Why My Third Husband Will be a Dog by Lisa Scottoline

Why My Third Husband Will be a Dog by Lisa Scottoline (2009)
I picked up this book on CD just because I thought the title was funny. I was definitely not disappointed. In fact, I thoroughly enjoyed it!! Scottolines’s observations and opinions on a variety of topics, as well as her insights into her relationships with her daughter, mother, brother, and pets are very funny, with many laugh-out-loud moments for me!! Since it’s a compilation of many of Scottoline’s newspaper columns, it’s easy to listen to (or read) in short blocks of time. The author narrated it, so it was like listening to a stand-up comic relate comical stories about her life. I love how she finds humor in so many areas of life, and can cleverly articulate it.

Read a review and visit the author's website.

You Don’t Know Jack

You Don’t Know Jack (2010) TV-MA
Al Pacino is outstanding, and completely convincing, in his portrayal of Dr. Jack Kevorkian (known as “Dr. Death”) in this film that traces Kevorkian’s life from 1989, when he performed his first assisted suicide, up to the time he was sent to prison in 1999.

Most American adults have heard of Kevorkian, and many have strong feelings about him, one way or the other. Despite the delicate and controversial nature of the subject, I thought the film handled it with dignity, integrity, and fairness. This film brings us “behind the scenes” with a number of his patients and their families, as well as showing his legal struggles throughout the 1990s. Definitely thought-provoking!

Live to Tell by Lisa Gardner

Live to Tell by Lisa Gardner (2010)
This is a fascinating, intense, suspenseful mystery that had me hooked from the first page. It was hard to put down, even though the subject matter is quite disturbing and eye-opening; that of psychiatric disorders in children who put themselves and others at risk through violent behavior, and the effects on their parents and other caregivers. It is well-written, with strong characters – some likeable, some not – but all believable.

Learn more about the author and the Detective D.D. Warner series and preview the book.

Plum Island by Nelson Demille

Plum Island by Nelson Demille (1997)
This is the first Nelson Demille book I’ve read in many years, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It's the first book in Demille’s John Corey series. Corey is a NYPD homicide detective staying on Long Island while recovering from gunshot wounds received in the line of duty. His friend, the police chief in the area, calls on him to “consult” on a double-murder investigation. Corey’s intelligence and insightful observations make the solving of the mystery interesting, but it’s his wise-cracking, sarcastic, often brash, humor that really makes this book enjoyable. I’m excited to read the rest of the books in this series, as well as checking out the other Demille series and stand-alone novels that I hadn’t read before.

Preview the book and learn more about this popular and prolific author.

Caught by Harlan Coben

Caught by Harlan Coben (2010)
Another great page-turner by Coben! This one grabbed me from the start and held me captive until the last word!! Many unexpected twists and turns to keep you on your toes. Also raises a number of thought-provoking issues, including how the internet and the media can manipulate and destroy individual’s lives; and the importance of forgiveness.

If you like page turners, check out our All Time Faves for Suspense/Thrillers.  Watch Coben discuss his new book on YouTube.com.

The Lost Recipe for Happiness by Barbara O’Neal

The Lost Recipe for Happiness by Barbara O’Neal (2009)
Great, fast-paced, escapist novel for anyone who loves food and romance. The main character, Elena, is a gifted chef hired for a new restaurant in Aspen. The story is well-crafted and filled with complex, likable characters, even though it is somewhat predictable. The brilliant descriptions of the food, its preparations, and the inner workings of a restaurant made me wish that I were a better cook, but not in a restaurant! I’d love to try a few of the recipes that the author includes throughout.

I also loved another book by this author, titled The Secret of Everything, and plan to read her next novel (How to Bake a Perfect Life) due out at the end of December. One warning: there are a few graphic sex scenes that may be off-putting to some.

Read an excerpt and reviews, visit the author's website and view the reading group guide.

City Island

City Island (2010) PG-13
City Island, like its location off the shore of the Bronx in New York, is a hidden gem. You know the saying, ''Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.”  That’s basically what this movie is about. It’s funny, charming, and touching.  You get a glimpse into the life of a quintessential “close-knit” Italian family, where they’re all hiding something from each other. The mother and father of this dysfunctional family are excellently played by Andy Garcia and Julianna Margulies. Don’t read too much about what this film is about, or it will ruin the fun of it. Just watch it with no expectations, as I did, and I’m sure you will be glad that you did.

Check out IMDb.com for interviews with the cast.

The Family Man by Elinor Lipman

The Family Man by Elinor Lipman (2009)
This is a charming, funny, enjoyable read with wonderfully developed characters, many of whom I’d love to meet and hang out with! I couldn’t help but root for each character to have a “happy ending” despite their flaws or shortcomings. If you like lighter, well-written fiction with an engaging storyline and likeable characters, you’ll love this one.

Preview the book, visit the author's website and read the L.A. Times review.

Up in the Air

Up in the Air (2009) R
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this movie. George Clooney plays a guy whose job it is to go into companies and fire people. That is the basic premise, but this film is much more than that. It also focuses on his lifestyle: living out of a suitcase, with a practically unfurnished apartment that he “visits” only a few days a year, and no significant relationships to speak of. Both his professional and personal lives take drastic turns, and that is really what makes this movie appealing. This is a movie that evokes a wide spectrum of emotions, and that is truly what a good movie should do.

Written and directed by Jason Reitman, the film was nominated for six Oscars -- including supporting actresses Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick. Check out reviews from Robert Ebert, Entertainment Weekly, The Washington Post, and USA Today.

Six Feet Under: The Complete Series

Six Feet Under: The Complete Series (2001-2005)
I just love this series. I had never seen it when it aired on HBO, but always thought it was strange to have a series based around a funeral home. It is so much more than that! The characters are all so vividly portrayed and multi-dimensional; you can’t help but want to keep watching to find out what happens to them next. It covers so many issues, from death to homosexuality to bipolar disorder to drug abuse to infidelity to teen angst, and so much more. It is funny, moving, and above all engrossing! The strong language and some of the subject matter may not be appealing to everyone.

Check out the HBO website for behind the scenes looks at the show, character profiles, and more.

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (2009) PG-13
A thriller/mystery that kept me on the edge of my seat and engrossed until the end. The plot is based on an interesting premise – a journalist suspects a district attorney has been tampering with evidence in many of his cases in order to win convictions. He devises a plan to catch him in the act, with the hopes of winning a Pulitzer Prize for his investigative reporting. Michael Douglas is great as the D.A., and once again personifies the abuse and corruption of power.

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The Buffalo Soldier by Chris Bohjalian

The Buffalo Soldier by Chris Bohjalian (2002)
I was intrigued by the basic premise of this book, about a couple who tragically lose their twin daughters in a flood, then several years later decide to become foster parents. They take in a 10-year-old African American boy named Alfred. This heartwarming story reveals how this little boy affects the lives of everyone he meets. One of the highlights of the story is how an endearing friendship develops between Alfred and an elderly, retired neighbor. It shows how anyone, no matter what age, can bring hope and encouragement into another person’s life.

Read an excerpt and reading group guide at BookReporter.com and visit the author's website.

The Secret of Everything by Barbara O’Neal

The Secret of Everything by Barbara O’Neal (2009)
 I really enjoyed “devouring” this book while on vacation. It’s got many elements of a great “beach read” – fascinating characters, wonderful setting, romance, a bit of mystery, and great food (along with the recipes). The vivid descriptions of the small town in New Mexico where much of the story takes place made me want to visit New Mexico (or even move there!).

 I also loved the delicious-sounding recipes scattered throughout the book. Finally, a great bonus for me, were the wonderful dogs that so brilliantly came to life as family members of various characters. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys escaping to another location and experiencing the joys and sorrows of well-developed, likable characters. 

Be sure to check out the author's website!

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (2009) R
I was initially drawn to this movie for several reasons. First, I like both Denzel Washington and John Travolta as actors. Second, I love films of suspense. It was indeed fast-paced and suspenseful, and both actors were great. Travolta was a very believable, demented criminal who hijacks a New York City subway train. I did not see the original film of the same title, released in 1974, but I definitely want to see that too.

Changeling

Changeling (2008) R
Directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Angelina Jolie, this film is based on a true, horrifying situation that took place in 1928 Los Angeles. A mother (played by Jolie), discovers that her 8-year-old son is missing. The film depicts her unrelenting drive to find her son, while battling the corruption within the Los Angeles Police Department during that period.
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