Saturday, December 7, 2013

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Almost forgot I read this one before a couple of others. The reason I forgot is because it wasn't available on Kindle and I've already passed it on to a friend. Out of sight, out of mind..

Anyway, I gulped it in two days. Devin, recovering from his first love, takes a summer job in North Carolina working at an amusement park. There he meets people who will change his life.

I liked it! It wasn't creepy. There is a nice mystery. The characters are well drawn. Devin attends UNH and that's the college I graduated from. He lives in Maine, not far from our summer home. He's about my age. Just a good, entertaining read.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Mistress, Orphan Train, and Eleanor and Park

Yeah, yeah, I know, another James Patterson novel. But, dammit, they are just so readable! At first, I didn't think I was going to like this one. The main character is kind of weird because he keeps spouting all this presidential and movie trivia.

Then, he grew on me and by fifty pages in or so, I was hooked. Ben is obsessed with Diana before she falls from her sixth floor balcony. After her death, he is even more determined to find out as much as he can about her life and death.

The usual formula but an engaging hero. Good book!

And, then, this one! OMG! So good! Catherine Baker Kline mixes a troubled teenage girl in modern day Maine with a young orphan in the late 1920s and makes it work.

Molly has been in and out of foster homes for years. When she has to perform community service, she meets Vivian, an elderly woman who has her past stored away in her attic. While Molly organizes all the boxes, Vivian narrates the story of her ordeal as an orphan forced to ride the Orphan Train to the Midwest.

They learn and change with each other. Loved it!

I don't know why I've been reading so many YA novels this summer but they've all been great! Interesting and unique characters, poetic writing, and surprising plots.

This one is a love story but not your usual romantic one. Eleanor is overweight and dirt poor. She tries to hide all this behind outrageous outfits and a smart mouth.

Park is a short Korean/American who reluctantly let's Eleanor sit next to him on the school bus. Slowly, they become friends. There's a lot more to this book. I took it to the beach with me yesterday and stayed until I finished....with tears running down my cheeks.

I used to read YA novels so I could recommend them to my students; now, I read them because I just like them!

Thursday, August 15, 2013


This book is amazing! It's about August Pullman, Auggie for short. He was born with major facial deformities and has been homeschooled through fourth grade because of all the surgeries he's had to endure. But, the doctors have done just about all they can for now, so Auggie's parents decide it's time for him to attend regular school.

He's not happy about it. He knows he'll be bullied. How much can a kid like him take?

Told through Auggie's voice and the voices of different people around him, this book will have you cheering for this kind-hearted kid. I loved it!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Lock Artist

A friend gave me a book calendar and I can't tell you how many good books I've read that were recommended on it. This was one of them. We find out immediately that Michael is in jail, that he doesn't talk, and that something really awful happened to him when he was eight.

He decides to write about his life and alternates between his early life and his life of crime. He has two gifts: he can unlock anything and he's a decent artist. He's also a decent person.

I gulped it in two days!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Sea of Tranquility and The Fort

I love a good YA novel and this one fit the bill. Nastya has just moved in with her aunt and is attending a new school. Something really horrible happened in her hometown and she's hoping dressing like a hooker and being mean will keep everyone away from her by not talking. She doesn't want any involvement with people and hates everyone....except Josh, who is also a loner. The two strike up an unusual friendship that helps them both recover from traumatic events in their lives.

If I were still teaching, I'd definitely recommend this one to my students.

This is another YA novel that reads like an adult book. It involves three twelve-year-olds who witness an abduction. No one believes them, though, so they must try to find the missing girl by themselves. The boys are believable, the parents, too. I really liked it!

Friday, July 19, 2013

And the Mountains Echoed

I eagerly awaited this new novel. I used to teach The Kite Runner to my World Literature students and I've always loved his writing.

And the writing in this novel is good! I love how he manages to make the bleak landscape of Afghanistan sound beautiful. His love of that country shines through.

I'm not sure about the format, though. I was all into the characters when, poof, they were gone and new characters took their place. They are all loosely connected but....very loosely! It was like beginning a whole new novel.

Of his three books, this is my least favorite.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Skeletons at the Feast

I've read a couple other books by Chris Bohjalian and liked them so thought I'd give this one a try. It's a departure for him from his more modern settings. This one traces the plight of four different characters as they try to escape the onslaught of the Russians at the end of WWII.

Anna Emmerich is 18 when she and her family must abandon their beautiful estate to head west to stay ahead of the Russians.

With them is Callum Finella, a Scottish POW who had been sent to help on their farm. They hide him in their wagon. He's also Anna'a lover.

Uri Singer and his family were rounded up by the Germans and shipped like cattle to concentration camps. On the train, Uri sees an opportunity to escape and takes it. He survives by killing Germans and then impersonating them. Now, he, too, is fleeing west from the Russians.

Cecile is a French girl trying to survive in a concentration camp with only her positive attitude and hope to help her. As the Russians near the camp, the guards are ordered to burn it and force the women to march westward.

It's a harrowing book. It's a horrible book. It's a novel but is based on an actual diary so the atrocious incidents are believable. I couldn't put it down!

The Buddha in the Attic

My friend was reading this little book when she visited about a month ago. She'd just started it and was liking it okay. So, I decided to download it and read it, too. I mentioned it to her in a Words With Friends message and she answered that she hated the ending.

Well, I did, too!

I won't give it away, though.

The book is about the plight of Japanese brides who were purchased by Japanese Americans, married through the mail, and brought over here.

The weird thing about this novel, though, is there is no main character. The book is written in the first person plural so we get a broad picture of what the experience was like for these young brides.

All I can say is I'm glad it was short!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Playing Catch Up, Again

I really wanted to like this book and at first I did but the further I got into it, the less and less I enjoyed it. It's reminiscent of Stephen King's writing but the main character just isn't lovable enough for me.

I can't remember her name but she has the ability to find lost things by riding her bike across this bridge. As the years go by, she ends up having to find a child who has been abducted by a nut case and taken to Christmasland in his old luxury car with the license plate: NOS4A2.

That's as far as I got....maybe someday I'll finish it...maybe not.

So, I needed something totally different and this fit the bill. I gulped it! Avery Daniels is in an airplane crash. When she wakes up, she's so injured that she can't speak or even move. A man is in her room calling her Carole. She has no way of communicating to him that she isn't his wife.

That night someone sneaks into her room and warns her not to change their plans which include her "husband's" death.

Plastic surgery is performed on her shattered face and she ends up looking just like Carole. By the time she can communicate the mistake, she decides not to, to try to protect her own life as well as that of her "husband."

Corny? Yes. Medically possible? Unlikely. Entertaining? Absolutely!

How could I resist a book with this title? No way! Peter Byerly is mourning the death of his young wife by secluding himself in the cottage they'd purchased in the English countryside. He's an antique book seller and can't resist visiting the old book shop in his village. There he finds, in between the pages of a book, a painting of his wife...but, it was painted in the 1800s.

And, thus begins his search for the artist and his subject. It will take him all the way back to William Shakespeare and solve the question of who really wrote Shakespeare's plays.

I was expecting this book to be stuffy but no way! I raced through it!

Yes, another James Patterson novel! His books are just so readable with nonstop action and heart.

John O'Hara, suspended FBI agent, is asked to look into the deaths of two honeymooners. Soon more honeymooners turn up dead.

Sarah Brubaker, another FBI agent, is asked to investigate a murder spree. The murderer is killing only men by the name of John O'Hara.

John and Sarah join forces to solve these two mysteries.

I laughed, I cried, I read it in one day.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Don't Go

This was a quick read for the plane ride back to Maine for the summer. It made the flight zip by!

Mike Scanlon is a doctor serving in Afghanistan when he gets news that his wife has died from an accidental fall in the kitchen. He returns home to try to make sense of his life. He has an eight-month old daughter to care for and questions about his wife's death and life.

I found the picture on the cover to be a bit misleading since his daughter is just an infant and she hates him because she was only one month old when he got deployed.

But, I still enjoyed the book and was happy to have it to keep me company on the plane ride.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Beautiful Ruins

I was attracted to this novel because of the cover. I recognized the picture right away. It's part of the Le Cinque Terre coastline. The day we visited that area in Italy last summer was my favorite day. It's absolutely gorgeous!

And, the novel was not a disappointment. It's quirky and romantic, and wonderfully written with surprises all the way through.

It's 1962. Pasquale Tursi runs a small hotel in Porto Vergonga. One day a beautiful American actress, Dee Moray, arrives. She's dying and is here to meet her lover. Pasquale falls head long for her. How she affects his life makes for a wonderful story.

It jumps around from the past to the present. Some of it is told through others' eyes, a play, chapters in books, and a movie pitch. It's never boring and the characters, especially Pasquale and Dee, are human and lovable.

Now, I want to read his other books!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats

The elegant simplicity of this novel captured my interest right from the get-go. It is set in Burma and the descriptions of the area are exquisite.

Julia Win has traveled to Burma looking for her father, who disappeared from NYC four years ago. She meets U Ba, a man who knows her father, and he tells her the story of her father's early life before he left to attend college in America.

It's a beautiful story. I didn't want it to end. But it did. Maybe a bit abruptly. But, other than that, five stars for this novel that just glows!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Snow Child and Touch and Go

This is a beautifully written novel! So, why did it take me like a month to read it? I have no idea but, every time I picked it up, I enjoyed it. Guess it was just me.

It's 1920. Mabel and Jack are a middle-aged couple who have escaped to Alaska after the death of their stillborn child. They are trying to make a go of farming and trying to get used to the idea of not having children.

Then, out of the blue, they spy a small child in the woods. They befriend her and help her out but she is elusive and only visits them in the winter.

No one believes she even exists.

Rich in descriptions of the bleak Alaskan wilderness and full of deft characterizations, this is a wonderful read.

Then I read this one in two days! Not as beautifully written but the action is nonstop and the characters are believable.

Libby Denbe, her husband, and their fifteen-year-old daughter are kidnapped. It's Tessa Leoni's job to find them and bring them home alive. But the more Tessa looks into the circumstances and personal lives of the Denbes, the more mystified she is by the case.

All in all, a very satisfying read.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Catching Up

It's been so long since I've updated this blog. My bad! But, I have been reading.

I read good things about this book but, I didn't like it at all. I couldn't follow the plot and didn't like the characters. Very disappointed!

Now, this one I liked! It's been awhile so I don't remember the characters' names but it's about a girl who still lives with her parents, has a jerk for a boyfriend, loses her job, then takes a position caring for a quadriplegic. This experience changes her life. A quick and satisfying read.

This one is really well written but the main character is just so annoying! I wanted to slap her to wake her up! Her name is Lee and she has a perfectly good life as a teenager in the Midwest. But, on a whim, she applies to a prep school in Massachusetts and leaves the warmth of her family for the coldness of the school. She agonizes about everything. I managed to finish it but, honestly, it felt like a waste of time.

I read this book when I was a teenager and loved it then. A few weeks ago, I went to a production of it with friends and seeing the play made me want to read it again. So, I did. And loved it all over again.

And, that led me to this new novel. It too concerns WWII and the treatment of Jews. The book seesaws between the present and the past, between a young woman who meets an elderly man who had been a German concentration camp guard and her grandmother who is a Holocaust survivor. I though I'd read all I could about that horrible era but this novel manages to make it new, again, and relevant. Kudos to Jodi Picoult and her excellent writing!

I can't resist Alex Cross and his family. And this was no disappointment. Yes, it's formulaic but also heartbreaking. I devoured it!

This is the third book in the Delirium trilogy. Lena is still in the Wilds with others who refuse to be cured of delirium. She's still with Julian, and she's still in love with Alex. When they hear about an uprising in Portland, Lena heads back to her home town to help the Resistance. I like this intelligent YA series because the writing is terrific and the characters are likeable.

I started this book yesterday and finished it this morning. A cool mystery, enjoyable characters, non-stop action=my kind of book! Jake Fisher lost the love of his life six years ago when she married her former lover. Now, her husband is dead and Jake is determined to find her again. But, that turns out to be harder than he ever imagines. Gosh, I like Harlan Coben's writing!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Round House

This is the first time I read a novel by Louise Erdrich but it won't be the last. She's a beautiful writer.

The story is told through the eyes of thirteen-year-old Joe who is a Native American.

On a warm day in May his mom returns home after escaping from her rapist. This act changes everything for Joe. He's determined to find out who did it and bring him to justice.

The characters are finely drawn, the writing is exquisite, the Native American lore is interesting, and the action is nonstop. All ingredients for a great read!

Friday, January 4, 2013

The End of Your Life Book Club

I don't read nonfiction very often. I'm not sure why but I think I just like a made-up story that helps me escape. But, the title of this book caught my attention so I downloaded a sample of it and before I knew it, I was hooked so bought it.

And loved it! When Will Schwalbe's mother is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, she and Will begin their bookclub...of just two people. Will accompanies his mom to her chemo treatments and that's where they discuss the books they've both read.

This book is rich in Will's love and admiration for his mother. They use the happenings and themes of their shared books to talk about life and death.

I was familiar with some of the books but hadn't read many of them. That didn't make any difference, though. The book reads like a novel and kept my attention. I thought of my own mom and how we read many of the same books and I remember sitting up all one night reading to her (a Danielle Steele novel, of all things!) when she was having trouble sleeping just after her cancer operation and in the middle of her chemo.

It isn't a sad book, though. His mother's life was so interesting and Will manages to celebrate all she did.

Books....Death....Life....Love. Everything to make a good story!