A Good Year by Peter Mayle

Posted in Event, Review at 10:36 pm by Amber

This was my final book for the Lit Flicks Challenge and I only had a few days to get it read.  I can read some books rather quickly but the way this started didn’t give me much hope.  It was an entertaining read, though.

Previously, I’d read A Year in Provence by Mayle and was positively charmed.  His writing proved the region the tourists experience is not the same as the region inhabited by the locals.  This was a memoir.

A Good Year is a fiction novel about an Englishman named Max who quits his job and finds out he’s inherited the French chateau of his uncle on the same day.  It appears to be the answer to his money problems – move to France and own a winery.  However, a few wrinkles come up that makes fulfilling the plan less straight forward than initially thought.

In the beginning I found the writing regarding actions annoying.  It was like reading overly detailed directions for a movie script.  About Chapter Five or Six is when the action flowed more naturally.  It may be because there were many more characters at this point.  Or it could be because Max was established as being more at home at the chateau than in London.  Not long after those chapters is when the winery intrigue picks up.

The movie version was released a few years ago with Russell Crowe in the role of Max.  I suspect the movie focuses more Max giving up the hustle and bustle of high finance in London and learning to appreciate the slower pace of Provence.  While I had no interest in seeing the movie I’m now slightly intrigued.

Lit Flicks Challenge Completed

Posted in Event at 11:48 am by Amber


I’ve now completed my first reading challenge.  This helped me get some of my TBR books into my read pile which is always good.  It was fun reading the reviews of books and movies I’d already read and seen.  Even more fun was finding out about titles that were new to me.

Here were the rules:
1. Challenge runs from September 1, 2008 to February 28, 2009.
2. Read 5 books/pieces of literature that have been made into movies.
3. Then watch at least 2 of the movie adaptations of the works you read.
4. Your list may change at any time and may include overlaps with other challenges.

Here is my final list of books read for the challenge.  Click on the name of the book in the list to see the review.  The movies I saw were Twilight and The Good German.

1. The Good German
2. Devil In a Blue Dress
3. A Good Year
4. Twilight
5. Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen
6. The Jane Austen Book Club (Bonus book)


Kitty Goes to Washington by Carrie Vaughn

Posted in Review at 10:12 am by Amber

Kitty and all of her friends (plus a few enemies) return in Kitty Goes to Washington.  One fear with a series is that a lot of information about the characters will be left out.  Vaughn keeps the reader up to speed on what happened in the first book without boring details.  In fact, she gives enough information to hook the reader into wanting to go back and read the previous book. 

In Kitty Goes to Washington, Kitty is asked to testify before the U.S. Senate.  The road trip is short since she’s left Denver, Colorado and taken her show on the road.  In D.C. she meets a were-jaguar and comes under the protection of the city’s vampire mistress.  She makes some lifelong friends and enemies. 

One quibble I initially had is how a minor enemy (an evangelical preacher) that appeared in the last book was dealt with in this one.  Thinking back on it, though, Vaughn handled it quite well.  She could bring back the character or his followers in a short story if she wished to explore his storyline further but he served his purpose and there was no point in dragging it out for another book (or two).

It’s a good thing Vaughn decided Kitty needed to get out of Colorado.  As a DJ with a talk show about the supernatural Kitty can only draw on her experience and research to provide answers to her callers.  Expanding Kitty’s territory exposes her to new experiences and other supernatural beings.

Vaughn included a playlist for this book just like with Kitty and the Midnight Hour.  Here it is:
The Watchmen, “Together”
Peter Gabriel, “Games Without Frontiers”
Oingo Boingo, “No Spill Blood”
The Clash, “Know Your Rights”
Suzanne Vega, “Tombstone”
Shriekback, “Nemesis”
Pet Shop Boys, “DJ Culture”
Pink Floyd, “Us and Them”
Aqua, “Doctor Jones”
Prince, “Kiss”
Too Much Joy, “You Will”
The Clash, “(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais”
The Beatles, “Across the Universe” (Let it Be. . .  Naked version)
New Order, “True Faith-94”


Time For Another Book Giveaway Carnival!

Posted in Giveaway at 12:22 am by Amber



It’s time for another Bookroom Reviews Book Giveaway Carnival.  Tracy will be hosting it from March 2nd through March 8th.  You’ll want to stop by Bookroom Reviews to see what giveaways Mr. Linky has available for you.  This time I’ll be participating so come back here on March 2nd to see what book related item I’ll be giving away.


Lit Flicks Challenge Update – Only a Few Days Left!

Posted in Event at 8:08 pm by Amber


I may be cutting it close!  I have one book from my list left to read and there are only a few more days left in the month.

  1. The Good German
  2. Devil In a Blue Dress
  3. A Good Year
  4. Twilight
  5. Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen
  6. (Bonus) The Jane Austen Book Club


Literacy and Longing in L.A. by Jennifer Kaufman and Karen Mack

Posted in Review at 3:00 pm by Amber

The local branch of my library displays books along the wall with the covers out to entice readers.  Their new tactic is to have tables near the reserved items area with multiple copies of books.  It really feels like a bookstore when I browse the tables and this is where I found Literacy and Longing in L.A.

Here is part of the jacket flap:

Dora, named after Eudora Welty, is an indiscriminate book junkie whose life has fallen apart – her career, her marriage, and finally her self-esteem.  All she has left is her love of literature, and the book benders she relied on as a child.  Ever since her larger-than-life father wandered away and her book-loving, alcoholic mother was left with two young daughters, Dora and her sister, Virginia, have clung to each other, enduring a childhood filled with literary pilgrimages instead of summer vacations.  Somewhere along the way Virginia made the leap into the real world.  But Dora isn’t quite there yet.  Now she’s coping with a painful separation from her husband, scraping the bottom of a dwindling inheritance, and attracted to a seductive bookseller who seems to embody all that literature has to offer – intelligent ideas, romance, and an escape from her problems.

That is one difficult setup for an avid reader to walk away from.  It’s easy to identify with Dora’s book reading binges even if her reasons are different from my own.  My binges are because I have a large block of time while Dora’s binges are retreats from outside problems.

This is chick lit with a literary twist.  Over a hundred authors, editors and books are mentioned in a natural way.  Dora puts thought into choosing books that will match the mood of her book binges and often rereads books already in her collection.  The reader is let in on her thought process for picking the books.  Also, the reader gets to overhear conversations between the bookstore employees.

Dora has a good heart with only the best intentions.  Nearly everyone I know has a really off year or two in their lives where nothing comes together the way they think it should.  Literacy and Longing in L.A. is a good example for anyone going through one of those rough patches to realize things can be better than they were before – just keep one foot in front of the other.  It also is a good escape for anyone who wants a retreat for a few hours.

Devil In A Blue Dress by Walter Mosley

Posted in Event, Review at 1:14 pm by Amber


For a long time I stayed away from this book.  When it comes to series I am a completest – it doesn’t feel right to me to read a book out of order in a series and I mistakenly believed this was not the first Easy Rawlins book.  The Lit Flicks challenge made me look up the series and helped me get rid of a book that’s been in my To Be Read pile for years.

This detective novel is not for the faint of heart.  Murders, incest, pedophilia, racism and police brutality all find their way into the life of Easy Rawlins after he’s let go from his job at Champion Aircraft.  Easy is a veteran of World War II living in Los Angeles in 1948.  He’s got a mortgage to pay on a house he loves with no new source of income in sight.  An acquaintance of a friend asks him to locate a specific pretty young woman who was proving difficult to find. 

While parts of Easy’s world are violent, Mosley doesn’t shove that violence into the reader’s face.  Easy knows the status quo – he’s seen and heard a lot things even if he hasn’t experienced them firsthand – and this lets him wiggle off the hook when necessary or look the other way until something can be done about the injustice.

The writing is tight.  Characters that seem like they’re only there for color reappear when least expected.  No holes are left when the reader discovers who did what.  Cultural and character back story are given without reading like information dumps.  This won’t be the last work of Mosley’s I’ll read.  I only regret it took me this long to get around to it.


Uncommitment: Dealing with a Predator by Leigh Laurence

Posted in Review at 12:42 am by Amber


Like the tagline on the cover – “Don’t be fooled by his charm and charisma. He’s really a player!” – don’t let the washboard abs on the cover keep you away from this ebook. The target reader is single women but the pages contain wisdom that can be applied by anyone who is open to it. It rings true for friendships and family relationships. Some of Leigh Laurence’s truths include:

  • Most people have a pattern in their lives that continue until they become cognizant of it and begin to work on changing it.
  • There’s nothing like knowing you’ve fallen for someone who could care less than two cents about you.
  • Backing away is almost always harder than getting involved.
  • When you’re still incomplete, it’s best not to pursue or accept any relationship.

The examples above seem like common sense to me but sometimes when people come into our lives we can’t always recognize if the relationship is a good one or not. And sometimes it just isn’t the right time for either person to be in a friendship/relationship. Or perhaps the person is of our flesh and blood so it’s difficult to walk away or set boundaries.

Laurence has a no nonsense approach.  She provides a talking point and then explains her position.  The advice rings true – she’s made some mistakes in love and owns up to them.  It’s like getting good advice from an older sister. 

This is the first book from the “Heart of a Player” series to be published by Living Waters Publishing Company. Visit Leigh Laurence’s blog for more information on Leigh and how to purchase this ebook.


Bookworms Carnival – Literature and Film

Posted in Event at 7:42 am by Amber


Jessica at The Bluestocking Society is hosting the 23rd edition of the Bookworm Carnival.  The topic for this edition of the carnival is Literature and Film.  Jessica put forth a question to everyone who stops by her site – the question and my answer are below:

Do you prefer to read the book first or see the movie first?

I definitely prefer to read the book first.  There have been some great adaptations but I’d prefer to imagine how characters look in my head to seeing the actors from the movie.  In the case of The Accidental Tourist it didn’t matter.  I saw the movie first (it was one of the first times I’d seen a Cardigan Welsh Corgi) but liked both the movie and the book.  The casting was well done and there were some characters I was able to imagine differently.  The acting was great but the performances weren’t so iconic that I could still imagine different faces/bodies to go with the characters.


Being Lost Isn’t Always Bad

Posted in Writing at 2:00 pm by Amber

Once someone knows of my wonderful ability to get lost it can become a defining characteristic.

During my college years I was a bridesmaid in a wedding held in a city slightly South East of Columbus.  It was a 30 mile drive and I attempted to go by myself to the rehearsal.  After all, I had made it to the bridal shower without help from anyone.  (But I could be mistaken – it’s entirely possible the bride picked me up to make sure I’d be there!)  In high school and college I didn’t own a car.  I only drove the family station wagon in the city.  On this particular trip the freeway signs confused me.  Lost and anxious, I pulled over and used a pay phone to tell them I was late.  (This was before cell phones were everywhere and the best quality movie format you could find was a laser disc.)  The pay phone was located 55 miles North West of the rehearsal.  I had gone 23 miles in the opposite direction of where I needed to be!  In my absence I was nicknamed “Miss Plain City 1992” because that was where I called from. 

I write “lost” too.  It’s difficult for me to use outlines or have a real sense of structure when I tackle a short story.  When lost while driving I get anxious.  I worry about how late I’ll be, how long it will take me to get righted, and how much fun I may be missing.  When writing while lost it is an entirely different experience.  My words meander across the pages.  I’m confident I’ll get to where I need to go.  There is no time limit on when I have to get there.  It’s so much easier to enjoy the ride.

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