Tag Archives: first-reads

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.

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Hearts on a String: A Novel by Kris Radish

The next book I would like to review is Hearts on a String: A Novel by Kris Radish. I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book from the Goodreads.com First Reads program.

Description from Barnesandnoble.com

Bestselling author Kris Radish delves deeply into the emotions of five very different women who are thrown together by chance—only to discover that they have more in common than they ever could have imagined.

Holly Blandeen has always cherished the story her grandmother told her about the thread that connects all women, tying them forever in sisterhood. It’s a beautiful idea, but with all the curveballs life has thrown her way, Holly has often felt isolated, different from other women. That starts to change when she meets four strangers in an airport and they agree to share a luxury hotel suite because a powerful spring storm is barreling across the country, stranding travelers from California to Florida. What begins as a spur-of-the-moment decision becomes an unlikely, unexpected, and sometimes reluctant exercise in female bonding, as these five exceptional women—each at a crossroads—swap stories, share secrets, and seek answers to the questions they’ve been asking about life, love, and the path to true happiness. A storm may have grounded them for the moment, but after this wild adventure in which anything can and does happen, they’ll never have to fly solo again.

When reading a book about five main characters, like this one, I would like some time to get to know each character. Instead of introducing the five main characters slowly, they are thrown at the reader all at once. I was unable to enjoy meeting the women in this story as I spent the first few chapters flipping back to earlier pages to figure out who was who. Not only is the character introduction confusing but the descriptions of the women are often repetitive. Instead of getting new information, the author rehashes the same descriptions over and over again. As a result I was a third of the way into the book before I could keep the characters straight.

Another thing that I did not enjoy about this book was the narration. The author’s style of narration felt choppy in places due to her tendency to go between character dialogue and conversation summary mid-topic. I often found myself rereading passages so I could figure out what just happened.

The story was not helped by the fact that the author tried to cram too much story into the book’s 336 pages. While I understand the author was trying to capture the woman accurately, I just felt like each character had too much going on. Each character had one or two big reveals in their life, which was just too much for this story.

Not only did the characters have too much going on, but the storyline was just too much as well. The ups and downs were all over the place, and they kept coming in rapid succession. The jam-packed plot made me feel overwhelmed.

Even though this book was often confusing and jumbled, the author was able to convey her message. That message is one of the powerful bond between women, and how important that bond is in a woman’s life. The story made me realize how important friendships are in helping you survive through the tough patches in life. I felt the story would of been much more powerful had it not been told in such a confusing way. The “less is more” approach would of helped this book become the story the author was trying to tell.

Rating: As much as I wanted to love this book, it did was unable to really enjoy it. The simple thread of the story was often lost behind too many characters and too much plot.

2010 Books

My goal for 2010 was to read 78 books, which equals a book and a half a week. These are the books I have read so far this year as I aim to meet my goal.

December
All-American Girl (All-American Girl #1) by Meg Cabot
Belly Laughs: The Naked Truth About Pregnancy and Childbirth by Jenny McCarthy
The Help by Kathryn Stockett

November
Jinx by Meg Cabot
How to Be Popular by Meg Cabot
Zombies vs. Unicorns by Holly Black (Editor), Justine Larbalestier (Editor), Alaya Dawn Johnson, Maureen Johnson, Carrie Ryan, Scott Westerfeld, Meg Cabot, Garth Nix, Kathleen Duey, Margo Lanagan, Naomi Novik, Diana Peterfreund, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare Review
Countdown by Deborah Wiles
Harry Potter Film Wizardry by Brian Sibley Review

October
Everything Christmas by David Bordon, Tom Winters Review
Baby Bargains by Denise Fields, Alan Fields Review

September
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan
Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson Review
Mini Shopaholic (Shopaholic #6) by Sophie Kinsella Review
Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan Review
Coraline by Neil Gaiman Review
Don’t Stop Believin’: The Unofficial Guide to Glee by Erin Balser, Suzanne Gardner Review
Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin Review
Healer Quest: Book 10 of the Quest Series by Lisa Wright DeGroodt

August
Mockingjay (Hunger Games, #3) by Suzanne Collins
Catching Fire (Hunger Games, #2) by Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

July
Promises to Keep by Jane Green Review
Only the Good Spy Young (Gallagher Girls, #4) by Ally Carter
Storm Quest (Quest Book 9) by Lisa Wright DeGroodt Review
Sliding Into Home by Kendra Wilkinson Review
Knocked Up: Confessions of a Hip Mother-to-be
by Rebecca Eckler Review
Gimme a Call by Sarah Mlynowski

June
My Fair Lazy by Jen Lancaster
Insatiable by Meg Cabot Review

May
The Divorce Party: A Novel by Laura Dave
An Education by Lynn Barber Review
The Council of Dads: My Daughters, My Illness, and the Men Who Could Be Me by Bruce Feiler Review
The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell Review
Shadowland (The Mediator, #1) by Meg Cabot
Ninth Key (The Mediator, #2) by Meg Cabot
Reunion (The Mediator, #3) by Meg Cabot
Darkest Hour (The Mediator, #4) by Meg Cabot
Haunted (The Mediator, #5) by Meg Cabot
Twilight (The Mediator, #6) by Meg Cabot
Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang by Chelsea Handler
Hacking Harvard by Robin Wasserman

April
A Bump in the Road: From Happy Hour to Baby Shower by Maureen Lipinski
Lay the Favorite: A Memoir of Gambling by Beth Raymer Review *ARC
Hollywood Is like High School with Money by Zoey Dean Review
Runaway (Airhead, #3) by Meg Cabot Review
Didn’t I Feed You Yesterday?: A Mother’s Guide to Sanity in Stilettos by Laura Bennett Review
Blue Noon (Midnighters, #3) by Scott Westerfeld Review
Touching Darkness (Midnighters, #2) by Scott Westerfeld Review
The Secret Hour (Midnighters, #1) by Scott Westerfeld Review
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green, David Levithan Review
Model, Incorporated by Carol Alt Review
Being Nikki (Airhead, #2) by Meg Cabot Review
Airhead by Meg Cabot Review

March
Up in the Air by Walter Kirn
Nanny Returns: A Novel by Emma McLaughlin, Nicola Kraus Review
Mind-Rain: Your Favorite Authors on Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies Series by Scott Westerfeld Review
Hearts on a String: A Novel by Kris Radish Review *ARC
Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover (Gallagher Girls, #3) by Ally Carter Review
Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy (Gallagher Girls, #2) by Ally Carter Review
The Brightest Star in the Sky: A Novel by Marian Keyes Review
I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You (Gallagher Girls, #1) by Ally Carter Review
Corked by Kathryn Borel Review
Waking Up in the Land of Glitter: A Crafty Chica Novel Kathy Cano-Murillo Review

February
Second Time Around: A Novel by Beth Kendrick Review *ARC
A Match Made in High School by Kristin Walker Review
Heist Society by Ally Carter Review
This Year’s Model by Carol Alt Review
The Overnight Socialite by Bridie Clark Review
Rich Again by Anna Maxted Review

January
Girl at Sea by Maureen Johnson Review
The Key to the Golden Firebird by Maureen Johnson Review
Scarlett Fever by Maureen Johnson Review
The Gift by Cecelia Ahern Review
The Dressmaker: A Novel by Elizabeth Birkelund Review
Spin: A Novel by Robert Rave Review
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver Review *ARC

* Please note that ARC stands for advance reading copy. For more information about what an ARC is or how to get your hands on one feel free to check out wikipedia.org