Sunday, January 31, 2010

Chocolate-the cure for all that's a book.

Divya, a book recommendation for you is Chocolate, which is a book that was also made into a movie. I specifically picked this book for you because you and Vivek will be doing an Iron Chef with us in a few weeks/months. Not that chocolate will be the secret ingredient, necessarily, or that your names will be pulled out of the hat in April to be the cooks, this book, they talk about how chocolate can be used as an ingredient in all types of dishes, not just desserts. I was so inspired to cook decadently after watching this movie and reading this book. You're such a good cook that you might like this particular book too!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Want to know what to get your guy for Valentine's Day? Boudoir Photos!!!

That's right, ladies! The latest trend in professional photography?


Our wedding photographer, whom we loved, Lisa Boggs, is now branching out into boudoir photography. Want to see more? Feel free to visit her website at

She told us that brides are asking for boudoir pictures on top of engagement and wedding photos. It's the latest trend for 20-30 something women and a trend that I'm sure the guys dig. Wedding photos aside...what to get for your husband, sig other, or boyfriend for Valentine's Day? Boudoir photos of yourself!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Secret Society Girl--that's my Shilpa!

Shilps, this book recommendation is for you. Secret Society Girl is such a fun book! It's about a girl in college who is picked for membership into the most infamous secret society on campus. The author, Diana Peterfreund, went to Yale, so the society is modeled after the real Skull and Bones. Diana is also from Washington DC, so I'm proud to support her.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Remember Me? Recommendation for Ginger


Thanks for always asking how my book is going. I really appreciate your encouragement. You are the most fabulous recruiter at work!

So this posting is dedicated to you with a book recommendation that I really love. Remember Me is quintessential chick lit written by Sophie Kinsella. It's about an average woman who wakes up from a coma one day---with expensive possessions, a vice president position in her company, and a glamorous new look. She doesn't remember how she got any of these things. Last she remembers she was an average Jane with no boyfriend, a lousy job, and no money. Now she's married to a gorgeous millionaire. The book goes on to explain how she got her current persona but what she had to give up to rise that high.

I see this book becoming a movie! Hope you like it!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Bethesda Magazine Fiction Submission

An update on my writing: I am submitting a short story called Silence to Bethesda Magazine for their annual literary festival. This is a story I wrote in senior year of high school for a fictional literature class. It's about a 68 year old man who is thinking back on the regrets of his life, the biggest one being how stubborn he was with his adopted son. It's a story of a family and the lies that drive them apart. Submission deadline is February, and if I win, the story will appear in their magazine in April.

Shout out to Wendy E. for telling me about the contest! Thanks, Wend!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Freaks? Economics? No! Freakonomics!

Scott S., this one's for you! Freakonomics is a book about cool statistics that help explain human nature. Jason loved it, so I thought that you as a businessman in change management would appreciate it too. (p.s. You know if I had found a book about going on cruises, I would have recommended that for you!) Happy Reading!

Monday, January 25, 2010

What Should I Read Next?

There's a really cool website where you type in a book you like, and then the site will spit out a few other books it thinks you'll like.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Guest Recommendation from Kim W. - Girl with a Pearl Earring

Guest Recommendation From Kim W.

I'm not an avid chick-lit reader, but I found myself elbow-deep into 'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Tracy Chevalier. The book really brought Vermeer's painting to life, and it included a few tid bits of 17th Century Dutch culture without sounding like a history lesson. I could really empathize with the main character, a girl house-servant for Vermeer's family who cleans his art studio. She pines for her old life with her family, has some love interest with the master of her house, and accepts advances from the local butcher's son where she buys her master's meat. A quick read - definately recommend it.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Can Parents Make Their Kids Give up an Organ?

I haven't seen the movie My Sister's Keeper yet, but I've read the book, and I liked it a lot. I wouldn't say it's my favorite book (probably because I already knew how it would end and that tainted the experience for me), but it was pretty powerful. The concept is pretty interesting--a little girl who's born just so that her sister can have a genetic match for bone marrow (or some other bodily fluid/tissue...I can't remember now). But she grows up completely at the beck and call of her sick sister who constantly needs blood, etc. from her. The straw that breaks the camel's back is when this girl's mother asks her to give up a kidney for her sister. The girl files for emancipation from her parents so they won't be able to make her go through the procedure.

Someone who'd already read the book asked me if I'd give up a kidney for a family member. I don't have any sibling so I can't say for sure, but I sure know I'd give up a kidney for my parents if they needed one. I might feel differently though if I was specifically born to save someone else. I think I'd start feeling like my life wasn't my own.

Teesha, since you're one of my friends who's most dedicated to her family, this book recommendation is for you. You're also one of my most compassionate friends.

Does anyone have any thoughts on the moral implications of this theme? Can parents really make their kids give up an organ? Is that even legal???

Friday, January 22, 2010

This Book Will Change Your Life

Truly! Leif, this book recommendation is for you. It is decidedly NOT chicklit! Super funny, though!!!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

First Glimpse of Girl: Treasureseeker

Excerpt from Girl: Treasureseeker

Being a hostage never really factored into my set of everyday worries. True, I had worked in the realm of spies, but I was never one myself. I didn’t know how to use a gun or dance the tango at an international gala. I didn’t know how to write secret messages in code or deceive anyone with a foreign accent. I certainly didn’t know how to remain calm while two men strapped my arms behind my back and threw a burlap sack over my head. And I definitely didn’t expect to sit scrunched for days in a damp, miniscule enclosure anxiously waiting for my captors to decide what to do with me.

I guess everyone has a few life experiences they don’t expect, but I was certainly way over my quota.

Sitting with my legs pulled up against my chest, I cradled my head in both hands.

“How could they possibly think you’re a spy?” groaned my boyfriend Justin, who lay on his side in the dirt next to me.

“At least they haven’t separated us yet,” I responded, completely ignoring his question.

“Yeah, at least we’re still coherent too. I swear they drugged me last night during their interrogation session. You know, they don’t teach this stuff in college.

I laughed, even though my stomach still hurt from the kick our captors had delivered three days ago.

“So what do we do since we don’t know any state secrets?” I asked.

“Lie? I don’t know. Make stuff up?” Justin answered.

“This is so unfair. It’s exactly why I left Cutter & Jamison, that government agency….all that stuff.” I trailed off. I propped myself with one arm against the stone wall and shivered. “What do you think they’re going to do with us?”

Justin looked up at me from his horizontal position on the floor. He just stared at me for a few seconds, our eyes giving away all the fears we couldn't bear to verbalize.

After a minute, Justin sat up, cracking his back with the effort. “I have to…you know…go to the bathroom.”

We’d long ago given up on the human dignities of a toilet or privacy. He leaned an arm against the far wall, his head just slightly touching the low ceiling. I could hear him unzip his now filthy, three day old jeans.

He muttered, “I’d say don’t watch, but who the fuck cares anymore.”

I laughed uneasily—anything to stop myself from crying. We had done enough of that during our first two days in this shit-hole.

I whispered what I feared the most--the thing that would suck all the hope out of our situation, “Do you think anyone even knows where we are?”

Justin finished his business, and looked over his left shoulder at me. “I don’t even know where we are. I don’t even know what nationality our captors are.”

“Do you think the American government is looking for us?” I asked, picking at a ripped toenail.

“Probably.” Justin reached for the piece of white printer paper that lay on the floor. “Have you memorized your lines yet?”

He was referring to the script our masked captors had given us a few hours ago. We were to memorize our lines, and we surely knew that meant they’d be videotaping us.

“Yeah. Have you?”

“No, not yet. What worse could they do to us if I screw up a few words? Kill us?”

Justin’s words hung in the air between us. I looked down so that he couldn’t see my eyes as I responded. “Yeah.” I choked out the word, giving away the tell tale signs of fresh panic.

Justin immediately crouched down on the floor facing me. “I’m sorry, Rach. I’m sorry. They won’t do that. Don’t worry.” He reached out with one hand on my shoulder and the other resting in my palm. “It’ll be ok. We’re too valuable to them. You have, goodness knows what other, state secrets to tell them…and I…well…you know from the script. I have a biological weapon to build them.”

I looked up at Justin, eyes awash in unshed tears, head shaking back and forth. “What are we going to do, Justin? What are we going to do?”

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Wickedly Good Book

To my lovely actress friend, Amy--of course I have to recommend a book that was made into a Broadway musical. Wicked by Gregory Maguire. I thought this book was pretty creative. Very different from the original Wizard of Oz movie. I like when people take original stories and tell a new story from the perspective of the villain.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Guest Recommenders

That could be you! Just send me the paragraph you want to post, and it'll serve as my posting for the day. You save me a day of posting, you get to tell the world what book you recommend, it's all good.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Chicklit and Shopping! 50% off sale on EVERYTHING at Ann Taylor Loft

A friend Kat and I were talking about my blog the other day, and I told her I was worried about making my goal of 1 posting a day for 365 days. The reason is not that I can't write in the blog once a day, but I made a goal for myself to do one book recommendation per day. Thing is...yes, I've read 365 books, but I didn't like all of them. Maybe at most I have 200 books that I would want to recommend. So what would I do with the other posts?

My friend reminded me that I can still post discussions of books, guest recommendations, discussions on topics related to chicklit, etc.

Thus, today's posting is about shopping. Come on, you know that most chicklit books have shopping in there somewhere. (Although, I didn't include any shopping in my novel Girl: Classified....)

I read an article about shopping in one of those airplane magazines over the holidays, and I found it rather upsetting. It talked about ten non-fashion-forward stores that used to be cool but aren't anymore. So the store where I get most of my work clothes was on there, and I was so sad. I thought I was hip and cool getting suits there. Are you ready for the store name? Ann Taylor and Ann Taylor Loft!

The article went on to talk about how the store is trying to change its clothing line to be more fashion-forward. Apparently Ann Taylor is moving away from conservate but cute suits to the "I'm going for a jaunt on a sailboat" look. I have been noticing that their clothes are getting more causual.

Nevertheless...they are having a 50% off sale on EVERYTHING in the store. Don't know how long it lasts, but it was on yesterday. Even if the item is already on sale, you buy one item at regular price, and a second item is 50% off.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

I'm speaking at George Washington University March 8th

George Washington University is having a symposium on chicklit-Monday March 8th-for faculty and other employees. The symposium consists of a book swap, a lecture by one of the GWU professors, and a discussion about writing chicklit with me! Erica set it up and asked if I'd speak; thank you, Erica!

I'm planning to talk about this blog , my website, how I wrote Girl: Classified, the Golden Heart Awards, and the process of getting published.

As part of the discussion on how I wrote Girl: Classified, I'm going to touch on the advantages of keeping a detailed outline of the novel as you're writing. I never got writer's blog while crafting Girl: Classified because anytime I had an idea about the storyline, I'd add it into my outline. Then anytime I sat down to write, I'd just work off the outline.

I can't wait to speak about this topic. This is the first time that I've been asked to talk as an "authority" on chicklit, and it's pretty exciting!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Nathan Bransford's Blog

Nathan Bransford is a literary agent who writes a blog about publishing and agents. It's quite informative. He says that marketing is a key to getting published, and that part of marketing is making sure you have a "googleable presence on the web".

Well, sir, that's what I now have! If you google "girl classified", "girlclassified", "Marlena Amkraut", "chick lit book recommendations blog" you'll find my website or blog as one of the first suggested links.

What I need now, though, are followers on this blog. So this is me imploring you to sign up to follow this blog.

We Love Roald Dahl!


Since you had already read Lovely Bones, the other book I recommended for you, I'm giving you another recommendation. You and I both love Roald Dahl. Did you say he's your favorite author?

Boy is Roald Dahl's autobiography. It's non-fiction, but it's so hilarious that it reads like fiction. You can also tell where he got some of the zany, creative ideas for his children's books.

Friday, January 15, 2010

More Brilliance by Stephanie Meyer

Shannon, you are, of course, next up for a book recommendation. How could I not give a book recommendation to the girl who chose the title for my novel, Girl: Classified? Does everyone know that? Yes, Shannon, my lovely coworker, came up with that nuanced title that references the fact that my novel's main character sells furniture through the classifieds and also worked in a spy/classified environment.

For you, Shannon, I recommend The Host by Stephanie Meyer. I know you love the Twilight series, so you might have already read Stephanie's next book. It's a brilliant story, and I love how Stephanie (look how I write like I know her personally) says that any story should contain the element of love to be great. So this is a sci-fi book, but it's totally chicklit because of its heavy devotion to the theme of love.

Have you already read it? Has anyone else read this one? Do you think it's better or worse than the Twilight books?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Happy Birthday Mom!

Mom, since today is your birthday, my posting is dedicated to you. Thank you so much for always having confidence in my writing and for encouraging me to pursue the things I love. Thank you for writing down the strange stories I dictated to you as a little kid and for typing up the stories I wrote in elementary through high school. Thank you for reading me Beatrix Potter when I was young so that I'd develop a vocabulary from the get-go. Thank you for reading me a story each night so that I'd grow up thinking of books, reading, and writing as the most luxurious comfort. And thank you for always being so positive and good-hearted. Your whole attitude is an inspiration.

For you, I wanted to recommend one of my favorite books. I know you liked the Harry Potter series, so I'm recommending another series for you--Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. This series is about a high schooler who falls in love with a vampire who refuses to drink human blood even though he is utterly tempted by it. And wouldn't you know...the main characters live in Washington State. :)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

First Love at Its Best - Pure Chicklit Yuminess!

Jen, it's high time I did a book recommendation for you since you usually like the exact same books as me. You're a true chicklit connoisseur. So I'm recommending a pure, true chicklit book for you. I loved this one, and have read/listened to it on audio book multiple times.

The book is Dedication by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus. They're the same authors who wrote the Nanny Diaries.

So Dedication is about a girl whose first love went on to later become a Justin Timberlake-esque music superstar. All of his songs contain veiled lyrics about their relationship. He abandoned her and his band on prom night, never to be heard from again--until they heard his first song on the radio. The main character vows to take revenge on him, make him regret leaving her, and make him pay royalties to the old band who he left in the lurch and whose songs he stole. This book is about the girl finally facing him after ten years.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

American Wife

Colleen, since you'd already read Water for Elephants, I have another book recommendation for you. It's called American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld. It's the fictional story of Laura Bush. It never says her name, and they've changed the facts just a little bit, so they can't be sued. But it's the story of her growing up, how she killed her boyfriend, and how she ended up married the future president. Then it goes into her life as the perfect wife--only once disagreeing publicly about her husband's international politics. I thought this book was utterly fascinating. I didn't like Sittenfeld's first book, but I loved this one.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Would you take the heart of a criminal?

Kim, today you told me that you like books such as The Time Traveller's Wife. Based on that fact, my book recommendation for you is Change of Heart by Jodi Piccoult. It's literary fiction with deeper thoughts than just everyday chick lit. Usually Jodi Piccoult's books deal with moral, complicated conflicts, and I particularly like the one showcased in Change of Heart.

In this novel, a woman's husband is killed in a car accident. She ends up re-marrying--with the police officer that helped her. She had a child by the first man, though. Then she has a second child with the police officer, but that child grows up having a very weak heart. The woman and the policeman hire a construction worker off the street to build a room in their house. However, the woman drives home from the grocery store one day to find that her street is blocked off, and police are everywhere. Her husband and first daughter have been killed by the construction worker. The worker is caught with the daughter's underwear in his pocket, convicted, and sentenced to death. Upon his execution, though, he wants to donate his heart to the woman's second child.

Thus, the question: would you take the heart of a criminal, specifically one who killed your family members? My answer is yes, hands down. If it was a match, then I'd take matter who it came from.

However, can heart transplants also transplant the personality of the donor? Some say yes, including a prominent professor at the University of Arizona. Check out the below info:

Gary Schwartz, professor of Psychology at the University of Arizona, who first carried out a series of studies called the After Life Experiments - which validated the idea that consciousness lives on after we die - will present fascinating new research intotransplant memory which suggests that some people who have received organ transplants seem to undergo major personality transformations, and even develop new abilities which the donor possessed.

Professor Schwartz has detailed over 70 cases which demonstrate this phenomenon.

In one such case, a young dancer received a heart-and-lung transplant. Before the operation, she had been very health-conscious; yet, the very first thing she did on leaving the hospital was to head for a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet, and wolf down an order of chicken nuggets‹something she would never have done before. Her personality changed, too: she became aggressive and impetuous whereas, before, she had been calm and conservative.

She decided to investigate and, after much battling against the medical bureaucracy, she discovered that her heart­lung donor was an 18-year-old man who had died in a motorcycle accident. He had been an aggressive and impetuous lad who had a passion for Kentucky Fried Chicken--in fact, uneaten KFC nuggets had been found in his motorcycle jacket on the very day of his death.

Another notable case is that of an eight-year-old girl who had received the heart of a 10-year-old girl who had been brutally murdered. After the transplant, the recipient began to experience horrifying nightmares. Her dreams were consistently about being murdered, and they were so traumatic that a psychiatrist was called in to help. What he heard convinced him that the girl was describing the actual circumstances of her donor's murder. When the details were given to the police, these proved to be so accurate that the killer was easily identified and apprehended.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

To Kill a Mockingbird Banned in Some Schools

Suzanne, you may have already read this book, but my recommendation for you is: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. It was one of my favorite novels that we were instructed to read in 9th grade. You said you like historical fiction, and I think this book fits into that category easily.

To Kill a Mockingbird is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel published in 1960. The plot and characters are loosely based on the author's observations of her family and neighbors, as well as on an event that occurred near her hometown in 1936, when she was 10 years old. To date, it is Lee's only published novel, and although she continues to respond to the book's impact, she has refused any personal publicity for herself or the novel since 1964.

The book delves into the themes of racism in America as well as addressing issues of class, courage, compassion, and gender roles.

I've heard that this book is banned from some schools because of its use of racial epithats. What do you think of banning books from schools? Are there some books that shouldn't be taught? Is this one of them? Does this book draw put too much light on the topic of racial prejudice or is it shining needed light on a still-relevant subject?

Can You Figure out the Murderer?

Colleen, my book recommendation for you is Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.

See if you can figure out who the murderer is. I think the book tricks you into thinking it's one person the entire time because it starts with the murder scene. Only until the very end do you find out who got vengence and really committed the crime. But...I bet you won't think it's such a big crime by the end of the book. In fact, you'll root for the murder to happen.

I think this book is also good commentary on animal cruelty and how animals are truly at the mercy of human beings in still so many ways. It made me sad but I was so glad to have read the book anyway.

The War of the Roses Was a Historical Event

Did you know that the War of the Roses was an actual historical event? It occurred in England around Edward IV's time. The house of Lancaster (red rose) and the house of York (white rose) caused a massive civil war in England by pitting two sons against each other for the throne and creating a real-life Romeo and Juliet. Those people who favored Edward and the Yorks wore a white rose on their collars and those who favored the Lancasters wrote a red rose. Elizabeth Woodville, of the House of Lancaster, married reigning King Edward IV of the House of York in secret. They married for love, but they hoped to bring peace between the warring families at the same time. Instead, they could not bring the families to agree on a rightful king, and Edward is driven into excile. Elizabeth hides in the Tower of London.

During this time, one of England's greatest mysteries occurred as well. Elizabeth and Edward had two sons, one of them destined to be the next king. They are cared for by their uncle, at Elizabeth and Edward's dismay, and end up "missing". To this day historians know that the boys went with their uncle into the Tower of London, but they do not know what happened next. Neither of the boys were able to take the crown.

On a trip to England this year, we visited York, and wouldn't you know...their bridges and buildings still had white roses etched and painted in their sides. It seems the story lives even to this day...

Kat, you said that you were interested in historical fiction, and do I have a book for you! My recommendation is The White Queen by Philippa Gregory. It's the story of the War of the Roses and Elizabeth Woodville.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Is it ok to lie to your children?

The theme of this posting is in reference to the Kite Runner, the book that was recommended to Jason S. yesterday.

Is it ok to lie to your children? Is it ok to lie to your children if you have a good reason? Like protecting someone or saving the family honor? The reason I bring this up is because that question plays a major role in the Kite Runner. Also, my husband and I happened to be watching an episode of The Sopranos this week that also featured the "lying to your children" theme.

In the Sopranos, Paulie, a major character, and one who is part of the Soprano mafia crew, is told by his dying aunt, "Mildred" that she's his biological mother. Mildred has been a nun for as long as Paulie can remember, but she got pregnant as an unmarried women back in her twenties. Paulie's aunt, "Gemma" pretended that Paulie was her son to protect Paulie's Mildred from the dishonor of unmarried pregnancy and the scrutiny of society. As you can imagine, Paulie was extremely upset upon hearing the revelation.

Would you be upset if you were the child of such a ruse? Would you forgive your biological and non-biological mothers? Which one would you feel was your real mother? I'm sure many adopted children would say that the parents who raised them were their true parents-their real mothers and fathers.

The Kite Runner also carries the theme of paternal/maternal disception. Please do not read further if you don't appreciate spoilers.

In the Kite Runner, the main character, "Khalid" is raised by his father, a wealthy man in Afghanistan. There are two servants living in the wealthy man's house-a father and son named "Rashid". They are treated well--like part of the family--but they are still servants. Rashid waits hand-and-foot on Khalid. We find out toward the end of the book that the servant father was once married to a beautiful, promiscuous woman. A long time ago, she had relations with the wealthy man while married to the servant. When she became pregnant, it was agreed that the baby would be considered the son of the servant man and his promiscous wife. All three parties involved agreed to engage in the elaborate lie. Rashid would be known as the servant's son, even though the real father was the wealthy man. The wife ended up running away, and the servant and Rashid stayed in the wealthy man's house for most of their lives. A few years later, the wealthy man ended up having another son, Khalid, the main character. Khalid, who so yearned for his father's love and approval, was so jealous that his father gave any attention, whatsoever, to Rashid, that he plotted to have the servant and Rashid thrown out of the house.

Upon leaving the safety of the house, the servant father and Rashid were subjected to the harsh realities of the Taliban, and misfortune befalls them in astonishingly harsh ways.

Toward the end of the book, Khalid finds out that Rashid, whom he mistreated so unfairly, was actually his brother.

The maternal/paternal lie not only affected the servant boy, but it also changed the life of the main character, Khalid.

Would honesty have changed the lives of all characters in the book? Probably. Would it have changed their lives for the better? What do you think?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Recommendation for Jason S. Kite Runner

Jason, I know this is a chicklit blog, but I thought you'd like this book recommendation. I wouldn't count this book, Kite Runner by Khalid Hosseini, as chick lit. It's literary fiction with some very heartachingly sad parts. It's about two boys who grow up together, but because of circumstances in Afghanistan the their lives diverge. The book not only outlines the adventures of their lives and how much both boys yearned for their fathers' love, but it also details the conflict in the country and the rise of the Taliban. You have to have a thick skin to read this book, but it's a powerful story.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Tales of Beedle the Bard for Lisa A.

Hi Leese,

I chose a fun book for your recommendation--Tales of Beedle the Bard by JK Rowling. Everyone knows she's written this follow-up book for the Harry Potter series, right? This is the actual children's fairytale book that she references in the last Harry Potter novel. It's kind of cool that we can read the fables that Dumbledore gave to Hermione. Some of these fairytales are a little odd-but that's to be expected, I guess.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Constant Princess for Debbie T.

Hi Debbie! Debbie is my childhood friend who used to live across the street from me, starting in kindergarten when my parents moved to the area. We used to create mudpies in my backyard, stage waterfights, and braid bracelets out of multi-colored thread. Facebook, the social networking site of the 00's, brought us back into contact. Debbie, thanks so much for promoting the website for my book.

You told me you like non-fiction and romance novels. So my recommendation for you is the Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory. I love all of her books, but the ones she writes about Henry the 8th's reign in England are my favorite. The Constant Princess is a love story, but it's also about girl power, and is has a bunch of accurate historical facts. All of Philippa Gregory's historical fiction are based very much on facts. She just adds insight where there are holes in the history.

I hope you enjoy it!

Blowing My Cover book recommendation for Kristi Z.

Kristi, I chose Blowing My Cover...My Life as a CIA Spy for you because of your obsession with alias. This book is non-fiction about a young CIA recruit who goes through the training camp and then moves abroad to practice her trade. She eventually leaves the CIA, though, to write this expose. Who knows what's really true or not in her book, but it's interesting.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Lovely Bones for Amanda T.

Hi Amanda! You are so well-read that you may have already read this book. But I thought that since you liked the literary qualities of The Red Tent, you would also enjoy the gorgeous words of this moving book, The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. It's a sad book, but it's beautiful. It's from the point of view of a little girl who is murdered and watches what transpires down on earth from her new location in heaven. Sometimes it's devastatingly frustrating for her, as she can only watch but not influence anyone to realize who her killer was. She watches as her family breaks apart with the stress of her murder infultratrating their every move.

What I found most moving about this book was the depiction of "heaven". There was a time in my life (and even now) when I was fascinated with how different authors/people/religious scholars viewed the afterlife. Was there one? How would heaven look? Could the deceased still see us on earth? I thought this depiction was a very viable one. The deceased see a heaven atmosphere that comforts and appeals specifically to them. And they watch earth for however many years it takes for them to accept that they're not on earth anymore. That acceptance could take ten years of more. After that they transcend somewhere else. I found it to be a heartwarming, inspiring novel. Hope you enjoy it too!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Carrie's recommendation "Chesapeake" by James Michener

Happy New Year!

The New Year's book recommendation today is in honor of Carrie T., who spent part of New Year's Eve with us. We hung out at her and Matt's house, drinking nutty coffee, laughing about Jennifer Lopez' one piece on Dick's Rockin New Year's Eve (I hope skintight one pieces don't become a fashion trend now), and eating homemade caramel popcorn that Amanda concocted. As always strangely happens at parties, the guys and girls segregated to different rooms. I have no idea what the boys talked about (cards? poker? girls?), but one of the things the girls discussed was books.

Carrie said that she was interested in books on the Chesapeake Bay, and she asked for two for the holidays. Little Swimmers and another title that I can't remember. So my recommendation for her is "Chesapeake" by James A. Michener. It's fiction, and waaaaayyyy long, but Carrie, I think you'll like it. I read it for a class in college, and I thought it would be boring--but it wasn't at all. It weaves together a bunch of stories over time and ends up giving the history of the bay.

So Happy New Year, Carrie. And let me know if you've already read this book. If so, what did you think?