Thursday, December 27, 2012

Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane

In the year 1954, US Marshal Teddy Daniels and his new partner, Chuck Aule, come to Shutter Island, home of Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane, to investigate an unexplained disappearance.  Multiple murderess Rachel Solando is loose somewhere on this barren island, despite having been kept under constant surveillance in a locked,guarded cell.  As a killer hurricane bears relentlessly down on the island, hints of radical experimentation and covert government machinations add darker, more sinister shades to an already bizarre case.  Because nothing at Ashecliffe Hospital is remotely what it seems.  A real edge of your seat read.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Plain Promise by Beth Wiseman

Plain Promise is the story of Sadie Fisher, a young Amish widow who rents out her guest house to a single man from California.  Shortly thereafter, his autistic son is dropped off by his ex-wife, who then is killed shortly after she leaves in a car accident.  Kade hasn't spent any amount of time with his son and doesn't really know how to deal with his behavior.  Kade is a wealthy developer who,despite all of his toys is deeply unhappy.  Sadie begins to feel attracted to hi, but knows that being with him would mean leaving her family and friends.  To put a twist into the story Sadie has been corresponding with another Amish man in Texas for some time now and believed that he is the man for her until Kade came into the picture.  The story continues with Kade learning more about the Amish life from Jonah and elderly man in the community.  Sadie tries life in Texas for a while be realizes her life is back in her home town with her family and friends.

Notorious Nineteen By Janet Evanovich

Stephanie is back... again... and still pretty much broke and car-less, to make some money she must bring back Geoffrey Cubbin, who embezzled millions from the local assisted-living facility,  the problem is that Cubbin has vanished into thin air while in the hospital recovering from surgery. It takes quite a while for Stephanie to solve this puzzle, so in the meantime to make money she goes after several lower level skips - one with a rather interesting and powerful Tiki statue; Stephanie also joins Ranger undercover as a bridesmaid to help him discover who is plotting to kill both him and the groom, an old Special Forces buddy. As Stephanie digs deeper into Cubbin's disappearance, she uncovers several other missing hospital patients. She also gets several more cars blown up and runs into trouble many times over before problems get solved. I am not fond of the books that has Ranger needing help from Stephanie. That just isn’t suppose to happen. This book isn't as good as the earlier ones but it is much better than the last few. Just like most people I will continue reading the Plum novels if for no other reason but to get a few laughs.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Crockin' Girls Slow Cookin' Companion

The Crockin' girls are two friends who started a website with crockpot recipes to help get families back together around the dinner table. This cookbook came about due to many requests from followers who love their recipes. The cookbook is divided into easy categories and each recipe has a color picture. Each section has an introduction by the Crockin' girls and they personalize the book even more with many family pictures. I found many recipes I'd like to try. The directions seem easy to follow and most call for ingredients that are easy to find. If you like cookbooks this one is definitely one you will want to try.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Wife 22 by Melanie Gideon

This book is about a 44 year old woman going through a midlife crisis.  She decides to take part in a survey about her marriage and is soon assigned the name of Wife 22,  As she goes through the survey she finds out that her marriage seems to be running out of steam.  She had no idea she would actually start falling for Researcher 101.  Now everything is in a whirl wind.  Her husband lost his job, her children have problems and she's falling in love with someone she has never met before in her life.  What is she going to do?  This was a great book full of truth and humor. I really loved this book.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Comfort and Joy by Kristin Hannah

Wanting to read a book to help put me in the Christmas spirit, I picked this book by an author I have enjoyed before. This is the story of a young woman named Joy.She finds herself not very much in the mood for Christmas because of the difficulties she has experienced over the past year. She not only finds herself separated and divorced, but learns that her sister is now pregnant with her ex's baby. She herself has wanted a child for a long time, but her former husband was never quite ready.
     Joy works as a high school librarian in Bakersfield, California. She has just finished work before the Christmas break. Upon arriving home and finding her pregnant sister with a wedding invitation, she suddenly decides to leave and buys a spur-of-the-moment ticket to Hope, British Columbia..... Not much later the plane has crashed and the wounded Joy walks away into a small town in Washington State. She finds a little place called the Comfort Fishing Lodge, a rundown inn with two people in it who are fighting to survive emotionally. An eight year boy, Bobby, who mother has recently died, and his father Daniel, who hasn't seen the boy much since his divorce, and who is at his wits end as to how to deal with a boy who talks to his dead mother and couple of other invisible people. Joy is able to help the two, spending time with them and becoming close to them. On Christmas Eve they are at a gathering when Joy suddenly blacks out and wakes up in a hospital in Bakersfield.
    Joy is told she has been in a coma for ten days. She is told that her plane crashed 100 miles from where it took off. Join with Joy in puzzling out what actually happened to her. Will she reunite with her sister? What about Bobby and Daniel - do they even exist? Will Joy have the courage to begin a new life?

Friday, November 30, 2012

Plain Pursuit by Beth Wiseman

     Plain Pursuit by Beth Wiseman is the second book in the "Daughters of the Promise" series. The main characters, Carley and Noah, both have been hurt in the past. With Carley, she is a journalist and recently was in an accident where her mom died and Carley was injured in the accident which left her with an inability to have children. She decided to go to visit her dear friend, Lillian in Amish country. Noah grew up Amish, was baptized in the faith, then changed his mind about his calling. He felt God calling him to become a doctor. So, he left home and went to school. Due to Old Order Amish customs, Noah was shunned. The only way to undo this was to return to the faith. In order to return, he would have to give up his calling to be a doctor. He could not do that.
     So this story has a few twists and turns as Lillian and her husband, Samuel, have a son named David. David is very sick and needs a doctor. As you can guess, Dr. Noah comes into the picture. He just happens to be the shunned uncle who is the only one that is compatible to donate a kidney.  So needless to say many decisions had to be made by Samuel's family to allow Noah to re-enter their lives and to what extent this would be allowed.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25 by Richard Paul Evans

Michael isn’t your average teen.  He’s electric.  He tries to keep it hidden, but a surge of anger causes him to lose control and his secret is exposed.  He soon learns he’s not alone, however, and things quickly become complicated.  They find themselves being hunted, and his mother is kidnapped, forcing him to face all that he’d tried to avoid.  Will his friends’ help and his unique power be enough to save those he cares about, or will he be turned to the dark side of power?
This book had a fast pace, and I think it would appeal to many readers.  Michael is an unlikely hero drawn into a good vs. evil battle on a global scale.  Filled with twists and turns, the action at the end leaves much open for the series to continue!

The Vanishing of Katharina Linden by Helen Grant

           Ten-year-old Pia lives in a small German town where gossip, combined with the fact that everyone knows everyone, makes it hard for secrets to be kept.  After her grandmother dies in a freak accident, she becomes the “Potentially Exploding Schoolgirl”, and finds herself stuck with StinkStefan, another social outcast.  Then a young girl disappears seemingly without a trace while watching a town parade.  Pia and Stefan wonder if some supernatural force was involved.  As they listen to stories of local legends, they imagine ways they can use this knowledge to solve the mystery of what’s happening in their town.

This young adult mystery is the first novel written by this British author.  While the subject matter of child abduction is serious, the perspective of a ten-year-old shows us what this situation looks like from their view.  Moments of childhood humor (and eye-rolling) cross with scary tales and unexpected twists to make for a very interesting read!


Monday, November 19, 2012

Johnson's Life of London by Boris Johnson

Johnson’s Life of London is written by Boris Johnson, a man who, like Donald Trump, is instantly recognizable by his hair.  Johnson also carries with him a sharp wit and keen sense of humor which he uses to bring alive key points in the history of the City of London, from its earliest underpinnings, through the middle ages, clear up until the present day. Written as a historical bicycle tour through London (you have to read it to understand), Johnson covers such highlights as London Bridge, Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Keith Richards.  Trust me, the fourth one has more to do with London’s history than you may realize.  Johnson is perhaps the first man to make English history really funny, and informative at the same time.  Recommended.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Two Brides Too Many by Mona Hodgson

 Two sisters travel to Colorado to begin a new life. Their father has had to go to Paris for work and wants to see them settled. So they agree to be mail-order brides. But when they arrive at the depot, neither groom is there to meet them. So now what?
This begins the story of Kat and Nell. Each experiences different results as to the the man they were to marry. They each must find their niche as they try to exist in the town of Cripple Creek. Amidst fire, lack of funds, and other various difficulties, the girls begin to become acquainted with the townspeople and develop relationships with those around them.
This is a sweet and simple romance that many readers will enjoy. I am sure we will be hearing more from Mona Hodgson and the girls from Cripple Creek.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Plain Perfect by Beth Wiseman

This is the first in the series of (Daughters of the Promise). In this story Lillian is raised outside the Amish community and when she had loaned all her money to her mom and was in an abusive relationship, she decided to go to her Amish grandparents home and get away from it all. Once she arrived she fell in love with her grandparents and met a good looking Amish widower that had a son. As the story goes on she falls in love with the widower and begins to learn about life as an Amish person.  She builds a relationship with her grandparents as well as her mother.  I truly enjoyed reading this book and learning about the Amish life. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Down the Darkest Road by Tami Hoag

Lauren Lawten used to be a normal mother until four years ago her oldest daughter, then 16, was kidnapped.  Now she is just trying to hold everything together with the daughter she is left with.  She deides to move to Oak Knoll, a sleepy town with quiet countryside.  Then she finds out that the man she is sure kidnapped and killed her daughter has moved there also.  It gets very tricky when you start to try to figure out who is stalking who in the story.  There are lots of twists and turns that keep you turning the page to find out who exactly is the bad guy in this story.  Bery interesting read with lots of plot angles.  I truly enjoyed this book.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Full Disclosure By Dee Henderson

Ann Silver is a Midwest Homicide Investigator. She is called to help local law enforcement on the worst cases. Paul Falcon is a top FBI agent. Their lives intersect when Ann passes a case off to Paul. As the case heats up-so does Paul's interest in Ann, but she is guarding a dark secret. It takes all of Paul's skills to solve the case and peel back the layers of protection Ann has placed around her heart. If you are a fan of Dee Henderson you will be familiar with many of this book's characters. This is Dee Henderson at her finest.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok

Kimberly and her mother immigrate to NewYork after Kimberly's father dies in Hong Kong.  They are indebted to Kimberly's Aunt Paula who arranged for green cards and has paid bills for them.  Working long hard hours in a sweat shop and living in a condemned unheated apartment with vermin and roaches, life is difficult.  In Hong Kong, Kimberly was an excellent student who struggles now with the English language and such a different culture.  Eventually, her intelligence is recognized and she is accepted into a private school.  Life is demanding but Kimberly is clever and excels.  Her relationships with boys lead to unexpected choices.  Her relationship with her mother and the Chinese culture portrayed throughout this book are interesting and keep you wondering what will happen next.  I listened to this as an audio book and enjoyed the narrator.  This is a young people's book but I feel it will interest adults as well.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

When Barry Fairbrother dies suddenly, his vacated seat on the town council becomes an issue in the small town of Pagford. Rowling’s first adult book is very adult in language, themes and situations. The story deals not only with petty politics, but also troubled relationships, class struggles, drug addiction, prejudice, teen pregnancy, and a number of other difficult themes. There are many characters to follow and some are not particularly likable, but Rowling manages to make us care what happens to them. It’s a dark book, but well written and thought-provoking and certainly worth reading.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Pioneer Woman Cooks by Ree Drummond

This charming cookbook is such a lovely piece of work. It reads a little bit like a novel—telling the author’s story of a city girl falling in love with a cowboy, marrying, and moving to a ranch.
     While basically full of recipes, the book is interspersed with lovely pictures of nature and animals on the ranch. There are also really sweet anecdotes of family members, ranch hands, and acquaintances. The recipes are well organized and contain ingredients that are familiar to people in our region. There are lots of delicious cuts of meat, also pasta, Mexican, and sweets.
      Ree has honed her cooking skills to feed hungry men and children alike, These foods are not low in calories, but are delicious. The recipes are beautifully pictured and clearly explained step by step. It is easy to see why this book has been a #1 New York Times Bestseller.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Sweet Talk by Julie Garwood

I enjoyed this book but not as much as the other Julie Garwood books.  I liked both of the main characters  and I loved Olivia’s dedication to children since her childhood was filled with parents that didn’t show much concern for her or her illness.  The back story of the childhood cancer helped explain some of Olivia’s motivations towards she sideline job and her job with the IRS and trying to find something to prosecute her father with.   I am not sure if I didn’t enjoy the book as much because of the story line or if it was because of the dreadful reader. 


Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Plain Death by Amanda Flower

Chloe Humphrey has just moved with some uncertainty to Appleseed Creek to direct technology services at the nearby college.    Her first acquaintance is Becky, an ex-Amish teenager looking for a new home.  While driving Chloe's car, Becky collides with a buggy, killing an Amish bishop.  But what looks like an accident is soon labeled murder.  Now Chloe must take on the role of amateur sleuth to discover who the real intended victim was before the murderer makes a second attempt.  This was a very good book.  It was hard to put down once I started reading it. 

Alys, Always by Harriet Lane

Driving at the edge of London on an icy night, Frances Thorpe, a book editor, stops for a car in the ditch.  Inside the car is the dying wife (Alys) of a famous novelist Laurence Kyte.  Frances calls for help and stays with Alys until the police arrives.  Since Frances is the last person who sees Alys alive, Alys' family is eager to meet her in order to hear Alys' final words.
It is disturbing to learn how connivingly Frances schemes her way into the Kyte family, especially the heart of the widower.  This is a gripping short novel that alludes to the complexities of the human psyche.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Almost Amish by Nancy Sleeth

The title of this book intrigued me, at times I find myself craving the simplicity of the Amish life style. The author had the American dream, a husband who was a successful Doctor, 2 children and a big house in the suburbs. As Christians they felt that they had become slaves to technology and to the American dream. Using principles from the Amish the Sleeth family simplified their lives to make faith and family the cornerstone. I found this to be a very interesting book with many principles I could use and also a lot of "food for thought". If you ever feel like your life is busy and spinning out of control, I recoomend this book to you.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Devil's Wake by Steven Barnes and Tananarive Due

What happens when an unprecedented infection sweeps the world, leaving the earth on the brink of the Apocalypse?  This infection goes byond any disease.  The infected are turning into creatures only from our worst nightmares.  Trapped in the north western United States as winter begins to fall, Terry and Kendra have only one choice: they and their friends must cross many miles across a very dangerous landscape battlin the walking dead, human raiders and their own fears.  In the midst of all this they find something no one could have 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Mister Death's Blue-Eyed Girls by Mary Downing Hahn

Mary Downing Hahn is one of my favorite authors, she wrote one of my favorite books as child, Wait Till Helen Comes. I still suggest the book to kids who are looking for a good mystery with a little suspense tossed in. After 30 years of writing books based on characters she created, she has written a book about something that happened to her personally. Mister Death’s Blue-Eyed Girls, is based on the killing of two of girls she knew in her suburban DC neighborhood.

Nora is finishing her junior year of high school and is about to start the best summer of her life, have a great senior year, and go off to art school in the city. Everything changes the night before the last day of school. After staying out late with friends at the local park, they sneak home after curfew. Nora and Ellie oversleep and miss walking to school with Ellie’s neighbors Bobbi Jo and Cheryl. Running late, Nora and Ellie take a short cut and run into Cheryl’s ex-boyfriend, Buddy, who offers them a ride to school. Everyone goes about the normal end of the school year activities with no one seeing Cheryl or Bobbi Jo at school. Walking home Nora and Ellie find out why Cheryl and Bobbi Jo didn’t make to school. The story unfolds around Nora trying to make sense of what happened, friendships that have changed, accusations of the murder and her faith being questioned.

Mister Death’s Blue-Eyed Girls is based on actual events but the surrounding story is fictionalized. The story is told from many points of view in the span of the summer.  After reading more about Hahn, I learned that she is Nora in the story and had the same feelings and dreams.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner

The story revolves around Ruth Saunders. She is a 28 year old writer who has been raised by her grandmother after her parents die in a car accident when Ruth was 3. Ruth suffered with scars from the accident all over her face and body. Her grandmother would encourage her to write it all down when things got tough for Ruth. As an adult Ruth attempts to become a writer with the hopes that someone will pick up her television pilot based on her life. I had heard that Jennifer Weiner’s books were very good so I was hopeful when I decided to read this book but it just never really got off the ground for me. I stuck with it and read the whole thing but I really wanted to quit reading it about a third of the way through. The main character is interesting enough, it was just repetitive sitcom writing banter and just plain boring. I would not recommend this book to anyone.

In This Timeless Time by Bruce Jackson & Diane Christian

This is a non-fiction book that explores life on Death Row, mainly in Texas, although the things that go on are common to all Death Rows. The book causes you to think about capital punishment and shows what life is like for inmates in the time between sentencing and execution.

The first part of the book is all photos taken of cell block J in Ellis Unit of Texas Department of Corrections. The second part is a written companion that gives commentary about the criminal system and the fate of the men in the pictures. The third section tells about serious ethical issues the authors dealt with during their time documenting all this information.

This book caused feelings of frustration as I questioned the effectiveness of our judicial system. You would think that there would be a better way to separate the truly guilty from those who have lesser guilt. With our intelligence why can’t we find a way to reach the truth of each situation and match the punishment to the severity of the crime?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Downton Abbey DVD'S Season One and Two

Downton Abbey is a PBS Masterpiece Classic series. Set in a lavish Edwardian Mansion in the English Yorkshire Countryside the show follows the Crawley family starting in 1912. Reminiscent of Upstarios, Downstairs we follow both the titled gentry and the servants through the time right before World War one and during the chaos of the war. The scenery both inside the mansion and the English countryside is beautiful. The costumes and acting are superbly done. One of the best TV shows I have ever seen. I anxiously await Season three. I recommend these DVD's whole heartedly.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Hutterites of Montana

The Hutterites are a group of people who live a communal way of life.  They are mosrtly located in Montana or Southern Canada.  I vecame interesred in the Hutterites by watching a television show about them on National Geographic.  This book was written in the 90's so it was interesting to see the likes and differences between then and now.  Now trhe kids can go to public school.  The girls still are not allowed to go to college.  They are like the Amish in the way they are pacifists and don't allow certain things from the outside world.  It is an interesting book about a group I didn't even know existed in our own country.  The book is only about 140 pages long but it its filled with great photographs of these usually very private people.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Graveminder by Melissa Marr

Rebekkah Barrow grew up respecting the dead.  There was not a funeral her grandmother missed.  Now her grandmother is dead and Rebekkah finds out she is next in line of a long family tradition to become the gravemaster.  That is to put the dead to rest with finality.  In Claysville the world between the living and the dead are very close together.  If a gravemaster doesn't perform an unusual ritual the dead will stay in a limbo state hungry and thirsty for live humans.  Rebekkah finds out her grandmother was actually murdered by one of these undead and she must now take it upon herself to find the poor soul and bring them to Mr. D.  Someone is trying to mess up her plans though.  She must find out before the town gets over run with living dead.  This was a really good book.  It wasn't scary more like an odd drama.  This book is found in the science fiction section of the library and I suggest it for readers who like a little bit of supernatural in their lives.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Two for the Dough by Janet Evanovich

For a bit of light reading in the middle of the summer I chose the second novel in the Stephanie Plum series. For those of you who don't know, Stephanie is a down on her luck New Jersey girl who goes into bounty hunting because she needs the money. The people in Stephanie's life are very habit forming as you soon become attached to them. There is a marvelous push and pull that the author has created in the character's relationships that is very addictive. The complex ethnic environment is a wonderful backdrop for the crime story. In this case Stephanie searches for Kenny Mancuso, who has failed to show up for a preliminary hearing. She also searches for 25 caskets which seem like they must be somehow connected to a bunch of military weapons that have been making an appearance here and there on the East coast. Read the book if your longing for some wry humor and answers to the case.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Heartbreaker by Julie Garwood

Since this was my first Julie Garwood book, I didn't know what to expect but I really like what I got.  Heartbreaker is not a thriller but it has a good storyline with a decent amount of suspense and excitment.  This book had excellent characterization.  The dialogues were witty and even fummy at times and overall, it was a very easy and entertaining read,it had a good balance of romance and adventure.  Julie Garwood has become one of my favorite authors.

Gone Missing by Linda Castillo

Chief of Police Kate Burkholder and State Agent John Tomasetti are back on the case in Linda Castillo’s latest, Gone Missing.  Although this is very similar to her previous three books, it is not part of that series.  Castillo does tell the reader that back story of how the two meet and the progression of their relationship, so if the reader has not read the previous books it will not be confusing.

In Gone Missing, Kate and John are looking into the mysterious disappearance of Amish teens who have started to rebel against the church and are thinking about leaving.  Over the past ten years, five teens have gone missing and the number starts to increase.  Because of Kate’s Amish past, Tomasetti brings her in to consult on the cases.  As they are working, an Amish teen close to Kate’s family has disappeared in Painter’s Mill and she returns to work the case.  Soon they realize there are similarities with the two cases.

As in her past books, Castillo usually adds a twist that I don’t see coming, but then looking back she does a good job of foreshadowing.  Castillo does give more attention to the relationship of Kate and John and gives a little insight of what might come.  In the end, I liked the book and it was a good read but I wonder if she wrote this one too fast to meet the demand and popularity of the first three. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, translated from the French by Alison Anderson

Perplexed by the purpose of life, precocious 12-year-old Paloma Josse has decided to end her life on her next birthday.  On the other hand, erudite Renee Michel has determined to conceal her authentic self and act the stereotypical role of a concierge.  The story unfolds in a wealthy Parisian apartment building and was told from the perspective of Renee and Paloma.  At times Paloma's "profound thoughts" in her journal entries are insightful and hilarious.
With the arrival of a new tenant, Mr. Ozu, intersecting the lives of Renee and Paloma, what happens to Renee in the end truly surprised me.  I enjoyed this book.  It celebrates friendship and reminds me to pause and see beauty whenever we can.

This novel is our Brown Bag selection for September.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Gone Missing

Rumspringer is the time of year when Amish youth can experience the outside world before becoming baptized.  soon young Amish girls start dissappearing without a trace.  The carefree fun is over and soon fear runs through the community like a contagion.  It's up to police chief Kate Burkholder to try to find the girls before it is too late. This was a very gripping story and quite a page  turner.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

One Thousand Gifts: A Dare To Live Fully Right Where You Are By Ann Voskamp

Ann Voskamp has witnessed many tragedies in her life, the death of her little sister, her Father's bitterness and her Mother's struggle with overwhelming grief and depression to name a few. She has settled for a life that is marked with discontent and discouragement. Although she is married and has children she wonders is this all there is? A friend challenged her to find joy in the mundane, simple everyday tasks of daily life, to chronicle one thousand gifts. To live fully and joyfully no matter what the circumstances. This is the start of her spiritual journey from grace, to gratitude, to joy. Beautifully written with many scriptual references this book is a life changer! One of the best books I have ever read, I heartily recommend it! Read slowly and savor every word.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Far Side of the Sky by Daniel Kalla

Set in the early years of World War II, The Far Side of the Sky is a novel about a family of Austrian Jews who flee to Shanghai to escape the Nazis. Their story becomes intertwined with that of the Chinese residents of Shanghai who are suffering under Japanese occupation. I recommend this well written, suspenseful book!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Road to Grace by Richard Paul Evans

Road to Grace is the third book of a series following The Walk and Miles to Go.  Alan Christofferson is on a journey walking from Seattle to Key West.  Following the death of his dear wife and the loss of his business, Alan is trying to find meaning and hope in his life.  The people he meets along the way are interesting characters who bring enjoyment to the reader.  I especially like the elderly Polish man in this novel who teaches Alan about forgiveness.  Historical landmarks are visited which bring memories of having been to some of these places myself.  I am looking forward to the next book in this series.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Need you Now By Beth Wiseman

Need You Now is set in rural Texas where the Henderson family has recently moved from Houston in hopes of protecting their teenage children from certain aspects of big city life. Brad and Darlene's marriage has always been solid, church has been important, and their home has always been one of love. But beyond minor parenting issues, the family's faith and foundation have never truly been tested up until now. Suddenly changes, discoveries, and emotional distance threaten to tear them apart. I enjoyed this book, it was the first book I have read by her and I am sure I will pick up another.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Lost Years by Mary Higgins Clark

Mariah Lyons arrives at her parents house to her worst nightmare; finding her Father murdered and her Mother in a closet covered in blood and holding a gun!
The police want to charge her mother who suffers from dementia.  Mariah wonders if the murder has to do with a missing letter reputed to have been written by Jesus to Joseph of Arimithea that her father may have found.  Did he tell one of his friends about the rare parchment? How is his mistress involved?  This is vintage Mary Higgins Clark.  This mystery kept me guessing to the end.  A good read!

A Blaze of Glory by Jeff Shaara

A Blaze of Glory: a novel of the Battle of Shiloh is a compelling and very readable novel about the Battle of Shiloh in April, 1862.  As Shaara has done with his other novels, he makes the story personal by focusing on the stories of individual soldiers from both sides of the conflict.  The details of troop movements, battlefield geography, and army life are meticulously researched and enhance the story.  Shiloh was truly horrific battle with high casualties, and Shaara has succeeded in depicting this reality.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it to all readers, not just Civil War buffs.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

7 An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker

This is a non-fiction book written by a minister's wife. She got the idea to radically make herself aware of the excess in her life with a drastic method. Her family was invovled, as were some members of her church. She chose 7 because it is a biblical number. For seven months she concentrated on a topic and began reducing. The topics were: clothes, shopping, waste, food, possessions, media and stress.For one whole month she wore just 7 articles of clothing, another month she ate only 7 foods, one month she and her family gave away 7 things a day, one month they spent money at 7 places only, one month they gave up 7 types of media, etc. The book is a diary of how it went day by day. At the end of every month she evaluated their activities and what effects it had on her and her loved ones. Ultimately it altered her life forever. Her new thoughts are different than her old ones. She feels her actions have left room for the Spirit to move - and she is excited about the future. Want to try it?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult

Luke Warren, a wolf biologist, suffers a traumatic brain injury from an accident while driving his daughter, Cara, home from a party where she had been drinking.  Luke, famous for his research on wolves, is comatose, on life support, and doctors say he will not recover. His son, Edward, though estranged from his father for six years, returns after receiving a call from his mother.  Luke always put wolves ahead of his family which caused the collapse of his marriage.  He did have a strong bond with his daughter, Cara.  Edward and Cara are at odds over which direction to take with their father.  Cara expects a miracle; Edward, based on what the doctors have told him, feels they should let their father go and donate his organs.  A legal battle begins.  This book deals with many hurts of the past in this family.  It also deals with a lot of wolf behavior and the comparisons between wolves and humans.  Though I didn't care for some of the characters and the ending involving another character was strange, I found the book interesting and emotional.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wicked Business

Lizzie just wants to be normal.  Unfornately she isn't.  Lizzie has special powers that she doesn't quite understand but, other people want it.  With the help of her beach bum guardian angel, Diesal, she just might be able to help save the world from a mysterious man named Wulf.  This is a really cute and fun, fast, easy book to read.  Janet Evanovich has done it again and it looks like this is going to become an ongoing series.  I really enjoyed this book.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Night Road by Kristin Hannah

Here is the saga of one Lexi Baill, a child bought up in the foster system, whose mother was really no mother at all. Lexi gets a break when she is taken in by her Aunt Eva, whom she didn't know existed.On her first day of high school Lexi meets, first Zach Farraday and then Mia Farraday. Mia becomes her immediate and much loved friend. Zach is the twin of Mia and tries to ignore his feelings for Lexi out of respect for his fragile sister. By the times they are seniors in high school, Zach and Lexi have become a couple. The three teens are best buds.
This is where the story takes a turn for the worse. Just a few days before graduation, the three go to a party where Zach and Mia get drunk and Lexi has also consumed. Zach was supposed to have been the designated driver, but Lexi decided to drive because she is the least inebriated of the trio. They are only a mile away from home, but the accident happens. The result is injuries all around and death for Mia.
Next we find Lexi in prison having been found guilty by the courts. While in jail she learns she is pregnant with Zach's baby. This story is wrought with misfortune for the young Lexi Baill. The end of the story is a culmination of the relationships between the Farraday family, Lexi , and the child Gracie.
The story hits hard on the disparity of the social classes, the tragedy of alcohol abuse, and the grief of losing a loved one. A lot of sad situations and quite depressing much of the time. Another tear jerker from Kristin Hannah.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

How It All Began by Penelope Lively

Imagine a mother gets mugged on a London street, which happens to Charlotte Rainsford.  Wonder as to what will be the ripple effects of this attack?  Lively compares this with the "Butterfly Effect."  Besides Charlotte, more people are subsequently affected.
One of the subplots is that of Charlotte's daughter Rose and Anton, the immigrant that Charlotte is tutoring English.  It keeps me guessing how their friendship would unfold despite knowing that is is futile.  I enjoyed this novel for its unconventional ending.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Undiscovered Country by Lin Enger

I listened to this book on CD and enjoyed the narration and plot.  Jesse is ready to tell his younger brother, Magnus, the truth about his father's death ten years ago by writing a manuscript.  When Jesse was 17, hunting deer from a blind in the Minnesota woods, he hears a gunshot.  He finds his father dead in the woods.  The death is judged a suicide but Jesse, who was very close to his father, does not believe his father would kill himself.  Jesse's mother sinks into depression and Jesse seeks to figure out who shot his father.  He believes it is his father's brother Clay, who had dated his mother in the past, and devises a trap to establish his guilt.  Spurred on by supposed visitations by his father's ghost (though this could be just tricks of the mind) he looks for revenge.  Jesse is dealing with very adult issues which are further complicated by his girlfriend with her own difficult family problems.  A suspenseful book, there are questions whether Jesse's suspicions are correct and the choices he will make.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Fiddler By Beverly Lewis

Beverly Lewis was one of, if not the first writer of Christian Amish Fiction. I think she remains one of the best.  Her stories seem well thought out and believable. In The Fiddler a chance encounter between "Englisher" Amelia Devries and Amish, Michael Hostetler start them down the road of change. Although they both are attracted to each other are their differences to big to overcome?  Another good read from Beverly Lewis.  I look forward to the second book in this series.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Killing Lincoln by: Bill O'Reilly

This book logically starts with  the end of the Civil War, and the culmination of Lincoln's assassination by Booth (I didn't realize the two events were so close in proximity to each other.  I really need to get a better grip on my history). Likewise, I knew the general circumstances of the assassination  meaning Fords Theatre, shot by Booth and the manhunt, but the detail was fascinating.  I had no idea the extent of the conspiracy for example, the attack on Seward that coincided with Lincoln's not the extent of Booth's intense hatred of the President.  The details that were presented in this book really made me stop and think of thing how they were then and how we live our lives today.  The fact that if you wanted to have an audience with the President you could just camp out on the White House floor was mind boggling to me.  Also the lack of personal protection for the president is so different today.  I enjoyed the personal side of Lincoln that was portrayed as well in this book. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Me and You by Niccolo Ammaniti

This book is a short read. The author is becoming known for his powerful stories. Lorenzo Cuni is the main character. He is a teenager about 14 years of age. He has told his mother that he is going on a ski trip for a week with some friends and their parents. However, he was not really invited and has successfully planned to hide out in the storage cellar of his own home.
     While there, his half-sister, whom he has only met once, shows up and wants to stay there too. She is estranged from their mutual father and has become an addict. They are not friendly at first, but do manage to develop a camaraderie over time.
      The story leaves lots of room for thought and would be great for a book discussion, or for a high school or college literature class. I liked how the story was NOT tied up in a pretty bow at the end, but seemed realistic and life-like.

Spooning By Darri Stephens

Charlie Brown, JP Morgan, Jane Dough makes Spooning a hilarious and a clever must-read that roped me in with the characters names alone! For every girl out there that is, or once was, in their mid-20's this is an all too true witty account of life after college. The embarrassingly funny mishaps and constant drama in the lives of Charlie and friends kept me fully engrossed and left me wanting more when I finished the book.

Where Children Sleep by James Mollison

This book is composed mostly of pictures. On the left side is a photo of a child and a description of where he/she lives, how old, and a little information about their situation. On the right side is a full page photo of where the child sleeps. The author was first going to call his project "Bedrooms", but soon discovered that many children don't have a bedroom.
     The interesting thing that comes through is the fact that a child's life can clearly be defined by where he/she sleeps. It is a reflection of their life. Children of wealthy parents have a lot and children from poor families, orphans and third world countries have little. It was captivating to read the stories and feel sorry for some and feel like others were spoiled. I actually spent a couple of hours with the book and was able to finish it cover to cover. I think this would be a good educational tool for children, so they can see that not everyone has the same sort of life and to feel empathy for someone in a different situation. I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it especially to people who learn visually.

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Unbroken is the true story of Louis Zamperini.  A one-time Olympic runner, Zamperini was a bombadier in WWII.  His bomber crash landed in the Pacific Ocean in 1943. Three men survived the crash, only to find themselves adrift in the ocean with few supplies and little hope of being rescued.  When they finally hit land, it was a Japanese-occupied island and they became prisoners of war.  This is a riveting story of courage and survival.  I'm amazed that anyone could survive what those men went through!    

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Thunder and Rain By Charles Martin

I have read everything Charles Martin has written.  His writing has depth and his characters are developed slowly as the book unfolds, making it much harder for me to put the book down!  Thunder and Rain is about a Mother and daughter; and a Father and son both scarred by life circumstances.  How they meet and what happens form the basis for this story with occasional flashbacks to earlier life incidents.  I enjoyed this book and recommend it.  Another winner by Charles Martin

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Best of Kooler Design Studio Cross Stitch Collections

This is a lovely book with beautiful cross stitch designs in it. They are interesting, and very pretty. If you have ever cross stitched before, this book will reignite your desire for a new project. Even if you just enjoy stitchery this is a fun book to look at. I am currently stitching the design called "The Woods Behind My House" by Nancy Rossi on page182. It reminds me of a page from a nature lover's sketchbook. It has butterflies, a nest with eggs, and notes jotted in the margins. I also love "My Favorite Hat Collection" on page 64, and "A Moment of Tranquility" on page 196. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings

I have been wanting to see the movie, “The Descendants”, but was surprised by the fact it was a book (like all good movies, it was a great book first!). The novel is a wonderful story of a family going through the emotions of watching their mother dying and a father reconnecting with two daughters that he has been absent from for years. I found myself laughing and crying with them along the journey of finding their way back. As I was reading I kept thinking of this as a movie and how the dialog was wonderful for a screen play and I see why it was made into a movie. However, I have a love/hate relationship with books being made into movies. I always want to see them but then I am somewhat disappointed when it doesn’t live up to my high expectations. I did watch the movie and it was a good movie but as always, it was a better book. Of course any movie with George Clooney is always a plus!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Drifting House by Krys Lee

Drifting House gives a glimpse of the Korean culture and the immigrant experience in the U. S. The author explores themes of love, loss, family, displacement and belonging in this collection of nine short stories. The characters and their struggles are indelible.
The title story is the most haunting. Two brothers and their dying little sister must cross the treacherous border of N. Korea to reach China in order to find their mother who has abandoned them. Under starvation and dire straits, the older brother faces a moral dilemma. How far the human spirits can endure is hard to fathom. I was saddened by some of the stories but was compelled to read them at the same time.

The Pioneer Woman Cooks Food From My Frontier by Ree Drummond

Ree Drummond has a very popular blog named the Pioneer Woman. On her blog she shares recipes, photographs of her ranch in Oklahoma, stories of her home schooled children and her husband "The Marlboro Man." In Drummond's second cookbook, like the first it has very easy to follow instructions and great step by step pictures. With recipes such as Steakhouse pizza, homemade Glazed Doughnuts and Coffee Cream Cake it made my mouth water. She also includes her own photography of the ranch and her family. This cookbook was easy to read and I thought most of the recipes looked great. I recommend this cookbook!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Home Front By Kristin Hannah

While I appreciate the focus on military families and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder this particular family along with their struggles dealing with deployment and an injury in country left a lot to be desired. I usually like Kristin Hannah’s books but this one was not one I would recommended to anyone. First, the military spouse in this case was the husband was completely ignorant when it came to what was expected from a military spouse after being married to a soldier for 20 years. The two children in the story were so unbelievable. The twelve year old was nothing but an obnoxious brat and the five year old acted like a two year old wanting to play patty cake all the time. As far as the PTSD that was right on with how a person struggles with their new life, but how she returned and reintegrated so quickly, having no help was so far from reality. I believe before this was published Hannah should have completed more research on how a deployment really happens.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

V is for Vengeance by Sue Grafton

A mob leader, a shoplifter, a questionable suicide, a murder, a gambler, a dirty cop; many characters and events are a part of this book which seem unconnected until private detective Kinsey Millhone starts investigating the suicide of a woman she catches shoplifting. Though I needed to go back and forth in this book at times to get all the characters straight it eventually all comes together. It's fun to get it all figured out. This is an entertaining, enjoyable read with suspense and humor. I always look forward to reading another book in this authors alphabet mystery series.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Future Of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

It is hard to remember a time when there was no Facebook, let alone no internet. The Future of Us is set in 1996, when Josh and Emma are juniors in high school and Emma has just gotten her first computer. With help from Josh, Emma is connected to the internet with 100 free hours from AOL. When she logs on she sees her Facebook page 15 years in the future! Not knowing if this is a prank or if it is a virus, she asks Josh for help.
Through status updates and pictures they begin to “see” their future and their friends, whether it be good or bad.

I had great expectations for the second book by Asher. His first, Thirteen Reasons Why, was a page-turner until the end. I thought this was a good book and an interesting plot, but it left me wanting more. As I was reading, I found myself laughing and traveling down memory lane as I was in school at the same time and I could relate to the social references. Although I liked this part of the book, I am not sure some teens will get the references.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Emily and Einstein by Linda Francis Lee

First of all, bravo to whoever decided not to put the fact that Emily's husband is reincarnated as a dog on the front jacket of the book. I am not sure I would have read it if I had known this up front. The author of the book went all out in creating Sandy. She really made you hate this guy. However, because he was such a selfish, arrogant, cheating ungrateful husband his change at the end was much more rewarding. Emily had her own faults which prevents her from truly realizing her true potential. Lee was even able to get the reader to loath Victoria, a supporting character. When Emily "discovers" all of Sandy's journals which chronicles all of his extracurricular activities a person can really feel for her. Something that I particularly loved was Sandy's canine impulses. You have this snobbish character that still has the uncontrollable urges to gobble dog treats and sniff the trees and the ground during walks. The only thing I didn't like about the book was how the two of them didn't end up together at the end.

The Rook by Daniel O'Malley

The Rook is an inventive thriller about a young woman who happens to be a high ranking member of a secret government agency that battles the supernatural in Great Britain. Someone or something is trying to kill her and she’s at a bit of a disadvantage because she has completely lost her memory. Fortunately, she knew her memory loss was coming and prepared herself with extensive notes. I enjoyed this fast-paced, funny book.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Now You See Her By James Patterson

For those one or two of you that might remember, last month I reviewed Kill Alex Cross by James Patterson. It did not live up to my expectations. This months review Now You See Her also by Patterson grabbed my interest right away and didn't let go. I listened to the book on CD. This story is what I have come to expect from Patterson.
Nina Bloom has built a good life for herself and her daughter, the only problem, it is built on lies. Would you walk back into the "lions' den" and possibly destroy your life and your child's to save an innocent man. This question is answered in Now You See Her. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Fairy Godmother by Mercedes Lackey

Elana Klovis is tired of waiting for her prince to come. She decides to leave her evil step-family and go find herself a job. Really, how much worse could it be? She ends up the new Fairy Godmother of the land. Talk about a whole new lot on life. But can a Fairy Godmother do her job and fall in love? This is something Elana has to wrestle with along with trolls, pixies, and evil witches and warlocks. This was a fun read and I really enjoyed the beginning of this series and can't wait to read more.

Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook Feasting With Your Slow Cooker by Dawn J. Ranck

Here it is the month of January, so I decided I should try some new recipes. This slow cooker cookbook looked interesting, and yes, I tried 4 recipes from the book. The first one was Hamburger Vegetable Soup on pg. 32. The soup turned out well. It was tasty and it was a big recipe so the family could have soup a couple times that week. It was not fast to make as I had to chop all the vegetables and brown the hamburger first, but once it was in the pot I could go to work for the day and forget it.
I noticed that this book included desserts that could be made in the slow cooker. I tried 2 desserts. Hot Fudge Cake took 3 hours in the cooker and was immediately devoured with a scoop of vanilla ice cream(pg. 249). Cherry Delight was also easy and delicious with a 3 hour cooking time (pg. 248).
The last thing I tried was the Wild Rice on page 227. I added slender pork shops and had a good meal for the family.
So I had some fun cooking in January. If you didn't know, we have dozens of beautiful cookbooks at the library. Come and try one out!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Treasure Island!!! by Sara Levine

Following the incidents of a dysfunctional female college graduate whose name the author never reveals, the novel is a tragic comedy of errors. After reading Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, the graduate is determined to emulate Jim Hawkins, the adventurous hero of the classic, because her life seems stagnant with a series of meaningless jobs. With the help of her mother, she was hired by a Pet Library in a mall. Everything goes downhill from there, as she was fired after stealing the owner's money to buy a parrot for the Library's collection...
Although the story is entertaining, it also alludes to the reality that many people are indeed crying out for help.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin

Alice Grace Ripley, a librarian in Illinois, loses her job because of cutbacks during the Great Depression. She loves to read but her boyfriend breaks up with her, accusing her of living in a dream world of books, even reading a book during a funeral. Alice flees to the Kentucky mountains to deliver boxes of donated books she has been collecting to a library. She plans to stay just a short time until relatives pick her up but ends up left in this town. Lillie, a 100 year old past slave and Mack, the librarian, add a lot of humor to the story. In the town of Alcorn times are rough with no running water or electricity and a long-time family feud. She delivers books in the mountains by horseback to people in need. Dangers exist in this town; there is a fake death and questions concerning a past coal mining accident. Alice finds many real life adventures in these mountains and a little romance too.

Friday, January 20, 2012

One For The Money by Janet Evanovich

I wanted to read One For The Money because the library is doing a program on it prior to it coming out in cinemas. It seems like almost everyone on staff has read Evanovic but me. I found it to be a fast paced read and it was easy to get to know the characters. The action is attention-getting and I can see how it could easily be made into a movie. You are quickly involved in the life of Stephanie Plum, a girl down on her luck and ready to try anything. Being out of a job she convinces her cousin Vinnie to let her take a shot at being an apprehension agent (bounty hunter). Although she has no skills, she has a few friends she figures can give her a few pointers. Besides, she needs the money. This is where the real adventure and danger begin. After reading the first novel in the Stephanie Plum series I would definitely be a member of "Team Morelli" (come to our program to learn what this is). Read this book to get your crime novel fix.