Monday, February 29, 2016

The Taming of the Queen

Fiction by Philippa Gregory.

The Taming of the Queen

Philippa Gregory always does an amazing job of bringing history to life, and this book, focusing on the last wife of Henry the Eighth, is no exception.

I also read recently by this author: The King's Curse.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Days of Awe

Fiction by Lauren Fox.

Days of Awe

This book is about a woman coping with the death of both her best friend and her marriage.

Sounds like a real downer, huh? Well, in a way it is, but the likable characters and the witty language keep it from being a sob-fest, and instead make it an engaging story.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Things We Keep

The Things We Keep

Early-onset Alzheimer's disease is a real bummer. Did anyone see Still Alice? I cried and cried at that movie for poor Julianne Moore's character, suddenly turned ancient at only fifty years old.

But this author manages to take that subject and actually write an uplifting story, even though her protagonist gets struck with the disease at the incredibly early age of thirty-eight.

It's a great book; I recommend it!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Alys, Always

Fiction by Harriet Lane.

Alys, Always: A Novel
Alys, Always by Harriett Lane

At the beginning of this book, the main character Frances witnesses a car accident. At that moment a whole new set of events is suddenly in motion, or perhaps it's more accurate to say that Frances suddenly has a choice to set this new chain of events in motion.

This story is a psychological thriller, but a quietly British one, not a fast-paced type. It was very interesting to read.

Note: I liked the cover on the novel I read better.

(Alternate cover art is from Go there for a better review than mine!!)

Sunday, February 21, 2016


Fiction by Catherine McKenzie.

Forgotten: A Novel

The main character of this book goes on a trip to a small fictional country in Africa after the death of her mother. She had planned for a month-long vacation, but illness and natural disaster happened, and she was out of contact with everyone she knew at home for six months. When she finally was able to come home, she discovered that everyone had thought she was dead.

Hence the title: She'd been "forgotten." See?

This was a good premise for a story, and this novel kept my interest. Although I would have liked for the author to have taken more time with the beginning and background in order to make the character more in-depth, I enjoyed this book as a light and fun read.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

All The Dead Lie Down

Fiction by Mary Willis Walker.

All the Dead Lie Down (Molly Cates Series #3)

I just read another book by this author that I really liked, so I looked for others she's written. This one was almost as good as Under the Beetle's Cellar, although both have problematic titles, in my opinion. (Naming thrillers after lines of Emily Dickinson's poetry? Really?!)

This book involved the same main character (a journalist) as the other novel, and the plotline explored more of her life. It was an interesting story.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

My Brilliant Friend

Fiction by Elena Ferrante.

My Brilliant Friend (Neapolitan Novels Series #1)

Have you ever read glowing reviews of a book and then, when you got the book in question, found yourself wondering if the reviews were even talking about the same book you were reading? When this happens, I wonder if it's just a difference of opinion, or if I'm really just not intellectual enough to appreciate the book or something.

That's what happened to me here. Despite many reviewers talking about how they "couldn't put this book down," and how it had "rich and compelling" characters, I really could not get interested in this book. I tried, but no dice.

So I'm going to admit it: I was bored by this book. I didn't like the characters, and nothing much happened to them anyways.

La amiga estupenda (Dos amigas 1) (My Brilliant Friend)
It has been translated from the Italian, so maybe that is the problem. Or maybe it's me.

I can, however, tell you that the COVER in Italian is quite superior. See?----->

(alternate cover art also from

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Time Between

Fiction by Karen White.

The Time Between

A nice story about a pair of sisters, this book explores the idea of how a life can be changed in an instant, and alternatively, how you don't have to let yourself be defined by your worst moment. I think it's a great characterization of the love-hate relationship sisters can have.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Under The Beetle's Cellar

Fiction by Mary Willis Walker.

Under the Beetle's Cellar

A fast-paced thriller, this book grabbed my attention from the beginning. A schoolbus driver and almost a dozen children are taken hostage and held underground by a crazy cult leader. There's also a female journalist who has a strange history with the madman and she may be able to help free the kids before it's too late. Cool premise, right?

The only thing I didn't like about this book was the title. I feel like a thriller should have a short, exciting title, like "Trapped!" or "Buried Alive!" But maybe I'm overthinking it.

An exciting read!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Slumdog Millionaire

Fiction by Vikas Swarup.

Slumdog Millionaire: The Shooting Script

Wow. WHAT a great book. I have not seen this movie, but it might be worth the risk. (Usually I'm afraid the movie will ruin it.)

On a side note, the title "Slumdog Millionaire" is WAY better than the original title, "Q&A."

I also read by this author: The Accidental Apprentice.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

American Gods

Fiction by Neil Gaiman.

American Gods

Although this was a well-written book, and I can see why it won awards, in the end the story was too bleak and unhappy for me.

Monday, February 8, 2016

See Me

Fiction by Nicholas Sparks.

See Me

This book had the type of realistic romance you'd expect from Nicholas Sparks, along with an exciting bunch of plot twists. I recommend it!

I also read recently by this author:  The Longest Ride, The Best of Me 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Guest Room

Fiction by Chris Bohjalian.

The Guest Room

This book was really difficult to read at times, but what a story! It begins with a bachelor party that escalates badly, and turns into an emotionally wrenching page-turner.

Friday, February 5, 2016

The Blue Sword

Fiction by Robin McKinley.

The Blue Sword

A sci-fi/fantasy type book, this is a good adventure story, although not as good as The Secret of Platform 13.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Life on the Refrigerator Door

Fiction by Alice Kuipers.

Life on the Refrigerator Door: Notes Between a Mother and Daughter, a novel

I got this book because I was looking for a different novel by the same author. The library did not have that one; it had this one instead.

So I did not know what to expect with this book. It turns out that it's exactly what it says on the cover: "notes between a mother and her daughter." The author tells the story entirely through notes left on a refrigerator between two people. It's an interesting idea, but the execution of it is problematic. How much information can go on a post-it, after all?

If you're looking for something you can read all the way through in an hour or two, this is it. However, I usually prefer a story that is more in-depth.

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Secret of Platform 13

Fiction by Eva Ibbotson.

The Secret of Platform 13

Although this is a children's book that features a railway platform at King's Cross Station in London that leads to a magical world... it's NOT related to the Harry Potter series of books. As far as I can tell, this author and J.K. Rowling came up with similar ideas independently. Or else there's actually something magical about King's Cross Station...

This is a super-fun fairy-tale story about a lost prince from a magical world, and it's not just for kids.

I enjoyed it a lot; it reminded me of The Princess Bride  or  Ella Enchanted a bit. Someone should make a movie!