books, series and more books

I’m an avid reader. I’ve been known to read a book an evening. Sometimes, it will take me close to a week to read a book. Depending on the storyline and how much I’m involved in the story. To say that I have 100’s of books would be an understatement. It’s probably close to 1000’s and now I’ve graduated to e-books. I love (like I love my son, love) my iPad and it’s iBooks application.

A few years ago, my nieces got me hooked on vampire books. I’ve read the Twilight series, the Sookie Stackhouse series, the House of Night series, the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series and now I’m just about done with the Dark Series. That’s alot of books (4, 10, 7, 19, & 18 books). But I love them. Who would have figured?
My favorite books to read are series. I do not like stand alone books. I will read them in a pinch, but I prefer series. I have a wonderful series called “The Brides of Montclair” that I love! I also have part of the “House of Winslow” series. The books by Emily Giffin are also awesome and mostly in series form. “The Savannah Series”, the “Texas Fury series”, the “Vegas Fury series, & the “Kentucky Fury series” are some of the others that I can read and read again.
My favorite authors are Christine Feehan, Jane Peart, Eugenia Price, Laurel Hamilton, Gilbert Winslow, Stephanie Meyers, PC Cast, Charlaine Harris, Debbie Macomber, Emily Giffin, Kristin Hannah just to name a few.
I also enjoy political thrillers. James Patterson, John Grishman & Vince Flynn are favorites of mine. Again, I prefer the series and they have written some good series.
So if you’re a reader, let’s chat. I will soon be in desperate need for more reading material. Recommendations on books and authors are welcomed and encouraged.

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

Simply one of the most powerful books I have ever read.  I simply wept at the end, that’s how much this book touched me.  And Stac…never again will one second of my life go by without you in it.  We really are best friends forever!!!

1. One of the first things Tully says to Kate is a lie. Indeed, Tully is quick to lie throughout her life. Do you think this trait is her way of hiding the shames in her past or is it a willful reinterpretation of self? Do these lies and manipulations, big and small, help her ultimately to be more honest about whom she is or do they undermine her ability to face her own shortcomings?  Tully is ashamed of her life and that is why she lies.  She lies to cover up things so people won’t judge her.  She understands who she is at the end of the book…and owns herself and her life when she goes on the air live with no make-up.

2. From her earliest memory, Tully feels abandoned by her mother and father. How does this sense of being unwanted influence her life? How does her troubled relationship with her mother lead to the decisions she makes in her life? Do children have an obligation of some kind to forgive their parents, even in the face of repeated disappointment? How much do you think childhood heartaches make us who we are? Tully was never wanted by her mother, so she needed to be wanted by everyone else, that’s why she chose the career she did.  As adults, we can not change who our parents are.  Either you accept them and love them anyway, or you simply cut them out of your life.  Childhood heartaches mold us into the very people we are.

3. The Kate-Johnny-Tully triangle is one of the fundamental underpinnings of the novel. How does Johnny really feel about Tully? How does Tully feel about him?  Still to the last page of the book, i expected something to happen between them.  I am impressed and awed that Johnny truly stuck his ground and loved only Katie.  Johnny admires Tully, but loves Katie.

4. Kate believes she is Johnny’s second choice for love. How does Johnny contribute to her insecurities? How did Tully? How much of a relationship is set in the beginning and how are changes made as we grow? Johnny contributes by allowing his admiration and adoration of Tully cloud his judgements at times.  Tully secretly wants what Katie has even Johnny.  How much of a relationship is set in the beginning…amazing question…which I have no logical answer.

5. When Chad leaves Tully, she rationalizes away her broken heart by saying,”if really loved me, he would wait for me.” What does this reveal about Tully’s perception of romantic love? How do these perceptions setthe stage for the rest of her life? Do you believe that Tully will ever fall in love?  Until Tully learns to love herself and allows herself to be vulnerable, she will never fall in love.  She was only herself with Katie.

6. Near the end of the novel, when their friend is on the rocks, both women feel wronged. Certainly Kate has ample reason to feel betrayed, but what about Tully’s similar belief? Do you understand why Tully was upset, too? Do you believe that a friend should always reach out, even when great pain has been caused? Or do you believe that true friends would never hurt each other?  I believe a friend should always reach out.  True friends will do their best not to hurt each other, but we are human, and eventually someone’s feelings will be hurt and regardless if it’s a hurt feeling or a great pain, a friend should reach out!!

7. If you could think of one word that personified the seventies, the eighties,the nineties, and the new millennium (so far), what would those words be?  70s – freedom; 80s – awesome; 90s – heartbreaking; 20s – stretching.  Freedom…because I had no cares in the 70s.  Awesome…because i had no idea how much fun i truly had back then.  Heartbreaking….because I suffered many heartaches in the 90s.  Stretching…growing…expanding…these are all things i have done in the new millennium…painful but intoxicating at the same time.

8. At which moment in the novel did you first notice a hint of tension between Tully and Kate? Who do you feel was to blame for this turning point?  When Tully always wanted Katie to work with her as a reporter and Katie wanted to go her own way.

9. Music plays an important role in this novel. What musical memories do you have of your teen years, your twenties, and today? Do you feel, as we get older, that music plays less of a role in our lives? Why do you feel that music so profoundly impacts us when we’re “coming of age?”  Music, regardless of my age, plays an enormous part of my life.  That’s one of the things i loved about this book, the tribute to music!!  Music transcends, takes us back and captures our emotions over and over again.

10. What do you feel Kate was most jealous about with regards to Tully? And what was Tully the most envious of in Kate’s life? Jealousy is often wanting what we cannot have. Do you feel that these characters truly could not have the things they wanted? If not, why not?  Katie was jealous that Johnny wanted Tully first.  Tully was jealous that Katie had love.  Tully could have had love, but she could never let her guard down with anyone but Katie.

11. Under what circumstances do you feel a betrayal is unforgivable? Do you feel that any of these characters crossed that line?  There is nothing unforgivable.

12. What role do you see Tully playing in Mara’s life, after the pages of the novel are closed?  After the pages of the novel are closed, I imagine that Tully tries to help Marah as much as possible.  She will help them all, Johnny, Marah, William & Lucas.  She will never fill the void of Katie, but she will take care of them.  She is loyal to Katie without question.

Book Club Review: Love the One You’re With by Emily Giffin

1. Leo & Ellen’s meeting is accidental. Do you believe in destiny or fate??? Yes absolutely. Things come in my path not by my making, however, how I choose to react to it is completely within my power.

2. After running into Leo on the street, Ellen becomes very preoccupied with thought of him. Do you think that this is a normal reaction to running into someone you once loved? I believe it’s a very normal reaction for someone you had no closure with. Ellen had no closure, he simply just left her and when she could have had closure, Margot didn’t tell her about him coming to visit. I don’t believe you stop loving someone, so for her want to catch up with him, get her closure is completely within her rights. Do you feel that it is okay to maintain relationships with exes? And yes I believe you can maintain friendships with exes.
3. The Grahams’ world is vastly different form the world in which Ellen grew up. Would you be attracted to the Grahams’ world? Yes Do you feel a desire to leave her roots behind played a role in Ellen’s initial friendship with Margot? No, not at all. Do you think it’s possible to maintain a close friendship with someone from a much different background?? Why or whynot?? A friendship yes, a close friendship no. One thing my best friend and I often comment on why we understand each other is the similarity of our backgrounds.
4. In many ways, Andy seems to be an ideal husband. He is thoughtful, considerate, and successful. How do you feel about the fact that Ellen often questions her relationship with him?? I believe she only questions it because she never fully had her closure with Leo. She never understood why Leo left her, what she did, etc. Because of that, she couldn’t help but go down the “what if” path. I think it has nothing to do with Andy and everything to do with Leo. How do you feel when she compares Andy & Leo?? I think it’s a natural reaction to a woman who is confused. Notice how at the end, there was no comparison. Once she got her closure and her wake up call, she was single minded in her commitment.
5. How is Leo different then Andy?? Leo is all sparks and intensity as where Andy is calm and loving. Can you think of any ways in which they are similar? They both care about Ellen, they just show it differently. What do their similarities and differences say about Ellen?? She is a very complex woman, like us all. Are the two men reflections of truly different sides of her?? Absolutely!!!!!
6. Margot was the first person to be supportive of Ellen’s desire to be a photographer. Was Leo?? Not really Was Andy supportive of her career?? Not really Why or why not??? I kind of feel they both were blasé about her career, as if it truly didn’t matter.
7. What do you think it say about Ellen that she likes to view the world through the lens of her camera? I love that she did. She sees things differently than the rest of us. She can see little things most of us would overlook.
8. Do you think that Ellen made the right decision by taking the offer to shoot Drake Watters?? Yes!! At what point do you feel Ellen should have told Andy about Leo’s involvement with the Drake and/or Coney Island projects?? From the beginning Do you feel he would have been accepting if she had been straightforward with him?? YES!!! Do you think it’s’ every ok to withhold the truth from a spouse? Absolutely not!! Even if it’s not going to be a pleasant conversation, omission is the same thing as a lie!!!
9. When Andy suggests the move to Atlanta, do you find yourself rooting for Ellen to agree – or hoping that she’d stay in New York?? Do you feel she had good reasons for her decision?? I wanted her to go and be happy, to forget about Leo.
10. What are your overall thoughts on Leo?? Do you feel that he is genuine in what he says to Ellen throughout the book?? Yes I believe he was genuine, and I believe he loved her. Did your thoughts change at all as the story progressed?? No.
11. Margot doesn’t tell Ellen that Leo came back to the apartment to see her. She does this for Ellen’s “own good.” Do you agree?? OMG…NO!!!!!!! Do you see this as a betrayal or act of friendship or both?? AN ACT OF BETRAYAL!!! If you were in Ellen’s shoes, would you be angry?? UHM….YES!!!!
12. In many friendships, there is a delicate balance of power. Whom do you feel has the power in Margot & Ellen’s relationship?? Does that balance of power shift?? If so, what causes it to shift??? Margot at first, then Ellen, then I think it balances at the end.
13. At Ellen & Andy’s going away party, Margot recognizes Leo’s byline in the magazine and puts the pieces together. How do you think Margot feels being caught between her loyalty to her best friend & her brother?? Do you feel she handled her conflicting loyalties well throughout the book?? I think Margot handled this very well. Not demanding like she became in the later in the story, but inquisitive. Had Ellen simply told Andy from the beginning, Margot’s opinion obviously wouldn’t have mattered.
14. Describe the relationship between Ellen & her sister, Suzanne. Do you think Suzanne has a positive or negative influence on Ellen and her decision making?? Do you feel Suzanne is a truer friend to Ellen then Margot?? Why or why not??? I believe Suzanne is very key to this story. She is a much better friend to Ellen because she knows her background and can understand the betrayal of Margot’s actions.
15. After the Coney Island shoot, Leo & Ellen go back to Leo’s apartment and are interrupted by a phone call from Suzanne. Do you feel Ellen would have gone further with Leo had her sister not called when she did?? Do you feel Ellen had already cheated on Andy prior to this point?? I honestly don’t think Ellen would have gone any further. Ellen cheated on Andy the second she began keeping secrets from him. Cheating isn’t always about a sexual relationship, it’s about honesty!!!
16. At what point does a relationship with another man become a true infidelity?? When the relationship with the other man becomes more important than the relationship with the husband. When you share secrets with him?? No because you can be friends with a man and share secrets with him, as long as your husband also knows. When there is physical contact?? No because as long as all parties know, it’s up to the individuals. Do you believe Ellen cheated on Andy on the red-eye flight with Leo?? No. Could Ellen had set there on that flight holding Margot’s hand or Suzanne’s hand???
17. Throughout the book, did Leo give any warning signs that he wouldn’t be good for Ellen?? I think so, but I think he was genuinely in love with her. Anytime the intensity is harmful, it’s not a good relationship. Do you feel Andy gave any warning signs that he might not be good for Ellen?? I didn’t like how he didn’t look after they moved to Atlanta. She shut herself off from him, but he’s too busy back in the social scene to even care.
18. Do you feel Ellen made the right decision at the end of the book??? Were you surprised by her choice?? YES!!!!! And no I was not surprised.
19. Do you think Ellen & Andy’s relationship was changed by this experience?? Yes, but only making it stronger. Do you think Ellen ever confesses to what happened in Leo’s apartment?? Yes Would you confess?? Yes, but I would never keep a secret like that either so it’s a moot point.
20. Discuss Ellen’s revelation that love is a choice and not on surge of passion. Do you agree?? I completely agree that love is the sum of our choices, the strength of our commitments & the ties that bind us together.

Book Club Review: Baby Proof by Emily Giffin

1. Do you think that there is a stigma against women who do not become mothers? Yes If so, how much more damning is it for a woman who chooses not to have children rather than one who is simply unable? I believe they are ridiculed or stereotyped more harshly because they are making a choice. Do you think women who don’t want children are judged more harshly than men who don’t want them? Absolutely!!! Society says a woman HAS to have a child, as where a man is able to make the choice.

2. Do you view Claudia as a selfish person? No. How much do you think she is defined by her decision not to have children? Well at first it defined her entire world. Was your first impression of her a favorable one? Yes Did you draw conclusions about her character after the first sentence of the novel? No
3. Do you think that most people would see a partner who doesn’t want children as a deal-breaker? Yes Is this an issue that one can compromise on? Not typically Is there such thing as a deal-breaker when it comes to true love or does true love conquer all? True love conquers all
4. Do you believe in soul mates? Yes I do. If so, do you believe that soul mates, by definition, want the same things in life? Not necessarily
5. There is a statement in Baby Proof that reads: “The biggest decision a woman can make in life is not who to marry but who should be the father of her children.” Do you believe that, to most women, the issue of children and motherhood (and who to share that with) supersedes every other decision in their lives? Yes, these choices are far more important then what profession to be or what car to drive. Or do you think that women today wrestle with the decision to have children more than they would care to admit? The decision to have a child is something all women struggle with and I believe it’s’ something that women struggle with more than then profession and social status.
6. Do you feel it was fair and reasonable for Ben to back out of their agreement to not have children? Yes because the choice of parenthood isn’t something that is concrete. Just because you don’t want it when you’re 27 doesn’t mean that when you’re 39 you don’t want it. It’s a negotiable choice. Is this a realistic promise in the first place? No, not at all!!! How would this have been a different story if it had been Claudia who had changed her mind? The story could have been one about 2 people how never wanted children trying to conceive, the pregnancy, the first 2 yrs of parenthood. Were you more frustrated with Ben for changing his mind about having children or with Claudia for being unyielding in her views? Neither, they were both right…as heartbreaking as it was to read.
7. Through the characters of Daphne, Maura, and Jess, Baby Proof examines ways in which motherhood impacts relationships and vice versa. How do these side stories relate to the central theme of Claudia’s decision to be “childfree”? I think each give her more than enough ammunition to stick to her guns!!! How do you think Claudia’s relationship with her own mother contributed to her feelings regarding having children? I believe that’s always the case.
8. There’s a scene in the novel in which Claudia, Maura, Daphne, and Jess are having lunch, and Claudia observes: “But as I listen to the three women I love most, I can’t help but think how crazy it is that we all want something that we can’t seem to have. Something that someone else at the table has in spades.” How does the issue of motherhood in Baby Proof tap into more universal themes of unexpected outcomes and unfulfilled desires? I believe we all have that one unattainable thing in our lives and at that moment in the story, they all were feeling it. What do you think of Daphne and Tony’s request of Claudia? It’s reasonable. What do you think of Maura’s decision to stay with Scott? To each their own.
9. Claudia’s disdain for Scott’s infidelity is evident in her comments about him. Her disapproval of Jess’s serial dating of married men seems more tempered, even though it could be said that without women like Jess, Scott would have no one to cheat on his wife with. Do you feel that our love for our friends frequently allows us to give them a pass for bad behavior? Yes, absolutely!!!! How often do you hide or minimize your true feelings in order to be supportive of a friend? More then I’ll admit, until they ask for my opinion, then watch out!!!
10. Discuss the ending of Baby Proof in relation to O. Henry’s classic tale “The Gift of the Magi.” Do you feel that the ending was satisfying? Do you think Claudia and Ben will go on to have children? I’m disappointed that the book didn’t give us this answer, because it can honestly go either way.

Book Club Review – Something Blue by Emily Giffin

1. Many readers of Something Borrowed expressed doubts at being able to read and enjoy a book from Darcy’s point of view. Were you reluctant to read her story? No, I couldn’t wait!!! Did your feelings about her ever change? WOW, I hated Darcy but they changed to be rooting for her by the end of the story. If so, at what point in the story? When Ethan finally gets in her face and she takes it to heart!!

2. What do you view as Darcy’s greatest weakness? Could this also be considered her greatest strength? If so, how? Her greatest weakness is she is superficial and shallow.
3. What do you think caused Darcy’s breakup with Marcus? Do you think Marcus was more or less responsible for it than Darcy? Marcus was responsible for the breakup. He wasn’t ready for the marriage/kid thing, then add in Darcy’s controlling ways…it was doomed from the beginning.
4. In many ways this is a story about personal growth and transformation. Do you think people can fundamentally change? YES!!! How difficult did it seem for Darcy to change? Very difficult, but when she had no other choice, she did grow up and take responsibility for her actions. What role did Ethan play in those changes? He painted them in such a way that no one else had ever and she was finally able to see it. What role did her pregnancy play? It caused her to not be able to be the spoiled brat anymore, she had 2 little boys to be mom too.
5. What do you think would have become of Darcy if she had not become pregnant? She woulda stayed the same…only add in bitter and callous due to Rachel & Dex. What do you think some of the key differences in living life in London as opposed to New York? I think it helped her not to have ANY friends and forced to make new. Do you think some of these differences helped Darcy evolve? Yes…especially since she wasn’t known there, it was a fresh start.
6. How do you think Darcy’s relationship with her mother played a role in the person she was? A big part…her mom was not the caring, nurturing suburban mom.
7. In what ways are Dex, Marcus, and Ethan different? Dex was looking for his “forever love”. Marcus was looking to “hook up”. Ethan wasn’t looking at all!! In what ways are they similar? They were all attracted to Darcy. Do you think their similarities are true of men in general? Yes, absolutely!!!
8. Where do you see Darcy and Rachel in five years? Possible friends, but never having the closeness they once shared. Ten? With Ethan’s help & the healing process of time, they could be close friends again.
9. If you were Darcy, would you have been able to forgive Rachel? Yes Would you have invited her to your wedding? Yes Do you feel there is a line that can be crossed in friendship, where forgiveness isn’t possible? No, never.
10. What are your views regarding the closing sentences of the book: “Love and friendship. They are what make us who we are, and what can change us, if we let them.”? They are inspired words of ultimate truth!!!!!

Book Club Review – Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin

1. What do you think was the real impetus behind Rachel’s decision to sleep with Dex after her birthday party? Was it about her desire to break out of her good girl persona? Was it about a long-standing resentment toward Darcy? Or was it both? I honestly don’t think it has anything to do with Darcy. I think she just was tired of being the good girl!

2. How do you view Dex? I love Dex!!! How would you describe Dex and Rachel’s relationship? He and Rachel’s relationship have what it takes to succeed, similar interest, similar paths, similar desires. What drew them together? Attraction of the lawyer side. Did you root for them to be together? YES YES YES!! Do you think they have true love? Yes!!!
3. Is anything about Rachel and Darcy’s friendship genuine? Yes I believe the friendship is genuine. The history is genuine. Do you believe it has changed over time? Yes. Why does Rachel defend Darcy against attacks from Ethan and Hillary? Because it’s her BFF and she wants everyone to view Darcy as she does.
4. Do you think Dex and Darcy would have married if it weren’t for Dex’s affair with Rachel? Why did he stay with Darcy for so long? I do not think they would have gotten married. There is Darcy’s numerous indiscretions and the fact that she was pregnant with Marcus’ child. I think they stayed together because they appeared to be “perfect” for each other.
5. How did Rachel’s flawed self-image contribute to the dilemma that she faces? What do you see as her greatest weakness? She is afraid of confrontation, afraid to stand up for herself.
6. Was Rachel’s moral dilemma made easier because of Darcy’s personality? Somewhat. Would she have acted on her attraction to Dex if Darcy were a different kind of person and friend? Yes, very much so!! How does Rachel rationalize her affair with Dex? Dex still wanted it, Darcy didn’t treat him well, etc
7. What risks does Rachel take when she pursues her relationship with Dex? She risks her entire reputation, her loyalty to her BFF, her parents disapproval. What is the biggest moment of risk for her? Probably not going to the 4th of July party to stay in town with Dex. How does Rachel grow and change in the novel? She learns that she can have something equal to Darcy, that she is just as worthy as Darcy is.
8. Disloyalty is a major theme in this novel. How differently do men and women view cheating on a friend? Marcus had no issue with it…yet both Darcy & Rachel strugged with it. Why is Darcy so indignant when she catches Dex and Rachel together when she has been having an affair of her own? Because Rachel is so far beneath her how could Dex actually want her?!?!? And add in the lifetime loyalty of the BFF…she had no right to be indignant but wouldn’t we all have been????
9. Under what circumstances is it justified to choose love over friendship? When it’s equally healthy to your well being; when it only enhances the already established boundaries. How important is it for women to stick together? 20 yrs ago I would have said it wasn’t important at all!!!! Now, it is critical to the sanity to any woman!!!! Have you ever been in a friendship like Darcy and Rachel’s? No, not like theirs exactly, but I do have a BFF I would do anything for…yet I don’t feel like we are in a competition with each other like Darcy & Rachel.
10. This novel is told from Rachel’s perspective. How do you think Darcy would tell the same story? How do you think she would describe Rachel? How do you think she views their friendship? Laughs….check out Something Blue…. =)