Wednesday, March 31, 2010

25. House Rules by Jodi Piccoult

I've been a fan of Ms. Piccoult's for awhile, but nothing really stood out to me like Nineteen Minutes. I was really intrigued to read House Rules because it deals with autism, something I find fascinating since I work daily with children who live with autism and I really would like to get my Master's in it. House Rules gets an A-.

From Amazon:
They tell me I'm lucky to have a son who's so verbal, who is blisteringly intelligent, who can take apart the broken microwave and have it working again an hour later. They think there is no greater hell than having a son who is locked in his own world, unaware that there's a wider one to explore. But try having a son who is locked in his own world, and still wants to make a connection. A son who tries to be like everyone else, but truly doesn't know how.
Jacob Hunt is a teenage boy with Asperger's syndrome. He's hopeless at reading social cues or expressing himself well to others, and like many kids with AS, Jacob has a special focus on one subject -- in his case, forensic analysis. He's always showing up at crime scenes, thanks to the police scanner he keeps in his room, and telling the cops what they need to do...and he's usually right. But then his town is rocked by a terrible murder and, for a change, the police come to Jacob with questions. All of the hallmark behaviors of Asperger's -- not looking someone in the eye, stimulatory tics and twitches, flat affect -- can look a lot like guilt to law enforcement personnel. Suddenly, Jacob and his family, who only want to fit in, feel the spotlight shining directly on them. For his mother, Emma, it's a brutal reminder of the intolerance and misunderstanding that always threaten her family. For his brother, Theo, it's another indication of why nothing is normal because of Jacob. And over this small family the soul-searing question looms: Did Jacob commit murder?

This was a long book, but it really didn't take me long to read it. I was fascinated with the story and would sneak in pages whenever I can. I probably spent too much time blow-drying my hair because of it, but it was worth it. I loved this book, and it now has me dying to check out more fiction books where autism plays a role in the plot. I thought the ending was a bit weak, however, and that left me grading the book an A- instead of an A. I thought the author did an excellent job in explaining autism and how it effects everyone involved. It's obvious Ms. Picoult did her research. I found myself reading passages aloud to my husband so he could get a better understanding of what autism is and what it looks like since I often talk about my autistic students, but he's never had any experience. I would recommend this book to you if you like family dramas, or ever wondered what the story is behind autistic children and adults, for that matter.

24. The Wild Zone by Joy Fielding

A couple more quickie reviews for you to glide through. Break starts in less than 16 hours and I can't wait! Joy Fielding is one of my favorite women suspense authors, I was excited to read The Wild Zone. I give it a B+.

From Amazon:
This is how it starts. With a joke. Two brothers -- Will and Jeff -- and their friend Tom are out one night at their favorite South Beach bar, the Wild Zone, and decide to make a bet on who can be the fi rst to seduce a mysterious-looking young woman drinking by herself. Pretty, dark-haired, blue-eyed Suzy has an innocent, almost ordinary girl-next-door way about her. "Just waiting for Prince Charming to hit on her," Jeff says.
Little do they know the secrets she hides from the outside world, particularly those having to do with the daily horror she experiences under the watchful eye of her abusive husband. Little do they know she has an agenda of her own. Little do they know their harmless bet is about to take on a life of its own, a life full of deadly consequences for all concerned.

This was a good book. One with twists and turns and a suprise ending that I didn't see coming. Some of Ms. Fielding's endings really remind me of old Hitchcock movies. If you haven't read anything by her, I would highly recommend you start, and soon. Set in one of my favorite places, Florida, The Wild Zone kept me hooked and I breezed through it. I would love to hear your thoughts if you've read it!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

23. The Heights

I am not sure how I heard of The Heights, but I placed a hold at my local library awhile ago. It finally came in and I gobbled it up. I really enjoyed it and give it an A-.

From Amazon:
Tim Welch is a popular history teacher at the Montague Academy, an exclusive private school in Brooklyn Heights. As he says, "I was an odd-looking, gawky kid but I like to think my rocky start forced me to develop empathy, kindness, and a tendency to be enthusiastic. All of this, I'm now convinced, helped in my quest to be worthy of Kate Oliver." Now, Kate is not inherently ordinary. But she aspires to be. She stays home with their two young sons in a modest apartment trying desperately to become the parent she never had. They are seemingly the last middle-class family in the Heights, whose world is turned upside down by Anna Brody, the new neighbor who moves into the most expensive brownstone in Brooklyn, sending the local society into a tailspin. Anna is not only beautiful and wealthy; she's also mysterious. And for reasons Kate doesn't quite understand, even as all the Range Rover- driving moms jockey for invitations into Anna's circle, Anna sets her sights on Kate and Tim and brings them into her world.

My heart broke for Tim. He seemed like such a great guy, albeit a bit confused. I loved the setting (of course I did... it was in New York!) which almost seemed to be a character in the story itself. While Kate was a bit hard to like or sympathize with, she was very real and for that I was thankful. The ending left me a bit disappointed though, and for that the book ended up as an A- instead of an A. I highly recommend this one!

22. Heat Wave by Richard Castle

I am late to the game of the great tv show Castle, but I've started to watch it recently and really like it! While it is somewhat corny, it's an enjoyable way to spend an hour. While at my library browsing, I saw Heat Wave and decided to give it a shot. I was a bit disappointed and give it a B.

A New York real estate tycoon plunges to his death on a Manhattan sidewalk. A trophy wife with a past survives a narrow escape from a brazen attack. Mobsters and moguls with no shortage of reasons to kill trot out their alibis. And then, in the suffocating grip of a record heat wave, comes another shocking murder and a sharp turn in a tense journey into the dirty little secrets of the wealthy. Secrets that prove to be fatal. Secrets that lay hidden in the dark until one NYPD detective shines a light.
Mystery sensation Richard Castle, blockbuster author of the wildly best-selling Derrick Storm novels, introduces his newest character, NYPD Homicide Detective Nikki Heat. Tough, sexy, professional, Nikki Heat carries a passion for justice as she leads one of New York City's top homicide squads. She's hit with an unexpected challenge when the commissioner assigns superstar magazine journalist Jameson Rook to ride along with her to research an article on New York's Finest. PulitzerPrize-winning Rook is as much a handful as he is handsome. His wise-cracking and meddling aren't her only problems. As she works to unravel the secrets of the murdered real estate tycoon, she must also confront the spark between them. The one called heat.

This was a really short book, less than 200 pages. I breezed through it and liked it, but it definitely wasn't anything that will stick with me for awhile. I can't believe I am actually going to say this, but I like the t.v. show better than the book! That never happens! If you are a fan of the show, give the book a try, but don't expect wonderful things!

21. Poor Little Bitch Girl by Jackie Collins

I've been reading lately but haven't been keeping up with my blog or others. I've been busy and been squeezing in as much reading time as I can, so I am going to do three mini reviews. I hope to catch up with everyone else's blogs and do better posts in the near future, but until then here are some mini-reviews:

From Amazon:
Denver Jones is a hotshot twenty-something attorney working in L.A. Carolyn Henderson is personal assistant to a powerful and very married Senator in Washington with whom she is having an affair. And Annabelle Maestro—daughter of two movie stars—has carved out a career for herself in New York as the madame of choice for discerning famous men. The three of them went to high school together in Beverly Hills—and although Denver and Carolyn have kept in touch, Annabelle is out on her own with her cocaine addicted boyfriend, Frankie.
Then there is Bobby Santangelo Stanislopolous, the Kennedyesque son of Lucky Santangelo and deceased Greek shipping billionaire, Dimitri Stanislopolous. Bobby owns Mood, the hottest club in New York. Back in the day he went to high school with Denver, Carolyn and Annabelle. And he connected with all three of them. Frankie is his best friend.
When Annabelle’s beautiful movie star mother is found shot to death in the bedroom of her Beverly Hills mansion, the five of them find themselves thrown together . . . and secrets from the past have a way of coming back to haunt everyone. . . .

This was a good, easy read. While I tend to think of Ms. Collins' books as brain candy, it seemed just like the thing I needed to jump start my reading. While most of the plot and the characters were predicitible, I enjoyed it and give it a B. If you're looking for the perfect beach read this summer, you can't miss with one of Ms. Collins' books.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

20. Hush by Kate White

I've enjoyed Ms. White's in the past, though they were part of a chick-lit/mystery series. Hush was the first stand-alone novel by Ms. White and one I enjoyed. I give it a B.

From Amazon:
When Lake Warren learns that her husband, Jack, is suing for full custody of their two kids four months after their separation, she's pretty certain that things can't get any worse. The upside is that she's working with the Advanced Fertility Center as a marketing consultant, alongside the attractive, flirtatious Dr. Keaton. But the morning after their one-night stand, Lake finds Keaton with his throat slashed and discovers that things can indeed become worse—they can become deadly.
So as not to jeopardize her case for custody, Lake is forced to lie to the police. Having just been intimate with a man who has been murdered, and wanting to protect herself from being charged with the crime, she begins her own search for the truth. Meanwhile, the police start looking at her closely, people at the clinic start treating her with hostility, and strange clues begin dropping—quite literally—on her doorstep, and Lake realizes that she is dangerously close to dark secrets, both about Keaton and the clinic. But can Lake stop what she's started before it's too late?

I had a hard time sympathizing with the main character, Lake, for some reason. She really got on my nerves at time, though that didn't bother me too much. The mystery was well done and it was hard to decide who the killer was. There were many plausible suspects and I ended up being wrong. That is always a nice surprise, as long as it doesn't come out of nowhere, that is. Hush takes place in one of my favorite setting, New York City, and while I couldn't classify it as chick-lit, it definitely wasn't a hard hitting thriller. I read it pretty quickly, finishing it in a day and half which is really saying something considering this slump I've been going through. Hopefully that means the end of the slump for me, but I have my doubts!

I don't even have much to write which is sad to me. Lately I've been so busy and then tired at the end of the day that the last thing I feel like doing is turning on my computer or opening a book. That in turn makes me more frustrated because I know I relax when I am reading a good book or reading about other people's good books, so hopefully I will break out of this soon. I guess I can be happy that Spring Break is in a few weeks and that should give me some more free time. Plus, several of my holds have been trickling in from the library that are books by some of my favorite authors so that should help. Well I am at work and I don't even think what I'm typing is making any sense, so I am going to leave with a Happy Reading!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

19. Live to Tell by Wendy Corsi Staub

Wendy Corsi Staub is one of my favorite all time authors, and I always look forward to when a new book of hers is released. Unfortunetly, even one of her books isn't enough to break me out of this slump... it took me a week to read! So depressing... anyways, I give Live to Tell an A-.

Back cover:
In a lovely suburban town just north of New York City, the gossip mill runs more efficiently than the commuter-train line. And in every impeccably decorated house, they're talking about Lauren Walsh. They say that nothing could be worse tan being abandoned by your husband for another woman. They're wrong...
All Lauren wants is to protect her children from the pain of her messy divorce. But when their father goes missing, a case of mistaken identity puts all their lives in danger, and a stealthy predator lurks in the shadows, watching... waiting...
Lauren is about to uncover an unfathomable truth- a truth this cold-blooded mastermind would never let her live to tell...

I felt like the majority of this book was focused on Lauren's divorce and the effect that is having on her and her kids. While that was all right, I was looking for a bit more suspense. I loved how Ms. Staub has several characters in the story, though, whose lives intervene and soon the connections are being made when before I couldn't see why they were even part of the story. Ms. Staub does a fantastic job of making you care about the characters and I thought really gets Lauren's pain across in a believable way. The ending of the book leaves the reader wanting more, and I was pleased to see that Live to Tell is the first in a trilogy and the second will be released sometime later this year.

I am not sure what I am going to read next... I am just hoping I will be reading soon! I have a busy weekend ahead but I am going to promise myself that I will fit some reading in sometime soon! Happy Reading everyone!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

18. Secrets of Eden by Chris Bohjalian

Secrets of Eden is a book that I have seen and heard a lot about on the blogosphere. I got it from my library and almost returned it unread. Thankfully I didn't! Secrets of Eden is a powerful, wonderful book and one that I give an A-.

From Amazon:
"There," says Alice Hayward to Reverend Stephen Drew, just after her baptism, and just before going home to the husband who will kill her that evening and then shoot himself. Drew, tortured by the cryptic finality of that short utterance, feels his faith in God slipping away and is saved from despair only by a meeting with Heather Laurent, the author of wildly successful, inspirational books about . . . angels. Heather survived a childhood that culminated in her own parents' murder-suicide, so she identifies deeply with Alice’s daughter, Katie, offering herself as a mentor to the girl and a shoulder for Stephen – who flees the pulpit to be with Heather and see if there is anything to be salvaged from the spiritual wreckage around him.But then the State's Attorney begins to suspect that Alice's husband may not have killed himself. . .and finds out that Alice had secrets only her minister knew.

While I thought that Secrets of Eden started out slowly, it quickly picked up the pace. I enjoyed the way that Mr. Bohjalian switched voices of the main characters to give the reader a different perspective of the way events were unfolding. It was a chilling story, one that really drives home the point that domestic violence is something that should not be shut behind closed doors. So many people in the little town knew what was going on, but few wanted to get involved or take action. The ending was so surprising that I actually let out a little gasp at the end and sat there thinking about everything for awhile. I am sure that Secrets of Eden will be staying with me for quite awhile.

My reading has gotten pathetic lately. I am working every night so that is taking a big chunk of my time up, plus I have been so tired. It doesn't help that I spent far too many days trying to finish a book that I had absolutely zero interest in and couldn't stand the writing just because I was more than halfway done and I so desperately wanted to finish a book. I won't be making that mistake again. I finally got started on the newest Wendy Corsi Staub, one of my favorite suspense authors, and Saturday is going to be a reading day for me. Happy Reading everyone!