Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Book #16: A Pug's Tale by Alison Pace

"A Pug’s Tale" by Alison Pace follows Hope McNeill who works in the Conservation Studio at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. When a valuable painting comes up missing (mysteriously, with a fake left behind) Hope and her colleagues decide to try to find it on their own. They hire a detective but do not go to the police. Hope suspects everyone and feels like everyone suspects her as well.

This all happens at a time when her boyfriend, Ben, is living out of the country and she is left to care for his pug, Max. Max is all Hope has at the moment and she feels very alone with no one to confide in. Without Max, however, Hope would never be able to piece together the clues that lead to the person responsible.

Ms. Pace does a beautiful job of setting the various scenes. Having never been to New York, let alone Central Park or the Met, I am given a picture of words that allows me to experience it as if it were my own backyard. She develops a likable character that I can relate to in Hope. I can sense her anxiety and her obsession with the mystery. Of course, when you add in a lovable, snorting Pug, that’s a bonus!

A Pug’s Tale was a fun read and a page turner. Many times I didn’t want to put the book down but was forced to. I always looked forward to being able to get back to it and read some more. Ms. Pace has written several other books with dogs playing prominent roles, I suspect that I’ll be picking those up as well!

I would recommend this book to fans of mysteries, Pug lovers and art aficionados.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher after winning it from Goodreads.com. This in no way influenced my review of the book. My thoughts here are my honest review.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Book #15: If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won't) by Betty White

I hope this doesn't constitute cheating, but I didn't actually read this book. It is in audio book format and I listened to it on a trip to Wichita last weekend. What makes it super-awesome though, is that it was read by the author herself, Betty White!

"If You Ask Me" is a collection of the author's thoughts on many different subjects. She talks about Hollywood, health, and my favorite subject, pets. You really get to understand what a down to earth person Betty White is. She discusses the Mary Tyler Moore Show, the Golden Girls and Hot in Cleveland. You get to hear her feelings about Saturday Night Live and the Snickers commercial. There are tons of funny and touching stories!

I wasn't sure if I was going to enjoy listening to a book, but I really did! One of the perks to an audio book is you know exactly what the author's inflection is. I often wonder if I misread certain things and don't get the full understanding of what the author is saying. Not so in this situation. You get the story exactly as it should be told, not just your interpretation of it as you read.

Whether you pick up the traditional book or the audio version, you'll get wonderful insight from a funny lady who has seen a lot in her life!

Book #14: Visions of Sugar Plums by Janet Evanovich

"Visions of Sugar Plums" by Janet Evanovich is a "Between-the-Numbers" novel in the Stephanie Plum series. It is really more of a novella; very short and not as detailed as the regular series.

In "Visions of Sugar Plums" Stephanie is faced with something completely new: a man appears in her kitchen out of nowhere. She can't figure out what kind of supernatual being he is, but isn't too frightened of him. Of course, it doesn't hurt that he's hot (kind of like every man in her life-how lucky is she?). She lets him tag along on her current apprehension since she's feeling frazzled at the fact that it's a few days before Christmas and she's trying to pick up a skip named Sandy Claws. I mean really, at that point, what's a hot, supernatural guy going to hurt?

I read this book in about two hours. It was just as hilarious as all of the other Stephanie Plum books, just quicker to read and with fewer twists. It would make a great read for a work commute or a short flight. Just be open to the fact that the supernatural element is never explained. Who needs an explanation with Stephanie's life though?

Book #13: Warriors: Rising Storm by Erin Hunter

"Rising Storm" is the fourth book in the Warriors series by Erin Hunter. The Warriors books are about a clan of cats who live in the forest. In this installment, Fireheart is now the deputy of ThunderClan and is still dealing with issues from some of his clanmates resulting from the fact that he was once a kittypet-not clanborn.

ThunderClan still faces danger from its former deputy, Tigerclaw. On top of that, Bluestar, the clan leader is not herself after Tigerclaw's betrayal, leving Fireheart to make some very important decisions regarding the clan.

I felt that this book in the series was rather dark and depressing. There was so much turmoil and tragedy that it was hard to enjoy the happier moments that occurred. There is a huge twist at the end though, that keeps me wanting to continue the series.

Even though "Rising Storm" was full-and I mean FULL-of sadness, I still really enjoyed it. The good thing about reading a series is that even if one book is a downer, you can look forward to an upswing in the coming books. I still highly recommend this series, but you MUST start from the beginning with "Into the Wild."

I would be interested to hear your thoughts on this series. Although it's a children's series, I think it's a great option for adults too. What is your opinion?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Book #12: Savvy Auntie: The Ultimate Guide for Cool Aunts, Great-Aunts, Godmothers, and All Women Who Love Kids by Melanie Notkin

"Savvy Auntie" by Melanie Notkin is more than a book-it's a movement. I first came across Ms. Notkin on Twitter under the handle @savvyauntie. I started following her right away, as I consider myself a savvy auntie. I loved the way she celebrated my unique situation as a PANK (professional aunt, no kids). I finally felt like there was a cool group that I belonged to and in that group it wasn't weird that I was married, in my mid 30s, and didn't have kids.

In "Savvy Auntie" Ms. Notkin defines the "auntisms" used in the book and online. You're instantly in the know about the auntie lingo! There are fun facts sprinkled throughout the book as well. There are several pages regarding the early stages of aunthood, even before the baby is born. She gives great ideas on how to help the expectant parents and advice on what to expect with a newborn baby-even how to hold or swaddle a baby for those of us who are rookies or have never been comfortable with brand-spanking-new humans!

As I was reading this book, I even began to develop my own ideas about things to do with/gifts to give to my great-nieces. The book is quite the motivator! Since I became an aunt at such a young age (8 years old), now that my niece and nephew have kids of their own, it's like becoming a DebutAunt all over again! Back then, the babies were fun for me to take to show-and-tell at school, but that was about it. These days, I'm very close to them as adults and hope to have the fun with their kids that I missed out on with them. "Savvy Auntie" not only gives me great ideas, but it serves as a way for me to define the "kind" of aunt I want to be.

I would recommend this book to a number of people. If you've got kids in your life that aren't yours, but you love them like they are, take a look at "Savvy Auntie." As the title says, this book isn't just for the traditional aunt. You could be an auntie by relation (ABR) or an auntie by choice (ABC). You might have kids of your own, be child-free or have become a ParAunt to children in your life. It's all there, in the book. Know what else is there? Some super-cool cocktail recipes. I can't wait to try them-when I'm not doing auntie duty, that is!

I received a free copy of the book from the author. This in no way influenced my review of the book. The review posted here is my honest opinion.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Book #11: On The Job: Behind the Stars of the Chicago Police Department by Daniel P. Smith

Daniel P. Smith is a journalist who comes from a family of cops. He understands the mentality of a cop and has done an enormous amount of research, part of which comes simply from being around cops his entire life. I attended a training session Mr. Smith gave regarding the perceptions police have of the public and vice versa. It was a valuable training session and I was engaged throughout the entire session. It was during this training that I received a copy of "On the Job" and was lucky enough to have it personally autographed by Mr. Smith.

Unfortunately, I didn't find the book nearly as engaging as the training session. I wish more of Mr. Smith's personality would have come through in his writing, but it did not.

The book focuses on individuals in the Chicago Police Department and how the job influenced their lives. There are some fascinating stories about officers in different divisions and in different stages of their careers; from the street cop to the former Deputy Superintendent; and from the rookie to the retired cop. I'm sure this would have been much more interesting if I was from the Chicago area. Since I am not, I had trouble really getting into the book. It was also very dry reading, without much to draw me in. Not to mention, there were some glaring editorial mistakes that distracted me.

If you are from the Chicago area or have a personal tie to the Chicago Police Department, this might be a good book to read. For me, it was just okay. I feel that I got a brief overview of how the CPD works, but it wasn't much more for me than that.

On a positive note: if you ever get the chance to see Daniel P. Smith give a presentation in person, by all means, attend!

I received a copy of this book at no charge from the author. This in no way influenced my review of the book.