Debh2010's Blog

Books and Knitting – go figure

Wrapping it up

Seven last books to blog for 2010.

A Matter of Class, by Mary Balogh.  Even if you’ve never read or entertained the notion of reading a regency romance, pause a moment and consider this slim volume.  It’s excellent.  It’s good old-fashioned romance and there’s a nice slice of plot twist that you catch onto as you go.  It’s very skinny, takes no time at all to read and left me with a smile on my face for hours.  Very clever!!  ****

After, by Amy Efaw.  This is a tragic story.  It was hard to read, but I did it, and it came out okay in the end even though I’m not sure it was real to life.  It is a work of fiction, but I’m sure it will hit pretty close to home for some.  It is an issue that has had its share of headlines this past year.  *** stars.

The first five novels in The Immortals series by Alyson Noel:  Evermore, Blue Moon, Shadowland, Dark Flame and Night Star.  This series is like chocolate chip cookies.  You know they smell great.   You know that you’re not accomplishing anything good by reading them, but it’s fun and tasty to do so.  You know you should stop, but you don’t.  Cookies.   The stories themselves are okay, but kind of standard for long-term series work these days:  Boy and girl meet, conflict arises, one loses the other, the other fights to get them back, brief bliss, new conflict…. ack. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Okay, I know that Alyson Noel has one more book coming out in this series, and I need for her to know that this book needs to blow me out of my socks.  Seriously.  There were at least four places in Night Star where she could have wrapped it up and called it good, and she didn’t.  That makes me think she must really have something awesome to say in the last book, or else she’s milking a popular series for another paycheck.  When I find out which it was, I’ll let you know.  The last book comes out in Summer 2011.

I just did an audit for 2010, and though it feels like I might have missed getting a few of them blogged, I have a list that shows I read 193 books in 2010.  I’m not including my book blog in my resolutions for 2011, but I will still blog about them when I’m inclined or, if I just need to tell you something. 

If you’re one of the few faithful readers, I’d like to take a moment and just thank you for following along with me.  You didn’t have to do it, and I hope you don’t think any the worse of me for it.  Most of the time it was a lot of  fun.  Take care and have a great 2011!!  Happy New Year!!!

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January 1, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Two More

Well, I left out an important book to movie that was actually the first one I went to after the Forrest Gump mess.  It was my own fault, as I left it in the other room.  Oh, and I’ll tell you about the one I just finished this morning when I’m done with that.

Shoeless Joe, by W.P. Kinsella.  Shoeless Joe was the book from which Field of Dreams sprang.  Both are excellent.  Initially, I was doubtful about the book, though I’m not sure why.  When I picked it up, it was skinny and looked a little too simple, and I guess I judged the book by its cover.  I was wrong. 

Here’s a bit from the back of the book:  Shoeless Joe is about baseball.  But it’s also about love and the power of dreams to make people come alive.  Will you be among the Iowa dreamers who can see a cornfield stadium filled with baseball’s greatest heroes?

It’s just as good as the movie ever hoped to be and maybe a bit better.  The screenwriter, Phil Alden Robinson (also the director), had to change a few things in the book to make a movie, but the only major change is that in the book, the writer was J.D. Salinger.  I’m not sure what caused the change from Mr. Salinger to Terrence Mann, but it doesn’t diminish the story one iota, and as a bonus, you get to see James Earl Jones in action.  The book gets **** stars and the movie gets ****1/2 stars.

on mystic lake, by Kristin Hannah.  This one is not a movie, but is a very good read if you like family dramas.  This is about Annie Bourne Colwater and how she loses herself, then finds herself, then has to go through a little more work to get it right in the end.  It’s a good one.  You don’t get a classically happy ending, but you are left with a lovely feeling of hope.  Good books do that to you.  You can laugh a little with it and shed a few tears if you’re inclined.  I liked it. ***3/4 stars.

December 26, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Books vs. Movies

Well, well.  Last time I blogged, I was writing about Forrest Gump and what a disappointment the book was.  That set me off.  You know how I am.  Since then, I’ve been doing a lot of reading where the book has been made into a movie.  Of course, I’ve read other books along the way too, but I have my opinions and you poor souls have signed on to share them with me.

First up:  Atonement, by Ian McEwan.  This book was recently named by me a perfect book, my favorite book.  I stand by it.  I think I must have read it already this year, but it did my heart good to read it yet again and then watch the film.  The movie was produced in part by Mr. McEwan himself and adapted to a screenplay by Christopher Hampton.  The acting was sublime, starring Kiera Knightly and James McAvoy.  Ms. Knightly had already become one of my favorite fun actresses to watch, but I developed my high opinion of Mr. McAvoy while watching this movie and then the bonus features at the end of the DVD.  Just marvelous.  ***** FIVE, I repeat, FIVE stars for BOTH the book and the movie.

Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry.  It had been years since I’d read this story, but I fell right back into it like I’d never left.  I do love a good old-fashioned shit-kicker, and though there’s more to this story than cowboy-ing, it has multiple Old West elements and really keeps me interested.  The book gets **** stars.  It was made into a television mini-series in 1989 starring Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones.  It was a great adaptation and really engaging to watch, but I wish they’d waited a few more years to do it.  The technology available to them leaves a few of the elements looking a little clunky, but it’s so well-acted that I wouldn’t want them to try and do it over.  I liked Diane Lane as the main female character, and I liked that it let us see Ricky Schroeder as a nearly grown young man (for those of us who really liked him on Silver Spoon).  In my humble opinion, the television series gets ***3/4 stars.  I’m glad they did this book over the course of 8 television hours, as it wouldn’t have been worth a stink to do a 2 hour  movie and think it would be any good at all.  I wish they could have made it with all the bad language and a little more violence, and I wish they’d had a more convincing actor in the role of Blue Duck.  He wasn’t as scary as he was in the book, and he needed to be.  And his wig looked fake.  I kind of wondered if he was really a Native American.  Yeah, they could have cast that part better.  Still, I’m a fan.  It’s worth a watch.

Here’s a couple that don’t have a movie attached, that I’m aware of: 

Summer Sisters, by Judy Blume.  I really like Judy Blume’s books.  She writes for teenagers and she writes for adults and I like the way she uses words to get it out there.  Summer Sisters is a story about friends made by choice and life made by circumstance.  It’s joyful and sad, relaxing and riveting.  Good overall book to read.  ***1/2 stars.

Perfect Match, by Jodi Picoult.  Perfect Match is the story of a prosecutor of child molesters whose own child is assaulted.  The path she chooses as the child’s mother is shocking, but you get it immediately.  The twist at the end is shocking and you feel that one right in the gut.  ***3/4 stars.

Friends & Lovers, by Barbara Delinsky.  This is a re-release of two of her stories:  Having Faith and The Dream.  Adequate romances, nothing to truly blow the doors off of your bus, but more than good enough to read and pass some pleasant quiet time.  *** stars.

THR3E, by Ted Dekker.  Wow.  This is one weird, taut, riveting psychological drama.  I didn’t want to put it down, but pieces of it were just a tad fantastic for my brain.  I do have issues when it comes to suspending my sense of disbelief.  We’ve been down that road before.  However, when I could let go of it and just ride the story, it swept me up.  Well worth the price of it.  ***1/2 stars.

About a Boy, by Nick Hornby.  I almost typed “delightful” because it is, but it has a darker undercurrent which truly prevents it from being delightful.  Instead, let’s try Excellent.  This is a growing-up story about a boy and about a man.  It all goes together nicely by the end.  The book gets ***3/4 stars.  The movie was made in 2002 and starred Hugh Grant.  When Mr. Grant is on, he’s truly on, and I think he fits this part so well that it might have been written just for him.  I felt that way while reading the book too, but I haven’t done that much research to know one way or the other.  It’s brilliant.  If you haven’t seen it, I would seriously recommend it.  Wonderful investment of about 2 hours of your time.  Movie gets **** stars.

Bass Ackwards and Belly Up, by Elizabeth Craft and Sarah Fain.  I tried to read this book twice before I actually latched on and could give it a decent suck.  This is a story about four friends who are graduating from high school and about to make their way into what amounts to the real world.  It’s very well-written and quite enjoyable.  Happy ending sort of book without getting too sticky sweet.  Worth a read if you find it cheap.  I’m giving it *** stars.

I’ve got two going at the same time now, and bless her heart, The Kid bought me books for Christmas.  My little dumpling pays attention to her mama.  Unfortunately, her mama is coming to the conclusion that she’d rather read than write.  To the extent that I’m dreaming of this plot line that I came up with on my drive home from work.  Two.  Weeks.  Ago.  I’m going to have to write it down, but I’ve been resistant.  Not sure why. 

I did buy two notebooks the other day at the store.  I didn’t need notebooks, but they smelled right.  Sigh.

Happy Reading Everybody!!  Merry Christmas to all of you!

December 25, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Forrest Gump (OMG)

When Eric Roth went up the stairs to pick up his Oscar for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, I’ll bet he was wondering how many of us would figure out that it should have been for Best Writing Screenplay Based on a Vague Idea I had While Flipping Through the Book and Finally Reading the End Flaps, then Reading Enough of It to Know that I’d Have to Make Most of the Story Up from Scratch.  Holy cow.

Well, to tell you the truth, I think that without Eric Roth, Forrest Gump would have never made it to the silver screen.  Not that the book doesn’t have merit, it does.  It’s just not good enough on its own, and I was very disappointed.

Forrest Gump, by Winston Groom.  Here’s the back of the book:  “Bein a idiot is no box of chocolates,” but “at least I ain’t led no hum-drum life,” says Forrest Gump, the lovable, surprisingly savvy hero of this wonderful comic novel.  When the University of Alabama’s football team drafts Forrest and makes him a star, that’s only the beginning!  He flunks out–and goes on to be a Vietnam war hero, a world-class ping-pong player, a wrestler, and a business tycoon.  He compares battle scars with Lyndon Johnson, discovers the truth about Richard Nixon, and suffers the ups and downs of true love.  Now, Forrest Gump is telling all–in a madcap, screwball romp through three decades of the American landscape.  It’s Gump’s amazing travels…and you’ve got to read them to believe them.”

Sigh.  This is a ** star book, and I feel I’m being generous. 

Maybe I’ve had it wrong all along.  I wasn’t supposed to grow up and be a writer.  Maybe I was supposed grow up, find ** books and re-write them into something a decent movie could be made from.  Hmmm…..

Happy Reading, Everybody.  Just skip this one.  Do not sully your Forrest Gump experience by actually reading the book.  Not worth it.

November 28, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Big List

Hello, and welcome to me trying to get it caught up for the run to the end of the year.  I’m about to start a little bit of a series of books which have been made into movies, and I want to clear up the giant stack I’ve got to the side of my monitor before I go there.  As usual when I’m this behind, I’ll be brief.  If you want any more information about a particular book, just let me know.

In no particular order, other than top of the stack to the bottom:

O’Hurley’s Return, by Nora Roberts and O’Hurley Born, by Nora Roberts which I read out of order, which did not make me enjoy them less.  Good stories about people who were born into a show business family and how they make their own marks along the way.  Very enjoyable reads.  This series is finished, so the rating is the final: ***1/2

The Brave, by Nicholas Evans.  You know, he’s become one of my favorite writers.  This is a story about a family secret and the toll it takes on the members.  I must like this kind of story – I read them all the time.  Sometimes I don’ t even know that’s what they’re about, but I find them.  Or, they find me…  Hmmm….  *** stars.

Don’ t Blink, by James Patterson and Howard Roughan.  Mafia story.  Different from what I usually read and different from what I usually expect from Mr. Patterson.  Still, not a bad story.  *** stars.

grave secret, by Charlaine Harris.  I started reading this series because I like this writer.  Now I don’t know whether I want her to concentrate on the Sookie Stackhouse stories or ramp up the Harper Connelly stories.  Both – I want both!!  Series work, blah blah, *** stars, but really shiny, pointy stars.

“…and Ladies of the Club”, by Helen Hooven Santmyer.  When I was working on the Fiction-By-The-Inch, this was one that I wanted to include and couldn’t locate my copy.  Finally I just bought another one.  It had been several years since I’d read it, and it is not a book you really read lightly, as it’s almost 4 inches thick in paperback.  It is such a good story that I dragged my feet and made the last half-inch of book last three days.  I didn’t want it to be finished.  Of course, I do know that I could turn around and read it again, but there are so many other books….  I will come back to it.  I always do.  THIS IS A ***** star book.  You will not regret it, though your wrists might complain at how heavy the book is.

Not My Daughter, by Barbara Delinsky.  You know I’m a Delinsky fan.  This one felt a little thin, but it was still very readable, and a timely topic to boot.  *** stars.

Mama Flora’s Family, by Alex Haley and David Stevens.  This book was completed after Mr. Haley’s death.  It’s good, but it’s not as good as some of his other stories.  I kept getting the feeling that it was missing his once-over kind of tweaking – the story lacks polish.  ***1/2 stars.

Liza –  Born a Star, by Wendy Leigh.  Kind of makes Liza Minelli’s life sound boring.  I’m sure she has down days, but for the love…. **1/2 stars.

Hello, Darkness, by Sandra Brown.  This was excellent.  I am often tempted to walk right by Ms. Brown’s work, and I’m not sure why.  If I stop and look, I am never disappointed.  This is a thriller and stays taut and edgy right to the conclusion.  It’s worth a read, for sure.  ***1/2 stars.

Quentins, by Maeve Binchy.  Loved it, loved it, loved it!!!  When you read her other stories, you become lightly acquainted with Quentins – a fancy restaurant in Dublin.  It’s the kind of place you go to celebrate something big.  This book tells the story of how Quentins came to be and what makes it so great.  It’s excellent.  **** stars.

Gone for Good, by Harlen Coben.  My friend Kim introduced me to Mr. Coben’s work, and I’m glad.  Weird thing is that I think I read this book before, or one similar to it.  Very good story, psychologically challenging in construction.  Not his best, but very good.  ***1/2 stars.

Poor Little Rich Girl – The Life and Legend of Barbara Hutton, by C. David Heymann.  This book makes you think more than twice about having so much money you couldn’t possibly spend it all in one lifetime.  Without help, she never would have.  This is a sad story of crazy with a checkbook.  She had an awful childhood and a lousy life.  The book is well-written, even if the events themselves make it a little boring in spots. *** stars.

And that concludes this massive outpouring of how I spend my quiet time.  Happy reading all!!!

November 28, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Time of My Life

I almost forgot one of the most enjoyable celebrity autobiographies that I’ve read in years, tainted only by the inevitable outcome.  The Time of My Life by Lisa Niemi and Patrick Swayze.

I gave back the book I borrowed, so I am relying on the Barnes & Noble website to give us the goods on this very good book:  “In a career spanning more than thirty years, Patrick Swayze has made a name for himself on the stage, the screen, and television. Known for his versatility, passion and fearlessness, he’s become one of our most beloved actors.

But in February 2008, Patrick announced he had been diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer. Always a fighter, he refused to let the disease bring him to his knees, and his bravery has inspired both his legion of fans and cancer patients everywhere. Yet this memoir, written with wisdom and heart, recounts much more than his bout with cancer. In vivid detail, Patrick describes his Texas upbringing, his personal struggles, his rise to fame with North and South, his commercial breakthroughs in Dirty Dancing and Ghost, and the soul mate who’s stood by his side through it all: his wife, writer and director Lisa Niemi.

A behind-the-scenes look at a Hollywood life and a remarkable love, this memoir is both entertainment and inspiration. Patrick and Lisa’s marriage is a journey of two lives intertwined and lived as one–throughout their years in Hollywood and at home on their working ranch outside Los Angeles, and culminating in the hope and wisdom they’ve imparted to all who know them. This book will open the door for families, individuals, and husbands and wives to grow, bond and discover entirely new levels of love and sharing, proving that life shouldn’t be lived as a series of endings, but rather as the beginning of greater strength and love.”

I liked him, and I liked that he undertook this project before he passed away and made the details of his life known to us.  He was an interesting man, both ordinary and extraordinary, flawed and perfect, controlled and at times, dangerously out of control.  He wondered if he’d made an impact on this world.  I think he did.  As a story ***3/4 stars.  As a star ***** all the way.

October 25, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Another Big Catching up session

Last week, an old friend passed away, and though I’m sorry she and I hadn’t been friends for many years, my mind has been pretty busy remembering all the really fun times we shared.  I’m not going to go on and on about those times, but we were all in our twenties, footloose and fairly fancy-free and the fun we had was often a clear reflection of those conditions.  Today I got to have lunch with some other old friends and we had a really good chance to talk.  I’m not sure what great revelations came to pass, but I hope they enjoyed the conversation as much as I did.  Really good friends are a precious gift, even, and maybe especially, when you don’t see them often enough.

Sometimes, I let this blog start to feel like a burden, but I do eventually remember that it is a blessing of mine to be able to read and appreciate the works of others, and a blessing to be too busy to get it all blogged efficiently.  I thought I was about 20 books behind, but it turns out that I’m back by “only” sixteen titles since the last time I blogged.  Oh, and I have one dud to tell you about, but it will be quick and painless.  As usual when I’m behind, I’m just going to give you the bare bones, but enough for you to figure out if you’re even interested in reading it.

The Lost Symbol, by Dan Brown.  This is another adventure of symbologist Robert Langdon, and it’s a really good one.  If you liked The Da Vinci Code or Angels & Demons, you’ll like this one too.  I did.  **** stars.

The Keepers, by Heather Graham.  This is the first of a three part series, and the other parts are going to be written by different people.  The first part is a good story about supernatural creatures and people, though you need to have a firm grasp on how to suspend your disbelief, as it will need suspended.  *** stars, just like all other series work in progress. 

The Deep Blue Sea for Beginners, by Luanne Rice.  She just keeps the hits coming.  Ms. Rice really nails the tender spots when it comes to family drama.  In this book, she explores what it means when a mother leaves her children.  Most excellent – poignant, wrenching at times, and very touching, blended with enough humor and interesting stuff that you don’t go screaming off to make it stop.  ***1/2 stars.  I really like her stuff.

Part of the Bargain, by Linda Lael Miller and To Wed and Protect by Carla Cassidy.  After just a short time reading this blog, you know that LLM is one of my favorite all time authors and that she writes romance.  Harlequin has apparently developed this marketing of two novels in one book to pair bestselling writers with emerging ones to get both of them better circulation.  Well, whatever.  Ms. Cassidy’s story is good enough to stand on it’s own.  Both of them were very well written and enjoyable to read.  *** each.

Blood Promise – A Vampire Academy Novel, by Richelle Mead.  I love the stories about Dimitri and Rose.  I like them as much as the stories about Bella and Edward.  In fact, I think the Vampire Academy stories would and would have made a better movie series than the Twilight Saga.  Of course, they’re not paying me for my opinion, but I wish they would!  *** for ongoing series work, but I don’t care, as long as she keeps writing.

DUD ALERT – Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Ancestors of Avalon, by Diana L. Paxson.  OMG.  Snore.  OMG.  I have a famous capacity for my ability to suspend my disbelief and read just about anything with a critical appreciation.  I couldn’t read this book.  The dust jacket assures us that she’s written other books in the Avalon series, but rather than encourage me, it just makes me cringe.  -1/2*

The Loop, by Nicholas Evans.  This sad accounting of the battle between wolves and ranchers and the people caught between the two.  Mr. Evans is good, but some of the details of this tale are almost too sickening for a thinking person to read.  Still I did read it, and it was a worthy investment of my time – and I learned some things about wolves that I didn’t already know.  I know lots of stuff, so that was nice.
*** stars

The Divide, by Nicholas Evans.  Family dynamics to the fore!  Mr. Evans is a smart writer and he manages to address topics that combine family interactions and social drama. ***1/2 stars.

Sandcastles, by Luanne Price.  I’m actually accounting for these in the reverse order that I read them.  I just realized that.  Anyway, I liked this one, too.  This is about a drastic family secret and how it impacts every member of the family.  Most excellent, though I have to admit I saw the ending coming.  Still, I’d read it again.  ***1/2 stars.

When I’m With You, by Linda Lael Miller and JoAnn Ross.  This is a collection of four novellas, and I didn’t think I was going to like them.  Very sexy, and in the case of one of the stories, TOO sexy.  I just couldn’t read a story about B.O.B. the battery-operated boyfriend.  I am no prude, but I just didn’t have the appreciation for that particular story.  The JoAnn Ross stories were good, and I had never read any of her stuff before.  **1/2 stars.

Richochet, by Sandra Brown.  This was a good one.  I’d read it before, but it had been a while and when my friend, Kim, sent me a lovely book care package, this was one of the ones she sent.  This is an excellent cop story about judging a book by it’s cover.  It’s suspenseful and fast paced.  Very good read.  ***1/2 stars.

Deadly Gamble, by Linda Lael Miller.  This is in a series written by LLM about a female private investigator named Mojo Sheepshanks.  I nearly didn’t read it because I thought the name sounded too stupid.  That would have been a shame, since it turned out to be a really good story.  *** stars for ongoing series work.

Smoke Screen, by Sandra Brown.  Another from the Kim Collection, with my grateful thanks.  There are five more in that group coming up and I enjoyed them all, except one and it comes next in my list.  It all starts with a woman waking up in bed with a dead man – goes to hell, but in a good way, from there.  Tight plot, fast moving – excellent way to spend a day or so with a book-friend.  ***1/2 stars.

Triptych, by Karin Slaughter.  I guess I must be getting more squeamish in my advancing age, but I just could not read about this serial murderer.  The manner of death and desecration of the victims was really just too much for my stomach.  I didn’t get very far and I had to stop.  It was literally making me ill.  *1/2 stars – might have been more, but I couldn’t read it.

Sworn to Silence, by Linda Castillo.  THANK YOU, KIM!!  This writer has moved firmly into my preferred list and I will have to find more of her work to appreciate.  I was so drawn in with this story, and though I was glad the end came when it did, I was elated to see that she has another one in the pipeline.  It will be mine.  Sworn to Silence tells the story of Kate Burkholder, a small town Chief of Police who grew up Amish and how crimes from the past, a family secret and the crimes of the present put her and the people she cares about into a great deal of danger.  Way excellent read.  If you like police stories, strong female stories, family dynamic stories – read this!!  **** stars and that doesn’t happen much when I know it’s a series book.

The Keepsake, by Tess Gerritsen.  When I realized that this story was about a mummy (or it started out that way) I almost put it down.  I don’t , as a rule, like “dead guy” stories, but I really don’ t like mummies.  It’s not the standard phobia, but I think it might take too long to explain in this short space.  Suffice it to say that I will never drive to Chicago to see a King Tut exhibit, and I hope I never find myself in a situation where it would be rude of me NOT to look at the dead guy or the dead guy’s stuff.  Oh, holy shit, I feel a rant coming on, but I’ll try and thwart it.  This is a good detective story.  If I tell you much more, it will wreck the book, but things did not turn out the way they looked at first, and I would recommend this novel for those of you who like detective/cop fiction. *** stars.

Sullivan’s Island – A Low Country Tale, by Dorothea Benton Frank.  Well, well, well.  Thanks, Kim.  Sometimes, when I read a writer’s first published novel, I hope they didn’ t quit their day job, but not for this woman.  This is not Kim’s usual kind of story to read, and yet I am getting the sense that Kim’s taste in fiction is broadening – either that or I’m not pigeon-holing her unfairly as a reader any more.  Whatever the case, this is a fantastic work of fiction.  I loved it.  I laughed and cried.  I was angry in spots.  I was ready for justice to be done and delighted when it all came together.  Seriously, seriously good story.  I’m going to have to look for more work by her.  It would be a shame if she shot her wad with this one.  She’s got a voice.  ***3/4 stars.

The Bodies Left Behind, by Jeffery Deaver.  READ THIS BOOK!  There, I just said it.  Read it.  It’s scary and creepy and just absolutely excellent.  I always think I “like” Jeffery Deaver, and then I go about my business and I read other things, and his stuff doesn’t jump out at me on the bookshelves, and then I pick one up.  I can honestly say that once done, I can barely put it down to get anything else done.  This one is exceptionally good.  ****1/2 stars.

That’s all the news that’s fit to print.  May I remind you, at this time, that I do not care if you choose the back of the cereal box, the newspaper or the toilet paper wrapper – READ, READ, READ!!!

October 24, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Huge Stack – Hope You’re Up For It…

…because I’ve been reading a TON, but I haven’t had the gumption to blog about it for weeks.  This is going to be a ridiculous list, but I’m going to do it.  Probably in reverse order.  Actually, I’m just going to work from the top to the bottom of the heap.  There will be very little discussion about each one.  If you see something you’re interested in and want more information, please let me know and I’ll address it separately.

Just finished this one a few minutes ago and it was the top book in the second stack when I put it on the “finished” pile.  A Place to Call Home by Deborah Smith.  She’s new to me, introduced by my good friend Kim White.  Thanks, Kim.  This is a romantic story, but not so romancy that you can’t stand it.  In fact, Kim’s not a big romance reader, usually, but this is a really good story.  ***1/2 stars, maybe ***3/4.

I have recently revisited The Hannah Swenson Mysteries, and have recently finished the following ones in order:

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder, Strawberry Shortcake Murder, Blueberry Muffin Murder, Lemon Meringue Pie Murder, Fudge Cupcake Murder, Sugar Cookie Murder, Peach Cobbler Murder, Cherry Cheesecake Murder, Key Lime Pie Murder, (skipped the Candy Cane Murder for some reason), Carrot Cake Murder and Cream Puff Murder, all by Joanne Fluke.  I would have gotten them all, except for the Candy Cane one, apparently, but I have misplaced the Apple Turnover Murder and I really don’ t like to read them out of order.  Of course, now I’ll have to backtrack and see why I didn’t get the candy cane one.  I know it’s here somewhere.  This series is ****1/2 stars, and if the main character would decide on a boyfriend or accept a proposal, it would shoot to *****.  I don’ t give that out for a series very often….

1022 Evergreen Place, by Debbie Macomber.  Excellent next edition for the Cedar Cove series.  *** stars as usual.  Very enjoyable.  Comfortable series with familiar characters and just a palpable warmth.  You’d really enjoy reading this if you like a woman-focused series that deals with life and love and ordinary things.  I like it a lot.

The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls.   **** for living through this story and for having the marbles left after living it to put it down in a loving and informative way.  Of course, like everyone else, I’d like to have killed those parents a long time before the end of the book.  Excellent story about a “deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant” family.   Some of this story is hard to read, but it’s a journey worth taking.  Thanks for the lend, Jessica.

Sophie’s World, by Jostein Gaarder.  We had a family discussion a few weeks ago about philosophy, sparked by a PBS special that discussed some of the famous philosophers.  I ran across this book in one of my favorite book-getting-places – Goodwill – and saw that it was about philosophy.  If I’m truthful, I’ll tell that I nearly passed it by, but I didn’t .  It’s a story about philosophy told to and for a fifteen-year-old girl which makes it way more understandable than I expected it to be.  I didn’t even get bored, and I’m amazed.  If you have even a passing interest in philosophy, but don’t know where to start, start with this book.  Most excellent.  ***3/4 stars.  Well worth a good read.

The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters, by Elisabeth Robinson.  Good story.  A little sad, a little funny, a lot sad, a little boring, redeeming in the end.  Worth a one-time read.  **3/4 stars.

The Chocolate Jewel Case, by Joanna Carl.  I’m always looking to pick up another good series of mysteries.  I’m not going to pick this one up.  It’s not bad, but it’s just not as good as I wanted it to be.  **stars.

the condition, by Jennifer Haigh.  This is an excellent story.  I found it in a bin at Big Lots, read the back and thought “this will probably be depressing as all hell”, but it wasn’t.  In fact, I would really recommend it to anyone who likes stories about family dynamics and people wh0 have to overcome tough circumstances.  Most excellent, actually.  ***3/4 stars.

Ford County Stories, by John Grisham, aka Story Ideas Mr. Grisham had in a notebook and someone told him he could publish them and make a little scratch.  **1/2 stars.  I guess I like my Grisham in long form.  These are all short stories.  Great if you do most of your reading on the toilet.  I do my share, but I like a story with more substance, most of the time.  I really do love John Grisham, and these are good short stories, but I don’t want short stories from him.  Have I beat that dead horse enough?  I can say it again….

Genuine Lies, by Nora Roberts.  She has written so many stories, and I am constantly amazed by how good she really is.  This is an extremely good tale.  Thanks for the borrow, Jessica – I appreciate it.  ***3/4 stars.

Last and least is Daddy Devastating by Delores Fossen.  It’s a Harlequin Intrigue and pretty good for the genre, but I kept feeling like I’d been dropped into the middle of a Lifetime Made for TV movie.  Not a bad read, really, but not enough “oomph” or something.  ** stars.

I’ve been knitting a lot, but that’s not terribly surprising to anyone who knows me.  I set myself a tremendous goal for Christmas this year, but I’m considering a big modification or reconsideration of the list.  I just don’ t think the arthritis is going to let me knit all the things I think I will.  For now, I’m just keeping on keeping on.  Best I can do.

Happy Reading ALL!

September 26, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Charlie St. Cloud, et al…. Catching up. What can I say?

Sorry I’m so behind, but at least I’m going to keep on with the blogging part of my New Year’s Resolution.  This is going to be a bunch though, since I’ve been reading like a crazy person the past two weeks.  I got a lovely share box from Kim in Florida, and a very nice armful of borrows from a new friend, Jessica.   Thanks to both ladies!  This is going to be a quick and dirty kind of list with just a title and a few words, if that, and my rating.  If you want to know more about a specific title, please let me know and I’ll be glad to share.  I will, I promise.

First up:  Plum Spooky, Plum Lovin’, and Plum Lucky, by Janet Evanovich.  These are the “between-the-numbers” stories, and they’re lots of fun.  *** each and well worth reading if you haven’t.  Just light and summery.

McKettricks of Texas:  Austin, by Linda Lael Miller.  This is the last in the series about three Texas brothers and their romantic lives.  It’s been a very entertaining series, and Ms. Miller remains one of my favorite authors.  ***1/2 stars for the series.

How to Deal, by Sarah Dessen, which is really not the title of any book that she’s written, but rather the title of the movie that was inspired by two of her novels, Someone Like You and That Summer.  Ms. Dessen seems to get her finger on the pulse of young people, and she seldom fails to strike a chord for me.  This book houses both of the named novels.  If you’re new to Sarah Dessen and you enjoy stories about friendship, this would be a good place to start.   **** four stars.  Yep.

The Cotton Queen, by Pamela Morsi.  This is a new author for me, and I thank Kim for the introduction.  This is a very good story about the differences between and the love that binds a mother and her daughter.  Most excellent storytelling.  I was impressed.  I will have to look for more by Ms. Morsi.  ***3/4 stars.  Well, worth the read.

Pay it Forward, by Catherine Ryan Hyde.  The movie for this book was excellent, right up to the last five minutes when it all fell apart.  I’m not sure why I never thought to look for the novel before, but when I saw it on the shelf at a used place, I took it down with anticipation.  I just knew that it couldn’t have played out quite that way in the novel.  I was right.  The book is much better, though the movie was excellent in its own right.  If you have only seen the movie, I strongly recommend finding a copy of the book and having a go at it.  It’s good, if a bit different from the movie.  Very good.  **** Four stars.  I don’t go handing those babies out lightly, you know.  Ms. Hyde did herself proud with this story.

Charlie St. Cloud, by Ben Sherwood, originally published as The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud.  Of course I was inspired to read this book due to the television commercials about the movie.  I’m always more inclined to buy a book than sit in a theatre.  Now, having read the book, I’m thinking I might have to go get offered the senior discount that always honks me off.  I might.  I will certainly watch it on cable.  Here’s the thing:  The commercials are only giving a smell of what the story’s about.  If they do the novel justice, and I think they do according to the author’s notes at the end, the commercials are not going to do much more than drum up support from the Zac Efron fans.  I am very pleased that they cast him as Charlie St. Cloud, and I can see with no difficulty how well he’d be able to bring that character to life.  My reaction to the novel was:  It’s not what I thought it would be about.  Actually, not at all, but I liked what I found way more than what I anticipated.  Very, very good book.  Glad they’ve made a movie about it.  **** Four stars.  I’ve been a very lucky gal lately.

Welcome to the World Baby Girl, by Fannie Flagg.  For those of you not familiar with Fannie Flagg, you might want to consider nudging up next to her from time to time.  She’s great.  Most folks have read Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, if they’ve read her at all.  Every time I find something she’s written, I get it.  She’s funny, folksy, down-home and irresistable to me.  Elmwood Springs seems like a great place to live.  Read this one.  Seriously.  **** Four Stars.  Didn’t I say I’d been on a roll?  Very lucky lately.

Third Degree, by Greg Iles.  Whoa.  Good novel.  This guy has got a twisted streak, but I like him.  This story was fast-paced, suspenseful and freakishly good about keeping the reader from anticipating what was coming next.  Very nicely put together.  Thanks to Kim for introducing this guy’s work to me (not with this one, but before).  ***1/2 stars.  He’ll get to four star range – he’s that kind of writer.

Love You Hate You Miss You, by Elizabeth Scott.  This was a tough book to read in more than one spot, but it leaves you on an up note.  I’m thinking it might have been a tough book to write, but she’s done a good job.  Angst can sometimes get boring to read and to write, but Ms. Scott’s kept the pace up and doesn’t let you get mired in the mess.  Good story, good book.  *** Three solid stars.

You ever read a series and wish it would go on and on until the author dies or you get sick of it?  Well, don’t do that, since I’ve done both, and it never comes out good, but Nora Roberts is a master at putting together characters that I consistently want MORE of.  So it is with the In The Garden Trilogy:  Blue Dahlia, Black Rose and Red Lily.  OMG.  For romance, she’s one of my favorites, but when you add in her love for the slightly weird, she just leaps way up the stack.  This novel is about the Harper family:  old Memphis money, plenty of tragedy and scandal, but mostly strong men and women doing the best they can to make their way in the world.  LOTS of great information about flowers in this series.  Ms. Roberts is super at research.  Absolutely super.  ***1/2 stars.  Very nice.  Thanks for sharing them, Jessica.

So that’s been my couple of weeks in books – hope yours has been similar.  READ, READ, READ!!!  It’s good for you, and it’s an instant vacation.

Happy Reading Everybody!

August 22, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Loch

The Loch, by Steve Alten.  This is one of the best monster-type scary stories I’ve read in years.  I found it at the Goodwill and it was worth the entirety of the 69 cents I paid for it, and then some.  I had read MEG, also by Steve Alten a number of years ago, and though I was already creeped out from wanting to do more than wade in any ocean from Jaws (both the movie and the book by Peter Benchley), MEG sufficiently reinforced that creepedoutedness to a point where I doubt I’m going to wade much deeper than the tops of my feet.  And now there are great white sharks off the eastern seaboard.  Go figure.  Anyway….

This was a good book and very worth reading.  Here’s the back-of-the-book:  “Loch Ness holds secrets, ancient and deadly.  Does a monster inhabit its depths, or is it just a myth?  Why, after thousands of reported sightings and dozens of expeditions, is there still no hard evidence?

Marine biologist Zachary Wallace knows, but the shock of his near-drowning as a child on Loch Ness has buried all memories of the incident.  Now, a near-death experience suffered while on expedition in the Sargasso Sea has caused these long-forgotten memories to resurface.  Haunted by vivid night terrors, stricken by a sudden fear of the water, Zach finds he can no longer function as a scientist.  Unable to cope, his career all but over, he stumbles down a path of self-destruction…until he receives contact from his estranged father…a man he has not seen since his parents divorced and he left Scotland as a boy.

Angus Wallace, a wily highlander who never worked an honest day in his life, is on trial for murdering his business partner.  Only Zachary can prove his innocence — if he is innocent, but to do so means confronting the nightmare that nearly killed him seventeen years earlier.

Incorporating the latest research and “new evidence,” that leads to real answers concerning the monster’s identity, best-selling author Steve Alten weaves a tale of horror about the most publicized and controversial creature ever to exist.”

***1/2 stars.  Very good story.  I don’t usually read scary things, but since I’m never planning to swim in Loch Ness, it’s not likely to be something that haunts me personally.

Happy Reading Everybody!

August 9, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment