Monday, December 11, 2017

Odd Child Out by Gilly MacMillan

My rating: 3.2

Best friends Noah Sandler, a British boy, and Abdi Mahad, a Somalian refuge, have always been inseparable. But when Noah is found floating unconscious in Bristol's Feeder Canal, Abdi can't--or won't--tell anyone what happened.


Unfortunately, this wasn't as good as the first book in this series. The characters were very flat and one dimensional.  Noah's family is not especially sympathetic and despite having a terminal disease, it was hard to feel compassion for Noah. There was no mystery here ...just the usual refugees are good and white people are bad. I am tired of these political agenda one dimensional books that seem to be all the rage lately. Definitely do not recommend.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie

My rating: 4.8

This is about 2 very different Muslim families and how they choose to show/display their Muslim beliefs as well as how they are perceived.  It revolves around three siblings who never knew their jihadist father before his death. When their mother dies, Isma has to step in and raise her younger siblings. They are now 18 years old and Isma is free to leave London and pursue her education in America. She leaves her siblings, twin sister and brother, back in London never imaging what will unfold.


I have to admit that the first 2/3rds of this book dragged in spots for me.  Then the last portion was so riveting I couldn't put it down. After I finished it, I understood why the first portion built so many details that were relevant later on. The ending was ....well, you will have to read it but, I had so many varying thoughts on 'who knew what' with the ending. Wow. I think this would make an amazing book club discussion.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Never Coming Back by Alison McGhee

My rating: 5.0

After being gone more than a decade, Clara is moving back home to the Adirondacks to take care of her mother Tamar. Tamar has early onset Alzheimers.


This is a beautiful slow moving story that is meant to savored. As it unfolds, you flash back and forth between Claire's childhood, college years and present day. You gradually understand the many threads that weave into the years of the mother / daughter relationship as well as Claire's friendship with Brown and Sunshine. This is not an action or plot based book. It is very beautiful, honest and emotional look at the nuances and assumptions that are made and only when re-examined, can we see things differently. I want to rate this higher. Definite 'Best Of'. Incredible writing and I will be buying this for Mum (which is one of the highest accolades a book can get from me).

Monday, December 4, 2017

The Orphan's Tale by Pam Jenoff

My rating: 3.2

Noa gets pregnant by a Nazi officer and her family tosses her out in disgrace. She is forced to give up her baby and then rescues a Jewish infant out of a boxcar of children headed for a concentration camp. She flees with the baby to a German circus and ends up in a trapeze act and forms a friendship with the other woman.

I wanted to like this better than I did. It is a book about WWII and it had an ok story line. The flaw was in the writing and lack of character development (and perhaps the audio voice?) The characters were flat and not plausible and a lot of the story was VERY contrived. So many details were explained (as apparently readers are stupid and can't think) that it was frustrating. I did enjoy parts of this but there are so many books out there that I wouldn't recommend this one.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Into The Water by Paula Hawkins

My rating: 3.2

Many women have drowned in a river that runs through town. Now another woman turns up dead in the river and her teenage daughter and sister are looking for answers.


This had WAY too many characters for my liking. Still, I went with it and it sort of came together (but not entirely). The pieces I enjoyed were the understanding of miscommunication and needing to make a reality that someone could deal with and also how parents, even when they are wrong, do things to protect their children. Definitely not a must read but then, I didn't care for Girl On The Train either so maybe you will like this one?

Saturday, November 25, 2017

The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld

My Rating: 4.9

Naomi is known as the Child Finder and frequently called in when all other avenues have been exhausted. Madison disappeared when she was 5 years old and her family took her out to a remote wooded area of Oregon to chop down a Christmas tree. Madison would now be eight years old and the family calls in The Child Finder in a last ditch hope of finding their daughter.



This was quietly suspenseful and very well told. Yes, it is heavy and disturbing and yet it is also hauntingly beautiful. There are so many touching scenes including Naomi's childhood with Mrs. Cottle and things that the snowgirl says. Wondrous. I am buying this book for Mum. Stunning writing yet so readable.

Friday, November 24, 2017

The Dog Lived (and So Will I) by Teresa Rhyne

My rating: 4.7

After her two dogs die, Teresa isn't planning on getting another dog but when the adoption agency calls, she finds herself head over heels in love with the most incorrigible Beagle Seamus. When Seamus is diagnosed with cancer and given over a year to live, Teresa and her much younger boyfriend Chris decide to fight it and give Seamus every opportunity.....not knowing that they were preparing Teresa for her upcoming battle with cancer.


How can a book about both a dog and a person getting cancer be funny and uplifting? I have no idea but, Teresa pulled it off. There were a lot of stories in here that had me chuckling out loud. I thought she handled the stories about Chris' parents with such delicacy, honesty and integrity - so well done. This is about love, laughter and life and she nailed all three. Well done.

Monday, November 20, 2017

The Winter Prince by Elizabeth Wein

My rating: 4.6

WARNING: This is not for everyone

Medraut, the eldest son of High King Artos, would-be heir to the British throne—if not for an unfortunate circumstance of birth. Instead, his weak and unskilled half-brother, Lleu, is chosen as successor. Medraut cannot bear the thought of being ruled by the boy who has taken what he believes is rightfully his.

This is nothing like Wein's other novels Code Name Verity or Rose Under Fire. There were times while reading this I wasn't sure what I thought or if I was going to stick with it. I am glad that I did. This is a fantasy book with incest and mild S&M (more erotic than explicit) Definitely not what I expected from Wein but she is such a skilled writer and dazzles with her ability write such varied genres - all done fabulously. I will definitely read more in this series.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

My rating: 2.8

Sixth grade Miranda starts receiving mysterious anonymous messages from someone who is able to predict the future.


This is a light book that other than exploring time travel, it really doesn't go anywhere...if that makes sense. I felt there was pointless story lines and a lot of plot holes and, worst of all, I didn't care about any of the characters.. Definitely not the best Y.A. book that I have read.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Second Life by S.J. Watson

My rating: 3.5

When Julia learns that her sister has been murdered, she wants to know why and proceeds to do what she can to research what happened..


This woman makes BAD decision after BAD decision - UGH! If you can get past that, then this is an entertaining book. I am not sure why this book is classified as a thriller as it definitely didn't keep me on the edge of my seat or feel suspenseful. I did like that everything wasn't wrapped up in a bow at the end.

Friday, November 10, 2017

The Perfect Girl by Gilly MacMillan

My rating: 3.4

17 year old Zoe is a musical prodigy. Three years ago, she was involved in a tragic incident that left three classmates dead. She served her time, and now her mother, Maria, is resolved to keep that devastating fact tucked far away from their new beginning, hiding the past even from her new husband and demanding Zoe do the same.

Tonight Zoe is giving a piano recital when Zoe's past comes rushing into the present and, by the end of the evening, her mother Maria is dead.


Like so many others, I find it difficult to capture my feelings about this book. I enjoyed it. I liked Zoe and some of the other characters. It didn't feel like a thriller. Being told so early that Maria dies but not having much in between that point and the ending it felt anti climatic.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

11/22/63 by Stephen King

My rating: 3.2

If you could go back in time and change something, what would it be.....JFK's assassination. Jake steps through a portal that takes him back to the era of Ike and Elvis and stop JFK's assassination. Like 'Back To The Future' anything you change has ripple effects on the future.

I felt that this book was written by different authors.  The first portion of the book built the premise of time travel in a very plausible and intriguing way. It taught me things about history/JFK's shooting that I didn't know and yet, every item I googled turned out to be true! I was riveted. Then it felt that the writer changed to someone else and it was horrible. Such minutia of irrelevant detail on characters you don't need to know about and couldn't care less about. The back half dragged horrifically. Where was the editor? This 800+ page book should have been closer to 300 pages. I alternately slogged and skimmed my way through the back half but it never recovered the flow it had in the first half. So sad when the first portion was so enjoyable but I definitely would not recommend.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

The River At Night by Erica Ferencik

My rating: 3.4

Four girlfriends go to Maine on a white water rafting trip that goes extremely wrong and turns into them trying to survive. The writer did an amazing job at capturing the white water rafting, the wilderness and try to survive in the woods.

I listened to this book and really enjoyed the voice of the narrator, and the storyline and yet most of the characters felt flat for me. I like the main character Winnie but the rest of them didn't come to life as much for me. While the action does a lot to make up for the lack of character development, I did find that without caring about the characters that the book didn't feel as gripping or suspenseful and I was wanting it to end. 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

Rating: 4.8

It has been two years since Jessie's mother died. Her father is off on a supposed 'business trip' and returns to tell her he has eloped with someone he met online and they are moving from Chicago to LA. The book opens with Jessie having been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son, and to start at a new school where she knows no one.

She gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?


I have to admit that when Jessie starts emailing with SN, I wasn't sure if I had bought into the premise but, it didn't take long until I was hooked. I absolutely loved the banter, wit, flirtation and the mix of comedy and tragedy. I think every teen would love this book and I will be getting it for my niece. In the epilogue, when the author said she had also lost her mother when she was 14 years old, I understood that this book was written with passion from a place of having been there - and it showed.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Widows House by Carol Goodman

My rating: 4.7

Hoping to rejuvenate their marriage and their writing careers, Jess and Claire move from Brooklyn back to their college home town in the Hudson Valley. They take a caretaker's job at Riven House, a crumbling estate and the home of their old college writing professor.....that is also haunted. Clare soon hears babies crying at night, sees strange figures in fog at the edge of their property. Clare starts exploring the history of the area and the house and realizes this menacing force that destroys the inhabitants of the estate seems to be after Clare next.


This had me intrigued all throughout the book and, at the end, I was guessing and second guessing as to the angle of the ending. 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Thousand Dollar Tan Line - Veronica Mars by Rob Thomas

My rating: 2.8

Ten years after graduating, Veronica Mars returns to the beach town of Neptune California and is taking over her father's private detective business. It is spring break and when a girl goes missing from a party and Veronica is called in to investigate.


I have no idea what the hubbub is over this book - maybe you have to have seen the movie?  I have no idea but it definitely didn't wow me. It was a very mediocre mystery novel that I don't think you need to read.

Monday, October 30, 2017

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

My Rating; 4.4

Jess is a struggling single mom of her 8 yo math-whiz daughter Tanzie and teenage step-son Nickie who is bullied. Ed Nichols has made a blunder that puts his company and everything he owns in jeopardy as he is accused of insider trading. Each of these four people take turns telling this story from their perspective.

These perfectly imperfect people came to life with all their quirks and dysfunction and I loved each of them. Another thoroughly enjoyable read by Moyes.

Friday, October 27, 2017

The Second Girl by David Swinson

My rating: 4.7

Respected cop who took early retirement, Raymond Marr now works as a Private Investigator. No one except the Police Chief knows Ray's dirty secret that would cause him to stop being a cop...his drug addiction. As a P.I., he knows how to make his next score but in the process of raiding a drug house, finds a kidnapped teenager girl naked and chained to a radiator in the bathroom. This sets off a series of events including him reluctantly taking a case for another missing teenage girl


Ray is both dirty and willing to do deplorable things as well as charming and a hero. Also love how it captures D.C. This is a gritty real mystery novel - I believe due to Swinson being a highly decorated Police Officer in Washington D.C....including doing undercover in Narcotics A very 'real' novel and I will definitely read more by Swinson.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Bookmarks Magazine Nov/Dec 2017

Have I ever mentioned that Bookmarks is my ALL-TIME FAVORITE MAGAZINE!!!! (sorry for the caps but I do love it!) This issue didn't disappoint.

Bookmarks features authors or themes before they get to the spotlighted books. The first author was Sherman Alexie who I love!

If you haven't read "The Absolutely True Diary Of A  Part-Time Indian" I recommend it...especially on audio. This reminded me of how much I enjoy his writing so I have put these in my queue:

  

Another featured author was Kamila Shamsie who, although I haven't heard of before, definitely appealed to me from their write-up.

I have put these books by her in my queue:
    


For the spotlighted books, these jumped out at me but, as always, I need to spend time combing through this edition for the many hidden jewels that these magazines always contain:

    


     


These were already on my kindle - I just need to move them up in the queue

     

I need to live to be 100 to read all of my queue...what a fabulous problem to have :-) I always love hearing from you so please share what books you picked from this months magazine or what great books you would recommend.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

My rating: 4.6

Eleanor is socially inept and tends to say exactly what she is thinking and doesn't realize why people react the way they do. Eleanor meets Raymond, her bumbling oafish IT guy from work. Together, Eleanor and Raymond save Sammy, an elderly gentleman that falls on the sidewalk and the lives of the three unlikely friends progress from there.


This had me laughing at times....like this description of high heel shoes: "Why are these people so keen on crippling their female customers.  Are chiros and cobblers establishing some fiendish cartel?" It is also very dark at other times. I listed to the audio version and it was absolutely priceless. I can see why this is being compared to A Man Called Ove.

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.