerker? No
                    Where did it take place? US
                    FTC Disclosure: Borrowed from the library

                    Summary (from goodreads.com):
                    It happens quietly one August morning. As dawn's shimmering light drenches the humid Iowa air, two families awaken to find their little girls have gone missing in the night.Seven-year-old Calli Clark is sweet, gentle, a dreamer who suffers from selective mutism brought on by tragedy that pulled her deep into silence as a toddler.
                                                                                       
                    Calli's mother, Antonia, tried to be the best mother she could within the confines of marriage to a mostly absent, often angry husband. Now, though she denies that her husband could be involved in the possible abductions, she fears her decision to stay in her marriage has cost  her more than her daughter's voice.

                    Petra Gregory is Calli's best friend, her soul mate and her voice. But neither Petra nor Calli has been heard from since their disappearance was discovered. Desperate to find his child, Martin Gregory is forced to confront a side of himself he did not know existed beneath his intellectual, professorial demeanor.

                    Now these families are tied by the question of what happened to their children. And the answer is trapped in the silence of unspoken family secrets.


                    First Sentence:
                    Louis and I see you nearly at the same time.  

                    Why did I pick this book?
                    I am in a bit of a reading rut, Tea Time with Marce highly recommended this book (see her review here) so I thought I'd give it a go. Even though we don't always share the same views on books, I respect her opinions!  

                    My thoughts:
                    • I enjoyed books written with multiple narratives, as you get to know each character a bit better, since not all see things the same way. This book was written from these characters' perspectives: Callie (7 years old "selective mute" girl), Callie's mum Antonia, Callie's 12 years old brother Ben, Callie's best friend Petra, Callie's best friend's dad Martin and The Deputy Sheriff Louis. The interesting writing technique was that Callie was written from a 3rd person perspective, Ben's was a combination of 1st and 2nd (to Callie), while the rest was written in in 1st.
                    • I have to say though the voices aren't very distinctive. I have to rely on the character's name at the beginning of each chapter to see who was speaking. I would have thought that at least the voices from the children and the adult would differ more. Well, all characters probably should have their distinct voice.
                    • I also wonder if Petra's perspective was necessary. There were only maybe 2 or 3 chapters? And they were short and didn't add a lot to the story.
                    • The plot was a bit predictable though, unfortunately, and it wasn't too hard to figure out why Callie stopped speaking
                    • I did like the children in the book - I liked Callie and Petra's friendship, and the brother-sister relationship between Ben and Callie. 
                    • I have to say I don't like Antonia - I also don't quite understand her decisions on multiple issues. I get that not all characters have to be perfect, but it just gets frustrating sometimes
                    • I don't get why authors (not just this one) used similar names for characters (mostly minor ones) in the same books, where there are plenty of names out there? This is the 3rd time in the past few books. In this book, it is Callie's dad's 2 friends: Roger Hogan and Logan Roper
                    • Again, this is the 3rd time in some recent books - what is the point of the prologue when it gives away too much of the plot? 
                    • Not a bad read, but some room for improvement

                       
                      Rating: 3 Stars



                       
                      Have you read this book? 
                      If you have, I would love to hear what you think! I'll link your review here if you wish!


                      Challenges:
                      100+ Reading

                      Book Review - The Faculty Club by Danny Tobey














                      Title: The Faculty Club
                      Author: Danny Tobey
                      Year: 2010
                      Page: 320
                      Genre: Fiction - Thriller

                      New to me author? Yes
                      Read this author again? Probably not
                      Tearjerker? No
                      Where did it take place? US
                      FTC Disclosure: Borrowed from the library

                      Summary (from goodreads.com):
                      At the world’s most exclusive law school, there’s a secret society rumored to catapult its members to fame and fortune. Everyone is dying to get in...

                      Jeremy Davis is the rising star of his first-year class. He’s got a plum job with the best professor on campus. He’s caught the eye of a dazzling Rhodes scholar named Daphne. But something dark is stirring behind the ivy. When a mysterious club promises success beyond his wildest dreams, Jeremy uncovers a macabre secret older than the university itself. In a race against time, Jeremy must stop an ancient ritual that will sacrifice the lives of those he loves most and blur the lines between good and evil.

                      In this extraordinary debut thriller, Danny Tobey offers a fascinating glimpse into the rarefied world of an elite New England school and the unthinkable dangers that lie within its gates. He deftly weaves a tale of primeval secrets and betrayal into an ingenious brain teaser that will keep readers up late into the night.

                      Packed with enigmatic professors, secret codes, hidden tunnels, and sinister villains, The Faculty Club establishes Danny Tobey as this season’s most thrilling new author.



                      First Sentence:
                      I remember my mother's reaction when I got accepted to the greatest law school in the world. 
                        
                      Why did I pick this book?
                      I saw it on the "new book" shelves at the library a few months back and borrowed it - I was attracted by its cover and the premise. I ended up not having time to read it and returned it. Then I saw it again a couple of weeks back, the premise still sounded very interesting (Secret Club!) so thought I'd try it again.


                      My thoughts:
                      • It started off very promising and interesting... and then it went downhill from there. It got unrealistic and then weird. I think it was trying too hard to be a story (think Indiana Jones or the Da Vinci Code) full of puzzles and adventures that it became too much of a cliche.
                      • I didn't quite like any of the characters, and some characters didn't get to develop much (and they set up to have bigger roles)
                      • The ending was disappointing too
                      • I guess I did learn a couple of new things: Ship of Theseus (p259) and "Shepardizing" legal cases



                        Rating: 1 Star



                         
                        Have you read this book? 
                        If you have, I would love to hear what you think! I'll link your review here if you wish!


                        Challenges:
                        100+ Reading

                        Sunday, October 24, 2010

                        Updates

                        • Wow, finally caught up with all the reviews! Probably because my reading had slowed down too...
                        • Felt like I'm in a reading runt. Everything seemed not good enough :p I think that's probably because I'd been really busy with work with new projects and deadlines, so had less time to read. Thus when I do get to read, I want to read something good, so that I'm not wasting my precious little time that I get to read!
                        • I am also sorry that I hadn't visited anyone's blogs for weeks... now that it's getting colder, we probably will stay home more often on the weekends, then perhaps I'll have more time to catch up on everyone's blogs...
                        • I will be having a yummy give away on Monday, 10/25/10, so what out for it!
                        • Another reason I was busy was... we adopted a 3rd cat! Yes I went from petless to 3 in 3 months... we have a good reason though. While the first 2 cats get along fine, Kunik really wants to wrestle and chase, while Tallulah doesn't.  Tallulah is fine living with other cats, and doesn't mind Kunik grooming her sometime, but she's just not into playing with him that much (she'd play with interactive toys like Da Bird and Panic Cat). Kunik just seems sad and bored. We looked at the local rescue / shelters for a few weeks - while the other cats were cute, none of them stood out to us, until we met this little guy!













                        • We got him a few days ago, and are still thinking of a name for him. His left eye looked a little funny in the photo as he was recovering from a cold. He's a Siamese-Mix, about 3.5 months old.
                        • He's in an isolated room right now, but had let him out a couple of times for a supervised visit. Boy, he and Kunik started wrestling and chasing almost straight away! When we first got Tallulah, Kunik would follow her, but didn't really try to wrestle her until much later. I don't know why, but Kunik decided to start early this time! And luckily the little guy was up for it even though he's probably less than half of Kunik's size. He was a little scared a first but he got over it. His foster mum rescued him from the side of the road, or he'd have been euthanize. The foster mum didn't have any cats, but had 5 dogs, including a greyhound! So this little kitten is a little fearless. We really hope that once he's out of his "jail", he'd get along with the other 2 cats fine!
                        • Tallulah and the little kitten had sniffed each other, and then went their way. I think Tallulah is just happen that Kunik has someone else to wrestle with, and will leave her alone! As long as she has food and gets petted, she's happy.
                        • So far, no hissing or growling from anybody, so fingers crossed! 
                        • And this is it - 3 cats, no more! :)  

                        Book Review - The Piano Teacher: A Novel by Janice Y. K. Lee














                        Title: The Piano Teacher: A Novel
                        Author: Janice Y. K. Lee
                        Year: 2009
                        Page: 328
                        Genre: Fiction - Historical

                        New to me author? Yes
                        Read this author again? No
                        Tearjerker? No
                        Where did it take place? Hong Kong
                        FTC Disclosure: Borrowed from the library

                        Summary (from goodreads.com):
                        In the sweeping tradition of The English Patient, a gripping tale of love and betrayal set in war-torn Hong Kong. 


                        First Sentence:
                        It started as an accident.
                          
                        Why did I pick this book?
                        It was part of book club read. Actually I suggested it as a pick, after reading numerous good reviews on different blogs. I was really interested in in as I lived in Hong Kong for 13 years, and played the piano, so I felt like I could relate to the book. This book eventually was voted to be part of this month's book club choice.


                        My thoughts:
                        • Meh. Why did I waste my time? I was so looking forward to it as I wanted to read another good historical fiction ("The Help" was a great read, and I usually don't like historical fiction). I thought the combination of a story setting in Hong Kong and something about the piano would make me like it a little bit at least!
                        • Seriously, after I read it, I thought, what was the point of the story? What was the author trying to say? And I couldn't think of a good reason... to me, the author wanted to pack too much into a book, and because of that, everything was just left hanging and not gone into depth enough - it had a somewhat love triangle (I won't even call it a romance), a mystery of the Crown Collection, expats / high society living in Hong Kong, before / after the WWII, a twist about the identity of one of the minor characters, etc etc etc...
                        • I don't even know why the title was chosen as that wasn't even a big part of the story
                        • Some of the actions by the characters made you go huh? What did that add to the story (for those who had read it - it's about Claire and what happened in the first chapter - wasn't really explained)
                        • The characters weren't likable either. 
                        • Some chapters were quite choppy, and the writing style wasn't consistent throughout the book. I caught myself re-reading the lines several times to see if I really read what I thought I read. It was almost like the author wanted to reveal something big, but it ended up being pretentious and confusing. (I should've noted the page numbers, but forgot)
                        • The love triangle wasn't that great - they happened too easily and I don't see how they could be so memorable
                        • The mystery/twist also wasn't that shocking
                        • I was hoping to read more about how WWII and its brutality. It touched on it a bit but not a whole lot.
                        • I just felt like I wasted my time reading this - it has potential but everything was just left hanging instead. In fact, it probably would have been a better story if it was just about Trudy and Will, and leave the part about Claire. But then, since Claire was the piano teacher, the title would have to be changed! Not that it is a good title for the current story... 

                           
                          Rating: 1 Star



                           
                          Have you read this book? 
                          If you have, I would love to hear what you think! I'll link your review here if you wish!


                          Challenges:
                          100+ Reading