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November 20, 2009 - December 3, 2009

Last contest period's winners each received a copy of NO LESS THAN VICTORY: A Novel of World War II by Jeff Shaara, UNDER THE DOME by Stephen King and WISHIN' AND HOPIN': A Christmas Story by Wally Lamb.

 

Hedi
Under the Dome by Stephen King
Rating: 3 Stars
Way to long for the story line. THE STAND worked at a 1000 pages as you had many characters and story lines to get through, and it was way ahead of its time regarding its plot line. There is a great deal of carnage for the timeline of the story (it got tiring). There were many characters and none that really moved you except for very last section (the boy named "Ollie/Cow-Boy)". It starts out great, muddles through the middle and does pick up towards the end. His editor should have made him put a bit more "pedal to the metal." I really did not like the ending. I am a super King fan and this book could easily have dropped 250-300 pages and sold for $25.00 instead of the $35.00 price tag. Not one of his best. THE CELL beats this hands down.
 
Ron Roseborough (RRoseb3424@aol.com)
The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny
Rating: 5 Stars
Bon Dieu! How is it that I have not found this author before? THE BRUTAL TELLING by Louise Penny is more than just a detective story. It is a literary novel. This work blends the lives of the characters and the reader by speaking to the souls of both. As in all great literature, the characters come to life through the words of the author, quickly becoming more than just the written word. The characters, such as Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, are completely developed people, full of life. Each acting and reacting to the other characters in the novel. Have no doubt, this mystery novel leads us through a perplexing mystery surrounding the violent death of stranger in the small Canadian town of Three Pines. This is not the first time the Inspector and his team of Seretes investigators have been called to this out of the way place. Emotions run high as both long time friends and newcomers are brought under suspicion. If the earlier novels of this series are anything like this, I'll be hot on their trail.
 
Genie
The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde
Rating: 4 Stars
In this third novel of the series, we find pregnant Thursday Next taking 
refuge in a poorly written and unpublished crime novel called Caversham Heights, where she expects to rest there until the birth of her child. Taking a job in Jurisfiction, Thursday is assigned as an apprentice to Miss Havisham (from the Dickens novel). Miss Havisham is nothing like the character Dickens created. Instead she is a spirited, brave and capable law enforcement agent.

The main plot of the mystery begins as Thursday and Miss Havisham discover that the death of a fellow agent by a Minotaur attack is no accident. Meanwhile, several other sub-plots begin to evolve. Thursday continues to search for a way to restore her eradicated husband, Landon, back into existence. She is confronted once again by a Hades sister intent on destroying her memory. Several nursery rhyme characters threaten to strike because they aren't being treated like other fictional characters. Stress on the home front begins as the two generic characters living with Thursday begin to become more defined and have trouble adapting. Life becomes more complex as Thursday tries to saveCaversham Heights --- the incredibly bad novel in which she wants to reside for at least a year --- from being destroyed by the Council of Genres. Ultimately, it's up to Thursday and Miss Havisham to prevent Vikram Seth from taking over the book world with mass-produced characters and plots with little or no substance. 

Thursday Next finds herself working with a number of familiar characters from various works of fiction. The Cat formally known as Cheshire is in charge of literary records. Heathcliff, Catherine, and the rest of the cast from WUTHERING HEIGHTS are forced to attend anger management classes. Mr. Toad and Miss Havisham are in a relentless competition for the fastest driver in the Book World. There are many sub-plots in this entertaining, fun read.

 
Genie
Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde
Rating: 5 Stars
SOMETHING ROTTEN is the fourth book in Jasper Fforde's entertaining and funnyThursday Next series. For two-and- a-half years, Thursday has lived in the literary world. She now heads the Jurisfiction Agency. Their goal to "safeguard the stability of the written word" in literature caused Thursday's position to be hectic, stressful, and oftentimes dangerous. With a two-year-old son, Thursday decides it's time to go home. She wants to continue her efforts to bring back her eradicated husband, Landen Parke-Lane and hopes to accomplish this in the Outland. With this in mind, Thursday Next and her son, Friday, head for her home town of Swindon, England.

Upon her return, Thursday is confronted with a whole new set of problems. First, she must contend with Hamlet, who is unhappy with the way he has been portrayed by numerous actors. He's been watching a lot of movies during his stay in the Outland and admits to being partial to Mel Gibson's portrayal. He is "involved" with Lady Emma Hamilton, a boarder (and a lush) who also lives with Thursday's mom. 

Although back at home, Thursday is still acting on behalf of the Council of Genres who want her to stop the ruthless Yorrick Kaine, an escaped fictionaut, from accomplishing his plan to dominate the world. An additional complication is the deadly assassin, the Window Maker, who has been hired to take Thursday "out." 

Thursday's dad, Colonel Next, pops in from time to time to give useful advice and hints about her future as he travels through time.

Thursday Next is smart, courageous, warmhearted, determined, and resourceful. These traits are needed to enable her to confront the fearsome Yorrick Kaine and his backers, the men behind the Goliath Corporation. Goliath is best known for its ruthless business practices.

There are enough puns, literary allusions, slapstick, time travel, satire and non-stop action in SOMETHING ROTTEN to entertain any dedicated Terry Pratchett fan. Fforde developed an interesting, wacky plot with cast of colorful and varied characters constantly entering and exiting. Although confusing at times, this book is consistently entertaining.

 
Cindy H.
Duma Key by Stephen King
Rating: 3 Stars
I good beach read --- interesting, but I couldn't quite buy into all of it.
 
Sue Brandes (katsrus@gmail.com)
Tails of Love by Lori Foster, Stella Cameron, & more
Rating: 4 Stars
Short pet stories that different authors shared. A different story for everyone. Very enjoyable.
 
Brady (bradylee@myway.com)
My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D.
Rating: 4 Stars
A very successful female brain scientist had a stroke in her middle 30s and she writes about it in this book. It gets a little technical in the early chapters, but very interesting information about your brain that could help you or a loved one if a stroke occurred. She talks about the the two spheres and how dependent they are on each other, but also what happens when one goes haywire due to a stroke and what cognizant information is lost plus the rewiring that occurs with time and energy spent.
 
Gina
Never Change by Elizabeth Berg
Rating: 5 Stars
I'm loving this novel and the main character is one of the most interesting I've seen in a long time. I will definitely be reading more from this author.
 
Kay
The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by Michael Lewis
Rating: 4 Stars
This true story of Michael Oher and his struggle to survive and eventually thrive with the Tuohy family is very inspirational. It's stunning, shocking, and makes you want to stand up and cheer for Michael and his family and network support, who help him to become a successful college graduate and NFL football player. And I can't wait to see the movie but I'm glad I read the book first!
 
Jane Squires (jrs362@hotmail.com)
Christmas Love at Lake Tahoe by Lena Nelson Dooley, Jeanie Smith Cas, Jean Kincaid
Rating: 5 Stars
Fantastic --- Wow, wow, wow. This book will delight you from page 1 to the end. You will have a hard time putting it down. It consists of 4 stores about 4 girls who meet in College and go to work for Bethany's Grandparents at Ski Logue. You get 4 stories to delight you and all four stories entwine with each other. An RN, a Social Director, a time-share saleslady, and then Michaela. Each story is a delight in itself. The good thing about this book is you can read one story and wait but you will not be able to put each story down until you complete it. 

My faith was uplifted while reading this, even though it is about romance. It brought me back to my own meeting with my husband 30 years ago and questions and situations before my husband asked me to marry me. It was also delightful reading about the ski lodge and its operations.

 
Susan
The Professional by Robert B Parker
Rating: 4 Stars
Parker has his formula and characters down pat --- I have read the entire Spencer series and loved them but this one could have had a bit more Hawk. I feel that their interactions are the highlight of this series. I would recommend this book anyway.
 
M. Archer
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
Rating: 3 Stars
This is an unusual yet enjoyable book. Some of the most interesting and well-written passages were those dealing with dogs and their training. Unfortunately, those same passages did not really forward the plot and caused the story to move very slowly. This was the only reason I gave it 3 stars instead of 4. Dog lovers will love it!
 
Kellie (acountkel@bellsouth.net)
Nine Dragons by Michael Connelly
Rating: 5 Stars
#14 of the Harry Bosch series --- wow wow wow. Connelly has really outdone himself with this one. I was totally taken off guard with this. There are so many twists and turns in this story. Plus, Harry's own turmoil. And the apple does not fall far from the tree here. The thing I like about Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch is that the development of this character is very rich. Connelly has developed this character in a way that is almost addicting. You can actually feel what Harry is going through --- his constant torment, through his job and personal life and just being Harry. I have read all of Connelly's fiction and this one, by far, is his best. I was totally blown away and I am so looking forward to the next one in this series. Connelly writes great novels overall but his Bosch series, to me, sets him apart. This one takes you into the triad of China. This was an education for me. Very interesting stuff. This novel is full of action and suspense. Highly recommend. However, in order to enjoy Harry Bosch to the fullest, you must begin with the 1st one.
 
Debbie (delphimo@yahoo.com)
Life Sentences by Laura Lippman
Rating: 3 Stars
This is a story set in Baltimore, but not a Tess Monaghan story. Cassandra Fallows, a writer, returns to Baltimore to research her next novel and to revisit her 3 black friends. The story hints on the trouble of black/white relationships. Cassandra's father married a black woman and left his wife and daughter. But Cassandra does not learn the truth until 40 years later. I enjoy many of the views that Lippman presents, such as "Whenever I went --- I wanted to know the interiors of people's homes, their lives, their minds." Lippman presents that uncertainty that women possess when evaluating their life.
 
Jud Hanson
Pegasus Descending by James Lee Burke
Rating: 5 Stars
In this novel, Det. Dave Robicheaux faces the daughter of an old friend who may be planning a bank robbery, the mysterious hit and run death of an unidentified victim and the supposed suicide of a young student.
 
L. Hann
Honeymoon by James Patterson
Rating: 5 Stars
Wow, is this very suspenseful. I could not put this book down. There are so many twists and turns. Things are not always as they appear. Awesome read.
 
Reader4life
The Bright Forever: A Novel by Lee Martin
Rating: 5 Stars
THE BRIGHT FUTURE is a hauntingly intriguing and mysteriously engaging book. The writing style and pacing are wonderful. The characters are so beguiling and the setting is eerily familiar. I could feel and see this town. THE BRIGHT FUTURE is a book I shall pass on to many. I will hold this story in my thoughts for some time.
 
Wendy from WV
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Rating: 4 Stars
A good read, but not as sensational as some have made it out to be. I found the beginning a little slow but about halfway through, it began to really pull me in. Definitely some twists and surprises.
 
Wendy from WV
The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister
Rating: 5 Stars
Enchanting novel about food, life and love. Bauermeister's descriptions are amazing. Lillian runs a small cooking school on Monday nights out of her restaurant. This is one book that I would like to read again... and again!
 
T. Thomas
Bless Your Heart, Tramp and Other Southern Endearm by Celia Revenbark
Rating: 4 Stars
I thoroughly enjoy Rivenbark. Her books are laugh out loud funny.
 
Jon
Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell
Rating: 5 Stars
George Orwell's first work, originally published in 1933. An autobiographical fictional account of living in Paris and London among the downtrodden. I am halfway through this short book and loving it --- highly recommended.
 
Michelle
Escape by Carolyn Jessop
Rating: 5 Stars
Amazing story of a girl born into polygamy. She married at the age of 18 to a 50-year-old man, and had 8 children in 15 years. This story tells about all her hardships and then her escape and the aftereffects of it. Truly amazing and so heartfelt.
 
Judy O. (joswood@msn.com)
Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom
Rating: 5 Stars
New Jersey Rabbi Albert Lewis asked Mitch to deliver his eulogy when he dies. In order to better understand the man he calls "Reb", Mitch visits him several times a year for 8 years. This book chronicles these visits and gives us a look at a remarkable man. We also meet Henry Covington, who is the pastor of a derelict church in Detroit, one that has a gigantic hole in the roof. This pastor is an ex convict who found the Lord. Mitch is skeptical of him for many months, but he gradually learns that Henry is a sincere man of God. The church has become a major benefactor to the homeless in Detroit, and Mitch decides to help the church in its mission. This is a heartwarming story from beginning to end.
 
Wendy from WV
The Witch Doctor's Wife by Tamar Myers
Rating: 4 Stars
Suspenseful, funny, enlightening novel set in the Belgian Congo in the late 1950s. A thoroughly enjoyable read!
 
Joanne
Stitches by David Small
Rating: 4 Stars
A memoir done in a graphic novel format. Heartbreaking, and yet ultimately uplifting.
 
J. Mitchell
Makers by Cory Doctorow
Rating: 4 Stars
Slow starter, but a very interesting alternate reality in which a filthy rich guy from the UK buys out Kodak and Duracell companies and merges their assets into a new company he calls Kodacell. The employees of Kodacell invent entirely new products that they sell for an enormous profit. It's definitely worth investigating.
 
J. Campbell
Dog On It by Spencer Quinn
Rating: 4 Stars
Chet, the dog, is the narrator of this fun-loving mystery. His owner, Bernie, is a down-on-his-luck private detective. Chet has thoughts about everything and to read them is funny. Makes you look at your own dog and wish they could talk to you!
 
Pat Whitehead (pwhitehead@monmouthcountylib.org)
Monster in the Box by Ruth Rendell
Rating: 2 Stars
Rendell is always interesting, even when she's not at her best. She's not at her best here, but Inspector Wexford is always a treat to read.
 
Pat Whitehead
Arthur & George by Julian Barnes
Rating: 4 Stars
Engrossing. The language is polished and a pleasure to read. It tells a story that is interesting and true, told with wit and imagination.
 
meme
Whistling in the Dark by Lesley Kagan
Rating: 5 Stars
Set in the 1950s, 10-year-old Sally promises to protect her younger sister. But their father dies, their mother is hospitalized, their step-father abandons them. And there is a molester and murderer active in their town.
 
Tara
Top Producer by Norb Vonneguet
Rating: 4 Stars
Good thriller set on Wall Street. Very visual writer --- he sets the scene very well. Full of "real" characters and full of twists. Hard to put down! It's a book that both men and women will like.
 
Celeste Judge
My Fairy Grandmother by Aubrey Mace
Rating: 5 Stars
The book was written for teens, however, I really think it is the best grownup version of a fairytale that I have ever read. Aubrey Mace is one of the best new writers that I have come across in a long time.
 
Jessica
The Year of Pleasures by Elizabeth Berg
Rating: 3 Stars
Not my favorite Berg novel, but still a cozy read about a recently widowed woman striking out on her own. I love the theme that you should use the good china now rather than saving it for later, that you can take joy from even the smallest things in life if you just give yourself permission to.
 
Jud Hanson
Tin Roof Blowdown by James Lee Burke
Rating: 5 Stars
Great book set against the background of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Robicheaux is dealing with looters, killers, a lowlife seeking revenge on his daughter and a mob boss whose house was looted by some minor- league thugs. A great read.
 
Judy O. (joswood@msn.com)
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
Rating: 4 Stars
This story is set in Biblical times and centers around the Genesis story of Patriarch Abraham's son Jacob and his many wives and children. The narrator and main character of this book is Dinah, the only daughter of Jacob and his first wife, Leah. The author takes the Biblical account of these figures and tells a wonderful story by imagining all the fascinating details that could have occurred in the actual time and place. The Red Tent refers to the "women's only" tent where they went during their monthly periods. I really enjoyed this story, which really brought a chapter in the Bible to life.
 
Tracey Byram
The Queen Of Bedlam by Robert McCammon
Rating: 5 Stars
THE QUEEN OF BEDLAM is the second book chronicling the story of Matthew Corbett. Set in 18th-century New York, Corbett --- law clerk turned private detective --- is on a case to solve the mysterious identity of a serial killer called The Masker. It is detailed, well written and has several twists. An excellent read. I'm looking forward to the next novel in the series.
 
Sandy
Still Missing by Chevy Stevens
Rating: 5 Stars
I received this book through Bookreporter to give them a report and I loved it. You must write down this title so you can get it when it comes out to the public in the spring or summer of 2010. It is hard to believe this is her first novel. Can't wait for the next one.
 
Sandy
The Time of My Life by Patrick Swayze and Lisa Niemi
Rating: 5 Stars
Even if you didn't love Patrick and follow his career when he was alive you will love this book. I want to watch all his old movies now. I also want to e-mail Lisa and tell her she is a heck of a woman!
 
F Tessa Bartels
Full Tilt by Janet Evanovich & Charlotte Hughes
Rating: 2 Stars
A fun, outlandish, "romantic mystery" set in the South. A millionaire playboy falls for a poor but feisty newspaper publisher who is engaged to safe but boring tax lawyer with a rich power-hungry mother. Throw in some colorful characters and it is just a romp. I give it only 2 stars because the plotting is weak, and the dialogue is trite. But it *is* still fun for the beach.
 
julie
The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
Rating: 4 Stars
As is usual for a Dan Brown novel, this is a real page turner. I love the detail and research done in this book on symbolism and on the architecture of Washington D.C.

If you are a Dan Brown fan and enjoyed ANGELS AND DEMONS and the DA VINCI CODE, you'll love this one.

 
Linda
Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant
Rating: 5 Stars
Ms. Dunant does it again! Her novels are so well written and so well researched that one seems to be reading a biography. Excellent storyline with engaging characters.
 
Cindy H
Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
Rating: 4 Stars
As always, Picoult gets you with the characters --- she always embroils the good and the bad of the human experience in each of her characters.
 
Amy Friedman
A Long Way Gone: Memoir of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah
Rating: 2 Stars
The book served to convey information about the horrific civil war in Sierra Leone and its effect on the inhabitants, but it did not have depth or richness of description to bring you into the world being described or make you identify with the people in it. It was more straight reporting of events.
 
Debbie (delphimo@yahoo.com)
Pelican Road by Howard Bahr
Rating: 2 Stars
This is the story of two trains headed on a collision course of Christmas Eve, 1940. The story enters the lives of each of the train men, many as soldiers in WWI. The story about the mechanics of the early steam trains paints a despairing picture pf these men, and a picture of America before labor laws protected the innocent. The story is complicated, at times, in the description of how the system works, but the language is lyrical. I felt the book is not for the novice railroad reader.
 
T. Thomas
Kindred in Death by J. D. Robb
Rating: 4 Stars
Latest in the Death series. Moves quickly.
 
Eileen Quinn Knight (knight@sxu.edu)
Mentors, Muses & Monsters by Edited by Elizabeth Benedict
Rating: 5 Stars
Just as teachers always have a favorite teacher who changed their life this is a compilation of stories about famous writers and who influenced them the most. It is easy to read in one sitting or spread out over a couple of weeks. Read a special story each night.
 
Debi
Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
Rating: 5 Stars
Strange, strange, strange! Read it with a willing suspension of disbelief! Twin girls inherit a house in England from their aunt, who is the estranged twin of their mother. Oh, the house...it's haunted by the aunt who lives in a drawer! Interesting...but strange!
 
Debi
The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
Rating: 4 Stars
While this book is targeted for middle-schoolers, I read it because I had heard so much about it. It's a slice-of-life story told in first-person by a young Latino girl. I liked it because you can read between the lines and really see what's happening. Great for any age!
 
shyeyes (dawnymae@hotmail.com)
Who Do I Talk To? by Neta Jackson
Rating: 5 Stars
Once again we travel down the Yada Yada trail with many characters from her earlier series. We pick up where Gabrielle had been thrown out of her town home by her husband, and he has taken her boys from her. Very good story with great character development. Can't wait for the next book!
 
Jaime Huff
Willoughby's Return by Jane Odiwe
Rating: 4 Stars
SENSE AND SENSIBILITY was such an awesome book by the fantastic Jane Austen starring the wonderful Dashwood sisters, the heartbreaking Willoughby, the brooding Colonel Brandon and an array of other wonderful characters.

I have been enjoying the selection of Jane Austen sequels, and WILLOUGHBY'S RETURN by Jane Odiwe is right there leading the pack. Marianne, in my opinion, was spoiled, vivid and full of life and Jane Odiwe has maintained that spirit as she brings us to Marianne's life and her marriage to Colonel Brandon. I am a little saddened that Brandon didn't get a lot of scenes in this book. However, I realize that Marianne is the focus with her conflicting emotions over Willoughby popping back into her life. I will admit though, I have always been partial to Brandon and always hoped that Marianne matures. Do you think she will? Read this book and find out.

WILLOUGHBY'S RETURN has maintained the spirit and life of its predecessor, SENSE AND SENSIBILITY, and was such a strong, flowing read and I would definitely recommend this to any SENSE AND SENSIBILITY fan who has wondered, "well, what then?"

 
CC
Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant
Rating: 3 Stars
I was a little disappointed in this --- maybe I just wasn't in the mood to read a "period book." It was well written --- just didn't appeal to me much for some reason.
 
Audrey Anderson
Mind Game by Christine Feehan
Rating: 5 Stars
This is the second in a series by Christine Feehan. The characters have been experimented upon by a scientist trying to enhance their psychic abilities. First with little girls, then with two groups of military. In this book, Lily, one of the little girls is grown and the scientist, whom she thought was her father, has died. She inherits everything including his lab and all the records, and finds video tapes of her and the other girls when they were children. She is working on tracking one of them down and finds one who can manipulate energy. She sends in her team --- being one of the military groups who call themselves and her Ghost Walkers. The leader goes in advance and arrives just as her home is being attacked and foils an attempt at assassinating her. Her "handler" is kidnapped and her "nurses" are killed. Thus begins the rescue attempt and the search for who is trying to kill her so they can get her back to Lily and safety. In the process, love blooms.
 
Susan J.
An Artist in Treason by Andro Linklater
Rating: 4 Stars
For those interested in U.S. history, this is a fascinating story about a lesser known figure, General James Wilkinson. The United States would have been radically different if his plots had come to fruition.
 
MJB
Rainwater by Sandra Brown
Rating: 5 Stars
Takes place in Texas in the mid 1930s. Ella, a single mother of a mentally challenged son, Solly, runs a boarding house to make ends meet. When she takes in Mr. Rainwater as a boarder, she begins to question her own judgment, but her life takes a turn for the better because of him. A small book but a remarkable storyline. Ms. Brown has done an exceptional job with this historical novel.
 
Laurie W.
The Day The Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan
Rating: 4 Stars
This is a well written book with great characters. The history of Niagara Falls comes to life as you read the story. You can see, feel and smell the falls and you are swept along.
 
Debi
The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny
Rating: 4 Stars
I am a Louise Penny fan! Her descriptions of the village of Three Pines makes me want to move to Canada. This time, a vagrant is found murdered in the coffee shop, and Inspector Gamache has trouble finding the murderer...but he does! And it was a surprise, because I had eliminated this suspect by the middle of the book!
 
Cat
The Wrong Mother by Sophie Hannah
Rating: 5 Stars
This is a terrific mystery that has so many twists and turns you will find it hard to put down. Two mothers and their daughters seem to be the victims of murder-suicides and another woman gets caught up in a very twisted web involving murder and the pressures of motherhood. One of Publishers Weekly's mysteries of the year. You can't miss this one.
 
Carol G
Blood Sins by Kay Hooper
Rating: 4 Stars
Hooper has been writing several trilogies based around a group of paranormally gifted agents in the FBI or working for a civilian cooperating group. This is the second of one of the trilogies. It holds up well as a representative of the genre and leaves the reader waiting for the last book of this group.
 
Sharon Haas
Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
Rating: 5 Stars
If you have often been told to "be careful what you wish for," then this story might have special meaning for you.It's very hard to put into words the emotions that I felt while reading it. Disgust and fear, for sure, but also a new respect for the power of love. I don't think this book will disappoint anyone who falls into its mysteries.
 
Lauri Coates (blclcc1@charter.net)
Welcome to the Departure Lounge by Meg Federico
Rating: 5 Stars
The writer shares a variety of stories about mothering her mother. Her mother is aging, and not in good health. She is married to a man with Alzheimer's, and both of them enjoy a drink before dinner...sometimes starting as early as 10 a.m.! The book discusses the difficulty of caring for an aging parent, but it's done in a sometimes light, humorous tone, and all stories are deeply meaningful. I laughed and cried, and felt every emotion in between.
 
Lauri Coates (blclcc1@charter.net)
Something Hidden by Elaine Margolis
Rating: 4 Stars
If you love short stories, add this to your to-be-read list. Contains 13 short stories, a very eclectic selection, truly something for everyone. Included stories are by turns hilarious, heartbreaking, thought-provoking, strange, mysterious and feel-good.
 
CherylS22
Blue Heaven by C. J. Box
Rating: 4 Stars
I really enjoyed reading this thriller about two children who witness a murder and the fallout from another crime that happened several years before that intertwines with the murder. This book is fast paced and intriguing.
 
patty shogren (p12a11s49@aol.com)
The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf
Rating: 4 Stars
Two girls gone missing. What will a parent do to find his daughter? One daughter who hasn't spoken in years needs to tell the story.
 
patty shogren (p12a11s49@aol.com)
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
Rating: 4 Stars
Wonderful story of love and history of the Chinese and Japanese in America during World War II, featuring the differences of culture and living in an American society. It was bitter and sweet. Great characters to fall in love with.
 
patty shogren (p12a11s49@aol.com)
The Scarecrow by Michael Connelly
Rating: 4 Stars
Very good mystery. Jack, a reporter, gets caught up in a story he must solve, and the killer is onto him.
 
marion Miller (lamamil@aol.com)
The Story of a Marriage by Andrew Greer
Rating: 5 Stars
I really enjoyed this book. It kept me moving right along and I even felt anxious towards the end. I can't wait to recommend it to others. It has so many issues to discuss.
 
Kaye DeMaio-Hays
Nine Dragons by Michael Connelly
Rating: 4 Stars
Here's another "can't put down" thriller featuring Harry Bosch --- I even wondered how Bosch would be able to handle pain that he caused to people he cares about. As usual, Connelly gives the reader all the information needed to solve the mystery --- good luck!
 
Kathy Vallee
Murder Between the Covers by Elaine Viets
Rating: 5 Stars
These are part of a series called Dead-End Job Mysteries. A woman called Helan is running from the law and ends up in Florida at a job in a book store. It's hard to find work that will pay you under the table. When the owner gets killed and her new best friend gets arrested, it's up to her to find the real killer. Great little curl-up-and-read.
 
Kaye DeMaio-Hays
With Violets by Elizabeth Robards
Rating: 3 Stars
An interesting glimpse into the art world of Paris just before the dawn of Impressionism --- interesting insight into the possible fascination and affair between Berthe Morisot and the scandalous Edouard Manet. Motivation for an art lover to explore the works of Manet and Morisot, but no motivation to read another book by Robards.
 
David Rudy
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
Rating: 3 Stars
Interesting, but not a straightforward story. Some interesting things happen.
 
Julie H.
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe
Rating: 4 Stars
Connie Goodwin's summer project of cleaning out her deceased granna's house, accompanied by her dog Arlo, may actually prove to be a boon to her upcoming dissertation decision. On her first go through, Connie discovers an old Bible with a key hidden inside, in which is hidden a piece of old paper with the name Deliverance Dane. As Connie's research begins, the story navigates between the present day and the days of the Salem witch trials. The characters are well-thought out and jumping between time periods sets well for the story, as Connie's main focus has been the Colonial historical time.
 
Ali Madigan
Vanished by Joseph Finder
Rating: 4 Stars
A page turner --- you really get to know the characters and feel as if you are in the book...can't wait for the next book with these characters.
 
Robin in NC
Heaven by Randy Alcorn
Rating: 4 Stars
This is a very interesting book!
 
Bridget
The Girl on Legare Street by Karen White
Rating: 4 Stars
Not as good as THE HOUSE ON TRADD STREET, but almost! Same characters are back, but there are some new ghosts to get settled. Once again, I am left wondering what happens next to the main characters.
 
Kathy Boutilier
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
Rating: 5 Stars
Another insightful reminder of the human condition and how resilient people can survive.
 
LORRAINE M. LAROSE
The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah
Rating: 4 Stars
I bought this book because there were a lot of reviews at Amazon Books and most of them were very favorable. I really enjoyed the book and I would recommend it to readers.
 
Connie Fischer
Notes From the Underbelly by Risa Green
Rating: 4 Stars
A wonderfully humorous novel about a woman who reluctantly agrees to start a family. She mourns her hard-worked-for size-4 body in exchange for all the discomforts of pregnancy. Along the way, she finds that she has more maternal instincts than she ever thought she would. A good read with lots of "belly" laughs for all women who have "survived" the rigors of pregnancy.
 
Chris
The Christmas Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini
Rating: 3 Stars
As told by Sylvia, now in her 80s and trying to persuade her young friend Sarah to reconcile with her mother, this story is told partly in flashbacks to Sylvia's childhood and partly in the present. We find that Sylvia, too, had a broken relationship with her sister Claudia that she never got to rebuild before Claudia's death. In trying to persuade her friend, we get to go back in time to the early part of the 20th century and hear the tales of Sylvia's childhood and what led up to her estrangement from her sister for more than 20 years. Honestly, Sylvia's stories of the past are much more interesting than the present she inhabits because she comes off as a bit of an old harpy. Of course, some things are tied up neat as a bow at the end, but what's a good Christmas story without a happy ending?
 
Chris
A Separate Country by Robert Hicks
Rating: 5 Stars
Hicks is a compelling writer, and his mastery of the facts of the Civil War are at the heart of yet another terrific novel. This story revolves around the true love story of Confederate general John Bell Hood and his wife, Anna Marie and of the sacrifices, loves and challenges that beset them as they tried to lives their lives after the war. A must read for any history lover!
 
Marsha
Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
Rating: 5 Stars
This compelling novel is told in alternating voices. It reveals a cruel historical fact concerning the roundup of Jews in Paris during World War II. A young girl escapes and her terrifying journey to save her brother is masterfully told. This is a beautiful but painful story of heroic people.
 
Gina
Grace by Richard Paul Evans
Rating: 5 Stars
Classic Richard Paul Evans writing style and inspiring story.
 
Penney
The Murder of King Tut by James Patterson
Rating: 5 Stars
I love this book. It is so good and I would reread it again. Howard Carter is the archeologist obsessed with finding the tomb in the early part of last century and present day. I love James Patterson's books. I thought the characters were great!
 
Carolann Goslee
Alexandria by Lindsey Davis
Rating: 5 Stars
These are P.I. books set in the time of the Roman Empire. In this one, Falco travels with his family to Egypt. The head librarian is found dead in a locked room with no key.
Falco investigates. I love the history, the everyday life, the food they eat and the way they bathe. All very interesting.

 
Bea Carroll
Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson
Rating: 5 Stars
One of the most beautifully written novels I have read in a long time. The author pulls you into his past where you can actually feel yourself there, then brings you back to the present, leaving you wanting more questions answered.
 
Diane
True Compass by Edward Kennedy
Rating: 4 Stars
Very interesting autobiography even though much is known about the Kennedys. His personal insights and philosophy were inspiring to read.
 
Kathy Boutilier
The Likeness by Tana French
Rating: 5 Stars
An exciting story set in Ireland with a few new twists.
 
Kathy Boutilier
Listening Is an Act of Love by David Isay
Rating: 5 Stars
This is a book for everyone, with short vignettes of conversations and interviews. Very touching.
 
Kathy C
The Killing Tree by Rachel Keener
Rating: 5 Stars
Wonderful book set in Appalachia. Great characters and a really good story about hope and redemption.
 
Frankie
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Rating: 5 Stars
Uniquely written in the form of letters, it was a most enjoyable read. I could not wait to find out what would happen with all of the characters. Cannot say enough good things about this book, and how nice to learn some things about Guernsey.
 
BookFestival
Dune by Frank Herbert
Rating: 4 Stars
This is for my book club, and I've never read it before so I am glad we are reading it.
 
BookFestival
Floating World by James Michener
Rating: 5 Stars
I'm reading FLOATING WORLD for my "Honolulu Academy of Arts Book Club" and we are going to view Michener's collection of Japanese prints. I'm really looking forward to our meeting.
 
BS
Heaven's Keep by William Kent Krueger
Rating: 5 Stars
As all know, Cork lost his wife in a plane crash, but finding out how it happened and who may have murdered all on board is the thrill of this masterpiece. Krueger just gets better and better at his craft.
 
SB
Rough Country by John Sandford
Rating: 4 Stars
Sandford is Sandford, and if you enjoy his reads, you will enjoy this new Virgil Flowers mystery. While it is not as good as the last two, it is an exciting read as Virgil works to solve the murder of a high powered businesswoman at a retreat for gay ladies. Virgil, the ladies' man, is humorously entangled with these ladies as he solves the case.
 
Sharon
Hounded to Death by Rita Mae Brown
Rating: 2 Stars
Rather predictable and I am tired of reading so many repetitious descriptions of foxhunting.
 
Sharon
The Tell-Tale Horse by Rita Mae Brown
Rating: 2 Stars
Seems that the author has a lot of the book pre-written (from other of her books) and plugs in those bits --- mostly about the foxhunting scenes, the parties, the ruminations on the love affairs --- so one read means the other books by that author also have been read.
 
Jean M
The Rapids by Carla Neggers
Rating: 1 Stars
I did not like this book mainly because it appeared that it should have been the continuation of a series instead of a stand-alone book. For too much of the book, I felt like I came in the middle of a story and needed to know what happened before.
 
Denise
At The Queen's Summons by Susan Wiggs
Rating: 5 Stars
Feisty orphan Pippa de Lacey lives by wit and skill as a London street performer. But when her sharp tongue gets her into serious trouble, she throws herself upon the mercy of Irish chieftain Aidan O'Donoghue. The third book of The Tudor Rose Trilogy.
 
Saundra McKenzie (sandym204@gmail.com)
True Blue by David Baldacci
Rating: 3 Stars
I am immensely enjoying this read! To grab and keep my attention, a book must have blistering fast-action; loathsome, captivating, notorious characters; a driving non-cheesy storyline; and a hint of bravado. TRUE BLUE has that times ten. 

 
T. Blair
Under The Dome by Stephen King
Rating: 5 Stars
I am only 100 pages into this book and I am hooked! I hope the intensity continues throughout the rest of the story. This one is going to be hard to put down. The length of the book is challenging but I am excited about what lies ahead for the characters.
 
Ivy Pittman (ipittman26@yahoo.com)
The Devil's Punchbowl by Greg Iles
Rating: 5 Stars
A thrilling ride through the historical crimes past and present of Natchez, Mississippi. Iles is at the top of his game when it comes to story telling.
 
Billie McHam (bmmcham@cox.net)
Shades of Blue by Karen Kingsbury
Rating: 5 Stars
As always, I was not disappointed. Her books are so inspiring. This one has enough food for thought to get you through until her next book. It can also be a tear jerker at times. Don't judge a book by its cover, because you don't really know what is inside. This goes for humans also.
 
Mary Lou
A Change in Altitude by Anita Shreve
Rating: 4 Stars
Good story, fabulously researched. Halfway through, so angry at husband Patrick...
 
Mary Lou
The Price of Love by Peter Robinson
Rating: 4 Stars
Interesting and fun collection of stories. I'd give it 4 1/2 stars really.
 
Cheryl Losch
Flight of the Dragonfly by Melissa Hawach
Rating: 5 Stars
An incredible true story of what a mother had to go through to get her children back when their father kidnapped them and took them to Lebanon. I couldn't put it down!
 
Lynne
White Nights by Ann Cleeves
Rating: 5 Stars
Second in the Shetland Island Quartet featuring Fair Isle police detective Jimmy Perez, this is a story of how a small group of people living close together still keep secrets from each other. The people are compelling, and the long nights when it's never quite dark and the puzzle of why a stranger bursts into tears at an art opening the night before his body is found make for a highly satisfying mystery.
 
Patricia C.
Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs
Rating: 4 Stars
If you like werewolves, you will like this series. This book has vampires, a bonus. There is also a little romance in the story. It is a great read.
 
Donna Cruze
Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
Rating: 4 Stars
I just started reading it, so I'm just guessing it'll be a four-star book. I'm reading classics I missed in school. I think you enjoy them more as an adult.
 
L. Hann
The Collectors by David Baldacci
Rating: 5 Stars
Excellent. Very suspenseful.
 
Frankie
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Rating: 5 Stars
Very well written and while this is fiction, it does not feel like it. You can imagine that what these women experience could easily be true. I enjoyed every minute of reading this book and following the good and bad in the lives of these women. I have to say I cannot look at the members of the local Junior Leage the same since reading this book. I really missed those characters once I finished this book.
 
Emily
Ruby Holler by Sharon Creech
Rating: 5 Stars
RUBY HOLLER is a great and interesting book for kids age 10 and up. The way the author shows the characters grabs you in for a cool experience.
 
Mary Lou
Risk by Colin Harrison
Rating: 4 Stars
What a surprisingly good read. It is a "good thing in small packages" type book. Plot is very well developed, and good characters.
 
billie mcham (bmmcham@cox.net)
Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls
Rating: 5 Stars
I do not usually read autobiographies but this one caught my attention, and it is a really good read written in a first-person format. Intriguing and interesting throughout, the book is about how a woman cut from a different mold was able to make it in life back in the early 1900s. Great read.
 
Sandra (ssmith00281@verizon.net)
The Scarpetta Factor by Patricia Cornwell
Rating: 3 Stars
It has taken me 250 pages to really get into this book. Seems disjointed at times. Assuming she will pull it all together before I get to the end but --- as Cornwell's books go --- I am a little disappointed.
 
Linda
Field of Danger by Ramona Richards
Rating: 5 Stars
Coming from the farm, this book really shook me up, because I always felt safe in our fields. Levon Rivers is shot down in cold blood out in his field. A neighbor, April Presley, witnessed the shooting, but can't remember what the shooter looked like. Or did she? Does the shooter know if she does? What will he do about it? This book captures you on the very first page, and keeps you reading to the end.
 
Frankie
Hold Tight by Harlan Coben
Rating: 4 Stars
Another book that I could not put down by Harlan Coben. The technology described in this book, which we know is real, is a little scary. After reading this book, you truly believe that if "big brother" wants to watch you, he can. In addition, it makes you wonder when it comes to our children, when is it snooping and when is it protecting them?
 
Linda
South of Broad by Pat Conroy
Rating: 5 Stars
I have read all of Pat Conroy's other books and was anxiously awaiting the publication of this one. I even put off reading it for awhile until I was in the mood to savor it! It did not disappoint. He can tell you a story in the most beautiful way.
 
Linda
Angel Time by Anne Rice
Rating: 1 Stars
I tried to read an earlier book of hers --- the first in her vampire series and was not impressed. Neither was I impressed with her latest effort and could not finish it.
 
Merle
Writing Poetry from the Inside Out by Sandford Lyne
Rating: 4 Stars
Attempts to get you to a place where you will write from core emotions. Exercises are fun and even work with group settings.
 
Sal Williams
You Come When I Call You by Douglas Clegg
Rating: 4 Stars
This author must have some Stephen King genes. His writing is just as macabre. Old friends who shared in a terrible crime return to their hometown scene of the crime to do battle with the Desolation Angel. Meanwhile demons abound in other locales doing horrible things to perhaps innocent people. This is a nightmare you don't really want to wake from just yet. Great scary stuff!
 
dee
Little Bee by Chris Cleave
Rating: 5 Stars
This book was written so beautifully with an equally captivating story.
 
Sal Williams
The Quick Red Fox by John D. MacDonald
Rating: 5 Stars
This is another Travis McGee that has aged well. The Movie Star is a truly drawn character. There are some career- ending very dirty pictures and suitably deranged minds to deal with. Some very masculine women and many sordid characters that only MacDonald could make plausible weave their paths through the storyline. Tired of easy plots and so-so action? Revisit this grand old man and clean the cobwebs out of your suspense locker. Good stuff!
 
Sal Williams
Sick Puppy by Carl Hiaasen
Rating: 5 Stars
This Miami author is one of the most entertaining writers on the planet. The plot is another incipient eco-disaster at the hands of scheming developers bit. But who cares? Twilly Spree will make you chuckle even as you revile him. But the author is kidding on the square; the problems are real, the perpetrators are reprehensible and the planet will suffer if we don't do our parts. There is also good information here. Hiaasen's solutions are just so much funnier and more fun than anything we normal mortals might think of. I guarantee you will laugh out loud as you read this funny yet suspenseful novel.
 
Rosalie Sambuco (crimekitty763@yahoo.com)
The White Queen by Philippa Gregory
Rating: 4 Stars
Another winner for Ms. Gregory. Finally, a story giving Elizabeth Woodville's side of the story.
 
Rosalie Sambuco (crimekitty763@yahoo.com)
Hidden by Victoria Lustbader
Rating: 4 Stars
An interesting story of two families in NYC after World War I. Nicely written. I am enjoying this book.
 
Merle
Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult
Rating: 4 Stars
Usual Picoult situational novel.
 
Carol
The Glister by John Burnside
Rating: 5 Stars
The foundation of the book is the kidnapping and murders of young boys from the inner-town of an area around a shutdown chemical plant that has been leaking toxins. The meat of the story is the investigation into life, death, evil and eternity.
 
dee
Mudbound by Hillary Jordan
Rating: 4 Stars
Great story. Really held my interest.
 
Linda
The Laws of Harmony by Judith Ryan Hendricks
Rating: 4 Stars
I had read one of her other books and picked this up because my stack of books was getting low! It was an enjoyable story with interesting characters.
 
Reva Wamsley (prwamsley@roadrunner.com)
Excavation by James Rollins
Rating: 4 Stars
I have not read a bad James Rollins book yet. You keep wondering how they're going to get out of this jam, but they always do.
This book starts out with the discovery of a mummy in an ancient Incan tomb in the Andes.

 
Marsha
The Shadow Catcher by Marianne Wiggins
Rating: 5 Stars
Paralleling the life of Edward S. Curtis, a legendary photographer, the author who is writing of his life, finds many things in common with his unusual life. The book covers many subjects --- family dynamics, the American West, death, time, memory, Native American culture and the quest to understand our dreams and the reality of our parents' lives.
 
Katherine
Shepherds Abiding by Jan Karon
Rating: 4 Stars
Like the others in the Mitford series, this book is like curling up with a cozy blanket and a cup of hot chocolate. It's a comfy, homey kind of a read, perfect for starting off the holiday season.
 
Fran
Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
Rating: 4 Stars
A whimsical little novel with lovable real characters who are touched with a bit of magic! Loved the enchanted garden and Aunt Evanelle was awesome! Great characters, good storyline and just a bit of fantasy make for a fun story!
 
marlie warren (justme1@q.com)
Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver
Rating: 5 Stars
This book has been on my shelf for literally years and I've never gotten to it. This week when I finished the book I was currently reading, I decided to dig through my unread books and see what would interest me. Barbara Kingsolver jumped right out at me and I remembered a friend telling me how good this book was. The first night I started it, I had a most difficult time putting it down so i could go to sleep! 
I love the way this woman writes!

 
Margi
Smash Cut by Sandra Brown
Rating: 4 Stars
Brown's latest thriller is fast-paced and easy to read. Even though the reader knows who the killer is halfway through, there are a couple of surprises at the end.
 
Margi
Pursuit of Honor by Vince Flynn
Rating: 4 Stars
Flynn's latest in the Mitch Rapp series doesn't disappoint. It's a fast-paced page-turner that I couldn't put down. I do recommend that EXTREME MEASURES be read first so that the plot and characters make more sense. In fact, if you haven't read Flynn yet, start at the beginning. It will be worthwhile.
 
Bill
Top Producer by Norb Vonnegut
Rating: 4 Stars
Publishers Weekly called TOP PRODUCER "The gold standard for financial thrillers," and I would agree. The book is a nice blend of financial information and a murder story that begs to be solved. The book's main character, Grove O'Rourke, is engaging, fearless, but perhaps a bit too impetuous to manage my portfolio --- if I had one. He seems to let his emotions get in the way of logic, but the author always pulls him out of the tough situations he puts himself in.

It's a good yarn and I hope the first of several Grove O'Rourke adventures.

 
Debbie W.
Memory in Death by J.D. Robb
Rating: 3 Stars
Enjoyable read.
 
Debbie W.
A Demon in My View by Ruth Rendell
Rating: 4 Stars
A good read, but somewhat predictable.
 
Serena Pena
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
Rating: 5 Stars
Wonderful story. Historical fiction dealing with World War II and the Japanese interment.
 
marlie warren (justme1@q.com)
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
Rating: 5 Stars
If I could give 10 stars, I would! I've never been a dog-lover, but this book made me want to get a dog! I love Enzo and the story that he tells...If you don't read another book ever again...read this one!
 
Sally
Still Alice by Lisa Genova
Rating: 5 Stars
A beautifully written first book about the ravages of early-onset Alzheimer's disease. The book is told from the standpoint of the 50-year-old woman, a Harvard professor, who discovers what is happening to her. I felt that it very realistically expressed her feelings and experiences, along with how her disease affected her relationships, both professionally and with her family.
 
Serena Pena
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Rating: 5 Stars
This is a great read. Historical fiction around the time of the civil rights movement. I don't reread many books --- but this is definitely one that I plan on reading again!
 
JB
After River by Donna Milner
Rating: 5 Stars
Set on a dairy farm in British Columbia (the author is Canadian) in the 1960s, a draft dodger (River) arrives looking for a job and changes everything.
 
Jud Hanson
The Passover Plot by Hugh Schonfield
Rating: 3 Stars
This book is just one of numerous books that probe into the story of Jesus laid out in the Bible and whether or not it is more fiction than fact. While the author doesn't doubt that there was a man named Jesus, Schonfield examines the contradictions between Gospels and how the meanings of certain words have changed through numerous translations over the last 2000 years. It's a fair book but a bit tedious at times. Still, it's worth reading if the subject matter interests you.
 
Kathy Vallee
Frankly My Dear, I'm Dead by Livia J. Washburn
Rating: 5 Stars
This is a great book to pass those winter nights with. Delilah owns her own travel agency and on their first trip out, they run into murder!
 
Esther J.
South of Broad by Pat Conroy
Rating: 4 Stars
This story of the relationship between a Charleston journalist and his closest friends combines a coming of age story, romance, suspense and humor. A group of friends come together to bring one of their own home. Although each character is fascinating in his/her own right, it is the city of Charleston that is the true star of this novel.
 
Jud Hanson
Dead Air by Deborah Shlian and Linda Reid
Rating: 5 Stars
Meet Samantha "Sammy" Greene, a young college coed at conservative Ellsford College in New England. She's the host of "The Hot Line," a call-in show on the school's radio station, WELL. No topic is off limit for this show and Sammy has rubbed more than a few faculty and staff the wrong way when following a story. After finding the body of Dr. Burton Conrad, she decides she to dig deeper after the police conclude he committed suicide. Then, one student supposedly commits suicide and another is supposedly sent home with chicken pox but never arrives. Sammy realizes the two students are connected by the fact that they were seen by the same doctor at student health services, Dr. Palmer, and that he performs research at a very secretive on-campus facility. Complicating the investigation is the Youth Crusade led by Reverend Taft, who has been holding rallies and accusing the Ellsford Administration of promoting immorality and a mysterious fire which destroys the radio station. Sammy senses something sinister is going on in the halls at Ellsford but doesn't realize the person behind it all will kill to protect his secret. Can Sammy uncover the secret before she before her next broadcast becomes her last?
 
Kellie (acountkel@bellsouth.net)
Lieberman's Folly by Stuart Kaminsky
Rating: 4 Stars
Number one of the Abe Lieberman series --- I absolutely love the characters in this book. The development, the humor, excellent. The mystery was good but I was a tad disappointed in the solution. This is a series about two cops in Chicago, Abe Lieberman and Bill Hanrahan. Abe is Jewish, is married and has a daughter. He has such a way about him. I loved the scene when the gang of boys come up to Abe and Bill while Bill is telling Abe about his girlfriend. Classic. Bill is a Catholic who has a drinking problem ever since his wife left him. These guys grew on me. It didn't take long for me to decide I had to read the next book. And fast.
 
EC
The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold
Rating: 3 Stars
This book opens with a startling and attention-getting first sentence. While the situation draws you into the novel, there were problems. As with her novel THE LOVELY BONES, Sebold does not seem when to know when to end the book. There is tragedy in the plot, but it is not described cohesively. Also, the use of one derogatory word and the implication of it appeared ridiculous.
 
Cameron B.
Borderline by Nevada Barr
Rating: 3 Stars
Anna Pigeon is on administrative leave after she killed a man on Isle Royal in Northern Michigan during the winter study of wolves. So she is on vacation at Big Bend National Park in Texas, while deciding if she's going back to her job. While on a rafting trip with her new husband and some college kids, they find a pregnant woman in the Rio Grande river. While she is still alive when they get her out, she dies shortly afterward and Anna delivers her baby by cutting her open. With the baby in tow and their raft gone, they start to climb out of the canyon and come under fire from the American side of the river, killing their guide. When they finally get to civilization, the authorities, including the mayor of Houston, believe that the woman was a Mexican immigrant who was trying to cross the river to have the baby in the U.S., but Anna isn't convinced. WINTER STUDY was a departure for Nevada Barr that she continues in BORDERLINE in that her writing is getting darker and more violent. I think she's losing touch with her original character.
 
Tanya
Still Missing by Chevy Stevens
Rating: 4 Stars
This is an advanced read copy I was selected to read and review. The book is about a woman who is abducted for a year before she escapes. We learn about what happened through her sessions with her doctor. The book is quite disturbing in places. It held my interest until the very end. If you like thrillers, this book is for you.
 
Dorothy
Evidence by Jonathan Kellerman
Rating: 4 Stars
True to form, this latest entry in the Alex Delaware series is fast-paced and exciting. If you like twisted psychological thrillers, definitely don't miss it.
 
Dorothy
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Rating: 4 Stars
I read this at my son's recommendation. Fast-paced, action-oriented with great characters, it is no wonder this is being made into a movie.
 
Dorothy
Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
Rating: 4 Stars
Nearly as good as THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE, this literally haunting tale is full of richly drawn characters. The prose is lyrical, and while the ending leaves something to be desired, it is well worth the read.
 
Diana Huey
Chopping Spree by Diane Mott Davidson
Rating: 2 Stars
I always enjoy the recipes, but the storyline in this one is not very tight.
 
Marsha
Rainwater by Sandra Brown
Rating: 5 Stars
This depression era story will touch your heart as it unfolds. The presence of one man as he warms the hearts of a household is amazing and will stay with you for a long time. This short novel is a gem and will bring tears to your eyes.
 
Glenn
The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
Rating: 5 Stars
6 stars if I could --- I've never made a list of my top ten favorite books, but if I did HEDGEHOG would be on it.

This book centers around two very intelligent but introverted characters whose lives come together in a way that they're each able to help the other. They both try to appear less intelligent than they really are, but for different reasons, and class structures are explored. One character is 54-year-old Renee, a concierge of a wealthy apartment building in Paris. The other is 12-year-old Paloma, daughter of one of the hotel's wealthy tenants.

The chapters are interspersed between Renee and Paloma, which I thought worked well. Through the first-person narrative presentation, Barbery was able to give each one their unique character and voice.

This is not a book you can read quickly, as you really have to concentrate. It's a book to be savored, with many philosophical passages. I also expanded my vocabulary quite a bit, as I found myself looking up many 
words.

Muriel Barbery has a masterful way of stringing words together into sentences, and sentences into paragraphs that is quite special. She perfectly captures and encapsulates the thoughts she's trying to get across.

Bottom line --- this was just an awesome, awesome book, all around, that I thoroughly enjoyed, and it's a great work of contemporary literature.

 
Susan
Animal Magnetism by Rita Mae Brown
Rating: 5 Stars
I don't usually read nonfiction. This book intrigued me, as Rita writes about how animals have contributed in making her life richer. It made me wish that I had grown up with more critters. An insightful read into country life.
 
A. Brim
The Future Scrolls by Fern Michaels
Rating: 4 Stars
Dani Arnold rescues a lost little girl and finds herself in the middle of a family secret that has been guarded for years. Good read.
 
Cameron B.
Living Witness by Jane Haddam
Rating: 4 Stars
Gregor Demarkian is back! This time, he and Bennis Hanaford are finally getting married and the women in the neighborhood are angry with Father Tibor since he won't marry them in the church. In the middle of this, Gregor is asked to investigate an attempted murder in a small town outside of Philidelphia, in which a 91-year-old woman is beaten and left for dead and is in a coma. The woman was a member of the local school board and was part of a local lawsuit aimed at blocking intelligent design (a form of creationism) taught in the school. While she is still in the hospital, two more people who are part of the lawsuit are murdered. The local sheriff is also on the school board and so feels he should excuse himself from the investigation. He doesn't want to call in the state troopers because they don't respect his religious beliefs. Haddam does a good job of looking at evolution versus creationism without taking sides. It's always enjoyable to read her books.
 
Jane Squires (jrs362@hotmail.com)
A Measure of Mercy by Lauraine Snelling
Rating: 4 Stars
Astrid is working at becoming a doctor. She has struggled with decisions about whether to go to Chicago for further training or not. She finally makes the decision and goes. She almost did not go because of struggles dealing with losing a patient and a baby. She questions God as all do if we were honest. Her struggles with decisions and her faith is something we all can relate to.

Joshua Landsverk comes back to Blessing because he remembers Astrid. He joins the community and struggles with his need to forgive his father and finding himself. 
I loved the story of Benny, a homeless boy leaving on the streets. It was amazing how God worked to find the perfect parents for him. Also, an Indian child is left in Astrid's parents barn during winter storm and she is so starved. Astrid's parents take her in and raise her as family.

What I found interesting about this book was the struggles Astrid, Joshua and all the characters in the book had to deal with. We can all relate to something in this book. However, at the end I was disappointed that the story ended but it is as life is. One adventure ends and another begins. So because we do not know what happened, we have to hope for another book. All of us face the future not knowing what decisions to make and struggling with those decisions hoping we are making the right ones. A good read.

 
Shelley Quezada (quezada@noblenet.org)
The Last Dickens by Matthew Pearl
Rating: 5 Stars
Pearl weaves another tale of mystery and literary history, this time based on Charles Dickens's unfinished last novel, THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD. The story focuses on James R. Osgood, a real historical figure who goes to England after Dickens' death to seek out clues to the ending of the novel. In addition to being a rip-roaring thriller, the book reveals the fascinating history of early publishing in America.
 
A. Brim
Jackdaws by Ken Follett
Rating: 4 Stars
Felicity Clairet recruits five other women to go with her behind enemy lines during World War II to destroy a key telephone exchange in France. I enjoyed this but it get intense sometimes.
 
Ana
The Weight of Water by Anita Shreve
Rating: 1 Stars
So far this book is about to be closed for good. Has anyone out there read this book? Did you get through it and did it get better after page 86? I am disappointed, needless to say, because I have read other books by this author that I enjoyed very much.
 
Debbie (delphimo@yahoo.com)
Still Missing by Chevy Stevens
Rating: 4 Stars
Thank you for the opportunity to read this first novel by Chevy Stevens. I thrive on mysteries and read James Patterson, Laura Lippman, Peter Robinson, Elizabeth George, Michael Connelly and scores of other authors. Yes, I would read Stevens again, as I found this novel worked on my own psyche. I walk every day, and I now find myself paying more attention to the surroundings. The beginning of the novel is a little difficult to understand, and I had to reread the first sessions again. So many fabulous scenes in the book in which Stevens captures Annie's feelings and frustrations. I wonder if this story is based upon any factual event. On a grading scale, I would list an eight, great first attempt. This is an advance copy of a novel by a Canadian author that will sell in book stores in July 2010. This is the story of Annie, a realtor, who is abducted and held captive for over a year. The story unfolds as Annie explains the ordeal to her "shrink."
 
Jessica
The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted by Elizabeth Berg
Rating: 5 Stars
This book of short stories --- all tales of liberation --- is a liberating reading experience in and of itself. It will make you laugh. It will make you nostalgic. It will make you hungry. And it will make you want to read more of Berg. I do recommend it.
 
Linda C.
South of Broad by Pat Conroy
Rating: 5 Stars
A great story about friendship and the South. An example of how people from different backgrounds can be friends.
 
Harriet Stay (hstay@hughes.net)
Bone by Bone by Carol O'Connell
Rating: 5 Stars
I set this aside because O'Connell is only producing a book every couple of years, but how long can a chocoholic stare at a piece of chocolate? The good news is this book is dynamite. The other news is it is not about Kathleen Mallory. It is about a young son who goes missing one day. 20 years later, human bones start appearing on Judge Henry Hobbs' porch, bone by bone. The implication is yes, Josh Hobbs was murdered and someone found his grave. The story begins when Henry's older son, Oren, returns home after 20 years and has quit his position with the Army. He returns because Hannah (this character is a stand-out) wrote and told him his father had put a coffin in his house. I have been a hypnotized fan of Ms. O'Connell's since MALLORY'S ORACLE, 15 years ago. Her writing is lean, at times poetic (check out the opening lines), and her stories well-conceived and plausible. I will have to settle for a book every two years because the result is always worth the wait.
 
Kellie (acountkel@bellsouth.net)
Pelican Road by Howard Bahr
Rating: 2 Stars
A story about a freight train and a passenger train and the people who work on them. The setting is the deep south, Mississippi to Louisiana, at the beginning of World War II. I read all 10 reviews on Amazon about this book and I'm amazed. This just might not be my type of book. The reviews rave about how beautifully written this book is. My beautiful and their beautiful don't jive. First of all, the first half of the book is focused on the development of the characters. A lame attempt. I don't think there was much development. I had a difficult time keeping them straight. To me, some of this did not have much relevance to the main plot. A lot of words with little substance. It didn't help that the author bounced back and forth between present and past and I had a hard time figuring out what time it was. On a positive note, I did enjoy the train part of the story. Trains fascinate me. Other than that though, I had a hard time getting through this book.
 
Kaye DeMaio-Hays
September by Rosamunde Pilcher
Rating: 3 Stars
September in Scotland and its many social activities to celebrate the end of summer, along with its symbolic meaning, are the focus of the novel. Planning for a spectacular September party begins in May, as does the saga of the individual and intertwined lives of the guests. It's a good story with memorable characters, but far too descriptive.
 
Dorothy
Once in a Blue Moon by Eileen Goudge
Rating: 3 Stars
The story of two sisters growing up separately in foster homes. 30 years have passed since they have seen one another. The older sister, who was adopted by a loving family has been looking for her younger sister. They finally meet and are complete opposites. The younger sister had gone from one foster home to another, got involved in drugs and had a hard life. It was a good story.
 
Harriet Stay (hstay@hughes.net)
The Scarecrow by Michael Connelly
Rating: 5 Stars
I've come to the conclusion that Michael Connelly cannot write a bad book. I've loved them all, especially the Harry Bosch series. You've probably already heard that this is a sequel to THE POET. It is and crime-beat reporter Jack McEvoy has just received his walking papers from The Los Angeles Times. And yes, he meets up again with Agent Rachel Walling. There's excitement, tension, great writing --- what more could you want? To me, it was worth the U.K. First Edition price...and now it's a signed copy. I met up with him at Bouchercon, along with a couple of thousand other mystery fans.
 
Karna
The Big House by George Howe Colt
Rating: 4 Stars
I have just started reading this nonfiction account of a summer house on Cape Cod. Colt tells the story of his family's cottage at Wings Neck from its inception to the present. Fascinating facts about the Cape.
 
Karna
Oxygen by Carol Cassella
Rating: 5 Stars
The protagonist in this book is an anesthesiologist who is sued for malpractice. This fictional account views the suit from the perspective of the physician and how it affects her life. There is also an element of mystery. Good read!
 
Karna
Still Alice by Lisa Genova
Rating: 5 Stars
Another look at Alzheimer's disease from an author with a background in neurophysiology. It is hard to believe this is a fictional account of a professor's beginning awareness of the onset of Alzheimer's as it is so believably written. Having a family history of Alzheimer's, I at first didn't want to read this book but it was a fascinating account of the effects of Alzheimer's on the life of a professor and her family.
 
Mary Dobson
Killer View by Ridley Pearson
Rating: 5 Stars
I had not read a Pearson book in a while --- I'd tired of the Lou Boldt series. Picked this up when I noticed the new characters and really, really could not put it down. The whole "survivalist" plans and the government's cover up brings current issues to the front line! Makes you wonder how often these things happen. The characters were well developed and not a slow moment from start to finish. Will definitely look for the next book based on Walt Fleming!
 
Joan
The Monster in the Box by Ruth Rendell
Rating: 3 Stars
I always enjoy Ruth Rendell's novels featuring Inspector Wexford, but this one seemed to be lacking. Most of the story involves Inspector Wexford trying to convince his partner that he knows murders have been committed and who the suspect is --- the narration lacked a sense of urgency.
 
Ed Hahn (ed_hk@yahoo.com)
Reckless Endangerment by Robert K. Tanenbaum
Rating: 4 Stars
Though written in 1998 and set in 1981, this story is as relevant as yesterday's latest terrorism news story.

The ongoing relationship of Butch Karp, his wife Marlene Ciampi and their family continues in this and subsequent novels. A fascinating group they are.

Tanenbaum and his co-author Michael Gruber have the ability to start a story with seemingly insignificant events that eventually all relate and wind up coming together in the climax. This technique hooks the reader and forces him or her to pay attention to seemingly unrelated details because they are sure to become important later.

This particular story has Butch, in a staff role at the NYC DA's office, pursuing what looks to him like a possible terrorist plot but is ignored by all but a few of his colleagues and associates in law enforcement.

Marlene, spending much of her time helping out at an abused woman's shelter, uncovers a connection to what her husband is working on but neither of them know it. She is also constantly struggling with her personal demons that manifest themselves as her seeming inability or unwillingness to avoid serious trouble and violence.

The supporting cast of Tran, the Vietnamese bodyguard, assistant DAs, police investigators, Islamic terrorists, Mexican drug lords and an unbelievable Hispanic assassin all contribute to the fascinating story.

This is one of the better efforts of the Tanenbaum/Gruber collaboration.

 
Sue, Saratoga
Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf
Rating: 3 Stars
Kept my interest as I like mysteries/suspense, and it was good considering it was the author's first novel. But it was predictable in many places and a little like aLifetime movie. I look forward to seeing where this author will go next.
 
Marisa P
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Rating: 5 Stars
This is a gripping tale set in small town 1960s Mississippi. The white ladies who employee black women to "help" around the house are in need of enlightenment. One of their own, albeit ahead of her time, and two black ladies, in fact are the "help," educating the town and bringing the civil rights movement home in a very personal way. This book was wonderful. I can't say enough good things about it. You won't be able to put the book down, and you'll be sorry to see it end. A must for all book clubs. You will fall in love with the three heroines and root for them every step of the way.
 
Marisa P
What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman
Rating: 5 Stars
A murder mystery a cut above the usual. Set in Maryland, two sisters disappeared from the local mall one Saturday afternoon in the 1980s. The sisters are never seen again. Skip ahead 25 years and a mysterious woman claims to be one of the long-lost sisters. Is she telling the truth? What really happened? A great mystery with a very satisfying ending that I did not see coming.
 
Steven Schwindt (schwindt68@hotmail.com)
The Tyranny of E-Mail by John Freeman
Rating: 5 Stars
Our history leading to e-mail and tweaks.
 
Julie H.
Dani Noir by Nova Ren Suma
Rating: 3 Stars
Dani Callanzano is a great 13-year-old. The summer before 8th grade is shaping up to be a little rough, her best friend has moved away and her newly divorced parents take some getting used to. Luckily, the town's movie theater, the Little Art, is having a "Summer of Noir" and Dani's enchanted by the old time femme fatales and the air of mystery these movies portray. Soon, real life seems to be imitating art as Dani is on the trail of what may be a mysterious, present day femme fatale. Suma did a great job at showing Dani's growth through the summer, both with her dealing with her father's new house and family, and how Dani creates new friendships with a couple kids she thought she didn't have anything in common with anymore.
 
Ed Hahn (ed_hk@yahoo.com)
High Five by Janet Evanovich
Rating: 4 Stars
This was my first Evanovich book and what a pleasant surprise it was.

Stephanie Plum is an interesting character in that she doesn't pretend to be tough or even smart but somehow always manages to come out on top. All of this is done with quite a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor.

The supporting cast is peopled with all kinds of interesting weirdos, little people, 220 pound ex-prostitutes, a blood thirsty grandmother who attends viewings at a nearby funeral home for entertainment, an enigmatic co-worker and a mentor who keeps giving Stephanie income opportunities and beautiful cars, both of which she manages to mess up.

The plot, a mixture of missing persons, money laundering and murder, isn't all that original or compelling but the journey through all the ramifications is a lot of fun.

Until, Stephanie Plum, the only female crime fiction heroine I enjoyed reading about was Robert Parker's Sonny Randall. I now have another candidate for my light-hearted moments.

 
Steven Schwindt (schwindt68@hotmail.com)
Where Men Win Glory by Jon Krakauer
Rating: 5 Stars
The cover-up of Pat Tillman's death. Sorry story of our men fighting.
 
Steven Schwindt (schwindt68@hotmail.com)
Cheating Death by Sanjay Gupta
Rating: 5 Stars
New ideas for treatment that make a lot of sense; from cooling the bodies of heart attack victims to no mouth-to-mouth when trying to revive a person --- just use chest compressions.
 
Ed Hahn (ed_hk@yahoo.com)
Sharpe's Revenge by Bernard Cornwell
Rating: 5 Stars
The book opens with Sharpe fighting a duel ("grass before breakfast" in the jargon of the time) with Captain Bampfylde who, in the previous volume SHARPE'S SIEGE, had taken his ship away, leaving Sharpe to defend a fort that had been ruined.

The duel is followed by the battle for Toulouse, which was fought days after Napoleon had abdicated. All of this is prologue to a plot by the hated and long time enemy of Sharpe, Pierre Ducos, to steal a large quantity of gold and have the theft blamed on Sharpe.

There are a number of sub-plots involving Sharpe's wife Jane, who has gone ahead to England to buy a house in Dorset; Captain Frederickson, who falls in love with a French woman; and General Calvet, who, remaining loyal to Napoleon, is charged with getting the gold back.

There are many twists and turns making this book one of the more interesting of the entire series. All ends well, as you might imagine, given there are two more books in the series.

I am so hooked on the Richard Sharpe stories that having only two left to read somehow depresses me. Very much how I felt when I finished the Aubrey/Maturin series by Patrick O'Brian.

 
Judy O. (joswood@msn.com)
True Blue by David Baldacci
Rating: 3 Stars
Mace Perry was framed when she was a member of the Washington D.C. police force. She ended up spending two years in jail. Now she is out and wants nothing more than reinstatement in the department. She thinks she can gain this by solving a series of murders taking place in that city. Prior to the ending, I would have rated this as a four. I thought the ending was very convoluted and confusing and had to reread it for clarity. Maybe I have just gotten out of the practice of reading these thrillers successfully. Anyway, it did have a lot of excitement and thrills.
 
Sue, Saratoga
South of Broad by Pat Conroy
Rating: 3 Stars
While I enjoy his books and they are all page-turners, this had so many unbelievable story lines that I found it ludicrous. I like to suspend belief when I read a book, but this stretched me to the limits. If you've enjoyed his other books, then add this to your list.
 
Jaime Huff
Coils of the Serpent by Raymond Clark Lutz
Rating: 4 Stars
Can science and religion coexist? COILS OF THE SERPENT takes the reader through a scientific and biblical debate like no other.

Three friends: Dan, an easy-going agnostic scientific genius whose father was a theology professor who mysteriously died 25 years ago; John, a self-made financial whiz who found his rock in Christianity after battling substance abuse issues; and Shannon, a biotechnology grad student who was raised Catholic but retreated from religion due to conflicts with her scientific beliefs, evolution and the subservience of women by the church. These three friends met through a book club and built a relationship where they gathered weekly at a coffee shop. That is, until a mysterious "homeless" man shows up and asks them, "Does the book of Genesis teach about DNA?" That question takes these friends on an adventure while wrestling with the foundations of their belief systems, extremists, political corruption, intrigue, murder and their personal feelings.

Russ Hall, an FBI agent assigned to a missing person case of a troubled teenager named William Freeman, was sent to the Pacific Institute of Theology for Youth after running into some trouble, and was thought to be progressing quite well until he just "disappeared." This wasn't Agent Hall's first run in with the PIT (Pacific Institute of Theology); his first missing person's case was that of Dan's father, George Stanfield, 25 years ago when he was a new agent.

Mr Lutz's thorough research and ability to explain the complexities of DNA makes this book an enjoyable read and I feel like I learned so much about DNA. I was hooked! I enjoyed the reeducation of the book of Genesis, the Gospels, Jesus and the Crusades. The plot is amazing, I felt connected to the characters and my imagination soared. I salivate at the thought of being able to sit it on a discussion of the magnitude Dan, John and Shannon had. As an evolutionist myself, I definitely questioned my beliefs. I ended this book exhilarated and ready to research. I only have one complaint, though: what about Mrs. Freeman? Although, we already "know" about Will, I would like to have read about Agent Hall following up with her.

Raymond Clark Lutz's COILS OF THE SERPENT will take you on a wild, scientific thrill ride of DNA, the book of Genesis, extremists and political corruption. I definitely recommend this book if you are open minded!

 
Jaime Huff
Sacred Night by Valerie Connelly
Rating: 4 Stars
Right from the beginning, SACRED NIGHT is packed with action and suspense and doesn't slow down for a minute!

The story begins with singer Emily Sanders and piano player, Dan Barton at Rita's Bar. Coincidentally they are both single parents. At one moment they are discussing co-performing and the next a car crashes right through Rita's Bar, killing everyone inside except Dan and Emily. While at the same time, we are taken behind the wheel of the car that was driven through the bar.

Dan and Emily wake up 20 years younger in a world which is familiar and unfamiliar at the same time, while trying to make it home to their children. In the other universe of their lives, they are lying in a coma with their children left in limbo, doing everything they can to help their parents.

In the same events, we are taken to the Amazon and meet Ahi, a Tokablaki chief who is going through the enormously grueling process of the Sacred Night ritual.

Without giving too much away, this book takes us through adventures in the Amazon, the world of suspended animation in which Emily and Dan are in terrorist activities and suicidal killers, stopping alzheimers, drug dealing, and love. 


From the moment I began "Sacred Night", I was hooked! Valerie Connelly's story telling abilities scream loud and clear from each page. I am impressed with her ability to take parallel events and not lose a reader! I was able to connect with all the characters, to visualize the events, and felt my heart pound with anticipation right up to the end.

 
Jaime Huff
Dark Destiny by Kym Hackenberger
Rating: 2 Stars
Have you ever wondered how the Evil Queen, Evil King, Wicked Stepmother, etc become evil or what they were like when they were young? That's the road DARK DESTINY takes in the story about the Queen of Darkness in Sleeping Beauty.

Princess Elspeth of Rookskrieg is betrothed to Prince Malcolm of Talonsbay. However, Malcolm wants nothing to do with Elspeth. He finds her ugly and sullen. She wants nothing to do with Malcolm either. She would rather join her sister, Lillith, training in magic with the fairies in Elfhame. However, her "destiny" is to marry Malcolm and join the realms of Rookskrieg and Talonsbay.

On the night of Elspeth's sister Isabelle's wedding to Byron, Malcolm humiliates Elspeth in front of the kingdom and she is rescued by a stranger, Jethart, who is actually the Dark King.

Jethart visits Elspeth nightly and they fall in love, however she is betrothed. On the day of her wedding Jethart rescues her from being united with Malcolm and finds happiness with Jethart at Dubh Rathgart, or the Black Fortress. He teaches her the magic she has longed for and become powerful together. Meanwhile, Malcolm is growing in his hatred and ends up battling Jethart and kills him. Leaving Elspeth to brew her anger as she is alone with their son, Ossian.

Basically, the anger at having all her happiness being taken away from her grows Elspeth into the infamous Dark Queen, who wants to destroy Malcolm and his happiness.

I thought the story was OK. I felt it was hurried and many other areas could be built upon. I feel that the author touched on the aspects of magic, darkness, battle, love and beauty. All things important to fairy tales, fantasy and the like. I was hoping for a little more dialogue, character building and more action. However, with this being a short read, it was written well enough to get the point of the story across and created enough of a visual to make this an enjoyable. I certainly felt Elspeth's anger and pain from losing her love and enjoyed watching Ossian grow into a powerful magician. Also Prince Roderick's (King Malcom's son) also is a character to watch out for is the author decides to continue this story. I imagine him growing into a wonderful king, unlike his evil father. I am saddened by Ossian.

I definitely recommend this book to preteens and teens. This was my first experience with reading a retelling of a fairy tale and definitely won't be my last!

 
Debi
The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry
Rating: 5 Stars
There are so many layers to this novel, that, as you read, you are pulled deeper and deeper into the mystery of the disappearance of a grandmother who could read people's future in lace. I was totally unprepared for the revelations at the end! Excellent!
 
Jaime Huff
A Taste of Guam by Paula Ann Lujan Quinene
Rating: 3 Stars
I was given the amazing opportunity to review Paula A. Lujan Quinene's cookbook A TASTE OF GUAM. I am always willing to try something new and being unfamiliar with cuisine from Guam, I had to do it!

The cookbook was very easy to follow and seemed to share Paula Quinene's personality and personal history with each recipe. She broke down each recipe into sets, in order as needed. Which I found to be a huge help and made organizing very easy. She was great about explaining the cooking process. Also, she even made sure to explain how certain dishes are pronounced. I also love that she included places to stop at in Guam if you were to ever visit, a short history of Guam and major Fiestas of their culture.

However, I felt that since the recipes are unique to other cultures, there needed to be an explanation as to what certain ingredients are or even an acceptable substitute. For example, The recipe for Ahu called for Ahu meat. I googled it and couldn't find anything other then other recipes for Ahu and none of them mentioned Ahu meat. Instead, there were references for coconut meat. The other suggestion I have is how many servings the recipes make. Not a single recipe mentioned the servings. I understand that it must be difficult to come up with the amount as these are recipes in which are normally eyeballed and the author went through and remade the recipes and measured so that she may be able to write the cookbook. Since I had no idea what the serving sizes were, I had no idea how much to reduce everything by to cook for a smaller group. My pot of red rice was enough to feed an army.

With those few suggestions aside, I don't want anybody to be turned off of the book. It's a great cookbook with unique recipes that will make for a fun night of Chamorro food. I made the red rice and it was delicious! I made Fina'Dinne which is a traditional sauce served with BBQ, egg rolls, white rice, etc. This is more of a taste preference but I didn't care for it. I might try it again but reduce the amount of vinegar. My neighbor had some and loved it. Once again, that is a taste preference. I made the Crab Kelaguen. Yum. I read the recipe, thought it was weird but wanted to try it. Holy cow, was it fabulous! I just ate it on its own. So delicious. I lastly made Estufao. Oh my goodness. Delicious. If you like Filipino Adobo, you will love Estufao. Fabulous. I am definitely going to try some of the recipes, especially the Chicken Kelaguan and some of the desserts. I am going to play around with trying to cut down the red rice until I get it to a smaller size without losing all of it's fabulous flavor.

I think Paula Lujan Quinene definitely has a market for this book and I have suggested it to other friends of mine who love to try different cuisines!

 
Marsha
Nine Dragons by Michael Connelly
Rating: 5 Stars
Detective Harry Bosch is entangled in a murder of a Chinese man which leads him to Chinese triads, and to Hong Kong to rescue his daughter. This is Connelly at his best.
 
Jaime Huff
Jake The Snake and the Stupid Time-Out Chair by Shelly Nicholson
Rating: 4 Stars
Ah, life through the eyes of Jacob Sylvester Nelson. Or as his friends and family lovingly refer to him as, "Jake The Snake." Well, Mr. Jake the Snake is an important five-and-three quarters-year-old. Don't forget, those three quarters are very important to a kindergartner!

Poor Jake. His intentions are always so well meaning, like attempting to do laundry and building a sandcastle out of laundry detergent to help his mom out. Or dangling from a chandelier like a monkey. Or trying to help his poor tired dad out by trying to put the star on the Christmas tree by himself. He even accidentally drowned his brother's lizard, Larry, in chocolate that was being melted on the stove for pretzels. Unfortunately, for Jake the Snake, his intentions albeit good, turn into disasters and he winds up in the "Stupid Time-Out Chair." He tries to be good so Santa won't being him a new "North Pole Mom" or a "lump of coal."

This book was adorable, funny and little Jake the Snake is so endearing. He tries so hard but his brain thinks he has a good idea but trouble ensues! Shelly Faith Nicholson did a great job writing through the eyes of a five-year-old boy. Oops, I mean a five-and-three-quarters-year-old boy!

Unfortunately my daughter's attention didn't hold for this book. However, she does like something with more bright pictures. However, I enjoyed the story and it will make for great reading for a young child to enjoy! Jake's antics are hilarious and makes you say, "Boys will be boys!"

 
Jaime Huff (jaime.huff1@gmail.com)
Julie and Julia by Julie Powell
Rating: 4 Stars
First off, before I even picked this book up I wasn't sure what to think. It sort of sat on my bookshelf just leering at me to read it. Honestly, I am not a memoir kind of girl. I think my "real" life is full of enough action, drama, tears, suspense, heartache, happiness, laughs, trials and tribulations to fill 10 memoirs. Well, once I picked it up, I couldn't stop!

Julie Powell is candid, foul-mouthed, angry, sarcastic and dramatic. I loved her. Seriously. She was so honest about her feelings, thoughts, desires and her life that I couldn't help but nod my head laughing because I can understand her! She even talks about the maggots in her sink! How's that for honesty? JULIE AND JULIA is not so much about Julia Childs, cooking, or blogging as much as it is about Julie trying to find herself. She is turning 30, has a "syndrome" (as she calls Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) and isn't sure if she can have kids, stuck in a government secretarial position which was responsible for Ground Zero (the site where the World Trade Center Towers stood), and married and living in New York City. On a trip to visit her parents in Texas, she snatches her mother's copy of Julia Child's MASTERING THE ART OF FRENCH COOKING, VOLUME 1. Her husband, Eric, suggests she blogs about cooking through the cookbook. The rest, as they say, is history. She becomes an internet hit, all the while cussing her way through the cookbook (honestly, I cuss just making crepes, so I can't imagine what it's like through Julia Child's meals), and trying to find herself. My favorite part was nearing the end, after Julia Child learns of Julie's project and doesn't "care" too much for it. (I just want to throw this in. Julia was pushing 90 when this was going on, probably cantankerous and not understanding about blogs, technology and the like.) I loved it when Julie and Eric visit Julia's kitchen at the Smithsonian and leave a stick of butter (remember, Julia cooks French food. Read: lots of butter). Pure awesomeness.

If you are looking for a book about Julia Child, cooking or even blogging, keep looking. If you want a book about personal growth, while cooking through a Julia Child cookbook and blogging about it, then this book is for you. However, be forewarned, there is a lot of cussing, talk about sex (not pornographic, just the subject of sex) and she is a Democrat who does some Republican bashing ---- not so much as bashing but gives them a hard time (none of these bother me, just a warning for those it might). If any of those bother you, pass. If they don't, I say pick up JULIE AND JULIA and have a good laugh. I know I did.

 
Debi
New Tricks by David Rosenfelt
Rating: 4 Stars
In this mystery novel, a lawyer tries to keep a young dog from the wrong hands after his owner dies. In doing so, danger follows everyone around him. This is a great, cozy mystery to curl up with on a dreary day!
 
Debi
Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom
Rating: 5 Stars
If I could give more than 5, I would! This book is awesome! In fact, I think it will be "the" book that I give away for Christmas! Read it with a highlighter because you'll want to go back and remember quotes!
 
F Tessa Bartels
Shelter Me by Juliette Fay
Rating: 3 Stars
A young wife loses here husband in an accident and struggles to move on. Lots of miscued emotions. Interesting subplot regarding a priest. Not a perfect ending, but a believable one.
 
Janet Griffin
True Compass by Edward Kennedy
Rating: 4 Stars
Here are all the stories you have heard, if you have enough years, but this time from the soul of Ted Kennedy. He tells his own story, and leaves you to weigh it for yourself.
 
Brenda Rupp (dancealert@aol.com)
The Coral Thief by Rebecca Stott
Rating: 4 Stars
This book is great in that it is full of history of 17th century Paris, and the area. The story is about a 21-year-old man who travels to Edinborough to study to become a doctor. His letters of introduction and a manual, corals and some other artifacts are stolen before he can arrive and deliver them to the professors. Coral is believed to show how long the earth has been in existence...I'm still reading!
 
Bonnie
In a Perfect World by Laura Kasischke
Rating: 4 Stars
This is really a 4 1/2...an apocalyptic novel. Also, a story of family dynamics. Hard to put down.
 
Jaime Huff
Saffron Dreams by Shaila Abdullah
Rating: 5 Stars
Arissa Illahi is a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, Pakistani, American and Muslim. When the United States, and consequentially the world, were rocked by the horrific terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Arissa's life was turned upside down. Her husband, Faizan, was working at a restaurant in one of the towers and lost his life. Reeling with the loss of her love, Arissa is left struggling and trying to make sense of it all. She is also pregnant with a baby who is destined to have severe special needs and alone. She also becomes a victim of prejudice when attacked because she is wearing her veil. She sheds her veil and goes on a journey of heartbreak and empowerment all the while healing from being abandoned by her mother and building a beautiful relationship with Faizan's parents.

Poetic and moving, the story of Arissa Illahi's heartbreak and strength comes alive in Shaila Abdullah's SAFFRON DREAMS. This novel is written in a memoir style, taking you deep in to Arissa's heartbreak and inner struggles. Attempting to bring forth what it must be like to be a victim in so many aspects due to the terrorist attacks. Imagine what it must be like to be in the shoes of a follower of Allah and have the world blame you for what you yourself is a victim of also. Shaila Abdullah's book is multifaceted, we are given a treat of reading beautiful words, a moving story and we are also educated at the same time. Although this is a work of fiction, Arissa's heartbreak is real. Her experiences are real. Her struggle with removing her veil and blending in with an America that is reeling and scared. Her surviving when Faizan did not, her decisions to continue with his novel, and the choices and struggles with raising their special needs son. I was moved to tears several times during this book, my heart ached for Arissa and I also found myself cheering her on as she and her son found their footing and moved through their lives, never forgetting who they are: Wife, Mother, Daughter, Son, Pakistani, American and Muslim. 

Shaila Abdullah's "Saffron Dreams" is a must read.

 
Dara
Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers
Rating: 5 Stars
This is the first book in the Mark of the Lion Trilogy. I usually don't like Christain Fiction; I find it corny and trite. Since so many women at my church were saying how wonderful the book was, I decided to give it a try. I am glad I did. The story is about a young Christian named Hadassah, whose faith is tested when she is sold as a slave in Rome.The characters are wonderfully rich and very believable.
 
T. Thomas
The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Rating: 3 Stars
3 1/2 actually. I had read SHADOW OF THE WIND and was anxious to read this book, but I had trouble getting into it. It seemed more ponderous than intriguing and really did not hold my interest until the last fourth of the book.
 
Betsy Woodruff (bmwhokie@yahoo.com)
Animal Magnetism by Rita Mae Brown
Rating: 5 Stars
This is Rita Mae Brown at her best! With her signature humor and honesty, she tells about her life with all God's creatures and how they shaped her life and made her the successful author that she is. The reader gets insight into many of the characters in her novels who are based on real-life members of her family. She also goes more in-depth about her personal life than she ever has. The best thing about the book is that if the reader is an animal lover, he/she would be hard-pressed to find someone with whom to relate more closely than Rita Mae. I read this book and then immediately started reading it for the second time. I've never done that with any book before --- fiction or nonfiction! She stirred my soul.
 
Jaime Huff
Moon Called by Patricia Briggs
Rating: 5 Stars
My review is short and sweet. I loved this book, plain and simple. Mercy has a degree in history but owns and operates a mechanic shop with a specialty in German cars. On top of that, she is pure awesomeness. She was raised by the highest ranking werewolf in the United States, the Marrok. However, she isn't a werewolf. She is a walker. A walker is a hunter who shape shifts from Coyote to Human form and hunts vampires (if I am getting that part right. Either way, the vampires fear walkers). Walkers are based in Native American tribes. Mercy, however, doesn't really know all the ins and outs of being a walker. However, she knows the weres and the politics with the alphas, the dominants and submissives.

There is a bad were in the mix who is experimenting on other weres and kidnaps the Tricities' Alpha's daughter. It's up to Mercy, Adam, Samuel and Stefan the vampire to solve this before it gets even worse.

Patricia Briggs brings together weres, vampires, witches, fae and all kinds of creepy preternatural creatures to MOON CALLED. I felt the writing was tight, the action kept moving along at a perfect pace, without being distracted with sex (not that I am a prude but some paranormal authors can't balance the sex with the action, Briggs skips it all together but adds just enough implied sexual tension to make you wonder who Mercy ended up being with or will she just remain an independent woman) and at the same building on the characters. I give Moon Called two thumbs up and added Patricia Briggs on to my list of favorite Paranormal authors. I love a strong, kick-ass heroine and Mercy is just that. Gotta love a girl who can fight with martial arts, repairs cars, has tattoos, has a degree in history, can shape shift and maintain herself amongst weres. My kind of boo.

 
Jaime Huff
Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs
Rating: 5 Stars
After a strong first book, Mercy comes back full force in BLOOD BOUND. This time instead of a rogue werewolf, we have a rogue vampire. MOON CALLED was a great intro to the Tricities underworld and brought us deep in to the world of werewolves but this time, we are taken in to the world of vampires. Mercy is nearly immune to magic and due to this gift, Stefan asks her to join him in visiting a vampire who is new in town and has visited the Seethe, and Stefan knows something isn't right and asks Mercy to stay in Coyote form. This creepy new vampire is one scary creature, a sorcerer turned vampire and being ridden by a demon is a bad combination. Everywhere he goes, evil follows. He can overpower vampires, werewolves, fae and the witches. Not a good combination.

Mercy gets asked by Marsilia, the vampire head, to help after Warren (I love him! I hope he gets more focus in the coming books) is nearly killed and a weaker vampire was also killed. Mercy also learns more about what being a walker is. I don't want to share anymore details as I don't want to spoil the plot but I loved BLOOD BOUND. It was strong, Mercy was strong and I felt my adrenaline rush. Also, I have to throw this in --- when the demon/vamp/sorceror thingy finds out who and what Mercy is and finds her at her trailer, that was a scary scene. I could visualize his face pressed against her window and his fangs scratching the glass, and could hear him destroying her trailer and shredding it. Ouch.

Either way, I can't wait for more. I have IRON KISSED coming, which is #3. I have a feeling that one will have the focus on the faes. Once again, another two thumbs up to Patricia Briggs. She has created an awesome heroine, strong, independent and a positive influence amongst all the dominant/submissive play of the weres.

 
Jaime Huff
Flesh and Fire: Book One of The Vineart War by Laura Anne Gilman
Rating: 2 Stars
The premise and idea was interesting. There seem to be three major groups: Vinearts (who control the wine, the spells and answer to no one), the Princes (who think the Vinearts and the Washers should answer to them but understand the command) and The Washers (who seem to be priestly beings ensuring moral behaviors and that the Sin Washer's commands are upheld). Very creative, a fantasy about magical wine. I love it! As a person who loves wine, I was game!

Sadly, this book didn't maintain my interest and I really had to force myself to finish it. It isn't because it is badly written, it's not at all. It's because it seemed dry, dull and I felt absolutely zero connection to any of the key characters until the last quarter of the book. The first half of the book was so disconnected to the characters that when Jerzy and Master Malech start working together, I could care less that the Slave was being primed to become a Vineart due to his natural skills. The characters had nearly zero personality, except for near the end. I have an idea that the next book in this series will have more focus on Jerzy, the student Vineart, Ao, the trader and Mahault, the daughter of the Lord Maiar who wants to be a soldier, as a trio.

I can not say I glowingly recommend this book. However, I also can't say I don't recommend it. I am very indifferent. The author's writing style is beautiful and descriptive, and I believe that the Vineart War can definitely grow into a magical series. I certainly am willing to try the second book when it comes out with hopes it will have much more intrigue and less blandness then it's premiere.

 
Jaime Huff
Day by Day Armageddon by J.L. Bourne
Rating: 4 Stars
DAY BY DAY ARMAGEDDON is written in a journal format of a man who is attempting to survive amidst the wake of zombies. As a matter of fact, I'm not sure what his name is! The "author" is a military man who begins a journal as a New Year's Resolution and follows the mass destruction and chaos ensuing after this "virus" overtakes the world. He chronicles his killing, escaping and joining forces with a few other survivors he has met along the way. I have read some of the other reviews who state this is the best zombie book they have ever read and some that say that they don't like that the key character is so prepared. As for being the "best" zombie book ever, I don't know. This is my first one. I loved it. It was gripping, chilling, raw and crazed. I certainly don't have an issue with the key characters preparedness. He is in the military. If this was written from the view point of me, an average Jane, then prepare for it to have ended quickly, as I wouldn't have had a clue what to do except run! Being as it is written from his viewpoint, I am all for his survival and game planning. I can't wait until the second book comes out to see what's going to happen to these survivors housed at Hotel 23, an underground military facility. I can't help it! I need more!
 
Jaime Huff
Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs
Rating: 4 Stars
Book three of Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson series, IRON KISSED brings another side to the ongoing saga that is Mercedes Thompson's life. Mercedes is taken deep into the mysterious world of the Fae to help investigate a murder of several Fae on the Fae Reservation and to help free Zee.

This book is a different speed of the previous two. There isn't as much action but it is just as thrilling as the first two. I was glad to learn more about Zee and more about him as a "gremlin," more about the Gray Lords and also more about Mercy's relationship with Adam and Samuel. This book is difficult to review without giving away too much. I just finished this last night and can't tell you whether it's my favorite of the series, but it definitely broke my heart. In the first two books, Mercy was tough and independent. In this book, she hasn't lost either of those traits but she did get broken. Badly. I felt for her so much. IRON KISSED brought out a different side of Mercy. Some people didn't like it but I liked it. She showed she can be broken down to the lowest form and rise above tragedy without completely losing herself. All of the main players in this series are crushed and show different sides in this book. This is definitely one to ponder after reading.

In my book, Mercy rocks and so does Patricia Briggs.

 
Jaime Huff
The Wildest Heart by Rosemary Rogers
Rating: 5 Stars
A sweeping, beautiful, epic historical romance, THE WILDEST HEART by Rosemary Rogers kept me entranced throughout 739 pages. Yes, 739 pages. It begins in 1872 with Rowena in India, and then onto 1873, when upon her grandfather's death, she is sent to her mother's (whom she has never met) in London. And then she's off to America upon her finding out her father is dying and has left her his ranch in New Mexico and a very wealthy woman. These pages take you through her life to 1878 without disappointing or obnoxious downtime. When I first saw this book, I was overwhelmed. A romance this long? How much can the author write about? Obviously plenty, and without disappointing the reader. This is a true romance in my book. Lady Rowena is beautiful, fierce, independent and strong. Her life was never easy; she is the "Wildest Heart." I felt so much of a connection with Lady Rowena, dislike towards Todd Shannon, uncertainty about Lucas Cord and of course, I eventually fell in love with him and all the players. I love when an author can build other characters without losing her key players. The late 1800s was a time of wild, raucous outlaws, especially in the west. The author has woven the time period in beautifully.

Just beautiful. I say this book is worth each and every page you read. I wasn't disappointed and I am sure other readers won't be either. I will even say this, this is definitely going into my reread pile for another round. Be prepared to be captivated through the entire book.

 
Jaime Huff
Of Ghosts and Magic by Alfred Albers
Rating: 4 Stars
OF GHOSTS AND MAGIC is a strong story of finding the ghosts of the past. It takes a magician to find this "ghost." John Michaels' 30th class reunion is ahead of him, and at the request of his former classmate, he agrees to take his magical show out of retirement. When he learns that his high school friend, Alex Holloman, has yet to be located and has disappeared since 1974, John decides he is going to look for his friend and if he finds him, he will incorporate him in the reunion's magic show.

I really enjoyed this book. I felt John Michaels was a very strong and likable character. The dialogue was fantastic and I felt myself really wanting him to succeed. In real life, Mr. Albers is a part time professional magician and it shows through his descriptions of the magical acts and tricks. I really felt a bonding with Alex. I could understand his pain and how the events of his life snow-balled into him disappearing in to "thin air" after coming home from two years in Vietnam and his parents being killed six months after his return to civilian life. The descriptions of New York City's subway system, neighborhoods, eateries and hotels was very realistic! The ending certainly gave me tears --- of happiness of course!

I felt, though, there were some inconsistencies. For example, on page 179, Alex is taken back to 1964 during the British invasion and it's talking about music of the time and his desire to learn to play the guitar. Then in paragraphs three and four, he is in Walter's music store. There is a description of CDs, which weren't around then. I am not sure if it should have maybe been LPs. Then the next page jumps to 1984 and his teaching beginning guitar lessons. That is the only mention of CDs. It's very well possible I misread it but other then that, this book was a fantastic read. I really enjoyed John Michaels' respectful tone towards others he is dealing with in various scenes.

Thumbs up to Mr Albers for OF GHOSTS AND MAGIC.

 
Jaime Huff
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Rating: 2 Stars
After all the hype about how TWILIGHT was the greatest vampire story ever and how Edward and Bella's love surpassed all previous love stories, I just had to find out for myself what the truth is. I am not one to say, "Hey. you're wrong for liking this book," nor am I one state somebody is "right for not liking this book." However, to each their own.

However, I am in the group of the mindset that no, this is not the greatest vampire story ever and no, Edward and Bella do not have the greatest love story either.

The book bored me. Seriously. I wanted to put a restraining order on Edward for being a psycho stalker and put Bella in a domestic violence shelter for his possessiveness. Then I wanted to lecture Bella and then I reminded myself this is fantasy. Not a good fantasy, mind you --- a really, really bad one. I cringe at the thought of any man with any characteristics of Edward. I stalk you and am possessive of you because "I love you." Ouch. The glittering vampire idea wasn't very inspiring. I like a good old fashioned vampire, one who can't go out in the day, has pale skin (No glitter please!), and is kick-ass all the way...Edward...well he wasn't. However, I did dig Jasper, Alice and Rosalie. Emmett sounded pretty hot. There was not enough action for my liking, except near the end when I thought Bella was going to get thoroughly destroyed. Yeah, it sorta sent my heart racing. Sort of.

I guess for the "fangirls," it's a great book. For me, personally, it fell flat. Sorry, I really tried to like it, but I couldn't. I gave away my copy of TWILIGHT and NEW MOON (I didn't want to waste any time with it).

 
Richard N Bartels
Once an Eagle by Anton Myrer
Rating: 5 Stars
An epic tale of two soldiers --- San Damon and Courtney Massengale --- from World War II to Vietnam. Really captures the heart and soul (and politics) of the officer corps. This combat veteran gives it 5 stars!
 
Angela Satalino
Body Surfing by Anita Shreve
Rating: 4 Stars
Anita Shreve never disappoints me with her stories. I always find myself anticipating the next page, never wanting to put the book down. I really want to go to New Hampshire and walk along the shore.
 
shannon moon leonetti
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
Rating: 3 Stars
I know it won the Booker and everyone is loving it, but it moves around in time so fast that it is hard to follow, unless I am really paying attention (which doesn't always happen)!
 
Carol H.
Best Friends Forever by Jennifer Weiner
Rating: 4 Stars
A lifelong friendship between Valerie and Addie hits roadblocks but endures. For lovers of Jennifer Weiner's novels, this one will not disappoint!
 
Ann Boles
South of Broad by Pat Conroy
Rating: 4 Stars
Another winner from Pat Conroy. I love his books for the loving picture they paint of the South and the interaction of close friends and family.
 
Ann Boles
The First Rule by Robert Crais
Rating: 5 Stars
I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of this book, due to be published in January. This is another fast-paced thriller from a master. This is the author's second book (following THE WATCHMAN) focusing on Joe Pike, the partner of private detective Elvis Cole, and it is another winner. Pike is trying to find the person responsible for the death of a former colleague, and soon focuses on a member of the Serbian mafia.
 
rose
The Women by T.C. Boyle
Rating: 5 Stars
Boyle's book is an account of Frank Lloyd Wright's life, as told through the tempestuous experiences of the four women who loved him. Interesting, and told with Boyle's wit and invention.
 
Erin (erin_johnson@hotmail.com)
Lucky Man by Michael J. Fox
Rating: 3 Stars
A biography of Michael J. Fox.
 
Loretta (Mullen) Sanford (lorettasanford@hotmail.com)
Chronic City by Jonathan Lethem
Rating: 2 Stars
I really wanted to read this book. I am a former Brooklynite and New Yorker transplanted to Honolulu. I very much enjoyed MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN by this author, but I just did not like the characters or the story.
 
Donna Cruze
The Royals by Kitty Kelley
Rating: 4 Stars
Wonderfully catty! Princess Margaret was just an awful person. And it's shocking to learn just how uneducated most of the royals are.
 
Jaime Huff
Alec Thrace and The Lost Medallion by M.D. Griffith
Rating: 3 Stars
I love when an author can take myths, legends, history and adventure and intertwine all of it into a book that is exciting and full of great escapism. Alec Thrace is a character that can be likable and annoying at the same time. He is a born leader but his perfection can be a bit annoying, just like in real life to us lesser humans. Alec Thrace and his two friends, Amazonian Alexia and fellow Atlantean Jasen, head off in search of finding Alexander the Great's body and finding out what happened to Alec's father, and to fulfill Alec's destiny. Personally, I cheered Alexia on. Girl power! I love the lore of the Amazons. It was easy to build a connection with the main character, Alec, and the others. 

The author has built a fantastic and realistic Atlantis hidden and protected from the rest of the world with abilities and science beyond the rest of the world's capabilities. At a time during the Roman invasions, Atlantis was thriving.

M.D. Griffith writes with such vivid description that I couldn't help but be able to envision what the characters looked like. There have been times that I have read books that were overly descriptive and this was not the case. Just enough to create extra visualizations in your imagination. The weaving of major historical characters (Phillip of Macedonia, Ptolemy, etc) worked beautifully, the dialog was excellent and the action was spot on.

I also really liked that instead of each chapter being by number, instead this book's chapter one is "Return of The Medallion. Summer of 323 BC." This is throughout the book!

If you want to read a fun journey packed with history, action and mythology, ALEC THRACE AND THE LOST MEDALLION will do the trick! This is the first book ofThe Hidden Kingdom Series, and I can't wait for more!

 
Beverlu
The Well and The Mine by Gin Phillips
Rating: 4 Stars
Actually worth 4.25 stars. Wonderful storyline set in the 1930s in a small coal mining town in Alabama.There are four narrators and you get to know each of the characters as if you live in the town with them. Beautiful writing --- it tells a story that we do not hear much about. If you like southern literature this is a must read for you.
 
Jaime Huff
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Rating: 2 Stars
Maybe I was hoping for some great, philosophical "Aha" moment when I read THE ALCHEMIST but I didn't. It nearly lulled me to sleep. Maybe I had too high of expectations or not. Either way, THE ALCHEMIST did have the wow factor for me. I was initially going to give this only one star but I decided to bump it up because the concept was there but the writing wasn't.

I am a little irritated that I lost 2 1/2 hours of my life that I cannot get back.

 
Jaime Huff
Benny & Shrimp by Katarina Mazetti
Rating: 4 Stars
This book asks the question, do opposites attract and if so, can it work? That seems to be the theme of this book. Or is it, do two lonely people who are completely opposite fall for each other just out of need?

Frankly, I loved this book. It was a fast read, passionate and left me wondering about Benny and Shrimp's relationship. I wasn't sure what I wanted from them. I wanted Benny to find a wife. I wanted Shrimp to be that wife. However, at the same, I didn't want Shrimp to be that wife. Contradictory, huh? On the other hand, I wanted Benny, the lovable farmer, to enjoy the culture that Shrimp wants to share but at the same time I wanted Shrimp to adapt to farm life. Sigh. That's love, I guess.

Sometimes books that were popular in their native language don't translate well into English but that doesn't seem to be an issue here. From Swedish to English, the point, the prose and the love came across. Give this a chance. I am disappointed I didn't sooner. This is definitely one I will read again.

 
Jaime Huff
Lucan by Susan Kearney
Rating: 4 Stars
First and foremost, King Arthur, Knights of the Round Table, Avalon, The Holy Grail, Dragons, shapeshifters, Space travel, future, hot, steamy love scenes, paranormal romance...all in one book? In LUCAN, it's all there! Susan Kearney has woven an exciting, action packed thrill ride and love into LUCAN. I loved the Arthurian legend being mixed in with science fiction and fantasy. This book was 325 pages of pure excitement. I loved that there weren't any huge lulls or any word padding. I could visualize Cael's dragon form, the pounding of her multiple hearts and the telepathic connection between Cael and Lucan. Admittedly, I developed a fangirlish crush on Rion. I seriously could not put this book down and can't wait for her to give us more of Lucan, Cael, Rion and the future of Earth. I think I have found another new author to add to my list of must reads!
 
Jay French
Pontoon by Garrison Keillor
Rating: 4 Stars
Another Keillor Lake Wobegon story, this time about the death of a resident, and the return and wedding plans of a former resident. For those familiar with Lake Wobegon, this story is an extended, and at times bawdier, version of his weekly radio story. Yes, that's right, if you're listening to this on audio, it probably isn't for family listening in the car. Having said that, I listened to this on audio (with earphones) and the narration is by Keillor, and it is a very relaxing listen. The end is especially comical, if a little forced. I liked it, but I like some of his earlier books better for the seriousness and the characters I could relate to. These folks felt stretched.
 
Angie
Invisible Lines by Mary Amato
Rating: 4 Stars
Sweet and true to reality, this is a middle-grade read that packs more punch than you'd expect.
 
Eileen Quinn Knight
Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby
Rating: 5 Stars
Hornby's book basically mult-tasks! It is about music, love, loneliness and the sense of attempting to find one's path in life. He is kind in dealing with his characters and humorous in relating their characteristics.
 
DebbLou
Nine Dragons by Michael Connelly
Rating: 5 Stars
This book is very good and I would highly recommend it to fans of thrillers and mysteries. Connelly delivers with the characters, plots and edge-of-the-seat suspense. Characters have some life to them and makes it all the more enjoyable.
 
Marie Burton
Delilah by India Edghill
Rating: 4 Stars
Some may recognize the legendary story of Samson and Delilah that is used as a theme here. The main gist is that Delilah bewitches Samson with her famed beauty and betrays him by cutting his long hair, stripping him of his heroic powers. The novel doesn't jump right into the heart of that story. Instead, it guides you in slowly as you are introduced to each character one at a time. There are multiple narratives here, with the first person narrative being told by Delilah as her story began when she was 10. Delilah remained my favorite element throughout the book, as the others were told in third-person, but with the views of several of the other characters. This typically jars me and turns me off. After I delved deeper into the story of Samson, and returned to the Delilah in first-person narrative, it helped me appreciate the technique more. Halfway through the book, Delilah becomes more retrospective and leaves sentences heavy with foreshadowing.

Delilah is portrayed as the girl who simply wants to dance as a form of worship, and that is an honor she has accomplished along with her best friend, or heart-sister, Alyah. The two girls dancing together are a source of beauty and awe, as Delilah's features exhibit the night sky, and Alyah exudes the Sun with the blond hair and lighter coloring. They are treated as a precious commodity within their world of Temples and the Five Cities, and are among the best of the dancers. Alyah is just as much a part of this author's story as Delilah or Samson are; as they each share a love for the other in an amazing triangle that holds them together like a knot to the bitter end.

There is a bit of social structure that needs to be learned here, with the promotion of New Moon to Rising Moon to Full Moons; and the High Priestess ruling for the City's goddess within a Temple, who is at odds with the Prince of Ascalon. At first a bit overwhelming for me but I eased into the story and let it become familiar to me in its own time. Along with the social structure, there is also the political structure that is a large part of the story; as the struggle for power and strength in itself is a major underlying theme with Hebrews vs. Philistines, Temple vs. City, man vs. woman.
,
And then we finally meet the mighty Samson. Samson's beginnings are dubious and of questionable heritage but he quickly befriends Orev the Harper, and they travel together while swiftly becoming famous. Samson decides to protect a specific road for travelers, aptly named the Lion's Path. As he learns this is not the best choice for him, we follow them along travels, and shake our head at the warnings that Samson does not heed. He goes to the famed City of Ascalon. We reach our climax as we wonder what happens to Samson as he enters this city of the Philistines who see Samson as a criminal due to Hebrews not sanctioned by Samson committing crime in Samson's name. The climatic chapter begins with quote from the age-old story that is told by Orev.

"Then there came the day that mighty Samson laid his eyes upon Delilah. Delilah the Dark, Delilah of the night-black hair. Delilah, who desired Samson's heart, and Samson's soul, and would stop at nothing to claim them as her prizes. She was beautiful as night and cunning, and she filled his eyes until he could see no other. He vowed he must have her for his own, or die of love...

The synopsis may seem ambiguous at first, but once you begin to learn the story that is woven here it, the plot is so much clearer. And there are so many things that occur that I would recount but I am not going to spoil anything for anyone. So I am going to cut it short and explain that there are events that occurred in India Edghill's work that pulled at my heartstrings, and the last half of the book trapped me within its words. I was awed at the story being told, yet this is not the traditional story of how Delilah beat Samson or twisted his love for her own greed. This is the story that begs to be heard, and a fantastically imagined story that makes it so much more worthwhile. Not a simple story of love, this is twisted with faith, love, betrayal and honor that gives justice to each of Samson and Delilah's memories. The mystery of the love and the legend that history has chained Samson with comes alive with this compelling re-imagining of both Samson, and Delilah. I recommend this for the author's fans of her previous works, and for those who want to feel what was at the heart of the legend. The imagery and characterizations alone were enough to make it worthwhile, but the story being told in this way is a delightful adventure.

 
Marion Miller (lamamil@aol.com)
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
Rating: 5 Stars
This is such an interesting way to write. I love the way Olive enters all the stories, and then you learn about Olive. This is a "must read."
 
Marjorie Clark (marjorie_clark2000@yahoo.com)
The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
Rating: 4 Stars
This story is just as good as THE DA VINCI CODE. Keeps you running with the characters. With all the history it involves, I am tempted to take my next vacation in D.C.
 
Swan Bender (swanbender2001@yahoo.com)
Zorro by Isabel Allende
Rating: 4 Stars
The start of the book was a bit slow when the history of Zorro's parents was being laid out as a foundation, but once I read past this I was so hooked. I didn't want to put the book down.
 
Anita Nowak
Gone Baby Gone by Dennis Lehane
Rating: 5 Stars
This was a wonderful mystery! It is about a four-year-old girl who is kidnapped. When investigators and police start digging into what really happened, there are all kinds of unusual discoveries. Though Mr. Lehane has been writing for a while, I have recently discovered him. I look forward to many more enjoyable books. This one has many surprises. I am also looking forward to watching the movie (same name) that I have recorded. I always like to read the book first.
 
Kaye
Confections of a Closet Master Baker by Gesine Bullock-Prado
Rating: 4 Stars
Very interesting memoir about a Hollywood publicist who yearned to change her life. Since she was young, she loved to bake and so this is what she decided to do for her career. Gesine and her husband Ray picked up stakes and moved to Vermont to open a bakery.

Although she was working many more hours than she previously did, her life felt more productive and certainly happier. Her bakery became quite successful. This well-written book has numerous recipes in it along with the story. An enjoyable read.

 
Michelle Miller (miller4plusmore@bellsouth.net)
Elsewhere by William Peter Blatty
Rating: 3 Stars
I was not very happy with this book. It started out promising and I was expecting it to be really scary, but alas, it wasn't. Less than halfway through, I had already pretty much figured out the secret of the plot. It has some pretty lively banter between two of the main characters and I think this was part of what Blatty was going for here. However, because the character development kind of fell flat, the humorous parts just didn't work very well.
 
Reva Wamsley (prwamsley@roadrunner.com)
Maze by Catherine Coulter
Rating: 3 Stars
One of the earlier FBI series books. This is the one where Savich meets Sherlock. She has just graduated from the FBI academy and he recruits her for his unit. One reason she has joined the FBI is to find the man who murdered her sister seven years ago. She gets her chance when he suddenly kills another woman.
 
Sue Brandes (katsrus@gmail.com)
The Perfect Murder by Brenda Novak
Rating: 5 Stars
This is the sixth and last book in the Last Stand series. I like the way Novak pulls all the books in the series together, yet she also makes each story different and interesting. She makes sure she has you from the beginning of the story until the end. She always pleases the reader.
 
Michelle Miller (miller4plusmore@bellsouth.net)
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Rating: 5 Stars
This is one of those books that really makes you think. The whole time I was reading it, I was thinking, "What would I do in this situation? Would I be able to survive, to protect my children, to feed myself and my children?"

I remember seeing Cormac McCarthy on Oprah. He was talking about his young son (he had another son very late in life), and how his relationship with his son was partially the inspiration for this book. I can imagine that him being an older father and knowing that he will possibly not see his son grow to adulthood really had him thinking about the world he would be leaving his son behind to live in. Would he be leaving him to an apocalypse or a global catastrophe?

Anyone reading this book will have difficulty with the subject matter. And if you're a parent, it will be even more difficult. But it is a book that must be read because the issues and situations in the book do need to be thought about and even discussed. Although a work of fiction, it is very plausible that something like this could happen. I believe that Mr. McCarthy also had this in mind when writing it...the world needs to think beyond our everyday existence, if not for ourselves, then for our children and our future generations.

Beyond the message I feel is present here, this is also a very suspenseful novel that will have you on the edge of your seat through it's short 241 page count. It is also a poignant story about the love of a father for his son and how he will do whatever it takes to protect him and help him to survive. Yes, I'll admit that I cried some tears over this one.

 
lisa
A Carrion Death by Michael Stanley
Rating: 4 Stars
This was a marvelous debut set in Botswana --- vivid local color, wonderful characters and best of all, a complex mystery that takes you right up until the last page to understand!
 
Donna P.
Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls
Rating: 5 Stars
Author Jeannette Walls opens her heart and family history in HALF BROKE HORSES. The story of her feisty grandmother, Lily Casey Smith and her adventures. Loved this book even more than the well-written but dark THE GLASS CASTLE, Walls' previous bestseller.
 
Sal Williams
Theatrical Anecdotes by Peter Hay
Rating: 5 Stars
This collection comprises an excellent insight into the minds and lives of prominent theatrical personages from the time of the first Roman performers to the last quarter of the 20th century. My favorite story is of Judi Dench, whose parents came to see her play the part of Juliet. Judi had a speech where she wondered where her parents were. Of course, her dear mother trilled out from the balcony, "Here we are, dear, up here..." The book is filled with gems. I have enjoyed it immensely and recommend it as a bit of light reading for someone interested in the theater arts.
 
Barb Clark (bjclark43@AOL.com)
Loving Frank by Nancy Horan
Rating: 5 Stars
I really enjoyed reading about Frank Lloyd Wright and prefer getting my info from well-researched fiction rather than heavy biographies. Now I have ordered Boyle's THE WOMEN so that I can learn more about the females in Wright's life.
 
Sarah E.
Gertruda's Oath by Ram Oren
Rating: 5 Stars
A favorite book I recently read that is set outside the United States was GERTRUDA'S OATH, based on a true story of a Polish Catholic nanny who saves a young Jewish boy during WWII for whom she had been caring before the war broke out. The book tells of the tragedies, daily difficulties and heroism that existed among common people trapped within Eastern European countries during the Second World War. This is an excellent book, and I highly recommend it!
 
Linda in Alaska
Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving
Rating: 5 Stars
Perhaps the Irving-uninitiated won't "get it," but for those of us who have closely tracked Irving's career, this book is both a homage and an original. Brilliant.
 
kaye
Lakeshore Christmas by Susan Wiggs
Rating: 5 Stars
Another wonderful, heart-filled story of the residents of Avalon, NY. This time, the library is in danger of closing and Maureen Davenport, the young librarian, does what she can to save that from happening. With the help of Eddie Haven, former child star, they stage the annual Christmas pageant.

A Christmas miracle and a love story evolve during the pageant, making this such an emotional story. I loved it! If you like Christmas themes, family or love stories, this is the book for you.

 
Jean
Nine Dragons by Michael Connelly
Rating: 5 Stars
This book was excellent. As usual, Connelly delivers another page-turning winner.
 
Kathy Vallee
Fat Chance by Rhonda Pollero
Rating: 5 Stars
I really ended up loving her books and style. There is a lot of humor and the female lead character has so much personality. In this one, one of her best friends gets stuck trying to catch the bad guy and gets shot.
 
Kathy
Look Again by Lisa Scottoline
Rating: 5 Stars
As always, characters we come to know and care about. It's keeping me up at night.
 
Wendy Catalano (wendycatalano@hotmail.com)
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Rating: 5 Stars
This is the story of two sisters told through letters to God and each other. One is a missionary in Africa and the other is a child wife living in the South. A remarkable story!
 
Wendy Catalano (wendycatalano@hotmail.com)
The Birthing House by Christopher Ransom
Rating: 2 Stars
Creepy at times but not a good story. Too many holes and unanswered questions.
 
Wendy Catalano
An Isolated Incident by Susan R. Sloan
Rating: 5 Stars
This book is a real page-turner, right up until the final paragraph. A great mystery!
 
CC
South of Broad by Pat Conroy
Rating: 5 Stars
I love Pat Conroy's descriptive writing and this story draws the reader in so you don't want to put the book down until you've finished --- and then you want more.
 
Julie
the Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
Rating: 4 Stars
I just started reading this book, and already I can't put it down. It is written in the same style as ANGELS AND DEMONS and THE DA VINCI CODE. I love Dan Brown's novels and if you do, you'll really enjoy this page-turner.
 
Karen
True Compass by Ted Kennedy
Rating: 5 Stars
I have not finished this yet, but I cannot put it down. His life, his memory of his parents and his siblings and his experiences are so wonderfully written. I don't want this to end.
 
Wendy Catalano (wendycatalano@hotmail.com)
Evil At Heart by Chelsea Cain
Rating: 5 Stars
Third book in the series so far and just as good as the first two. Gretchen, the murderer, escapes from jail and it takes Archie's (ex-cop and one of Gretchen's victims) release from the psychiatric ward to try and capture her. Very gruesome but a real page-turner.
 
Sue Brandes (katsrus@gmail.com)
Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the by Vicki Myron
Rating: 5 Stars
I loved how you could feel like you were right there throughout the whole story. You could feel the sadness or happiness of the moment, and how one small cat became the love of the whole town and even gained celebrity later on. What a beautiful story.
 
Gina
Mumbo Gumbo by Jerrilyn Farmer
Rating: 4 Stars
My first experience with this author and halfway through the book I am finally hooked. A little slow-starting, but overall an enjoyable and entertaining mystery.
 
BookFestival
The Audacity to Win by David Plouffe
Rating: 5 Stars
David Plouffe is a fine writer and I love learning the details of the Obama run for the White House.
 
BookFestival
Ford County by John Grisham
Rating: 5 Stars
I love FORD COUNTY, and I never read short story collections. It is very satisfying, unlike many short stories that leave you wondering where the ending of the story is.
 
Sandra Lee Smith (ssmith00281@verizon.net)
Nine Dragons by Michael Connelly
Rating: 5 Stars
Harry Bosch at his best, takes us from Los Angeles to Hong Kong and back again --- with twists and turns you can't imagine if you are a fan. Expect the unexpected! Great Read..
 
Kathy Vogel
Mr. Monk Goes To Hawaii by Lee Goldberg
Rating: 4 Stars
What a riot! This is based on the television show and written by one of the series writers. Adrian Monk is an exceptional detective with a myriad of phobias.
 
Cathy
True Blood series by Charlaine Harris
Rating: 5 Stars
This is a great series. I am starting on the third one and they just keep getting better. DEAD UNTIL DARK, LIVING DEAD IN DALLAS and now CLUB DEAD. Sookie Stackhouse is a telepathic waitress who has a vampire for a boyfriend and a shape-shifter...read them and find out!
 
Jean M
The Calling by Inger Ash Wolfe
Rating: 5 Stars
A very tense page-turner featuring a strong woman detective who must solve a gruesome murder.
 
Vickie
Have a Little Faith: A True Story by Mitch Albom
Rating: 5 Stars
What an eye-opening book. You really get to know these two men, and you will like both of them so much. Knowing this is a true story makes it feel good, and you will learn a lot. I enjoyed it so much.
 
Audrey Anderson
A Kiss of Shadows by Laurell K. Hamilton
Rating: 4 Stars
This is the first in a series by Laurell K. Hamilton. The main character is Meredith Gentry, a princess of the high court of Faerie. She is posing as a human, working in a detective agency that specializes in supernatural crime. Suddenly, she finds herself back in the land of Faerie and the politics of her aunt's court. It is full of intrigue, dangers and lustful desires. I see many parallels to her Anita Blakeseries. A strong female lead, courageous and able to take care of herself, and with little morals in her personal life. The only difference is, here, there are faeries instead of vampires.
 
Kevin M.
No Beast So Fierce by Edward Bunker
Rating: 5 Stars
Astonishingly visceral crime novel written by an inmate at San Quentin. Brutal, honest, heartbreaking. Bunker went on to become a very successful novelist, screenwriter and actor.
 
Kay
Wicked by Gregory Maguire
Rating: 4 Stars
I finally picked up this book and I'm glad I did. What a great imagination the author has to come up with a story about the childhood of the Wicked Witch of the West, Elphaba! I've laughed and plan to read the other two books in this series also.