Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir

Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir
Historical Fiction

Lady Jane Grey's life is a tragic one. She is the great grand-daughter of King Henry VII and at the time of King Henry VIII's death is fifth in line to become the Queen of England. Jane, however, has no desire for the royal life. She is highly educated for a girl of the time and devoted to her Protestant faith. Her mother (Frances Brandon) and father pay little attention to her except to criticize her or determine how they can use Jane to launch themselves higher in social standing.

When Katherine Parr is made the final wife of King Henry VIII, Jane's mother becomes a lady-in-waiting, Frances presents Jane to Katherine in hopes of winning favour. Katherine becomes interested in advancing Jane's education and her status to Edward once King Henry VIII dies and Edward becomes King. All of Jane's elders are working towards her becoming Queen regardless of the fact that she has no interest in it.

I've watched and read a fair amount about the Tudor era recently and this book picked up nicely by explaining what happened between King Edward VI and Queen Mary. Even though you know what is going to happen you can't help but get wrapped up in the story and hope that the ending will somehow change!

At times I got a bit caught up in the narrating characters changing but eventually got used to it and this became quite the page turner. By the end of the book you can't help but be enraged at Jane's parents and the other councilors that made her the innocent traitor this book is so aptly named.

First Line: "It is over."



Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Best Bet

Best Bet by Laura Pedersen
Women's Fiction

Hallie Palmer is all set to graduate college in graphic arts. She has a job in the city and she plans to move there with her boyfriend, Craig. As she is packing up to leave, she receives a call to report to the dean's office. Evidently her old college advisor steered her wrong and she is a few credits short for a degree. The college will pay any expenses but she has to earn her degree.

An opportunity to travel the world and earn those pesky credits is offered. She will be helping a professor by dropping wallets with money in them to see what the citizens of various countries do. It fulfills her sociology requirement and on the trip is Josh, a major heart throb.

Hallie decides to go and Craig suggests they start to see other people. Hallie is on the road with an eclectic band of cohorts. At the end of the trip, Hallie finally sees that what is at home is the best and she is in love with Craig, but is it too late??

This is the fourth book about Hallie but is a stand-alone. Pedersen writes a story interwoven with very quirky characters. There are a number of very unusual situations which are amusing. Evidently a lot of these events have truly happened which makes for interesting suppositions about what really took place. This is a book about family, friends and fitting in. It also explores the 'jitters' one gets when making those big decisions about relationships. Pedersen writes in a light breezy style which is easy to read and enjoyable.

First Line: "The good news is that I've had only one roommate this past semester."

Buy this Book


Saturday, December 05, 2009

Corn Flakes with John Lennon by Robert Hilburn

Corn Flakes with John Lennon and Other Tales from a Rock'n'Roll Life by Robert Hilburn

Robert Hilburn is a famous music critic that worked at the Los Angeles Times for many years, writing reviews of albums and concerts and discussing rock and similarly-inspired music. This book takes a look at Hilburn's career and the many stars he has interviewed and befriended. It shows who Hilburn was inspired by and the artists he inspired.

Hilburn shares stories from all rock legends that have become household names within the past 40 years. His focuses are on Elvis, John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Bruce Springsteen, and U2 but he also touches on other influences in the industry like Elton John, Michael Jackson, Kurt Cobain, Ice Cube, Willie Nelson, and Jack White. Subjects range from drugs and addition to song writing to sneaking chocolate.

Not having grown up in the LA area, I hadn't heard of Hilburn before I read this book. I also grew up after most of these artists had already become legends. You don't need to be a rock history buff to enjoy this book though. I'm just a general fan of rock and really enjoyed the little facts and sound bytes from the most celebrated men and women of the genre.

Hilburn also keeps his work relevant by expanding his musical repertoire to include rap music, which he seems to appreciate even though it feels like he's surprised that he does. Reading Hilburn's thoughts on the similarities between rock and late 80s/early 90s rap was quite interesting.

Despite the fact that Hilburn, by all rights, should be bragging about the friends he has made and the influence he has had, Hilburn never comes across as a music snob. Rather, in his most poignant point, he hopes that everyone can find music that inspires them in the same way rock and country has inspired him.

First Line: "John Lennon raced into Yoko Ono's home office in the mammoth old Dakota building with a copy of Donna Summer's new single, 'The Wanderer'. "

Buy this book



Friday, December 04, 2009

Gone for Good

Gone for Good by Harlan Coben

Will Klein's older brother Ken was suspected of killing his girlfriend and then disappearing 12 years ago. His family always believed that he was murdered also.

When Will's mother on her deathbed reveals that Ken is still alive, Will starts to delve into what really happened. He starts investigating Ken and all of Ken's high school gang at the time. Then Will's girlfriend disappears and the FBI come calling, telling him that her fingerprints are at the scene of a double murder in Santa Fe. That is when things keep on getting more 'darker' and more macabre.

This is one of the books with the most twists I have ever read. As suggested by the previous reviewer the writing is choppy but so consistent with my own curt style that it just seemed to fit this mystery.

First Line: "Three days before her death, my mother told me - these weren't her last words, but they were pretty close - that my brother was still alive."



Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Christmas Secret

The Christmas Secret by Donna VanLiere
Women's Fiction

Christine Eisley is a single mother of two small children. She works as a waitress trying to make ends meet as her ex provides little child support. Her ex is not above making her life difficult with his demands to see his children when he wants to use them against her.

When an elderly woman suffers a heart attack at the end of Christine's driveway, Christine helps her and makes sure she is okay before going to work late once again. The inconsistency of baby sitters and this latest incidence causes her boss to fire her and it is just before Christmas. Later that day her landlord decides Christine will never make good on what is owed and tells her to vacate by the end of January. Christine's world just keeps getting worse and worse.

Jason has been down-sized as an accountant and with the holidays right around the corner firms are just not interviewing. He goes back to his small hometown to work with his grandfather who owns Wilson's department store. Jason feels the job is far beneath him and his grandfather sets out to try to teach him the department store is all about the people who work there. The elderly lady Christine (Christy) saved happens to be Jason's grandfather's assistant. One of the tasks is for Jason to find the Christy who helped but she has vanished.

Christine gets a job at Betty's Bakery and be-friends all the local customers. They all help each other and they are the ones that end up giving Christine the greatest gift of all.

I enjoyed reading this very up-lifting book. This is a book of friendship, loyalty, love and hope with a generous dash of miracle thrown in.

First Line: "I didn't know my father; it's how my mother wanted it or maybe what he wanted."

The Christmas Secret at Chapters