Sunday, July 31, 2011

(121)Built to Sell by John Warrillow

Built to Sell
Publication Date : April 28, 2011

Okay, I admit it. I committed the ultimate book lover sin. I committed to reading a book based on the title alone. Not even the entire title. I just saw the "Built to Sell" and I thought - I have GOT to read that! Being that my job has morphed into nothing but a sales and marketing position, I am always looking for ways to improve my skills.

Well, Built to Sell is more about building your company in preparation of selling it to prospective buyers. I did go ahead and read the book and I enjoyed what the author had to say. He used the "fable" method, ala Patrick Lencioni, telling us a tale of Alex and his mentor, Ted. Ted is trying to help Alex transform his company from your average advertising agency to an agency with a very specific focus, logos, and perfecting that focus to grow the business and make it attractive to prospective buyers.

Even though it was not what I expected, it was an interesting book told in a way that is not as boring or dry as it could have been. That was meant to be a compliment, really. LOL. Even though the target audience is very specific, I think this book could be beneficial to any small business owner. One who is wanting to sell or one who is just looking to improve their business from the top down. It would be a good gift to give the business owners in your life. --- And let this be a lesson to you - read the ENTIRE title before committing to reading it for your blog.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

(120)In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson

In the Garden of Beasts

Publication Date : May 10, 2011
464 Pages

Erik Larson has earned a name for himself as a Historian that has an incredible way with words. His best selling novel, The Devil in the White City , is still on the bestsellers list after being published for over seven years.

His new book, In The Garden of Beasts, takes on a whole new level of evil. He takes on Hitler. Larson goes into 1933 Germany with the US Ambassador, William E. Dodd, during a time of Hitler and his young Nazi regime. Along with Dodd are his wife, Mattie, son, Bill Jr, and his daughter, Martha. Very little is shared about Mattie and Bill Jr during their stay in Germany. The book is mostly centered around Dodd and his daughter, Martha.

Dodd's stint as Ambassador is a bit unconventional in a lot of ways, but it is the tales of Martha's time in Berlin that make the story unforgettable. To be polite, I will just say that she was a bit of a social butterfly. But to be honest, even by today's standards, she was a bit of a tart. She looked at her father's status as Ambassador as a free pass to enjoy the "New Germany" in every way she could. Ultimately it is the tales of Hitler and his henchmen that give this story the shock value. They are just getting their start in 1933, but they hint at the atrocities that are to come with their actions and behaviors. The details of "The Purge" was so vivid and so descriptive that I had a really hard time continuing. But I did.

In the Garden of Beasts is exactly what we have come to expect from Erik Larson. He has done his research well and tells us a story of Nazi Germany that many of us did not know. The story, as a whole, is interesting and full of facts. Within that story are a few parts that are incredibly dry and drawn out. If you can stick with it through those parts, I think you will overall, enjoy this book. Well, as much as you can enjoy a book about the early days of the Holocaust. At the very least you will learn something. And knowledge is power.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

(119)Always Something There to Remind Me by Beth Harbison

Always Something There To Remind Me

Publication Date: July 19, 2011
368 Pages

Do you remember what it was like to be in high school and be in love? Here it is two decades later and Erin Edwards remembers it as if it was yesterday. The intense feelings she felt for Nate Lawson have never diminished. That becomes painfully obvious when she runs into him and they pick up as if the last twenty years never existed. But they did and they both have other commitments and other lives. Will they be able to reconcile their past and be friends? Or are the past memories and emotions going to get in the way of a possible friendship?

I loooooooooooooved this book! The 80's references were supremely spot on! I expect no less from Beth Harbison, but the music references to the makeup references were perfect. I loved Erin and the relationship she has with her daughter, Cam. I loved the way the author put us in Erin's head to truly see the feelings she has for Nate. I teared up a couple of times because I could really empathize for her. The ending was well done and just as it should have been. Overall a great Summer read.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

(118)The Babysitter Murders by Janet Ruth Young

The Babysitter Murders

Publish Date: July 26, 2011
336 Pages

I know I said that I was going to back off of the Young Adult literature, but this one worked it's way into the pile. The title is completely contradictory to the picture, until you find out what the story is about.

17-year-old, Dani is a model teenager. A great student, a member of the choir, a star Tennis player, and has a great babysitting job looking after little Alex. Everything is going great for Dani until one day she starts having horrible thoughts about Alex. Like, "what if she killed him" thoughts. They were so terrifying to her that she actually took all of the knives in Alex's home and locked them in the garage until his mother got home. Dani tries to tell her mother about the dark thoughts in her head, but she gets nowhere. She tries to quit babysitting for Alex, but that goes nowhere. So she tries to Alex's mother. And that gets her a trip home in the back of a police car, which starts an astonishing amount of harassment. Will Dani's mom be able to keep her safe while trying to get her the help that she needs or will Dani finally act on the thoughts that have been dominating her brain over the last several months.

Admittedly, the topic of this story is very dark. BUT, I think there are a lot of key talking points for teens and their parents. Obviously open lines of communication are critical, but if Dani had been able to REALLY talk to her Mom, everything would have turned out differently. She would have never gone to Alex's mom and the police would not have been involved.

We tend to think of "bad kids" being the loners, the bad students, the anti-social. But this book proves that kids of all walks of life can have mental illnesses. I am a bit surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. Dani is a great character, all things considered. I really wanted to scoop her up and keep her safe from the hateful words and actions. I think the author did a fantastic job of moving the story along in a way that we, the reader, did not hate Dani. We felt sorry for her. Murderous thoughts and all. I know it seems really dark, but I think there is an important message in there, maybe more for parents than teens, about the parent/teen relationship and how crucial communication is to the health of that relationship. If you give it a shot, let me know what you think.

Monday, July 25, 2011

(117)Killing Kate by Julie Kramer

I have never read Julie Kramer before, but when I looked up her backlist on, I think that I may have one or two of her books in *my* backlist. I must say that I enjoyed reading Killing Kate.

Apparently Killing Kate is the fourth in a series about a Minneapolis TV reporter, Riley Spartz. Riley is pulled into yet another murder mystery when the sister of her college roommate is murdered in her home. Riley finds herself in the hunt for the story of her career and it takes her all over the Midwest. As she starts to piece everything together she realizes that she might be the next victim of the Black Angel killer. Will she be able to blow the lid off of the story before it is too late?

Even though Killing Kate was the fourth in a series I didn't get the feeling like I was missing out on anything from the previous books. It wasn't the most gripping mystery I have ever read, but it was entertaining. Riley is an interesting and realistic character who just happens to get herself in several unrealistic (some of them) situations. There are several subplots that culminate in a somewhat unrealistic, yet horrific ending. But if you are willing to suspend belief to make it through the end, you might enjoy the outcome.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

(116)The Single Girl's To-Do List by Lindsey Kelk

The Single Girl's To-Do List

Publication Date: June 6, 2011
400 Pages

What a fun little book! I have been so busy with other ARC's that I have gotten behind on my purchased books. I have hundreds of them to go through and what better time than a hot summer day to dive into a fabulous Chick Lit.

Rachel is loving the life she has. She has a wonderful career, a wonderful boyfriend, and a wonderful flat in London. It all comes crashing down on her when Simon tells her that he wants a break. Their break turns into a break-up and for the first time in five years, Rachel is single. Her best friends, Matthew & Emilie swoop in to save the day and save Rachel from herself. They help her create the ultimate "to-do list" that will help her get over Simon. Will safe, boring Rachel actually complete her list or will she take the safe route and live the life of a boring person, as she has been accused?

This was the first book by Lindsey Kelk that I have read (although I admit to hoarding four more of her books on my nook) and let me tell you, I laughed out loud, many times. Her writing is fresh and so very real. I loved the fact that it is set in London, so we get all of those British references that we Anglophiles love to see. Overall it was a fun read. I look forward to seeing what her other works have to offer.

Friday, July 22, 2011

(115)The Killing Song by PJ Parrish

The Killing Song

Publish Date : July 26, 2011
416 Pages

I worked in a bookstore for nearly five years. I have most certainly heard of PJ Parrish. What I did not realize was that PJ Parrish is really the pseudonym of two sisters. They have been writing award winning, bestselling mystery books for years.

The Killing Song is a "stand alone" novel by the ladies featuring a Pulitzer prize journalist. His little sister disappears one night when they are on the town in Miami. When her body is found a few hours later Matt's whole world is devastated. But it is when her iPod is returned to him that Matt discovers her killer may not be a novice and he may not still be in Miami. He sets off for France and what soon becomes an international mystery that takes him all over Eastern Europe. Will he be able to convince the police that they are looking for a serial killer? Will they be able to stop him before he(or she) kills again? Will Matt be able to bring his sister's killer to justice?

The Killing Song was the first book I have read by PJ Parrish and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Well, as much as one can while reading a murder mystery. Matt was a great main character. Devoted to his sister, successful in his career, yet far from perfect. The scene when he breaks down with Eve showed just how vulnerable he is underneath his tough guy exterior. Mystery fans are really going to enjoy this one. Being introduced to a new author is always a risk, but I feel confident in saying that PJ Parrish is one you will really enjoy.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

(114)A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard

by Jaycee Dugard

Publication Date: July 5. 2011
198 Pages.

We all know who Jaycee Lee Dugard is. Either you have heard the name in passing associated with her recovery. Or you remember the details surrounding her kidnapping and praying for her safety all those years ago.

I was one of the former. I was young and self-involved when she was kidnapped and remember very little about the details of her kidnapping. And even she was found I was like, "Oh cool, good for her". I didn't really give it much thought. And then I saw her interview with Diane Sawyer and thought, I am going to buy her book. I am going to buy hundreds of her book (not really, but you get the sentiment) I want to do whatever I can do to show my support and admiration for such an amazing woman.

A Stolen Life is NOT an easy read. It is horrific by nature and more graphic than any novel you will read. And throughout the first chapters as she tells us in horrific detail what it was like to lose her virginity to this monster at the age of eleven. All I could think of is that my Step-Daughter is eleven. And I would *kill* any man who hurt her like that. Even if it took eighteen years, I would *kill* him.

A Stolen Life is also a bit difficult to read from a grammatical standpoint. There is very little editing (THANK YOU Simon & Schuster). The editors let Jaycee tell her story in HER words. As she has only a fifth grade education, I think she did a damn fine job. At the end of each chapter she gives us her reflections on what she just wrote and some insight to her current life. She also goes into detail as to the "team" that surrounds them now and has been with them since that day they were "found". It is fascinating to read about the support that they have. By her own admission they are a blessing and I am glad they are there for her.

One final note. In a very admirable move, Jaycee has taken great pains to protect the privacy of her daughters as much as possible. She only calls them by their first initials in the book and other than baby pictures, you never see their face. They all have a long road ahead of them, but I believe that Jaycee is a strong, wise young woman who will guide them down the right path.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

(113) Love Story by Jennifer Echols

Publication Date: July 19, 2011
256 Pages

Erin Blackwell is a struggling college student. She lives in the dorms and works crazy hours at a coffee shop. Her only joy in life is creative writing, where she hopes to perfect her love stories and get them ready for publication. She feels safe sharing her stories in her tight knit class until one day there is a new student. Except he isn't new to Erin. He is the man that stole her inheritance and essentially banished her from the only true home she has known. And he is the hero in her love stories.

Love Story was a decent love story written for Young Adults. I have seen a lot of really positive reviews for Jennifer Echols' new book, but it really didn't do much for me. It was a story that I feel like I had read before. And maybe I have read something similar before when I read nothing but trashy romance novels. I think I am a bit disappointed because I was expecting more. I know that, being an old lady, I am not the target audience for the author. Maybe this is a sign that I need to back off the YA novels and stick with something a bit more "age appropriate".

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

(112)The Inverted Forest by John Dalton

Publication Date : July 19, 2011
336 Pages

Summer time is synonymous with summer camp. Children of all ages have been going off to summer camp for decades. And where there are summer camps, there are camp counselors. Usually kids themselves, counselors are usually in their late teens early twenties. College kids hoping to earn some money while having a fun summer.

The Inverted Forest is about a summer camp set in the Ozark hills of Missouri. The elderly camp owner has just fired his entire staff for swimming naked in the pool a few days before their first campers arrive. In a fit of desperation he hires anyone he can find in a hope to get them trained before the first campers arrive. The first group of campers are unique, though, as they are residents of Missouri's State Hospitals. They are a challenging and needy group of campers. While their bodies are anywhere from 20 to 40 years old, their minds have never developed past childhood. One counselor in particular, Wyatt Huddy, is struggling with his duties. Wyatt has a physical malformity that causes a lot of people to confuse him with the campers. Yet in his quiet, steady way, he is exactly what the campers and the camp needs. Until there is a shocking sudden act of violence that rocks the camp to it's core. Things will never be the same again.

The Inverted Forest is a magnificent piece of literature. It's beauty is the slow, detailed way the author takes with setting the story. The history of the camp, the beauty of the Ozarks, the life that Wyatt Huddy has lived. There isn't a lot of flash or excitement to The Inverted Forest. It is a story that is carefully plotted out and told with such precision. As a reader we know that something "shocking" is going to happen, and can even predict what is coming. It is after "the event" that the the "truth" about what SHOULD have happened that summer comes to light. And that is far more shocking than "the event."

I really enjoyed The Inverted Forest. I was never bored with the story, per se, but it was not your typical "summer camp" story. And really, I was SHOCKED by what came to light after "the event". Like I literally gasped, because it was not what I expected. The Inverted Forest is on sale today at your favorite bookstore.

Monday, July 18, 2011

(111)Justice by Karen Robards

Publication Day July 19, 2011
352 Pages

Karen Robards is one of those authors that I read as a young pup. Tami Hoag, Danielle Steele, Sandra Brown, Linda Howard and Karen Robards. I have said it before, but I don't know if the writing has gotten worse or my taste in literature has gotten better, but I was sorely disappointed by Justice.

Jessica is a lawyer in witness protection. If by witness protection you mean just change her last name, but not her profession, or her address or her leaving her family - then YES she is in witness protection. She wins a high profile case that puts her in the news and brings Secret Service Agent Mark Ryan back into her life. Just in time for Jess to be attacked multiple times. Will Mark and Jess rekindle their relationship or will their past get in the way of Mark keeping her safe?

To say that Justice was predictable is a gross understatement. I was so disappointed in the writing, in the plot, and most of all in the characters. I think I am better off just fondly remembering their works gone by and stop trying to rekindle feelings for books gone by.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

(110) The Orphan Sister by Gwendolen Gross

The Orphan Sister

Publication Date : July 5, 2011
304 Pages

The Orphan Sister is a wonderfully written novel about three sisters. Triplets, actually. One set of identical twins and their extra sister, Clementine. For their whole lives Clementine has been the outsider in their sisterhood relationship. She loves her sisters, but she knows Olivia and Odette are closer. While Clementine went to Oberlin, the O's went to Harvard. While Clementine is still unsure of what she wants to do with her life at the age of 29, the other girls are doctors, married, and both expecting their first child.

Clementine is about to sit down and take an online test when one of her sister's calls to tell her that their father did not show up for rounds at the hospital. Their missing father sets Clementine on a course of truth. Discovery of the truth about her father's past. And dealing with the truth of her own romantic past and the feelings that she has now for her best friend, Eli. Will Clementine be able to come to grips with her father's shocking secret or will it tear their family apart?

The Orphan Sister is a fantastic novel about family dynamics. A family is gripped in the middle of a family crisis and we get to see it all unfold. I really liked Clementine and I hated to see how hurt she was by her father. Triplets are unique enough that the book could have only dealt with their relationship and it would have been a good book to read. Throw in the unusual circumstances their father has thrown them into and you have the makings of a fantastic novel.

Friday, July 15, 2011

(109) Iron House by John Hart

John Hart deserves every award he has ever won. He is the only author ever to win back to back Edgar Awards. For those of you who don't know, the Edgar Awards are like the Pulitzer for thrillers. He has been compared to John Grisham and Scott Turow, but frankly he deserves to be labeled something more than just a legal thriller author. He proves that with his new novel, Iron House.

Iron House is the story of two brothers, Julian and Michael. They were found in a riverbed when they were just babies. Left to grow up in an orphanage, Iron House, the boys are left to the mercy of the older, more vicious kids. Julian does not fare well under the pressure and Michael rises to the challenge and looks after his twin. Their torture at Iron House shapes them into who they will become. Julian is adopted by a Senator and becomes a bestselling author of nightmarish novels. Michael kills his first man by the age of ten and is left to fend for himself on the streets of New York. Until a mob boss takes him under his wing and makes him family.

Fast forward 23 years. Michael is ready to "get out" of the family. He has fallen in love and is going to be a Father. He doesn't want this life for his child, so he does what he has to do to break free. Before he disappears into the night, he needs to make sure Julian will be safe. What he finds sends him back to Iron House. Determined to solve the mysteries of the past and keep Julian safe at all costs.

Iron House is the literal definition of "page turner". I could not put it down. Michael and Julian are so real. Both tortured by their pasts, but both very different in their way of dealing with the past. I loved how John Hart worked Abigail, Julian's adopted mother into the story, and I was just SHOCKED at the revelation made at the end of the book. John Hart is a name that you all need to get to know. His exceptional writing can rival that of John Grisham and Stephen King, but his imagination is all his own.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

(108) Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan (Audiobook)

I think it is a rare person that does not have a smidgen of drama in their extended family. A crazy Aunt or a family squabble over land or even something so shocking as *gasp* a child being born out of wedlock. We all have something in those closets.

In her new novel, Maine, J. Courtney Sullivan, writes about three drama filled generations of Kelleher women. There is the matriarch, Alice. She is a staunch and rigid woman, utterly devoted to her Catholic church like a good Irish Catholic woman should be, but will her devotion rip apart her family? There is her daughter, Kathleen. A recovering alcoholic who is the complete opposite of her mother in every way possible, or is she? Ann Marie is married to the only Kelleher son and has been the dutiful daughter that Kathleen could never be. And finally there is Maggie, Kathleen's daughter, who has found herself in a precarious predicament and is not sure how to proceed.

A misccomunication over scheduling brings all four of these women to the Kelleher beach home in Maine. Will they be able to set aside old family drama and enjoy their summer vacation or will the drama tear their family apart once and for all?

I really enjoyed this novel. The writing is absolutely superb. The characters walk that thin line of love and hate. I could relate the most with Maggie. Her dating experiences, her relationship with her mother, her relationship with her Grandmother. I did NOT like Kathleen and her self righteous indignation. There were several times through the novel that my jaw dropped and I said "Oh my God". The Kelleher's aren't unlike any other American family. There are different personalities and differing opinions, but when it comes right down to it, family is everything and the love is unconditional.

If you are looking for a good American family type of drama, heck if you are just looking for a well written piece of literature, pick up Maine. You won't regret your choice.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

(107)Then Came You by Jennifer Weiner

I have a love/hate relationship with Jennifer Weiner's novels. Some are good, some are just "meh". I must say that Then Came You is one of her better novels.

Then Came You is a book about four women involved in the emotional world of infertility. There is Annie, the woman who hopes that the money she gets from being a surrogate will help solve her problems and heal her marriage. There is Jules, the young college student, who uses the money from donating her eggs to put her Father through rehab. Again. There is India, the infertile "trophy-wife" who hopes the baby about to be born will fully cement her into her husband's world. And finally there is Bettina, India's suspicious step-daughter who suspects that India is hiding something sinister. These women are all involved in creating the young life that is about to be born. Their bond is irrevocable.

Infertility is such an emotional topic for anyone who has experienced the heartache of not being able to have a baby. Jennifer Weiner takes that topic and tells a story from all sides. She has done an achingly wonderful job. These women are all very different women at very different places in their lives. Yet they have come together to create a life. A whole new spin on "It takes a village." I enjoyed this book. The character development was certainly one of Weiner's best. While I have never had to deal with the heartwrenching feeling of wanting a baby, but not being able to have one, I now have a better understanding of how the whole surrogacy thing works and how each step impacts the lives of those involved. Great summer read.

Monday, July 11, 2011

(106) Homecoming by Cathy Kelly

I sure do love me some Irish Chick Lit. Cathy Kelly is among the best authors out there.

Homecoming is the latest novel by Cathy Kelly. Set in the cozy Gold Square neighborhood of Dublin, Homecoming is the story of several women at varying stages of their lives. There is Elanor, returning home after living in New York City for nearly 80 years. There is Megan, the famous starlet returning to her Aunt Nora's, hiding from the media mess she created by sleeping with a married man. There is also Rae, the local "mother hen" who is forced to face the consequences of decisions made a lifetime ago. And Connie, who is facing spinsterhood at forty. These women off all different walks of life, come together in Gold Square to help each other grow, heal, and move on with their lives.

I really enjoyed Homecoming. The characters are an eclectic group, but they mesh so well that I wish I were one of them. The support they give one another is akin to what one might receive from a close family. As a reader, we watch them come together and grow as a "family". A well written novel about friendship is just what I needed to break my Mystery streak. The fact that it is set in Dublin is just an added bonus.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

(105)Sister by Rosamund Lipton

I swear. I didn't know that Sister was a mystery when I decided to read it next.

Beatrice is happily living her life in New York City when she is called home to London when her pregnant sister, Tess goes missing. Bee hurries home to London, desperate to find her sister. It is not long after she returns home that Tess's body is discovered. Even though the police have ruled it a suicide, Bee is convinced otherwise. She goes against everyone and starts her own investigation. Will she find the truth she seeks or will she have to come to terms with what really happened.

I found Sister to be totally engrossing. Bee is so consumed with her grief, she can not even begin to accept the possibility that Tess committed suicide. It was those overwhelming feelings that made this story so engrossing She felt so alone without Tess and then her boyfriend goes back to the States. I really wanted to stick with Bee as she searched and searched for the truth.

Sister is a really good novel, it is more than just a mystery novel, it is a novel about the bond of sisterhood. The bond between sisters can be so strong that not even death can break them. Having a sister myself, I really could relate to Bee's unbreakable belief that her sister did not commit suicide. It was powerful and I would be the same way. I think Sister is a novel that many women can relate to, not because of the mystery, but because we are so close to our sisters.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

(104) Because I Said So by Dawn Meehan

Nobody has ever said that being a parent is easy. But for blogger, Dawn Meehan, being a single mom to six kids is so far from easy she wouldn't be able to find easy with a GPS.

Because I Said So... is a collection of stories from her life as Mom. Sometimes funny, sometimes unique, sometimes cliche Dawn gives us a peek of her chaotic life. From baseball games to doing battle over messy rooms, her life isn't all that different than most moms. She just has to do it all by herself and sees humor in her situation instead of despair.

I grew up in a family of seven kids, so I have seen chaos up close and personal. I also have seen each parent working two or three jobs (out of the home) in order to provide food, clothing, and shelter for us seven kids. I think the thing that bugged me most about Dawn Meehan is that while, yes, she has a chaotic life, she does not see the blessing, at least mentioned in this book, of being able to stay home with her six kids. Most single Moms not only have to do everything she does, but also have to juggle careers outside of the home in order to provide for those kids. I do not know all of Dawn Meehan's circumstances, it is not really mentioned in the book, but staying at home, even working from home is not a luxury that most single Moms get.

I am not saying I didn't enjoy Because I Said So - I admittedly chuckled at several parts (the trip to the Outer Banks cracked me up!), but so much of what she talks about is typical in any family regardless of size. Overall I was just "meh" about the book. I think there are a lot of parts Moms of all walks of life can relate to, but I just felt the whole "single mom of six kids" was beaten like a dead horse.

Friday, July 8, 2011

(103)Deed to Death by D.B. Henson

Yes, yes, yes - another Mystery/Suspense/Thriller. Please don't hate me.

The next book in my line of Mystery novels is a bit more fluffier than the others I have read recently. What I mean to say is that it is not quite as intense. Deed to Death, one could argue, is even a bit cheesy. But that is okay, because I love cheese!

Real Estate Agent, Toni, is just days away from marrying the love of her life, wealthy businessman, Scott Chadwick. (Doesn't the name "Chadwick" just scream "old money") But the morning after their rehearsal dinner Scott is found dead at one of his job sites. The police have ruled it suicide, but Toni is adamant that he was murdered. She starts her own investigation, but piecing together the facts surrounding Scott's death has put her own life in jeopardy. Will she be able to prove who murdered Scott without losing her own life in the process?

Deed to Death was a fast read - not too challenging for my feeble brain on this summer morning - but it was one I wanted to stick with just to see, from the many possibilities, whodunit. I didn't really have any guesses - it was only a matter of a few choices. There weren't really any "shocking" moments, but overall I enjoyed this piece of brain candy.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

(102)No Rest For The Dead

The concept is brilliant. Twenty-six of your most favorite mystery writers coming together to write one mystery novel. Each author taking different chapters. Authors such as David Baldacci, Sandra Brown, Jeff Lindsay, Jeffrey Deaver, and Alexander McCall Smith to just name a few. No Rest For The Dead is the result. And frankly it did not live up to expectations.

The prologue for No Rest For The Dead is an intense introduction to this story. Rosemary Thomas is on death row. Convicted of brutally killing her wretched husband. The prologue follows Rosmary's last day, right up to her execution. It.Was.Intense. Then the book skips around to give the back story and flashes forward ten years to the anniversary of her execution. When all of the key players from that time start questioning the events surrounding the death of Rosemary's husband information comes to light that may prove Rosemary was really innocent after all.

I have been on a big mystery/suspense/thriller kick lately. I have read some incredible novels that set the bar high. You would think that with so many talented authors involved in a project like this, that it would be the best book ever written. It is BECAUSE so many authors were involved that I have really lukewarm feelings about the novel. The transitions between authors was really choppy. Creating disconnected chapters and no real "flow". Each of these authors have their own distinct style of writing, no matter how much they tried to reign it in, it really was noticeable in a book like this, creating that "choppy" feeling.

No Rest For The Dead was not horrible, per se, it just did not live up to my expectations. If you go into it knowing what it is, a "meeting of the minds" then maybe you won't be as disappointed as I was with the final result.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

(101)Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante

I am going to share with you a little secret. Nothing scares me more than losing my mind. The argument could be made that I already have lost my mind, but I was referring more to Alzheimer's or Dementia. After reading Still Alice being mentally incapacitated became the stuff my nightmares are made of. So what if you commit a heinous crime while being mentally incapacitated?

Alice LaPlante has written the most terrifying murder mystery ever put on paper. Turn of Mind is a novel about Dr. Jennifer White. She was a renowned orthopedic surgeon before her diagnosis of dementia. She quit practicing medicine, hired a live-in caretaker and appointed her daughter power of attorney over her finances and her medical power of attorney. Because her bad days are more common than her good days, they essentially communicate through a notebook where they write everything down for Jennifer. It is on a bad day when Jennifer's best friend and neighbor is murdered. Three of her fingers have been surgically amputated. Did Jennifer really murder her best friend or was she being set up because her disease makes her a target?

I really, really enjoyed Turn of Mind. Alice LaPlante has done a phenomenal job of taking us into the daily life of an intelligent woman stricken with a horrible, horrible disease. We stay with Jennifer as her mind deteriorates, but it is her brief moments of clarity that give us insight into what really happened the day that Amanda was killed. Did Jennifer really murder her oldest, dearest friend, or is someone close to her taking advantage of her Dementia? Alice LaPlante has taken this murder mystery to a whole new level. If you love a good murder mystery, don't let this one pass you by!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

(100) Dominance by Will Lavender

Look at this <--- cover. For some reason it really fascinates me. It is one of those covers that just absolutely speaks to the subject of the book. Dominance is a dark, puzzling, literary thriller.

Dominance is about of group of students gathered for a night class in 1994, the class, Unraveling a Literary Mystery. Their instructor is Richard Aldiss, a convicted felon, convicted of murdering two of his students in 1982 is teaching the class from his prison cell. That class in 1994 changed life for all of them. It is now present day and the class has been brought together again because one of them has been murdered. Just like those two students all those years ago. Who is behind the murder? It has to be one of them. Or is it Richard Aldiss who was exonerated of his crime? Alex Shipley is determined to find out before she loses another classmate or her own life.

Dominance is truly a literary mystery, a puzzle unraveling with each chapter. With each page the reader gets a little bit more revealed to them and "the game" sucks you in a way that makes you a part of the novel. The book flashes back and forth from 1994 to present day. And each time there is a "switch" in time you go "aarrrgh!" because you want to stay in that year to figure out what happens, it is the element that hooks the reader into never putting the book down until the last page has been read.

I really liked Dominance. The literary twists and turns had me so engrossed in this book that I really didn't want to stop reading until it was over. I enjoyed it so much that I downloaded Will Lavender's first novel, Obedience just to see if Dominance was a fluke or not. But, I suspect it will be just as captivating as Dominance.

Monday, July 4, 2011

(99)Creep by Jennifer Hillier

I *LOVE* it when an author writes a twist that is so far away from what I *think* I know. It is very rare that an author can "pull one over" one me. In Creep, Jennifer Hillier has written the type of book that leaves your head spinning at the end and saying "What just happened?"

Dr. Sheila Tao is a tenured professor who has made the fatal mistake of having an affair with one of her Teaching Assistants. After her long term boyfriend, Morris, proposes, Sheila knows she has to break it off with Ethan. What she doesn't know is that Ethan is not as mentally stable as she thought. While she is planning her wedding and hoping that Morris doesn't find out about her affair, Ethan is planning his revenge.

Jennifer Hillier took the song , Creep by Radiohead, and let her imagination run wild.

Let me tell you, her imagination is a very scary place to be. She has done a phenomenal job writing a thriller that everyone will be buzzing about this summer. That twist at the end was so far out of left field, but it worked. It really pulled the story together and just left me stunned. Jennifer Hillier has hit a homerun with her debut novel, people will be craving her next novel the minute they put this one done. Congrats, Ms. Hillier, your "creepy" imagination has just made you a star. Creep is on sale Tuesday and can be found anywhere books are sold.

(125)Missing by Lindsay Harrison

Publication Date : August 2, 2011
240 Pages

Missing is the story of Lindsay Harrison and her mother who went missing in 2006. Lindsay was a student at Brown when she received a phone call from her older brother telling her that their mother never showed up to work and was missing. To say Lindsay was stunned is a bit of an understatement. She returns home where her and her two brothers spend 40 days searching for their mother before her body is discovered at the bottom of the bay.

Missing is a memoir born out of grief. Linds is so torn up over the loss of her mother she deals with her grief in destructive ways. But I am not going to judge. I can not even begin to imagine what it was like to go through what she did. Even though we live a thousand miles apart, my mom is an important part of my daily life. I can not say what I would do if I were in that situation.

Grief is such a powerful and personal emotion. Lindsay Harrison shares her grief with us in a gripping and emotional memoir. I enjoyed it as much as a person can given the circumstances. And I hope that writing this book helped Linds move one step closer to peace.

Friday, July 1, 2011

(98)Growing Up Amish by Ira Wagler

There is something about the Amish that is fascinating to me. When I had the opportunity to read Growing Up Amish by Ira Wagler, I jumped at the chance.

Ira Wagler was born in an Amish community in Canada before his family moved to Bloomfield, Iowa. It was there, as one of eleven children, that grew up. He tells us a bit about how the culture works. How his brother was "chosen" to be a Bishop, how his brother Titus because paralyzed while swimming in a farm pond. And how the Amish community as a whole helped to pay his $80,000 in medical bills. But the most important part of this story is how Ira came to leave the Amish community. Several times.

Growing Up Amish is an honest and fair look at what it was like to grow up Amish. How oppressive one man felt and how he "broke free" from the religion. And doing so was neither easy nor without complications. The book is a fairly fast read, yet fascinating in that voyeuristic kind of way. If you have any interest in the Amish culture you will enjoy this book, if not you may find it a bit boring.

Why I Read...

I remember the carefree summer days when I used to ride my bike to the public library to pick out new books. I would go almost daily to find books to read. I read to learn. I read to explore the world. I read to escape. I read because not reading is not an option.

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