Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Ship Who Sang

Fiction by Anne McCaffrey.

The Ship Who Sang (Brain and Brawn Ships Series #1)

I have read several of Anne McCaffery's books; apparently I read them prior to 2011 since they are not listed in this blog. She is most known for the "Dragonriders" series, which I liked, but I think the ones of hers I enjoyed most were "Catteni Freedom" series. (Freedom's Landing is the first of those.) I may have to revisit them.

The Ship Who Sang, which I had not read before, was pretty good, but it read more like a set of short stories along one theme than a cohesive novel. Looking at the publishing date, I see that this is some of her earliest writings, and the parts were indeed released separately somehow, so that probably accounts for the disconnectedness. So this book had a cool idea, but it didn't form itself into a cool novel somehow.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Fiction by Gail Honeyman.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

I enjoyed this book a lot. At first I thought the main character Eleanor was going to annoy me with her smug superiority and rigid behavior, but I discovered quickly that her prickly exterior hid a lonely and wounded heart.

It was a good story.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Fade Away

Fiction by Harlan Coben.

Fade Away (Myron Bolitar Series #3)

This book is number three in the Myron Bolitar series, and it's pretty good. (The previous books are Drop Shot and Deal Breaker).

In general, the later Bolitar books (See Home) and Coben's stand-alone novels (see No Second Chanceare better, however.

I also read recently by this author: Tell No One

Friday, December 22, 2017

The Man in the Brown Suit

Fiction by Agatha Christie.

The Man in the Brown Suit

I am continuing my review of Agatha Christie's novels in order. If you are interested, here is the list I'm using to find out which book is next:

The Man in the Brown Suit is one of her "Intrepid Girl Adventurer" stories, which may be my favorite type of hers. In this one, a girl called Anne sails off to South Africa to catch a murderer and finds true love. Very exciting!

I recently read by this author: Murder on the Links

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Before the Fall

Fiction by Noah Hawley

Before the Fall

In this book, eleven people go on a private plan ride from Martha's Vineyard, and it crashes into the ocean. But that's just the beginning of the story. Who are these people and why did they crash?

The novel blends a survival saga, a suspense story, and a social commentary with a bunch of compelling characters. It's very good.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Murder on the Links

Fiction by Agatha Christie.

Murder on the Links (Hercule Poirot Series)

I'm re-reading Agatha Christie's novels in sequential order; this was her second book. It was excellent, of course, although generally I prefer her non-Hercule-Poirot books. (He just irritates me after a while. I think this is another indication of the author's genius, though; it's like he's a real person who walks in and everyone rolls their eyes.)

It is amazing to me that this was written almost a hundred years ago and is still compelling.

I also read recently by this author: The Mysterious Affair at Styles

Sunday, December 17, 2017

The Teacher's Funeral

Youth fiction by Richard Peck.

The Teacher's Funeral

Set at the turn of the century (that's the twentieth, not the twenty-first, by the way), this was a cute story about a one-room schoolhouse in the country.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Brush of Wings

Fiction by Karen Kingsbury.

Brush of Wings: A Novel

This is the third book in the "Angels Walking" series, and sequel to Chasing Sunsets.

It was a pretty good story, but it suffered somewhat from I've-Gotta-Draw-This-Plot-Out Syndrome.

This is a problem singular to series books, but it's similar to I-Can't-Tell-the-Truth-or-the-Story-Will-End-Here Syndrome, which happens a lot in romance novels due to lack of enough plot to sustain the story. (Click here for an example of that if you're interested.)

Series novels often have plenty of plot for one book, but not enough to sustain them over several books; hence, I've-Gotta-Draw-This-Plot-Out Syndrome starts. You have the main character basically sitting in a holding pattern waiting until it's time for the next book, doing useless things that do not advance the story and dithering over decisions that are already foregone conclusions.

For example, books two and three of the Twilight series can be summed up thusly: "Bella loves Edward but Jacob loves Bella but Edward is dangerous so Bella isn't sure what to do." FOR TWO WHOLE BOOKS!

Now to be fair, much of real life is like this. We spend years of our lives not advancing the story and doing useless things. But that is NOT what I want to read about. The whole POINT of fiction is to be able to skip the boring parts. That's why no one goes to the bathroom in novels.

All that is to say: this book was okay, but it should have been a lot shorter. And probably this whole trilogy should have been just one book. And that one book would have been really good!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Hypnotist

Fiction by Lars Kepler.

The Hypnotist

A dark Swedish thriller, this book was exciting to read.

The eponymous Hypnotist is a psychiatrist who has vowed never to hypnotize a patient again, after something bad happened ten years ago. Guess whether he can keep that promise?

This one is not for the squeamish, by the way, which you might be able to tell from the bloody scissors on the cover. If you don't mind a little gore, however, you should read this book and find out what gets cut off with those scissors....

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Monday, December 11, 2017

World Without End

Fiction by Ken Follett

World Without End (Kingsbridge Series #2)

Set in Middle Ages and full of feudalism, war, and the plague, this book might be expected to be terrible.


This is a great book! It's long, but it is definitely worth reading the whole thing. I really loved the characters and the story.

(Although this is the sequel to The Pillars of the Earth, it could definitely be read independently of that novel, since it takes place a couple of hundred years later and, sadly, all the characters from Book One are dead.)

I'm getting the third book next. Squee!!!

I also read recently by this author: Whiteout 

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Woman Who Walked into Doors

Fiction by Roddy Doyle

The Woman Who Walked into Doors

Well, this was another book that depressed the heck out of me.

It's about an Irish woman with a drinking problem whose husband beats her. Yep, you guessed it! She didn't REALLY walk into doors. She just had a lot of black eyes and broken bones.

Although it's a well-written book I just didn't like it. I mean, does EVERYTHING have to be terrible in this lady's life? Jeez!

And, yes, I realize that sometimes life really is that terrible. But that is NOT why I read fiction. Novels are a place where all the terrible can be fixed with a stroke of the pen. (Or the tap of the computer keyboard, or whatever.) Bad things happen, but all is not lost! Good can triumph over evil!

Not in this book.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

My Sunshine Away

Fiction by M.O. Walsh

My Sunshine Away

In this story, the unnamed first-person narrator explains a terrible time in his early teens, when he was rather darkly obsessed with a neighbor girl, and may or may not have done something bad to her. The whole thing is kind of this guy explaining what happened and why he did things and what he's sorry about, in not-exactly-chronological order.

It was mostly interesting, and the characters were pretty good, but it was kind of depressing to read. It got very difficult to slog through the darkness of the story, but I did want to see what happened at the end. When I finally got there I found a little unexpectedness and some resolution, but it was not a satisfying conclusion to me. The author seemed to be trying to put in a happy ending that didn't seem to mesh well with the rest of the book.

I don't know about this one. I was too unhappy reading it to give it a thumbs-up though.

Friday, December 8, 2017

If I'm Found

Fiction by Terri Blackstock.

If I'm Found

This is the sequel to If I Run, which I read not too long ago.  Casey from the first book is still accused of a murder she didn't commit and she's STILL on the run from the police.

It's a good thriller, but it's part of a I have to wait for the NEXT book to find out what happens....

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Precious and Grace

Fiction by Alexander McCall Smith

Precious and Grace (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series #17)

The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series #16)This is the latest book in the "No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" series; it is number 17. So then I realized I hadn't yet read #16 in the series: The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine. I had to go to the library and check that one out as well! -->>

So this is actually TWO books I read here.

Both were good stories, engaging in a pleasantly low-key way as all the books of this series are. I think I liked The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine better, but maybe that's just because I'm starting to think that a series is a bit played out after sixteen books.

Still, if you start from Book #1, these characters are definitely worth reading about.

I also read recently by this author: The Handsome Man's Deluxe Cafe, The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection

Friday, December 1, 2017

Miss Holly is Too Jolly

Children's Fiction by Dan Gutman.

Miss Holly Is Too Jolly! (My Weird School Series #14)

My kids have read several of the books in this series, called the "My Weird School." I recently read this one aloud to my son and it's really funny.

These are good books for younger kids who like humorous stories.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Long Lost

Fiction by Harlan Coben

Long Lost (Myron Bolitar Series #9)

This was an exciting thriller, number nine from the Myron Bolitar series. Although it wasn't a great as some of the more recent ones I've read, it was still a good book.

I also read recently by this author: Tell No One

Saturday, November 25, 2017

The Sunflower Forest

Fiction by Torey Hayden

In this story, a seventeen-year-old girl tries to cope with her mother's crazy mood swings, which may or may not be a dangerous mental illness. This was a really good book!

I also read recently by this author: Innocent Foxes

Thursday, November 23, 2017

If I Run

Fiction by Terri Blackstock

If I Run

This was an exciting thriller about a girl who goes on the run after being falsely accused of murder, and the man who is hired to hunt for her. It's the beginning of a series, though, so I need to get the next book right away...

I also read by this author: Twisted Innocence

Monday, November 20, 2017

Innocent Foxes

Fiction by Torey Hayden

Innocent Foxes

I read a rather scathing review on the b&n page (link above) of this book that pretty much gave away the whole plot, but in a bad way. The reviewer was angry that the book was not what it appeared from the front cover.

It's true that was more of a thriller-type novel than the heart-warming tale that the pretty-pretty cover picture, and indeed the synopsis, seems to indicate. I think the publishers are trying to make the book look like Torey Hayden's more popular books, which are nonfiction and are heart-warming. So that may be a mistake on the part of the marketing team, but that doesn't seem the author's fault. Also the title isn't quite right, but I'm not sure what I'd suggest instead.

I really enjoyed it, since I LOVE thrillers, and I like being surprised by plot twists. So don't read the review by anonymous, just read the book!

I also read recently by this author: Overheard in a Dream

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Wangs vs. the World

Fiction by Jade Chang.

The Wangs vs. the World

I just could not get into this book. I'm not sure why; I think it was that I didn't like the characters. And it's a library book, and I'm just going to give up and take it back....

Monday, November 13, 2017


Fiction by Jane Green.


This was a nice straight love story about an English girl who falls for her hunky American landlord in the predictable manner. But it has a little twist at the end so it doesn't quite go where you'd expect.

I also read by this author: Saving Grace, Tempting Fate 

Friday, November 10, 2017

The Secret Chord

Fiction by Geraldine Brooks.

The Secret Chord: A Novel

This is a fictionalized account of the life of King David of Israel, told from the point of view of the prophet Nathan.

It was interesting to read, and really seemed to bring the ancient people of the Bible to life, but it was not necessarily a flattering portrait of its subject. The author says it was her intent to neither laud nor denigrate King David, but rather to show him as the great but also flawed human being he really was. In this I think she succeeded, but her treatment of God's role in the man's life (He is shown as capricious, rather bloodthirsty, and possibly negligent of His people) is a bit difficult for believers to read. Still, it is certainly faithful to the Old Testament account of actual events.

I also read by this author: Caleb's Crossing

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Still Life With Elephant

Fiction by Judy Reene Singer.

Still Life with Elephant: A Novel

This was a cute little story about a girl who is a horse trainer who finds out that her husband, a veterinarian, has been having an affair with a coworker. Well, obviously THAT'S not the cute part. But that's the setup. The cute part is what she does later.

Image result for still life with elephantThere are some fun characters in the story and I enjoyed it.

But the copy I read had a better cover, in my opinion. --->>>>