Wednesday, August 31, 2011

One Red Paperclip

One Red Paperclip by Kyle MacDonald

Kyle MacDonald is an unemployed slacker. He realizes he is sponging off his girlfriend and decides to trade a red paper clip eventually for a house. The idea is to trade bigger and better. His first trade is a paper clip for a fish pen; his last a movie role for a house.

The writing in this book is atrocious with many repetitive sentences seemingly to fill up space. Also Kyle writes what he considers hilarious events which for this reader fell dead. Although the trades were interesting there was a lot of media attention for the latter ones which helped Kyle immensely. What I couldn't help wondering all along the way was who was paying for the flights, hotels and meals, etc. None of this was mentioned but his father accompanied him many times and assisted him, maybe he was the financial backer.

At the end of each chapter was a motivational quip which was rather insulting but sounded like Kyle need to prove to himself he was doing something worthwhile. Maybe if this book had been written just in fun and not so serious and preachy, it would have been a better read.

First Line: "Dom and I round the corner."


I am the Messenger

I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
Young Adult

Ed Kennedy is a slacker. He drives a cab, plays cards with his friends and wishes for a romance with his girl pal. He definitely has not reached his potential. All that changes when he inadvertently stops a bank robbery and becomes a hero.

Thereafter, a set of aces arrive giving him clues as to what he is to do. These 'jobs' involve easy ones like befriending an elderly lady and reading to her to harder ones like stopping a man from raping and abusing his wife. The reader can see Ed evolve after each set of challenges.

This is definitely not a YA book. At first, I found the book quite simplistic and wondered what was the point. I enjoyed the journey and the characters but really fell in love with the book at the last sentence when it all became clear.

First Line: "The gunman is useless."


Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Juliet Ashton is a writer living in post-WWII London. She has lost her flat due to a bomb and is looking for her next literary inspiration when fate intervenes. She is sent a letter from Dawsey Adams of the island Guernsey who owns a book that used to belong to her and is asking her more about that author. As Juliet learns more about Dawsey, she realizes that Guernsey was under occupation during the war and the islanders had quite a difficult time during those years. Juliet asks Dawsey if he could get other islanders to write her about their experiences during the occupation and she slowly comes up with the idea for her book.

This book is written entirely as letters between the different characters. I usually find that this formatting doesn't give the reader enough detail but in this book that wasn't the case. One complaint I do have about the formatting of this book is that the book started out with letters to and from Juliet. By the end of the book it was only letters from Juliet. I believe there was still value in reading the letters written to Juliet and I missed those at the end of the book.

Given the formatting, I was surprised I enjoyed this as much as I did. I enjoyed the stories that the islanders gave about the occupation and how both the good and bad side was portrayed. There was a fair amount going on the book but everything wrapped up quite nicely by the end.

First Line: "Susan Scott is a wonder."


Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Closers by Michael Connelly

The Closers by Michael Connelly

Detective Harry Bosch is back on the force after almost three years of retirement. When he returns, he's put with his old partner Kiz Rider and the two become part of the Open Unsolved unit. Bosch and Rider are lucky because one of the cases they have been assigned just came back with DNA analysis. The murder happened back in 1988, before DNA analysis was common, and in a racially-charged era. Bosch and Rider have to familiarize themselves with the case, start hunting down the leads, and figure out who the murderer was to bring them to justice.

Even though there was only one book with Harry retired and off the force, I enjoy him as part of the police much more. There's interaction with him and a partner or boss which adds to the story line. He also seems able to accomplish more when he's part of the force. From the start of this book, I could feel Bosch's excitement to figure out the puzzle of an already existing case. Like all of Connelly's other Bosch books, this one grips you from the start and you can't wait to find out who the murderer is.

First Line: "Within the practice and protocol of the Los Angeles Police Department a two-six call is the one that draws the most immediate response while striking the most fear behind the bulletproof vest."


Friday, August 12, 2011

The Moonlit Cage

The Moonlit Cage by Linda Holeman
Historical Fiction

This story is set in the mid 1800s in Afghanistan, India and England. Darya is born a Muslim Tajik in Afghanistan. She is taught to be obedient and know her place in life (women are seen as little more than slaves). She does try but is curious and intelligent and consequently is continually physically abused by her father. Her father's second wife curses her and her life might as well be over as the village shuns her and she has no prospects whatsoever.

Her father sells her into marriage with a nomad. When Darya fails to provide him with an heir, he also starts to abuse her and finally forces her to run away in fear of her life.

This starts a very perilous journey from Afghanistan to Bombay and then further to England and more abuse.

This was such a sad story. The difference and segregation between the natives and the English colonists is frankly disgusting but common for that period. The naivety of the hero and his supposed good deeds is just so sad. The fact that there are people so willing to take advantage of unfortunates is also sad and has not changed throughout the centuries.

I found this book a little slow to begin with but once the reader gets into the book it is very hard to put down. I wanted to applaud Darya for her courage and strength and had to read to the very end hoping she would finally achieve a better life.

First Line: "I have always been told I was wicked."


Informed Consent

Informed Consent by Sandra Glahn

Jeremy Cramer, M.D is researching why children survive hypothermic submersion better than adults when he makes a breakthrough discovery in AIDS research. This discovery thrusts him into a media frenzy and he becomes a political 'basketball' for the hospital administration. But all this is nothing when he accidentally infects a nurse with AIDS and his negligence allows his son to contact a life-threatening disease.

As if this were not enough his marriage is threatened because this is the second child of his to possibly die.

Jeremy must face some very real dilemmas and barriers. Medical, spiritual ethics and morals are brought into the story. To what lengths would you go to save your child and your marriage?

This is a fantastic story that captivated me from the very beginning. The ethical and medical issues were presented in a very well researched and thought-out manner. A must read!

First Line: "_Like most children, Jeremy Cramer thought his father would never die."


Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Friday Night Knitting Club

The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs
Women's Literature

Georgia Walker is a single mother who owns a yarn shop in Manhattan. The club consists of her daughter Dakota, a 12-year-old, who flits in and out of the club with baked goods and entrepreneurial ambitions; a widow named Anita who is Georgia's mentor; an academic named Darwin ; a 40-year-old single woman named Lucie who fools a date into getting her pregnant; an aspiring purse designer and part-time worker in the shop named Petra ; Georgia's best friend, named K.C. in her mid-40s hoping to get into law school; and Georgia's childhood friend Cat who is a wealthy wife bored to tears.

When Dakota's father, James comes back into Georgia's life, Georgia's life becomes even more hectic than it already is. James wants to spend more time with Dakota and also Georgia. Dakota loves having a dad around and loves the gifts she gets.

Anita is Georgia's sounding board and mentor. She is a widow but her children are now grown and living elsewhere. Marty the downstairs Deli owner is interested in Anita.

Darwin, Lucie, Petra and K. C. all have their own issues which the other members of the knitting club help them with.

The pattern at the end of the book is for a scarf and I would have expected to see the sweater pattern that everyone in the club was knitting. ???

This was an okay book. It seemed to me that the story has been done before and was not as smooth as it should have been.

First Line: "The hours of WALKER AND DAUGHTER: KNITTERS were clearly displayed in multicolored letters on a white sandwich board placed just so at the top of the stair landing."


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Step from Heaven by An Na

A Step from Heaven by An Na

Young Ju is very young when she learns that her family is moving from Korea to America (Mi Gook). She doesn't quite understand and thinks that the trip on the plane to the USA will take her to heaven. She grows up in America with an American schooling system but still has very Asian parents that try to make her adhere to her Korean culture. Young Ju's father becomes verbally and physically abusive the longer the family stays in Korea, making Young Ju question whether she should act according to her Korean background or act like kids of her new country.

This short book has definite segregation between it's chapters, as there was usually a change in time between them. It was never made very clear how much time had elapsed from the last chapter which made me feel like I was always trying to get my bearings. The only other problem I had with the book is that many Korean words are used and I had to enlist my husband to help me translate as he is 1/2 Korean.

The story is mildly depressing but there is always the glimmer of hope of living the "American dream" and being better off by having moved to a new country. I enjoyed this story of a family's immigration and cultural adaption experience.

First Line: "Just to the edge, Young Ju."


Sunday, August 07, 2011

Between, Georgia by Joshilyn Jackson

Between, Georgia by Joshilyn Jackson

Between, Georgia is a very small town with a large amount of drama. Nonny Frett biologically is a member of the Crabtree family but was adopted by the Frett family, their bitter enemies. Nonny's mother is a blind, deaf, and extremely talented at making dolls. One of her aunts is a recluse and the other is overbearing.

When one of the Crabtree's dogs attacks her aunt, the feud between the two families starts to bubble over. Nonny tries to be the mediator but she has her hands full trying to get a divorce and understand why her aunt is taking out anger towards her daughter on her niece.

Jackson has a gift for making books page turners and crafting characters that you can connect to, whether you like them or hate them. I found myself flipping ahead in this book to figure out what was going to happen, which is something I rarely do. After this book, Joshilyn Jackson has replaced Jodi Picoult as my favourite family drama writer.

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


The Analyst

The Analyst by John Katzenback

Dr. Frederick Starks is a New York Psychoanalyst. On his 53rd birthday, he receives a note from Rumplestiltskin. In 15 days he must find out the identity of R and the reason he is out to destroy him. If he fails then R will destroy 52 of Dr. Starks' loved ones, one by one until he commits suicide.

Is this for real? Starks, a widower has led an uneventful routine life. As the days unfold it becomes all too plain how serious this threat is as Starks' bank account is rifled, his credit ruined and even his apartment destroyed. Can Starks find out who R is in time?

This is one of those thrillers that is riveting. It is definitely on my Best of 2011 list. This is the first of Katzenbach's books I have read and he is now on my TBR list. Loved it!!!!

First Line: "In the year he fully expected to die, he spent the majority of his fifty-third birthday as he did most other days, listening to people complain about their mothers."