Monthly Archives: April 2010

Lay the Favorite: A Memoir of Gambling by Beth Raymer

Next up is Lay the Favorite: A Memoir of Gambling by Beth Raymer. I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book from the Goodreads.com First Reads program.

From Goodreads.com

Lay The Favorite Book Cover

Lay The Favorite Book Cover

An eye-popping and hilarious joyride through the underworld of sports betting

Beth Raymer arrived in Las Vegas in 2001, hoping to land a job as a cocktail waitress at one of the big casinos. In the meantime, she lived in a $17-a-night motel with her dog, Otis, and waited tables at a low-rent Thai restaurant. One day, one of her regular customers told her about a job she thought Beth would be perfect for and sent her to see Dink, of Dink Inc. Dink was a professional sports gambler—one of the biggest in Vegas. He was looking for a right-hand man—someone who would show up on time, who had a head for numbers, and who didn’t steal. She got the job.

Lay the Favorite is the story of Beth Raymer’s years in the high-stakes, high-anxiety world of sports betting—a period that saw the fall of the local bookie and the rise of the freewheeling, unregulated offshore sports book, and with it the elevation of sports betting in popular culture. As the business explodes, Beth rises—from assistant to expert, trusted and seasoned enough to open an offshore booking office in the Caribbean with a few associates, men who leave their families up north to make a quick killing, while donning new tropical personas fueled by abundant drugs and local girlfriends, and who one by one succumb to their vices. They lie, cheat, steal, and run, until Beth is the last man standing.

Beth Raymer is a natural storyteller: funny, charming, and fully awake to the ironies around her. But she is also a keen and compassionate observer of the adrenaline-addicted, rougish types who become her mentors, her enemies, her family. Raymer brings to life a world that teems with pathos and ecstasy in this wild picaresque that also tells the story of a young woman’s crazy, sexy, most unlikely coming-of-age.

Although this book is not one I would normally pick up, the description caught my eye. I entered for the giveaway on goodreads.com and won! Naturally, I was excited I won–I always get excited about free books!–but I was also a little apprehensive. This wasn’t a book I would normally read, and I was a bit nervous that I might not like it.

One of the reasons I was nervous I wouldn’t like this book is that most of the book discusses gambling. Specifically, it discusses betting on sports. As someone with limited gambling experience, I was afraid I wouldn’t understand the story points involving gambling. It turned out I didn’t need to worry. The author did a great job describing any gambling terminology throughout the story, and I never felt lost or confused.

The thing I enjoyed the most about this book was how it allowed me to escape my own life for a while. As someone who has lived a nice orderly life, I’ve always wondered what it would be like to just pick up and do whatever I wanted. Beth, the author and focus of this memoir, does just that. For example, she moves to New York city on a whim with no job or place to live. While the thought of doing that terrifies me, it was great to read of her experience. Another decision she makes–deciding to try and become a Golden Glove boxing champion–is something I would never do, but enjoyed reading about. These are just some of the interesting twists and turns her life takes in the book. All of these twists make up a story that is very interesting, in part because it is so different from my every day life.

This book was a quick read because I had a hard time putting it down. The need to know what happened to Beth next kept my attention. The constant surprises made up of various twists and turns made this story enjoyable. The only complaint I had was that the book had to end!

Review: Fantastic book for anyone to read. Great tale by a fantastic storyteller. The need to know what happened next kept me turning the pages. I often tried to put the book down but I couldn’t. Although I could not relate to the main character, I still enjoyed the story she told. I recommend you pick this book up once it is released June 2nd.

2010 Chick Lit Challenge

I recently stumbled across a great concept on a fellow book review blog. Debi of Journey to the End of the TBR Pile started a 2010 Chick Lit Challenge. What does this mean?

2010 Chick Lit Challenge
The Chick Lit Challenge 2010 runs from January 1 – December 31st. The goal is to read at least 8 chick lit books during the year. Books can be listed ahead of time or as you go along. Books can also be used for multiple challenges.

So here is a list of books that I may potentially use to fulfill this challenge. This list is only a first cut at books so I may add or remove books throughout the year. As I finish a book I will update this list to include a link to the review.

1. Nanny ReturnsReview
2. Hollywood Is like High School with MoneyReview
3. Insatiable by Meg Cabot Review
4. Promises to Keep by Jane Green Review
5. Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin Review
6. Mini Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella Review
7. Thin, Rich, Pretty by Beth Harbison (Release Date: July 6th 2010)
8. Fly Away Home: A Novel by Jennifer Weiner (Release Date: July 13th 2010)
9. The Divorce Party: A Novel by Laura Dave
10. A Bump in the Road: From Happy Hour to Baby Shower by Maureen Lipinski

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan

As someone who has devoured John Green’s first four stories, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on his latest creation, Will Grayson, Will Grayson. I had previously checked out two of David Levithan’s stories, Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist and Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List, and enjoyed both. I knew the collaboration of the two great authors would be a must-read.

From Goodreads.com

Will Grayson book coverOne cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two teens—both named Will Grayson—are about to cross paths. As their worlds collide and intertwine, the Will Graysons find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, building toward romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history’s most fabulous high school musical.

Hilarious, poignant, and deeply insightful, John Green and David Levithan’s collaborative novel is brimming with a double helping of the heart and humor that have won both them legions of faithful fans.

This book focuses on the story of two teenagers, both named Will Grayson. Each author writes from the point of view of a Will Grayson, alternating narration and characters as the story goes on. Both authors are able to describe this time in a teenager’s life perfectly. They artfully communicate the wide range of feelings teenagers have during these years. The authors capture these complex relationships –platonic and romantic– realistically. The characters they create are so true and believable that you can’t help but turn the pages to see what happens to them next.

The wonderful plot of this story made it hard for me to put the book down. It starts out as two characters in contrasting situations. The path they take to each other is very different compared to anything I’ve experienced, while still being something I found myself relating to. The main story of love is not only something that affects teenagers, it affects everyone.

Review: I read a lot of young adult (YA) books. Often I read these books for purely entertainment purposes. Most of the YA books I read help me escape from my life for a bit, to an enjoyable place free of the every day stresses of an adult. In the most wonderful way possible, Will Grayson, Will Grayson is not that type of YA book. All around an amazing book that is a must-read.

I also wanted to take this opportunity to link to my friend Melissa’s blog. She also recently read this book and had some great insight to share on the topic of love. I hope you enjoy the post as much as I did!

Goodreads.com

Goodreads.com is a website I rely on heavily as an avid book reader. This website helps me in all stages of book-reading. Goodreads.com has tools to help me find books and track the books I have read. Since finding this site, keeping track of the books I read, as well as picking out what to read next, is so much easier!

Goodreads logoBefore I found Goodreads.com, I had no system for keeping track read books. As a result, I occasionally forgot which books I had read. Goodreads.com has completely changed this. I now am able to easily manage a list of books I have read. The list feature also allows me to organize books by the year or genre. As books can be in as many categories as you want, I am able to organize my books many different ways. These are just a few reasons why this website has been really helpful to me in managing the books I have read.

Another Goodreads.com feature that is helpful is its rating and review area. The star system on the site allows you to easily convey to others how much–or how little–you liked the book.
Also available is a place to leave a review of a book. You can use this section to talk in more deatail about your thoughts on the book. I like this section because it allows me to remember my thoughts about a book. Reading other people’s reviews can help you decide whether or not that book is for you, and what to read next. Reviews are great for making an informed decision when buying a new book!

Other than reading reviews, there are many great ways to find new books to read. My favorite way to find new reads is by checking out the giveaways section of the site. This is a great place to find information on books that will be released in the coming months. I always make sure to sign up for a few giveaways, and I put these books on my to-read shelf to pick up if I don’t win a copy. Checking out this section of the website has lead me to find many enjoyable book selections.

Looking for a book in a specific genre? Goodreads.com has lists available for every genre to be found. Lists available include historical fiction and upcoming YA book. I often use this area of the site when I’m looking for something specific. The list section always helps me find something!

Another great feature of Goodreads.com is the ability to “friend” people. By simply sending or accepting a friend request, you have instant access to your friend’s book lists. Checking out the lists of books friends have read is a great way to find a new book. As my friends have great taste in books, I usually find something here that I need to check out. The same is true if I finish a book I think a friend will enjoy. I can use a notification system to send recommendations to friends. Then they have the option to add that book to their “to-read” list. I often find the best book recommendations come from friends, so this feature is one of my favorites!

Authors have their own sections. These sections contain information about their published works. If an author has a blog connected to his profile on Goodreads.com, then this section will include the latest posts.This information really helps you keep up with what your favorite authors are writing. Some authors are even Goodreads.com members themselves. If this is the case, this section will also help you find out what your favorite author is reading. A lot of great information can be found here.

Those are just some of my favorite areas on Goodreads.com. This is by no means a comprehensive list of everything on the site. I urge you to go ahead and check out this website if you haven’t previously. I hope you will find it as helpful as I have. Already on the site? Feel free to add me!

Nanny Returns: A Novel by Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus

Next up on my list is Nanny Returns: A Novel by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus. This book is a sequel to The Nanny Diaries, which the pair released in 2002.

From Goodreads.com

Ten years after her original misadventures in babysitting, Nan returns to NYC in this saucy sequel to the phenomenal bestseller The Nanny Diaries. Now married and pondering motherhood herself, the recovering caregiver is about to get a whole new perspective on childrearing. Her trouble former charge bursts back into her life and her new consulting business introduces her to nannying’s sophisticated older sister: private school. With the same biting wit and tender heart that marked the original, this long-awaited follow-up skewers the elite culture of “outsourced parenting” on the razor-sharp tip of a 21st-century Mary Poppins umbrella. It’s as funny as it is affecting: call it chicklit with a conscience.

The end of the The Nanny Diaries left me heartbroken. The “X’s” had just fired Nan as Grayer’s nanny. Poor Nan was left baring her soul into a hidden Nanny Cam. Grayer just lost the one person in his life who cared about him. I was excited to hear that there was going to be a sequel to this story and I hoped this book would mean a happier ending for Nan and Grayer.

Usually I buy a book and read it quickly after. I picked up this book right after it was released, however it sat on my shelf for two months. As someone who usually buys a book and starts it immediately this was very uncharacteristic for me. Even though I wanted to know what happened, I was terrified I would again be heartbroken.

Once I overcame this fear and started the book, I found it to be a great read. I did very much enjoy the main plot centering around the relationship between Grayer and Nan. We were able to see that Grayer had suffered from his parents’ neglect, as Nan had warned. Now Grayer was trying to make sure that his younger brother, Stilton, did not suffer the same way. I wanted to know if Nan could make a difference in the boys’ lives this time around.

The one down side of this book was that sometimes there was too much going on. Between Nan’s new job, her house renovations, her husband’s constant traveling and need for a baby, and the attempts to reconnect with an old classmate, there was a lot of story. This sometimes left me feeling a bit overwhelmed. Since the authors were able to use each of these side stories to push the main plot, they did not detract too much from the overall story

Review: I felt the relationships and characters were as entertaining as they were very true to life. This book helped give me the closure I lacked after reading The Nanny Diaries. A recommended read, especially for those of you read its prequel!

Authors are all aTwitter

Twitter is a fantastic place to get information out quickly. Many authors have realized this, and they are using Twitter to quickly spread the word about their work. This practice helps authors in reaching their existing readers, communicating with them, and giving them updates about their books. In addition authors are also using Twitter to reach out to new readers. I love using Twitter to find new authors and to keep up with my favorite authors.

An example of an author whose books I started reading after I found them on Twitter is Maureen Johnson (@maureenjohnson). I met Maureen at LeakyCon 2009. After the conference I decided to check out Maureen on Twitter. What I found was a stream of hysterical tweets that inspired me to check out her books. I have since read and ejoyed all of her currently published works. Now I use Twitter to keep up with the status of her next book, The Last Little Blue Envelope, due out May 2011.

I follow my favorite authors on Twitter to find out about their newest projects. When an author announces a new book, Twitter is often the fastest way to find out about it. Jane Green (@JaneGreen) tweeted about possible title choices for her upcoming book. Other authors like Ally Carter (@officiallyally) sometimes tweet excerpts from the works they are editing. Looking for a cover or release date for a book? Check out an author’s Twitter account!

Authors don’t only tweet about books while they are writing them. Authors use Twitter to get the word out about their soon-to-be release books. Meg Cabot (@megcabot) recently tweeted about a book giveaway for her upcoming book release. John Green (@realjohngreen) recently posted his tour dates on Twitter for for his upcoming tour.

I find the best way to keep track of my favorite authors on Twitter is using lists. I have created a Twitter list of some of my favorite authors. Feel free to check it out, and hopefully find a great new author! Have an great author I’m not following? Let me know so I can check them out!