Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Those Who Wish Me Dead

Fiction by Michael Koryta

Those Who Wish Me Dead

A teenage boy witnesses a crime. A big crime. And so the criminals are after him. Hence the title.

An exciting book!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Wicked Ways

Fiction by Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush.

Wicked Ways

This book started out okay, but it got less and less believable as it went on. Also it's either a part of a series (which it never alerted me to on the cover) or they have left out a lot of backstory on purpose.

I didn't really care for it.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

You should have known

Fiction by Jean Hanff Korelitz

You Should Have Known

Grace is a psychologist who's just written a book called You Should Have Known. It's a different kind of marriage self-help book, one that teaches the reader to recognize the clues a potential partner gives early in the relationship that will let her know he is wrong for her. Grace wants to help couples in crisis BEFORE the crisis happens, before they even become a couple. By carefully looking at a potential partner before marriage, a woman can avoid being blindsided later by a husband with a gambling problem, a secret homosexual relationship, or the like. After all, this problem was there all along, and the wife should have known it was coming. Right?

Her publisher is very excited about the book, saying it is perfect for release in the new year. It's just what the women of America need: someone who has it all together to explain to them what they should have known all along, someone like Grace. But then, just before Christmas, karma comes in to bite poor Grace in the butt.

Her own husband has a secret. A big one. One that she should have known...

Friday, December 26, 2014

Leaving Time

Fiction by Jodi Picoult.

Leaving Time

To begin with, I'll point out that Jodi Picoult is one of my favorite authors. This is because of her ability to tell a good story about realistically-drawn characters, and to tell that story from diverse points of view. Sometimes the people she invents are likable and sometimes they are not, but they are always believable.

Often she writes about an "Issue" (political or otherwise), but the important part of the story is always, to me, the characters. Also, her stories always elicit a strong emotional reaction, which can be good or bad. (See her reviews! Wow. But watch for spoilers from the disgruntled.) To me, this is the point of a good novel , and what makes it Art: the emotion it wrings from the reader. (Although, to be fair, I don't like a novel that makes me feel bad, no matter how Arty it is. See We Need to Talk About Kevin.) But the emotions I get from Jodi Picoult's novels are not bad ones, and I think often it is the "Issue" that upsets the angry reviewers.


This particular story is about Jenna, a thirteen-year-old girl who wants to find her mother Alice, an elephant researcher who disappeared without a trace when Jenna was three. The story is told by both Jenna in the present (she hires a detective AND a psychic) and Alice in the past, and many of the Alice segments are about her obsession with elephants. (The fact-heaviness of the elephant parts apparently bothers some readers, but I thought is was interesting, and consistent with Alice's character.)

I was beginning to read this book when I went to the dentist and she asked me about it. I explained the basic premise, and the dentist asked me, "So does she find her mother?"

"Well," I said, "I'm only on like page fifty, so I don't know yet."

But now I know the answer is...

Read the book and find out. Heh heh heh....

I also read by this author: The Storyteller, Lone Wolf, Sing You Home

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


Fiction by Karen Robards.


A single mother who drives a tow truck at night gets accidentally mixed up with the Mob. How's that for a premise?

Exciting book!

I also read by this author: Justice

Saturday, December 20, 2014


Fiction by Lois Duncan.


This book starts out with a group of high school students who get on the bus after school, not concerned that the man at the wheel is not their regular driver. Instead he is a kidnapper! (I don't consider revealing that fact to be a spoiler, by the way, seeing as the name of the book  is "Ransom".)

This was an exciting story. I've recently been enjoying rediscovering Lois Duncan's young-adult books, many of which I read over twenty-five years ago as a teenager myself. They are definitely worth the re-read for me, and should be still quite readable for teens today.

I also read by this author: They Never Came Home

Thursday, December 18, 2014

China Dolls

Fiction by Lisa See.

China Dolls

I really love Lisa See's books. This was the story of three Chinese girls who meet in San Francisco in the late thirties.

The story was good, but I didn't think it was as good as Snow Flower and the Secret Fan.

Still definitely worth reading.

I also read by this author: Dreams of Joy.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Fiction by Neil Gaiman.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Although this short novel was billed as a "modern fairy tale," good fantasy was not what I expected from the mundane beginning.

However, it was a lovely fantasy story. I recommend it.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Arsonist

Fiction by Sue Miller.

The Arsonist

This is a story about a woman who leaves her job as an aid worker in Africa to live in the small vacation town her parents have retired to. The summer she arrives is marred by a rash of house fires and the volunteer fire department is overwhelmed. The state police are called in to find and arrest the arsonist.

This was a great character novel, although I didn't care for the ending.

Friday, December 12, 2014

I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You

Fiction by Courtney Maum.

I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You

This is one of those books I chose based on its title. It has a great title.

Unfortunately I didn't like it. There wasn't anything really wrong with the book; mostly I think I just disliked the main character.

This guy has a perfect wife who has (mostly) forgiven him for cheating on her, a lovely young daughter, and a wonderful career as an artist in Paris who actually can sell his work and make money. But he's not happy. Oh no.

He wants to make art that no one likes and won't sell, but still have money to live on. He wants to keeps his lovely little family intact but still pines after his mistress who left him to marry someone else. He's a big whiner. I couldn't stand to keep reading about him.

Now, it's a testament to the skill of this writer that she can draw such an evocative portrait of this loser and make me believe in him enough to despise him. But still.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Agnes and the Hitman

Fiction by Jennifer Cruise and Bob Mayer.

Agnes and the Hitman

This was a fun little story with a good plot and believable characters. There was a good mystery, plus romance and humor thrown in.

I've read several books buy Jennifer Cruise and they are always funny and have a good story. I enjoyed this one quite a bit!

I also recently read by this author: Maybe This Time. But apparently I forgot to write a blog post about it.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes

Fiction by Denise Grover Swank.

Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes

This was a fun mystery/romance about a repressed girl who loses her inhibitions with alarming rapidity after her domineering mother is killed. Of course she is suspect number one in her mother's murder.

It was a cute book, but the plot suffered from a little from a fictional device that annoys me, which I call I-Can't-Tell-The-Truth-or-The-Story-Will-End-Here-Syndrome. This shows up in romances quite a bit, in which a main character withholds some vital piece of information form his/her love interest for flimsy reasons, making it obvious that the author is using the device to further complicate the plot and lengthen the story.

Still, this was a pretty good novel.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Behemoth and Goliath

Goliath (Leviathan Series #3)

(Leviathan Series #2 and #3)
Fiction by Scott Westerfeld

Behemoth (Leviathan Series #2)

These are the sequels to Leviathan, which I read a little while ago. It's a sort of science-fiction/historical-fiction mixture, about World War One in an imagined alternate universe.

The story was definitely interesting, but you have to stretch your willing suspension of disbelief a bit in order to enjoy it. I don't have a problem with the wildly fantastical myself (as long as the author stays within the rules of his own fantasy), so I liked the books.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

They Never Came Home

Fiction by Lois Duncan.

They Never Came Home

This was an exciting novel that began with a pair of teenage boys who never returned from a hiking trip. The boys are presumed dead, but then some survivors wonder if they really are still alive.

I also read by this author: The Third Eye.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Fiction by Karen Robards.


A fast-paced novel, this is a legal thriller that's not too much in the courtroom. Good book.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

As You Wish

Subtitled : Inconceivable Tales From the Making of The Princess Bride
Nonfiction by Cary Elwes.

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride

I really enjoyed this book, because I love The Princess Bride. It really went into the minutiae of the movie, so if you aren't a fan of the film, you wouldn't care for it.

But if you've seen The Princess Bride enough times to have it almost memorized (like me) then you'll love it. Inside info! Woo-hoo! For example: Cary Elwes' ponytail and mustache: real or fake? I must know.

And the audiobook makes it even better, because it uses the actual actors' voices.

BTW: the mustache was real; the ponytail was fake. Mystery solved.

Friday, November 21, 2014

What She Left Behind

Fiction by Ellen Marie Wiseman.

What She Left Behind

This story begins in the present, when seventeen-year-old Isabelle begins a research project with her foster mother, who works for a local museum. They have gained access to a historic mental hospital, long-closed and spooky, and open a series of forgotten trunks, left behind by patients who presumably died in the institution. Then the story skips to the past, in a flashback to the time when the hospital was still open.

A fascinating story with good characters, this novel explores a sad period in mental-health history, which made it difficult to read at times.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Big Stone Gap

Fiction by Adriana Trigiani.

Big Stone Gap

A nice romance story that didn't completely go as I expected.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

In Cold Blood

Subtitled: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and its Consequences.
Nonfiction by Truman Capote.

In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences

This is a classic (published first in 1965) that I'd never read. Good book.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Goldfinch

Fiction by Donna Tartt.

The Goldfinch

This book was really long but still held my interest. It had a great story. The characters were believable but unfortunately not super likable to me.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Third Eye

Fiction by Lois Duncan.

The Third Eye

Great story about a teenager with the gift of finding missing children, this one is worth the read.

I also read by this author: A Gift of Magic.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Zaremba, or Love and the Rule of Law

Fiction by Michelle Granas.

Zaremba: or Love and the Rule of Law

A really unusual book about a Polish girl crippled by polio and her unexpected romance, this was a self-published novel that shouldn't have had to be.

It had good characters and a quietly interesting plotline.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Three Wishes

Fiction by Liane Moriarty.

Three Wishes

A fun book about a set of grown sisters who happen to be triplets, this story examines sibling relationships from the inside and the outside.

Liane Moriarty is the BEST. Check out also: Big Little Lies.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Survivors: Book One

Fiction by Angela White.

The Survivors: Book One

I got this book free on Kindle for my phone. I really hate reading on a screen instead of a book, so that factor may have negatively influenced my opinion of this story.

That being said, I could not finish this book. The post-apocalyptic plot was all right, although a bit gory, but the characters were hard to get interested in. The good guys were unsympathetic and the bad guys were truly horrid. Everyone was kind of one-dimensional.

I think it might make a better movie that a book. Maybe.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Agent Zigzag

Subtitled: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love and Betrayal.
Nonfiction by Ben MacIntyre.

Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal

When I got this book, I was promised it would be as interesting as fiction, even though it's nonfiction. This was not true.

The beginning was good, but it soon got bogged down in boring details and started being too much about facts and not about the characters. Sorry.