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October 3, 2008 - October 16, 2008

Last contest period's winners were DebbieDonnaGaryKathleenand Merril, who each received a copy of THE GIVEN DAY by Dennis Lehane and THE LUCKY ONE by Nicholas Sparks.

 

Vicki Burkhardt
Tethered: A Novel by Amy MacKinnon
Rating: 5 Stars
This is one of my favorite reads this year. The book is beautifully written and filled with wonderful characters. I think I may have even fallen in love with Mike. I found myself thinking about this book during the times I was unable to actually read it and could not wait to get back to it again. I was actually sorry to finish it. I highly recommend it!
 
Readingrat
Any Given Doomsday by Lori Handeland
Rating: 3 Stars
Elizabeth Phoenix knows she is psychic. It's one of the reasons she lost her job as a police officer. However, there is much Elizabeth does not know, which she only starts to suspect when she rushes to the home of her foster mother, only to find the woman who raised her bleeding and dying on the floor. Everything in Elizabeth's life is about to change. When a werewolf pays her a threatening visit one night, she begins to realize just how much it's going to change. Now Elizabeth Phoenix is humankind's best chance at survival and all she needs to do is find out how to use her powers to save the world and the man she loves.

This paranormal romance starts off solidly, easily keeping the reader's interest with a plot that reads more like an urban fantasy than a romance --- except of course for the cookie-cutter tough-chick protagonist and hottie bad-boy love interest. Even the first love scene plays nicely into the supernatural atmosphere and seems an integral part of the story. However, once the author reveals that our heroine needs to "sleep" her way into her powers, the plot swiftly turns into nothing more than a flimsy vehicle to just make sure our protagonist ends up in a lot of beds through the course of the series. Taken as a whole, this was just an OK read for me.

 
Christy H.
Angel at Troublesome Creek by Mignon F. Ballard
Rating: 3 Stars
This 2nd book in the Augusta Goodnight Mystery series was a fun and quick cozy read full of mystery, and a little romance and suspense. I'm ready to read the next installment and see what delicious items Augusta is baking and what new fashion creations she has sewn up.
 
Kimberly
Peony in Love by Lisa See
Rating: 5 Stars
One of my best reads. I was totally immersed in the story and the characters from a foreign land and culture. I was touched to the core. Lisa See is an amazing author! I first was introduced to her writing through SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN. I found this book so difficult to put down that I read it through the night. Great read!
 
Helen
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
Rating: 4 Stars
A wonderful detailed epic read. The character of Edgar, and his relationship with his human and dog family is an incredible one. A must read.
 
Donna
Goldengrove by Francine Prose
Rating: 4 Stars
This is about the death of a young girl and the realization that her sister may be responsible - -- or so everyone thinks.
 
Karen Gervasi
Ghost at Work by Carolyn Hart
Rating: 5 Stars
While heaven is, well... heavenly, Bailey Ruth Raeburn, late of Adelaide, OK, makes it known to Wiggins, head of the Department of Good Intentions, that she wants to help someone on earth in "dire straits". Wiggins tells her she may do so, although due to her rash, impulsive and "spirited" nature, she will be on probation and she must remember all the precepts of being a ghost among the living. With a copy of the rules firmly in hand, she is immediately dispatched right back to Adelaide to find herself on the back porch of the Episcopal Church rectory just as Kathleen, the pastor's wife, is discovering a dead body. The victim, one Daryl Murdoch, is not quite the upstanding citizen and dedicated church member he appears to be. It seems there are quite a few people who would rather have Daryl dead than alive. 

Bailey Ruth now has the ability to appear when the need arises or to be invisible when she wants, a useful skill in her job to find the real murderer and absolve the pastor and his wife of any accusations, because as it turns out that they too might have had a motive. As Bailey Ruth investigates the crime, the reader will laugh out loud at all of her antics while she learns to function as a ghost with a mission. Being invisible is great for moving from place to place quickly and being one step ahead of the investigation. She begins to narrow down the suspects one by one and at the Halloween Spook Bash held at the church hall, the suspense builds when the lights go out and someone goes missing. It becomes evident to her, but certainly not to the reader, who the real culprit is. Along with a few pop-ins by Wiggins along the way, Bailey Ruth identifies the murderer and ties it all up nicely just before the rescue express sweeps into Adelaide and takes her heaven bound once again.

Hart writes a classic cozy with all the traditional elements of the genre. What she adds is her own exceptional brand of wit and humor along with a fabulous cast of well fleshed-out characters. As usual, Hart has such a wonderful way with descriptions, the reader feels they are right there on the scene. The plot is well developed with plenty of suspects, all with motives to commit the crime. This is a truly enjoyable new series with non-stop fun. If you are a mystery fan, this is definitely one not to be missed ! Highly recommended.

 
Martha E
Forced Mate by Rowena Cherry
Rating: 4 Stars
This is a very enjoyable, sexual romp in a fantasy, interstellar setting. A royal princess, Djinni-vera, was hidden as a child and raised on Earth to fear and hate "the Emperor" and his heir and politics. She was even trained as a fighting Saurian Knight --- the force that opposes the Emperor.

The Prince, Tarrant-Arragon, is the Royal Heir to the Emperor and a huge man that has fostered the image of being brutal as an intimidation tactic. He also is renowned for his sexual prowess. When the Prince discovers Djinni, he kidnaps her to be his wife --- seeking to take his "queen". Because Djinni has been told such horror stories of the Prince, he does not reveal who he is as he proceeds to seduce her into loving him. There is wonderful humor, including a character named Grievous who is an Earthling soldier of fortune/limo driver hired by the Prince as his Earthling Liason.
As a child Djinni was betrothed to a distant cousin, Djethro Jason "JJ", who is the unreviled Cousin to the Prince, and a Saurian Knight who has infiltrated the Emperor's kingdom as a spy. Clearly he takes offense to the Prince kidnaping his betrothed and the rescue chase is on.


 
Martha E
Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Rating: 5 Stars
Another charmer from Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Although I read one or two of theChicago Stars series I have really enjoyed the rest of the series on Audible and am glad I have them to go back to to when I want a fun, easy listen. The characters are flawed and have issues, which make them more realistic. As in all of this author's books, there is fun and snappy dialogue and good sexual chemistry. The sex scenes are steamy and fun without being unnecessarily graphic, like a lot of authors are doing today. As I have noted with some of her other books, there is a primary couple, but also a love story for a secondary couple. I think April Fields does a great job narrating and changing voices. She even does a fine job singing a little in this one!

This is the story of Chicago Stars' hotshot quarterback, Dean Robillard, a gorgeous, famous football hero. He is driving across country as he seeks some r&r from a shoulder injury. Along the way, he meets Blue, a beautiful woman who is fiercely independent because she feels like she has been abandoned by everyone in her past. She has just been dumped by her latest boyfriend and had her savings and checking accounts wiped out. They end up at Dean's Tennessee farmhouse with Dean's estranged and despised mother, a runaway 11-year-old half-sister and Dean's famous but unacknowledged and very absent father. The relationship between Blue and Dean is filled with the distrust they both have due to their family histories. Add an eccentric, wealthy, grouchy lady who "owns" the local town to the mix and you have more spitfire going on. As Dean and Blue spend more time together their attraction grows and they each have to discover if they can trust the other.

 
Martha E
Blue Heart Blessed by Susan Meissner
Rating: 5 Stars
This is an absolutely lovely Christian romance. From beginning to end, it is a sweet mix of sadness, laughter and hope conveyed through wonderful, quirky personalities. Daisy Murien is a young woman struggling to deal with the rejection and bitterness left from being dumped ten days before her wedding. She bravely opens a secondhand wedding dress boutique, Something Blue, and takes on the management of an apartment building as a way to keep herself busy while trying to heal. She engages a retired Episcopal priest, who is her first tenant, to bless the tiny, blue satin hearts that are sewn into each wedding dress for her store. Daisy gets wonderful advise and encouragement from the priest, while trying to dodge being "set-up" for dates by her mother and Aunt who also live in the building. Daisy, the sad and struggling character, writes in her diary to her alter ego, Harriet, the logical and sensible part of her character, who writes back sound advice! Her normal and planned days become quickly confused when Father Laurent suffers a heart attack and his recently divorced, hurt and withdrawn son threatens to move his ailing father away. Any of us who have faced and overcome rejection at one time or another can relate to the pain and process of finding hope and learning to risk again. I am not prone to tears when reading (though I've been known to laugh out loud and argue with characters!) but I suggest that tissues be nearby for the ending of this book.
 
Marsha M
People of the Book: A Novel by Geraldine Brooks
Rating: 5 Stars
The story of an illustrated Haggadah, through which the Diaspora of Sephardic Jews is mostly told backward from present day, to World War II and eventually ending in Moorish Spain.

A modern scholar is brought to war-torn Sarajevo to authenticate a medieval Haggadah, which has survived centuries of European anti-semitism starting with Queen Isabella and the Spanish inquisition. Through clues found by analyzing stains, tears, feathers, parchment etc., the story of the people who created it, repaired it and kept it safe is revealed.

 
Marsha M
The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner
Rating: 5 Stars
Part travelogue, part diary, part scholarly project and part spiritual quest, THE GEOGRAPHY OF BLISS tells the story of the author's journey to very different countries on several continents in order to discover how environment and culture effect human happiness. His journey includes rich and poor lands, hot, warm and cold places, modern and modernizing. What he finds is humorous, sad, surprising and enlightening. I would have given it 5 stars, but I found it a little too long.
 
Susan Myers
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
Rating: 5 Stars
If you like historical fiction, and are a woman, this is the book for you. THE RED TENT tells the story of Jacob's wives and daughters during Biblical times. You will learn so much about how women lived during those days. It is a sweeping saga, well told, and engaging. I could not put the book down.
 
M. Serrani-Russell
The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
Rating: 5 Stars
This is the first book I've read in a very long time that I have been unable to put down. It grabs you from the first chapter and doesn't disappoint. I was astonished to find this was a debut novel! Bravo Mr. Davidson!
 
Debbie (delphimo@yahoo.com)
The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Societ by Mary Ann Shaffer
Rating: 5 Stars
A fabulous telling of the German occupation during World War II on an island between France and England. The story consisted of a collection of letters describing the occupation and current times. The bonus was all the lovely books mentioned in the letters.
 
Bev
Together by Tom Sullivan & Betty White
Rating: 4 Stars
TOGETHER consists of two independent stories --- one of a young man in his prime with a promising medical career and a beautiful fiancee who faces a life of blindness after a mountain climbing accident, and one of a black lab who has endured 2 times out as a seeing eye guide dog, only to be returned when things "don't work out". This book outlines how their stories come together and how their relationship brings out the best in each other. A must read for any dog lover.
 
Jean
The Last Enemy by Grace Brophy
Rating: 3 Stars
I decided to read this book because it is a mystery taking place in Italy. Unlike the mysteries by Donna Leon, this one seems to drag on for me. I find myself not picking up the book and doing other stuff instead of reading. I need to just finish it!
 
Jean
The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Societ by Mary Ann Shaffer
Rating: 4 Stars
Though I thought this book was sweet, I didn't absolutely love it. I found that the epistolary format (a book written through letters) became a little tedious.
 
Ali
Nights in Rodanthe by Nicholas Sparks
Rating: 4 Stars
I loved this book in true Sparks' style. I prefer to read it before I go to see the movie.
 
Bonnie
Death at La Fenice by Donna Leon
Rating: 3 Stars
A perfectly fine mystery set in Venice. But, compared with Lee Child, Harlan Coben and Dennis Lehane, it's merely adequate.
 
Kristie
When the Soul Mends by Cindy Woodsmall
Rating: 5 Stars
This third book in the series was about both the Amish and "English" worlds. Very realistic and well done. It was a satisfying conclusion to the story.
 
M. Archer
Loving Frank by Nancy Horan
Rating: 3 Stars
A great book for anyone who has an interest in the life or work of Frank Lloyd Wright. Be warned, however --- the characters are at times less that likable, and the ending is brutal.
 
CC
Good Grief by Lolly Winston
Rating: 5 Stars
This book takes on a difficult subject --- a young widow's first year after her husband's death --- and manages to show humor and heartache in equal doses. Anyone who has ever lost a loved one will see themselves.
 
Genie
Tombs of Endearment by Casey Daniels
Rating: 4 Stars
Pepper Martin knows ghosts won't let her alone since Gus, her first client (DON OF THE DEAD) has been telling everyone in the afterlife what a great PI she is. In this third book of the series, things once again become complicated when Damon Curtis, the ghost of a sexy 1960s rocker, asks Pepper to help him make his transition to the other side. A member of his band, Vinnie Palucci, is channeling him in order to write hit songs. This is keeping him earthbound. Damon wants Pepper to ask him to stop channeling so he can pass on.

Just as Pepper manages to get Vinnie to understand the consequences of his actions, he is murdered. Pepper contacts Vinnie (with the help of her old friend Dan) and is told that another band member is going to be murdered. What she doesn't realize, is she is also in danger.

In a secondary plot, Pepper's ex-fiancee, Joel, came back to tell her he's getting married and wants his ring back. Just as she is beginning to feel sorry for herself about being dateless, Detective Quinn asks her out on a date. Then Dan Callahan, the mysterious man who has been trying to get Pepper to admit she believes in ghosts, makes another appearance. So much attention at a time when she is trying to solve not one, but two murders. Timing is not the best. What's a girl to do? Whether she wants to or not, Pepper is PI to the ghostly ones, so she must find a way to solve the crimes so her clients can go on to the next plane.

 
Kristie
The Outsider by Ann H. Gabhart
Rating: 4 Stars
Interesting twist on inspirational fiction. It's about the Shakers in 1800s Kentucky. It was very good. The characters were well done.
 
Kathy V.
Poisoned By Gilt by Leslie Caine
Rating: 5 Stars
In this latest book in the Domestic Bliss Mysteries series, Steve and Erin have to help their client make his house eco friendly to win the contest, but things keep going very very wrong. The judges keep showing up dead. So now they want her very close friend Aubrey to take their place and she worries someone will try and kill her so not only does she want to protect her but help solve the murders fast so she is safe. The next one comes out in the fall of 2009.
 
Louise Pledge (LouBabe@juno.com)
Rainbow's End by Irene Hannon
Rating: 5 Stars
This book came to me free through the mail as a sample to encourage me to get a subscription to inspirational novels from www.SteepleHill.com. I'll tell you --- if I were in the States, I would do just that. I was really impressed! 

This is a solid, warmhearted love story w/ a few scriptures included, and wonderful values to instill. Anyone with a handicap (not me) will especially enjoy it.

I hope to try more of this author's work.

 
JulieB
The Soldier King by Violette Malan
Rating: 4 Stars
A fantasy novel featuring Dhulyn and Parno, mercenaries and partners. Great characterization, good story.
 
Roxie
Summer Sisters by Judy Blume
Rating: 4 Stars
The story of 2 "summer sisters" over a 10-year period. It's one of those books you can't put down until you are done. She has a way of making you feel the characters.


 
Roxie
Fanny and Sue by Karen Stolz
Rating: 4 Stars
Great historical fiction. FANNY AND SUE is the story of twin sisters born in 1920. At first I was thinking, "what is the point of this story?" By the end of the book, I was mad it ended!

 
Roxie
The Book of Fred by Abby Bardi
Rating: 4 Stars
This book is about a teenage girl, Mary, and her parents who are members of a strange religious group that won't allow medical intervention, and two of her brothers die due to that conviction. The state takes all of the children to foster care while her parents await trial for child neglect. The characters all learn from each other and change in ways they didn't expect.
 
Kathy Vieira
The Lottery by Patricia Wood
Rating: 4 Stars
This is a beautiful, heartwarming book about a mentally challenged man who lives with his grandmother. This sweet man wins a very large lottery and "concerned" relatives seem to come out of the woodwork to "help" him with the winnings. A very odd Rocky-esque story that stole my heart from the first chapter.
 
Louise Pledge
The Man She'll Marry by Ann Roth
Rating: 2 Stars
This was rather funny, because I read Ann's ANOTHER LIFE and loved it. I immediately wrote to her and thanked her for having good enough stories that she didn't have to add a lot of graphic sex to sell them.

The next thing I did was to buy as many of her books as I could find (for the reason mentioned above). 

So this is the first of the new ones I've read, and to my dismay, I found that the whole plot revolved around the hero and the heroine fantasizing about future sexual encounters (in way too much detail). 

I guess the moral of the story is: Don't run out and buy all of an author's books just because you liked the original one you read :)

 
Marjorie Clark (marjclark@comcast.net)
The Book of Lies by Brad Meltzer
Rating: 3 Stars
This was a good book. I enjoy Meltzer's writing and have been a fan since his first book.
 
Louise Pledge (LouBabe@juno.com)
Kiss Her Goodbye by Wendy Corsi Staub
Rating: 5 Stars
Omigosh, I loved this book! It's a true mystery, like they used to be, where the enjoyment lies in trying to figure out whodunnit, rather than reading details about the characters' sex life. The story centers around a 14-year-old girl and the secrets of many in the community. Besides the great story, it delves into the emotions of the characters, making it easy to relate to their feelings and to picture yourself in the same position.

I highly recommend it to anyone who's looking for something they don't want to put down till it ends but, at the same time, don't really *want* it to end!

 
Louise Pledge
Stop Me by Brenda Novak
Rating: 5 Stars
The 2nd in the Last Stand series, Jasmine is looking for more information on the kidnapping of her sister 16 years earlier. A body was never found. During her investigation (in a small LA town), she finds a possible connection with another young girl who was murdered.
 
Roxie
How to Talk to a Widower by Jonathan Tropper
Rating: 4 Stars
The story of a young (late 20's) widower and how he copes with his teenage stepson, dating, and his family. It has many laugh-out-loud parts, but it is also sad. A quick, easy read.

 
Readingrat
The Green Beauty Guide by Julie Gabriel
Rating: 5 Stars
THE GREEN BEAUTY GUIDE (GBG) is a wonderful reference that will have a place on my shelf for quite some time. I personally found this book particularly useful because I have an allergy to the paraben preservatives that are commonly used in beauty products and cosmetics, so I have a little experience with what the author is talking about. However, thanks to the GBG I am now aware of several other ingredients that I should also be watching out for when I read labels, and I've been able to add several new items to my beauty routine with confidence.

However, THE GREEN BEAUTY GUIDE doesn't just put the spotlight on the things you shouldn't be putting on your face and body, but it gives you guidelines on how to actually find the products that don't contain the harmful ingredients which, believe me, is not as easy as it sounds. I cannot tell you how many hours I have spent searching through beauty aisles and cosmetic cases looking at itty-bitty ingredient lists --- only to find parabens hiding away in products labeled as "pure", "natural", or "allergy-free". The GBG goes a long way towards debunking all of these common buzz word claims and gives the reader straight facts on the whole advertising/marketing game.

Which brings me to the part of the Green Beauty Guide that I love the most - a list (with ratings) of several recommended products grouped by function and suggestions on where these products can be purchased. And for those do-it-yourselfers out there - a list of recipes for making your own green beauty products including information on how to obtain, mix, and store any ingredients you need for the products you want to create.

I highly recommend this book to all women. Even if you don't have allergic reactions to your beauty products like I do, this guide will really help open your eyes to what you are actually putting on your skin everyday and might just inspire you to make some changes to the products you use. Over the just the past few years that I've been aware of this issue, the natural/organic/green cosmetics have really made some steps forward into the mainstream beauty aisles. It can only get better from here.

 
Louise Pledge
Trust Me by Brenda Novak
Rating: 5 Stars
Great book! I loaned it out within 5 minutes of finishing it. The first in the Last Stand series, which all tell of the three girls who run The Last Stand organization in the Sacramento area for the purpose helping those who have been victims of crime. 

Skye came very close to being raped and murdered by a serial killer four years earlier. Now, amazingly, he is being released from prison and has vowed to come back and finish what was interrupted.

 
Ilene (papagil@comcast.net)
Tuscany For Beginners by Imogen Edwards-Jones
Rating: 4 Stars
This has many likable characters. The main character, Belinda, leaves a cheating husband in an English town and moves to the Tuscan valley to start a bed-and breakfast. Sparks start to fly when Lauren, a Wall Street ball breaker, opens an even better B and B.
 
Louise Pledge (LouBabe@juno.com)
Watch Me by Brenda Novak
Rating: 5 Stars
The last (or is it?) of the Last Stand series, WATCH ME made the top 25 on theNew York Times bestseller list and the top 10 on Borders/Waldens! 

I can understand why. The third of the gals who run TLS in Sacramento returns to the town in TN where the boy she was with was shot dead, and she was shot and left for dead. Shortly after she arrives, another attempt is made on her life. 

Her high school crush happens to be the one to find her unconscious/in critical condition. He also happens to be the brother of the murdered boy, and throughout the story of these two working together, there are many twists and turns before the surprise ending.

 
Louise Pledge
Hot Wheels and High Heels by Jane Graves
Rating: 5 Stars
Several years ago I read a couple of Jane's books and remember liking them a lot. So when I ran across HOT WHEELS AND HIGH HEELS, I just had to buy it.

I certainly wasn't disappointed. Jane's style of writing is hilarious (along the lines of Janet Evanovich), and I would have loved the book, even if it had no plot. 

Fortunately, it did have a fun story, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a break from the "heavy stuff".

 
Readingrat
Duncan Delaney and the Cadillac of Doom by A. L. Haskett
Rating: 4 Stars
The ending feels rushed, which puts a slight damper on what is otherwise a wonderfully fun satire with some great characters.
 
Readingrat
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
Rating: 4 Stars
An interesting YA historical fiction novel that provides the reader with a glimpse into Puritan life.
 
Linda
Loving Frank by Nancy Horan
Rating: 5 Stars
Mesmerizing novel about the life of Frank Lloyd Wright. I had the honor of hearing Horan speak recently, and she has done an amazing job of portraying this talented, tortured man's earlier years.
 
Sandy
The Garden of Last Days by Andre Dubus III
Rating: 5 Stars
One early September night in Florida, a stripper brings her 3-year-old daughter to work because she does not have a babysitter. That night, she has an unusual client. His name is Bassam and he is very free with his money. Meanwhile, another man, A. J., has been thrown out of the club for holding hands with his favorite stripper and he's drunk and angry and lonely. This is a very painful page-turning novel about sex and parenthood and masculinity. I hated when it ended.
 
Linda
Red Knife by William Kent Krueger
Rating: 4 Stars
Cork O'Connor is caught in the middle of a drug war between Native Americans and whites. If you're a Krueger fan, you'll want to read his latest book.
 
Louise Pledge
Mitch Takes a Wife by Ann Roth
Rating: 3 Stars
This last book in the Cranberry, Oregon trilogy might be the best. The other books spotlight Fran Bishop, who runs the local bed & breakfast. Finally, Fran gets her turn at a romance.. with one of her guests, no less.
 
Louise Pledge
It Happened One Wedding by Ann Roth
Rating: 3 Stars
This was the second in a trilogy. It was slightly better than the first, mostly because the characters were already so familiar. These books are about the small town of Cranberry, Oregon and some of the denizens who fall in love.
 
Jen
Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas by James Patterson
Rating: 5 Stars
The only book to make me cry, or think about crying. It was so good and very sad. I didn't see what was going to happen to her and her son until was I halfway through the chapter. How anybody can write in such detail about life and death amazes me. Wow...to make the reader feel such emotions for people you've never met and for the people who had to go on like in this book.
 
Lorna
The Dirty Secrets Club by Meg Gardiner
Rating: 3 Stars
I found this book confusing at times, even though it all came together at the end. As I was reading, I kept thinking this would make a better movie than a book. It's about a club in which its members all have a secret they must reveal to join, and now members are being murdered ... or are they committing suicide?
 
Mary Ann
Summer by the Sea by Susan Wiggs
Rating: 3 Stars
A great beach read (even though summer is over). A story of childhood friends who turn into more, despite social class, religion, and family opposition. But, it suddenly ends. Fast forward 12 years later, after the boy's mom's death, and Alex and Rosa are back in each others' lives. This is a good story of forgiveness, parental involvement, the importance of honesty, and of course, love.
 
Sara Miller
People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
Rating: 4 Stars
What secrets lie in the pages of a sixty-million dollar 500-year-old book? Geraldine Brooks tells the story of the real Sarajevo Haddagah in her latest novel, PEOPLE OF THE BOOK. Through CSI-style technical research during the book restoration process, clues to the books origins, owners and secrets spill out over centuries. No topic is off limits, as Brooks humanizes some of history's great intolerant atrocities. One comes to expect an informative read from this particular author, but I was absolutely blown away by this book. This book was a thoroughly enjoyable read. The deft structuring of the novel consumed me from page one --- and had me sneaking in short readings wherever and whenever I could. I'm highly recommending it as one of the best I've read this year (so far).
 
D.W.
Tallgrass by Sandra Dallas
Rating: 4 Stars
I wasn't sure if I would enjoy this since I don't usually care for historical books, but I loved it! This is fictional, but it's based on actual Japanese internment camps in the U.S. in the 1940s. 13-year-old Rennie Stroud is the narrator of this story in Colorado during World War ll. She and her family, including her granny, live on a beet farm just outside of the town of Ellis. Her older brother joins the army after Pearl Harbor and her older sister has moved to Denver to help with the war effort. In 1942, Japanese evacuees were brought from their homes in California to an old farm that had been converted into a camp called Tallgrass. It has plywood barracks, a high fence topped with barbed wire and armed guards in towers. They have left most of their possessions behind and are crowded into inadequate homes. Although they are allowed to leave the camp to go into town, they aren't always welcome. Many people blame them directly for the war and for any injuries or deaths of the soldiers from Ellis. They not only experience hostility and prejudice, they are also threatened, beat, and worse. Some people are brave enough to defend the evacuees, and Rennie's family are some of the first to do so. Her father, Loyal, and her mother, Mary, are kind, honest, hard-working people who cannot tolerate injustice to anyone. They respectfully speak against the camp and the prejudice treatment received. Loyal is also the first farmer to hire young men from the camp to work on his farm. Several other farmers soon follow, but tensions still run high. When a murder occurs and isn't immediately solved, many people naturally blame the newcomers. Rennie finds herself with more and more adult responsibilities and isn't sure who to trust. As more secrets come out, so do peoples' true character. All is not aas it seems and there are more victims in this story than anyone realizes, but there are also more heroes. This is a book to be shared.
 
Jen
The Pilot's Wife by Anita Shreve
Rating: 5 Stars
The title gave it away that something bad was going to happen. I thought it was so sad. I loved how it asked what would you do if the life you had wasn't what you had thought it was. I think Shreve gave the reader something to ask themselves --- what would you do? Where does the love go, and would you still feel the same way if someone were lying to you?
 
Jen
Meridon by Philippa Gregory
Rating: 1 Stars
I had read that this was supposed to be one of Philippa Gregory's best books, but I thought it was awful. I lost interest and started another book, ATONEMENT, by Ian McEwan. That's what kept me going --- I would read in one book, then one chapter in another book until I finished both, and I enjoyed the second one more.
 
Jen
The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory
Rating: 5 Stars
Next to THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL, this was my second favorite book by Philippa Gregory. I loved how she took some of the people from the first book and put them in these other stories. I'm not sure if any are true but the book was good. I rooted for the wife he just let go by making her like his sister or something, because I thought the stories were sad. Apparently hers was true --- they had a falling out early on and he had seen only her sister's painting. She was only one of two of his wives who got away. The other wife got away because he died; she was his final one but he had planned to have her killed, like the others, for pretty much the same things so she was lucky in that sense.
 
Betty Schatz (blschatz@lions-online.org)
The Front Porch Prophet by Robert L. Atkins
Rating: 5 Stars
A great book on relationships --- husband/wfie; father/children; best friends. I laughed, I cried.
 
Jen
The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham
Rating: 4 Stars
I liked this book. I bought the movie first, then found out it was a book. It's the only book I ever had a bookstore hold for me. I read it in less than three days, though I tried not to rush. I really didn't like the ending, though.
 
Jen
Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella
Rating: 4 Stars
I was amazed how much one person could spend on clothes and stuff, but it was a good, fast read. It's great for reading while hanging out by the pool or beach.
 
Jen
The Dark Knight (movie tie-in) by Dennis O'Nell
Rating: 5 Stars
I read this after I saw the movie. It's based on Christopher Nolan's screenplay. It continued the story of the first movie --- like what happened afterwards, and went more in depth on some of the characters. If you haven't seen the movie, then this will bring you up to date; and if you have seen it, this show you what you may not remember --- plus some extras.I read parts of it before I saw the movie so I knew who died, though I didn't know why. It's good for those who like comic books or the movies. It's a fast read, and I finished it in two or three days.
 
Jen
Incredible Hulk(movie tie-in) by Peter David
Rating: 4 Stars
I believe this book reads like the movie and the comics. It's based on the screenplay. I haven't seen the movie yet, but from commercials and previews, it seems like it. It's a quick read for those who like comic books and wasn't bad.
 
Jen
We are Witnesses by Jacob Boas
Rating: 5 Stars
This book tells of some of the teens who died in the Holocaust. It includes portions of their diaries, like Anne Frank, whom everyone has heard of, plus some who aren't as well known. It's very, very sad. When I first read Anne Frank's diary, it made me very sad and I never forgot her story. I couldn't believe the things people would do to each other because someone wanted a perfect race and to rule the world. One thing I never forgot from hers was that she still believed everybody was good at heart. It takes a truly courageous person to believe that, even after losing friends and family, not knowing where hers were, watching the ones she still had die, and not knowing if she would live or what the next day would bring. It was just so sad, and I can't believe there are people who don't believe it actually happened --- that a whole lot of the world was lying just to get into the history books for something horrible.
 
Jen
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Rating: 3 Stars
This book was lost to me. I kept reading all these reviews and excitement about the movie and my thought was, "Why? Maybe I have to reread it to get it." I now have it --- I borrowed it from someone last time.
 
Jen
The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
Rating: 5 Stars
I really liked this one, though it had mixed reviews. I love learning about European history --- it must be the English coming out of me. It was just so interesting that King Henry VIII was married so many times, and changed everybody's lives with what he thought he wanted, and how rumors got started. The book uses both actual events, plus some of the rumors of the time. Anybody who doesn't believe it should look it up. I did; I wanted to see what was real and what wasn't, plus find out more about his wives and what happen to them. The only thing not true in this book was that Mary was supposed to be the oldest, not Anne, and a lot of historians aren't even sure about it. I even found out where a lot of them were buried from reading online, and how a lot of these people fit in to the stories.
 
Jen
Wicked by Gregory Maguire
Rating: 1 Stars
This wasn't want I was expecting. It's taken me the longest time to finish --- a year, which was a year and a half after I started. When I first heard about WICKED, I thought, "Wow! A continuation of my favorite movie!" It just wasn't what I was expecting. Some of it just didn't make sense.
 
Jen
The Queen's Fool by Philippa Gregory
Rating: 1 Stars
I didn't like this book. It's a toss up between this and MERIDON for Gregory's worst book. I think she strayed too much away from the fighting between the women who wanted to be queen. I didn't really like the characters. She should have stayed with the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth I. They would have made a great story.
 
Betty Schatz (blschatz@lions-online.org)
The Guardians by Ana Castillo
Rating: 4 Stars
I found the storyline interesting; I'm just not sure I always liked her writing style. Each chapter is narrated by one of the four main characters.
 
Kristie
Sunset by Karen Kingsbury
Rating: 5 Stars
Great book, but it is unfortunately the end of the series. I'll miss the Baxter family. Things weren't always easy, but with God, all things were possible.
 
Jen
The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn by Robin Maxwell
Rating: 4 Stars
This book is a little slow at times, but it gives you a different take on the story --- like sympathy for Anne Boleyn when she was queen, which is something you don't see in many of the stories, and Mary being the easy one.The author wrote this diary for her and I believe she used real facts for some of the story. Queen Elizabeth is given her mother's diary in secret by a woman who was there with her when she died. She tells her nice stories about her mother, and after she leaves, she starts reading the diary and learns about the woman she didn't know. She even finds out where she's buried (which prompted me to look on my computer for that info) and it makes her decide that she won't let a guy rule over her. It was a nice departure from the other stuff written about these people and gives you another take on all their lives.
 
Linda L. (ll19@cornell.edu)
Hard Truth by Nevada Barr
Rating: 4 Stars
I've read through the Anna Pigeon mystery series and never get tired of them! Barr starts with an interesting and complex protagonist, and puts her in great locations (the U.S. National Parks). This novel has a bit of a "creepy" aspect to the murder mystery and I'm really enjoying it.
 
L. Hann
Something Blue by Jean Christopher Spaugh
Rating: 4 Stars
SOMETHING BLUE is a story about a women trying to reconcile freedom and love. Nice read.
 
Jennifer R.
The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
Rating: 5 Stars
Believe all the hype you've read --- this will be the most compelling book you pick up this year. The novel weaves multiple themes, stories, and points of interest so deftly that at times, you may not notice what a deep read this is. Make no mistake --- you will come out of this book learning something. This rare jewel of a novel manages to blend knowledge and emotion --- there is something to draw everyone in. The author reputedly spent seven years researching and writing this book, and truly, it was time well spent. Go read this right away. You'll thank me later.
 
Bonnie
The Gathering by Anne Enright
Rating: 3 Stars
Did you ever read a beautifully written, award-winning novel that you couldn't wait to finish because you were bored silly and didn't really care about any of the characters? Yup. This is it.
 
Dorothy
The Cereal Murders by Diane Mott Davidson
Rating: 3 Stars
I read this upon a recommendation I read here. It was good, but not a page turner. I was disappointed.
 
S.T.
Ghost Radio by Leopoldo Gout
Rating: 5 Stars
In the tradition of Richard Matheson and early Stephen King comes GHOST RADIO, a paranormal thriller about a young radio host and the dead voices that speak to him over the airwaves. Renaissance man Leopoldo Gout has written a fantastic freshman novel --- complex characters combined with an engaging and spooky narrative make GHOST RADIO a must read!
 
F Tessa Bartels
The Life & Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson
Rating: 5 Stars
Delightful memoir reminiscent of A GIRL NAMED ZIPPY, but told by a boy in the relatively "large" city of Des Moines, IA. This is a wonderfully nostalgic look at the 1950s I grew up in.

 
Shirley Dingley
Interred with Their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell
Rating: 4 Stars
Looking for a long lost work of Shakespeare, Kate Stanley travels from England to America, and back. Several killings happen on this journey. She soon realizes there are half-truths, codes, and curses surrounding this journey.
 
MJT
Tyrant of the Mind by Priscilla Royal
Rating: 4 Stars
The second of a series about Prioress Eleanor of Tyndal. Set in 1271, this book takes Eleanor from her priory back to her father's home near the Welsh border. It's a good romp of a historical mystery that kept me guessing until the end. Fans of Brother Cadfael and Sister Fidelma would enjoy this book and the others in the series.
 
Katherine Stephens (blackjack82599@gmail.com)
Murder By Family by Kent Whitaker
Rating: 3 Stars
What happens when a family is gunned down and one child is accused of the crime? Kent Whitaker, the father, and his older son Bart survive the tragedy that takes the lives of wife and mother, Tricia and younger son, Kevin. Bart is arrested for the crime and the faith of Kent is put to the ultimate test.
 
Cecilia H.
The Heretic's Daughter by Kent, Kathleen
Rating: 5 Stars
Not many books touch me on such an emotional level to actually make me cry, but this book did just that. I couldn't put it down. Set during the Salem witch trials, it pits neighbor against neighbor and family members against one another, ending with a mother's loving sacrifice for her family. Kathleen Kent's prose allows you to examine each character's joy and sorrow in their daily lives until finally, as you are watching helplessly, one innocent victim after another is deemed as a witch and taken away.
 
Denise B
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
Rating: 5 Stars
This is one of the most enjoyable books I have read recently. I am not a racing fan but that did not interfere with the storyline; it enhanced it. If you have a dog, you will begin to think, "Is my dog really like that?" It was written from a very different perspective.
 
Juanita
The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
Rating: 4 Stars
Well written, but I difficult book to read if you still remember the Vietnam War. This was my book club pick --- I'm sure we will have a great discussion with lots of memories.
 
Kaye
Gumbo Tales by Sara Roahen
Rating: 4 Stars
Even before you open GUMBO TALES: Finding My Place at the New Orleans Table, a new book by Sara Roahen, you might get a sense of the place. The beautiful dust jacket evokes the spirit of New Orleans, a city of traditions that involves not only food, but celebrations, music and much history. The cocktails sign may be a little faded , like the city itself, but the wrought-iron lanterns over the doorways are warm and welcoming.

Roahen serves up chapter after chapter of New Orleans' specialties as vignettes of the different inhabitants of the city. There is a tremendous amount of interesting history of the people and their indomitable spirit, who eventually called New Orleans their home and blended their culture with the cultures of others. 

The reader experiences the joy of St. Joseph's day, the riotous enjoyment of Mardi Gras and other such ethnic diversions. Through the different foods, the reader is introduced to the importance of gumbo, oysters and po'boys. It seems in New Orleans, errant husbands do not bring home flowers, they bring po'boys! An interesting note is that Italian culinary traditions have spread in the Metro area, second only to Creole. Whatever ethnic neighborhood, food and family are the common themes.

Roahen writes such beautifully descriptive phrases that the reader feels they are transported to New Orleans and the specific location she is writing about. Roahen writes with an incredible use of imagery the reader can almost smell the cooking aromas and feel the presence of the other diners in whatever restaurant she is describing. In one café she describes, there are only two other people in the bar with her, a lone drinker of Chivas Regal and the server. The room is dim and only lit by the light from the window. While the jukebox wails out its plaintive song, the server begins to dance while humming and spinning around with her eyes closed. The man sips his drink while Roahen samples some turkey gizzards. This is just one of such numerous dining experiences.

If you have never been to New Orleans, you will feel as though you know the city and its people quite well after reading this charming tale. There is also such a sense of poignancy and heartbreak about the city after Katrina changed not only the landscape, but the people; but. there is also hope for new beginnings. Roahen states one of her strongest lessons so far is that "the power of the place is not limited to where: it can also be a why and a how."

Whether you are a die-hard foodie or just have an interest in the history of different cultures, people and their traditions, you will enjoy this book. Almost four pages of bibliography for further looks into cooks, cooking, and how to make a perfect cocktail round out this personal memoir of a former line cook turned food critic in her much beloved city of New Orleans . A recommended read.

 
Debi
The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
Rating: 4 Stars
I had been wanting to read this since it came out, but I was afraid it would be too sad. Finally, I took the plunge, and I'm glad I did! Even though I cried in the end, I found his words to be very uplifting --- even optimistic. I highly recommend it.
 
Marsha (marshanee@roadrunner.com)
Dead Time by Stephen White
Rating: 5 Stars
Boulder, Colorado psychologist Alan Gregory is faced with several problems --- a new family member, a request from his former wife, and a shaky marriage. With the aid of his friend and detective, Sam Purdy, he tries to unravel a mystery that happened years ago in the floor of the Grand Canyon. It's nonstop action.
 
Ardannyl (Adyou5@aol.com)
The Everyday Living of Children&Teens Monologue by Adra Young
Rating: 4 Stars
This book is even better than the first one!
 
Debi
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Rating: 5 Stars
What a remarkable work of historical fiction! It pulled me in from the start with Izzy's humorous letter. Told through the style of letter-writing, the reader is led to Guernsey, a small English island, after the Germans have pulled out at the end of World War II. Their hardship, pain, and loss is revealed through the personal observations of the letter writers, who speak with love, hope, and laughter. What a great book!
 
Shannon
Lifelines by CJ Lyons
Rating: 4 Stars
A fast-paced medical thriller featuring 4 women in the medical field trying to keep people alive over the 4th of July weekend. 
Lydia is the new attending, and her first major case which wasn't called in as major has just killed the son of the chief of surgery. She has to learn to depend on people she's just met as she fights for her job, and the lives of those around her, as well as her own. Top notch writing from a debut novel.

 
Lori Barnes (photoquest@bellsouth.net)
Bobbie Faye's Very (very, very, very) Bad Day by Toni McGee Causey
Rating: 5 Stars
If you're looking for a book with an extremely strong leading character, this is the book for you. Bobbie Faye has a wide open personality she is constantly finding herself in dangerous situations. The book starts out with a mishap -- a leak in her trailer that has gotten so bad the walls are starting to buckle. Her brother has gotten himself in a mess and is being held for ransom; and, what they want only Bobby Faye can give him --- her mother's tiara, given to her when she was crowned the Contraband Queen. This adventure will have you glued to the book. Her personality alone is enough to keep you interested. Not knowing what other situation Bobbie Faye will encounter makes it easy to continue, and the secondary characters are good as well. I also love the Bobbie Faye captions included at each chapter. A good one that describes her well is, "Warning: Bobbie Faye crossing." I will say that Bobbie gets a man involved against his will, as well as an old flame. You must read this, and yes, it will also make you laugh.
 
Jeanie
A Piece of Cake by Cupcake Brown
Rating: 5 Stars
This is the memoir of Cupcake, a girl who --- at 11 years old --- loses her mother and ends up a runaway after living in an abusive foster care home. She turns to selling sex and using drugs to survive the streets.
 
Dale
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
Rating: 4 Stars
We pick at least one classic book a year in my book club. Sometimes they are awful and boring, but I have to say, this book was very good. It's a short love story that keeps you interested in the characters. It's a classic that I'm glad I read, and I look forward to reading more of her books.
 
Crystal Blackburn
Night Watch by Stephen Kendrick
Rating: 5 Stars
A pastiche in which Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson, Mycroft Holmes, and Inspector Lestrade solve a mystery that also involves Father Brown! Father Brown, a young priest, is one of the suspects!
 
Sharron
Hold Tight by Harlan Coben
Rating: 4 Stars
Another Coben mystery with lots of twists and turns and connections, some of which are predictable. The story revolves around a missing teen whose parents are sure he is not a runaway or involved in drugs, etc. Read to find out!!
 
Sharron
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Borrows & Mary Ann Shaffer
Rating: 5 Stars
A wonderful story told in the form of letters after World War II about life on the Isle of Guernsey during the war. You really feel you know the characters, as well as want to write a letter to someone, anyone. What a charming book!
 
Nancy
Just One Look by Harlan Coben
Rating: 5 Stars
If I could give this book a 10, I would --- it's one of my favorites. I love the twists and turns. I read a lot, and when an author has me guessing, I am thrilled. I could not put this one down...and didn't want to!
 
Nancy
Killing Spree by Kevin O'Brien
Rating: 5 Stars
Someone is copying murders from an author's books.The twists and turns keep you staying up to get to the end. Several times, you were led to believe it was a certain person and at one point, it just shocked me. I love this author.
 
Kay Keller
New Moon by Stephenie Meyer
Rating: 5 Stars
This second book in the Twilight saga is just as good as the first! Bella and Edward split up. Teenage werewolves enter the story, and it just keeps getting better! I can see why these books are so popular with both YA readers as well as adults.
 
Vicki
Forever Odd by Dean Koontz
Rating: 2 Stars
I must say that I was not impressed with this book. The first one was better.
 
Dale
The Choice by Nicholas Sparks
Rating: 2 Stars
Not one of the best books I have read by him. It was kind of a sappy love story and the ending was not one of his best options, even though I like happy endings.
 
Kathy Weber
1st to Die by James Patterson
Rating: 4 Stars
I love the way he writes, and he keeps you in suspense.
 
Genie
Deadly Deceptions by Linda Lael Miller
Rating: 5 Stars
Mary Josephine Mayhugh --- aka Mojo Sheepshanksis --- has just decided to become a PI. While she grudgingly accepts her ability to talk to ghosts, Mojo does her best to help them resolve the issues that keep them earthbound, but isn't above asking for their assistance in solving cases. When seven-year-old deaf-mute Gillian Pellaway is murdered, her stepfather is the main suspect. Gillian appears to ask Mojo to find the real murderer. A second case materializes when Alex, the cheating husband of Mojo's adopted sister Greer Pennington, is found murdered. Greer is the prime suspect. Homicide cop Tucker Darroch is crazy about Mojo and does his best to provide moral support during both investigations. Plot twists involving Greer's past is complicated by the appearances of other ghosts. This story is tight, funny and sexy. Miller has given the Mojo's character substance. This series reminds me of the complex plots of the television program "Medium". I can't wait to get my hands on the next book in this series!
 
Kellie (acountkel@bellsouth.net)
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Rating: 2 Stars
I know there was a lot of meaning behind the story told in this book. I think some of it went over my head. I could not see the relevance some parts of the book had to the story. I didn't hate this book, I just don't think I understood it.
 
Barbara
The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent
Rating: 4 Stars
This novel is based on stories the author has heard about one of her ancestors during the Salem Witch Trials. There is also a great depiction of the hardships the Puritans had to endure.
 
Cheryl S.
To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
Rating: 1 Stars
We're reading this in our book group and I have to say that this is one of the worst choices we've made. This book has no plot and is written in a style that uses extra long sentences to get the point across. I guess you would call it descriptive writing, but it's way too descriptive for me. I had to quit reading after 30 or so pages.
 
Asha Smith
The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs
Rating: 5 Stars
Georgia, like many single parents, is juggling raising a child and running a knitting business. Anita has to seriously consider the advances of a would-be suitor. James, Georgia's ex wants back in --- in with the child he never knew and with Georgia. And Georgia's high school best friend who dumped years earlier tries to renew her friendship. It reads like an everyday real-life tale of women finding themselves and bonding.
 
Jan T.
The Soloist by Steve Lopez
Rating: 5 Stars
A fascinating read from page 1. Lopez, a newspaper reporter in LA, stumbles upon a street person one day and finds himself drawn back again and again to this man as he goes about his daily routine. Lopez comes to find that the man was a gifted musician and sets about helping him find a better life and a renewed interest in music. Lopez gets involved in trying to help the homeless in LA as a result of this contact. This was a true story and I was delighted to read that it will be coming out as a movie this fall with Jamie Foxx in the role of the homeless man.
 
Jan T.
The Red Leather Diary by Lily Koppel
Rating: 4 Stars
While dumpster diving in a neighborhood in NYC, the author finds an diary circa the 1920s. It is the diary of a young woman who was very liberated for her time. Lily eventually tracks down the author, still living and in her 90s in Florida, and a lovely friendship ensues. Very enjoyable.
 
Gina
Sail by James Patterson and Howard Roughan
Rating: 4 Stars
Great beach read! A mystery novel
with lots of twists and turns.

 
J Tindall
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Rating: 5 Stars
A novel, but with the historical background of the occupation of the Isle of Guernsey in the English Channel, by the Germans during World War II. The delightful story running throughout is so warm and oftentimes even comical, all the while one is learning about the hardships of the occupation.
 
J. Tindall
My Grandfather's Son by Clarence Thomas
Rating: 4 Stars
Marvelous account of how this man made it through his early years living with his incredibly strict grandfather and how he eventually came to see why his grandfather acted as he did. The most memorable line in the book for me was when Thomas asked his grandfather many years later why he treated Jamal, Thomas's young son, so differently. Grandfather played with Jamal and was the loving person Clarence so longed for when he was growing up. Grandfather's reply: "I had to raise you and your brother...YOU have to raise Jamal!"

There was, of course, much detail about his years of schooling, some insight into the role of Anita Hill in his life and the horrible inquisition he was put through to finally become a Chief Justice on the Supreme Court. 

The role Joe Biden played in his life is very telling of the kind of person we are looking at as a possible vice president.

 
Margie Bunting (mbunting@sbcglobal.net)
Oxygen by Carol Cassella
Rating: 4 Stars
I was afraid that this story about an anesthesiologist who faces a malpractice suit when a young girl dies on the operating table would be too depressing, but Cassella's excellent writing style and the twist at the end made it well worth reading.
 
Julie
Working Stiff by Tori Carrington
Rating: 4 Stars
If you like Stephanie Plum and are looking for another fun read while waiting for the next Numbered mystery, these could be for you. Sofie Metropolis is a Greek pi --- plenty of family, hot guy prospects and funny situations.
 
Cathey (dbinpgh@aol.com)
Love Walked In by Marisa De Los Santos
Rating: 4 Stars
A great story about a single woman and a little girl who develop a unique bond. Excellent writing.
 
Cathey (dbinpgh@aol.com)
Belong to Me by Marisa De Los Santos
Rating: 5 Stars
The continuing story of Cornelia Brown from LOVE WALKED IN, in which she becomes entangled in a web of trust, betrayal, love and loss. I got really caught up in the characters in this book. Great story!

 
Callista
The Pact of the Wolves by Nina Blazon
Rating: 5 Stars
Wow! This book had me a little scared. When I read fiction, I get sucked in, and I become the character. So all the spooky, scary or upsetting things that happened to the main character Bianca, happened to me. 

It's an average size teen novel at just over 200 pages and has a very interesting cover. As the unexplained death became like a mystery subplot, I tried to figure out what happened, as I do with every mystery novel I read. The mark of a good mystery is if I can't figure out what happened before they reveal it. This is one of those books. My ideas were so wrong! 

This is one of the best YA novels I've read this year, for sure.

 
P Kerr
Lord Tophet by Gregory Frost
Rating: 5 Stars
I've been waiting with bated breath for Frost's follow-up to his novel, SHADOWBRIDGE. Finally, it's here and it was worth the wait. Gregory Frost is an amazing weaver of tales. I highly recommend both books. You won't be disappointed.
 
Mary Ann
The Keepsake by Tess Gerritsen
Rating: 4 Stars
A good mystery with links to archeaology, mummification, serial killing and obsession. It's part of a series about a medical examiner and a female cop. You don't need to have read any other previous books, though. This is a good, suspenseful read.
 
MaryinHB (mljacobsinhb@msn.com)
The Map Thief: A Novel by Heather Terrell
Rating: 4 Stars
This is a well-written mystery/thriller that brings in historical elements to enhance the modern-day story it tells. It does take some historical liberties, but that only enhances the story. I enjoyed this very much.
 
MaryinHB (mljacobsinhb@msn.com)
The Chrysalis: A Novel by Heather Terrell
Rating: 4 Stars
The first book in the mystery/thriller series about Mara Coyne, a lawyer who takes on the art world. It's very well written and told from 3 points of view, with great historical background. I hope this series continues.
 
MaryinHB (mljacobsinhb@msn.com)
Alexandria by Nick Bantock
Rating: 5 Stars
These books are truly pieces of art. The detail is amazing and the story is told through personal communications. The book recaptures letters and postcards to tell the love story of Griffin and Sabine. I highly recommend this.
 
MaryinHB (mljacobsinhb@msn.com)
The Morning Star by Nick Bantock
Rating: 5 Stars
The conclusion of the Griffin and Sabine story. I think it would be best to read all of these together since they are really such short stories. Beautifully produced art work and the story is magical.
 
MaryinHB (mljacobsinhb@msn.com)
Losing It by Valerie Bertinelli
Rating: 4 Stars
I was very surprised at how well this was written in a very personable manner. I really enjoyed it, although I think the author glossed over what she really went through married to an addict. This is not a weight loss book, but more of a memoir.
 
Angela Satalino
Portrait in Sepia by Isabel Allende
Rating: 3 Stars
Sequel to DAUGHTER OF FORTUNE, but you don''t have to read that to read this book. Enjoyable characters, good story.
 
Debbie W.
The Forever War by Dexter Filkins
Rating: 5 Stars
This is a nonfiction account of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars by a foreign correspondent for the the New York Times. This book is so powerfully written you must stop reading to walk away and think about what you have read. It is not an easy book to read, with graphic details about suicide bombers, tortured prisoners, dead American soldiers, and radical insurgents bent on killing their own people. It is a must read, though if we are to pummel our government to start the withdrawal NOW! In light of the financial debacle facing us, it is even more urgent to allocate billions of dollars away from the war for our economic survival.
 
Priscilla (pmfynn@webtv.net)
Ticket Home by James Michael Pratt
Rating: 5 Stars
I loved this book. It is romantic, funny and sad. And the ending is probably predictable.
Twin brothers, with their father, run a railroad station during the depression. Both brothers fall in love with the same woman! You follow their lives through the war, as prisoners of war, and their return home.

 
Coral Harrison
Where the River Ends by Charles Martin
Rating: 5 Stars
A well-written book about a woman who is dying of cancer. She wants to do certain things before she dies. One is to go down this river in a canoe with her husband. They have various problems, but make it. She is from a rich family and he is not, but they love each other. A sad but good story.
 
Coral Harrison
Blue Heaven by C. J. Box
Rating: 5 Stars
A mystery about rogue L. A. cops coming into Idaho. The author usually writes about one man, a Game Warden, and his family, but not this time. I liked this book.
 
Mary K. from L.A.
Mr. White's Confession by Robert Clark
Rating: 5 Stars
For a first novel, this is excellent on different levels --- for the writing itself, and as a hard-boiled detective story and psychological thriller, a character study, and an evocation of an era. This is one of five favorite novels of mine for the third quarter of 2008.
 
F Tessa Bartels
The Soloist by Mark Salzman
Rating: 5 Stars
An incandescent work about personal growth. Renne is a former musical child prodigy, now teaching music at a university --- too young to be a retired concert soloist, too old to still be a virgin. 

 
F Tessa Bartels
Being Dead Is No Excuse by Gayden Metcalfe & Charlotte Hays
Rating: 3 Stars
3.5 stars
"The official Southern Ladies Guide to Hosting the Perfect Funeral" is charming and has some great casserole recipes!

 
Priscilla (pmflynn@webtvnet)
Mallets Aforethought by Sarah Graves
Rating: 5 Stars
Home Repair is Homicide mystery. Jacobia Tiptree left her high-powered career for a dilapidated fixer-upper in Maine. Sarah Graves has written a series of books on them. They are written with a lot of humor, plus you learn a lot about Maine and fixing up an old house!
 
Linda
Thunderstruck by Eric Larsen
Rating: 4 Stars
Nonfiction work that runs 2 parallel stories --- one of Marconi's wireless telegraphy and a murder of a hard-to-like wife of a meek husband.
 
Priscilla (pmflynn@webtv.net)
C is for Corpse by Sue Grafton
Rating: 4 Stars
Kinsey Millhone mystery. Sue Grafton is writing her way through the alphabet.The stories are short but well written and fun to read.
 
Debby Creager (cleo@hbeark.com)
Anybody Out There? by Marian Keyes
Rating: 4 Stars
Not my usual kind of book, but a good good book nonetheless.
 
Julie
Sail by James Patterson and Howard Roughan
Rating: 3 Stars
This book kept my interest until the end, but compared to other books I've read, the plot was somewhat predictable and the writing was not up to the standard of Patterson's other novels.
 
Callista
One Child by Torey Hayden
Rating: 5 Stars
This is a memoir of a teacher of troubled children and specifically, her work with Sheila.

This book was terrible and amazing at the same time. It was terrible because it was so sad, upsetting, and sometimes downright disturbing; but, it was amazing because of what Torey Hayden did for little Sheila, and the way she writes about it makes me feel like I'm there.

I recommend this book if you are into case studies of child psychology and child abuse, work with severely disturbed children, or just want to read what a loving, dedicated teacher can do. However, I do not recommend this book if you are easily upset or were abused yourself.

 
Karen Haney
Devil's Brood by Sharon Kay Penman
Rating: 4 Stars
The end of the trilogy of Sharon Kay Penman's dearly loved books about Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine is a marvelous reading experience. Owing to their coalition and associations, theirs is a kingdom that includes a vast and extensive Christian realm. Although fans will be heartbroken to see the trilogy end, they won't be disappointed. As always, Penman brings characters that lived hundreds of years ago to life today. One can't help but empathize with Eleanor and her king, Henry II, as they desperately attempt to show the love they share for their children while trying to also balance the needs of the people and their respective kingdoms. 

Henry is focused on holding on to, as well as expanding, his kingdom, to pass it on to their eldest son, Hal. Meanwhile, Eleanor is obsessed with maintaining her duchy of Aquitaine for their second son, Richard. Eleanor and their three eldest sons turn against Henry by siding with Louis of France, who is his most ruthless enemy. Tragically, when two of their sons die, it puts all they have in grave danger, especially their tempestuous but passionate personal relationship. Henry's greatest loss --- even greater than his sons turning against him --- however, is the fact that his wife would be disloyal to him. It is often the familiar query readers ask in so many great love stories, when we wonder how two people who love each other so deeply could be such ruthless rivals at the same time?

Anyone who likes historical fiction will love this book. It captures the struggle in a complex family, and is the tale of a great leader whose brilliance forged an empire, but who turned an eye and led him to the biggest mistake of his life. Its 700+ pages will keep the reader enthralled until the very end. Regardless of the fact that you know the historical outcome, you still find yourself captured by the drama of the times and the personalities of this family and its friends and enemies.

 
Diane La Rue (laruediane2000@yahoo.com)
The Turnaround by George Pelecanos
Rating: 4 Stars
In a day when many authors write 600-page novels, Pelecanos manages to tell a fascinating crime fiction story in less than 300. He weaves the story of three young white boys in 1972 who, after an afternoon of drinking and smoking pot, drive into the black section of Washington DC and throw a pie and an slur at some young black men. Violence ensues, and tragedy follows. 

Thirty five years later, two of the men --- one white, one black --- meet at the Fisher House at Walter Reed Army Hospital. The repercussions of the past, along with a still-angry man, collide with the present.

The themes of racism, loyalty, guilt and redemption are dealt with by a skilled writer. I highly recommend this novel to anyone, but in particular, young men can get much from it.

 
Thomas P. Ray
The Given Day by Dennis Lehane
Rating: 5 Stars
This book is over 700 pages long; I thought that it would take for ever to read, but I finished it 3 days later. The is Dennis Lehane at his best.
 
Kellie (acountkel@bellsouth.net)
One More Time by Carol Burnette
Rating: 4 Stars
I enjoy reading books written by celebrities. It helps you understand who they really are, and whether they are genuine or not. Carol Burnett definitely is. This book is about her life from when she was a child to when she got her break. She had a very rough childhood, but she also had love. Her mother was definitely dysfunctional. Her Dad was not in the picture due to her parents' divorce, his illness and booze. But when she did see him, he was very sweet to her. Her mother had her own demons. Pregnant with Carol's sister Chrissy by a married man (Tony), she had the baby and kept it. Carol's mom also dealt with alcoholism. Nanny was the root of her childhood memories. She came off as weak and elderly, but she really was the rock that held the family together. She did everything she could to keep food on the table and a roof over their head when Carol's parents couldn't. 

Nowadays, if someone grew up in this type of situation, they would probably end up dysfunctional themselves. Not Carol. She, no matter how bad her childhood was, played by the rules. She received money from an unnamed elite in Holllywood to go to New York and have a shot at Broadway, and she appreciated it. She wrote letters to this person to let him know how she was doing, and when she finally earned enough money, she paid him back. She rescued her sister Chrissy when things got tough at home, and raised her from her teenage years. I admire Carol for her success, but more importantly, for how she has handled her fame. She sets a great example for people who have become famous. Especially for those who have started from nothing. I am so glad I read this book. I'm now off to find the TVLand schedule to see if there are any Carol Burnett Show reruns to watch.

 
Lynn
The Florist's Daughter by Patricia Hampl
Rating: 2 Stars
This book is a memoir about a woman who reconnects to her past as she says the long goodbye to her dying mother. The author describes life in safe, middle America (St. Paul, MN) during the mid- century as a middle child. Sharing those characteristics, I thought that I would be intrigued by this book. The historic references to old St. Paul were very interesting, but all in all, this book was a yawn fest.
 
MJB
Lady Killer by Lisa Scottoline
Rating: 4 Stars
At last, Mary DiNunzio is back working as a lawyer at Rosato & Associates. Her client is an old rival from her high school days seeking protection from a boyfriend involved in the mob. When the client turns up missing, Mary pulls out all the stops to find her and bring her back to South Philly. Once again, Scottoline delivers.
 
Debbie
An Accidental Light by Elizabeth Diamond
Rating: 5 Stars
An emotionally taut story of what happens when a policeman accidentally runs over a 13-year-old girl. The book is told from the points of view of the policeman and the dead girl's mother. This is the author's first novel and a beautiful debut. It releases in Feb 2009.
 
Gladys Paradowski
Bedded by the Greek Billionaire by Kate Walker
Rating: 5 Stars
I had to read this book by the use of a flashlight due to Hurricane Ike, but it was wonderful having such an delightful read to entertain myself while there wasn't much one could do. Your emotions will be put through the wringer with this story. Neither the heroine nor hero is placed on the proverbial pedestal. The dialogue between them is at times brutal, but will have you spellbound. It's definitely worth reading by flashlight, or any light.
 
Judy O.
Beside a Burning Sea by John Shors
Rating: 5 Stars
During World War II, an American hospital ship, the Benevolence, is torpedoed and sunk by the Japanese. In this fictional story, nine survivors swim to a deserted island and must find a way to stay alive until they can be rescued. One of the survivors is a Japanese military man who was being cared for on the ship by a beautiful nurse named Annie. The two of them fall in love, but their love seems doomed by the evil presence of one of their group. This is an exciting war account and love story.
 
E. Quinn Knight
Keeping the House by Ellen Baker
Rating: 5 Stars
The theme of this book is making marriage work. It is funny and serious all in one. KEEPING THE HOUSE moves back and forth in time. It struggles with the themes of identity, conformity, fatherhood, passion and others. It is a great read and lets one in on what went on in previous generations.
 
Bea
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Rating: 4 Stars
I couldn't put this one down.
 
Debbie (delphimo@yahoo.com)
Southern Fatality by T. Lynn Ocean
Rating: 3 Stars
Jersey Barnes mystery set in Wilmington, NC about an ex-Marine lady who owns and operates a security business and a restaurant/bar. It reminds me of Kathryn R. Wall's Bay Tanner series. This adventure features social security fraud and kidnapping, and Jersey's boyfriend is involved in the caper.
 
Marleen Davis (marleenandlouie@cox.net)
Double Cross by James Patterson
Rating: 4 Stars
Newly retired and in private practice, cop psychologist Dr. Alex Cross is enjoying life again with his family. He spends lots of time with his kids and nana, mama, and his girlfriend, but he can't stay away from police work too long. He gets drawn into a new case of a serial killer who murders in front of large crowds (his audiences) and then somehow flees. It's really good, but I didn't care much for the end.
 
Sandra
The Whole Truth by David Baldacci
Rating: 5 Stars
Wonderful characters and a great plot. Nicholas Creel is the bad guy and his main helper is Dick Pender. Shaw, a man with no first name, has a truly unique past. Willing to do anything to get back to the top of her profession is Katie James. You will love this page turner.
 
Sandra
The Third Angel by Alice Hoffman
Rating: 4 Stars
A story that follows the lives of 3 women in love with the wrong man. At the heart of the novel is Lucy Green, who blames herself for a tragic accident she witnessed at the age of 12.
 
Sandra
Chasing Windmills by Catherine Ryan Hope
Rating: 5 Stars
Both Sebastian and Maria live in a world ruled by fear. Sebastian, a lonely 17 year old is suffocating under his dominant father's control. Maria, a young mother of 2, is trying to keep peace at home despite her boyfriend's abuse. They meet at night on the subway and find a connection that neither can explain or ignore.
 
Melissa Conatser (melissaconatser@gmail.com)
Blood Dreams by Kay Hooper
Rating: 5 Stars
I have read all of Kay Hooper's Bishop/Special Crimes Unit series, with BLOOD DREAMS being the most current title. Every single book was wonderful and this was no exception. Each book deals with serial criminals and psychic investigators; each is phenomenal and I am anxiously awaiting the next installment!
 
Lauren
The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner
Rating: 4 Stars
This is a wonderful story of Juana La Loca, Queen of Spain, daughter of Queen Isabelle and King Consort Fernando.
It's a story of Juana's arranged marriage, up until her ultimate imprisonment by her traitorous and jealous father. It tells of her struggles, from marital abuse, to loss of family one after another, to fighting for her kingdom, Spain. It's well written, and very worth the read.

 
Julianne Perretta (jperrettart@yahoo.com)
A Voyage Long and Strange by Tony Horwitz
Rating: 4 Stars
Historic nonfiction about the discovery of the Americas. Horwitz is a great writer, and I would recommend anything by him.
 
Elizabeth V
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Rating: 5 Stars
I haven't quite finished this book yet, but I'm close to the end. I've read better books, the kind that keep me reading through the night, but this book is better than four stars. I'd say it deserves 4.5.

I love Rosie the elephant. She's a big reason I love the book. I keep reading to find out if August is mean to her again.

 
Myrna
The Gate House by Nelson DeMille
Rating: 3 Stars
THE GATE HOUSE is a sequel to one of DeMille's best works of fiction, THE GOLD COAST, but there was no justification for a follow-up. THE GOLD COAST was a social satire about the violent clash between the very affluent living on Long Island's North Shore and the wannabe members of the Mafia. THE GATE HOUSE is more of the same but not as compelling.
 
Kathy Kasten
Twelve Sharp by Janet Evanovich
Rating: 4 Stars
I love all her books, and this one was no exception.
 
Myrna
Black and White and Dead All Over by John Darnton
Rating: 4 Stars
Murder stalks the newsroom of a New York Times-like metropolitan newspaper struggling to survive the age of the Internet and quick-byte television news. There's plenty of competition among the staff's journalists to point the finger at the suspect, but there are some wonderful red herrings also. A very good read.
 
Marleen Davis (marleenandlouie@cox.net)
Fearless Fourteen by Janet Evanovich
Rating: 4 Stars
Love Stephanie Plum! It's great to have a fun, light, quick read in between some of the books that are dark that I read. Evanovich makes me laugh out loud and I really enjoy her novels.
 
Karen V
Right from the Gecko: Reigning Cats and Dogs #5 by Cynthia Baxter
Rating: 4 Stars
I think it is a good read. It contains a good story (investigating a murder of a reporter), and even though it's a light mystery, there is still a lot of suspense in this one. I would recommend it and the whole series.
 
Rhoda MacMaster (Tiggi47@aol.com)
The Shack by William P. Young
Rating: 5 Stars
A thought-provoking book that takes you through a lot of emotions and makes you stop and think about life. Mac's talks with God makes it very human-like.
 
Bea
On Agate Hill by Lee Smith
Rating: 4 Stars
This is one of those stories of a life that you wish could just go on and on. I couldn't wait to open the book up every night.
 
D. Lohrding
The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
Rating: 4 Stars
I'm still at the beginning of this book and up to this point, I give it 4 stars. There seems to be a lot of time spent viewing the landscape, yet I do think about the book when I am not reading it and I'm always anxious to dive back into the story. This is the first time I have read this author and I like her. There is so much more to learn about this time period (when King Henry VIII ruled) than what I learned in history class growing up!
 
Marci
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
Rating: 4 Stars
Life during the pre-World War I era as described by an adolescent girl was the theme of this book. She grew up in a very poor family with an alcoholic for a father who couldn't hold down a job. You couldn't hate him, though, because through his daughter's eyes, she always loved him. It was tough, but a good read.
 
Stephanie Pearl
The Suicide Index by Joan Wickersham
Rating: 4 Stars
A moving memoir tracing author Wickersham's attempt to discern the cause of her father's suicide. Wickersham's search is doomed from the start as the only person who can answer her questions is gone forever. Yet, what emerges is a bleak, powerful and gripping story about the impact of suicide on surviving family members weeks, months and years afterward.
 
Gracee (amazengrce@aol.com)
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
Rating: 4 Stars
Set in the mid 1800's in China, this book deals with cultural ideas surrounding foot-binding of young girls.

Two young girls, through their families, are promised to each other as confidants and "best friends." Matched up through horoscopes, calendars, and other indicators, Snow Flower and Lily are "old sames" or "best friends to the end" (as western world would deem them). 
I'm so used to reading big fat books that when a faster read (about 250pp) moves me like this story does, I'm always surprised. I find myself putting it down, intending to do housework, only to realize the book is in my hands AGAIN! This is a 
moving, touching story that is hard to put down.

 
Debbie (deble_2000@yahoo.com)
Marley & Me by John Grogan
Rating: 5 Stars
This book is for anyone who has ever loved a dog. I laughed and I cried right along with John and his family....and Marley, the beloved Lab. I am so looking forward to the release of the movie! Please have a tissue handy as you read!
 
Rupa
All Souls' Night by Jennifer Armintrout
Rating: 5 Stars
This is the fourth book in Jennifer Armintrout's Blood Ties series and just like all three before it, it is such an awesome book. There's action, romance, twists, humor, and my favorite part --- vampires :) This is my favorite series of all time and I think this book is definitely underrated, especially for those who like the paranormal genre. It is so entertaining and the characters are so funny. I love this book!
 
Ricki (rickimc@aol.com)
Strange Candy by Laurell K. Hamilton
Rating: 3 Stars
Most of these stories were a nice change of pace from Hamilton's popular Anita Blake.
 
Ann
The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon
Rating: 4 Stars
I am reading this book for a class; I have to read a science fiction book, and this one won the Hugo Award this year. It is a story of the (imaginary) temporary Jewish resettlement to Sitka, Alaska from 1948 until the present day. Publishers Weekly calls it a "murder-mystery speculative-history Jewish-identity noir chess thriller." It definitely takes the reader to a different place and time, with the main character in the current day but with his recollections of relatives in earlier days in Sitka. Chabon adds subtle humor to spice up the mystery.
 
Pat P in Towaco
The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
Rating: 5 Stars
Absolutely loved this book! Very intriguing. Once you get through the graphic descriptions of burning and treatment, the story really takes off. Nuances that will stay with you long after you've closed the book.
 
Pat P. in Towaco
The Lace Reader by Bunonia Barry
Rating: 4 Stars
A very good book that really keeps you guessing right up to the end when things happen very fast. This was my book club's choice and it really sparked a fascinating discussion. We are still e-mailing each other with questions and opinions.
 
Annette (agjuba@hotmail.com)
Life Class: A Novel by Pat Barker
Rating: 4 Stars
An interesting love triangle set in England just before and during World War I. The contrast between society events in London and casualty scenes in Belgium is appropriately unsettling.
 
Ray Palen (razorramon@optonline.net)
Whompyjawed by Mitch Cullin
Rating: 5 Stars
A coming-of-age tale about a small-town high school football star in Claude, TX. Written with a unique style and totally from the viewpoint of the main character, Will Keeler, this novel is reminiscent of THE CATCHER IN THE RYE for its insights into the complex teen psyche. Cullin handles the subject with tenderness and shows his versatility --- having already hit fame with the cult novel TIDELAND.
 
Marleen Davis (marleenandlouie@cox.net)
Lush Life by Richard Price
Rating: 4 Stars
I just finished this (finally) and enjoyed it, but wow, was it long and labored. It's a very good book but not as good as CLOCKERS, though it was better than FREEDOMLAND. But, Price's style is very heavy --- it drags you down. It's mostly depressing and sad and gritty. I know, I did say I enjoyed it; perhaps that's not exactly the correct adjective, but it was very interesting and complex, and the characters and background were very compelling. If you have patience, it's worth reading. Unfortunately, I'm a very slow reader, so this was a bit of a sacrifice for me.
 
Wendy
Certain Prey by John Sandford
Rating: 4 Stars
John Sandford's Prey series continues to impress, book after book. CERTAIN PREY, Book #10, finds Lucas Davenport on the hunt for a professional hit man --- only this hitter is a woman and one who is very good at her job.
 
Mary
Cold Hearted by Beverly Barton
Rating: 4 Stars
What a great romantic suspense novel. It had just enough romance with a major amount of suspense. Is Jordan a "black widow", or is she really the victim --- along with all the men in her life who have died. There were so many twists and turns that I blamed everyone at least once.
 
Bonnie
Hollywood Station by Joseph Wambaugh
Rating: 3 Stars
An interesting-enough novel about Hollywood police officers. If you've enjoyed one of Wambaugh's books, you'll like them all --- they're almost indistinguishable.
 
T. Thomas
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Rating: 5 Stars
Wonderful book! I borrowed it from the library and now I wish I had purchased it. I may have to anyway. I highly recommend it!
 
Rita Carter (gandmari@aol.com)
Tail Spin by Catherine Coulter
Rating: 5 Stars
Another Sherlock and Savich FBI thriller. As always, a good read! A plane goes down in the Appalachian Mountains with an FBI agent and a psychiatrist who is running from someone trying to kill him. Also running is a young woman who was thought to be dead from an intentional drowning, but by who? Are the two somehow related? Who is trying to kill them, and why? I won't spoil the plot. Enjoy the read!
 
Genie
A Match Made In Hell by Terri Garey
Rating: 5 Stars
A near-death experience left vintage clothing store owner Nicki Styx the ability to communicate with the dead. She can see and hear ghosts. They seek her out because they want to be heard. Her new boyfriend, Dr. Joe Bascombe, is willing to help. Nicki's latest ghost encounter is a woman in pink who is seeking emergency help for her daughter who is seriously injured. As it turns out, this woman holds the key to Nicki's past.

By the time this ghost encounter is over, Nicki learns about all sorts of skeletons in the family closet, plus she meets a twin sister she never knew she had. A little complication is that the sister is Dr. Bascombe's ex-wife. At the urging of her newly found grandmother, Nicki and her friends visit the family home in Savannah, which turns out to be full of ghosts and family secrets. This complicated situation goes from bad to worse when the devil himself shows up and attempts to convince Nicki to sell her soul by promising all sorts of fantastic rewards. After Nicki's previous experiences with several others whose souls were possessed, Nicki wasn't about to fall for any of "Sammy's" promises or fits of temper. The worry is, how to keep her sister from falling into a trap.

 
Marleen Davis (marleenandlouie@cox.net)
When Darkness Falls by James Grippando
Rating: 4 Stars
A good, easy read although the subject is very tough to stomach. It's about the dirty wars in Argentina and how cruel these policticos were to people, and how they tried to cover it all up. This was Grippando's first book published and he's written 12 or 13 books since, but this was a really good start.
 
Emily B
The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall
Rating: 4 Stars
It's kind of like LIFE OF PI meets MOBY DICK, with a little seasoning from that movie, Labyrinth (you know, the one with David Bowie), and a sprinkle of ALICE IN WONDERLAND. Very odd. I liked it, mostly.
 
Michelle Miller (miller4plusmore@bellsouth.net)
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Rating: 5 Stars
I just learned about the huge following the Twilight series has a few months ago. I don't know where I've been for the past few years --- how I missed knowing about this wonderful writer. Granted, the series is geared towards a young adult audience. However, TWILIGHT is so well written, people of all ages can enjoy it. I know I did. I can't wait to read the rest of the series!
 
Debbie (delphimo@yahoo.com)
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Rating: 2 Stars
A story of the blacks in Africa before the missionaries arrived and what happened when religion appeared.
 
Emry
Jack with a Twist by Brenda Janowitz
Rating: 4 Stars
Hilarious follow-up to SCOT ON THE ROCKS. Great story with lots of laugh-out-loud moments. Very entertaining read.
 
L. Clark
The First Assistant by Clare Naylor
Rating: 4 Stars
One serving of guilty pleasure, coming right up! 
THE FIRST ASSISTANT is the follow up to THE SECOND ASSISTANT and picks up right where the first novel left off. Elizabeth, formerly a lowly second assistant at one of Hollywood's hottest talent agencies, has now climbed the professional ladder to become a first assistant. She should be happier, yet it's still girl versus Hollywood as she battles a scheming second assistant, faces allegations of a cheating boyfriend, and must keep a young Hollywood actress in line in order to keep her job. Elizabeth faces hurdle after hurdle, which she always manages to overcome in a manner that will cause the reader to laugh out loud.

Summer is over, but this book provides beach reading to keep you warm over the winter. You won't be able to put it down!

 
Paula J. Blake
Tell No Lies by Julie Compton
Rating: 5 Stars
Courtroom drama at its best, mixed with emotional and family drama. I'm waiting for more books from this author, as this is her debut novel.
 
Marsha
A Feather on the Breath of God by Sigrid Nunez
Rating: 4 Stars
This is an intriguing and moving novel told by a young girl who struggles to understand her mixed immigrant parents (Chinese-Panamanian father and German mother). She escapes into dreams inspired by her parents' stories. She escapes into the world of ballet and finally, while working as an English instructor, begins a rather destructive affair with a Russian immigrant. Much food for thought here. The tangled relationship of our parents come home to haunt us all.
 
L. Clark
The Luxe by Anna Godberson
Rating: 4 Stars
I reviewed this young adult book for a local library. I was not excited to read it but ended up having trouble putting the book down. Set in 19th-century Manhattan, the story follows a wealthy family whose patriarch has just died. In order to save her family from poverty, Elizabeth Holland must marry a man she does not love and who, in return, does not love her. Marrying for money means she must give up her true love, anger her best friend, and creates a wall between Elizabeth and her younger sister, Diana. 

Published by the same company as Gossip Girl, this novel truly is a historical version of the series. Combining a hint of mystery with the theme of keeping up appearances at all costs, THE LUXE will satisfy all of your guilty pleasures.

 
Bonnie
I Was Told There'd Be Cake by Sloane Crosley
Rating: 3 Stars
A moderately entertaining book of essays about the author's moderately entertaining life.
 
Judy O.
Damage Control by J. A. Jance
Rating: 4 Stars
I enjoy this series about Sheriff Joanna Brady of Cochise County, Arizona. Brady is a working mother and wife, who has a hard time juggling all her various official duties as sheriff with her responsibilities at home. This book has several mysteries going on: a body has been found in a plastic bag, an elderly couple dies in an auto accident and it looks like murder, a fire takes away the life of a man and the home of his wife and children, and a young deputy is found murdered. It's good reading, and Jance ties up all these problems tidily by the end of the book.
 
Gladys MP
Bedded by the Greek Billionaire by Kate Walker
Rating: 5 Stars
This book takes one's emotions for a roller coaster ride, but it is fascinating throughout. It arrived at my house at a time I had no electricity due to Hurricane Ike, but I read this book by flashlight. It is truly hard to put down.
 
Chi-town Gary
The Max by Ken Bruen & Jason Starr
Rating: 5 Stars
Unbelievable. These guys are totally out of their minds. They should be arrested for WUI [writing under the influence].
 
Debbie (delphimo@yahoo.com)
Rumpole Misbehaves by John Mortimer
Rating: 3 Stars
In this adventure, Rumpole attempts to win the coveted QC, but he fails. Mortality and prostitution are brought into play.
 
Donna
Black Rainbow by Barbara Michaels
Rating: 4 Stars
Megan O'Neill goes to a place called Grayhaven to be the governess of the 3-year-old ward of Edmund Mandeville. She falls in love with him, realizing there is no chance for that but to dream. When she had first reached the summit overlooking Grayhaven, she saw a black rainbow, which is seen by very few. She took it for an omen, good or evil, she would find out.
 
Etlazne de Lannoy
The Alibi Man by Tami Hoag
Rating: 5 Stars
Very good, like all her other books.

 
Kathleen Nightingale (kayn@roges.com)
Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
Rating: 5 Stars
This book is outstanding. It tells how many negroes who were enslaved to the United States eventually found their way to Nova Scotia and returned to their homeland. It is excellently researched, and the characters are so true to life that you feel you know them personally.
 
Kathleen Nightingale (kayn@rogers.com)
Family Pictures by Sue Miller
Rating: 2 Stars
This is one of Sue's earlier novels and I find it very disjointed. I am about 1/2 way through and I am still searching for the connection of family members. I have read other novels by her that I have thoroughly enjoyed, such as WHILE I WAS GONE.
 
Tawnya Z.
The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
Rating: 4 Stars
This is a surprising story that sucks you in right from the beginning. The tales within the main story are wonderful. A great read, don't miss it!
 
EMC
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
Rating: 1 Stars
This book failed to grab my interest, or keep it for that matter. The print of the book is not conducive for reading at great lengths, and the smaller print inserts on various pages is distracting. While the overall message of the book is a noble one, the premise is just not doable for the average reader. Another way of expressing what the author wanted to express might be in order.
 
Readingrat
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Rating: 5 Stars
A true adventure classic.
 
Kathy V.
Fatal Feng Shui by Leslie Caine
Rating: 5 Stars
This is the next book in the Domestic Bliss mystery series. In this book, Erin and Steve have put their business together to better serve their customers. But once again, it gets them into solving murders.
 
Julie
No One you Know by Michelle Richmond
Rating: 4 Stars
On the brink of becoming a well-known mathematician, Lila Enderlin doesn't return home one night. She is found dead, in a ravine, leaving behind younger sister Ellie and their parents. Ellie turns some of her grief-stricken outpourings of information about Lila to a professor and friend, Andrew Thorpe. Thorpe decides a good way out of teaching is writing true-crime novels and his book on Lila's murder and ideas of the killer make all the best-seller lists. Twenty years later, Ellie receives Lila's special math notebook. Ellie decides to methodically research what may have happened to her sister and discovers many answers about herself along the way.
 
Linda H. (linda604b@yahoo.com)
The Ghost War by Alex Berenson
Rating: 5 Stars
The continuing tale of CIA agent John Wells, first introduced in THE FAITHFUL SPY. This time, his handlers send him to China to try and find out the reason for China's association with Iran, as well as China's sudden aggression toward the United States. A good "what if..." book.
 
Paula J. Blake
Left To Die by Lisa Jackson
Rating: 5 Stars
It was a good read without exposing who the killer was until the next book is published in August 2009. I can't believe I got mad when finished reading and will have to wait for the follow-up book.
 
Paula J. Blake
Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
Rating: 5 Stars
A great read that kept me wondering till the end. It brought awareness to the plight of bullying and abuse in childhood and through the teenage years, whether verbal or physical, and reminded us to be kinder to others.
 
Shyeyes
Sisterchicks Go Brit! by Robin Gunn
Rating: 4 Stars
Two friends/partners head to England to fulfill a wish by a client whom they have to escort to her hometown. All plans to see the sights go awry with their charge! Very amusing but also very predictable.
 
Debbie Williams
The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry
Rating: 4 Stars
I really enjoyed this book. It takes place in Salem, and is about a family of Salem women who can read the future in the patterns found in lace. I was caught up in the book from the beginning, and it had a surprise at the end that I did not see coming.
 
Readingrat
Brother Odd by Dean Koontz
Rating: 5 Stars
This installment brings back the bodachs (which were strikingly absent in FOREVER ODD), and once again, we have Odd racing against an unknown deadline to curtail an unknown tragedy. This is another wonderful Odd Thomas story, this time with a bit of a sci-fi bent.
 
Linda H. (linda604b@yahoo.com)
The Genius by Jesse Kellerman
Rating: 1 Stars
Ethan Muller is offered many boxes of contemporary drawings for his art gallery. When shown, these drawings become an overnight success. But, who is responsible for them? During the search for the artist, Ethan assists in solving decades-old crimes. This book has many slow parts and it is difficult to imagine the drawings as described. Not a book to be recommended.
 
Ali
The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry
Rating: 3 Stars
This was an interesting book but the story dragged a bit. It sure didn't live up to all the hype.
 
Debbie (delphimo@yahoo.com)
The Bible Salesman by Clyde Edgerton
Rating: 2 Stars
A hokey story of a NC Baptist Bible salesman in his quest of meaning. Henry questions the Bible --- so many differing views on the same issue. Then he hooks up with a con man. Not Edgerton at his best.
 
Jeannie (jeanniehoover@embarqmail.com)
Lakeside Cottage by Susan Wigg
Rating: 5 Stars
A love story in the making. A story of learning to trust, taking the helping hand put out to you, and faith in yourselves and others.
The story line and the location had me held in minutes. I wanted to find out what the end was, but also didn't want the story to end.
Beautiful story!

 
Jeannie (jeanniehoover@embarqmail.com)
The Summerhouse by Jude Deveraux
Rating: 5 Stars
I loved this book and could not put it down! A story of 3 women who met at 21 in the DMV and spent a couple hours held there by the man behind the desk. They make arrangements to meet at 40 and find out how their lives have turned out. A magical story full of insight into their lives and how they change! Well done, Jude Deveraux!
 
Dorothy
Keeping Faith by Jodi Picoult
Rating: 4 Stars
A seven-year-old Jewish girl who has no religious training starts talking to God, performing miracles and quoting from the bible after her parents divorce. Her newly remarried father is seeking custody. He claims the mother is unfit. This is a good read, as are all of her books, and was difficult to put down.
 
Celeste Ertelt
Brisngr by Christopher Paolini
Rating: 5 Stars
The third book in a series of four. It's like getting together with an old friend. Great story!
 
Vicki
A Prayer For The Dying by Stewart O'Nan
Rating: 3 Stars
I was very hesitant to read this one. But, as I got into the story, I I can say that the author captured human grief and suffering in a remarkable way. I am glad that I read this one.
 
Linda H. (linda604b@yahoo.com)
Blue Smoke and Murder by Elizabeth Lowell
Rating: 5 Stars
Jill Breck returned to the ranch in Nevada where she had grown up after her great-aunt had died mysteriously in a fire. With an ominous message left by her great-aunt and a death threat against her life, Jill calls on St. Kilda Consulting for help. Not only do they have to find out the source of the threats, but also the authenticity of paintings supposedly done by her grandmother's lover. A gripping novel that you won't be able to put down.
 
Rachel
The Septembers of Shiraz by Dalia Sofer
Rating: 5 Stars
THE SEPTEMBERS OF SHIRAZ is Dalia's first novel, and I couldn't put it down. It was beautifully written and very thought provoking; tragic, but brave. You are left with a powerful story.
 
Vicky
The Art of Racing in The Rain by Garth Stein
Rating: 5 Stars
I really liked this book. It is written from a dog's point of view. I thought the story was interesting. I even had trouble putting the book down at times. I plan on reading more by this author.
 
ljwright
Stalking Susan by Julie Kramer
Rating: 4 Stars
Enjoyable mystery with twists. It was a good read, but the plot could have been expanded a bit. There were several well intertwined stories and Riley Spartz was a likable, and interesting personality. I will read anything else produced by this author. It was a great first book.
 
Coral Harrison
Twisted by Andrea Kane
Rating: 5 Stars
This is the first book i have read by this author, but it won't be the last. She writes a good mystery book. This is about a serial killer and kidnapper who tries to kidnap the heroine, Sloane Burbank.
 
Coral Harrison
An Absolute Scandal by Penny Vincenzi
Rating: 5 Stars
Thought I wouldn't like this book from what I had read, but I do.

It is set in England. The author lists all the characters in the front of the book so you can keep track of the people. It is set in l983. The Lloyds of London had people who were names and when they made lots of money, they got some; but when they didn't, they had to pay. The story is about the people who had to pay and how it affected them. Very interesting.

 
Judy
Devil Bones by Kathy Reichs
Rating: 3 Stars
A plumber makes a gruesome discovery while renovating a house. Tempe Brennan is called in to investigate a secret cellar full of bones, a dead headless chicken, cauldrons with beads and feathers and a skull of what she determines is a teenage girl. Then a walker discovers a body, one without a head. Are the two connected? Are there devil worshipers, Wiccans, Santeria involved? This does stir up the righteous reverend and his crew, which just adds to the mix. 

This was a quick read, but it seems that because it is one of a series that a lot of time is spent explaining who the people in Tempe's life are (her exes, her daughter, her co-workers), just in case you had never read a previous novel. I felt I had read this all before (including this plot line).

 
Kaye
The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff
Rating: 2 Stars
The book started out good and about one quarter in, it just went downhill. Ther was way too much backtracking and convoluted info. At least half of the book was totally nonessential. With all of this extraneous info, the book did have some redeeming qualities. The interaction between mother and daughter was good most of the time. If Ms Groff had focused more on this relationship, it might have held more interest for me. With a lot of tighter editing, this could have been a recommended read. The way it is, it is just so-so.
 
Brenda C
Last Night I Dreamed Of Peace by Andrew X. Pham
Rating: 4 Stars
I am reading a advanced reader's edition it should be in the stores soon. It is the diary of Dang Thuy Tram. It is very interesting and I am enjoying this book. It is very good. Francis FitzGerald does the introduction.
 
Linda
The Book of Lies by Brad Meltzer
Rating: 4 Stars
With a premise of linking Superman's creator and the Bible's Cain and Abel, how can this not be surefire read?
 
Beckie Dicke (rjdicke@gmail.com)
Scheisshaus Luck by Pierre Berg
Rating: 5 Stars
About three quarters through, I can barely put this down to get dinner on the table! Although I knew it was about surviving Auschwitz and Dora, I was not prepared for the harrowing tales of the day-to-day struggles. Berg explains that he only survived because he kept landing on the randomness of life, shithouse luck so to speak. One book I cannot get out of my mind!
 
Genie
School Days by Robert B. Parker
Rating: 5 Stars
Two teenage boys walked into their high school and started shooting. Several students and teachers were seriously injured. One teacher was killed. Spenser was hired by the grandmother of one of the accused to prove her grandson is innocent. Spenser decides to take on the case. When he comes to the conclusion that both boys were guilty, he decides he must discover what caused them to go on the shooting spree. He uncovers a number of facts that surprise both the police investigators and the DAs assigned to the case.
 
Rita Carter (gandmari@aol.com)
Inside Delta Force by Eric L Haney, command Sgt. Major (ret)
Rating: 4 Stars
This was the true story of America's elite counter-terrorist unit. Mr. Haney was in from the development stages of this unit. It was an interesting read of the forming of the unit and some of the missions after it was activated. A good read for military history buffs.
 
Readingrat
Boneyard by Michelle Gagnon
Rating: 4 Stars
Kelly Jones is back again, this time to locate not one but two serial killers that are stalking young boys in a rural Vermont resort town. BONEYARD is an entertaining read, though not as riveting as this author's debut novel, THE TUNNELS.
 
Maryellen Piccerillo (mpicc@verizon.net)
Panic by Jeff Ablow
Rating: 5 Stars
This is one of Jeff Ablow's older books, but it's absolutely riveting.
 
Dena Walton
Turbulent Sea by Christine Feehan
Rating: 3 Stars
I was looking forward to Joley's story in Christine's Drake Sisters series for a long time and it surprised me that it wasn't as good as I thought it would be. I did like it, but the action didn't start until the end. In the other books in the series the action was from the beginning to end. I did like the chemistry with Joley and Ilya. It also hinted about Elle, the youngest Drake sister, to be undercover. So that was very interesting.
 
Maryellen Piccerillo (mpicc@verizon.net)
Killer Takes All by Erica Spindler
Rating: 5 Stars
I picked up this past title of Erica Spindler's at a used book sale and, as usual, could not put it down. I think it is one of her best.
 
Merril Tlusty
Sisterchicks Go Brit! by Robin Jones Gunn
Rating: 5 Stars
This seventh and newest installment in the Sisterchicks series contains all the fun, adventure, and inspiration of its predecessors. Kellie and Liz, two best friends from Florida, take a trip to England and "encounter so much more than the usual tourist stops." They both are following their dreams. Liz has a childhood desire to see Big Ben. Kellie wants to start an interior design business with Liz. They carefully plan their trip, but their plans are cast aside when they run into one detour after another. The detours prove to be every bit as wonderful as their original route, if not better. 

While the reader learns more about the well-developed characters of Kellie and Liz, one is also treated to wondrous, evocative descriptions of the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and people of merry old England. Plus, there is a surprising twist at the end! Enjoy!

 
Michelle
Sex, Lies & Cellulite by Renee Roszel
Rating: 5 Stars
This book is from the Harlequin Next series and it is the first that I have read,and I enjoyed it immensely. It's just a great little book about marriage and its suspicions to forget your troubles of the day.
 
Kendra
The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
Rating: 3 Stars
An odd read, kept me reading but it was a slow read for me. The details on burn units was interesting to me, but might be disturbing for others. I will say it wasn't completely predictable, which was nice, but I'm not sure the read was worth the ending.
 
Julie
Sail by James Patterson
Rating: 4 Stars
This is one of those books that you read in one day. It's a real page turner with short chapters that each end with a cliff hanger.
 
Faith
The Garden of Evil by David Hewson
Rating: 4 Stars
This book is part of the Nic Costa series. It keeps you reading long after you want to put it down. After reading it, I went back to read others in the series, and it is probably the best on yet. Even though it is part of a series, it stands on its own, providing fairly well developed characters and a gripping storyline.
 
Bonnie
Indignation by Philip Roth
Rating: 4 Stars
Can't lie --- I didn't read it, I listened to the unabridged audio book while driving. Like all of Roth's work, it was impeccably written and full of angst. But he remains one of our greatest living writers. The reading was very well-done too. 

 
Myrna Lippman
Black and White and Dead All Over by John Darnton
Rating: 3 Stars
A good, fast read about murders taking place at a New York Times-type newspaper. There is a good story inside, but it also offers an informative look at the newspaper industry today vis-à-vis the Internet and television news.
 
Bonnie
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
Rating: 3 Stars
I listened to the unabridged audiobook. I'm not sure why this was so popular, though I guess it is quite a tale. Too much childbirth for me (and I'm a mother and grandmother) --- I got bored listening to it. On the plus side, the characters were compelling and distinguishable, not something I always find in novels.
 
Lori Barnes (photoquest@bellsouth.net)
Writing Romance by Vanessa Grant
Rating: 5 Stars
This book is totally awesome! It's perfect for anyone who wants to write a romance. It gives you the ingredients of a successful romance, identifies different kinds of characters, and takes you through all aspects of writing your book. I can't possibly list all the info this book offers, but I will break down the contents to give you some insight of what it covers. 

Part 1: Planning your Romance Novel --- this gives you the ingredients of a successful novel
Beginning you Story - The Story Spark --- Where do ideas come from?

Part 2: Ready, Set, Go! What you need to go to get you there

Part 3: From Spark to Finish --- How a story grows

Part 4: Developing Power in your writing

Part 5: The many faces of Romance --- 21 Romance Subgenres

Part 6: Selling your romance Novel

Each one of the parts lists invaluable info and hits on every question you could have. I feel like I have hope of writing my Romance novel I have often thought of. I'm telling you this is written in easy-to-use guides that carry you through each step. This 309-page book is jam packed with information you will use. When you're done you will be excited because you'll realize you can do this. Did I mention it comes with a CD too?

 
Merril Tlusty
The Briton by Catherine Palmer
Rating: 5 Stars
In THE BRITON, Catherine Palmer takes one back in time to an old English setting of 1100 A.D., just before King Henry II's rule. Lady Bronwen is the Briton. When her father dies, Bronwen is torn between loyalty to her father and her Celtic faith, and to her new leanings toward Norman rule and the Christian faith. Complicating her life further is Jacques le Brun, a knight who seems destined to enchant, yet infuriate, her every time their paths cross. 

Bronwen's sister, Gildan, is married to Aeschby, who abuses his wife and wants Bronwen dead so he can take over her inherited property. This historical romance draws the reader into the colorful medieval atmosphere, and the intricate plot and rowdy adventure holds one's interest.

 
Readingrat
Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
Rating: 5 Stars
A beautifully-written faerie tale romance --- both haunting and edgy.
 
DW
Belong To Me by Marisa de los Santos
Rating: 4 Stars
The first thing about this book that got my attention was the pairs of brightly colored rain boots lined up by the door. It was such a simple concept but the image was so charming and immediately gave the impression of family. I really enjoyed this book and felt strongly about the characters. As the story went on, I even understood the behaviors of those I didn't like. 

Cornelia and her very handsome husband Mateo are a young couple tired of living in the city, so they make the move to the perfect neighborhood in the suburbs. But not all is so perfect in the homes behind the manicured lawns. Cornelia starts meeting her neighbors right away, and her first introduction is not so friendly. But she soon makes friends and starts to find out what is behind the behaviors of her neighbors. They aren't such bad people, but they are each dealing with their own stresses in their lives and some are doing better than others. The perfect mom who would put Martha Stewart to shame is losing her best friend to cancer, the one thing she can't control in her life, even though she tries desperately. The single mom with a young gifted son who are also new to the neighborhood have secrets of their own. Why did they move across the country to this neighborhood? The affairs that change marriages and the relatives that help and hurt, this book has it all. Although it brought me to tears at times, these characters had great personalities and the best lines during their conversations! It also made me laugh out loud. I will read this book again and I don't do that very often. There is a prequel, but it's not necessary to read it in order to understand and enjoy this book. Most of the characters are new.

 
D. Lohrding
In The Shadow of Lions by Ginger Garrett
Rating: 5 Stars
This is the first time I have read this author. IN THE SHADOW OF THE LIONS is one of those books that you hate to put down! I'm exited to have found this book/author for under the title, it states, "Book One". Yeah, it's going to be a series!
 
Patty Shogren (p12a11s49@aol.com)
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
Rating: 4 Stars
A good read. I love the characters. I wasn't sure a wanted to read another book about Afghan history, but the book was worth it.
 
Reva Wamsley (prwamsley@roadrunner.com)
To The Nines by Janet Evanovich
Rating: 4 Stars
All of the Stephanie Plum novels are good reads, and this is one of the best so far. Once again, her life is in danger while she tries to find the bad guy.
 
Judy O.
River of Heaven by Lee Martin
Rating: 4 Stars
Sam Brady is a lonely, elderly man living in Mt. Gilead, Illinois. He has been haunted for all of his life by the death of a young friend, Dewey Finn, in 1955. He has also been estranged from his brother Cal for most of his adult life. This book is a powerful look at the redeeming powers of love and relationships in our lives. Lee Martin was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for his last book, called THE BRIGHT FOREVER.
 
Rochelle (rpeterson2003@sbcglobal.net)
Nights in Rodanthe by Nicholas Sparks
Rating: 5 Stars
What an awesome romantic read! I couldn't put it down and I am eagerly waiting for the release of the movie this week. I loved this book!
 
Rochelle (rpeterson2003@sbcglobal.net)
Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult
Rating: 5 Stars
Awesome book! I really enjoyed the characters and the story kept me on the edge my seat! I really enjoy all of Jodi Picoult's books.
 
Debi
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
Rating: 5 Stars
A masterfully-written piece of literature! It stayed with me for days after I finished. Even though it is a story with dogs, it isn't about dogs! It's a story about the complexities of the human mind. It still keeps me thinking and wondering. What would have happened if ....?
 
Debi
Inkspell by Cornelia Funke
Rating: 4 Stars
Really, this should be 4.5! Continuing the saga of Silvertongue, this book keeps you "spell" bound as, one by one, the characters are transported into the imaginary world of Inkheart, the name of the real book that is first in this series. A great YA book, I can't wait for the third installment, INKDEATH, and the movie!
 
Debi
Swan Peak by James Lee Burke
Rating: 4 Stars
While Dave Robicheaux is in Montana with his wife and best buddy, they become involved in a deadly murder scheme. This book is fast paced, with one surprise after another! I gave it a 4 only because I figured out the real killer right before the end. Even then, I wasn't sure until he was finally exposed!!
 
Shirley Dingley
Interred with Their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell
Rating: 4 Stars
Wonderful book, chosen by my Monday night book club for October. I am also reading her first book, THE SPECKLED MONSTER. Both are very, very good.
 
Patty Shogren (p12a11s49@aol.com)
Rise and Shine by Anna Quindlen
Rating: 2 Stars
I almost didn't finish it. Finally, at the end it, was ok. I like her other books.
 
Lori Barnes (photoquest@bellsouth.net)
Crazy in Love by Janet Dailey
Rating: 3 Stars
This is also another 2-stories-in-one books. The first one is "Bed of Grass," about woman who is haunted by her past that she is so desperate to escape. The past shows up every time she looks into her son's eyes. Valerie Wentworth needs to return to Maryland for her grandfather's funeral and decides this is a perfect time for her son to see the green countryside of her childhood. This story was very long and could've been summed up in half the time; it kept repeating itself and was very predictable.

The second story, "After the Storm," is about Lanie and Rad Macleod, who have been separated for 5 years and neither has taken the initiative to get a divorce or see each other. A twist of fate brings them together one night at a concert. The Laniers ' mother's illness forces her to do the unthinkable and ask for help from the only person she knows can truly afford to help...Rad. This story was much better than the first, although a little predictable. It also it took an unexpected twist and left me wondering if the end I had expected was really the end to come. The main characters have a way of pulling you in and making you root for them. The twists and turns of their relationship keep the reader wondering. The author lets you into the mind of one of the character, but not the other, forcing you to feel for the one and wonder about the other. I wonder how someone else would perceive this story to end? I will say that for this story alone, I was glad I got the book.

 
Patty Shogren (p12a11s49@aol.com)
The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
Rating: 4 Stars
Great history, good read. i knew the ending, but it kept me so interested I didn't want to put it down.
 
Eileen Quinn Knight
What Happened to Anna K. by Irina Reyn
Rating: 5 Stars
Reyn has written a beautiful update of Tolstoy's ANNA KARENINA. It is psychologically pleasurable. The development of the characters and the beauty of the language are just a joy!
 
Rene Parnell
Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer
Rating: 1 Stars
Disappointing. Not the final book that I expected from the wonderful Twilightseries. It's better to just stop with ECLIPSE. I wish I had.
 
BBSUE
Thunder Bay by William Kent Krueger
Rating: 4 Stars
Krueger keeps getting better and better, doesn't he? This is a good book about Cork's old friend, Henry, who needs help finding a long lost relative. Of course, bad guys are lurking around to impede Cork's investigating.
 
Susan
Sarah: How a Hockey Mom Turned Alaska's... by Kaylene Johnson
Rating: 3 Stars
I don't tend to agree with Sarah Palin's politics but I wondered how she came to political prominence, and this was a good intro on how she became governor of Alaska as well as information about her character. She seems like a strong, intelligent woman whose kids come first --- from reading this book.
 
Jeanne
Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith
Rating: 5 Stars
This is the second in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series and it's every bit as good as the first. There is more than one character to love in the book because there are genuinely good people here. McCall Smith is quite a writer. This book is funny at the right moments and suspenseful too.
 
Laura (labusch@comcast.net)
Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer
Rating: 4 Stars
I am totally obsessed with this series, although I am not finding this book as compelling as the earlier ones. I have read them all in the last month.
 
Donna Tanner
The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry
Rating: 4 Stars
I'm not quite finished, but depending on how it ends, this *could* be a 5-star rating! Pick up a copy now!
 
Pattie Berryhill (pattiberr@aol.com)
Madness: A Bipolar Life by Marya Hornbacher
Rating: 4 Stars
Being bipolar myself, I found this book to be entirely accurate when it comes to the manic phase of bipolar disorder.
 
Julie
Death Perception by Victoria Laurie
Rating: 3 Stars
Another solid mystery about Abby Cooper, who is a psychic reader by day and helps out with detecting on the side. I think it's the sixth in the series, and it's a good one.
 
Anita Nowak
The Appeal by John Grisham
Rating: 3 Stars
I was not crazy about this book. I really enjoy Mr. Grisham's work, but did not think this was one of his best. 

The storyline was interesting, about corruption in government and the choosing of Supreme Court Justices.

I thought it was a bit redundant in parts, and dragged in the middle. The end was not quite what I thought it would be, so that was a surprise, but frankly, it wasn't much of a suspense novel.

 
Patty Shogren (p12a11s49@aol.com)
I Heard That Song Before by Mary Higgins Clark
Rating: 5 Stars
It was one of her very best books. great summer mystery. Couldn't wait to finish it.
 
Carole Clark (c3clark@wowway.com)
Into the Wilderness by Sara Donati
Rating: 5 Stars
This was a great story of survival, taking place in the 17th century. The characters are very likable (except for a few of them), and the author makes you feel like you're there, discovering the wilderness for the first time along with the leading female character, Elizabeth.
 
Myrna Lippman
Off Season by Anne Rivers Siddons
Rating: 4 Stars
Siddons is one of the best Southern writers around, but this time she returns to one of her earlier venues --- the Maine coast in COLONY --- and gives us a wonderful romantic story with a startling secret within.
 
Myrna Lippman
Scottsboro by Ellen Feldman
Rating: 4 Stars
The author, best known for THE BOY WHO LOVED ANNE FRANK, gives us a fictionalized recreation of the 1932 trial of the Scottsboro boys. It was a shameful period in our history when nine African-American youths were wrongfully accused of raping two young white women in Alabama. An absorbing read.
 
MarilynD
The $64 Tomato by William Alexander
Rating: 4 Stars
Hilarious! I read this book on the bus and couldn't quit smiling at the adventures of husband and wife with careers living in the country. The BIg Brown House and garden adventures are written so well that you feel you are right there!
 
Kay Keller
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Rating: 5 Stars
A high school girl falls in love with a vampire --- original and wonderfully written. I wanted to see what all the fuss surrounding this series was about and I was pleasantly surprised. This book is wonderful and I can see why it is a bestseller and spawned three more books that continue the story of Bella and Edward. I also enjoyed the originality and great writing of the Harry Potter books, too!
 
F Tessa Bartels
Southern Fried by Cathy Pickens
Rating: 3 Stars
Disgraced attorney Avery Andrews comes back home and falls into the town's doings. Her office will be in an old mortuary. This series may prove interesting, but this first book has some plot weaknesses.
 
F Tessa Bartels
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
Rating: 4 Stars
A very good novel about Afghanistan --- from 1959 to about 1990 --- told through the eyes of two generations of women. I found the middle section disjointed. The last 80 pages are simply magnificent. In my opinion, THE KITE RUNNER was better.
 
Elizabeth V
A Certain Justice by P. D. James
Rating: 4 Stars
The author is a very good writer, although the story is a bit slow getting to the crime and investigation. But it's worth sticking around for.

This is the first P.D. James book I've read, and I'm pleased. It gets four stars rather than five just because of the slow beginning.

 
Lori Barnes (photoquest@bellsouth.net)
Yes, I Do by Janet Dailey
Rating: 4 Stars
This book is a 2-story book.
The first story is "Enemy in Camp."
Dirk writes a column in the newspaper, and Victoria is repulsed by one he had done on her father. Her father had invited him to their vacation home on Mackinac Island, where he frequently entertained clients. Victoria was appalled that Dirk had been invited as well. She has a sarcastic attitude but quirky personality, and she let him know straight up that he was not welcomed there by her. As this story progresses, Victoria gets to know him and starts realizing maybe things weren't how she perceived them to be. The character interaction really kept this story going and it was very entertaining.

"Difficult Decision"
This story starts out with Deborah applying for a more prominent job that pays a lot more --- and she needs this. She put herself through school to get a better job, so she has had to work for what she has. The person interviewing her is CEO Zane Wilding. He comes across as a very cold and emotionless person. Deborah is a beautiful woman, but it's like he does not even notice at all nor does he have time for niceties. She is not thrown by his sharpness, but does notice how built he must be under his suite. Is his coldness due to the humiliation of his alcoholic wife, or is it more to that to cause him to be so cold?

 
Carole Clark (c3clark@wowway.com)
Dawn on a Distant Shore by Sara Donati
Rating: 3 Stars
This is the second book in a series, taking place in the 17th century. The first book, INTO THE WILDERNESS (which I would rate 5 stars), held my interest all the way through. This second book wasn't quite as interesting. Instead of the setting taking place in the wilderness, most of the story took place on ships and in Scotland, and I thought the story line had quite a few boring parts.
 
Beverly
Gone Down South by Bonnie Glover
Rating: 5 Stars
A wonderful story of three generations of women who learn to accept themselves and each other for who they are.
 
Cheryl Snyder
Loving Frank by Nancy Horan
Rating: 5 Stars
A very well-written book highlighting a portion of Frank Lloyd Wright's life. The book is about his affair with Mamah Borthwick Cheney, who is said to have been the love of his life. I read the book not knowing any of the history behind the story --- there is a twist at the end that catches you by surprise!
 
Judy (kiuki@cox.net)
The Likeness by Tana French
Rating: 4 Stars
Six months after the events of IN THE WOODS, Detective Cassie Maddox is recovering and has transferred to the domestic violence unit. She gets a call from her now-boyfriend, Sam, to come to a murder scene in a small town. Once she sees the body (a dead ringer for herself) and discovers the girl's name is Lexi Madison (a person she invented while working undercover), Cassie's hooked into impersonating the (miraculously recovered) girl to discover who the murderer is. Jumping into another's life is fraught with dangers, although not even Cassie could have foreseen how emotionally intertwined in Lexie's life she could become while sharing an old house with a close group of fellow university students (all on the possible suspect list). Who was this girl who had claimed to be Lexie in the first place? Who murdered her? What is going on in this house? Why do the town's folk hate the inhabitants without even knowing them? 

An enjoyable read more sociological and psychological in its playing out than an edge-of-your-seat who-dun-it.

 
Book Momma (Bookmomma@aol.com)
Skeleton Lake by Mike Doogan
Rating: 4 Stars
This is the third in a series about an Alaskan PI who is a former cop.This installment is a little confusing, with many flashbacks to the protagonist's childhood, and early police career. The author conveys a real sense of place and tells a compelling mystery, too.
 
L. Hann
Can't Wait To Get to Heaven by Fannie Flagg
Rating: 5 Stars
This is by the same author as FRIED GREEN TOMATOES AT THE WHISTLE STOP CAFE. Excellent book. I laughed and cried. It makes you really stop and savor all the little things that we take for granted. Excellent, excellent read!
 
MaryinHB (mljacobsinhb@msn.com)
Belle Weather by Celia Rivenbark
Rating: 5 Stars
Another great collection of southern flavor humor that makes me wish I lived there. Rivenbark just has a flair with words that make any story laugh out loud funny.
 
MaryinHB (mljacobsinhb@msn.com)
Supreme Courtship by Christopher Buckley
Rating: 5 Stars
I think this book about the Supreme Court is in my top ten for the year. Buckley has such a gift for sarcasm and wit that I really wish he would write more.
 
MaryinHB (mljacobsinhb@msn.com)
Bringing Home the Birkin by Michael Tonello
Rating: 5 Stars
This memoir was a fascinating look at luxury retail and a man who actually pulled off getting handbags that were supposed to be unobtainable. Very light reading.
 
MaryinHB (mljacobsinhb@msn.com)
The Map Thief: A Novel by Heather Terrell
Rating: 4 Stars
Great story telling. 3 characters from different periods in time come together to tell the background of a map and how its theft from an archaeological site turned the whole world upside down. I am now reading THE CHRYSALIS, which is the first book in the series.
 
MaryinHB (mljacobsinhb@msn.com)
Lady & the Vamp: Immortality Bites, Book 3 by Michelle Rowen
Rating: 4 Stars
Another paranormal romance series, which is pretty typical, but the dialogue and action make up for the predictability. I love to see if I can predict what the author will write.
 
Elizabeth V
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Rating: 4 Stars
I just started this book last night, so can't give it a final opinion. But I think I'll probably give it five stars next week because I started enjoying it right from page 2. Too often you have to read a few chapters before a book gets good, but not this one.
 
Jane Haase (JerJanKel@aol.com)
The Comback by Emma Gilbey Keller
Rating: 2 Stars
Although certainly inspirational in its descriptions of how seven women were successful in juggling careers and motherhood, if you are looking for practical "how-to" advice on the subject, it isn't in this book.

I picked this up to read and possibly pass along to my pregnant daughter. I decided instead to give her my own practical advice on the subject instead.

The author blithely mentions the hiring of nannies in almost every story, yet not one word about the difficulty in doing this. Brief consideration was given to any practical problems of juggling a career and motherhood. In fact, if as a new mother I had read this book, it would have left me more frustrated with even more feelings of inadequacy as these women seemed to breeze through adversity with hardly a blip.

If the author really wanted to help new mothers, she should have focused on things my daughter is facing. She's a television anchor/reporter whose husband travels Monday-Friday with his job. How does she even *keep* her job with the difficulties attendant with hiring help to work with her unpredictable schedule. The young women who need this advice aren't independently wealthy women with two homes, looking to "entertain" themselves in their senior years. I think Ms. Keller missed a great opportunity to help a big segment of the population when she chose the direction of this book.

 
Judy
In the Woods by Tana French
Rating: 5 Stars
Twenty years ago, three adolescents go in the woods, and only one comes out. He is found clinging to a tree, with his sneakers full of blood and no memory of what has transpired. Fast forward twenty years and this boy --- now is a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad --- is investigating the death of a young girl whose body has been discovered at the site of an archaeological dig in the very same wood. Are the incidents connected? He and his new wise-acre partner, Cassie, investigate this chilling case that takes unforeseen twists within the family system and the dig membership. A rewarding debut novel.
 
Susan Hahm
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Rating: 5 Stars
If you love mysteries and intrigue, then this is for you! The characters are so easy to love or hate. There are many twists and turns that keep you on the edge of your seat. I felt like I was right there while it was all happening.
 
Debi Salanitro (dsalanitro1967@yahoo.com)
New Moon by Stephenie Meyer
Rating: 4 Stars
I have a hard time with series, but this one lives up to the hype so far. Ms. Meyer does wonders to pull you in and feel for her characters in a very real way. Her main character is a klutz of a teen (I can so relate there!) and she gets you believing that there are vampires and other monsters about! The twist is unusual, but I like it! 
I can't believe I'm a 41-year-old woman thoroughly loving a YA series. Kudos to Ms. Meyer, and keep 'em coming!

 
Sal Williams
BedsideBook of Bastards by Dorothy M. Johnson & R. T. Turner
Rating: 4 Stars
Great little read about dozens of infamous characters, many of which were unfamiliar to me. A brief but extremely entertaining precis on each of these 'bastards" makes this a quick pleasant dawdling read. I've enjoyed it immensely.
 
Mary Eks
Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
Rating: 4 Stars
It's too bad I only discovered him once he had died.
 
Linda M. Johnson (tcheer4life@yahoo.com)
Stormy Weather by Paulette Jiles
Rating: 3 Stars
A family, headed by a gambling, alcoholic father, struggles during the 1930s depression years. After the father dies, the mother and her three daughters continue to battle the profound bleakness and trials of their life. A well-written narrative.
 
Jane Haase (JerJanKel@aol.com)
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
Rating: 4 Stars
My book club read this and I was forewarned by several members that they didn't finish it because of the graphic violence at the end. I did not see that at all; in fact, I thought the ending was tame compared to the beginning. It is a thriller based on majorly dysfunctional family units, as well as the "cutting" syndrome currently in vogue among the mentally disturbed. It was a good thriller, but I have to say it wasn't hard to figure out who the killer was. If it had kept me guessing more I would have given it a five!
 
Jane Haase (JerJanKel@aol.com)
In His Sights by Kate Brennan
Rating: 4 Stars
This book was a riveting first-person portrayal of what it is like to be stalked by someone you loved. I read this book last night and could not put it down. If the writing had been better, I would have given it a 5!
 
Amee (amee821@hotmail.com)
Walden; Or, Life in the Woods by Henry David Thoreau
Rating: 3 Stars
Pretty self-important, but funny at times. The descriptions of the animals were my favorites.
 
Debbie
Seventy-Seven Clocks by Christopher Fowler
Rating: 4 Stars
This is 3rd installment in the mystery series featuring octogenarians Bryant and May, members of the Peculiar Crimes Unit in London. I'm halfway through this and four people have died bizarre deaths; more are likely to follow. This series is very well written, witty, and not at all a "cozy". The stories are complicated and great to read.
 
Fran
The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad
Rating: 4 Stars
The author gives the reader a bird's-eye view into the life of a family in Afghanistan before and after 9/11. It made me grateful I was born in US.
 
Linda S. Miller (llsmill@aol.com)
The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery
Rating: 5 Stars
This book is very interesting and hard to put down. It is about an American orphan girl living with the Shin Family, who teach teahouse ceremonies. This all takes place in the mid to late 1800s just as Japan was starting to open its doors to the Western world.
 
Danielle
With Or Without You by Carole Matthews
Rating: 4 Stars
***SPOILERS BELOW***

It did take me a few chapters to get into this book. At the beginning, I was a little annoyed with how Lyssa was so dependent on Jake and how obsessed she was with trying to have a baby. I did feel sorry for the guy a little bit, until I found out Jake was cheating on her. I don't care what excuse a person has for cheating, he/she should never do it. I did enjoy reading about life in Nepal, as it got me thinking about different cultures all over the world. Carole did a great job at explaining how life there was. I also enjoyed the relationship Lyssa had with her sister; it reminded me in quite a few ways of my own sisters and our relationship. All in all, this book made me long for an adventure!

 
Bev Uebel
The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian
Rating: 4 Stars
A good read; well written with a real twist at the end.
 
Darcy
Paranoia by Joseph Finder
Rating: 4 Stars
Excellent corporate espionage thriller. I'm late in getting around to reading Finder, but I'd say this one ranks right up there with the works of Michael Connelly and John Sandford.
 
Teresa
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Rating: 5 Stars
Great book --- one of those you hate to put down. It had me laughing at times. The story was told by a 90-something-year-old man. Since I work with seniors, I could relate to his thoughts and feelings. I loved the ending.
 
Wendy (wendycatalano@hotmail.com)
The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
Rating: 5 Stars
If I could give this book more than 5 stars I would. It was an amazing read and I couldn't turn the pages quick enough.


 
Amee (amee821@hotmail.com)
Sophie's Dilemma by Lauraine Snelling
Rating: 4 Stars
Really sweet Christian romance series about a Norwegian family. Great covers too.