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Display Name: Laura P.
About me: I read mostly fiction and try to review everthing I finish. You'll find my reviews mostly positive because I don't finish books I don't like. I have no interest in convincing people not to read a book.
Reading Interests: Fiction of all kinds.

Laura P.'s Book Lists
Favorite books publisher in the 2000s (8 titles)

Favorite fiction published in the 1990s (7 titles)
In a decade dominated by Harry Potter, looking back, I don't find a lot to love. Here are some exceptions.
Favorite fiction published in the 1980s (13 titles)
In a decade dominated by Danielle Steel there is lots of other great stuff.
Favorite Fiction Published in the 1970s (12 titles)
Good books from the 70s. Some are iconic bestsellers, some my first discovery of an author beloved for many years. Most may be ruined for future generations who have seen the movies. Everyone knows the books are better. These are fiction only and all classified as adult.
My favorite fiction published in 2014 (4 titles)
Definitely a work in progress.
Show all 11 booklists by Laura P.

Laura P.'s Comments    
Cover ArtWindigo Island : a novel
by Krueger, William Kent.
Some members of the O’Connor family take a back seat in this book but nothing is lost. A very good book about native girls being trafficked in Duluth and North Dakota. Cork, Jenny, Henry and some family members of a missing girl investigate. Cork, still reeling from family tragedies in Tamarack County vows to save the girl at any cost, but a high price is paid by Jenny instead.   posted Sep 2, 2014 at 9:06AM

Cover ArtThe weight of blood : a novel
by Laura McHugh
A good book taking place in the Ozarks with some of the characters fitting the "hillbilly" stereotype to a T. 17-year-old Lucy, whose mother disappeared when she was an infant, decides to investigate the recent death of her friend and ends up also figuring out what happened to her mother. The reviews of this book are glowing and I liked it but was not blown away by it.   posted Sep 2, 2014 at 8:53AM

Cover ArtEverything I never told you
by Ng, Celeste
Marilyn, a brilliant student, plans to become a doctor. She marries instead, telling herself she will go back to school later. She leaves her husband and two small children and goes back to school but gives up her dream after discovering she is pregnant again. She then decides to make her oldest daughter in her image. Lydia has promised herself that she will comply with all of her mother’s wishes so that her mother will not leave again. Lydia’s father, James has also tried to make Lydia succeed where he himself failed in having friends and being popular. Besides Lydia there is Nathan, an academic success who nevertheless reminds his father too much of himself. And Hannah, the third, totally ignored child. When it all becomes too much for Lydia the whole family is nearly destroyed. A tragic story of a family who does not communicate. Absolutely absorbing, I inhaled it in a single afternoon.   posted Sep 2, 2014 at 8:44AM

Cover ArtThe signature of all things
by Elizabeth Gilbert
Alma Whitaker, born in 1800, lives a life of money and ease. She spends most of her life in study and learning. She is a botanist and briologist who leads a sheltered life but later travels to Tahiti and Holland. Though she longs for love it never really comes her way. For her, finding the answers and contributing to the wealth of human knowledge is fulfillment. It’s hard to explain why this book is so good but it’s one of my favorites of the year.   posted Aug 22, 2014 at 10:31AM

Cover ArtVera. Set 1 [videorecording]
One of my very favorites. The fact that Vera is my ages is probably a factor lol. You'll love this one, pet.   posted Aug 22, 2014 at 10:24AM

Cover ArtBroadchurch. The complete first season
Great atmospheric drama. Love David Tennant. I heard they're going to remake this in the US. Such a shameless grab at $$. This one can stand on it's own.   posted Aug 13, 2014 at 9:25AM

Cover ArtTop of the lake [videorecording]
Ok, technically this one might be New Zealand made. Lots of secrets in this small town. Very well done drama.   posted Aug 13, 2014 at 9:21AM

Cover ArtThe fall. Series 1
Creepy Irish mystery/cop series about a serial killer. Disturbing.   posted Aug 13, 2014 at 9:18AM

Cover ArtLuther. 2 [videorecording]
This series is amazing! The characters and the acting is great. The story-line is one shock after another. Some of the eps in this series left me breathless.   posted Aug 13, 2014 at 8:22AM

Cover ArtWhat Alice forgot
by Liane Moriarty
Moriarty is one of my favorite new authors. She’s been around for a while but this book popped up on some lists recently so I tried it and now I’m reading her other books also. This book is less about what Alice forgot and more about what she remembered. She may have temporarily forgot her children and recent friends etc. but she remembered who SHE is.   posted Aug 6, 2014 at 11:16AM

Cover ArtWe were liars
by E. Lockhart
The best thing to do if you’re going to read this book is don’t read any summaries of it. I did and already figured out the ending before I got there. It would be more fun not to. An interesting thing about this book to me is the title. Although the young teens in the story get labeled the Liars, who are the real liars? I did not realize this was Teen until after I read it. If I had known, I probably would not have read it. I did enjoy it so I’m glad I didn’t know.   posted Jul 29, 2014 at 9:29AM

Cover ArtOne plus one : a novel
by Jojo Moyes
The lastest book by one of my new favorite authors does not disappoint. Jess and Ed, both with a lot of ’stuff’ going on in their lives get thrown together on a trek to a Math(s) contest. If Jess’s daughter can win she’ll get money to go to a private school. The adversity and shared experiences of the trip lead to inevitable closeness for the couple. I love the well-rounded characters and unlike some ’chick lit’ this book is more balanced between the male and female. We get good back-stories on both and get to see what’s going on in both their heads. Obviously this book is light weight but so enjoyable. I especially like how the characters are willing to talk things out. In so many stories I find myself just wishing characters would TELL each other stuff.   posted Jul 29, 2014 at 9:14AM

Cover ArtSheltering rain
by Jojo Moyes
Oh my goodness, I love this author. Fully realized characters, lots of emotional angst and a bit of romance. Of course, British! As in many books that could be categorized as ’chick lit’, we don’t get inside the minds of the males very much but Jojo’s later novels do this better. I still liked this book very much.   posted Jul 29, 2014 at 9:06AM

Cover ArtThe husband’s secret
by Liane Moriarty
I loved this book. Three women in difficult situations and how they deal. The story is told deftly and with humor.   posted Jul 28, 2014 at 11:32AM

Cover ArtThe magicians : a novel
by Lev Grossman
I liked this book a lot and will read the next one. I especially liked the "beast" and his description that reminded me of the often parodied Magritte painting: Son of Man. Just heard this is planned for a tv mini-series.   posted Jul 17, 2014 at 11:23AM

Cover ArtThe goldfinch [sound recording]
by Tartt, Donna.
I listened to the Goldfinch and I highly recommend it. The reader is excellent. He never wavers from the voices. He never carries over a character’s voice to the narration. He’s just really great. The book won a well-deserved Audie award. With that technicality taken care of I also want to say I loved this book. It’s interesting to read reviews on Goodreads and in magazines. There is a lot of debate over whether this book is "literature" or just a good story (or terrible). There’s no answer to that question really. Personally I don’t care. I read for entertainment, not to better myself or for prestige. Many (including Stephen King) call this book Dickensian. To me it’s the anti-Dickens. Yes, the main character is poor, cast-out and a victim of circumstances but ultimately he does not rise above. He remains depressed. Love does not rescue him. For many people this book was an incredible downer. The story, though, and the writing are so great. Listening, you can just let it wash over you. The description is excruciatingly detailed. That drives some people crazy but to me it’s just wonderful. The best books evoke strong emotion and this book evoked, at times, incredible tension, frustration, fear, disappointment, laughter and tears. Most of the characters are not minutely drawn (only Theo and Boris get the full treatment). The objects in the book get more attention. That is the crux of the book. People live short, desperate lives and then die. Beautiful things live on, meaningful over and over again to new generations.   posted Jul 17, 2014 at 11:16AM

Cover ArtThe fever : a novel
by Megan Abbott
Although I say I don’t review books I don’t finish I’m breaking my own rule here. I read about half of this book and then the very end. I can’t believe the rave reviews on the Reviews tab including one who says the author is on her say to stardom. This book reads like a very average YA book. The story is not original. It’s right out of the news (google teenage girls with tics and read what happened in Le Roy, NY in 2011)with some variation of course. Although I do read and enjoy a certain amount of YA fiction, this one I did not like.   posted Jul 14, 2014 at 12:11PM

Cover ArtThe last letter from your lover
by Moyes, Jojo
Good book from Jojo. After reading Me Before You I had to go back to read her older stuff. I just love this author! This is a nice romance with a touch of An Affair to Remember. One of the main themes is extra-marital romances but I like that each situation was considered separately rather than treating them the same.   posted Jul 3, 2014 at 1:39PM

Cover ArtThe truth about the Harry Quebert affair : a novel
by Joel Dicker
This book was intriguing as it was already a huge best-seller in Europe. It was a pretty good book but over-hyped I would say. It certainly cannot stand up to the comparisions with the Millennium trilogy. It’s supposed to be kind of a book within a book. It’s a book about a guy writing a book about what’s happening in the book. That part of the story I did not find interesting. It’s just kind of an average mystery. Good enough to hang on until the end to find out whodunnit.   posted Jun 24, 2014 at 12:44PM

Cover ArtStella Bain : a novel
by Shreve, Anita.
A quiet yet powerful novel of a woman’s experences during WWI. Attacked by her brutal husband she flees to the war and become an ambulance driver. Extreme experiences cause her to lose her memory which she eventually recovers with the help of a doctor in London. After she remembers who she is she returns to America to try to regain custody of her children. Shreve writes in a kind of minimalist style yet the book is full and rich and ultimately satisfying.   posted Jun 18, 2014 at 2:32PM

Cover ArtThe one & only : a novel
by Giffin, Emily.
Usually I don’t write a summary of a book’s plot since a summary is usually included in the catalog record. However, the summary for this book is WAY off. Walker is a small Texas college that 32-year-old Shea Rigsby attended and now works for at the beginning of the book. Although Walker is small they are BIG in college football and Shea is football crazy. She’s best friends with the head coach’s daughter Lucy, and basically grew up in the Carr family. When Connie Carr, the coach’s wife dies of cancer, Lucy takes it hard and Shea offers support while also dealing with a breakup with one boyfriend, pursuing a new job as a sports reporter at a local newspaper and starting a relationship with a new man--an NFL quarterback. This is my first Emily Giffin book and I enjoyed it a lot. Yes, it’s predictable and Shea reads more like a 22-year-old but it was delightful and funny.   posted Jun 12, 2014 at 9:47AM

Cover ArtOrdinary grace : a novel
by Krueger, William Kent.
This book is a great rendering of small town life in the Midwest in the 60s. You can almost feel the hot summer sun, smell the new-mown grass and taste the frosty cold root beer. This is a murder mystery, though Krueger recently said even he didn’t think of it as a mystery. It’s more about people’s response to adversity and personal tragedy. 13-year-old Frank tells the story of small town death and murder and how faith helps some people cope. Divine grace has been defined as “the divine influence which operates in humans to regenerate and sanctify, to inspire virtuous impulses, and to impart strength to endure trial and resist temptation “. Almost all of the characters in the book have a personal trial for which they need strength to cope: a stutter, a harelip, deafness, blindness, autism, homosexuality etc. However, Krueger called the book “ordinary” grace, not divine grace. Ordinary things, like how Jake loses his stutter can be miracles. Strength can come from the ordinary, not just the divine.   posted Jun 11, 2014 at 8:58AM

Cover ArtThe hidden child
by Lackberg, Camilla
A good entry into the Patrik Hedstrom/Erika Falck/Fjalbacka series. These are pretty light-weight books often concentrating more on the lives of Patrik and Erika than the mystery itself. There’s always kind of a jarring mix of regular life and humor vs brutal murders. Also, they are written very simply or else there is something missing in the translation. There is not a lot of suspense or tension especially when the title kind of tells what’s going to happen.   posted Jun 9, 2014 at 11:21AM

Cover ArtOryx and Crake : a novel
by Margaret Atwood
A grim, frightening vision of the future with a ravaged earth and genetic engineering run amok, Oryx and Crake is not a book you’ll soon forget. There are basically three characters: Jimmy, the sex-addicted "normal", Crake a brilliant scientist/geneticist and Oryx a former child sex slave. We only see inside Jimmy’s head and so Crake’s motives are not known as he decides to take the problem of overpopulation into his hands and uses people’s obsession with sex to undo them leaving his new, improved humans: the "Crakers" to populate the earth. Chilling.   posted Jun 3, 2014 at 9:55AM

Cover ArtMoving target : a novel
by J. A. Jance
Another good entry in the Ali Reynolds series. To enjoy this series (especially the more recent books) you have to ignore 1. the characters have unlimited monies to charter planes, hire helicopters, rent Land Rovers, stay at 4 star hotels etc. 2. The cybersecurity people in the story can hack into anything and nobody in the story really cares that the info gathering is illegal (they’re good guys after all) 3. our heroes never get into trouble with the cops even though they get into shootouts, kill people etc. These things aren’t necessarily out of the norm for this type of novel anyway so it’s not too hard. In this one, a teen hacker gets caught between those who want his program for good and for evil. In a side story that’s kind of awkward, Ali accompanies Leland Brooks to England to meet some family members and solve an old mystery.   posted May 29, 2014 at 11:01AM

Cover ArtCodex
by Lev Grossman
Very enjoyable book I picked up kind of by accident just because I wanted a paperback. Even though 10 yrs old it reads very contemporary considering there’s a lot about technology. It’s fun to watch Edward, who is used to taking risks with other people’s money but not with his own life, have an Adventure. Crazy ending I did not see coming.   posted May 27, 2014 at 1:19PM

Cover ArtHelsinki blood
by James Thompson
After the horrendous crimes committed by police and policiticians in Helsinki White, Kari needs to extricate himself from the black ops he agreed to. He was duped. All the money he got went into the pockets of crooked officials. Milo decides only drastic action can right things. On top of everything else Kari’s family is in more danger than ever and Kate is a mental wreck. Can Kari save his marriage and his reputation--and all of their necks? I liked this book better than the last one but neither of these last two have been as atmospheric and good as the first two in the series. The author may be getting just a bit lazy. Instead of creating interesting characters it’s all shoot-em-up.   posted May 22, 2014 at 8:25AM

Cover ArtRipper : a novel
by Isabel Allende
Allende, not usually a mystery writer, has a real winner with Ripper. Amanda Martin is a highly intelligent high school senior who plays an online game with friends from around the world. They investigate real crimes which are happening in Amanda’s home town of San Francisco. It’s mostly an intellectual exercise until Amanda’s mother disappears. The killer stikes at the full moon. Can the kids find the killer in time? Allende takes the time to give almost all of the characters a back story. This is unusual in murder mysteries and makes this one a cut above the average. Probably in my top five of the year so far.   posted May 22, 2014 at 8:15AM

Cover ArtHelsinki white
by James Thompson
Wow, inspector Kari Vaara really has a lot on his plate in this novel. Apparently no one told him you don’t make life-changing decisions during a health crisis (especially one involving your brain!). Kari agrees to head a black ops unit of the Helsinki police in return for making major crime rings such as white slavery a top priority. Even I didn’t believe that! Kari (fresh off brain surgery with some troubling lingering effects) along with Milo and Sweetness steal tons of money and cut off the drug trade but where is all the money going? Kari gets in deeper and deeper when he agrees to investigate some high profile race-related crimes. This book was kind of a blood-bath and ultimately kind of depressing for our hero and his family but sure kept the pages turning. How in the world is he going to right things?   posted May 19, 2014 at 12:06PM

Cover ArtNOS4A2 [electronic resource]
I haven’t been scared by a novel since the Exorcist and this one did not scare me but it was a very good book. Vic McQueen uses a bridge created by her mind to travel to different places. In her travels she meets up with an evil man who steals children to "save" them. Later, he steals her son and she sets out to get him back. Tons of action, great characters and in the audio version Kate Mulgrew’s creepy, raspy voice all combine for a great listen. The best book I’ve read this year so far.   posted May 6, 2014 at 9:16AM

Cover ArtThe accident : a novel
by Chris Pavone
When an anonymous manuscript is delivered to literary agent Isabel Reed she reads it through and realizes it could be a huge money maker but the info in it, if true is very dangerous. Unauthorized copies end up in the hands of others and those others start turning up dead. Afraid she’ll be next Isabel goes on the run trying to stay one step ahead of whoever is trying to stop the manuscript’s publication. This book was ok but I had some problems with it. It jumps around a lot (in time and space) and has a lot of characters so it was hard to keep track of what was going on. There are also many twists and turns in plot and that added to the confusion.   posted May 5, 2014 at 8:46AM

Cover ArtVera. Set 3
Four more episodes of the great British police/murder mystery series. A few new coppers have joined Vera, Joe and Kenny and all are working well together solving murders in Northumberland. The stories have wonderful characters, locations and great mysteries. Vera herself is beginning to open up personally from her prickly personae, just a bit, although she’ll never let Joe know. Oh how I love this character and this show!   posted Apr 17, 2014 at 3:27PM

Cover ArtInferno : a novel
by Dan Brown
This is another book I listened to. I find myself continuing to listen to books I would probably have set aside if I were reading. This is definitely the weakest entry in the Robert Langdon books. Robert wakes up in a hospital suffering from amnesia after an apparent gunshot wound to the head. When he finds himself in danger he runs out of the hospital accompanied by a doctor. However, after some initial headaches etc. absolutely no further mention is made of any more affects from the wound. He goes running, jumping, climbing etc. with no problem. The first half of the book is fairly interesting as Robert and Sienna follow clues to why someone is chasing them and what Robert did during the time he can’t remember. The only annoying things are the imbedded lectures and Brown’s tendency to melodrama as he ends each of his chapters (over 100!) with cliffhangers and hyperbole. Then, suddenly everything changes in the story in such a way that made me say "Oh come on!" (Probably aloud. I think I got some funny looks on the bus). The second half is kind of a bust and the ending a disappointment. As usual, though chasing around with a woman through the whole book he’s kind of a eunuch. Has he never had a significant other? After four books I don’t feel like I know this character at all.   posted Apr 14, 2014 at 1:46PM

Cover ArtThe tooth of time : a Maxie and Stretch mystery
by Sue Henry
Ok mystery in the Maxie and Stretch series. Familiar theme of "never underestimate a senior citizen" or in this case, do so at your own peril.   posted Apr 11, 2014 at 2:42PM

Cover ArtThe outcast dead
by Griffiths, Elly
This book is of the best of this series so far. There is a little more actual forensic anthropology than in the last book and there are the usual parallel mysteries; one from the current day and one from the past. It’s a cracking good mystery but it’s the characters that really shine in this series. The main character is not the stereotypical sleuthing scientist. She’s very much a regular person, not necessarily smarter or more daring than anyone else. There are complicated relationships, awkward moments and moments of real warmth along with plenty of humor. I hope Elly Griffiths keeps this series going a long time.   posted Apr 10, 2014 at 8:58AM

Cover ArtThe maze runner
by James Dashner
Yet another series of dystopian lit for young adults (and now a movie). This first volume creates many more questions than answers. It’s somewhat frustrating because of that. I would say as an adult cross-over this one doesn’t really cut it. I won’t read the next two in the series. Might be a good book for teens and especially for teen guys though.   posted Apr 4, 2014 at 11:27AM

Cover ArtThe land of dreams
by Sundstøl, Vidar
Lance Hansen, a law enforcement officer with the National Forest Service, with an interest in local history finds the dead body of a Norwegian tourist while investigating a report of an illegal campsite in this first book in a trilogy that takes place along Minnesota’s north shore. Not really involved in the investigation, nevertheless Lance does some asking around and befriends a Norwegian police office sent to help with the case. As we learn more about Lance and his family’s history a few more mysteries surface and some troubling connections between family members and this case and older ones. There are plenty of references to dreaming and with local myth and local mythological beings in this atmospheric mystery. This seems to me a typical Scandinavian mystery; more cerebral than action-packed. Pretty good book though and the setting is interesting since it’s local. I’ll definitely read the next one due in October.   posted Mar 26, 2014 at 11:32AM

Cover ArtThe invention of wings
by Sue Monk Kidd
This is one of those rare novels that grabs you from page 1. You know from the very beginning it’s going to be something special. Taking place from 1803 and spanning 30 years this is the story of a daughter of a white plantation owner and a slave girl of almost the same age. Sarah Grimke is based on the real historical figure who spoke for abolition and women’s rights--the second being the most universally derided. Sarah, the slave Handful and most especially Handful’s mother are inspirational and unforgettable characters. Best book of the year (so far) for me.   posted Mar 21, 2014 at 1:12PM

Cover ArtDead water : a Shetland mystery
by Cleeves, Ann.
Another engrossing entry in this great series. Love the Shetland Island setting where the weather acts as a virtual character: foggy during a murder, drizzly during lulls in the investigation, lashing rain during action/danger and sunny and warm at resolution. Jimmy Perez, life on hold after the death of Fran, stirs back to life himself when his help is needed to solve two murders. Also, a new inspector from Inverness adds an interesting thread. I hope Cleeves continues this series.   posted Mar 14, 2014 at 2:37PM

Cover ArtDeadly stakes : a novel
by J. A. Jance
A pretty good installment in the series. I listened to it rather than reading. It was slow at times but had some action at the end. Ali and B flit around trying to nail a killer while staying in high buck hotels, driving expensive cars and using the occasional helicopter when needed. Ali’s a bit at loose ends. She’s not a reporter, not a cop, I’m interested to see whether she decides to become a PI or what. Regardless, she did make one big life decision at the end of this book.   posted Mar 13, 2014 at 3:33PM

Cover ArtFly away
by Kristin Hannah
In this follow-up to Firefly Lane, best-friend Tully, daughter Marah and husband Johnny are still messes after the death of Kate. Tully, self-medicating and adrift decides to end it but only puts herself into a coma. Marah quits school and runs away. The story is told from various points of view, bouncing around from the present to flashbacks. You have to pay attention to keep track of where the timeline is. Good book though somewhat formulaic Hannah fare. Life is full of pain but also joy. The point is to live and love while you can. Can’t argue with that.   posted Mar 11, 2014 at 3:14PM

Cover ArtTell the wolves I’m home : a novel
by Carol Rifka Brunt
This book is about a 14-year-old girl’s relationships with her family. A beloved uncle dies of AIDs, sister Greta is cruel, friendship with Toby, Finn’s partner, must be secret. What underlies these relationships is slowly revealed through the novel and overall the journey is an enjoyable one. This book is classified as adult but is definitely a cross-over to YA.   posted Mar 10, 2014 at 1:35PM

Cover ArtThe likeness
by Tana French
I just don’t get the rave reviews for this author. I found both In the Woods and this book slow and pretty boring. I will say there is very good character development which is often missing in mysteries/thrillers. But though her books have promising premises, they just don’t deliver.   posted Feb 21, 2014 at 11:49AM

Cover ArtDeath overdue
by Kirwin, Mary Lou
This follow-up to Killer Librarian is more of the same cozy mystery fare. A quick read and easy mystery to figure out. Karen is about to embark on a new chapter in her life by the end. Surprise! Not :).   posted Feb 19, 2014 at 3:11PM

Cover ArtDog on it
by Spencer Quinn
Mostly for dog lovers. Though I like dogs, I found it a yawner. The only aspect that’s slightly interesting is that the book is told from the dog’s point of view.   posted Feb 18, 2014 at 11:40AM

Cover ArtCalling invisible women : a novel
by Jeanne Ray
One morning, Clover Hobart wakes up invisible. After panic subsides somewhat she realizes her husband and son don’t even notice. Clover eventually embraces her invisibility, hooks up with other invisibles (all middle-aged women) has a few adventures and organizes her kind to bring down the phamaceutical company responsible. A pretty fun read but, being a middle-aged woman myself, I found it ultimately depressing.   posted Feb 12, 2014 at 3:23PM

Cover ArtNight music [electronic resource]
It’s hard to find Jojo Moyes earlier works in the US but luckily I found this one in audio download. Another great read (listen).   posted Jan 30, 2014 at 2:37PM

Cover ArtThe girl you left behind
by Moyes, Jojo
As in Me Before You, Moyes delves into ethical issues and human relationships in her newest novel to date. At issue is what to do with a painting that may have been stolen during WWI. Though it was bought in good faith by the current owner, it may rightfully belong to the original owner’s family. Liv Halston, still reeling from her husband’s death is the current owner. A twist of circumstance finds her in a relationship with the man whose job is to possibly wrest the beloved painting from her. The story alternates between France during WWI and the current day. I loved this book as I did Moyes last novel.   posted Jan 17, 2014 at 1:43PM

Cover ArtBones of the lost : a novel
by Kathy Reichs
Kathy Reichs’s latest novel about Temperance Brennan is a good one. I thought there was less "lecturing" than usual which was great. Her last couple of novels are more action-packed. There’s still science but not so much and not so dry. Maybe she has accepted that her loyal readers have learned a bit about what she does. This one has some interesting stuff about the US military in Afghanistan and nicely pulls together all the cases Tempe is juggling.   posted Dec 31, 2013 at 11:57AM

Cover ArtWonder
by R. J. Palacio
I had not read a kid’s book in a long time but heard about this one somewhere and was able to get it on ebook quite quickly. This is a warm hearted story of August, a 10-year-old with a facial deformity that sounds a lot like Treacher Collins syndrome (though it is not named). Lucky for Auggie he has a loving family. He goes through the expected problems when he goes to school for the first time but makes some good friends and is pretty successful. Told from alternating viewpoints of Auggie and other kids (no adults) this is a quick feel-good read. Yes, "kids can be cruel" but they can be pretty darn nice too.   posted Dec 31, 2013 at 11:52AM

Cover ArtDown the darkest road
by Tami Hoag
I did like this book. It held my interest. However, it is not a mystery. The only mystery is who is going to be left standing at the end. Lauren Lawton has become the mother of a missing and presumed murdered child and widow of a suicide all within four years. She’s a mess and the police have not been able to help her due to lack of evidence. Though this is in the Oak Knoll series it reads pretty much like a stand-alone.   posted Dec 11, 2013 at 11:37AM

Cover ArtSecrets to the grave
by Tami Hoag
Great follow-up to Deeper than the dead that takes place just a short while after the end of the previous novel. Anne Navarre and Vince Leone have married and Anne has left her teaching job to become a child advocate. A terrible murder leaves a little girl all alone so Anne and Vince take her in while Vince works with the sheriff’s office to find the killer. It’s hard to think of a book that takes place in 1986 as a "period piece" but you do need to keep in mind there is no DNA analysis, no cell phones etc. Good characters and good mystery. Right up my alley.   posted Dec 4, 2013 at 10:26AM

Cover ArtDeeper than the dead
by Tami Hoag
Very good, quick read about a serial killer in a small town and the FBI agent who comes to help local law enforcement. It takes place in the 80s and I thought was true to the time. Besides the lack of current technology and forensic science, there was also a different kind of relationship between the men and women. More old school. The author did a pretty good job keeping you guessing as to the killer even though it was between just three guys. This is the first of three and I’ll definitely read the next one.   posted Nov 27, 2013 at 9:51AM

Cover ArtTamarack County : a novel
by Krueger, William Kent.
I loved this book. I think it’s one of the best of the series. Tons of action and suspense involving Cork O’Connor and his family. I like how there were multiple storylines with his family. I always like the personal, character stuff in these mystery series. Even those who have not read the whole series would enjoy this book. The author explains much of each character’s backstory but in an unobtrusive way so nothing is lost. SO glad I didn’t give up on the series after Trickster’s point.   posted Nov 19, 2013 at 3:27PM

Cover ArtBones are forever
by Kathy Reichs
I’m finally caught up the the newest one in this series. I don’t think I’ve ever read a series that I didn’t need to take a break from. I read the whole series almost without a single other book in between. It almost read like one long book. This one got panned a bit in the review but I liked it. Andrew Ryan is back and he and Tempe take a trip to the northern territories tracking a woman who killed several newborns and then disappeared. A couple of funny scenes, an old flame and a startling revelation from Katy.   posted Nov 13, 2013 at 1:37PM

Cover ArtFlash and bones
by Kathy Reichs
Good entry in a solid series. A bit of the flavor of NASCAR in Charlotte. Unfortunately Andrew Ryan is not in this one.   posted Nov 13, 2013 at 1:33PM

Cover ArtSycamore row
by John Grisham
Just before hanging himself, terminally ill Seth Hubbard writes a new will leaving his fortune to his housekeeper. The will specifically cuts out his two grown children and four grandchildren. He mails the will and a letter to Jake Brigance (from A time to kill) with instructions to fight to the bitter end to defend the will. As Jake sets out to do just that naturally he runs into a big contest from the offspring and their many lawyers. A pretty simple premise for this Grisham novel. Too simple in my opinion. Where are the twists, turns and surprises we’ve come to expect? I finished the book but the outcome was way too easy to predict. Since Grisham does little with his characters he needs to rely on a nifty plot. This was pretty pedestrian.   posted Nov 4, 2013 at 1:41PM

Cover Art206 bones
by Kathy Reichs
Loved this book in the Temperance Brennan series. As usual Tempe is investigating several deaths and examining lots of bones. In this one, it’s easy for us to see that someone new in the office in Montreal is not what she seems but Kathy Reichs has to back up Tempe’s discovery of treachery with science as usual. Tempe’s really smart but sometimes a bit too dense. Oh well, at least her relationship with Andrew Ryan is going better by the end of the book.   posted Oct 30, 2013 at 10:05AM

Cover ArtBridget Jones : mad about the boy
by Fielding, Helen
Bridget Jones is back and lucky us. Bridget has suffered a terrible tragedy in her life five years ago and is struggling to cope with being single again, this time with two small children. She’s still a walking disaster, and funny as ever, but with a bit of an edge due to her life experiences. She is more of a real character to me (maybe because she’s my age now!)than in the earlier books. This was by far my favorite of the three Bridget Jones books.   posted Oct 30, 2013 at 10:00AM

Cover ArtBones to ashes
by Kathy Reichs
I liked this one. I liked how it brought in some interesting things from Tempe’s childhood. The only thing that was puzzling was why Tempe could not figure out what caused bone deterioration on an old skeleton. Actually, I guessed it before she did. Things are not going so well in Tempe’s love life also grrrr.   posted Oct 22, 2013 at 9:25AM

Cover ArtBreak no bones
by Kathy Reichs
Very good installment in the series. Several bodies, several cases all lead to one grisly crime ring. Plenty of good stuff in the ongoing personal story for Tempe also, even if it’s not going how I would like.   posted Oct 22, 2013 at 9:22AM

Cover ArtCross bones
by Kathy Reichs
This one was ok but dragged on a bit for me. I have no interest in religion so maybe that’s why. Some plot elements turned out to be absolutely unrelated to the central mystery which I find strange. Probably could skip this one and not lose anything in the overall story arc.   posted Oct 17, 2013 at 9:44AM

Cover ArtMonday mourning
by Kathy Reichs
Pretty good book in the Temperance Brennan series. I did have a couple of issues with this book. First, I’m tired of Tempe’s complaints about Detective Claudel. The guy doesn’t fawn over her but he is very professional and I like him. Tempe just fumes and complains that her case is not always his top priority. Next, Tempe needs to learn to lighten up and laugh at herself. Obviously her job is deadly serious but really. Finally I simply did not buy the outcome of this book. I’m sure the author was just looking to fool us or yank our chains but sorry, I just don’t buy it.   posted Oct 11, 2013 at 3:15PM

Cover ArtThe lowland : a novel
by Jhumpa Lahiri
Subhash and Udayan are as close as two brothers can be when they are children but as they grow older, differences in ideology drive them apart. Eventually Subhash continues his education in America while Udayan continues his sedition in India. What happens in the lowland across from the family home in India will have long-lasting effects on Subhash, his parents and on Udayan’s wife and child. How much responsibility do we have to our relatives, do we give up our own lives for others or do we follow our own path leaving relatives behind? Both extremes are illustrated in this beautifully written novel. In some ways I see the same types of themes in this book as in Khaled Hosseini’s "And the mountains echoed". Again in the Lowland, like And the mountains echoed I liked that characters were willing to forgive and reconnect. Maybe love does not conquer all, but, as one character contemplates ending her life, it seems that life conquers all. To go on living is to make anything possible.   posted Oct 10, 2013 at 1:23PM

Cover ArtBare bones
by Kathy Reichs
Another good installment to the series. I liked some of the characters in North Carolina which were new. We’ve mainly been in Canada with Tempe in the earlier books. One of the main plot elements in this book is smuggling but there’s also plenty of snuggling as Tempe and Detective Ryan finally get their relationship off the ground.   posted Oct 8, 2013 at 2:35PM

Cover ArtDeadly decisions
by Kathy Reichs
An ok entry in the Temperance Brennan series. Tempe is involved in a task force dealing with the doings of outlaw motorcycle gangs. We also get to meet her sister Harry’s son Kit. As usual the book has the little "lectures" about various topics. Those are the only downfalls of these books. They just go on a little too long. Ok some bikers are bad. Ok blood splatter is revealing. Most people these days follow real crime and tv crime enough to know that various techniques exist for forensic analysis. We don’t really need the minute details. The only really negative thing about this book is that Tempe’s co-worker/friend/possible more-than-friend, Andrew Ryan gets sort of written out of this book. It’s like the author didn’t want to deal with their relationship story-arc and so awkwardly put Ryan out of the book. Probably could skip this one and not lose anything of the overall story.   posted Oct 2, 2013 at 11:52AM

Cover ArtGrave secrets
by Kathy Reichs
A pretty good entry in the Temperance Brennan, forensic anthropoligist series. Tempe is in Guatemala excavating graves from genocidal killings of Mayan indians and finds herself also involved in the cases of some missing young women. This one moved a little slowly for me but picked up towards the end and I ended up liking it quite a bit.   posted Sep 27, 2013 at 9:59AM

Cover ArtFatal voyage
by Kathy Reichs
This is the first book of this series I’ve read and I liked it very much. I’ve read the Patricia Cornwell, Kay Scarpetta books but I like Tempe Brennan better as a character. She’s a bit prickly but seems to be more human than Kay. I like the scrapes she gets into. Though the subject is "dead" serious of course, my only complaint would be they could use a bit more humor.   posted Sep 27, 2013 at 9:55AM

Cover ArtDeath du jour
by Kathy Reichs
Another good book (#2) in this series. The only thing I can say I don’t like so much is the sometimes overly long descriptions of the science but I know Kathy Reichs is dedicated to getting the science right. However, sometimes it’s so obviously for the reader. Tempe asks questions I gotta think she already knows the answer to. Oh well. I like these books a lot so far. So many readers on Goodreads are upset or bothered that the books are not like the TV series (Bones, which is loosely based on these books), but I have not seen, nor intend to see the series and so am not bothered by that. Just be warned if you like Bones, you might not like the books as much because the characters/setting etc. are different.   posted Sep 18, 2013 at 11:32AM

Cover ArtDeja dead
by Kathy Reichs
Similar to the Patricia Cornwell books but Temperance Brennan is a forensic anthropologist, an expert on bones. In this first book some of her technical stuff gets a little long and boring but I like Tempe better than Kay Scarpetta. Tempe seems more human. We get inside her head and feel her emotions more. Kay Scarpetta always seemed kind of cold to me. Tempe is lonely, angry, terrified. Good first novel for Reichs.   posted Sep 13, 2013 at 1:57PM

Cover ArtHow the light gets in
by Penny, Louise.
Readers have been waiting on pins and needles for the follow-up to Beautiful Mystery in which Jean-Guy Beauvoir abandoned his friend, mentor and possible father-in-law Armand Gamache, and joined Gamache’s enemies in the Surete. Only Isabelle LaCoste remains loyal to Gamache--or so it seems. This book has it all: a murder to be investigated, a deep dark conspiracy in the Surete to be uncovered, danger, action and suspense. As always it’s the characters that shine in this wonderful series. Beauvoir struggles with his addictions and anger, the residents of Three Pines are their usual selves with some additional opening up by Ruth Zardo and a character we have not seen for a while returns and is finally transformed by the power of love. A dark plan is uncovered and though it gets dicey for our heroes toward the end, rest assured that all will be well.   posted Sep 13, 2013 at 1:47PM

Cover ArtThe silver star : a novel
by Jeannette Walls
When Liz and Bean’s mother can no longer care for them, to avoid social services they decide to "visit" their uncle Tinsley in Virginia. Though at first he won’t even let them in the house, he warms up pretty soon and the girls become part of the community. To earn money, they go to work for the local mill foreman, a horrible bully who controls the people who work for him even in their personal lives (if a mill ever needed unionization it’s this one). They work for him and his wife in his home and he gets involved in their personal lives to a degree I think most of us, even as kids, would see as wrong. When an incident occurs, the girls struggle with the dilemma of involving the police or not. I read this book in a couple of hours. It reads a lot like a Teen book. I loved the spunky character of Bean but I’m not sure what to make of the ending which was a bit of a shock.   posted Sep 4, 2013 at 8:58AM

Cover ArtPoppy done to death
by Harris, Charlaine
The Aurora Teagarden series comes to a close with Roe’s step-sister-in-law getting murdered right before she is set to be inducted into "Uppity Women" an exclusive book club (what an idea!). As usual Roe is in the middle of things. Things are also getting more serious with her on-again flame, Robin. I enjoyed this series very much. Great light reading/listening for the bus commute and all the audiobooks are available on OneClick Digital.   posted Sep 4, 2013 at 8:43AM

Cover ArtThe call : a novel
by Yannick Murphy
This novel is written in a unique style I’ve never encountered before. Every paragraph is headed with things like "what the kids said" and "what the wife cooked". As veterinarian David treats horses and sheep, visits his comatose son and sees a UFO we become immersed in the large and small aspect of his life. Life. He is surrounded with it. The animals he treats, their owners, his family, even flies buzzing in his house in winter. This book is chock full of life. You’ll read it all in one gulp and wonder where the time went. It’s too short. Just like, ya know...   posted Aug 26, 2013 at 8:03PM

Cover ArtBlue lightning
by Ann Cleeves
This was a good book but for some reason it seemed to take me forever to get through it. Maybe because I knew what was coming at the end (I innocently read a synopsis of the next book in the series d’oh). Jimmy Perez takes fiancee Fran to meet his parents on Fair Isle and while there two murders are committed. Due to a storm, Jimmy’s on his own investigating for a while. Things get muddy when it seems his own father might have had a role in the second murder. Interesting characters, each with his/her requisite secret, abound. I liked this book but really hated how it ended. Why do so many authors not allow their policemen characters any happiness?   posted Aug 23, 2013 at 9:03AM

Cover ArtLast scene alive
by Charlaine Harris
Aurora Teagarden, a year removed from the sudden, tragic death of her husband Martin is starting to take an interest in life again. A movie crew is in town shooting the movie from the book her friend Robin wrote about their first murder adventure. Robin is also looking to rekindle his and Roe’s relationship. When the star of the movie turns up dead, Roe gets involved in spite of herself. Good installment in the series.   posted Aug 23, 2013 at 8:55AM

Cover ArtA fool and his honey
by Harris, Charlaine
"I thought you were a nice lady" says a character to Aurora Teagarden in this book. "Not any more" is the answer. No lie! Roe, together with husband Martin and his niece Regina and baby Hayden get embroiled in a murderous rampage by some people desperate for a baby. Roe, who recently found out she could not have a baby is left holding little Hayden when Regina disappears. Roe, far from the witty Southern librarian has morphed into a tough, impatient broad. Though she bemoans her infertility, she really doesn’t like taking care of the baby. Though this is a "cozy" series this installment is not too cozy but I liked it. Lots of action is this, slightly darker book and Roe suffers a nasty life-changing event at the end.   posted Aug 14, 2013 at 10:12AM

Cover ArtKiller librarian
by Mary Lou Kirwin
Fun little cozy mystery with all the ingredients. Attractive "older woman", loves books, librarian, jilted by one lover, finds another. Oh, and a bucket of money lands in her lap at the end to ensure she’ll have lots of freedom in future books. Another Aurora Teagarden w/o the southern feistiness.   posted Aug 12, 2013 at 2:02PM

Cover ArtDead over heels
by Harris, Charlaine
Kind of a boring entry into the series. It seemed like just when the mystery was getting kind of interesting it ended. Meanwhile Roe’s bodyguards Angel and Shelby have a surprise in store and Martin, still a bit of a mystery himself, is barely even in this book.   posted Aug 7, 2013 at 11:45AM

Cover ArtThe unlikely pilgrimage of Harold Fry : a novel
by Rachel Joyce
What starts out as a spur of the moment decision to walk from one end of England to the other to visit a dying friend becomes a journey of redemption for Harold Fry. Newly retired, Harold gets a letter that a former co-worker to whom he owes a debt of gratitude is dying. She writes to say goodbye so he decides to walk to see her, hoping that as long as he’s walking she will live. Meanwhile his estranged wife begins an emotional journey of her own while never leaving home. Much is revealed in flashbacks throughout the book giving insight to the problems in the marriage. Both Harold and Maureen are changed by their respective journeys. I didn’t find this too sentimental or maybe I’m just sentimental but I loved this book.   posted Aug 5, 2013 at 1:04PM

Cover ArtThe Julius House
by Harris, Charlaine
Aurora Teagarden is now married to the mysterious Martin Bartell and living in the Julius house. Nine years ago the three members of the Julius family went missing. Though Roe is not creeped out living in their house, of course she has to investigate. When some bones are found her investigation is ramped up with the help of Angel, her new body guard. Meanwhile, when is Martin going to give up all his secrets? Another good entry in the series except I didn’t quite understand the ending.   posted Aug 2, 2013 at 10:54AM

Cover ArtA time to kill
by John Grisham
First, I want to say I did like this book. I spent a lot of the weekend reading it. It has a good plot and I did want to know how it ended. However, I find myself wishing Grisham would just write screen plays and forget the novels. I don’t understand authors who can only describe what people do and say, only occasionally what they think and and never mention what anyone feels (no, hung over and nauseous don’t count). Plot is about what characters do but the meat of fiction is (or should be) why. There’s never a why to any of Grisham’s characters. I should know that by now but it still amazes me.   posted Jul 30, 2013 at 1:05PM

Cover ArtThree bedrooms, one corpse [electronic resource]
Another cozy little mystery with Aurora Teagarden the former librarian and now independently wealthy lady of leisure. At loose ends as to what to do to occupy her time Roe toys with the idea of selling real estate with her mother. She changes her mind after discovering a corpse in a house she is unofficially showing. Roe also has a new, hot love interest in the mysterious Martin Bartell. He’s a far cry from "I don’t believe in pre-marital sex" Aubrey! These mysteries are fun and uncomplicated. Just right for listening on the bus or while walking.   posted Jul 29, 2013 at 10:26AM

Cover ArtA bone to pick
by Harris, Charlaine
Big changes for Aurora Teagarden after she inherits a house and a fortune from another member of the now defunct Real Murders club. Now that she’s independently wealthy and Arthur (her boyfriend from Real Murders) has married someone else, what’s in store for Roe? A new career? A new beau? New murders to investigate? All of the above? I’ll give you one guess. This series of mysteries is quick, light-weight and fun.   posted Jul 23, 2013 at 11:52AM

Cover ArtReal murders
by Harris, Charlaine
This is kind of a nice cozy mystery in a way. The main character, Aurora Teagarden, is a 28-year-old small town librarian who belongs to a murder fan club. When she discovers a real body she’s understandably shocked and can’t help doing a little investigating here and there on her own. Pretty light-weight, but I did like the audiobook. Just right for listening on the bus.   posted Jul 15, 2013 at 12:54PM

Cover ArtRed bones : a thriller
by Ann Cleeves
A woman is found dead at an archeological site on Whalsay Island the apparent victim of a stray bullet from a rabbit hunter’s gun. Jimmy Perez and Sandy Wilson investigate but it looks like an accident. However, when one of the archeologists is found dead of an apparent suicide, it all looks too coincidental. Was it murder? Will secrets from the past lie at the heart? I really liked the mystery in this book. Also the character of Sandy Wilson is developed and allowed to grow up and spread his wings.   posted Jul 12, 2013 at 9:59AM

Cover ArtVera. Set 1 [videorecording]
by Shergold, Adrian
Vera Stanhope is a 60-something, smart and prickly as heck detective chief inspector in the north of England. The opposite of soft and cuddly or motherly she’s never been married and doesn’t like kids(though in the final ep of set 1 she may have changed her feelings a bit). This is a tv series from the UK now filming its fourth season there. Written by Ann Cleeves, the novels about Vera have not been available in the US until this spring. I LOVE this show.   posted Jul 9, 2013 at 10:22AM

Cover ArtWhite nights : a thriller
by Ann Cleeves
During the "simmer dim" when the sun never goes down in Shetland, Jimmy Perez investigates the deaths of two people in the far north of the island. One is an unknown man and the other the most famous Shetlander in the world. I loved this book. I liked it better than the first one (Raven Black) as the main character was a bit more developed and it just had a different feel. Maybe the simmer dim affected me too as Raven Black took place in the winter.   posted Jul 9, 2013 at 10:05AM

Cover ArtI shall not want
by Julia Spencer-Fleming
I didn’t care for the mystery quite as much in this installment in the series. However, it was ok. It was the characters that kept me hooked on this one. Russ appears to be finally getting over his guilt related to his wife’s death and is ready to move on with Clare. Clare meanwhile has joined the reserves at her bishop’s urging. Apparently he was hoping military activities would fulfill her need for "action". This makes NO sense as obviously she will be called up and sent overseas. Oh well. This book also introduces a new character as Hadley Knox joins the Miller’s Kill PD.   posted Jul 2, 2013 at 10:31AM

Cover ArtThe troubled man
by Mankell, Henning
Mankell’s Kurt Wallander series ends on a fittingly melancholy note as he investigates the disappearances of his daughter’s in-laws. Wallander remains his brooding, cerebral self when considering what is going on in this case. As usual he has a breakthrough towards the end where he realizes he’s been misled and he figures (almost) everything out. Along the way he suffers the pangs of age: losing friends, disturbing physical and mental symptoms and loneliness. Even his dog gets sick. I was a little bored by the mystery itself though the pace picked up towards the end. It’s a little hard not to be depressed by how this book ends.   posted Jun 28, 2013 at 10:59AM

Cover ArtWhere’d you go, Bernadette : a novel
by Semple, Maria.
I usually avoid books written in letters, or, these days in letters, emails and texts. This book had quite a bit of buzz though so I decided to try it. Even though the disjointed format bothered me it was not too distracting. At first the book is just funny with some eccentric and sort of manic characters. Then it gets kind of serious and there was a downtime in the middle where I almost set it aside. Then, some of the characters changed and it became more like a regular novel. The only thing I didn’t like was this story perpetuates the myth that geniuses are always strange and eccentric.   posted Jun 23, 2013 at 2:51PM

Cover ArtAll mortal flesh
by Spencer-Fleming, Julia.
Yet another good book in the Clare Ferguson/Russ Van Alstyne series. The story is an emotional roller coaster for the characters and the reader. What will happen with Russ’s marriage? Do he and Clare have a future? One question is answered and the other is still an unknown. I really like this series.   posted Jun 23, 2013 at 2:50PM

Cover ArtRaven black
by Cleeves, Ann.
When a girl is found murdered in a small, tight-knit community in the Shetland Islands everyone immediately suspects an old man who was a suspect in a girl’s unsolved disappearance many years earlier. There’s no proof, however, and Detective Jimmy Perez is keeping an open mind. Jimmy, Fran (who discovered the body), the girl’s father and a visiting detective investigate the murder and the disappearance from the past. Suspense builds to a frenzy by the night of a local fire festival. Good mystery which is the start of a series (always looking for good mystery series). Good characters and hints of relationships to come. After reading this I found myself driving around Google street view in Lerfield and reading about Up Helly Aa.   posted Jun 18, 2013 at 11:31AM

Cover ArtTo darkness and to death
by Spencer-Fleming, Julia.
Another good installment in this series. Clare spends a ton of time out of church searching for a missing woman and comforting the family of another woman who was beaten nearly to death. Others try to cover up crimes or accidents, only getting into deeper trouble. All culminates at a gala that turns into a catastrophe. By the end of the book Russ makes an important decision about his feelings for Clare.   posted Jun 18, 2013 at 10:32AM

Cover ArtAnd the mountains echoed
by Hosseini, Khaled.
Unlike Housseini’s earlier books, this novel is more like a series of related stories rather than a regular novel. The book covers time from the 1950s until nearly the present day. Various characters from one chapter reappear in another. All of the characters are related or connected in some way. A running theme is the sacrifices people make for others. Whether it is from guilt, obligation or love, some of the characters make great sacrifices for the others in their lives while others can’t find it within themselves to make those sacrifices. However, even if one has run away from those they love or who need their help, it is never too late to rekindle relationships. Definitely a worthwhile read, but not quite as good as his earlier novels.   posted Jun 10, 2013 at 8:53PM

Cover ArtOut of the deep I cry
by Spencer-Fleming, Julia.
Very good entry in the series; maybe my favorite so far. Russ investigates the disappearance of a local doctor and Clare gets involved because the funding for the doctor’s clinic gets diverted to St. Alban’s for a new roof. This author has an uncanny and beliveable way to get a priest involved in police investigations and into dangerous spots. Kind of crazy but lots of fun. Also things are heating up between Russ and Clare.   posted Jun 5, 2013 at 2:31PM

Cover ArtTrickster’s point : a novel
by Krueger, William Kent.
After reading the first eight Cork O’Connor mysteries I took a break (got mad when the author killed off a character). Now I’ve gone back and read some of the more recent ones. I don’t find these as good as the first ones. They’re ok and I still like most of the characters but there’s not as much about the characters interiors (what’s they’re thinking and feeling) as earlier and too much stuff on god and spirituality (not my thing).   posted May 31, 2013 at 9:53AM

Cover ArtThe stranger
by Lackberg, Camilla
One of my favorites by Lackberg so far. All the characters are out of their respective funks and taking part in the action whether it be solving crime or planning a wedding. A well-realized plot that draws from the past and present. Ends with some forshadowing for her next in the series. I wish it didn’t take so long for them to get published here. We’re about three books behind.   posted May 28, 2013 at 11:14AM

Cover ArtThe sound of broken glass
by Crombie, Deborah.
Another good entry in the James/Kincaid series. Gemma and Melody are front and center investigating the murders of two lawyers. Duncan is a temporary stay at home dad and Doug is laid up with a broken ankle. Some characters from other books show up and all is very enjoyable. Although I thought the murderer was too obvious from the start, turns out I was wrong. A nice surprise.   posted May 24, 2013 at 12:35PM

Cover ArtA fountain filled with blood
by Spencer-Fleming, Julia.
Another good entry in this series. Clare gets herself into some interesting (and funny) scrapes as she does some investigation into the murder of the contractor for a local, and controversial, building project. I knew it wouldn’t be long before the author got Clare back in a helicopter and I was not disappointed.   posted May 24, 2013 at 12:30PM

Cover ArtIn the bleak midwinter
by Spencer-Fleming, Julia.
A new series for me. I think I found this series by checking out another author’s recommendations at the bottom of their page on Fantastic Fiction. FF is a great source in case you’ve never tried it. Anyway, I went into this with some trepidation because the main character is an Episcopal priest. However, she’s definitely not traditional and I enjoyed her very much. Good characters and good mystery.   posted May 24, 2013 at 12:27PM

Cover ArtNorthwest angle : a novel
by Krueger, William Kent.
Ok Cork O’Connor mystery. A good beginning, very gripping but then sort of petered out in the middle and then got better towards the end. A senseless death of one character I thought and a pretty unbelivable ending.   posted May 24, 2013 at 12:23PM

Cover ArtMe before you
by Moyes, Jojo
Louisa Clark, former waitress and main breadwinner for three generations of her family is desperate for a job when she becomes care-giver and companion to quadriplegic Will Traynor, former ruthless financier and liver of life in the fast lane. Both are living small lives for different reasons. Lou due to fear and trauma over an incident in her past and Will due to physical limitations. Written with humor, compassion and non-judgmental about the issue of assisted suicide this book is a joy. The best I’ve read this year so far.   posted May 8, 2013 at 8:52AM

Cover ArtDon’t go
by Scottoline, Lisa
A good stand-alone by Scottoline. She’s starting to encroach on Kristen Hannah territory. After barely even including men in some of her past books, or including men as cardboard cutouts, she made one her main character. Way to go! Yes! Men. have. emotions. My only complaint would be that everything was resolved super-fast in the last few pages. Left me feeling a bit shell-shocked.   posted May 6, 2013 at 10:22AM

Cover ArtNecessary as blood
by Crombie, Deborah.
A good mystery and good entry in the series by Crombie. This is the longest one I think, so far. It did feel a little long, like maybe they were never going to get to the solution. Things all worked out though and there were a couple of major changes in the lives of the characters.   posted Apr 29, 2013 at 10:59AM

Cover ArtWater like a stone
by Crombie, Deborah.
As in her last installment in this series, Crombie takes several seemingly unrelated crimes/events and eventually brings everything together. Good mystery and good stuff with the recurring characters as we meet Duncan’s family. Kit also figures prominently in the story.   posted Apr 25, 2013 at 10:42AM

Cover ArtIn a dark house
by Crombie, Deborah.
One of the better in this series from a mystery standpoint. Lots of seemingly unrelated things going on that all come together at the end. Not too much to advance the overall story arc with the characters. I can’t believe, no matter what was going on, that Duncan would miss Kit’s hearing! Oh well, conflict pushes the story along.   posted Apr 19, 2013 at 1:25PM

Cover ArtNow may you weep
by Crombie, Deborah.
So-so entry in the Kincaid/James series. Though I figured out the murderer following Crombie’s usual ploy of picking a peripheral character, I feel a bit cheated. A major fact about the character and her relationship with the victim is left out. No fair. Nothing too big or unexpected in the side story of our heroes relationship. It’ll interesting to see how Crombie will work the plots since Duncan and Gemma are no longer partners at work.   posted Apr 16, 2013 at 9:38AM

Cover ArtAnd justice there is none
by Crombie, Deborah.
More life changes for Gemma and Duncan in this installment in the series. Also, I enjoyed the actual mystery and the characters involved in it. I figured out the killer by using a formula: it’s never a main character, but a peripheral one. Enjoyed it nevertheless. Lots of description of the location (Notting Hill) as always.   posted Apr 15, 2013 at 9:44AM

Cover ArtA finer end
by Crombie, Deborah.
Another good entry in this series. As with her last book, there’s a travel brochure aspect. Crombie vists England to explore the settings for each novel and it shows. I enjoy that especially as this one takes place in Glastonbury. I read another novel within the year that took place there but during the 1100s. I would not say anything really BIG happens in any of these novels but I enjoy the characters so much. There is a big development in the relationship between Gemma and Duncan in this installment.   posted Apr 12, 2013 at 1:15PM

Cover ArtThe book thief [electronic resource]
This appears to be one of those books you like or really hate. The style is a little unusual in that the story is told by Death. Appropriate however, perhaps as the book takes place in Nazi Germany, ironically on a street called "Himmel" (heaven). Some people are annoyed by the narrator and the sometimes weird descriptions. Partly, maybe because I was listening and the reader was really good, the style did not bother me. I have to say I found this book good but not overly compelling. I’m surprised by the young people who read it and called it "life changing" but perhaps they are just discovering literature about the Holocaust. Want something about the Holocaust that’s life changing? Try Night by Elie Wiesel.   posted Apr 10, 2013 at 9:39AM

Cover ArtA dying fall
by Griffiths, Elly
The latest installment in the Ruth Galloway series is entertaining but was a little disappointing because 1. Little happens to advance the story arc with the recurring characters and 2. Ruth actually does almost no forensic archeology. Ruth, with Kate and Cathbad in tow, is in the north of England after an old friend makes a discovery and asks her to provide an opinion on some bones. Unfortunately the friend has been murdered and the bones are nowhere to be found. Kate’s father, DCI Harry Nelson who is from the area is visiting family and an old copper friend at the same time. Not too many encounters between the two, but a bit of suspense towards the end. Unfortunately for me, a fact in the murder makes no sense. A man dies in a fire because he can’t get out of his house. The door has been locked from the outside. Okaaaay. So why couldn’t he unlock and open it from the inside? It’s never explained and no matter how much I try to ignore it, it just keeps popping up in my mind.   posted Apr 8, 2013 at 9:47AM

Cover ArtKissed a sad goodbye
by Crombie, Deborah.
Although I don’t find the actual mysteries in this series very suspenseful or compelling, I can overlook that shortcoming because the author does such a great job developing the characters. For me, plot is always less important than complex, well-developed characters. Crombie does not let us down in this installment in the Kincaid/James series. Outside of the mystery, Duncan continues to struggle in his relationship with Kit and Gemma spreads her wings a bit.   posted Apr 1, 2013 at 9:02AM

Cover ArtDreaming of the bones
by Crombie, Deborah.
Duncan’s ex-wife calls him to ask him to look into the death of a poet whose biography she’s writing. At first I was bored as I listened to this but then something happened that grabbed my attention. A bit of tension between Duncan and Gemma at first over the ex but then a bombshell as something happens that will change their lives forever. I ended up liking this book quite a lot.   posted Mar 27, 2013 at 11:37AM

Cover ArtThe expats : a novel
by Pavone, Chris
Kate is a wife and mom who just happens to be a former CIA agent. When the family moves to Luxembourg for a great job opportunity and chance to make lot of money she finds she’s not happy as a full-time mom. Good book all the way around with a plot with tons of twists and turns and great characters. Only thing I find funny is that although husband Dexter is acting veeerrry suspicious Kate clings to her resolve not to investigate him. Show me a wife who would not use all the tools at her disposal to find out what her husband is up to! Impossible.   posted Mar 25, 2013 at 3:00PM

Cover ArtMourn not your dead
by Crombie, Deborah.
My favorite of this series so far. Things are awkward between our heroes Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James after what happened in the last book. Their interactions make the series go. A good mystery with very well drawn characters, great atmosphere and just a touch of danger.   posted Mar 22, 2013 at 1:54PM

Cover ArtA week in winter
by Binchy, Maeve.
Pretty matter-of-fact story of an Irish woman who buys an old house in the West of Ireland and converts it to an inn. Stories of the employees and the first visitors are told in vignettes. As usual in Binchy’s later works especially, anyone who works hard, is creative and forward-thinking is successful. Pleasing nevertheless. Binchy’s last book. We’ll miss you, Maeve.   posted Mar 13, 2013 at 11:15AM

Cover ArtAll shall be well
by Crombie, Deborah.
Ok mystery with a nice continuing side story with the main characters.   posted Mar 13, 2013 at 11:07AM

Cover ArtThe light between oceans : a novel
by Stedman, M. L.
Emotional story of a childless couple and a baby in a dinghy seemingly given to them by God. Unfortunately the baby has a mother and therein lies the conflict in the story. No easy answers here as many suffer and struggle with love and guilt. Quite an amazing first novel with a heart wrenching ending.   posted Mar 9, 2013 at 2:00PM

Cover ArtThe beautiful mystery
by Penny, Louise.
I found the mystery going on in this book only mildly interesting. What kept me listening was the ongoing story with the shootout that happened between books and the release of the video of the incident and how it has affected the characters and their relationships. Gamache and Beauvoir have reached an impasse by the end and their future is uncertain even as they may someday be related.   posted Feb 26, 2013 at 12:18PM

Cover ArtThe last runaway
by Chevalier, Tracy
Honor Bright, an aptly named Quaker woman leaves her home in England with her sister for a new life in 1850s America. Sudden twists and turns in events leaves her alone and then eventually married in her new Ohio home. Quakers don’t believe in slavery and many in the community help runaways in spite of strict laws that not only forbid it, but require those asked by slave catchers to render aid in the capture. Honor defies her family and helps runaways, but the issues are not black and white. Looking at slavery from our perspective, it seems obvious but the issue was more complicated then. Even Honor, who helps runaways as much as she is able, realizes she at first fails to see them as people; hesitates to touch them or drink where they have drunk. The author does a wonderful job as always rendering an historical period in its own terms and the characters are wonderful and true. She has told a complex story in a deceptively simple way.   posted Feb 18, 2013 at 11:04AM

Cover ArtPride and prejudice and zombies : the classic Regency romance-- now with ultravi
by Grahame-Smith, Seth.
All this author did was take Pride and Prejudice as written by Jane Austen and insert extra stuff. The zombie stuff is just so obviously tacked on. Gimicky. Stick to the original. There’s a reason it’s a classic.   posted Feb 12, 2013 at 4:00PM

Cover ArtBury your dead
by Penny, Louise.
The mystery in this book (the murder of the man searching for Champlain’s grave) is of secondary importance. The main point of this installment in Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series is to explain what happened "between books". Our beloved characters were involved in a bloody shootout that left several dead and wounded. Inspector Gamache and Jean-Guy Beauvoir are recovering from wounds both physical and psychological. Also, Jean-Guy travels to Three Pines to further investigate the murder from "A Brutal Telling" for which Bistro owner Olivier was convicted. Great stuff for the ongoing story but the Champlain stuff was interesting only from an historical perspective.   posted Feb 1, 2013 at 12:49PM

Cover ArtPride and prejudice [DVD]
by Austen, Jane
By far the best screen adaptation of the Jane Austen classic. With five hours the story can be shown fully without having to cram things in (as in the Keira Knightly movie). This BBC/A&E production is faithful to the novel and is well-cast. If only Mrs. Bennet wasn’t quite so shrill I’d say it’s nearly perfect. A star-making role for Colin Firth.   posted Jan 25, 2013 at 1:46PM

Cover ArtAustenland : a novel
by Hale, Shannon
Three weeks in Austenland, a role-playing vacation destination is just what Jane needs, she thinks, to rid herself of the male ideal (like Mr. Darcy in P&P). Maybe that’s what’s been keeping her from finding her “one”. Once there though, she’s by turns uncomfortable with the unreality of it and really into the role-playing. The “gentlemen” are paid actors. She hooks up with the “gardener” and the Darcy-ish “Mr. Nobley” woos her but is anything real? Does either of these men actually love her? Does she want them to? Each chapter begins with a short blurb about a past boyfriend and a sorry lot they are. It seems she has been duped or dumped in every possible way. Overall the book is fun and there are plenty of laughs. The scene where Jane takes her turn on the pianoforte elicited one of the biggest laughs I’ve had from a novel. The movie has already been produced and is at Sundance this year and will be distributed by Sony after that, produced by (another Austenophile) Stephenie Meyer.   posted Jan 24, 2013 at 10:52AM

Cover ArtPride & prejudice [videorecording]
by Wright, Joe
The film with Kiera Knightly is not a bad adaptation but can’t hold a candle to the 1995 miniseries. Of course the movie is much shorter and so can’t tell the story as fully, but Mr. Darcy looks like a basset hound (not even attractive). Far from glowering or meaningful looks he can only look blank. The girls with their hair flying just don’t act like Austen girls. Skip it.   posted Jan 16, 2013 at 12:39PM

Cover ArtThe brutal telling
by Penny, Louise.
Inspector Gamache is back in Three Pines to investigate another murder which seems to implicate the bistro owner Olivier. On the surface a nice man, there are some not-so-nice characteristics lurking beneath. Who is the murdered man? And what about the new people converting the old Hadley house into an inn and spa? Though someone is brought to justice, this book has an uneasy ending.   posted Jan 16, 2013 at 8:45AM

Cover ArtPride and prejudice
by Austen, Jane
The timeless, 100% zombie-free classic that is the foundation and framework for hundreds of romance novels. It should be considered required reading for novel lovers. The British class system is overruled by True Love.   posted Jan 16, 2013 at 8:38AM

Cover ArtThe house next door
by Siddons, Anne Rivers.
Uberhappy, attractive and successful Colquitt Kennedy is dismayed when she learns a house is to be built on the wooded lot next door. After the house is built however, it’s beautiful and she and her husband have befriended the architect. All seems well until people move in. Three families live in the house in the course of the novel and all come to bad ends. From loss of career, to mental breakdown and escalating to murder, it seems the house it out to get people. Eventually Col and husband Walter sacrifice their comfortable lives to come out and let the public know that they believe the house is evil. All in all an ok book, the first I’ve read by this author. I was hoping for a bit more of a sense of horror but it was pretty tame. Made into a mediocre movie in 2006.   posted Jan 10, 2013 at 10:33AM

Cover ArtA land more kind than home
by Cash, Wiley
This is the story of religious fervor and religious fraud in a small town in the 1980s. Told from three perspectives it’s a simple and compelling story and very tragic. Since the reader knows all (or nearly all), it’s easy to see exactly what is going to happen. That was kind of frustrating since none of the characters really put it all together and blamed the right person. I actually almost quit reading. However, I kept on and I guess I’m glad I did. I’d try this author again as I think this was his first book.   posted Jan 4, 2013 at 12:52PM

Cover ArtA rule against murder
by Penny, Louise.
When a murder is committed at the resort where Armand and madam Gamache are staying, naturally he takes over the investigation. He has come to know the people at the inn and the others staying there. Actually, this story is more about them than about the murdered person or the murderer, or even the mystery itself. All that is secondary. This story is more about a family and its past.   posted Dec 28, 2012 at 10:26AM

Cover ArtFlight behavior : a novel
by Kingsolver, Barbara.
Flight Behavior is a luminous novel about fight and flight on different levels. Main character Dellarobia Turnbow discovers that monarch butterflies are over-wintering on her husband’s family’s farm instead of in Mexico as they should. The phenomenon of millions of butterflies draws the curious and also scientists worried about the odd behavior and possible demise of the butterflies. There’s a great scene when scientist Ovid takes a reporter to task about her coverage of climate change. Dellarobia becomes close to Ovid who enlightens her about climate change, scientific method and butterfly behavior. She soaks it up like a sponge and her life changes. At the end, though everything’s changing, there’s hope that Dellarobia and her children’s lives will be better and that somehow, nature will persevere. One of the best novels of 2012.   posted Dec 18, 2012 at 1:42PM

Cover ArtTurn of mind
by LaPlante, Alice
Incredible mystery told from the point of view of a woman in the throes of dementia. Former orthopedic surgeon Jennifer White’s neighbor and long-time friend has been murdered and she is a suspect. The narrative alternates between Dr. White’s moments of lucidity and episodes of complete disconnect where she may believe she is 18 years old again or that her dead mother is beside her. In an especially surreal scene she escapes her care facility and goes to a free clinic and begins to treat patients. We learn about her past in snips all the while trying to follow what’s going on in her present. Surprisingly it works very well. Engrossing novel that keeps you thinking, what if it were me?   posted Dec 18, 2012 at 1:40PM

Cover ArtThe newlyweds : a novel
by Freudenberger, Nell.
Excellent story of culture clash, complicated family relationships and missed chances. Amina comes to the U.S. from Bangladesh to marry George in order to better herself and has carefully planned work, school and citizenship in order to bring her parents over also. However, all is bittersweet after she finds out a bit more about her husband’s past relationships and that a Deshi man she loved is still available when she goes back to get her parents. Unfortunately, like many women, Muslim or not, it seems that her wants and desires must always take a back seat to those of the parents, husband or children. A frustrating story that can only really end one way and does, but it’s not the way I wanted.   posted Dec 9, 2012 at 5:49PM

Cover ArtHeartbroken : a novel
by Unger, Lisa
Enjoyable suspense novel. I like how Unger gets us into the characters heads. Though there is plenty of action, there’s no rush to get to it. This increases the suspense. My only complaint would be that after everything’s over her books seem to go on a little longer than needed.   posted Dec 9, 2012 at 5:39PM

Cover ArtNever fall down : a novel
by McCormick, Patricia
This book is a riveting account of a child’s horrific experiences during the reign of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia in the mid to late 70s. All the more disturbing to find out this is basically a true story with the author just filling in gaps in Arn Chorn’s memory that make it fictional. Arn is an incredible person who is still suffering from his experiences but helping others as he helps himself. This is definitely a cross-over YA book that will appeal to adults and may be too intense for sensitive teens. Follow it up by viewing the film The Flute Player and see Arn and others from the story as he travels to Cambodia for one of his projects: reviving traditional music.   posted Dec 4, 2012 at 9:06PM

Cover ArtThe best exotic Marigold Hotel [videorecording]
Feel-good story about senior citizens who move to India for their golden years. There’s also a side story about the hotel manager’s romance and the fate of the hotel itself. Worthwhile themes that old people have useful skills and (above all) feelings. Might have been too lightweight without the good acting--especially by the wonderful Judi Dench.   posted Nov 30, 2012 at 11:29AM

Cover ArtThe age of miracles : a novel
by Walker, Karen Thompson
Climate change vanishes from the headlines when a new and baffling condition strikes earth. No one knows why but the earth's rate of rotation on its axis is slowing. Days lengthen -- eventually to the length of former weeks. In an effort to retain some normalcy, most people continue to live by "clock time" which causes light and dark to be out of sync with sleeping and waking. Julia, an 11-year-old going through the usual 6th grade problems with bullying, cliques, boys and friends tells the story. To enjoy this book, don't think too hard about the science. The details of that is not the main thrust of the story anyway. The point is how humans deal with this global catastrophe that goes beyond earthquakes, floods, tsunami etc. As humanity's tenure on earth winds down, what do we do? How do we leave a legacy? Who will know that we were here? A very quick read that should be enjoyed by kids and teens as well as adults.   posted Nov 29, 2012 at 3:24PM

Cover ArtA door in the river
by Wolfe, Inger Ash.
Good mystery story and characters. DI Hazel Micallef has to deal with her aging mother, the fact that a former underling is now her boss and lots of changes in her hometown. But she’s still solving crime despite the rule book. How many books can say they have a 60-something woman as an action hero? Awesome. Gray power!   posted Nov 26, 2012 at 1:23PM

Cover ArtA fatal grace
by Penny, Louise.
I enjoyed my second visit to Three Pines in Quebec, this time in the dead of winter (pun intended). I love the characters in this series. Fun references to hockey and one of my favorite winter olympic sports: curling!   posted Nov 20, 2012 at 11:21AM

Cover ArtThe round house : a novel
by Erdrich, Louise.
In this many-layered novel, Louise Erdrich tells the story of Joe, a 13-year-old boy whose life is shattered when his mother is brutally raped and beaten. He seeks to find out who the attacker is and soon the identity of the culprit becomes apparent but due to jurisdiction problems, he remains free. Joe decides to mete out his own punishment. The book is a true coming of age story with sexual awakening, experimentation with drinking and smoking, separation from family and closeness to friends and is liberally salted with wonderful characters and stories of reservation life. Spellbinding. Is being compared with To Kill a Mockingbird. National Book Award winner.   posted Nov 14, 2012 at 12:35PM

Cover ArtA place of secrets : a novel
by Hore, Rachel
Good story about Jude, an expert in old books who goes out to Norfolk to assess the value of a collection held by a family whose ancestor was an amateur astronomer. She discovers mysteries, some with connections to her own family who live in the area. Description of her research and discovery is alternated with excerpts from journals and narrative from the past. A touch of the supernatural (just speculation really), a little romance and just really nice, likeable characters make this a very enjoyable read. Unfortunately this is Hore’s only book that’s been published in the US so far. I’m hoping for more.   posted Nov 9, 2012 at 12:52PM

Cover ArtThe racketeer
by Grisham, John
This book basically seems to be a send up of federal laws, agents and judges. A (supposedly innocent) small town lawyer incarcerated under Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) hatches an elaborate plot to get out of jail, steal a huge amount of money and move out of the country to a life of ease with his beautiful girlfriend with her help and the help of rich, criminal friends. Along the way he catches a killer and outwits bumbling federal agents. Though once in a while the main characters sweat or gets scared, in typical Grisham fashion the book is all plot with no character development. The book has a clever plot but has the feel of a story written in a week. I was also annoyed by the author’s tendency to switch between first and third person narrative with no explanation.   posted Nov 5, 2012 at 11:43AM

Cover ArtThe Chatham School affair
by Cook, Thomas H.
In this lyrically written mystery a woman appears in a small town in 1926 to teach art at a private school. Henry, the narrator, now an old man, as a schoolboy becomes enthralled with Miss Chapman, a romantic figure who has travelled the world. What follows is forbidden romance, tragic death, and misplaced blame. Darkly tragic, the author continually throws tidbits of foreshadowing to the reader that keeps you turning pages. The story is tragic for all involved but especially for Henry who, instead of learning of the redemption love can provide, forever rejects it and ends up living a cold and lonely life.   posted Nov 5, 2012 at 11:23AM

Cover ArtA murderous procession
by Franklin, Ariana.
Another great installment in the Mistress of the Art of Death series. Adelia must accompany the King’s daughter’s marriage procession with the responsibility for the princess’s health. However, along the way, someone is trying to turn people against Adelia or even do her in! The return of beloved characters, sparks between Adelia and Rowley some great new characters and interesting historical facts make this book tons of fun. The cliffhanger ending indicates the author was planning more but alas we’ll never know as she passed away last year. We have to assume everything comes out well, Adelia is reunited with Ali, Rowley and all her loved ones and returns to her new, adopted home of England.   posted Nov 2, 2012 at 10:13AM

Cover ArtBeautiful lies : a novel
by Unger, Lisa
I liked this book and its characters. It is worth sticking with. If you do you will find out the protagonist's "attractive, fit, nice, and wealthy boyfriend" is not all he appears to be. Also the love interest is a good guy and it is worth looking beyond tattoos and biceps (and why should that matter?). This is my 2nd book by Unger and I liked it much better than Die For You. The ending might leave a little to be desired but I felt it was realistic if not all wrapped up neatly.   posted Oct 29, 2012 at 1:30PM

Cover ArtSmuggled
by Shea, Christina
A young Jewish girl is smuggled across the border from Hungary to Romania to protect her from evacuation and death. Her parents do not escape. Eva, now Anca is raised by her father's sister and her Romanian husband. Her life is basically humdrum. No emotionally fulfilling relationships as a child or an adult. No love. No fun. Anca rarely laughs or cries. Maybe the author was trying to show the greyness of life in a communist country. Unfortunately it's just a little too bland. When Anca goes back to being Eva and returns to Hungary it's kind of interesting but we never really get inside her head. It's hard to care.   posted Oct 22, 2012 at 3:54PM

Cover ArtGrave goods
by Franklin, Ariana.
Franklin returns to form with this installment of the Mistress of the Art of Death series. Adelia is called in to examine some bones found in the abbey graveyard in Glastonbury. Are they King Arthur and Guinevere? King Henry sure hopes so. If they’re dead, he can put to rest the hope that Arthur is just sleeping and will return. The continuing story of the characters we love is advanced and Adelia makes some new friends and a dangerous enemy.   posted Oct 15, 2012 at 11:48AM

Cover ArtThe distant hours : a novel
by Morton, Kate
Actually this was my least favorite of Morton’s books (so far). I found it slow. Portions are told from the perspectives of no less than six different characters. Though I did not confuse them exactly, sometimes it was hard to keep track of how much each character knew. Every character has a secret as in Morton’s other books but some were too easy to figure out. Though what really happened on the night of October 29, 1941 could not be fully understood until it was revealed, the climax was not stunning but just sad.   posted Oct 15, 2012 at 11:42AM

Cover ArtStill life
by Penny, Louise.
Although plot is important, I especially enjoy books with good character development. Still Life, the first in a series, fits the bill. Armand Gamache is a French Canadian investigator from Montreal who comes down to a small town to try to solve the riddle of the death of a beloved citizen. Just enough police procedural stuff, some interesting cultural info and fun characters in the town. I am looking forward to my next visit.   posted Oct 8, 2012 at 12:15PM

Cover ArtThe serpent’s tale [sound recording]
by Franklin, Ariana.
I did not like this one as well as the first in the series, though the reader was very good.   posted Oct 4, 2012 at 1:58PM

Cover ArtMistress of the art of death [compact disc]
by Franklin, Ariana.
Adelia Aguilar is like Kay Scarpetta in the 1100s. Great story and great detail from the period. Loved the characters. I highly recommend the audiobook as the talented reader does the dialects etc. Really brings the characters to life. Though PW review says the romance is unnecessary, I like it. It softened Adelia a bit.   posted Sep 27, 2012 at 1:03PM

Cover ArtThe house at Riverton : a novel
by Morton, Kate
Good book reminiscent of Downton Abbey. There are many secrets at Riverton both among the family and the staff below stairs. The story is told by a former housemaid now in her 90s. Dramatic events build until the culmination at a garden party in 1924 with a disastrous and notorious death. Foreshadowing keeps drawing you onward as the story drags a bit at times.   posted Sep 27, 2012 at 12:42PM

Cover ArtThe forgotten garden : a novel
by Morton, Kate
Loved this book. Bouncing around between 1913, 1975 and 2005 was no problem as each section was labeled and each had its main character. A tale about tales and about families, love and redemption. Hated to see it end.   posted Sep 17, 2012 at 2:09PM

Cover ArtDark places
by Flynn, Gillian
After reading Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn's breakout novel, I went back and read her earlier novels. Three members of a family were murdered in 1985 and the son, Ben, was convicted and sent to jail. The other survivor, Libby, now drifting through life and needing money hooks up with a murder fan group who is fascinated by the grisly event. Libby, who has not even visited her brother in prison for 24 years, for the first time begins a true investigation of the murders. The narrative bounces between Ben and his mother in 1985 and Libby now. A well-written and realized mystery full of interesting and unusual characters.   posted Sep 17, 2012 at 2:03PM

Cover ArtTake shelter [videorecording]
Curtis is a husband and father and has recently begun having vivid nightmares and hallucinations. His visions and nightmares of storms have prompted him to build an elaborate underground shelter, an obsession that has led to him losing his job and alienating him from friends and family. The real question is, are the visions real? Good movie but a long way to go to get to what is finally a satisfying ending.   posted Sep 4, 2012 at 1:06PM

Cover ArtMartha Marcy May Marlene [videorecording]
Believable story about a young woman who leaves a cult. Now living with her married sister she has trouble acclimating to a normal life. Well-acted, especially by Elizabeth Olsen but there’s no punch in this movie. I just kept waiting for something to happen that never did.   posted Sep 4, 2012 at 12:38PM

Cover ArtSharp objects : a novel
by Flynn, Gillian
I read the author’s recent novel "Gone girl" and like many others went back to read her earlier books. Now I’m sure. Gillian Flynn has a sick, twisted imagination (at least I hope none of this is from experience). I can’t write about the plot of this novel without revealing too much. All I can say is there are a lot of messed up people in this book including the narrator (the sharpest “object” in the story). Next up: Dark places.   posted Sep 4, 2012 at 12:33PM

Cover ArtYou are the love of my life : a novel
by Shreve, Susan Richards.
Fairly lightweight story about lies and secrets. Lucy, a mother of two by her married lover moves back to DC where she grew up. She’s hiding from a scandal but not hiding very well. Supposedly she wants to keep secret a tragedy from her childhood yet she’s living in the house in which it happened and it was widely reported in the press at the time. She’s also made the mistake of not telling her 11-year-old daughter the facts and Maggie is old enough now to be finding out on her own; a recipe for disaster. Indeed Maggie is so angry at her mother she runs away. Each of the members of the close-knit neighborhood has secrets including the unbalanced woman across the street to whom Maggie has formed an attachment. Secrets about which, people would be more open nowadays. The book takes place in 1973, and since they are in DC, Watergate hearings are going on which is kind of interesting. I would not have known about this book nor picked it up had it not been hyped in people magazine. Had I not, I would not have missed much.   posted Sep 4, 2012 at 12:21PM

Cover ArtThe stonecutter
by Lackberg, Camilla
Kind of a strange one from Camilla Lackberg. This book goes back and forth between incidents in the 1920s-1950s as well as the present time. Patrik is investigating a murder of a child who is a family friend. As the story in the past progresses it becomes easy to pick out the killer. Part of the strangeness of this book is that several of the characters have brain disorders such as Aspergers and D.A.M.P. It’s almost as though the author was trying to educate the reader. Oh well. What I enjoy most is the characters and the continuing story of their lives. On Goodreads a lot of people were angry at the ending but it just got me more hooked.   posted Aug 20, 2012 at 4:07PM

Cover ArtDie for you : a novel
by Unger, Lisa
When an incomprehensible crime is committed, it’s human nature to ask "why?". When Isabelle Connolly finds out her missing husband is not who he claimed to be but is instead a liar, a thief and a murderer she sets out after him to try to find out why he stole her and her sister’s money and murdered several people. Unfortunately, there are no answers. A bit of action but overall a forgettable thriller.   posted Aug 20, 2012 at 4:02PM

Cover ArtGone girl : a novel
by Flynn, Gillian
This book definitely lives up to the hype. The superlatives you’ve heard about it are deserved. I can’t write about the plot of the book without giving things away but besides the plot this is good writing. Darkly funny, funnily dark, characters you think you know…until you don’t. What really happens in a marriage? Flynn seems to be saying that we become different people than who we really are in order to live up to our mate’s expectations. It’s only later in the marriage that we become our true selves. However, apparently some marriage partners won’t allow this to happen. Though Amy says, “there is no such thing as ‘cool girl’”, the girl every man’s fantasizes about, she won’t allow Nick to become himself and insists he be “loving Nick” like when they first got married. Also, Flynn seems to say that our parents make us entirely who we are. Nick is nice and nurturing like his mother yet harbors a hatred or fear of women from his father. Amy, whose parents are psychologists and authors of a book series where the female protagonist is perfect, is an incredible student of human behavior and compulsively perfect. Ultimately, after reading the book you have to ask yourself. Who am I more like: Nick or Amy? If that question doesn’t keep you wide, staring awake at night I’d be surprised.   posted Aug 13, 2012 at 1:57PM

Cover ArtThink twice
by Scottoline, Lisa
I’m not sure why I keep reading Lisa Scottoline. Could be for the unintended humor in her books with their "pulse-pounding" action. I had not read any of her Rosato and Associates series so I’m not sure about the back story for this book. However, in this installment, lawyer Bennie Rosato’s evil identical twin, Alice, tries to assume Bennie’s identity to steal her money. Alice either murders or tries to murder several people, including Bennie who is taken out of action by being buried in a box (I won’t spoil how she gets out; it’s too priceless). Alice is able to get pretty far along in her quest for cash once she gets all of Bennie’s ID and finds her Rolodex (lol!) with passwords for online banking etc. This last is probably too true to life. Just a few obstacles like Bennie’s dog (kick down basement stairs) and boyfriend (go for it!) get in her way. I have to say, Alice is a much more interesting and funny character than Bennie herself. From the ending it sounds like we’ll get to hang with Alice in future books. Bennie comes out of her harrowing experience changed (or so she says) so maybe she’ll be more fun in future. Enjoyable quick read if you don’t expect it to be a serious thriller.   posted Aug 8, 2012 at 2:29PM

Cover ArtThe invisible bridge
by Orringer, Julie
When Andras Levi travels to Paris to study architecture he carries a letter from a Budapest family to mail when he gets there. Little does he know he will meet the mysterious C. Morgenstern and fall in love. This book is about the twists and turns of fate. How do lovers come to meet? Why do some survive extreme conditions while others die? I loved this book. On the one hand it's a saga of two families and what happens to them during the war. On the other hand it's a study of what ifs and if onlies. Fascinating. A great story.   posted Aug 6, 2012 at 5:05PM

Cover ArtLeft for dead : a novel
by Jance, Judith A.
Ali Reynolds takes a bit of a back seat in this one; at least until the end. The other characters are just as important in this book as the “main” character which makes it a strong entry in the series I think. Sister Anselm and others take the lead and Ali gets involved a little later and finds herself on the wrong end of a gun at the end. As an added bonus, as the title indicates, some victims don’t die! Good book but I had a little trouble keeping the characters straight.   posted Jul 29, 2012 at 9:53PM

Cover ArtA room full of bones : a Ruth Galloway mystery
by Griffiths, Elly
The latest entry in the Ruth Galloway series finds Ruth called on to open a casket of a 14th century bishop and to examine a whole room of bones in the basement of a privately owned museum. To me the mystery in this book takes a bit of a back seat to the characters which I love. Dead bodies do pile up and some drug dealing is going on but more important is how Ruth is coping with Kate now that she’s walking and starting to call every male she meets (except Nelson because she does not get to see him) “Dada”. How is Michelle coping? We’re brought up to speed on goings on with Judy and Cathbad, Phil and Shona and the intrepid Clough. Love it!   posted Jul 29, 2012 at 9:44PM

Cover ArtThe sins of the father
by Archer, Jeffrey
Book 2 of the Clifton chronicles starts exactly where book 1 left off. Harry is imprisoned as part of a mistaken identity, his mother thinks he’s dead and Emma is searching for him as she believes he is alive (but has nothing to base it on except an unopened letter at Maise’s in Harry’s handwriting). This series is all about plot and it’s pretty fun to watch it unfold. Don’t expect to get deeply into the characters because it just isn’t going to happen. On the list of annoying things is that money continually falls into the laps of the “good” characters. Also, WWII is barely mentioned and those who die are conveniently the lower class.   posted Jul 24, 2012 at 11:26AM

Cover ArtThe Preacher : a Novel
by Lackberg, Camilla
Another enjoyable mystery from Camilla Lackberg. Patrik Hedstrom must work quickly to figure out what the link is between two skeletons and one newly dead body dumped in Fjallbacka because now another girl has gone missing. Good story, my only complaint would be that Patrik’s partner, Erica has a very minor role in the story. Just because Erica is 8 months pregnant shouldn’t mean she can’t help out with the investigation! Oh well, looking forward to more books by this author.   posted Jul 16, 2012 at 12:49PM

Cover ArtThe ice princess
by Lackberg, Camilla
Enjoyable, quick read. Reminds me a bit of the books by Yrsa Sigurdardottir. The protaganist is not a cop but investigates a murder and there is lots of stuff about her personal relationships in the story. I enjoyed it and will try another.   posted Jul 9, 2012 at 1:35PM

Cover ArtA free life
by Jin, Ha
An outstanding story of Chinese immigrants "living the American dream" in Boston and then Georgia. Terrific, complex characters stuggle with their relationships with their new and old countries and with each other. The story focuses on Nan, the husband and father. Once a student directed by China to study Political Science he drops out and opts to stay in America after Tiananmen. He learns to be a chef and later opens his own restaurant in Georgia with wife PingPing. What he really wants to do is write poetry. He struggles to do so, seeking strong emotion which he hopes will inspire him. Eventually he learns, as most of us do, that ideals of passion and love and a worry-free life may not be attainable and that inspiration can be found close at hand with our loved ones and that few people reach the ideal of the American dream. The glory is in the striving.   posted Jul 6, 2012 at 12:25PM

Cover ArtCome home
by Scottoline, Lisa
When do you stop being a mother? An easy answer if a child is yours but what about an ex-step child? Can you divorce a child? Scottoline’s answer to that last question is a resounding NO in her most recent novel which is better than her previous novels "Save me" and "Look again". A bit more believable plot and most of the characters are well-rounded (even the MAN!). A bit frenetic as the main character rushes to 1. solve a mystery, 2. prevent a patient from dying and 3. avoid being killed. But tons of fun and one of the fastest reads of the summer.   posted Jul 5, 2012 at 1:29PM

Cover ArtThe bean trees : a novel
by Kingsolver, Barbara.
I had picked this book up a couple of times over the years but never got it read. Finally did after reading Poisonwood Bible. Good book with a message that there are all kinds of families and that no matter where you go, there you are:)   posted Jun 25, 2012 at 12:44PM

Cover ArtThe blood of flowers : a novel
by Amirrezvani, Anita.
Excellent book that takes place in 17th century Iran. Vivid descriptions of the locale sent me to the internet for pictures. The unnamed girl (see the afterward) perserveres through all kinds of obstacles to do that which she loves--making rugs--and become a master at the craft. Very good first novel and the author’s second book just came out. I’ll be starting it soon.   posted Jun 18, 2012 at 1:31PM

Cover ArtA clash of kings
by Martin, George R. R.
Volume 2 of Song of Ice and Fire series continues in this mammoth book. We get to dig a bit deeper into the "main" characters and meet more characters who may become "main". A lot of people hate that Martin kills off characters but I don’t mind it. More new characters keeps the story fresh. Plus when people are dying right and left that certain ones stay alive seems unlikely. Just the right amount of intrique and action keeps the pages turning.   posted Jun 18, 2012 at 1:08PM

Cover ArtThe things we do for love
by Hannah, Kristin.
Another satifying read by one of the queen of "women’s" fiction. Angie, whose marriage was seemingly ruined by failing to have a child returns home to mama and sisters who run the family restaurant. After joining in the business she meets a troubled and virtually motherless teen (Lauren) who moves in with Angie and then gets pregnant by her rich boyfriend. This seems like a pretty true to life story except for Lauren’s mother. She’s just like Tully’s mother in Firefly Lane. I find it impossible to accept that any mother who bothered to give birth and keep a child could care so little. Oh well. In this story Angie and Lauren learn that we can all benefit from both receiving and providing a little mothering.   posted Jun 18, 2012 at 1:01PM

Cover ArtThe poisonwood Bible : a novel
by Kingsolver, Barbara.
Incredible story of a missionary family living in the Congo in 1960-61 and how each is affected by the experience. The characters are carefully drawn and developed and the locale and conditions wonderfully described from the points of view of the various family members. Historic context and incidents are included. A fantastic book.   posted Jun 18, 2012 at 12:51PM

Cover ArtA game of thrones
by Martin, George R. R.
I had not read fantasy for more than 10-15 years but decided to try this on my son’s recommendation. Very good book. It’s still early in the series to make many judgements about the whole thing. I’ve heard some interesting things about how the characters and the story develops over the (so far) five volumes. However, this volume was very good. Unlike a lot of fantasy there’s not much magic (yet) but a few things are hinted at for the future (undead, dragons). The only thing that could be better is the female characters.   posted Jun 18, 2012 at 12:39PM

Cover ArtThe associate
by Grisham, John
As I went through this book I had a strong sense of deja vu. Maybe I’ve been reading too much Grisham lately (I had previously skipped a few of his and have been catching up). I’m sure the story of the associate with the sleeping bag was in another of his books as were many more elements. Mainly, as nitetrain puts it so succinctly, a terrible ending made all the rehashing of familiar territory a waste.   posted May 25, 2012 at 4:58PM

Cover ArtLethal
by Brown, Sandra
This book has a ridiculous plot. On practically page one it’s not believable. Honor, the widowed mother of a 4-year-old, living in rural Louisiana sees a man lying on her front lawn. He’s injured so she goes up to him and touches his shoulder, "sir?" she says. HA! Sorry, in this day and age, in that situation, you lock your doors and call 911. Why did I keep on with this book? Probably because I was listening and it just kept going so I kept listening. Also, it was short. About the best that can be said for it.   posted May 14, 2012 at 2:58PM

Cover ArtBetween shades of gray
by Sepetys, Ruta
I had read online that people have been picking this book up mistaking it for "Fifty shades of Grey". Not only have they discovered their errors but those who went ahead and read it anyway were rewarded wtih an outstanding and affecting story of Lithuanian deportation and imprisonment in Siberia in the 1940s told by a 15-year-old girl. The horrors endured are starkly drawn yet the resiliency of the human spirit shines through in this fact-based story. It’s estimated that Stalin orchestrated the deaths of appox. 20 million people during his reign of terror. This story and others like it need to be told.   posted May 3, 2012 at 10:49AM

Cover ArtGentlemen and players : a novel
by Harris, Joanne
This is a psychological cat-and-mouse game told by two narrators. One is the offspring of the former head porter at St. Oswald’s school for boys who, as a young child pretended to be a student at the school. The other is Ozzie’s crusty old classics master Roy Straitly. The first narrator, who concentrates mostly on what happened in the past, turns out to now be a new teacher at St O’s bent on bringing down the school. As the book goes on we learn about what happened to them as a child. Then we see through Straitly’s eyes weird goings on at the school now as well as some insight into past occurances. All comes to a head on bonfire night with old Straitly coming out as the hero. Not quite as suspenseful as it was painted to be. One plot twist was very easy to guess. Nevertheless I enjoyed it.   posted May 2, 2012 at 2:02PM

Cover ArtAgent 6
by Smith, Tom Rob.
Smith’s final volume in the trilogy about KGB agent Leo Demidov spans the Cold War era from 1963 to 1981. Leo’s life takes him from Russia to Afghanistan to New York and back to Russia. A tragedy occurs when his wife and daughters visit the US. The aftermath leaves him adrift. He spends years as an advisor in Afghanistan smoking opium to dull his emotional pain. Ultimately he travels to New York bringing with him a young Afghani agent in training and an 8-year-old survivor of a Soviet bombing. He must try to find answers to questions that have plagued him. The whole three book story is tragic but satisfying. Leo, first as an idealistic agent, then a struggling husband and father trying to protect his family, then back to working for the Soviets in Afghanistan and finally as a defector learns that the greatest, most noble motivator a human can have is love. In the end, the people you love are all that really matter.   posted Apr 15, 2012 at 4:29PM

Cover ArtHowl’s moving castle [videorecording] = Hauru no ugoku shiro
by Miyazaki, Hayao
Visually stunning adaptation of the Diana Wynne Jones novel. Not just for kids and don’t let the "anime" moniker scare you off. It’s absolutely mesmerizing and (unlike Spirited Away) has a story that makes some sense.   posted Apr 10, 2012 at 12:34PM

Cover ArtAshes to dust : a thriller
by Yrsa Sigurðardottir.
Entertaining mystery featuring Icelandic lawyer, Thora Gudmundsdottir. This one has much less about Thora’s family and her German boyfriend does not make an appearance but it has a much more complex plot than her two previous novels. Some crimes took place on the Westmann Islands right before a devastating volcanic eruption in the 1970s. Now that the houses buried by ash are being excavated, what happened 35 years before is also being uncovered. Thora’s client is implicated in five murders, but as Thora works to clear him, who really killed the four men found in the basement of a house on the island and what about a nurse back in the city? Good characters abound so we don’t really miss the family dramas of her other novels. This one is very entertaining with a bit of a surprise ending.   posted Apr 8, 2012 at 9:34PM

Cover ArtDefending Jacob : a novel
by Landay, William.
Shocking and suspenseful story of an Assistant District Attorney whose son is charged with the murder of a classmate. Andy Barber has it all, a great position, pretty, popular wife and a son who is a “good kid”. He also has a secret he has not even shared with his wife: his father and grandfather were murderers. Is there such a thing as a murder gene? Andy does not believe it and has to believe Jacob is innocent; he owes it to him as his father. However, evidence starts to point toward Jacob and there is a disturbing psych evaluation. Andy destroys possible evidence and tries to cover up things as he professes no confidence in a jury’s ability to get it right. All in all a great read with very good characters. I tore through it in a day. Pretty well written with some interesting plot twists, a few clumsy attempts at symbolism are easy to overlook. Should pump up interest in Landay’s previous works.   posted Apr 1, 2012 at 5:22PM

Cover ArtLook again
by Scottoline, Lisa
I like this one a bit better than one of Scottoline’s other stand-alone novels, Save Me. This book also has a highly unlikely plot but all the pieces fit together (pretty much) and I liked the protagonist. The romance could’ve been left out as the romantic interest character was so underdeveloped but I guess he was needed to make the maximum happy ending.   posted Mar 29, 2012 at 11:43AM

Cover ArtSummer Island : a novel
by Hannah, Kristin.
Another good one from Hannah with all the elements we’ve come to expect. Ruby, struggling to become famous in California harbors a grudge against the mother who left her and her sister Caroline as teens. Nora, is now famous herself as a radio and newspaper advice guru. However, her fans don’t know her past and when it comes out it seems she is ruined. After an accident leaves her injured Ruby agrees to come and take care of Nora on Summer Island, secretly planning to write a tell-all article for $50 grand. Meanwhile an old love of Ruby’s with a dying brother come to neighboring Lopez Island. All come together with many tears and heart-felt confessions. Some might see it as a little sappy but I like Hannah’s recurrent theme that the conceptions we carry with us from childhood are not necessarily valid. Children see things as children and as adults parents and sons and daughters can come to understandings if they can communicate as adults. I envy her characters sometimes in their abilities to leave the past behind.   posted Mar 29, 2012 at 11:37AM

Cover ArtThe street lawyer
by Grisham, John.
Michael Brock is on the fast track to make some serious money as a lawyer in a huge firm when a hostage situation with a homeless man leaves him shaken. After he learns more about the homeless and the lawyers who help them, he leaves the firm. A homeless family he meets was illegally evicted from a building owned by a client of his old firm. The family ends up dead and Brock’s new firm sues his old one. One partner at the big firm knew the eviction was illegal and concealed it. The story is pretty cut and dried. The main crux of the story is not really the lawsuit, but Brock’s journey from money hungry workaholic to laid back advocate of the poor. Fairly convincing but Grisham’s strong suit is not character development, but plots, so this one is a bit lacking.   posted Mar 26, 2012 at 7:34PM

Cover ArtThe virgin of Small Plains : a novel
by Pickard, Nancy.
Great story taking place in rural Kansas. The death of an unidentified woman in 1987 remains a mystery in 2004. Several pillars of the community know more than they are saying. Meanwhile the grave of the "virgin" has become a focus of pilgrims looking for miracles. I have not read any of Pickard’s mystery series but her stand-alones (this one and the Scent of Rain and Lightning) have been absolutely fantastic.   posted Mar 23, 2012 at 10:03AM

Cover ArtOh my stars : a novel
by Landvik, Lorna
Good book about Violet, a misfit teenage girl during the 1930s who hooks up with a trio of musicians. Brothers Austin and Dallas and Nodak farmboy-hunk Kjel are a sensation in small clubs and roadhouses in the midwest and south. All that happens to them on the road and the years after are vintage Landvik. Bad stuff happens but some pretty good stuff also. To anticipate the bad and fear it, interferes with enjoyment of the good. Love life, it’s short but glorious.   posted Mar 19, 2012 at 2:46PM

Cover ArtView From Mount Joy, The
by LandvikLorna
This is the first I’ve tried by Landvik and I was not disappointed. For once, a truly good and regular guy who likes his mother (though he’s not completely trauma free). Joe thinks his life might take a certain path but he ends up staying at the place he worked since high school while the girl he lusted after in school becomes famous while being a hypocrit. Everyone has to find his/her own Mount Joy. Some are more successful than others.   posted Mar 16, 2012 at 1:12PM

Cover ArtThe brethren
by Grisham, John.
This book is a strange one with no good guys—just different degrees of bad guys. Three incarcerated judges running a mail scam and extorting money from rich closeted gays accidentally net a candidate for president. He’s not just any candidate but one hand-picked by the director of the CIA and manipulated on a grand scale into winning first the nomination and then the election. I didn’t like this book at first because there’s nobody to pull for but I got sucked in and ended up liking it quite a bit.   posted Mar 10, 2012 at 7:29PM

Cover ArtThe view from Mount Joy : a novel
by Landvik, Lorna
This is the first I’ve tried by Landvik and I was not disappointed. For once, a truly good and regular guy who likes his mother (though he’s not completely trauma free). Joe thinks his life might take a certain path but he ends up staying at the place he worked since high school while the girl he lusted after in school becomes famous while being a hypocrit. Everyone has to find his/her own Mount Joy. Some are more successful than others.   posted Mar 6, 2012 at 4:57PM

Cover ArtOn Mystic Lake
by Hannah, Kristin.
After reading some of Hannah’s newer books I’m working my way through her older ones. This one is good but I’m finding her older books don’t have the character development of her newer ones. The characters are good but a little too shallow. We don’t really get inside their heads. Still a good read if a bit predictable. Sometimes that’s not all bad.   posted Mar 6, 2012 at 4:27PM

Cover ArtThe house at sea’s end
by Griffiths, Elly
Another good mystery in the Ruth Galloway series. Ruth is called in when several bodies are found on the beach below a house that’s falling into the sea due to erosion. Ruth is now trying to balance her job at UNN, helping the police with cases and being a single mom to baby Kate. Lots of fun investigation and encounters with her baby daddy, DCI Harry Nelson. When will the others, including Harry’s wife, figure out who Kate’s father is?   posted Mar 1, 2012 at 2:40PM

Cover ArtThe house on the strand.
by Du Maurier, Daphne
Intriguing time-travel story where the traveller does not move in location, only in what he perceives. So as the main character moves around following people he sees from the 14th century, he may be crossing 20th century roads and risks being run over etc. Also, the 14th century people can’t see him. He is just an observer (removes the "changing the past" paradox nicely). Good read, my only complaint being it’s hard to keep the characters and their relationships straight--even with the family tree in the front of the book. Among the 24 characters from the 14th century, there are only 14 distinct first names.   posted Feb 21, 2012 at 1:16PM

Cover ArtTrue colors
by Hannah, Kristin
Another good one from Hannah about the relationship between three sisters, or at least two. The eldest and youngest are the main characters. As a middle child myself I had to lament a bit that the middle sister is pretty much a non-entity in the story. Oh well, at least the moody, angry teen characters are toned down a bit over some of her other novels.   posted Feb 14, 2012 at 2:34PM

Cover ArtHome front
by Hannah, Kristin.
Very good book about a strained marriage further strained when the wife/mom is deployed to Iraq. In typical Hannah fashion, pain is endured, tears are shed (by characters and the reader) and a fairly good resolution reached. I have noticed, the past three Hannah books I’ve read featured an extremely angry and hormonal pre/teen girl. Hey Kristin, not all young girls are so selfish and awful.   posted Feb 7, 2012 at 3:39PM

Cover ArtThe Janus stone
by Griffiths, Elly
Another good Ruth Galloway mystery. This one keeps you guessing a bit. Took a while to figure out which missing child was the victim and didn’t find out which possible suspect was the killer until the very end. One guy who seemed like a possibility turned out to be one of the ones to save Ruth at the end. Also, Ruth’s pregnancy is becoming obvious and leading to questions and speculation. Love the characters in these books.   posted Feb 6, 2012 at 1:23PM

Cover ArtFirefly Lane
by Hannah, Kristin.
Another good read from Hannah. This one is more focused on friendship between women. Unlike another commenter I liked the pop culture references. They were fun. Used as a device to remind you of what year it was and how time passed. Definitely a tear-jerker at the end.   posted Feb 6, 2012 at 1:18PM

Cover ArtThe crossing places : a Ruth Galloway mystery
by Griffiths, Elly
Good book that combines archaeology with current-day mysteries. Reminded me a bit of Haunted ground by Erin Hart. Very likeable main character.   posted Feb 2, 2012 at 2:11PM

Cover ArtRiding lessons
by Gruen, Sara.
In this book Guen introduces us to her wonderfully imperfect and slightly nutty heroine Annemarie Zimmer. I enjoyed it. No waiting list for the ebook (woo hoo). Sequel is Flying Changes.   posted Jan 27, 2012 at 1:29PM

Cover ArtFlying changes
by Gruen, Sara.
Another good one from Sara Gruen. Lots of changes for Annemarie Zimmer. She’s still dealing with her divorce, her father’s death and relationships with her new man and her difficult daughter. Followup to Riding Lessons.   posted Jan 27, 2012 at 1:26PM

Cover ArtSomething missing
by Dicks, Matthew
Very entertaining novel about an OCD young man turned thief. He steals not to get rich but simply to get what he needs to live. He knows so much about the people he steals from that he starts to care about them. Loved this book. Read it through in one sitting.   posted Jan 2, 2012 at 1:36PM

Cover ArtRed earth, white earth
by Weaver, Will.
Good, compelling story with excellent characters about conflict between Indians and whites on the White Earth Reservation in Northern Minnesota in the 1970s-80s.   posted Jan 2, 2012 at 1:01PM

Cover ArtWhen she woke : a novel
by Jordan, Hillary
In the not-too-distant future, in a restrictive, fundamentalist Christian America, Hannah awakens, in detention, to find herself a “chrome”. She has been forcibly injected with a virus that makes her skin red. She is sentenced to 16 years as a chrome for having an abortion which society considers murder. The entire story is about Hannah’s awakening from a sheep to a thinking, questioning, individual. Good book somewhat reminiscent of the Handmaid’s Tale.   posted Jan 2, 2012 at 1:00PM

Cover ArtEighteen acres : a novel
by Wallace, Nicolle
This story, written by a former White House insider, is about three women. The president, her chief of staff and a network news star. It’s told in alternating chapters from alternating points of view. A catastrophic event on a trip to Afghanistan is the centerpiece of the book and changes everything. A pretty good story if you can get over the fact that the women are all attractive and always wearing designer clothes. At times, predictably, the men in the story just can’t handle playing second fiddle to strong women dedicated to their careers. The men in the story are not fully formed as characters but this is a story about women. In this book the women kick butt and get the job done. Who needs men?   posted Dec 27, 2011 at 11:49PM

Cover ArtAngel falls
by Hannah, Kristin.
Quick and easy break time read about how love conquers all. Not one of Hannah’s best but ok. One complaint: poor or lazy editing leads to poor Spanish. “Buenos” noches indeed.   posted Dec 22, 2011 at 3:33PM

Cover ArtThe litigators [sound recording] : [a novel]
by Grisham, John.
David Zinc, an escapee from a high-buck billing factory type of law firm (a Grisham staple) joins the low rent firm of a couple of street lawyers in this entertaining story. Inexperienced in mass torts they jump on the band wagon to try sue a huge pharmaceutical company for a cholesterol reducing drug they claim causes heart problems. One hitch, the company’s had plenty of lawsuits in the past for bad drugs but there’s nothing wrong with this one. In a side story, David pursues another lawsuit against a toy company for lead poisoning. The book contrasts a so-called frivolous lawsuit with a grimly legitimate one. Some of the characters are just caricatures, but I enjoyed this novel very much. Enhanced by a great reading by the talented Boutsikaris.   posted Dec 20, 2011 at 12:38PM

Cover ArtThe marriage plot
by Eugenides, Jeffrey.
It seems to me there’s a fine line between great literature and pretension. Great literature is great without trying to be. At times the Marriage Plot fits that bill but at other times I’m not sure. It seems to be trying too hard. Sometimes the language was amazing, calling Cape Cod the “spiraling land” but other times it just seemed obscure—easy to zone out while listening. I did I enjoy the story as far as it goes. It takes place in 1982 when the main characters are graduating from college. I graduated in 1979 so much of it hit home for me. I also liked that here was a book about 20-somethings, an age group much neglected in novels. The marriage plot of the story is a new-fangled marriage plot. Not much like Austen, but then, life today is quite different. If I’d been reading instead of listening I’m not sure I would have stuck with it. It suffers from the one malady that kills enjoyment of a novel: characters it’s hard to care about. Lovers of Middlesex beware.   posted Dec 6, 2011 at 9:28PM

Cover ArtApe house : a novel
by Gruen, Sara.
As in Water for Elephants, Gruen’s love for animals shines through in this rollicking ride. This novel is much more fun than “water”. Ostensibly a story about great apes in a language acquisition study it’s really a satire of everything from Hollywood’s obsession with appearance and reality television to activists, tabloids and even what makes a marketable novel (blow something up!). Gruen does in this novel that’s more fun than a barrel of bonobos.   posted Dec 5, 2011 at 12:01PM

Cover ArtCemetery girl
by Bell, David
12-year-old Caitlin goes missing and is eventually presumed dead—at least by her mother who wants to have a funeral and “move on”. Dad finds it harder to give up. Amazingly four years after the disappearance Caitlin is found but it is not the homecoming her father has imagined. After presumably experiencing psychological and physical torture during her captivity (only really hinted at), Caitlin remains attached to her captor and considers herself “in love” with a 53-year-old man. Though similar to the real life Elizabeth Smart story, this one doesn’t have a happy outcome. The characters are confused, angry, suspicious and nigh on to out of control at times. To me, this rings true. I can’t imagine coping with the situation in this book. A good, but emotionally tough read.   posted Dec 2, 2011 at 1:14PM

Cover ArtBleeding Kansas
by Paretsky, Sara.
In the 1800s three families, Schapen, Grellier and Freemantle worked together and helped each other as they struggled to settle Kansas farmland. 150 years later, the Freemantles are gone and Schapens and Grelliers hate each other with savage venom. Enter, Gina, a Feemantle from New York to stay in the ancestral mansion, trying to pick up the pieces of her life in the city. What follows is a crazy and sometimes heart wrenching series of events. From manic/depressive Susan Grellier and her son’s death in Iraq to Wiccan Gina and her pagan rituals to a holy calf being raised by Schapens and their fundamentalist church. All comes to a frenzied head on Halloween night. No one escapes tragedy as religious fervor, ignorance and fear drive people to commit heinous acts. All of the characters in this character driven story are flawed and search for truth and meaning to their lives. A great read.   posted Nov 3, 2011 at 2:32PM

Cover ArtHotel on the corner of bitter and sweet : a novel
by Ford, Jamie.
A gentle read that goes back and forth between WWII years and 1986 about a Chinese-American boy who falls in love with a Japanese-American girl and then the man struggling after his wife’s death and memories of that time during WWII. Another book I could see as being classified teen. As far as stories about Japanese internment, I like Tallgrass by Sandra Dallas better.   posted Oct 26, 2011 at 11:18AM

Cover ArtTallgrass
by Dallas, Sandra
I listened to it also. Very enjoyable.   posted Oct 24, 2011 at 8:07PM

Cover ArtSecrets of Eden : a novel
by Bohjalian, Chris
Just like Judypoo I would say the end was easy to figure out. Good book nevertheless, my first by this author. I’ll try another. Only thing I found weird was how he kept telling what would happen in the future as he went along. It would say: two weeks later they would see... etc. Sort of like turning ahead a few pages for a sneak peek at what was coming.   posted Oct 24, 2011 at 8:03PM

Cover ArtChild 44
by Smith, Tom Rob.
Based on a real story of a serial killer in Russia this is a great mystery and a facinating look at life in the Soviet Union. A cop stalks a killer in a society whose government will not admit murders even happen. A former hero of the motherland who completely bought into the Soviet plan and member of the KGB Leo Demidov finds his belief system in a shambles as he draws closer and closer to the killer--and to himself.   posted Oct 14, 2011 at 4:37PM

Cover ArtThe immortal life of Henrietta Lacks
by Skloot, Rebecca
Facinating and frightening story first of a poor woman and her family and also of science, research and bioethics. Amazing to think that just a few decades ago, some people thought it was ok to experiment on others without their knowledge or consent. Also, who would think that some cancer cells are so relentless that they could continue to grow and multiply for over 50 years. The easiest thing to believe is that the family of Henrietta Lacks never knew the extent of the use by researchers of their mother’s cells. Amazing and enlightening. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself running to the internet to learn more.   posted Oct 14, 2011 at 4:29PM

Cover ArtStill midnight : a novel
by Mina, Denise.
A better title for this book might be “Still waiting for something to happen”. I felt a bit cheated at the end. However, this book has great characters that never act as you would expect so you’re kept guessing. Maybe I just guessed wrong but the whole thing left me less than satisfied.   posted Oct 14, 2011 at 2:58PM

Cover ArtResolution : a novel
by Mina, Denise.
Mina’s Garnethill Trilogy comes to a close in the aptly titled Resolution. Maureen O’Donnell, still with plenty of problems of her own, adds another investigation to her resume. A flea market stall-mate is injured and then killed and her son is a scary, shifty character. With the help of pals Leslie and Kilty she investigates the supposed health center owner and finds him involved in trafficking. Determined to see him get his comeuppance she exposes him while also dealing with her own problems of the upcoming trial of her boyfriend’s killer and reappearance of her abusive father. More great gritty, back-alley, boozing, smoking action. While the Glasgow of the other installments was the usual dark, freezing and wet, this Glasgow is even more surreal with glaring, unrelenting sunlight, sweat and sunburn. Great stuff.   posted Oct 14, 2011 at 2:53PM

Cover ArtNight road
by Hannah, Kristin.
I had a love-hate relationship with the characters in this book. First there’s Jude: an ultra-controlling helicopter mom. Then, the dad, Miles, who is one of the most likeable characters but is basically a non-entity, especially in the first half of the story. Then the kids: ultra-cool and popular Zach, his twin Mia who is timid and ultra insecure, Lexie the friend and foster-care vet, Mia’s first true friend. Then Lexie and Zach fall in love. Then a horrible accident leaves all the characters a mess. One dies, one goes to jail, two soldier on and one falls apart. Ultimately all the characters who have made bad choices have to make new choices to let go of guilt, say goodbye, rebuild lives and start anew with love.   posted Oct 14, 2011 at 2:32PM

Cover ArtSave me
by Scottoline, Lisa.
Rose McKenna, lunch mom and parent of a bullied child, lives through a kitchen explosion and fire at school. After directing two girls out of the building she has to go back and rescue her daughter who is locked in a bathroom. After they barely make it out she discovers one of the other girls, who just happens to be her daughter’s bully, ran back into the school and is gravely injured. What follows is just so utterly ridiculous that as I listened to this book in my car I had to stop the audiobook occasionally to yell at the characters. Maybe I can accept that the whole town would hate this woman but when she begins to investigate the explosion and discovers a conspiracy which ends in a horrible bloody fight in a potato chip factory it’s just laughable.   posted Oct 4, 2011 at 10:32PM

Cover ArtExile : a novel.
by Mina, Denise.
In this followup to Garnethill, Maureen O’Donnell, having lost her job due to investigating her boyfriend’s death and now working in a women’s shelter hears about the brutal murder of a former shelter resident. After visiting the husband she decides he is too passive to have beaten and murdered her so she goes down to London to investigate. Maureen’s own problems continue to haunt her: the return of her abusive father, her alcoholic mother, unfriendly siblings, nosy cops, deteriorating friendship with Leslie and dismay at brother Liam’s former occupation (drug dealer). As she delves into the seamy side of the seamiest parts of London she finds herself in danger but somehow also getting stronger. She comes back to Glasgow clearer about who she is and what she wants. Fantastic characters abound in this gritty novel.   posted Aug 12, 2011 at 4:24PM

Cover ArtThe unexpected son
by Bantwal, Shobhan
Another good book from Bantwal focusing on Indian women. Vinita gave birth to a son when she was 19 by C-section and was told he died. Everything was hushed up by her family and she moved on, married a man and moved to New Jersey. Many years later an anonymous letter arrives telling her that her son is alive and dying. As in all of her novels, cultural constraints on women and societal problems in India are not ignored but dealt with relatively lightly. There’s always a happy ending.   posted Aug 12, 2011 at 11:39AM

Cover ArtState of Wonder : a novel
by Patchett, Ann.
Outstanding story of obstetrician turned pharmacologist Marina Singh. Marina left obstetrics after an accident during a C-section, convinced her larger-than-life teacher, Dr. Swenson, does not remember her. Now working for a pharmaceutical company, Marina must travel to Brazil to find out what happened to a colleague who died searching for this same doctor who is now a scientist developing a drug in the Amazon. She travels to Brazil to find Dr. Swenson, ascertain her progress and find out what happened to Anders. What follows is part Apocalypse Now, part Medicine Man, part Mosquito Coast and completely amazing.   posted Jul 17, 2011 at 9:01PM

Cover ArtGarnethill : a novel
by Mina, Denise.
Before Lisbeth Salander there was Maureen O’Donnell, a heavy smoking, hard drinking, former mental patient and incest survivor. One morning she finds her lover murdered in her apartment. The police are on the case but following the wrong leads. With some help from a friend and her brother Maureen decides it’s up to her to find and stop the murderer. A hard hitting, gritty story with great characters. First of a trilogy.   posted Jul 13, 2011 at 8:22PM

Cover ArtMy soul to take : a novel of Iceland
by Yrsa Sigurðardottir.
When one of her clients asks her to investigate ghosts at his resort hotel lawyer Thora Gudmunsdottir is skeptical but sends her young daughter and soon-to-be a father 16-year-old son to their father and heads out to rural Iceland. Soon a couple of bodies have turned up and also a mystery from the past. Lots of stuff to investigate, people to question, all the while Thora must take time to get enough to eat, deal with crises at home (with only spotty cell phone reception), deal with language barriers and occasionally snuggle with her German boyfriend from Last Rituals. Not a brain busting mystery but fun and a bit different from the usual.   posted Jul 11, 2011 at 9:54PM

Cover ArtBefore I go to sleep : a novel
by Watson, S. J.
Imagine waking up each morning thinking it’s more than twenty years ago. The person in bed with you is a stranger. When you look in the mirror you don’t even recognize yourself. This is the daily reality for Christine Lucas. Every day her life and situation must be explained to her anew. Each day her doctor must call her to tell her where to find a journal she is keeping. Each day she writes more and each day must reread the whole thing to get as much up to speed as she can. However, the memories are there. They appear in flashes. As she writes and reads each day she begins to piece together the story of her life and one thing becomes clear. Each day, her husband is lying to her. Why?   posted Jul 11, 2011 at 9:38PM

Cover ArtThe Radleys
by Haig, Matt
Calling all vampire lovers! This is yet another vampire story but with some new twists. The Radley’s are a vamp family. Dad, mom, and two teen kids. Only thing is, the parents are "abstainers" and have not had blood for 17 years. The kids don’t know their true natures only that they get sick when they don’t eat meat and get rashes when they go out in sunlight. When a catastrophic event and a visit by an uncle who is a practicing vampire reveal the truth the fun really starts.   posted Jun 29, 2011 at 8:33PM

Cover ArtLast rituals : an Icelandic novel of secret symbols, medieval witchcraft, and mo
by Yrsa Sigurðardottir.
Thora Gundmunsdottir is the main character in this absorbing mystery. Unlike some of the other Scandinavian mystery characters, she’s a lawyer, not a detective. Also, she’s less morose and cerebral. Instead she’s a single mother of two and is lively and fun. She’s also smart and dedicated. This novel’s got plenty of mysterious goings on and questioning of those involved with a murder etc. but it’s also got some quirky characters, kid problems and a touch of romance. Very good.   posted Jun 29, 2011 at 8:20PM

Cover ArtLucifer’s tears
by Thompson, James
In Thompson’s great followup to Snow Angels, Kari Vaara has moved down to the big city and has got his hands full with a murder investigation, an investigation into a Finnish hero’s possible connection to war crimes, a strange new partner, and some visiting in-laws from hell. On top of it all he is suffering from multiple after-affects from his previous investigation and some troubling health problems. All gets intertwined into nonstop action. Break out the Koskenkorva and hunker down by the fire for a great read.   posted Jun 9, 2011 at 3:27PM

Cover ArtSnow angels
by Thompson, James
Engrossing murder mystery set in Finland. Inspector Vaara must find the killer in an especially brutal murder of a Somali immigrant. Great characters and a facinating insight into Finish culture and legal/justice system. A must for the burgeoning group of Scandinavian mystery lovers hungry for more Stieg Larsson-esque fare.   posted Jun 1, 2011 at 4:08PM

Cover ArtThe haunting of Hill House
by Jackson, Shirley
Don’t read this book expecting it to be a horror story like those written today. It is a subtle, psychological thriller with much left to the imagination. It’s told by a possibly unreliable narrator, Eleanor, who goes to Hill House on the invitation of a "doctor" investigating the paranormal. But is Hill house really haunted or is it all happening in Eleanor’s warped mind?   posted Apr 27, 2011 at 1:07PM

Cover ArtThe lake of dreams
by Edwards, Kim
Lucy returns home for a visit after a long time living abroad and faces conflict with her brother, uncle and mother. The separation from her boyfriend back in Japan and seeing an old flame cause conflict in her love life. Problem is, none of this conflict is interesting and Lucy is not a very likeable character. The only good part of this book is Lucy’s search for a missing relative and Rose, the relative, is the most interesting person in the book. Boring.   posted Apr 12, 2011 at 11:45AM

Cover ArtThink of a number : a novel
by Verdon, John
Former NYPD super-detective, Dave Gurney, gets a call from an old friend, terrified by weird threatening notes. Soon the friend has been murdered, just as he feared. Dave gets called in to help solve the puzzle. Besides a cool plot this book excels in character development. Nearly everyone’s motivations are delved into--except Dave who is still a bit of a mystery, even to himself. Also his relationship with his wife is a bit baffling and exhausting but it’s actually her insight that helps solve key portions of the case. Well done first novel with a new one due in July.   posted Apr 11, 2011 at 10:15AM

Cover ArtThe vanishing of Katharina Linden : a novel
by Grant, Helen
Very good book, well deserving of its Alex Award as it should be enjoyed by teens/young adults. Young girls are disappearing in a small German town and Pia and her friend Stefan try to find out what happened to them. Great German atmosphere and customs described. Peppered with snippets of Deutsch.   posted Feb 2, 2011 at 1:15PM

Cover ArtInsomnia [sound recording]
by King, Stephen
After losing interest in Stephen King after the Dark Half (1989) I’ve been going back and reading some I missed. This is a good one. I loved the characters. They are brave, smart, strong and (drum roll) senior citizens! The story is interesting though not exactly scary. However, the dissonent, jangly music that comes on sometimes during the audio book almost made me jump out of my skin.   posted Jan 31, 2011 at 11:33AM

Cover ArtLeft neglected : a novel
by Genova, Lisa.
Supermom Sarah lives a high pressure overbooked life with her 60 hr per week job and three young kids. All comes to a screeching halt after a car accident leaves her brain injured with a condition in which she can’t perceive anything to the left (a real condition). A good book and quick read that is by turns grim and laugh out loud funny. Sarah is forced by her condition to do what many of us should: slow down and reexamine what is really important.   posted Jan 31, 2011 at 11:22AM

Cover ArtThe woman in white [DVD]
by Fitzgerald, Tara
A good story but only peripherally like the book. Much is left out and changed. The malevolence of Glyde and Count Fosco is nonexistant hence the psychological tension present in the book is absolutely absent from this adaptation. My advice, read the book and skip this DVD version. PS. since it’s old you can get it as an ebook for free.   posted Jan 26, 2011 at 2:14PM

Cover ArtUnbroken : a World War II story of survival, resilience, and redemption
by Hillenbrand, Laura.
Amazing story of Louie Zamperini’s life and incredible and inspiring adventures and travails during WW II. Crashed, adrift on the ocean and then a POW in Japan, Louie endured hardship on a monumental scale. I found the beginning a little slow but the account starting with the crash of his B24 until the end of the war absolutely absorbing.   posted Jan 26, 2011 at 1:20PM

Cover ArtA secret kept
by Rosnay, Tatiana de
An engrossing book about life and death. Antoine and Melanie’s mother died when they were children but what really happened back in 1974? A trip back to Noirmoutier where the family summered back in the 70’s nudges loose some memories and clues to what happened. Antoine investigates, determined to find the truth, while Melanie, after a close brush with death herself, prefers another path. Good story, well told and quite satisfying despite not everything resolved at the end.   posted Jan 26, 2011 at 1:10PM

Cover ArtKnife music
by Carnoy, David.
Long boring passages in this book seem to have been inserted just to make it long enough. It’s very hard to like the main character. I listened to the audiobook and the very good reader Kristoffer Tabori was wasted on this one. Final verdict: don’t bother.   posted Dec 27, 2010 at 4:49PM

Cover ArtUnder the dome : a novel
by King, Stephen
When a mysterious dome traps inhabitants of a small Maine town, it seems to bring out the worst in the people. There are a few exceptions: a physician’s assistant, the local newspaper editor some smart teens and a drifter but others just don’t have that team spirit. Think Lord of the Flies with guns. As one of the town selectmen uses the opportunity to seize full power, he inexplicably destroys the town. I like King’s earthy characters as always but I just didn’t get into the story. Too much death and destruction.   posted Dec 7, 2010 at 7:31PM

Cover ArtArcadia Falls : a novel
by Goodman, Carol.
It’s hard to articulate exactly why I love this author so much. This summer/fall I read all of her novels in quick succession and I have to say there are many similarities among them. Nevertheless I devoured them all with great enjoyment. I’d say she’s my new guilty pleasure author but her books are so well written I don’t feel too guilty.   posted Dec 1, 2010 at 9:53PM

Cover ArtThe night villa : a novel
by Goodman, Carol.
Looking for a paperback I spotted this at random on the shelf. What a find! A wonderful, literate engrossing mystery with great characters.   posted Dec 1, 2010 at 9:50PM

Cover ArtThe lake of dead languages
by Goodman, Carol.
Along with the other commenter I absolutely love Carol Goodman. I just discovered her by accident this summer/fall and she is now one of my favorite authors. Her mysteries all have common elements but that does not seem to bother me. They are well written and absorbing.   posted Dec 1, 2010 at 9:48PM

Cover ArtIn the woods
by French, Tana.
This book was good but ultimately disappointing. It seems to lead you on with certain asumptions that never pan out. I finished it but only to find out whodunnit.   posted Dec 1, 2010 at 9:45PM

Cover ArtCold earth
by Moss, Sarah
A group of archaeologists and hangers on go on a two week dig in Greenland. While there, personalities clash and one member starts seeing ghosts of ancient Greenlanders. Meanwhile back in the world an epidemic rages. News is sparse. Is anyone back home still alive? When the return plane does not show up the group prepares for the end. Told in a series of letters to loved ones this is a taut suspense that really grabs you. Keep a blanket handy, you can feel the cold seeping into your bones.   posted Dec 1, 2010 at 9:33PM

Cover ArtFall of giants
by Follett, Ken.
The first of a planned trilogy covers the years 1911-1924. The main events are WWI and the Russian Revolution. Interesting characters who become interrelated as the story goes on, and how they affect, and are affected by, historic events. In spite of its length it goes fast (similar to Follett’s Kingsbridge books). Arthritis sufferer’s alert: this book weighs a ton!   posted Oct 14, 2010 at 3:52PM

Cover ArtSaving CeeCee Honeycutt : a novel
by Hoffman, Beth
A simple, sweet book about a 12 year old girl who goes to live with her great aunt in Savannah, GA after the death of her mentally ill mother. Any dark or serious themes are dealt with lightly and the book is mostly about the quirky characters Ceecee meets in Savannah. Not sure how this title got classified as adult. I’m sure most 12-year- old girls would enjoy it.   posted Oct 14, 2010 at 3:33PM

Cover ArtLucy : a novel
by Gonzales, Laurence
As war erupts in the Congo a primatologist, Jenny, discovers 15-year-old Lucy, the supposed daughter of another primatologist killed by rebels. Together they escape back to the US and start to build a life together. However, a shocking truth about Lucy’s creation leads to all sorts of problems. What makes a person human? Can humanity be legislated? These and other questions are raised at least in passing in this story that is sure to appeal to teens as well as adults.   posted Oct 3, 2010 at 8:14PM

Cover ArtDeception point
by Brown, Dan
I liked this book. I liked that it had lots of hard science as opposed to the religious and symbolic mumbo jumbo of some of Brown’s other books. If you can live with his annoying habit of ending every other chapter (of over 100) with a cliffhanger you’ll enjoy it. It is a fast read.   posted Oct 3, 2010 at 8:06PM

Cover ArtThe pilot’s wife : a novel
A plane blows up over the sea killing all on board including the pilot. The pilot’s wife is left grieving and soon finds out he was not the man she thought he was. Engrossing but rather emotionally exhausting.   posted Sep 27, 2010 at 3:42PM

Cover ArtMockingjay
by Collins, Suzanne.
Rather a depressing ending to the Hunger Games trilogy. Collins took a chance by not tying everything up neatly with all puppydogs and rainbows for her mostly teen audience. I was a bit surprised by that. This book is a dark and sobering look at the toll war takes on human lives.   posted Sep 14, 2010 at 6:03PM

Cover ArtDon’t look back
by Fossum, Karin
At first, the death of a young teen seems completely out of the blue. Who could have a motive to kill a neighborhood babysitter that everyone loved? However, as we come, along with Inspector Sejer, to know the people of this small town it seems nearly everyone has a secret. As all good mysteries do, this one creates doubt and suspicion right and left. Well plotted.   posted Aug 15, 2010 at 8:40PM

Cover ArtThe 24th letter
by Lowe, Tom
I did read this book all the way through, but the plot is really ridiculous. A priest draws a symbolic, enigmatic message on the floor in his own blood as he lays dying. Former cop Sean O’Brien must solve the mystery to catch a killer and save an innocent man about to be executed. It seems like an attempt to be too Dan Brownish here. If you knew who killed you, would you not just write the name of the killer instead of a complicated symbolic message?   posted Aug 5, 2010 at 3:27PM

Cover ArtThe girl who kicked the hornet’s nest
by Larsson, Stieg
The final book in the Millennium series, a planned ten book series cut short by the tragic death of author Stieg Larsson in 2004. This installment had a little too much spy and government conspiracy stuff for me but is still a good book. Includes an interesting look into a Swedish courtroom. The running theme in the whole series of abuse of women and the men who enable it is continued here and those who have treated Lisbeth badly get their comeuppance at last.   posted Jul 6, 2010 at 4:11PM

Cover ArtThe darkest room : a novel
by Theorin, Johan
Another top knotch mystery/thriller by Theorin that takes place on the Swedish island of Oland. This time a new family to the island suffers a tragedy and the mystery of how that happened plus some other crime taking place on the island all comes to an exciting climax during a raging blizzard. Great stuff.   posted Jun 15, 2010 at 2:15PM

Cover ArtThe girl who played with fire
by Larsson, Stieg
Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomqvist are back in this sequel which takes up right where the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo left off. We learn more about Lisbeth’s childhood and how she’s spending the millions she ripped off from Wennerstrom. Unbelievably, this book is even better than its predecessor. Nonstop action, impossible to put down.   posted Jun 4, 2010 at 11:45AM

Cover ArtInto thin air : a personal account of the Mount Everest disaster
by Jon Krakauer
Alex Award winner which usually means it’s nonfiction that’s very enjoyable and that is certainly true of this book. It will send you to the internet (and the library catalog) afterwards to read more about this and other Everest expeditions.   posted May 6, 2010 at 4:08PM

Cover ArtThe tale of Halcyon Crane : a novel
by Webb, Wendy
This is a good book from the get-go. I read it in an afternoon. Nice chilly ghosty parts and a very likeable main character. Just waiting for your next book, Wendy!   posted Apr 25, 2010 at 7:05PM

Cover ArtThe girl with the dragon tattoo
by Stieg Larsson
Absorbing tale of betrayal and family secrets that builds slowly to a pulse racing, shattering climax. A dark tone with fantastic characters and an interesting look into Swedish culture. Not to be missed.   posted Apr 19, 2010 at 5:26PM

Cover ArtBeach music
by Conroy, Pat.
Another Pat Conroy novel with everything we’ve come to expect. Abusive, alcoholic fathers, loving and self-sacrificing (but far from perfect)mothers, suicides and mental illness, and plenty of angst from the past and hope for the future. Great settings in Rome and the South Carolina low country. Love it, love it, love it!!   posted Apr 19, 2010 at 5:19PM

Cover ArtThe Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins
First in a very entertaining series that is a must for Twilight lovers. Strong female lead character with the requisite love triangle. And oh yes, planned for a movie eventually. Could be seen as a bit disturbing and would not recommend for sensitive teens or pre-teens.   posted Apr 19, 2010 at 5:13PM

Cover ArtCatching fire
by Suzanne Collins
Katniss Everdeen must survive another Games but the stakes are even bigger than her own life as a rebellion may be brewing in the Districts. Plenty of twists and turns in this story keep you guessing and loving every minute. Oh Team Gale for sure but Peeta is destined for greatness.   posted Apr 19, 2010 at 5:09PM

Cover ArtSarah’s key
by Tatiana de Rosnay
Very enjoyable and enlightening book. The most important thing about this book is telling the story of the Vel d’hiv roundup and subsequent murders of thousands of French Jews in 1942. Although ordered by the Nazi occupying force, the action was carried out by the French police none of whom were ever tried for their actions.   posted Feb 24, 2010 at 2:04PM

Cover ArtGirl with a pearl earring
by Tracy Chevalier
Who is the girl with the pearl earring in the Vermeer masterpiece? No one knows. This book tells a story of who she might have been and her circumstances. It’s all a figment of the author’s imagination but I loved the feel of this book. The gritty depiction of the time period and locale. That and the outcome of the story made it totally plausable.   posted Jan 28, 2010 at 11:12AM

Cover ArtThe zookeeper’s wife [sound recording] : a war story
by Ackerman, Diane
I enjoyed most of this book. The parts about Jan’s work with the Underground, sneaking Jews out of the Warsaw ghetto and just all the things that happened to the zoo and to Warsaw and the Zabinski family and friends during the war were facinating. I could have done without long passages about beetles etc. You can skip over those and not miss a thing.   posted Jan 28, 2010 at 10:50AM

Cover ArtEchoes from the dead
by Theorin, Johan
Enjoyable mystery about an unsolved child disappearance 20 years in the past. The child’s mother and grandfather join forces to investigate when one of the lost child’s shoes inexplicably shows up in the mail to the grandfather. Their investigation leads them through twists and turns and crimes in the past and present. Beyond the mystery the story is also about family relationships, and healing.   posted Jan 14, 2010 at 1:59PM

Cover ArtAs simple as snow
by Gregory Galloway
The haunting story of Anna, a facinating teenager who forges a relationship with the narrator of the story, then suddenly disappears. You won’t soon forget this book and its main character. Unlike the usual mystery this one leaves many unanswered questions. Deliciously creepy.   posted Oct 26, 2009 at 4:50PM

Cover ArtThe last child
by John Hart
Hart’s latest continues his run of excellent thrillers. All three have definitely been a cut above many others in the genre. Well deserved 2010 Edgar Award winner.   posted Sep 18, 2009 at 5:05PM

Cover ArtMoloka’i
by Alan Brennert
Heartbreaking yet uplifting story of an Hawaiian girl diagnosed with Hansen’s disease in the age when "lepers" were segregated and sent to an inaccessible area on the island of Moloka’i   posted Jun 26, 2009 at 4:21PM

Cover ArtSalem Falls
by Jodi Picoult
Wrongly accused of having an affair with an underage girl former teacher and coach Jack St. Bride escapes to Salem Falls, a small town where nothing ever happens. Unbelivably a local high school girl soon brings a charge of rape against him and Jack finds himself again trying to prove his innocence. Crazy, of course that this could happen to the same man twice but Picoult makes you forget all that as usual. Lots of interesting characters and a not quite happy for everyone ending.   posted Jun 2, 2009 at 3:44PM

Cover ArtLong lost
by Harlan Coben
Not one of his best. Although in dealing with terrorists a few deaths go with the territory I suppose, I was distressed by the overly high body count in this book.   posted May 5, 2009 at 1:12PM

Cover ArtThe darkness under the water
by Beth Kanell
A good coming of age story of a Native American girl in Vermont in the 1930s. Although the summary mentions the Vermont eugenics project it did not seem really central to the story. An interesting little known part of American history, however. Perhaps one that has kept the Abenaki from being recognized as a tribe even today.   posted Mar 23, 2009 at 1:27PM

Cover ArtThe god of animals : a novel
by Aryn Kyle
A good coming of age novel about Alice, a young girl growing up in Colorado. Her family runs a stables where they board horses and train riders for shows. However, Alice soon learns nothing is as it seems. Her profoundly depressed mother never leaves her room yet seems to know everything that’s going on. A rich horse owner buys Alice new clothes which gets her into the cool clique at school yet she does not fit in. Even a horse named Darling is anything but. What is real and what is false and why people tell lies and how they live with them is central to this novel. I found it enjoyable yet the ending is lacking.   posted Feb 20, 2009 at 12:31PM

Cover ArtMy father’s son
by Fields, Terri
This was an intriguing idea for a story and I got caught up in it right away. A teen-aged boy’s father is arrested and charged with being a notorious serial killer. The end, however, was a disappointment. A real cop-out.   posted Jan 21, 2009 at 1:09PM

Cover ArtGoodnight moon;
by Margaret Wise Brown
You must read this classic bedstime story to your young children. It’s simple, rhyming, saying goodnight to everything. Your child will ask for it over and over and memorize it.   posted Nov 26, 2008 at 1:17PM

Cover ArtA prisoner of birth
by Jeffrey Archer
Incredibly far-fetched plot but entertaining anyway.   posted Nov 26, 2008 at 1:01PM

Cover ArtThe story of Edgar Sawtelle : a novel
by Wroblewski, David
Vivid imagery and symbolism abound in this many layered novel. On the surface it’s about a family who breed their own dog breed named after them and their family relationships that includes betrayal and murder. Underneath there’s tons to interpret and there are a few unforgettable scenes. Long, but moved along quickly.   posted Nov 21, 2008 at 4:30PM

Cover ArtNineteen minutes : a novel
by Jodi Picoult
I find the storyline/outcome of this novel, like Picoult’s others, easy to predict. Many of her stories are right out of the news. I find myself getting a little impatient sometimes wishing she could get on with the story. However, you don’t read this author for the plotlines. Where she excels is in the human part of the stories. I can’t think of another contemporary author who delves as deeply into human feelings and relationships as Picoult.   posted Nov 14, 2008 at 1:21PM

Cover ArtTo kill a mockingbird
by Harper Lee
A giant of American literature and required reading in most high schools--as it should be. Every American should read this book. I read this at age 12 and reread it when my teenage kids read it for school. For me it invokes a rare flash of true empathy for the pain of racial injustice.   posted Jul 15, 2008 at 11:39AM

Cover ArtDelusion
by Abrahams, Peter
Good book that keeps your interest though it’s pretty easy to pick out the real killer. A small, yet fascinating plot device is about how the police can purposely or even unwittingly influence witnesses in their selections in suspect identification.   posted Jul 15, 2008 at 11:24AM

Cover ArtUnder the banner of heaven : a story of violent faith
by Krakauer, Jon
Very good history of Mormonism and Mormon fundamentalism. Facinating and frightening. As current as today’s headlines and describes some important, little known historic events such as the Mountain Meadow Massacre.   posted Jun 27, 2008 at 4:15PM

Cover ArtCounting coup : a true story of basketball and honor on the Little Big Horn
by Colton, Larry
An excellent book that follows a high school girls basketball team from Crow Agency, Montana in the 1990s. The author spent a year getting to know the girls and about life on the reservation. You don’t have to like basketball to enjoy this story.   posted Jun 27, 2008 at 3:50PM

Cover ArtHold tight
by Coben, Harlan
Another good page turner from Coben. Two week loan? No problem. As billed, explores the boundaries between parent and teen. What’s private? How far should parents go to find out what their teens are up to? I like how the story does not support one clear cut answer. No soapbox here.   posted May 30, 2008 at 10:56AM

Cover ArtEight men out : the Black Sox and the 1919 World Series
by Asinof, Eliot
Well written account of the Black Sox scandal of the 1919 World Series in which seven players "laid down" and lost the series on purpose for cash. (The eighth player knew about the plan but did not take part). Surprisingly relevant today in light of Major League Baseball’s current steroid crisis. Cries for MLB to clean itself up in the early 20’s are remarkably similar to the ones you hear today.   posted May 21, 2008 at 11:10AM

Cover ArtThe host : a novel
by Meyer, Stephenie
A good story that reminds me of a Star Trek the Next Generation episode with the same title. Though billed as Meyer’s first novel for adults her teen fans should enjoy this also.   posted May 12, 2008 at 11:16AM

Cover ArtThe absolutely true diary of a part-time Indian
by Sherman Alexie
Some things in this book rang true, others not. I liked the insights into Indian culture, like the fact that Indians celebrate and even revere people with differences. However, the idea that Junior/Arnold transfers to a larger high school and almost immediately goes out with the prettiest girl in school and makes varsity basketball? I don’t think so. Neverthe less this book is entertaining and worthwhile.   posted Apr 21, 2008 at 10:25AM

Cover ArtCity of bones
by Clare, Cassandra
This book is a bit predictable but enjoyable nevertheless. Some plot elements owe a lot to Harry Potter and even Star Wars. The atmosphere and action are fun. Plenty of black-clad teenagers and monster blood.   posted Apr 8, 2008 at 2:46PM

Cover ArtMortal engines : a novel
by Philip Reeve
Great series, especially for teen (and adult) guys.   posted Mar 26, 2008 at 12:27PM

Cover ArtHaters
by Valdes-Rodriguez, Alisa
Typical story of nice girl who moves to new school and is victimized by rich, beautiful, athletic, ruthless bad girl who rules the new school. Of course, the new girl wins the bad girl’s boyfriend (the hottest guy in school) wins the motocross race after the bad girl is injured and is probably soon to be a rich girl herself. The book starts out promising but too much is crammed in at the end especially the totally unrealistic idea that someone who has never done motocross before could win a regional race. Also, there is truly dangerous and illegal behaviors engaged in by the bad, popular crowd that I think teens themselves would never stand for. With the large amount of good fiction writing for young adults these days, best to skip this one.   posted Jan 30, 2008 at 8:27AM

Cover ArtTaken
by Edward Bloor
This is a story of the rift between rich and poor which has become even more pronounced by 2036, the time of the novel. What good is being rich if you have to live in a virtual prison? How can the rich stand by idle while the poor have no access to health care? What about the responsibility of citizens to help each other and give back to the community for the good of the community and its members and not just because it makes good reality television? These are questions Charity must wrestle with and are also valid in today’s society. Good, thought provoking stuff for teens and adults.   posted Dec 6, 2007 at 12:12PM

Cover ArtThe angel of darkness
by Caleb Carr
Another adventure with the same characters as Carr’s earlier novel "The alienist" but somehow I found this one more accessible. It’s told from the point of view of Stevie the doctor’s assistant and intrepid carriage driver. It’s fun to follow the investigation in this era before fingerprinting was accepted and forensics, criminal profiling and ballistics were sciences still in their infancies.   posted Nov 16, 2007 at 3:42PM

Cover ArtBeautiful child
by Hayden, Torey L.
Fans of Torey Hayden’s other tales of special ed classrooms and special students won’t be disappointed in this book. Venus, mute and unresponsive is Torey’s toughest child yet. She has to find a way to reach Venus while at the same time breaking up fist fights and dealing with a sometimes difficult aid. Heartbreaking, heartwarming and hilarious.   posted Oct 19, 2007 at 4:28PM

Cover ArtHarry Potter and the deathly hallows
by J. K. Rowling
To CQ3: Neville (another "true son of Gryffindor") pulled the sword from the sorting hat just as Harry did in the Chamber of Secrets. I have to admit that part gave me chills.   posted Jul 31, 2007 at 3:09PM

Cover ArtBlack swan green
by David Mitchell
This is a well written coming of age book set in England in the 1980s. Jason is a 13-year-old growing up amid family troubles, schoolyard politics and cruelties while trying to keep two deep dark secrets. Jason has a stammer and writes poetry. Both would be deadly if the other kids found out. Great 1980s atmosphere and a plethora of British slang that will humble even the most devout Anglophile.   posted Nov 6, 2006 at 3:41PM

Cover ArtSkybreaker
by Kenneth Oppel
This is a sequel to Airborn by the same author. It is well-written and action-packed. Great for guys.   posted May 19, 2006 at 1:24PM

What Laura P. is Reading
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