Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Witness / Nora Roberts / 488 p.

The day that 16 year old Elizabeth finally decides to rebel against her excessively controlling mother becomes a day of tragedy.  When her mother leaves for a medical conference, Elizabeth's first act of rebellion is to purchase her first pair of jeans. Unfortunately, a chance encounter with a classmate who is more than willing to assist Elizabeth with her new-found freedom, leads to witnessing murder and a life on the run to protect herself. Fast forward 12 years to "Abigail" who finds that life on the run to be unacceptable after meeting the small town chief of police in her new home. Finding love means needing to not just stay alive, but to truly live.

Ungifted / Gordon Korman / 288 pgs / 6 discs

     Donovan Curtis is your normal middle school kid with a tendency toward outrageous pranks. He gets into spitball wars with his best friends, broadcasts limericks over the school's PA system and (the best one yet) skips out of detention and whacks the school's statue with a branch only to watch part of it detach and roll down the hill and crash into the school's gym. With shattered glass showering most of the student body, Donovan learns he might have gone too far. The superintendent marches him into the office and begins The Lecture only to be interrupted by the arrival of the fire department. Donovan is told to leave and the discussion will continue tomorrow. Only it never does and in the meantime his family receives a letter notifying them he has been accepted into the gifted program.
     What the perfect place to hide! The Academy of Scholastic Distinction is for kids with IQs in the stratosphere. The classwork is way over his head and he isn't too sure what a pneumatic schematic is but Donovan brings the robotic team together in a way that might win the championship. But he cannot out run the consequences of his past actions. What happens next pure chaotic fun.
     I thoroughly enjoyed this Truman Award winning novel. The audio is done by several people but it does not detract from the story. Donovan reminds me of several guys I knew growing up so maybe that is why I connected with the story so quickly. The gifted students are portrayed with unique personalities that are endearing but shows how much pressure they feel in their lives. Does Donovan learn his lesson? Well, what do you think?

     Six Degrees of Reading: The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, Jake by Audrey Coulombis, Slob by Ellen Potter.

Soulless / Gail Carriger 373 p. Dec. Challenge 5 Gold Rings

England, under Queen Victoria's reign, has relaxed its social mores to allow vampires, werewolves, and preternaturals free access to society, provided they conduct themselves appropriately.  While Alexia Tarabotti takes a break from the ball, a vampire attacks her--so totally out of character for a hive vampire.  She warns him of his mistake, as preternatural she is soulless and has power to harm him, but he persists.  When she accidentally kills the vampire, Lord Maccon, head of the BUR (Bureau of Unnatural Registry), a division of Her Majesty's Civil Service, is sent to investigate.  The vampire society is in a state of flux with unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing.  When the hive queen has Alexia to tea (a very very unusually happening as vampires has long memories of when preternaturals hunted them), everyone seems to think she is in the know.  As she tries to figure out what is going on her path crosses and recrosses with Lord Maccon.  He finally "notices" her and marriage is discussed.  In this twist from a romance, he seems to want to marry her, but she declines.  The pace picks up as the two piece together what is happening and builds to an exciting conclusion.

Duke and I / Julia Quinn 371 p. Dec challenge 5 gold rings

The first Bridgerton novel features the almost-a-spinster Daphne.   Simon Basset has recently returned to England after spending many years on the continent.  He wants to stay "under the radar" of the marriage minded mothers.  As the Duke, he finds this is impossible.  As a friend of her brother, he frequently encounters Daphne at the London balls.  They agree to a sham courtship that benefits both.  With a duke showing interest, suitors flock to her; for him, the mother's lose interest.  As they spend more time together, she finds herself wanting the impossible...a Duke for a husband.  She has a tough row to hoe as he has a bitter legacy from his father to overcome and feels he cannot provide her what she wants.  This story is humorous.  The situations with her family make you laugh.  And the mother has more on the ball that her children realize.  I hope that her mother turns up again in the series.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Beach Girls/Luanne Rice/428 pp

Beach Girls is part of the  Hubbard’s Point Series that takes place in a beach community in Connecticut. When Stevie, Emma and Maddie were growing up, they called themselves the beach girls.  Friends forever.  After Emma dies, her husband and daughter come back to the area to heal from Emma's death and the betrayals it revealed. Emma's daughter, Nell, hopes by reconnecting with her mother's reclusive artist friend Stevie, she will understand her mother better. Stevie also has lost a part of herself that has been missing since she has lost touch with her old friends.

There's lots of secrets and angst but an altogether satisfying read.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Dead Will Tell/Linda Castillo/304 pgs.

In the most recent Castillo novel, Chief of Police Kate Burkholder becomes involved in solving a murder which, at first, appears to be a suicide. Upon further investigation, the murder of Dale Michaels seems to be tied to an unsolved murder which took place thirty-five years ago. Another person is murdered, and a pattern begins to emerge. Castillo takes the reader on a suspenseful ride, all the while giving further insight into her two main characters, Kate Burkholder and State Agent John Tomasetti, and their evolving relationship. I hope this series has a long run!

The Book of Life/Deborah Harkness/561 pgs.

This is the concluding volume in the All Souls Trilogy, and it was worth the wait! Time traveling/historian witch, Diana Bishop, and her vampire/scientist husband, Matthew Clairmont, return to the present. They are in search of the mysterious book, Ashmole 782, and its missing pages--a book which will, hopefully, provide answers to their questions. They encounter friends, enemies (past and present), humans, demons, witches, vampires, etc.  There is mystery, suspense, romance, and an all satisfying conclusion. I highly recommend this trilogy!

The Lost Hero / Rick Riordan / 557 pages

This is the first of the Heroes of Olympus Series by Rick Riordan.  My 10-year-old son loves all the Rick Riordan series and asked me to read this one.  This series happens sometime after the Percy Jackson series (maybe a year later).  I've found this book to be enjoyable for adults too.  Riordan has a very natural way of describing characters without breaking the flow of the book.  This book is especially interesting because the main character (Jason) begins the book with amnesia, so you learn about him as he learns about himself.  While Percy isn't actually in this book, the other characters refer to him quite a bit.  Jason meets Percy's girlfriend Annabeth before going on his quest with two new characters.  This book is great in that parents and children can both enjoy it and there isn't much in it for parents to object to.  If you want your kids to learn about Greek and Roman mythology, this is a good introduction for them.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Faith Bass Darling's Last Garage Sale/ Lynda Rutledge/ 289 pages

This is another title that I read for book club.  I chose it because I was under the impression that it would be a "light read".  While there are humorous characters and situations, there is also Alzheimer's and regret.  So, not really as light as I hoped.  However, I did like the characters and there was a lot to discuss.  Namely, what is the value of all the "things" in our life?  Does our "stuff" define us?

Friday, August 22, 2014

Much Ado About You / Eloisa James 391 p. Dec. Challenge Gold Rings

Three orphan sisters come to live with their guardian, the Duke of Holbrook. After preparing for young girls, is he surprised to find young ladies!  Tess Essex, the oldest, vows to marry well and quickly so that she can help her sisters find matches.  As all well made plans, things go awry when one of her sisters elopes with a horse-mad young lord.  (The sisters have a rather unusual dowry...a race horse each).  Then Tess's fiance (not a love match) ups and runs away.  That leaves Tess to consider marriage with the sort of man she wants to avoid... a rake.  Her sisters point out that this is a good match, he is rich, he's handsome, and he is here.  Love has a way of winning out.  But it is not a clear straight path.

31 Bond Street by Ellen Horan / 352 pages / July challenge historical fiction

The pacing of this book seemed really slow to me, though there is a huge revelation at the end of each of the first two chapters.  The plot is interesting and unpredictable.  The characters are mostly believable.  This is a classic "whodunit" and the answer at the end will surprise you.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You're Deluding Yourself / David McRaney / 302 p.

The title gives a good idea of what is in this book. I found it to actually be a bit depressing.  I guess I want to keep deluding myself about how smart I am. Actually, some of the information about studies done about behavior are interesting. It is probably good to be aware of ways in which we fool ourselves. But it is a book of many very, very short chapters--just snippets really--so I don't know how truly meaningful any of them are.

Who Murdered Garson Talmadge, David Bishop, 278

Matt Kile, mystery writer, ex-detective, and ex prison inmate is pulled into a murder investigation when his neighbor's husband is murdered.  Is neighbor, Claire, guilty of murdering her husband Garson Talmadge?  Did she manipulate Matt so that he would be her alibi?  Or was it someone from Garson's weapons dealing past?  The story moves along quickly and includes a quick trip to France where Matt is questioned by the FBI and uncovers more of Talmadge's past.   There are several twists to the story that keep the reader wondering in this mystery

Monday, August 18, 2014

Blood Rites (The Dresden Files #6) / Jim Butcher / 439 p.

Continuing to make my way through listening to The Dresden Files.  As usual Harry strives to help the helpless fight the evil forces at great risk to himself.  This time he is also dragged in to helping a friendly enemy--the vampire Thomas.  He is at war with himself over the fact that he actually likes Thomas despite the fact that he is a succubus vamp--an idea that he naturally finds abhorrent. In the middle of all the mayhem that is Harry's normal life, Thomas has a startling revelation that will change Harry's life forever.

The Fault in Our Stars / John Green / 318 p.

I can certainly see why this book is such a hit with teens. John Green captures the teen voice very well and that makes this a better than average YA novel. When you add in the pathos of cancer, you have a very engaging novel. Hazel and Gus live constantly with the sword of death hanging over them and Hazel has had no expectation of romance before dying.  But Augustus Waters changes all of that.

Inferno / Dan Brown / 461 p.

The book held my interest, because of the over-population "theme." But Brown's books are very formulaic and he had to provide a couple of very big twists at the end to add surprise to the conclusion. Our hero, Robert Langdon, is once again pulled into a potential catastrophe because of his knowledge of art history and symbols. Brown ties it all in with Dante's Inferno. New cities/ cathedrals/ museums in Europe are visited.As usual, there is a madman and a female protagonist working alongside Robert throughout.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Don't Try to Find Me / Holly Brown / 352 pages

"A secret life isn't one secret.  It's a lie that takes precedence, encroaching like crabgrass over a lawn.  It keeps spreading and spreading."  "Everybody keeps secrets.  It's how relationships work."  The first quote is from Rachel, Marley's mom.  The second from Marley herself.  Marley had run away, leaving a short, cryptic note on the refrigerator whiteboard "Don't try to find me..."  Marley's cold, distant father mounts an intense media campaign to find his lost daughter.  Unfortunately, the blitz uncovers a relationship between Rachel and Marley's psychiatrist.  Told from dual points of view - Rachel's and Marley's, Don't Try to Find Me treats the reader to intense introspective detailing the dynamics of a dysfunctional family and the overriding power of love.  "Marley's gut said something was off about [Brandon], a college guy pursuing an eighth grader who's all the way across the country."  She should have gone with her gut instinct.  This is a gripping account of the ramifications for online contacts, a cautionary tale to parents and teens alike, a peon to journal as vehicle to clarification.

"People are jigsaw puzzles that don't exactly fit together."

Sworn to Silence / Linda Castillo / 321 pages

Kate Burkeholder is Chief of Police in the small Amish community of Painter's Mill, Ohio.  She herself was raised Amish but is no longer numbered among its faithful.  Kate is called upon to investigate the latest in a series of four local murders.  The murders fit the MO of a serial killer from sixteen years ago.  Kate figures this to be a copycat killer because she is certain the original murderer is dead.  Isn't she?  Although Kate received support and assistance from her staff, a local sheriff is a thorn in her side, and a has-been former cop with demons of his own has been sent to help.  The ending is well worth the wait...

Mila 2.0 / Debra Driza / 470 pages / Apri Challenge Rain

Mia Lana Daily (Mila) is "one slightly rebellious, hugely heart-broken" sixteen year old.  Her past memories are sketchy.  Her veterinarian mother has told her the traumatic fire that killed her father and destroyed their Philly home is responsible.  The two relocate to a horse ranch in Clearwater, Minnesota.  She is immediately befriended by Kaylee, but when the new boy, Hunter, transfers into their high school, jealousy, peer pressure, and snarkiness enter the picture.  When Mila is thrown from Kaylee's truck her unusual injuries compel her mother to tell the truth.  Mila is a top secret lab-created android - version 2.0.  Her mother stole her in a desperate attempt to save her life.  Her co-creator wants to destroy her as he views her as too human.  Will he succeed?  This awesome sci-fi is a compelling thriller, difficult to put down and almost impossible to forget.  First in a trilogy.

"Hair, weeds, life - all of them are transient."

Truman Award Preliminary Nominee 2015-16

Sylo / D. J. MacHale / 407 pages / 7 Swans a Swimming Challenge

This book was a total surprise!  From the title and cover, I jumped to the conclusion that it was a doomsday book about unleashed nuclear weapons.  Although this first book in the Sylo series may tend to evoke thoughts of doomsday, it does so in a creative, intriguing, inspired way.  James Dashner says it is "a relentlessly fast-paced, intriguing tale that leaves you breathless and satisfied, yet wanting more."  I agree!  This page-turner will keep you up at night and incommunicado during the day.  Tucker Pierce's parents moved to idyllic Pemberwick Island when his dad lost his job.  His dad runs a landscaping business on the island and Tuck helps him.  While enjoying one of their secret, stress-burning late night rides, he and his friend Quinn witness an incredible phenomenon.  Several mysterious deaths occur.  Is the phenomenon responsible?  The island is quarantined, supposedly due to a virus but Quinn and Ruck discover that this is a lie.  Tori Sleeper, who helps her father with his lobster business, helps Tuck in his efforts to escape the island.  We have a mysterious ruby substance that massively improves human performance and is taken by some members of the high school football squad with disastrous results.  (Unfortunately, we also have a couple of incidents of inappropriate language, nothing too serious, but I thought I should mention it.)

Truman Award Preliminary Nominee 2015-16

The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die / April Henry / 213 pages / April Challenge Rain

Alexandra Sokoloff says The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die is a "psychological mystery wrapped in a thriller with a smart, resourceful heroine."  CJ Lyons says it is "a thrill-packed story with twists and turns you'll never see doming.  Hop on board for an adrenaline-fueled ride."  Both are excellent descriptions!  Cady returns to consciousness in a cabin in the woods, with a taste of blood in her mouth, a loose tooth, missing fingernails, and no memory.  She had obviously been tortured and is about to be killed as she cannot reveal the information her abductors seek.  This is a harrowing tale of greed, duplicity, homelessness, and incredible resourcefulness, courage, and determination.  I must admit I had a bit of a problem accepting Ty's convenient placement in the plot and his readiness to help.  (He was a McDonald's employee!?)  I liked it, but just couldn't quite believe it.

Truman Award Preliminary Nominee 2015-16

Pivot Point /. Kasie West / 343 pages / 7 Swans a Swimming Challenge

This is one of the most creative story/plot ideas I have encountered in a long time!  Addison Coleman is a searcher.  She, along with everyone in her hometown, has a paranormal ability.  Hers is that she can look into the future to determine consequences of choices.  When she is informed of the upcoming divorce of her parents, she searches six weeks into the future to help her decide with whom she should live.  Chapters alternate between living with her Dad, who has opted to leave the paranormal compound, and her Mom, who remains.  Chapter headings are insanely clever words/definitions relating to chapter contents.  This book seems to have it all...a serial murderer, high school football, quarterbacks, cheerleaders, best friends, cheating...

Truman Award Preliminary Nominee 2015-16

Inhuman / Kat Falls / 375 pages / 8 Maids a Milking & April Challenge - Rain

The Titan was erected eighteen years ago.  Called the Reparation Wall, the Quarantine Line, The Blight, it separates Davenport, from The Feral Zone.  The wall has guards stationed on top with guns and cameras facing East.  The wall had been constructed to contain the Ferae Virus that had been created by the Titan Corporation.  The plague quickly overtook the Eastern seaboard, caused other nations to cut off the US, and led to laws prohibiting congress to or from the infected East.  The line was drawn right at the Mississippi River.  Rumor has it that the plague has caused some victims to mutate into monsters.  Sixteen year old Delaney Lane McEvoy is snatched from a party by a biohazard unit.  It is impossible that she is infected!  Isn't it? Lane discovers that her father is a fetch.  He crosses the border to reclaim lost art from the Chicago Art Museum.  Lane is sent in search of her father.  Crossing into the East is punishable by death, but Director Spuring claims that she will destroy all evidence of his transgressions if he will fetch something for her.  Delaney has only five days in which to find him and deliver the message.  She encounters two seemingly opposite benefactors who facilitate her journey: Line Guard Everson and Hunter Rafe, who has ties to her father.  Lane learns that "safe and happy don't always go together."  I love the title - very appropriate, but I found the cover art to be deceptive.

Truman Award Preliminary Award 2015-16

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Power Play/Catherine Coulter/404 pgs.

Someone wants Natalie Black, the U.S. ambassador to the Court of St. James, dead. Her fiance, George McCallum (Viscount Lockenby), died in a car accident--many believe that it was a suicide as the result of Natalie breaking off the engagement. Natalie insists that the engagement wasn't broken off, and that someone is now trying to kill her. She returns to Washington, D.C., her job in jeopardy, and as it turns out, so is her life. FBI Special Agent Davis Sullivan enters the picture, and believes Natalie's story. He brings in his boss, Dillon Savich and his wife, Lacey Sherlock (also with the FBI). In addition to Natalie's "problem," someone is stalking Sherlock. It doesn't take long to figure out who wants Natalie dead, but it's a fun ride getting there!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Fifty Shades Freed, E. L. James, 578 pages

Pushing ahead to the third book,  Inner Goddess is almost nowhere to be found.  Christian and Ana are still angry and stubborn and they continue to test out new places and surfaces.  We finally hear a little more about Christian's childhood and how he became who he is, but it's not a very full explanation. Christian's achievements are pretty remarkable given what we know about Early Literacy Skills.  The book does end on a happy note.  While not a literary work, the series was not too far off the quality of some of the other free Kindle books I've read.

Fifty Shades Darker, E. L. James, 532 pages

So I decided to work my way through the trilogy.  This second book was the most tedious of the three.  While it does advance the story it gets a little repetitive as Christian and Ana test out every surface in his apartment.  He's jealous, she's stubborn, over and over throughout the story.  Unfortunately, Inner Goddess is not as vocal as she was in the first book.  

Fifty Shades of Grey, E. L. James, 372 pages

The movie trailer peaked my interest in this book.  About half way through I realized this was not the story I was expecting.    It was little more than a Harlequin Romance on steroids.  I did appreciate that unlike most romance novels the characters did talk to each other to solve problems.  Christian was not the dark, sinister person I thought I would encounter.   He actually seemed too good a person for the subject of the book.  Early on I thought is was all a con on his part to ensnare Ana and his obsession with her eating would ultimately lead to her starving each weekend in his 'red room'.   That was not the case. The characters interested me enough that I did work my way through all three books in the series.  My favorite character is Inner Goddess, she seemed to have the most sense and was a great comic relief.  A great literary work, no.  An adult Cinderella fantasy, maybe.  

Fortune Hunter/Daisy Goodwin/ 473 pp

This book borrows the names and basic facts of historical people and weaves a fictional story of their lives.  There is the Empress Elizabeth of Austria.  Incredibly beautiful and captivating.  She has escaped the confinement of royal life and an unsatisfying marriage to come to England to take part in the hunts.  Bay Middleton, an impoverished soldier and legendary horseman, is recruited to be her pilot in the hunts.  Charlotte Baird, a plain but clever heiress, who has captured the interest of Middleton.  But they have agreed to a secret engagement because Charlotte’s brother would not agree to the match.  Once she reaches the age of majority, they can become official without her brother’s approval.  Charlotte takes a picture of Bay and the Empress together and the camera reveals her deepest fear -- she has lost him to another woman.  Will Bay turn his back on his dreams in order to feed his obsession with the Empress?  Will Charlotte be able to forget what the camera has revealed -- that she is not the only woman in his heart?

This book is very well researched and historically accurate about the times if not about all the details of the lives of the major characters.  The author condenses what happens in seven years to one.  After I finished the book, I looked up Bay Middleton and many historians think he is the biological father of Winston Churchill’s wife, Clementine.  Her mother had an affair with Middleton before he met Charlotte and the family came to believe that Middleton, not her husband, was her father.

A great book for fans of historical fiction and Downton Abbey!

The History of Iraq (The Greenwood Histories of the Modern Nations) by Courtney Hunt 152 pages

Since the early 1990s, Iraq (and its former dictator, Saddam Hussein) has been a fixture in Western media. However, few American adults know or understand the rich cultural history or the political forces that have shaped modern Iraq. As the future of Iraq is now being written, a clear understanding of the country's history is crucial in our new global environment. Through ten narrative chapters, Hunt delves into the rich history of this land from the earliest settlements in Mesopotamia, the introduction of the Muslim faith, and the conquest of Baghdad by the Ottomans in 1534 to the institution and eventual overthrow of British control and the rise of the Ba'athist party to Saddam Hussein's reign as president. Ideal for students and general readers, the History of Iraq is part of Greenwood's Histories of Modern Nations series.

This is a very brief and simple fact based book. Do not try to make it anymore than that and you will be happy with it. 

Ulysses by James Joyce 783 pages

In the past, Ulysses has been labeled dirty, blasphemous, and even unreadable. None of these adjectives, however, do the slightest justice to the novel. To this day it remains the modernist masterpiece, in which the author takes both Celtic lyricism and vulgarity to splendid extremes. It is funny, sorrowful, and even (in a close-focus sort of way) suspenseful. And despite the exegetical industry that has sprung up in the last 75 years, Ulysses is also a compulsively readable book.

William Blake saw the universe in a grain of sand. Joyce saw it in Dublin, Ireland, on June 16, 1904, a day distinguished by its utter normality. Two characters, Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom, go about their separate business, crossing paths with a gallery of indelible Dubliners. We watch them teach, eat, stroll the streets, argue, and (in Bloom's case) masturbate. And thanks to the book's stream-of-consciousness technique--which suggests no mere stream but an impossibly deep, swift-running river--we're privy to their thoughts, emotions, and memories. The result? Almost every variety of human experience is crammed into the accordian folds of a single day, which makes Ulysses not just an experimental work but the very last word in realism.

Castle of Wizardry (The Belgariad #4) by David Eddings 375 pages


It had all begun with the theft of the Orb that had so long protected the West from the evil God Torak. Before that, Garion had been a simple farm boy. Afterward, he discovered that his aunt was really the Sorceress Polgara and his grandfather was Belgarath, the Eternal Man. Then, on the long quest to recover the Orb, Garion found to his dismay that he, too, was a sorcerer.

Now, at last, the Orb was regained and the quest was nearing its end. Of course, the questors still had to escape from this crumbling enemy fortress and flee across a desert filled with Murgo soldiers searching for them, while Grolim Hierarchs strove to destroy them with dark magic. Then, somehow, they must manage to be in Riva with the Orb by Erastide. After that, however, Garion was sure that his part in these great events would be finished.

But the Prophecy still held future surprises for Garion--and for the little princess Ce'Nedra.

This continues the magnificent epic of The Belgariad,  begun in Pawn of Prophecy, Queen of Sorcery, and Magician's Gambit--a fantasy set against a background of the war of men, Kings, and Gods that had spanned seven thousand years--a novel of fate, strange lands, and a prophecy that must be fulfilled!

Magician's Gambit (The Belgariad #3) by David Eddings 305 pages

Ce'Nedra, Imperial Princess of Tolnedra, had joined a dangerous mission to recover the stolen Orb that supposedly protected the West from the evil God Torak. And somehow, she found herself feeling quite tender for Garion, the innocent farm boy, who would be forced into the strange tower in the center of all evil to retrieve the Orb by himself.

Queen of Sorcery (The Belgariad #2) by David Eddings 326 pages

"BELGARIAD is exactly the kind of fantasy I like. It has magic, adventure, humor, mystery, and a certain delightful human insight."
The master Sorcerer Belgarath and his daughter Polgara the arch-Sorceress were on the trail of the Orb, seeking to regain its saving power before the final disaster prophesized by the legends. And with them went Garion, a simple farm boy only months before, but now the focus of the struggle. He had never believed in sorcery and wanted no part of it. Yet with every league they traveled, the power grew in him, forcing him to acts of wizardry he could not accept.

Pawn of Prophecy (The Belgariad #1) by David Eddings 304 pages

Long ago, the Storyteller claimed, in this first book of THE BELGARIAD, the evil god Torak drove men and Gods to war. But Belgarath the Sorcerer led men to reclaim the Orb that protected men of the West. So long as it lay at Riva, the prophecy went, men would be safe.

But Garion did not believe in such stories. Brought up on a quiet farm by his Aunt Pol, how could he know that the Apostate planned to wake dread Torak, or that he would be led on a quest of unparalleled magic and danger by those he loved--but did not know...?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Language of Flowers/Vanessa Diffenbaugh/332 pgs.

Victoria Jones has been in foster care all of her life. At the age of 18, she is emancipated--no plans, no future, no hope. In alternating chapters, Victoria reveals her past, which leads up to her present. It is in her telling, that Victoria gives the reason for her interest in flowers--and the reader begins to understand the impact the flowers (and their meanings) have had in shaping Victoria. It's a powerful story, giving a fictionalized account of what happens when a "child" outgrows the foster care system. The journey through Victoria's trials and triumphs is well worth the read. Highly recommended.

Sworn to Silence/Linda Castillo/321 pages

Chief of Police Kate Burkholder has a big problem. Has a serial killer from long ago returned to Painter's Mill, Ohio? When the body of a brutally murdered woman is discovered, the town starts to panic. Does Kate have enough police experience to launch a hunt for a killer? Do her Amish roots, long abandoned, hinder or help when dealing with both the Amish population and the rest of the town?

The first in a promising series. The description of the murders are fairly gruesome, but the characters and the story make for a good mystery. Thanks to Mizzou77 for her review.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Sight Unseen/Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen/324 pages

Kendra Michaels was born blind and had experimental surgery which gave her sight.  While she was blind, her other senses became amazingly developed.  She now uses these super powers of perception and observation to help law enforcement agencies solve some of their most notorious cases.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Landline /Rainbow Rowell/ 310 pp

Georgie McCool finds herself alone at Christmas while her husband and children visit his family in Nebraska. Her husband, Neal, is tired of her choosing her career and her writing partner over her family and he's decided not to sacrifice the family Christmas. It's an ongoing fight.

But during the separation, Georgie discovers a landline that connects her back to an earlier Neal and their first separation. Now she must decide if she could, would she change history? Would she marry him all over again. And if he knew what was in store, would he marry her again?

Rowell writes in such a lyrical way and puts the reader in the heart and mind of Georgie as she comes to know what is truly important.

The Richest Season/ Maryann McFadden/ 326 pp

When Joanna Harrison  is surprised by another corporate relocation, she suddenly can’t face another move with a husband, Paul,  who is so caught up in his career that he doesn’t see what it will do to her.  So Joanna gets in her car and drives to the last place she felt at peace -- Pawley’s Island, SC.  Once there she gets a job as a companion and helper for an elderly woman with her own secrets.  When Paul is downsized, he gets an opportunity to take a closer look at himself, his choices and what has been driving his need to always have more. The question is, will each of the answers they find bring them close together or push them farther apart?

Similar to Kristin Hannah, McFadden digs deeply into the motivations, strengths and fears of each of the characters.

Mr. Miracle/Debbie Macomber/ pp 272 (October 7,2014)

Harry Mills is given his first assignment as a guardian angel. He is supremely confident that he can help 24 year old Addie Folsom get her life straightened out. She has returned home in time for the holidays. Her plan is to sign up of classes at the community college and avoid her childhood nemesis and next door neighbor, Erich Simmons.

This is the latest Debbie Macomber Christmas romance so we know that her plans won't work out in the way she envisions. It is a sweet book that will not disappoint fans who have read the other Christmas angel books. Harry, the newest angel, is a fun character who learns as much as his charge.

Spacewalker: My Journey in Space and Faith as NASA's Record-Setting Frequent Flyer/ Jerry L. Ross/ 274 pp

Jerry Ross decided he wanted to be an astronaut from an early age.  His book takes us from his childhood in Indiana to his retirement from NASA.  Along the way, he goes into space on the shuttle seven times and out on space walks nine times.

I loved this book. It gives the reader a peek into the space program and what it is like to be an astronaut.  He writes with such humor and seems so humble and grateful for what he has been able to do.  This book isn't just for those who have ever dreamed of being an astronaut but also for anyone who has ever had a dream. It is a testament of someone who was willing to dream big, work hard and keep going when there are setbacks along the way.

Silkworm, Robert Galbraith, 455 pages

The second offering in the Cormorant Strike mystery series revolves around a missing author and his tell all manuscript.  Cormorant has moved up a bit. Literally he has moved into a two room apartment above  his office, but he is also attracting more clients after his notoriety with the Lula Landry case.  Robin continues to work for him despite her fiancee's misgivings.  Together, Strike and Robin investigate editors, publishers and authors in the search for Owen Quine.  When his body turns up, trussed and served on a platter, Strike turns his search to those who knew the contents of Quine's manuscript.  This book is filled with odd and interesting characters.  We see more of Strikes personal life and family as well as Robin's family and fiancee.  Robin finally voices her desire to be more than a secretary to Strike.

Three Wishes/Liane Moriarty/356 pages

Lyn, Cat and Gemma are thirty-three year old triplets. Lyn and Cat are identical twins, and Gemma basically just tagged along for the ride. In the year leading up to their thirty-fourth birthday, the sisters experience love, heartbreak and drama almost every day. Lyn and Cat are both married, but while Lyn has a daughter, Cat's been dealing with infertility. After Gemma's tragic non-trip to the altar, she can't seem to find a boyfriend that lasts more than a few months. The girls, along with their divorced parents, deal with their sibling rivalries with mostly love and laughter.
This is Moriarty's debut novel, and it's a delight. Interspersed between the chapters are stories from unknown people who have experienced the Kettle girls just briefly over the years and who have never forgotten them. Moriarty is definitely one of my favorite new finds.

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Collector/Nora Roberts/483 pages

Professional house-sitter, Lila Emerson, likes to observe people in neighboring buildings.  One day she witnesses a possible murder-suicide.  While talking with the police, she meets the brother of the murdered man, who is a well-known artist.  Lila agrees to help him try to find out who killed his brother and why.

The Son/Jo Nesbo/402 pgs.

I have always wanted to read a book by this author, so when this came out as a "stand alone" I grabbed it. This is one of the best mystery/suspense books around. Sonny Loftus has been in prison about half of his 30 years of life. His father, a policeman, commits suicide instead of being exposed as corrupt. Sonny is left with his mother, who turns to drugs and alcohol. Sonny gets hooked on heroin, admits to crimes he didn't commit, and ends up in prison. He's a model prisoner until he learns a long hidden secret about his father's death. He breaks out of prison, seeking revenge against those responsible for crimes against him. Sonny is a complex character, and brilliantly portrayed by Nesbo. There is suspense, mystery, corruption, and surprises throughout the book. I can't recommend this one highly enough!

The First Phone Call From Heaven/Mitch Albom/320 pgs.

In Mitch Albom's fictionalized town of Clearwater, Michigan, several residents begin receiving phone calls from the deceased. Are these phone calls real, or an elaborate hoax? As word of the phenomenon spreads, one resident, Sully Harding decides to get to the bottom of the matter. It's a novel of grief, hope, and inspiration. If you liked Albom's The Five People You Meet in Heaven, you will probably enjoy this!