Category Archives: Book

Book Review: American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld

American Wife is September 2008 novel by Curtis Sittenfeld and is on the New York Times Bestseller Paperback Fiction list. This novel is about a woman who is a librarian who falls in love and marries a man who will eventually become President of the United States. From the reviews of this book, it is apparently supposed to be off the cuff fictionalized version of the former President and First Lady of the United States.

Alice Lindgren is the kind of person who is different than many people and is a person who is who has awareness and high regard to others. Her parents are the kind that go through live, not expecting much from the world around them. Alice is someone who is not close to people and remains in the background, watching others. In a tragedy of epic proportions, a student is killed and Alice is involved. This tragedy leaves Alice with thoughts about life and her life. As she copes with what has happened, she learns to live life and goes on to become a librarian. She will meet Charlie Blackwell, many years later, who she ignores at first. Charlie Blackwell is interesting and comes from a family who are well off.

Alice is not impressed with Charlie, at first since he tends to be annoying and domineering. Alice finds herself interested after some recent events. Just as quickly, she finds that she is attracted to him and being wined and dined by him. Their relationship soon takes a turn and they get married. We, the reader, start to see things between them that are not as they seem to be. Alice integrates herself into her husband's family and the high society life. She begins to question herself and the life that she lives now, with her own beliefs. She is uneasy about this new life and the wealth that is comes with the family. Alice is determined to do what she must because she made vows and helps him is some trying and troubled times. She has to reach inside herself to find more strength when he makes the decision to go into politics. The next thing that surprises her is that her husband becomes the President of the United States.

Alice is overwhelmed with her life and what goes along being the President's wife. She watches as her husband does many unpopular things as the commander in chief. Alice begins to see what her life is as time passes. She questions her life again and what she gave up. How can she get herself back? And what does she need to do to recover her life?


Wedding Photographers Provide Memories: Tips For Booking A Professional Photographer

Wedding photos are still an important part of your wedding celebration. With the advent of digital photography, more and more people are moving away from professional photographers and having a friends with a digital camera take their photographs.

But has this friend ever taken wedding photographs before?

It’s not as easy as lining up people, having them smile and taking a photograph. Posing and lighting are still important elements of a photograph. And with most wedding dresses being white, and tuxedoes black, there is an extreme in contrast to deal with making proper exposure even more important.

Since the concept is to get married once, the photographs are still an important part of the day. The caterer, disc jockey, limousine driver have all provided their service and all that remains are the memories. The photographs are records of the day.

What To Look For In A Photographer

Many people just cruise web sites looking at photographs and checking out price lists to choose a photographer. This is a good start. There are many other considerations though.

Some key questions to ask photographers are:

  • How long have you been in business?
  • How long have you been taking wedding photographs?
  • Do you belong to professional photography associations?
  • Ask for suggestions of locations, or if you have one in mind, if the photographer has worked there previously?
  • What happens if the photographer is ill?
  • Does the photographer carry a back-up camera

Photography Associations Can Assist



The Professional Photographers of Canada is a national organization of photographers with provincial affiliates. Booking a photographer who is a member of this organization can help assure you are getting quality.

Members of the association can be accredited in wedding photography. To have this credential, photographers must submit samples of their work that are judged to be acceptable by their peers. Wedding photography accreditations help assure a bride she is booking a photographer with experience.

Other designations handed out by the association are Craftsman of Photographic Arts and Master of Photographic Arts. These are an even higher standard than accreditations.

Printing Your Own is Not Always Better

Many amateur photographers include full resolution copies of the images with packages so the bride and groom can print their own photographs. It is generally the practice of professionals not to do this.

Most professional photographers have their photographs printed at professional labs with tighter tolerances. The end result is dress colors and skin tones that are more realistic.

Meet Your Photographer

Setting up a personal appointment with your photographer prior to booking is key. Although the bride can see photographs on a web site, it’s not possible to evaluate the person.

Besides capturing images, a wedding photographer needs to be a people manager. Bring together wedding parties and families take some coordination.

Careful consideration of your photographer will produce memories that will last a lifetime, not nightmares of spoiled photographs.

Book Review: Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson

Jeanette Winterson's book Written on the Body is narrated by a genderless, nameless person whose main concern is love. The narrator recalls past love affairs with both men and women, so don't think that the current affair with Louise will give you any clues to the narrator's sexuality or gender. It is quite a feat to describe sex so powerfully without ever mentioning what goes where, or who was on top. The narrator seems to be beyond male/female binary identifications, leaving the reader to focus on the emotion of love on its own.

This is not your typical romance. Although the love affair is intense, described in crystalline prose that makes your heart ache, a happy ending is not guaranteed. Could anything so intense last? The reader will always wonder, because the ultimate focus of the book is not just on love, but on the loss of the beloved. Winterson is interested in whether love allows a person to make decisions for the lover, whether it is better to do what you know is best, or to let the chips fall where they may and love until the end.

Elgin is perhaps the closest character to a villain in the novel. The husband of Louise, Elgin has kinky proclivities in the sack and seems to be paying for Louise to be his trophy wife. Yet the narrator remarks that since Louise loved him, he had to have been a worthwhile object of affection for such a woman. The moral ambiguity involved in the relationship between Elgin and Louise, as well as Louise and the narrator, allows the reader to form his or her own opinions. This novel does not preach to the readership, because the experience of love is so subjective. It's important to remember that the narrator and Louise are having an affair while Louise is still married.

This novel is well worth the read for the quality of writing alone. Pick it up and see whether you will float amongst the words, or have a "chest full of stones." Jeanette Winterson is invested in the connection humans maintain with each other through love. Even if these connections end in pain, written on the body like a tattoo, they are clearly worth it.


Book Review: The Confessions of an American Black Widow by Greg Olsen

I recall reading once that humans do not naturally kill their own kind and that murder is against their natural tendencies. From what I have witnessed and experienced as a human I’d be willing to bet that this statement is not entirely accurate…we’re competitive and violent, we hunt and fight and if murder is so against our nature why does it happen so often?

This is the story of Sharon, an attractive young woman from a small town who just never quite fit into small town life. At a young age she married a preacher and had a couple of kids. She later left the man and remarried a gentlemanly eye doctor who died tragically…but then her husband the fireman also died tragically. They say one of the biggest red flags in an investigation is a widow who has had more than one husband die under suspicious circumstances.

As the investigation into the supposed fiery death of the fireman unfolds, so too does a bone-chilling story of a woman who would stop at nothing to get what she wants. This is the story of Sharon, a manipulative woman with no respect for the binding of marriage, whose first husband stuck with her through numerous infidelities despite being forcefully moved from church to church because of his wife’s conduct until she left him for the prosperous eye doctor, whom she wrested away from his faithful wife of many years. Her infidelities continued and after she had utterly ruined her new husband began to plot with her favorite lover to have him removed from her life permanently.

This is a story of the sort that you rarely run across and that you hope to never hear again. Ultimately Sharon Fuller brought about the deaths of two men, the imprisonment of another (though admittedly with a personality like that he probably had it coming) and the ongoing pain and loss of all the families involved. She didn’t care whose toes she stepped on or whose husbands she stole along the way as long as she herself was happy.

About the only thing I don’t like about author Gregg Olsen’s style is that he tends to sensationalize the story he’s telling, creating the perpetrator into a cold-blooded monster with absolutely no redeeming qualities (thus my unforgiving summary of the woman above) and the victims into innocent, defenseless citizens. While this may often be the case it was obvious by the language used that the impression was intentionally fostered and taken to an extreme.

Otherwise Olsen did very well at taking a story that spanned many years and creating a concise story that flows easily with little to no down time that I managed to finish in two days despite my busy schedule.

Overall, I don’t know how this book stacks up to other true crime stories as I don’t normally read them and have only read one before but I do know that it made for some intriguing “afternoon reading” that was light enough to qualify for my compulsory fiction of the month despite being a purported non-fiction. If you’re a fan of true crime or murder mysteries you’ll likely enjoy this one about a real life murderess who very nearly got away with it.