Thursday, June 30, 2011

Where or When

Where or When by Anita Shreve

Charles Callahan is reminded of his first love, Sian Richards when he chances across the picture of her in the newspaper. Charles met Sian at a summer camp in his late teens. He decides to write a letter to her and warily she answers him back.

Charles is in the midst of financial woes but has a wife and three children. Sian is living on a farm with one child. The letter-writing becomes more and more intense until a meeting is arranged and then an affair starts.

I liked the premise of lost love but found this book to be way off the mark. First of all, this was lust and not anything approaching love. I find it hard to believe an all-encompassing love could be found at a summer camp and left behind all those years while each of them found alternate partners. The ending also was completely unsatisfying.

First Line: "I remember everything."


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Seven Up

Seven Up by Janet Evanovich

Stephanie has to bring in Eddie DeChooch, a senior citizen who was caught smuggling cigarettes. How hard can it be to bring in a old man? Stephanie takes Lulu, an oversize ex-prostitute with her and Eddie escapes out the bathroom window. Eddie escapes time and time again. Eddie also has no trouble in shooting his gun. However, he does have trouble in seeing. After finding a dead body in Eddie's shed, the police also are trying to find Eddie.

Stephanie's family is now planning her wedding after Stephanie shoots off her mouth and says August would be a good time to get married. Next thing you know they have her in a bridal salon and booking the hall. Whoa!!! Is this going too fast when Stephanie and Morelli aren't really that sure yet?

Mooner comes to Stephanie for help as Dougie the dealer is missing. Was he also involved with the cigarette smuggling? When Mooner and then Grandma also go missing, it is just too much and Stephanie ramps it up and calls on Ranger for help. But Ranger wants compensation for his help.

This is another winner in the series. There were some very good LOL moments. Eight here I come :)

First Line: "For the better part of my childhood, my professional aspirations were simple - I wanted to be an intergalactic princess."


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Night Watch

Night Watch by Sarah Waters
Historical Fiction

This book starts at the end which is 1947and then proceeds to 1944 and then 1941. It follows four characters in London. In 1947, post-war London it is how they all end up.

But the most interesting of the sections is 1944 during WWII. Some are ambulance drivers driving their injured to hospitals in the middle of air raids. One is a person who searches houses after the air raids to find undetonated bombs and other nasty stuff.

1941 is the section describing how they originally met.

Sarah Waters is known for the homosexual content in her books and this book is no different but it is just part of the story and does not overwhelm the plot. I found the first section a bit tedious but loved the second part. This is a different kind of read where you know the ending but now want to find out about the middle and the beginning.

First Line: "So this, said Kay to herself, is the sort of person you've become: a person whose clocks and wrist watches have stopped, and who tells the time, instead, by the particular kind of cripple arriving at her landlord's door."


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade

Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade by Diana Gabaldon
Genre of book

This is the second in the series of Lord John books but can be read as a stand-alone. In this book Lord John is searching out the reason behind his father's death. Although ruled a suicide Lord John knows it was murder. A page of his late father's journal was delivered to both his brother and his mother. Also Lord John has been attacked twice. Lord John is now determined to find out if his father was a Jacobite and who murdered him.

Lord John's mother is getting remarried and there is a new brother, Percival Wainwright to be introduced to and get to know. Percival is so attractive and seems to be equally attracted to Lord John. But this is the era where homosexually is the gravest of sins and severely punished.

Gabaldon writes books that are very readable. I loved the story of Lord John and Percival and loved the descriptions of war in Prussia and France. However, I found the story about Lord John's father very confusing. Whether it was the number of characters involved or the use of initials (Mr. A) or the storylines that seem to go nowhere (Jamie Frasier's letter writing), I was lost and unable to figure out what was going on.

The other nit I have is the total out of character sexual boasting by Lord John to Jamie. It was so unlike Lord John I couldn't believe what I had read and had to re-read it a second time.

First Line: "To the best of Lord John Grey's knowledge, stepmothers as depicted in fiction tended to be venal, evil, cunning, homicidal and occasionally cannibalistic."


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Beyond the Abbey Gates

Beyond the Abbey Gates by Catherine MacCoun
Historical Fiction

This story takes place in the mid 1300s. Ingrid Fairfax has been raised in a convent. She has healing powers which she doubts and is not all that happy about. She abhors the days when the nuns open the convent to the sick. When Jacques Brigand des Coeurs, a travelling troubadour breaks his leg just outside the doors of the convent, he is brought inside to recover.

Jacques seduces Ingrid and forces her to examine her way of life. She leaves the convent and then it is a story of missing each other. Ingrid is treated abominably as women of this period often were.

The history of this book was interesting. I found Ingrid to be a little too perfect for my liking. I would have liked her to at least be angry with the way she is treated.

First Line: "When the man was injured so near their gate, the nuns said it was God's will."


My Sergei

My Sergei by Ekaterina Gordeeva

Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov were gold medal pairs figure skaters from Russia. This story goes through the initial pairing up at age 11 for Katia until more recent times.

The training and rigorous regimen required by their coaches for their amateur careers was impressive. Beside the talent and obvious attachment this must of helped them win their medals. Katia also describes the slow growing of their love and eventually marriage and the birth of their daughter.

Their move to the United States and their move to the 'professionals' and the life of the ice shows are all described.

In 1995, Sergei died of a heart attack and Katia is devastated. How she copes both on and off the ice and how she builds a life for herself and her daughter as a single parent shows her courage.

This book has some pictures which are great to look at. Ekaterina is not the best of writers but is very frank almost to the point of making the reader think she is without emotion at times.

First Line: "For me, a new life is coming, a different life from that which I knew."


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Seven Up by Janet Evanovich

Seven Up by Janet Evanovich

Stephanie Plum is back, trying to find the retired Eddie DeChooch. Thinking he'll be an easy catch because he's so old, Plum goes after him with her friend Lula, an ex-prostitute, only to have him slide out a window and escape. Not to be outdone by a senior, Stephanie tries again, and again, and again. Her car suffers another not-so-surprising destruction in the process. Meanwhile, her mother and grandmother are starting to plan Stephanie's wedding to Morelli without her and Stephanie isn't even sure if she is ready to marry anyways. Stephanie's sister also comes back to New Jersey from California, her husband having left her, and decides that maybe she needs to try to be a lesbian.

As always, these novels are pure entertainment. There are laugh out loud moments in this book that had me chuckling as I was reading through it, a rare feat for a novel. This was a quick, fluff read and exactly what I needed between some of the heavier books I have been reading. I can't wait to read the next one!

First Line: "For the better part of my childhood, my professional aspirations were simple - I wanted to be an intergalactic princess."


The Lost Boy

The Lost Boy by Dave Pelzer

This story is a continuation of David Pelzer's story. The first book "A child called "It" should be read first. Although a recap is done about the abusive nature of his mother and all the horrendous things she did to him, the first book gives you more of the background.

In this book we follow Pelzer's journey though a series of foster families. One can not say enough about the patience and virtue of these families and how they try to help these children.

Pelzer has some setbacks on his journey, not all of them his own doing but he is very unlucky by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Furthermore, his mother continues to visit him and tries to continue her abuse verbally. Pelzer defines resilence. A very good read

First Line: "Winter 1970, Daly City, California - I'm alone."


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Miss Marple The Complete Short Stories

Miss Marple The Complete Short Stories by Agatha Christie

Miss Marple is an unmarried elderly lady living in the small English town of St. Mary Mead. Miss Marple is able to solve mysteries like no other. She has lived in her small town all her life and recalls seemingly unconnected events that lead her to solve the mystery. St. Mary Mead is a microcosm of the world in general and Miss Marple has a large number of friends, relatives and tradespeople she knows.

I can not select one story as my favourite as they are all excellent. Agatha Christie is a fantastic mystery writer as evidenced by these short stories.

First Line: "Unsolved Mysteries."


The Interpretation of Murder

The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld
Historical Mystery

A young socialite has been strangled. The following night another young woman, Nora Acton is found bound and seriously wounded. She is unable to speak and does not recall her attack at all.

Dr Sigmund Freud and his followers including, Carl Jung have come to visit New York in 1909 to speak at American Universities. Dr. Freud is asked to help Nora but because his visit is temporary he asks his host, psychoanalyst, Dr Stratham Younger, to treat her. Dr Younger finds himself becoming increasingly attracted to the lovely Nora. Younger finds Nora's thoughts to involve sexual perversions, convoluted twists and turns and even lies.

Nora finally fingers wealthy industrialist, Bramwell. Bramwell however, has the best of alibis as he was with the mayor during the night in question. Between Younger and Detective Livermore this mystery is full of ups and downs and convoluted plots.

Carl Jung is portrayed as having a serious personality disorder of his own and wants Freud's fame and renown but the amiable Dr Freud seems unaffected by all this. This part of the story is confusing and seems to go nowhere.

Also part of the story that was totally unnecessary was Younger's fascination with Hamlet and the "to be or not to be" speech. The psychoanalysis of this was supposed to be very intellectual but probably is far above any reader's head. The author makes the reader feel very stupid for not understanding.

I loved the history of New York in this time frame. The building of the Brooklyn bridge and how this was done was very interesting.

First Line: "There is no mystery to happiness."


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Between, Georgia

Between, Georgia by Joshilyn Jackson
Fiction/ Literature

This is a Hatfield/McCoy feud story. Nonny has been raised by the Fretts but her biological family is the Crabtrees. Nonny's adoptive mother, Stacie is deaf and talented at making dolls heads, her twin sister is extremely reclusive and the older sister of the bunch, Bernese is just plain crazy.

The Crabtrees are as redneck as you come even to owning the rapid and dangerous dogs.

Nonny is the go-between for these two families. She is also somewhat separated from her husband. Henry Crabtree, a decent man is interested in Nonny but sort of gets lost in the shuffle

This book is excellent and Jackson can portray all these various types of women very well but where I feel the story is weak is in the male voices of the story. Henry, Noony's husband and especially Bernese's husband seem to be wimpish and hardly there

First Line: "The war began thirty years, nine months and sevendays ago, when I was deaf and blind, floating silent and serene inside Hazel Crabtree."