Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Last Song


In the tradition of A Walk to Remember, this is a story of a teenage girl and her first encounter with heartbreak and love.

Seventeen year old Veronica "Ronnie" Miller's life was turned upside down when her parents divorced and her father moved from New York City to Wilmington, North Carolina. Three years later, she remains angry and alienated from her parents, especially her father...until her mother decides it would be in everyone's best interest if she spent the summer in Wilmington with him. Ronnie's father, a former concert pianist and teacher, is living a quiet life in the beach town, immersed in creating a work of art that will become the centerpiece of a local church.

The tale that unfolds is an unforgettable story of love on many levels first love, love between parents and children that demonstrates, as only a Nicholas Sparks novel can, the many ways that love can break our hearts...and heal them.

My Review: I listened to The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks on my ipod and thought it was so good. I really, really liked this book. I like all his books, but I think this is one of his better ones. I rank this right behind The Notebook, which is on my top 10 list. It was a wonderful book that was both heartwarming and heart breaking. I loved the characters and all the twists in the book. Nicholas Sparks brought me right into their lives. The story was “fun” to follow. I couldn’t get enough of the love story between Ronnie and Will, the friendship between Ronnie and Blaze, the relationship between Ronnie and her father the birthing of the sea turtles, and the bond between Ronnie and Jonah. Make sure you have some tissue – you will need it.

I believe if I had read this book, I would not have been able to put it down. Definitely, recommend this one.

The Movie: Last weekend I went out and bought the movie. I loved the movie as well. The actors were perfect and I thought it followed along the story line well enough. There were differences, but it close to the same. I tend to be a person that likes the book over movie, but in the case, I have to say it was a tie! This is a tear jerker – so you have been warned! Rent it or buy today or when you need a good cry!

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Island and GIVEAWAY!


From New York Times bestseller Elin Hilderbrand, a new novel set on Tuckernuck, a tiny island off the coast of Nantucket.

Four women-a mother, her sister, two grown daughters-head to Tuckernuck for a retreat, hoping to escape their troubles. Intead, they find only drama, secrets, and life-changing revelations.

My Review: This is a perfect summer read. I liked the characters, especially Tate and Garrett. I could picture myself at the house and on the beach of Tuckernuck. I enjoyed the story and how the past and present was weaved together. I would recommend this book, any time of year, not just as a summer read!

I listened to this book on my ipod and honestly, I didn’t care for the narrator. I felt the voice was very “whiny.” I was fortunate to receive this book from the Manic Mommies book club (www.manicmommies.com). When I was in the car, I would listen to the book, but at night, would read the book. I truly enjoyed this book better then the audio. As part of the MMBC, we had the honor of talking with Elin Hilderbrant for a approximately 40 minutes. Feel free to listen to what Elin has to say regarding the Island and more.   Also, we are discussing the book online.


I am giving away a copy of The Island by Elin Hilderbrant (US and Canada residents only, please).  All you have to do is subscribe to my blog and leave me a comment with an email address (email address {at}internet provider {dot}com).  The giveaway will close September 6, 2010 at midnight.  Good luck everyone.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

OMG, PINCH ME! Interview with Christine Lemmon (Sand in My Eyes)!!!

DRUM ROLL PLEASE………….I have had the honor of asking questions to the author, Christine Lemmon (check out her site www.christinelemmon.com – I have it playing in the lovely sound playing at work some days!). Can you believe it? Pinch me, right? Seriously…..I am still in a state of awe.

A very special shot out and a huge thank you to Crystal P at BookSparksPR for making this all possible. I so appreciate all your time and coordination. Thank you so very much for EVERYTHING.
Below are my questions and her wonderful answers. I hope you enjoy this as much I did!

1. I know you currently live on Sanibel Island, but have you always lived there? I lived in Jacksonville for 9.5 years and love(d) the ocean and all the little canals/streams that ran off from the ocean. I could picture so many of your scenes even though I have never been to Sanibel Island.

I haven’t always lived on Sanibel Island but I have been walking its beaches since I was two years old when my grandparents from Chicago bought a condo here and we would visit them. After my grandpa died, my sister and I continued visiting our grandma on the island, spending our high school and college Spring breaks on the beaches of Sanibel’s East End. My husband and I also held our wedding reception on Sanibel but then moved all over the country together, living in Atlanta, Sacramento, Nashville, and Orlando before his sales job serendipitously had us relocating so close to the Sanibel area we just had to rent a little house on stilts and find out what it might be like to actually live on an island. That was six years ago and we’re still here in our little house on stilts. It’s paradise!

2. My great-grandfather started a flower shop and greenhouse in 1902 in Grand Ledge, Michigan. My grandfather took over the business and than my mother. All three have passed away and we sold the shop to a distance cousins. My siblings and I grew up among flowers and this book just touched me so. I do not have a green thumb and I say I can kill a fake plant! Do you do a lot gardening?

I do not do a lot of gardening, however, when I was a little girl and my parents owned an ice-cream shop, there was a patch of dirt in the back of the building and I used my own money and bought packets of seeds at the local drugstore, then raked the dirt, cleared the weeds and planted a garden one summer as my parents worked our family businesses. And things grew! I will never forget the experience and the joy. I long to plant a garden with my children and my nine-year-old son has a passion for growing things. He wants to plant orange trees and grow pineapples. The problem is, there are snakes in our yard and strange-looking spiders. Oh, and fire ant mounds, and hungry bobcats, and even alligators. Maybe this explains why tropical islands aren’t exactly known for their gardens. Also, it is frowned upon to plant anything that is not native to the island. Sadly, my children will have to continue growing Chia Pets inside.

3. A follow-up to the above question...How did you learn so much about all the flowers in the book? I was so amazed at the connection of the flowers to story and characters. I absolutely loved it.

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I would take a five-mile ride around the island each morning after my boys went to school. Some mornings, if bothered by something happening in the world, or overwhelmed by something on my mind, I would notice the daisies growing alongside dumpsters and think to myself, always spot the wildflowers hidden within the weeds. Daisies are everywhere and so is beauty in the world, if we look for it. I knew then I had to write a story about flowers and I became hypersensitive to them and how they made me feel when I saw them during my daily bike ride. There were morning glories and I knew very little about them, only that they open for one day and then die and I thought we do not know the number of our days so we may as well make each day spectacular. There happens to be a rose bush on the side of my house (on the brink of death) and it is odd for a rose bush to be on the island, but it’s there and strangely, every few months the most amazing pink blooms appear. I sit on my front porch drinking coffee, thinking, women, like roses need nonproductive periods of rest in order to prepare for their next bloom. Much of my knowledge of flowers is purely inspiration, the way they make me feel when I see them and the thoughts that come to mind. I did, however, do a little research, especially regarding orchids and how finicky they are.

4. Was or is there a special elderly person (or neighbor) in your life? I have always wished for a neighbor like Fedelina. I have had great neighbors and they have been a wonderful support system, but we all tend to be at the same stage of life. The advice Fedelina gave Anna is so true. There were several parts of the book that I could have stepped right into Anna shoes. I felt like you saw inside my soul.

I can’t say I have a Fedelina in my life. I do, however, tend to create characters that help pull me through a particular stage in my life. At times, during the writing of Sand in My Eyes, it was like the older me talking to the younger me, telling me it all will pass, that one day your house will be clean and quiet and your children grown and gone and you would do anything to have your house a mess and noisy and your children little again. I do look at older women, at all the time they have and how lonely some of them are and I realize how this stage of my life—me running around my house like a chicken with her head cut off answering the demands of three little ones—is so brief. Coincidentally, after I started writing the book, I did notice an older woman out watering her grass in the little house next to mine. The house had been vacant when we moved in, but I learned the woman was up north visiting her daughter. She was definitely in Fedelina’s stage of life. Her husband passed. Her health was deteriorating. She was madly in love with Sanibel Island and didn’t want to leave it but her daughter was urging her to move back north and be by family. She would come over to my house and chat about her younger days and tell me funny stories about raising all her children and the cakes she made and the one her son knocked over. I had her over for Thanksgiving, and we became friends.

5. I have to ask, was there a Liam in your life? I thought for sure I had the ending all figured out....Fedelina would pass away and Liam and Anna would reconnect at the funeral. I was so wrong.

Nope. There has never been a Liam in my life. And it was hard writing about a husband who was not around. My husband is my best friend. He is a total homebody and hands-on-father, coaching their teams and so on. But just as an actress will play roles she might not be able to relate to, an author must also write of things she has not experienced.

6. Did you have the ending plotted out before you started writing, or did it develop as you wrote?

I did not have the ending plotted out in advance. I’ve tried in the past to write from outlines but find out that it takes the fun away for me. I like to think of writing as playing with dolls and if someone tells a little girl how her role playing with those dolls must end, it’s no longer fun. I did struggle with the ending of Sand in My Eyes and have often wondered whether I should have ended it a different way, but I did it the way I did for various reasons. I don’t want to give anything away here, but I’ll just say this: Anna wanted to be better than her husband who cheated on her.

7. Do you write daily or in blocks of time? Do you have a special place you go to and write or do you write where ever/whenever you can? I thought it was funny that Anna would write on anything she could find when something struck her. That was something my mother would do, but it was usually something she needed from the store, a story/message she needed to tell someone, a to-do list, etc.

When in the midst of writing a novel, I do write daily in two-hour chunks of time only when my children are sleeping. That means I can write from five until seven in the morning, or from around ten to midnight. I get inspiration as I’m out and about the island, wading in the water at the beach with my children, or bike riding, or sitting at the park, or on my front porch drinking a cup of coffee. I then jot my ideas down on anything and yes, that includes coloring books, scrap paper, and even a dollar bill once. I like writing at my desk in my bedroom because I need to be focused when I write and I like to enter the story to where I no longer realize where I am writing. I just like it consistent and quiet. There were times during the writing of Sand in My Eyes that my son would wake up just after I started to write and he would want to play and so I started writing in my pantry where he couldn’t find me. But then I got pregnant and would have to sneak out to the bathroom with morning sickness and I wrote scenes while in the bathroom. Writing while being a mom is not always glamorous! Whatever works!

8. Did you always want to be a writer?

When I was a little girl and got my first diary, I filled it up before the year was over and needed a new one. I then wrote feverishly in my diary all the way through college. One summer of college, I was confined to my room with mononucleosis. I slept all day but couldn’t sleep at night and so I pulled an old, noisy typewriter from my basement and started writing a novel. I felt a joy, like when I was a little girl and would open the doors to my dollhouse and pick up my dolls, ready to play. That joy was unforgettable and I knew in a roundabout way that writing is what I wanted to do. All my jobs after college were writing-related—working as a newspaper reporter, radio news producer, editor for a business magazine and so on, but never did I take a writing class. I just wrote!

9. What is your favorite thing about Sanibel Island?

My favorite thing about Sanibel is the beach at sunset.  Still, after all these years, my husband and I take our three children at least once a week to a sunset at one of our favorite beaches. No matter what is going on in our lives, or how tired I may feel, after an evening of sitting there on the beach, watching my children play and the sun set, I feel revived and invigorated—inspired! It always clears my mind and reminds me of what I want in life, which is beauty. I want to savor life.

10. What are some of your favorite books/authors?

I like to read classics, like Hemingway, Tolstoy, poetry by all authors, and stories by Hans Christian Andersen, as well as contemporary authors like Jodi Piccoult.

Sand in My Eyes


Twenty years ago, Anna Hott thought she could control everything — her crumbling marriage, her demanding children, her hectic life — by quitting her high-placed job in New York City and moving her family to tranquil Sanibel Island, Florida. But she brought her untamed emotions, her rage toward her cheating husband, and her yearning to write a novel with her. When her husband and children left the house for a week, Anna thought at last she would get her household, her novel, and her mind in order. Instead, her elderly neighbor Fedelina Aurelio knocked on her door bearing flowers and homespun wisdom, and when Fedelina's recently divorced son arrived, Anna had a test of passions and a test of truth. Now, at 56 with an empty nest, Anna Holt pulls out the incomplete manuscript she started that memorable week and — to find closure for her life and a conclusion for her novel — travels to Indiana to visit Fedelina who lives in a nursing home.

A novel framed within a novel, Sand In My Eyes is both a story about the tension between motherhood and personal dreams as well as a story about women across generations inspiring one another to let beauty persist despite ugly circumstances.

My Review: LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this book. I loved it so much it is going on my top 10 list. I can’t tell you all how much I related to the characters in this book. So many of the scenes I pictured me instead of Anna (crying on the kitchen floor). The relationship of the characters and how they develop throughout the story was beautiful. The lessons learned and advice from sweet Fedelina through the talk of gardening and flowers was fabulous. I can’t explain how much the book touched me. I think everyone should pick up a copy and read it. Oh how I wish for a friend like Fedelina. I know my review is not doing this book justice…you have to read it for yourself. Put it on your MUST READ list today.

I went out and bought her other books (Sanibel Scribbles, Portions of the Sea) and her gift book (Whispers from the Ocean). The covers on her books really take me away.  They are so peaceful.  Whispers from the Ocean reminds me so much of my mother.  I know we both would have owned a copy and picked a page each week to talk about.  It would either be over the phone or in an email (letters in the good old days).  We both love the ocean and she would have loved these books too.   

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Dear John by Nicholas Sparks


An angry rebel, John dropped out of school and enlisted in the Army, not knowing what else to do with his life--until he meets the girl of his dreams, Savannah. Their mutual attraction quickly grows into the kind of love that leaves Savannah waiting for John to finish his tour of duty, and John wanting to settle down with the woman who captured his heart. But 9/11 changes everything. John feels it is his duty to re-enlist. And sadly, the long separation finds Savannah falling in love with someone else. "Dear John," the letter read...and with those two words, a heart was broken and two lives were changed forever. Returning home, John must come to grips with the fact that Savannah, now married, is still his true love--and face the hardest decision of his life.

My Review: As I do all Nicolas’ books….I loved it. I would love to know what happened in his life to trigger this story. If you don’t know, most of his stories come from some event that has happened in his life. However, the last book signing of his that I have attended was in October 2005 with my mom. He did not return to Cincinnati/Dayton area while we lived there (fall 2008) and there is probably little to no chance of him (or any other author) coming to the Rochester area.

On the way back from Brazil (for work) this movie was shown on the plane. I was so excited as I had not seen it yet. I LOVED the movie. Amanda Seyfried is one of my favorite new stars – ever since Momma Mia, I just feel in love with her. She didn’t let me down in this. This was my first movie with Channing Tatum and I think the two had a great on-film chemistry.

Bottom line: Recommend the book and the movie!

Friday, August 20, 2010

I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced

"I'm a simple village girl who has always obeyed the orders of my father and brothers. Since forever, I have learned to say yes to everything. Today I have decided to say no."

Forced by her father to marry a man three times her age, young Nujood Ali was sent away from her parents and beloved sisters and made to live with her husband and his family in an isolated village in rural Yemen. There she suffered daily from physical and emotional abuse by her mother-in-law and nightly at the rough hands of her spouse. Flouting his oath to wait to have sexual relations with Nujood until she was no longer a child, he took her virginity on their wedding night. She was only ten years old.

Unable to endure the pain and distress any longer, Nujood fled--not for home, but to the courthouse of the capital, paying for a taxi ride with a few precious coins of bread money. When a renowned Yemeni lawyer heard about the young victim, she took on Nujood's case and fought the...

My Review: It is hard for me to rate this book or say that I loved it, given the topic. I will say I highly recommend it, as you won’t believe it. I was in complete shock over this book. I think it is well written (believe it is for 10-13 year olds). It was a very short book, put to the point. The length was perfect. I read this book in 3 days. I just wanted to take Nujood into my arms and home and protect her. It is incredible what Nujood went through in her first 10 years of life. It was very educational and opened my naive eyes to another part of the world. It was very hard for me to believe a world like that exists, but I know it does. It is so easy for us turn a blind eye to other’s issues. I kept looking at my seven year old twin girls thinking, this could be them, if we lived in a different part of the world. Nujood and her lawyer go on my list of heroines.

P.S. Isn't she just beautiful?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

#17 The Boy Next Door


To: You (you)
From: Human Resources (human.resources@thenyjournal.com)
Subject: This Book

Dear Reader,

This is an automated message from the Human Resources Division of the New York Journal, New York City’s leading photo-newspaper. Please be aware that according to our records you have not yet read this book. What exactly are you waiting for? This book has it all:

Cooking tips
Great Danes
Heroine in peril
Dolphin-shaped driftwood sculptures

If you wish to read about any of the above, please do not hesitate to head to the checkout counter, where you will be paired with a sales associate who will work to help you buy this book.

We here at the New York Journal are a team. We win as a team, and lose as one as well. Don’t you want to be on the winning team?


Human Resources Division
New York Journal

Please note that failure to read this book may result in suspension or dismissal from this store.
*********This e-mail is confidential and should not be used by anyone who is not the original intended recipient. If you have received this e-mail in error please inform the sender and delete it from your mailbox or any other storage mechanism.*********

This was my first Meg Cabot book. I read it years ago. I still recommend it people all the time. I love the format of the book – all done in email format. We meet the characters and the story develops through emails between characters. Don’t skip the To, From and Subject, otherwise you may be lost. Like all of Meg Cabot’s books, this is a very fast read and great for the summertime (or anytime).

I love the characters in the book and just wanted the book to continue.  As I found out by reading everything written by Meg Cabot , this book is full of her traditional humor and spunkinest that I love.  She is one of the best chick-lit authors, ever!  Just to give you an idea - she was married on April 1st - April Fool's Day - since her husband had said, only fools get married.  I had the honor of meeting Meg at a book signing at Books & Company in Dayton, Ohio (my favorite bookstore).  She was too funny for words.  I brought all my books for her to sign - adult ones - personalized to me; young adult - personalized to my two daughters.  She was awesome and signed them all.  I would give this book a 5 out 5.

Other books that have the same format (email) and carry over some characters are: She Went all the Way, Boy Meets Girl, and Every Boy’s Got One.