Monday, December 31, 2012

Gone Girl

Fiction by Gillian Flynn.

Gone Girl

This may be my choice for best book of 2012.

Seriously. Cool story. I had NO idea how she was going to wrap it up!

Awesome job.


Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Blessing

Subtitled: "Giving the Gift of Unconditional Love and Acceptance "
Nonfiction by Gary Smalley and John Trent.

The Blessing: Giving the Gift of Unconditional Love and Acceptance

Good book loaned to me by a friend.

This has some great advice on really showing your kids you love them. Now if I can just follow through....


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Kill You Twice

Fiction by Chelsea Cain.

Kill You Twice (Sheridan and Lowell Series #5)

This was apparently number five in a series, and I have not read numbers one through four. However, I was still able to follow it and enjoy the story, so that's pretty cool.

Good book but only if you like the "gruesome-serial-killer" genre.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

What The Heart Remembers

Fiction by Debra Ginsberg.

What the Heart Remembers

This book is about a woman who receives a heart transplant...and it REMEMBERS....

But not in a creepy way. Much. It's more of a character story, which I prefer.

Good book.


Saturday, December 15, 2012

John Dies at the End

Fiction by David Wong.

John Dies at the End

Yet another book I chose simply on the merits of the title.

This book had a great beginning but it started to lose me after a while. It was funny though. And weird. Probably a little too weird.

Maybe the movie will be better.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

Fiction by Robin Sloan.

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

Cool book, but a little odd.
The Rule of Four
It's sort of a puzzle-type book, like those movies with Nicholas Cage searching for clues, et cetera. But quirkier.

However, if you like them, a better puzzle book is "The Rule of Four" by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason.

I recently saw a lady at the park reading something else by one of these authors and eagerly wrote down the title to read later.

She probably thought I was crazy.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Loved One

Fiction by Catherine Palmer and Peggy Stoks.

The Loved One

This was my book club book for this month. Super-short for busy December!

It's about a woman who's studying her family history and feels reluctant to allow her son to enlist in the Army. 

I'll let you infer from the cover whether it's a pro- or anti-military book...

Not a bad story, but in my opinion TOO short. (I know--you can't please me, right?) I would like to have learned more about the characters.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Big Girl Small

Fiction by Rachel DeWoskin.

Big Girl Small

This is considered a "Young Adult" novel.

I suppose because it's about a character in high school. (She's a sixteen-year-old dwarf who starts attending a performing arts school.) However, I'd put a lot more emphasis on the "Adult" with this book.

That being said, it was really good. I would like to read more from this author.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Odd Apocalypse

Fiction by Dean Koontz.

Odd Apocalypse (Odd Thomas Series #5)

It's probably completely uncool to say this, but I love Dean Koontz.

I really do. The dude's written, like, a hundred books, and he STILL manages to come up with new weirdness to write about.

The "Odd Thomas" books are a charcter-based series, and this is number five. Amazingly, strange things are still happening to this character! An exciting read.
I like this series, but my favorite Dean Koontz books are stand-alone titles.

My very favorite, I think, is "Lightning."

Check it out if you've never read any Dean Koontz. It's cool.

Friday, November 30, 2012

N or M?

Fiction by Agatha Christie.
Audiobook read by Hugh Fraser.

N or M?: Tommy and Tuppence Series, Book 3

Awesome book, well-performed.

I love listening to Agatha Christie on audiobook. Unabridged, of course.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The St. Zita Society

Fiction by Ruth Rendell.

The St. Zita Society

This was a good book; however I have to say it's about the least mysterious mystery I've ever read.

By which I mean, there is no doubt at any point who-dunnit. It's still an interesting bunch of character studies though.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


Fiction by Patricia Hickman.


This book is about a woman trying to love again after her husband's death by maybe-suicide.

Pretty good; a little sad.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


(Secrets of Crittenden County Series #1)
Fiction by Shelley Shepard Gray.

Missing (Secrets of Crittenden County Series #1)

An Amish murder mystery. Does that sound like an oxymoron?

This was a good book but I wish I didn't have to wait for the next book to find out what happened.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Casual Vacancy

Fiction by J.K. Rowling.

The Casual Vacancy

Okay. Let's get this out of the way.


That said, it is an extremely good book in its own right. But I think Potter lovers might be disappointed.

Ms Rowling might have done better to release it under a pseudonym; it's that different. But in that case I guess no one would have read it, which would have been a shame.

Let's face it: If they put J.K. Rowling's name on a roll of TP people would read it! And if she tried to sell a book with this premise and and unknown name, no one would buy it. (Sorry, but it's the truth!)

Here's the premise: "In a small boring English village the town council is locked in a conflict over the drawing of district lines. One of the important council members dies, leaving a vacant seat that could turn the tide for either faction."

I know! Does that sound like a yawn-fest or what? But it's NOT! It's an awesome book.

This is very definitely a novel for adults. By which I mean, there are cuss words and sex. Oh, and drugs. But still...

This book is a testament to J.K. Rowling's skill as an author. Even without the fancy backdrop of the magical world, she can write characters you are fascinated by.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Chocolate Jewel Case

Fiction by JoAnna Carl.

The Chocolate Jewel Case (Chocoholic Series #7)

A nice mystery story. A jewel robbery, no bloody violence, light on the murder. It's Encyclopedia Brown for grown-ups.

I enjoyed it.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Love and Respect

Subtitled: "The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs."
Nonfiction by Emerson Eggerichs.

Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs

You may have noticed I've been reading a lot of marriage books.

It seems lately that people keep giving me marriage books, or recommending them.

Are y'all trying to tell me something?

No, seriously, it was explained to me once that reading books on marriage, or attending couples' seminars, et cetera, should not be reserved for those whose marriages are "in trouble." Because if you value your relationship, you want to study and improve it. The same way that if you enjoy golf, you want to read books about the game, and watch videos or whatever to get better at it.

So I'll take the flood of marriage books as a compliment.

And this was a good one, by the way.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Family Fang

Fiction by Kevin Wilson.

The Family Fang

Really different book. It's about a couple of "performance artists" who incorporate their two children into their weird stunts, and how the kids grow up because of it.

Odd but quite enjoyable.

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Pirate Queen

Fiction by Patricia Hickman.

The Pirate Queen

This book begins with a woman who is about to leave her cheating husband when he revels he is dying of a brain tumor.

It caught my interest and held it. Good book.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Aliens on Vacation

Children's Fiction by Clete Barrett Smith.

Aliens on Vacation (Intergalactic Bed and Breakfast Series #1)

Funny book I read to my 9-year-old daughter.

She liked it, and is interested in the sequel. So I'd recommend it for kids 8-12.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

There But For The

Fiction by Ali Smith.

There but for the

This book had a cool premise, and an interesting structure, but it didn't really go anywhere.

The premise was, a guy comes to a dinner party at the home of people he doesn't know. Then before dessert, he goes upstairs and locks himself in the guestroom and stays there. For like MONTHS.

Weird, huh?

It caught my attention, but all in all I didn't really like this one.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Dog Who Knew Too Much

Fiction by Spencer Quinn.

The Dog Who Knew Too Much (Chet and Bernie Series #4)

Good book in an unusual way.

This is a detective story told from the point of view from a dog. Really.

The surprise is, it actually worked. The mystery was interesting and the plot made sense even within the confines of the dog-brain premise. Not a small feat, Mr. Quinn; I salute you!

And, yes, I chose it solely because of the title.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Evidence Not Seen

Subtitled: "A Woman's Miraculous Faith in the Jungles of World War Two."
Nonfiction by Darlene Deibler Rose.

Evidence Not Seen: A Woman's Miraculous Faith in the Jungles of World War II

Really good book, although it had a slightly slow start.

Definitely inspiring.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Language of Flowers

Fiction by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.

The Language of Flowers

Really good book, about a foster child who "ages out" of the system.

It kind of put me in mind of some of the Oprah book club selections from about ten years ago.
White OleanderEllen Foster
You know, when Ms. Winfrey was into stories of downtrodden kids, such as White Olenader or Ellen Foster.

The Language of Flowers has a lot of hope though, unlike some other books of this type.

I would recommend this one.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Time Keeper

Fiction by Mitch Albom.

The Time Keeper

The Five People You Meet in HeavenThis is kind of mythical-style story about Father Time, as an actual person.

It's pretty good. It's not quite The Five People You Meet in Heaven, but still.

I liked it.

Keep on seizing the day, Mitch!

Saturday, October 13, 2012


Fiction by Marcy Dermansky.


This is a book about a pair of identical twin teenagers who have virtually absent parents.

Good book, but a little dark. These are some seriously psychologically messed-up twins. Which I don't think is indicated by the cutesy-pootsey cover above.

The cover of the copy I read was better.>>>>>>>

Although I guess that cover wasn't particularly psychologically messed-up either.

It's just prettier.

(second image from

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage

Subtitled : "Unlocking the Secrets to Life, Love, and Marriage"
Nonfiction by Mark Gungor

Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage: Unlocking the Secrets to Life, Love, and Marriage

Good marriage book; more entertaining than most.

Also I felt it was pretty practical. For example he spent nearly half the book on s-e-x. Now that's practicality!

Especially for a man....

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Road to Grace

Fiction by Richard Paul Evans.

The Road to Grace (Walk Series #3)

Good book.

Unfortunately, it's number THREE in a series, and I haven't read numbers one and two.

Grr. I hate it when that happens.

Sunday, October 7, 2012


Fiction by Chris Cleave.


Okay. This book, with it's cutey-pretty-nice bright blue cover is about a horrible subject: a woman who lost her husband and only son in a terrorist attack.

And since it's about a (fortunately) fictional attack (on London at a football match), the author feels no compunction to be life-affirming or uplifting, the way everyone is with the post-9/11 stories. So it's pretty grim in a lot of ways. But also interesting, and I think more realistic because of the dark quality.

So... NOT a feel-good book. But a good book nonetheless.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Sisterchicks on the Loose!

Fiction by Robin Jones Gunn.

Sisterchicks on the Loose

Good book.

It was better than I expected. Chick-lit, but not as light and fluffy as I thought it would be.

Worth reading.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

I Hate Everyone--Starting With Me

Nonfiction by Joan Rivers.

I Hate Everyone...Starting with Me

Joan Rivers. Isn't she dead?

That's what my husband said when he saw me reading this book.

No. She is not dead. She is alive, and mean, and funny.

This book is not for the sensitive. At some point, and likely more than once, Joan will say she hates you personally in this book. It's still funny though.

Monday, October 1, 2012

A Lucky Child

Subtitled "A Memoir of Surviving Auschwitz as a Young Boy"
Nonfiction by Thomas Buergenthal.

A Lucky Child: A Memoir of Surviving Auschwitz as a Young Boy

Really good memoir.

Glad this guy didn't give up when he was told by many American publishers that "Holocaust books don't sell."

Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Certain Chemistry

Fiction by Mil Millington.

A Certain Chemistry: A Novel

This was a funny book.

I mean it. Like, I actually read passages out loud to family members in the room after snorting to myself about them.

I had to edit out the cuss words though. It's set in Scotland, and you know how those British writers are with their potty mouths.

So not for everyone. But I liked this book a lot.

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Outlander

Fiction by Diana Gabaldon.

Outlander (Outlander Series #1)

Pretty good, but I don't know if I want to commit to the series. (There are seven books so far.)

I may have had too much of a build-up on this one (TWO different people recommended it highly) but I didn't enjoy this book as much as I'd have liked.

It had a slow start and a lot of, um, erotica. Also not enough actual fantasy, for a story in the fantasy genre.

Maybe one thumb up and one thumb down?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Defending Jacob

Fiction by William Landay.

Defending Jacob

Great legal thriller. Really really good.

The premise: What happens if the prosecutor's son is accused of murder?

 I knew there would be a twist at the end, and I was still surprised! Very cool.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Raising a Soul Surfer

Nonfiction by Cheri Hamilton.

Raising a Soul Surfer: One Family's Epic Tale

A good memoir.

I am interested in the story of Bethany Hamilton since I live in the state of Hawaii, although not on Kauai. Also I really enjoyed the movie Soul Surfer.

Despite the title, this is not a parenting book, so don't expect that. It's mostly a story and then some spiritual reflections.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Magician's Assistant

Fiction by Ann Patchett.

The Magician's Assistant

Really good book. Good characters with believable relationships.

This is about a woman who discovers a secret about her husband after his death, but not in a The Pilot's Wife  kind of way at all. (Read that one --by Anita Shreve-- if you can.)

First off, the magician husband in question is gay, but the wife is not exactly a beard either. It's more complicated than that.

Definitely worth reading.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Prisoner of Heaven

Fiction by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

The Prisoner of Heaven

This book was okay, but I think it suffered in translation.

Also the author stole too much of the plot from classics like Les Miserables and The Count of Monte Cristo, some of which he acklowleged openly that he borrowed.

But there's a point where you're borrowing too much and it slides into stealing. Like when it's more than two key plot elements.

Anyways, maybe it was better in Spanish.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

While I'm Falling

Fiction by Laura Moriarty.

While I'm Falling

Really good book.

Laura Moriarty can write characters you really care about. There are parents getting a divorce and their two daughters, one grown and one in college. I can believe and identify with each one of the characters and see her/his point of view. Particularly the women, of course, but she doesn't descend into "men are pigs" mode.

The copy I read from the library had a better cover, though. See?>>>>>>>>

I know, I harp too much on book covers.

But really, isn't the old one better?

(Second image from

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Meaning of Wife

Subtitled "A Provocative Look at Women and Marriage in the Twenty-first Century."
Nonfiction by Anne Kingston.

Meaning of Wife: A Provocative Look at Women and Marriage in the Twenty-first Century

I really wasn't into this one.

Maybe I didn't give it a proper chance, since it was due at the library and unrenewable. But I didn't finish the book, because it didn't seem worth the twenty-five cents a day to read the rest.

I mean, we already know women have historically gotten a raw deal in marriage, and it's recently gotten better but not better enough; there is still much inequality in marriage, blah blah blah.

I guess I get tired of books that expand and expound on problems but offer no workable solutions to them.

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in AmericaExample: Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich. (

That book had a cool premise. The author, an intellectual upper-class type, would crawl down into the pit with the rest of the world and try to live on minimum wage working at crap jobs. And she really stuck to this, which was interesting to read about. I mean waitressing is one thing. But Wal-Mart? MERRY MAIDS? ugh.

Still, all she "uncovered" is that the poor are continually getting screwed by society. Excuse me, Dr. Ehrenreich, but DUH. Can you give me something that can actually be done about that? Besides throwing more government money at the problem, because that is OBVIOUSLY not working so far.

So maybe I have some politcal views that make me too biased to fairly read this sort of thing.

But, in its defense, The Meaning of Wife has a REALLY cool cover.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Lazarus Project

Fiction by Aleksandar Hemon.

The Lazarus Project

I did not like this book. There. I said it.

I think I need to stop trying to read the National Book Award books.

The author kept switching past to present and there seemed to be no connection between the two. I kept waiting to find out at the end what really happened and then.....


Argh. Frustrating.

Although the copy I read at least had a very nice cover >>>>>

....unlike the weird orangey version above.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

Nonfiction by Amy Chua.

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

Yeah, I know. Everyone else read this book two years ago.

I read the reviews and excerpts two years ago and was incensed. Read this excerpt and see why:

"A lot of people wonder how Chinese parents
raise such stereotypically successful kids.
They wonder what these parents do to produce
so many math whizzes and music prodigies,
what it's like inside the family, and whether they could do it too.
Well, I can tell them, because I've done it.
Here are some things my daughters,
Sophia and Louisa, were never allowed to do:
  • attend a sleepover
  • have a playdate
  • be in a school play
  • complain about not being in a school play
  • watch TV or play computer games
  • choose their own extracurricular activities
  • get any grade less than an A
  • not be the #1 student in every subject except gym and drama
  • play any instrument other than the piano or violin
  • not play the piano or violin.
The Chinese mother believes that
(1) schoolwork always comes first;
(2) an A-minus is a bad grade;
(3) your children must be two years ahead
of their classmates in math;
(4) you must never compliment your children in public;
(5) if your child ever disagrees with a teacher or coach,
you must always take the side of the teacher or coach;
(6) the only activities your children should be permitted
to do are those in which they can eventually win a medal;
 and (7) that medal must be gold."
There follows a lot more stuff about how lazy and unmotivated the rest of us are versus the Chinese. And how much better Amy Chua's daughters in particular are, versus everyone else's kids. So unsurprisingly, this book caused a lot of controversy.
However, upon reading the whole book, I have another opinion. This is one of the most honest memoirs I've read. I enjoyed it.
It's not a how-to for parenting. I'm still horrified by some of the mean things she said to the kids (rejecting the birthday card her four-year-old made for her as not good enough, calling her daughter's "garbage," et cetera) but it made for entertaining reading.

Also, it really made me think about the ideas of: What do we as parents want for our children, and what are we willing to do in order to accomplish our goals? What is the most important thing in child-rearing: a happy child or a successful child? (obviously both would be good!)

Every mom has to answer these questions for herself.