Tuesday, November 29, 2011


You know how I can tell a book was good?  When I have to wait a few days after finishing it to begin a new one.  I finished this one Saturday night and couldn't even think about starting something new until Monday evening.

This is vintage Stephen King.  This is why I fell in love with his writing forty years ago.  This is falling into a book and letting it consume me.  This is talking about it to anyone who will listen.

I was in the ninth grade when Kennedy was shot so I remember it well.  This book took me right back to that era because King captures the culture so well. 

Jake Epping is an English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine.  Al Templeton owns a diner built over an abandoned chemical plant.  In his back room is a portal to September 9, 1958.  Al tried staying in the past long enough to prevent Lee Harvey Oswald from assassinating President Kennedy but he developed cancer and couldn't stay.  Now, he begs Jake to go through the portal to do it for him.

Besides the time travel aspect, there isn't much science fiction or scary, gory scenes.  This is just a good, old-fashioned story written by an expert craftsman.  It's a long book but I wanted it to be longer. 

Of course, we know going into it that Jake will not be successful.  So, it's fun to imagine how King will end the book.  And the ending is masterful! 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

These Things Hidden and Daughter of Smoke and Bone

It feels so good to be reading, again!
These Things Hidden was a real page turner.  I gulped it in just a couple days.  Alison is twenty-two and has just been released from jail for murdering her newborn five years earlier.  Her parents and younger sister want nothing to do with her.

Her younger sister Brynn is trying to make a life for herself away from her hometown but can't get past the horrible events that happened the night her sister gave birth.

Now, Alison must try to find a way to go on with her life and make amends with her family.

This is a chick book, to be sure, but I liked it.

If any of you participate in Sunday Scribblings, you'll recognize the name Laini Taylor as one of the original authors of that meme.  That's where I first found her.  I checked out her blog just as she was getting ready to give birth to her adorable daughter Clementine Pie and keep going back to see pictures of her as she grows up.

Laini writes a genre (YA fantasy) I don't normally go for but I thought I'd give her book a try since it was getting rave reviews.  I'm so glad I did.  She's a wonderful writer!

Karou is a blue-haired teenager living in Prague going to art school. But she isn't like most normal teenagers; she was raised by devils and must occasionally leave her regular world to collect teeth for Brimstone, her "father."

Then she meets Akiva, an angel, and her enemy.  They are drawn to one another even though Akiva is still in mourning for his lost love Madrigal.

The age-old enemies-faling-in-love theme is given a new twist in this novel.  But, even more than the compelling scenario is the writing.  Ahhh, the writing!  It is so beautiful! Not a page goes by where there isn't a wonderful description to please my poetic heart.

And, now, I'm on to Stephen King's latest 11/22/63.  More fantasy!  Hmmm...what's going on with me?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Litigators

Yay!  I finished a book!

I had pre-ordered this one and was thrilled when it became available for download.  I started reading it right away and finished it a couple days later.  It helped that we were flying to Florida for the winter.  I love all the reading time I get when on an airplane.

David Zinc is fed up with the grunt work of being a lawyer in a huge law firm and one day he up and quits.  He stumbles upon a flailing "boutique" firm with only two lawyers and joins them.  Their first case is a class action suit against a giant pharmaceutical company. 

The characters are well drawn and likable and the concept is believable.  I enjoyed it.  But, what this book has, that most of his others don't, is humor.  At one point I had tears rolling down my cheeks! 

I needed a good book like this to get me back into reading mode!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Reading Slump

I don't know what's wrong with me but I just haven't felt like reading lately.

This is a first for me.

One of the reasons could be because I'm not that invested in the novel I'm reading.  The Art of Fielding is a beautifully written book but, for some reason, I can't get into the characters.  I'm about half way through and hate to give up on it but...

Another reason could be because I'm watching The Secret Life of the American Teenager.  Every night I get in bed and, instead of reading like normally, I stream an episode or two of this addicting show on my iPad.

And then there is the iPad, itself.  I love it!  And am always fiddling with it instead of reading.  I mean, there are just so many apps to explore and play with.

I wish there were more hours in the day.  Too bad I don't have two or three brains so I could do everything I want!

Friday, September 30, 2011


When she was in high school, Lizzy was abducted.  Somehow, she managed to escape.  But, she's not free.  She lives in terror that it will happen again.  Now, she's in her thirties and runs a private investigation business.

One day her old boyfriend, who is now a detective, calls her to consult on a missing teen.  Together they must solve the mystery of who he is before any more girls go missing.  And, in the process, she must solve her own mystery.

Formulaic but a real page turner!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Blood Wounds

What makes a happy family?

That's one of the questions this book proposes.

Willa and her mom escaped from Texas and Willa's abusive father.  In Pennsylvania, her mom met Jack, married him, and they all live together with Jack's two daughters.

And they all actually get along and like each other.  Oh, there are issues, of course.  Jack's ex-wife is rich so Willa's step sisters get lots of expensive clothes and trips and lessons.  But Willa doesn't seem to mind.  Or does she?

Maybe that is why she sneaks down to the cellar to cut herself.

When Willa's biological father murders his new wife and two of Willa's half sisters then abducts the other child and heads to Pennsylvnia to find Willa, she finds out what her present family is made of.  She also finds out what she is made of.

Susan Beth Pfeffer has written a YA novel that explores the workings of a blended family and has created a memorable character in Willa who is forced to find and stand up for herself.  So many teenagers, nowadays, must deal with broken families.  It's nice to see a book deal with modern issues featuring a strong female character.

My own daughter and her husband have split up and I worry how that will affect Kylie.  She's only five, now, but it's bound to have some repercussions on her as she gets older.  This is one book I'll be recommending she read in a few years.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Jane Was Here & The Language of Flowers

I've been reading such good books lately!  And this one is no exception.  I didn't really like the cover but I'm glad I gave it a try, anyway.

Jane has escaped from a mental hospital and is now searching for her home...not the home where her biological parents live, but the place she was born...in the 1800s.  Jane has images of another existence from another era and will stop at nothing to discover who she really is.

This novel is filled with great characters and the writing is down-to-earth...until it hits us with the supernatural.  Sarah Kernochan does a superb job of making the extraordinary feel ordinary. 

Holy tearjerker!  I haven't read a novel like this, where I had to have a box of Kleenex nearby, for quite some time.

This book flips back and forth between Victoria Jones as an angry, emancipated eighteen-year-old living on her own to ten-year-old Victoria, damaged by foster care, living with Elizabeth who wants to adopt her.  We know it's not going to happen right from the get-go but what transpired to force Victoria back into the system is what keeps this story moving.

Elizabeth is the one who taught her all about the language of flowers and Victoria is able to use that knowledge to help her begin a new life.  But, first, she has to learn how to live without hating everyone and everything.

I'm a sucker for flowers, anyway, so this book with its many references to them  was right up my alley!  I stayed up late last night reading and wiping tears away!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Maine and Good Poems: American Places

I promised myself no more detours while reading this book.  Luckily, it rained here most of last week so I had lots of time to finish it.  And it wasn't difficult.  There's just something about the characters in this novel that made me want to keep turning the pages.

The Kelleher family has beachfront property in Cape Neddick, Maine.  (That's only about twenty miles from me so I'm familiar with the area.)  The patriarch, Daniel, won it in a bet.  For years they've enjoyed vacationing there.  Now, Daniel is dead and his widow must decide what to do with it.

The book centers on four female characters:  Alice, the matriarch, who was totally unsuited for motherhood and who has a devastating secret she's held inside for years; Kathleen, her daughter who has never gotten along with her; Maggie, Kathleen's daughter, pregnant and alone; and Ann Marie, Alice's son's wife, the only other family member Alice can stand.

They all gather at their summer home for a two-week period and sparks fly.  These characters are so well drawn that even when you hate them, you love them.  Told with humor and insight, this book and these people will stay with me for a long time. 

I ordered Good Poems: American Places in the spring and have been slowly making my way cross country poem by poem.

Garrison Keillor collected poems of place about America and compiled them into this book.  He's so smart!  He knows how to pick poems that are easy to understand but have literary value, also. 

I really enjoyed this road trip!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Blood, Bones, & Butter and Kill Me If You Can

My friend, Deirdre, gave me the book Maine as a retirement gift a couple weeks ago.  I love it!  But I haven't finished it yet.  Why?  Because it's a real book and too big to take on the motorcycle with me.  Instead I had my iPhone with the Kindle app on it when the bike broke down on the side of the road.   While my husband was fixing it, I started reading Blood, Bones, & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef.  It was a quick read so I finished it before going back to Maine.

Gabrielle Hamilton grew up with a French mother who made exotic dishes that Gabrielle loved.  She never forgot them.  But, it took her many years and many mishaps to actually do something productive with her love of good food.  She is now the owner of Prune, a restaurant in NYCity. 

She's also a great writer!  Each page is filled with delicious food and metaphors.  Yum!

Then I returned to Maine. 

But, it happened again!  This time we were at the bait shop and I was waiting.  So, I found a shady spot to sit outside and started another book on my iPhone. 

I knew I'd zip right through this James Patterson novel.  And I did.

Matthew Bannon is an art student.  One day he finds a bag full of diamonds and decides to keep it.  But some really bad people want those diamonds back and will stop at nothing to get them. 

This is a typical Patterson thriller complete with surprise plot twists and a satisfying but intriguing ending. 

Now, I'm going back to Maine.  That's the beauty of it; it's the type of book I can leave for a few days but, when I return, it's like greeting old friends again.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Before I Go to Sleep

This was such a difficult book to read!  I squirmed, my heart fluttered, I couldn't breathe at times.  That's how effective it is.

Christine has a rare form of amnesia.  She wakes up every morning not knowing anything.  And we wake up with her.  We see her world through her eyes.  Who is she? Who can she trust?  There is a man in bed with her.  Who is he?  Does she have friends?  Does she have children? 

Something doesn't feel right to Christine.  Her doctor suggests she keep a journal and he calls her every morning to remind her of it so she can read about her life.  But, there is a message on the first page warning her not to trust her husband.  Why?  What has happened?  How did she lose her memory?

We see Christine's life through the fog of her brain.  We are her.  We have to finish this book in one gulp or we won't sleep.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Silent Girl

Good morning.  Did you see the full moon last night?  Two friends and I took a quick trip to the beach to watch it rise over the ocean.  So beautiful!

The Silent Girl is an interesting novel because it is full of Chinese mythology.  It stars two of Tess Gerritsen's most popular characters, Laura Isles and Jane Rizzoli.

In this one, they are looking for the murderer of a woman whose hand fell from a roof in Boston's Chinatown.  It leads them back twenty years to a murder/suicide and the disappearance of young girls. 

As usual I enjoyed Gerritsen's writing and always look forward to her books.

It's cloudy, here, on the Maine coast today.  Sounds like a good reading day to me! 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Think of a Number and A Stolen Life

I thought for sure I'd like this book.  A diabolical bad guy sends letters to someone he hates telling him to think of a number between 1 and 1000.  After coming up with the first number that pops into his head, he then has to open another envelope and it reveals that very same number.  My kind of book, right?  Nope!  I just couldn't get into it.

The writing is kind of old fashioned and I didn't like the characters.  There was too much introspection by the main character, a retired detective.   I don't know; maybe it was me and I just wasn't in the mood for this kind of book but I was very disappointed.

So, I moved on to this book, instead, and read it quickly. It's partly written from a young girl's point of view and partly from Jaycee as she is today twenty years after being abducted and turned into a sex slave for the demented Phillip Garrido.  How Jaycee survives is an astonishing story. 

I so admire her attitude and ability to endure and come out the other side fairly intact.

Her remarkable spirit shines through.

The last couple weeks have been crazy.  We watched my mother-in-law's health deline quickly from independence to not even being able to walk.  She ended up in the hospital twice and is in a rehab facility, now, to help her get stronger.  All the tests came back negative so, hopefully, she'll recuperate.  In the mean time, we have to care for my father-in-law who suffered a mild stroke last year and lost his short-term memory.

We also had a wedding in the middle of all this.  My brother's son got married.  It was a beautiful ceremony. 

So, I haven't had an awful lot of time to read.  So, I'm giving myself a kick in the butt to get off this computer and do just that!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Then Came You

I zipped right through this newest novel by Jennifer Weiner.  It revolves around four women, strangers to each other, who unexpectedly  come together. 

Jules is a college student who decides to sell her eggs to get money to help her father.

Annie is a married mother of two who agrees to be a surrogate to earn $50,000 to help her husband with expenses.

Bettina is the daughter of a rich entrepreneur.  She hates her father's new wife so hires an investigator to look into her past.

And India is the new wife with a closet full of secrets.

How these four women's paths intersect makes for a quick and satisfying read.

Monday, July 18, 2011


This is the other book I read about on NPR and downloaded then and there.  Boy, they were right!  Excellent YA novel!

It's some time in the future.  Lena is a senior in high school and can't wait to be cured.  The operation can't take place until she's eighteen and her birthday is three months away.  She's not sick...yet...and the operation will prevent her from contracting the disease of deliria, otherwise known as love.

Yes, they've developed an operation that quells humans from falling in love and destroying their lives.  Lena lives in Portland, Maine (ten minutes up I95 from where I live!), where all the adults live in harmony...boring, predictable harmony. 

After her operation and a few years in college, she'll be matched with a partner and they'll live happily every after.

But, in that last summer of freedom, she meets Alex who turns her world and thinking upside down.  Now, she doesn't want the operation.  But, can she find a way to stay whole?

Lauren Oliver's writing is beautiful.  Her descriptions are breath taking.  I especially loved her use of poetry (You know me and poetry!). 

Lena is spunky and brave and human and she wants to stay that way.

Two thumbs up for this book!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Now You See Her

This was a quick gulp as most Patterson books are.  But, I still enjoyed it. 

Nina Bloom is a successful lawyer and single mom to her sixteen-year-old daughter Emma.  At a Yankees game one evening, someone from her past sees her and is determined to kill her.

Twenty years earlier, she'd been Jeanine, a college student on spring break with her boyfriend.  One night, after too many drinks, she hears her boyfriend cheating on her so she steals his car and runs over a man.  The cop who shows up takes pity on her and helps her dispose of the body.  They fall in love and get married.  But, is he who he claims to be?  No, so Jeanine has to escape and begin a new life.

Now, the past has intruded into that new life and Nina must do everything she can to protect herself and her daughter.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

To Be Sung Underwater, Karma, & The Heart of Haiku

Well, I'm slowly settling into summer and retirement.  We had lots of celebrations and company the first few weeks but things are quieting down, now, and I'm getting some much needed rest and reading done.

This book seemed to take forever to read but I liked it.  It's a slow book just like the cover...like paddling lazily across a pond.  It alternates back and forth between Judith Toomey's present as a dissatisfied mom, wife, and film editor to her past when she was eighteen, starry-eyed, and in love with Willy Blunt.

Tom McNeal takes his time developing his characters and writes beautifully.  How many of us wish we could go back to our first loves?  This book does that with surprising results.

I read two other books while in the middle of To Be Sung Underwater.  I woke up in the middle of the night about four days ago and couldn't get back to sleep so I grabbed my iPad which was nearby and went to NPR to read their Arts and Literature news.  There was an article about YA fiction and  Karma was mentioned.  It caught my attention because it's written in poetry form.  So, I downloaded it right then and there and started reading.  I was hooked.

Jiva Singh is part Hindu and part Sikh and lives in Canada with her parents where she's as typical as any teenager from India can be.  After her mother's death, she and her father head back to India to take her ashes.  While they are there, Indira Gandhi is killed and Jiva and her father get caught up in the turmoil that erupts.  Somehow they get separated and Jiva is left to fend for herself.

After a horrifying incident, she is taken in by her doctor's family and their teenage son, Sandeep, helps her look for her father. 

Jiva's voice is fresh and unique and the poetry is just amazing in its simplicity.  Sometimes, it took my breath away!  At first I was a little turned off by the title and the look of the cover but I'm so glad I gave it a try, anyway.

This is one of those Kindle Singles that are really just mini books. I bought one before because it was by Jodi Picoult and I love her writing but it was just too short...like a tease, so decided I wouldn't buy any more of them. This one caught my eye, though.  Poetry?  Of course I'm going to buy it!

And I'm glad I did.  Jane Hirshfield writes about the most famous haiku writer, Basho.  She tells the story of his life and the story of haiku and weaves them together.  By the time I was done, I wanted to grab a pencil and write one, myself.  It was definitely worth the ninety-nine cents!

Time to start a new book, now.  Decisions, decisions!

The sun is shining and we're heading out for a motorcycle ride later with some friends.  We're going to bike down the coast a ways to Flo's Hot dogs in Ogunquit, Maine for lunch.  This place sells only hot dogs but what makes them so good is their secret recipe for relish.  Mmmm, haven't had one for a couple years.  I'm due!

But, until then, I think I'll take advantage of the quiet and read for awhile.

Monday, June 27, 2011

What's Been Going On

I'm officially retired! 

And we've moved.  From now on we'll be spending our summers on the Maine coast and our winters in Florida.

So, not only did I have to clean out my classroom, we had to clear out our house and put it up for sale.

It's been crazy trying to squeeze a houseful of stuff into our fifth-wheel camper.

My reading time has taken a major hit!

Hopefully, now that we're more or less settled, I'll be able to get back to a normal schedule.

This is a beautiful book of poetry edited by Caroline Kennedy.  All the poems are by women or about women.  Caroline introduces each chapter with personal words about how certain peoms have influenced her life.

Each day I try to read a couple of these and I haven't read one that I didn't like.  They are easy to understand but pack a wallop. 

Really, this is one of the best anthologies I've read, lately.

I'm sorry to say that I didn't finish this novel.  I really tried.  It started out great but then got too technical and then just plain weird and I had to put it aside for now.

It's well written, I liked the main characters, but just got too bogged down in minor issues and, when it shifted into kind of supernatural stuff, it lost me.

I'm working on To Be Sung Underwater and I'm liking it so far.  I wasn't sure at first because it seemed like all it did was tell instead of show and I hate that, but, after the first chapter, it changed and caught my interest.  So, I'm giving it a chance.

The sun's out today so I think I'm going to hop on my bicycle and head to the beach to sit and read for a while.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tenth Anniversary

Yes, another James Patterson novel!  I know, I know!  But, I just can't resist. 

This Women's Murder Club edition sees Lindsey marrying Joe but, of course, their honeymoon is interrupted by a missing baby and a beaten-up teenage mother.  Lindsey's lawyer friend, Yuki, is prosecuting a heart surgeon for murdering her philandering husband.  Cindy, their newspaper reporter friend, is on the trail of a man who abducts women, drugs them, rapes them, and leaves them in alleys to wake up having no memory of what has just happened. 

Oh, yeah, it pulled me right in and I sucked it up and enjoyed it.  Will I continue buying these novels?  You can damn well bet I will!  I'm so weak!

Thursday, May 26, 2011


I've been reading like crazy lately!  And it feels great!

I couldn't put this novel down.  Amelia and Anthony are high school seniors.  They've been dating secretly for a year.  Amelia's father is very overprotective and won't allow her to date until she's eighteen.  That doesn't stop her from seeing Anthony as often as she can.

During the summer before their senior year, Amelia and her family spend a couple months at the seashore.  Because they miss each other so much, she and Anthony send naked pictures of themselves to each other.

Later that fall, Amelia forgets her laptop at home.  Her father goes through it and finds the pictures of Anthony and believes that he is corrupting his daughter.  He calls the police and Anthony is arrested.

That sets the dominos in motion: one consequence leading to another until the stunning climax.

Therese Fowler writes this novel from personal experience because something similar happened to her son.  Teenagers have no idea how serious their sexting can become.  I've told my students about the book and what can happen.  Makes me glad my own kids are all grown!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Save Me

I read this one pretty quickly and enjoyed it. 

Rose volunteers at her daughter's school to be a lunch mom because she wants to see what's going on.  Her daughter, Melly, is being bullied because she has a red birthmark on her face.  While at school, Rose sees her daughter's chief tormentor take some jelly and smear it on her own face to make it look like Melly's.  Melly see it and runs into the handicapped bathroom.

Just then there is an explosion from the kitchen.  When Rose regains consciousness, she has to make a horrible choice: run to the handicapped bathroom to save her daughter or try to get the bulliers out safely.

Her decision results in a maelstrom of condemnation from the parents and townspeople.  But something seems fishy to Rose about the explosion so she embarks on a quest to find out what was really behind it.

Nonstop action, likeable characters, a believable solution all add up to a great read.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Something Borrowed

I read this book really quickly.  It started out pretty well but got ho hum towards the end.  I downloaded it because I saw the advertisement for the movie and it looked interesting.  I should have saved my money!  It was just a typical chick lit book and I usually try to steer clear of them because the ending is always so sweet.  And this one was no exception.  I saw it coming halfway through. 

Rachel and Darcy have been best friends since grammar school.  Now, Darcy is planning her wedding to Dex and Rachel is her maid of honor.  A few months before the wedding, after her birthday party, Rachel sleeps with Dex and they fall in love.  What to do?  Continue?  Break up?  Tell Darcy?  Like I said, ho hum.


This is a YA novel set in the South.  Sadie has to spend the summer living at her grand parents' along with several of her aunts and uncles who still live at home.  Her aunt is just a year older than her and they form a friendship along with the wife of one of her uncles. 

But at the heart of the novel is her grandmother, a stern taskmaster who is very hard on Sadie.  Sadie is twelve and experiencing all the changes grils go through at that age.  She deals with them in a very mature but believable manner.

I liked the book and loved Sadie but it seemed like I kept waiting for something big to happen and it never did.  I know that's more like real life but....

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Horoscopes for the Dead

I love getting lost in Billy Collins's poetry.  Every poem is accessible on the first reading but it's on the second and third readings when the layers peel back and and I say, "Ohhh, that's what he's really talking about."

His style is so simple and ordinary.  He's not interested in flowery phrases.  He just looks around and uses the everyday items he sees as the backdrop for his musings.

It's real life gathered together in stanzas.  Here's an example:
Good News

When the news came in over the phone
that you did not have cancer, as they first thought,

I was in the kitchen trying to follow a recipe,
glancing from cookbook to stove,
shifting my glasses from my nose to my forehead and back,

a recipe, as it turned out, for ratatouille,
a complicated vegetable dish
which you or any other dog would turn your nose at.

If you had been here, I imagine
you would have been curled up by the door
sleeping with your head resting on your tail.

And after I learned that you were not sick,
everything took on a different look
and appeared to be better than it usually is.

For example (and that's the first and last time
I will ever use those words in a poem),
I decided I should grate some cheese,

not even knowing if it was right for ratatouille,
and the sight of the cheese grater
with its red handle lying in the drawer

with all the other utensils made me marvel
at how this thing was so perfectly able and ready
to grate cheese just as you with your long smile

and your brown and white coat
are perfectly designed to be the dog you perfectly are.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Tick Tock

I keep telling myself I'm not going to download any more Patterson novels since they're all pretty much the same but I did it again! 

And, you know something?  I enjoyed it.  This one features Michael Bennett and his ten kids and I can't help but like them.  Of course, he also has to solve the mystery of a man, who is going around copycatting previous serial murderers, before his own family is threatened.

It's a quick read as all his books are because he just has a way of writing that sucks me in and won't let go.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Educating Esme

It's kind of ironic that I would decide to read this book just as I'm preparing for retirement.  But, read it, I did, and loved it!

It's a diary of the first year Esme taught fifth grade in an inner city school in Chicago.  She was quirky and exciting and she got her kids to care about education.  She really stimulated their minds by giving them ownership of their own learning and they had fun doing it.

But that doesn't mean she didn't have discipline. The kids were always within her control and showed respect to her and the other students.

Esme was really big on reading to the kids and she got them interested in books that way.

I could go on and on about her unique ways of educating but I'd have to talk about the whole book.  It's so worth reading!

Even though I teach high school and she was an elementary teacher, her philosophy is universal.  Kind of makes me wish I wasn't retiring!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Every Last One

Well, here it is the last night of my last spring vacation.  It's back to school tomorrow for eight more weeks and then I'll be officially retired.  It's bittersweet, of course, since I love so many things about teaching but I'm also getting tired of it all.  And, just think, I'll have more reading time!

I read this book all week and finished it this morning with tears running down my cheeks.  This novel is intense!  It started out so normally but as I read, I could feel the momentum building.   I just knew something bad was going to happen but didn't know what.  And it was worse than I'd imagined.

Mary Beth Latham owns her own landscaping business.  Her husband is a ophthalmologist.  They have three kids: 17-year-old Ruby who is quirky and smart and was my favorite character, and 14-year-old twins: Max, who is moody and troubled, and Alex, who is an athlete.  Their home is filled with lots of laughter, friends, worries, and tragedy.

It's a hard book to write about because the bad thing doesn't happen until half way through.  Anna Quindlen does such a great job of setting the scene and developing the characters that when the tragedy stikes, it feels like it happened to my own family. 

I'm definitely going to read something a bit lighter next!  It is an excellent book and so well written but I need a break from sadness!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Love You More

Spring vacation started yesterday and I've been busy cleaning out my mom's home.  You wouldn't believe the things I found

The calendar says we're almost a month into spring but it snowed last night.  We woke up to a couple inches.

Stayed up late finishing this book.  It's one of those where I just had to find out what was going to happen.

How far would a mother go to protect her child?  That's the question in this novel.  Tessa Leoni is accused of killing her husband and daughter.  D.D. Warren and Bobby Dodge must find the evidence to convict her.  But things aren't adding up and the more they investigate, the more they realize Tessa might need their help.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel!

Now, time to head back into the cellar!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Live wire

It was fun catching up with Myron Bolitar and the quirky characters in this series.  Myron is a sports agent who always gets too involved with his clients.  In this book, he gets a visit from a former tennis star who is now pregnant and married.  She asks Myron to investigate an upsetting posting on facebook that said, "Not his."  Now her husband has disappeared and Myron has to find him.

I love a book like this that catches my attention right away and doesn't let go.  A new Harlan Coben is always a treat.

As an added feature, this novel introduces Myron's nephew, Mickey, who will have his own YA novel in September.  I've already pre-ordered it!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sing You Home

I tried so hard to read this book slowly but I just couldn't help myself from gulping it!

Jodi Picoult has done it again.  She's created characters to love and a story that grabs hold and won't let go until you stay up late finishing it.

And this book is unique because it comes with a CD.  Jodi herself wrote the lyrics to the songs and her friend, Ellen Wilbur put them to music and sings them in her beautiful voice.  They add another layer to the meaning of the novel.

Zoe Baxter is a music therapist whose son is stillborn.  He was conceived through IVF and the three extra embryos were frozen for further use.  Her husband can't handle the idea of more tries after five attempts and leaves her.  Soon after, Zoe meets a new love and they want to use the remaining embryos to have a child.

But her ex-husband has other ideas for them.  What ensues is a legal fight to decide who gets them.

I like how Jodi wasn't in any hurry to tell this story.  She takes her time to develop the characters and situations so that the reader is fully engaged with it.  And I loved the pauses to listen to the songs; the haunting melodies stayed with me all day.

I cried in the first chapter and I cried in the last one.  Doesn't get much better than that!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Fly Away Home

My friend, Beth, who lives in Florida, went to a luncheon last week where Jennifer Weiner was speaking.  She and I are both fans and I was so envious, being stuck up here in northern NH where authors never venture.  But, I got the next best thing: a autographed copy of Fly Away Home.  I read it and reviewed it last summer when it first came out.  Great book!

I think it's my first ever autographed book!
It's extra meaningful for me because I associate this book with my mom since I was reading it when she died and it gave me solace to think of her flying away home to my dad. 
This is the journal page I did of it.

Jennifer was kind enough to have her picture taken with Beth and they even had a little chit chat.  I so wish I could have been there!

Thanks again, Beth!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The List

This was a really good book!  I was kind of leery because it was only $2.99 but I took a chance and downloaded it and I'm glad I did.

Tom Mankowski is a Chicago detective.  While investigating a murder, he notices that the dead guy has a numbr tatooed on the bottom of his foot.  This interests and scares Tom because he also had a number on his foot.  As he looks into it, he discovers several others with numbers and the mystery of why they have those numbers becomes a race to save them and the world from an ambitious nut case.

The character were quirky and lively and the humor kept me chuckling. 

I'm definitely going to download more of Konrath's novels.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Book of Men

Every morning I check The Writer's Almanac to read the poem of the day.  Last week they featured two poems by Dorianne Laux.  She's one of my favorite poets so I just had to click the "buy now" button and download her newest book to my Kindle.

I love how her poems are easy to understand but are still very poetic.  She writes about ordinary things that have happened to her and I can't help but nod my head knowing I've had similar experiences.

I've already used "The Beatles" as one of my poems of the day in my classroom.  It led to a very spirited conversation about the fab four.  These kids are 15 and 16 years old and it's amazing how many of them are Beatles fans.

Anyway, I'm glad I downloaded this little book of poems.  I've read it once but it'll be handy for whenever I want to read it again.  And I will!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Double Comfort Safari Club

It had been a while since I'd visited Mma Ramotswe and her crew in Botswana.  It's such a welcomed trip. 

In this one she has a couple of cases.  In one she is searching for a safari guide who had been very kind to an American lady.  The lady had died and left him some money.  In her other case she's doing a favor for her friend and trying to find out who the lady's husband is having an affair with. 

Her assistant, Mma Makutsi, is having troubles of her own.  Her fiance gets hit by a car and loses his leg.  His overbearing aunt "kidnaps" him from the hospital and won't let Grace near him.

As usual, the novel is full of dignity and simple wisdom and is just the sweet vacation I needed to get my reading back on track.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Alone & Mockingjay

What's going on with me?  I can't find a book to read!  I got a ways into this one and realized that I've read it before.  Darn.  It was good, too!

So, then, I decided to read the third book in The Hunger Games trilogy but I couldn't get into it.  I tried; I really did.  But this one didn't catch my interest at all.  I read about a quarter of it then skipped to the epilogue to find out what happened.  Sweet ending but it didn't make me want to read more of it.  I bought into the fantasy in the first two books but this one just took things too far for my taste.

So, now, I've got to find something I like!  I'm getting worried that my next book will be a disappointment, too.  So, tonight I went to Amazon.com and bought the latest book available in the #1 Ladies Detective Agency.  I've always enjoyed them and I see a new one is slated to be published at the end of this month.  So, I'll try The Double Comfort Safari Club and keep my fingers crossed!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Hangman's Daughter

I've been plugging away at this book for a couple weeks, now, and finally just went to the last chapter to find out what happened.  I couldn't get into it. 

It takes place back in the 1600's in Austria.  Jacob Kuisl is the hangman for the city.  A young boy turns up dead with a devil's mark on him.  The townspeople suspect witchcraft and arrest the midwife since the boy had been hanging around her.  Jacob believes she is innocent and enlists the help of his daughter and the local doctor to prove her innocence. 

I found there was too much about the town and the government and not enough about the hangman's daughter. 

I don't give up on a book very often but, occasionally, it happens and I don't feel guilty about it.  I just go on to the next one and hope it's better.

Friday, February 11, 2011

i'd know you anywhere

It took me awhile to read this book and I'm not sure why.  I did enjoy it but it just seems like I was busy doing other things instead of reading.  We started a new semester at the beginning of last week and that means I got all new classes.  It's exhausting and I pretty much just fell asleep after reading a page or two each night.  Then, my husband wanted to go away for the weekend and that cut into my reading time.  We did have a good time, though, and I'm glad we got out of town.  It was a nice break.

This novel switches back and forth between the present and 1985.  In the present, Eliza is a happy enough stay-at-home wife and mother to two kids.  In the past, she is Elizabeth, a fifteen-year-old girl abducted by a serial killer.  In the present, she gets a letter from her abductor who has been on death row for 22 years.  He wants to meet with her.  In the past, we read about her abduction with rising trepidation.

How Eliza balances these two parts of her life makes for a compelling story.  If I had one complaint it would be that I found it has just a wee bit more telling than I like.  I prefer books that show more.  But, it isn't an awful lot too much so, overall, this is a book worth reading.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Full Dark, No Stars

I have a love/hate relationship with Stephen King.  I especially loved his earlier stuff.  I can still remember reading Carrie when it first came out when King was an unknown.  And The Stand is one of my all-time favorites.  Later I tried to read Needful Things and Cell but just couldn't get into them.  So, I'm always a little leery when buying one of his books.  I took a chance on this one and am glad I did.

This book contains four novellas.  I loved two of them and liked the other two.  The ones I loved didn't have any supernatural elements and I think that's what made them better.

In the first one, a farmer in 1922 gets his son to help him murder his wife because she won't give him the 100 acres she inherited.  She wants to sell it and move to the city.  He loves being a farmer and wants nothing to do with the city.  The aftermath of the murder is the stuff of nightmares.  This was one I liked.

The second story is about a writer who gets abducted and raped on her way home from a speaking engagement.  How she deals with it and gets retribution had me cheering!  This was one of the ones I loved.

The third story has a bit of magic in it and I enjoyed it but...again, that supernatural stuff gets old and I guess I'm just tired of it.  In this one, a man has cancer and not long to live.  He meets another man who promises him life if he gives him a percentage of his wages for the rest of his career.  He agrees, but the kicker is that someone else has to suffer for it.

The last story is one I loved.  A woman finds out after 27 years of marriage and two kids that her husband has a secret life and was never the person she thought he was.  Her solution is great!

So, this Stephen King book goes into the love pile.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it continues!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Lover's Dictionary

This was a diffferent book!  It is a dictionary but the author just chose certain words.  It starts with A words but instead of a definition, he describes something happening in the main character's life that relates to that word.  We learn right away that the main character is just beginning a relationship with a girl (you) he meets online.  Then, shortly after that, we find out she's pregnant. 

The little snippets of info all combine to paint a picture of their relationship.  I liked the uniqueness of this book but couldn't realy get into the characters.  I guess I expected more plot and less little peeks into their lives.  By the end, I was even more confused than at the beginning.  So, basically, it was a disappointment but maybe I just need to read it again.  It's very short so that's a possibility.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Catching Fire

I plunged right into this second novel in The Hunger Games trilogy but I probably should have waited a bit because it was just too much of the same thing for me to really enjoy it as much as the first book.  It was still good, but kind of boring because they go back into the arena and once was enough.

In this book Katniss is living a decent life with her mom and sister but the capitol is mad at her for outmaneuvering them in the first games that she won.  So, they come up with a new twist for the quarter games.  The new participants will be chosen from the past winners.  Of course, Katniss and Peeta are the ones who go for District 12.  It got a bit tedious.

I'll wait a bit before reading the last one in the trilogy.  I've already downloaded it so I'm definitely going to read it.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Breathless and The Hunger Games

This was not my favorite Koontz novel but I read it anyway.  Honestly, I can't even remember the characters' names!  I know there were these two unusual creatures that change the world.  The ending was a real let-down, too!  I just didn't get the whole thing.  Very disappointing!

At Christmas, my thirteen-year-old friend, Tori, suggested I read this book.  Then the following week, my junior-high-school-teacher friend, Dotty, said she'd just read it for the second time and was getting ready to teach it to her students.  So, I had to download it.

And, I'm so glad I did!  Wicked cool book!  Yes, it's designed for young adults but the action never stops and the characters are so well drawn that I couldn't stop reading.

It's sometime in the future.  America , as we know it, no longer exists.  Instead, North America is divided into twelve districts each responisble for a product.  The captitol is now in Colorado.  Katniss Everdeen is a teenager living in District 12, the coal mining district, with her mom and younger sister Primrose.  Their father was killed in a mining accident and Katniss teaches herself how to hunt illegally, with her friend Gale, to keep their families fed.

Once a year there is a lottery.  All the names of kids between 12 and 18 are put into a hat and one girl and one boy are chosen to participate in the Hunger Games.  What that involves is 24 teenagers put into a wilderness arena where they have to try to be the lone survivor.  Yes, they have to kill each other.  The victor gets riches for the rest of his or her life.  The whole thing is televised to all the districts. 

When twelve-year-old Prim's name is picked, Katniss volunteers to go instead and that is allowed.  She and Peeta, the baker's son, embark on the most horrific journey of their lives.

This is the first of a trilogy and I can't wait to read the next two installments.  I think I'll download them right now.