Saturday, April 28, 2012

Curveball by Jordan Sonnenblick

285 pgs/2012

Peter is a pitcher and is looking forward to playing baseball in high school. But he neglects to tell anyone about his hurting elbow and now his baseball career is over. So Peter turns to his other interest-photography. His grandfather taught him everything he knows. But grandpa is acting strange and  forgetting things, but no one wants to talk about it. Can Peter figure out life before it spins out of control?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Getting Over Garrett Delaney by Abby McDonald

Getting Over Garrett Delaney 336 pgs/2012

Sadie has been in love with her best friend Garrett for two years. She shares his interests, is always there for him and his been his everything-except girlfriend. But this summer is going to change all that-time away at a writing camp in the woods, it will be so romantic Garrett won't be able to resist telling Sadie how he feels. Until Sadie isn't accepted to the camp-and Garrett calls to say he has a new girlfriend. Devastated, Sadie decides to enact a "Getting Over Garrett" program to help her fall out of love and have a total Garrett detox.

The Stasticial Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight 236 pgs/2012

What if you missed your flight by only a few minutes? And then you met a cute English boy and ended up sitting next to him on the plane? And what if you had a connection and couldn't say goodbye? Do you believe in fate? Over the next 24 hours, fate will play into Hadley's life in ways she never could have expected. Do you believe in love at first sight?

The Alchemy of Forever by Avery Williams

The Alchemy of Forever (Incarnation, #1) 256/2012\

What if you could live forever? Seraphina is trapped-ever since Cyrus saved her life by giving her an alchemy potion that allowed her to switch bodies and take on a new life. She has lived forever and is ready to escape. She plans to leave her host body once and for all-finally accepting death. Only her plan goes awry when she ends up saving the life of a teenage girl and taking over her life, and starts to fall for the boy next door. Can she outsmart Cyrus once and for all?

Cross My Heart by Sasha Gould

Cross My Heart 262 pgs/2012

When her sister dies, 16-year-old Laura's father sends for her from the convent she has been tucked away in so that she can take her sister's place. She is to marry Vincezo and help her father with political gain. Laura is horrified at her father's plans and discovers a secret society that may be willing to help her-for a price. Turns out everyone in Venice has a secret and Laura is caught in the middle of many secrets and scandals.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Virtuoso

The Virtuoso
Grace Burrowes
395 pgs. 2011.

In this final installment of a Regency trilogy, Lord Windham  is the youngest son of the Duke of Moreland. He's a concert pianist who has spent most of his like perfecting his art and neglecting his life.
When a hand injury threatens to cripple him, he's forced to give up the keyboard. He goes to the country to hopefully recover while he attempts to restore a dilapidated estate. He meets a young widow, Ellen Markham, who has a secret past, full of turmoil. She relies on herself, not a romantic rescuer to save the day.
Lord Windham learns a new lesson, finding his humanity away from his musical abilities.

Missed Connections: Love Lost & Found

Missed Connections: Love Lost & Found
by Sophie Blackall
128 pgs. 2011 pub.

Missed Connection is a site used mostly by urban dwellers to post their own classifieds. A girl jumping across a puddle at an intersection, a man at the museum, looking at armor. People post their  silent notice of individuals in hopes of striking up a meeting. Of course, sometimes thieves post messages about their theft of the person's property and offers of ransom.

The artist Sophie Blackall has put together a charming illustrative storybook for adults. Blackall is an award-winning illustrator of children's books, and her illustrations retain a whimsical , occasionally dark interpretation of  posts: "We Shared a Bear Suit" and "Hairy Bearded Swimmer".

I really liked this book, not as much for the subject matter, but for the amazing illustrations. I would read and look at anything this artist created. Her medium of Chinese ink and watercolor is deceptively simple, when it looks this easy, it's usually not.

Unhooked: How to Quit Anything

Unhooked: How to Quit Anything by
Susan Shapiro and Frederick Woolverton
224 pages Published 2012

Addiction is a word that's thrown around a lot in pop culture. The authors of this book take an ego-driven  look at former patients Woolverton treated. He might be a renegade but it didn't sound like he was breaking any new trails.  He advocates "tough love" taking the role of parent with his patients, demanding they surrender contraband to him (weapons, drugs, etc.)

The stories are depressing in part because there's a slim chance of full recovery.While the title promises advice, it's of the basic I-saw-that-on-a-reality-show garden variety.

To Seduce an Angel

To Seduce an Angel
Kate Moore
304 pgs. 2011

Kit Jones, the Marquess of Daventry is the target of a murderer, sent by his grandfather. He shelters a motley crew of young London pickpockets in the family castle. He was a victim of kidnapping as a young boy, and lived on the streets of London with the children. Emma Portland is being blackmailed to gather information on Jones that will lead to his death. Her path includes royal exile, jail and execution.

Lots of mistaken identities, good intentions and general mayhem. The focus of the characters' strong sense of family lifts the story out of the usual gothic melodrama, with which any good historical fiction excels.

The Secret Lives of Hoarders: True Stories of Tackling Extreme Clutter

The Secret Lives of Hoarders: True Stories of Tackling Extreme Clutter
by Matt Paxton and Phaedra Hise
256 pages
Published 2011 by Perigee Trade

Matt Paxton,  of Hoarders fame,  details more of the dirty secrets of the psychological condition and his team who tries to bring order to chaos.

Throughout the book Paxton assures us repeatedly he is not a therapist, he just works with them. His stories are really compassionate, it would be easy to ridicule and focus on the  terrible conditions hoarders and their families live in.

I picked up this book to reinforce my own tendency to hang on to stuff a little to much. There but for a low gag threshold and more garage space go I. Don't miss the tale of the: Eight. Foot. Wide. Rats. Nest. OMG.

Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West

Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West
by Dorothy Wickenden
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published June 21st 2011 by Scribner

New Yorker executive editor  Dorothy Wickenden delivers an absorbing account of her grandmother Dorthy Woodruf and friend Rosamund Underwood’s trek in 1916 to Colorado to teach school.

The two women were part of Albany New York society, well traveled and sophisticated, and looked upon the expedition as nothing short of adventure. And even by our standards today, it still was.

Their journey by train took them as far as the Continental Divide, then by wagon to Elkhead, CO. The two women divided the teaching assignments in the newly built schoolhouse, which boasted of a basement and served as the community gathering spot.

Author Wickenden provides letters of the women to friends and family. The letters are lengthy and full of optimism, and enthusiasm for the land and the people struggling to prosper on the new frontier.

This was an enjoyable book, centering on the day to day details of the women’ lives and their family back East.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Garden Intrigue

The Garden Intrigue (Pink Carnation #8)
by Lauren Willig
Hardcover, 388 pages
Published 2012 by Dutton Adult.
In the latest installment of the successful Pink Carnation series, modern day Eloise Kelly is living in her boyfriends English mansion and working on her doctoral thesis of Regency spies.

Her misadventures are interspersed with the Napoleonic Wars spymasters circle in 1804 Paris. American abroad Emma Delagardie’s social circle includes her friend Hortense and her family,  Kardashians of the 19th century, the Bonapartes.

When pressured to provide  a play celebrating the First Consul (make that Emporer’s) imminent naval victory, she asks a friend of a friend for help.

Her co-writer Augustus Whittlesby, a chaming, skillful agent for the Crown, is posing as a really bad poet. They find their partnership contentious, ultimately leading to romantic.

Wittig always provides an interesting cast of characters, crackling dialogue and enough historical background to make the reader feel immersed in another world.

After the Quake by Haruki Murakami

181 pages, 2002.
I've wanted to read Murakami for some time but other titles kept butting in line. Now that I've finally read this collection of short stories I'm so glad I made the effort and plan to read more by him in the very near future.

After the Quake is an easy to read, yet very thought provoking, collection of short stories relating to the Kobe earthquake in 1995. Instead of focusing on the earthquake itself, the six stories contained here each provide a glimpse of the aftermath suffered by the characters. Some of the effects are not in direct relation to the quake but the emotional response and other situations that result from it.   

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

"Catch Me"

"Catch Me" by Lisa Gardner
385 Pages

Is there a serial killer on the loose; only killing groups of friends, one at a time, each year on the anniversary date of the first killing? Or is it one of the friends who is doing the killing and she is trying to throw everyone off her track by pretending to be afraid?  You will have to read it to find out!This is a very good book. It was a fast read starring one of my favorite detectives: D.D. Warren. Only this time, D.D. not only has to solve this crime but another crime within this crime, and she has a new baby at home. Will she solve the crime or be to sleep deprived to see the truth?  This book has an interesting twist towards the ending, which at some points in the book, you wonder but Lisa Gardner keeps you guessing until the last part of the book. A good read if you are looking for a fast, "fluff" mystery novel.


Silence by Jan Costin Wagner
245 Pages

This book is written by a German author who resides in both Germany and Finland. This is a mystery/thriller book and it was translated by Anthea Bell. When I first read that it had been translated, I really did not think much about it, the names of the characters were different, but I did not think that it would be written any differently than a book by an American author. I was wrong. The plot is good, the suspense is good, but the style of writing was different enough that I almost did not finish this book. It starts out with a missing girl and her bike being left on a bike trail. They drag her out of a lake a few months later, then it fast forwards to 33 years later, with another missing girl and a bike at the marker of the first girl's bike.  I was really intrigued; as this is the type of books I like ( morbid, I know...).  I would say that in German - this was a great book. I am hoping that it is not just my preference of American authors (which until I read this, I did not realize I had) that made it hard for me to connect and really enjoy this book.

"Still Alice" by Lisa Genova

292 pages

Things are going pretty darn well for Alice Howland. She's not only enjoying a distinguished career--Harvard researcher and professor of psychology--but she's also got a successful, loving husband and three grown children.  Then one day she goes for a run around her neighborhood and can't remember how to get home. Soon she finds herself forgetting words and parts of lectures that she's given dozens of times. She chalks it up to the arrival of menopause, but the feeling that something isn't right continues to gnaw at her. Finally, after a few doctors' visits and medical tests, she learns the truth: she has early-onset Alzheimer's disease. Suddenly, Alice's world is turned upside down. For as long as she can remember, her brain has been the most valuable thing she has. As her memory begins to slip further and further away, she learns more about what really matters to her and who she really is. Unfortunately, she's running out of time to make the most of this self-discovery.

This book totally broke my heart. At the beginning, I thought I wasn't going to care about this particular story. I didn't really even like Alice or any of the other main characters at first, and I only kept reading because of the Alzheimer's aspect. However, I did connect with Alice more as the story progressed, which made it seem even more tragic. It's incredibly sad that she is losing her mind just when she starts to reevaluate things and rearrange her priorities. The really sad part, though, is that Alzheimer's is a very real disease and thousands of people have gone through what Alice and her family experience in the novel. I don't think any of can imagine what it's like to slowly lose our grip on reality, but Genova makes it feel amazingly real. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Fair Weather

by Richard Peck
Read by Estelle Parsons
146 pages

This was a short and sweet audiobook.  This story is told by Rosie a 13-year-old country girl from rural Illinois.   The year is 1893, and the World's Fair is going on in Chicago.  However, this does not affect life on the farm, until Aunt Euterpe sends four tickets to the Becketts so that the kids can go to the fair and experience life outside the farm.  The book recounts the experiences of Rosie, her two siblings, her grandfather, and Aunt Euterpe as they take in the fair and learn all about city life.

I am a fan of Peck.  His books always have a homey flavor that reminds me of my own family, and his down-to-earth humor is ever-present in this novel.  I also learned some interesting stuff about the World's Fair.  I enjoyed this book, but not as much as I have enjoyed other Peck novels.

A Clash of Kings

A Song of Ice and Fire, #2
by George R.R. Martin
761 pages

WARNING:  If you have not finished reading A Game of Thrones, and you plan to, do not read this summary.  It's impossible to summarize this book without giving away large parts of what happened in the first book.

There are now four kings who each claim the throne of Westeros.  Joffrey Baratheon is thought to be King Robert's son and the heir apparent.  However, he is really the result of incest between his mother and her twin brother, and he really has no claim to the throne, though he is still unaware of this.  Joffrey's mother's family, the Lannisters, have lots of money and a large army to support Joffrey's claim and hold the western lands.  King Robert's real heir should be Stannis, his brother, and Stannis makes a claim to the throne based on this, but few lords support his claim.  Robert's youngest brother Renly also makes a claim on the throne as King Robert's appointed heir to their family's lands and titles.  Renly is largely supported by those in the south.  The final claimant to the throne is Robb Stark, King of the North, who has been proclaimed king by many supporters in the central and northern regions of Westeros.  Stark did not seek to become king, but many would rather have him as king over the corrupt Lannisters.  Obviously, there cannot be four kings, so there are some battles going on to settle the matter.

Of course we cannot forget our favorite characters.  Tyrion Lannister is Acting Hand and works to keep the throne in Lannister hands, even if it means opposing Queen Regent Cersei and King Joffrey.  The Stark family is still scattered throughout the entire realm, each with his or her own struggles.  The Starks and Winterfell are also in danger as others seek to take the northern lands for their own.  Jon Snow is fighting beyond the Wall, and Daenerys Targaryen is still wandering around with her dragons in the lands east of Westeros.

Overall, an enjoyable read.  I've got to say that I think Tyrion Lannister is one of my favorite characters, even though he is fighting on the "wrong" side.  The only complaint I have is that Martin spends too much time following the story of Daenerys Targaryen.  I don't like her, and I don't want her to take over the realm.  So help me, if this is how this whole series ends, I am going to be mad.  However, I definitely have to read the next book because I desperately need to know what's going to happen to the Starks.

A Bride's Story, Vol. 3

by Kaoru Mori
206 pages

Though Amir and Karluk appear in this volume, the focus of the story has shifted away from them.  This volume follows the story of Mr. Smith, the English linguist, as he attempts to travel west to Turkey.  While he is waiting for his guide, he meets a widow named Talas and a love story of sorts ensues.  Mr. Smith runs into all sorts of trouble in love and in his travels because he is a foreigner, and he is accused of being a spy.  This volume also gives a unique view of the politics and culture of Central Asia.

I was disappointed that Amir and Karluk were largely ignored in this volume.  I don't feel like their story is done yet.  However, I still like this series and will continue to read it.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Wandering Son: Volume 2

by Shimura Takako, 221 pages

It's getting harder for Nitori and Takatsuki to keep their secret, especially for Nitori as people are less likely to question a tomboy than a boy in a dress. But even when he's dressed like a boy, he can't hide that he's different. While on a school trip to a famous shrine, Nitori has his first real experience with bullying about his feminine looks and personality and is surprised when Chiba comes so vehemently to his defense all Anne-of-Green-Gables style.

Go, Chiba! I worry so for these children and the scary, difficult way ahead of them, but at least they have each other and the love and support of more and more friends and family all the time.

Vampire Knight: Volume 13

by Matsuri Hino, 197 pages

At last some of Kaname's history is revealed to Yuki (and the reader) along with the origin of the hunters. But what's she going to do with this new information?

Thirteen books in and I still find it hard to tell these characters apart. *sigh* I'm happy to finally get some background on Kaname and am a little less weirded-out by his relationship with Yuki. But who is the woman from his past? And what's going to become of dear Zero? At least he seems to be semi-well-adjusted...for the moment.