Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Isle of Palms

Isle of Palms by Dorothea Benton Frank
Women's Fiction

Anna Abbott grew up on the Isle of Palms(IOP) and moved away when her mother died and her emotionally cold grandmother and controlling father took her to Mount Pleasant to live. However the IOP has been in Anna's heart for a long time. Anna was date raped at her senior prom and has a daughter, Emily.

Anna married her best friend Jim who is gay and for 10 years they raised Emily together. Emily has just finished her first year in college and Anna decides to buy a small house on IOP. And if that is not enough Anna loses her hair dressing job and decides to start her own salon.

This is a book about the low country which I love. It is so nice to read about areas one is familiar with. The book is woman's fiction but also romance with a good dose of humour.

I could not understand the lack of anger which seemed to surround the rape. Maybe this is because of her beautiful daughter but it might also be because so many years have passed. There were a lot of quirky friends and neighbours which lead to a fun read even though the plot is a little feeble

First Line: "Okay."


Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Testimony by Anita Shreve

When the headmaster of a Vermont Prep school receives a videotape of three basketball players engaging in sex with a underage girl, he has to decide what to do. Should he cover it up or expose it and what should happen to the people involved?

This book shows how this incident affects everyone. The boys themselves, the 14 year old girl, the parents of the boys and even the school and future athletes. Each person's voice is heard and this is what makes this story so interesting. The book shows what happens in the future but also what went on in the past to bring the boys to this room.

This all stems from a single slip of a car on black ice. WOW!

First Line: "It was a small cassette, not much bigger than the palm of his hand, and when Mike thought about the terrible license and risk exhibited on the tape, as well as its resultant destructive power, it was as though the two-by-three plastic package had been radioactive."


Friday, November 25, 2011

Julie and Romeo by Jeanne Ray

Julie and Romeo by Jeanne Ray

The Rosemans and the Cacciamanis have hated each other as long as they remember. Running competing flower shops, many bad things have been done to each other, including salting rose bushes. But when Julie Roseman meets Romeo Cacciamani at a conference, all she feels is wonder about why this feud has gone on so long. The two share a coffee, and then dinner, and then all hell breaks loose when their children find out that they have spent time together. Navigating between their angry family and budding love, can their relationship survive and can they figure out what they are all fighting about anyways?

This book is a simple romance and easy to read. Though I really do wish the author had come up with an easier last name to read than "Cacciamani". I'm sure there are a lot of other, shorter Italian last names that could have been used. It was nice that the love story didn't involve 20-somethings, but actually 60 year olds, putting a more mature twist on the story. It was cute but nothing special.

First Line: "The first time I heard the name Cacciamani, I was five years old."


Monday, November 21, 2011

A Blade of Grass by Lewis DeSoto

A Blade of Grass by Lewis DeSoto

Marit is a young British wife to Ben when they move to Africa, purchase land, and try their hand at farming. Marit keeps to herself but enjoys the luxuries of going in to town and drinking at the local hotel. This is not a peaceful life. There's a war raging on the borders of their land and Ben one day drives over a bomb, killing himself. Marit is left to fend for herself in this foreign land, with strong barriers between whites and blacks. Marit befriends her maid, Tembi, bringing her in to the house to stay and treating her as an equal. What starts is an unlikely friendship.

Tembi and Marit have many troubles to contend with, including some distrust in each other, and their friendship is pushed to the limits. The story feels so real because it's not always happy and in fact becomes quite depressing at the end. The beginning was a bit slow but about half way through it I was having troubles putting the book down because I wanted to know what was going to happen. It's interesting to read a book about Africa and the tensions there as I haven't read many books on this subject. I enjoyed it!

First Line: "First she must wash the seeds."


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Trading Places

Trading Places by Fern Michaels
Romantic Mystery

Aggie and Lizzy Jade are twins. Aggie, who is quiet and reserved, works for the Atlanta PD. She is seriously injured in a stakeout that kills her partner and almost kills her K-9, Gus. Aggie feels it was a set-up and since the cops after her 6 months of rehabilitation are no closer to finding the perpetrators decides to ask her twin to change places with her and investigate the murder.

Lizzy Jade is a wealthy professional gambler living in Vegas. She is more than willing to help. Lizzy involves the local newspaper journalist in her efforts.

This is a fast-paced book with more romance than mystery. It is very hard to put aside the questions about the switch. How on earth can Lizzy learn all there is to know about policing procedures. How can Alice (a female dog) possibly replace Gus, the K-9 and someone not notice. Why would Lizzy invite a boatload of friends to visit under the circumstances? Too many questions to make up for the quick read.

First Line: "His hand reached for hers inside the dark car."


Friday, November 11, 2011

Testimony by Anita Shreve

Testimony by Anita Shreve

When the headmaster of Avery Private School receives a tape from one of his faculty members, he knows it's not going to be good news. It winds up showing three members of the basketball team having sexual relations with an underage girl. The book slowly unwinds the story in to the past and in to the future to show what events happened to bring those three boys and girl to the room that night and make the biggest mistakes of their lives.

The story is mostly told from the perspective of three people: Mike the headmaster, Silas one of the boys involved in the scandal, and Noelle, his girlfriend. Mike tells the reader at the beginning of the novel what happened as a result of the controversy and then all of the narratives piece it together. Some of the narratives I found weren't required. For example, the person from the newspaper. I didn't feel like I learned anything from that piece so I'm not sure what the purpose of it was.

There wasn't really anything surprising about this book but it was still an interesting read. It's amazing how a single event, in this case some black ice on a road that caused an accident, could set off such a chain of events.

First Line: "It was a small cassette, not much bigger than the palm of his hand, and when Mike thought about the terrible license and risk exhibited on the tape, as well as its resultant destructive power, it was as though the two-by-three plastic package had been radioactive."


Wednesday, November 09, 2011

To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

I read this book while in high school and decided to give it a re-read.

This book is set in a sleepy Alabama town in the Great Depression. The Finch family, Atticus the father and Jem and Scout, his son and daughter are the main characters. Atticus is a father that does not say 'do as I say and not as I do' but actually lives the exemplary life. He imparts wisdom and humour and is honourable.

Atticus represents Tom Robinson, a black man charged with raping a white teenager. Atticus is concerned about how the trial and his representation of a black man will affect his children.

This story although about racial prejudice is more about compassion and honour, kindness and cruelty, and innocence.

I loved this book every bit as much as the first time I read it decades ago. A real classic!!!!

First Line: "When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow."


Sunday, November 06, 2011

The Broken Hearts Club by Ethan Black

The Broken Hearts Club by Ethan Black

Dr. Ian Bainbridge, a psychologist, has started the Broken Hearts Club for men trying to get over being dumped by their girlfriends. There's the mechanic, the banker, the literary agent, and the man that never shows up. The swap stories of how broken hearted they are and their grief sometimes turns to anger. One night, that anger builds up to the point where the banker visits his ex girlfriend and murders her in a blind rage. In comes Detective Voort, who also has recently had his heart broken.

This book wasn't the best written novel and there were parts at the beginning that made absolutely no sense until the end of the book. The twist was an interesting one but the ending was too cliche for my tastes. It's also quite graphic in parts and I felt like this didn't add anything to the novel, but rather that the author was trying to shock the reader and then didn't follow through on this by making the entire book this way.

First Line: "'Grief? I'll tell you about grief' says the man in the dark suit"


Jane Fonda:The Private Life of a Public Woman

Jane Fonda:The Private Life of a Public Woman by Patricia Bosworth

Patricia Bosworth has definitely done her homework in this well-written and researched book about Jane Fonda. Bosworth has delved into the psychological aspects of Fonda's life and written not only about her acting and activist careers but her insecurities and foibles.

Jane Fonda's childhood was not the privileged one the public thinks a child of a famous actor (Henry Fonda) would have but one full of determination to please her cold, unemotional father and rejection of her mother. Her mother commits suicide and this combined with her father's seeming constant disapproval forms Jane into the woman she becomes.

Jane first married Roger Vadim, who molded her into the sex kitten and superstar actress she became. Her second marriage was to Tom Hayden who seems only to want her money. Ted Turner actively pursued Jane until she married him.

Career-wise, Jane has acted and no one who grew up in the sixties can forget Hanoi Jane. Jane visited North Vietnam while the US was at war with them and sat on anti-aircraft guns for a picture and talked to POWs. She was vilified at the time and received death threats. She has since helped many activist organizations.

Next was her career as workout guru. This has been a bonanza that continues to this day.

This book brought Jane to life and gave an insight into her which was very interesting. It is a very large book and at times I did find it a bit sluggish but this is probably due to the shear volume of Jane's achievements. I wonder if because Jane has not been in the limelight for a number of years whether this book will appeal to those who are younger.

Jane is a bundle of energy who never stops. She is constantly in motion and has more careers than anyone would have in several lifetimes. Unfortunately throughout her life she sometimes does things without thinking through the consequences and that gets her into a great deal of difficulty.

First Line: "Only Jane Fonda can upstage Oprah Winfrey"

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