Month: January 2012

My Thoughts On The Hotel On The Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

Posted on

I loved this book.

Henry Lee is 12 years old in 1942. He is a Chinese boy, living in Seattle, forced to go to an all-white school where he is teased and mocked. To pay for attending this school, he has to work in the school kitchen and do chores for the school after classes.

It’s horrible until another Asian student starts at the school. Keiko. She’s a welcome relief to the isolation that Henry has felt but for one thing — she is Japanese. Not only is she an enemy to the Chinese but she is an enemy in America.

Even though the relationship is forbidden, Henry and Keiko become best friends and Henry falls in love with her.

But the war progresses and thousands upon thousands of Japanese Americans are rounded up and placed in camps for the majority of the war.

Henry and Keiko are separated.

This story is told through he eyes of Henry in 1984. His wife has recently died and he confronts his past when they open up The Panama Hotel and find the personal belongings many Japanese families were not able to take with him. In the collection are some of Keiko’s items.

It was a great story. I cried at the end, it was just really well done. The character development in this book is also well done. I loved Mrs. Beatty and Sheldon. They were amazing adults and friends, always there when Henry needed someone. I really liked them.

What I’m Reading Now: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jaime Ford

Posted on


Henry Lee is a 12-year-old Chinese boy who falls in love with Keiko Okabe, a 12-year-old Japanese girl, while they are scholarship students at a prestigious private school in World War II Seattle.

Henry hides the relationship from his parents, who would disown him if they knew he had a Japanese friend. His father insists that Henry wear an “I am Chinese” button everywhere he goes because Japanese residents of Seattle have begun to be shipped off by the thousands to relocation centers.

This is an old-fashioned historical novel that alternates between the early 1940s and 1984, after Henry’s wife Ethel has died of cancer.

A particularly appealing aspect of the story is young Henry’s fascination with jazz and his friendship with Sheldon, an older black saxophonist just making a name for himself in the many jazz venues near Henry’s home.

Other aspects of the story are more typical of the genre: the bullies that plague Henry, his lack of connection with his father, and later with his own son.

Readers will care about Henry as he is forced to make decisions and accept circumstances that separate him from both his family and the love of his life.

While the novel is less perfect as literature than John Hamamura’s Color of the Sea (Thomas Dunne, 2006), the setting and quietly moving, romantic story are commendable.—Angela Carstensen, Convent of the Sacred Heart, New York City Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.

My Thoughts on Assault With A Deadly Glue Gun

Posted on

I have admitted to it before, I will admit to it again. I am a sucker for a clever title and a nice cover.

Though, as an attorney, I do not like the fact that they call this an “assault” because it was actually a murder, which is so much more than an assault. But, I digress. . .

The overall theme of the book is creative. Wife is suddenly widowed and discovers that husband had a large gambling problem and has left her broke. Actually, more than broke. Heavily in debt and with the worst people. She also has her mother-in-law living with her and will also get her own mother a few chapters in. She has two sons and is sleeping on the couch to avoid a snoring parent.

Even though her husband just died, she goes right back to work (which I thought was stretching fiction a little far) and on her first day of work a hated coworker turns up dead in her cubicle, killed with her glue gun.

How do you kill someone with a glue gun? You’ll have to read this in order to find out.

The author has the best of intentions throughout the book, but there are so many puns in this book, so many corny subplots, you just want it to end already. It gets cheesy.

It is a mystery and you find out “whodunit” at the end. Too bad I already had it figured out by page 50.

What I’m Reading Now: Assault With A Deadly Glue Gun by Lois Winston

Posted on Updated on


When Anastasia Pollack’s gambling-addicted husband permanently cashes in his chips in Vegas, her life craps out.

She’s left with two teenage sons, a mountain of debt, and her nasty, cane-wielding Communist mother-in-law. Not to mention a loan shark demanding fifty thousand dollars.

Anastasia’s job as crafts editor at American Woman magazine makes life even stickier when she discovers the dead body of über-ambitious fashion editor Marlys Vandenburg hot-glued to Anastasia’s office chair.

Marlys collected enemies and ex-lovers like Jimmy Choos. When evidence surfaces of an illicit affair between Marlys and Anastasia’s husband, Anastasia becomes the prime suspect.

Can she sew up the case and keep herself out of jail before the real killer puts a permanent end to her investigation?

My Thoughts on Absolutely, Positively by Heather Webber

Posted on Updated on

This book is the third in the Lucy Valentine series by Heather Webber. I have greatly enjoyed this series, although I was a little nervous about this book. The two books previous to this one could easily be found in the fiction section. Just good old fashioned fiction. It took me a little while to locate this book because it was in the (gulp) romance section.

What oh what was in this book that would make it be filed in the romance section?

Not much. The second book in this series had a lot more ‘romance’ in it. This one was just plain, simple, fabulously fun fiction.

Lucy Valentine returns and is helping a young woman find a lost love and helping her grandmother find their neighbor. Insert a mystery man tossing twenty dollar bills in downtown Boston, an art thief, a mysterious doctor who can heal, and a long-awaited reunion for her parents, and you have a great book.

I love these books. They are light and fun and interesting. I am disappointed that the author is switching names and genres to try her hand at something new. I hope she finds her way back to Lucy Valentine soon.

What I’m Reading Now: Absoliutely, Positively by Heather Webber

Posted on


“Exposed” by a Boston Herald reporter, Lucy is suddenly the talk of the town. Long back-story short: Even though the rest of her Valentine ancestors were blessed by Cupid with psychic abilities, Lucy’s only special power lies in her ability to find things.

This skill has proven quite a blessing for those who come to her matchmaking agency in search of finding their long-lost loves. Now that Lucy’s secret is out, she has more new clients than she knows what to do with. But soon a certain man of mystery steals Lucy’s spotlight…

No, it’s not Sean Donahue, the sexy fireman-turned-private-eye who’s stolen Lucy’s heart. It’s a masked man in a cowboy hat, dubbed “The Lone Ranger,” who’s been throwing handfuls of cash across the Common. Now all of Beantown’s abuzz.

Can Lucy unmask the mysterious money man, track down all her clients’ old flames, and turn up the heat on her love life? Absolutely, positively…

My Thoughts on Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

Posted on

This was an interesting read. It was (is?) a New York Times Bestseller and has won an award. It was very serious. Serious topics, serious plots. There was no humor thrown in to lighten things up. Not much of romance to be found except between Silas “32” and his girlfriend. The F bomb showed up a couple of times. And even the C word made an appearance once. All this taken into account, it was, dare I say? a boy book. Yep, it’s a book you can recommend to your husbands. There’s just nothing girly in here at all.

The book had a strong plot. The characters were interesting and extremely flawed. It makes you never want to visit, let alone live, in the South. Ever.

Poor Larry grew up in the country. His Dad was a horrible man. He never had any friends. And guess what? He grew up socially awkward. So when the pretty girl down the street suggested that they go to a movie, he thought maybe his luck had changed.

But she did not want a date. She wanted an alibi so she could meet up with her secret boyfriend. And after she leaves Larry on their date, she disappears. She is never found again and the community convicts Larry and isolates him even more than he was before. They vandalize his home. They will not allow him in their churches. They will not allow him to make a living at the car shop. He’s stuck.

And decades later, another girl disappears.

It was an interesting book, interesting characters, interesting plot, even a few surprises here and there. But definitely a boy book.

What I’m Reading Now: Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin

Posted on


In the 1970s, Larry Ott and Silas “32” Jones were boyhood pals in a small town in rural Mississippi. Their worlds were as different as night and day: Larry was the child of lower-middle-class white parents, and Silas, the son of a poor, black single mother.

But then Larry took a girl to a drive-in movie and she was never seen or heard from again. He never confessed . . . and was never charged.

More than twenty years have passed. Larry lives a solitary, shunned existence, never able to rise above the whispers of suspicion. Silas has become the town constable. And now another girl has disappeared, forcing two men who once called each other “friend” to confront a past they’ve buried for decades.

My Thoughs on The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

Posted on

This book is growing on me the further that I get away from it. Not that I want to read it again, but I am glad that I finished it.

At first I thought that this book was suffering from a serious identification crisis. The cover summary makes it sound light and fun — a girl discovers that when she eats she can sense the feelings of the person who prepared the meal. And the longer the meal took to make, the more intense the emotion.

So when Rose bites into a piece of lemon cake and can feel the intense depression of her mother, it really upsets her. She begins to wipe off her tongue with a napkin, trying to get rid of the feelings.

It affects her so deeply that she even ends up in the hospital for a little while.

This is all weird enough (I expected it to be light and fun — like the movie Chocolat) but then Rose’s brother starts disappearing. Not too big of a deal — he has his own door to the outside of the house. But it will soon get really weird.

And then one day Rose eats something her Mom made for dinner and can feel the guilt mingled with happiness — her Mom is having an affair.

The family just keeps spiraling downward, and I kept looking at this book thinking, isn’t this supposed to be light and interesting?

I feel that the book was saved by the ending. Rose has a conversation with her Dad when she gets back from a trip, and things start falling into place. I stopped looking for other things in this book and just accepted this book for what it was — an interesting read, really sad, but with a strong and good plot. I am not sure why she told her Dad what she did about her brother — you never know. As long as she kept the chair???

What I Am Reading Now: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

Posted on


On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein bites into her mother’s homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother’s emotions in the slice.

To her horror, she finds that her cheerful mother tastes of despair. Soon, she’s privy to the secret knowledge that most families keep hidden: her father’s detachment, her mother’s transgression, her brother’s increasing retreat from the world.

But there are some family secrets that even her cursed taste buds can’t discern.