Friday, December 31, 2010

111. The Spare Wife by Alex Witchel

This is another book that I finished in 2010. I just wanted to post a quick review, and I am not even going to put a blurb about the book.

This was a fun escape read about the famous and wealthy in Manhattan. Those are always enjoyable reads to me, and this one was no different. I liked that the ending was not one where everything was wrapped up in a nice and neat package, but that there was a realistic edge to it. I give it an A-.

I believe I have read this author before, but it was a long time ago. I will keep her name in my mind for future reads!

110. A Most Uncommon Degree of Popularity by Kathleen Gilles Seidel

I enjoyed Ms. Seidel's previous book that I read, so I decided to give this one a try. It was a good read, though I did have some eye rolling moments. I give it a B.

From Amazon:
Your own daughter... one of the popular girls?
On the first day of middle school, Lydia Meadows, a former lawyer turned full time mother, is startled to discover that her daughter Erin is one of the popular girls, a tight foursome whose mothers are also great friends. Lydia has always thought of popular girls as ambitious little manipulators who enjoy being cruel. But Erin is kind and well-adjusted. Maybe this popularity thing won't be so bad after all.
Then a new student ruthlessly targets Erin to boost her own popularity, and Lydia helplessly wonders what to do when her daughter's phone stops ringing. And the uneasiness among the girls begins to affect the friendship of the mothers-even though they are all grown women who should know better. Has their driven energy, once directed toward their careers, turned into an obsession with the social lives of their daughters?

In one word, yes. These mothers, especially Lydia, are way too involved in their daughters' lives, even to the point of letting it come in between other relationships. Now I am not a mother, so maybe I don't know, but these were the exact definition of what "helicopter moms" are. Besides this, I enjoyed the book. I actually finished this book last week, though I just got to posting this review and want to keep my ytd totals correct.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

109. Blind Submission by Debra Ginsberg

As I mentioned earlier, I liked The Neighbors Are Watching so much, I immediately checked out what other books Ms. Ginsberg wrote. While I really liked Blind Submission, I didn't love it as much as The Neighbors Are Watching. I give it a B+.

From Amazon:
Books can be a dangerous business...
Angel Robinson loves books, loves reading, loves anything to do with the written word. But when Blue Moon Books, the Bay Area bookstore where she worked since college, is squeezed out of business, Angel is forced to find a new job. She lucks into a position as the assistant to the world-renowned literary agent Lucy Fiamma.
Angel soons learns that working for Lucy is no picnic. The agent has a blockbuster ego to match her blockbuster success and Angel must juggle both her boss's prima donna demands and the strange quirks of her authors. But Angel soon becomes indispensible to the agency and develops a keen understanding of big projects and the writers who create them.
What she doesn't realize is just how far one of them will go to get published.
One day a chapter from a mysterious manuscript by an anonympus author arrives at the office. Set in a New York literary agency, the novel, titled Blind Submission, centers on the ambitious assistant to a successful literary agent. Angel is pulled in by the plot- but her initia; curiosity soon turns to panic. As the story unfolds-with chapters e-mailed in one by one- it becomes clear that the mystery author is writing the story of Angel's own life, including secrets she thought were deeply hidden. Someone is watching her, even plotting against her. Could it be her backstabbing coworker, her jealous boyfriend, or her seductive new client?
When the novel's plot turns to murder, Angel knows that if she doesn't discover the author's identity before the final chapter is written, more than just her career will be cut short.

I loved getting the inside view point of how an author becomes published and loved even more Angel. While I love everything about books, including their smell and feel, I have absolutely no desire to write them, just like Angel. While I admit that the mystery of the book first drew me in, I thought it could have been left out. I have a feeling that Ms. Ginsberg added it in to make the book be so not The Devil Wears Prada. It was still a good book, and Ms. Ginsberg does a wonderful job describing what makes a book lover a true book lover!

108. Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane

Oh, how I wanted to love this book. I really, really did. I remember loving Gone Baby Gone and have even avoided watching the movie because I didn't want it to be ruined for me. However, I was let down. Maybe it was becasue my expectations were too high, but I just didn't love it. It was still good, but up to all of the hype I have been hearing. I give Moonlight Mile a B.

From Amazon:
Amanda McCready was four years old when she vanished from a Boston neighborhood twelve years ago. Desperate pleas for help from the child's aunt led investigators Kenzie and Gennaro to take on the case. the pair risked everything to find the young girl-only to orchestrate her return to a neglectful mother and a broken home.
Now Amanda is 16- and gone again. A stellar student, brilliant but aloof, she seemed destined to escape her upbringing. Yet Amanda's aunt is one more knocking on Patrick Kenzie's door, fearing the worst for the little girl who has blossomed into a striking, clever young woman- a woman who hasn't been seen in weeks.
Haunted by their conscienses, Kenzie and Gennaro revisit the case that troubled them the most. Their search leads them into a world of identity thieves, meth dealers, a mentally unstable crime boss and his equally demented wife, a priceless thousand-year-old cross, and a happily homicidal Russian gangster. It's a world in which motives and allegiances constantly shift and mistakes are fatal.
In their desperate fight to confront the past and find Amanda McCready, Kenzie and Gennaro will be forced to question in it's possible to do the wrong thign and still be right or to do the right thing and still be wrong. As they face an evil that goes beyond broken dreams, they discover that the sins of yesterday don't always stay buried and the crimes of today could end their lives.

Like I said, maybe the hype was just too much, but I didn't love the book like I thought I would. I think the ending was just a bit too unbelievable for me because in the beginning of the book I was telling anyone who would listen what a great book it was and then it just fell flat for me. If you loved Gone Baby Gone or any of Mr. Lehane's books, I would advise you to read it, but just don't hope for too much.

107. Keep Your Mouth Shut and Wear Beige by Kathleen Gilles Seidel

I found this book by browsing on Amazon, I believe. I think it was one of those recommendations based on my previous browsing and my library had it in, so I gave it a chance. It was a cute, enjoyable read and I give it a B+.

From Amazon:
Darcy Van Aiken is doing just fine, thank you. She's an ICU nurse with an "amicable" divorce from her ex-husband, Mike, two great kids, and a prescription for Ritalin. Then her older son, Jeremy, gets engaged to Cami Zander-Brown---daughter of a very wealthy New York family- and her world gets turned upside down. The source of her trouble, much to Darcy's surprise, is not the form of Rose Zander-Brown, Cami's elegant and accomplished mother. Nor is it in the form of Guy Zander-Brown, Cami's charismatic and wildly successful literary agent father. Instead, lurking in the shadows of Mike's new life is the beautifully dressed Claudia, a self-described "managed perfectionist."
The Zander-Browns have money. Lots of money. the plans for their daughter's dream wedding grow more fabulous by the day, and loving every minute is Claudia. With her perfect taste, Claudia can't help thinking she would make a much better mother of the groom than Darcy. This wedding is her chance to entrench herself in Mike's life- and take credit for the two sons Darcy has worked so hard to raise right.

This was a cute book and an easy read. While nothing that is life shattering or extremely remarkable about the book, I still enjoyed it. As a matter of fact, I checked out more books by Ms. Seidel and am reading one right now and enjoying it. It was refreshing to read that the wealthy people were not the problem and I liked seeing people stand up for what is right and what isn't. If you like pleasant, heartwarming book candy, I would recommend Ms. Seidel's books, including Keep Your Mouth Shut.

106. Whacked by Jules Asner

Whacked was a total impulse grab from the library while I was browsing for other books. While I didn't love it, or the main character, I kept reading and finished this book very quickly. I give it a B.

From Amazon:
She has an almost-perfect boyfriend named Dave and a dream job writing for the TV crime series Flesh and Bone that allows her to indulge her macabre forensic passions. But something isn't quite right with her relationship, and Dani- a wily and inventive snoop- learns that Dave's real creative talents are (1) lying and (2) cheating on her. Soon she is plunged into the world of Los Angeles singledom, enduring a battalion of bad dateswith men whose peccadiloes would drive a lesser woman to kill. At her wit's end, Dani is driven to a dramatic extreme that is as shocking as it is sensible in the girl-eat-girl world of Hollywood.

I really, really did not like Dani. I thought she was a total bitch to everyone. There was a ton of her rolling her eyes at people, being really mean to her mom, and even one time where she went to an open house and stole some prescription meds from the medicine cabinets. All of that doesn't even start to mention her snooping on other people! For some reason though, I continued to read. I guess I can see why the book was written that way, but it still got on my nerves. If you enjoy chick lit but with a little edge, I think you might enjoy this book.

105. The Neighbors are Watching by Debra Ginsberg

Happy Holidays to everyone! I have been so busy with work and getting ready for the holidays that I have fallen behind with my reviews, so these next four posts will be short. The first one is a book I absolutely loved and didn't want to end. I give The Neighbors are Watching an A-.

From Amazon:
A pregnant teenager shows up, literally, on her biological father's doorstep, and the neighbors can't stop talking. Joe Montana is a handsome restaurant manager who failed to tell his wife that he fathered a baby with an ex-girlfriend seventeen years ago. Diana's bombshell arrival in their quiet cul-de-sac sets off a chain reacation of secrets and lies that threaten to engulf the neighborhood along with the approaching flames from a Santa Ana-fueled California wildfire.
A woman scorned, a former reality TV star, and a suburban housewife with her own checkered past- these are just a few of the warring neighbors who will be forced to band together when Diana disappears in the aftermath of the wildfire evacuation, leaving her newborn baby-and many unanswered questions-behind.

When my SIL asked me what I was reading and what it was about, I said it was a lot like Desperate Housewives. There were plenty of suspects and red herrings as to what happened to Diana and I was always changing my mind as to who the guilty parties were, if there were in fact, a guilty person. All in all I really enjoyed this book and promptly checked out what other books Ms. Ginsberg had written!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

104. My Fair Lazy by Jen Lancaster

When I read Ms. Lancaster's first book a couple of years ago, I was hooked. I thought her writing style was unique and funny and I had a good time laughing out loud. My Fair Lazy was a different story though. I give it a B-.

From Amazon:
It's a JENaissance! The New York Times bestselling author of Pretty in Plaid gets her culture on. Readers have followed Jen Lancaster through job loss, sucky city living, weight loss attempts, and 1980s nostalgia. Now Jen chronicles her efforts to achieve cultural enlightenment, with some hilarious missteps and genuine moments of inspiration along the way. And she does so by any means necessary: reading canonical literature, viewing classic films, attending the opera, researching artisan cheeses, and even enrolling in etiquette classes to improve her social graces. In Jen's corner is a crack team of experts, including Page Six socialites, gourmet chefs, an opera aficionado, and a master sommelier. She may discover that well-regarded, high-priced stinky cheese tastes exactly as bad as it smells, and that her love for Kraft American Singles is forever. But one thing's for certain: Eliza Doolittle's got nothing on Jen Lancaster-and failure is an option.

First of all, I am so glad I didn't buy this book and instead waited for it from the library. To me the book was boring and dull. Most of the second half was just a description of the different types of food she was eating and all of the restaurants she went to. I felt like I was reading a menu website or something. I also felt like Ms. Lancaster was kind of dogging herself for watching so many reality shows, which is something I like to do once in awhile to escape from the bad news all of the time. There are still the footnotes and emails with her friends, which I do love, and a touching chapter on her pets that had me tear up. All in all, while I didn't hate the book, it definitely wasn't what I've come to expect from Ms. Lancaster!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

103. Retail Hell: How I Sold My Soul to the Store Confessions of a Tortured Sales Associate by Freeman Hall

I read about this book somewhere, though of course I can't remember now. It was a quick, funny read, and whille I wasn't laughing out loud much there were plenty of times I smiled. I give Retail Hell a B+.

From Amazon:
I think you left these behind,? I said, handing them to her. This happens all the time when women try to return bags they?ve used. Tampons, lipstick, coins, Tic Tacs, and condoms are the top treasures found.
?Greasy? let out a sigh, as if I were the problem. ?I was just trying my things in it. I really don?t see what the problem is here. It?s none of your business what I keep in my handbag.?
It is when my commission is at stake! I?m not your Designer Handbag Rental Service! My name is not!
Enter Freeman Hall, an aspiring screenwriter who sets out to realize his Hollywood dream, but instead plunges into the seventh circle of Retail Hell when the rent comes due, selling animal-hide Hobos and overpriced clutches to Lookie-Loos and Picky Bitches?but always with a sunshiny smile.
Freeman toils in the handbag (that?s handbag, NOT purse) department of the Big Fancy department store, where he sees, hears, smells (and unfortunately, feels) it all! Here, he provides a true?and truly shocking?account of life from the other side of the handbag display. From early-morning RA-RA RALLIES to the craziest crazy-lady customers, Freeman?s horrific and hilarious workday tales redefine Juicy Couture.
As Freeman begins to plots his escape, he realizes that despite the Big Fancy?s lax return policy, for him, there really may be no returns . . . no exchanges . . . no way out

I couldn't believe some of the things people do and get away with. It was absolutely crazy. I always enjoy getting the inside view of someone's life and Retail Hell allowed me to do just that. Freeman is easy to sympathize with when you read about the way he was treated, and while I am always polite when I am at the store, (unless the associate is a total idiot... then I may get snippy) I think this book may have me being just a bit nicer. If you ever worked retail or are just looking for an easy read to pass a few hours, pick this up.

Monday, November 29, 2010

102. True Evil by Greg Iles

I love Greg Iles books, and picked up this one from the library when I saw it. I tend to spread out reading his books because I enjoy them so much and I don't want to run out of his books to read! True Evil was good, but it wasn't my favorite. I give it a B+.

From Amazon:
Dr. Chris Shepard has never seen his new patient before. But the attractive young woman with the scarred face knows him all too well. An FBI agent working undercover, Alex Morse has come to Dr. Shepard's office in Natchez, Mississippi, to unmask a killer. A local divorce attorney has a cluster of clients whose spouses have all died under mysterious circumstances. Agent Morse's own brother-in-law was one of those clients, and now her beloved sister is dead. Then comes Morse's bombshell: Dr. Shepard's own beautiful wife consulted this lawyer one week ago, a visit Shepard knew nothing about. Will he help Alex Morse catch a killer? Or is he the next one to fall victim to a deadly trap of sex, lies, and murder?

I think part of the reason I ranked this book lower was because of the way the murders were taking place. There was a lot of technical jargon that kind of bogged the story down. There was also some weird connection thingy that kind of ruined the suspense for me. While I understand why it was in the book, I kind of wish it wasn't. The premise I thought was fantastic, however. I could only imagine being Dr. Shepard and getting a call that his wife may be planning his murder. This book was a chunkster, over 500 pages long, and I still thought the ending was a bit rushed. I don't want it to sound like I am picking on this book, because I really enjoyed it, it's just that usually Mr. Iles' books are out of this world great! I look forward to reading more of his books!

101. I'd Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman

I heard about this book from several reviewers and from some magazines as well. I have a love/hate relationships with some of Ms. Lippman's books, so when it finally came in for me from the library, I almost didn't read it. I am so glad I gave it a try... I was hooked from the start. I give the book an A-.

From Amazon:
Eliza Benedict cherishes her peaceful, ordinary suburban life with her successful husband and children, thirteen-year-old Iso and eight-year-old Albie. But her tranquillity is shattered when she receives a letter from the last person she ever expects—or wants—to hear from: Walter Bowman. There was your photo, in a magazine. Of course, you are older now. Still, I'd know you anywhere.
In the summer of 1985, when she was fifteen, Eliza was kidnapped by Walter and held hostage for almost six weeks. He had killed at least one girl and Eliza always suspected he had other victims as well. Now on death row in Virginia for the rape and murder of his final victim, Walter seems to be making a heartfelt act of contrition as his execution nears. Though Eliza wants nothing to do with him, she's never forgotten that Walter was most unpredictable when ignored. Desperate to shelter her children from this undisclosed trauma in her past, she cautiously makes contact with Walter. She's always wondered why Walter let her live, and perhaps now he'll tell her—and share the truth about his other victims.
Yet as Walter presses her for more and deeper contact, it becomes clear that he is after something greater than forgiveness. He wants Eliza to remember what really happened that long-ago summer. He wants her to save his life. And Eliza, who has worked hard for her comfortable, cocooned life, will do anything to protect it—even if it means finally facing the events of that horrifying summer and the terrible truth she's kept buried inside.
An edgy, utterly gripping tale of psychological manipulation that will leave readers racing to the final page, I'd Know You Anywhere is a virtuoso performance from acclaimed, award-winning author Laura Lippman that is sure to be her biggest hit yet.

I love how the story was told from the past and the present day. We the reader are allowed in to what happened with Eliza and Walter when she was 15 to the present day as he sits on death row. While not so much a suspense book (though I was dying to find out what Walter's plan was and what had happened to Eliza) I thought it was much more about relationships and how they affect our future relationships as well. This was really a great read and I found myself sneaking a few pages in whenever I had the chance. If you get the opportunity to read it, I say take it!

Monday, November 22, 2010

100. Happiness Sold Separately by Lolly Winston

I picked up this book sheerly by accident. I was just browsing around at my library and I can't even remember what drew me to the book. Whatever it was I am glad that I gave it a try because it was a great book. I give it an A-.

From Amazon:
Elinor Mackey has lived her life in perfect order: college, law school, marriage, successful corporate career. But suddenly her world is falling apart. In her late 30s, she's discovered that she and her podiatrist husband, Ted, can't have children. When Elinor withdraws from Ted into an interior world of heartbreak and anger, Ted begins an affair with Gina, the nutritionist at their gym--a young woman with an oddball son who adores Ted. Meanwhile, Elinor falls in love with the oak tree in her front yard, spreading out her sleeping bag to sleep under the stars. Gina's jealous ex-boyfriend--a charming alcoholic with a mean streak--becomes a dark presence as his passion turns to violence. Ted, who may be the only one who can help Gina and her son, suddenly finds himself in love with two women at the same time. In the tradition of Anne Tyler, John Cheever, and Tom Perotta, Winston's second novel looks beyond the manicured surface of suburbia to a world of loss, longing, lust, and betrayal.

While you would think that some of the characters would be really difficult to like, that wasn't the case. Ms. Winston does an excellent job of allowing the reader to see and explore the inner workings off all of the characters and their motivation for their actions. This story also hit a spot close to home with, infertility, and it has allowed me to be happier and more comfortable with my decision there. This was an enjoyable read that allowed for some laughs. despite the tough subjects. It was a very quick read and will have me checking out more by Ms. Winston in the future.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

99. More than Friends by Barbara Delinsky

I read about this book from someone else's blog and it sounded like a pleasant book without all of the thrills and chills of my usual books I read. I got it from my library and read it the entire way back from Pennsylvania. I am sure my mom was a little disappointed that we didn't get to talk more, but I was really engrossed in the story. I give it an A-.

From Amazon:
The Maxwells and the Popes have been friends forever. The women were college roommates, their husbands are partners in the same law firm, their kids have grown up next door to each other, and the two families share both vacations and holidays.
All is beautiful and serene in their "perfect" shared suburban Eden—until a tragic accident forces these very close friends and neighbors to look more deeply beneath the surface. And when their idyllic lives are unexpectedly shattered by a moment that can never be erased or forgotten, their faith in one another—and in themselves—is put to the supreme test.

While the book was older, I didn't feel like it was dated. This was an interesting study of how people react to the same event and the tragic consequences that come of it. While at times it could seem a bit too good to be true, I really enjoyed the book and sped through it. I hope to read more of Ms. Delinsky's books in the near future!

98. Worst Case by James Patterson

As with all of Mr. Patterson's books, this one was a fast read. This past weekend I took a little road trip with my mom to Pennsylvania for a funeral and started Worst Case in the car. I had it finished 2 hours later. But that's one of the things that I like about Mr. Patterson's books... they are easy to read, entertaining, and quick! I give Worst Case a B.

From Amazon:
One by one, children of New York's wealthiest are taken hostage. But the criminal doesn't crave money or power--he only wants to ask the elite if they know the price others pay for their luxurious lifestyles. And, if they don't, he corrects their ignorance--by killing them.To Detective Michael Bennett, it becomes clear that these murders are linked and must be part of a greater, more public demonstration. With the city thrown into chaos, he is forced to team up with FBI agent Emily Parker, and the two set out to capture the killer before he begins his most public lesson yet--a deadly message for the entire city to witness.From the bestselling author who brought you the Alex Cross novels comes James Patterson's most action-packed series yet. With the heart-pounding suspense that only Patterson delivers, WORST CASE will leave you gasping for breath until the very end.

I have to admit, I really like the Michael Bennett character and his family. It's cute and something different. There's not too much to say here as the story is pretty routine for a Patterson book, but it was a nice way to pass a couple of hours in the car. I would never pay for one of his books and always get them from the library or at thift stores. If you like high action suspense, then pick this book up.

97. Killing Spree by Kevin O'Brien

Killing Spree is a book I have had on my shelves for who knows how long. Probably since it first came out, which was close to 4 years ago! It was a quick read and nice to get back into some suspense and thrills and I give it a B+.

From Amazon:
When a serial killer gets a taste for blood...Years ago, the Seattle police were baffled by the Schoolgirl Murders. The killer staged the scenes, dressing his female victims in school girl uniforms and saddle shoes. No woman in Seattle felt safe, until they caught the man responsible, and the case was forgotten...He only wants to do one thing...Across the country, a killing spree is taking place. The first victim is attacked in a taxi by a mysterious stranger. The next is found strangled in a changing room. A hitchhiker is left by the side of the road, his identity brutally stolen. The murders are so bizarre, so random, no one would think to connect them...Kill and kill again...Only Seattle writer Gillian McBride sees the disturbing coincidences between all the murders - and it's hitting too close to home. Somehow, she is the link between past and present - and to a twisted serial killer who shows no signs of stopping. With each terrible piece of a sinister puzzle, a psychopath is carrying out a master plan - a killing spree that needs a final trophy to be fully complete...

The one thing I have to say is I hope this wasn't a follow up or sequel to a book about the Schoolgirl Murders because there were quite a few details about those murders given in the book. I tried skipping over some of it, but there were pages and pages and the conclusion of this book really gives it away. I will admit that I had the bad guy picked out from almost the start, but Mr. O'Brien does a great job of making you doubt yourself a few times. I will definitely be reading the rest of Mr. O'Brien's books I have!

96. Getting In by Karen Stabiner

I picked up Getting In off of my library's shelves. It sounded like a fun read and something I could somewhat relate to since I am in the educational field. It was a good read, even if it was a bit dry at times, and I give it a B.

From Amazon:
Q: What does a parent need to survive the college application process?
A. A sense of humor.B. A therapist on 24-hour call.C. A large bank balance.D. All of the above.
Getting In is the roller-coaster story of five very different Los Angeles families united by a single obsession: acceptance at a top college, preferably one that makes their friends and neighbors green with envy. At an elite private school and a nearby public school, families devote themselves to getting their seniors into the perfect school--even if the odds are stacked against them, even if they can't afford the $50,000 annual price tag, even if the effort requires a level of deceit, and even if the object of all this attention wants to go somewhere else.
Getting In is a delightfully smart comedy of class and entitlement, of love and ambition, set in a world where a fat envelope from a top school matters more than anything . . . almost.

This was a good read, and I think both adults and teenagers would enjoy the book. Anyone who has had to deal with the pressures of the SATs or college applications I am sure could relate to the book. There was a lot of dry, dark humor but sometimes that's my favorite type! I also love to read about the "elite" private schools and the rich to see how the other half lives, so this book was right up my alley. You have to forgive me though, because I actually finished this book quite awhile ago and am having trouble remembering things I wanted to say. Oh well... that's life!

Friday, November 5, 2010

95. Now You See It

My reading has slowed down big time because I am currently working two jobs and have been crazy busy. I am still subbing, but also got a job that I work from home 7 days a week that I absolutely love, so when I finally do get the time to read, I am exhausted. I have also been diagnosed with fibromyalgia recently, and the different medications I've been taking also make me tired. I hope to get some reading time in soon, though, as I really miss it. Now You See It is a book I picked out at the library and really wanted to like, but I just couldn't get excited about it. I give it a C+.

From Amazon:
David and Jessica have almost everything they could want: he is an accomplished journalist, she teaches at an elite private school, and they travel in a circle of alluring friends. Theirs is an enviable life -- until one night when David returns from a business trip. Jessica's wallet and keys are in their usual place, but she is gone. As months pass without her, David's certainty "that she is going to walk in that door tonight" slowly diminishes.
At the heart of this unnerving story is David's search for his wife -- which takes him far from his Manhattan neighborhood and deep inside himself.
At once heartbreaking and wry, Now You See It is a remarkable debut novel about the impossibility of fully knowing someone -- and what happens to the past when we have a second chance at the future. Now You See It presages a thrilling career for a fresh and gifted author.

I thought the book was a great idea, but I just couldn't get into it. There was a side story about David and a missing man in another country and while I understand the connection, I just thought it really didn't fit. I also felt that the ending was a bit unbelievable and all in all I was just disappointed. With my reading time being so limited right now, I was disappointed that I didn't get to enjoy a better book.

Friday, October 22, 2010

94. Riverside Park by Laura Van Wormer

Riverside Park caught my eye will browsing at the library. Set in one of my favorite locations, I thought it would be right up my alley. It was a great book to sneak in a few pages here and there as my schedule allowed it and I enjoyed it. I give Riverside Park a B.

From Amazon:
Along the banks of the Hudson River is one of New York's premier enclaves, Riverside Park, where up-and-comers rub shoulders with those who have already made it.
Once deliriously happy, Amanda and Howard Stewart now teeter on the brink of infidelity—and financial ruin.
Media titan Cassy Cochran's storybook marriage hides the secret at the core of her existence.
Beautiful, privileged Celia Cavanaugh's life is spiraling out of control—and she's taking a naive teenage boy down with her.
Headstrong single mother Rosanne DiSantos struggled for years to better herself…and now realizes she despises the life she worked so hard to achieve.
Proud father Sam Wyatt refuses to see his family destroyed by an act of desperation—and will do anything to preserve their happiness.
The widespread branches of this urban family entwine in a stirring, multifaceted story of love denied, love revealed and love remembered.

Of course when I am about halfway through, if not more, I realize that Riverside Park is part of a series, or at least the characters appear in another story. That irritates me because I love to get the full backstory. Who knows, maybe down the road I will pick up some of the previous books, but now the story is too fresh in my mind. This is just an easy escape read about the lives of tennants in a fantastic building in New York City's Manhattan. I so love NYC and enjoy reading books set there. While nothing Earth shattering or new, it was a great escape when I had 10 minutes blow drying my hair to read.

93. The Other Side of the Door by Nicci French

I absolutely adore Nicci French books, which are writen by a London based husband-wife team. Their suspense is always great and I was so surprised to learn that a new book had been released. Normally I am on top of things like that. The Other Side of the Door was fantastic and I give it an A-.

From Amazon:
Who is more dangerous? An enemy? A friend? Or a lover?Bonnie Graham stands in the open door of her friend’s apartment. She is alone, except for the dead body lying in a pool of blood on the floor. What happened? What will Bonnie do now? Whom can she turn to? And what role has she played in the murderous events?Bonnie is a music teacher who has spent a long, hot summer in London rehearsing with a band to play at a friend’s wedding. It was supposed to be fun, but the band members find the complicated knots of their friendships—some old, some new—unraveling as the days themselves unwind. What was meant to be a summer of happiness, love, and music turns deadly as lovers betray one another, passions turn murderous, and friendship itself becomes a crime. Everyone tells lies. But is anyone prepared to tell the truth to uncover a murderer?Nicci French, the author of eleven internationally bestselling novels including Killing Me Softly, Catch Me When I Fall, and Losing You, delivers a sexy, intricate thriller about the temptation of secrets, the weight of lies, and the price of betrayal and suspicion.

Now I have been extremely busy lately, working two jobs and averaging 60 plus hours a week. I finished this book a couple of weeks ago and just haven't had the time to blog about it, but this ending is still sticking with me. It reminded me of an old Hitchcock film with such a twist and surprise that really left me hanging and wanting more. I thought the premise was really great too. If you haven't read a book by Nicci French, I would highly recommend it!

92. Sizzling Sixteen by Janet Evanovich

I continue to read the Stephanie Plum books each year because I so used to love the series. I have been disppointed by several of the past books, and from reading around the blogosphere, it seems to me that quite a few bloggers agree with me. I have since stopped buying the books and now only get them from my library. Sizzling Sixteen didn't do much sizzling for me, and I can only give it a B-.

From Amazon:

Trenton, New Jersey, bounty hunter Stephanie Plum has inherited a “lucky” bottle from her Uncle Pip. Problem is, Uncle Pip didn’t specify if the bottle brought good luck or bad luck. . . .
Vinnie, of Vincent Plum Bail Bonds, has run up a gambling debt of $786,000 with mobster Bobby Sunflower and is being held until the cash can be produced. Nobody else will pay to get Vinnie back, leaving it up to Stephanie, office manager Connie, and file clerk Lula to raise the money if they want to save their jobs.
Being in the business of tracking down people, Stephanie, Lula, and Connie have an advantage in finding Vinnie. If they can rescue him, it will buy them some time to raise the cash.
Finding a safe place to hide Vinnie turns out to be harder than raising $786,000. Vinnie’s messing up Mooner’s vibe, running up pay-per-view porn charges in Ranger’s apartment, and making Stephanie question genetics.
Between a bonds office yard sale that has the entire Burg turning out, Mooner’s Hobbit-Con charity event, and Uncle Pip’s lucky bottle, they just might raise enough money to save the business, and Vinnie, from ruin.
Saving Vincent Plum Bail Bonds means Stephanie can keep being a bounty hunter. In Trenton, this involves hunting down a man wanted for polygamy, a turnpike toilet paper bandit, and a drug dealer with a pet alligator named Mr. Jingles.
The job of bounty hunter comes with perks in the guise of Trenton’s hottest cop, Joe Morelli, and the dark and dangerous security expert, Ranger. With any luck at all, Uncle Pip’s lucky bottle will have Stephanie getting lucky---the only question is . . . with whom?
Sizzling Sixteen . . . so hot, the pages might spontaneously combust!

All I really have to say is eh. Not much bounty hunting going on, not much resolution with the whole Joe and Ranger diabcle, and not much Grandma Mazur, my favorite Plum. While I don't regret reading the book, I was disappointed but so glad I didn't break down and buy it after waiting 3 plus months from the library to get it.

Monday, October 4, 2010

91. Mothers and Other Liars by Amy Bourrett

Mothers and Other Liars is another trade paperback I just wasn't willing to pay full price for. I just can't spend $14 for something that will take a day for me to read... it just doesn't make good sense to me! I ended up getting it from my favorite place- the library and enjoyed it. I give it a B.

From Amazon:
How far will a mother go to save her child?
Ten years ago, Ruby Leander was a drifting nineteen-year-old who made a split-second decision at an Oklahoma rest stop. Fast forward nine years: Ruby and her daughter Lark live in New Mexico. Lark is a precocious, animal loving imp, and Ruby has built a family for them with a wonderful community of friends and her boyfriend of three years. Life is good. Until the day Ruby reads a magazine article about parents searching for an infant kidnapped by car-jackers. Then Ruby faces a choice no mother should have to make. A choice that will change both her and Lark's lives forever.

I thought this was such a different premise and a very interesting one at that. Ruby, in a sense, grows up with Lark. One day while reading a magazine, she sees her whole life changing before her eyes. It's difficult to go into too much without giving it away so I will tread lightly. I liked Ruby but thought that she too was a bit selfish. I would never want to be in her position. I also thought the ending was a bit far fetching, but overall I enjoyed the book.

90. Outside the Ordinary World by Dori Ostermiller

Outside The Ordinary World was a book I spotted while browsing at the book store. I hate buying trade paperbacks because of their price, so I jotted down the name and looked to see if my library had it. Luckily, the did. I wasn't overly impressed with the book though and give it a B-.

From Amazon:
Sylvia Sandon is at a crossroads in her life. A wife and mother of two daughters, she and her city-planner husband grapple with the escalating renovation of their antique farmhouse--a situation that mirrors the disarray in Sylvia's life. Facing a failing marriage and a famished career as an art teacher, Sylvia finds herself suddenly powerless to the allure of Tai Rosen, the father of her most difficult art student. As their passion ignites, Sylvia is forced to examine her past, and the seeds of betrayal that were sown decades earlier by her mother's secret life. Eloquently written and deeply thought-provoking, Ostermiller's OUTSIDE THE ORDINARY WORLD crosses many years and miles--from the California brushfires in the 1970s to New England during the first half of this decade. Raised Seventh Day Adventist, Sylvia must reconcile the conflicting values exhibited by her parents--a mother involved in an extramarital affair and a father who was emotionally distant and abusive--while coming to terms with her own disturbing role in her family's dissolution and father's tragic death. While infidelity is a subject often explored in fiction, Ostermiller shines a razor-sharp lens on the gray areas surrounding betrayal, the complex interplay of religion, and the powerful legacy passed down from one generation to the next. At the same time, she reveals the redemptive power of the human spirit to love, transform, and forgive despite family history.

I really disliked Sylvia. Even know, a week after finishing the book, I still don't like her- at all! I thought she was selfish and only thought of herself for most of the book. I did like the way the story was told, though, from the 1970s when Sylvia was growing up, to present day when she is a mom of two. It took me awhile to finish this book and there just wasn't much to keep my attention for a lot of the time, so I was disappointed. I thought it could have been done in a much better way.

Friday, September 24, 2010

89. Family History by Dani Shapiro

I was recommended to read Family History from Amazon. It sounded like a good read, so I got it from the library. It was a good read, and a quick one. I give it a B+.

From Amazon:
From the prodigiously gifted author of the acclaimed memoir Slow Motion, a stunning and brutally honest novel about one family’s harrowing recovery from devastation. Rachel Jensen is perfectly happy: in love with her husband, devoted to their daughter Kate, gratified by her work restoring art. And finally, she’s pregnant again. But as Rachel discovers, perfection can unravel in an instant. The summer she is thirteen, Kate returns from camp sullen, angry, and withdrawn. Everyone assures Rachel it’s typical adolescent angst. But then Kate has a terrifying accident with her infant brother, and the ensuing guilt brings forth a dreadful lie—one that ruptures their family, perhaps irrevocably. Family History is a mesmerizing journey through the mysteries of adolescent pain and family crisis.

This is a scary book, but not because there was a crazed serial killer running around loose. I believe this book would scare any parent who can watch their child fall apart mentally and cause chaos to herself and those around her. The story starts out in the present day and is told what happens through flashbacks. While the ending was a bit too open-ended for me, I still enjoyed it. All of the characters are realistic and easy to relate to. Ms. Shapiro is an author I will be looking out for in the future.

88. Still Missing

I first became aware of this books from numerous blog posts and placed a hold at my library. A lot of other people must have been reading those too, because I had to wait for quite awhile. It was worth the wait, I give Still Missing an A-.

From Amazon:
On the day she was abducted, Annie O’Sullivan, a 32-year-old realtor, had three goals—sell a house, forget about a recent argument with her mother, and be on time for dinner with her ever-patient boyfriend. The open house is slow, but when her last visitor pulls up in a van as she's about to leave, Annie thinks it just might be her lucky day after all.
Interwoven with the story of the year Annie spent as the captive of a psychopath in a remote mountain cabin, which unfolds through sessions with her psychiatrist, is a second narrative recounting events following her escape—her struggle to piece her shattered life back together and the ongoing police investigation into the identity of her captor.

This was one tough book to read. It wasn't that the descriptions were so horrible or graphic, but the author does an excellent job putting you, the reader, right there along with Annie. I loved the way that the author chose to write the book, though Annie's visitions with her psychiatrist, and taking us back to the past and then the present. Annie was difficult to like, but not sympathize with, and I was shocked by the ending. Not the who, but the what. I hope this author is quickly working on another great read!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

87. Secrets She Left Behind by Diane Chamberlain

I was recommended Secrets She Left Behind by Amazon based on the previous books I had searched. I am glad I was. This was a great book and a fast read, despite being close to 500 pages long. I give it a B+.

From Amazon:
One afternoon, single mother Sara Weston says that she's going to the store- and never returns. In her absence she leaves her teenage son alone with his damaged past and a legacy of secrets.
Keith Weston nearly lost his life in an act of arson. He survived- but with devasting physcial and emotional scars. Without his mother, he has no one to help him heal, no money, nothing to live for but the medications that numb his pain. Isolated and angry, his hatred has one tight focus: his half-sister, Maggie Lockwood.
Nineteen-year-old Maggie Lockwood spent a year in prison for the acts that led up to the fire. Now she's back home. But her release cannot free her from the burden of guilt she carries. She grew up with Keith Weston, played with him as a child... and recently learned that they shared a father.
Now the person Keith despises the most is closest thing he has to family, until Sara returns... if Sara returns.

While I was reading, there felt like I was missing a ton of backstory, but I assumed it was just the authors way of telling it. I discovered with about 50 pages left that there was a previous book. I was really bummed because I hate reading out of order, but I thought the author did a good job of filling me in. I probably won't go back and read the other book because I got the basic idea of what happened. I love the way the author gave his the perspective of several of the characters and allowed us to get inside their heads. That is probably one of my favorite types of styles. The was a bit of suspense in the book, but I would have to classify the genre more of contemporary style. I know I have some more of Ms. Chamberlain's previous books on my own TBR shelves and I will definitely be reading those!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

86. Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart

I read about Summer at Tiffany on a couple of other blogs and I was interested immediately. I love all things New York City and have been more and more interested in the decades of the 1940s and 1950s. It was a cute memoir and I was immediately taken to New York City during World War II. I give it a B.

From Amazon:
New York City, 1945. Marjorie Jacobson and her best friend, Marty Garrett, arrive fresh from the Kappa house at the University of Iowa hoping to find summer positions as shopgirls. Turned away from the top department stores, they miraculously find jobs as pages at Tiffany & Co., becoming the first women to ever work on the sales floor, a diamond-filled day job replete with Tiffany-blue shirtwaist dresses from Bonwit Teller's—and the envy of all their friends.
Looking back on that magical time in her life, Marjorie takes us back to when she and Marty rubbed elbows with the rich and famous, pinched pennies to eat at the Automat, experienced nightlife at La Martinique, and danced away their weekends with dashing midshipmen. Between being dazzled by Judy Garland's honeymoon visit to Tiffany, celebrating VJ Day in Times Square, and mingling with CafÉ society, she fell in love, learned unforgettable lessons, made important decisions that would change her future, and created the remarkable memories she now shares with all of us.

This was a charming story and I loved the way it showed how everyone had to deal with the war, focusing on women. It was interesting to learn how things were rationed and why women were suddenly taking positions that men had only held before. I loved the inside peek of Tiffany and the old glamourous New York City and picturing places she was describing when I have been there 50-60 years later. This is a cute, short book and one perfect for mothers and grandmothers and those who are interested in learning about old New York.

85. Holly's Inbox by Holly Denham

I have seen and read about Holly's Inbox on what like it seems everyone's books blogs but wasn't really interested. While picking up some other books at the library, I came across Holly's Inbox and decided to give it a try. It was an enjoyable and light read, and I give it a B+.

From Amazon:
Dear Holly,
Are you sure you know what you're getting into…?
System alert: Inbox full of scandal, romance, and office hilarity!
Meet Holly Denham. It's her first day as a receptionist at a London investment bank and inexperienced Holly is struggling. Take a peek at her email and you'll see why: Holly's inbox is a daily source of drama. An affair with a sexy VP heats things up at the office, but when Holly's first flame (who, she thinks, left her in the lurch) gets a job at the same company, complications abound.
How's a working girl supposed to have a love life with a demanding job, crazy friends, a dysfunctional family, and gossipy colleagues? Not to mention that Holly's been keeping a secret from everyone - and the past is about to catch up with her.
Written entirely in emails, this compulsively readable UK smash hit will keep you laughing and turning the pages all the way to its surprising and deeply satisfying ending.
Repeatedly compared to Bridget Jones' Diary, became a website phenomenon, with thousands of daily visitors from all over the world. This novel tells Holly's story in full, and also includes exclusive extra material not available on the site.

Until reading that Amazon description, I had no idea the book started from the website. I have to admit that I enjoyed the way the story was told, through all emails, and feel like I have read another book written like that in the past. It was a typical chick lit story, filled with humor and romance. I won't write much more about this one, other than it was the perfect book to pick and read when I had a few minutes.

84. Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen

While looking at Amazon, I saw some description of Black and Blue on the site and decided to give it a try. I also saw it was an Oprah Book Club pick and I never read any of her picks (at least I don't think I have) so that made me a bit more curious. It was a tough book to read and difficult to handle but good. I give it a B+.

From Amazon:

For eighteen years Fran Benedetto kept her secret, hid her bruises. She stayed with Bobby because she wanted her son to have a father, and because, in spite of everything, she loved him. Then one night, when she saw the look on her ten-year-old son’s face, Fran finally made a choice—and ran for both their lives.Now she is starting over in a city far from home, far from Bobby. In this place she uses a name that isn’t hers, watches over her son, and tries to forget. For the woman who now calls herself Beth, every day is a chance to heal, to put together the pieces of her shattered self. And every day she waits for Bobby to catch up to her. Bobby always said he would never let her go, and despite the ingenuity of her escape, Fran Benedetto is certain of one thing: It is only a matter of time.

It was so tough to read about the abuse of Fran and how she finally decides to leave her husband. Having to forgo all of her family and friends to get be safe. My heart was pounding at time when the thought of her husband, Bobby, would track her down. While the ending was a bit disappointing, it was realistic. Sometimes I like to read to escape real life, but I can see why the author chose to go that route. A very interesting, but tough, read.

Friday, September 10, 2010

83. How High the Moon by Sandra Kring

I read and reviewed another book earlier this summer by Ms. Kring and really enjoyed it, so I wanted to give another of her books a try. How High the Moon was very cute and at times funny, and I give it a B+.

From Amazon:
In this tender novel set in 1955 Mill Town, Wisconsin, Sandra Kring explores the complicated bond between mothers and daughters, the pressure to conform, and the meaning of friendship and family. Ten-year-old Isabella “Teaspoon” Marlene has been a handful ever since her mother, Catty, dumped her with an old boyfriend and ran off to Hollywood. Teaspoon fights, fibs, never stops singing, and is as unpredictable and fearless as a puppy off its leash. Still, Teddy Favors, a man who has taken his share of kicks, is determined to raise her right. Teaspoon wants to be better for Teddy—even if that means agreeing to take part in a do-gooder mentorship program and being paired up with Brenda Bloom, the beautiful reigning Sweetheart of Mill Town. Against all odds, as the summer passes, this unlikely duo discover a special friendship as they face personal challenges, determined to follow their hearts instead of convention. It’s while Brenda and Teaspoon are putting together the grandest show the Starlight Theater has ever seen that Catty returns to Mill Town, shattering illusions and testing loyalties. But by the final curtain call, one determined little girl shows an entire town the healing that can happen when you let your heart take center stage.

I absolutely adored the main character Teaspoon and she often brought a smile to my face. This book was touching and sad at the same time, but Teaspoon shows spunk and is enthausastic throughout it all. I loved how she didn't understand some things and her explanations for those actions. One of my favorite was how she thought two women who were really prostitutes just like to go for rides in people's cars. Through her naiviete, Teaspoon gets to know people for who they are and not what people think they are. I believe there is a good lesson here for everyone to learn while reading an enjoyable and pleasant book. I will definitely be reading more by Ms. Kring in the future.

82. A Stranger Like You by Elizabeth Brundage

I've read and enjoyed Ms. Brundage's previous books so much, so when I saw that she had released a new book, I was very excited. Unfortunetly, A Stranger Like You was a bit disappointing. I give it a B-.

From Amazon:
Hedda Chase is a top-flight executive producer at Gladiator Films, fast-tracked in the business since she graduated from Yale. An aggressive businesswoman, she recently pulled the plug on a film project initiated by one of her predecessors. The screenwriter on the project was Hugh Waters, a wannabe with a dead-end marriage and a day job at an insurance company. This script was his ticket out-until Hedda tampered with his plans, claiming his violence was over the top, his premise not credible, and his ending implausible. Hugh decides to prove otherwise by staging his script's ending and casting Hedda Chase as the victim. He flies to Los Angeles and finds Hedda, kidnaps her, and locks her in the trunk of her vintage BMW in the parking lot at LAX. He leaves the keys in the ignition, the parking ticket on the dash, and lets "destiny" take its course. This is the set-up for a troubling, smart, deadly look at women and images of women, at media as a high-stakes game and the selling of a war as theatre. (One key character is an Iraq veteran, and one of Hedda's projects is a film about women in Iraq). Brundage's Los Angeles is a casual battleground that trades carelessly in lives and dreams. As always, her characters are complicated, surprising, and intense in this high velocity, provocative novel.

There were a lot of smaller characters that ended up playing a role in the all of the main character's lives and at times it was difficult to keep them all straight. This book was shorter, and I felt like if the ending was a bit rushed and not flushed out enough. I also felt that the author was preaching her views a bit on the Iraq and to some extremes, the Afghanistan wars which turned me off. Whether or not I agree with an author's viewpoint, I read fiction to be entertained... not preached at. I think that is sometimes a difficult thing to do, but something that is important. I won't be giving up on Ms. Brundage, but I am glad that I checked this book out from the library.

Monday, September 6, 2010

81. .The Starlite Drive-In by Marjorie Reynolds

The Starlite Drive-In was a pure impulse read. While picking up some holds from my local library, I saw it sitting on the new release bookshelf and decided to give it a try. It was a good read, but not great. I give it a B.

From Amazon:
Start with a drive-in movie theater in the 1950s. Add a starstruck and lonely 12-year-old girl, and a handsome drifter. . . . The story unfolds almost cinematically and could make a wonderful movie. Told from Callie's perspective, it captures that childlike innocence and wisdom perfectly . . . a fine first novel from an author to be reckoned with".--"Richmond Times-Dispatch".

What grabbed my attention of this book is that it's set in the 1950s. Over the summer, I've come to love books set in the past and the 1950s are one decade I really love to read more about. I already love old movies and television shows, so why not books that are set at the same time? I will admit it took me a bit to get into the book, but I eventually got pulled in and enjoyed it. While the ending was a bit predictible, it was still a good book. There are some lessons that can be learned here especially about love. I loved the setting and thought that the idea was so creative and different. All in all, Starlite Drive-In was a fun way to spend the long holiday.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

80. The Kindness of Strangers by Katrina Kittle

I absolutely LOVED this book. I believe I found it from Amazon, recommended to me based on previous books I looked at. The Kindness of Strangers was probably one of my favorite reads so far this year and I give it an A.

From Amazon:
A young widow raising two boys, Sarah Laden is struggling to keep her family together. But when a shocking revelation rips apart the family of her closest friend, Sarah finds herself welcoming yet another troubled young boy into her already tumultuous life.
Jordan, a quiet, reclusive elementary school classmate of Sarah's son Danny, has survived a terrible ordeal. By agreeing to become Jordan's foster mother, Sarah will be forced to question the things she has long believed. And as the delicate threads that bind their family begin to unravel, all the Ladens will have to face difficult truths about themselves and one another—and discover the power of love necessary to forgive and to heal.

The Kindness of Strangers is touching, heartbreaking, and extremely emotional. My husband kept asking me what I was shaking at my head for but I just couldn't help it. This book just touched me in a way that is hard to explain. While not graphic, it is disturbing. Since I've been trying to get pregnant for over a year and a half without any luck, I've thought about becoming a foster parent and this book gives an honest look at what happens. I know my review isn't making a lot of sense, but I just can't encourage you enough to go and check this one out.

Friday, September 3, 2010

79. Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner

I'm not sure why I decided to read Fly Away Home. I've read some of Ms. Weiner's books in the past, but can't say that I've been a huge fan. Maybe it was the description, something that I thought was quite relevant to today's world. Overall, I enjoyed it but didn't love it. I give it a B.

From Amazon:
Sometimes all you can do is fly away home . . .
When Sylvie Serfer met Richard Woodruff in law school, she had wild curls, wide hips, and lots of opinions. Decades later, Sylvie has remade herself as the ideal politician’s wife—her hair dyed and straightened, her hippie-chick wardrobe replaced by tailored knit suits. At fifty-seven, she ruefully acknowledges that her job is staying twenty pounds thinner than she was in her twenties and tending to her husband, the senator.
Lizzie, the Woodruffs’ younger daughter, is at twenty-four a recovering addict, whose mantra HALT (Hungry? Angry? Lonely? Tired?) helps her keep her life under control. Still, trouble always seems to find her. Her older sister, Diana, an emergency room physician, has everything Lizzie failed to achieve—a husband, a young son, the perfect home—and yet she’s trapped in a loveless marriage. With temptation waiting in one of the ER’s exam rooms, she finds herself craving more.
After Richard’s extramarital affair makes headlines, the three women are drawn into the painful glare of the national spotlight. Once the press conference is over, each is forced to reconsider her life, who she is and who she is meant to be.
Written with an irresistible blend of heartbreak and hilarity, Fly Away Home is an unforgettable story of a mother and two daughters who after a lifetime of distance finally learn to find refuge in one another.

First of all, I read some other reviews that said this book was hilarous and laugh out loud funny. I wasn't to sure about that. I maybe smiled at a few passages, but didn't smile. I was very disappointed with the ending and almost felt cheated. However, I loved the way the story was told from Sylvie, Lizzie, and Diana's point of views. I thought the topic was agreat one and have to say that Ms. Weiner has a wonderful voice. I will probably read more by her, but won't make a point of seeking them out.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

78. The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf

While browsing at a bookstore, this book caught my eye. Since I am really watching my book budget and only shopping when I have a gift card, I decided against spending the $15 and looking to see if my library had it. I was in luck and immediately placed a hold. What a great discovery! I give The Weight of Silence an A-.

From Amazon:
It happens quietly one August morning. As dawn's shimmering light drenches the humid Iowa air, two families awaken to find their little girls have gone missing in the night.
Seven-year-old Calli Clark is sweet, gentle, a dreamer who suffers from selective mutism brought on by tragedy that pulled her deep into silence as a toddler.
Calli's mother, Antonia, tried to be the best mother she could within the confines of marriage to a mostly absent, often angry husband. Now, though she denies that her husband could be involved in the possible abductions, she fears her decision to stay in her marriage has cost her more than her daughter's voice.
Petra Gregory is Calli's best friend, her soul mate and her voice. But neither Petra nor Calli has been heard from since their disappearance was discovered. Desperate to find his child, Martin Gregory is forced to confront a side of himself he did not know existed beneath his intellectual, professorial demeanor.
Now these families are tied by the question of what happened to their children. And the answer is trapped in the silence of unspoken family secrets.

I loved this book and the way that is was told. We are brought into the lives and heads of four of the characters. That is one of my favorite types and tools that writers use because I love to get inside the heads of people and characters. Sometimes I think I should have gone into psychology or counseling rather than teaching. I loved the characters though, and just wanted to gather Calli, Petra, and Ben and keep them safe. There is a mystery in the story, though I had that figured out pretty quickly, but it didn't remove anything from the story. I hope Ms. Gudenkauf is quickly working on her next book!

77. Thank You for All Things by Sandra Kring

Thank You For All Things was a recommendation to me on Amazon, and I really enjoyed it. It was a touching book, and made me sad and reflective. I give it an A-.

From Amazon:
At twelve, Lucy Marie McGowan already knows she’ll be a psychologist when she grows up. And her quirky and conflicted family provides plenty of opportunity for her to practice her calling. Now Lucy, her “profoundly gifted” twin brother, Milo, her commitment-phobic mother, and her New Age grandmother are leaving Chicago for Timber Falls, Wisconsin, to care for her dying grandfather—a complex and difficult man whose failure as a husband and father still painfully echoes down through the years.Lucy believes her time in the rural town where the McGowan story began will provide a key piece to the puzzle of her family’s broken past, and perhaps even reveal the truth about her own missing father. But what she discovers is so much more—a lesson about the paradoxes of love and the grace of forgiveness that the adults around her will need help in remembering if their family is ever to find peace and embrace the future. By turns heart-wrenching and heart-mending, Thank You for All Things is a powerful and poignant novel by a brilliant storyteller who illustrates that when it comes to matters of family and love, often it is the innocent who force others to confront their darkest secrets.

I loved Lucy and her brother Milo. Oma was another great character, and while I didn't fall in love with Lucy and Milo's mom, she was very realistic. I cried at times while reading this and was reminded of my own grandmother and the way she behaved as she was passing away. It is clear that Ms. Kring did her research on hospice and what happens along the way. While there were difficult topics in the book, including child abuse, it was very touching and a great read. It really got me thinking about my own relationships, but in a good way. I will be checking out more by Ms. Kring!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

76. Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

I just discovered Ms. Hannah this summer and have come to love her books and consider her one of my favorite new authors. Firefly Lane was no exception. I give it an A-.

From Amazon:
In the turbulent summer of 1974, Kate Mularkey has accepted her place at the bottom of the eighth-grade social food chain. Then, to her amazement, the “coolest girl in the world” moves in across the street and wants to be her friend. Tully Hart seems to have it all---beauty, brains, ambition. On the surface they are as opposite as two people can be: Kate, doomed to be forever uncool, with a loving family who mortifies her at every turn. Tully, steeped in glamour and mystery, but with a secret that is destroying her. They make a pact to be best friends forever; by summer’s end they’ve become TullyandKate. Inseparable.
So begins Kristin Hannah’s magnificent new novel. Spanning more than three decades and playing out across the ever-changing face of the Pacific Northwest, Firefly Lane is the poignant, powerful story of two women and the friendship that becomes the bulkhead of their lives.
From the beginning, Tully is desperate to prove her worth to the world. Abandoned by her mother at an early age, she longs to be loved unconditionally. In the glittering, big-hair era of the eighties, she looks to men to fill the void in her soul. But in the buttoned-down nineties, it is television news that captivates her. She will follow her own blind ambition to New York and around the globe, finding fame and success . . . and loneliness.
Kate knows early on that her life will be nothing special. Throughout college, she pretends to be driven by a need for success, but all she really wants is to fall in love and have children and live an ordinary life. In her own quiet way, Kate is as driven as Tully. What she doesn’t know is how being a wife and mother will change her . . . how she’ll lose sight of who she once was, and what she once wanted. And how much she’ll envy her famous best friend. . . .
For thirty years, Tully and Kate buoy each other through life, weathering the storms of friendship---jealousy, anger, hurt, resentment. They think they’ve survived it all until a single act of betrayal tears them apart . . . and puts their courage and friendship to the ultimate test

I loved how we got to witness Kate and Tully's lives changing and their friendship growing over the decades. The references to the fashions and music were great as well, though I wasn't able to remember most of them or weren't alive for one decade. I also loved how we get to see the two girls take their own paths but crave and want to be more like the other. This was a long book, over 500 pages, but I read it in one day. If you haven't read anything by Ms. Hannah and enjoy womens fiction, especially books about friendship, I would highly recommend her.

75. Fragile by Lisa Unger

I've enjoyed Ms. Unger's books in the past and saw a lot of reviews for this one. I finally got it from the library and I enjoyed it. I give it a B.

From Amazon:

Everybody knows everybody in The Hollows, a quaint, charming town outside of New York City. It’s a place where neighbors keep an eye on one another’s kids, where people say hello in the grocery store, and where high school cliques and antics are never quite forgotten. As a child, Maggie found living under the microscope of small-town life stifling. But as a wife and mother, she has happily returned to The Hollows’s insular embrace. As a psychologist, her knowledge of family histories provides powerful insights into her patients’ lives. So when the girlfriend of her teenage son, Rick, disappears, Maggie’s intuitive gift proves useful to the case—and also dangerous. Eerie parallels soon emerge between Charlene’s disappearance and the abduction of another local girl that shook the community years ago when Maggie was a teenager. The investigation has her husband, Jones, the lead detective on the case, acting strangely. Rick, already a brooding teenager, becomes even more withdrawn. In a town where the past is always present, nobody is above suspicion, not even a son in the eyes of his father. “I know how a moment can spiral out of control,” Jones says to a shocked Maggie as he searches Rick’s room for incriminating evidence. “How the consequences of one careless action can cost you everything.”As she tries to reassure him that Rick embodies his father in all of the important ways, Maggie realizes this might be exactly what Jones fears most. Determined to uncover the truth, Maggie pursues her own leads into Charlene’s disappearance and exposes a long-buried town secret—one that could destroy everything she holds dear. This thrilling novel about one community’s intricate yet fragile bonds will leave readers asking, How well do I know the people I love? and How far would I go to protect them?

This book took me awhile to read, but it was more me than the book. I seemed to be going through somewhat of a mini reading slump, but once I made the time to read, I finished it somewhat quickly. There was a lot of connections and characters to remember, but it tied the story together from what happened in the past and what was occurring right now. The characters were very believeable and I will make a point of reading the other books by Ms. Unger that I have missed so far.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

74. Tainted by Brooke Morgan

I believe I first read about Tainted in People Magazine. It sounded like something right up my alley, so I placed a hold at my library and patiently waited my turn. I finished it one day and absolutely loved it. I give Tainted an A-.

From Amazon:
Holly Barrett first saw Jack Dane early one morning—tall, tan, and so heartbreakingly handsome he took her breath away. He also seemed like the last person to disrupt her quiet, uneventful days with her sensitive daughter, Katy. But the charming, enigmatic Englishman has blown into her small Cape Cod town like a brisk summer wind off the bay.
He sweeps Holly off her feet, and is soon touching the lives of everyone she deeply cares about. But is Jack the considerate, concerned gentleman he appears to be—or is there a very different creature lurking below the surface? Has a monster entered her life . . . and how far will Holly have to go to save the person she loves more than anyone else in the world?

While I thought Holly was somewhat irresponsible for bringing a man she hardly knows into her home with her five year old daughter, I didn't find it impossible to believe. Sadly that happens far to often in my humble opinion. Ms. Morgan had me scratching my head trying to find out what Jack was hiding, and it blew me away. The ending was superb and literally had me gasping. I wish the author would have let us know more, but I guess the suspense is left hanging for us. A great read and I hope Ms. Morgan has more great books up her sleeve!

73. Back Seat Saints by Joshlyn Jackson

I've heard a lot about Ms. Jackson's books, and especially Back Seat Saints. I decided to give it a try and picked it up from my local library. It was a good read, one I give a B.

From Amazon:
Rose Mae Lolley is a fierce and dirty girl, long-suppressed under flowery skirts and bow-trimmed ballet flats. As "Mrs. Ro Grandee" she's trapped in a marriage that's thick with love and sick with abuse. Her true self has been bound in the chains of marital bliss in rural Texas, letting "Ro" make eggs, iron shirts, and take her punches. She seems doomed to spend the rest of her life battered outside by her husband and inside by her former self, until fate throws her in the path of an airport gypsy---one who shares her past and knows her future. The tarot cards foretell that Rose's beautiful, abusive husband is going to kill her. Unless she kills him first. Hot-blooded Rose Mae escapes from under Ro's perky compliance and emerges with a gun and a plan to beat the hand she's been dealt. Following messages that her long-missing mother has left hidden for her in graffiti and behind paintings, Rose and her dog Gretel set out from Amarillo, TX back to her hometown of Fruiton, AL, and then on to California, unearthing a host of family secrets as she goes. Running for her life, she realizes that she must face her past in order to overcome her fate---death by marriage---and become a girl who is strong enough to save herself from the one who loves her best.

This book started out very slowly for me. I had a hard time keeping track of when the story was taking place at times because the author seemed to be jumping around from present day to the past. The main character also referred to herself as two different people to show how she reacts and hides from others and that gave me a bit of trouble, but once I got into it, I had a much easier time. I will admit that there were times my heart was punding for the fear of what was going to happen and I felt the author did an excellent job in showing the way that abuse happens in families and can often be a cycle. I will probably check out more Ms. Jackson's books in the future.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

72. Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern

I first heard about Justin Halpern while watching Chelsea Lately a few weeks ago. I learned that there is going to be a new television sitcom to be released this fall based on this book as well. I had to check it out and finally picked it up from my library. It was a funny, cute read and I give it a B+.

From Amazon:
After being dumped by his longtime girlfriend, twenty-eight-year-old Justin Halpern found himself living at home with his seventy-three-year-old dad. Sam Halpern, who is "like Socrates, but angrier, and with worse hair," has never minced words, and when Justin moved back home, he began to record all the ridiculous things his dad said to him:
"That woman was sexy. . . . Out of your league? Son, let women figure out why they won't screw you. Don't do it for them."
"Do people your age know how to comb their hair? It looks like two squirrels crawled on their heads and started fucking."
"The worst thing you can be is a liar. . . . Okay, fine, yes, the worst thing you can be is a Nazi, but then number two is liar. Nazi one, liar two."
More than a million people now follow Mr. Halpern's philosophical musings on Twitter, and in this book, his son weaves a brilliantly funny, touching coming-of-age memoir around the best of his quotes. An all-American story that unfolds on the Little League field, in Denny's, during excruciating family road trips, and, most frequently, in the Halperns' kitchen over bowls of Grape-Nuts, Sh*t My Dad Says is a chaotic, hilarious, true portrait of a father-son relationship from a major new comic voice.

While often quite funny, this book was touching as well. I found myself laughing out loud and sharing quotes or stories from the book with my hubby as I was reading. I finished this book in one sitting and it was an enjoyable way to spend the evening. It wasn't crude humor, either, which I enjoyed. If you are looking for a quick and fun read, I would recommend this book.

71. Pray for Silence by Linda Castillo

I read and enjoyed Ms. Castillo's previous book last year that introduced former Amish police officer Kate Burkholder and was looking forward to reading the newest book in the series. It was an ok read, nothing to rememberable, and I give it a B.

From Amazon:
The Plank family moved from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to join the small Amish community of Painters Mill less than a year ago and seemed the model of the Plain Life—until on a cold October night, the entire family of seven was found slaughtered on their farm. Police Chief Kate Burkholder and her small force have few clues, no motive, and no suspect. Formerly Amish herself, Kate is no stranger to the secrets the Amish keep from the English—and each other—but this crime is horribly out of the ordinary.
State agent John Tomasetti arrives on the scene to assist. He and Kate worked together on a previous case during which they began a volatile relationship. They soon realize the disturbing details of this case will test their emotional limits and force them to face demons from their own troubled pasts—and for Kate, a personal connection that is particularly hard to bear.
When she discovers a diary that belonged to one of the teenaged daughters, Kate is shocked to learn the girl kept some very dark secrets and may have been living a lurid double life. Who is the charismatic stranger who stole the young Amish girl’s heart? Could the brother—a man with a violent past, rejected and shunned by his family and the Amish community, have come to seek out revenge? As Kate’s outrage grows so does her resolve to find the killer and bring him to justice—even if it means putting herself in the line of fire.

Like I mentioned above, I liked this book, but didn't think it was an utterly suspensful book. It's much more of a police procedural book. I do really enjoy the setting, though, and think that the mixture of the Amish and English living together. I definitely learned a lot about Amish people though, and enjoyed that aspect of the story. Kate and Joe are interesting match, but I have a feeling that the relationship will drag on for awhile. I will probably read the next book in the series, though, when it is released next year.

70. Barefoot by Elin Hildebrand

I fell in love with Ms. Hildebrand when I read her book, Summer People, and was excited to pick up another one by her from my library. Barefoot was a great read, and I give it an A-.

From Amazon:

Three women arrive at the local airport, observed by Josh, a Nantucket native home from college for the summer. Burdened with small children, unwieldy straw hats, and some obvious emotional issues, the women- two sisters, and one friend- make their way to the sisters' tiny cottage, inhertied from their aunt. They're all trying to escape from something: Melanie. after seven failed in-vitro attempts, learned her husband was cheating and learned she was pregnant; Brenda embarked on a passionate affair with an older student that got her fired from her prestigious job as a professor in New York; and her sister Vicki, mother to two small boys, has been diagnosed with lung cancer. Soon Josh is part of the chaotic household acting as babysitter, confidant, and eventually lover.

I thought that Elin Hildebrand is a great author and writes characters that are realistic and makes you feel something. Ms. Hildebrand brought me to the tiny cottage in Nantucket and I began to understand and like each of the characters. This was a perfect summer read, and one authop I hope to check out more of her books soon.

Monday, August 2, 2010

69. Land of a Hundred Wonders by Leslie Kagen

I've loved the two previous books by Ms. Kagen and was excited to read Land of a Hundred Wonders. While not as great as the other two books I've read, it was still a good read. I give it a B.

From Amazon:
The summer Gibby McGraw catches her big break, the cicadas are humming, and it’s so warm even the frogs are sweating. Brain damaged after a tragic car accident that took both her parents, Gibby is now NQR (Not Quite Right), a real challenge for a fledgling newspaper reporter. Especially when she stumbles upon the dead body of the next governor of Kentucky, Buster Malloy.Armed with her trusty blue spiral note-book, Gibby figures that solving the murder might be her best chance to prove to everyone that she can become Quite Right again. But she gets more than she bargained for when she uncovers a world of corruption, racism, and family secrets in small town Cray Ridge. Lucky for her, she’s also about to discover that some things are far more important than all the brains in the world, and that miracles occur in the most unexpected moments.

I love the way the story was told through Gibby's mind, since she's NQR. It took me awhile to get used to the definitions of some "bigger" words thrown into the dialogue because that's how Gibby's mind works. It was quite clever of Ms. Kagen though, and made the book stand out. I thought some of the things were a bit far-fetched, however, so my scoring was lowered a bit. I've always been afraid to read books set in the 1950s and 1960s and Ms. Kagen has shown me they can be a ton of fun! I hope she is busy writing right now, because I am now out of books to read by her. I highly recommend you pick up one of her books if you haven't already.

68. Summer People by Elin Hildebrand

I've been seeing Ms. Hildebrand's names and books on several blogs and while shopping with a gift card awhile ago, I decided to try out one of her books. I flew right through Summer People and it was great. I give it an A-.

From Amazon:
It was the summer that would change their lives forever…
Every summer the Newton family retreats to their beloved home on Nantucket for three months of sunshine, cookouts, and bonfires on the beach. But this summer will not be like any other. When Arch Newton, a prominent New York attorney, dies in a plane crash on his way home from a business trip, his beautiful widow, Beth, can barely keep things together. Above all, though, she decides that she must continue the family tradition of going to Nantucket, and at the same time fulfill a promise that Arch made before he died.
Beth invites Marcus, the son of Arch’s final and most challenging client, to spend the summer with her and her teenage twins, Winnie and Garrett, who have mixed reactions to sharing their special summer place with this stranger. Always a place of peace before, Nantucket becomes the scene of roiling emotions and turbulent passions as Marcus, Winnie, and Garrett learn about loss, first love, and betrayal. And when they stumble upon a shocking secret from Beth’s past, they must keep it from destroying the family they’ve been trying so hard to heal.

I liked all of the characters and felt a connection to each and every one of them. The story was something a bit different from others that I've read before. It was very touching to see how racial borders are overcome and see how first love blooms and can truly change people's lives. I have since picked up one other of Ms. Hildebrand's books from the library, so I look forward to reading more by her!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

67. Husband and Wife by Leah Stewart

I picked up Husband and Wife at my library while browsing the newest releases. It sounded interesting, and while a quick enjoyable read, I was a bit disappointed. I give Husband and Wife a B.

From Amazon:
Sarah Price is thirty-five years old. She doesn't feel as though she's getting older, but there are some noticeable changes: a hangover after two beers, the stray gray hair, and, most of all, she's called “Mom” by two small children. Always responsible, Sarah traded her MFA for a steady job, which allows her husband, Nathan, to write fiction. But Sarah is happy and she believes Nathan is too, until a truth is revealed: Nathan's upcoming novel, Infidelity, is based in fact.
Suddenly Sarah's world is turned upside down. Adding to her confusion, Nathan abdicates responsibility for the fate of their relationship and of his novel's publication—a financial lifesaver they have been depending upon—leaving both in Sarah's hands. Reeling from his betrayal, she is plagued by dark questions. How well does she really know Nathan? And, more important, how well does she know herself?
For answers, Sarah looks back to her artistic twenty-something self to try to understand what happened to her dreams. When did it all seem to change? Pushed from her complacent plateau, Sarah begins to act—for the first time not so responsibly—on all the things she has let go of for so long: her blank computer screen; her best friend, Helen; the volumes of Proust on her bookshelf. And then there is that e-mail in her inbox: a note from Rajiv, a beautiful man from her past who once tempted her to stray. The struggle to find which version of herself is the essential one—artist, wife, or mother—takes Sarah hundreds of miles away from her marriage on a surprising journey.
Wise, funny, and sharply drawn, Leah Stewart's Husband and Wife probes our deepest relationships, the promises we make and break, and the consequences they hold for our lives, revealing that it's never too late to step back and start over.

The first sentence of the book's description is what drew me in to the book... I recgonized myself in the gray hairs and the hangover after one class of wine. I often think to myself when did this all change so soon? Ms. Stewart has a wonderful voice and told a great story, but I thought it was a bit wordy. Since both of the characters are writers, I thought some of the prose was a bit over the top and thought the story could have been shown to me more than just told to me. I definitely enjoyed the book, and could relate with both characters, but in the end I wish I had the style of writing had been done a bit differently.

66. Neighborhood Watch by Cammie McGovern

I first heard about Neighborhood Watch on various different blogs. I was intrigued and it sounded like an interesting book. It fell a bit short for me, however, and I can only give it a B.

From Amazon:
Twelve years ago librarian Betsy Treading was convicted of murdering her neighbor, the bohemian loner Linda Sue. After DNA testing finally exonerates Betsy, she returns to her suburban community determined to salvage her life and find the true killer. As she begins to pick apart the web of secrets, lies, and love affairs uncovered in the wake of her trial, Betsy suspects that her tight-lipped neighbors may know something that she has denied even to herself. In Neighborhood Watch, Cammie McGovern captures the nail-biting electricity of the best literary thrillers and zeros in on the subterranean tension abuzz in a town whose dark secrets threaten to obliterate the glossy façade of a perfect life. It is also the story of a woman coming into her own, finding her strength, and taking control of her life. It asks readers, what sort of price would you pay for the sake of your reputation? Intricately woven, psychologically astute, and filled with complex and surprising characters, Neighborhood Watch marks a significant step in the career of this talented author.

The thing about this book was even though it was relatively short, there were so many other story lines running throughout the story, the book left me a bit confused. I was really interested in finding out who the real killer was and thought that the setting was such an important part of the story and the author did a fantastic job of incorporating it in. With that being said, there were just too many different things happening that left me wanting for more and trying to decide why other things were thrown in. So while not my favorite book of the summer, one I am glad I read.

65. Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang by Chelsea Handler

I love watching Chelsea Handler's show on E!, Chelsea Lately, and have enjoyed her previous books. I picked up Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang from the library and quickly read it. I give it a B.

From Amazon:
WHAT . . . A RIOT! Life doesn't get more hilarious than when Chelsea Handler takes aim with her irreverent wit. Who else would send all-staff emails to smoke out the dumbest people on her show? Now, in this new collection of original essays, the #1 bestselling author of Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea delivers one laugh-out-loud moment after another as she sets her sights on the ridiculous side of childhood, adulthood, and daughterhood. Family moments are fair game, whether it's writing a report on Reaganomics to earn a Cabbage Patch doll, or teaching her father social graces by ordering him to stay indoors. It's open season on her love life, from playing a prank on her boyfriend (using a ravioli, a fake autopsy, and the Santa Monica pier) to adopting a dog so she can snuggle with someone who doesn't talk. And everyone better duck for cover when her beach vacation turns into matchmaking gone wild. Outrageously funny and deliciously wicked, CHELSEA CHELSEA BANG BANG is good good good good!

While certainly crude, there are several laugh out loud moments in the book. I love the stories about her family, and have to question myself several times on whether or not these stories could actually be true they were so out there. Chelsea always makes me laugh, and while I don't agree with her on everything, it's nice to escape for a short time and just laugh. This was a quick read and I finished it in one afternoon. Be forewarned, though, that there is quite a bit of crude and rude humor in this book.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

64. The Things We Do For Love by Kristin Hannah

Aw yes, another book by Ms. Hannah. I have to admit I almost didn't read this one as I thought it would cut to close to home, and while it did, it taught me a lot too. An excellent, tear-jerker, I give it an A.

From Amazon:
Years of trying unsuccessfully to conceive a child have broken more than Angie DeSaria’s heart. Following a painful divorce, she moves back to her small Pacific Northwest hometown and takes over management of her family’s restaurant. In West End, where life rises and falls like the tides, Angie’s fortunes will drastically change yet again when she meets and befriends a troubled young woman.Angie hires Lauren Ribido because she sees something special in the seventeen-year-old. They quickly form a deep bond, and when Lauren is abandoned by her mother, Angie offers the girl a place to stay. But nothing could have prepared Angie for the far-reaching repercussions of this act of kindness. Together, these two women—one who longs for a child and the other who longs for a mother’s love—will be tested in ways that neither could have imagined.

For over a year and a half, my husband and I have been trying and failing to get pregnant. We're both young and in good health, so it's difficult to understand why this isn't happening. I have to admit to nodding along with a lot of Angie's thoughts and feelings throughout the book, including those that she doesn't understand why God will give children do those who aren't deserving, but not allowing others the privilege of having just one. I think I came to grips with a lot of my feelings while reading this story, and while I understand that it is fiction, I have hope for the future. I have decided to count my blessings, not the things I don't have, and the biggest blessing of all is my wonderful husband. He is more than enough and more than I deserve, and I would never want something like children to drive us apart. Thank you Ms. Hannah for writing such a wonderful story, and one that is sure to stay with me for a long time, hopefully forever.

63. The Chill of Night by James Hayman

I read The Cutting by Mr. Hayman last year and loved it, so I was excited to see he had a new book out. I read through it in a day or so and really enjoyed it. I give it a B+.

From Amazon:
Glamorous young Portland attorney Lainie Goff thought she had it all—brains, beauty, and a fast-track to a partnership in a top-ranked firm that was going to make her rich. But then one cold winter night she pushed things too far, and her naked frozen body is found in the sub-zero temperatures at the end of the Portland Fish Pier.
The only witness to the crime: a mentally disturbed young woman named Abby Quinn who mysteriously disappears the very same night.
With the discovery of Lainie Goff ’s body and the disappearance of Abby Quinn, Portland homicide detective Michael McCabe finds himself on the trail of a relentless and clever killer. A killer he must find before another life is lost.
With The Chill of Night James Hayman returns to tell a gripping tale of evil and deceit and creates characters so real and so human, we want to meet them again and again.

While I have to admit at first I didn't remember much about The Cutting, as soon as I started The Chill of Night, McCabe and his life came rushing back to me. The mystery was well done and I have to admit to being surprised at who the bad guy was. It was suspenseful, and I was surprised more than once when looking up at the page number and couldn't believe how much I'd read... the story moved that fast! All of the characters were enjoyable and I hope Mr. Hayman continues the series.

62. Tomorrow River by Leslie Kagen

Can I just say how happy I am to have discovered Ms. Kagen and her books? I absolutely loved Tomorrow River and have to give it an A-.

From Amazon:
During the summer of 1968, Shenandoah Carmody's mother disappeared. Her twin sister, Woody, stopped speaking, and her once-loving father slipped into a mean drunkenness unbefitting a superior court judge. Since then, Shenny-named for the Shenandoah valley-has struggled to hold her world together, taking care of herself and her sister the best she can. Shenny feels certain that Woody knows something about the night their mother vanished, but her attempts to communicate with her mute twin leave her as confused as their father's efforts to confine the girls to the family's renowned virginia estate. As the first anniversary of their mother's disappearance nears, her father's threat to send Woody away and his hints at an impending remarriage spur a desperate Shenny to find her mother before it's too late. She is ultimately swept up in a series of heartbreaking events that force her to come to terms with the painful truth about herself and her family. Told with the wisdom, sensitivity, and humor for which Lesley Kagen has become known, Tomorrow River is a stellar hardcover debut.

My heart was pounding at times while reading this, I have to admit. The suspense of what was going to happen to Woody and Shenny made me hold my breath and hope for the best, while knowing that it very well may not turn out well. Shenny is a great character, a girl I would love to know, with a spitfire attitude who cares so deeply for her sister. I loved the setting and Ms. Kagen does an excellent job allowing me to imagine myself right there along with them, running and hiding and playing detective. The only thing that held me back from giving it an A was the ending, something I thought I was a bit unbelieveable. I have the only other book I haven't read by Ms. Kagen on hold and I hope it comes in soon. Pick up one of her books... the sooner the better!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

61. Distant Shores by Kristin Hannah

I may have found a new favorite author. I love Ms. Hannah's voice and both of the stories I've read by her are extremely touching. I give Distant Shores an A-.

From Amazon:
Elizabeth and Jackson Shore married young, raised two daughters, and weathered the storms of youth as they built a future together. But after the children leave home, they quietly drift apart. When Jack accepts a wonderful new job offer, Elizabeth puts her needs aside to follow him across the country. Until the sudden death of her father changes everything.Grieving and alone, she retreats to an isolated beach house where she packs away the last remnants of her parents’ lives. There, the pieces of a past she never knew unfold to reveal a tender story of lasting devotion, the kind of steadfast commitment that Elizabeth admits is missing from her own marriage. Faced with her own disillusionment, she makes a terrifying decision, risking everything she has for a second chance at happiness. Enriched by soul-stirring emotion and an appreciation for the simple joy of everyday miracles, Distant Shores is an exquisite reminder of the most precious gifts in life: friends and family, children and lovers, the strength to change, and the courage to forgive–all flawlessly captured by the graceful hands of Kristin Hannah.

Ms. Hannah does an excellent job of making the characters real. While I found faults with both Elizabeth and Jack, I thought that just made them more realistic. Reading this story made me vow to keep working on my marriage each and every day. It's too simple to fall into that comfortable, relaxed, just get through the day mentality. I read this book fairly quickly and have to admit, I have already gone to library and get several more of Ms. Hannah's books. If you haven't read anything by her, I highly recommend you do so and fast!

60. Christietown by Susan Kandel

After reading and loving Dial H for Hitchcock, I decided to check out Ms. Kandel's previous books. I was a bit disappointed with Christietown, however, and can only give it a B-.

From Amazon:
A new suspense-themed housing tract on the edge of the Mojave Desert is about to open, and who better to help promote the Cotswold-cozy development than mystery biographer extraordinaire Cece Caruso? For the grand opening weekend, Cece is staging a play featuring the beloved sleuth Miss Marple. Of course, everything goes wrong, including a leading lady who ends up dead.
All is not well in Christietown; its secrets are as complicated as the truth behind Agatha Christie's real-life disappearance. The developer, an Englishman who claims to be Dame Agatha's descendent, has ruthless investors breathing down his neck. Meanwhile, Cece's got a wedding to plan, a baby shower to give, and an ex-husband who shows up on her doorstep with his fiancée and future mother-in-law. And when another body surfaces, the intrepid amateur sleuth knows she must play the famed detective for real—or suffer the same mysterious fate.

I felt like there was a lot of bouncing around in the book and there were a ton of characters, so at times I had a hard time keeping track of everyone and what exactly was going on. I did like the premise of the story, though, especially the idea of a community that focuses on the famed mystery writer. I probably would have liked the book more if I was more familiar with Ms. Christie's works, but I haven't read anything by her. Horrible I know! Anyways, a good cozy, but not a memorable one.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

59. Run for Your Life by James Patterson

I know I have missed some of Mr. Patterson's newer releases, so while I saw this one on display at my library I decided to give it a go. I read it in one day and it was a pleasant way to spend a warm Saturday afternoon. I give it a B+.

From Amazon:
A calculating killer who calls himself The Teacher is taking on New York City, killing the powerful and the arrogant. His message is clear: remember your manners or suffer the consequences! For some, it seems that the rich are finally getting what they deserve. For New York's elite, it is a call to terror. Only one man can tackle such a high-profile case: Detective Mike Bennett. The pressure is enough for anyone, but Mike also has to care for his 10 children-all of whom have come down with virulent flu at once! Discovering a secret pattern in The Teacher's lessons, Detective Bennett realizes he has just hours to save New York from the greatest disaster in its history. From the #1 bestselling author comes RUN FOR YOUR LIFE, the continuation of his newest, electrifying series

I loved the character of Mike and his over-sized family. I thought the Teacher's spin on things was interesting and you could almost relate with him... at least where he is coming from. This was your average Patterson thriller with short chapters and good story-telling. While not a book that will stay with me forever, a good read all around. Happy Reading!