Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Orphan's Tale/Pam Jenoff/342 pgs.

This book centers around a German circus, during World War II, and an unlikely friendship that develops between two women. Noa is a sixteen year old kicked out by her parents when she becomes pregnant by a German soldier. Astrid, Jewish, marries a German soldier, is divorced by him, and joins the circus that had once been in competition with her family's circus. The story is told in alternating voices between Noa and Astrid. This book is one of the saddest ones I have read, but gives a different insight, though fictitious, into the impact Hitler's regime had on the circus. Recommended.

Lucky Break/Deborah Coonts/281 pgs.

This is the 6th entry in the "Lucky Vegas Adventure" series. Lucky O'Toole is Vice President of Customer Relations for the Babylon, a casino resort. She's newly engaged, and is preparing for the opening of her own restaurant with her fiancé. Murder has a way of always altering Lucky's plans. Her ex-lover is being accused of murder, and Lucky is determined to prove his innocence. This is a fun series--it revolves around Vegas, Lucky's quirky and dysfunctional family, and a cast of characters you can't help but like. Highly recommend this book and series.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Someone to Wed/ Mary Balogh/ 383 pgs

I have read a couple of Balogh's books from a different series but was intrigued by the premise of and praise for this one. Wren has a birthmark covering a significant portion of one side of her face and, after a tragic childhood, retreats to the peace and quiet of her aunt and uncle's estate to become a recluse. When her two beloved supporters pass away at nearly the same time, Wren finds herself the heiress to a large fortune. She's also thirty years old and lonely. She decides to make a list of eligible men in the surrounding area and interview them to see if she'd like to propose they marry her in return for her money as she wants a husband and children. Enter Alex, the Earl of Riverdale, newly inherited and in desperate need of money. The two don't marry right away. This is a slow romance, with much of the focus on Wren taking a chance and moving into the light of society while being supported by Alex and his family. His family--they wouldn't stop coming out of the woodwork. Many of these characters probably appeared in other Balogh novels but they overwhelmed this one. I wish there would have been more time spent on the two main characters.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Hate U Give/ Angie Thomas/ 444 pgs

This might be the first YA novel I've read since...well since I was a YA. It's the story of Starr Carter, an African-American girl who witnesses the shooting death of her friend Khalil by the police. This could easily have been a one-note story but instead it's deeply layered and deals with so many different issues--economics, race,education, step-families, parent/child relationships, community, gangs. It might seem like this is too much for one story but it's very well done. I really enjoyed spending time with the Carter family, despite the trials they were going through. While some of the secondary characters are thinly drawn, each member of the Carter family is a rich, real character. I found myself thinking about them long after I finished reading this story.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Moneyball/ Michael Lewis/ 288 pgs

This is the book the Brad Pitt movie is based on. I've seen bits and pieces of the movie but I don't think I've ever watched it start to finish. The author follows a season of the Oakland A's and their different approach to putting a team on the field. The book delves into some of the statistical theory behind the A's and their general manager Billy Beane's decisions but it's never too technical. It's quite a fascinating blend of psychology, mathematics, economics, and essential humanness. I loved it for the inside glimpse at baseball operations and the history behind the new way of looking at baseball stats.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Righteous: an IQ novel/Joe Ide/330 pgs.

Isaiah Quintabe, a.k.a. IQ, is still on the hunt for whoever murdered his older brother, Marcus, ten years ago. Up until that point, Marcus was Isaiah's mentor, best friend, and care giver--it was the two of them against the world. Isaiah eventually dropped out of school, and used his high intelligence for solving crimes in his downtrodden neighborhood. In this second book in the series, Isaiah is not only trying to discover (and bring to justice) the person responsible for Marcus's death, but also to find Marcus's girlfriend's sister, Janine, who has gone missing. There are so many threads in the story line--but it works. Isaiah isn't your typical "hero"--he's awkward, lacks social skills--but he is someone you want on your side. I can't speak highly enough of this new series. Highly recommended!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Nobody's Baby But Mine/ Susan Elizabeth Phillips/ 376 pgs

Phillips has been writing forever but this is the first book of hers I've read. It's an older title, which shows when the hero kicks back to pop a tape in the VCR (!), but it's still a great read. Cal is an NFL quarterback, mid-thirties, who's heading for retirement but resisting in a big way. Jane is a physicist who just wants a baby who's not too smart. Thinking Cal is a dunderhead, she tricks him into getting her pregnant. This does not make Cal happy but he doesn't want his kid born out of wedlock. The two marry (with plans to divorce after the baby is born) and move back to his hometown in North Carolina and that's when the fireworks really start. Both Jane and Cal are strong-willed and not afraid to yell at each other. It's fun to watch them come to care for each other. Cal's family plays a big role and I liked the way his mother and father had issues to work out as well.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

A Kiss for Midwinter/ Courtney Milan/ 158 pgs

This is a short, just right holiday romance. Jonas is a conscientious doctor who regrets not speaking up early in his career. He's on the serious side and bears the burden of caring for his elderly, hoarder father. Lydia is a young lady "with a past," one that she thinks she's put behind her but truthfully she's just buried it beneath a mountain of cheerfulness. The author doesn't shy away from blunt dialogue between her characters, which worked here since Jonas is a doctor. Both characters were well drawn and their romance was sweet.