Friday, October 6, 2017

Damaged

Fiction by Lisa Scottoline.

Damaged (Rosato & DiNunzio Series #4)
https://www.barnesandnoble.com

This was a decent legal thriller about a lawyer trying to help a special-needs kid who lives with his aged grandfather. I've read several books in the Rosato & DiNuzio series by Lisa Scottoline, and while this one is not my favorite (that was probably Think Twice) it was still pretty good.



I also read recently by this author: Every Fifteen Minutes

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Olive Kitteridge

Fiction by Elizabeth Strout.

Olive Kitteridge
https://www.barnesandnoble.com

This book was more of a collection of stories than a novel.  All of the stories have the one character (the epynonymous Olive) in common, but there is no story progression or overall plot.

Although the characters in the stories are wonderful and interesting, and Olive herself is surprisingly enjoyable to read about although she is not a wholly sympathetic character, I disliked the lack of an actual story. I really don't prefer short story collections, and I don't like this one masquerading as a novel and tricking me into reading it. However, for a short story collection it was really good, and I did finish reading it (mostly because I was hoping it would tie together somehow in the end, which it didn't), so all in all I'll still give it a reluctant thumbs-up.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

How I Lost You

Fiction by Janet Gutler.

How I Lost You
https://www.barnesandnoble.com

This was a story about a high-school girl and her best friend. It's obvious to the reader that the best friend is kind of a terrible person but the girl stays steadfastly loyal to her. You know (from the TITLE) that this friendship is going to have to end.

It should have been a good story but the whole thing seemed too transparently predictable and shallow. I can'r explain why exactly, but I would never have finished this book if I hadn't been stuck on an airplane with nothing else to do for two hours.

Sorry.






Friday, September 29, 2017

Caroline

Fiction by Sarah Miller.

Caroline: Little House, Revisited
https://www.barnesandnoble.com

This novel is Little House on the Prairie re-imagined from Ma's point of view.

I really enjoyed this book. I loved the Little House books as a little girl, and as I read them to my kids when I was an adult I really began to empathize with Ma. Laura (of course) thought her Pa was the greatest, but I felt that if he were my husband I'd be annoyed at him for dragging me all over the wilderness for no good reason. Caroline left her family and everything she knew to live in various places just because her husband wanted her to. As a military wife I can really identify!!

This book was really good, and it includes some historical notes as well, explaining which parts Laura might have remembered wrong.(Since she was only three or four years old we realize her account can't be perfect.)

Also it answers some questions about pioneer life that Laura Ingalls Wilder never addressed, namely: WHERE did they go to the bathroom?!

You know you wondered that too.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

An Innocent Client

Fiction by Scott Pratt.

AN Innocent Client
https://www.barnesandnoble.com


In this story, a defense lawyer tired of defending criminals wishes for just one innocent client before he retires. It was a really good legal thriller.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Little Face

Fiction by Sophie Hannah.

Little Face (Zailer & Waterhouse Series #1)
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/

At the beginning of this story, Alice comes home from a brief outing to find that her newborn has been swapped for another infant while its oblivious dad was taking a nap.

The tagline on this book says, "It's every mother's nightmare," but it's not a scenario I've ever thought of. (Although NOW I have; thanks a lot for that, Sophie Hannah!)

But what does she do next? Her husband says that their child was not swapped; it's still the same baby, he insists. The police are skeptical. I had no idea how this was going to be resolved.

This was kind of a strange story, but interesting. I'm not sure about the ending...

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Behind Closed Doors

Fiction by B.A. Paris.

Behind Closed Doors
https://www.barnesandnoble.com


Okay, AGAIN with the initials instead of the first name? (See my previous rant on that subject if you wish, here.) This is an annoying trend, but....

I forgive you that small pretension, B.A. Paris, because your book ROCKED.

Now THIS is a thriller!



Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Lying Game

Fiction by Ruth Ware.

The Lying Game
https://www.barnesandnoble.com

At the beginning of this novel, Isa receives a text from a school friend (Kate) she hasn't heard from in fifteen years that says simply, "I need you." Since Isa has a new baby and a life in London, and Kate lives way out in some swamp in the middle of nowhere, of course she.... jumps right up and gets on the train to go see Kate. Um, wait....WHAT?! 

This is third book I've read by Ruth Ware. All of them have been mostly exciting thrillers but seem to have something missing. I think it's that I can never really like and completely believe in the characters. The plot is always exciting enough to keep me from abandoning the book when the main character gets troublesome (boring, irritating, or just plain unbelievable), but only just. The endings are surprising but somehow over-the-top and sliding towards incredulity. I finish the story going, "I think that book was pretty good...wasn't it?" because I don't really think it was all that great and can't think of a reason why not.

I realize it's easy for me to criticize and author from my lofty computer keyboard, and I feel bad about that. I'm not saying I could do any better than Ms. Ware at this, but these books are missing some indefinable quality that makes me want to read them. Feel free to disagree if you want.


I also read by this author: The Woman in Cabin 10

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Overheard in a Dream

Fiction by Torey Hayden.


https://www.amazon.com

I have read almost all of Torey Hayden's nonfiction books, so I was very interested to see she had written a novel. This book was a little hard to find; it's not available on barnesandnoble.com where I usually post a link. I guess it must not have been widely distributed.

It was really good, though! It's about a fictional psychologist and the strange family he helps. Although it is set in the US, where I know the author is orginally from, it reads like a British novel in many ways. I think this is because Torey Hayden has been living overseas for quite a while now.

This story was unusual but fascinating!


I also read recently by this author: The Tiger's Child

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Monogram Murders

Fiction by Sophie Hannah and Agatha Christie.

The Monogram Murders: The New Hercule Poirot Mystery (Hercule Poirot Series)
https://www.barnesandnoble.com

I found this book in the Agatha Christie section of the bookstore, but it is not actually written by Agatha Christie, or even co-written by her, since she's been dead since the mid-seventies, and this book was published in 2015. Instead, it is a new story based on the character she created, the detective Hercule Poirot, written by someone else entirely. Apparently this has been done with the permission and blessing of the Agatha Christie heirs.

That being said, I thought this was a good Poirot story and stayed true to the detective's character as I remember him. Many reviewers seem to disagree with me on this point, by the way; you can see the link above to the b&n page and read their comments if you wish. (There are some lovely gems, such as: "This tome is a disgrace to the memory of Dame Agatha and Poirot." Wow. Tell me how you REALLY feel, Anonymous. This tome is a disgrace to the memory of Dame Agatha and Poirot.ThThis tome is a disgrace to the memory of Dame Agatha and Poirot.)

Obviously the writing style is not identical to Agatha Christie's, which would be impossible, but I found the plotting and character development very similar to hers. And, besides that, it was a good story. I will be reading more of these books.

So there.



Sunday, September 10, 2017

A Piece of the World



Fiction by Christina Baker Kline.

A Piece of the World
https://www.barnesandnoble.com

Image result for christina's world andrew wyethSimilar in theme to Tracy Chevalier's Girl With a Pearl Earring, this book tells the story behind a famous painting. In this case the painting is "Christina's World" by Andrew Wyeth.--->>>

The only thing I knew in advance about the painting was that the girl in the foreground was somehow crippled and could not walk to the house in the background.

I enjoyed this novel; it was a good character story about Christina Olson, who served as some kind of muse to Wyeth for many years.



I also read by this author: Orphan Train
(Image above from https://en.wikipedia.org)

Monday, September 4, 2017

The Song

Fiction by Chris Fabry.

The Song
https://www.barnesandnoble.com

I listened to this story as an audiobook, and it was pretty good. I didn't feel it was a good as the other books of Chris Fabry's that I've read, but maybe I was prejudiced because I knew it's a novelization based on a movie, which I don't think is the right way to write a book. :)


I also read recently by this author: Dogwood


Saturday, September 2, 2017

The Tiger's Child

Nonfiction by Torey Hayden.

The Tiger's Child: What Ever Happened to Sheila?
https://www.barnesandnoble.com

This book is the sequel to Torey Hayden's first book, One Child. 

It was fascinating to see what had really happened to Shelia, the troubled child Torey helped. Unfortunately, reality doers not have not a tidy made-for-TV-movie kind of ending. Sheila is not all fixed up, with her troubled past washed magically away, rendering her eternally grateful to her loving teacher. It is a mark of Torey Hayden's integrity as a writer that she tells this story as truthfully as she can, and doesn't whitewash things.

I really recommend this book, although you should read the first one too!



I also read recently by this author: Somebody Else's Kids

Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Girl Before

Fiction by J.P. Delaney

The Girl Before
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/

Here is the story of two women: Jane in the present and Emma in the past, and their stories are eerily similar. Emma ended up dead, but what will happen to Jane?

How's that for a teaser? Does it make you want to read this book?

On an unrelated note, I've mentioned before about the trend I've noticed of authors identifying themselves by initials, such as E.L. James of Fifty Shades of Grey fame. I've speculated that they are trying to sound androgynous, keeping the reader from identifying the author as a male or a female. Well, I found an interview online with this author, who is using a pseudonym, and he ADMITTED that was his goal! (Click here to read that article if you're interested.)

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Silent Corner

Fiction by Dean Koontz.

The Silent Corner (Signed Book)
https://www.barnesandnoble.com

This book is the beginning of a brand-new series by Koontz, about a woman on the run from... well, everyone it seems.

I really liked it! I'm looking forward to the next book.



I also read recently by this author: The Face of Fear

Monday, August 28, 2017

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Ordeal by Innocence

Fiction by Agatha Christie.

Ordeal by Innocence
https://www.barnesandnoble.com

When I found Crooked House in order to finish reading it, this book was included in the edition I bought.

This mystery I had also read before, but it was great! Definitely "The Queen of Mystery" still!


Monday, August 21, 2017

The Face of Fear

Fiction by Dean Koontz.

The Face of Fear
https://www.barnesandnoble.com

This is a classic Dean Koontz novel, published way back in 1977. It's still an exciting thriller!


I also read recently by this author: Hideaway

Friday, August 18, 2017

Crooked House

Fiction by Agatha Christie.

Crooked House
https://www.barnesandnoble.com

I re-read this classic book after I started listening to it as an audiobook on a trip.

I'd forgotten the details and was surprised once again by who the murderer was. Agatha Christie is a master writer!




Also I made this little collage of all the different covers of this book I found:
This thing must have been reprinted like a ba-zillion times!


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Tell No One

Fiction by Harlan Coben.

Tell No One
https://www.barnesandnoble.com

This was an exciting thriller about a man searching for closure after his wife's death.


I also read recently by this author: Play Dead

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon

Fiction by Stephen King.

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon
https://www.barnesandnoble.com

This is probably a novella by Stephen King's standards, clocking in at only 262 pages. It is the story of a little girl lost in the woods, but it is not a fairytale. It's a survival story, and a harsh one.

Hatchet (Brian's Saga Series #1)It reminded me of an extremely dark version of Hatchet, the Gary Paulson classic, except it of course is not for children.



I also read recently by this author: The Gunslinger

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Somebody Else's Kids

Nonfiction by Torey Hayden.

Somebody Else's Kids: The True Story of Four Problem Children and One Extraordinary Teacher

I read several books by Torey Hayden, a child psychologist/teacher who worked with disturbed or disabled kids and wrote about it, a couple of years ago in kind of a streak. Recently I was thinking about her stories again because I have several friends who are teachers, one specifically in special education, and we had been talking about the difference a teacher can make in a child's life. In the day to day work, it often seems as if nothing is changing with the troubled child, but when you look back over the year's work, you can see that progress has been made. I encouraged my friends to persevere with their "problem kids," and possibly document the process just for their own encouragement.

But I digress.

I found this when looking for books by Torey Hayden that I hadn't already read. It was as engrossing as the others, and also as realistic. Torey herself mentions her own occasional feelings of discouragement, and even has another educator tell her that she is "wasting herself" on these hopeless children. What a bummer! But the amazing thing is that she never gives up. At the end of the story there are no miracle cures or storybook perfect endings, but the children in her class are better off than they were before.



I also read by this author: Just Another Kid, One Child

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Hideaway

Fiction by Dean Koontz.

Hideaway
https://www.barnesandnoble.com

I read this book years ago but had forgotten about it, so I picked it up again. It's still good.



I also read recently by this author: the Frankenstein series

Friday, August 4, 2017

Their Lost Daughters

Fiction by Joy Ellis.


https://www.amazon.com

Since this book was billed as:
a gripping crime thriller with a huge twist!
I kind of expected it to be more exciting.

It was a good enough crime story, but not exactly a thriller.