Saturday, August 29, 2009

Happens Every Day by Isabel Gilles

I read about Happens Every Day on someone's blog, and since I am always on the lookout for a good memoir, I decided to place a hold on it from my library. Isabel Gilles is the actress who plays Detective Stabler's wie on one of my favorite tv shows, Law and Order: SVU, so that picqued my curiousity even more. A quick but painful read, I give Happens Every Day a B.

Inside cover:
Isabel Gilles had a wonderful life- a handsome, intelligent, loving husband; two glorious toddlers; a beautiful house; the time and place to express all her ebullience and affection and optimism. Suddenly that life is over. Her husband, Josiah, announced he was leaving her and their two young sons.
When Josiah took a teaching job at a Midwestern college, Isabel and their sons moved with him from New York City to Ohio, where Isabel taught acting, through herself into the college community, and delighted in the less-scheduled lives of toddlers raised away from the city. But within a few months, the marriage was over. The life Isabel had made crumbled. "Happens every day." said a friend.
Far from a self-pitying diatribe, Happens Every Day reads like an intimate conversation between friends. Gillies has written a dizzyingly candid, compulsively readable, ultimately redemptive story about love, marriage, family, heartbreak, and the unexpected turns of a life. One the one hand, reading this book is like watching a train wreck. On the other hand, as Gillies herself says, it is abot trying to light a candle instead of cursing the darkness, and loving your life even if it has slipped away. Hers is a remarkable new voice- instinctive, funny, and irresistible.

I do give Ms. Gillies a ton of credit. While her life is falling apart around her, Ms. Gillies keeps a positive attitude (well as positive as one can have) and keeps it together for her sons. She tries all she can in her power to keep her family and marriage together, and when it becomes apparent that she can't, she tries to stay as civil with her husband as she can for her sons. I hated her husband and wanted to rip through the pages and strangle him myself, so perhaps I am not as a good of a person as Ms. Gillies is. I absolutely love her quote, though, of lighting a candle instead of cursing the darkness, and can definitely use some of that spirit right now when dealing with my job. Her attitude is wonderful and I strongly believe that everyone can take something away from the story, whether you are married, single, widowed, or divorced. While Happens Every Day wasn't the best book or memoir I've read, I believe it is one that is worth the time.

In trying to keep with my promise to rotate reading one of my books with a library book, the next one I read will be one of my own. Which book that is, I'm not sure, but I hope it's a good one. I am exhausted for some reason ( I even napped today, which is something I rarely do) but hope to at least start a new book. Happy Reading everyone!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Paint it Red by Carla Cassidy

Carla Cassidy is a women's suspense author whose books I normally really enjoy. Paint It Red has been on my shelves for awhile, so I decided to pick it up and get it read. Unfortunetly, I didn't enjoy it all that much and give it a C.

Back cover:
Jim Abbott, an up-and-coming artist, drowned himself in the raging waters of Missouri River. His body was never recovered. Two years later, his widow, Vanessa, has arranged for one last showing of his brilliant, disturbing art. The event is a success: Critics are raving, pieces are selling, and Vanessa even meets an interesting man. Christian Connor is gentle, honest, and incredibly sexy. Soon their innocent flirtation heats up...
Then the gallery owner is found dead with a splash of red accross his body, and his corpse is only the first to bear that mark. Vanessa recgonizes the stroke: When Jim was unhappy with a painting, he'd slash it with furious crimson. And in her home, Jim's picture somehow finds its way onto the dresser and his jacket appears on the back of the sofa. Is she going crazy? Or has her husband returned to claim her as his own?

This book was just so-so. The main part of the story was romance, and as you know, I am not a huge fan of romance novels. Vanessa was a bit annoying, as well, and I didn't find her to be too convincing of a character. The mystery was also done so-so, and though there weren't many clues to who the killer was, it wasn't difficult to figure it out. If you enjoy romantic suspense, then you may enjoy this book, but it just wasn't one for me. Hopefully the next book I read with resonate more with me.

It's late and I need to get to bed, so I will leave you with a Good Night and Happy Reading!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Fear the Worst by Linwood Barclay

I fell in love with Mr. Barclay's work when I read his first book in a cozy mystery series surrounding a goofy dad who worked as a comic book author and have enjoyed his books ever since. I have been dying to read Fear the Worst since I first learned it was coming out and was so happy to finally pick it up from the library. It was another great book by Mr. Barclay, and I give it an A-.

Inside cover:
Tim is an average guy. He sells cars. He has an ex-wife who's moved in with a man whose moody son spends more time online than he should. Tim's girlfriend is turning out to be a bit of a flake. It's not a life without hassles, but nothing will prepare him for the nightmare that's about to begin.
His daughter, Sydney, has vanished into thin air. At the hotel where she supposedly worked, no one has ever heard of her. Even her closest friends seem to be at a loss. Now, as the days pass without word, Tim must face the fact that not only is Sydney missing, but that he may not have known his daughter as well as he thought.
As he retraces Sydney's steps, Tim discovers that the suburban Connecticut town he always thought of as idyllic is anything but. What he doesn't know is that his every move is being watched. There are others who want to find Sydney as much as Tim does.
But they're not planning a welcome home party.
The closer Tim comes to the truth, the closer he comes to every parent's worst nightmare- and the kind of evil only a parent's love has a chance in hell of stopping.

Mr. Barclay does such a great job writing books that are fast-paced, suspenseful, and have a touch of humor in them. Though the book's topic is heart-wrenching and the suspense is at top speed, there are little parts here and there that entice a chuckle or small smile out of you. I loved Tim and thought he was a wonderful character. A dad who loves his daughter and will do anything for her, but isn't so blind with his love that he doesn't see the stupid things that all teenagers do. I can't recommend Linwood Barclay books enough, and if you haven't checked one out from him, I highly suggest you run and get one! The reason for the A- and not an A is because of one little aspect of the story that seemed just a bit too unbelieveable for me and one that I really thought didn't have to be added to the story.

I am not sure what I am going to read next. I still have some library books, including a biography that I would like to get to, but I really need to start reading some of my own books for the RYOB challenge. I can't believe August is almost over already! The job still stinks, and I am absolutely dreading going, but I am not going to let it ruin my evenings when I am home and can relax with a good book like I did yesterday. I am going to hop in the shower right now and sneak in a few chapters of one of my own books before bed time. Happy Reading everyone!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Water's Edge by Karin Fossum

I read another book by Norwegian author Karin Fossum a few weeks back and enjoyed it. The Water's Edge was the book that I heard a ton about from several different blogs and it finally came in through my library. It was a fast read, at just 227 pages long, but a good read. I give it a B.

Inside cover:
Reinhardt and Kristine Ris, a married couple, are out for a Sunday walk when they discover the body of a boy and see the figure of a man limping away. They alert the police, but not before Reinhardt, to Kristine's horror, kneels down and takes photographs of the dead child with his cell phone. Inspectors Konrad Sejer and Jacob Skarre begin to make inquiries in the little town of Huseby. But then another boy disappears, and an explanation seems more remote than ever. Meanwhile, the Rises' marriage unravels as Reinhardy becomes obsessed with the tragic events and his own part in them.

The Water's Edge is part of the Inspector Konrad Sejer series, though I don't think there is a big need to read them in order. I know this comes several books after the one I read previously, but I don't think I was missing out on anything. It is definitely interesting to read how Norway seems to judge different crimes, and since this story centers on pedophiles, I was somewhat surprised to see how strongly the difference was. The author focuses a lot on how Sejer and Skarre feel about the cases they see, which I feels like lends a different view to the story, but really takes away from the mystery. This is by no means an action-packed story, but a pleasant way to spend a cold, dreary Saturday afternoon.

I am not sure what I am going to read next, but I am sure it will be a library book. I now have 5 I think to read, and now that I think about it, I did get in Linwood Barclay's latest which I have been dying to read. I hope to be able to get that one started sometime this evening and finish it tomorrow. Happy Reading everyone!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Duggars: 20 and Counting!

I stumbled across 18 Kids and Counting a couple of months ago while flipping through the channels and immediately fell in love with the Duggar family. When I heard they had a book being released, I placed a hold on it from my local library and it finally came in. It helped me break out of this reading slump I have been in, and I finished it in a couple of hours this evening. It was a nice book to read and I give it a B+.

Back cover:
The Duggars: 20 and Counting! is a behind-the-scenes look at the surprise family that fascinates millions of television viewers across the world. From Idaho to Istanbul, people want to know how Arkansas parents Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar efficiently and lovingly manage eighteen happy, homeschooled children without going into debt- or losing their minds!
This, the Duggars' first book, is an entertaining and enlightening collection of stories, photos, recipes, tips, traditions, and practical ideas designed to answer the questions of the curious...

I really love the Duggar family and am always encouraged by their patient and loving ways with their children. As a teacher, I am amazed at how calm and patient they are and strive to learn from them. In the days of Jon and Kate and that crazy Octomom, it is comforting to see "normal" people raise a large and loving family. While they are strongly religious, they never come across as preachie... and they provide great tips for anyone, whether you have no children or 18. I learned some great tips on organization and love their budget ideas. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes to read about a wholesome family or get some great recipes and tips.

As I mentioned, I have been in a reading slump and have started a new job that I am not sure I am going to keep. There is a lot to be concerned about, but in this economy, I am not sure I want to walk away from a steady paycheck. I plan on seriously thinking about all of this this weekend and hope to make a good decision. I also need to relax and hope to get in some reading time this weekend. It seems my hours at work are much longer than I was lead to believe, and as I am a salary employee, it is one of the things troubling me. I am not feeling to well right now (another migraine coming on... UGH!), and need to get some sleep, so if you don't mind, please send some good vibes my way. Any and all are appreciated as I try to work through this transistion. Happy Reading everyone!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

In Their Blood by Sharon Potts

In Their Blood is a suspense book by new author Sharon Potts. I heard about this on several different blogs, I believe, though of course I didn't use my handy-dandy little notebook to record it. It was a good book and one that I flew through, even with completing some of my projects I had to do. I give it a B+.

Inside cover:
Born into a live of privilege, Jeremy loves freedom, but loathes responsibility. Unable- or unwilling- to cope with the demands of college life, Jeremy drops out and starts backpacking his way across Europe. But this free-spirited drifter crashes back to brutal reality when his parents, Rachel and Daniel Stroeb, are murdered in their home on Miami Beach.
When he returns to Miami, Jeremy faces the responsibility he once feared and assumes guardianship of his teenage sister, Elise, who is traumatized and convinced the killer will be back for her.
With steely, urgent resolve, Jeremy vows to find out what really happened to Rachel Stroeb, the respected CPA, and Daniel Stroeb, the controversial professor. Determined to get on the inside of his parents' lives, Jeremy takes a job at the accounting firm where his mother worked, and enrolls at the university where his father taught.
But too many details don't add up. With mounting certainty that his parents were anything but the people he thought they were, Jeremy must face the toughest questions of all. Who were Rachel and Daniel Stroeb? And when will the killer be back for the next of kin?

Jeremy is a difficult character to like. He is very selfish, and though he says he is going to take care of his sister, some of the decisions he makes do not add up to that. Jeremy also has a tough time learning about his parents and discovering who they really are and discovering some of the mistakes they have made in their lives. Because of these two things, this story is very true to the heart. I think I would have had a hard time believing things if Jeremy just came back from Europe and became Mr. Mom to his younger sister Elise. The suspense was done well, and several times I was running back and forth to who I thought the killer was. I eventually figured out the why, but was a bit unsure of the who. If you enjoy a good suspense book, I would strongly suggest you pick up In Their Blood.

I up way too late, so I am going to say Good Night and Happy Reading!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Tell No One by Harlan Coben

Tell No One is a book I have had on my shelves for awhile and decided to finally pull it off after reading something about Mr. Coben. It was a good read, and perfect for me to read in the short, little breaks I had that I could sneak it in. I give it a B.

Back cover:
For Dr. David Beck, the loss was shattering. And every day for the past eight years, he has relived the horror of what happened. The gleaming lake. The pale moonlight. The piercing screams. The night his wife was taken. The last night he saw her alive.
Everyone tells him it's time to move on, to forget the past once and for all. But for David Beck, there can be no closure. A message has appeared on his computer, a phrase only he and his dead wife know. Suddenly Beck is taunted with the impossible- that somewhere, somehow, his wife is alive... and he's been warned to tell no one.

Tell No One is a suspense-filled book, one that the pages are turning and the suspense is building. While there aren't a lot of clues for the reader to follow along with and try and solve the crime, it is action packed. I loved the character Beck and the inside look at the low income practice he has in New York City. I would have rated the book higher, but some parts of the book were just so unbelievable that I knocked the grade down a little bit. I tend to like my suspense books to be a bit more believeable as they tend to spook me more. There were also a lot of characters running through the story, including some from the past, that gave me somewhat of a problem keeping track of. I enjoy Mr. Coben's books, but I probably won't be buying them new.

I am not sure what I am going to read next. I leave for up north on Monday for a retreat for my new job, so this weekend I have to get this house scrubbed (I always have to clean before I leave out of town), do laundry, run to the library, run to the bank, and other odds and ends. When I get back from the retreat (which I am dreading...) it's back to school full time pretty much, so I want to squeeze in as much of the little projects I have been putting off all summer. I am going to sign off now, catch up on some blog reading, and get started on some of that laundry. Happy Reading everyone!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Face of Betrayal by Lis Wiehl with April Henry

I first heard about Face of Betrayal on Bill O'Reilly's show and it seemed like something I would like; a ripped from the headlines legal thriller. I placed a hold on it through my library and it finally came in. Once I sat down and read it, the pages flew and it was enjoyable. I end up rating it a B.

Inside cover:
While home on Christmas break, a seventeen-year-old Senate page takes her dog out for a walk and never returns. Reporter Cassidy Shaw is the first to break the story. The resulting media firestorm quickly ensnares Federal Prosecutor Allison Pierce and FBI Special Agent Nicole Hedges. The three unique women are life-long friends who call themselves The Triple Threat- a nickname derived from their favorite dessert and their uncanny ability to crack cases via their three positions of power.
Though authorities think Katie might have been kidnapped or run away, those theories shatter when Nicole uncovers Katie's blog. They reveal a girl troubled by a mysterious relationship with an older man. Possibly a U.S. Senator.
As the three women race against time to find Katie alive, their increasing emotional involvement brings out their own inner demons and external enemies. There are many faces of betrayal, but they mus find the one face in a crowd of growing suspects before they become the next victims.

Face of Betrayal is the beginning of a series that strongly reminds me of the Women's Murder Club by James Patterson. I really liked all of the characters and found them very different, but instead of clashing, their differences bring out the best of each woman. While some other mini-stories are running through the book, the main focus is on Katie's disappearance. I did have some problems with the other stories, as it just seemed like the author decided, "uh-oh, I only have x amount of pages to finish the book, I better wrap everything up now" because some of it was really rushed. I enjoyed the story, but am glad I didn't spend the $25.00 for it. If you enjoy the Women's Murder Club, I suggest you be on the lookout for Face of Betrayal.

I am not sure what I am going to read next. I have one library book, but I may choose something off of my own shelves. I have so much coming up this week, and haven't been feeling 100%, so I want something that I can immediately be sucked into. I haven't even read all of my blogs for the past two days, and I need to do some vacauming, and get my final grades in before tomorrow at noon, so I am going to be quite busy. I hope everyone else is having a more relaxing week and end of summer and Happy Reading!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

She'll Never Live by Hunter Morgan

After reading She'll Never Know last weekend and being upset that the main mystery of the serial killer was not solved, I immediately placed She'll Never Live on hold. It came in yesterday, and I started reading it last night. I sat down this evening to read for about 15 minutes before I took my shower, and an hour later I was turning the last pages. It was a good read and I give it an A-.

Back cover:
Her days are numbered by a sadistic madman who calls himself the Bloodsucker. All summer, he's been preying on blonde-haired, blue-eyed women in the small resort town of Albany Beach- abducting them then draining them of their blood.
Business is down. Suspicion is up. And fear runs rampant. With people's livelihoods-and lives- at stake, police chief Claire Drummond has her work cut out for her. A single mom with a rebellious teen daughter, she finds herself leaning on councilman Graham Simpson for support. But it's hard to trust her own heart when everyone is a suspect.
Meanwhile, the Bloodsucker spins a web to reel in his next victim. He has set his sights high- on Claire. And he knows the perfect way to get to her... through her daughter...

I thought for sure I knew who the killer was while reading the previous book, She'll Never Know, and had to find out if I was correct. Well, I wasn't... and actually I was pretty far off. Ms. Morgan does a fantastic job of throwing red herrings and leaving the reader's head spinning trying to tie the clues together. There is a bit of romance thrown into the story, and while I generally don't enjoy romantic suspense, Ms. Morgan does a great job with it, focusing mainly on the suspense and only a tad bit amount of romance. While Claire isn't the most lovely character, and Ashley is difficult to like at times, I was rooting them on throughout the story. Ms. Morgan has quickly become a dependable author, one who I know if I pick up a book by her, I am sure to get a quick and enjoyable read. I highly recommend her if you like suspense books.

I am not sure if I am going to read another library book or try one of my own. I have tomorrow off but do want to get my laundry and cleaning done. I just found out that my new job starts next week, right when my summer school position is ending. I am worried about this, since for some reason I haven't discovered the secret to being in two places at once, and after that it is back to school full time. Ugh... I so don't want summer to be over! So this weekend, along with a bridal shower I have to attend, I plan on relaxing and getting some things in order here along with reading some great books. I hope everyone is also reading an enjoyable book and has a GREAT Friday! Happy Reading!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Black Seconds by Karin Fossum

So I have been reading a lot about Karin Fossum, the Norwegian suspense and police procedural author, from a lot of blogs about how wonderful her books are. They have just recently been translated into English throughout the past 5 or so years, and I decided to try one. I will admit that I almost returned this one back to library unopened, but for some reason decided to hang on to it and try it out. I am glad I did, it was an enjoyable read and one I give a B+.

Inside cover:

Ida Joner gets on her brand-new bike and sets off toward town. A good-natured, happy girl, she is looking forward to her tenth birthday. Thirty-five minues after Ida should have come home, her mother starts to worry. She phones store owners, Ida's friends- anyone who could have seen her. But no one has.

Suspicion immediately falls on Emil Mork, a local character who lives alone and hasn't spoken since childhood. His mother insists on cleaning his house weekly, although she's sometimes afraid of what she might find there. A mother's worst nightmare in either case- to lose a child or to think a child capable of murder. As Ida's relatives reach the breaking point and the media frenzy surrounding the case begins, Inspector Konrad Sejer is his usual calm and reassuring self. But he's puzzled. And disturbed. This is the strangest case he's seen in years.

I thought Ms. Fossum does a great job exploring and explaining the grief that Ida's mother Helga experiences through the loss of her daughter. When she becomes missing, the pain is evident though the pages, and while Helga takes a bit of a backseat to the story as it goes on, she is always in the back of the reader's mind. The descriptions of the reaction by the press, neighbors, and family members just feel like the real thing and it almost feels disturbing that you would be reading, spying even, on this town's and family's grief. Ms. Fossum does a fantastic job drawing the reader in and having you desperately care for each character in the story.

So you may be saying to yourself, if this was such a beautiful book, why the B+ and not an A, and I had to mark it down because of the lack of suspense. I had the whole mystery figured out, even the little tidbits, probably less than halfway through the story. I read suspense books to be thrilled and like being surprised while I read, so it does disappoint me a bit. I definitely plan on reading more books by Ms. Fossum, and have even placed one on hold through my library. While Black Seconds is part of a series, I definitely did feel like I was missing out on anything while reading it out of order.

I just checked my library's online catalog and discovered I have three books that have come in. I plan on picking them up from the library later on this afternoon and will start reading the next in the Hunter Morgan trilogy that I started this past weekend (well, actually read book 2). I am dying to find out who the serial killer is who is running crazy in a small beachside town. I have an idea to who I think it is and want to find out before I forget. Happy Reading everyone!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Chat by Archer Mayor

I got Chat a few months ago, probably the last time I made a run to Borders. I've been wanting to read it, but have been trying to get to books that have been sitting on the shelves for far longer than Chat. I ended up grabbing it after a few other books weren't able to grab my attention, but in the end I didn't fall in love with Chat. I give it a C.

Back cover:
News travels fast in the small state of Vermont, so a mysterios homicide in the rustic town of Brattleboro quickly draws the attention of both the local police and the Vermont Bureau of Investigation. But before Special Agent Joe Gunther can look into the matter, he receives shocking news: his mother and his brother have been seriously injured in a suspicious car accident. Concerned that somebody may be trying to kill his family, Gunther has trouble focusing on the murder case- until a second unidentified body surfaces. His investigation of the deaths soon leads him into the modern, urbane world of online chat rooms where older men prey upon young girls. Now finding himself on dangerously unfamiliar ground, Gunther must use all his cunning to stop a serial killer... and save the people closest to his heart...

Eh... this book just didn't resonate with me. First of all, this book is part of a series and one that I have never read any of the previous books in. I don't think it made a huge impact on the story line, but I feel like I missed out on a lot of the character development, so that put me at somewhat of a disadvantage. Secondly, I thought Joe did little to no investigating. He had his squad investigating the murders and some other investigators looking into the accident of his family. I am not sure what Joe does in this book, other than describing Vermont and all of its small cities and towns. Vermont is just as a big of a character in this story as Joe is, though Mr. Mayor does a wonderful job of allowing the reader to picture the landscapes and surrounding areas. I also thought that there were very few clues that allowed the reader to discover who the bad guy was and there were so many people investigating the case that it was hard to keep track of. I think Mr. Mayor had a fantastic idea and the book probably could have been better if he had focused on case over the other.

Up next is a library book by a Norwegian author whom I've heard a lot about. I am half Norwegian and have visited Norway when I was younger, so I am looking forward to reading a book set there. I have been meaning to broaden my reading locations, so I figured this would be a perfect fit. I hope everyone had a great weekend and Happy Reading!