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The Stormchasers: A Novel
by Jenna Blum
Different (7/25/2010)
"Twindar," bipolar, secrets, family life, manslaughter....

Birthdays and phones...two things Karena likes to forget about, but her birthday and the phone ringing off the hook with bad news both happen on the same day.

The news did help in other ways, though. Karena was learning about what stormchasers do, and she was closer to finding her twin brother who she hadn't seen for twenty years since he too is a stormchaser.

Karena is invited, or rather she invites herself, on a stormchasing tour in the role of newspaper woman, which she is. She meets people who knew her brother, but she didn't get good news about him. The book mainly talks about chasing storms and finding Karena's brother. It also flashes back to Charles and Karena's childhood describing what their life was like as twins and what the life was like with their "absent" parents. Love of course comes into the picture as well...brotherly and sisterly love as well as romantic love.

It wasn't bad, kept your interest....4/5.
Down River
by John Hart
Suspensful (7/25/2010)
Mystery, Suspense, Murder.....loved this book....lots of surprises at the end. :)

Adam Chase returns to North Carolina after five years and his acquittal of murder.

Little does he know that his troubles haven't disappeared and the mysteries of family members and friends is overwhelming.

He finds things out that he never knew...most of them not good. The characters pull you in and make you want to keep reading to find out what makes them "tick," what they are about, and what they are experiencing.

Excellent writing...I want to read more of his books.
The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary
by Simon Winchester
Very Interesting (7/24/2010)
This book is excellent for any word lover, but is a bit stilted and detailed.

It was very clever how the author put a page from the dictionary as the beginning of each chapter and the subject of that chapter dealt with the word.

From page 220..."The total length of type--all hand-set, for the books were done by letterpress, still discernible in the delicately impressed feel of the inked-on paper--is 178 miles, the distance between London and the outskirts of Manchester."

Dr. Minor, the madman, was an interesting character and the perfect person to "write" the English Oxford Dictionary...the professor, (Professor Murray) was perfect as well. You feel sorry for Dr. Minor in his circumstances, but rejoice at what he did.

His death and burial are described as this: From Page 219..."Dr. William Minor, who was among the greatest of contributors to the finest dictionary in all the English language, died forgotten in obscurity, and is buried beside a slum."

It isn't of high interest, but keeps you reading because of the history.

I was wavering between a 2 and a 3 but am going with a 3/5 rating.
The Poisonwood Bible
by Barbara Kingsolver
Haunting and a page turner (7/18/2010)
"Beto nki tutasala? What are we doing?" quote from Page 523......and...I asked myself that question throughout the book as the Price Family continued with their missionary work and all the hardships and heartache the family endured.

The Price Family...Father Nathan, Mother Orleanna, and their four daughters pack for their mission in the Congo trying to figure out what they should take...not knowing that most of the things they take will be useless and not knowing what is in store for them in terms of day-to-day living. While they are there, the country fights for its independence from Belgium.

I enjoyed the Price family...all except the father...the daughters made some life decisions that definitely had their father's influence.

The book is superbly written......you won't want to put it down. You also learn that your childhood and what you learn does follow you throughout your entire life, influences your decisions about career and spouse, and that you are like your parents no matter how much may not want to admit it.

A definite must read...it will haunt you long after you have completed the last page.
My Wife's Affair
by Nancy Woodruff
Keep Reading...don't put it down...a haunting ending (7/15/2010)
I was wavering between a 4 and a 5 the entire way through the book, and then the ending brought it all the way up to a 5/5.

The book is narrated by Georgie's husband...it goes back and forth telling about the life of Dora Jordan also an actress/comedian who Georgie portrays in a one-woman show and Georgie's life with her husband and three boys.

Georgie left the stage in New York to be a stay-at-home mother, but now that her husband has been transferred to London and the children are enrolled in London schools, she wants to go back to work in the theater.

Georgie lands the role as Dora Jordan on her first tryout. The play is a hit for Georgie, and she ends up traveling and leaving her husband and children for long periods of time and having an affair with the director. Her heart aches every time she leaves her children, but she still won't give up the touring. The ending will haunt you long after you turn the last page.

....you will enjoy the book and not want to put it down.
The Wednesday Sisters: A Novel
by Meg Waite Clayton
So charming..a nice summer read (7/13/2010)
Charming book...shows how women bond...light and an interesting read.

The way the women and most women bond is extraordinary...this book shows that wonderful world of female bonding and support.
The Book Thief
by Markus Zusak
Heartwrenching (7/13/2010)
What a great book even with all the heartache and pain of the characters....the characters are unforgettable....I didn't want the book to end......the idea of death being narrator was quite unique.

I can't believe this is a YA book, though....I think it is pretty intense.
The Secret Life of Bees
by Sue Monk Kidd
Heartwrenching but heartwarming as well (7/13/2010)
I thought this was a wonderful book....the main character had a lot of "guts" to just up and leave to find where her mother had gotten the Madonna.

I enjoyed how the adults just took her in and it sure was uncanny how her mother had really been there and then the daughter came back.

It was sad and heart wrenching at times, but the women who loved her made you want to be there too.
Peony in Love: A Novel
by Lisa See
Not as good as Snowflower and the Secret Fan...STRANGE (7/13/2010)
This book was very strange...how the young girl starves herself to death because she doesn't marry the man she loves.

Then all the strange things start to happen after death....it was bizarre how she could see people and go into their lives and make things happen.

It was too sci-fi for me...not sure it really was science fiction, but that is what it seemed to me.

I read the entire book, but not with the same "gusto" as I read Snowflower and the Secret Fan.

The ending with that tablet was strange as well. Great to learn about the culture, though, and the thoughts about what happens after death.
Mrs. Kimble: A Novel
by Jennifer Haigh
Quite compelling (7/13/2010)
Three wives, all three are different. Ken Kimble marries these ladies for different reasons and also leaves them. One he leaves with children and the other one he doesn't.

Despite his leaving they manage to carry on their lives.

You want to hate him, but you can't....the story is well told. I love the cover with the three dresses that are depicting the three women.

Not sure which woman I like the best, but you will love the book....it kept your interest. Gifted author.
The Clouds Beneath the Sun
by Mackenzie Ford
Mesmerizing (7/9/2010)
An archeologist excavation in Kenya filled with brilliant paleontologists is the setting of the book…the characters' work, cultural differences, and inter-personal relationships encompasses the main plot. In the first few pages the main character, Natalie Nelson, is on her way from Cambridge University to the camp, and she comes across a herd of elephants actually carrying out a mourning ritual...her first glimpse of the mesmerizing sights and sounds of Africa. The descriptions of the wildlife in Africa and the land itself was vividly and beautifully described by Mackenzie Ford.

The book was a little slow, but does become a lot better in terms of "action" as you turn the pages to the final chapters....the focus of the archaeological dig, the murder trial, Natalie's turmoil dealing with it, the power of money, societal issues within Africa, relationship issues among a group of people working and living together, personal secrets, and family issues that included sibling rivalry, betrayal, and deceit keep your interest.

It wasn't a riveting novel, but it was intense at times, and it did bring you culturally into another very interesting society. The characters were well developed, and you could feel their pain, fear, triumphs, comradery, and all emotions that may have been felt from living in the middle of a beautiful, exotic African landscape. Being a passionate, knowledgeable paleontologist would have been even more helpful for enjoying the book.

My rating is a 4/5 because the "dig" was very interesting and the cultural aspect made you think how we are all the same, but also different. Even though the ending depicted the beautiful symbolism of the Maasai people, it will haunt you and make you realize what cunning, cruel, jealous, self-motivated creatures we humans can be.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
by Stieg Larsson
Chilling (6/30/2010)
The story takes place in Sweden. It has love, mystery, murder, scandal, jealousy, family history, financial ruin, corruption, deceit, and two main female characters....one with a tattoo and one that has disappeared. :)

The story begins with a trial of a journalist, Mikael Blomkvist, and his indictment and moves to a girl with a tattoo, Lisbeth Salander, who does investigation for a security firm and the girl, Harriet Vanger, who had disappeared 30 years ago.

Mikael was hired by the Vanger family to do an investigation into the disappearance of Harriet and why the body was never found. The investigation is being done under the premise that Mikael is doing a piece on the history of the Vanger Family. Lisbeth and Mikael do get to meet, and it gets even more interesting...lots of things become discovered through Lisbeth's skills as a researcher.

It was a little slow at first, but once the book got into the lives of people and became more personal, you can't put it down....excellent writing. You will love the book as the story unfolds...just give it a few pages.
The Gargoyle
by Andrew Davidson
Different, but good (6/29/2010)
"Everyone's past, I try to rationalize, is nothing more than the collection of memories they choose to remember"...pages 487 and 488...paperback edition.

A porn star burned in a car crash, a wealthy schizophrenic, undying friendships, and beautiful love stories.

The Gargoyle was full of creative ideas, love stories, life lessons, and strange thoughts and happenings, but the title doesn't allow you to even think these things would be inside the book.

The Gargoyle goes back and forth in time and is a story about the treatment of a burn victim and how another patient from the mental health ward visits and eventually takes care of him at her home. There had been a previous connection between them according to the schizophrenic, Marianne Engel, that leads back to the 1300's.

Quite interesting storyline...don't want to tell too much because don't want to give the ingenious story away.

Book was different and strange, but made you think anything is possible. :) It definitely holds your interest after you get through the first 50 pages.

ENJOY!! It was an excellent book
Year of Wonders: A Novel of The Plague
by Geraldine Brooks
Outstanding (6/29/2010)
Using this horrible era in history as the basis of the book, it takes you into the homes and into the lives of the people in the 1600's who had old myths about witchcraft, awful ways of curing illnesses, and describes their ignorance of medical procedures and cures and lack of them.

The characters are described in detail and are quite interesting. It definitely isn't a boring historical account of this epidemic...the weaving of the lives and the history makes you aware of what it was like to live during that period of time in Europe and encourages you to continue reading.

Despite all of the trauma, I really liked the book.
Year of Wonders: A Novel of The Plague
by Geraldine Brooks
Outstanding (6/29/2010)
Using this horrible era in history as the basis of the book, it takes you into the homes and into the lives of the people in the 1600's who had old myths about witchcraft, awful ways of curing illnesses, and describes their ignorance of medical procedures and cures and lack of them.

The characters are described in detail and are quite interesting. It definitely isn't a boring historical account of this epidemic...the weaving of the lives and the history makes you aware of what it was like to live during that period of time in Europe and encourages you to continue reading.
The Lincoln Lawyer
by Michael Connelly
Excellent (6/29/2010)
When I picked up the book I thought for sure they were going to be talking about an attorney that Abraham Lincoln used, and when I mention the book to others, they think the same thing.

But....the Lincoln is his car. :)

This book was the first I ever read of Michael Connelly's and just couldn't put it down...you will love the story and the ending.

It is frightening how innocent people can get "framed" or blamed.

Excellent read.
Shadow of the Wind
by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Ohhhh...outstanding...loved it (6/29/2010)
I would give the Shadow of the Wind more than ten stars if that were possible...this is my all-favorite book. I didn't want it to end.

I loved all the twists and turns and connections of the characters and the surprise letter at the end that Nuria wrote.

I actually went to Barcelona in August to and find all the places mentioned in the book. I loved Barcelona...what a beautiful city....all the places in the book were there, and my son and I visited them....it was fantastic.

I LOVED the Book. Thanks, Senor Zafon.
Juliet
by Anne Fortier
Fantastic....Romeo and Juliet extraordinaire!!! (6/29/2010)
This book is outstanding...the storyline, the descriptions, the characters, and Italy.

I loved how the book went back and forth from the 1300's to the present day using the story of Romeo and Juliet as the main plot and how the main characters unraveled family and life-long mysteries....you will love the present-day characters Julie and Janice Jacobs, also known as Giulietta and Giannozza Tolomei.

I couldn't put it down. I loved "being in Italy" again, and could just see the buildings and all the quaintness of the country and the city of Siena. The web page Random House set up for the book adds to your interest because the pictures go along with the pages of the book.

I can't see how it wouldn't be liked...it is a book you won't want to miss. It has something for everyone...history, romance, mystery, betrayal, life in the 1300's in Italy, ancestors, middle-age family feuds, suspense, and a great author. Ms. Fortier did a superb job with her novel.

It is absolutely wonderful right up to the last page. You will not want it to end. What an extraordinary novel. ENJOY!!
The Thirteenth Tale
by Diane Setterfield
Great read (6/28/2010)
I recommend this to everyone who asks.

Great read...gothic, murder, mystery, twists and turns.

Vida Winters tells a great tale that will keep you interested non-stop. You don't want it to end. Loved the characters.

You will be confused and think you have it figured out and then ah ha....you were wrong.

I loved this book...I would put it in the same category as the classic: Rebecca
Little Bee: (aka The Other Hand)
by Chris Cleave
Thought provoking (6/28/2010)
Nigeria, London, Little Bee, Sarah, Lawrence, Andrew, and Batman....all different lives all connected through good and bad situations.

Friendships, suicide, family life, choices, oil, and government...put these all together, and you have a powerful story about how lives intertwine and are touched no matter what the distance is between all parties.

The story is told by Little Bee, a sixteen-year-old Nigerian refugee and Sarah, a successful journalist....everything isn't given away at once, because the author lets both women "talk" to the reader about events.

The beginning pages are very clever and creative and you think it will be a funny book...it is intense.

You will be drawn into the story very easily, though, through excellent descriptions and situations. You will live and feel all the heartache, emotion, and fear of the circumstances for each character.

It is a powerful, thought-provoking novel.
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