May 2009

Brida by Paulo Coelho
Every girl I know morphs into a witch sometime during her life – usually around October 31st. Brida is an Irish girl who makes good on the promise and becomes an honest to goodness practicing witch 24/7/365 -- but not after a training period that rivals the Naval Academy. Brida is an older release, but still has the great Coelho message: you can do and accomplish whatever your heart desires. If that’s brewing up spells then so be it. Paulo Coelho wrote The Alchemist, which is still my favorite.

Handle With Care by Jodi Picoult
Charlotte and Sean O'Keefe thought they were in great hands with pregnancy care since their OBGYN was a close friend. Their daughter, Willow is born a special needs child and although they adore her, their life becomes one challenge after another. The family unit survives -- well, until Charlotte starts asking herself who was to blame for Willow’s condition? Is it just me or has this story line has been “done” quite a bit lately?

In The Image by Dara Horn
This is actually two incredible stories, made perfect by weaving them together. One is the tale of Bill Landsmann, avid photographer and elderly Jewish refugee. The other chronicles Leora’s life – who happens to be a friend of Landsmann’s granddaughter. As their life stories unfold – his past and her future—the reader realizes that six degrees of Kevin Bacon isn’t as far-fetched as one might believe. I almost put this book down, until the big “ah-ha” moment, then I was hooked.

Little Lost River by Pamela Johnston
Gosh I love books about Idaho or written by Idaho authors, so imagine my anticipation since Little Lost River is set in Boise, and written by an Idaho author! Cindy Morgan has lost her Mother and if that weren’t enough, she’s involved in an accident that leaves her injured, and her boyfriend presumed drowned. Frances Rogers happens upon the accident site and stays with Cindy until help arrives. They are entirely different, but eventually become friends. Their paths are not easy or entirely conventional, but they do find their own way. Beautiful book.

Moose: A Memoir of Fat Camp by Stephanie Klein
Stephanie Klein needs to gain fifty pounds. After hearing those words (uttered from the mouth of her doctor) she has an intense flash-back to adolescence. Klein was fat. Imagine being an eighth grader with a weight problem walking the halls of a school. The boys called her "Moose," her father told her, "No one likes fat girls." Klein's parents enrolled her for a summer at fat camp where she hoped to lose weight and find that special something that would magically help her be popular. As I was reading this book, the thought came to me…..a good read has become as difficult to find as true love on a reality dating show.

The Piano Teacher by Janice Y. K. Lee
Who doesn’t love a book set in early 40’s Hong Kong? Ah, the mystic, the romance the war-torn landscape. Will Truesdale, dashing Englishman falls into a passionate relationship with Trudy Liang, a beautiful Eurasian socialite. Of course the Japanese invasion puts a slight damper on the whole affair since Will is sent to an internment camp. Fast forward ten years. Newlywed Claire Pendleton moves to Hong Kong and is hired by the wealthy Chen family to teach their daughter piano. She meets Truesdale, and well, if a smoky, slow-paced historical fiction book is your cup of Chinese tea, then go for it my friend. I enjoyed the story.


April Books

Comfort Food by Kate Jacobs
Cooking show host Augusta Simpson is turning 50 (ugh!) and discovers that her network wants to team her up with a young new co-host. So, throw in a few other ingredients – aka hunky assistant – and while in pursuit of higher ratings and foodie delights, she finds more than she bargained for. This book is a definite warm fuzzy – so if you need one of those have at it.

Lincoln as I Knew Him by Harold Holzer
Lincoln was a terrible dresser, rarely combed his hair, constantly read out loud, told a raunchy story with the best (or worst) of them, and let his kids run amuck in the White House. Who knew?
Holzer (who just happens to be an authority on Lincoln) snooped through nineteenth-century letters, diary entries, books, and speeches written by people who were Lincoln’s contemporaries -- which offers a tad bit different version than those history books we read in school. I like this guy Lincoln and the fact he freed the slaves is totally icing on the cake. Besides I’m actually related to him. He may be honest Abe to you but he’s Uncle Abe to me.

Made in the U.S.A. by Billie Letts
What is it with Letts and Wal Mart? Perhaps she thought it was her lucky-charm-book -setting, since her bestseller Where the Heart Is had a big Wal Mart connection. Well, not so fast Billie – Made in the U.S.A. was a trite yawner for me. 15-year-old Lutie McFee and her 11-year-old brother, Fate, take off to find their long-gone Dad by stealing a car and hot footing it to Las Vegas. Of course they become targets for child predators and it looks like they just won’t catch a break. Of course those of you who read Letts knows that things will turn out pretty sweet (aka: unbelievable) in the end.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
Dominican-American writer Junot Díaz has a way with words -- which kept me reading this wacky story about Oscar the 300-lb loser-geek brother of, you guessed it – a perfect sister. Oscar does eventually end up with a girl – but only long enough to know, truly know heartbreak and loneliness.
Winner of the 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award and the 2008 Pulitzer Prize, for Fiction – so, besides my endorsement its got that going for it.

Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher
From Star Wars icon and marrying Paul Simon, to dousing herself in drugs to combat bi-polar disorder, Carrie Fisher has had a charmed and chaotic life. I mean really – were you a bestselling action figure at the age of nineteen?
Wishful Drinking is a memoir of her life as she remembers it – parts have obviously gotten a bit fuzzy, what with the electroshock therapy…
Fisher has a great sense of humor -- no doubt why she’s still alive. My favorite part is when she learns the father of her daughter forgot to tell her he was gay (!), and the time she woke up one morning to find a friend dead beside her in bed.