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November 5, 2010 - November 18, 2010

Last contest period's winners were NanT. Thomas, JoRN, George W.and BK, who each received a copy of COMING BACK: A Sharon McCone Mystery by Marcia Muller, EDGE by Jeffery Deaver and MOONLIGHT MILE by Dennis Lehane.

 

Susanbright
The Red Thread by Ann Hood
Rating: 5 Stars
A fascinating story about Chinese adoptions, told from the point of view of both the families who are adopting the babies and the Chinese families whoa are giving up the babies.


www.Fridaymorningbookclub.com



 
Linda from Kentucky
The Highly Effective Detective Plays the Fool by Richard Yancey
Rating: 5 Stars
This is the third in a series of hilariously funny mystery novels set in Knoxville, TN about a bumbling philosopher/would-be PI named Teddy Ruzak. Fast-paced and well written, these books are well worth a read, and interesting, well-fleshed characters give this one heart.
 
Gary S.
Freebird Dreams South of Sanity by Yvonne Silinsky
Rating: 5 Stars
BookSurge carries her books. This one's a psychological thriller intertwined with comedy and romance. The characters' voices stand-out. Lindsey's a traveling electrician, but also psychic, so she's haunted by demons she must exterminate.
 
Gary S.
The Lida Hellmare by Yvonne Silinsky
Rating: 5 Stars
BookSurge carries her books. Lindsey travels for work as an electrician, this time Mexico. Her Harley and her psychic powers draw her inside a biker gang, and she gets very involved.
 
Marion M.
Brooklyn by Colm Toibin
Rating: 4 Stars
A woman's story told through the eyes of a man. I liked it very much: It takes place in the 50s, and it reflects the mores of that time beautifully.
 
Judy O.
Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane
Rating: 4 Stars
Amanda McCready, the little girl from GONE, BABY, GONE, is now 16 years old, and she's missing again. Patrick Kenzie has been recruited to find her for the second time. The search leads him and his wife/partner, Angie Gennaro, into a very dangerous world of identity theft, drugs and Russian crime bosses. Lehane says that this is the last installment of this series, and it provides an exciting look into the underworld of Boston. I didn't love it as much as MYSTIC RIVER, but it was a riveting read.
 
JaneAnn R.
Legacy by Danielle Steel
Rating: 5 Stars
This was one of those wonderful books you can't lay down. It takes you back and forth between the 1700s and today, and it's one of DS's best for sure.
 
Nan
Winter in Madrid by C.J. Sansom
Rating: 5 Stars
I read Sansom's Matthew Shardlake series, including SOVEREIGN and DARK FIRE. WINTER IN MADRID is not a part of that series, but it's equally well-written.
 
Tanya
Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
Rating: 3 Stars
Two girls, two centuries apart: One finds the other's diary and becomes obsessed with the other girl's life. Can Andi solve the mystery that surrounds Alexandrine Paradis?
 
Sean from OHIO
Fugitive Nights by Joseph Wambaugh
Rating: 1 Stars
I have enjoyed Joseph Wambaugh's work in the past, but this novel defies explanation. It contains possibly the worst dialogue I have ever read. No one talks the way the characters do in this book, and it's so odd considering some of his other work. Maybe he's making fun of people who're similar to his characters, but I doubt it; the plot is absurd, and the whole thing is a big miss. I bought this for 50 cents at a library sale, and I feel like I grossly overpaid.
 
Louise
Bikini Season by Sheila Roberts
Rating: 4 Stars
I would have given this five stars, except the plot seemed to move so slowly, and I read five or six other books while I was trying to make it through this one. That said, the author really has a way with words, and it was fun to read. I just have a problem with sitting still, and I need something that will keep my attention all the time :) I do think it would make a cute movie.
 
Marion M.
The Privileges by Jonathan Dee
Rating: 3 Stars
This is a most unusual book about the richest family, and how they cope with the real world. It has a rather strange ending.
 
KT
The Apprentice: A Rizzoli and Isles Novel by Tess Gerritsen
Rating: 4 Stars
This is the second book in Gerritsen's Rizzoli and Isles series and I found it much more engaging than the first. The character of detective Jane Rizzoli was fleshed-out a lot more, and in this book, you can really feel the start of a great series. I knew what was going to happen pretty much from the beginning, but I enjoyed the ride to there. I am excited to read more from this series, and I recommend this book to crime fiction and suspense fans who like a fast-paced read!
 
T. Thomas
Maybe This Time by Jennifer Crusie
Rating: 4 Stars
I really enjoyed this; some of it is laugh-out-loud funny.
 
Janet F.
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
Rating: 5 Stars
My husband talked me into reading this novel, and I'm so glad that he did. What a wonderful, funny, epic story of the American West. If you read one Western in your life, this book should be it.
 
CherylS22
Drood by Dan Simmons
Rating: 4 Stars
This book is a fictionalized version of Charles Dickens's involvement with the occult, as told through the eyes of Wilkie Collins. I loved the story, but it is so-o-o-o-o long. However, the plot keeps you reading.
 
Louise
Amazing Love by Mae Nunn
Rating: 5 Stars
AMAZING LOVE is an AMAZING BOOK! I was hooked from the beginning. There are lessons to be learned here, as well as examples to be followed. I don't recall reading Mae Nunn before, but, believe me, I will soon remedy that.
 
Janet F.
The Wishing Trees by John Shors
Rating: 5 Stars
If you love to travel or read about travel, this novel should be just right for you, as it takes place in seven or eight different countries. It's a beautiful story about a father and daughter's journey --- very moving.
 
Fran
Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
Rating: 4 Stars
I initially picked up this book because I was intrigued by the fact that the author is the son of Stephen King. Despite this, I was pleasantly surprised with this debut novel, which was a good old-fashioned ghost story! I loved the concept of a ghost ordered on the Internet, and the unfolding connection between the Jude, the main character, and his demon! Suspenseful, eery and, at times, horrifying...this novel had all the elements of a classic horror story! It was a perfect Halloween read!
 
Leslie
The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks and Gia by Susan Casey
Rating: 4 Stars
There is a lot to learn about our oceans and the people who study them, sail them and surf them. In one word, this books was fascinating. This is not a dry, facts-and-figures science book --- Susan Casey writes in a wonderfully descriptive and engaging style. The book reads like a novel, but at the same time, you are digesting scientific data and amazing facts. She makes the science easy to understand and the descriptions of the surfers, the waves, and the rough seas come to life.
 
Debbie
Bury Your Dead: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel by Louise Penny
Rating: 4 Stars
This series, the Chief Inspector Gamache series, is one of my favorite mystery series. Armand Gamache stands as a beacon directing the lost to the truth. Gamache learns early that four sentences herald and direct life: I'm sorry; I was wrong; I need help; and I don't know. These four sentences shine within the story. 


The story begins with a broken Gamache, who is trying to understand his last assignment. While Gamache helps investigate a murder in Quebec, Jean-Guy Beauvoir searches for truth in Three Pines. Louise Penny shows the spirits and demons within ancient Quebec, and the animosity between the French and the English. Penny presents Gamache as an unlikely hero and a veritable model for all to emulate. I love the setting, the characters and the language that Louise Penny exhibits. One can almost feel the bitter cold, but also the absolute delight, of a winter day.

 
Mary Ann
The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer
Rating: 5 Stars
A true epic about the lives of two families from Hungary before and during World War II. The history is great, the writing superb and the characters believable, and it provides a stark, up-close look at the horrors and brutal conditions that those before us endured.
 
Phoenix
The First and Final Nightmare of Sonia Reich: A So by Howard Reich
Rating: 4 Stars
A moving memoir by the son of a Holocaust survivor. It wasn't until late in her life that the author's mother began to show signs of being affected by her experiences in Nazi Europe. Reich journeyed to Poland to learn about his mother's history and meet her friends and relatives.
 
Judy O.
Worth Dying For: A Reacher Novel by Lee Child
Rating: 4 Stars
Boy, Jack Reacher is still hurting from his last bad adventure, when he plunges himself into another one. This one takes place in the corn country of Nebraska and involves a family --- the Duncan clan. They are waiting for a mysterious shipment to arrive, and Reacher wants to find out why they are so anxious to kill in order to get it. He also wants to help a woman find out what happened to her eight-year-old daughter, who went missing 25 years earlier, and he suspects that the Duncans know something about that, too. This is an action-packed book, and almost too violent, but the pace never slows down. All Reacher fans should love it!
 
Bonnie
Still Missing by Chevy Stevens
Rating: 4 Stars
A very good, suspenseful novel and a real page-turner. But having read this and ROOM, I think I'm calling a moratorium on books about abducted women who are held captive for long periods of time.
 
Venessa
Sanctuary by Nora Roberts
Rating: 1 Stars
I have never read anything by Roberts, so I asked for recommendations from my online bookclub. SANCTUARY was one that they raved about, but I was disappointed. While I sympathized with the family, I found their pity parties, which went on for page after page, to be rather annoying. None of the characters appealed to me either.
 
Marsha
Winter Bloom by Tara Heavey
Rating: 4 Stars
A young mother, who is struggling to bury the sorrows of her painful past, arranges a community garden in the yard of an old mansion in Dublin. Each gardener brings their stories and secrets with them as they work to bring the garden to fruition. A lovely story with many different aspects to it.
 
Sharron
What We Keep by Elizabeth Berg
Rating: 4 Stars
One of Ms. Berg's earlier books that I had missed. She has a way of making you get emotional so that you feel like you understand the situation. This is the story of two sisters and their estranged mother. One of the sisters is on a plane flying across the country, remembering all the details about why she has not spoken to or sought out her mother for 35 years.
 
Sharron
Mudbound by Hillary Jordan
Rating: 4 Stars
I read it a second time for my book club, and I really appreciated the author's gift for storytelling. This book is set in Mississippi around the time of WWII, and it shows different points of view about a woman's place, racial prejudice family loyalty. Well done.
 
Dorothy
Playing the Game by Barbara Taylor Bradford
Rating: 5 Stars
As all of her books are, this was a really good read. It is about the world of art and art forgery, and it was fascinating. And, of course, there is sex and adultery in it.
 
Sherilyn M.
The Knight: A Patrick Bowers Thriller by Steven James
Rating: 5 Stars
A well-written book, with well-developed characters --- a suspenseful and end-of-your-seat mystery. Bowers is sometimes unbelievably resourceful, but sometimes seems very human. 
I loved this book, and I will read more by Steven James.

 
Ali
Last Night in Montreal by Emily St. John Mandel
Rating: 4 Stars
This debut book is well-written, and I enjoyed reading it. It is a dark story that makes the reader think about what life must be like for children who are abducted by the non-custodial parent. This is definitely a story about loss which, in some way, affects all of the characters' lives.
 
Kathy V.
Cattery Row: A Theda Krakow Mystery by Clea Simon
Rating: 5 Stars
This is the second book the Theda Krakow series. In this book, Theda and her best friend Violet get caught up in trying to prove that their murdered friend was not the ringleader of a catnapping ring, but a victim. Will they be able to help, or will they end up in the grave like their friend?
 
frogprof
A Lonely Death: An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery by Charles Todd
Rating: 5 Stars
I was sent this book as an advance reader's copy, and although it's quite far along in the Inspector Ian Rutledge series, it can be enjoyed as a stand-alone mystery --- although some background knowledge of the detective does help. 
The setting is rural England, post-Great War [Rutledge is a shell-shocked veteran], and three men -- all veterans -- have been murdered. It's interesting to see how Rutledge manages to solve the mystery without today's technology (he has to go to another village to use the phone, and of course DNA is not even a pipe dream yet), but also to see how little English country life has changed in almost a century. 
I highly recommend this book and can't wait to dig in to other Rutledge novels!

 
Joanne L.
Fall of Giants by Ken Follett
Rating: 5 Stars
I think this book helps you to understand the history of that period --- how people lived their lives, and how it has enriched our times...
 
Linda H.
Caught by Harlan Coben
Rating: 5 Stars
What are the odds of five, former Princeton roommates being charged with serious crimes and being ostracized by others? Wendy Tynes is a reporter who is investigating pedophiles, and after she zeros in on a man, he is subsequently killed. But Wendy is not convinced that he was guilty...her intuition is telling her that he is innocent, but is he really? As she investigates further, she finds links to his former roommates. It appears that he was set up, and now someone is setting up Wendy by writing vicious blogs on the Internet. Who is behind this and why? A great book that will be hard to put down.
 
Linda H.
A Death in Vienna by Daniel Silva
Rating: 5 Stars
This is the fourth book involving the Israeli agent Gabriel Allon. While on a restoration project in Venice, Gabriel hears that a friend's business has been bombed. Although his friend Eli survived the blast, two of his associates did not. After Gabriel visits Eli in the hospital, he is accosted by an old man who says the blast was his fault. Gabriel listens to what the old man, Max Klein, has to say, and now it's up to him to figure out the truth behind the bombing. 


Like the previous three books in the Gabriel Allon series, this book will be hard to put down until you've finished it.

 
Debbie
The Reversal by Michael Connelly
Rating: 3 Stars
I enjoy Connelly, especially the Harry Bosch series. Bosch has a minor part in this novel, the major character being Mickey Haller, Bosch's half-brother. Haller is a lawyer, and Bosch is a police detective. The story is written in first-person, and the narrative becomes confusing at times. Both Harry and Mickey have teenage daughters, but Bosch seems to be the better father. Having read Robert Traver's brilliant ANATOMY OF A MURDER, the courtroom scenes in this novel seem tame. Connelly does a good job explaining discovery and courtroom procedure, though --- I am amazed that someone who has been convicted and sent to prison could possibly have the verdict "reversed" and then be set free. Connelly delves into what must be done for the new trial, and hints that although our judicial system reigns supreme, it has flaws. It's an exciting treat to read Connelly, but I still prefer Bosch to Haller.
 
Linda H.
The Confessor by Daniel Silva
Rating: 5 Stars
This is the third book involving Israeli agent Gabriel Allon. In this book, he is working as an art restorer in Venice under an assumed name. While he is working one night, his old boss, Ari Shamron, sends him a message. A professor at a local university was working on a book and was killed by someone who broke into his apartment and stole a lot of his research materials. But what was he working on that would have led his death? No one seems to know. And as Gabriel hunts for his friend's killer, he encounters a legendary assassin known as the Leopard. A great book.
 
EC
A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron
Rating: 5 Stars
This wonderful book is not just for dog lovers, but for everyone. The pages contain many life lessons, aside from revealing the real purpose of a dog. 


 
Judy P.
Postcard Killers by James Patterson and Liza Marklund
Rating: 5 Stars
A fast read.
 
T. Thomas
The Search by Nora Roberts
Rating: 3 Stars
I'm a Nora Roberts fan, but this is not one of her better books --- it needs to be cut down by about a third. There's too much build-up, and the end was rushed.
 
Ed H.
The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford by Simon Winchester
Rating: 4 Stars
It blows my mind that an author could take a subject as boring as this one appears to be and make it so darn interesting. Simon Winchester has done just that with this book about the creation of the THE OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY, which took 88 years to publish after the idea for the First Edition was conceived.


The dedication and passion of those who worked on it --- the editors, staff assistants, volunteers, etc. --- boggles the mind. The barriers --- financial, logistical and human --- were so great, that it is hard to imagine how the thing was ever completed. The current hardcover edition comprises 20 volumes. I never understood how arcane and complicated lexicography is until I read this book. 


There are parts of Winchester's story that are somewhat boring, but even the boring sections contain fascinating information. If that sounds like a contradiction in terms, I can only say that I was glued to the book, boring parts and all, until I finished it. 


I recommend this book to anyone who has a fascination with words and/or the English language. It is also, in its way, a documentation of how a British eccentric can sometimes create something that is incredible --- or in this case, a gaggle of eccentrics.

 
Ed H.
Therapy: An Alex Delaware Novel by Jonathan Kellerman
Rating: 3 Stars
Not the best that Kellerman is capable of, the story revolves around the unsavory practices of some psychologists, which are exacerbated by three murders that seem connected to each other and to a group of psychologists.

Perhaps writing about psychology and psychologists kept Kellerman from moving the plot along as quickly as he does in most of his other books. The major characters Alex Delaware and Milo Sturgis were enjoyable as usual. Delaware's new love interest, Allison, was less interesting and the supporting cast of victims and villains seemed to be more stereotypical than is usually so in a Kellerman book.

Nevertheless it was an enjoyable read for me. It started quickly, dragged in the middle with too much explaining, but picked up speed quickly in the last third. The ending was OK and tied up most of the loose ends. 

Having read all but two or three of the "Alex Delaware" series, perhaps I expect too much.

 
Ed H.
Thunderhead by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
Rating: 3 Stars
This is not the best effort from these two --- any book from the Pendergastseries is better than this story.


The plot involves the search for the missing Anasazi City of Quivira, celebrated in legend as the lost City of Gold that Cortez wandered around the desert looking for. Nora Kelly, an archeologist in Santa Fe, NM, receives a letter, written years ago by her long missing father, alleging that he had discovered Quivira. She manages to fund an expedition to re-trace his journey in order to find the lost city. Many small and big disasters plague her and her team, including visits from an unidentified pair of skinwalkers. I can't say much more without spoiling the story.

The biggest fault of the book, in my opinion, is the poor pacing of the story. At times it just drags and at other times moves rapidly along. Perhaps this is the result of the two co-authors each writing separate sections. The ending does tie all the loose ends together but with just a little bit too much saccharin. The characters are different and interesting with the exception of a stereotypical arrogant scientist and a wise old wrangler.

I'm not sure that if I hadn't read and thoroughly enjoyed all seven of the Pendergast series that I would have bought and started reading this particular book.

 
Marsha
Vanished by Joseph Finder
Rating: 5 Stars
This thriller will keep you reading well into the night. Nick Haller is a force to be reckoned with, as he tries to find his estranged brother, who has vanished. Trained by the Special Forces, he specializes in uncovering secrets that powerful people want to keep hidden. Come along for the ride --- Finder doesn't disappoint.
 
Joanne L.
Mother's Day by Patricia MacDonald
Rating: 3 Stars
A good mystery, and it takes awhile to decide "whodunnit."
 
Akela
Death of a Dissident: The First Inspector Rostniko by Stuart Kaminsky
Rating: 5 Stars
This absorbing detective novel is set in what was once the Soviet Union. Moscow police inspector Rostnikov tries to solve a murder while avoiding, propitiating and undercutting powerful, and sometimes antagonistic, forces of the State.
 
Celeste
Fragile by Lisa Unger
Rating: 4 Stars
The kind of book that makes your skin crawl while you are reading it --- not because it is gruesome or
graphic, but because you just know something bad is about to happen, and you don't know exactly what it is.

 
Karen T.
Red Hook Road by Ayelet Waldman
Rating: 5 Stars
I am reading it now. A tragedy happens the day of a wedding, this slowly polarizes the families, who handle their grief in different ways. There are differences about religion and class, which also cause a rift. This the third book I have read by Ayelet, and it is very good.
 
Linda H.
The English Assassin by Daniel Silva
Rating: 5 Stars
This is the second book involving Gabriel Allon, and in this one, he is sent to Switzerland to restore a painting owned by a wealthy Swiss banker. Upon arriving at his villa, Gabriel finds the man dead. He realizes he must leave quickly, and he does, only to realize that the villa was being watched. Who killed the banker and why? A great story that will be hard to put down.
 
Linda H.
Storm Prey by John Sandford
Rating: 3 Stars
As Weather Karkinnen, surgeon and wife to Lucas Davenport, arrives at the hospital for surgery, she encounters a tall, Arab surgeon in the elevator. Later she finds out that the hospital pharmacy has been robbed, and two of its employees have been tied up. One of the employees was seriously injured, and he subsequently dies. As Lucas and Virgil Flowers hunt for the robbers/killers, these men are after Weather because they think she can identify them. 


Although I have read many of John Sandford's books, this one was very hard to get into, and I did not think it was as good as his previous books.

 
Linda H.
Private by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
Rating: 4 Stars
Private is the name of an investigation company owned by former CIA Agent Jack Morgan. His twin brother Tommy ran a similar company by the name of Private Security. There are several small stories within this book, and one involves a woman who was found shot to death. She was married to a close friend of Jack's, and he is investigating her death and trying to find out who killed her and why. Another story involves the abduction and killing of several teenage girls. Jack's firm has been asked to assist the police with this investigation, which doesn't go down well with members of the police force. A third story involves a professional football scandal --- since Jack's uncle owns a team, he has asked for Jack's help.
 
Kellie
The Reversal by Michael Connelly
Rating: 5 Stars
The third book in the Harry Bosch series to feature Mickey Haller. Sometimes, when authors become famous, they lose their edge and start mass-producing novels to meet quick deadlines and make money. This, however, is not the case with Connelly; I think he gets better after every book. This book was one of the rare ones that I could not put down. Mickey Haller was the main character, but Bosch played a big part in it. The plot is about a convicted murderer who is granted a retrial. Instead of defending the accused, Haller is asked to prosecute. He brings in one of his ex-wives, Maggie McPherson, who is a prosecutor, to help him. He also asks Harry Bosch to be the lead investigator. 


24 years ago, Jason Jessup was convicted of abducting and killing 12-year-old Melissa Landy. But when new DNA evidence emerges, the DA decides to retry the case. Clive Royce is the attorney who is defending Jessup. There are many twists and turns throughout the plot, and Bosch throws himself into the case, as always. Maggie and Mickey work surprisingly well together. Connelly is one of the best mystery writers today, and he keeps getting better.

 
GladysMP
His Christmas Angel by Michelle Douglas
Rating: 4 Stars
A nice Christmas story --- not overloaded with sex, but a nice love story that's apt for the holidays. My only complaint was that the chapters were long, because I like to finish a chapter before I put a book down.
 
Helen T.
The Day of Small Things by Vicki Lane
Rating: 4 Stars
A stand-alone book about one of Vicki's other characters from her Elizabeth Goodweather series, THE DAY OF SMALL THINGS is a journey through the life of Miss Birdie. Set in the beginning of the 1930s in the Appalachian mountains, this is a sometimes terrifying, sometimes heart-warming look at a girl's life. I'm still reading it, but based on the first chapters, I know it will be a delight.
 
Diana
Ape House by Sarah Gruen
Rating: 3 Stars
Since I thoroughly enjoyed Gruen's last work, WATER FOR ELEPHANTS, I had looked forward to this new book. Although the subject matter was a novel concept, the story was all over the place --- it never captured my imagination, and none of the characters were particularly engaging. It was a quick read though, and it did explore some interesting ideas about the relationship between man and animal.
 
Pat S.
In the Company of Others: A Father Tim Novel by Jan Karon
Rating: 5 Stars
Although it starts off a little slower than her other books, I love the Father Timseries, and I enjoy every aspect of his life. Jan cannot write them fast enough to suit me!!!
 
Teresa
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Rating: 5 Stars
This is a book about three women who live in Mississippi in 1962, and I didn't want to put it down --- it is humorous, but deeply moving at the same time. It's hard to believe this is the author's first novel.
 
Pam
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
Rating: 5 Stars
This is a long novel crammed with wisdom, family issues, betrayal, etc. and set in Haile Selassie's Nigeria. Its lyrical prose calls for emotional involvement.
 
Carol
Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
Rating: 5 Stars
This book requires a healthy dose of "willing suspension of disbelief," but it's a great read.
 
Pam C.
My Reading Life by Pat Conroy
Rating: 5 Stars
Just finished an ARC of this book, which is coming out on November 2nd, and it's fantastic! The chapters on GONE WITH THE WIND and WAR AND PEACE are not to be missed. Conroy has read at least 200 pages a day since he was in high school, and I wish I had set a similar goal for myself. This book is not long, but it is a real gem --- it gives you insight into the author.
 
Audrey A.
Crimson City by Liz Maverick
Rating: 3 Stars
This is a vampire book, where the vamps live up high in aerial cities, while humans live on the ground, and werewolves live below. As in most paranormal novels, there is a love interest --- in this case, between a female vamp and a male human. In this book, the vamps eat regular food --- they like gourmet food, designer clothes and everything of the highest quality, living and dress formally. In this story, a mech (a half-human machine) kills some vamps, and there may be a war if the characters can't figure out who turned it loose.
 
Pat W.
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
Rating: 5 Stars
I chose this title for my book group and got totally immersed in all things Cromwellian. The writing is smart, witty, and filled with passages I wanted to read again and again. It's not an easy book to get into, perhaps, but once you're there, you won't want to leave. I can't wait for the second installment.
 
Audrey A.
When Lightning Strikes by Meg Cabot
Rating: 3 Stars
This is a young adult book I started in order to see if it was something my students would like. Then I couldn't sleep and finished it. It's a good book about a girl who is struck by lightning, and when she wakes up, she knows the addresses of the missing kids she's seen on the milk carton the night before. She calls the information in and, in a couple of days, the FBI is shows up, wanting her to be tested so she can do the same thing with political enemies. 


The characters are good ones. Her best friend is Jewish and chubby. She is sweet on a 'bad boy,' one of her brothers hears things and is on medication, and her other brother is a brain. I enjoyed it, and it's the first in a series. I was a little surprised at some of the language, but I'm just getting too old.

 
Audrey A.
Finger Lickin' Fifteen: A Stephanie Plum Novel by Janet Evanovich
Rating: 4 Stars
This is one of the Stephanie Plum novels by Janet Evanovich. As always, a fun and quick read. At one point I thought reminded me of "I Love Lucy," but now I think she reminds me more of Calamity Jane. I love Lula and her grandma, too. In this book, the three of them manage to create lots of problems and, of course, we have two very different, hunky guys in the mix. In case you haven't read any of them yet, Stephanie Plum lives in New Jersey and works for her nasty cousin Vinnie, who is a bail bondsman --- she has to bring in people who don't show up for their court date and skip bail. She's really bad at it.
 
Audrey A.
The Way of the Traitor by Laura Joh Rowland
Rating: 5 Stars
This is a mystery series that takes place in ancient Japan. In this book, Sano, the protagonist, is shipped off to Nagasaki by the Shogun's favorite, who hates Sano. The authorities there have been told to make sure he doesn't come back. Sano knows the situation, but he gets himself involved in a murder investigation because of his unstoppable curiousity and his need to discover truth. The investigation leaves him open to the authorities, who can trap him in crimes that will result in his death, which pleases the Shogun's favorite. Both Western barbarians and The Dutch East India Company are involved. These mysteries are very well-crafted, with more than one layer to them, and the history and ambiance of the times comes across very well. For example, it's mentioned that the Dutch smell bad to the Japanense because they drink milk, and it makes them smell. I would recommend these books to anyone, male or female. I think this is the third one, and I will continue reading this series.
 
F.T. Bartels
Mudbound by Hillary Jordan
Rating: 5 Stars
An extraordinary work of literary fiction, set in 1946 in the Mississippi Delta, when being a decorated soldier means less than the color of your skin. It's told by six main characters in alternating chapters. The last chapter offers the reader a lifeline of hope, but I'm not sure whether I should accept it.
 
Audrey A.
Iron Kissed: A Mercy Thompson Novel by Patricia Briggs
Rating: 5 Stars
This is the third book in a series by Patricia Briggs. The first one was good, the second one was very good, and I couldn't put this one down --- it was nice for me to pick up a book like that after reading a slow one that I gave up on halfway through. The heroine of the series is named Mercedes Thompson. She is a mechanic who has native American blood, and is something of a werewolf --- a walker who, in this case, can turn into a coyote. She is raised by werewolves, and she is always getting herself into trouble and, this time, it's with the Fae (fairy) population. There is plenty of sexual tension, but not an actual relationship, between her and two dominant werewolves. There's lots of action, and I love the characters. I'm going to recommend this to my book club, and maybe even my friend who can't read about vampires will like this. There is a vampire in the series, but it doesn't come around in this book.
 
Audrey A.
Deadly Game by Christine Feehan
Rating: 4 Stars
Since I enjoyed my last Briggs book so much and made peace with the fact that some of my favorite series are paranormal romances involving action and adventured, I decided to just go ahead and read another paranormal romance. This was a very good book about an enhanced "GhostWalker" warrior who is pitted with his team --- which includes his twin brother --- against another team of GhostWalkers in order to protect a politician. In the process, one of the female GhostWalkers is taken captive. My problem was that one of the twins went through nearly the experience in the last book, and although the situation was different, the process was pretty much the same. 


The rest of this series is basically about the free GhostWalkers' struggle to track down the others and get out from under a mad scientist. The men and women are all enhanced in some way, which causes different problems that make it difficult for some of them to live in society. This book was very well-written, and a person could pick up the series with this one and basically get the gist of everything.

 
Audrey A.
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Rating: 3 Stars
The acknowledgments at the end of the book start like this: "It was a long book," and that pretty much sums it up for me. About three-quarters of the way through its 588 pages, I started doing some skimming and then went back to regular reading. I have another one of his books, which I posted about on Bookmooch halfway through this one. And I still have another one by him, but it's written with someone else, and I might try that one eventually. Basically, the characters were interesting, but the journey was long. His main character is called Shadow, and he wanders around in the employ of a man called Wednesday, as they wait for a coming 'storm' (war). Wednesday and his cronies are on one side, and he is in the process of rallying them. Wednesday is on old Gods' side, who have grown comparitively weak, since no one sacrifices to them or worships them anymore. The other side is that of the new Gods, and one is called Media. The book was creative, but neither exciting nor a page-turner, and even though the characters were interesting and quirky, I didn't really care about them --- I just trudged along, waiting for the climax, which turned out to be kind of a fizzle. Gaiman is a popular author, so it might just be me, but I won't recommend this.
 
Reeta H.
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
Rating: 5 Stars
Olive Kitteridge is a complicated individual and, as we all are, neither altogether good nor bad. I felt that she had emotions inside of her that she didn't reveal to others.
 
Richard B.
The Exile by Allan Folsom
Rating: 3 Stars
Three and a half ***


A great international thriller --- take one trained assassin, one police officer, the officer's beautiful but tragic sister, and a baroness with ulterior motives; stir, mix and watch the fireworks. I'd read this before but enjoyed it just as much on second reading.

 
Robin B.
Up from the Blue by Susan Henderson
Rating: 5 Stars
A terrific and touching first novel about an eight-year-old girl, whose mentally ill mother totally disappears when the family moves to another city. The story flashes back and forth from her childhood to present day, when she is in the hospital having her first baby. Keep a tissue handy.
 
Audrey A.
Haunted by Heather Graham
Rating: 3 Stars
This book takes place at a haunted, historic Virginia estate. The owner doesn't believe in ghosts, but tourists help pay for the upkeep, so he allows his tour guide to tell ghost stories about his house. After some strange happenings, he allows a paranormal investigator to come look at it, and she discovered that the Melody House holds more than ghosts from the past...


This was a good read, although it could have been better if the editor had cut it down by 100 pages and kept it at 275. But some skimming did the trick.

 
Audrey A.
Dearly Devoted Dexter by Jeff Lindsay
Rating: 5 Stars
This is number two in the series, and it's the stuff nightmares are made of, so read at your own risk. Having said that, this author --- Jeff Lindsay --- is brilliant in his portrayal of a serial killer type with ethics. Dexter can be funny and lovable, if you can imagine that --- the problem is not so much him, as the serial killers he targets. He's a killer of serial killers, which makes him not so bad. The first book is DARKLY DREAMING DEXTER, and it's not for the squeemish, but it doesn't get to the level that this one does. I had bad dreams last night.
 
CK
Homer & Langley by E.L. Doctorow
Rating: 4 Stars
This novel is based on the true story of the Collyer brothers, who were hoarders in New York City. One became blind, and the other was traumatized from fighting in World War I. Doctorow deftly weaves a timeline of history into their years of collecting, as they fill their mansion with newspapers and debris. There are some really funny incidents and, of course, there are also some sad ones. The reader can depend on Doctorow for elegant writing.
 
Audrey A.
Plum Spooky: A Stephanie Plum Between-the-Numbers by Janet Evanovich
Rating: 5 Stars
I usually don't read her Between-the-Numbers books, but I was curious. This book is absurd and hilarious. I don't know why anyone wouldn't enjoy it.
 
Gina
The Crystal Cave: Book One of the Arthurian Saga by Mary Stewart
Rating: 4 Stars
This is the first of the Arthurian series, which has four books in total. The book is a well-written page-turner about the childhood of Merlin the wizard. I hope to read the other three books now.

 
Jean M.
Worth Dying For: A Reacher Novel by Lee Child
Rating: 3 Stars
The Reacher books are beginning to fade. At the end of 61 HOURS, the reader is left hanging, so I rushed to get this one to see what would happen. I would have liked to have had a few more details about how the situation at the end of 61 HOURS was resolved; I was a bit disappointed, and I am not sure if I will bother with any more of them.
 
Barbara S.
Cross Roads by Fern Michaels
Rating: 4 Stars
Another book in the Sisterhood series about a group of female vigilantes who get justice in their own unique way. As always, a quick and entertaining read.
 
Shana S.
Miles Away... Worlds Apart by Alan Sakowitz
Rating: 5 Stars
A gripping, true account of how a family man decided to blow the whistle on Scott Rothstein, a prominent, ostentatious, Florida attorney who was behind a multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme that defrauded its investors and sacrificed the most vulnerable people in society.
 
Audrey A.
Chosen by a Horse by Susan Richards
Rating: 4 Stars
This is a true story about a rescued horse, who teaches its broken-hearted rescuer to stop being afraid of trusting others. It requires a few tissues. I will probably recommend this to my book club.
 
Joy Q.
Scent of the Missing: Love and Partnership with a by Susannah Charleson
Rating: 5 Stars
This was recommended to me by my librarian, as she knows I love dog stories. Fortunately, Ms. Charleson lives in the Dallas area, and I was about to attend a talk she gave at my library a week ago. Puzzle, who is her search dog, was also in attendance. A very entertaining and enlightening book --- I highly recommend it, even to non-dog lovers (if there are such people).
 
Julie
A Dangerous Fortune by Ken Follett
Rating: 4 Stars
The book takes place in England and is centered around a very powerful, ambitious woman who will stop at nothing to have her husband made a Lord and her son promoted to Senior Partner at her husband's family bank. The story spans the time just after the Civil War to the 1890s.
 
Marsha
Never Look Away by Linwood Barclay
Rating: 5 Stars
This is a relentless thriller that will keep you reading well into the night. A reporter finds himself in a real dilemma when becomes suspected of killing his wife after she disappears. He finds that she was never who he thought she was, as he tries to unravel the mystery and keep himself out of jail.
 
Linda S.
Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
Rating: 5 Stars
Donnelly is a history buff, and her bibiliography at the end of this YA novel is pages long. I cannot speak highly enough of her ability to weave the history of French Revolution and music history into such an absorbing and creative story.
 
Dara B.
The Prostitutes' Ball: A Shane Skully Novel by Stephen J. Cannell
Rating: 5 Stars
The last book that Stephen J. Cannell wrote prior to his death. An engrossing story about wealthy LA residents in and around Hollywood Hills.
 
Becky
The Red Leather Diary: Reclaiming a Life Through t by Lily Koppel
Rating: 2 Stars
I found the premise of the book very interesting...it goes back to follow the Florence Wolfson's life as a teenager through a found journal that relates her life from 1929 through 1934. Unfortunately, I found the life of this narcissistic nymphomaniac to be so self-absorbed that it was truly obnoxious. How can she find that, after 90 years of living, one of the things for which she is most sorry for is the fact that a coat she liked burned in a fire? No other regrets?
 
Jerirae
Worth Dying For: A Reacher Novel by Lee Child
Rating: 5 Stars
As always, I can't wait to see what Jack Reacher will encounter. He is one of the best characters in fiction today.
 
Becky
The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston with Mario Spezi
Rating: 5 Stars
This book was excellent. Taking a series of crimes that began decades ago, Preston moves us into the present, when he inadvertently became personally involved in an Italian mystery.
 
Swan Bender
Still Missing by Chevy Stevens
Rating: 5 Stars
The ending is one that the reader will not want to believe, because none of us would feel comfortable knowing that someone could be so wrong in their choices. I will definitely read more by this author.
 
Renee
Composed: A Memoir by Roseanne Cash
Rating: 2 Stars
I'm halfway through and holding on to hope that this book will begin to impress me...why do the elite think that naming other rich and famous people will make for scintillating reading for the rest of us? ...A good memoir is really hard to find.
 
Darcy
The Confession by John Grisham
Rating: 3 Stars
This reader admires Grisham's involvement with The Innocence Project and his passion regarding the death penalty, and I thoroughly enjoyed his book about this topic, THE CHAMBER. BUT THE CONFESSION did not satisfy me in the same way. The writing seemed fuzzy and, frankly, a bit lazy.
 
Jsiemek
Green River Running Red: The Real Story of the Gre by Ann Rule
Rating: 5 Stars
Awesome --- one of her best books!
 
Joy Q.
Mrs. Miracle by Debbie Macomber
Rating: 5 Stars
Since CALL ME MRS. MIRACLE is due to be released next month (and I am on the waiitng list at my library), I went back and read MRS. MIRACLE. It was very predicatable, but also extremely entertaining. Reading Debbie Macomber also helps to take my mind off reality and give some relief. Love her!
 
Joy Q.
The Call of the Wild by Jack London
Rating: 3 Stars
My community of Irving has an event called the Big Read each October. This year, the Big Read book was THE CALL OF THE WILD. I don't remember reading it before, and I just turned 65. I found it to be a good read, and it led me to learn more about Jack London.
 
Annette S.
The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
Rating: 5 Stars
A generational read that keeps you enthralled, waiting to find out the secrets of Blackhurst Manor on the Cornish coast of England.
 
Jan A.
Sullivan's Island: A Lowcountry Tale by Dorothea Benton Frank
Rating: 4 Stars
I have never read one of her books, but a positive comment on the back of the book jacket by Pat Conroy, who's my favorite author, encouraged me to read it. It's the wonderful, funny, absorbing story of a woman whose life is turned upside down by her cheating husband. Trite, yes, but the setting, characters and dialogue set this book apart. I would highly recommend it, and I am off to read more of Ms. Frank.
 
Carole C.
The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin
Rating: 5 Stars
This book was great. It's a novel about two people who survive a small plane crash in the wilderness. These two people didn't know each other before the day of the flight, but they have to struggle together after the crash. It kept my interest throughout.
 
Kathryn P.
Bury Your Dead: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel by Louise Penny
Rating: 5 Stars
An excellent book in the Chief Inspector Gamache series --- an excellent portrayal of Quebec City.
 
Ivy
A Crack in Everything by Vanessa Carlisle
Rating: 4 Stars
This is a funny and insightful novel about Tamina, a 25-five-year-old who teaches sex education to urban youths in Los Angeles. But with all of the drama in her life, she appears to be on the brink of a break down. Her final choices deserve an applause, as she shakes things off and moves on.
 
Robin B.
Full Frontal Nudity: The Making of an Accidental A by Harry Hamlin
Rating: 4 Stars
People magazine's Sexiest Man of the Year from a number of years ago (and the husband of Lisa Rinna) covers his college years in a funny and fast-paced memoir.
 
Margie B.
Bury Your Dead: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel by Louise Penny
Rating: 5 Stars
If Louise Penny doesn't win yet another award for the sixth book in her Chief Inspector Gamache series, there's no justice in this world! There are three cases going on in this novel, and although Gamache is on leave recovering from an injury, he lends his expertise to all of them. This is by far the most moving of Penny's literary mysteries, and I found myself in awe of her talent. Give it a try!
 
Joy Q.
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kinsolver
Rating: 3 Stars
This has not been one of my favorite Barbara Kinsolver books. This story is told by a missionary familiy from Georgia that is living in the Congo during the early 60s. It gave me insight into the uprising in the Congo that happened during that time.
 
Jane
The Sweet By and By by Todd Johnson
Rating: 4 Stars
This is the story of five strong, Southern women. They represent all different ages, and each has her own set of problems. If you live in (or were raised in) the South, you will recognize many of the places and traditions.
 
Annie
The Amnesiac by Sam Taylor
Rating: 5 Stars
A man loses track of several years of his life and tries to piece it together. Eerie clues, alongside a mystery set in early 1900s.
 
Stacey K.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Rating: 5 Stars
There is a reason why this book is a classic --- fantastic characters, story and dialogue. I could not put it down --- it's timeless!
 
Debbie
Fragile by Lisa Unger
Rating: 3 Stars
Decades separate the disappearances of two local girls...could the first murderer still be at large? Lisa Unger unfolds a poignant tale of the parallels between the two cases and unraveling of fact and fiction. The characters ring true-to life --- they're not regular, perfect, beautiful people. Jones, the detective and Maggie's husband, is overweight; each character possesses a flaw. The story provides glimpses into the everyday life of a family and their struggles for acceptance in this harsh world. Charlie, the termite exterminator, and his new girlfriend, Wanda, are almost a comic relief when compared with the other characters and their difficult lives. Who would imagine that a termite killer could be a kind and gentle, aspiring writer? Unger does a wonderful job showing the consequences of people's actions.


 
Sherman
Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel by Jeannette Walls
Rating: 5 Stars
A follow-up to THE GLASS CASTLE, which is just as excellent as this one. It's the story of the author's grandmother, who grew up in Texas and Arizona before and during the Depression. She was a tough old woman until the day she died.
 
Marsha
The Reversal by Michael Connelly
Rating: 4 Stars
Mickey Haller crosses the aisle to act as special prosecutor for the retrial of a convicted child-killer who has been imprisoned for the past 24 years. Bosch is acting as investigator, and his ex-wife Maggie is co-counsel to the prosecutor. Suspense rules throughout the trial, and during the research and ending.
 
Cassandra D.
The Vampire Lestat: Book II of the Vampire Chonicl by Anne Rice
Rating: 5 Stars
This is a really great read, and I love all of Anne Rice's books --- you can really feel as if you were there while you're reading it.
 
Bonnie
The 6th Target: A Women's Murder Club Novel by James Patterson
Rating: 4 Stars
Not high-brow literature, but an excellent police mystery in Patterson's Women's Murder Club series. It keeps you turning the pages.
 
Bonnie
7th Heaven: A Women's Murder Club Novel by James Patterson
Rating: 4 Stars
Another good book in the Women's Murder Club series --- I think it was a TV series as well for about a minute and a half. This one has a little surprise at the end, as well.
 
Susan J.
My Reading Life by Pat Conroy
Rating: 4 Stars
Mr. Conroy loves words. He loves their flow, their tumble and their play...and he isn't afraid to use them. I learned this when I first started reading his fiction with its exultant, flowery phrases, and with its parallels to his own life. This nonfiction book tells me why he writes the way he does.

Although titled My Reading Life, this book is also about his writing life and his life in general. The fifteen chapters each address a different person or book or time that ultimately shaped who he is and how he writes.

"I grew up a word-haunted boy. I felt words inside me and stored them wondrous as pearls. I mouthed them and fingered them and rolled them around my tongue. My mother filled my bedtime hour with poetry that rang like Sanctus bells as she praised the ineffable loveliness of the English language with her Georgia-scented voice. I found that hive of words beautiful beyond all conveyance."

I was horrified and embarrassed as a woman to learn how badly he was treated at a writers' conference in the early days of militant feminism, how one famous author whose work I have greatly admired dismissed him out-of-hand because he was a Southern white boy. I loved the glimpses into other authors' lives, how their writings and their personalities could be at such odds.

I hated some of the descriptions of his life in Paris, of the horse butchers, of the "fifty Algerian men bidding on the very young girl in the window."

"There was an auctioneer in front of the window chiding the men for their cheapness, and the noise rose in pitch as the bidding grew feverish. The girl was very young, fragile, and she was not smiling."

How can someone see that and not want to do something to help the girl? How can anyone wonder about the girl's thoughts but stay a passive observer?

I am one of those readers who doesn't want all the sentences I read to be lean, even though there can be beauty in their sparseness. I like the sentences that carry me off, let me smell and see and feel. Pat Conroy can write these sentences.

"I long for that special moment when I take off into the pure oxygen-rich sky of a sentence that streaks off into a night where I cannot follow, where I lose control, where the language seizes me and shakes me in such a way that I feel like both its victim and its copilot."

The next time I read Conroy's fiction, I will appreciate it all the more for understanding a bit of the man who wrote it.

The quotes were taken from a pre-publication bound manuscript and may change in the published edition. Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy.

 
Donna
Sylvia Browne's Book of Angels by Sylvia Browne
Rating: 5 Stars
Sylvia Browne is such an inspiration. I have read many of her books, and they have all been very helpful and reassuring. I love her sense of humor, too.
 
Judy O.
Night Road by Kristin Hannah
Rating: 4 Stars
Lexi Baill is a long-time foster kid who has finally found a new home with a great-aunt in Washington State. She quickly makes a new friend in Mia Farraday, another teenager who has never learned the art of letting people into her life. Added to that mix, is Zach Farraday, Mia's twin brother. The three become inseparable, until one disastrous night after a teenage drinking party. Lives are shattered and blame is assessed. And Lexi's newfound security is gone. This book brings out lots of emotion and heartache in the reader. I received an ARC copy, so watch for it to come out on March 29, 2011.
 
Elizabeth http://silversolara.blogspot.com/
The Clouds Beneath the Sun by Mackenzie Ford
Rating: 4 Stars
Set in Kenya, this book is about an archeologist excavation filled with brilliant paleontologists.the characters' work, cultural differences, and interpersonal relationships make up the main plot. In the first few pages, the main character, Natalie Nelson, is on her way to the camp from Cambridge University, when she comes across a herd of elephants actually carrying out a mourning ritual --- her first glimpse of Africa's mesmerizing sights and sounds. Mackenzie Ford describes both the wildlife in Africa and the land itself vividly and beautifully.


When Natalie arrives at the camp site, she is happy to see that everyone has his/her own tent with private bath facilities. This is especially comforting the following evening, since she didn't get a warm welcome at dinner because she made a comment that was viewed as a criticism of one of the veteran archeologists.


But as the excavation continues and the situation improves, a murder occurs, and Natalie happens to be the sole witness. Each night, she tries to relax and forget about the trial with a drink and a cigarette, while she listens to the African animals circling the camp. The trial gets pretty complicated and worrisome for Natalie --- a plea made to the Masai chief about the trial is denied --- and the legal and cultural issues are of the utmost concern.


This book was a little slow, but as you turn the pages towards the final chapters, it does become a lot better in terms of action...the focus of the archaeological dig, the murder trial, Natalie's turmoil as she deals with it, the power of money, societal issues within Africa, issues among the group of paleontologists, personal secrets and family issues --- including sibling rivalry, betrayal and deceit --- keep your interest.


It wasn't a riveting novel, but it was intense at times, and it did bring you culturally into another, very interesting society. The characters were well-developed, and you could feel their pain, fear, triumphs, comradery, and all the emotions that they felt from living in the middle of a beautiful, exotic, African landscape. But it would have been easier to enjoy this book if I were a passionate, knowledgeable paleontologist. My rating is a four out of five because the dig was very interesting, and the cultural aspects made you think about how we are all the same, but also different. Even though the ending depicted the beautiful symbolism of the Maasai people, it will haunt you and make you realize what cunning, cruel, jealous, self-motivated creatures we humans can be.

 
JoAnn
Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman
Rating: 4 Stars
Poignant, fast reading --- humorous at times, and heart wrenching at others. I'm always a sucker for happy endings, despite the odds.
 
CJ'alhafiz
The Sirens of Baghdad by Yasmina Khadra, Translated by John Cullen
Rating: 4 Stars
A beautifully crafted, eye-opening story about real people, real lives and how they are really affected by the war. A satisfying read that left me wanting more from Yasmina Khadra.
 
Debbie
Anatomy of a Murder by Robert Traver
Rating: 4 Stars
Of course, I have seen the movie version with Jimmy Stewart, and I will now need to revisit the movie. I thoroughly enjoyed this book by Robert Traver. The story vibrates with life and images. Laura Manion throbs with sexuality, and her husband, Frederic Manion, simmers with jealousy. Paul Biegler, alias Polly, relishes spending all waking hours fishing, until he decides to defend Frederic Manion on a charge of murder. The story centers on the trial preparation and the trial. One of my favorite quotations is, "The notorious undependability of juries, the chance involved, is one of the absorbing features of the law. That's what makes the practice of law, like prostitution, one of the last of the unpredictable professions --- both employ the seductive arts, both try to display their wares to the best advantage, and both must pretend enthusiastically to woo total strangers." This, in essence, sums up the following trial of Frederic Manion. Traver displays vivid imagery, both in terms of setting and characters. This is not your typical afternoon book: This is a book that will need to be read slowly and savored.
 
Tanya
Oogy: The Dog Only a Family Could Love by Larry Levin
Rating: 4 Stars
A great story about a family who rescues an abused dog. I love good animal stories, and I highly recommend this book.
 
readinrobin
Twin Oaks by Anne Logan
Rating: 5 Stars
A Harlequin super-romance from about 10 years ago, and a perfect example of why I'm willing to pick up old romance novels by authors I've never heard of. Sometimes you get a decent read, sometimes a groaner and, sometimes, you get a gem like this one, which leaves happy tears in your eyes at the end.
 
Kellie
The Rottweiler by Ruth Rendell
Rating: 2 Stars
This was painful. The storyline: Inez, an antique shop owner, is the landlord of a group of quirky characters. A serial killer is on the loose, and the suspect may be one of them. I was under the impression that this was a murder mystery. Technically, it may be, but I think the author was focused more on character development than plot. There are several problems with this. Number one: I didn't like ANY of the characters --- not even one. They were all weird. Inez, the owner, was obsessed with her dead husband, and she would watch videos of him every night. She was very smart and seemed to know people pretty well, but she wasn't strong enough to believe in her intuition. Will was obviously mentally handicapped --- he was in love with his aunt and had no grasp on reality. Jeremy was trying to figure out his past and understand who he was, and even though he was handsome and successful, he had some definite personality flaws. Freddie was pushy and rude, and Ludmila was a diva. All of you Ruth Rendell fans, please tell me why you like this author. I forced myself to read this book. The first ¾'s of the book were dull. The book improved during last quarter improved, but that didn't make up for the rest of it. I am actually glad this book is finished...no more Rendell for me.
 
Jud H.
The Good, the Bad, and the Undead by Kim Harrison
Rating: 5 Stars
Rachel Morgan must try to figure out who is killing off the ley line witches.
 
readinrobin
The Secret Woman by Victoria Holt
Rating: 5 Stars
I read all of Victoria Holt's books some 20 years ago, and I am now revisiting her work. I still love her writing.
 
BK
Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman
Rating: 4 Stars
It's the story of a tragic, lonely little girl with an absent father who's being raised in Ohio by her mentally ill mother, who's also a Southern belle. Her mother dies, and an aunt from Savannah takes the girl home with her to a Victorian mansion. 


I enjoyed it in the same way I enjoyed THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES and COLD SASSY TREE. 


 
Harriet S.
Bad Boy: An Inspector Banks Novel by Peter Robinson
Rating: 3 Stars
It has been 23 years since GALLOWS VIEW, the first Inspector Alan Banks mystery, and I've read and enjoyed them all...until now. Alan's daughter Tracy, who's now 23, finds herself up to her ears in trouble, and much of it is her own doing. When a secondary, continuing character becomes the thrust of the story and gets placed in harms way, for me, it eliminates the suspense. Plus, she is a policeman's daughter, as she so often reminds me, yet she misses so many opportunities to remove herself from the entanglement. Rather than acting like a grown woman, her behavior reminded me of a teenager. And the story's evil-doers could have been lifted from a cartoon or an early 20th-century movie. I've put up with Robinson's growing fixation with music and musicians, but I did not find this whole combination of things likable.
 
Phoenix
Freaks and Revelations by Davida Wills Hurwin
Rating: 4 Stars
This young adult novel is based on the true story of two young men. One is thrown out by his family because he's gay and ends up living on the streets. The other also has a troubled home life, which leads him towards punk culture and neo-Nazism. One commits a hate crime against the other, but they meet again as adults and become friends. This fictionalized account of true events is moving and thought-provoking.
 
Lorna
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Rating: 2 Stars
We all know the story, and I enjoyed it, but for me I found it too difficult to read. I had to really pay attention, and I re-read alot of it; I needed a dictionary by my side. It was just too much work.
 
Michele
The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
Rating: 5 Stars
This is the story of an abadoned child who winds up halfway around the world. At 65, she learns that she was "found" and tries to find out about her roots. Romance is the soul of this book, spanning four generations, although the intrigue keeps it suspenseful. It is totally captivating, and you won't put it down until you are through.
 
Kathy V.
Mew is for Murder: A Theda Krakow Mystery by Clea Simon
Rating: 5 Stars
This is book number one in the Theda Krakow mystery series...I love the fact that this book has mystery and one of my favorite animals, cats. Theda is a reporter looking for the BIG story. As she is out for her morning run, she sees a kitten who looks injured, and she tries to help. She follows the kitten up to a house, where she sees many cats, all acting strange and hovering around the house of a lady who she only met once; but Theda finds the poor, old lady dead. The police want to believe she slipped and fell, but Theda and the old woman's friend don't believe them, so it's up to them to prove the others wrong before all the cats are put down.
 
Harriet S.
In Harm's Way by Ridley Pearson
Rating: 4 Stars
A dead body is discovered alongside a busy highway in Sun Valley, Idaho --- a billionaire's playground. And it's not just any body but that of pro-football player "Gail Force" Martel Gale. Sheriff Walt Fleming was investigating what appeared to be a bear break-in when the call came in. To complicate matters, Fleming receives a call from Seattle detective Lou Boldt, who was planning to visit his jurisdiction to interview two sports-world figures, who are possible suspects in a Seattle murder case. Could the two be connected?


There are multiple story-lines and puzzles, all working together to keep the tension level high and act as the catalyst for an rapid page-turner. I've enjoyed all of Ridley Pearson's books --- his Lou Boldt series, his stand-alones and theWalt Fleming series. This is the first time he has brought his Seattle and Sun Valley heroes together. It worked fine for me.

 
Harriet S.
Crashers by Dana Haynes
Rating: 4 Stars
My timing for reading this was quirky. I was aboard an airplane and, yes, the title refers to a team of investigators who are brought together to determine the cause of an airplane crash, each them being an expert in his or her own field. For the most part, this book is anchored in Portland, Oregon, but the author takes the reader around the U.S. I liked the fact that the sections within chapters were identified by place. There is a large cast of characters, but Haynes did a splendid job of bringing them to life and keeping them straight --- I didn't even need to look back for reference. This definitely is a thriller --- the reader follows along with the murderer, who is trying to outwit the experts, because the Vermeer III may not be the only airplane crash they will need to investigate. Regardless of whether or not all the technical facts are perfect, it is still fiction and, I felt, an exciting and well-executed story! Closer to 4 1/2 stars.
 
Amy
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Rating: 4 Stars
I'm listening to the audio book, and loving it so far.
 
Angie L.
Within My Heart by Tamera Alexander
Rating: 4 Stars
If I could, I would give this 4 1/2 stars! A beautifully written, lyrical, historical fiction novel that evokes breathtaking visuals, has wonderful character development, and believable romance! It is an inspirational Christian novel, but it could be read by anyone in my opinion!
 
Kay
The Burning Wire by Jeffery Deaver
Rating: 4 Stars
Typical Jeffery Deaver, with lots of twists and turns. Victims are being
murdered by a killer who uses common electricity in unique ways.

 
BK
A Ghost in the Machine: A Chief Inspector Barnaby by Caroline Graham
Rating: 4 Stars
Chief Inspector Barnaby has an intricate mystery to solve when one murder turns into two, and there seem to be no suspects. The small village has an assortment of interesting characters that are well-developed. I enjoyed the plot --- it has a surprise even on the last page. 


 
Marsha
The Rembrandt Affair by Daniel Silva
Rating: 4 Stars
Gabriel Allon, art restorer and ex-Israeli operative, is drawn back into the fold when a long-lost Rembrandt is stolen during a murder. Many twists and turns later, we learn of Swiss banking coverups, Nazi art thefts, an Iranian quest for nuclear power, and other dark secrets. It's quite fascinating.
 
Tanya
A Thread of Sky by Deanna Fei
Rating: 2 Stars
Looking to reconnect with their ancestral home and with each other, three generations of women tour mainland China. The book was mostly slow, and it didn't hold my interest until the end.
 
bk
Fear the Worst by Linwood Barclay
Rating: 4 Stars
A car salesman's 17-year-old daughter is spending the summer with him, and one day she doesn't come home from her summer job. This marks the beginning of a wild ride, as the reader and the characters try to find out what's going on. I read the whole book in one day because I couldn't put it down. 

 
BK
Never Look Away by Linwood Barclay
Rating: 4 Stars
A young father and newspaper reporter has an almost-perfect life. Then things begin to fall apart, and he has to try to find out what is true and what isn't.and all the while, he's being suspected of murder. It's a fast read that kept me turning pages. 

 
BK
This Body of Death: An Inspector Lynley Novel by Elizabeth George
Rating: 5 Stars
The author returns the grieving Inspector Lynley to the Yard, providing her dedicated readers with her best psychological suspense mystery yet. I've read all of them, and this is a superb and delicious read. A young woman who has moved to London from the countryside is murdered. Meanwhile, the story flashes back to decades earlier, when three young boys from the projects committed an unspeakable act of violence. The novel tantalizingly reveals the two stories throughout the book, and keeps the murderer and the motive hidden until near the end. This novel is a wonderful present for devotees of Inspector Lynley. George is a master wordsmith, who creates a great plot and develops characters without succumbing to the current trends towards vulgarity, profanity and gore. Sadly, the BBC/PBS series is over. I would love to have seen it on the telly! 




 
BK
Bad Guys by Linwood Barclay
Rating: 4 Stars
Another exciting and amusing story. If you read BAD MOVE, then you will want to read this sequel about Zack and his family. Once again, Zack manages to annoy his wife and children with his mild form of "Monk"-like control. Once again, he manages to fall into a crazy situation because of his compulsions. It's an amusing suspense novel, and I'm anxious to read the next two in the series! Barclay is a great writer. 


 
Barbie
Play Dead by Harlan Coben
Rating: 3 Stars
Many people will die before you get to the end of this book about a golf pro and his disappointing life. Myron Bolitar, sports agent and private investigator, goes to all kinds of lengths to find out the truth about a kidnapped boy and his murdered father.
 
Harriet S.
61 Hours: A Reacher Novel by Lee Child
Rating: 4 Stars
This was my first in the Jack Reacher series and I feel tempted to search out others. I've already ordered his next one. Well, if you read this, you will find a cliff-hanger ending. Good marketing ploy.

The notorious South Dakota winter setting played a significant role. Almost a character unto itself. As evident by the title, the ticking of the clock with each next chapter created suspense and the allure to know if the good guys would prevail.

The internet is filled with reviews of Lee Child's Jack Reacher, comparing him to many of Clint Eastwood's movie characters. It does help you visualize Reacher, but after reading what seems like millions of mysteries and thrillers, what I hear in Child's writing is a peerless voice where his style is as lean and unadorned as his protagonist. Did any of you hear that?

If I had a quibble it would be my difficulty to suspend disbelief at the start. Reacher was invited to help the local police with a major crime. I was trying to imagine if my police chief or sheriff would do likewise. Maybe they would. I'm a literal thinker and have been told to loosen up.

 
Cindy H.
The Widower's Tale by Julia Glass
Rating: 4 Stars
An excellent read --- Glass shows great character development. The story has family drama and interesting interpersonal relationships. The widower is a former librarian who used to work at Harvard's Widener Library. THE WIDOWER'S TALE is a good story that is both simple and complicated at the same time.
 
Susan J.
Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
Rating: 5 Stars
A poignant and moving story about the roundup of the French Jews. One can hardly wait to see what happens to the characters affected by the Vel' d'Hiv. It makes my disgust with Hitler rise to the surface.
 
Rita P.
Painted Ladies: A Spenser Novel by Robert B. Parker
Rating: 3 Stars
I almost always like Parker's books, and this one is no exception. If you don't like it at first, keep reading, and you soon will.
 
Jon
Memory Wall: Stories by Anthony Doerr
Rating: 5 Stars
A wonderful collection of short stories set in exotic locations by a remarkable (and underated) author. Highly recommended.
 
Christa B. (christa.bornetoroam@gmail.com)
The Wishing Trees by John Shors
Rating: 5 Stars
A lyrical novel that follows a father and daughter as they travel the world together. Full of poems, beautiful descriptive passages and memorable encounters, this is a lovely story that will stay with me for a long time.
 
Christa B.
City of Thieves by David Benioff
Rating: 5 Stars
I enjoyed this novel quite a bit. It offered a dark, yet oftentimes humorous and very human look at a small band of people trying to make do in WWII. I finished this novel in just two days. It's a quick and entertaining read.
 
Stacey K.
Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton
Rating: 2 Stars
This book was very slow-moving from the beginning. Unless you really understand seaman's terms, this is not a book for you. Disappointing.
 
Marion M.
Homer's Odyssey by Gwen Cooper
Rating: 4 Stars
If you're a cat lover, this is for you. I give the author credit for adopting this cat. What a wonderful experience it was.
 
Rita P.
Life Support by Robert Whitlow
Rating: 4 Stars
This novel makes you think about mortality and who you can trust. A wife grows up in an abusive household, and she loses her temper with her husband, and he goes over the edge of a cliff. She thinks he is dead, and the way that she and her husband's relatives react leads the reader on an adventure that becomes a mystery. If you think you know about evil, this book will tell you more.
 
Glenn
Star Island by Carl Hiaasen
Rating: 5 Stars
Carl does it again! He's one of the best comedic novelists out there. I laughed out loud a bunch of times while reading this. It makes a mockery out of celebrity status, and those who can't handle it and go off the deep end (a la Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan). In this case, it's a young female musical artist who has marginal singing talent, but has propelled herself to stardom by other means. It also satirizes the paparazzi who follow them around relentlessly in pursuit of the "money shot" that will pay off handsomely. Abundant outrageousness, just like Carl's previous 11 comedic novels. For those familiar with Carl's books, Skink (the homeless ex-governor of Florida) has a substantial role in this one, as does Chemo, the guy who got a prosthetic weed-whacker attached to the end of his arm after his hand was 
bitten off by a barracuda. I remember Chemo from one of the earlier books --- he's one of the wackiest and most memorable of Carl's crazy characters. This one has an environmental angle, as do all of Carl's books, and there is a message to be gleaned among all the craziness. These books are by no means great literature, and they aren't meant to be, but if you're in the mood for some mindless entertainment that will give you some laughs, any of Carl's dozen comedic novels will fit the 
bill. 


 
Diane W.
Little Bee by Chris Cleave
Rating: 5 Stars
A story about a little girl from Nigeria and how she affects the lives of one family.
 
Dioane W.
Love the One Your With by Emily Giffin
Rating: 4 Stars
The story of a woman who's torn between two loves.
 
Diane W.
The Pact by Jodi Picoult
Rating: 5 Stars
A heartbreaking story of two families who suffer a tragedy.
 
Gretchen
African Intrigue by Alfred Batson
Rating: 4 Stars
This 1933 story of a secret German journey through Africa is a ripping yarn. It's got action and intrigue galore. Turn of the century (it's set in 1911) attitudes toward the native people of the area make the modern reader wince a bit, but it's still a fun read.
 
Dara
Velocity by Alan Jacobson
Rating: 5 Stars
Karen Vail just keeps getting better and better and I think Dixon deserves a whole book of her own...
 
T. Thomas
Bloody Crimes by James Swanson
Rating: 5 Stars
Really fascinating book. Well researched and well written. Even if you are not a Civil War buff, you will want to read this.
 
Dara
Worth Dying For by Lee Child
Rating: 4 Stars
Reacher amazes me everytime I liked this one very much however not as much as 61 HOURS....thus the 4.
 
Leah G.
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Rating: 5 Stars
A fantastic read for both men and women! My favorite book of all time, hands down --- it has the romance that women crave and the action/adventure that men eat up. No one could possibly dislike this book.
 
Sharon E-F
Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, by Liz Murray
Rating: 5 Stars
What a wide range of emotions were evoked in this well-written, engrossing memoir --- sadness, anger, compassion, fear, joy, relief, disgust, elation, and possibly more that I cannot find words for. Murray made her life of deprivation --- of insecurity, hunger, homelessness, love and persistence --- come alive as she described her journey from poverty to success through Harvard, and as she now strives to empower others.


I read very few memoirs, as too many seem intent on telling the reader how wonderful the person who's being written about it, and I often feel that the truth has been avoided. But not this gritty, down-to-earth account. I would be interested in reading more books by Liz Murray, and I will recommend this particular book to family and friends.

 
Steve B.
Merciless: A Novel of Suspense by Richard Montanari
Rating: 4 Stars
After reading this one, I went back to get his older books, and it's well worth it! He doesn't hold back, there is a lot of detail, along with some sick crimes to solve!
 
Steve B.
Think of a Number by John Verdon
Rating: 4 Stars
Check this one out. It's a very good who-dun-it! I can't wait until his next book!
 
Laura B.
Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
Rating: 5 Stars
I loved reading this book. I got into it big-time. I just finished, and I'm going to go to the library today and get others by Picoult!
 
Steve B.
House Rules by Jodi Picoult
Rating: 5 Stars
My wife turned me on to Picoult, and I wasn't sure at first --- it kind of looked a little mushy! But it turned out to be great.You really get into this family, and there are a few twists I didn't see comming!!!
 
George W.
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
Rating: 4 Stars
I am only halfway through this novel, thus I can only give it four stars, but I suspect that when it is finished, I will be raving about it. Catchy title, and I loved the first line: "The Rutherford Girl had been missing for eight days when Larry Ott returned home and found a monster waiting in his house." Can't wait to finish it!
 
Mark F.
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
Rating: 4 Stars
SHARP OBJECTS is a nifty title, but this dark crime novel could have also been called "Some Seriously Screwed-Up People" or simply "Damaged Goods." Camille Preaker, a reporter for a small Chicago newspaper, is given an assignment to return to her hometown in Missouri and investigate the murders of two young girls. Looking into these horrific crimes is bad enough, but having Camille return to her family is like casting her into a pit of twisted vipers. This reporter has some deep, tangled issues herself. Yes, this can be a tough read, but Flynn is a strong writer, and she adeptly keeps the reader engaged. For a debut novel, she shows a nice command.
 
Steve B.
The Assassin by Andrew Britton
Rating: 4 Stars
This is the first Britton that I have ever read, and I loved it. There's a lot of action, and I love action! Read this one --- it's worth it!!
 
Jud H.
Frozen in Time: Murder at the Bottom of the World by Theodore Jerome Cohen
Rating: 5 Stars
Set in the frigid Antarctic, this novel is about two Chilean naval officers who pull a bank heist and hide their loot in the cargo of a scientific expedition.
 
T. Semidey
Red Leaves by Thomas H. Cook
Rating: 4 Stars
This book is gripping --- it draws you in from the first page and holds you there until the last page. Sorrow, suspicion, fear and forgiveness hang suspended over this almost unbearable drama of a family in crisis.
 
Laura B.
The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult
Rating: 5 Stars
After reading my first Picoult novel, I couldn't stop! This one really makes you think! After looking at the cover, I didn't think it would be that good, but it was! Don't be fooled, pick up one of her novels and give it a try. You will thank me later!!
 
Steve B.
The Skin Gods by Richard Montanari
Rating: 4 Stars
This was a great book (almost a five)! You really get to know the main characters and care about what happens to them. It's a very good detective novel!
 
Rosalie S.
The Woman I Was Born to Be: My Story by Susan Boyle
Rating: 5 Stars
I read this book in two days. Susan has been such an inspiration to "just plain" folks, and I wanted to know more about her. She was not expected to succeed at anything in her life, but she never gave up, and her Faith kept her going. I found this book to be heart-warming and enjoyable.
 
Rosalie S.
The Borgia Bride by Jeanne Kalogridis
Rating: 4 Stars
A very interesting story about Italian history. The story takes place in 1488 in several cities in Italy. I highly recommend this book.
 
Sara
Fauna by Alissa York
Rating: 4 Stars
Human and animal relationships intervene throughout the novel. The troubling and the aspiring traits of the characters are like pieces of a puzzle that come together to tell a fascinating story that take place in Toronto, Canada.
 
Steve B.
Quantum Web by Tom Grace
Rating: 4 Stars
I wasn't sure about this one when I started out, but it turned out to be very good. I'm now going to look up his other books at the library!
 
Jud H.
Velocity by Alan Jacobson
Rating: 5 Stars
FBI profiler Karen Vail's search for her missing boyfriend leads her to into a direct confrontation with a dangerous drug cartel.
 
Tricia
Worth Dying For: A Reacher Novel by Lee Child
Rating: 4 Stars
I LOVE Lee Child and his main character, Jack Reacher. But his newest book, WORTH DYING FOR, has Jack showing a little too much violence for me. The ending isn't as tightly woven as the endings of his other books, but the main story is still a great page-turner. I was hoping that this book would take off where 61 HOURS left off, but no luck.
 
Tricia
In the Dark by Brian Freeman
Rating: 5 Stars
I've just met this terrific author, and I love every book that he's written! Great story, tightly woven plot, great characters and ending --- what else could a reader need/want?!!!
 
Crystal
Something Borrowed, Something Bleu: A Home Craftin by Cricket McRae
Rating: 4 Stars
SOMETHING BORROWED, SOMETHING BLEU is the engaging fourth book in the series featuring Sophie Mae Reynolds, a 40-ish widow who runs a small, home-based business selling homemade soaps and the like from her website. I have yet to read the earlier books in the series, but it seems that Sophie Mae has a habit of finding dead bodies...and then involves herself in solving the murders. In this story, the mystery was clever, and Sophie Mae and the other characters were well-written and humorous.


 
Dale L.
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
Rating: 5 Stars
One of the best-written books that I have read. How it kept me interested from beginning to end was wonderful --- I recommend it to everyone.
 
Becky
People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
Rating: 4 Stars
This was a very good read. The fictional story is based on an actual haggadah (a Hebrew manuscript for use in the home.the Hebrew root word hgd means "to tell".). Hanna is allotted the task of conserving this medieval Jewish text in Sarajevo, Bosnia, in 1996. The book is unusual because of its lavish pictures. PEOPLE OF THE BOOK combines the possibilities of the book's journey into today's world with Hanna's experiences during her research on the haggadah.
 
Becky
The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy
Rating: 4 Stars
THE PRINCE OF TIDES is the story of a southern family's inability to function either emotionally or socially. Of the three children in the family, one has died, one has tried to commit suicide several times, and the other one comes to face his own life's realities by remembering past events as he tries to help with his sister's problems.
 
Becky
A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
Rating: 2 Stars
This is the story of a man who puts out an advertisement for a wife, but gets more than he expects when the woman who answers arrives.
 
BEA R.
Without Fail: A Jack Reacher Novel by Lee Child
Rating: 5 Stars
This is the first book I have read by Lee Child, but it won't be the last. The plot kept me engaged, and I loved the charactors in the story. I want to know more about Jack Reacher.
 
Pam
In the President's Secret Service by Ronald Kessler
Rating: 4 Stars
This book is definitely a good read but a little rough in the writing style. It is an eye opener although it is very pro little-man of the Secret Service. Kessler traces the work of the Secret Service from its beginnings with Lincoln to the current administration. Obviously, he has reached the every day agents because he manages to tell the inside dirt about various presidents and first ladies. All of this builds while he mounts a case for revamping the Secret Service. He cites example after example of the inadequate training, equipment, leave time, funding, hiring practices, transfer policies, etc., etc., that have weakened the effectiveness of the Secret Service, while the upper eschelon of the agency maintains a holy mission stance. Thus, the agency seems like a disaster waiting to happen. Perhaps bureaucracy in Washington has even infiltrated the Secret Service.
 
Pam
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Rating: 5 Stars
This book will haunt me for a long, long time. It is definitely one of the most well-written nonfiction books that I've ever read. The author's 10-plus years of research and dedication were obvious, as she managed to write about scientific experiments, research, etc. with layman-like clarity, while telling the story of the Lacks family with compassion and love. The author's acknowledgments are just as overwhelming; the book obviously became her crusade, and Skloot's ability to bridge the gap between uneducated minorities and the medical profession underscores the immensity of that gap. Above all, the author's writing style, even in the midst of scientific explanations, carries the reader along easily, as Skloot brings the Lacks family members to life and gives them dignity, worth and soul.
 
Roben C.
The Search for WondLa by Tony DiTerlizzi
Rating: 4 Stars
An extremely well-written book for readers in the middle school age-range. (Mr. DiTerlizzi says his intent was to write a modern day fairy tale.) I loved Otto.
 
Betty Jo
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
Rating: 3 Stars
This historically-based, fictional account of Ernest Hemingway's early years as an ex-pat in Paris tells the story of his relationship with his first wife, Hadley, who was originally from St. Louis. His demons from WWI are apparent, and their lives are about to unravel. For those of you who are fans of LOVING FRANK, I bet this could be your next read.
 
Anita N.
A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
Rating: 5 Stars
I loved this book --- it was both a mystery and gothic romance, with a few surprises thrown in for good measure. I had read reviews, both positive and negative ones, but I am glad I took the time to read it.

It is about a man - who after being along for 20 years advertises in the newspaper for a bride - 

The person who responds and what happens next is the basis of the novel and I don't want to give away the plot, but I thoroughly enjoyed it!

 
Shannon
Wild Legacy: Book III of the Wild Series by C. Fern Cook
Rating: 5 Stars
A wonderful book --- a great story with great characters and werewolves thrown in quite naturally. A quick read.
 
Jean M.
Heat Wave by Richard Castle
Rating: 5 Stars
An exciting story that will keep you turning those pages. It is a small book, so it will be a quick but very enjoyable read. Nikki Heat (a cop) is the main character, and she finally hooks up with Jameson Rook, a magazine writer. Sparks fly.
 
Sandra F.
The Janissary Tree by Jason Goodwin
Rating: 3 Stars
A book set in Turkey, this book is very well researched. However, there is so much description of Istanbul, that the plot of the novel sometimes gets lost.
 
Barbara S.
Ghost Moon by Heather Graham
Rating: 4 Stars
The last in a series of three books about murders taking place in Key West, with a touch of paranormal. Lots of details about Key West.
 
Sean from OHIO
Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's C by Christopher Moore
Rating: 4 Stars
Christopher Moore does something here that I positively didn't think could happen: He made me want to read more of the Bible. His novel was actually very well-researched, and it made me wish I was a little more knowledgeable about the Gospels. Here, Moore's humor is spot-on, but not as overpowering as it is in some of his other work. It's the main character, Biff (I guess), who is sarcastically hilarious. I'd love to read about this character more, no pun intended. Overall, another fantastic book by one of the best.
 
Karen T.
The Postcard Killers by James Patterson and Liza Marklund
Rating: 5 Stars
This is one of his best --- it kept me on the edge of my seat. I was also shocked when I found out about the killers and by how wrong I was...the conclusion was different than I had assumed.
 
CC
The Double Comfort Safari Club by Alexander McCall Smith
Rating: 4 Stars
This is another book in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, and fans of the series will not be disappointed. I love the phrasing Smith uses, and I always look forward to visiting with Precious and her group. A refreshing read.
 
Wendy C.
The Killing Room by John Manning
Rating: 5 Stars
A perfect book for this time of year! Spooky and thrilling -- a definite non-stop page-turner.
 
Shannon
Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learni by Shauna Niequist
Rating: 5 Stars
This is a wonderful book. The author tells about the seasons of her life, and how to see the sweet when everything is bitter. It isn't sappy like it sounds :) --- it portrays the real world with real problems, like when girlfriends sit down to chat!
 
Linda J.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson
Rating: 4 Stars
I don't know why it took me so long to get on this bandwagon, but I'm glad I finally did. Even though, in some cases, I learned more than I wanted to, the writing kept me going and going and wanting more.
 
JoRN
I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells
Rating: 5 Stars
This book really captured my interest from page one. If you like "Dexter," I think you will like this book. I can't wait to read the next book by this author, MR. MONSTER.
 
Julie
A Dangerous Fortune by Ken Follett
Rating: 4 Stars
An engrossing historical novel set in England in the middle of the 19th century. A murder is committed at a private boys' school. The boys cover it up, and it comes back to haunt them in their adult lives.
 
Shirley
Playing the Game by Barbara Taylor Bradford
Rating: 4 Stars
Again, Barbara writes a book that is hard to put down --- the story of a London art consultant and a dealer whose marriage is put in jeopardy. This book is definitely full of intrigue.
 
Darcy
Room by Emma Donoghue
Rating: 5 Stars
This excellent story will transport you into the world of a five-year-old who has been imprisoned since birth, along with his mother, in a single room. Imagine the adjustments they would have to make if they were ever released from such a place. A mesmerizing read.
 
Ellen W.
The Female Brain by Louann Brizendine
Rating: 5 Stars
Nonfiction at its best. We've all seen the DEFENDING THE CAVEMAN and MEN ARE FROM MARS, WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS, but this gives us an entirely different picture of who is what and why. Only in the last few years have MRIs and other digital equipment been available to pick up what is actually happening inside our heads, allowing us to see what the real differences are between men and women by watching how the areas of the brain react to different situations. Really great scientific information written with an almost fiction-like flow. I loved it.
 
Margie B.
The Cailiffs of Baghdad, Georgia by Mary Helen Stefaniak
Rating: 4 Stars
An eccentric teacher comes to a small town in Georgia and enthralls them with tales of Baghdad, soon drawing parallels with their own town. Racial prejudice gets in the way, but town members are changed forever. An original tale!
 
Sharon
Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman
Rating: 5 Stars
I cannot imagine that anyone who loves books would have missed this one, but it is a total delight. A young girl loses her mother and her father cannot take care of herself, so she is taken away to be brought up by her southern Aunt Tootie and her housekeeper Oletta Jones. It is difficult for the young child to adapt, but once she is willing to become part of the Savannah world, the fun begins!
 
Gil
Night Road by Kristin Hannah
Rating: 5 Stars
The engrossing story of a controlling mother, Judith, who tries to make every decision for her teenage twins, Mia and Zach. Judith comes across as very selfish, focusing on how every family incident affects her life. The story also includes a very likeable girl, Lexi, who lives in a trailer and becomes best friends with both twins. Many surprises --- it's hard to put down.
 
Imani
Getting to Happy by Terry McMillan
Rating: 5 Stars
Just as wonderful as every other book she's written.
 
Quetzi P. F.
What Angels Fear by C.S. Harris
Rating: 5 Stars
Harris immediately immerses you in the culture of 1811 London, during the reign of the mad King George III. Harris has a way with words that makes you feel like you are living right alongside Sebastian St. Cyr, the Viscount of Devlin, who has been accused of the heinous murder of a famous stage actress. Along with his new sidekick, an infamous pick-pocketing boy, he sets out to prove his innocence while hiding out in the back streets of England. While reading this book, I could feel the gray fog twisting around my mud-packed ankles, as I walked down back roads and lurked about in the dark trying to solve this mystery! I am now a number-one fan of this suspenseful historical series. I loved this book so much that I went out and bought the next three books in the series! I'll be reading them one after another, which I hardly ever do! The flavor and life of England during the Napoleonic Wars is so palpable that you will literally be caught up in this world! The Sebastian St. Cyr series is a must-read for all of you who love either historical mysteries or a good suspense yarn!
 
Pattie B.
Strip by Thomas Perry
Rating: 4 Stars
A story about the owner of several strip clubs, with money, murder, robbery, ski masks and a lady-thief.
 
Wendy C.
The Fearsome Particles by Trevor Cole
Rating: 4 Stars
A sad, yet funny look at three members of a dysfunctional family. I really enjoyed it.
 
Renee
The Drowning Man by Margaret Coel
Rating: 4 Stars
A new author I stumbled upon this fall who I am enjoying. A series of mysteries set in Wyoming...great native stories, scenes and characters!
 
Maggie's Mom
The Mapping of Love and Death: A Maisie Dobbs Nove by Jacqueline Winspear
Rating: 4 Stars
The latest book --- and another excellent entry --- in the Maisie Dobbs series. I really enjoy the way the characters develop as the series continues.
 
Sharlene M..
The Invisible Wall: A Love Story That Broke Barrie by Harry Bernstein
Rating: 5 Stars
I don't understand why this book hasn't received more acclaim and recognition. A 96-year-old author's first book, this biography tells the very interesting story of a Jewish family growing up in pre-WWI England, where the Jews lived on one side of the street and the Christians on the other. Following Bernstein's life is a fascinating study in human nature, particularly when his sister falls in love with a boy from the other side of the street.


I stumbled on this book by accident, but I have my book club reading it now.

 
Linda J.
Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern
Rating: 3 Stars
My dad never talked like that! I do understand his dad is not a bull sh*tter (pun intended) and in love with his family, though. It's not as funny as I had hoped, but it's still mildly amusing.
 
Betsy
Little Bee by Chris Cleave
Rating: 5 Stars
A well-written, but disturbing book about a Nigerian girl and a white couple whose paths cross.
 
Patricia S.
Dog Tags by David Rosenfelt
Rating: 4 Stars
Andy Carpenter takes on the case of a dog who has been arrested, and later that of the dog's owner, who is a veteran. It is obvious how much Rosenfelt loves dogs from his previous books, and I enjoy reading all of them.
 
Patricia S.
Bad Boy: An Inspector Banks Novel by Peter Robinson
Rating: 5 Stars
DCI Alan Banks is on a much-needed holiday in the USA. DI Annie Cabot interviews a friend of Banks's, an old neighbor who wants to report that her daughter has a loaded gun. In England this carries a mandatory, 5-year prison sentence. Things get quickly out of control when the police go to pick up the gun, and then later they find out that Banks's daughter Tracy is involved.
 
Babs
South of Broad by Pat Conroy
Rating: 4 Stars
I liked the book, but it had some very unrealistic subjects. I don't usually like books that jump back and forth in time, but Conroy's writing was so good I didn't notice it. I felt that some of the characters needed to be fleshed out more, and some of the situations needed to be made more believable.
 
David S.
Think of a Number by John Verdon
Rating: 3 Stars
A clever, reasonably well-written first novel about a methodical multiple killer, that unfortunately lacks significant tension and a driving narrative. It's worth reading, but I look forward to better things to come from Verdon.
 
Ivy P.
Murder in Havana by Margaret Truman
Rating: 3 Stars
Takes off slow, but builds up to a totally surprising conclusion.
 
Judy O.
The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoi by Bill Bryson
Rating: 5 Stars
Bill Bryson grew up in Des Moines, Iowa during the 50s and 60s. These are his many memories of those years, told in a very humorous way. I could relate to these memories, as I grew up near Des Moines during those same years. Bryson is a master of hyperbole, which is what makes this book so funny. We also listened to this book on audio CDs on the way back to Iowa from Virginia. This was really a way to make the ride much more interesting.
 
Coral H.
Queen of the Night by J.A. Jance
Rating: 5 Stars
Another wonderful story by J.A. Jance. She writes it in memory of Tony Hillerman. It's style is similiar to his way of writing, which was always good, too. A hard book to put down.
 
Judy O.
Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
Rating: 5 Stars
Here is a true story not to be missed! A. Zeitoun (his first name is unpronouncable) is a man who lives in New Orleans. He is the owner of a successful painting and contracting business there, and he has a wife and four children. They are pillars of the city. When Hurricane Katrina is coming, his wife and children leave the area and head to Houston. Zeitoun will not leave because of his business and all the real estate holdings he has there. When the city gets flooded, he spends a week living on the second floor of his house and heading out daily in a canoe to rescue people and dogs from the flood. He keeps in contact with his wife and family by cell phone. After a week, his calls suddenly cease, and his wife in Houston is frantic for information. Days and days go by with no information. You'll have to read it to find out what happened next. 


My husband and I listened to the audio book on the way to Iowa from Virginia, and the story lasted most of the distance. It is a compelling, but horrifying story of man's inhumanity towards man.

 
Rosemary S.
Scarlet Feather by Maeve Binchey
Rating: 4 Stars
Makes you feel as if you were part of the family in Dublin, but it goes on a little too long.
 
Karen S.
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
Rating: 5 Stars
This a great read! A story of love, betrayal and medical miracles. The LA Timessays, "Richly written. Shows how history and death conspire to create the story of a single life."
 
Coral H.
The Unforgiving Minute: A Soldier's Education by Craig M. Mullaney
Rating: 5 Stars
A true story written about Mullany's experiences. He went to West Point as a Rhodes Scholar and became an Army Ranger in the Infantry. He tells all about it. I found it very interesting, especially as I had a grandson who was in Afghanistan at the same time he was. He is a very good writer and easy to understand. He also shares quite a bit of his personal life and his marriage.
 
Linda J.
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
Rating: 4 Stars
Fascinating depiction of what life's for two Chinese women, who have a special bond with each other, in the 1800s. I learned a lot about Chinese culture, but the beginning was very brutal due to its graphic explanation of foot binding.
 
Sandra F.
Delilah Doolittle and the Canine Chorus by Patricia Guiver
Rating: 3 Stars
A nice short read for anyone who likes cozy mysteries or those with an animal theme.
 
Sandra F.
Espresso Tales by Alexander McCall Smith
Rating: 5 Stars
The second in the Scotland Street Series continues the story of the residents of 44 Scotland Street in Edinburgh. A very funny book that will make you want to read the rest of the series.
 
Sandra F.
Stolen by Kelley Armstrong
Rating: 5 Stars
The second book in the series featuring Elena a werewolf and the other members of her Pack. This book features many other types of supernaturals. A good read.
 
Sandra F.
Death Message by Mark Billingham
Rating: 4 Stars
This is a very good British detective series. At times the plot in this book tended to wander a bit, but the characters are great.
 
Sandra F.
A Spanish Lover by Joanna Trollope
Rating: 5 Stars
All of Joanna Trollope's books are about family and how the actions of family members affect other family members. In this book a sister's decision to move to another country and have her lover's baby has profound impact on her twin sister. All of Joanna Trollope's books are equally good.
 
Marsha
Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
Rating: 4 Stars
This is a generation saga that covers a multitude of topics--marriage, commitment, family angst, individual rights, governmental power, sex, love, and rock and roll, etc.. The marriage of Patty and Walter Berglund is the center of the story, but their children, their parents and the grandparents factor in their struggle with what it takes to hold a relationship together through thick and thin. At times you will feel for these people and their burdens, at times you feel their pain and laugh at their foibles but you will keep reading this long (562-pages) novel as you journey with them.
 
Sandra F.
Died in the Wool by Mary Kruger
Rating: 4 Stars
One of the better cozy mysteries. This is set in a wool shop where the owner finds a customer strangled with a hank of wool. Good characters.