Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 In Review

Well, another year of books read. I'm bumping up 2009's goal to 60. Now that I've gotten a few of the door stoppers (Harry Potter and Diana Gabaldon) off my shelf, I can handle reading a few more books in the coming year.
Books Read: 45
Audiobooks: 22
Uncompleted Books: 6
Uncompleted Audiobooks: 5

Favorites:
Strange Candy by Laurell K. Hamilton: A fantastic collection of short stories.
Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier: I love this book. It was everything that I love about the movie and more.
Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling: Amazing right up to the last page. I feel like I've lost a friend with the end of the series, but look forward to seeing what Rowling follows up with.
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield: A twisted, dark fairy tale.
The Devil in the Junior League by Linda Francis Lee: A wonderful and witty bit of chick-lit.
On Writing by Stephen King: It's hard to define why I liked this book. Maybe the fact that he had me laughing on the first page and his humor continued throughout the book. Or maybe the fact that it was honest and unpretentious writing. Every writer, whether a Stephen King fan or not, should read this.
Diana Gabaldon's Outlander Series. These books are doorstoppers, but so durn good!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the NIght-Time

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon


My review
rating: 3 of 5 stars
A fast read. Funny and sad.


Pub. Date: May 2004

Synopsis: Christopher Boone is a fifteen and has Asperger's, a form of autism. He knows a great deal about math and very little about human beings. When he finds his neighbors's dog murdered he sets out on a terrifying journey which will turn his world upside down.

Recommended Reading:
A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry, Robert Nemiroff

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Breath of Snow and Ashes

A Breath of Snow and Ashes (Outlander, #6) A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This series has been amazing to read. I look forward to re-reading this series again (although not any time soon). Amazing. Absolutely amazing. I can't wait for the next book.

Pub. Date: September 2005
Series: Outlander Book 6

Synopsis: The year is 1772, and on the eve of the American Revolution, the long fuse of rebellion has already been lit. Men lie dead in the streets of Boston, and in the backwoods of North Carolina, isolated cabins burn in the forest.
With chaos brewing, the governor calls upon Jamie Fraser to unite the backcountry and safeguard the colony for King and Crown. But from his wife Jamie knows that three years hence the shot heard round the world will be fired, and the result will be independence -- with those loyal to the King either dead or in exile. And there is also the matter of a tiny clipping from The Wilmington Gazette, dated 1776, which reports Jamie’s death, along with his kin. For once, he hopes, his time-traveling family may be wrong about the future.

Recommended Reading:
The Fiery Cross (Outlander Book 5) by Diana Gabaldon
Drums of Autumn (Outlander Book 4) by Diana Gabaldon
Voyager (Outlander Book 3) by Diana Gabaldon
Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander Book 2) by Diana Gabaldon
Into the Wilderness by Sara Donati

Monday, September 15, 2008

Shopgirl

Shopgirl Shopgirl by Steve Martin


My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This was a complicated book. The writing was beautiful, filled with witty sarcasm, poetry and startling truths about life. I'm torn between loving it and hating it. The story was slightly boring, but I kept reading because the words were thoughtful - almost too plotted out.

I'm curious to see how this book plays out in the movie, I struggled with visualization alot reading this.

Pub. Date: October 2001

Synopsis: From the comic genius of Steve Martin comes a contemporary fable of life an love from the point of view of a shopgirl behind the glove counter at Neiman Marcus. Mirabelle, a semi-glamourous young woman who is making her way through the romantic jungles of Beverly Hills/Los Angeles, is an aspiring artist who prides herself on her clothing aesthetic. Unfortunately, she doesn't always have the best taste in men. When she meets a young Turk named Jeremy, whose idea of a great second date is a visit to the Laundromat, she sees him through a haze of prozac and other anti-depressants, and through the prism of her own poor self-esteem. But then she meets Ray Porter and thinks he could be her Knight in Shining Armor. In fact, he does turn out to be a worldly, rich gentleman who is a kindly and even exciting lover, but he never really takes Mirabelle seriously. Together, Mirabelle, Ray, Jeremy, and a few other suporting characters populate this insightful piece that is sometimes quirky, sometimes comic, and sometimes languid as a summer day.

Recommended Reading:
Born Standing Up by Steve Martin
Everyman by Philip Roth
The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger
Best Day of Someone Else's Life by Kerry Reichs

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

With Every Breath

With Every Breath With Every Breath by Lynn Kurland

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This isn't my favorite Lynn Kurland.

A fast paced story and a decent romance. Too many head injuries and blacking out/throwing up. At some point both the hero and heroine should have become retarded. Too much crying.

While I think Kurland hit every major character in her series, the name dropping was just that, a list of who's doing what for her fans and not necessary to the story.

The hero was a cookie cut-out of a few of her other characters, only slightly more wimpy than the others.

Those new to Lynn Kurland would be advised to not read this book first. Those who are already fans, let's hope this was a fluke and that new books will be up to her standard.

Pub. Date: May 2008

Synopsis: When medieval laird Robert Cameron pounds on Sunny Phillips's door, he isn't paying a social call. He's braved a trip onto enemy soil to fetch the MacLeod witch, a crone renowned for her healing powers. But the woman who opens her door to him is enchanting and young... and not from his century.

Recommended Reading:
Till There Was You by Lynn Kurland
When I Fall in Love by Lynn Kurland
A Dance through Time by Lynn Kurland
Thirty Nights with a Highland Husband by Melissa Mayhue
Highlander of Her Own by Melissa Mayhue

The Fiery Cross

The Fiery Cross (Outlander, #5) The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a hard book to review. Besides the fact that it's over 1400 pages and took me over a month to read... it's Diana Gabaldon. She writes fascinating accounts of history, trivia, mythology, a great love story, science fiction and people with great detail.

In some places I wanted to hurry through the details and get to the heart of the story, and other places I savored every word. That's the beauty of her writing, you have to read every word, absorb every detail because it will come back (maybe 700 pages later, but it does come back) and it has some importance.

I also love the fact that she doesn't waste time with back story, she throws you right into the action where the last book left off. She repeats a few of the important details, but for the most part lets the reader read between the lines or call upon their own memory of the previous books.

Pub. Date: November 2001
Series: Outlander Book 5

Synopsis: The year is 1771, and war is coming. Jamie Fraser's wife tells him so. Little as he wishes to, he must believe it, for hers is a gift of dreadful prophecy -- a time-traveler's certain knowledge.
Born in the year of Our Lord 1918, Claire Randall served England as a nurse on the battlefields of World War II, and in the aftermath of peace found fresh conflicts when she walked through a cleftstone on the Scottish Highlands and found herself an outlander, an English lady in a place where no lady should be, in a time--1743--when the only English in Scotland were the officers and men of King George's army.

Now wife, mother, and surgeon, Claire is still an outlander, out of place, and out of time, but now, by choice, linked by love to her only anchor -- Jamie Fraser. Her unique view of the future has brought him both danger and deliverance in the past; her knowledge of the oncoming revolution is a flickering torch that may light his way through the perilous years ahead or ignite a conflagration that will leave their lives in ashes...

Recommended Reading:
Drums of Autumn (Outlander Book 4) by Diana Gabaldon
A Breath of Snow and Ashes (Outlander Book 6) by Diana Gabaldon
Voyager (Outlander Book 3) by Diana Gabaldon
Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander Book 2) by Diana Gabaldon
Into the Wilderness by Sara Donati

Friday, August 22, 2008

On Writing

On WritingOn Writing by Stephen King

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Stephen King is an amazing writer which made it a real treat to crawl inside his head. The biography parts of the book where interesting and added real value to King's writing advice. This book is must read - whether you're a fan or an aspiring writer.

Friday, August 8, 2008

The New Well Tempered Sentence

The New Well Tempered Sentence: A Punctuation Handbook for the Innocent, the Eager, and the DoomedThe New Well Tempered Sentence: A Punctuation Handbook for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed by Karen Elizabeth Gordon
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Summary: For over a decade THE WELL TEMPERED SENTENCE has provided instruction and pleasure to the wariest student and the most punctilious scholar alike. Now Karen Elizabeth Gordon has revised and enlarged her classic handbook with fuller explanations of the rules of punctuation, additional whimsical graphics, and further character development and drama -- all the while redeeming punctuation from the perils of boredom. For anyone who has despaired of opening a punctuation handbook (but whose sentences despair without one), THE NEW WELL TEMPERED SENTENCE will teach you clearly and simply where to place a comma and how to use an apostrophe. And as you master the elusive slashes, dots, and dashes that give expression to our most perplexing thoughts, you will find yourself in the grip of a bizarre and beguiling comedy of manners. Long-time fans will delight in the further intrigues of cover girl Loona, the duke and duchess, and the mysterious Rosie and Nimrod. The New Well-Tempered Sentence is sure to entertain while teaching you everything you want to know about punctuation. Never before has punctuation been so much fun!

Recommended Reading:
The Deluxe Transitive Vampire

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Guy Not Taken (Audiobook)

The Guy Not Taken The Guy Not Taken by Jennifer Weiner


My review
rating: 1 of 5 stars
I couldn't get through the first story. The sister was too insane and the plot was, well, plotless. I decided to pass on the entire collection of stories.

Pub. Date: September 2006

Synopsis: Jennifer Weiner's talent shines like never before in this collection of short stories, following the tender, and often hilarious, progress of love and relationships over the course of a lifetime. From a teenager coming to terms with her father's disappearance to a widow accepting two young women into her home, Weiner's eleven stories explore those transformative moments in our every day.

We meet Marlie Davidow, home alone with her new baby late one Friday night, when she wanders onto her ex's online wedding registry and wonders what if she had wound up with the guy not taken. We stumble on Good in Bed's Bruce Guberman, liquored-up and ready for anything on the night of his best friend's bachelor party, until stealing his girlfriend's tiny rat terrier becomes more complicated than he'd planned. We find Jessica Norton listing her beloved New York City apartment in the hope of winning her broker's heart. And we follow an unlikely friendship between two very different new mothers, and the choices that bring them together — and pull them apart.

The Guy Not Taken demonstrates Weiner's amazing ability to create characters who "feel like they could be your best friend" (Janet Maslin) and to find hope and humor, longing and love in the hidden corners of our common experiences.

Recommended Reading:
Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner
Little Earthquakes by Jennifer Weiner
Goodnight Nobody by Jennifer Weiner

Friday, July 18, 2008

Enemy Women

Enemy Women: A Novel Enemy Women: A Novel by Paulette Jiles


My review
rating: 2 of 5 stars
I kept reading this book because I was torn between hating the overly stylized yet simple writing but wanting to know how it ended. It was recommended to me because I enjoyed Cold Mountain so much, but I found this falling short of my expectations. It read like a cheap imitation of a story that I had loved. Perhaps if I had gone into it expecting less, I may have enjoyed more.

Pub. Date: January 2003

Synopsis: From critically acclaimed, award-winning poet and memoirist Paulette Jiles comes a debut novel of startling power and savage beauty -- an extraordinary story of survival and love in the midst of a torn nation's bitter agony.

For the Colleys of southeastern Missouri, the War Between the States is a plague that threatens devastation despite the family's avowed neutrality. For eighteen-year-old Adair Colley, it is a nightmare seen at its most terrible on the day the Union Militia arrives to set her house on fire, driving her brother into hiding and dragging her widowed father away, beaten and bloodied. Left to care for two young sisters, Adair sees no road but the one that leads away, as they start out on foot into the winter mountains in search of a safe haven. Even the least of hopes is doomed, however, in a world forever changed, as the treachery of a fellow traveler brings about Adair's arrest on charges of enemy collaboration. Torn from her terrified sisters, the girl suddenly finds herself consigned to a living hell, caged with the criminal and the deranged in a filthy women's prison in St. Louis.But young Adair is sustained by a strong heart, and love can live even in a place of horror and despair. Her interrogator, a Union major, falls in love with her and she finds herself returning her feelings despite herself. The major vows to return for her when the fighting is over, and before he returns to war, he leaves her with a last precious gift: freedom.Weakened in body but not in spirit, Adair must now travel alone through dangerous, unknown territory -- an escaped enemy woman surrounded by perils and misery on all sides. She makes her harrowing way south buoyed by a promise, seeking a home and a family that may be nothing more than a memory.Based on a little known chapter in America's bloodiest epoch, Paulette Jiles's poignant, powerful, and exquisitely rendered novel about war's collateral victims is masterful work, captivating and authentic -- a lyrical, memorable tale of endurance and sacrifice that will stand alongside Cold Mountain and other classic Civil War era-set literature for decades to come.

Recommended Reading:
Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, Reg Keeland
The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb
Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky (translated by Sandra Smith

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

No Rest for the Wicked

No Rest for the Wicked (Immortals After Dark, #3) No Rest for the Wicked by Kresley Cole

My review
rating: 3 of 5 stars
I was expecting something that read more like "The Amazing Race" or a great treasure hunt. A great story but I wasn't as into it as the first [full length] book of the series.

Pub. Date: October 2006

Series: Immortals After Dark Book 2

Synopsis: Centuries ago, Sebastian Wroth was turned into a vampire — a nightmare in his mind — against his will. Burdened with hatred and alone for ages, he sees little reason to live. Until an exquisite, fey creature comes to kill him, inadvertently saving him instead.
A Valkyrie assassin dispatched to destroy him . . .

When Kaderin the Cold Hearted lost her two beloved sisters to a vampire attack long ago, a benevolent force deadened her sorrow — accidentally extinguishing all of her emotions. Yet whenever she encounters Sebastian, her feelings — particularly lust — emerge multiplied. For the first time, she's unable to complete a kill.

The prize of the month-long contest is powerful enough to change history, and Kaderin will do anything to win it for her sisters. Wanting only to win her, forever, Sebastian competes as well, taking every opportunity — as they travel to ancient tombs and through catacombs, seeking relics around the world — to use her new feelings to seduce her. But when forced to choose between the vampire she's falling for and reuniting her family, how can Kaderin live without either?

Recommended Reading:
A Hunger like No Other (Immortals after Dark Series #1) by Kresley Cole
Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night (Immortals after Dark Series #3) by Kresley Cole
Dark Needs at Night's Edge (Immortals after Dark Series #4) by Kresley Cole

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Hunger Like No Other

A Hunger Like No Other (Immortals After Dark, #2) A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole

My review
rating: 4 of 5 stars
When I started reading this book I thought I was going to read another Karen Marie Moning/Laurell K. Hamilton novel. I was so wrong! I couldn't read this book fast enough. The character's were great, the plot wasn't exactly original but had enough turns and twists to make it fresh, and the sex scenes were well-written without being overly graphic.

Pub. Date: March 2006

Series: Immortals After Dark Book 1

Synopsis: After enduring years of torture from the vampire horde, Lachlain MacRieve, leader of the Lykae Clan, is enraged to find the predestined mate he's waited millennia for is a vampire. Or partly one. This Emmaline is a small, ethereal half Valkyrie/half vampire, who somehow begins to soothe the fury burning within him.

Sheltered Emmaline Troy finally sets out to uncover the truth about her deceased parents — until a powerful Lykae claims her as his mate and forces her back to his ancestral Scottish castle. There, her fear of the Lykae — and their notorious dark desires — ebbs as he begins a slow, wicked seduction to sate her own dark cravings.

Yet when an ancient evil from her past resurfaces, will their desire deepen into a love that can bring a proud warrior to his knees and turn a gentle beauty into the fighter she was born to be?

Recommended Reading:
No Rest for the Wicked (Immortals after Dark Series #2) by Kresley Cole
Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night (Immortals after Dark Series #3) by Kresley Cole

Dark Needs at Night's Edge (Immortals after Dark Series #4) by Kresley Cole

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Summerhouse

The Summerhouse The Summerhouse by Jude Deveraux

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I originally bought this book as paperback and never got around to reading it. I was very happy to find it on CD. A typical Jude Deveraux - a little zany, a little hot and wraps up in one neat package at the end. The narrator's voice was too squeaky, but otherwise the audio was well-done.

Pub. Date: May 2004

Series: Destiny Book 1

Synopsis: Three best friends, all turning forty, celebrate at a summerhouse in Maine -- and take stock of their lives, loves, and choices. A mysterious "Madame Zoya" now arrives, offering them a chance to relive any three weeks from the past.

Recommended Reading:
Secrets by Jude Deveraux

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Thirteenth Tale (Audiobook)

The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel by Diane Setterfield


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was brilliantly written. I was hooked from the first word. I can't even form words to describe the emotion and depth that this book took me through.

Pub. Date: October 2007

Synopsis: A compelling emotional mystery in the timeless vein of Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, about family secrets and the magic of books and storytelling.
Margaret Lea works in her father's antiquarian bookshop where her fascination for the biographies of the long-dead has led her to write them herself. She gets a letter from one of the most famous authors of the day, the mysterious Vida Winter, whose popularity as a writer has been in no way diminished by her reclusiveness. Until now, Vida has toyed with journalists who interview her, creating outlandish life histories for herself - all of them invention. Now she is old and ailing, and at last she wants to tell the truth about her extraordinary life. Her letter to Margaret is a summons.

Somewhat anxiously, the equally reclusive Margaret travels to Yorkshire to meet her subject - and Vida starts to recount her tale. It is one of gothic strangeness featuring the March family; the fascinating, devious and wilful Isabelle and the feral twins Adeline and Emmeline.

Margaret is captivated by the power of Vida's storytelling. But as a biographer she deals in fact not fiction, and she doesn't entirely trust Vida's account. She goes to check up on the family, visiting their old home and piecing together their story in her own way. What she discovers on her journey to the truth is for Margaret a chilling and transforming experience.

Recommended Reading:
Garden Spells
by Sarah Addison Allen
The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian
The House at Riverton by Kate Morton
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Twelve Sharp (Audiobook)

Twelve Sharp (Stephanie Plum Novels) Twelve Sharp by Janet Evanovich


My review
rating: 4 of 5 stars
Another fun romp for Stephanie Plum. Each story becomes more outrageous, the plots more dangerous and even though the series follows a set pattern, I have yet to become bored with the character antics. This was laugh-out-loud funny and earned me a few strange looks from my cube mates, but well worth it.

Pub. Date: June 2006

Synopsis: FIRST A STRANGER APPEARS While chasing down the usual cast of miscreants and weirdos Stephanie discovers that a crazed woman is stalking her. THEN, THE STRANGER REVEALS HER SECRETS The woman dresses in black, carries a 9mm GLOCK, has a bad attitude and a mysterious connection to dark and dangerous Carlos Manoso... street name, Ranger. NEXT, SOMEBODY DIES The action turns deadly serious, and Stephanie goes from hunting skips to hunting a murderer. SOON, THE CHASE IS ON Ranger needs Stephanie for more reasons than he can say. And now, the two are working together to find a killer, rescue a missing child, and stop a lunatic from raising the body count. When Stephanie Plum and Ranger get too close for comfort, Vice Cop Joe Morelli (her on-again, off-again boyfriend) steps in.Will the ticking clock stop at the stroke of twelve, or will a stranger in the wind find a way to stop Stephanie Plum... forever. Filled with Janet Evanovich's trademark action, non-stop adventure, and sharp humor.

Recommended Reading:
Lean Mean Thirteen (Stephanie Plum Series #13) by Janet Evanovich
Ten Big Ones (Stephanie Plum Series #10) by Janet Evanovich
To the Nines (Stephanie Plum Series #9) by Janet Evanovich

Monday, February 4, 2008

Cold Mountain

Cold Mountain (Paperback) Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier


My review
rating: 5 of 5 stars
I've had this book on my shelf for 3-1/2 years. I finally got over my fear that this book would not be as good as the movie, or that reading the book would possibly change my love of the movie. It did not on either accounts. I love the movie and I love love love this book. The book was edgier and darker than the movie but the poignancy of the romance still held. I found this book impossible to put down, to point that I read parts aloud to my daughter. (She thought momma's southern accent was funny.) I'm looking forward to reading 'Thirteen Moons' and putting this author on my must read list.

Pub. Date: May 1997

Synopsis: Sorely wounded and fatally disillusioned in the fighting at Petersburg, a Confederate soldier named Inman decides to walk back to his home in the Blue Ridge mountains to Ada, the woman he loves. His trek across the disintegrating South brings him into intimate and sometimes lethal converse with slaves and marauders, bounty hunters and witches, both helpful and malign. At the same time, the intrepid Ada is trying to revive her father’s derelict farm and learning to survive in a world where the old certainties have been swept away. As it interweaves their stories, Cold Mountain asserts itself as an authentic odyssey, hugely powerful, majestically lovely, and keenly moving.

Recommended Reading:
Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier
Snow Falling on Cedars : A Novel by David Guterson
As I Lay Dying : The Corrected Text by William Faulkner