Current reads

Sunday, February 28, 2010

February Reads

Another good month for reading!!

The Murderer’s Daughters by Randy Susan Meyers 3* a man murders his wife and tries to kill himself and one of his daughters. He serves a life sentence for these crimes. His daughters end up in an orphanage and are know as “the murderer’s daughters”. They never overcome this one moment in their lives. Depressing book.

A Friend of the Family by Lauren Grodstein 3* the lengths a father will go to save his son. A successful doctor is devastated when his son drops out of college and takes up with a friend’s older daughter who he considers a bad influence.

Company of Liars by Karen Maitland 3* set during the 1300’s in England during the time of the plague. A group of people travel together, all with some secret they are hiding.

The Tomato Girl by Jayne Pupek 4* 11 yr old Ellie is confused and then dismayed when her father brings the “tomato girl” home to help after her mother falls down the stairs. Her mother is mentally unstable and the relationship between the father and tomato girl makes things worse.

Under This Unbroken Sky by Shandi Mitchell 4* Ukrainian immigrants homesteading in Canada in the 1930’s. A man is arrested for harvesting his own wheat. His wife and children go to live with his sister while he is in jail. When he gets out he returns to them and starts to rebuild their lives…until his unhappy brother-in-law returns home and everything unravels.

The Hate List by Jennifer Brown YA 4* Valerie’s boyfriend kills a number of students at their school based on a list she made. She (and the school) come to terms with whether she is as guilty as he is or not. Very relevant in this day and age.

Rainwater by Sandra Brown 4.5* set during the Depression in a small TX town, Ella Barron accepts David Rainwater as a boarder at her boardinghouse. As the town deals with racial tensions and problems with a government program that kills local livestock, Ella and David grow closer.

The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong YA 4* a teen who can see ghosts ends up in a group home for troubled youths. She ends up finding other special teens like herself there. First in the series, but I HATED the way it just ended!!

Secrets of Eden by Chris Bohjalian 3* one of my favorite authors, but definitely not one of my favorite books! A small town pastor feels guilty for not saving one of his flock. She is murdered by her abusive husband and then the husband killed himself…or did he? The story revolves around the reverend, the couple’s daughter, the DA looking into the case, and a woman who writes books about angels.

The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong YA second in the Darkest Powers series 4* this book explores the teens powers a little more. They are hunted by The Edison Group, a group of scientists who want to study them.

The Things That Keep Us Here by Carla Buckley 4* a flu starts killing off the population at an extremely fast rate. This is the story of one family’s survival.

The Cloud of Unknowing by Thomas H. Cook 3* David’s sister’s son drowns and he worries she’s becoming schizophrenic like their father.

Hunger Point by Jillian Medoff 4.5* Frannie and her parents try to understand her sister’s eating disorder. Made me laugh and cry.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

January 2010 reads

Lord, I am behind on my posts! I started working too much, but am caught up for January...better than nothing!!

The Maze Runner by James Dashner(YA) 3* a boy wakes up in a box with no memory of who he is or how he got there or really much else of his life. He ends up in a strange world with just other teenage boys. Reminds me of The Hunger Games somewhat, but not as good. Loved the ending though, will definitely read the next in the series!

The Wet Nurse’s Tale by Erica Eisdorfer 3* a girl becomes a wet nurse when she gets pregnant out of wedlock. Her child is taken from her and she tries to get him back. The story is okay, but the main character is so likable I couldn’t put the book down because I wanted to see what happens to her!

Things That Meant The World To Me by Joshua Mohr 2.5* odd disjointed story of a man who was abused by his step-father and his mother was an alcoholic. It flashes back and forth between the present and his childhood.

In a Perfect World by Laura Kasischke 4* set during a time with a flu epidemic similar to the swine flu. A woman quits her job when she marries a man with 3 children. She is home taking care of them when there is a flu outbreak and he is unable to get home. Loved the book, hated the ending.

The Personal History of Rachel Dupree by Ann weisbarger3.5* the story of a woman who follows her husband out to the Montana plains to homestead in 1910. A very hard life back then and the added twist is they were black. I loved the book but hated the ending.

The Kommandant’s Girl by Pam Jenoff 3.5* historical fiction set during WWII. Emma is a Jew who gets smuggled out of the Jewish ghetto and gets a fake I.D. as a gentile with her husband’s aunt. She ends up working for a Nazi kommandant and helping the resistance. A little too romance-y though.

The Diplomat’s Wife by Pam Jenoff 3* the continuing story of what happens to the resistance fighters after WWII. While I am fascinated by this period in history, this story has too many coincidences and the romance aspect drives me crazy.

Gone by Michael Grant YA 4* a small town is turned upside down when all people over the age of 14 disappear one day, leaving all the children to fend for themselves. Then some children start mutating and have strange powers.

The Bolter by Frances Osbourne 3* the biography of Idina Sackville, a woman who divorced 5 times, which was unheard of in the early 1900’s. she also gave up custody of her 2 boys. I found the story very readable, but I didn’t like her.

Abercrombie Trail by Candace Simar 5* historical fiction set during the 1862 Sioux uprising in Minnesota, the story revolves around Scandanavian immigrants that were settling in the area. There were times in this book tears were streaming down my face. I felt for the settlers and the Indians. Very well told story!

Suspicious River by Laura Kasischke 2.5* very depressing book about a young woman who works as a hotel receptionist. She starts prostituting herself…I just felt a complete disconnect from her as she was sooo damaged. Couldn’t wait for the book to end, only I couldn’t NOT finish it because I had to find out what happens to her.

Be Mine by Laura Kasischke 3* I find her books to be just too sexual for me (and no I don’t consider myself a prude). I just have a hard time connecting with her characters because they are so driven by sex….anyway, this story revolves around a community college teacher and the affair she begins, and the result of it of course.

Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum (reread) 5* I was in between books and the library was closed, so I picked this up as it’s one of my favorites. It tells of a German woman in the present day who has questions about her mother’s actions during WWII in Germany. It also tells the parallel story of her mother’s life during that time.

The World Ends in Hickory Hollow by Ardath Mayhar 2* I’m a huge fan of post-apocalyptic novels but this one was just too out-dated to be realistic (it was written in 1985). It revolves around a small town in TX and how they survive after bombs fall across the world. I had a hard time believing the worst criminals were a bunch of trashy backwoods women who were killers and so were their wild children. I wanted to like this novel but just couldn’t….

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

July, August, and Sept reads

Somehow the summer zoomed by and I forgot to post!!


Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay 3.5* parallel stories both set in France, one during the Jewish round up in 1942 and on in 2002. A woman writer starts doing research into the French Jewish round up of 1942 and finds that she has ties to it that she was previously unaware of.

The Echo Maker by Richard Powers 3* a man is in an accident and ends up wit Capgras, which means he recognizes his sister, but thinks she’s an imposter. Parts of the book were really good, parts dragged…..

The Divorce Party by Laura Dave 3* quick, easy read chick lit story of a couple of have been married for 35 years who are having a divorce party. Also tells the tales of their children and their love interests.

Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon 3.5* ARC Three stories that eventually link together at the end. One story revolves around Ryan. A college student flunking out, he finds out his father is actually his dead-beat uncle. He leaves college to be with his father, and they run illegal scams that eventually leads to a horrific end. Another revolves around Miles, a man who has wasted his life looking for his schizophrenic twin brother. The third story revolves around Lucy, a teenage girl whose parents are both killed in an accident. She ends up running off with one of her teachers, who is not what he originally seemed. That is a reoccurring theme, people not being who they first appear. I read Chaon’s other book You Remind Me of Me. I find his books to be too depressing for my taste, but this one was interesting enough to make me want to get to the end to understand how everything comes together.

While My Sister Sleeps by Barbara Delinsky 2.5* Molly’s sister Robin, a runner hoping to compete in the Olympics has a heart attack during a practice one day and the drama abounds! Molly feels guilty, her mom blames her, then secrets come out while Robin is in a coma. I don’t like Delinsky’s books but read this because it was rec’d. Just too soap-operish for me.

The Story of a Marriage by Sean 3*

Dreamers of the Day by Marie Doria Russell 3* the first part of the book starts off strong, but the seocnd half is more about Egypt than the characters.

The Sweet By and By by Todd Johnson 2.5* ladies in a nursing home and their daughter and hair dresser

The Overland Trail by Wendi Lee 4* the story of a newly married girl who travels West with her husband

A Page Out of Life by 3* too chick-lit for me about a group of women who bond over scrapbooking

Long Lost by Harlan Coben 3* not his best, but okay read


Scottsboro by Ellen Feldman 4* a fictional account of the Scottsboro trial 9 black men accused of raping 2 white women.

Through the Storm by Maureen Lee 3* set in England during WWII, revolves around the lives of the people who inhabit one street. Her writing reminds me of Maeve Binchy, but set during the war.

The Master Planets by 3* a young man who is on the verge of a great musical career finds out his mouth was a resistance fighter during WWII and his life changes.

Lights Out Liverpool by Maureen Lee 3* set in England during WWII, revolves around the lives of the people who inhabit one street. Her writing reminds me of Maeve Binchy, but set during the war.

Fablehaven by Brandon Mull YA 2 children go to stay with their grandparents while their parents are away on a cruise. They find out that their grandfather is a groundskeeper to a land that contains magical creatures. I found it a little young for my taste, but my 11 yr old loved it.

Life Sentences by Laura Lippmann 2.5* an author who has written 2 memoirs and is struggling to write another book, comes across the news that one of her friends from childhood was accused of killing her infant. She spent 7 years in jail because they could never find the body and she never admitted anything. The author digs around in the past to see if she can uncover what happened. I usually love Lippmann, but I found this story had a lot of build up, and then the ending was anti-climatic and disappointing.

The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa 2.5* a housekeeper goes to work for a mathematics professor who was in a car accident and is short term memory only lasts 80 minutes. I found all the math boring.


Desperate Passage by Ethan Rarick 4* the true story of the Donner party’s disastrous trip

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley 3* written from the perspective of an 11 year old aspiring chemist. She finds a dead body in the family’s garden and tries to solve the mystery of who murdered the man.

Still Alice by Lisa Genova 5* the story of a Harvard profesor who is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s

One Second After by William R. Forstchen 3* what happens after the entire US loses all electricity due to a terrorist attack. The scary part is Newt Gingrich did the foreword and said it is very possible this could actually happen. The story itself is okay, a little unbelievable in parts.

Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse by James Wesley Rawles DNF this is another story of what happens after society falls apart after a tragedy, but the characters were like cardboard figures. I just couldn't finish. It's more like a handbook of what to do than a novel IMO.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

June reads

I had trouble getting into anything this month and I hated the endings on most of the books, so take my reviews this month with a grain of salt!!

Lament, The Faerie Queen’s Deception by Maggie Stiefvater 3* YA Deidre is a gifted harpist who draws the attention of fairies. She begins to discover talents of being able to see fairies and telekenisis. Fairies aren’t playful sprites in this book, they bear ill will towards humans like Deidre.

Clara Callan by Richard B. Wright 4* set in the 1930’s it revolves around Clara, a small town teacher. Starts off a little slow, but then you realize even small town teachers have hidden secrets. Set in Canada and NY where Clara’s sister Nora is a famous radio personality.

A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick 4* a rich man advertises for a “reliable wife” in the early 1900’s. The woman who responds and eventually arrives is not what he expected.

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri 4* interwoven stories from different Indian families in America. I normally don’t like short stories, but these all fit together and it was a great read.

The World Below by Sue Miller 4* the parallel lives of Georgia and her granddaughter Catherine decades apart, while it seems they don’t have much in common, Catherine later finds they do. The novel tells of Georgia’s youth and her time in a sanitarium due to TB in her teens. Catherine is a twice divorced mother of 3 trying to decide whether to move to her grandmother’s old house or continue on as she is, when she comes across Georgia’s old journals.

The Weight of Heaven by Thrity Umrigar 3* A couple’s son dies at the age of 7 unexpectedly and takes a toll on their marriage as the husband blames the wife. They move to India hoping to get away from all the memories of their son. Once there the husband finds a surrogate son in their housekeeper’s child causing tension between both families.

Life Without Summer by Lynne Griffin 3* a woman is devastated when her 4yr old daughter is killed in a hit-and-run accident. She starts seeing a therapist who or may not be connected in some way.

The Piano Teacher by Janice Y. K. Lee 3.5* parallel stories set in Hong Kong in the 1940’s at the start of the war and then 10 years later after the war.

A Short History of Women by Kate Walbert ARC 3* An interesting look into several generations of women within one family. It starts with the first woman in the 1920’s who starves herself for women’s suffrage leaving behind 2 children in the process. It goes on to tell each generation’s story. I just didn’t feel much connection with any of the characters because she skipped from generation to generation. Overall it was an interesting look at each generation’s issues, but the characters themselves didn’t have enough depth.

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See 3.5* 2 sisters try to make it out of Shanghai right as the Japanese are attacking to meet their husbands in America. They have been forced into arranged marriages by their father. They finally arrive in America and it’s not at all what they thought. Would have be 4* but I hated the ending!!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

May Reads

The Invisible Wall by Harry Bernstein 4* the story of his life growing up poor and Jewish in England during the early 1900’s, reminded me of Angela’s Ashes

Secrets to Happiness by Sarah Dunn 4* cute easy chick lit….Holly’s life post divorce. She tries to talk a married friend out of having an affair, she dates, and she adopts a dog. She is also contacted by an ex’s new girlfriend.

The Accidental Mother by Rowan Cowen 3* British chick lit Sophie hasn’t seen her childhood friends Cassie for years. Sophie has been concentrating on her career and Cassie has been dedicated to motherhood. Sophie is taken totally by surprise when she is notified Cassie has died, and left Sophie as the guardian to her 2 small children.

Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews 3* I’m not that big on fantasy, but this was a decent book. It reminded me of adult Harry Potter meets Twilight. It has magic, shape shifters, and vampires. It took me a while to get into it. The author refers to previous occurrences like there was a book before this one, but this is her debut novel, so??? I just found those parts odd since she didn’t go into great detail, just touched on things that I felt should have been delved deeper into. I’ll probably read the next in the series. Quick, easy read.

The Girl She Used to Be by David Cristofano 4* the story of a girl who has to go into the witness protection program at the age of 6 when she and her parents witness a horrific crime. Finally at the age of 26, she just willing goes when the mob family finds her. Fast, easy read, couldn’t put it down even though it wasn’t totally believable.

Cast in Shadow by Michelle Sagara 3* fantasy Kaylin is a member of the Hawks (police) and has tried to move on from her life on streets as a child. All the bad memories come rushing back when children start dying in the same way they did when she was a child.

The Rift by Walter J. Williams DNF the story of a huge earthquake centered in the southeastern US. He just flipped from person to person, I couldn’t get a feel for any of the characters. I gave up about halfway through.

Some Assembly Required by Lynn Kiele Bonasia DNF chick lit overkill there is an autistic boy whose mother dies at age 22 of a brain aneurism, his uncle is an alcoholic who falls off a cruise ship and gets lost at sea, there’s cancer, a man leaving his gf of 4 years after cheating on her, she moves to a new town, etc etc. I gave up halfway through. Just TOO much drama!

Storm Glass by Maria V. Snyder 4* the start of a new series by her, but continues with a lot of characters from the Study series. This one focuses on Opal and her studies at The Keep. She goes on her first mission to help the Stormdancer Clan which has had 2 of it’s Stormdancers killed.

Bones of Faerie by Janni Lee Simner 2.5* YA seems too young even for a YA book. It’s the story of Before and After the war between humans and fairies. Just not much of a story IMO.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan 4* YA (reminds me of The Village mixed with zombies). Mary is stuck in a small enclosed town that is run by The Sisterhood and protected by The Guardians. On the outside are The Unconsecrated (zombies). She dreams of life outside of her small village and what is on the other side of the forest. I didn’t like the end, but more because I didn’t want it to end.

Harriet and Isabella by Patricia O’Brien 4* the fictionalized account of the adultery trial of Henry Beecher (Harriet Beecher Stowe’s brother) and the rift it causes between Harriet and her sister Isabella. Fascinating look at that time (1870’s). The trial dragged in part, but otherwise a terrific story.

Moon Called by Patricia Briggs 3* fantasy Mercy is a shape shifter who turns into a coyote. She lives in a city with werewolves and vampires. She ends up helping out a young werewolf when he comes to her shop looking for a job and some bad guys follow.

Closer to Fine by Meri Weiss 3* too much drama in one book for me (AIDS, cancer, gay and lesbian issues, family drama). Also too much talk about music. Alex has issues coping after her brother dies of AIDS. Her best friends try to help her through (one is gay and his father can’t stand him because of that).

Saturday, May 2, 2009

April reads

Shelter Me by Juliette Fay 4.5* When Janie’s husband dies in an unexpected accident, she is just trying to keep it together for her 2 young children. Then she gets an unexpected surprise when a contractor comes to her house to build a porch her husband had commissioned as a surprise for her. I ended up liking this book more than I thought I would. I felt such a connection with Janie. She is sad and bitter, but also funny and thoughtful.

The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb 3* the story revolves around the Columbine shootings. He’s a teacher there and she is the school nurse. They suffer numerous problems due to post-traumatic stress. The story is good but it drags out too long and involves too many characters and delves back centuries into his family’s history. Should have been 2 different books IMO.

Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese DNF I WANTED to like this book because everyone raved about it but it took me forever to even get 250 pages in and I just could NOT finish it…..

A Life of Her Own by Emilie Carles 3* her autobiography… parts were fascinating, parts boring. She tells of her life in France in the 1900’s

Defiance by Nechama Tec 3* the true story of the Beilski brothers. Jewish brothers who kept 1200 Jews safe in the woods during WWII. Parts dragged, and it was frustrating to have to constantly look at the footnotes to see who said what.

More Than It Hurts You by Darin Strauss 3* a woman brings her child into the emergency room twice under weird circumstances and ends up accused of harming her own child (Munchausen). The media ends up turning the allegations around and saying the African American doctor was pinpointing her because she (Dr. Stokes) was a reverse racist.

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer 5*

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer 3* I felt this should not have been a stand alone book. It could have been summed up much faster IMO and was basically a lead off for the next book.

Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer 4*

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer 5*

Prayers For Sale by Sandra Dallas 3* the story of the growing friendship between a young woman new to town and an older widow who has lived there longer than almost anyone else. Set in 1936 in a small mining town. Not my favorite by this author….I found the ending far fetched and sewn up too nicely.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford 4* the story of friendship in the 1940’s between a Chinese boy and a Japanese girl. Her family is rounded up and sent to a Japanese relocation camp.

The Last Bridge by Teri Coyne ARC 4* Alex Rucker returns home after a neighbor calls to tell her that her mother has committed suicide. After a 10 year absence, the past comes rushing back. The story flashes back to her childhood and the abuse she and her family received from her alcoholic father. Alex is now an alcoholic herself, trying to blur the painful memories. Though the book is dark and depressing, I couldn't put it down until I found out what happened to Alex. I ended up reading it in one evening.

Handle With Care by Jodi Picoult 3* definitely not my favorite by her….for some reason as I was reading it, it felt so familiar like I had read it before. It’s the story of a family dealing with the youngest daughter’s illness which causes her to break bones easily. The mother decides to sue the obstetrician who missed the diagnosis during the ultrasound. I disliked the ending, felt very contrived, almost like an afterthought…“oh let’s add this”.

My Lover’s Lover by Maggie O’Farrell 2* big disappointment! I loved After You’d Gone, but this one STUNK. It’s the story of Lily who falls in love with Marcus (after less than a week!), moves into his apartment where there are signs of his ex everywhere. Then it goes into the ex’s relationship with Marcus. I didn’t like or understand any of the characters.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

March reads

Some great reads this month! The Help may be my favorite book of the year and the Study series were very good also. The Kind One was also good. I wasn't sure if I'd like it, so ended up pleasantly surprised!

Black & White by Dani Shapiro 3* the relationship between a mother and daughter is strained because the mother (a professional photographer) gains fame using her daughter as a subject throughout her childhood. The controversial nude photographs make her feel like an object. After the daughter becomes an adult she runs away from home and doesn’t speak to her mother for 14 years until she gets the call from her sister that her mother is dying.

The Kind One by Tom Epperson 4* set in the 1930’s California, Danny has amnesia but is told he works for Bud “the Kind One” Seitz, a mobster. Danny questions everything he is told about himself because he doesn’t like guns or know how to shoot or like violence. He is asked to protect Bud’s girlfriend who he starts to fall in love with. He starts to learn nothing is as simple as it seems, including himself.

‘Til Morning Light by Ann Moore 3* the continuing story of Gracelin. Good story, but wrapped up a little too neatly (and unbelievable).

The Help by Kathryn Stockett 5* may be the best book I’ll read all year, definitely the best I’ve read in a while. It is set in Jackson, Mississippi in the 60’s. The story revolves around a young white woman who starts writing about the plight of black maids in the south. I laughed and cried, such a great read. It’s hard to believe people ever thought that way and that is was accepted and passed down from generation to generation!

Irreplaceable by Stephen Lovely 3* a man’s wife is hit by a truck while riding her bike. She is an organ donor so her heart goes to a woman who is a wife and mother. The story revolves around him, her and the man who hit his wife. I just never really felt any connection to any of the characters.

Wake by Lisa McMann YA 3* Janie gets sucked into other people’s dreams when they fall asleep. Interesting concept that didn’t really go anywhere. The rest of the story was pretty unbelievable. Light, easy read.

The Laws of Harmony by Judith Ryan Hendricks 3.5* Received as an ARC. Sunny grows up on a commune in New Mexico and dreams of the day she can get away to a “normal” life. The accident that kills her younger sister continues to haunt her. After college she ends up in Albuquerque living with Michael. After he dies in a car accident she finds out he wasn’t all that he seemed. She once again runs from her life, this time to a small town on San Miguel Island. She finds that the past never goes away though and she must deal with it. Overall a pretty good read, I was actually disappointed when the story ended.

Sister of my Heart by Chitra Bangerjee Divakaruni 3.5* Sudha and Anju are cousins who grow up in the same house close as sisters and best friends in India. Then, they both are forced to get married when their financial situation suddenly changes. One will go all the way to America, the other will stay in India and have a traditional marriage.

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder 4* Yelena is in the dungeon waiting to be hung for murder when she is picked to be the Commander’s food taster. She learns all about poisons, but she also befriends some of the staff in the castle. She also starts to understand her past a little better. Great read, can’t wait to read the next in the series.

What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell YA 3* set right after WWII, it shows how sheltered teens were back then. Evie falls for her step father’s war buddy, and life changes for them all.

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork 3*, Marcello (who has Asperger’s Syndrome) has to go work for his father’s law office for the summer “in the real world”. There he meets Jasmine, a nice pretty girl who works in the mail room and Wendell, the spoiled son of one of the partners. He finds out things are not always black and white and people not always what they seem.

Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder YA 4.5* the continuing story of Yelena. She travels to Ixia to meet her real family and learn to control her magic. She finds not all family members are welcoming, as some think she’s a spy from the north. I couldn’t put this book down until I was done, even better than the first one. Can’t wait to read the next!

Unwind by Neal Shusterman YA 3* the stories of 3 teens whose parents want to “unwind” them aka donate all of their body parts. They go on the run to avoid going to the harvest camp and end up in “the Graveyard”, which is a safe haven for teens such as themselves.

Fire Study by Maria V. Snyder 4* the third book follows Yelena to the Keep where she is working on being a soul finder, but once again there are forces against her. This time it comes out of fire. Not as good as the second book (spent too much time recapping the other 2 books IMO), but still very enjoyable.

A Mouthful of Air by Amy Koppelman 3* a woman has depression and tried to kill herself and the book is about her trying