Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

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Okay.  I give all of you permission to string me up by my toes and throw rotten veggies at me.  I have neglecting you and my blog for WAY.  TO.  LONG.  I have been reading though, but the reason for this hiatus has been because the only reading materials that have passed though my hands in the last few months have been What to Expect When Your Expecting, and The Joys of Breastfeeding and other such reference books.  And while that is very very interesting and enjoyable reading material for a mom-to-be it isn't great fodder for this blog.  I am sure you don't want to know (especially my male followers) my thoughts on birth plans, placentas, and the joys my breasts are going to bring to my future prodigy.  However, I have been able to squeeze in some pleasure reading so I am going to give you a few reviews here in the next few weeks.

Lets start with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.  I finally jumped on the Dragon Tattoo bandwagon and picked this story up as an audio book.  I must say that I am pleasantly surprised but a little let down at the same time.  With all they hype around this book and the others in the series I was expecting to fall head over heels in love with this book like I did with Time Travelers Wife.  However, I enjoyed the book immensely but I don't know that it was worth all the hype that it has received in the past few years.  The long and short of it, is the book is a murder mystery.  That is it.  A VERY VERY good murder mystery but a murder mystery non-the-less.  Some how my ears had escaped all spoilers and all synopsis's of this book so I really had NO IDEA what it was about when I started it.  For some reason I thought it was about Swedish stock brokers (I have no idea why) and had no idea it was a thriller/murder mystery (which I must say was a peasant surprise because I just couldn't see what I would like about a book revolving around the Swedish stock market).

So it starts off rather dry and I was thinking "oh hell, how I am I going to get through this whole thing??"  We meet Mikael Blomkvist, he is a financial/political journalist and he has just published an article in his magazine about Hans-Erik Wennerstrom.  When Wennerstrom charges Blomkvist with writing a hurtful article that isn't entirely true Blomkvist is sentenced to prison time.  To clear his head Blomkvist takes a job on the tiny island of Hedeby to write the family history of the prominent Vanger family.  To the public it looks like Blomkvist is writing this families memoirs but in truth he is investigating a murder that happened 40 years earlier on that very island.  The cold case murder happened to a 16 year old girl that lived on the island with her uncle Henrik Vanger.  Along the way Blomkvist and his unlikely friend Lisbeth Salander (the girl with the dragon tattoo), unravel the mystery of the missing girl, uncover the serial murderer of dozens of other missing women that span over a 50 year time span, and uncover the truth behind the Wennerstrom Corporation.  

This book really is a whirlwind of plot twists, love connections, and mystery.  The characters are extremely well developed and the story telling style is very interesting and flows very nicely.  I would recommend this book to almost anyone (unless you have a weak stomach when it comes to violence towards women, I know that hits strong nerves with some people).  Book clubs could discuss the heck out of it and it is equally good if you take it on vacation with you or if you are doing some more serious reading.  I am really looking forward to reading the other books in the series, however, I don't think the book lives up to the hype, so don't be surprised if you feel a little let down after you read it.

RATING: 4 Stars

3 more reviews on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo:

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
{Library Audio Book}
ISBN: 0307577580
16hours 19minutes
Read by Martin Wenner

If you liked The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo you should also read: The Disappearing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O' Farrell


Thursday, September 23, 2010

This is Where I Leave You {Book Club Pick}

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So I had heard about This is Where I Leave You from quite a few reliable sources and I had heard about Jonathan Tropper in general from quite a few reliable sources so of course Tropper and this book were on my ever growing TBR list.  However, I knew that if I wasn't pushed to read this book I probably never would because even though it was on my TBR list I have so many other books that looked much more appealing to me!  So when my book club decided that this would be the September book I was excited!!!  Just what I needed, a little push in the direction of Tropper and now I am hooked!!!  One of my earlier mentioned "Reliable Sources" is a fellow book blogger Greg from The New Dork Review.  Greg is a big Tropper fan and he said in one of his reviews on Tropper that he is the mans equivalent of Chick Lit.  Well, I couldn't agree with you more Greg.  This is 100% Dude Lit for sure.  Tropper writes an easy to read witty story full of family angst, self image, sex, and betrayal (throw in some Louboutins, and a Dolce and Gabbana handbag and you have full fledged Chick Lit).  Now don't think for a moment comparing this book to Chick Lit makes this book fluff.  It isn't, it is a touching look in to a dysfunctional family and realizing that it really isn't that dysfunctional.  Tropper also builds very 3 dimensional characters, and while the book is easy to read it isn't mindless reading. 

In This is Where I Leave You you meet Judd Foxman at the lowest point in his life.  His dearly loved wife just cheated on him with his Alpha male boss (think Howard Stern).  His Dad passed away after a fight with stomach cancer.  And to top it all off his Mother has called to tell her children that their fathers dying wish was to have the whole non-religious family sit Shiva.  The last thing Judd wants to do is spend 7 days locked in his childhood home with his body image obsessed older sister Wendy (and her Wall Street husband and 3 loud obnoxious kids), his self pitting older brother Paul, who holds Judd accountable for the end of his baseball career (along with his wife Alice who is desperate for a child), his younger brother Phillip who is a play boy with out direction in his life (and his 2 times older girlfriend/therapist), not to mentioned his sexually charged Therapist Mother who may or may not have become a lesbian.  On top of this week from hell his soon-to-be ex-wife shows up to tell Judd she is pregnant.  I mean come on, this book is jam packed with crazy!!!  It is like watching a train wreck in slow motion, and it is worth every page!!!  I promise you will LOL at least once if not continuously though this whole story!!

I don't know if I would recommend this to book clubs.  It is full of shocking and graphic sexual scenes and where that doesn't ever bother me (or my book club) at all I could see some people getting a little up in arms over the whole thing.  However, I would recommend this book to someone that wants to read something different for a change.  I would recommend it to just about any guy, because I would bet most would love it and tell you that this book pegs the male point of view.

BOOK vs. MOVIE: So this book has been snatched up for a movie in 2011.  I think that the movie will be nothing short of hilarious.  I will be purchasing $10 tickets and $50 popcorn to check this one out for sure.

RATING: 4 stars

3 More reviews on this book:

This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
{Borrowed from a friend}
ISBN 0452296366
Pages 352

If you liked This is Where I Leave You then try: Girls in Trucks by Katie Crouch

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mockingjay

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Oh my.  This one is a long time coming for sure.  After my obsession with Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins last year I just could not wait for Mockingjay.  So on the day it came out I rushed out before work and bought it (even though I couldn't read a word of it until after work).  And guess what?  I was NOT disappointed people!!  I may be one of the rare readers that didn't have a problem with this book at all!  I thought that every thing that happened needed to happen.  Every death, every match made, every battle, every thing.  I was shocked in the appropriate places, outraged in the correct spots, and at the edge of my seat during the right parts.  Now saying all that; Mockingjay was not my favorite book of the Hunger Games Trilogy.  I liked them in the order they were released for sure.  I felt like Hunger Games even though it was politically charged it was pure adventure and action.  Catching Fire again was full of adventure and action but it dealt with even heavier issues than the first book.  Now with Mockingjay it is complete and total political propaganda and the characters seem a little jaded and lost (but that is what makes the book feel so real), if you were going though what these young people were going though you would not be yourself anymore either.  Don't get me wrong, there is enough action and adventure in Mockingjay to go around, it is just deeper and a little more mature than the other two books.


I am going to write this synopsis with out any spoilers to Mockingjay but be warned that there is going to have to be some spoilers from the first two installments (don't say I didn't warn you, and if you haven't read any of the trilogy I would recommend you turn back now and go get the books).  Anyway, in Mockingjay you are brought back to Panem after Katniss has been rescued from her second time in the arena by the survivors of district 13.  She is kind of an empty shell of the Katniss we know but who can blame her.  Peeta has been taken by the Capitol, and her District has been blown to smithereens and she is just totally lost and doesn't know who to trust.  The Districts are in full scale rebellion now, and the Capitol is losing it's foot hold of power.  District 13 know that the rebellion needs a leader or "mascot" and of course Katniss is the obvious choice.  And because Katniss now has a death wish and just doesn't care anymore she decides to become the Mockingjay, the face of the rebellion.  Something I thought was interesting was that Collins opted to not tie everything up in a pretty little bow.  She left a few strands and she left some messy strands, but in a situation like this one you can't have everything hunky dory on the end.

I have read a lot of reviews about Mockingjay and most of them have something negative to say about Katniss's character in this book.  She isn't the go getter she was in the first two books, but after the beat down she has received in the first two stories you can't really blame her, after all she is only 17 years old, and has already spent 2 years fighting for her life, and the 5 years before keeping her family alive.  When I read books like Twilight and Hunger Games I have to remind myself that the characters are teenagers, so their fickleness and their feelings, and their drama, and selfcenteredness come with the hormonal territory.  When you think of it like that you start to like the characters a little  more.

I am sad to see this series come to an end but I am glad that Collins didn't drag it out to the point of annoyingness to make a few more dollars.  She kept it to the point and a perfect length in my opinion.  I am anxious to see what the movie will be like next  year and that they cast it correctly.  I'm up for the job if Lionsgate wants me!!

Rating: 5 Stars

3 More reviews:
Books i Done Read
Lovely Little Self
Forever Young

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
{Purchased at Target}
ISBN 0439023513
Pages 400

If you liked Mockingjay then you need to read: Tomorrow when the War Began by John Marsden

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Plague

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Well with a title like The Plague you know that the book is gonna have a lot to do with pain and pestilence, and mortality.  But would you think it would have to also do with compassion, community, and survival?  Well this book had it all and it was really rather unexpectantly interesting!  Now I have to admit that if I had read this book I would have put it down almost immediately so I am glad I picked it up at the library as an audio book otherwise I would have never experienced this little gem.  The Plague by Albert Camus was published in 1947 and originally it was written in French but was then later translated to English and I feel there was nothing really lost in translation, because the book was quite wonderful and beautifully written.  The novel is believed to be loosely based on a Cholera Outbreak that killed a large percentage of the Algerian city Oran in 1849 following the French colonization (information from Wikipedia).

Now that the little history lesson is over I'll clue you in to what the book is about.  Wait... I bet you can guess...  It's about the bubonic plague (shocking I know).  Anyway, the story takes place in the town of Oran in the 1940s.  First the rats start surfacing.  They are everywhere, in the gutters, in the alleys, in peoples homes, in the restaurants, and they aren't just out and swarming they are out and dying sad little rat deaths.  The people of Oran can't make heads nor tails of this little rat infestation but they are concerned as the Health Department keeps tallying up the little rat deaths and publishing how many they picked up in their morning rat scoop.  The numbers are climbing up to the tens of thousands and then as quickly as they made their appearance they are gone.  Then the first wave of fever, sweats, and buboes start to pop up in the town.  People are dying of some strange horrific death and then the Health Department starts tallying up those deaths too and they are reaching almost as high as the rat deaths.  Doctors are helpless as they watch the town fall to the Bubonic Plague that soon turns into the Mnemonic Plague.  Meanwhile, the town very early on becomes quarantined from the rest of the country so there is the longing for family members that are now separated from their loved ones.  This book isn't just about the plague and the death and destruction of Oran but about the relationships built out of this disaster, and how a community comes together to pick up the pieces of this horrible catastrophe.

I would recommend this book to anyone that really enjoys literature, not just a good read but real honest to goodness literature.  The writing in the book is truly a treat.  Book clubs might want to give this one a try as well.  There would be lots to discuss and I am sure the discussion would get lively.  Or if you just are interested in the Bubonic Plague (like I am) this is a good one to add on your TBR pile for sure.

RATING: 4 stars

1 more reviews on The Plague (I couldn't find any more than this)
Tony's Book World

The Plague by Albert Camus
(Library Audio Book)
ISBN 9780679720218
9 Discs {8 Hours 30 Minutes}

If you liked The Plague then read: The Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox

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HELLO MY FRIENDS!!!!!  It has been sooooo long and we haven't chatted!!!!  I am oh so sorry, I only have one excuse...  I am 2 and a half months pregnant and all I want to do is sleep and sleep and sleep!  And when I do have time to read, I decide I should tackle my neglected house hold chores because even though my hubby is trying to be super patient and helpful with my non-existent energy he is a HORRIBLE house cleaner (he tries but seriously that man should stick with Firefighting)!  But anyway, I digress, I then realized that I haven't told you about 2 audio books I listened to recently so I simply must share them with you!  And I am almost finished with Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins so look for that review in a few days! 

Soooo.... The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell was a very quick story with lots of angles, and lots to like and lots to dislike.  The writing was fantastic, and I love stories that jump back and forth through time and give you multiple plot lines.  However, the content of this story was a little sad and disturbing in both of the said plot lines.  And the ending.... Oh boy if you read this are you in for a surprise!!  Holy cow!  I was just minding my own business and I started to put things together in my mind and was like "no, the story isn't going there is it?  Really....?  Oh my goodness!!  No she didn't!!!  Yes she did!!!"  (Literally that is what I said you can ask my husband he was sitting right next to me in the car.)

OK so here is the story.  Esme Lennox is in an insane asylum in current time. She is a very old lady and has been in this asylum for pretty much her entire life.  When the asylum has to close it's doors they notify Esme's great-grandniece Iris, but Iris has never even heard her family so much as mention Esme before.  She decides to go and see Esme and help by letting Esme live with her until she can find something to do with her.  Iris tries to get answers from her grandmother Kitty but Kitty has Alzheimer's and only gives Iris snippets of who Esme is.  Each chapter is told through either Iris's eyes and these chapters tell of her frustration behind the mystery of Esme, Iris's affair with a married man, and the sexual tension between her and her step-brother (kinda weird).  Or the chapter is told from Esme's point of view and these chapters send you back in time to the 1930s and to Esme's childhood with her sister Kitty and her family in India and later in England.  Or it is told from Kitty's point of view (which in my opinion was the most interesting chapters to read because O'Farrell really caught the mind of an Alzheimer's patient) Kitty's point of view just tells the same story as Esme but from the family's opinion of Esme.  Kitty's chapters also kind of fill in the holes to why Esme was sent to the asylum in the first place.  Then the ending!  You just have to read to find out about the ending.

I really really enjoyed this book.  It wasn't a literary masterpiece but it was very enjoyable and very interesting.  I would highly recommend this to a book club because the discussion would be fantastic!  I would also recommend this book to anyone that enjoys books written in different points of view or historical fiction buffs.  

RATING: 4 Stars

3 more reviews of The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox:

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell
(Library Copy of Audio Book)

 ISBN 1433209721
6 Discs {7 hours 30 minutes}


If you liked The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox then you should read:  The Guernsey and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Borrows

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

On Folly Beach

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Well this is an exciting review for me because it is the very first review I have ever done for a publisher!  A few months ago a very nice lady from Joan Schulhafer Publishing and Media contacted me, and wanted to see if I would like to read a few of their new releases and blog to all you wonderful readers about them.  I eagerly accepted her generous offer and then proceeded to blog about all the horrid books I had been reading lately.  I am sure that this wonderful publishing lady was kicking herself in the butt wondering why she gave these books to a snarky blogger that has nothing good to say about anything she had read recently {but what can I say I'm an honest blogger and I'm going to tell it like it is}.  

Fortunately I only have very fabulous things to say about On Folly Beach by Karen White.  The Characters were all delightful, the story was interesting and you wanted to keep reading "one more chapter" before you had to do something else {and then one more chapter after that}.  And like most Southern Literature it made you want to move on down to the deep south and get wrapped up into their easy way of life.  Plus {and this is a big ol' bonus for moi} but half of the story was  in modern time and the other half was in the 1940s during WWII! I had no idea that it would be jumping back and forth between two stories and two time eras and I was quite pleasantly surprised because I heart historical fiction especially anything having to do with WWII! 

So let me give you a little run down so you know what to expect with On Folly Beach.  In the very beginning we meet Emmy {in modern time}, she has just learned that her husband Ben has been killed in Afghanistan, and her life simply stops.  She can't get over his tragic death and her Mom Paige talks her into leaving their family home in Indiana and move to Folly Beach South Carolina to purchase a book shop that is for sale there.  Emmy is a literature and book lover and she has a degree in Library Science, and she begrudgingly takes her mothers advice and heads to South Carolina to start a new life and run the book shop Folly's Finds.  When she arrives she slowly falls in love with the people there, and her new shop, but only through the help of some long lost love letters that she finds between the pages of some of the old books in the shop.  The love letters are written by two star crossed lovers and Emmy is determined to find out who these lovers were and what happened to them.  As the mystery unravels you learn a lot about Folly, the lovers, and Emmy's pain of letting go.  The story jumps between Emmy and her sleuthing and the lovers and their lives on Folly during WWII.

This book is a perfect summer read.  Grab it before your next vacation and find a shady place in the sand with a good drink at your fingertips and enjoy every sentence of this beautiful story.  I highly recommend this to anyone that love Southern Literature, Historical Fiction, Book Club groups.  Enjoy it and review it and let the reading world know that it is a great read!!!

BOOK vs. MOVIE:  No movie but if there were I'd bet it would be a tear jerker!

RATING: 4 stars

3 More Reviews of On Folly Beach:

On Folly Beach by Karen White
{Publisher Copy}
ISBN 9780451229212
Pages 416

If you liked On Folly Beach then please read:  The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd

Monday, July 12, 2010

In The Woods

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Oh Tana French, you better put up your dukes because you and I are in a fight, and I have a mean left hook!  How can you write such an exquisite book and leave us so unsatisfied?  It really is just unfair!  I mean we read and read this semi-chunkster of a mystery novel and the "whodoneit" is riveting, and extraordinarily frightening, and then as the mystery unravels you leave us with more questions than answers!  Oh.  My.  Gosh.  I just need one more chapter please!!!  I am begging you, just give me one more little chapter!!!  Maybe an epilogue, another installment, something I beg you!  Please!!  

I must mention here that I don't really like mystery novels but if Tana French wrote another 429 page sequel, or even added another 429 pages to In The Woods I would have devoured every last word.  French is a beautiful writer, this story was heart wrenching, scary has hell, and so real.  In fact {even though Tana and I won't be on speaking terms for a bit, while I try and forgive her for not satisfying my reading experience} I understand why Tana didn't tie up all the loose ends, because in reality life isn't perfect, there are always dangley bits and bad decisions, and cold cases.  And most of the time you don't expect that from a book.  You can start a book and be pretty sure that there will be a "Once upon a time" and a "Happily ever after", but French takes that theory and stomps on it.  And I guess I'm coming around as I write this because I guess I kinda want to say "Thank you Tana" maybe I'm not as mad at you as I was before.  I understand why you left us with more questions than answers.  I LOVED your book dangley bits and all.

So I guess you are wondering what all that was about so I have to give you a little synopsis here.   Detectives Rob Ryan and Cassie Maddox are Murder detectives in Ireland {oh by the way my Irish brogue got really good in my mind}.  They are given a case of a murdered 12 year old girl in a little town called Knocknaree in County Dublin.  The girl was found murdered and sexually assaulted on an archeological dig site in the town right out side of the forest.  However, Detective Ryan secretly has a strange connection to the case, because about 20 years before hand, Ryan and his two best friends went into those very same woods to play and 2 of them disappeared never to be seen again.  The only one that knows about Detective Ryan's connection to the case is his partner Cassie, and as the two detectives unravel the modern case, detective Ryan is trying to make sense of the old cold case that he had been involved in years before.     

If you like mystery novels, if you like Ireland, if you like things that go bump in the night, if you don't like things that go bump in the night, heck if you like to read, you should pick this book up.  Like I mentioned before, the story telling is exquisite, reading this book was a treat, and Tana French is a jewel of an author.  And even though I am still a little sore with her, I would recommend this book to anyone.  I read this for our book club and we had a great time discussing our theories, thoughts, and opinions.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did despite the fact you might want to cry with frustration at the end.  And Tana, if I ever meet you "in the woods" I'm going to tie you to a tree until you give me some answers!!  I'm just joking.  Maybe.  (:      

BOOK vs. MOVIE:  I am really surprised that this book hasn't been optioned for a film yet.  For a couple of reasons, first, the book would make an amazing movie.  The suspense alone would keep people on the edge of their seats.  Second, the author is actually an actor.  You would think that she would want to have this made into some sort of film.  Maybe even play Cassie {I pictured Cassie looking just exactly like French's picture on the book jacket}.

RATING: 4 starts {I just couldn't give it 5 because I wanted so much more}

3 more reviews of In The Woods by Tana French:

In The Woods by Tana French
(Library Copy)
ISBN 9780670038602
Pages 429

If you liked In The Woods then read: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Lullaby

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Have you ever been a room where someone is watching TV, and someone is playing a computer game, and someone else is talking to someone else, and the phone is ringing, and the dog is barking, and micro-wave is dinging, and a baby is crying, and you just want to stand on a chair and scream at the top of you lungs to just "SHUT UP, SHUT UP, SHUT UP"!  Well that is how Lullaby is but in literary form.  And the funny thing is...  I kinda loved it!!  I mean the big kind of love where you can't stop talking about it, you wanna buy it in hardback, you want to sleep with it under your pillow, and you want everyone else to love it just as hard as you do.  I just have to say, Chuck Palahniuk, where have you been all my life??  I think most of us would recognize Chuck Palahniuk's work from Fight Club which is one of my favorite movies of all time (though I haven't read the book yet), and if you can picture the darkness of Fight Club you can understand the darkness of Lullaby.  The humor is DARK, and DRY, and the story is DISTURBING, and the prose are GRUESOME, but even so this book is hysterical (even though sometimes you feel like it is inappropriate to laugh, and you might feel the need to take a shower after reading it), and it really gets you thinking about life and death.  If you have a weak stomach move on, you won't want to digest this book.  But if you are up for some mind Olympics, and some amazing writing dive right in please!

So in this book we meet Carl Streator, investigative journalist extraodinaire.  He prides himself on not missing the details when he is on an assignment and that is how he gets himself into the mess in this story.  Carl is assigned a 5 part article on SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), he heads out to a families house that sadly have just lost their little one to this strange Syndrome.  While Carl is looking over the nursery he notes a library book on the bedside table opened to a nursery rhyme (a culling song) on page 27.  On the second house call to a victim of SIDS he notices the same library book, and on and on it goes.  So he reads the rhyme on the page and recites it to his editor who dies.  Now Carl is off on a wild goose chase through the U.S. (with 2 Wiccans {Mona & Oyster}, and an eccentric real estate agent that sells haunted houses{Helen Hoover Boyle}) to find the remaining copies of this book and destroy them.  The only thing is, that every time Carl recites the Culling Song (even in his head) someone dies.  That is all I'm gonna say.  There is SOOOOOOO much more to this book than the little bit I have just mentioned.  There is Carl's story, Helen's Story, Mona and Oysters story, the characters fight for power, twists, turns, dead ends, death, carnage, cell phone calls, talking cows, flying Virgins, more twists, more turns, more dead ends, and can you tell why I gave the loud room analogy earlier?

Like I mentioned before, don't read this book if you are easily sick or if you are easily offended.  There is gore and offensiveness a plenty.  But do pick this book up if you want something SUPER different to read.  Or if you want to laugh out loud.  Or if you want to discuss the heck out of it with me!  The only regret I have is that I didn't actually read this book but listened to the Audiobook.  Though the reader Richard Poe was FANTASTIC!  You won't regret reading this little gem, unless of course you do regret it, and then I warned you about the gore.

BOOK vs. MOVIE: There has been some interest in this book for a movie adaption by the director of Fight Club.  There is also a rumor that a Swedish director may pick up the project.  All I can say is that if it is done as well as Fight Club (and remember I haven't read that book yet, so don't judge me for a comparison yet), I would be at the theater to see it.

RATING: 5 Stars

3 more reviews of Lullaby:

Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk {Audo Book}
ISBN 1402524978
6 Disc {3 Hours 29 Minutes}
Read by Richard Poe

If you liked Lullaby then you should read: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Mermaid Chair

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Hello my friends {and I have quite a few new friends it looks like}.  First I wanna say thanks for following and welcome!  Now that little bit is out of the way let me jump right into my review on The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd.  The very first thing I have to say is IT IS ABOUT BLOODY TIME!!!!!  I have been reading and listening to tons and tons of horrid books lately and I am sure you all are sick and tired of me writing reviews on books I hated!  But while The Mermaid Chair isn't going to leap to the top of my favorites list, at least it was extraordinarily well written and the story was captivating.  Why I haven't picked up a book by Kidd before is beyond me, but I am so so glad I did!  She paints such a pretty picture and develops her characters so well that I felt like I wanted to move to Egret Island, become part of this little community and raise my unborn children there!  I was enthralled with this book by the first paragraph because it has a very surprising start and I wanted to find out "what the heck??"  Here is the first line...

"In the middle of my marriage, when I was above all Hugh's wife and Dee's mother, one of those unambiguous women with no desire to disturb the universe, I fell in love with a Benedictine monk."
So I mean come on...  How do you not read more and figure out how this woman who is happily married falls in love with a Benedictine monk that is cloistered on a little Island off the cost of South Carolina?  I'll give you a little hint but that's it.  It has to do with a purposely severed finger.  A special needs adult that has a knack for knowing the things you are thinking.  A very devout mother.  Mermaids, a chair, and a 20 year old family secret that is resurfacing after all the years it has been buried under the sea.  On top of this intriguing story is the wit and voice of a charming southern woman named Jessie, and I really really liked her!  Most the time, when I read books about unfaithfulness in marriage, I get so mad at the guilty party but I really loved this lady, and felt like I was rooting for her no matter what her decision was.  I really liked her husband Hugh and the Benedictine monk so I didn't really know how I wanted it to end.  Also, I always always figure out what is going to happen on the end of the book, way before the end of the book, but I was surprised when Kidd tied up all the loose ends and some of those little ends weren't exactly what I had thought they would be!  So do you wanna read it?  Huh?  Huh?

I would recommend this book to just about anyone.  It isn't that long and her writing is so beautiful that it is easy to read, so consider this book if you are headed to the beach.  Book clubs would love it and discuss the heck out of it because it is chalked full of literary, religious, and mythical symbolism.  So all in all I am elated that I finally read a book I liked after so many others I wanted to chuck in the bin!  I thought that maybe The Road had ruined it for me and nothing would ever again compare.  I remember feeling the same way after I read The Time Travelers Wife for the first time, it took me a long time to find another good book after that one.  But it looks like I am out of my reading rut because I have another fantastic audio book review for you waiting in the wings, and I am reading 2 amazing books right now!  So in the next few weeks you will see some glowing recommendations!

BOOK vs. MOVIE:  There was a Lifetime movie made on The Mermaid Chair in 2006 staring Kim Basinger.  It didn't really get great reviews but I'd give it a try if I ran across it on TV.

RATING: 4 Stars

3 more reviews on The Mermaid Chair:

The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd
ISBN: 0143057421
10 Hour and 22 Minutes
Eliza Foss

If you liked The Mermaid Chair you should also read: The Help by Kathryn Stockett
 

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Blog Hop

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Hey Welcome Hoppers!  My name is Lauren {click on my name to read a little more about me} and I started blogging because about 10 months ago I thought it would be a good idea to keep a  journal about the books I've read.  I had NO IDEA there was this amazing community of readers and writers out there that agreed with me so I was pleasantly surprised to fall into this group of fabulous book bloggers!  I have met so many wonderful bibliophiles/bloggers that love reading and love blogging as much as I do.  Take a look around.  Leave a comment or two.  Find some good reads.  Become a follower!!

Warm Regards,
Lauren 

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Soft Place to Land

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I obediently trudged though A Soft Place to Land by Susan Rebecca White for my book club a few weeks ago and I decided to have mixed reviews about it.  The book takes a little while to get into and a little after the half way point I really did had to find out what happened to our poor protagonist so I continued reading.  But had I not been reading this for my  book club I probably would have disregarded the book after the first few chapters.  {Side note:  I promise that I usually do like the books I read it just seams that 2010 is the year of bad books for me, I am not typically a Debbie Downer or a Nagging Nancy like my recent book reviews make me sound, and I currently reading 3 VERY good books so stay tuned}.  I had some serious character issues with this book.  Ruthie the main character seemed flat, not fleshed out enough to be a main character.  Her sister Julia seemed a little more interesting and I enjoyed reading about her but the story was about Ruthie mostly and you would think that White would have made Ruthie the interesting one.  She just seemed to float through life, taking the joy and sorrow with the same even tone.  In other words she was the Melba Toast of literary Characters.  Every one else in the story had some flavor (bland flavor but at least you could taste them), they all had some interesting quirk but poor Ruthie was just kinda blah.  I really didn't like anyone of importance in this whole book really.  They seemed disconnected with life, not real, not deep.

So we meet Ruthie and her half sister Julia when they are young.  Ruthie is in 7th grade and is a rule follower; and Julia is in High School and is rule breaker.  During Spring Break their parents head off to Los Vegas for a little alone time and while they are there they decide to go on a little trip to the Grand Canyon for a airplane tour.  But unfortunately they die in a fiery plane crash.  So Ruthie and Julia are split up, Ruthie going to live with her aunt and uncle (the only characters I kinda liked) in San Francisco, and Julia going to live with her Dad and wicked step-mom in Virginia.  Over the next few years the once very close sisters have a falling out.  Julia's reckless behavior, and Ruthie's pent up resentment for her sister drive a wedge between their relationship.  Later when another plane crash occurs the two grow closer only to be ripped apart again.  Finally a third plane crash gives the reader hope that these two girls will get their act together and remember they are sisters.  How many plane crashes can one family endure you ask?  The answer is that 3 plane crashes in one life time bring you full circle I suppose.

I guess the story kind of board me.  Nothing much happens and like I said Ruthie was Melba Toasty, but the writing was fantastic so that was a redeeming factor.  I would probably recommend this book to book clubs but other than that I don't think I would recommend it to anyone else.  However, I would read another one of Whites books.  As I said I liked her writing style, so maybe another story would speak to me a little better than A Soft Place to Land did.  

BOOK vs. MOVIE: There isn't a movie but if there were I'd bet it would be one on Lifetime.

RATING: 3 Stars

3 More Reviews on A Soft Place to Land:

A Soft Place to Land by Susan Rebecca White
(Purchased at Target)
ISBN 9781439194812
Pages328

If you liked this book you should read: Girls in Trucks by Katie Crouch 

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation

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Sometimes I start a book, get through a chapter and then toss it to the side because the first chapter sucked, or the main character was whiny, or there was too much back story, or all of the above.  Then I feel like a quitter, and feel guilty that I didn't give it a fair chance, and I feel like I hurt the books feelings {I know, right???}.  So that is usually when I head to the library and get the audio book.  I would say that 99% of the audio books I listen to are books I tried to read and just couldn't get past the first few chapters.  And usually I end up hearting the story after all!!  This is exactly the scenario I had with The Secret History of the Pink Carnation.  The first few chapters weren't so hot, it starts out in modern time and I was expecting historical fiction all the way.  I thought the main character was whiny and needy, and there was too much of a back story.  I read 20 pages and tossed it to the side.  Then the guilt came and I rushed out to pick up the audio book at my library.  I really enjoyed it!  I mean it isn't great literature, the historical part of the book is utterly and truly fiction, but Lauren Willig wrote a great book that was full of mystery, espionage, and romance and.... onomatopoeias.  Yes this story is chalked full of WHACKS, POWS, CRUNCHES, OOMPHS, BANGS, and WHOPS..  At some points I felt like I was in one of those old Batman TV shows.  However, besides the assortment of expressive sound words I rather "guilty pleasure" enjoyed The Secret History of the Pink Carnation.  


Let me just say it.  This book is kind of a romance novel in a not so Harlequin form.  The writing (besides the random POW), is very well done, and the plot is clever and interesting, but on the whole this is a story about a boy and girl falling in love and sometimes getting to second and third base rather descriptively (fortunately for the reader there were no sounds mentioned at these parts).  We start out in modern day London where we meet Eloise.  Poor Eloise is trying to write her dissertation on the Pink Carnation, the most cunning and successful British spy during the Napoleonic wars.  But no one knows the true identity of this fabulous sleuth, the identities of the other great spies of the time (the Scarlet Pimpernel and the Purple Gentian) have been revealed but no where in history has anyone unmasked the Pink Carnation.  So Eloise is on a mission, she tracks down an old lady living in London who is a descendant of the Purple Gentian, and the lady gives Eloise diaries, and correspondence that shed some light on who this wonderful Pink Carnation might be.  At this point in the story we are flung back through time to the 1830s where we meet Amy and Jane.  These two English Victorian young women are getting ready to journey to France to live with Amy's brother Edward, their main goal in France is to find the Purple Gentian and help him restore the French Crown.  Amy is the protagonist here and she blunders her way from one thing to another until she accidentally meets and falls in love with the Purple Gentian.  Meanwhile she is in deep social drama with a excruciatingly handsome, but irkingly impossible man named Richard Selwick.  Espionage ensues and Napoleon's plans are curtailed, identities are revealed, there is much POW BOP BANGING, and there is even a cliff hangerish type ending {because this is a series people}!  It is quite a funny ride!

If you are in the mood for some light hearted summer reading I would give this one a chance.  I was expecting a serious piece of historical fiction so maybe that is why my first impression was blah.  But after I got the audio book I really enjoyed it.  The characters cracked me up!  Read it on the beach, don't expect a challenge, but do expect to be at least a little bit entertained.

On a side note, I am sorry for all these audio book reviews!!  I feel like such a slacker in my reading but I have been doing A LOT of driving to and from work and then A LOT of working and in my free time I sleep {between the hours of 1:30am - 7:00am}, so I am grateful for my longish commute to work so I have time to indulge in books!  I can't wait for wedding season to slow down a tad bit so I can pick up a real live book again! 

BOOK vs. MOVIE: There isn't a Pink Carnation movie but if there were I don't think I'd be camping out in line to be the first to see it.  I would however pick it up at Redbox for a buck.

RATING: 3.95 stars

3 More reviews on The Secret History of the Pink Carnation:

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig
ISBN 0143057324
13 Hours and 36 minutes
Read by Kate Reading

If you liked The Secret History of the Pink Carnation you may also like: Wideacre by Philippa Gregory 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Little of This A little of That

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Alrighty people this isn't a book review.  I know I know, don't be mad, but I had a bunch of things I wanted to tell you all about so I decided to stray from my normal routine and write a non-book-review blog for once.  So bear with me and I promise it won't be so bad :).  Or if you are already getting board reading this blog entry just skip ahead to the bits that interest you (an award, a review of The Road {movie}, a complaint about SPAM in my comments, back-up reminder), I promise it won't hurt my feelings if you don't hang on my every word.. 

First things first.  I want to thank Elisabeth over at Babbette's Book Blog for sending me the Oh My Blog Award!!  Elisabeth you made my day!!  So here are the rules for the Oh My Blog award...

1... Get really really excited that you just had the best blog award in the world bestowed upon you. 
2... Choose one of the following options to except the award.
           a) Get really really drunk and blog for 15 minutes straight or until you loose focus.
           b) Write about your most embarrassing moment.
           c) Write a "Soundtrack of Your Childhood" post.
           d) Make your next post a Vlog (Video Blog)
           e) Take a picture of yourself first thing in the morning before you have done your makeup and hair.
3... Pass the award on to at least 3 (but hopefully more) fabulous bloggers and don't forget to tell them!

So I decided to except this award I was going to do choice E, but I don't really have a picture on hand so I scoured my Facebook pictures until I came up with one that I don't really want anyone to see.  Actually it is one that I untagged myself in, so I think this one will suffice for a picture of me with out my pretties on.

View this picture at your own risk.  And then after you look at this picture take a look the picture of me at the top of my blog so you aren't picturing me looking like this all the time (:  haha!

AAAAAHHHHH!!!!  I hope I didn't blind you!!!  Everything in this picture is BAD, bad hair, bad makeup, bad clothes, bad bad bad. YIKES!!!  OK now that I have totally shown you the most unflattering picture on the planet of myself I get to honor 3 more fabulous bloggers with this award!

And the winner is...






Next on the agenda is The Road {movie} review.  I read and reviewed The Road by Cormac McCarthy back in March and I have been in a reading rut ever since.  Nothing I have read lately has lived up to The Road so I feel like my measuring stick for good books is so long that everything else falls way short.  So when the movie hit Redbox last month I was SOOOOO excited but I also was going into my movie viewing experience skeptical because come on, how many movies surpass the book?  Or even live up to the book?  I can tell you the answer to those questions... NONE.  I have to say though, The Road held it's own as far as move from book goes.  The scenes were the correct amount of bleakness, the dialog was short and clipped like the prose in the book, things that happened in the book also happened in the movie.  There were somethings that weren't executed as well but that is expected.  And there were some things that were left out and I think it was a good thing because to actually see a baby on a spit over a fire would have been a little much for people.  Over all though this movie was an A+, and if you had strong enough stomach to read The Road then you can probably watch it too, and I recommend that you do!!

The next order of business is SPAM y'all!!  I have been getting it like whoa on my comment sections!!  I have been deleting deleting deleting like crazy!  So now unfortunately you all have to type a secret word thing every time you leave a comment, and I hate that!  So I apologize for having to make you type more with the crazy secret word but it really is helping.  Do any of you know how to stop the SPAM from happening?  I mean, people are posting links to Publishing Houses, Book stores, Win a Free Kindle, Etc.  They are all book related but they are most defiantly SPAM.  Let me know my friends and tell me what I need to do to kick these SPAMMERS to the curb!

The last bit of business I want to tell you about is the most important.  I follow a blog called Books i Done Read, and she always reminds us to back up our blogs.  This is SOOOOOOOOO important because sometimes the interweb wants to eat our blogs for lunch and then you are with out all your hard work!  So I want to get up on a soapbox and preach to you about backing up your blog.  I am very grateful for the lovely lady on Books i Done Read for her soapbox preaching about it and she does it oh-so-much better than I can so I am sending you to her blog to read all about the phenomenon of disappearing blogs and how to back up yours!  So check out her post here: Books i Done Read - Backing Up Your Blog.

OK I am releasing your from my clutches now and you can go on about your business.  I am glad we had this little talk about all things not book review related!!  Have a wonderful day my friends!!!  

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Last Days of Dogtown

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I had tried to read this book a few years back and only got about 2 chapters into it before something else caught my fancy and I wondered that-a-way instead.  I had always meant to go back and read it but as I was perusing the audio book shelf at my library the other day I happened upon it and grabbed it.  Thus bringing me to the realization that most of the books I listen to are books I didn't get through on paper, but I digress.  I very much enjoyed learning about the last days of Dogtown. The entire plot of the book is in the title so there weren't any big surprises there, but the characters were well developed, their stories were interesting, and I was glad to learn some new tidbits to tuck away in the back of my mind for that one day that I might end up on a game show.  The Last Days Of Dogtown by Anita Diamant (author of The Red Tent {one or my favorites}) is a semi-fictional account of the last years of a small community on the outskirts of Gloucester on Cape Ann in Massachusetts. Dogtown was a very poor cluster of hovels, a few taverns, a church, and a whorehouse that stood a few miles outside of Gloucester and that had a unique collection of residents as well as a pack of stray dogs.  The little community was very poor and the people in the neighboring towns looked at these people with disdain and pity.

The story starts off when one of the residents is found dead and is brought to Easter Carter's home/boarding house.  The whole community of Dogtown turns out to view the dead man and here begins the introduction of all the characters.  The rest of the story explores each of the members of this little society and how their days ended or how they eventually left Dogtown for a better life.  Each chapter focuses on a particular person and tells a little antidote about their lives in Dogtown.  Toward the end of the book the chapters switch gears and revisits these same characters but it depicts them at the end of their time in Dogtown whether that be death or other circumstance. Along the way all their paths cross each other and you realize the alliances, romances, and animosity among them all.  It is a very interesting examination of the dynamics of a small town in the early 1800s.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Last Days of Dogtown.  I love historical fiction and this time period and location of history especially.  And like The Red Tent Anita Daimant has done a dang good job of painting a picture with her words.  The book is beautifully written; by the time it is over you really feel a connection with a few of the characters.  I would recommend this book to anyone that has a soft spot for historical fiction as well as book clubs, I think there could be a lot of discussion on this book.  I have been to Gloucester before but now I would like to go back having read this book and visit the remains of Dogtown.  I hear there isn't much to see but you can explore the area and see the foundations of some of the homes.  Some of the characters in the book were based off of real members of this community and it would be interesting to see where they really lived.

BOOK vs. MOVIE:  There isn't a movie (not even one brewing) but if there were I would go and see it.  And really there wouldn't be anything to mess up because this is a story that would only be better if the characters were fleshed out a little bit more.

RATING: 4 stars

2 More Reviews of The Last Days of Dogtown ( I couldn't find 3 reviews!!):

The Last Days of Dogtown by Anita Diamant
(got at the library)
ISBN 0743550986
9 Discs (10hours 30 minutes)
Narrated by Kate Nelligan

If you liked The Last Days of Dogtown then please read:  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows 

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Memory Keeper's Daughter

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OK here is a little relationship tip for all you guys and gals out there.  Ladies if you are pregnant and you get stuck in a freak snow storm and your husband has to deliver your child, make sure you stay awake through out the whole ordeal.  And fella's if your wife is pregnant and you get stuck in a freak snow storm and you have to deliver your own child don't claim the baby died and then send it off to live with the nurse that helped with the delivery.  This isn't good for your marriage.  It causes problems, and tension, and walls to be built up.  And I'm no psychologist people, but I do know that this may lead to divorce some where down the line!  You may snicker at this little scenario and tell yourself well that won't ever happen to me, but be warned my friends, because this is just what happened in The Memory Keepers Daughter by Kim Edwards.  

So here is a little run down on what happens in this story.  David Henry is very much in love with his wife Nora.  So in love in fact that he wants to shelter her from heartbreak and a life of struggle, so when he has to deliver his twins on one cold and blustery night he keeps their perfect son (Paul) and sends off his less than perfect (in his opinion) daughter (Pheobe, she has Down Syndrome) off with the nurse (Caroline) while his wife is still passed out from the gas they gave delivering mothers back in the '60s (ummm... What happened to that gas).  When Nora wakes up David tells his wife that their daughter was born dead and that he had sent her little body with the nurse to dispose of.  This starts a downward spiral in to a life of depression for Nora.  She loves Paul with all her heart but she always has a missing part of her soul for her daughter that she never even got to see.  Mean while David is living with this horrible secret that his daughter is alive and well and living with Caroline somewhere out there in the world.  

The story hops back and forth from one Characters point of view to another and I really enjoyed getting into all the characters heads.  Except for Nora's; I was so annoyed with Nora's life, I know I was supposed to feel sorry for her because she was unaware that her daughter was out there somewhere and she was struggling with an unhappy marriage and depression, but I got really tired of her depression, and her "whoa as me" attitude.  I enjoyed the chapters about Pheobe and Caroline the best.  I have always had a soft place in my heart for people with Down Syndrome and they depicted Pheobe perfectly with a big heart and an sweet and inquisitive personality, I just instantly fell in love with her.  Also, I loved that the book took place in Kentucky between Lexington and Louisville.  There are so few books that take place here in Kentucky so when one does I LOVE it because I can picture the people and the places they live so vividly!  I was listening to the book not reading it and it felt like it took me 27 years (the span on the book) to listen to it.  It was LONG in other words.  Even though I enjoyed it I was SOOOOOO ready for it to be over by the end.  In a nut shell it was well written, and a good book to discuss so if you are in a book club you should probably suggest this as your next read!

BOOK vs. MOVIE:  Lifetime made this a TV movie back in 2008 and I am sure it is a tear jerker because most Lifetime movies are.  I haven't seen it but I think I might search it out.  I would love to see how it compares.  I hope it doesn't feel as long as the book felt.

RATING:  3 stars

3 More reviews on The Memory Keepers Daughter:

The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
ISBN 1428125558
14 Discs (16 hours 15 minutes)
Narrated by Martha Plimpton

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Forest of Hands and Teeth

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Oh my! It has been quite a long time since my last post!  I am so sorry for the hiatus but I have a good excuse this time.  I own a bridal boutique and guess what season it is? (Let me give you a hint... "Here comes the bride....").  It has been completely out of control for a couple weeks now so I have had no time to blog much less read!!!  Have no fear though, I have been listening to audio books on my commute to and from work so I have a couple waiting in the wings.  However the last book I read was The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan, and even though I am not a YA lover this book was about Zombies!!!  I mean come on y'all ZOMBIES!!!!  And they snack on people!  And it is gruesome and there is unrequited love and then the love is requited, and there is some young adult drama; and did I mention there are Zombies EVERYWHERE???  They are just waiting to take a wee bite out of someones arm and turn them in to the living dead too!!  And there are some parts that are uber intense, and made me sleep with my light on when my husband was on shift at the firehouse. Whooo... (*big breath*). 

OK so here it goes ladies and gents...  The world has been taken over by the "Unconsecrated" and the survivors are forced to live in these little villages that are fortified by fences.  However, it has been so long sense the world has been over run by the living dead that the villages are isolated from each other and none of the villages are sure if the other villages are still around or if they have been taken over by the flesh eaters.  This story takes place in one such village and that is where we meet Mary.  She is restless and wants more in life than what is between the fortified fence.  But she knows that there is no way to get past the Forest of Hands and Teeth (an unfortunate name by the way) and explore what else is out there.  Eventually there is a breach in the fence and the village is over run by the zombies, and you guys this isn't a spoiler because there has to be a breach or else this story would suck.  Anyway Mary and her friends are on the run through the deadly forest being chased by the cast from Dawn of the Dead.  Will they find another village?  Will they all make it?  Will there be some twists and turns?  I am not telling! You will have to find out for your selves.  

Alright I am not saying that this book is fabulous, the writing is eh, and the story has some dangly bits that don't really get resolved or really have a point to the story; but what do you expect from a Zombie story?  I mean you don't really expect a zombie flick to win an Oscar, am I right?  It is what it is and just take it as a quick read that would be good for summer vacation.  I am waiting for the second book (did I mention this is a series?) to become available at my library so I can see what else is going on with these characters.  You all will be the first to know what I think about book 2 (The Dead Tossed Waves) I promise.  

BOOK vs. MOVIE: This book has been picked up by Seven Star Pictures for a film adaption.  There is even some talk that Twilight star Kristen Stewart may play the lead (the horror! Isn't one teen book series turn movie series enough for one person?)  Will I go and see it?  Yeah probably.  I'm always down for a good zombie movie on the big screen. 

RATING: 3 stars

3 More Reviews of The Forest of Hands and Teeth:

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
(purchased at a used book shop)
ISBN 9780385736817
Pages 308

If you liked The Forest of Hands and Teeth then read:  The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins