Tuesday, October 17, 2017

What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan

My rating: 4.8

Rachel and her eight year old son Ben are walking through the woods in a park in Bristol. Ben asks to run ahead and Rachel agrees. When she gets to the spot by the swing where he should be, he is not there. As the hours and days pass and the police search unfolds.


This suspenseful novel make you know how it would feel to be Rachel - everything from her panic over her missing son to being crucified in the press. Absolutely horrifically gripping.

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

My rating: 4.6

Nastya and Josh are two complicated individuals who are haunted by their pasts.  Nastya moves to a new town in order to keep her dark past a secret and she wants to hold everyone at a distance. Everyone knowing Josh's dark past of everyone he has ever loved dying by the time he is 17 years old means that most of the kids leave him alone. Their two worlds intersect and they soon find a comfort in just being with the other person.

I enjoyed the character development...I did not expect to end up loving Drew whereas Josh took a while to grow on me. There is some stereotypical bits but also lots of surprising things including the humor. If you like Young Adult books, I think you will love this. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

When The Lion Feeds by Wilbur Smith

My rating: 5.0

Twin boys, Sean and Garrick, grow up in 1800's Natal, Africa. It covers their childhood and then follows Sean's life during the gold rush times in Johannesburg. Amazing writing that flows. This is the first in the 13 part Courtney series.



Absolutely amazing. Definitely makes my "Best of 2017" list. The writing was flawless and beautiful but not like some flowery writing where you have to reread phrases...this just flowed effortlessly. This captures 'men' as well as Africa.  I couldn't wait for the story to unfold but was also so disappointed when it ended. So glad that Smith is such a prolific author as I will be reading more by him. 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman

My rating: 4.9

Lenka and Josef last saw each other in Prague and then decades later, they meet again. Despite knowing the ending in the first chapter and knowing about the atrocities of WWII, I still learned a lot from this book.

Meticulous character development and research had me enthralled and I couldn't wait to have time to read more. My heart felt for both of them as the author brought them to life in my hands. This was described as a love story but, it is not a 'romance fluff' type of love story. It is about two people in a horrific time and what happens to them. I will definitely read more by Richman. Stellar!

Friday, September 29, 2017

Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin

My rating: 3.4

Elsewhere is where people go after they die and this is where 15 year old Liz Hall goes after she is hit on her bicycle by a car. As similar as Elsewhere is to Earth, Liz can't understand why she can't 'wake up' to return to her real life. You age backwards and when you become a baby, you go back to Earth but Liz wants to turn 16, not get younger.

This was very creative and entertaining but I felt that the characters were not well developed and felt flat. This made it hard to feel involved as, despite the potential of the storyline, my heart just didn't connect with any of the characters. Too bad as the concept had a lot of potential.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

My rating: 3.0

This is told through a series of letters from Charlie that are meant to be like reading a journal. Charlie is quirky and unique. This is a coming of age story where Charlie shares all the angst of his experiences.

Although this has been popular for ages, I knew nothing about it and was surprised that the main character was a male. I really wanted to like this more than I did but it seemed to drone on about so much minutia. I felt for Charlie and his fragile state of mind but I think it would have been helpful to have this told from alternative viewpoints in order to care about the characters. I know I am in the minority on this but, this wasn't a favorite.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

I See You by Clare MacIntosh

My rating: 4.6

Like all of us, Zoe Walker has her daily routines.  She goes to work in London every day via the Tube, standing at the same train platform, getting in the same car, etc. One evening commute home, she is glancing throught the newspaper and sees her own face looking back at her from the classifieds with a phone number and a website for FindtheOne.com. There is a different woman in the ad every day. When one turns up murdered Zoe starts to realize that there may be a connection to the ads.



I enjoyed everything about this book except the ending. I don't like when a character that used to be normal suddenly goes over the cliff cuckoo. Other than that, I did enjoy it and it made me think about how predictable my routine is! I do like that she left something unexplained at the end so there will possibly be a sequel.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Human Remains by Elizabeth Haynes

My rating: 4.8

BE WARNED:  TWISTED AND VERY DARK!

Annabel discovers her next door neighbour’s decomposing body and is appalled to think that no one, including herself, noticed that anything was wrong. At her job as a police analyst, she feels compelled to investigate and discovers that this isn't an isolated case. As she’s drawn deeper into the mystery and becomes convinced she’s on the trail of a killer, she also must face her own demons. Told in alternating chapters between Annabel and Colin, a socially awkward individual who is trying a tad too hard to meet the ladies, but is he a dangerous psychopath?



Oh my. This was the most deeply disturbing, disgusting, gross thing I have ever read....and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. I admit that I did skim over some of the more revolting parts but I still couldn't stop devouring it to find out what was going to happen.  So incredibly dark and creepy! I think Into The Darkest Corner was amazing (was UK's best book of 2011) and will definitely be reading more by Haynes

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Playing Dead by Julia Heaberlin

My rating; 2.7

Days after her father's death, Tommie McCloud gets a letter from a woman claiming that Tommie is her daughter who was kidnapped as a baby.




I felt that this couldn't decide what the story wanted to be - a romance, a mystery, a thriller, a psychological thriller, a Western, a Mafia Witness Protection Program or a cowgirl gone heroine.

I absolutely loved Heaberlin's most recent novel Black Eyed Susans - in fact, it made my 'Best of' list for 2015. You can tell that Playing Dead was written earlier as her skill isn't as honed but it does show the promise of what is to come.

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Last Place You Look by Kristen Lepionka

My rating: 4.3

Sarah Cook disappears on the same night her parents are brutally murdered.  Her boyfriend, Brad Stockton is convicted and on death row. With Brad's execution date set, his sister Danielle hires Private Investigator Roxane Weary in a last ditch effort to help her brother,


This has a more 'detective/mystery' feel to it than a Thriller. I enjoyed Roxane and her imperfect ways including drinking and trying to go with here gut in figuring things out. This was a very strong first novel and a definitely recommend to anyone who enjoys Sue Grafton types of mysteries (although not as comical).

Friday, September 8, 2017

The Secrets She Keeps by Michael Robotham

My rating: 4.4

Agatha and Meghan are both pregnant. Meghan is chic, married with 2 kids and seems to have it all. Agatha is single and works at a grocery store and when she catches glimpses of Meg thinks she has the perfect life.

It felt like every character was competing for the gold in the Dysfunctional Olympics. If I could change two things it would be that at least one or two of the characters were 'normal'/likable and that he didn't write the last chapter. Other than that, a fun beach read / thriller.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

My rating: 4.6

Louise is a tired single mom who finally gets a rare night out. She meets a man in a bar and flirts, has fun and even shares a kiss. When she shows up for work on Monday, the man from the bar turns out to be David, her new boss. Then she runs in to David's wife Adele and they end up striking up a friendship. As Louise gets pulled in more, she starts to learn things about David and Adele and you are soon drawn into their crazy world.


This kept me turning the pages and guessing who was the one who was crazy (was it me?!) and who I could trust. I definitely didn't have it figured out. Very enjoyable and I loved the ending.

Monday, September 4, 2017

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

My rating: 4.6

Jess is raising Nick, her teenage stepson who is being bullied, and Tanzie, her math-whiz daughter, while she struggles to make ends meet by cleaning peoples homes. Tanzie has the opportunity to go to an elite school that she can't afford.  Enter "Geeky Ed", a millionaire sleeze that she happens to clean his home.



I loved every character in this book (ok, I hated Ed at first but he grew on me!) and laughed so much along the way. Jess' struggles were real and so were her quirky dysfunctional family. I cheered for them all the way. 

Sunday, September 3, 2017

After You by Jojo Moyes

My rating: 4.2

Louisa Clark is trying to move on after the loss of Will Traynor, the love of her life. This is the sequel to "Me Before You" although it can be read as a stand alone I wish I would have read the two books closer together to remember more of the details and characters from the first book.


IMO, this wasn't on par with "Me Before You" but it had the same wit and was very entertaining. This is a good beach read and I loved the audio version.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

My rating: 4.7

In a remote Yunnan village, Li-yan and her family live their lives around the seasons and the farming of tea. They also carry on the old traditions and customs of the Akha. One day a stranger arrives in the village wanting to buy tea. Li-yan's life unfolds and you come to understand her, her family, the stranger as well as the way of tea.

This book took a while to get in to for me....not sure if it was due to the audio or ??  Once I got in to it, I enjoyed it. There were also a few parts in the middle that dragged and I felt that the overall book could have been shorted a bit.  Still, this was an enjoyable read and I loved understanding the Akha ways. There were MANY layers to this story beyond Li-yan's interesting journey including Chinese adoption by American parents. Very well done. I defy you to not crave a cup of tea while reading this book!

Monday, August 28, 2017

We Never Asked For Wings by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

My rating: 3.8

Letty works while her mother raises her two children but now, after 14 years, her parents are returning to Mexico and Letty has to figure out how to be a parent on her own.


This deals with undocumented immigrants, poverty, being a single mother and so much more. While these are all weighty issues, this had a lighter feel to it and definitely had a nice bow on it to tie it up at the end. Definitely wasn't as fabulous as The Language of Flowers but still enjoyable.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle

My rating: 4.0

Will & Iris have a fabulous marriage including a beautiful house, great careers and are trying for a baby.  Will leaves on a business trip for Orlando but Iris gets a phone call from the airlines informing her that her husband was on a flight that crashed and was going to Seattle.  What follows is Iris trying to figure out why her fabulous husband was or wasn't on a different plane. Is she a widow or is the airline mistaken?


This thriller/mystery was an entertaining read and I enjoyed the ending. Definitely a fun light popcorn type beach read. 

Monday, August 21, 2017

Bookmarks Magazine Sept/Oct 2017

Being off work + being in the pool + Bookmarks Magazine arriving = Perfection! Here are the picks I found on my first pass through. I will take this magazine with me this weekend on the plane. Although I found 9 books to add to my queue (see below), they didn't seem as amazing as usual (in fact, a couple sound downright bizarre) - was it just me or did you feel the same way? I will be interested when I start reading them how I will feel.

Let me know what your picks are...and if you don't get Bookmarks, please share if you are reading anything good.


      


         

These two were already in my library hold list:
   

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Bear And The Nightingale by Katherine Arden

My rating: 4.2

In the depth of winter in the Russian wilderness, Marina tells her husband that she is pregnant with their fifth child and she believes it is a girl who will be bestowed with the magic that her mother had. The girl is raised with her sibblings huddled around the fire listening to her nurse's fairytales...which cross with reality. Evil creatures in the forest become demons that cannot be controllled.



This is reality intermingled with fantasy. This is poetry. This is beautiful. It did drag a bit for me in parts but I would definitely read more by this author.

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond

My rating: 3.0

Newlyweds, Alice and Jake, are given a wedding gift to join a mysterious group know as The Pact. The goal of The Pact seems simple: to keep marriages happy and intact. And most of its rules make sense. Always answer the phone when your spouse calls. Exchange thoughtful gifts monthly. Plan a trip together once per quarter. .until one of them breaks the rules and it turns into their worst nightmare.


There is a lot to 'get past' with this book. If you can get past a bright couple agreeing to stupid things, an attorney not reading a contract before signing it and several other implausible things in this story, then this is a light easy read where you just have to go to with it and enjoy the ride. The implausibility and sci-fi feel aside, this was a very readable book.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Beartown by Frederik Backman

My rating: 5.0

In a tiny community set deep in the forest, a Junior ice hockey team is about to compete for the semi-finals. All the hopes and dreams of the town rest on the shoulders of these teenage boys. This is about the boys, the coaches, GMs, managers and the town - everyone's life hopes and dreams revolve around the team.


This reads somewhat like a thriller with flashbacks. Not only was I brought up with hockey but my niece Olivia played goalie for a AAA team in a remote town this past winter.  I can say that this NAILED hockey, a hockey town and their mentality perfectly. IMO, this is Backman's best book yet. Stunning! Don't read too much about it as there is a spoiler.....which I was shocked was in the description of the book - don't read anything more about it!  Just get the book..

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

My rating: 4.7

Two women - Eve & Charlie - two different times:

1915: Young Eve Gardner gets the chance to fight the Germans...as a spy.
1947: After WWII, Charlie St. Claire finds herself pregnant, with her beloved cousin missing.

These two worlds intersect with Eve trying to drink away her memories and Charlie trying to find her missing cousin.

I really enjoyed the character and story of Eve.  Charlie's character was mediocre for me but did get better as the book went on. Reminiscent of Rose Under Fire and Code Name Verity. I would definitely read more by this author.


Monday, July 31, 2017

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

My rating: 4.6

This sweeping multi-generational saga starts in Korea in the early 1900's with the unplanned pregnancy of Sonja threatening to shame her family. An unexpected offer of marriage can save her but will take her to Japan where Koreans are despised.


This is a beautifully written quiet book that was extremely enjoyable. I felt for the characters and there were a couple of points where I audible bemoaned some of their choices. The only slight criticism I would have is that while I do understand that it was a saga but felt that it could have been edited down a bit. Still, all in all, a fabulous read.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Homecoming of Samuel Lake by Jenny Wingfield

My Rating: 4.9

Samuel Lake is a passionate politically incorrect preacher.  Every year when congregations are assigned, his three children understand that he will be given a different congregation and they will have to move. The annual family reunion at his wife's hundred acre farm in Arkansas gives the children a chance to be free from the scrutiny of being the 'preacher's kids' as well as to spend time exploring and being kids and reconnecting with the family.


Oh, where to start?  I LOVED this wholesome wonderful tale. All of the characters from the adults to the children came alive for me...ok, maybe the 'bad' characters could have had more depth but that is a small complaint. It captures the innocence of childhood, the first time someone talks to you like and adult and really listens to you 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

My rating:  4.9

Cath and her twin sister Wren are going away to college and Wren has told her she doesn't want to be roommates. This is the first of many adjustments for Cath but, she still has her writing of the Simon Snow fan fiction.


When I read Carry-On I found out that it was written after Fangirl. Now that I have read both books, I am glad that I read them in the order that I did (although I can see how they would work the other way they were written). It was great to read the parts of Carry-On and remember that story and see how brilliantly Rainbow Rowell tied it all together. Part coming of age, part love story and part fantasy literature - genius! If you like Harry Potter and/or Young Adult, I think you will love this.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

She's Not There by Joy Fielding

My Rating:  2.8

A couple celebrates their 10th anniversary in Mexico with 3 other couples. They leave their two children alone in the hotel room while they go downstairs for dinner only to have the two year old disappear.  This flashes back and forth in time from the kidnapping to the years since.



The characters were flat and not well developed. The husband is so bad and shallow and has no redeeming traits. There is no depth or complexity at all. The conclusion was so over the top that it felt like a bad made for tv movie.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig

My rating: 4.8

Ginny Moon is a 14 year old autistic girl. After being in foster care, Ginny is with her 4th 'forever family'. Ginny is trying to make sense of a world where things don't add up. Despite trying to tell everyone something important, no one understands.  Thanks to Ludwig's fabulous writing, we understand Ginny exactly perfectly.


I was worried this was going to be syrupy sweet but instead, discovered that this novel was such a delight. You will understand the mind of a 14 year old autistic child and Ginny will capture your heart. This was extremely well written and captured all perspectives so well. Phenomenal writing. I think that everyone should read this wonderful novel.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani

 My rating: 4.8

It is 1950 in glittering, vibrant New York City. Lucia Sartori is the beautiful twenty-five-year-old daughter of a prosperous Italian grocer in Greenwich Village. Lucia is the apprentice to a designer at an upscale department store and engaged to her childhood sweetheart.  All of her dreams are coming true.



This sweet book captures 1950's New York, the styles, Italian families, food and so much more. Listening to this on audio added so much richness to the telling. Such a joy. I will be reading more by this author.

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Women In The Castle by Jessica Shattuck

My rating:  3.0

A group of German resistors understand that Hitler is crazy and have an assassination plot. Marianne hears their conversations and takes a vow that, should anything go wrong, that she will be in charge of helping the other resistance wives  This historical fiction novel takes place at the end of WWII with three widows - Marianne, Betinna and Ania -  living in an old decaying Bavarian castle. Marianne, now a widow from the failed assassination plot on Hitler, has rescued Martin the six year old son of her best friend who was part of the plot. Another wife, the beautiful Benita is in a refugee camp and encounters Ania, another resistor's wife.


Marianne assembles this makeshift family. Told through flashbacks, you quickly understand the horrific dark things that each have had to come through. I was quite interested in the plot line of the assassination plot on Hitler but this was very minimal in the book. The characters felt very flat so it was difficult to care about any of them. I typically love books told from alternating perspectives and through flashbacks but this felt disjointed. Despite a promising plot line and being interested in this being war from the women's perspective, I was disappointed in this book and wouldn't recommend.







Friday, July 14, 2017

Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham

My rating: 4.8

Set in Tulsa Oklahoma, this flashes between 17 yo Rowan (modern day) and Will Tillman (100 years ago). During renovations of her family's guest house, Rowan discovers a skeleton on the family property and is determined to find out who it was. Back in 1921, Will Tillman is discovering Jim Crow laws, segregation and who he is. In alternating chapters, this unfolds in both of their lives.



This was masterfully told and had so many layers to it, both in 1921 Tulsa as well as modern day. Very powerful and again, so horrific what man can do to man. This is a little talked about time in American history and something that everyone should be aware of. Definite recommend.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica

My rating: 2.9

Claire's husband Nick and their four year old daughter are in a car crash that kills Nick. Claire is left with daughter Maisie and their new born son Felix. Grief, obsession and sleep deprivation have Claire convinced of something sinister and that Nick's death was not accidental.Told in alternating chapter between Claire's hunt for the truth and Nick's last months leading up to the crash.


I found that I kept on having to make excuses for both Nick and Claire's nonsensical behavior. It was frustrating time and time again to have each of them act in such illogical ways. Being dragged step by step through the minutia of Claire's irrational fears got where I felt more exhausted than she was. Definitely not on par with Kubica's other books.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

My rating: 4.8

This follows two half-sisters, Efia the beauty and Esi and their offspring from Ghana in the 1700's to today in America.


At times, I got lost as the chapters transitioned to the next generation of who I was following but, I just stuck with it and soon understood how it tied to the previous generations. This felt like many short stories tied together. This was masterfully told and very vivid in the atrocities that so many went through.  Amazing author who made you feel and understand so much. The audio version was fabulous.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

I Let You Go by Claire MacIntosh

My rating; 3.0

Jenna leaves everything behind in order to escape her past and to start a new life on the Welsh Coast. Unfortunately, her past follows her and has to face it.


I found this extremely predictable which detracted from the story line as I kept waiting for the 'twist' and there was none. Instead, it felt rather boring. I think the high ratings are from people who didn't see things coming...then it would possibly be one of those "wow, that twist caught me totally unaware' type of books. Unfortunately, I wasn't one of those people.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran

My rating: 4.7

Eighteen yo Solimar Castro Valdez gets smuggled into America and shows up on her cousin's doorstep in Berkley. While she tries hard to overcome her circumstances,

Kavya and Rishi are in their mid-30's and working hard at their careers and are American while dealing with their parents being traditional Indian. When Kavya realizes she desperately wants a child.


This is the heartbreaking journey of different women, cultures and values at odds. You know it isn't going to end well and, no matter how it ends, there is going to be loss and heartbreak. Beautiful writing that captures so much on so many levels. This would make an amazing book club discussion.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

My rating: 4.9

While flying a plane from Paris to England, American Pilot Rose Justice is forced by the Nazis to land her unarmed plane.  What ensues is a vivid gripping account of her time in the Ravensbruck Concentration Camp.


I loved the first book Code Name Verity and I think, if possible, this may have been even better (yes, I know others disagree with that and I even waffle with which one I loved more). You don't have to read them in order as they work as stand alones. It is graphic and uncomfortable but such an amazing read. While the characters were fiction, the events were real...oh so horrifically real. This one will stay with me for quite a while. Definite recommend.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Beneath A Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan

My rating: 5.0

Pino Lella is a normal Italian teenager, obsessed with music, food and girls when WWII breaks out. This is based on the amazing true story of Pino Lella who is still alive and well today living in Lesa Italy.


If you like historical fiction or if you loved All The Light You Cannot See, The Nightingale or Unbroken or are just a fan of great writing, then you need to read this book.  I thoroughly enjoyed and have already gotten several friends to read it and they feel the same way. I am sure this will be made into a movie. Definitely makes my 'Best of 2017' list! 

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Bookmarks Magazine

It is Saturday and in my mailbox I discovered my latest edition of Bookmarks magazine. Nothing is as delicious as getting my Bookmarks and having time to delve into it right away.

On first pass, these are the books that have jumped out at me and I will be adding to my queue:

      


  

These are already in my queue and now I am really anxious for them to come in on my library hold list...well, except Into The Water which got a poor review but I will still give it a try:

      

There were quite a few 'short story' compilations that I am sure others would love but I have learned that 99% of short stories don't appeal to me

If you get Bookmarks, please share any of your picks that I missed. Happy reading!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Secrets You Keep by Kate White

My rating: 2.8

Bryn was in a car accident and has amnesia. She is trying to piece together what happened and her wonderful supportive husband Guy suddenly seems to lose patience with her. Is he tired of her fragility or is he doing things behind her back? Then a woman who caters their party is murdered. From there, things unraveled very quickly for me.


What should have been a page turning fast paced thriller was a slog that was difficult to get through and turned out to be extremely predictable and boring. I waffled between 2 and 3 stars.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Idaho by Emily Ruskovich

My rating: 3.0


Ann is Wade's second wife.  Ann attempts to piece together what happened to Jenny, Wade's first wife who is now in prison. This is told in alternating perspectives at it flashes back to what happened when Jenny, Wade and their two girls went out to chop wood.



While the writing was beautiful, I had such a difficult time connecting with any of the characters. Both Jenny and Ann have such extreme psychological issues that I not only didn't like them but I didn't trust their perspective at all. It started out fairly well but quickly went downhill. As another reviewer said, the characters were so bizarre and unrealistic it felt like you fell down the rabbit hole. Not one relate-able character makes it difficult to enjoy.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

An Unseen World by Liz Moore

My rating: 3.7

Ada is raised by her father David. David is a brilliant, socially inept single father who runs a science lab and home schools Ada.


For myself, while this wasn't a must read, it was a very intriguing read for the first half but the second half dragged. I thought it was a fairly solid read overall and have to admire Moore's writing and deft handling of this topic.


Monday, June 5, 2017

The Dry by Jane Harper

My Rating: 4.7

Federal Police Investigator Aaron Falk returns to Kiewarra Australia for the funeral of his childhood friend Luke.  This resurfaces memories for Aaron of 20 years ago when, in high school, he was accused of the murder of Ellie, and Luke was his alibi. The investigation of Luke's murder overlaps with the past and everything unfolds.


A very well written mystery that flashes back and forth in time and kept me on the edge of my seat until the very end.

Friday, June 2, 2017

History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund

My rating: 4.4

Madeline/Mattie, also knows as Linda, lives in the Minnesota woods in abandoned commune cabins with her parents. For this, she is an outsider at school who is labeled as 'Freak' or 'Commie'.  A teacher at school is charged with child pornography as well as something that may or may not have happened with a student. Linda becomes the babysitter for the Gardner family across the lake who are devout Christian Scientists.


This book is disjointed as it is how a teenager thinks. Linda is trying to fit in and yet isn't quite sure what is ok and is trying to absorb and figure out clues of how to act with everything around her.  We all have those odd moments from our childhood that stand out (I think that was what Mr Grierson was for Linda) and other moments that define you and even set the course for your life.

This may not be for everyone but, for myself, I had to just read and enjoy without trying to figure out where this was going. I got lost in the beautiful writing. Wow. Such beautiful readable writing had me so enamored that I didn't realize what was looming. 

Monday, May 29, 2017

Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover

My rating: 2.0

Tate moves in with her brother who's apartment is across the hall from Miles. Miles doesn't want love and she doesn't have time for love so they embark on a casual affair.


This was a Harlequin Romance with better developed characters and slightly better writing.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Before I Go by Colleen Oakley

My rating: 2.0

On the eve of celebrating her four year cancerversary, Daisy gets diagnosed for the second time with cancer and, this time it is terminal. Daisy makes it her mission to find a new wife for her husband.


 I liked the characters, the writing was ok but I didn't care for the plot line.  It was cheezy and completely implausible so it lost me. This implausible plotline that I couldn't connect with then made me notice the writing which felt very formula. This went from an interesting story line to so boring. I really enjoyed Oakley's novel "Close Enough To Touch" so found this very disappointing. Glad that this was written prior to Close Enough To Touch as that says Oakley's writing is improving as are her plot lines so, I hold out hope she may have more books to come that will continue to be solid.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Black & White by Dani Shapiro

My Rating: 4.6

Clara returns to New York to see her ailing mother, the controversial photographer Ruth Dunne who became famous through her discomforting nude photos of young Clara. This is uncomfortable and captures so many levels of emotion. Definitely not a plot driven book. I found that it evoked so many emotions in me for Clara and her situation, both as a child and an adult.


I really enjoyed Shapiro's writing style of leaving sentences unfinished and somehow conveying the emotions with even more punch. This is not for everyone but I enjoyed it.

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Private Life of Mrs. Sharma

My rating: 4.5

Mrs Sharma is a 37 yo woman who's husband works in Delhi to provide the family with a better life. She lives with her in-laws along with her 15 yo son Bobbie who has dreams of becoming a chef despite his mother's dreams of something grander for him.


This first person narrative captured me and despite the continued gradual twisted twists in her thinking I continued along with it as it almost seemed as natural to me as it was to her (ok, not quite but, I still enjoyed the journey).  This captures Indian culture and I loved her voice. I believe that this captures many Mrs. Sharma's although hopefully without the twist.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir

My rating: 4.9

This is my second Alison Weir book and I am so in love with her writing. This starts from when Elizabeth is three years old and progresses into her early adult years. You really feel like you know and understand her and your heart goes out to her and you admire her for all of the situations she has to face at such a young age and handles with dignity.

Fabulous writing combined with so much true drama that it doesn't need embellishment. WONDERFUL!  I can't wait to read the next in this series.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Close Enough To Touch by Colleen Oakley

My rating: 4.9

Jubilee, is allergic to human touch...yes, she could die from simply being touched by another person. She has a humiliating near fatal accident in high school and becomes an unplanned recluse in her home...for nine years! When her mother dies and she needs to be financially independent, she is thrust back out in to the world to fend for herself.


This took a couple of chapters to grab me but, then it did.  All of the characters grew on me with every turn of the page where I was cheering for each of them.  Eric, Aja, Madison, Ellie and most especially Jubilee where all flawed characters that I fell in love with and wanted so much for and had me rooting for them. I drew comparisons to JoJoy Moyes writing when I was telling my friends about this...before I read the descriptions. It is a fun fast read that will capture your heart and stay with you.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Separation by Katie Kitamura

My rating: 3.8

Christopher and his wife agree to separate but to not tell anyone. Then his wife gets a phone call from Christopher's mother inquiring into his whereabouts. Writing about the painful end of a marriage is so difficult and, this captures it so beautifully.  The eloquence and depth of emotion is so beautiful. There is not doubt that Kitamura is an incredible writer capable of capturing so much. I can't emphasize enough how beautiful the writing is...and can understand the comparisons to Elena Ferrante...yes, it is that gorgeous of phrasing.




I also completely understand that this was 'too much'.  It was every single thought articulated to the point of being boring. It is also an extremely depressing topic that there is no 'happy ending' to but, for me, Kitamura's beautiful writing still shone through. This was difficult for me to rate as, even though this wasn't a 'readable' novel it captured so much and was amazing in it's writing. Definitely not one for the masses though.

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

My rating: 4.8

I absolutely loved Simon and all of the other characters. I think knowing it is a "Harry Potter remake" helped me get into this book very quickly: Simon=Harry, Baz=Draco, Penny=Hermione, Watford=Hogwortz etc. etc. For me, the characters just fell into place seamlessly so I instantly got lost in the story line. Then suddenly WOAH!!!...I wasn't expecting that!!!


This is Rainbow Rowell's version of Harry Potter but make no mistake, this is NOT the Harry Potter storyline. If you don't like Harry Potter or if you think that J.K. Rowling owns the Harry Potter concept then, you won't like this at all. If you loved Harry Potter and want another version of it, run out and grab this book.  LOVED it!  Now I want to read Fangirl.

Friday, April 28, 2017

The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

My rating: 3.5

In 1908 Sara Harrison Shea was found dead in the field behind her house just months after the tragic death of her 8 year old daughter Gertie. Now, in present day, Ruthie and her family live in the same farmhouse where Sara Harrison Shea once lived. When Ruthie's mother Alice goes missing, it is the clues from the past that will help her discover her mother's whereabouts.




The writing was solid but I don't care for ghost stories as they always strike me as very implausible. If you like ghost stories, you might enjoy this as it was good writing and a solid storyline.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Everything You Want Me To Be by Mindy Mejia

My rating: 2.0

Maybe I fell for the hype? Maybe I read too many great reviews? Maybe I wasn't in the right mood? Or maybe this writing and storyline was as bad as I think it was.  UGH!  Could the characters have been any more one dimensional (Peter's character as just one example - double UGH!)


I didn't know for sure "who" did it till a little ways into the book but very early on in the book, the author clearly lets us know who "didn't" do it and then proceeds to continue to try to make it think it was that person.  Between a poor plot line, no character development and a red herring murderer that the author spoiled....if this book hadn't been on my beloved kindle, I would have thrown it across the room. Hopefully this review isn't too scathing but, you know you can always count on me to be honest!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Bookmarks Magazine May/June 2017


This was our first weekend home in a month and I couldn't imagine a more perfect way to spend this afternoon with my feet in the pool and going through my much anticipated Bookmarks magazine:


This edition was packed full of so many books that intrigue me. Here are the ones that I have added to my queue:

     


      

  

Already in my queue from previous issues:
  

If you get Bookmarks, let me know what your picks are and/or please share what good books you are reading as I always love to talk books :-)


Friday, April 21, 2017

Still Life: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel

My rating:4.7

In the small close knit town of Three Pines, resident Jane Neal has been found dead in the woods. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surêté du Québec and his team of investigators are called in to the scene of the suspicious death.


For me, this book captured so much in such an understated way - small town life, a police detective and his crew and a French Canadian town to name just a few. This is a true "who done it" mystery but weaves in love, life and friendship stories with the beautiful writing. I will definitely be reading more in this series.