Thursday, November 1, 2007

To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read this in early high school (freshman year I think) and remembered liking the story then. Half a lifetime later I couldn't remember the plot so listened to it as an audiobook. I fell in love all over again!

Synopsis: At the age of eight, Scout Finch is an entrenched free-thinker. She can accept her father's warning that it is a sin to kill a mockingbird, because mockingbirds harm no one and give great pleasure. The benefits said to be gained from going to school and keeping her temper elude her.

The place of this enchanting, intensely moving story is Maycomb, Alabama. The time is the Depression, but Scout and her brother, Jem, are seldom depressed. They have appalling gifts for entertaining themselves—appalling, that is, to almost everyone except their wise lawyer father, Atticus.

Atticus is a man of unfaltering good will and humor, and partly because of this, the children become involved in some disturbing adult mysteries: fascinating Boo Radley, who never leaves his house; the terrible temper of Mrs. Dubose down the street; the fine distinctions that make the Finch family "quality"; the forces that cause the people of Maycomb to show compassion in one crisis and unreasoning cruelty in another.

Also because Atticus is what he is, and because he lives where he does, he and his children are plunged into a conflict that indelibly marks their lives—and gives Scout some basis for thinking she knows just about as much about the world as she needs to.

Recommended Reading:
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Life of Pi

Life of Pi Life of Pi by Yann Martel

My review
rating: 5 of 5 stars
"Meet Pi Patel, a young man on the cusp of adulthood when fate steps in and hastens his lessons in maturity. En route with his family from their home in India to Canada, their cargo ship sinks, and Pi finds himself adrift in a lifeboat -- alone, save for a few surviving animals, some of the very same animals Pi's zookeeper father warned him would tear him to pieces if they got a chance. But Pi's seafaring journey is about much more than a struggle for survival. It becomes a test of everything he's learned -- about both man and beast, their creator, and the nature of truth itself."

I struggled through the first 100 pages of this book and then suddenly the stark imagery of the book, the simple beautiful language burst through and I couldn't read fast enough. Perfectly told through the eyes of a 16 year old boy, the writing voice had perfect pitch.

Pub. Date: May 2004

Recommended Reading:
The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay
Sold by Patricia Mccormick

Sunday, July 1, 2007

When I Fall in Love

When I Fall in Love (De Piaget, #4) When I Fall in Love by Lynn Kurland

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another wonderful Lynn Kurland romance. Although I have been put off in the last two books because her neat and tidy endings... but it is fiction after-all and isn't every one supposed to have happy endings? Wonderfully written, I couldn't put it down.

Synopsis: Manhattan concert violinist Jennifer McKinnon fears that she will never find a decent man—a tough enough prospect even without the "otherworldly things" in her family tree. Namely, her mother's side of the family has a history of marrying people from outside their own time period, and her ghostly relatives have conspired to get Jennifer married off to the perfect knight: Nicholas de Piaget, of the 13th century. After Jennifer is hurled back into his world by means of a time gate, she falls instantly in love with the handsome knight. Though the feeling is mutual, Nicholas is tormented by her desperation to find a way back to the future.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Shopaholic and Baby (Audiobook)

Shopaholic and Baby Shopaholic and Baby by Sophie Kinsella

My review
rating: 2 of 5 stars
Becky wasn't half as annoying in this book as I have found her to be in the other "Shopaholic" series. Her theatrics and wild assumptions were mildly amusing in this installment. Still too superficial and vacant for my tastes. Will probably be the last Kinsella novel that I read.

Pub. Date: February 2007

Series: Shopaholic Book 5

Synopsis: Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood) is pregnant! She couldn’t be more overjoyed–especially since discovering that shopping cures morning sickness. Everything has got to be perfect for her baby: from the designer nursery . . . to the latest, coolest pram . . . to the celebrity, must-have obstetrician.

But when the celebrity obstetrician turns out to be her husband Luke’s glamorous, intellectual ex-girlfriend, Becky's perfect world starts to crumble. She’s shopping for two . . . but are there three in her marriage?

Recommended Reading:
Shopaholic and Sister (Shopaholic Series #4) by Sophie Kinsella
Shoe Addicts Anonymous by Beth Harbison

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Seven Up (Audiobook)

Seven Up: A Stephanie Plum Novel Seven Up: A Stephanie Plum Novel by Janet Evanovich

My review
rating: 4 of 5 stars
Another fun romp by Evanovich. I haven't gotten tired of this series yet, she keeps revving up her plots in humorous and interesting ways.

Pub. Date: June 2005

Series: Stephanie Plum Book 7

Synopsis: Semi-retired mob guy, Eddie DeChooch, is caught trafficking contraband cigarettes through Trenton, New Jersey. When DeChooch fails to show for a court appearance, bond enforcement agent Stephanie Plum is assigned the task of finding him and dragging his decrepit ass back to jail. Not such an easy job, it turns out, since DeChooch has learned a lot of tricks over the years and isn't afraid to use his gun. He's already shot Loretta Ricci and left her for worm food in his shed. He wouldn't mind shooting Stephanie next.

Likeable losers (and former high school classmates) Walter "MoonMan" Dunphy and Dougie "The Dealer" Kruper have inadvertently become involved with DeChooch. They've gotten sucked into an operation which is much more than simple cigarette smuggling and holds risks far greater than anyone could have imagined.

When Dougie disappears, Steph goes into search mode. When Mooner disappears, she calls in the heavy artillery and asks master bounty hunter Ranger for help. Ranger's price for the job? One night with Stephanie, dusk to dawn. Not information she'd want to share with her some-time live in roommate, vice cop Joe Morelli.

A typical dilemma in the world of Plum.

And on the homefront, Stephanie's "perfect" sister Valerie has decided to move back to Trenton, bringing her two kids from hell. Grandma Mazur is asking questions about being a lesbian, and Bob, the bulimic dog, is eating everything in sight-including the furniture.

Recommended Reading:
Hard Eight (Stephanie Plum Series #8) by Janet Evanovich
Hot Six (Stephanie Plum Series #6) by Janet Evanovich
High Five (Stephanie Plum Series #5) by Janet Evanovich

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The New Strong-Willed Child

The New Strong-Willed ChildThe New Strong-Willed Child by James C. Dobson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Possibly the best parenting book I've read. Ever.

Summary: Dr. James Dobson has completely rewritten, updated, and expanded his classic best seller "The Strong-Willed Child" for a new generation of parents and teachers. The New Strong-Willed Child follows on the heels of Dr. Dobson's phenomenal best seller "Bringing Up Boys." It offers practical how-to advice on raising difficult-to-handle children and incorporates the latest research with Dr. Dobson's legendary wit and wisdom. "The New Strong-Willed Child" is being rushed to press for parents needing help dealing with sibling rivalry, adhd, low self-esteem, and other important issues. This book is a must-read for parents and teachers struggling to raise and teach children who are convinced they should be able to live by their own rules!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The Mermaid Chair

The Mermaid Chair The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd

My review
rating: 4 of 5 stars
32. Thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was moving spiritually without being fanatical (although there are fanatics in the book). Simple and beautiful writing.

Pub. Date: April 2005

Synopsis: Inside the abbey of a Benedictine monastery on tiny Egret Island, just off the coast of South Carolina, resides a beautiful and mysterious chair ornately carved with mermaids and dedicated to a saint who, legend claims, was a mermaid before her conversion.

Jessie Sullivan's conventional life has been "molded to the smallest space possible." So when she is called home to cope with her mother's startling and enigmatic act of violence, Jessie finds herself relieved to be apart from her husband, Hugh. Jessie loves Hugh, but on Egret Island--amid the gorgeous marshlands and tidal creeks--she becomes drawn to Brother Thomas, a monk who is mere months from taking his final vows. What transpires will unlock the roots of her mother's tormented past, but most of all, as Jessie grapples with the tension of desire and the struggle to deny it, she will find a freedom that feels overwhelmingly right.

Recommended Reading:
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Mornings on Horseback: The Story of an Extraordinary Family, a Vanished Way of Life and the Unique Child Who Became Theodore Roosevelt by David McCullough
Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Drums of Autumn

Drums of Autumn (Outlander, #4) Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Started February 2007, Finished March 2007. The first 200 pages were classic Gabaldon writing. Although I did feel that I missed something and had to check that I hadn't skipped a book, Gabaldon skipped the build-up her previous books have had and dug right into the action. So far this book is going more into historical romance than historical fiction, but still filled with Gabaldon's fantastic writing. I loved the combination of Claire's story with Brianna's story.

Pub. Date: August 2001
Series: Outlander Book 4

Synopsis: It began at an ancient Scottish stone circle. There, a doorway, open to a select few, leads into the past—or the grave. Dr. Claire Randall survived the extraordinary passage, not once but twice.
Her first trip swept her into the arms of Jamie Fraser, an eighteenth-century Scot whose love for her became a legend—a tale of tragic passion that ended with her return to the present to bear his child. Her second journey, two decades later, brought them together again in the American colonies. But Claire had left someone behind in the twentieth century—their daughter, Brianna....
Now Brianna has made a disturbing discovery that sends her to the circle of stones and a terrifying leap into the unknown. In search of her mother and the father she has never met, she is risking her own future to try to change history ... and to save their lives. But as Brianna plunges into an uncharted wilderness, a heartbreaking encounter may strand her forever in the past ... or root her in the place she should be, where her heart and soul belong....

Recommended Reading:
Voyager (Outlander Book 3) by Diana Gabaldon
The Fiery Cross (Outlander Book 5) by Diana Gabaldon
Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander Book 2) by Diana Gabaldon
A Breath of Snow and Ashes (Outlander Book 6) by Diana Gabaldon
Into the Wilderness by Sara Donati

The Kite Runner

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

My review
rating: 4 of 5 stars
This That's all I gotta say. It made me think, it made me cry, it made me angry... I loved every page of this book. I loved that the author didn't spell things out, but wrote so simply and elegantly that the reader easily reads between the lines.

Pub. Date: April 2004

Synopsis: Taking us from Afghanistan in the final days of the monarchy to the present, The Kite Runner is the unforgettable and beautifully told story of the friendship between two boys growing up in Kabul. Raised in the same household and sharing the same wet nurse, Amir and Hassan grow up in different worlds: Amir is the son of a prominent and wealthy man, while Hassan, the son of Amir's father's servant, is a Hazara — a shunned ethnic minority. Their intertwined lives, and their fates, reflect the eventual tragedy of the world around them. When Amir and his father flee the country for a new life in California, Amir thinks that he has escaped his past. And yet he cannot leave the memory of Hassan behind him.

The Kite Runner is a novel about friendship and betrayal, and about the price of loyalty. It is about the bonds between fathers and sons, and the power of fathers over sons — their love, their sacrifices, and their lies. Written against a backdrop of history that has not been told in fiction before, The Kite Runner describes the rich culture and beauty of a land in the process of being destroyed. But through the devastation, Khaled Hosseini offers hope: through the novel's faith in the power of reading and storytelling, and in the possibilities he shows us for redemption.

Recommended Reading:
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Against Gravity

Against Gravity: A NovelAgainst Gravity: A Novel by Lucy Ferriss

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I picked this book up several years ago in a bargain bin. I'm glad I didn't spend a lot of money on it. I struggled to get through it and finally at month end, I just admitted defeat and didn't finish it. I'm not sure why I struggled with this book, the writing wasn't terrible. Maybe it was the skipping back and forth between the past, the not-so-past, and the present - while it was well done, I generally avoid books that do a lot of that. Blame it on low intelligence, but I think authors shouldn't need to do that skipping around to create drama. And that is all they're doing.

View all my reviews

Synopsis: Growing up in a dreary hamlet along the Hudson River in upstate New York, Gwyn Stickley, nicknamed "Stick", is determined to escape from her seemingly static yet volatile world. Obsessed with her rail-thin body and estranged from her parents and her self destructive peers, Stick feels trapped in a world where nothing ever seems to happen. As she soon finds out, even small towns can hide disturbing secrets.

She begins to look at her surroundings with fresh eyes when her friend JoAnn becomes pregnant, and is dependent on Stick to both hide and resolve her "dilemma." Suddenly, Stick sees new divisions emerge between old friends and neighbors, and even between her father and mother, whose troubles have roots in mysterious relationships established long ago.

Learning to master her body and her emotions through dancing, Stick eventually flees to Manhattan in search of a career on Broadway. Although gifted, she ultimately finds that her gift should assert itself not just in control over the steps but also through passion. With this discovery, she finally returns home, where surprising new demands assert themselves. Stick prematurely takes on adult responsibilities by caring for her father after a gruesome fall. The legacy of JoAnn's pregnancy and a startling revelation about her mother's past force Stick to assume an unexpected family role. These new responsibilities, however, also free her to express her need for sex and intimacy, and she finally learns to accept the uncontrollable nature of love and pain.

Monday, January 1, 2007

Ten Big Ones (Audiobook)

Ten Big Ones (A Stephanie Plum Novel) Ten Big Ones by Janet Evanovich

My review
rating: 3 of 5 stars

Pub. Date: June 2004

Synopsis: She's accidentally destroyed a dozen cars. She's a target for every psycho and miscreant this side of the Jersey Turnpike. Her mother's convinced she'll end up dead . . . or worse, without a man. She's Stephanie Plum, and she kicks butt for a living (well, she thinks it sounds good to put it that way. . . .).

It begins as an innocent trip to the deli-mart, on a quest for nachos. But Stephanie Plum and her partner, Lula, are clearly in the wrong place at the wrong time. A robbery leads to an explosion, which leads to the destruction of yet another car. It would be just another day in the life of Stephanie Plum, except that she becomes the target of a gang---and of an even scarier, more dangerous force that comes to Trenton. With super bounty hunter Ranger acting more mysteriously than ever (and the tension with vice cop Joe Morelli getting hotter), she finds herself with a decision to make: how to protect herself and where to hide while on the hunt for a killer known as the Junkman. There's only one safe place, and it has Ranger's name all over it---if she can find it. And if the Junkman doesn't find her first. With Lula riding shotgun and Grandma Mazur on the loose, Stephanie Plum is racing against the clock in her most suspenseful novel yet. Ten Big Ones is page-turning entertainment, and Janet Evanovich is the best there is.

Recommended Reading:
To the Nines (Stephanie Plum Series #9) by Janet Evanovich
Twelve Sharp (Stephanie Plum Series #12) by Janet Evanovich
Hard Eight (Stephanie Plum Series #8) by Janet Evanovich

Eleven On Top (Audiobook)

Eleven on Top (A Stephanie Plum Novel) Eleven on Top by Janet Evanovich

My review
rating: 4 of 5 stars
3. Evanovich has created a laugh out-loud series. This format should be boring me by now - exploding cars, burning buildings and bad guys who refuse to die - but 11 novels into the series I can't wait to see what happens in #12.

Pub. Date: June 2005

Synopsis: Stephanie Plum is thinking her career as a fugitive apprehension agent has run its course. She’s been shot at, spat at, cussed at, fire-bombed, mooned, and attacked by dogs. Time for a change, Stephanie thinks. Time to find the kind of job her mother can tell her friends about without making the sign of the cross.

So Stephanie Plum quits. Resigns. No looking back. No changing her mind. She wants something safe and normal. As it turns out, jobs that are safe and normal for most people aren’t necessarily safe and normal for Stephanie Plum. Trouble follows her, and the kind of trouble she had at the bail bonds office can’t compare to the kind of trouble she finds herself facing now. Her past has come back to haunt her. She’s stalked by a maniac returned from the grave for the sole purpose of putting her into a burial plot of her own. He’s killed before, and he’ll kill again if given the chance. Caught between staying far away from the bounty hunter business and staying alive, Stephanie reexamines her life and the possibility that being a bounty hunter is the solution rather than the problem. After disturbingly brief careers at the button factory, Kan Klean Dry Cleaners, and Cluck-in-a-Bucket, Stephanie takes an office position in security, working for Ranger, the sexiest, baddest bounty hunter and businessman on two continents. It might not be the job she’ll keep for the rest of her life, but for now it gives her the technical access she needsto find her stalker. Tempers and temperatures rise as competition ratchets up between the two men in her life---her on-again, off-again boyfriend, tough Trenton cop Joe Morelli, and her bad-ass boss, Ranger. Can Stephanie Plum take the heat? Can you?

Recommended Reading:
Twelve Sharp (Stephanie Plum Series #12) by Janet Evanovich
Ten Big Ones (Stephanie Plum Series #10) by Janet Evanovich
Lean Mean Thirteen (Stephanie Plum Series #13) by Janet Evanovich