Monday, November 24, 2008

Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry

Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry

Kira is a disabled girl in a society that does not accept anyone that is not perfect. When her mother passes away, Kira's belongings are burned and an elder tries to take her land away from her. When the issue is taken to court, elder Jamison is appointed to represent Kira since she is too young to represent herself. Jamison takes on each claim that has been brought against her and disproves them. Kira is told she can not keep her land, but that she will not be banned from the society. Instead, she must take on the job of preparing a ceremonial robe that shows the history of the society.

Kira must learn how to dye threads before she can repair the stitches. She walks out to the forest of an old lady that lives alone to master the art. Meanwhile, she makes friends with a carver around her age that is also living in the main building. However, after hearing a child's crying during night and other odd things happening, Kira begins to wonder if there is more to what she is doing and how her society operates.

This is meant to be a compliment to The Giver by Lois Lowry, however I think The Giver is a better novel. This read easily, as it should for a teen novel. I enjoyed it until the ending, which is the only reason why I wouldn't recommend this book. If you don't mind a book just ending half-resolved, then you might like this book. If you like a solid resolution at the end of your book, don't pick this one up.

First Line: "Mother?"



Sunday, November 23, 2008


Mercy by Jodi Picoult

Police chief and clan chieftain Cameron McDonald arrests his cousin Jamie when he confesses to killing his wife, Maggie. Maggie had asked Jamie to kill her after a prolonged and painful illness from cancer. Jamie is so in love with his wife that he does as she asks.

Cameron is married to Allie. Allie supports Jamie and helps him in his defense. This book questions the right to kill someone (euthanasia). Whatever side of the controversy it is an inflamatory subject.

Allie owns a local flower shop and employs a new person to the town, Mia. Cameron is instantly attracted to Mia. This supplies more discord to Allie and Cameron's marriage.

I did not enjoy this book as much as some of Picoult's other books but it was still a great read. Maggie was selfish not committing suicide instead of insisting on Jamie's involvement. Picoult did not explain this very well.

First Line: "When she had packed all the artifacts that made up their personal history into liquor boxes, the house became strictly a feminine place."



Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hurry Down Sunshine by Michael Greenburg

Hurry Down Sunshine by Michael Greenburg

Greenburg lives a somewhat normal life: a life with his wife Pat and daughter Sally, an ex-wife who lives in another state, a son who's off a school, an older brother he needs to carefully take care of, and a pretty large family. When he returns home one day and notices police cars outside of his home, he thinks they must be for some other family. He soon learns that his daughter was acting erratically which brought police attention. It goes downhill from there. His daughter literally cracks up, and Greenburg is required to take her to a mental institution and leave her there.

What results is Greenburg and his family's journey through Sally's illness. His relationship with his wife is tested and he questions whether his family history has affected Sally and brought this mental illness on her through no fault of her own. They go through different stages of acceptance and treatment in what is an interesting journey.

It's hard to imagine how someone can live with the uncertainty of how a loved one is going to act at any given time. He also had to live with not knowing whether this was it for his daughter - was she ever going to be "cured"? Would she ever lead a normal life again? Quite an interesting perspective on mental illness.

First Line: "On July 5, 1996, my daughter was struck mad."



Thursday, November 13, 2008

Picture Perfect by Jodi Picoult

Picture Perfect by Jodi Picoult

Cassie wakes up in a graveyard and she can't remember her name or anything about herself. A man named Will helps her out, telling her that he is about to start on the LAPD after having moved to California from an Indian reserve in South Dakota. He doesn't seem to quite fit in anywhere, being half Indian, half white, but he enjoys Cassie's company; until she finds out who she is.

Cassie is an anthropologist and wife of the most famous actor in Hollywood, Alex Rivers. Slowly she starts to piece together what life was like before she forgot everything, and it's not picture perfect. What results, is a story of domestic abuse and fitting in.

As always, Picoult writes these novels perfectly. The characters are so dynamic and raw. The storyline is dramatic. I kept waiting for the Picoult twist, trying to figure out all the ways that the book could end. Picoult doesn't disappoint, however this isn't her best book. I grew to dispise Alex and despite the explanations, I don't understand how anyone could stay with someone who physically abuses them. There was one loose end though, and that is how Cassie ended up in a graveyard with no memory. Did I miss this in the book? It seems too big of a loose end for Picoult to miss. Overall a great book!

First Line: "Long ago on the shores of the Atlantic there lived a great Indian warrior called Strong Wind."




Ritual by Mo Hayder

Phoebe (Flea) Marley, a police diver, finds a severed hand in the Bristol Harbour. She finds it strange that someone could see the hand through the murky water. Her persistence in finding out where the hand came from locates its mate, also severed under the door of a restaurant. Now what about the person those hands belong to.

DI Jack Caffery has moved from London and is put in charge of the case. Jack has moved to Bristol after the death of the man who had murdered his brother. His demons are dead but they refuse to leave him alone. He can not settle. He can not form relationships except with drifters and hookers.

Flea has her own demons. Her parents lost their lives in a diving accident in Africa. The case involves drug addiction, African and tribal muti, and ritual mutilation.

I found the characters very dislikeable. In the past I felt sorry for Caffery but this time felt he was just too weird. The same could be said about Flea, just very weird. This book was not up to the caliber of Hayder's other books but still a great read

First Line: "Just after lunch on a Tuesday in May and nine feet under water in Bristol's 'floating harbour', police diver Sergeant 'Flea' Marley closed her gloved fingers round a human hand."



Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Cole Family Christmas

Cole Family Christmas by Jennifer Liu Bryan

This is a beautiful book about a family living in Blenham, Kentucky in 1920. The father is a coal miner and has just been promoted to foreman. This means that each of the 9 children can pick one gift from the wish book for Christmas. The children realize that they are not wealthy and it is interesting how each picks their wish.

Coal mining is dangerous and at the Christmas Eve company party the children learn their father must work that evening to load one last train. There is also a blizzard. How will Santa find his way?

Christmas morning brings gifts from the heart and what is really important in life.

The illustrations are wonderful and full of life. I just wish there were a few more of them. The book brought back a lot of memories as as a child I too was allowed one wish from the wish book.

First Line: "The Cole house was strangely quiet"



Monday, November 10, 2008

Man of the House

Man of the House by Ad Hudler

Linc Menner is the stay-at-home parent of Violet Menner, now 13. The Menners have recently moved to Naples, Florida to accommodate Jo Menner's job as a top executive in several area hospitals. Instead of settling for a condo they have bought a house which requires lots of renovations. The renovations are going extremely slowly as sub-contractors or supplies do not show up.

Linc has been the perfect housekeeper. His meals are nutritious and supplies never run out. Violet is well tended to. Linc is getting to talk to males on a daily basis. Clearly these contractors do not care about gourmet cooking or cleanly houses. Linc finds himself getting sick of 'Girlyland'. When one of the sub-contractors makes a disparaging remark, Linc embarks on a transformation.

Violet is growing up and distancing herself a little but is bewildered when her Dad lets her drink pop and puts a meal cooked in a pressure-cooker on the table. Linc hits the gym to buff up his abs and starts hanging out with the guys.

Jo works long hours and frequently has to travel away from home. She feels her marriage is getting stale. When Linc is not at home as much she has to fill the vacuum caused by his absence.

Jessica, Violet's English teacher, is increasingly interested in Linc. She ends up stalking Linc and involving Violet by getting her to blog about her father.

Man of the House is told in four voices: Linc, Jo, Jessica and Violet. It is interesting to have the four voices as each of them see a situation differently. Although Linc does not formally recognize his transformation, each of the characters notices different things. Each character is forced to come to terms with the changes in Linc and how they react and compensate. The Menners all change and learn how to fit together as a family again.

Throughout the story there is a threat of a category 5 hurricane. Linc at first goes completely overboard in preparation. I found this part hilarious as I imagined Violet walking though the neighbourhood collecting coconuts.

This book is a sequel to Househusband but is a stand-alone read. It is a funny, light, very enjoyable read.

First Line: "One of my favorite things to do is cut out pictures from magazines and make collages."



Monday, November 03, 2008


Meridon by Philippa Gregory
Historical Fiction

This is the third in the Wideacre series. Meridon is a poor gypsy girl who dreams of estates and escape from the extreme poverty she lives in. She also dreams of escaping the abuse of her father. Her father sells her and her sister to a travelling show. Meridon is a practical hard-working girl and her sister is a beautiful and impatient thief. Meridon learns how to ride bareback while her sister learns to fly on the trapeze. Meridon wishes to protect her sister at all costs. The owner of the travelling show is a cold man who will jettison anyone not pulling their weight. Her sister (Dandy) comes up with a way to escape their life by becoming pregnant with the owner's son. Dandy hasn't reckoned on being murdered by that same young man.

Meridon runs away and finds the estate she has been dreaming of all her life. She is the owner. Her life changes from having nothing to having everything. But inside she is cold and unemotional. She finds out that rich or poor there are still cheats, rogues and selfish people. But who can she trust??

I found the first part of the book a little slow but once I got into the story I just couldn't put it down. I am sorry to see the end of the series.

First Line: "'I don't belong here,' I said to myself."



Sunday, November 02, 2008

Holiday in Death by J.D. Robb

Holiday in Death by J.D. Robb

The next book in the "In Death" series sees Eve Dallas back too work much too soon after her last brush with death. She is called onto the scene of a sexual homicide to find a pin of a partridge in a pear tree. Her and Peabody soon learn that the killer dresses up as Santa to get into the door then brutalizes his victims. The common connection is an up scale dating service. Eve tries to set out to find the 12 days of Christmas killer before he kills again.

I was happy that for once, they figured out who the killer was before he had Eve in a corner and she learned it on her own. I noticed in error in the book though. For the third victim, they said there were 3 calling birds. Except it's 4 calling birds, 3 french hens. You'd think an editor would have caught that. I'm hoping that in the upcoming books McNab and Peabody get together, I like their chemistry.

First Line: "She dreamed of death."