Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Madam

The Madam by Julianna Baggott

In 1924 in West Virginia, Alma decides to join her husband in a trip to Florida to buy a trunk full of potential treasures. She has to leave her children behind. When the trunk turns out to be full of old clothing, her husband abandons her.

Alma returns home, retrieves her two oldest children and starts a brothel. What ensues is a story of a strong woman. Alma loves her children and will do anything to protect them. This story is about how women help women and how a woman can overcome circumstances and rise above them.

I found the story just wandered along at times



Monday, September 24, 2007

A Million Little Pieces by James Frey

A Million Little Pieces by James Frey
Pseudo Memoir

Practically everyone knows about the controversy that this book caused after Oprah placed it on her book list then found out that parts of it were fictionalized. Frey has apparently only been a minor player to the FBI, and that dentist scene probably isn't real. But Frey is an addict, an alcoholic, and a criminal - which he often repeats throughout the book. When his parents bring him to this clinic, he has a hole in his cheek and just doesn't care about anything. He soon learns that if he does anymore drugs or drinks anymore he will most likely wind up dead.

Frey in no way makes thing easy in his recovery. He doesn't believe in the 12 steps of AA or any higher beings, which the treatment centre people say is the only thing that could possibly cure you. Instead, Frey believes it's just a matter of personal choice.

Despite the fact that you have to read this book with a grain of salt, it is quite something. It really gets down into the nitty gritty of drug and alcohol addiction and shows how Frey tries to climb out of his hole. The relationships he creates with the other people in the centre is fascinating. I really liked reading about Leonard, the mobster, and I'm interested in reading Frey's other book; "My Friend Leonard".

The writing is scattered. Frey doesn't believe in proper sentence structure, but once you get used to it, you hardly notice it. I was glad to see that Frey included a little "where are they now" section at the end. This book really puts a personal face on drug and alcohol addiction in attempts to get readers to understand what is going on behind all the negatives.



Thursday, September 20, 2007

Ceremony in Death

Ceremony in Death by J.D. Robb

Ceremony in Death is another Eve Dallas mystery. This one involves satanism and the Wiccan religions. The information about these two beliefs was interesting.

I love how Robb is developing the relationship between Dallas and Roarke. You can sense the sizzle between these two. Also I feel each is maturing in their love.

The mystery also explored the question of direct order vs.loyalty. An interesting moral question. I will look forward to the next in the series



Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Day of Confession

Day of Confession by Allan Folsom

Day of Confession is a mystery that is slightly different; about 1/3 of the way through the book you know the details of the crime and the criminal. The remainder of the book is about how 'they' get caught. And what happens is still a surprise.

A Cardinal is killed and Henry Addison's brother, a priest,is thought to have pulled the trigger. Father Addison is on a bus that explodes and is presumed dead. Henry discovers the body is not that of his brother. Whereupon he is soon fingered for the murder of a policeman. Now on the run and trying to find out about his brother Henry is soon involved with Vatican conspiracies to take over the world and international terrorists.

The book is action packed and reads like a block buster movie. The only nit is that the romance in the book is totally unneccesary and totally unbelievable.



Friday, September 14, 2007

The Dress Lodger

The Dress Lodger by Sheri Holman
Historical Fiction

This book is set in Sunderland, England in 1831 at the time of a cholera epidemic. Gustine is a young mother who works in a pottery factory by day and rents a gown to prostitize herself at night. Henry Chiver is a doctor who craves to learn more about anatomy. Gustine works at finding bodies for Henry to autopsy.

Gustine's baby was born with a medical condition. If she helps Henry will this help her baby? Both Gustiine and Henry are lost souls. They seem to cross the boundaries set by this period in time.

The descriptions of a factory town of this era are so vivid one feels the filth. I agree that there is a Dickensian feel to the book. This makes it a read you have to focus on.

The narrator of the story changes and this at times confused me.



Monday, September 10, 2007

Numbers Challenge

I am going to enter a challenge come Jan 08. A challenge to read some of those TBRs that have a number in the title.

Callista of SMS Book Reviews is hosting the challenge. The goal is to read 5 books by Jun08.

I will choose from

Just One Look by Harlan Coben

Nanking 1937 by Zhaoyan Ye

The Ninth Life of Louis Drax by Liz Jensen

Four Fires by Bryce Courtenay

The Eight by Katherine Neville

The First Time by Joy Fielding

The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell

24 Hours by Greg Iles

Thursday, September 06, 2007


Night by Elie Wiesel

What a powerful small book. Wiesel was born in Transylvania. In 1944 at the age of fifteen he and his family were rounded up and transported to Auschwitz and then Buchenwald.

Wiesel recounts the hardships and cruelty of the 'final solution'. He tells his story with a clarity that is hard to read about. He questions the obediance of the Jews and explains what happened. He relates very matter of factly about the transport, life in the concentration camps, the forced marches and finally his release.

It is very hard to review such a dramatic book. I will let Wiesel tell it himself.

"Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, that turned my life into one long night seven times sealed.
Never shall I forget that smoke.
Never shall I forget the small faces of the children whose bodies I saw transformed into smoke under a silent sky.
Never shall I forget those flames that consumed my faith forever.
Never shall I forget the nocturnal silence that deprived me for all eternity of the desire to live.
Never shallI forget those moments that murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to ashes.
Never shall I forget those things, even where I condemned to live as long as God himself.

I would add, never shall I forget this book.



A Gathering Light by Jennifer Donnelly

A Gathering Light by Jennifer Donnelly

The year is 1906, and Mattie lives with her family on a farm. But this isn't an ordinary family. Mattie's mother has recently passed away from cancer and her brother left for unknown reasons after an argument with their father. With a family full of girls, life on the farm is tough. Mattie tries to keep up with her school work and eventually gets a scholarship to college. But she has to struggle with the decision of whether or not to leave her family for school.

Woven into this story are the letters of Grace Brown, who was murdered by Chester Gillette in 1906 (true story, and after researching this online, the letters in this novel are Grace's actual letters). Mattie finds these while working at a hotel to try and earn money both for herself to potentially go to school and for her father to make life easier on the farm.

Mattie is quite the character. She seems so balanced in her decision-making. She wants to learn, but doesn't want to let her family down. She is insecure with love and running her family, but very secure with words and composition. Although, I have to be honest, I thought that Matt was a guy for about the first 30 pages of the book!

Even though later in the book Grace's letters help Mattie make her decision, I thought that they didn't flow well with the book and that I didn't really care. Mattie's home life was page turning, whereas Grace's letters were very blah.

This was a great book that show the trials and tribulations of life on a farm in the early 1900s.



Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Girls' Poker Night by Jill A. Davis

Girls' Poker Night by Jill A. Davis
Chick Lit

Ruby Capote moves from Boston to New York to escape her boyfriend and start a new job as a columnist. She starts to fall for her boss, the editor of The New York News, but she has commitment issues and pushes him away. Ruby also discusses her shrink, her co-workers, and her weekly poker sessions with her friends.

The book is written in very small snippets that led me to believe Davis might be a stand up comedian. She used to write for David Lettermen and other tv shows, so I guess that explains it. It's writing for people with ADD and it's really annoying. It's like Davis wanted to get a joke out of most of those snippets, until about 1/10th the way through the book where nothing is funny anymore (and it wasn't that funny to begin with).

The main character, Ruby, is flakey and impossible to like. Her friends seem superficial. I couldn't relate to the characters, the storyline, and I didn't really care. If you have this book in your TBR pile, pass it on!



The Last Coyote

The Last Coyote by Michael Connelly

Bosch's life is in shambles. His girlfriend has left him. His house is condemned and he is under suspension for assualting his boss.

Bosch decides to spend his time investigating a cold case from 1961, the murder of a prostitute, his mother.

Bosch as usual,is the 'take no guff' kind of cop. his questions generate more questions and eventually lead to more murder.

Bosch is the kind of cop you would want on your side. "Everyone counts" I was very happy to see Pounds get it. I was thoroughly sick to death of him.

I loved this book. It was the best so far!! I certainly hope that Jazz sticks around for a while.



Sunday, September 02, 2007

A Heart of Stone

A Heart of Stone by Renate Dorrestein

Ellen Van Bemmel is a normal 13 year old when she experiences a devastating personal tragedy. Twenty five years later she tells her story as she gets ready to birth her own child.

Dorrestein has Ellen narrate the story switching between the past and present. Ellen is the third of 4 soon to be 5 children in what seems like an idyllic family. Frits and Marje are Ellen's concerned,involved and busy parents. What ensues borders on a Greek tragedy.

Dorrestein very cleverly 'spins out' the story slowly. One feels the pain and terror. Ellen must learn to forgive herself and her parents. She must go past her heartbreak and get rid of her ghosts.

Included at the end of the book is an interview with the author which was very informative and detailed.

I loved this story and will look forward to more translations of Dorrestein's books.



The Lake of Dead Languages

The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman

Jane Hudson returns to teach Latin at her old high school, Heart Lake. Heart Lake is an all girls school set on a lake that has tales of drowning and suicide going back fifty years. When one of Jane's student tries to commit suicide, Jane starts seeing striking similarities between the students she is teaching and her own set of friends when she was in school. Twenty years ago, Jane's two roommates and one of her roommate's brother committed suicide. Jane starts to re-live this as the school tries to figure out why Jane's student tried to commit suicide.

The book reminds me of The Secret History by Donna Tartt. They both have school-based mysteries where not everything is as it seems. It is pretty easy to guess what is going on in this book, but it is quite a page turner as the reader tries to figure out why there were suicides 20 years ago, and why history is repeating itself.

I really hated two characters in this book: Domina Chambers, who I thought acted completely inappropriately as a teacher, and Dr. Lockheart who was a complete bitch. Even though it's hard to relate to the kids, and even to Jane, you can still keep enough of a connection with these characters to want to learn what happens to them.

The writing between the past and the present was pretty seamless and the descriptions used created quite a vivid picture. I'd be interested in reading more of Goodman's works.