Lots O' Books...

Holy cats, I'm behind on book reviews!

I've been trying to power through a lot of titles, and haven't had time to really ruminate on them here, so let's rectify that, shall we? :-)

In author alphabetical order...

The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen

It's no secret how much I loved Allen's first few novels (especially Garden Spells), so I was first in the library hold line for her newest.

This is another gentle, quiet read, taking place in Walls of Water, NC, and features a 75 year old story, a reconciliation, a return home, and of course, new found love.

Though this title didn't "stay with me" as her others did and didn't contain nearly as much "magic", I certainly enjoyed reading it!

The Witch's Daughter by Paula Brackston

This book tells dual stories - that of Elizabeth's origins as the "witch's daughter" during the 1600s, and her story today, as she settles into an English village and takes a young girl with "a touch of the witch" under her wing. Lurking in the background is the evil force that saved Elizabeth hundreds of years before....

It took a bit to get into this title, but I quite enjoyed the 1600s story, though the modern-day story suffered from predictability and just not being as engaging. Overall, though, a fine enough historical novel...

Breaking the Rules by Suzanne Brockmann

I'm totally on Team Brockmann, so when a new Troubleshooters/SEAL Team 16 novel comes out, I'm so there.

This time, the story of Izzy and Eden concludes, as well as mixing in the inevitable mayhem, alpha males, shit blowing up, and as an added bonus, Las Vegas and child prostitution. It sounds like it wouldn't work, but Brockmann makes it irresistible! If you haven't read any of her books in this series - DO IT! Fast-paced, sexy, great characters and just a lot of fun!

The 100 Thing Challenge by Dave Bruno

I was so intrigued by the premise of this slim, non-fiction memoir: Bruno is fed up with "stuff", and decides to live a year with only 100 things.

I still think the premise is interesting, but this memoir simply didn't hold my interest - and became a lot more about his story (and, like, surfing) than about the challenges of deciding and keeping 100 things...


A Secret Kept by Tatiana de Rosnay

I really loved de Rosnay's previous novel, Sarah's Key, so when I saw this audiobook on the shelf, I grabbed it for a listen. While Simon Vance's narration was good, and I enjoyed the return to France as a setting, the story didn't have the same "grab" that Sarah's Key did. The "secret" was well telegraphed and the story just seemed to drag on a bit - but I wonder if it would have been different if I'd read it. I love audiobooks, but this one just didn't engage me like the others, though I'm glad I read it...

Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen

I loved Godbersen's previous young adult series, so when she decided to take on the Roaring 1920s - and spotlight three girls in New York during that time - I was eager to read it. Again, Godbersen has captured the spirit of youth and translated it to another era, while still remaining relevant and readable. And who doesn't love reading about flappers trying to make ends meet, find love and avoid being, you know, shot in a fit of pique or anything. ;-)

These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf

I enjoyed Gudenkauf's The Weight of Silence, so when I saw she's written another novel, I grabbed it off the shelf.

The novel begins with Allison Glenn's release from prison for a heinous crime, and her struggle to find work and rebuild her life. Told in parallel points of view is her sister's story, her employer's struggle to become a mother, a young woman's grappling with losing the only father she has every known...

And ever so deftly, Gudenkauf ties all these disparate lives together as they circle around one little boy.

This is a really engaging story, and I really liked how the thread tighten together and weave in and out until you reach, what was to me, a pretty surprising conclusion. A really well-paced, well-written story...

The Good Daughters by Joyce Maynard

Labor Day was a fantastic read, so when I saw this one, I was all over it!

(Apparently this set of reviews is all about second novels from authors!)

You know how to sit down to read a chapter of a book "before you go do something else", only to discover that you never got around to the something else because you were too busy reading?! That was this book for me...

 The Plank family and the Dickinson family - who could not be more different - are somehow intertwined following the births of their daughters on the same day. This novel slowly unfolds what the reader THINKS is the connection, but has to wait until the final pages to find out if they are right or wrong, or how it all happened. It follows the twin stories of the daughters from childhood through middle age, love, children and the deaths of their own parents.

This is one of those titles I really, really want to talk about, but don't want to spoil, except to say that I loved every page, and couldn't put it down until I knew every speck of the truth. A beautifully written novel - highly recommended!!

The Bird House by Kelly Simmons

Ann is struggling with the onset of Alzheimer's while trying to make in-roads with her only granddaughter, Ellie. Ellie's presence in her life opens up stories from Ann's past, and the author alternates chapters with the present and past as we find out why Ann carries terrible guilt, what her marriage was like, why she suspects her daughter-in-law, and how Ellie has changed her life.

This novel was...fine. It didn't have a big "a ha!" moment for me, and I liked the characters okay, but if you asked me in a week or two to summarize the story or the characters, I don't think I could. Fine in the present, but this dark novel won't stick with me, unfortunately....

Hungry for Happiness by James Villas

I liked the cover, and the premise (big girl loses weight, still cooks like a demon, tries to find love and herself), but the novel?

Not so much.

I found this title - written by a man but voiced by a woman - rough, crude, un-engaging, offensive and written in a really, really strange dialect.

In short, NOT recommended even a little bit. I'm still stunned I finished it.

Eighteen Acres by Nicolle Wallace

I still miss The West Wing, and the blurb on this title sounds like a bit of a return to that missed territory.

We have three stories weaving together - the White House chief of staff (a woman), the president (also a woman), and a reporter (again, a woman) who happens to, you know, being in love with the First Gentleman.

And they're off!

We have the war in Afghanistan, a love triangle, women in power, and a truly pie-in-the-sky-but-wouldn't-it-be-great solution to politics in Washington. It wasn't quite Sorkin's West Wing, but I liked this glimpse inside "the eighteen acres" of the White House complex. Perfect for politicos and West Wing fans...

Whew! Still with me? That's it for now!


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