Wednesday, February 27, 2008

HALF Broken Things

Morag Joss
Genre: Psychological Suspense
Published: 2005
Personal Rating: 4/5

In a nutshell (I'm not a fan of giving too much away), three troubled adults independently find themselves in dire situations and eventually congregate in the same home. Their need and desire for love and acceptance is of the utmost importance; it's that drive which leads them into . . . well, more trouble.

Peculiar. That's my one word description of this novel. However, when all is said and done, there is so much more to this book. The story begins slowly, but gradually and strangely draws you in. Throughout the book, I felt liery - not quite sure what these people were capable of doing in the name of family. After a little more thought, maybe a better description would be: Peculiarly thought-provoking.

Even though at some point this book made it onto my TBR list (no recollection of when or why), I specifically read it now for the "J" Author (A ~ Z Reading Challenge). I'm thankful for the challenge, because it was worth the read. I may have missed out on it, otherwise.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Eleven on Top by J. Evanovich (AudioBook)

It wasn't one of my 5 that I was going to read, but I picked up a copy of the audio book for Janet Evanovich's Eleven on Top. I've posted a review on my site.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

3rd Degree by James Patterson

I always hesitate to start a new series when I'm several books behind. With book #7 hitting the best seller list this past month, I was a bit hesitant to dive into this. But I have caught a few reruns of the Women's Murder Club during this endless writer's strike and liked the foundation. I'm now three books into the series. They have all been "easy" reads and I have finished them quickly. I like to have books like this on my shelf to pick up in between those "heavy" reads. I had just finished Deep Survival, a nonfiction book about near death situations, and was in need of a switch.

Murder, dead bodies, conspiracy are my usual choice of mindless reading. So this story of Detective Boxer and her female colleagues was just what I needed. This time the group underwent some big changes and a lot of stress. They prevailed in the end, just what you want from your favorite heroes. I'll pick up the fourth one in a book or two, reading a little deeper subject right now.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Tell No One by Harlan Coben

Review by Dana:

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Five People You Meet In Heaven

I knew it was a bad idea. But see, I'm doing this Numbers Challenge... and everyone else has read it. But really... I knew it was a bad idea.

So clearly, before picking up The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom I was biased. It just seemed so... Oprah's Book Club. You know, before she did the revamp and "discovered" Steinbeck. Plus, my horrible horrible roommate had it as a fixture on her desk in our dorm room. (Thank goodness those days are long over). This wasn't going to be a book I'd like.

But I had to try it because... 1. It was a national best seller / everyone's read it and 2. I did enjoy Tuesdays with Morrie.

Starting out I surprised myself. I didn't mind it. Lately there's been the circus/carnivale setting trend going around, I like it. (Water for Elephants, Carnivale, etc) I enjoyed hearing about the old time pier amusement park, all that. And I even started to wonder who Eddie would meet in heaven. But that's about it...

The second half of the book I had to force myself through. I actually set a time limit.

My complaints? ... I've been trying to figure that out. I think I felt like Albom was trying too hard. It was too sentimental? It didn't work for me. Sorry I can't be more eloquent.

Recommendation: If you are the one other person out there who hasn't read this book, skip it.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

2nd Chance

I was hooked with the first one and enjoyed the second one as well. Lindsay Boxer is the type of woman I want to be...maybe minus being shot at and such. I also need a group of women like Jill, Claire, and Cindy to be able to meet up with for margaritas when I need a collective thinking effort. Since I don't have all that I'll make do with the book. Poor Lindsay has to deal with her father's past in this one but comes out shining, albeit a little black and blue.

I'm half way through 3rd Degree and have Three Cups of Tea in my bag. The next review shouldn't be long to follow.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Two Little Girls in Blue

Two Little Girls in Blue
by Mary Higgins Clark
Copyright: 2006
Pages: 390
Rating: 5/5
Read: Jan. 10-11, 2008
Challenges: What's in a Name (Color category); Numbers Challenge; Triple Eight Challenge,
From my TBR Shelf category

First Line: "Hold on a minute, Rob, I think one of the twins is crying. Let me
call you back."

Margaret and Steve Frawley's three year old twin daughters, Kelly and Kathy, have been kidnapped from their own room, their babysitter knocked unconscious. When the ransom note comes in for eight million dollars, the money is put up by Steve's employers. Unfortunately, only Kelly comes home safely. But when Kelly begins to voice concern that Kathy is not dead, as was widely assumed, Margaret goes frantic trying to bring Kathy home safely.

I loved this book! It was great!!! The twists and turns were wonderful. I love reading Mary Higgins Clark ... she never disappoints! This book read rather quickly and was enjoyable. Another A+ effort by MHC!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Cocktails for Three

Cocktails for Three by Madeleine Wickham
3 stars

Book description: Three women, smart and successful, working in the fast and furious world of magazines, meet for cocktails and gossip once a month. Roxanne: glamorous, self-confident, with a secret lover - and hoping that one day he will leave his wife and marry her. Maggie: capable and high-achieving, until she finds the one thing she can't cope with - motherhood. Candice: honest, decent, or so she believes - until a ghost from her past turns up, and almost ruins her life. A chance encounter in the cocktail bar sets in train an extraordinary set of events which upsets all their lives and almost destroys their friendship.

First line: "Candice Brewin pushed open the heavy glass door of the Manhattan Bar and felt the familiar swell of warmth, noise, light and clatter rush over her."

My thoughts: Madeleine Wickham is better known as Sophie Kinsella. So when I spotted this book while browsing in a used bookstore and noticed the note saying that's who she was, I snapped it up, since I enjoyed the Shopaholic books and especially Can You Keep a Secret?

This one's okay, though I didn't think it had the sparkle of her other work. It's pretty darn predicitable (although the Shopaholic ones are, too, but somehow their charm makes up for most of it) - you know Candice is going to get herself in trouble with the person from her past, it's not hard to guess who Roxanne is having the affair with, and it's obvious that Maggie is in for some post-partum depression.

That seems to be a theme as chick lit writers turn into mommies - the joys but mostly horrors of having a baby. I really felt for Maggie, feeling like she had to do everything perfectly while being so completely exhausted.

The theme of the book is secrets and how we hide them from even our closest friends. I did like the message that it's good to tell people when you need help or are having problems, to avoid everything from stress and to actual crises before they get to be too much to handle.

Overall, it's not a bad piece of Chick lit - I polished it off in about a day while sick in bed.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Number One Ladies' Detective Agency

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
4 stars

I've been meaning to read this one for some time - despite being disappointed in a few of his books recently, I like Alexander McCall Smith. And it seems as if this series has charmed just about everyone. I haven't heard a bad word spoken against it. And I was quite charmed, too. [Note, I may have a few spoilers here, so don't read on if you plan to read this one. But I have a feeling I'm one of the few people left who hadn't read it!]

I was surprised, though, to find horrific incidents sprinkled throughout what I thought was going to be basically a cozy mystery - Precious' husband is a violent rapist who tries to kill their unborn child, then leaves her. While Smith and Precious both love Botswana, there are still references, mostly subtle, to Africa's problems - AIDS, corrupt police, smuggling, etc.

But Precious definitely lives up to her name - she's very clever, funny and has a heart as big as her "traditional" frame. It was quite interesting and rather funny to see a fat lady be admired, for a change, and I could imagine Precious' large frame sailing through town on her missions. I did wonder, however, how she could remain a private private detective when everyone in the area knew her and she was rather hard to miss.

I also found some funny touches in the names of businesses (include the name of the agency) caused by English not being the native language in Botswana. My favourite was the Go Go Handsome Man's Bar, but I also got a kick out Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors.

I liked that there were smaller, mostly gentler cases mixed in with the larger case of the kidnapped boy. My favourite was the one about the doctor that seemed to be incredibly forgetful but was actually a set of twins. I enjoyed how Precious used her instincts, feminine wiles, and the knowledge she gleaned from both Agatha Christie novels and the PI manual she sends away for. And, of course, I liked that the kidnapped boy was found safe and sound.

An African lady written by a Scottish man seems fairly implausible, but McCall Smith is in fine form. While the sequels aren't right at the top of my TBR list, I have a feeling I'll be visiting the Agency again.

Thirteen Reasons Why

First time novelist Jay Asher debuts with a fantastic read! We meet Hannah Baker thru a series of farewell tape recordings. These aren't just any recordings, they are the last words of a suicidal teenager. Hannah is an ordinary high school student with all the problems of a teenager, when one boy starts one rumor. It snowballs from there. Her life is turned upside down when that one rumor becomes her entire reputation. We catch Hannah's story while Clay Jensen is listening to her tapes, which were mailed to him 2 weeks after her death. Hearing the voice of his high school crush is so hard, but Clay has to know why he one of Hannah's 13 reasons for leaving this world.
I can't believe the concept of this book. It's one of those ideas that makes you wish you had thought of it first. It's a fantastic read and the characters are so real. If I recommend one book to anyone this year, it will most definitely be this one! I just saw that Joy read this too!