Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Congratulations to...

... Yes, our Week #9 Prize Winner!

Progress Thus Far

Click on image to enlarge.

Veil of Roses

Author: Laura Fitzgerald
Stars: 4
Review by: Smudge

Tamila, an Iranian woman on a tourist visa, has three months to find an American husband in order to become a citizen and stay.  This story is about the little freedoms American woman have that we are not aware of.  A good story with a predictable ending.
 

Informed Risk

Author: Robyn Carr
Stars: 4
Review by: Sue

I love her books and read anything by the author. I love that I can relate to her stories.

The Wanderer

Author: Robyn Carr
Stars: 5
Review by: Sue

I love the way she tells her stories and this new series is great, can't wait for the other books to come out.

It Had to be You

Author: Jill Shalvis
Stars: 5
Review by: Sue

Really enjoyed this story and most stories by this author. 

Simply Irresistible

Author: Jill Shalvis
Stars: 5
Review by: Sue

Great read, going to have to read the others to see how the other two sisters make out.

Rescue My Heart

Author: Jill Shalvis
Stars: 5
Review by: Sue

This is book 3 and I really liked going to read books 1 & 2 before book 4 comes out.

Marilyn Monroe

Author: Donald Spoto
Stars: 4
Review by: Rosie S

Very informative.

The Tao of Martha

Author: Jen Lancaster
Stars: 5
Review by:  line82 

Laugh out loud funny!

Inferno

Author: Dan Brown
Stars: 4
Review by: Pam M.

Alas, The Da Vinci Code remains Dan Brown's best book, however this one is pretty good. It's great visiting Venice and Turkey with Dan Brown and all his informative and interesting art history. An interesting mystery premise too. 

Call of the Jersey Devil

Author: Aurelio Voltaire
Stars: 3
Review by: Marianne S

What happens when 5 Goth teens and a middle-aged, washed-up Goth musician are stranded in the Pine Barrens? The gates of Hell open, of course. Humorous horror debut novel by an award-winning animator and musician.
 

The Romanov Conspiracy

Author: Glenn Meade
Stars: 5
Review by: Marianne S

Supposedly inspired by an actual attempt to rescue Czar Nicholas and his family.  I'm curious to do research to see if there's any truth to the events.  Well paced -- keeps you wanting more! 

White Cargo: The Forgotten History of Britain's White Slaves in America

Author: Don Jordan & Michael Walsh
Stars: 5
Review by: Marianne S

An interesting look at indentured servitude in Colonial America.  Many of the servants who were supposedly in America to start a new life were actually kidnapped and transported against their will (some as young as 6) or transported convicts.  I don't remember learning any of this in history classes.
 

Sweetgrass

Author: Mary Alice Monroe
Stars: 4
Review by: Ann M

Nice story about the Blakely family that takes place in the Carolina Low Country.  The relationships of the parents and the children are uncovered.  There is no one "perfect" in a family.

The Sun Also Rises

Author: Ernest Hemingway
Stars: 3
Review by: Car-Lay

After I finished The Paris Wife  (the story of Ernest Hemingway's first wife, Hadley, and their life in Paris and Spain during the 1920s) I decided to read Hemingway's novel dedicated to Hadley, about the fast life in Spain during the bull fight season and festivals.  The Sun Also Rises is loosely autobiographical and tells the story of a writer during his vacation in Pamplona, Spain with his small group of friends and their love of wine, lust, jealousies and bull fights.  I enjoyed this book more then I might have because I became more familiar with Hemingway's life and character in The Paris Wife.
 

The Sooner the Better

Author: Debbie Macomber
Stars: 3
Review by: L.Z.

Quick read, finished in one setting. In the introduction, Macomber says that it is a new style for her--but it still has that same sort of romance feel to it as many of her others. The "mystery" part of it isn't believable by any stretch of the imagination, but who said that summer reading had to be serious and believable?!? ;-)
 

The Great Gatsby

Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Stars: 5
Review by: Carol 

Terrific to re-read as an adult after seeing the new movie.

Distant Shores

Author: Kristin Hannah
Stars: 3
Review by: Barb

This was a nice paperback book to take to the beach. How does one restore the initial passion in a marriage after 43 years. The protagonist, Elizabeth Shore, tries to answer that question. All's well that ends well.

Drawn to New York: An Illustrated Chronicle of Three Decades in New York City

Author: Peter Kuper
Stars: 2
Review by: Miss Lucy

Cartoonist Peter Kuper expresses his viewpoints and experiences of New York City creatively through his comics and sketches.  Although the artwork is good, many of the portrayals he includes are too raunchy and violent for my taste.

Olive Kitteridge

Author: Elizabeth Strout
Stars: 4
Review by: PGREADER

Olive comes up with some words of wisdom. In spite of her acerbic personality, she tries. In the end, she teaches us a few lessons about life. Hope,love, and the will to live come and go for Olive. She threads a tapestry for each of us to see.  It doesn't necessarily all fit together, but that is a little more real than a nice tidy package.

Aunt Dimity's Death

Author: Nancy Atherton
Stars: 5
Review by: L.Z.

Loved it! Thought for some reason that it was a murder mystery, which it most certainly was not. Very unlike my usual reading--travel back to a different place and time, with whimsical characters, but what a fun read!

Peace With God

Author: Billy Graham
Stars: 5
Review by: Bookworm

Graham says that we can have perfect peace when we trust and believe in God and Jesus.  He bases his book on these Bible verses:  Isaiah 26:3-4 "You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You."  "Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal."

The Journey

Author: Wanda E. Brunstetter
Stars: 5
Review by: Bookworm

Another book in the Kentucky Brothers Series.  I loved it.  All about the Amish lifestyle.  A light romance story.  I look forward to more of Wanda Brunstetter's books.  They are a delight to read.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Victoria Bliss (magazine collection, 1989-2013, 24 JULY issues)

Author:
Stars: 5
Review by: Woman on the Go

Each one a winner.  Lovely, beautiful, romantic magazine. More like reference books. Wonderful articles of travel, home, garden, family, & decorating. Stories from great authors and gorgeous photography.  I have every issue since premier 1989, but never had a chance to read them till now.

Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus

Author: John Gray
Stars: 5
Review by:Woman on the Go

Interesting reading, insight into each others' hidden messages.  How to communicate with the other sex.

Hand Lettering for Decorative Artists

Author: Jackie O'Keefe
Stars: 5
Review by: Woman on the Go

Great information and lovely pictures.

The Private World of Tasha Tudor

Author: Tasha Tudor, Richard Brown, & Barbara Werden
Stars: 5
Review by:Woman on the Go

An accounting of Tasha's life, loves, passions, love for her Corgis, garden, cooking. Her simple country appearance. Wonderful peek into her world. Loved this book.

Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace One School at a Time

Author: Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin
Stars: 4
Review by: NancyW421

I really agree with the author's philosophy that educating girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan is a good way to promote peace.

A Quiet Vendetta

Author: R.J. Ellory
Stars: 4
Review by: BigDa

Vengeance; violent; vulgar; villainous; verbose.

The Silver Star

Author: Jeannette Walls
Stars: 3
Review by: libraryaimee

A very fast summer read, but full of themes too similar to her previous books: a bi-polar mother, neglected kids, small working class town, bad guy.

King Leopold's Ghost

Author: Adam Hochschild
Stars: 4
Review by: Pam B

A detailed history of the colonization of the Congo under Leopold of Belgian and the activities that went on.  Not for the squeamish as Leopold and his minions were determined to squeeze out every bit of ivory and rubber from the Congo by using "enforced" native labor.
 

Bad Girls of the Silver Screen

Author: Lottie Da & Jan Alexander
Stars: 3
Review by: Pam B

Tons of black & white photos.  The writing could have used some editing.
At times, it seemed disjointed.

A Different Sun: A Novel of Africa

Author: Elaine Neil Orr
Stars: 4
Review by: Pam B

About a  white, American 19th century missionary couple in west Africa.

Unstuff Your Life

Author: Andrew Mellen
Stars: 4
Review by: Pam B

One of those decluttering books.  This one is very good (and I have read many).  It has no photos/illustrations, just solid info.

Mission to Paris

Author: Alan Furst
Stars: 3
Review by: Pam B

Pre-WWII novel of undercover activities.  Written by same author as Spies of Warsaw which was recently on PBS.  Hope to read all of his books.

Women From the Ankle Down: The Story of Shoes and How They Define Us

Author: Rachelle Bergstein
Stars: 3
Review by: Pam B

Title says it all.
 

Sandstorm

Author: James Rollins
Stars: 3
Review by: Pam B

One of those rogue government agent type of books, but the setting was good.  I have read another of this author's books and hope to read them all.

Atonement

Author: Ian McEwan
Stars: 4
Review by: Pam B

Starts off slowly.  After I finished the book, I saw the film version.  Stayed closely to the story.  The scene at Dunkirk was especially moving.
 

Off the Menu

Author: Stacey Ballis
Stars: 2
Review by: Smudge

A little too heavy on romance and too light on cooking.

Call the Midwife

Author: Jennifer Worth
Stars: 4
Review by: ADAR

If you have been watching this series on TV you would recognize the characters.  Takes place in England after WW2.  A biography.  Very good picture of the times.

The End of the Point

Author: Elizabeth Graver
Stars: 3
Review by: Barb

Slow moving at first, but a decent tale of a family with summer property on the coast of Massachusetts. The writing is good, and the story takes on the meaning of a family's life.

The Golem and the Jinni

Author: Helene Wecker
Stars: 4
Review by: Carol

Extremely farfetched, but fascinating.

A Deadly Grind

Author: Victoria Hamilton
Stars: 3
Review by: Saraswati

This is the first book in this story line.  Hamilton is better known for her Historical/Regency romances under her real name.  This is the story about a woman that loves vintage kitchen stuff from mixing bowls to furniture.  She goes to an estate auction and wins a Hoosier Cabinet.  (Never knew what they were named nor what an important role these cabinets played in kitchen history.  Didn't realize that kitchen cabinets are a new thing.  Furniture like the Hoosier created a space & time savings for hard working women back in the day.)  In any cozy there is murder, mystery, romance, deceit and case closed. The story took a little while for me to get into, but it did pick up.  Already have book #2 on my wait list.

The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens who made England

Author: Dan Jones
Stars: 3
Review by: Mandy A

An account of the English ruling family from the kings Henry II to Richard II. Quite readable overall but a bit high handed at times when the author gets on his favorite topics.
 

The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Cafe

Author: Mary Simses
Stars: 3
Review by: Tartu

I liked the plot, but didn't like the main character much making it a little hard to enjoy the story and setting. 

The Book of Secrets

Author: Elizabeth Joy Arnold
Stars: 3.5
Review by: Tartu

I didn't love the plot, but it was framed using children's books and a code created using childhood books giving it some added interest.

Do You Believe in Magic: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine

Author: Paul A. Offit, M.D.
Stars: 5
Review by: libraryaimee

I love every book by this man!  He writes very accessible and interesting books on health and medicine.  I love that no matter the book topic he can always squeeze in a chapter discrediting Jenny McCarthy!

Born to Bite

Author: Dorothy Howell
Stars: 2
Review by: Saraswati

This book is an anthology with 3 short stories:  Dark Secret by Howell, Highland Vampire by Diana Cosby and Never Been Bitten by Erica Ridley.  As the title suggests, there are vampires featured in each story; each with the author's take on what it means to be a vampire.  As with most short stories these feel rushed and thrown together.   Still an OK, mindless, summer read.

What's A Witch to Do?

Author: Jennifer Harlow
Stars: 4
Review by: Saraswati

This is a first book in this off-shoot series.  This author is known for her F.R.E.A.K.S series about the paranormal.  The F.R.E.A.K.S. are minor characters in this mystery.   This is a story about a High Priestess that finds out there is a hit being put out on her.  Meanwhile she is trying to raise one of her sister's two children and plan a wedding for the other.  There is some campy humor and when it gets too Evanovich-like, the author jokes about it - "What would Stephenie Plum do?"  She also has time to find love.   Fun read and I am looking forward to the next installment.

Song of the River

Author: Sue Harrison
Stars: 4
Review by: Smudge

Part of a series of books about the people who inhabit Alaska during 6000 BC.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Just Jennifer

Longing of Wayward Girls by Karen Brown (Washington Square Press, July 2013)

Summers in New England are meant to be lazy, safe days, but children can often be cruel; a young girl goes missing shortly after Sadie and her best friend have played what they thought was a harmless trick on Francie, an event that continues to haunt Sadie twenty years later, living a good life in the same town, married to a good man with two children.  When a man from her past returns to town, memories of childhood, specifically the events of the summer from when she was twelve.  As Sadie, who looks similar to Francie and often gets mistaken for her, gets caught up in the past, trying to assuage the guilt she still feels and trying to ease the pain of the child she most recently lost, she finds herself doing things she never imagined she would be capable of, all of which lead to a surprise ending that many will not see coming.  Haunting and familiar at the same time.

Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand

Author: Carrie Vaughn
Stars: 3
Review by: Saraswati

I thought I had kept up with the series, but found out it moved on without me.   This book has Kitty getting married to her ex-lawyer now mate.  They decide to elope to Vegas.  While there they meet up with very unique acts that include paranormal things beyond Kitty's belief.  Intrigue and mayhem ensue.  Unfortunately, the strange follows her home.  So now onto the next book.

Safe Haven

Author: Nicholas Sparks
Stars: 4
Review by: books&beads

Lovely romantic story, held my interest to the end, which had some unique surprises. 

Whiskey Beach

Author: Nora Roberts
Stars: 2
Review by: Avid reader mom

I'm typically a big Nora Roberts fan, but this book is very slow to start and predictable. It does get better, but I felt it was a bit long for the content amount.

Going, Going, Ganache

Author: Jenn McKinlay
Stars: 4
Review by: L.Z.

A fun read.

Crazy Love

Author: Leslie Morgan Steiner
Stars: 5
Review by: Avid reader mom

Excellent book. This book tackles a very tough subject.....domestic violence. It is well written and touches on other family issues. The style of writing makes it easy to be engrossed, so much that I was up until dawn to finish it. I feared that the ending would be disappointing, but it was a realistic finish. This book is a window into domestic violence from the victims point of view. It's great that the author chose a character that is educated and not from what people think would be the perfect storm of the typical victim. Kudos to bringing this subject to light!!!!

Just Jennifer

Accused: A Rosato & Associates Novel by Lisa Scottoline (St. Martin’s Press, October 29, 2013)

Mary Dinuzio has just been promoted to partner at her Philadelphia law firm and for her first case is presented with a very unusual client with a very unusual request.  Precocious thirteen-year-old Allegra Gardner, daughter of one of Philadelphia’s most powerful families has come to Rosato and Dinuzio to hire them to prove that the man in prison for her sister’s murder six years earlier is innocent.  Lonnie Stall, who was rumored to have been stalking Fiona and was seen fleeing the cocktail party where Fiona was killed, covered in blood.  Allegra’s parents are against the investigation and do everything they can to stop her from hiring the law firm, but Rosato & Associates have always taken the cases of the underdog, and Allegra has access to a trust fund and Mary Dinuzio is willing to take on one of the most powerful families as her first opponents as a partner, she just hopes this decision will not make it her last.  Fast-paced and fun, Accused is filled with wonderful characters from Mary’s very Italian extended family to the upright and proper to the women with attitude at Rosato and Associates.  The plot is breezy and fast-paced with just the right amount of twists and turns and humor to make a quick, enjoyable read with a surprise ending.

Summer at Tiffany

Author: Marjorie Hart
Stars: 4
Review by: Smudge

A true account of two women from Iowa who find summer jobs at Tiffany & Co.  As the first women on Tiffany's sales floor, the author offers insights into Tiffany and New York in 1945.
 

Congratulations to...

... Elaine, our Week #8 Prize Winner!!!

Progress Thus Far

Click image to enlarge.

To Heaven and Back: A Doctor's Extraordinary Account of Her Death, Heaven, Angels, and Life Again: A True Story

Author: Mary C. Neal, M.D.
Stars: 2
Review by: Bookworm


She writes about God, how He loves us, which is true, but what about Jesus?  I feel that we need a personal relationship with Him, also.

Nearing Home: Life, Faith, and Finishing Well

Author: Billy Graham
Stars: 5
Review by: Bookworm


What a wonderful book this is.  It gives us hope for the future.  Joy can be ours as we age if we place our faith in Jesus.

The Struggle

Author: Wanda E. Brunstetter
Stars: 5
Review by: Bookworm


I couldn't put it down.  It was wonderful.  I look forward to her other books.  It's about the wonderful Amish People.  This woman - Hannah - suffered, but in the end found joy and peace.

A Bear Called Paddington

Author: Michael Bond
Stars: 5
Review by: BookWorm2

An adorable children's classic.  So nice to release the inner child to a story as sweet and heart-warming as this!
 

The Bridgertons: Happily Ever After

Author: Julia Quinn
Stars: 4
Review by: Rebecca S.

The perfect ending.

Half Priced Homicide

Author: Elaine Viets
Stars: 4
Review by: Saraswati

This is one of the latest in this series.  It was a nice change from the way the original cozy started.  This book actually had an...ending (read for yourself.)  There is still more to tell so on my waiting list they go.
 

Unstoppable

Author: Suzanne Brockmann
Stars: 2.5
Review by:  Saraswati

This is one of her recently republished books.  It contains two previous stories in one book: Love with a Proper Stranger and Letters to Kelly.  I liked the Stranger story better because it didn't reek of being like Diana Palmer.   However, reading the Author's note, Letters was her favorite.   Both are easy reading and semi-intense.  After reading  many of her books, I can now tell that these were her entry level titles and it's nice to see how things grew from there.
 

Tote Bags and Toe Tags

Author: Dorothy Howell
Stars: 2
Review by: Saraswati
I read earlier books in this series and hoped the main character would grow up - just a little...Sigh, but no. "Homer Simpson" syndrome comes to mind.   I do little, stuff fall into my lap, I still live OK but I need to complain because it's not good enough.   The whining about just working, not even hard work, makes me a little sick.   Thank goodness for the side characters and stories.  Like a moth to a flame, I keep reading the next one hoping I don't get burned.   If you can handle campy, whining  then this is a fun summer read.

Seabiscuit

Author: Laura Hillenbrand
Stars: 4
Review by: Kathyb

Wonderful story. Long!!!!

Dear Lucy

Author: Julie Sarkissian
Stars: 3
Review by: ADAR

Author's first novel.  Very strange concept, but I had to finish it.
 

Tommy Land

Author: Tommy Lee with Anthony Bozza
Stars: 4
Review by: Gypsy P

I was surprised by this book.  It started out slightly raunchy ~ ok, actually more downright vulgar.  But by the end I had a new understanding and respect for the man/musician, Tommy Lee. Enjoyed it. Not for the faint of heart.

Long Division

Author: Jane Berentson
Stars: 4
Review by: Lrizza

If it weren't for the footnotes, I probably would've given this book 5 stars.  I don't know why authors do that.  It was a bit distracting.  But it was a cute, funny, light story.  Identified with the character in many ways.

Bad Dog (A Love Story)

Author: Martin Kihn
Stars: 3.5
Review by: syd

Very entertaining--especially if you have a Bernese mountain dog.

The Paris Wife

Author: Paula McLain
Stars: 4.5
Review by: Car-Lay

This is the story, in her voice, of Ernest Hemingway's first wife, Hadley Richardson, and their time together, mostly in Paris during the 1920's.  They were the "Golden couple" in with the lively group including Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott  Fitzgerald.  But Hadley was not prepared for the fast-living and free-loving life style of Paris and Spain.  "This is the  heartbreaking portrayal of love and torn  loyalty."  Although a work of fiction, the narrative is supposedly faithful to known facts.
 

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

Author: Karen Joy Fowler
Stars: 5
Review by: libraryaimee

An amazing book about a family told from the youngest daughter's perspective.  She has a brother and a sister, both of whom leave the family when she is still young.  Her sister is not a typical sister, but you don't learn that until halfway through the book.  I loved every minute of it! Quirky and fascinating.
 

The Good Thief's Guide to Amsterdam

Author: Chris Ewan
Stars: 3
Review by: BigDa

More a guide to his meandering mind.
 

Just Jennifer

Mother, Mother by Karen Zailckas (Crown, September 17, 2013)

Josephine Hurst has her life, and her family under control, though not in a good way.  She is home schooling her son Will who is a genius, but has been recently diagnosed with Aspergers and epilepsy, has all but given up on her idle daughter Violet who has been experimenting with Eastern philosophies and ways of life and dabbling in a some herbal, hallucinogenic drugs and is pretending that it is normal that her older daughter Rose has run away from the family to live with her boyfriend, estranging herself from the family.  Josephine has just committed Violet to a psych ward claiming Violet attacked Will; Violet knows she had taken some bad seeds, but also knows there is no way she would ever harm her brother and works hard to regain control so she can leave the hospital.  Her father is no help as he has begun heavily drinking and is possibly involved with another woman.  Salvation appears imminent as Violet begins receiving letters from Rose promising that Violet can come and live with her and her boyfriend in New York.  As Violet begins to investigate Rose’s whereabouts, added by social services who were called in after the attack on Will, she becomes drawn into a web of lies and psychological abuse that she could never imagined.  She knows the perfect family fa├žade that Josephine has created is non-existent, but she has no idea just how twisted her mother is and to what lengths she will go to protect her image of a perfect family.  Deeply disturbing with twists and turns, Mother, Mother will have readers thinking they know the solution, but a final twist proves even more unsettling than imagined.  A disturbing first novel by the author of the dysfunctional memoir Smashed.

Just Jennifer

The Wrong Girl by Hank Phillippi Ryan (Forge Books, September 10, 2013)

In the second suspense novel to feature Boston newspaper reporter Jane Ryland and detective Jake Brogan, are both investigating cases involving adoption and the foster care system, cases that would seem completely disparate but take make interesting and unexpected twists and turns that force the two back into an uneasy working relationship that could cost both of them their jobs if their superiors were to learn the two are also lovers.   Jane has been approached by her friend Tinker who has recently been reunited with a woman whom the adoption agency says is Tinker’s birth mother, but whom Tinker is doubtful of because of things her adopted mother told her.  With Jane’s help, Tinker returns to the adoption agency where the two begin to ask questions and Jane begins to suspect that the agency is falsifying records and purposely reuniting children with the wrong birth parents.  In a parallel story, Jake is investigating the brutal murder of a young woman, leaving two toddlers who he learns are her foster children.  An empty cradle in the apartment that was the scene of the murder has Jake concerned there is another child in danger, but the two children are too young to offer much information.  Soon Jake finds himself on the same trial as Jane, and when Jane begins to receive threatening phone calls, is almost run off the road, and has her apartment broken into, Jake must separate his feelings for Jane and keep her safe, knowing that a killer is on the loose, and onto Jane, and that Jake must find the person before more people, and innocent children, are hurt.  A compelling suspense novel with the additional layer of how we come to believe what we are told about our families and how those things become the truths we base our lives on.   Ryan, a journalist, is an impeccable storyteller, revealing what is necessary at the time, hinting at the rest to create tension and suspense.   

Just Jennifer

The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker (Pamela Dorman Books, August 1, 2013)

Nora Fischer is an ABD (all-but-dissertation) grad student whose advisor has lost faith in her and whose ex-boyfriend has just invited her to his upcoming wedding to another woman.  At a weekend getaway, Nora takes a walk through the forest behind the guest cabin she and her friends are staying in and stumbles upon a glamorous woman, Ilissa, living in an incredible dream world and finds herself drawn deeper and deeper into Ilissa’s mysterious and sometimes magical world.  Feeling more confident, attractive and talented than ever, Nora is shocked when Ilissa’s son Raclin proposes marriage hurtling Nora into an evil world that is not at all the world into which she was initially drawn; Nora puts all her hope into a reclusive magician called Aruendiel with whom Nora must join forces and dig deep into her arsenal of knowledge and learning to escape the clutches of the evil pair and return to the world which is not seeming so dire and dreary to her all of a sudden.   Part fairy tale, part fable part morality tale, The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic is almost allegorical as Nora thinks her present life is in the dumps and going nowhere until she spends ten months in an unfamiliar and often evil place missing those people who were driving her crazy and gaining new perspective on how her life can lived with a new self-confidence if she is able to return to it.   

Just Jennifer

Just What Kind of Mother Are You? By Paula Daly (Grove Press, September 3, 2013)

We have all had that moment in our lives that we desperately wish we could have back and change the course of events.  Lisa Kallisto has such a moment as her seemingly perfect life is turned on its end when her best friend’s thirteen-year-old daughter disappears on her watch.  Lisa’s life is a busy one as she takes care of three busy children and juggles their never ending schedules, runs a busy animal shelter and tries to give her marriage the attention it both needs and deserves.  When Lucinda is to spend the night with Lisa’s daughter after school, but doesn't when Sally stays home from school sick, and vanishes rather than arriving at either house, she is not reported missing until the next day.  Lucinda is the second pre-teen young girl to vanish in the area, the first escaping and returning after being raped and traumatized, leaving the tiny Cumbrian village in Northern England in fear for their young girls.   Obsessed with guilt over Lucinda’s disappearance, Lisa begins her own investigation and as she does, small details or the families’ lives come to the surface, past transgressions and grudges begin to emerge as a portrait of less than perfect families comes to light all leading to a most shocking conclusion.  Adding to the depths of this chilling and all too real feeling novel is the personal life of the Detective Constable Joanne Aspinall lives with her aunt and is not just the police woman investigating the crime, but a well-developed character in her own right.  Heart wrenching, thrilling and eye-opening at once, Just What Kind of Mother Are You?  will have readers assessing their own lives and remembering to pay attention to the little things.

Serving Victoria

Author: Kate Hubbard
Stars: 2
Review by:Mandy A

Billed as Life in the Royal Household the book contains, in chronological order, mini biographies of various servants to Queen Victoria and her family. Those hoping for an upstairs downstairs sort of thing though would be greatly disappointed as the book is more a biography of Victoria instead of those that served her. Too little on the people themselves and how they operated.

A Hundred Summers

Author: Beatriz Williams
Stars: 3
Review by: Marybeth

A Hundred Summers is a quintessential "beach read.'  It was pretty predictable, kind of corny, fast reading, but also enjoyable and romantic.  It's the story of long time friends whose lives intertwine during a period of 7 years and takes place during the 30's.  One caveat - while the author suggests the element of historical fiction in that the hurricane of 1938 that hit New England is mentioned, that element is inconsequential to 98% of the book. 

The Great Gatsby

Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Stars: 4
Review by: Bernie Remaly 

I liked it and thought it was much better than the movie.

Cinnamon Kiss

Author: Walter Mosley
Stars: 4
Review by: Bernie Remaly

A really good mystery book.

The Shop on Blossom Street

Author: Debbie Macomber
Stars: 5
Review by: Bernie Remaly

I like her books!  Just fun reading!
 

The Good House

Author: Ann Leary
Stars: 4
Review by: P.Reads

I really enjoyed this book. It is about a middle-aged New England woman who goes through life in denial about her drinking problem. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Congratulations to...

... BigDa, our Week #7 Prize Winner!

Progress Thus Far

Click on image to enlarge.

The City of Akhenaten & Nefertiti: Amarna and its People

Author: Barry Kemp
Stars: 5
Review by: Mandy A

By far the best comprehensive book on the Egyptian city of
Amarna available now. Abandoned after the death of its "heretic" pharaoh
about 3200 years ago, Amarna was built to celebrate the sun disk, and
featured many architectural innovations (including the first
identifiable us of pre-fabricated building materials / bricks).

Although there isn't much of the town left (I've seen it), Kemp conducts
a very full examination of the main and subsidiary buildings, a period
history, an examination of the region's topography and history, all
sorts of things while being both readable and informative at once. Only
tidbit missing is that it was written weeks before DNA testing confirmed
the mummies of Akhenaten, his son / successor Tutankhamen, and several
other relatives.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail

Author: Cheryl Strayed
Stars: 2
Review by: BookDancer

Not too wild about Wild!  Enjoyed Bill Bryson's Appalachian Trail account much more.
 

The Light Between Oceans

Author: M.L.Stedman
Stars: 5
Review by: Barb

I finally got around to reading this book that was recommended
to be in January. It was beautifully written. A young couple lives on an
isolated island off the coast of Australia. When a tiny baby washes on
shore, they make a decision that changes the lives of many. The story is
full of love. A great read.

Room

Author: Emma Donoghue
Stars: 4
Review by: Barb

This was the second time I read this book, for two different
book clubs. It was just as good the second time, and I was able to pick
up on things that puzzled me the first time. A young woman is abducted
and held hostage in a backyard shed where she is raped repeatedly by her
abductor, and gives birth to a baby boy. The love that Ma has for Jack
is dedicated and touching. A good read.

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase

Author: Joan Aiken
Stars: 5
Review by: BookDancer

I missed this children's classic the first time around.  Now
that I'm sharing favorite books with my grand-daughter, it's fun to
discover new titles we can both enjoy.  This has it all; adventures,
brave heroines, a county manor in England, a wicked governess, and
especially, the wolves at night which prowl and howl when the sun goes
down.  Looking forward to the next book in the series!

The ABC Murders

Author: Agatha Christie
Stars: 4
Review by: BookWorm2

A wonderful Poirot mystery that keeps you guessing until the end.
 

Tapestry of Fortunes

Author: Elizabeth Berg
Stars: 3
Review by: Ann M

A little to happily ever after for me.

Speak

Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Stars: 4
Review by: YA Fan

This is the first novel I read by this author, and Chains and
Forged will be my next two.  Laurie Halse Anderson received the 2009
Margaret A. Edwards Award honoring her significant and lasting
contribution to writing for teens. When reading this controversial novel
on rape, I felt as though Anderson was handing the reader pieces to a
puzzle that didn't immediately fit together.  That's what kept me
reading. "SPEAK is cautionary tale about the emotional aftermath of
rape. It tackles bullying, depression, rape, sexual harassment, and
family dysfunction."-The Author
 

As a parent, I was most affected by the behavior of the main character's
parents.  They were entirely self absorbed, too wrapped up in their
careers to notice that something was drastically wrong with their child.
Neither of them took the time to have a discussion with the main
character, they only talked "at" her.

Although this Young Adult novel was published in 1999 and was a National
Book Award Finalist for Young People's Literature, it is still the topic
of controversy. You can follow this link to read about the controversy
and Anderson's response as of 7/08/2103
http://madwomanintheforest.com/really-again-speak-labelled-pornography/

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Author: Cheryl Strayed
Stars: 4
Review by: Miss Lucy

I feel like I hiked the Pacific Crest Trail with Cheryl.  My feet and back empathize.  Cheryl had some bad stuff happen in her life, and she wasn't happy with the direction in which her life was going, so, in her late twenties, she quit her job, moved out of her apartment, and hiked the Trail alone (although she did make some friends along the way).  Her memoir is very well written -- you will feel the pain, the hunger, the thirst, and the fear that she felt and overcame.  The best part is when she camped by a pond, and what happened when she woke up!

12th of Never

Author: James Patterson
Stars: 4
Review by: Megank102

Great book! This series is uniquely written and really gets
readers thinking. I loved the ending and can't wait until the next book!

The Storyteller

Author: Jodi Picoult
Stars: 5
Review by: YA Fan

This was a very informative and thought provoking novel which I did not expect from Jodi Picoult.  I was anticipating a light read where I could read quickly, but this had many twists and turns including stories within stories. By allowing the reader into the minds of all of the characters involved, Picoult reminds us of the lessons we may have forgotten or never learned regarding the Holocaust.

Brush with Death

Author: Karen MacInerney
Stars: 3
Review by: L.Z.

From the Gray Whale Inn Mystery series. Much like her others, a fun read.

Memoirs of a Geisha

Author: Arthur Golden
Stars: 5
Review by: Carol

Beautiful!  Hard to believe it was written by a man.

Red Velvet Cupcake Murder

Author: Joanne Fluke
Stars: 3.5
Review by: mystery lover

Good beach reading.

Notorious Nineteen

Author: Janet Evanovich
Stars: 4
Review by: mysteryfan

I love Janet Evanovich!  Reading one of her Stephanie Plum books is a lean back, put your feet up, and relax, perfect summer read, especially for Jersey girls like us.  

All Through the Night

Author: Suzanne Brockmann
Stars: 5
Review by: Saraswati

This is the second time through this book for me.  I enjoyed it just as much this time as last.  This is about the engagement and wedding of Jules Cassidy and Robin Chadwick.  This book is dedicated to mass equality and a lot of the story talks about love and equality.  As always, there is always suspense, intrigue, FBI, SEALs and Troubleshooters thrown into the mix.  A feel good, summer read.

Need You Now

Author: Beth Wiseman
Stars: 5
Review by: Bookworm


I simply loved this book.  I want to read more of her books.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Dark of Night

Author: Suzanne Brockmann
Stars: 3.5
Review by: Saraswati

This story is the finale of the James Nash & Tess Baily tale.  It also includes back stories on the characters Dave Malkoff & Sohphia Ghaffai and Lawrence Decker & Tracy Shapiro.  As always there is a lot of intrigue, conspiracies and FBI-SEAL-Troubleshooter intervention.  Good summer read.

Deadly Forecast

Author: Victoria Laurie
Stars: 5
Review by: Saraswati

This is the latest Psychic Eye book out.  Our main character is planning her wedding when a serial bomber enters the scene.  Using her psychic skills, along with her friends and FBI hubby-to-be they set out trying to stop the bomber before he attacks again.  The wedding party planning back story is funny.  It's cool to see that the wedding provided a venue to allow characters from her Ghost Hunters series to blend into the mix.   The story gets intense for a cozy and has somewhat of a twist at the end.  Enjoy this good summer read.

Magic for a Price

Author: Devon Monk
Stars: 3
Review by: Saraswati

This is the latest book in this series.  I thought the last book may have been the last in this series, but this one definitely brings more closure.  Allie and gang are recouping from their big fight with the Agency.  They find out that the Overseer is possessed and is killing all the Soul Complements like Allie and her Beau.  In addition, the Overseer is heading to Portland to take over the magical world.  Allie and gang, including her Dad in her head, are off to fight the battle.   A surprise twist to the ending makes this interesting.   Enjoy this good summer read. 

40 Love

Author: Madeline Wickham
Stars: 2
Review by: syd

I enjoy Madeleine Wickham writing as Sophie Kinsella much better. 

The Inn at Rose Harbor

Author: Debbie Macomber
Stars: 4
Review by: Rainbow

Great book.  I can't wait for the next one in this series.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Siege

Author: Stephen White
Stars: 5
Review by: Sign babies

Love him more each book!!

The Yellow Birds

Author: Kevin Powers
Stars: 4
Review by: Ann M

Written by an Iraq veteran, this book tells the story of two young soldiers' relationship and adaptation to going to war in Iraq.
 

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Author: Philip K. Dick
Stars: 3
Review by: Michelle D

This book is the basis for the movie Blade Runner.  About a bounty hunter who has to track down and kill androids that are disguised as humans.  Interesting to see what the future world could be like.  Discusses empathy - is that what makes us humans?

The Story Sisters

Author: Alice Hoffman
Stars: 4
Review by: Michelle D

About three sisters and their sad, dysfunctional lives.  Reminds us of making the right choices in life, and how hard it is to make those choices.

Calling Invisible Women

Author: Jeanne Ray
Stars: 3
Review by: Michelle D

About a woman who wakes up invisible.  But is she truly invisible, or not appreciated by the people around her.  Interesting book.

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

Author: Robin Sloan
Stars: 3
Review by: Michelle D

Quirky book about a book store that involves a secret society. Sort of reminded me of The Da Vinci Code. Had a cool premise, but a let-down ending.  Still liked it.
 

Beach Girls

Author: Luanne Rice
Stars: 3
Review by: ADAR

Good summer beach (or anyplace)  read. 

After Shock

Author: Andrew Vachss
Stars: 2
Review by: BigDa

Determined to finish it.  Had to pause a lot along the way to follow the author's meaning. .

Breaking the Rules

Author: Suzanne Brockmann
Stars: 4
Review by: Saraswati

I have read this book before a long time ago but I still enjoyed it the second time through.  This is the story of Izzy and Gillman and their warped new family.  In most previous stories these two characters were almost always trying to beat each other senseless while still working together.  A lot of dysfunctional family dynamics is brought into the story and ways to overcome your past.  Still a good summer read.
 

Into the Fire

Author: Suzanne Brockmann
Stars: 3.5
Review by: Saraswati

Although I realized that I have read this book before, I had forgotten a lot of the story.  The main story is about his recovery from an op that went wrong, severely injuring him and killing his wife.  Brockmann is a strong suspense and romance writer, but this time I found the background stories more exciting than that of character Vinh Murphy.  Still a good summer read.
 

Killer Honeymoon

Author: G.A. McKevett
Stars: 3.5
Review by: Saraswati

This is the latest installment of the Reid Mystery series and has our new couple on their honeymoon where they watch a person get murdered.  Then they are off on a case in normal cozy fashion.  The fun part is reading about two independent people in their forties who get married and now have to live together.  Fun summer read.
 

To Brie or Not to Brie

Author: Avery Aames
Stars: 2
Review by: L.Z.

I've enjoyed others in this Cheese Shop Mystery series more than this one--characters seemed too unbelievable suddenly, and it just didn't measure up to previous books of the series.
 

The Eye of God

Author: Marianne S.
Stars: 4
Review by: James Rollins

Dark matter and killer asteroids, punctuated with lots of action sequences.  A fun beach read.

Unseen

Author: Karin Slaughter
Stars: 5
Review by: esjro

This is one of my favorite books in one of my favorite series. It was very suspenseful - if I did not have a job I would have read it in one sitting! Lena is back!

Steaming into a Victorian Future: A Steampunk Anthology

Author: Julie Anne Taddeo & Cynthia J. Miller, Eds.
Stars: 5
Review by: Marianne S.

A collection of scholarly pieces on Steampunk, dealing more with the subculture than the fictional genre. I found the anthropologists' essays utterly fascinating, having attended Steampunk gatherings personally.  While probably not to everyone's tastes, I would recommend it to anyone wanting to get a better handle on what "this Steampunk business is." (Thanks to my son's 4-H public presentation judges for that quote!)

The King's Deception

Author: Steve Berry
Stars: 3
Review by: Marianne S.

Cotton Malone to the rescue -- again.  Lots of action, and what more do you really need from a summer thriller? 

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Author: Neil Gaiman
Stars: 5
Review by: Marianne S.

Gaiman has done it again.  A very short book which packs a very big emotional wallop. I've read reviews which call it frightening, but I didn't find it so.
 

The Long War

Author: Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter
Stars: 5
Review by: Marianne S.

Second book of the Long Earth series.  In spite of being able to access millions of alternate Earths by "stepping," humanity retains many of its faults, with bad consequences for other sapient species.

The Cats of Tanglewood Forest

Author: Charles de Lint
Stars: 5
Review by: Marianne S.

A delightful expansion of the story from the author's picture book, A Circle of Cats, with new art from Charles Vess.  A wonderful fairytale for all ages.

Private Berlin

Author: James Patterson
Stars: 3
Review by: syd

Good, but got too gory at the end. 

The Aviator's Wife

Author: Melanie Benjamin
Stars: 3
Review by: P. Reads

This book was a good read; at times I had to remember it was fiction.  It about the life of Anne Morrow Lindbergh from the time she meets Charles until his death.
 

Maisie Dobbs

Author: Jacqueline Winspear
Stars: 4
Review by: P. Reads

A friend recommended this because I like historical fiction. It takes place around the time of WWI in England.  I enjoyed the book and was happy to discover, after reading it, that it is a series of books so I will read some other Maisie Dobbs books.
 

Life After Life

Author: Kate Atkinson
Stars: 5
Review by: Marybeth

Life After Life is fascinating, engrossing, and one of those books you don't want to end.  The story of Ursula and her family is set against the backdrop of World War II and the historical element rooted the story in a reality that is challenged by the intricacies of fate and the age old question of "what if?"  I so much enjoyed the twists and turns of the story as fate both intervenes and is manipulated throughout.

Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust

Author: Ina Garten
Stars: 5
Review by: Woman on the Go

Another great offering if you love cooking.

Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics: Fabulous Flavor from Simple Ingredients

Author: Ina Garten
Stars: 5
Review by: Woman on the Go

Great recipes and lovely pictures.

50 Greatest Love Letters of All Time

Author:
Stars: 5
Review by: Woman on the Go

Only a romantic would enjoy.

I am the Mother of Sons

Author: Jayne Jaudon Ferrer
Stars: 5
Review by: Woman on the Go

I loved this book! Memories of raising boys.

Book of Decorative Painting

Author: Priscilla Hauser
Stars: 5
Review by: Woman on the Go

Decorative painting is one of my passions. I love this book.
 

And The Mountains Echoed

Author: Khaled Hossein
Stars: 5
Review by: Judy

I read a review on the blog that wasn't favorable, but I really enjoyed this book and the connections between the characters. He is an excellent writer and great at sharing his culture.
 

The Darien Disaster

Author: John Prebble
Stars: 1
Review by: Mandy A 

Disaster indeed. An account of a Scots colony outside the Isthmus of Panama in 1698-1700 that had some extremely bad misfortune in terms of invasion, disease, and numerous shipwrecks carrying intended residents or relief supplies for them. It was so, so incredibly dull and spent way too much time in the background of individuals concerned, over 100 pages. By then there wasn't enough space left to really account for what happened without making the book overly large and the last half just seemed too rushed.
 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Silence of the Llamas

Author: Anne Canadeo
Stars: 3
Review by: L.Z.

Fun. If you've been reading this knit shop mystery series, you know what to expect--if you've enjoyed them, this one won't disappoint.

Vegan Lunch Box

Author: Jennifer McCann
Stars: 2
Review by:  L.Z.

I don't usually review cookbooks, since I'm never sure if they really count as reading, but thought I'd give a heads up to anyone thinking about checking this one out. If you're a vegan who is into processed products to mimic real meat, this may be a great find for you. If you're looking for whole food, plant based, interesting alternatives to meat (but not soy made to look like deli meat), this is not going to be your book. Disappointing.
Not only was I overwhelmed with the use of fake meat products, defrosted frozen vegetable medley isn't something that is going to cut it as an appealing lunch to either of my kids. Although they may be nutritionally sound, there's nothing tasty or interesting about them--and I certainly don't need a cookbook to tell me how to defrost them!
 

Pandora's Lunchbox

Author: Melanie Warner
Stars: 4
Review by: L.Z.

A good read for anyone who eats...although it may make you really re-think what you're eating!
 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Congratulations to...

... Tartu, our Week #6 Prize Winner!!!

Progress Thus Far

Click on image to enlarge.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Anyone But You

Author: Jennifer Crusie
Stars: 4
Review by: KM

Perfect beach read, quick and delightful, like a chocolate ice cream bonbon! Added plus is the dog focus if you're a dog lover---he's integral to the story.
 

The Evil Inside

Author: Heather Graham
Stars: 3.5
Review by: Jambob

It's fun reading a spooky book about real places that interweaves historical events. This story takes place in Salem, where I visited in June. Of course it touches on the Witch Trials, ghosts,and things that go bump in the night. But a crime needs to be solved and the obvious suspect is innocent!
 

Cat's Claw

Author: Susan Wittig Albert
Stars: 3.5
Review by: mystery lover

The cop's side of investigating these kind of mysteries.

Time Flies

Author: Claire Cook
Stars: 5
Review by: Gypsy P

I love Claire Cook ~ she's a wonderful author and her books are the perfect summer/beach reads.  This book was one of my favorite Claire Cook books ~ highly recommend to take it along on your next beach trip.
 

Someday, Someday, Maybe

Author: Lauren Graham
Stars: 2
Review by: Beachreader

Franny Banks tells of the struggles of being a young actress in New York, and trying to find her way. Her father wants her to come home after three years of trying, but Franny keeps believing she might get what she came for: to become a actress.

Big Brother

Author: Lionel Shriver
Stars: 3.5
Review by: Tartu

I love her writing, but felt cheated by the "big reveal", though it did more for character development than anything else in the novel.

Angel Mine

Author: Sherryl Woods
Stars: 3
Review by: Beachreader

Heather Reed after trying to raise her daughter Angel for three years on her own decides she needs help. She decides to leave New York where she worked as an actress and find Angel's father. Todd Winston Angel's father does not meet them with open arms.

Gone Girl

Author: Gillian Flynn
Stars: 5
Review by: line82

Couldn't put it down!
 

The Hit

Author: David Baldacci
Stars: 3
Review by: BigDa

Makes one wonder about the clandestine activities of our "trusted" government.
 

Me Before You

Author: Jojo Moyes
Stars: 5
Review by: Carol

A most novel theme.
 

Beach Music

Author: Pat Conroy
Stars: 5
Review by: Carol

Beautifully written.

Defending Jacob

Author: William Landay
Stars: 5
Review by: Carol

Real page turner with a most surprising ending.
 

Into the Storm

Author: Suzanne Brockmann
Stars: 4
Review by: Saraswati

Having both the SEAL team and a private team combat a serial killer makes for a good read.   Although, I realized this is my second time through, there were parts I was really glad to re-read.   Enjoy!
 

When Tony Met Adam & Beginnings and Ends

Author: Suzanne Brockmann
Stars: 4
Review by: Saraswati

Two short story e-books from Brockmann used as interludes to the next big story.  Again, if you can not understand love at all levels then these are not the stories for you.   But Brockmann writes very strong love scenes and she very much supports her gay son.   These shorts make you know what love is.   Enjoy!

Force of Nature

Author: Suzanne Brockmann
Stars: 4
Review by: Saraswati

Again, an awesome re-read.  I missed so much the first time.  The relationship writing is very strong even if the story is a repeat, in some ways.   Loved it the second time too!

Where There Is a Witch There Is a Way

Author: Madelyn Alt
Stars: 3
Review by: Saraswati

I had this book on the shelf and realized I read it before after a chapter or two.  Still a neat read.   Getting our characters in place for the big story is nice.   Get to see true love in action.
 

Hot Target

Author: Suzanne Brockmann
Stars: 4
Review by: Saraswati

After starting this book I realized I have read it before, but only remembered parts.  Still a great read and entry to Brockmann's world.  Love is love.  She writes very strong and it is cool to re-read.
 

Heading For Trouble

Author: Suzanne Brockmann
Stars: 4
Review by: Saraswati

This is her latest book that is filled with short stories that were included with other books.   Again, she really supports her gay son so if you are not into alternative lifestyles, I would stay away.  If you are into intense love stories with military suspense, then these are on the top.  The funniest part is the author having a conversation with her characters.   I know this is going through her mind and it is so cool to think we can actually be there.   This lead me to read a bunch of her previous released books since its been so long.

Matilda

Author: Roald Dahl
Stars: 5
Review by: Mandy A

Probably one of my favorite books ever and that's pretty big since I first read it over 25 years ago. Matilda is a precocious 5 year old with mentally abusive parents who belittle her intelligence and kindness. She finds refuge in her local library and her first form teacher, Miss Honey, a kind but sad young woman. Matilda becomes determined to help her teacher at any cost when she discovers her school's feared headmistress raised her in a way much like she is. Supposedly inspired by Stephen King's Carrie but directed to younger readers and very positive.

Human Game: The True Story of the "Great Escape" Murders & the Hunt for the Gestapo Gunmen

Author: Simon Read
Stars: 1
Review by: Mandy A

About the murders of almost 50 men who were executed on Hitler's direct orders after being recaptured from the infamous Great Escape. It was just so blasted dull. Book was short to begin with and the author had a tendency to veer between melodrama and academics so without a focus in tone the pace really suffered.

Some Like It Hot: A Cat Deluca Mystery

Author: K.J. Larsen
Stars: 3
Review by: Saraswati

Third book in this series written by three sisters.   Every once in a while I get the feeling of which sister had which sister.   This was still a fun read with the cozy expectations and more.   I hope I get to catch their next book next summer.   A cool summer read!
 

Slow Burn: A Photodocument of Centralia, Pennsylvania

Author: Renee Jacobs
Stars: 2
Review by: Mandy A

A series of photos with short captions chronicling Centralia, a PA town where an underground coal fire left unchecked caused mine collapses and gas leakage. Odd thing is the town became very divided between those that denied there were no risks of any kind to the fire and those who left out of health concerns or some other reason. The photos weren't the best either and it didn't really get into the whole debate of should or should not the town have been abandoned. For just a simple thing like this the Images of America book on Centralia is much, much better.

At Home in Renaissance Italy

Author: Flora Dennis & Marta Ajmar
Stars: 3
Review by: Mandy A

A little dry at times for a large coffee table style book, but plenty of well-presented photos and illustrations.
 

Florentine Histories

Author: Niccolo Machiavelli
Stars: 2
Review by: Mandy A

Wouldn't recommend it unless you were really into the subject as the author's style is uncharacteristically dull here. Just very dry and also only really focused on history during his lifetime.

Horseshoe Crabs and Velvet Worms

Author: Richard Fortey
Stars: 4
Review by: Mandy A

A short life history of several species that have survived almost unchanged since prehistoric times or earlier. Mostly the horseshoe crabs, with also parts on the worms, coelacanth, musk ox, and various others.
 

A Field Guide to Getting Lost

Author: Rebecca Solnit
Stars: 4
Review by: kayaker

    Solnit is a historian with a flair for the counter factual.  For instance, she tells us that she became a historian to find the truth since it was an 'elusive entity' during her childhood.  However, she goes on to say that the pursuit of knowledge with that element of truth is always a pursuit because the more you think you know the more you have to go for that knowledge. Ignorance is the limiting element.      
   Solnit's perspective on most of the topics in this book are turned upside down to get at the other side of the expected and widely held beliefs.  She urges us to stop thinking that we know what will happen in the next hour, the afternoon, the next morning because we don't and, even if we did, Solnit proposes that we might not know if we can deal with what will happen.  Each essay contains one or two, sometimes three, nuggets of interest that made me stop to think a bit harder about my own beliefs. 

The Outside World

Author: Tova Mirvis
Stars: 4
Review by: Smudge

A look at how two Orthodox Jewish families balance belief and assimilation. This story is told with humor and originality.
 

Equal of the Sun

Author: Anita Amirrezvani
Stars: 3
Review by: Smudge

This story of 16th century Iran is based on the life and politics of Princess Pari Khan Khanoom.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Given Day

Author: Dennis Lehane
Stars: 4
Review by: Dinah 

This book gave a vivid picture of Boston as it existed in the early 1900's.  Very enlightening. 

Wallflower in Bloom

Author: Claire Cook
Stars: 5
Review by: Gypsy P

Claire Cook is a delight ~ and she didn't disappoint in this book.  Perfect summer read...light, easy and entertaining.

The Madness of Mary Lincoln

Author: Jason Emerson
Stars: 2
Review by: Mandy A

This book is a really good example of wasted potential. Meant to be an examination of the alleged extreme mental illness of First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln all it ever manages to do is beat the proverbial dead horse. Newly discovered letters concerning her state of mind are not handled in a completely objective way and subjected to endless streams of psychobabble delivered from a layman's modern prospective. No real analysis or respect, just saying this or that over and over. Lost count of all the times he called Robert Todd Lincoln a "Victorian era gentleman" or the like. For all the shining reviews on back I expected better.
 

Orphan Train

Author: Christina Kline
Stars: 5
Review by: bus driver 599

Enjoyable reading. Hard times and the lives of two females.
 

The Midwife: a Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times

Author: Jennifer Worth
Stars: 5
Review by: bus driver 599

Just like BBC program- with more insight and human feelings. 

Fat Man in a Fur Coat

Author: Alvin Schwartz
Stars: 1
Review by: BookWorm2

The title refers to what a bear may look like when approached from behind.  This book talks about bears in terms of their interactions with humans.  I have to say that I was absolutely disgusted by some of the information given.  I had no idea how bears were taught to "dance" or how Grizzly Adams caught his bear friends.  Not a feel good book.  Supposedly geared to kids, but the content is more adult than some YA books.
 

More Than It Hurts You

Author: Darin Strauss
Stars: 2
Review by: Lrizza

This book dealt with Munchausen by proxy, which is very interesting, but the story veered off too much on different parts of the story.  I didn't find the chapters about the doctor's father relevant or interesting.  The author also focused on the child's father's job, maybe with a little too much boring detail.  I wished the book focused more on the Munchausen by proxy storyline.

Killer Ambition

Author: Marcia Clark
Stars: 4
Review by: rapidreader

If you like to read about fiction court battles this is the book for you.  We all know Marcia Clark from the famous O. J. Simpson case. 

The Good Daughters

Author: Joyce Maynard
Stars: 4
Review by: ADAR

Good read.  Surprise ending.

The Tender Bar

Author: J.R.Moehringer
Stars: 5
Review by: kathyb

Fantastic book.  I loved it from start to finish. I highly recommend it.

The Well of Lost Plots

Author: Jasper Fforde
Stars: 5
Review by: BookWorm2

The third in the Thursday Next novels this is another Fforde triumph.  This series is about a literary detective that is able to venture inside books.  The amazing detail used by Fforde makes this series a true delight to read.  Start with book 1 - The Eyre Affair and you will not be sorry!
 

Sarah's Key

Author: Tatiana de Rosnay
Stars: 5
Review by: Alicia E

Loved the book - and loved the movie!  Tearjerker alert!

Paris

Author: Edward Rutherford
Stars: 5
Review by: Alicia E

Made me want to go back to Paris and explore more areas!  Wonderful book to enjoy the stories and learn history at the same time!

Ghost Soldiers

Author: Hampton Sides
Stars: 3
Review by: NancyW421

This is an older book, published in 2001, about the rescue of POWs in the Philippines during WWII. At first, it was hard to get into, but as I persevered, I found it interesting and well written. It was well researched, giving true accounts from the men involved, as well as good background for that time and place in history. 

Inferno

Author: Dan Brown
Stars: 4
Review by: Alicia E

Dan Brown's book was exciting, but not quite as thrilling as his other books. 

Killer Honeymoon

Author: G.A. McKevett
Stars: 3
Review by: mystery lover

I enjoyed this book.  It had a few minor twists. The story did not entirely follow the usual mystery outline, for a change.
 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Progress Thus Far

Click on image to enlarge.

Congratulations to...

...Karen, our Week #5 Prize Winner!!!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Just Jennifer

Point Doom by Dan Fante (Bourbon Street Books, June, 2013)

After his life as a PI, sometimes enforcer, in New York City hits rock bottom, JD Fiorella heads back to his childhood home in the Point Dume section of Malibu where his father reworked film scripts for very little credit, hating it the entire time.  Eight years after his father’s death, JD finds himself living in Point Dume with his mother, in AA, trying to put his life back together without alcohol and drugs this time.  He becomes friendly with Woody and takes a job as a used car salesman with Woody and thinks he might be able to put his life back into some semblance of order when things start to go wrong again, and in JD’s life, when things start to go wrong, they go wrong all the way.  After celebrating his first car sales, JD leaves a restaurant to find his mother’s old Honda set on fire with no idea who would have a grudge like this against him and assumes it was a random act.   JD agrees to meet Woody at his apartment to offer some advice on a movie script Woody is writing and finds Woody brutally murdered, pulling JD back into the life he thought he left in Manhattan.  JD quickly becomes a person of interest in Woody’s murder and promptly loses his job.  Just when he thinks things can’t get any worse, the investigation into Woody’s murder takes a strange a sinister turn and begins to bring things that JD thought were in his past into his present threatening any progress he has made toward a more conventional, sober life.  Dark and gritty, this a book that will be hard to put down even as it is hard to read because of the graphicness of some of the violence and the raw honesty with which JD lives his life.  While trying to reform his life, JD makes no attempts to atone for his past; he is who is and did what he did and can only try to move forward.  Disturbing and fascinating at the same time, JD is not a character who will be easily forgotten.   

Just Jennifer

 Time Warped: Unlocking the Mysteries of Time Perception by Claudia Hammond (Harper Perennial, June 2013)

Modern life seems to revolve around time, the lack of it and the speed of it.  As a child, the time between birthdays seems to drag on forever while the time between the last day of school and the return shortly after Labor Day speeds by at a startling pace.  While many people experience time in a linear fashion, not everyone does and Hammond, a psychology lecturer, writer and broadcaster, offers other ways to view time and perhaps change the shape of it.  Using current scientific, physiological and psychological research, Hammond attempts to explain how we see time and why we see time differently based on our circumstances.  Even the book, arranged in six parts, does not need to be read in a linear fashion.  Chapters on the illusion of time, why it speeds up for some people and how we can manage our time better all illustrate how time is a very personal thing and how we can individually shape how we perceive and use it.  Hammond’s easy writing style present the information in a fascinating manner; reading through this book like having a discussion with a friend over a cup of coffee.  This is a book that is definitely worth, well, taking the time to read.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Author: Mark Haddon
Stars: 4
Review by: Car-Lay

An autistic boy discovers a dog that has been obviously killed.  He decides to investigate and his life  becomes very complicated.  Written in the first person, we learn of his suffering and confusion "through the narrowly focused insights of a boy who hasn't the words to describe his emotional pain."

Nickeled-and-Dimed To Death

Author: Denise Swanson
Stars: 3.5
Review by: L.Z.

Same old story--small town girl tried her hand at the big city success, but is back in her small town, penniless except for the fancy car that she couldn't give up, and now solving mysteries and sorting out her love life. Still, its a fun, quick summer read. Can't complain.

The Wives of Henry Oades

Author: Johanna Moran
Stars: 4
Review by: Smudge

Henry & Meg Oades move to New Zealand where Henry has accepted a post as an accountant.  Not too long after, Meg and the children are abducted by the Maori and enslaved.  After an unsuccessful search, Henry, convinced they are dead, moves to California.  When Meg and the children find him several year later, Henry has remarried.  Meg and the children move into Henry's new home. This novel is the story of bigamy trials that ensue and the friendship that develops between the two wives.  (The author based the story on a law case that may have been a hoax.  Nonetheless, the book makes you think about bigamy as a less black-and-white way.)
 

Domestic Malice

Author: Jessica Fletcher & Donald Bain
Stars: 3.5
Review by: Jambob

 I cannot expect a cozy mystery such as Murder She Wrote ever rising to the category of "literature" but I am pleased with a trend I see infiltrating this genre. Now within a sanitized murder mystery (no sex, or foul language, little gore) is a social concept that provokes consideration. As the title suggests, the mystery involves a case of domestic abuse. With Cabot Cove as the cozy back drop, serious issues are interwoven in the story itself. It had me write to the author several times; something I don't usually do. I now look to cozies for more than included recipes and quaint history, but thought-provoking social concepts. Something new!
 

Magic Hour

Author: Kristen Hannah
Stars: 1
Review by: Marybeth

Folks have recommended this author to me on occasion, so I gave her a try.  While the writing is well done, the story was ridiculously predictable and quite far-fetched. The story is about a seemingly "feral" child who shows up in a town in the Pacific Northwest and her effect on two sisters who discover her.  I don't think I will be reading anything else by her any time soon.

The Burgess Boys

Author: Elizabeth Strout
Stars: 3
Review by: Marybeth

A good story, well written and topical.  While Helen's story is not the central aspect, I could very much relate to her comments about having an empty nest and missing the children that were so much a part of her everyday life for so long.  "She would linger in the living room for a few moments alone on Christmas Eve, ...tears filled her eyes, and then those Christmases gone."

Aunt Dimity and the Family Tree

Author: Nancy Atherton
Stars: 3
Review by: Saraswati

This has our main character staying home and looking after her father-in-law as he moves to a house nearby.  Like all the houses in this story there is a link between the old owners and Aunt Dimity.  This is lighter than previous books and feels like a break from a lot of the drama in the past, but it's still an easy, fun summer read.
 

Treasures of Greece

Author: Emmanuelle le Pommelet
Stars: 1
Review by: Mandy A

Written and presented in a very odd manner with a reading level somewhere in the middle school range, the book's intent is to showcase icons of Greek art and architecture. It fails on both accounts. Miserably. Very few storied pieces are presented and the photos themselves are rather dull and blurry at times. Not at all impressive. 

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls

Author: Anton DiSclafani
Stars: 5
Review by: libraryaimee

A 16 year old girl gets sent (in disgrace) to a horse riding camp for girls in Georgia during the Depression years.  She is a very scandalous young lady!  I couldn't put the book down!
Loved it!

Pennsylvania German Farms, Gardens, and Seeds

Author: Irwin Richman
Stars: 5
Review by: Mandy A

Utterly delightful. Focusing on PA's Landis Valley area, but covering a much wider swath, it is just what the title says. The agricultural folklore, history, practice, and origins of Pennsylvania German farming and food. Also goes into various pastimes, gender roles and the family, and gives a nice explanation of who the PA Germans are and why many technically aren't even German.