Sunday, January 31, 2016


Fiction by Rainbow Rowell.


I am loving Rainbow Rowell these days. I've read three of her books, two of them quite recently (see Carry On), and this is my favorite so far.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Perfect Match

Fiction by Jodi Picoult.

Perfect Match

This book is amazing, full of plot twists you never see coming. Read it!!

I also read recently by this author:  Leaving Time

Friday, January 29, 2016

Ashley Bell

Fiction by Dean Koontz.

Ashley Bell

This was a fun and interesting read, although it definitely requires a stretch of imagination, which one should fairly expect from Dean Koontz.

I enjoyed it and it had a surprising ending. Also I'm pleased to see Dean Koontz hopping off the Odd Thomas train; that bit was played out.

Other books I've read recently by this author: Darkfall, Chase, Breathless  

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Boys in the Trees

Nonfiction by Carly Simon.

Boys in the Trees

As far a celebrity memoirs go, this is one of the better ones I've read. I was interested in Carly Simon's life, and she seems to really be honest about her early years here. She is a good writer.

(The book only covers the first part of her life, until maybe age 30-35. Perhaps she plans a second book.)

Still, it's a "celebrity" memoir. By that I mean, it is only as interesting as you already think the person is before you read it. A truly good memoir would make you interested in a person you don't expect to be important.

(See the rest of my thoughts on memoirs in general, if you're intersted.)

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Unlikely Pilgramage of Harold Frye

Fiction by Rachel Joyce.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry: A Novel

Harold Fry is a man who sets out to mail a letter, and then decides to deliver it in person, walking across England to do so. The reason he does such an odd --and unlikely-- thing is the point of this story.

This was a pleasant book to read, not exciting per se, but definitely engaging.

As a side note, I liked the original cover art, with the rolling green hills, better than the current one above.

(alternate cover art image from

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Zookeeper's Wife

Nonfiction by Diane Ackerman.

The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story

This should have been a good book. It's a great premise: a true story about Antonina Zabinski, who lived and worked at the Warsaw Zoo during the German occupation of Poland. She and her husband joined the underground resistance movement to save hundreds of Jews (and Slavs, gypsies, or Poles) from Nazi extermination. This would make a fabulous movie.

Unfortunately, I could not engage with the book at all. The author gives plenty of facts, but does not seem to tell the story of any real person I could relate to. I tried to read this book for weeks and gave up.


Sunday, January 24, 2016

Cold Water

Fiction by Priscilla Delgado.

Cold Water: An Alaskan Suspense Novel

This was a fun read, an Alaskan suspense story written by a local author whom I've met! I recommend it if you can get hold of a copy.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Behind the Scenes

Subtitled: "Or, Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House."
Nonfiction by Elizabeth Keckley.

Behind the Scenes: or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House

This is a memoir by the REAL "Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker," written in 1868. Having recently read, not that book, but another novelization of Mary Todd Lincoln (Mary by Janis Cooke Newman), I was interested to see this true version.
Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker: A Novel
It's not exactly a story; it's more a collection of Elizabeth Keckley's musings. Still, she is a good writer, particularly for someone born a slave and never allowed any schooling, and seems to tell the truth as she sees it. She certainly led a fascinating life, and I don't think she told the half of it here.

Mary Todd Lincoln herself, I know, was sorely offended by the publication of this memoir by a person whom she had considered a friend. But I notice that Mrs. Keckley had actually intended the book as a defense of Mary, who was being vilified in the court of public opinion.

But poor Mary was a difficult person to defend, it seems, as many of us are. History, and life in general,  is full of characters we only hear a one-sided account of, and we should remember that each person has so many more sides than the one most popularly presented.

This is an excellent resource, but if you are reading for pleasure I recommend the fictionalized version.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Between a Mother and Her Child

Fiction by Elizabeth Noble.

Between a Mother and her Child

I liked this book a lot, although I'm not sure about the title. It seems to me to be more about the other relationships in the mother's life, rather than the one with the child. Although, of course, the mother/child thing colors everything in the woman's life...

Anyways, this story is about a woman and her relationships with her sister and her ex-husband (and said ex-husband's new girlfriend), as well as her relationships with all three of her children, one of whom happens to be dead. It's a good story.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Whole Golden World

Fiction by Kristina Riggle.

The Whole Golden World: A Novel

This "ripped from the headlines"-type story is about a teenage girl who has an inappropriate relationship with her calculus teacher.  (Does anyone else think it's weird that he's a math teacher? Isn't teaching English more romantic? But I digress.)

The interesting thing is how everyone else in her life is affected by it, from her parents to her classmates to the offending teacher's wife. It's a good character story, and really explores a difficult issue without turning the people into tabloid-y cardboard cutouts. It's a good book.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Carry On

Fiction by Rainbow Rowell.

Carry On

In the book Fangirl, also by Rainbow Rowell,  the main character was obsessed with a series of magical stories about a boy called Simon Snow. This is his story.

Although the books are related, it is by no means necessary to read Fangirl before reading Carry On. It's a completely separate story.

I actually liked this book even more than the original, maybe because of the magical aspect.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Best Boy

Fiction by Eli Gottleib.

Best Boy

This story is told from the perspective of a severely autistic boy, who happens to be about fifty years old and has been institutionalized for most of his life.

It's an interestingly limited perspective to tell a story from, and I'd imagine it's difficult to write. I enjoyed the story and the characters.

Other books from the autistic perspective I've read include the excellent novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time and the nonfiction book The Reason I Jump.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Eaters of the Dead

Fiction by Michael Crichton.

Eaters of the Dead

The title of this book is misleading, in my opinion, as is first line of the back-of-the book-blurb "From the bestselling author of Jurassic Park, an epic tale of unspeakable horror...."

This is not in the least a tale of horror. I think it's more of an intellectual exercise. What it is: a re-telling of the classic epic poem Beowulf. Yes, really.

It was really interesting and quite an accomplishment, but if you're looking for an epic tale of horror, this ain't it.

Other books I've read recently by this author: A Case of Need,  Micro.

Monday, January 4, 2016


Fiction by Rainbow Rowell.


I don't know much about "fan fiction," but apparently it's a thing. (If you've never heard of it: People take the established characters of a popular book or movie and write their own stories with them. They can post them online for others to read.)

This story is about a girl named Cath who writes fan fiction about a Harry-Potter-type series of books, called "Simon Snow." Her identical twin sister helps her with it; however, when they go to college, everything changes. Suddenly her sister is more interested in real life, while Cath is still stuck in the magical world of Simon Snow.

This was a good book.

I also read recently by this author: Eleanor and Park

Friday, January 1, 2016

The Accidental Apprentice

Fiction by Vikas Swarup.

The Accidental Apprentice: A Novel

I haven't read Slumdog Millionaire, the book this author is famous for. However, after, after reading this book, I definitely will.

This was a really good story set in India, about a Sapna, young woman trying to help her family survive after a run of bad luck. Suddenly, Sapna is dealt a huge stroke of good luck: she attracts the inexplicable attention of a billionaire, who says he wants to make her head of his company, if she can only pass a series of tests. Or maybe it only seems to be a stroke of good luck....

Good book!