Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Let's Get Back on Real Time!

Once again I am faced with a backlog of books read but not posted. Rather than beat myself up over it, I am just going to list them here and if I get around to a post, great, if not, that's okay too!

Listen for the Whisperer by Phyllis Whitney. Classic Phyllis Whitney mystery - creepy and full of red herrings, ending with the dramatic confrontation! Phyllis Whitney was one that I started with straight out of grammar school and I will always love her books!

Shopaholic Ties the Knot by Sophie Kinsella. I am not a huge Shopaholic fan. The first one made me laugh out loud but then the sequel got tiresome. I took a long break and just now picked this one back up and it seemed better - I think absence made my heart go fonder!

Mrs. Pollifax Unveiled and Mrs. Pollifax on Safari by Dorothy Gillman - These cozy mysteries are quick reads and always interesting enough to hold my attention for an afternoon. Mrs. Pollifax is like the Ladies Detective Agency lady of the 1970's.

Okay - these last few deserve their own posts because I loved them...but just in case it never happens...here they are -
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein So unexpectedly wonderful! I mean, I knew that other peopel thought it was wonderful but I didn't expect that I would too. A dog? Race car driving? Just didn't seem like the formula for me but, of course, it was so much more than that. It was tragic. It was pummell this guy and make me cry over and over again. And I laughed too- "Give me my F*%$# thumbs, you monkeys!!!" that line just killed me.

Mennonite In a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen - Hi, I'm RoundFile, I have an addiction to memoirs. I especially like humorous ones so this was a dream for me. Loved it!

Never Change by Elizabeth Berg - I've read a few Elizabeth Berg's and they have not thrilled me. I kept thinking, 'Why do I keep picking these up when they aren't thrilling me?" Then this one did. I loved these characters. It was a very satisfying read. So I guess I'll plow through a few more of her books hoping for another gem.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford - What a beautiful love story1 Love in all directions showed in so many different ways and involving so much sacrifice. it's especially powerful becasue it is all told against this backdrop of hatred and racism. I love historical fiction when it is doen well and this one is really done well. Great book!

These all count for the challenges...

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hector and the Secrets of Love by Francois Lelord

From Amazon: Since his first captivating adventure in Hector and the Search for Happiness, Hector the young French psychiatrist has continued to explore the mysteries of the human soul. Having found that love seems virtually inseparable from happiness, he begins taking notes on this powerful emotion. But unbeknownst to him, Clara, the doctor's beloved, is making her own investigations into love. As much a love story as a novel about love, Hector and the Secrets of Love is a feel-good life manual wrapped in a globetrotting adventure, told with the blend of a fairy tale's naïve wisdom and a satirist's dry wit that has won Hector fans around the world.

This one was a win from The Library Thing Early Reviewers program. It was the second in a series so I was at a disadvantage going in but I don't think that is the reason that it didn't "click" with me. I wondered if it was because it was translated from the original Franch and perhaps I don't have the French sense of humor? It was at turns simplistic and then confusing. There were moments, however, when it was witty and I got a sense of what the book might be for those who enjoyed the author's style. And, there were a few characters that interested me enough to want to know what happened to them. So the occasional laugh and the need to know kept me listening until the end but it really wasn't a good book for me.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Southern Comfort by Fern Michaels

From Goodreads: Atlanta homicide detective Patrick 'Tick' Kelly turned his back on the world the day his wife and children were murdered. Abandoning his city and his career, he holed up in a beach house on Mango Key, Florida, and drowned his grief in Jack Daniels. Now sober and a bestselling author, Tick would gladly stay a recluse forever if his brother Pete didn't keep trying to drag him back to the land of the living. After years of sacrificing her personal life in favour of her DEA job, special agent Kate Rush resigned and moved back to her native Miami. But the unofficial assignment that has just come her way is too intriguing to pass up. She and a fellow ex-agent are relocated to Mango Key to keep an eye on an imposing, mysterious fortress believed to be at the centre of a human trafficking ring. At first, the Kelly brothers are suspected of involvement, but Kate is sure Tick poses no danger - except for the slow-burning gaze that makes her breath catch and her heart race. Tick finds himself fascinated by Kate's investigation - and by her inviting mix of courage and kindness. Teaming up, they uncover a web of betrayal, blackmail, and ruthless greed. And as danger mounts, Tick realizes how far he'll go to protect the rare and surprising gift that's come his way: a second chance at a happy ending

This was good, not great, but good. It was clean, it was somewhat predictable, but it moved along at a good clip and held my attention. The predictable part was not so much plot but the characters - they were kind of stock - the jaded cop, the blowhard administrator so as things unfolded they acted pretty much exactly like I expected them to act. The dialogue was kind of cheesy, occasionally it was so bad it would distract me from the story as I thought, "People do not actually talk like this!" I liked the setting, would love to visit the Keys someday and lay on the beach, swim in the water, and drink in the bars! This would be a great book to take on vacation.

I received this book from the Goodreads First reads program. It counts for these challenges...

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Spoken From the Heart by Laura Bush

From Goodreads: In this brave, beautiful, and deeply personal memoir, Laura Bush, one of our most beloved and private first ladies, tells her own extraordinary story.

Born in the boom-and-bust oil town of Midland, Texas, Laura Welch grew up as an only child in a family that lost three babies to miscarriage or infant death. She vividly evokes Midland's brash, rugged culture, her close relationship with her father, and the bonds of early friendships that sustain her to this day. For the first time, in heart-wrenching detail, she writes about the devastating high school car accident that left her friend Mike Douglas dead and about her decades of unspoken grief.

Am I a huge Laura Bush fan? I wasn't, really didn't have much of an opinion at all. I would never have picked this book up except that a dear friend's daughter, one of BookTiger's best friends was involved in a tragic car accident and several people recommended it to her because of Laura Bush's similar event. The mama bear in me came out and I just had to see what people were recommending to this vulnerable teenager as a soother. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Although, in the interest of maintaining a clean conscious, I have to admit I didn't read the last little bit as it was overdue to go back to the library and I just didn't care enough to renew it. I liked the insider look at life in the White House - the measures they take for security and to manage such a large household are really fascinating. I didn't know about Mrs. Bush's passion for literacy and literature and how she established events and programs to promote books. So I am more of a fan than when I started out. I ended up thinking that the message regarding the car accident, the idea that you could survive, live with the grief and pain, and go on to do great things was effectively presented. Don't know that plowing through everything else to get to that message is possible if you are in the midst of that grief and pain but we can hope.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday started by Marcia at A Girl and Her Books is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week (checked out library books don’t count, eBooks & audio books do). This month Mailbox Monday is being hosted by Staci at Life in the Thumb. Stop by there to check out everyone else's mailboxes.

Because I have taken an unintended blogging break, I have a bunch of books to get caught up on. Here is the list....

From Goodreads: What makes up a family? For Casey it's sharing a house with her fiance, Michael, and his three children, whom she intends to nurture more than she ever took care of herself. But Casey's plans have come undone. Michael's silences have grown unfathomable and deep. His daughter Angel seethes as only a teenage girl can, while the wide-eyed youngest, Jewel, quietly takes it all in.
Then Michael's son, Dylan, runs off, and the kids' mother, a woman never afraid to say what she thinks, noisily barges into the home. That's when Casey decides that the silences can no longer continue. She must begin speaking the words no one else can say. She'll have to dig up secrets—including her own—uncovering the hurts, and begin the healing that is long overdue. And it all starts with just a few tentative words. . . .
This one was a Godoreads FirstReads win, I am looking forward to it as I very much enjoyed her other book I read.

From Goodreads: Everyone wins this game of literary tennis, a comedy of manners about envy in which Wickham skewers the nouveau riche. At their country estate, Patrick Chance and his wife host a weekend tennis party. As four couples gather on the sunny terrace, it seems obvious who among them is succeeding, and who is falling behind. But by the end of the party, nothing will be quite as certain. While the couples’ children amuse themselves with pony rides and rehearsals for a play, the adults suffer a series of personal revelations and crises. Wickham’s nonstop action reveals at every turn that matters may not be as they seem, and in the end one thing is crystal clear: the weekend is about anything but tennis. This was a win from the Library Thign Early Reviewer Program. I love Sophie Kinsella (who uses her alternate name Madeleine Wickham to pen this one) so I am expecting to enjoy it despite seeing others only gave it two stars.

From Amazon: Since his first captivating adventure in Hector and the Search for Happiness, Hector the young French psychiatrist has continued to explore the mysteries of the human soul. Having found that love seems virtually inseparable from happiness, he begins taking notes on this powerful emotion. But unbeknownst to him, Clara, the doctor's beloved, is making her own investigations into love. As much a love story as a novel about love, Hector and the Secrets of Love is a feel-good life manual wrapped in a globetrotting adventure, told with the blend of a fairy tale's naïve wisdom and a satirist's dry wit that has won Hector fans around the world. This one was a win from the Library Thing Early Reviewers program too. I've started this one in my carand it has taken awhile to grow on me, we'll see how it goes.

From Goodreads: Lippman sets many of the stories in this anthology, Hardly Knew Her, in familiar territory: her beloved Baltimore, from downtown to its affluent suburbs, where successful businessmen go to shocking lengths to protect what they have or ruthlessly expand their holdings, while dissatisfied wives find murderous ways to escape their lives. But Lippman is also unafraid to travel - to New Orleans, to an unnamed southwestern city, and even to Dublin, the backdrop for the lethal clash of two not-so-innocents abroad. Tess Monaghan is here, in two stories and a profile, aligning herself with various underdogs. And in her extraordinary, never-beforepublished novella, Scratch a Woman, Lippman takes us deep into the private world of a high-priced call girl/madam and devoted soccer mom, exploring the mystery of what may, in fact, be written in the blood.
I haven't read a Laura Lippman before despite reading so many positive reviews of her work. This was a win but I have searched my e-mail and can't remember from where! Was it you? If so, thank you!!

From Goodreads: A year after taking the chance of a lifetime, Cici, Lindsay, and Bridget are still trying to make a home for themselves on the newly-renovated Ladybug Farm. Life in the Shenandoah Valley is picturesque, but filled with unexpected trials— such as the introduction of two young people into the ordered life the women have tried to build for themselves. As the walls of the old house reveal their secrets and the lives of those who have gone before begin to unfold, the cobbled-together household starts to disintegrate into chaos. And when one of their members is threatened by a real crisis, they must all come together to fight for the roots they’ve laid down, the hopes they share, and the family they’ve become. Found this one at the Library Used Books and remembered how many people loved the Ladybug Farm so had to pick it up.

From Goodreads: Originally published in Switzerland, and gracefully translated into English by Carol Brown Janeway, The Reader is a brief tale about sex, love, reading, and shame in postwar Germany. Michael Berg is 15 when he begins a long, obsessive affair with Hanna, an enigmatic older woman. He never learns very much about her, and when she disappears one day, he expects never to see her again. But, to his horror, he does. Hanna is a defendant in a trial related to Germany's Nazi past, and it soon becomes clear that she is guilty of an unspeakable crime. As Michael follows the trial, he struggles with an overwhelming question: What should his generation do with its knowledge of the Holocaust? "We should not believe we can comprehend the incomprehensible, we may not compare the incomparable.... Should we only fall silent in revulsion, shame, and guilt? To what purpose?"Another old one that I came across for a quarter.

From Goodreads: In this sequel to the top-selling A Girl Named Zippy, the woman rising heroically from the couch is Zippy's mother, Dolonda. After years of languorous existence, this oversized couch potato emerged from the den to pursue a higher education. Dolonda was well read but in other ways seemed ill suited for college: This middle-aged, 260-pound coed had a husband who disapproved of the entire venture, no driver's license, and almost no money. Like its predecessor, She Got Up Off the Couch holds our attention with its sympathetic rendering of idiosyncratic family characters. Hilarious; heartbreaking; ultimately empowering.Never heard of this one but it sounds funny, I am a memoir junkie.

From Goodreads: Shopaholic Becky Bloomwood is pregnant, but the prospect of motherhood hasn't reined in her passion for fashion. In fact, this insatiable London shopper has a new excuse for raiding boutiques, catalogues, and baby shops for goodies. Amid all this happy expectation, though, lurks a major problem. Becky has become convinced that her hubby Luke has been fiddling with vampish obstetrician Venetia Carter. To allay her fears, our self-indulgent personal shopper hires a private detective to track down the truth. It won't surprise Shopaholic fans that this sets off a madcap romp that is more fun than an afternoon at Prada.I've committed to the series thus far - have to see it through until the bitter end.