Before I Go To Sleep by S. J. Watson

Before I Go To Slee[Before I Go To Sleep, or as Hubby said, “50 First Dates meets Memento” was a thrilling and gripping book.  (Thank to Lisa from Books On The Brain and TLC Book Tours for “telling” me to read it NOW.) It’s also the first book I have finished since last spring.  It was just what I needed!

Before I Go To Sleep is the tragic but somehow realistic story about Christine, a woman suffering from extreme amnesia.  Watson is clever with her storytelling and introduction to her main character.  Christine has suffered from a debilitating amnesia that wipes her short-term memory clean every night when she goes into a deep sleep.  This has been going on for twenty years!  She wakes not knowing who she is, who the man is in the bed next to her, not even how old she is.  She wakes some mornings thinking she is still a child and sometimes no older than her mid-twenties.  It’s a shocking moment, repeated every morning in the bathroom mirror’s reflection, when she sees a forty-seven year old woman, wrinkles, cellulite and all when she expects to see someone at the beginning of life.

The cleverness I mentioned is how Christine starts keeping a journal to document her daily discoveries.  At the suggestion of a doctor who wants to help her, but also study her and write a medical paper about her situation, Christine is able to wake, receive a phone call from this doctor who reminds her where she keeps her journal, and then read her own words and learn about what her life has become and what it was.  She is told she loves her husband but is also warned of things that scare her.

Before I Go To Sleep had me fearful for Christine and second guessing things in her journal.  Unfortunately I started having a hunch of what the twist could be early on in the book, but I continued to second guess myself which was fun.  I don’t like predictability in books.  I want to be surprised, learn something new and be thoroughly entertained.  This book brought all three of these things to me for the most part.

I learned that a film adaptation of the book is in pre-production.  I hope it makes it to the big screen because, if done well, it could be a hit.  Nicole Kidman is slated to play the role of Christine.  Okay, well Nicole, let’s see what you could do with this character.  It could be great!

{5 out of 5 stars (4 stars for the twist at the end alone)}

Friday Finds ~ October 23rd, 2009

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It seemed like FOREVER since I participated in Friday Finds and it turns out it has.  The last Friday Finds I posted here was back on August 14th!  So, without further ado, here are my Friday Finds for October 23rd, 2009. 

Friday Finds is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.  While browsing book blogs,  Amazon.com, Washington Post.com, NPR.org, various other places on the Internet, and getting recommendations from friends, these are the books that either made it to my wish list this week or I downloaded the samples onto my Kindle from Amazon.com.

    

   

   

The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
The Children’s Book by A.S. Byatt
The Piano Tuner by Daniel Mason
The Path of Minor Planets: A Novel by Andrew Sean Greer
Cost: A Novel by Roxana Robinson
Tell Me Something True by Leila Cobo
An Education by Nick Hornby
Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby
In A Perfect World by Laura Kasischke
Seeing Things by Patti Hill

 

Friday Finds ~ August 14th, 2009

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Friday Finds is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.  While browsing book blogs,  Amazon.com, Washington Post.com, NPR.org, various other places on the Internet, and getting recommendations from friends, these are the books that either made it to my wish list this week or I downloaded the samples onto my Kindle from Amazon.com.

      

     

    

It’s Begninning To Hurt ~ James Lasden
Once on a Moonless Night~ Dai Sijie
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress~ Dai Sijie
The Earth Hums in B Flat~ Mari Strachan
The Magicians~ Lev Grossman
A Homemade Life: Stories & Recipes From My Kitchen~ Molly Wizenberg
Peyton Place~ Grace Metalious
A Good Indian Wife~ Anne Cherian
Her Fearful Symmetry~ Audrey Niffenegger
Sacred Hearts: A Novel ~ Sarah Dunant
Ines of My Soul ~ Isabel Allende

 

That’s Mrs. Beastmomma To You!

This past weekend Hubby and I had the great honor of attending a slew of lovely and gorgeous Indian wedding festivities.  The bride was blogger Beastmomma who has been my little sister’s best friend for the last sixteen years.  Congratulations Mrs. Beastmomma and thank you so much for sharing your and PTB’s (Partner-To-Be; what will you call him now?) wedding weekend with us!

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Sunday Salon/Today’s Favorite Song

This week/weekend has just flown by.  My friend Alison lent me her copy of My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult so I could read it before we see the movie version when it comes out at the end of the month.  Today I went to Beastmomma‘s bridal shower which was lovely and just the beginning of the wedding festivities that pick up on Thursday and run through Sunday evening.  This evening Hubby and I saw No Doubt live in concert at Nissan Pavilion in Northern Virginia.  Gwen and the Boys were FANTASTICALLY AMAZING!!!!  It was so wicked cool to see Ms. Stefani in person and hear all the bands great songs.  There were over 24,000 people in attendance and when No Doubt performed Just A Girl, the estrogen in the pavilion was intense. 

I tried to link the video of the band performing Just a Girlon The Ellen Show last month but it didn’t work.  Sorry!  I did find this footage on YouTube of No Doubt’s first late night network television performance on Late Night with Conan O’Brien from January 1996.  It’s the song Just A Girl again but it really is cool to see their energy back then and compare it to now, thirteen years later and kids.

Nice To Meet Ya!

Over the last couple of months I have become rather jealous of all you book bloggers getting together and meeting each other at the LA Book Festival and BEA in NYC so I was very excited when the opportunity to meet a fellow book blogger/Washingtonian arose.  This evening I met up with Charlotte of Thoughts of a Lusty Reader From DC at a local Barnes & Noble where we talked books and blogging.  What a lovely and intelligent gal “Lusty” is!  Wow!  She reads more than I even daydream to read.  She has inspired me to get crackin’ for sure. 

We talked about how we ended up blogging about books and what books we’ve read lately.  Charlotte just finished reading Belong To Me so we discussed the characters, story line and Marisa de los Santos’ guest post on Planet Books just last week.  It was so fun to meet someone as passionate about books as me, and maybe even more so.  I really hope we get together again and I look forward to meeting more of you book bloggers some day.  Nonsuch Book, maybe we can set something up when I’m over in MD visiting my folks?!

Tag! I’m It!

The Bookshelf Meme

I was tagged for this meme by Alyce ~ At Home With Books

Tell me about the book that has been on your shelves the longest…

I have a collection of books that I started receiving from my parents when I was a toddler.  My parents are big book people and all about nice collections so I have a number of books that are “Illustrated Junior Library Edition” books. 

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Aesop’s Fables
The Wizard of Oz
Alice In Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass
The Swiss Family Robinson
King Arthur and The Knights of the Round Table
Heidi
Little Women

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Tell me about a book that reminds you of something specific in your life (i.e. a person, a place, a time, etc.)…

The copy of The Wizard of Oz that I listed above was given to me for Christmas or my birthday when I was four (I think, but I may have been five) by my parents.  My parents took turns reading it to me under sad circumstances.  My little sister was very sick with a body retching and depleting flu when she was 2’ish and was in the hospital for a week.  Well, Daddy would read to me at home in the evenings before bed and when we went to the hospital to visit my sister and my mom, who was sleeping in my sister’s room throughout the whole hospital stay, Mom and I would go to the cafeteria and she would read to me while she ate some lunch.  Though it was a scary time for us, Sis did get well, I will always remember the time my folks took to read The Wizard of Oz to me.  The Wizard of Oz is also my favorite childhood film of all time.

Tell me about a book you acquired in some interesting way (gift, serendipity in a used book store, prize, etc.)…

I have received numerous books as gifts, prizes and through life’s little surprises but none really stand out more than others.

Tell me about the most recent addition to your shelves…

I just received a book of short stories as a birthday present from my friend Kelly the other day.  It’s called Runaway by Alice Munro.

Tell me about a book that has been with you to the most places…

I have taken my books with me on most of my moves and since I also take the book I am currently reading with me when I go out during the day, you never know if you will get stuck in line somewhere.  Again, there is not one book that rises to the top of the list of the ones I own.

Tell me about a bonus book that doesn’t fit any of the above questions…

I do have travel books for Tokyo, Kyoto, Hong Kong and Singapore that I took on my visits to their title names.  All are from the Lonely Planet series and are incredible travel guides. 

The Rules
1. Tag 3-5 people, so the fun keeps going!
2. Leave a comment at the original post at A Striped Armchair, so that Eva can collect everyone’s answers.
3. If you leave a comment and link back to Eva as the meme’s creator, she will enter you in a book giveaway contest! She has a whole shelf devoted to giveaway books that you’ll be able to choose from, or a bookmooch point if you prefer.
4. Remember that this is all about enjoying books as physical objects, so feel free to describe the exact book you’re talking about, down to that warping from being dropped in the bath water…
5. Make the meme more fun with visuals! Covers of the specific edition you’re talking about, photos of your bookshelves, etc.
 
I am tagging:
Sonja @ AudioInput 

Book Review/Q&A ~ Off The Menu by Christine Son

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Summary:  Off the Menu is being called an extraordinary debut about second-generation Asian-American women trying to live up to society’s high standards, as well as their own.  

Even though it’s been ten years since their Houston high school days, co-valedictorians and best friends Whitney Lee, Hercules Huang, and Audrey Henley still delight in their once-a-month get-togethers where they talk, laugh, and confide in each other— although not about everything. Because each young woman has a deep, dark secret they think they could never share. Not even with their best friends. Then, during a girls’ weekend getaway, these three friends wind up revealing their most intimate truths—and realize that to get straight As in the real world, all you have to do is let go of the need to be perfect… 

Off The Menu is the delightful, emotional, detail oriented, conversation filled debut novel by Christine Son.  She has created three wonderful characters, two of Korean descent and one of Chinese who all bring so much to the long-time friendships they share with each other.  Whitney, the lawyer with the secret dream of being a performance singer, Hercules, the successful and merciless chef with a father who never seems to be pleased by her accomplishments, and Audrey, the school teacher with ambitions of becoming a professor, though her mother may never understand her “settling” for just teaching. 

Together this dynamic trio faces all that life throws them at breakneck speed.  Such trials and tribulations include a job firing, a monumental break-up, dealing with an aging parent, and even a road trip to Austin from their hometown of Houston. 

I enjoyed the characters of Christine Son’s Off The Menu and would recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in reading about friendship and the strength that it can bring to ones life. 

Now, for the highlight of this post.  Thanks to TLC Book Tours, author Christine Son is here for her twelfth blog stop this month and has taken time to answer a few of my questions.  Please join me in welcoming this up and coming author to Planet Books.

 

Q:  This is your twelfth stop on your TLC Book Tours run this month.  What has been your favorite part of this experience?  How did you pair up with TLC Book Tours in the first place?  Do you feel that the sub-culture of book blogs and their readers are a powerful force in the book industry today? 

christine_son_picA:  I have absolutely loved being on the TLC Tour. The wonderful Lisa Munley sent me an email about it, and I’m quite the fan of interviews and blogs, so it was a lovely fit. My favorite part of the experience has been reading what the commenters have to say, both about my guest blogs/interviews or the book itself. It’s invaluable to hear what people think of the book, to gauge what I might have done well or not so well. It’s also great to hear that people like me (can you believe it?) and that some are interested in the book because they think I’m nice or friendly (which I am!). I absolutely believe in the value of book blogs, and while it may be a subculture now, but will become the mainstream soon, if it’s not already. It’s the groundswell of opinion, and I love that.
 
Q:  The three main characters in OFF THE MENU have secret dreams that they are afraid of admitting to each other and their own families.  Was writing this book your secret dream or did you share the whole process with your family and friends from the start? 

A:  Writing was absolutely my secret dream. No one knew that I was writing except for my husband, and that was only because we live together, and he was going to wonder why I was acting like such a loon (and also because I adore and trust him, obviously). At some point pre-publication, I told a couple of very close friends that I was writing, but that may have been in response to their concern that I was looking a bit rough. They were worried that something was going on in my personal life or that some calamity had occurred. It was just utter exhaustion from working all day and then writing all night. The feelings that the characters share–fear of failure, fear of disappointing their friends and families and themselves, fear of looking like a fool or a frivolity–those were very real to me. But, and also like the book, I realized that my friends are my friends because we love each other, and if I can’t share some of the most important aspects of my life with them, then what does that say about our relationship? Or about me as a confider or confidante?
 
Q:  Your main characters, Whitney, Hercules & Audrey, all have very demanding, loving and seemingly unforgiving and hard to please parents.  Are they a culmination of your own parents? 

A:  Well, my parents are incredibly supportive of my writing career and of me in general.  And they’re not terribly hard to please in the traditional “you’d better bring home an A+” sense (if only because I’m no longer in school!). At the same time, I do feel pressure to do right by them, to live up to the expectations that they have for me, although not because they think that my success is their entitlement, but because they think I’ve got a lot of potential. My mom tells me all the time that “you can do it,” no matter what the goal is. She doesn’t qualify her assertion. She doesn’t hem and haw and try to dissuade me. And that’s really encouraging, knowing that she already believes that I can achieve whatever I’ve set my mind to.
 
Q:  Have you ever gone on a road trip/vacation with your girlfriends?  If so, did anything outrageous happen? 

A:  I have! Several of my close girlfriends and I take an annual Vegas trip. Many outrageous things have happened, but they’re all in the vault, and the vault stays locked. Sorry! Actually, our girl trips, in part, inspired the characters’ decision to take a trip together. Something about being away seems to draw friends closer and affords opportunities for more soul-baring than when we’re all in town. Even if we see each other often. Maybe it’s the proximity, or the endless time together. Or the vulnerability utter exhaustion brings. I love girl trips.
 
Q:  What are your single most favorite things about being both a lawyer and a writer?

A:  I love that I can be creative in both fields. I’m a litigator, and by job requirement and personality, I’m very analytical and curious. How is my client going to react? How is my opposing counsel or the judge or the jury going to respond? And as I did when I was a child, I’m constantly asking why. Factual gaps in cases force me to consider all the things that might have happened, and the more I practice, the more I think about hypothetical situations. In writing, it’s the same thing. How is a character going to respond? How is she going to handle a dilemma or make her dream come true? Why does she do it? What are her motivations and thoughts and perspective? The two practices are so similar, which might be why so many lawyers want to write.
 
Q:  What were some of your favorite books that you have read this year?

A:  I’ve been reading a lot of YA fiction these days, and they have blown me away with their maturity and riveting prose. I absolutely adore Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, John Green’s Looking for Alaska and An Abundance of Katherines, Ibi Kaslik’s Skinny, Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why and Sara Zarr’s A Story of a Girl. Really, YA fiction is unbelievably good. I’ve got a three-foot stack of unread books on my nightstand, most of it YA fiction. I also read David Sedaris’s When You’re Engulfed in Flames. Ha! So funny.

About Christine

Christine Son graduated from the University of Texas and Duke University School of Law. She works as Corporate Counsel for a Fortune 500 company in Dallas, Texas where she lives with her husband.  For more fun facts about Christine, and answers to questions such as “What are you?” and “What do you do in your free time?”, click HERE.

* Be sure to check out the rest of Christine’s TLC Book Tour on these upcoming dates:

Tuesday, November 18th:  B & B ex Libris

Wednesday, November 19th:  DISGRASIAN

Thursday, November 20th:  Booking Mama

Monday, November 24th:  The Literate Housewife Review

Tuesday, November 25th:  Feminist Review

Wednesday, November 26th:  Diary of an Eccentric

And The Winner Is…

…Kelly Garcia @ Okinawa-Rama!! 

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Congratulation girl!  You have won a $25 Borders gift card.  Happy Shopping!  Thank you for your readership, support and friendship.  Having you in my life here in Okinawa has been wonderful and I love ya!

Everyone who entered in this contest, THANK YOU for your readership at Planet Books!  I love you all and appreciate you taking the time to visit me here and checking out what I have to say.  I have so much fun doing this book blog and sharing my thoughts with you.  I also love reading your blogs and seeing what is new with you and what is on your mind at the moment.

What A Wonderful Surprise!

The other day Ti at Book Chatter & Other Stuff nominated Planet Books for the “I Love Your Blog” bloggy award.  THANK YOU!!!  I am so flattered by this.  Planet Books has never received recognition like this before and I am so appreciative of it.  I love working on my blog, reading the books I review here as well as sharing information and tidbits with you, the reader.  Some days may lack a new post but know that I am always thinking up my next post or reading/reviewing the next book that is to be highlighted on Planet Books. 
Now according to Ti’s blog, with this award comes certain responsibilities.  There are rules to abide by and a process to follow through with.  Below, I have copied the rules from Book Chatter & Other Stuff.

1) Add the logo of the award to your blog

2) Add a link to the person who awarded it to you (Ti @ Book Chatter & Other Stuff)

3) Nominate at least 7 other blogs (I have nominated 10)

4) Add links to those blogs on your blog (see below)

5) Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs!

Planet Books has nominated the following blogs for the I LOVE YOUR BLOG bloggy award:

Riley’s Ramblings

Life & Times of a “New” New Yorker

Living Reading Girl

Pop Culture Junkie

Books On The Brain

Stephanie’s Written Word

Blue Archipelago – Escape with a Book

BeastMomma – trying to put down the smack without getting slapped

Booking Mama

The 3 R’s Reading, ‘Riting, and Randomness

I love visiting all of the blogs above and find a vast array of information and inspiration from them all.  I hope everyone will check out these blogs and add them to your list of blogs to visit or even add them to your Google Reader.

Happy Reading!!