Month: June 2012

What I Am Reading Now: The Sense of an Ending

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By an acclaimed writer at the height of his powers, The Sense of an Ending extends a streak of extraordinary books that began with the best-selling Arthur & George and continued with Nothing to Be Frightened Of and, most recently, Pulse.

This intense new novel follows a middle-aged man as he contends with a past he has never much thought about—until his closest childhood friends return with a vengeance, one of them from the grave, another maddeningly present.

Tony Webster thought he’d left all this behind as he built a life for himself, and by now his marriage and family and career have fallen into an amicable divorce and retirement.

But he is then presented with a mysterious legacy that obliges him to reconsider a variety of things he thought he’d understood all along, and to revise his estimation of his own nature and place in the world.

A novel so compelling that it begs to be read in a single sitting, with stunning psychological and emotional depth and sophistication, The Sense of an Ending is a brilliant new chapter in Julian Barnes’s oeuvre.

My Thoughts on Missing by Gray

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Remember books before the mandatory sequel or trilogy format? No? Neither does New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Shelley Shepard Gray.

In her recent book, Missing: The Secrets of Crittenden County, Book One, Gray introduces readers to a community that is shocked over the murder of Perry Borntrager, an Amish boy who was killed and then dumped in a local dry well.

His death is especially painful to two young members of the community: Lydia Plank and Walker Anderson. Lydia, Perry’s ex-girlfriend, had hoped Perry merely left the Amish faith and tried to find a new start in a nearby city. Walker, a former coworker, is haunted by the night that Perry asked for a friend and Walker ignored his cry for help.

Together Walker and Lydia decide how much they can share or hide from Detective Luke Reynolds, who has been brought in to solve the crime, all the while battling the uncertainties of their own choices.

Little clues can be found throughout the book. Was it Frannie, the new girlfriend who is keeping a close eye on Detective Reynols? Was it Mr. Schrock, who certainly realized that Perry had frequently stolen from the store and abused his trust? Was it Mr. Miller, the owner of the property where the body was found?

Just when answers look like they may be coming to the surface, the book abruptly ends. This is Book One, after all, and more is promised in Book Two. Unfortunately, the extremely abrupt ending does not leave the reader wanting more. It leaves a feeling that 245 pages and countless minutes were spent on. . not much.

Readers looking for a good mystery that is actually solved before the last page should look at any book by author Harlan Coben. They are stand-alone and will satisfy any demanding reader. Be aware, however, that all books written by Coben before the year 2000 have inappropriate language while books written after 2000 are cleaner.

Missing, on the other hand, is very clean. As many of the characters in the book are Amish, the language is very clean. The murder occured before the book begins its tale, and therefore the book is also free of violence.

My Thoughts on Big In Japan by Griffith

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If you were overweight, ignored at work, stuck in a little cubicle and suffering through the Texas heat, would you think to move to Japan and become a professional Sumo wrestler?

Neither did Buck Cooper, but, luckily, things do not always go as planned.

After a particularly disappointing day at work, Buck is asked to accompany his parents on a trip to Japan where, for the first time in his life, he stood out in a good way for being six feet six inches tall and very overweight. His chance to enter this new life comes unexpectedly when a phone call from home reminds him that he does not have much to return to and a contract right within reach of him offers Buck a new chance in a new life. Perhaps an exciting, fun life.

Unfortunatey, the sport only looks glamorous on the outside. Leaving his parents behind, Buck must endure daily physical, mental and even psychological punishment in order to work his way up through the sport and have a chance the win the esteem as well as the hand of the girl he loves.

All of the action in this book continues to strongly build right up to the final match and the perfect, happy ending.The author collects up all loose ends, forming them into a perfect bow and making sure that the ending is satisfying to the reader on every level.

This book will be available July 28th in hardback and paperback. Enjoy!

What I’m Reading Now: Big In Japan by Griffith

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From the Publisher: Jolly Fish Press

Buck Cooper is Texan, obese, and invisible to his colleagues. And to the voluptuous Allison Turner, the girl of his dreams, he is way below parr. Buck’s entire life is about fitting in, a feat he’s been struggling to achieve but has never succeeded. Until serendipity lands him in Japan. Right in the middle of a sumo match.

As his life takes a new turn in a country where being big can mean fame and fortune, Buck must embark on the most dangerous, yet adventurous ride of his life—to find the ultimate meaning of love and acceptance. Even if it means risking his life and giving up everything he has.

Big in Japan, a novel by Jennifer Griffith, is set to release on July 21, 2012. It is a novel that takes the reader into the heart of sumo in Japan. Using humor in her narrative, Griffith seamlessly juxtaposes the human drama behind Japan’s national sport with one man’s pursuit of love and acceptance.

Griffith grew up in Idaho and learned to speak Japanese while she lived in Japan for a year and a half during college. She earned a degree in writing and has worked for the U.S. Congress. She writes a column for her local newspaper and blogs about writing and candy. At 5’1″ Griffith is far too short to ever consider sumo wrestling. Big in Japan is her fourth novel, and her first with Jolly Fish Press.

Book Club Ideas

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A newspaper in Sacramento, the Sacramento Bee, published a list of some of their previous book club books. Since Coben was at the top of the list, I instantly was a fan of this club. I have read some of these books and am excited to look at the rest.

“Hold Tight” and “Long Lost” by Harlan Coben
“Tea Time for the Traditionally Built” by Alexander McCall Smith
“The Story Sisters” by Alice Hoffman
“The Shortest Distance Between Two Women” by Kris Radish
“The Nameless Detective” by Bill Pronzini and “Locked In” by Marcia Muller
“Eclipse” by Richard North Patterson
“Three Cups of Tea” by David Relin
“Sacred Games” by Vikram Chandra
“The Last Oracle” by James Rollins
“Wit’s End” by Karen Joy Fowler
“Dead Lucky” by Lincoln Hall
“Murder in the Rue De Paradis” by Cara Black
“Light of the Moon” by Luanne Rice. Click here to hear audio
“The Suspect” by John Lescroart
“Peony in Love” by Lisa See
“Back on Blossom Street” by Debbie Macomber
“Angelica” by Arthur Phillips
“On The Wings of Heroes” by Richard Peck
“Shopaholic and Baby” by Sophie Kinsella
“Porch Lies: Tales of Slicksters, Tricksters and Other Wily Characters” by Patricia McKissack
Maxine Hong Kingston, “California Uncovered: Stories for the 21st Century”
“The Hard Way” by Lee Child
“Salaam: A Muslim American Boy’s Story” by Tricia Brown
“A Year in the World: Journeys of a Passionate Traveller” by Frances Mayes
“Love and Other Impossible Pursuits” by Ayelet Waldman
“Honey…Honey…Lion!” by Jan Brett
“Epitaph for a Peach” by David Mas Masumoto
“Breaking Point” by Suzanne Brockmann
“Devil’s Corner” by Lisa Scottoline
“Here In Harlem: Poems In Many Voices” by Walter Dean Myers
“Dead Lines” by Greg Bear
“The Fortress of Solitude” by Jonathan Lethem
“The Known World” by Edward P. Jones
“Forty Signs of Rain” by Kim Stanley Robinson

Brownies and Broomsticks by Bailey Cates

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I recently revewed this book for Click on the link for the review!

What I’m Reading Now: Missing, The Secrets of Crittenden County, Book One by Shelley Shepard Gray

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Can two young people survive the suspicions of their friends and neighbors when tragedy strikes a close-knit Amish community?

Perry Borntrager had been missing for months from the quiet Amish community of Crittenden, Kentucky, when his body is discovered at the bottom of an abandoned well. The first death from mysterious circumstances in more than two decades brings the scrutiny of the outside world: A police detective arrives to help the local sheriff with the investigation. His questioning begins with Lydia Plank, Perry’s former girlfriend, and Perry’s best friend, the Englischer Walker Anderson.

Lydia and Walker know they didn’t have anything to do with Perry’s death, but they both hold secrets about his final days. Do they dare open up about the kind of man Perry had become?

In the oppressive shadow of these dark times, they discover strength in a most unlikely companionship: one that offers solace, understanding, and the promise of something more.

My Thoughts On Stay Close by Harlan Coben

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I have been a huge fan of Harlan Coben’s since Tell No One. I try to read his books as soon as they have been published, and I have even converted a few followers.

But his books have gotten darker and darker.

In the good old days (say, the 90s), the bad guy was just an overweight member of the mafia. He threatened to break knee caps, but that was essentially it. In one of Coben’s recent books, he moved into the realm of terrorism and one of his beloved, reoccuring characters was tortured.

Man, I miss the 90s.

This book, Stay Close, enters the realm of a serial killer.

Did I mention that I missed the 90s?

Megan is a housewife with a son, a daughter, and a loving husband. But she’s restless and so she pays a little visit to her old life and sees an old friend who informs her that a man who nearly ruined Megan’s life was back in town.

Megan does not see how this is possible since she saw this man at night, in the park, very much dead. She works with Jack, a police detective, and together they discover that the darkest of motives can be found behind the kindest of smiles.

This book is classic, suspenseful Coben. But I desperately miss his laugh-out-loud Myron days.

What I Am Reading Now: Stay Close by Harlan Coben

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Megan is a suburban soccer mom who once upon a time walked on the wild side. Now she’s got two kids, a perfect husband, a picket fence, and a growing sense of dissatisfaction. Ray used to be a talented documentary photographer, but at age forty he finds himself in a dead- end job posing as a paparazzo pandering to celebrity-obsessed rich kids. Jack is a detective who can’t let go of a cold case-a local husband and father disappeared seventeen years ago, and Jack spends the anniversary every year visiting a house frozen in time, the missing man’s family still waiting, his slippers left by the recliner as if he might show up any moment to step into them.

Three people living lives they never wanted, hiding secrets that even those closest to them would never suspect, will find that the past doesn’t recede. Even as the terrible consequences of long-ago events crash together in the present and threaten to ruin lives, they will come to the startling realization that they may not want to forget the past at all. And as each confronts the dark side of the American Dream- the boredom of a nice suburban life, the excitement of temptation, the desperation and hunger that can lurk behind even the prettiest facades- they will discover the hard truth that the line between one kind of life and another can be as whisper-thin as a heartbeat.

With his trademark combination of page-turning thrills and unrivaled insight into the dark shadows that creep into even the happiest communities, Harlan Coben delivers a thriller that cements his status as the master of domestic suspense.

My Thoughts on On The Wings of Heroes by Peck

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I have been reading many World War II books lately.  As a bookclub, we read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter & Sweet.  I also have been trying to get through Unbroken.  It’s just so heavy because it’s a true story — the weight of all the horrible things that happened to him is sometimes too much, and I have to put the book down.  Sometimes for weeks at a time.

So On The Wings of Heroes was a joy.  It’s a Youth Fiction book that shows World War II through a young boy’s eyes.  The boy, Davy, thinks his father is the greatest thing in the world.  So it is hard for him to watch his father falter under the stress of having Davy’s brother, Bill, enter the military and begin flying in Europe.  I think that the best scene of the book involved this relationship as Davy catches his father crying in the bathroom one night and essentially begs him to “Be Dad”.  It’s the best way he could phrase it, and those two words are enough.

I loved the relationships in this book.  I especially loved the grandma, especially as I understood her real reason for being there.  Such fabulous people in an uncertain time.

I also loved learning about the sacrifices everyone made for the war effort: sugar, rubber, nylon, paper.  We are so spoiled.