Month: November 2013

What I’m Reading Now: My Favorite Midlife Crisis (Yet) by Devens

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Dr. Gwyneth Berke has a perfect life…until one day she walks into her pantry, lets out a little scream of disbelief and begins the following list:

What to do when you find out that your husband is in love with your interior decorator, Brad (or, A Midlife Crisis Checklist):
–Get divorced (this is a must!)
–Quickly discover a lifetime supply of humor (this will also help with your children and your mentally deteriorating father)
–Stop sulking, show a little spirit and start a new life plan (also a must)
–Recruit your two very dear, newly single friends to help you with it
–Don’t look back and enjoy the ride!

My Thoughts On Gorgeous by Rudnick

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Over dinner I told my kids all about this book. I told them about how it was a story of a girl who was raised by her mother who died too young. Before she died, she made her daughter promise to embrace the magic that was coming her way. So when she gets a phone call from the most famous designer in the world who promises to make her the most beautiful woman in the world, she leaves her old world and embraces the magic of an entirely new one.

As the most beautiful woman in the world, she graces magazine covers, stars in a movie and even gets to meet a prince. And then it gets interesting. Because that is when she falls in love. . .and he falls in love with the most beautiful girl in the world. But the magic has a time limit and time is definitely running out.

My children were highly entertained, and so was I when I read this book. But I cannot in good faith recommend it to anyone because it is full of so many “f” bombs and even the “c” word makes an appearance, which is pretty unforgivable. I wish authors would realize that language adds nothing to truly great dialogue.

What I’m Reading Now: Gorgeous by Paul Rudnick

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A book that will make you see yourself clearly for the first time.

When Becky Randle’s mother dies, she’s whisked from her trailer park home to New York. There she meets Tom Kelly, the world’s top designer, who presents Becky with an impossible offer: He’ll design three dresses to transform the very average Becky into the most beautiful woman who ever lived.

Soon Becky is remade as Rebecca – pure five-alarm hotness to the outside world and an awkward mess of cankles and split ends when she’s alone. With Rebecca’s remarkable beauty as her passport, soon Becky’s life resembles a fairy tale. She stars in a movie, VOGUE calls, and she starts to date Prince Gregory, heir to the English throne. That’s when everything crumbles. Because Rebecca aside, Becky loves him. But the idea of a prince looking past Rebecca’s blinding beauty to see the real girl inside? There’s not enough magic in the world.

Defiant, naughty, and impossibly fun, GORGEOUS answers a question that bewilders us all: Just who the hell IS that in the mirror?

My Thoughts on The Trial of Fallen Angels by Kimmel

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I thought that the premise of this book, a defense attorney dies and is given the job of defending other souls before the judgment bar, was great. But I stopped reading this book about 2/3 of the way through. It just started getting a little odd — one too many trips down the rabbit hole. If you don’t mind weird, dig in! You may really like it!

What I’m Reading Now: The Trial of Fallen Angels by James Kimmel, Jr.

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When young attorney and mother Brek Cuttler finds herself covered in blood and standing on a deserted train platform, she has no memory of how she got there. For one very good reason.

She’s dead.

But she doesn’t believe it at first. Trapped between worlds, Brek struggles to get back to her husband and daughter until she receives a shocking revelation that makes her death no longer deniable: She’s been chosen to join the elite group of lawyers who prosecute and defend souls at the Final Judgment.

With each dramatic trial conducted in a harrowing courtroom of eternity, Brek discovers how the choices that she and others made during their lives have led her to this place. She realizes that if she’s to break the chain, she must first face the terrible truth about her death. But before Brek can do that, she suddenly finds that she herself has been called to stand trial…and that her first client in the afterlife holds the secret to her fate.

My review for Blythewood

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I read this book for The Deseret News. I wrote a great review, which had to be cut way down in order to make it into the special print edition of Halloween books. So I will share with you my original review. Because I thought it was pretty good.

Following a deadly attack, an innocent orphan boards a train to begin studying at a magical school set in a historic castle complete with mysterious teachers and a gentle groundskeeper. Upon arriving, this orphan quickly learns that nothing is as it seems and the world is full of magic and mystery as well as danger and evil.
Though the basic premise of this book sounds all too familiar, Blythewood magically stands on its own. Author Carol Goodman masterfully unveils a world of goblins, shape-shifting fairies, villains that exhale smoke, and black-winged angels that punctually come to the rescue time and again.
Blythewood is a young adult novel, and its language is clean and appropriate for a young audience. The love story is also clean and appropriate and will keep young female readers engaged, page after page. However, its size, just under 500 pages, may discourage some younger readers. Also, as Blythewood’s students are trained to fight evil creatures with bows and arrows, there is a little violence throughout the book, but it is not gory.
Many of Blythwood’s secrets are shared at the very end of the book. But, this ending is not a tidy wrap-up. An even larger story line emerges in the last few lines, leaving the reader with a hope that Carol Goodman will continue the journey with a new book. Soon.

What I Read For October: Blythewood by Goodman

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At seventeen, Avaline Hall has already buried her mother, survived a horrific factory fire, and escaped from an insane asylum. Now she’s on her way to Blythewood Academy, the elite boarding school in New York’s mist-shrouded Hudson Valley that her mother attended—and was expelled from. Though she’s afraid her high society classmates won’t accept a factory girl in their midst, Ava is desperate to unravel her family’s murky past, discover the identity of the father she’s never known, and perhaps finally understand her mother’s abrupt suicide. She’s also on the hunt for the identity of the mysterious boy who rescued her from the fire. And she suspects the answers she seeks lie at Blythewood.

But nothing could have prepared her for the dark secret of what Blythewood is, and what its students are being trained to do. Haunted by dreams of a winged boy and pursued by visions of a sinister man who breathes smoke, Ava isn’t sure if she’s losing her mind or getting closer to the truth. And the more rigorously Ava digs into the past, the more dangerous her present becomes.

Vivid and atmospheric, full of mystery and magic, this romantic page-turner by bestselling author Carol Goodman tells the story of a world on the brink of change and the girl who is the catalyst for it all.


Last Month Our Book Club Read. . .

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The Devil in the White City


Author Erik Larson imbues the incredible events surrounding the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair with such drama that readers may find themselves checking the book’s categorization to be sure that The Devil in the White City is not, in fact, a highly imaginative novel.

Larson tells the stories of two men: Daniel H. Burnham, the architect responsible for the fair’s construction, and H.H. Holmes, a serial killer masquerading as a charming doctor.

Burnham’s challenge was immense. In a short period of time, he was forced to overcome the death of his partner and numerous other obstacles to construct the famous “White City” around which the fair was built. His efforts to complete the project, and the fair’s incredible success, are skillfully related along with entertaining appearances by such notables as Buffalo Bill Cody, Susan B. Anthony, and Thomas Edison.

The activities of the sinister Dr. Holmes, who is believed to be responsible for scores of murders around the time of the fair, are equally remarkable. He devised and erected the World’s Fair Hotel, complete with crematorium and gas chamber, near the fairgrounds and used the event as well as his own charismatic personality to lure victims.

Combining the stories of an architect and a killer in one book, mostly in alternating chapters, seems like an odd choice but it works. The magical appeal and horrifying dark side of 19th-century Chicago are both revealed through Larson’s skillful writing.


My Thoughts On The Dark Divine Trilogy by Bree Despain

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Our local library had a special exhibit for these books during the month of October. They were presenting the books because they are full of suspense, perfect for the Halloween season, and the author also lives in Utah.

I enjoyed this trilogy. There is danger and romance — a werewolf without the pesky vampire– everything you want for a quick, nice read.

In the first book Daniel re-enters Grace’s life over the strong objections of Grace’s brother, Jude. Daniel is distant, angry, but clearly longs for the family relationship Grace enjoys. Though Grace wants to remain loyal to her brother, she cannot help but take action to help save Daniel, even though she does not understand what he need to be saved from.

Grace and Daniel’s relationship is re-established at the end of the first book, especially after Grace literally sacrifices everything that she has to save Daniel. But Jude has been hiding a secret and hurts Grace. Move along to the second book. . .

Grace is trying to adapt to the changes in her life at the same time Daniel is fighting for his own answers. These very different paths take them away from each other. Before love can conquer all, Daniel changes in order to save Grace. And he gets stuck. . .

Bring on Book Three. This is the largest of the three books. I found myself flipping through the pages in order to find some happiness for Grace. The ending of this book has a lot of action, heartache, betrayal and then (?) a little peace and happiness.



What I’m Reading Now: The Dark Divine Trilogy

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Grace Divine, daughter of the local pastor, always knew something terrible happened the night Daniel Kalbi disappeared–the night she found her brother Jude collapsed on the porch, covered in blood–but she has no idea what a truly monstrous secret that night held.

The memories her family has tried to bury resurface when Daniel returns, three years later, and enrolls in Grace and Jude’s high school. Despite promising Jude she’ll stay away, Grace cannot deny her attraction to Daniel’s shocking artistic abilities, his way of getting her to look at the world from new angles, and the strange, hungry, glint in his eyes.

The closer Grace gets to Daniel, the more she jeopardizes her life, as her actions stir resentment in Jude and drive him to embrace the ancient evil Daniel unleashed that horrific night. Grace must discover the truth behind the boys’ dark secret…and the cure that can save the ones she loves. But she may have to lay down the ultimate sacrifice to do it–her soul.