Monday, January 31, 2011

"Chick Lit"

Sometimes, I just want to read for fun!  I just finished reading The Lost Recipe for Happiness by Barbara O'Neal last night.  I chose it from the library because her current book, How to Bake a Perfect Life, is the Target Book Club pick this month, and generally I enjoy the Target suggestions. 

Elena has worked her way up from humble beginnings in New Mexico to become the Executive Chef of her own restaurant, The Orange Bear, in Aspen.  This book is worth reading just for the descriptions of Elena's food!  I couldn't wait to go back to Santa Fe and eat. 

Some other "chick lit" books I've enjoyed in the last year:

I can't read Sophie Kinsella's Shopaholic books without laughing out loud (and I really can't listen to the audio books without howling with laughter - I'm sure I make quite the sight while driving and laughing hysterically!).  The latest installment of Becky Bloomwood Brandon's life was simply fun!

Last summer, I was browsing the library, looking for paperbacks to pack on our trip to Colorado, and I stumbled across this book - Madam Mirabou's School of Love by Barbara Samuel.  I've since read a couple more of her books (Lady Luck's Map of Vegas and The Goddess of Kitchen Avenue) and found them all enjoyable.

Carolyn Parkhurst is best known for The Dogs of Babel, but I first discovered her with another Target Club Pick - Lost and Found, which tells the story of a mother-daughter team dealing with their own relationship issues while appearing on an Amazing Race-like reality show.  I can't recommend this one highly enough!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Gone, Baby, Gone

In 2008, I watched the movie Gone, Baby, Gone and I'm still angry about the ending!  I didn't realize until recently that this excellent movie came from a book by Dennis Lehane (who also wrote Mystic River and Shutter Island)

This movie (and the book) portray the parents we work with everyday at CASA more accurately than any other work I've seen or read.  Helene, the mother of missing 4-year-old Amanda, could be the mother from every case I've ever served.  She's not intentionally trying to hurt her child, she doesn't physicall abuse her child, but she is unable to put her child's needs before her own and because of this, she neglects all of Amanda's needs.  

I finished the book last night, and while I enjoyed it, this may be one of the rare exceptions where the movie was just as good as the book or maybe even better (others in this category for me are The Shawshank Redemption from Stephen King's novella and LA Confidential which came from the book of the same name by James Ellroy).  If you don't have time to read the book, I'd highly recommend watching the movie.  We showed it as a CASA movie night, and I think everyone there agreed that Lehane captured the essence of the neglectful parent in Helene.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

In the Heart of the Canyon

Here's the first book I've really enjoyed this year (of the four I've read!) - In the Heart of the Canyon by Elisabeth Hyde (author of The Abortionist's Daughter).  This book made me want to go on a rafting trip down the Colorado river (well, sort of - I don't know if I could take two weeks of sleeping outside and no bathrooms!).  The guide is taking his 125th trip down the river, but despite all of his experience, this is one of the most complicated trips of his career.  The characters were well developed, and I really enjoyed the description of the white-water rafting experience!

I liked The Abortionist's Daughter, but this book was even better!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Some of my favorite authors

I would read anything written by these authors and always look forward to the publication of their next book.  In no particular order:
  • Pat Conroy - his prose is simply beautiful.  I could read his books over and over just to savor the language.  Plus, his stories are enthralling!  My favorite books of his are Price of Tides, My Losing Season (non-fiction about his high school basketball team), and Beach Music.
  • Anna Quindlen - Black and Blue is the first of her books I read, and it's still my favorite.  Her books of essays are also excellent.
  • Anita Shreve - I could read Fortune's Rocks again and again. 
  • Stephen King - When he's on form, he's the best storyteller around!  The Stand and The Green Mile are my two favorites, but I also love books 2, 3, and 4 of The Dark Tower series.  Two of my favorite movies are adapted from King's novellas - The Shawshank Redemption (from the story Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption) and Stand by Me (from the story The Body). 
  • Michael Connelly - Blood Work is my favorite Connelly book, but I enjoy all of his books.
  • Dean Koontz - while he's rather wordy (making his audio books rather tedious), his stories are marvelous!  I've read them all, but my favorites are From the Corner of His Eye, One Door Away from Heaven, and the Odd Thomas books.
  • Adriana Trigiani - a great storyteller, my favorite of her books is Lucia, Lucia.
  • Larry McMurtry - Some of his books just make me laugh out loud and many of them have made me cry.  The Evening Star did both - it's the sequel to Terms of Endearment (one of the few books where I liked the movie better).  Aurora is the classic McMurtry character.  My other favorite McMurtry book is The Desert Rose, which always makes me laugh!  Harmony, a washed up Vegas showgirl, is a fabulous main character!
  • Jeffrey Archer - Kane and Able is one of my favorite books of all time - definitely in the top five!  His books are suspenseful and characters are well developed.
  • David Baldacci - Wish You Well is not the traditional Baldacci thriller, but it's my favorite of his stories!
  • Brad Meltzer - The Tenth Justice, his first book, is my favorite of his books.
  • John Grisham - while all of his books are a good read, A Time To Kill will always be my favorite.
  • Charlaine Harris - I love her Shakespeare series about a small-town amateur detective, Lily Bard, but her most famous books are the Sookie Stackhouse series which has been made into an HBO series, True Blood.
Reading this list, I realize I need to find some more female authors to follow!