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April/May Reading Recap

Again, I’m combining two months of reading summaries in one post…

Print Books
April

  1. MayAll the Summer Girls by Meg Donohue
  2. A Complicated Marriage: My Life With Clement Greenberg by Janice Van Horne
  3. The Cottage At Glass Beach by Heather Barbieri
  4. Something About Sophie by Mary Kay McComas

Nook Books

  1. The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer
  2. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
  3. The Cat, the Wife and the Weapon (A Cats in Trouble Mystery #4) by Leann Sweeney
  4. The Girl Who Fell to Earth by Sophia Al-Maria

Audio Books

  1. Bad Blood (Kate Shugak #20) by Dana Stabenow
  2. Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones
  3. Angel’s Peak (Virgin River #10) by Robyn Carr
  4. The Girl Who Disappeared Twice (Forensic Instincts #1) by Andrea Kane
  5. Forbidden Falls (Virgin River #9) by Robyn Carr
  6. Temptation Ridge (Virgin River #6) by Robyn Carr
  7. Dead in the Family (Sookie Stackhouse #10) by Charlaine Harris
  8. Girl Missing by Tess Gerritsen
  9. Coming Back (Sharon McCone #28) by Marcia Muller
  10. The Vanishing Point by Val McDermid
  11. The Once and Future King (The Once and Future King #1-4) by T.H. White
  12. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
  13. Paradise Valley (Virgin River #7) by Robyn Carr
  14. Second Chance Pass (Virgin River #5) by Robyn Carr,
  15. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  16. Shelter Mountain (Virgin River #2) by Robyn Carr
  17. Whiskey Beach by Nora Roberts
  18. City of Whispers (Sharon McCone #29) by Marcia Muller
  19. A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy
  20. Wicked Business (Lizzy & Diesel #2) by Janet Evanovich
  21. The History of Us by Leah Stewart

The best books I read were Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore and All the Summer GirlsAs you can see, I’ve been tearing through Robyn Carr’s Virgin River series– those are always feel good reads, and I’ve been craving that.

My books read for the year are up to 14 Nook Books, 7 paper books and 46 audio books, for total of 67 books read.  I’m on pace to make it to 150 books read for the year.

Thank you again to Venice Tretiak.for the darling kitty monthly graphics

Have a great June, and enjoy your summer reading!

 
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Posted by on May 5, 2013 in books, summary

 

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Review: Something About Sophie by Mary Kay McComas

Something About Sophie by Mary Kay McComasMy rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Mystery meets chick lit?

Summary via Goodreads:

Clearfield, Virginia, is a sleepy, idyllic hamlet where residents welcome its comfortable, familiar routines. But when a newcomer arrives in town, long-buried secrets threaten to surface and destroy their haven . . .

Answering a call that summons her to a stranger’s deathbed, a reluctant Sophie Shepard is too late to hear what he was so anxious to tell her. What was so important that a dying man would think of her in his final moments? With the help of Dr. Drew McCarren, Sophie begins to dig into her past, setting off a chain of events that chills the quiet town of Clearfield, Virginia, to its roots.

With part of her wanting nothing more than to put Clearfield behind her and run back home, Sophie knows she won’t rest until she discovers the truth. But growing closer to the residents also means uncovering their dark secrets–secrets about the woman who gave Sophie up for adoption, the mysterious part these strangers played, and the life she never knew she nearly had.

There’s something odd about this book, that gets a little odder the more I think about it.  It’s a mismatch between the tone and the events in the book.

The thing is, I like sweet, good-natured women’s fiction. I mentioned this in my recent review of Robyn Carr’s The Wanderer. This book out-nices Carr in many ways, particularly the sweet Kindergarten teacher of a main character. She’s never been curious about her birth parents, because she loves her adoptive parents so much. And now she’s in a small town where everyone knows one another, and she’s making friends fast.

Then there’s the mystery, which starts out much like a cozy mystery– the bad stuff, including a murder, happens off-screen, with vague threats impinging on our heroine’s activities. I like cozy mysteries, so this is good as well. The book is a little more about the character and less about the who-dunnit, and Sophie isn’t all that involved in trying to find the bad guy or guys.

But then the last section of the book happens, and it gets grittier, with more details on much more unpleasant occurrences (yes, even more unpleasant than murder). And that’s fine with me as well, but it seems out of place compared to the rest of the book.

Overall, I liked the characters, even if they all seemed a little cartoonish. I thought the plot was well constructed.  The romance was cute, even if I didn’t really see the steam. Overall, I enjoyed reading Something About Sophie.

I read this book as part of a TLC Book Tour.  Thank you to TLC for providing me with a copy of this book for review.  If you’d like other opinions on Something About Sophie, check out the other tour stops:
TLC Book Tours

 
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Posted by on April 11, 2013 in books, reviews, tour, Uncategorized

 

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February/March Reading Results

Yes, I fell behind in posting my summaries, as well as my reviews!  I’m not behind in my reading, however :-).

FebruaryNook Books

  1. The Girl Who Fell to Earth by Sophia Al-Maria
  2. Minefields of the Heart: A Mother’s Stories of a Son at War by Sue Diaz
  3. Blameless (Parasol Protectorate #3) by Gail Carriger
  4. Changeless (Parasol Protectorate #2) by Gail Carriger
  5. Just One Day (Just One Day #1) by Gayle Forman
  6. Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple (reread)
  7. The Long Way Home (Chesapeake Diaries #6) by Mariah Stewart

Print Books

  1. The Wanderer (Thunder Point #1) by Robyn Carr
  2. The Missing File by D.A. Mishani

MarchAudio Books

  1. The Beautiful Mystery (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #8) by Louise Penny
  2. Last to Die (Rizzoli & Isles #10) by Tess Gerritsen
  3. Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
  4. Beautiful Sacrifice by Elizabeth Lowell
  5. The Rope (Anna Pigeon 0) by Nevada Barr
  6. Lady Fortescue Steps Out: Being the First Vol. of the Poor Relation (The Poor Relation #1) by Marion Chesney
  7. Dead Witch Walking (The Hollows #1) by Kim Harrison
  8. Missing (The Secrets of Crittenden County #1) by Shelley Shepard Gray
  9. Hidden Summit (Virgin River #17) by Robyn Carr
  10. The Long Walk: A Story of War and the Life That Follows by Brian Castner
  11. The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
  12. Redshirts by John Scalzi (reread)
  13. Naughty in Nice (Her Royal Spyness Mysteries #5) by Rhys Bowen
  14. The Last Boyfriend (Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy #2) by Nora Roberts
  15. The Diamond Throne (The Elenium #1) by David Eddings
  16. Four Day Planet (Federation) by H. Beam Piper
  17. What’s a Ghoul to Do? (Ghost Hunter Mystery #1) by Victoria Laurie

The best book I read during this time was Tell the Wolves I’m Home. Although I got through a lot of books in February (and I started and abandoned quite a few more)  nothing I read during that time (other than rereads) qualified as a best read, although quite a few were enjoyable.

My totals for the year are now at 38 books read: 10 Nook books, 3 print books, and 25 audio books.

Thank you again to Venice Tretiak.for the darling kitten monthly graphics :-).

Have a great April, everyone!

 

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2013 in books, summary

 

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Review: The Wanderer by Robyn Carr

The WandererMy rating: 4 of 5 stars

The first book in Robyn Carr’s new Thunder Point series provided the enjoyable reading experience that I expect from this author.

Summary via Goodreads:

Nestled on the Oregon coast is a small town of rocky beaches and rugged charm. Locals love the land’s unspoiled beauty. Developers see it as a potential gold mine. When newcomer Hank Cooper learns he’s been left an old friend’s entire beachfront property, he finds himself with a community’s destiny in his hands.

Cooper has never been a man to settle in one place, and Thunder Point was supposed to be just another quick stop. But Cooper finds himself getting involved with the town. And with Sarah Dupre, a woman as complicated as she is beautiful.

With the whole town watching for his next move, Cooper has to choose between his old life and a place full of new possibilities. A place that just might be home.

I’m often not sure how to categorize Robyn Carr’s books, because they don’t quite fit into the romance genre for me. The focus is usually on someone’s life, and it is consistent that there is a romance subplot, but mostly, the story is about someone making a life for themselves.

The Wanderer falls squarely into that camp for me. The main character’s romance plot could be a friendship plot without a major change to the story.

I’m not saying the romance didn’t work– I liked it quite a bit. I enjoyed both characters and how they established a relationship with each other. There was chemistry and attraction and genuine like of each other before (although not MUCH before) love dominated the scene.

But even more than that, there were other relationships that were built– friendships, a mentoring relationship with a teen. Hank reexamined what he wanted from his own life, and made changes accordingly.

I really liked how Hank saw Landon being harassed by other teens, and took action– first stepping in very subtly to let the other boys know they were being watched, then building a relationship with him to help him develop the tools he needed on an ongoing basis, and being involved when the situation escalated.  That this relationship provided the launching point for Hank’s romance is a side bonus, but it was clear it was never Hank’s motivation with Landon.

Thunder Point is going to be like Virgin River in many ways. It’s a small town, with interesting, mostly good-hearted people. The overall feel is that of a nice place, and making for a very enjoyable read. I’m looking forward to reading further books and getting to know more of the people.

Thank you to Little Bird Publicity for sending me this book to review.

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2013 in books, reviews

 

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Review: The Missing File by D.A. Mishani

Missing FileMy rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

For me, the strength of this book was its uniqueness. Partially the Israeli flavor, partially the writer himself, I haven’t read anything else that has the same feel, and that’s enough to get me back for the next book when it comes out.

Summary via Goodreads:

Detective Avraham Avraham must find a teenage boy who has vanished from his quiet suburban neighborhood.

Police detective Avraham Avraham knows that when a crime is committed in his sleepy suburb of Tel Aviv, there is little need for a complex investigation. There are no serial killers or kidnappings here. The perpetrator is usually the neighbor, the uncle, or the father. As he has learned, the simplest explanation is always the answer.

But his theory is challenged when a sixteen-year-old boy named Ofer Sharabi disappears without a trace while on his way to school one morning. There is no simple explanation, and Avraham’s ordered world is consumed by the unimaginable perplexity of the case.

The more he finds out about the boy and his circumstances, the further out of reach the truth seems to be. Avraham’s best lead is Ofer’s older neighbor and tutor, Ze’ev Avni. Avni has information that sheds new light on the case—and makes him a likely suspect. But will the neighbor’s strange story save the investigation?

The mystery itself– a missing boy– is interesting enough, with sufficient twists and turns to keep the story going. I also enjoyed the character of Avraham Avraham, the neurotic young police detective. He’s a big part of the uniqueness I mentioned. The book was a good introduction to him, with enough depth to show the potential for future growth and development.

Unfortunately, I also had some problems with the book. The first one, which was more of a problem in the first half of the book, was the other viewpoint character. Ze’ev Avni is a neurotic young schoolteacher, and his character had too similar of a feel to that of Avraham. This isn’t helped by some characters referring to Avraham as Avi, while Ze’ev is often called Avni. The problem isn’t that I got the characters confused, it’s that I like alternating viewpoints to offer more of a contrast.

The other problem was one with the flow of the progress of the mystery, particularly at the end. I can’t give details without getting into spoilers, and this may be a deliberate choice of the author, to reflect the frustration of working on such a case.

I did like that a minor character called out the biggest flaw in the solution at the very end. I’ll declare that enough to keep that flaw from being one of my negatives about the TLC Book Toursbook, which it otherwise would have been for me.

The author shows considerable promise, and this book made for an interesting reading experience.

I read this book as part of a TLC Book Tour.  Thank you to Trish for the opportunity to participate.  You can read other reader’s perspectives on this book at the other tour stops.

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2013 in books, reviews, tour

 

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My 2012 Oscar thoughts

moviesOnce again, I’ve made the effort to see all 9 Best Picture nominees!  I’m a little late writing this up, with the Oscars being on in a few hours…

Here are my thoughts on what I liked and/or thought should win.  Starting at the end of the list:

9. Django Unchained is clearly my least favorite of the group, and although I can somewhat see what the appeal could be for someone else, I really don’t have any idea why it would be Best Picture material.

I actually wouldn’t be terribly unhappy if any of the rest of the nominees won.  I can understand why each and every one was nominated.  This is a strong field.

8. Life of Pi was visually stunning, and was interesting to think about.  I actually felt the movie worked better than the book, which I was more mixed in my opinion about  But I think the other candidates were stronger.

7. Les Misérables ranks higher on my favorites of the year, and I really do think this production was excellent.

6. Beasts of the Southern Wild was a fascinating look at a life very different from what I (or most viewers) know.  I wouldn’t have seen it if it wasn’t for the Oscar nomination, since it really wouldn’t have crossed my radar, and I’m glad I did.

From here on, I have a difficult time ranking which I think should get the Oscar, so I’m going in the order of how much I liked them.

5. Zero Dark Thirty is a movie I expected to rank back with Django Unchained.  I would not have seen this movie if it wasn’t for the Oscar Nomination, and I expected to dislike it.  I didn’t.  I can’t say I enjoyed it, exactly, but I thought it was extremely well crafted.  I thought it took an interesting and somewhat balanced look at a specific set of issues involved in modern warfare.  I don’t care if it reflects actual events correctly, detail by detail, not for this movie or the other two nominees based in actual events.

4. Lincoln was everything is was reported to be, but somehow I didn’t love it anyway.  Still, I came out of it expecting it to be a leading Oscar contender, and it certainly has the nomination count for that, but it doesn’t have the buzz that leads me to think it is likely to win, and that surprises me a little.  I’m not complaining, though!

3. Amour is another movie that wouldn’t have crossed my radar if it wasn’t for the Best Picture nod.  It’s also another one where I really appreciated it, although I can’t say I enjoyed it.  I found it a deeply disturbing look at the aging process, and I think it hit exactly the notes it meant to.  I absolutely recommend seeing it, but be prepared!

2. Argo is the movie I’m expecting to win, and I’m fine with that.  I think it was very well made, and provides a look into an episode in our past, while telling a quirky story, and showing how thinking outside the box can be very good problem solving.

1. Silver Linings Playbook was my favorite from this list.  I think that providing this insight into the world of mental illness is valuable, and it also was an entertaining movie.  It was able to balance the line between making fun of the mentally ill and pitying them.  The performances were all top notch.  I’ll hope for some awards for it tonight!

My two favorite movies of the year are not on this list.  I was hoping my top pick would make it, but Moonrise Kingdom was only nominated under Best Original Screenplay. I never thought my second favorite movie would make the list, The Hunger Games just wasn’t that sort of movie, but I enjoyed it anyway.

Which movies did you see?  Which did you like best?

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2013 in movie, Uncategorized

 

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Review: The Long Way Home by Mariah Stewart

Long Way HomeMy rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

A very enjoyable, quick read of a young woman trying to find her place in the world.

Summary via Goodreads:

As the only child of a wealthy investment manager, Ellie Chapman has never known anything besides a life of perfect privilege. But her years of good fortune come to an abrupt end when her father is exposed for swindling billions of dollars from innocent investors in a massive Ponzi scheme. And just like that, Ellie loses everything: money, job, home–even her fiance, who’s jailed as her father’s partner in crime. With no job prospects on the horizon, no cash, and her family name in tatters, Ellie has only one place to go.
Sleepy St. Dennis, Maryland, is hardly where Ellie intends to stay, however. Keeping her identity a secret, she plans to sell the house her late mother left her in the small town and use the proceeds to move on with her life. Unfortunately, her ticket to a new beginning is in dire need of a laundry list of pricey improvements, many of which she’ll have to do herself. And until the house on Bay View Road is fit to be sold, the sole place Ellie will be traveling is the hardware store. But as the many charms of St. Dennis–not to mention Cameron O’Connor, the handsome local contractor who has secrets of his own–begin to work their magic, what begins as a lesson in do-it-yourself renovations might just end up as Ellie’s very own rejuvenation.

This was an all-out feel good book.  I’ve read most (but not all) of this series, and that isn’t always true for the other books, at least within the range allowed by the romance genre.

I really liked getting to know Ellie, a young woman who had lived a life of privilege, and then had everything taken from her– not just material things, but she lost her father and fiance when they were jailed for crimes she never imagined them capable of. She’s devastated, but is ready to start rebuilding her life.  This is a character archetype that generally appeals to me– clearly damaged by life, but continuing even while dealing with the injuries.

And where better to rebuild than St. Dennis. Ellie doesn’t know that, she thinks she’s just passing through.  Ellie is suspicious of everyone, since most of her friends deserted her when life got rough, and she treats the people in the town accordingly.  But the people here know what it is like to face adversity, and they make allowances.

Cameron was a nice guy, perfect for her, and understands what she’s going through, or at least the part about living with a parent with a bad reputation.  He was a solid character, if possibly a little too good to be true, but I enjoyed watching the interactions between him and Ellie.

And yes, there were steamy bits, but they were just bits.  This isn’t the book to read for extended erotic interludes. You can consider this a plus or a minus, depending on your preferences.

Once I could relax and know it was an everything-will-be-OK kind of book, I liked the twists and turns the plot took, I liked the new characters that were introduced.  One of the fun things about a series like this is the cameos by the characters in previous books.  There is no need to have read them, but if you have, you get a quick visit to where the characters are now.  I like that.

This romance won’t be for everyone, some will find it too nice. Me? This is exactly the way I like it.

I read this book as part of a TLC Book Tour.  Thank you for the opportunity to read this book and participate. You can find more about Mariah Stewart on her website or on Facebook. For other views on the book, check out the other tour stops:
TLC Book Tours

 
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Posted by on February 12, 2013 in books, reviews, tour

 

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