Monday, December 22, 2008

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

I happily recommend this book to anyone and everyone. Told in a series of letters, it tells about the German occupation of Guernsey Island during World War II. The letter format takes a bit of getting used to, but I think it adds to the charm of the narrative. Pay attention to who is writing to whom, and you won't get lost. The story is sad and poignant, but also laugh out loud funny. I thought it was wonderful and would make a good book for discussion groups. Read it.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Charlemagne Pursuit by Steve Berry

The Charlemagne Pursuit continues the adventures of Cotton Malone, former Justice Department agent, although without some of his usual sidekicks. The basic plot is pretty intriguing as Malone seeks to find out what really happened to his father whose submarine was lost in 1971. There is a mystery that needs to be solved, a conspiracy that needs to be stopped, some dirty politicians who need to be exposed, some truly despicable folks who need to be, well, shot, and some wonders that are waiting to be discovered. All in all, it's a pretty fun read if you don't think too hard about the details. I must say I thought the whole Oberhauser family and their side-plot was a waste of my reading time. Puh-leez. If you like books like The DaVinci Code or have read Berry's previous works, you will enjoy this one.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Giver by Lois Lowry

This is a book written for young people. I recently read it because my son was reading it for school. It is the story of Jonas, a young boy who lives in a dystopia. It is a society in the future where people do not have individual choice. It was very interesting and I could see how it would make for good discussions. Jonas has special abilities that entitle him to do a special job for the community. He receives memories from the Giver, which enable him to know all of history. Members of the community use his wisdom to make big decisoins. Jonas realizes how unfair and bland life is for people in his society. He ultimately decides to risk his life to save Gabe (his adopted brother) and to make it possible for everyone to have memories. This was a great way to see what kids are reading for class. I enjoyed it and so did my 13 year old.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Lives They Left Behind by Darby Penney

This was a great non-fiction book about a psychiatric center in New York. After 125 years in service they were closing up in 1995. While cleaning out they found over 400 suitcases of past patients in the attic of the building containing what few and all of their belongings. This book has 10 stories about 10 of those almost forgotten people and their lives. It is a little sad and depressing to think of these lost souls not having a voice in life, but now in death we can read and learn from these interesting if not troubled people. I really enjoyed this book although sad we must remember it is still history and we can all learn from it.

A Christmas Star by Thomas Kinkade

I enjoyed reading this Christmas book. It is a continuation of books set in a town called Cape Light. This book mainly follows 2 families. The Morgans lose their house in a fire and the book profiles how they work through this loss. Jack Sawyer reluctantly helps out a woman and her child in need who end up helping him work through his grief and bitterness. The book has a Christian message and is especially enjoyable at this time of year.

The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks

I enjoyed this book very much. It started out almost immediately. However I still don't understand why the main character didn't fess up as soon as he was able. I would recommend this book to anyone.

From Dust and Ashes by Tricia Goyer

If you enjoy World War II history and Christian fiction this book is for you. Set in Austria in the Spring of 1945, from Dust to Ashes weaves several stories. Helene, the wife of an SS guard, Peter, an American Soldier and Michaela, a concentration camp survivor, are all trying to pick up the pieces of their lives. Goyer researches her stories with actual interviews of soldiers who liberated the Nazi death camps and with Holocaust survivors. From "dust to ashes" is the 4th book in the Liberator series.
Fast becoming one of my must read authors, I heartily recommend this book and the others in this series.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Keeping the World Away by Margaret Forster

The story is about the artist Gwen John and her painting The Attic. It is fascinating how the painting ended up in various people's hands and impacting their lives throughout the years.
Gwen's affair with the married and controlling Rodin gives her both joy, yearning, and persistence to capture the essence of The Attic. She is able to convey that a "tranquil golden place" does exist amid the chaos if we care to look for it. I enjoyed reading this book!

The Gate House by Nelson DeMille

The Gate House is a sequel to DeMille's 1990 best seller The Gold Coast, but can stand alone if you haven't read (or don't remember) The Gold Coast. John Sutter returns to Long Island for a funeral but gets caught up in the privileged world of his ex-wife, the ultra-rich and ultra-spoiled Susan Stanhope. There's also the matter of a little unfinished business with the son of the mafia don that Susan murdered. It's a long book and fairly predictable. But it's well written and the sarcastic humor of the narrator is worth the read. I enjoyed it.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Your Heart Belongs to Me by Dean Koontz

Plot: Ryan Perry is 34 years old, wealthy and in love. His life is wonderful until he discovers he has heart disease and needs a transplant. His life spins out of control as he becomes suspicious of everyone around him and doesn't know what is real, what is paranoia, and what is a side effect of the regimen of drugs he must take. He undergoes a successful transplant, but strange occurrences continue.

I'm a big fan of Dean Koontz, but this is not one of his best. The characters are not as engaging and endearing as Koontz' characters usually are, and the plot is full of holes.