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With so many fantastic genres and authors, how can one person choose the perfect book to match their specific tastes and moods? Here we are happy to help, providing novel descriptions and firsthand reviews on many new and classics along with must reads for any book lover, young and old!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

Book Description

Maybe it was a grandparent, or a teacher, or a colleague. Someone older, patient and wise, who understood you when you were young and searching, helped you see the world as a more profound place, gave you sound advice to help you make your way through it.

For Mitch Albom, that person was Morrie Schwartz, his college professor from nearly twenty years ago.

Fine Printings’ Review

Tuesdays with Morrie, has made a name for itself. I have seen this book around—in stores, buried under magazines, stuffed in bookcases. Always was recommended as a great read, a book for all ages, entertaining and philosophical. Picked up once or twice, turning it around in my hands, staring at the cover as if it may jump up and bite me. Not sure why I was so apprehensive about reading through … not as if it was a hefty book. At only two hundred pages, the novel is more of a ‘novella’ by my standards, quite easy. Finally, after ten years, I succumbed to the relentless requests for my opinion and turned that first page.

Within ten minutes I was hooked. Mitch’s relationship with his ‘Coach’ Morrie is touching. We have all had that one teacher who has stuck with us throughout the years, well into adulthood. And Morrie is the epitome of that role-model perfect teacher. His honest caring, and life related philosophy steers his student through college and helps him cope with an end-of-life crisis.

Was slightly sluggish at places, the writing appeared to hit some dry spots, and the author leaped timelines throughout the story, which personally I find aggravating. Though all in all, was a very first-rate read and with a little hump work—after getting through the dull spots—I took away some great life lessons, which is more than most novels can provide! 

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Music Selection for December 2009

In homage of our monthly series selection and the release of the New Moon film last month we took a look at the movie soundtrack. To our delightful surprise this is a fantastic grouping of musicians! Not overly fond of soundtracks in general, or of this saga’s movies, a tasteful group of singers worked together to form a masterful sound for the film. Some of our own favorite groups are featured, such as Death Cab for Cutie and the Editors. Of course, Stephanie Meyer’s preferred band, Muse, makes an appearance with I Belong To You (New Moon Remix), and the haunting voices of Lykke Li, Anya Marina and Sea Wolf make their debuts in the mainstream market.

A delightful blend of music, and not too heavy, makes this musical compilation perfect for a quiet night in with a book. This CD will also make a great Christmas gift for anyone, even if they have never read or seen the saga. Two thumbs up on this one!!

The Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer

Book Descriptions

Twilight (Novel 1)

Seventeen year old, Isabella Swan (aka Bella) moves to small Forks, Washington, where it rains relentlessly, and could have been the most boring move she ever made. Though once she meets the mysterious and alluring Edward Cullen, Bella’s life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. Up until now, Edward has managed to keep his vampire identity a secret in the small community he lives in, but now nobody is safe, especially Bella, the person Edward holds most dear and longs for most. The lovers find themselves balanced precariously on the point of a knife … between desire and danger.

New Moon (Novel 2)

Bella and Edward find themselves facing new obstacles in New Moon, including a devastating separation. As Bella tries to move forward with life, her growing friendship with Jacob Black increasingly becomes more than just “friends” and with the mysterious appearance of dangerous wolves roaming the forest in Forks, and a terrifying threat of revenge from a female vampire, both Bella and Jacob are thrust further together for their own protection. There is also a deliciously disturbing encounter with Italy's reigning royal family of vampires, the Volturi, where Bella or one of the Cullens may not return from.

Eclipse (Book 3)

As Seattle is ravaged by a string of mysterious murders and a malicious vampire continues her quest for revenge, Bella once again finds herself surrounded by danger. In the midst of it all, she is forced to choose between her love for Edward and her deep friendship with Jacob … knowing that her decision has the potential to ignite the ageless struggle between vampire and werewolf. Finally, with graduation quickly approaching, Bella has one more decision to make: life or death. But which is which?

Breaking Dawn (Book 4)

In Breaking Dawn, the final installment in this series, Bella’s tale plays out in some unexpected twists. The ongoing conflicts that made this series so compelling … a human girl in love with a vampire and a werewolf … and the long feud between werewolves and vampires, slowly try to resolve. Bella’s latest opportunity for self-sacrifice leads a large role in this novel: giving her life for someone she loves even more than Edward. Death seems to lurk around every page of this novel and Meyer leads to a questionable end for the “good” vampires when the Volturi arrive in Forks, with one main goal … destruction.

Fine Printings’ Review

Stephanie Meyer’s, Twilight Saga, is riveting and edge-of-your-seat entertainment. Though Meyer’s is not what we would call a “clean writer” her story telling is one of a kind. This series has captivated audiences young and old, male or woman, more than even the Harry Potter novels have. Being a clean novel (making the reading age appropriate) parent’s can approve these books for their young children.

If you have seen the movies based on the first two books, and not yet had the pleasure of reading them, please do not judge the novels by the films. The movies have been a great disappointment, not only in just actor portrayal, but following storyline (a grave disappointment we would say for Twilight aficionados). The series is what spun the love for paranormal, sky-rocketing books that followed into New York Times bestsellers, our hands and hearts go out to Stephanie Meyer’s for creating a saga that will go down in history.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Art of Racing In the Rain by Garth Stein

Book Description

“I know this much about racing in the rain. I know it is about balance. It is about anticipation and patience. I know all of the driving skills that are necessary for one to be successful in the rain. But racing in the rain is also about the mind! It is about owning one’s own body. About believing that the track is an extension of the car, and the rain is an extension of the track, and the sky is an extension of the rain. It is about believing that you are not you; you are everything. And everything is you.”

“He died that day because his body had served its purpose. His soul had done what it came to do, learned what it came to learn, and then was free to leave. And I knew, as Denny sped me toward the doctor who would fix me, that if I had already accomplished what I set out to accomplish here on earth, if I had already learned what I was meant to learn, I would have left the curb one second later than I had, and I would have been killed instantly by that car. But I was not killed. Because I was not finished. I still had work to do.”

A heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty and hope - a captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human life ... as only a dog could tell it!

Fine Printings' Review

Life is short, filled with trials that as we know, are to make us humans stronger. However, have we ever stopped and wondered how our own everyday lives, routines … these trials, affect our beloved pets? What courses through their minds? Are they as intelligent, perhaps more intuitive then we are? Do our actions or in-actions cause them to scoff at us in their own silent ways? In Garth Stein’s, The Art of Racing in the Rain, these questions and more are effortlessly placed to rest.

What can we say … dogs. Simple honesty … dogs. These wondrous animals, man’s best friend, soul companions, silent, strong, and wise onlookers to everyday life. They are not just balls of fluff, something to cuddle and pet. They are sometimes wiser than even we are.

In this novel, Enzo, a lab terrier mix, narrates a beautiful story that begins with the start of his puppy life in the arms of competitive racecar driver, Denny. A tale that is one for all readers to enjoy, and how could we not … as we can certainly not attest to how many books have been written from a canine perspective. You will find yourself laughing out loud, yelling out at injustice and weeping out from both heartbreak and joy. The pages flow with philosophy, so when you set this novel down be sure to sit back and take stock of your life. This is not only a novel that marvels at the life around us, but one that teaches, in fact yearns to teach us on how to better one’s own being and live with soul satisfying happiness. You do not need to be a car or dog fanatic to love and appreciate Stein’s work, nor does it matter your age or sex … this is a book for ALL readers, enjoy and embrace the spirit of family.