Posted in books, It's Monday! What Are You Reading?, opinion

The very good, good and not so good…

Somehow I thought I already posted this
but apparently I dreamed it.
So, here are the books I read in January.

gray

This was really good.  But I have yet to read a Grisham book that I didn’t like.  A young attorney loses her job in a big firm in NYC due to the recession.  She takes a job as an intern with a small law office that does free work for the folks in a small Appalachian town. At first the book was interesting but not one I couldn’t put down.  I kept on because it is a Grisham book.  Glad I did because the last sentence of chapter 22 was a stunner. Totally didn’t expect what happened. The young attorney finds herself in the middle of a legal battle with big coal companies.  There is a killing, lots of lies, her first real trial, and the questions she begins to find answers for about what to do with her life.

dead

This is one of Sandford’s Virgil Flowers books.  Another very good one.  Flowers is a police officer in Minnesota’s Department of Criminal Apprehension. He prefers fishing over work but does find himself in some interesting cases.  In this one, it starts out with Virgil unofficially helping a friend solve some dognappings.  Then there is a murder he is officially assigned to that leads to a professional meth lab  and the school board. Interested?  It is all connected and takes a while to sort out.  But being the cop he is Virgil gets the bad guys.  For some serious crimes taking place, there is a lot of humor.

south

This was a good read and fun for me because I know the author and his wife and most of it takes place here in Columbia where we live.  A handsome but not too successful attorney wins a multi-million dollar case that turns his life into a circus.  His wife leaves him for another woman, he is hired to do legal spots on national tv, tries to help his brother and their sort of adopted brother solve the murder of his mother and a couple other older women in Columbia and enters the singles scene after a long time away.  There is a lot going on in this book with many different story lines and subplots.  It’s worth reading, sweet and funny in spite of the murders.

anne

I have told you a bit about this book before.  It was an ok book just not my cup of tea.  It was interesting in that the author Anne Perry had another life before she was the best-selling mystery writer.  When she was a teenager in New Zealand she and a friend murdered the friend’s mother.  It was a sensational case that got lots of press in the 50’s. The background of the story is rather eerie and frightening.  Anne Perry has paid the price for her crime and has worked to come to terms with what she did.  Her past was a secret for years then her story was found and reopened in the media.

The main emphasis of the book is her writing and the process of how she does it.  There are a lot of references to and quoting from her books.  To me, it just became a bit tedious. One thing I did learn is that I would never make it as a writer if it is as repetitive, aggravating, and boring as the book makes it out to be.

If you read this or have read it do tell me what you think.

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Posted in fiction, It's Monday! What Are You Reading?, words

December’s books…

December was a good month for books.
All five of the books I read were very good
and I enjoyed each one.

PersonalAnother Jack Reacher novel and as usual…good. In this story Jack, a former US Military police officer and now a homeless drifter, is found and brought in by the powers that be to find someone who attempted to assassinate the French President. The someone he is to find is a man he helped put in prison several years ago.  I like the Reacher books because Jack Reacher is smart and funny.  He just wants to be left to drift but keeps getting entangled in political espionage.

wish you wellThis is a bit of a departure from what Baldacci usually writes and I really liked it.  It is about two children who, with their mother, go to the mountains to live with their grandmother.  The old woman owns acres of land that a power company wants to mine, but she won’t sell and there is a lot of tensions revolving around that.  But the part that held my interest was the children and how they coped with moving from the big city to the poor rural mountains, the death of their father, and their devastated and disabled mother.  The children make two friends, one a lawyer and one an orphan kid living on his own. The young boy teaches them many things about believing in the unbelievable and the magic of an abandoned well. I liked the book for the strength of the characters and the beauty of how love holds them together.  A lovely book, though, there was one chapter that broke my heart.

LilaLila only knew work and hardship her whole life.  And only had one person ever love her.  That person was a woman who stole her from people who may have been her parents, but that is never really clear to Lila or the reader.  The woman and Lila travel with a small group of migrant workers during the days of the dust bowl.  As an adult Lila lives alone and doesn’t make friends, moving on when it suits her.  On one of her wanderings, she happens upon the town of Gilead and her life changes forever when she meets an old preacher man.  This is a beautiful book with depth of writing.  It is easy to see why Robinson is a Pulitzer Prize winner for her book Gilead.

Stay CloseHarlan Coben is my new favorite author.  You will be seeing many of his books here.  He is the best at surprising the reader with unexpected secrets and events.  In this book Megan, happily married with two children, is drawn back to her old life in Atlantic City that no one knows about.  Over seventeen years men go missing on Mardi Gras and are never found.  An abusive lover/customer of the woman was the first to disappear.  When an old friend tracks her down to tell her she has seen this man the new life Megan has made is threatened.  Threatened not only by the possibility that her old life will be made known but also by the feelings she still has for her first true love who was part of the old life and has a terrible secret of his own.  When it is revealed what has happened to all the missing men the perpetrator of the crimes and the reason behind them it is a wonderful mix of surprise and a kind of relief.

leaving timeI always like Jodi Picoult’s books. They are quick to read, but you have to be careful to not miss little nuances that seem unimportant and show up chapters later and are pivotal.  Two scientists who research elephants meet and marry soon after.  They have a little girl and settle down as owners of an elephant refuge in New Hampshire. The husband has serious mental problems that his wife did not know about before their marriage, but they become apparent when lack of funding threatens to close the refuge.  She has confided in and fallen in love with one of the caretakers of the animals.  Because of her husband’s erratic behavior she decides to take their daughter and run away.  Before she can do that there is violence and death.  The story is told by the mother, the daughter, a private detective, and a psychic.  It is the daughter, now thirteen, who hires the detective and the psychic to find her mother who has been missing ten years. To say this has a really different ending is an understatement.  I should have known it would be a surprise. Picoult’s final pages are always surprising.

That’s it for 2014.

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I read 5 books last month…

It’s December 1 and the first Monday of the month.
That means this post is a list of the books I read in November.
There were five.

retribution

This is the seventh in a series about detective Carol Jordan and Tony Hill.  I have not read the other six and I think  if I had I would have not been so frustrated with this one.  I liked it…it’s a good story.  A serial killer is doing his thing and taunting Jordan and Hill.  They had put him in prison for life but somehow he has escaped maximum security. That part of the story is pretty straight forward mystery.  But there is a Carol and Tony back story that kept being alluded to that made me want to know more and how it was shaping this story.  It was a good book and I liked it but that one thing bugged me.

let's just say

This was a fun fast read.  Diane Keaton, in all her eccentricities, seems like a normal person.  Someone it would be nice to know.  Lunch could turn into an adventure.  She talks about her kids like any mother does.  She tells funny stories about herself and acknowledges that she was never one to follow the crowd.  The bits about aging were so funny to me.  I guess because I could relate…even if I am not exactly eccentric…just a bit ditsy in my thinking.  It’s an easy afternoon read and women of a certain age will recognize themselves in the pages.

hounded

I have read a book or two by David Rosenfelt and really like his style.  There is lots of humor and realness to his characters.  Andy Carpenter is a lawyer that is unspeakably rich due to an early case and now he doesn’t have to work and doesn’t want to but gets pulled into legal battles because he likes people…for the most part…there are some he likes not much.  This time a good friend of his, police detective Pete Stanton, calls him for help.  Pete is being framed for the murder of an ex-con that Pete has mentored.  The murdered man has a young son and Pete asks Andy to take him in so he won’t go into the child welfare system.  Then Andy becomes Pete’s defense lawyer and surrogate dad to the boy.  The writing is quick-witted and sentimental.  I really liked the book.

sight

I have read several Iris Johansen books and they are always good.  This one she wrote with her son, Roy, and is no exception.  Kendra Michaels was blind until a radical new surgery gave her sight.  Now she is a music therapist and is sometimes called on by the FBI and CIA to help solve the unsolvable.  This is because she has extraordinary power of observation with the ability to see what other people don’t.  Not in a mystical sense but more of an awareness of the ordinary misplaced.  She is called into a case that has a serial killer recreating murders that she solved in the past.  He is doing in a series of steps that will lead to his ultimate victim…her.  I really liked this book.  I could not put it down and the killer was a shock.  I had no clue…I thought I knew but I was so wrong.

girls

Anne Rivers Siddons is a favorite author of mine.  She doesn’t write big splashy exciting novels.  Her books are about people you could know and love.  They are real and honest.  In this book the girls of August were four friends from the days when their husbands were in medical school.  Every August they went somewhere for a week of just the girls kind of stuff.  A few years ago one of them died and the weeks at the beach stopped.  But then the husband of the dead friend remarried and it is decided there will be another week for the girls of August…three of the original four and one newbie.  Each of them comes to the beach house with changes happening in their lives that the others don’t know about.  There is laughter and tempers flare, feelings are hurt and tears are shed.  As with all Siddons book there is a happy if somewhat bittersweet ending.  Worth reading.

So that’s it.

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Posted in books, It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Books I read in October…

Here it is the first Monday in November
and my list of books that I read in October.

nantucket

Nantucket Sisters by Nancy Thayer

I like the stories that Thayer writes. They are easy reads and
always have a happy ending.  This book is about a rich girl and a poor girl
who become friends when they are five years old.
The friendship is a happy one until it isn’t.
Affairs of the heart get in the way and there are misunderstandings and drifting apart.
But true friendship finds its way back and when a friend is needed she is there for you.

after

After I’m Gone by Laura Lippman

Two women love the same man and he loves them.
One he marries one he keeps.
One he has children with one he doesn’t.
He leaves both of them and disappears.
What happens to the women after his disappearance  is the story.
It was a good book.  Kept my interest. Not too many surprises but there were some.

paying

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

After WWI, a mother and daughter who were once rich and now are not
take in a young married couple as lodgers.
A love affair develops and the lovers try to find a way to be together.
Someone is accidentally killed and everything gets complicated.
The author spends two-thirds of the book setting up the story then
seems to rush through the last part of the book.
it was okay.

children

There is no great excitement in this book but it is a very good book.
A long married childless couple, a judge and a professor, have a mid-life crisis.
The judge has a case in her court involving a teen who is refusing medical treatment.
She must decide whether to allow the boy to refuse treatment or order the procedure.
The professor wants to have an affair with a young colleague
and asks the judge, to understand that he loves her but needs this last fling.
It’s a good character study with real emotions and pain and few answers.
Just like life.
I liked it.

angels

Angels Watching Over Me by Michael Phillips

At the end of the Civil War, a plantation owner’s daughter and a slave meet
and help each other cope with unbelievable violence and tragedy.
They become unlikely friends who must grow up too quickly.
The story is told by the slave girl when she is an old woman.
This book is the first of a series and I liked it but I don’t know
if it has made me want to read the rest of the books.

good

If God Is Good by Randy Alcorn

This has taken me an age to read.
It is a very good book and I will write a review this week.
All I will say here is that this is not easy reading
and I think it would best be read in a study group.
It is not light reading and discussion would have helped me
wade through some of the deeper stuff.

So, that’s it for my October reading list.

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Posted in books, fiction, It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Seven books in September…

Here’s what I read this month.

deadI really liked this book.
It takes place in a small Ohio town with an Amish community.
34 Years ago an Amish family was murdered, the wife and mother kidnapped.
Now people are being murdered and there seems to be a connection.
I can’t say the ending was a surprise but getting there was a good read.

see

This is the first of Anthony Doerr books I have read but won’t be the last.
Tales place in France during WWII.
The lives of a blind French girl living with her agoraphobic uncle
and a young Nazi soldier are separate but come together because of
a hidden valuable artifact that the Nazi’s want for their museum and a radio.
It is a sad story wonderfully told.

target

The President makes a promise he can’t keep that could lead to nuclear war.
Two CIA agents are charged with preventing the worst case scenario and that leads
them to North Korean labor camps and a highly trained assassin
from one of those camps.
The book is fast paced and interesting in its characters and the moral issues they face.
The ending is not a surprise, that’s not a spoiler.
Of course the good guys, us, have to win.

unen

This is a teenage young adult novel that I read as an ebook.
It’s a cute story of teenage turmoil and tension with a bit of magic thrown in.
Mina Grimes is a descendant of Wilhelm Grimm of fairy tale fame and is the
latest of the family to find that there is a curse that goes along with being a Grimm.
Her father died because of it and her mother has tried to protect her but the bad guys
have found her…along with a good guy who helps her out.
It’s not the best written book but it was a fun read.

six

Six years ago a love affair ends when the woman marries another man.
The jilted lover promises her to never try to contact her or bother them in any way.
He keeps his promise for six years then sees his lover’s husband’s obituary.
He goes to the funeral but the wife is not his lost love.
So begins the unraveling of a mystery that has more questions than answers.
This is the second of Harlan Coben books I have read and I will keep reading his books.

lives

A dog, two cats, and a coyote help solve the mystery
of the skeleton found first on a mountain then in a driveway
while their humans try to solve the recent murder of two men
who were pillars of the community.
I have read a couple of Rita Mae Brown’s books that are
co-authored by her tabby cat Sneaky Pie Brown.
It’s an easy read with people, and animals, that are like those
you probably know and love.  Even the murderers seem normal.

mean

This is another book that once I started I couldn’t put it down.
When I get into a book like this all else is forgotten and nothing gets done.
A woman is training for a marathon and is attacked on a remote mountain trail.
She is found unconscious by a man and taken to his cabin.
Then begins a story that is strange and not easily figured out.
I was totally off in my thinking about parts of the narrative and right on with others.
But I was surprised by the uncovering of the events of the back-story
and who did the nasty deed.  I liked the complexity of the characters and
how you have to search for clues to who and what they are.
The only thing I will say in the negative is that there is some somewhat graphic sex that
was, in my opinion, unnecessary.  I mean it’s an adult novel and adults know
what’s going on without the details.

So that was my reading for the month.
More than I usually read but a couple of the books I just couldn’t put down.
Made me a happy reader.
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Posted in Five Sentence Fiction, It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Conflict story I wrote and books I read…

This week’s Five Sentence Fiction prompt is:
CONFLICT

document-428330_640It is Monday morning and they are in the office of the wealthy self-made business tycoon who she has been working for as his personal assistant the last two years  . “Good morning, Adelaide, have you read the contract I gave you on Friday, and given careful thought and consideration to what I propose?”  “Yes, Mr Userman, I have done so and I must decline the offer, as generous as it is, but this contract would be in conflict of interest with a contract I entered into with someone else a few years ago.”

 “Oh, and who would that be, my dear?”   “That would be, Henry, my husband.”

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Now, here are the books I read in August.

miss

You must read this book!
I mean it!  It has such a surprise in it!
It’s about a young policewoman who has been dealing,  for ten years,
with her policeman father’s murder and her broken engagement.
To get her back into the dating game...it has been ten years
her best friend signs her up on an internet dating site.
She finds her long-lost fiancé and it gets crazy.
Truly, you must read this book.

tell This is also a good book.
I liked it more than a little but not as much as Missing You.
A little girl is killed and her brother testifies that it was their mother who pulled the trigger.
She is sentenced to prison on his testimony.
BTW he is a pre-schooler and needs glasses.
Now all grown up the little brother recants his story and the mother is to be let out prison.
A girl friend of the murdered girl is now a journalist
and has written a best seller true crime story based on a true story…not her friends story.
She is assigned by her newspaper editor to report the story and she plans a book about it.
There is a surprise in this one, too.
I liked the way the author threw me off with formatting of the book….
and the snake handler church.

collect

This has some very nice people in it that you can’t help but like and root for.
And it has some really bad people that are  just evil.
There is a happy house sitter with commitment phobia
and a rich artist who is ready to settle down
Those are a couple of the good folks and it isn’t a spoiler to say they fall in love.
Rich artist’s brother is murdered because he has a “lost” Fabrege egg worth millions.
Sad, but he was way greedy.
Now the one who wants the egg, at any cost, is having his killer employee
do what she does, kill people, to get the egg.
These are the evils ones. They are not only evil but they are weird.
And it is not a spoiler to tell you all ends well because this kind of book
always has a happy ending.

girl

I didn’t like this book.  I didn’t hate it but I didn’t like it.
It’s the author’s story of growing up in a fundamentalist evangelism cult.
It is an ugly story.
I was sympathetic of some of the people but for the most part…what were they thinking?!
I don’t know what to say about it.  It filled some time and it wasn’t horrible but…

These last two books I may have told you about.  If I have go read something else.

chest

This was published after Maeve Binchy’s death.
These are short stories about the people who live, or lived, on Chestnut Street.
Binchy used Chestnut Street in a lot of her books so this is like short visits with neighbors.
I have liked all  Maeve Binchy’s books and this one was icing on the cake.

sis

Another book by an author I always read.
Dorothea  Benton Frank never disappoints.
Her books are chick lit, I guess.
They are well written, with plausible story lines about people you could know.
Like other books by Frank this one could be “based on a true story”.
There is lots to ponder and lots of humor in this story of three generations of women
and the death of a woman that affects them all differently.
Worth reading.

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