Tuesday, June 28, 2011

My take on: Things We Didn't Say

Things We Didn't Say: A NovelI think it's fair to say that if I like one of your books, I will be back for more. I loved The Life You've Imagined by Kristina Riggle. When I saw the e-mail about an opportunity to take part in a blog tour with her latest book, Things We Didn't Say, I was eager to participate. I didn't even know what the book was about, but I knew I wanted to read it.

Do you ever walk around with bottled up feelings? I'm sure we all do. The family in Things We Didn't Say is no different.

Casey, a 26-year-old recovering alcoholic, is trying to fit into her fiance Michael's ready-made family. Jewel, the baby of the family, gets along with Casey because she hasn't reached the level of teenage angst her older brother and sister, Dylan and Angel, have. Casey has a past, one that she feels is worth keeping from Michael. She feels responsible for the death of her brother, which results in her being distant from her entire family. A family that Michael has never met. Why? Why not speak up about your past? Why not let your fiance form a connection with your family? Her family connections are reduced to phone calls with her mother. All of those bottled up feelings come to a head when Angel reads Casey's diary. Angel thinks Casey hates her, and that Casey doesn't want her father to know about the secrets in her past. Casey decides to run away, but that is aborted when Dylan goes missing. Would Casey have felt the need to run from her problems, if not for Dylan's disappearance? Would Casey have felt the need to run, if she had been honest?

Is keeping quiet worth the price of potentially losing her relationship? Casey thinks so because she's not truly one of them.

"Both Angel and Mallory have whitish-blond hair, bookending Michael's darker complexion. They all have those same bright marble-blue eyes, reminding me of their unbreakable bond, which I can never share."

Casey was close to Dylan at the start of her relationship with Michael, but like a lot of teenagers he became distant. A distance that his mother Mallory blames on Casey. Everything is Casey's fault in Mallory's world. Despite Mallory being a bit of a wackadoo, Casey is always wrong. Dylan changed his behavior, it's Casey's fault. Dylan doesn't talk to a friend anymore, it's Casey's fault. Poor Michael is caught in the middle. He always feels like he has to choose. Mallory is unstable, but Casey is his fiance. His non-action at times causes distance with Casey. Do they talk? Do they work it out? No. Casey's solution, go outside, smoke a cigarette and stew on the porch. Michael's solution, focus on finding Dylan and the other problems will solve themselves.

Not speaking is a family trait. Dylan runs away with a girl he met online, and immediately thinks it's a mistake. But is admitting a mistake failure?

"I wonder if this is how my dad felt when he married my mom, realizing he'd just made a huge mistake but it's not like he can just erase it and start over."

They can't go back, but it's hard to move forward. Each chapter is told in a different voice. With Casey, you can see how she fears being discovered. Michael has to worry about not just his family, but his job. Jewel is hopeful and naive. Angel is full of teenage angst. Dylan is unsure of his decisions. The book captures how alcohol and mental illness can fracture a family. But lack of communication can cause just as many problems.

Rating: Superb

Notes: I received a copy of the book from the publisher (HarperCollins) as part of a tour with TLC Book Tours. For more information on author Kristina Riggle, visit

Monday, June 27, 2011

What's that on the cover?

Things We Didn't Say: A Novel

Another family in crisis!! I read a lot of books involving family drama, and this next pick is no different. Things We Didn't Say by Kristina Riggle is just as the title implies. When your family is in crisis will you have the courage to say what needs to be said? Or will there be a lot of awkward silences. I'm not sure what to make of the cover. A woman taking off with a relative down the road to nowhere. This is my second go-round with Kristina Riggle. I read her last book The Life You've Imagined and loved it. You won't have to wait long for a review, it will be posted tomorrow. I don't usually have such a quick turnaround, but this book is part of a tour with TLC Book Tours. There were a few misadventures in getting the book to me !! That's why I haven't finished Don't Breathe a Word or Haunting Violet yet. This book had to get top priority. Then it's back to the ghosts and monsters in those two books!!

Friday, June 24, 2011

My take on: Birthday Pie

Birthday Pie: A NovelSpending time with your family should be a happy time. Sitting around the family table, sharing a meal and sharing stories. But what if you have cancer? Your father is dying of cancer. Your younger brother is an alcoholic. Your other brother has a wife who won't let him get a word in. Your sister is little on the flaky side. Your 10-year-old niece has some pretty wild ideas about sex. Your grandmother is getting old, but is the one who makes the most sense in the family. And your mother is a dramatic, former beauty queen drowning in cheap makeup and hairspray. With all of that you would just come running to the dinner table wouldn't you?

In Birthday Pie by Arthur Wooten Lex Martindale, a NYC-based writer, is returning home for his birthday. He has a secret to tell his family back home in Ragland, North Carolina. His partner Peter is pushing Lex to tell the truth. But when is there ever the right moment to tell your family you have cancer? His mother Trudy Lee should be able to handle the truth right? Not really. Something that might seem minor to the average person is a gigantic problem to Trudy Lee. There is always a way to discover fault within herself, so giving her a compliment is a waste of time.

Focusing on Lex's return and baking his favorite pie (pecan) is a welcome distraction to her husband Bert's declining health. Although I would have to pass on her pie. If your pie mixture falls on the floor, wouldn't you just make more? Not Trudy Lee. Scoop it up and back in the pie shell it goes. I had to laugh at that.

When Lex and all of his siblings converge on the family home, it's like the perfect storm. His brother Junior counts slowly to himself, hoping his wife Clairese will shut up. Clairese has to always be talking, she always has to be right and uses religion to justify everything. Clairese's mixed up views of religion results in a lot of confusion for her daughter Mattie, who thinks a girl gets pregnant by holding an egg and getting germs from a boy. Ahhh, to be young and naive!!

Brother Roscoe is the family screw up, drowning in liquor and dreams of becoming rich. Sister Mona Lee is the "midge," basically everyone thinks she's a little on the annoying side. After immersing herself in holistic healing, Mona Lee believe she has what it takes to cure her father of cancer. Later in the book you get to see life from her side. At one point Mona Lee was a likable person. But like a lot of people all it took was a broken heart to change her forever.

A family dinner for the Martindales is anything but pleasant. Everyone talks over each other. No one wants to listen. Poor Lex even throws up, which I think he would have done even if he wasn't sick. Just reading their exchanges gave me a headache. More so because I can relate to this family. Over the years, not every family function in my life has gone as planned. By the end, I'm left wondering what else happened to the Martindales because this is just a small slice of their life. I haven't touched on everything in this wonderful story. There is a lot there packed into a scant 179 pages. It's quirky, funny, heartwarming and timeless.

Rating: Superb

Note: I received a copy of the book from author Arthur Wooten in exchange for an honest review.

My take on: Silver Sparrow

Silver SparrowGrowing up in a family of bigamists is a dream isn't it? No, probably not. When I think of bigamy, it automatically conjures up images of polygamist families in the Midwest. And prairie dresses and old-fashioned hairstyles. Do you think of the family right down the street from you? The ordinary family you see everyday. You would never know they are hiding a secret. The families in Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones are full of secrets. 

James Witherspoon has the best of both worlds. He is legally married to Laverne. They have a daughter together, Bunny "Chaurisse." But that's not enough for him. He meets and falls in love with Gwen. Their daughter Dana was born just four months before Chaurisse. He "marries" Gwen, but obviously it's not legal. Shuttling back and forth between both women is great for him, but he doesn't see what it is doing to both of his daughters.

Gwen feels loved at first, but then begins to feel like a concubine. Like a whore. She and Dana fight to keep labels off of their family.

Dana gets second-best for everything. She wants to go to a certain summer program, but can't if Chaurisse wants to. She wants to work at an amusement park, but can't because that's what Chaurisse wants. She wants to go to a particular college, but can't if that's what Chaurisse wants. It's all about Chaurisse. To Dana James is "Sir" he hasn't earned the title of "Daddy" or "Father." He only wants to be "Daddy" on his terms. James wants to be her father, but only in private. Affection or acknowledgement of Dana in public could jeopardize his other life. His legitimate life is paramount. Destroying that can't happen, even when Dana challenges him. In one instance Dana wanted to go out with her friends and her father objected. He had to back down because taking the argument public would expose him. His daughter's safety isn't the issue. Wow!

Dana seems to be fighting within herself. Is she good enough? Does my father love me? Does he love Chaurisse more? What is Chaurisse like? Does Chaurisse know about me? To Dana, Chaurisse must have the perfect life. The grass has to be greener on the other side because James wants to be in Chaurisse's life.

Dana narrates the first half of the novel. Chaurisse takes over in the second half. Chaurisse is just as flawed internally as Dana. Chaurisse is lonely. She doesn't have people she can truly call "friends." When not in school, most of her time is spent working in her mother's hair salon. She doesn't feel pretty. She's the plain girl in the background. Chaurisse is not one of the "silver girls." The silver girls are ones who are naturally pretty. They don't need any enhancement with makeup. Chaurisse thinks Dana is one of those silver girls. She doesn't know Dana is her sister, but the two form a friendship. A friendship where Dana seeks to see if the grass truly is greener on the other side.

This is a great story of how complicated life can be. You feel like you are right there as the story unfolds.  You feel for both Dana and Chaurisse. They are fighting to find out where they belong. The ending isn't wrapped up in a bow either. It left me wanting to know what else happened to these women? Is that all there is? Because there is no true resolution. But, this is a story worth reading.

Rating: Superb

Notes: I received a copy of the book from the publisher (Algonquin Books) in exchange for an honest review. For more on author Tayari Jones visit:

Let's hop, hop, hop !!!

Book Blogger Hop

Every week Jennifer at 
Crazy-for-books hosts a blog hop. Put your link in, post a comment and you can discover a lot of great blogs. The Hop lasts Friday-Monday every week. This week's question/task: When did you realize reading was your passion and a truly important part of your life? Good question!! I'd have to say kindergarten. I can remember reading in front of the class and the mayor of NYC (at the time) David Dinkins. He was complimenting me on my reading skills. Ever since then I've always had a book nearby. As I got older, trips to the library were at the top of my list rather than going to the candy store. I always came back with an armful of books. Nowadays, it's trips to bookstores that are top priority.

Here are some blogs I came across:
A Writer's Review
A Glass of Wine
A Book Addict's Haven

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Oh no she didn't!!!

I recently came across an article by Daniela Hurezanu criticizing the changes at BookExpo America. I saw it paraphrased on another blog. My initial thought was she was taken out of context. But after reading her entire article, I was wrong. Here is a little snippet:

"This year’s BEA confirmed what most writers and book reviewers already knew: that the publication of serious literature, and particularly of literary fiction, has been abandoned by the big publishers to the small or medium-size independent presses. The few presses on whose tables one could see books with literary appeal were New Directions, NYRB Books, Overlook Press, Other Press, Europa Editions—all in all, about 10 out of hundreds of publishers."

Ok. Nothing inflammatory there. She has a point. This year was my second attending BEA. For the most part there was a shift towards children and Young Adult books. It was very easy to find those books because of the huge displays. There was also a shift towards digital products.

The latter part of Ms. Hurezanu's article just pissed me off. Here it is:

"BEA is a major event for the publishing industry also because there are many other concurrent events that are organized around it. Such an event was the Book Blogger Convention, which took place the day after BEA ended. Book blogging has become a subculture whose members are mostly women between 20 and 50 years old, often known as “mommy bloggers” because they are housewives who blog about romance novels, horror/vampire stories and paranormal novels. Many of them have hundreds of followers on Twitter, and the result is that they have the power to establish new trends. And the publishing industry has started to take them seriously. They receive review copies from publicists, and the authors court them assiduously. At the Book Bloggers reception I met many girls in their early twenties who already have hundreds of followers on Twitter. As far as I could tell, I was the only person at the convention who doesn’t tweet. All these 20-year-old bloggers form a community that is replacing the traditional book reviewers; they know each other, read each other’s blogs and blog about the same books. So, in a paradoxical way, this subculture is even more limited in its interests than the mainstream media."

After reading that my first thoughts were, "Oh no she didn't!! Those are fighting words!!" When I read that I wanted to go home immediately and fire off any angry post. Instead, I decided against that. It's better to gather my thoughts. No need to use certain four- and five-letter words to describe a woman who is probably a nice person. I know there is a lot there in that passage, so lets break it down.

Yes most book bloggers are women, but there are a lot of great male book bloggers out there. She just needs to do a little research before making a generalization like that. According to her most us are between the ages of 20-50. Again not true. There are middle-schoolers, high-schoolers, and college kids out there with book blogs. Some that come to mind are Melina from Reading Vacation and Alex from Electrifying Reviews. Do some research lady!!!

Next, not all female book bloggers are "mommy bloggers" who read paranormal romances. And if they were, SO WHAT!!! A lot of book bloggers are accomplished people with jobs and families. I graduated from college with a degree in English and a minor in journalism. I actually work in my field and blogging has become a hobby for me. She seems to be insinuating that if you are a "mommy blogger" you're not very intelligent. B.S.!! Ok, maybe I'm a little angry!

What else does this "writer" have to say. Most of us have Twitter accounts, and can make a big impact with social media. Because of our social media presence we are getting review copies. Publicists are pitching to bloggers and not the journalist at a newspaper with a roomful of books that will never get read. Ms. Hurezanu doesn't have a Twitter account. All I can say to that, is get with it lady. Soon you won't be able to get a job anywhere without knowing how to navigate through social media. Most companies and most newspapers have Facebook and Twitters accounts. Why? Because the market has changed. More people are getting their information through some form of social media. The traditional markets are disappearing.

Ms. Hurezanu attended the Book Blogger Convention reception. There she met a bunch of 20-somethings who knew each other and read each other's blogs. She felt out of place and I can understand that. But to imply that our reading choices are limited because of our ages is just wrong. I read just about everything (except science fiction, I just can't stand it!).

I can only guess she wrote this article because she can see the writing on the wall. The traditional book reviewers are a dying breed.  Most of the time I buy a book because I heard about it from another blog or a friend or family member. I rarely buy a book because I read a great review in a newspaper or magazine. I usually need to keep a dictionary handy to understand the reviews Michiko Kakutani writes for The New York Times. With the exception of Jonathan Franzen's Freedom, I've never read a positive review from Kakutani. Newspapers receive hundreds of books a year, but only a select ever get any kind of attention. So of course a publisher would rather deal with a passionate blogger who loves reading. You're scared of us Ms. Hurezanu, GOOD!!!

Monday, June 20, 2011

It's Monday, what's on the cover?

Haunting Violet

It's been awhile since I've read a young adult novel. Bad blogger, bad bad blogger. Part of my reading challenge for the year is to read 20 YA titles. I've only read seven YA books this year. It's time to get back on the ball. Do you believe in ghosts? I don't, but perhaps Hauting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey can convince me. Look at that cover. Isn't it beautiful? The cover alone is what pulled me in. Thanks to Bloomsbury for providing me with a copy. Violet participates in her mother's scheming ways. Her mother claims to see ghosts, and uses that "gift" to get money from wealthy clients. Violet has always gone along with the scheme until she sees a ghost. Is it true?  A review will be post on July 8. In the meantime, enjoy a few videos.


Friday, June 17, 2011

It's Friday, lets hop!!

Book Blogger Hop

Every week Jennifer at Crazy-for-Books hosts a blog hop. Put your link in, post a comment and you can discover a lot of great blogs. The Hop lasts Friday-Monday every week. This week's question/task: How many books are currently in your To-Be-Read (TBR) pile? Oh boy. I think I have lost count. According to Goodreads by TBR pile is a little over 300. But of course those are the books I remembered to put on my list. I think actually count is around 600, and I'm proud of it!!

Here are a few blogs I came across:
Bumps In The Road
Fictional Distraction
Books Your Kids Will Love
My Life With Books

Thursday, June 16, 2011

My take on: Alice in Verse: The Lost Rhymes of Wonderland

This is a first for me. A tale in verse.
Could it be as bad as a curse? No, it's Alice in Verse.
Take it from me, you'll want to see this journey.
This tale is retold again by J.T. Holden.
What do I think of this tale?

It's a tale for man, woman, and child.
It's a tale for all ages.
It's a tale full of magic, nothing tragic.

Alice is still that wide-eyed lass, who goes through the looking glass.
She's unafraid, she's very brave.
Just as before, in the story told many years before.
She goes down the rabbit hole and finds the poison.
Does she drink?
What do you think?
No wide-eyed child can resist, no matter how much you insist.

The first stop on this magical journey?
The caterpillar.
The pillar of words and verse.
He gives Alice a terse lesson in verse.
Could he give me a session?

Next up, the cook, the duchess, the pig!

No worries, the hatter and the hare are still there.
Still speaking in oodles of riddles.
"No room," he says. "No room."
But Alice must sit at once for is no room to spare!
How can she sit if there's no room?
Oh that funny bunny!

Is this working? How many of you are lurking?

Back to Alice, and the palace of wonderland.
The oysters turn the tables on the sneaky walrus.

Then we must ask, who has stolen the Queens tarts?
The suspect?
The Knave of Hearts.
Has he stolen the Queens tarts?
That louse of a mouse sure didn't think so.
How does it all end?
You will just have to find out for yourself.
Fluid prose, that glows and glows.
Beautiful pictures in this wonderful mixture.
A tale of whimsy and laughter.
Rating: Superb
Notes: I did love the book, and this was my attempt to try something different. I could have gone the traditional route, but this is not a traditional book. Also, I received a copy of the book from the publisher (Candleshoe Books) in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, June 13, 2011

It's Monday, what's on the cover?

Don't look at those eyes too long!! Don't they just creep you out?!? I'm reading Don't Breathe a Word by Jennifer McMahon because it was at the top of my reading pile. Those eyes just follow me around the room. She wants to tell me something. If I don't read it now, she might come after me. A young girl went into the woods and was never seen again. She believed in a fairy land. Did she runaway to this fairy land? Or did someone very human take her? Stay tuned!!

With Birthday Pie by Arthur Wooten, I'm returning to the realm of dysfunctional families. How dysfunctional? Take a look at the recipe on the cover. SIX tablespoons of Bourbon in that pecan pie instead of two?!? The Martindale family has a story to tell. Reading it so far, these characters are very flawed. Some judge others rather than looking in the mirror. Know anybody like that?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Why Write about Caffeine?

Please welcome author Susan Lynn, who is guest posting today!

Greetings from Ohio. My name is Susan Lynn, and I recently released my debut memoir, Caffeine Makes Me Bleed: And How It Can Poison You, Too! Thank you, Jael, how kind of you to allow me to guest post at your website.
In the past, I consumed caffeinated products in almost every form available. To be honest, like most people, I followed that questionable routine for years and thought I was just fine. For awhile, even though I knew I suffered from the ill effects of caffeine and other illnesses that followed when I consumed caffeine, I thought that these maladies fell upon me and only me.
Eventually, after I became angry about my predicament and wanted to find out why it happened, I began researching the long-term effects of caffeine. I studied not just short-term effects you are familiar with like: racing heart, respiratory distress, and seizures, but what else happens to the human body. What I learned was startling. I realized that many other people were also made ill by consuming caffeine. When I learned that the medical world wasn’t even tracking many of these caffeine-related illnesses, I decided to write a book.
For instance, are you aware that the FDA does not require a product show its caffeine content on the label if the caffeine is a natural chemical found in the food item, like coffee beans or tea leaves? Also, did you know that caffeine comes from other sources and can be disguised by names like yerba mate, cocoa, guaranĂ¡, and kola nut? When these sources of caffeine are mixed in food products along with caffeine, as in energy drinks, that much caffeine can cause an overdose.
We are a caffeine nation. Researchers cannot agree, but somewhere close to 279,000,000 Americans consume caffeine each day in one form or another: colas, chocolate, tea, coffee, energy drinks. Manufacturers sneak caffeine into other products, too. Journalists predict that energy drink manufacturers, for example, will sell about $9,000,000,000—yes, that’s right—9 billion with a b—dollars’ worth of energy drinks this year. That’s a lot of caffeine! And when it comes to these energy drinks, experts seem to be saying they do not know the exact long-term health effects of consumption on consumers.
It appears that to be deterred from using caffeinated products, people expect to be struck by lightning upon consumption, and when that does not occur, they believe they are safe from the effects of caffeine.
If you read a negative fact about a product that presents a potential hazard to your health, you immediately make a decision as to whether you want to risk consuming that product again. Negative facts about caffeine are usually listed only a few at a time. There are many negative facts and illnesses that are seriously linked with caffeine consumption, but instead of focusing on one or two effects of caffeine, we should take all of caffeine’s bad effects into consideration at once.
Whether it is you or someone you know or love who consumes caffeine, it is important to sort out the good information from the bad so you can avoid suffering from the same deteriorating health as me. So far, there is no cure.
I hope that each of you find time to log on to my website at: where you can read my blog, and find more details about Caffeine Makes Me Bleed.
Always pursue great health.

Susan Lynn, who lives in Ohio, has an A.A. in paralegal studies and a B.S. in business administration. She works as a contract administrator and has also worked as an executive assistant, temp, HAZ-COM coordinator, EEO Officer, stay-at-home mom, and a safety director. An active organic gardener since 1974, Susan loves to read biographies, memoirs, and humor books.

Friday, June 10, 2011

My take on: Your Voice in my head

"Perhaps because my family are how they are, it took a little while to realize -- settled in Manhattan at twenty-two, on contract to the Guardian and about to have my first novel published -- that my quirks had gone beyond eccentricity, past the warm waters of weird to those cold, deep patches of sea where people lose their lives." Pg. 8

Every one is special, weird, great, bad, sad, and wonderful in their own ways. Some people have more problems than others. Your Voice in my head by Emma Forrest details Forrest's realization of her problems. Her problems went beyond the norm. All the way to cutting herself, bulimia, and a suicide attempt.

Living in New York working as a writer, an ocean away from her London-based family, Forrest was drowning in a sea of depression. Did moving away from her family increase those thoughts? When there was a problem at home, the family meeting place was the bathroom. Even in the family bathroom, Forrest was still hiding her feelings. In New York she has an eccentric cast of neighbors -- even one who is obsessed with the movie The Goonies. But they are not enough.

Weeks before attempting suicide, Forrest meets her psychiatrist Dr. R. Over the course of eight years, Dr. R. is a calming influence. Someone who can push those thoughts of suicide and depression away. At times he's even a moral compass. Who she should date and shouldn't? Dr. R is very special to Forrest, more than she realizes. He supports her career, coming to her book signings. Towards the end of this patient-doctor relationship, Forrest is living in Los Angeles and dating an actor she calls her Gypsy Husband (GH).

While reading this book, I was tempted to do a Google search on Emma Forrest and find out who this actor is. Why? Her descriptions of him aren't very flattering. I did do the search when I finished the book. I didn't do it before because I thought it would cloud my judgment. Would that turn me off Forrest's writing if it was an actor I liked? It was an actor I liked, but I see him a little differently now. You want to know who it is, simply do a Google search. Trust me there is enough out there on the internet.

Their romance seemed like a whirlwind. They are so much in love with each other. They talk of having a child together and naming her "Pearl." But years earlier Forrest had an abortion and thought that was the best thing she could have done. It was an act of parental love to not bring a child into this world. For her to write that is very brave. It might offend pro-lifers, but she wasn't ready then. I didn't understand how she could be ready with GH. GH talks of the life they could have with a child, how great it will be. But to me it seemed like they were in love with being in love.

During this relationship, Dr. R passes away at 53 from lung cancer. To Forrest his death is like a betrayal. Why didn't she realize he was sick? Why didn't he tell her he was sick? Was she so consumed with GH, that she ignored Dr. R's declining health? When the relationship with GH ends, who can she count on to pick up the pieces? Who will be the calming influence in her life? Dr. R. isn't around physically anymore, but his voice is in her head forever. Coming to that realization is a very sweet moment.

Forrest's writing style is funny, honest, and raw. She takes a hard look at herself. The picture she paints isn't pretty, but it will help others take the same look.

Rating: O.M.G. !!!

Notes: I received a copy of the book from the publisher (Other Press) in exchange for an honest review. For more on author Emma Forrest, visit

Sunday, June 5, 2011

In my mailbox: BEA and BBC edition !!

It's been a while since I've done one of these, but I thought BookExpo America and the Book Blogger Convention warranted the occasion. In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. Anyone can participate in IMM, and you are not limited to only sharing books that arrive via your mailbox. You can also share books that you've bought or books that you've gotten at the library.

I got some more books, but I gave those to my mother. They were self-help books. I also got a book signed by Dr. Laura Berman. But I decided to keep it PG and not show the cover on the video. If you're of age you know who Dr. Laura is!! Happy reading!

Note: There will not be a "What's on the Cover" post this week. I haven't started a new book yet. It will return next week.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

My take on: Skinny

Skinny: A Novel (P.S.)"After I killed my father, he taught me that honesty is optional. But, of course, I'd always known that. This was why I loathed being naked -- my choices were stripped away."

That first line of Skinny by Diana Spechler grabbed me. I took that line literally. Look at that cover, do you think anything sinister is going on? There isn't, but I was intrigued as to why someone thought they killed their father.

Twenty-six year old Gray Lachmann has struggled with weight issues all her life. Her father is overweight, but remained active in his way. He actively expressed his displeasure with her boyfriend Mikey -- a non-Jewish comedian. A comedian is just not good enough for his daughter. This tension drives a wedge between Gray and her father. When he dies of heart attack, Gray is consumed with guilt. Despite him not being healthy to begin with, Gray feels that breaking off contact if the root cause for his heart attack. Her desire for food only increases. His death steals Gray's self-control. Gray has a lingering desire to be skinny. But does being skinny equal happiness? Despite having a steady boyfriend and a career, Gray seems to be missing something in her life -- even before her father's death. She longs to liked and accepted. There is a hole in her life. What can fill it?

Going through her father's papers, Gray finds out she has a half-sister, Eden. If they can form a relationship, Gray can get rid of the guilt and perhaps feel more fulfilled. Eden is away at a fat camp. Instead of introducing herself, Gray hatches a "great" plan. Gray becomes a camp counselor, thinking she can work herself into Eden's good graces. Why not just get the suspense over with? Perhaps there is something missing in Eden's life too. Eden wants to be a chef, but her mother thinks she could lose a few pounds. Rather than focusing on her plan, Gray becomes distracted by an affair with Bennett, a fellow counselor.

As a main character, Gray isn't always likable. One moment you can sympathize with her guilt surrounding her father's death. But at times, I found her to be a little whiny. She loves Mikey, but cheats on him anyway. She worries whether Bennett likes her or not. She feels fat before coming to the camp, but suddenly Gray is not one of them when she sees how severely overweight everyone else is. Perhaps this one is frustrating for me because it forced me to look at myself. Sometimes I have those same feelings about weight. I'm in between on the book as whole, but it is worth a read.

Rating: Give it a try

Note: I received a copy of the book from the publisher (Harper Perennial) as part of a tour with TLC Book Tours. For more information on author Diana Spechler, visit: