Saturday, December 31, 2016

Alaska from the Inside Out

Subtitled : The Memories of Suzanne Nuyen Henning
Nonfiction by Sally Mahieu

Alaska From the Inside Out- Memories of Suzanne Nuyen Henning

This memoir was the book selected by my local reading group this month.

It was pretty much written just as a series of events that happened, which is okay because the subject's life was really interesting. Still, I would have liked it better in more of a story format, and maybe with more details about her personally.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Deal Breaker

Fiction by Harlan Coben.

Deal Breaker (Myron Bolitar Series #1)

Okay. So I finally found the first book in the Myron Bolitar series. (See the post on Drop Shot for more on that.) I don't know why that was so difficult.

Anyways, this was a pretty good book with an ending I didn't expect.

I also read by this author: The Woods

Sunday, December 25, 2016

The Gift of the Matchmaker

Fiction Novella by Becca Whitham.

The Gift of the Matchmaker (A Merry Matchmaker novella) by [Whitham, Becca]

I searched for this book because I just met the author here in Fairbanks! This was a nice straight romance, but it was a little too short for me.

Although, of course, since it was actually labeled a novella, I should have expected that, right?

Friday, December 23, 2016

The Good Dream

Fiction by Donna VanLiere.

The Good Dream

This was a charming story about an unmarried woman in 1950 classified an "old maid" by everyone in her hometown. She finds love, but not in the way I'd expected her to.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Woods

Fiction by Harlan Coben.

The Woods

Now THIS was a thriller.

Twenty years ago, the "Summer Slasher" killed Paul Copeland's sister and three other teenagers in the woods outside a summer camp. It happened while he was supposed to be on watch, and Paul has never forgiven himself... until he discovers that his sister might be alive?

Really good book!

I also ready this author: Stay Close

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Code to Zero

Fiction by Ken Follett.

Code to Zero

A cool spy thriller set in 1958, this story kept me guessing and really brought the Cold War /Space Race era to life.

I've enjoyed all the audiobooks I've listened to by Ken Follett. He's a rare writer who doesn't make me want to skim certain parts and get to the good stuff; every word in the story is important.

I also read recently by this author: Hornet Flight

Thursday, December 15, 2016

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry

Fiction by Fredrick Backman.

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry: A Novel

Now this was an unusual book. It's told from the point of view of a seven-year-old girl, who has a very special relationship with her --um... how shall I put this? oh yeah!-- wacko grandmother. Stories told from a child's point of view can be challenging, but the author did a great job with this one. I loved the characters, and it was really interesting!

Also this novel was originally written in Swedish, and although I don't usually care for translated works, the translation was amazingly good. I actually believed it was a British story.

Really good!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Drop Shot

Fiction by Harlan Coben.

Drop Shot (Myron Bolitar Series #2)

I've been reading a lot of Harlan Coben recently, since I just discovered this thriller writer who's apparently been around like twenty years.

I wanted to read the first book in the Myron Bolitar series since I loved number eleven so much (see Home). Unfortunately, I messed up and read this one, which is number TWO in the series. I'm very annoyed with myself.

This book, first published in 1996, was pretty good. It was a little slow in the middle, but it had a good ending. Still, compared to Coben's more recent novels it pales. I guess he's been improving his skills. That's how it's supposed to work, right?

In 1996 I also started a novel. (Plus I had my first baby; but I digress.) That story, and many others since, has remained unfinished, although I have actually completed a few. So in the past twenty years, while I was dabbling in writing (and motherhood), our pal Harlan Coben was churning out books at the rate of more than one a year. That's probably why my writing still kind of stinks and his is awesome.

Yeah, I turned this book review into a story about myself. So sue me.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Whistler

Fiction by John Grisham.

The Whistler

This was a legal thriller with more legality than thrills. It was still a good book, but it was not as exciting a plot as many of John Grisham's best stories.

I also read recently by this author: Rogue Lawyer

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Stay Close

Fiction by Harlan Coben.

Stay Close

An exciting thriller about a suburban mom who used to be a stripper. (Sounds pretty thrilling, right?)

I also read recently by this author: Home

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Shiloh Autumn

Fiction by Bodie Thoene and Brock Thoene.

image from

Set in the Depression era, this was an interesting story based on the author's own family history. The characters were good and I enjoyed it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016


Fiction by Harlan Coben.

Home (Myron Bolitar Series #11)

Now THIS was a great thriller.

Premise: Two six-year-old boys are kidnapped. Then one of the boys is suddenly found alive after ten years. Where is the other boy? And is the rescued boy really the missing boy he appears to be; can one really tell after ten years?

I had no idea how they were going to resolve this thing. The ending was a true surprise.

And then, after reading this whole book, I discover it is actually number ELEVEN in a series?! Whoa.

I have mentioned previously how I don't like jumping into a series late in the game, because you get a feeling throughout the story that you are missing something. I never got that feeling in this book. That's some masterful writing right there.

Well played, Mr. Coben.

I also read recently by this author: The Stranger.

Friday, November 18, 2016

The Woman in Cabin 10

Fiction by Ruth Ware.

The Woman in Cabin 10

In this story, a woman goes on an ocean cruise and may or may not hear a body being thrown overboard in the middle of the night.

It's a good thriller; it's got a great beginning and a great end but it drags just a bit in the middle. (I say that to clarify the difference between a good thriller and a great thriller.)

I'd recommend it for the plot surprises.

I also read by this author: In a Dark Dark Wood

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Script by J. K. Rowling and Jack Thorne.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Parts I & II

TAGLINE: The Eighth Story. Nine Years Later.

Excuse me, y'all, while I go SQUEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!

Oh. My. Gosh. I LOVE Harry Potter!!! This is so fabulous!!! I can't believe it!!!

All right, I will calm down now and stop acting like a tween at a One Direction concert. (Wait. Do tweens still like One Direction? I don't know. But you get the idea.)

First of all, if you haven't read ALL SEVEN Harry Potter books, stop what you're doing NOW and go read them. I'm not kidding. GO!!

I say this because this script will only be interesting (or even possibly comprehensible) to you if you already understand what happened before.

Also because the first seven Harry Potter books are all TWO THUMBS UP.

Anyways, I love this script and the further plot twists it had in store for grown-up Harry and his family. My only gripe is, well... It's a script. It's not a novel. It is just bare bones compared with the masterful writing of the first seven novels.

And I get it; that's the way it was meant. J.K. Rowling is tired of intricately drawing us into the Harry Potter world; she just tossed out a (wonderful) plot and threw it at a (very good) scriptwriter. And don't get me wrong! It's a great script.

But still... I wish it were a novel....

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Juliet Naked

Fiction by Nick Hornby.

Juliet, Naked

The title of this book is a real attention-grabber, as I'm sure the author intended. And may I suggest that you do NOT Google it, because I got some very disturbing results along with the actual book when I did. Just follow my link above to b&n if you want more information.

First of all, the book is not about anyone literally naked.

Sorry, But it's not.

Specifically, the title refers to a record album in an "unplugged" version, with a song called "Juliet" that is stripped, if you will, of all its musical trappings and released as just guitar and vocals.

But the book is about a girl called Annie and her relationships, and she is an interesting character to read about.

Image result for juliet naked by nick hornbyI've read several of Nick Hornby's books and I really love the engaging characters and their unique voices, but he often has a little problem with plot resolution and tends to dispense singularly unsatisfying endings. So this book, like some others of his, is good but not as good as it really should be.

Also, I don't like that yellow cover either, The version I read had the black cover you see here, which is better, I think.

(Additional image from

I also read by this author recently: Funny Girl, How to be Good

Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Boys in the Boat

Nonfiction by Daniel James Brown.

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

I feel really bad about this, because everyone told me what a great book this is, but I just couldn't finish reading it.

I mean, seriously. This nice lady at my church lent it to me, and told me she loved it, and I'm embarrassed to give it back. Strangers saw me reading it at the dentist's office and told me how fabulous it was. I felt mentally deficient because my eyes were crossing with boredom even as they spoke.

Obviously there is something terribly wrong with me that I'm more than halfway through this thing and it still feels like I'm slogging through molasses here.

I think my problem is that there is too much BOAT and not enough BOYS in this book. I like stories about people, remember? And this book just spent way too much time on the mechanics of the sport for me.

I'm sorry, Boys in the Boat. It's not you. It's me.

Friday, November 4, 2016

One Light Still Shines

Nonfiction by Marie Monville.

One Light Still Shines: My Life Beyond the Shadow of the Amish Schoolhouse Shooting

This is the true story of the woman whose husband shot those Amish schoolgirls and then killed himself back in 2006. Of course, I remember this terrible incident and the way the Amish people chose to forgive and not retaliate in any way.

But to hear the story from the widow herself is amazing. It's worth reading.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Last Child

Fiction by John Hart.

The Last Child

As a mother of boy/girl twins, this story touched me a lot. In it, thirteen-year-old Johnny has been tirelessly searching for his lost twin Alyssa FOR A YEAR while everyone around him falls apart. It's heartbreaking.

Although there are plenty of plot twists in the story to keep you interested, it was the characters who really spoke to me. Fabulous book!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Stranger

Fiction by Harlan Coben.

The Stranger

There is a book by Albert Camus with this same title I read in high school.

This book is not a classic novel like that one. This is what scholars like my high school English teacher would call a "popular novel," possibly while holding it with two fingers and snorting derisively.

The Stranger (A New Translation by Matthew Ward)
Although I don't think Ms. West will be assigning any Harlan Coben novels anytime soon, this was a great story! I loved the plot twists in this book. And I don't mind being a lowbrow reader.

My apologies to Camus: your book was really good too!

I also read recently by this author: Fool Me Once.
(Second image also from

Monday, October 24, 2016

Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married

Fiction by Marian Keyes.

Lucy Sullivan Is Getting Married

Lucy Sullivan of the title doesn't even have a boyfriend at the beginning of this story, but she hopes to be getting married within a year because a psychic told her she would be. I'll let you find out if the prediction comes true!

This was a nice light read; although it was a straight romance, witty dialogue and fun characters kept it interesting.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Dorie: The Girl Nobody Loved

Nonfiction by Doris Van Stone.

Dorie: The Girl Nobody Loved

The true story of a little girl abused and rejected by her parents, this book was fascinating and slightly disturbing to read.  I was reminded of A Child Called It by Dave Peltzer, which featured a little boy in a similar situation, although I seem to remember the abuse in the latter book being more carefully described and therefore more painful to read about.

Doris Van Stone spends less than half the book on her troubled childhood, however, and it is the positivity of this story that really made it a good story.

Monday, October 17, 2016

One Thousand White Women

Fiction by Jim Fergus.

One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd

This is a historical novel with a bit of a far-fetched premise: Chief Little Wolf of the Cheyenne tribe visited President Ulysses S. Grant in 1873 (true) to ask for one thousand white women (what?) to come to teach his tribesmen the ways of white people, and to marry into the tribe and produce children, of course (not true). Even more far-fetched is the next step: President Grant agrees to this and sets a government program in place to send white (and, incidentally, black) brides out West, using women desperate enough to volunteer for this (definitely not true).

As long as you can willingly suspend your disbelief on this initial idea and go with it, this is a great book. It definitely kept my attention and took a fantastical what-if to a logical conclusion.

But of course, it is not in any way historical fact. That's why they call it fiction...

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Missing, Presumed

Fiction by Susie Steiner.

Missing, Presumed

This story centers on an English girl in her early twenties who disappears mysteriously, and the almost-forty-year-old female DI who tries to find her. I was definitely surprised by the ending here.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Couple Next Door

Fiction by Shari Lapena.

The Couple Next Door
This story starts out with a parent's worst nightmare: namely, it WASN'T okay to leave the baby in her crib and go next door with the monitor. As a mother, I almost couldn't get past that part.

But the story keeps going from there and it definitely kept my interest. This was an exciting thriller.