The Girl Who Chased the Moon. Finished 1-29-13, rating 4.5/5, magical realism, 269 pages, pub. 2010
Something suddenly caught her eye. She quickly stepped to the balustrade. She thought she saw something in the woodline beyond the gazebo in the overgrown backyard.
There! There is was again. It was a bright white light-a quick, zippy flash-darting between the trees. Gradually, the light faded, moving back into the darkness of the wood until it disappeared completely.
Welcome to Mullaby, North Carolina, she thought. Home of ghost lights, giants, and jewelry thieves.
Emily recently lost her mother, the only family she has ever known, and is shipped off to her grandfather in North Carolina. Julia is from Mullaby but left as a teenager only to return as an adult after her father died. Both plan on being there for short time, but both find themselves with reasons to stay in the quaint, close-knit town full of secrets and charm.
I loved Allen’s first book Garden Spells and found myself almost as enchanted with this quirky and magical tale of lost love and the trials of growing up. She has a talent for making stories that are light and still satisfying. Oh, and romantic. Emily and Julia both found men to appreciate them even when they didn’t want to be appreciated. Julia’s story of her teen years carried the novel for me and I was happy to see her get her happy ending (this is Sarah Addison Allen so I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by saying that).
I like magical realism, especially when done well, and need to read more. Let me know if you have a favorite.
This was from my personal library and I decided to read it after I saw it on Carrie’s 2012 favorites list.
In the Woods. Finished 12-26-12, rating 4.5/5, mystery, 464 pages, pub. 2007
Book 1 in the Dublin Murder Squad series.
As dusk approaches a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, mothers begin to call their children home. But on this warm evening, three children do not return from the dark and silent woods. When the police arrive, they find only one of the children gripping a tree trunk in terror, wearing blood-filled sneakers, and unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours.
Twenty years later, the found boy, Rob Ryan, is a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad and keeps his past a secret. But when a twelve-year-old girl is found murdered in the same woods, he and Detective Cassie Maddox—his partner and closest friend—find themselves investigating a case chillingly similar to the previous unsolved mystery. Now, with only snippets of long-buried memories to guide him, Ryan has the chance to uncover both the mystery of the case before him and that of his own shadowy past.
Ryan narrates the book with humor and enough foreshadowing to keep you reading well past bedtime (at least it did for me). He has his problems. At the best of times he’s cool and fun, at the worst he’s a real piece of work who I wanted to pour a beer on. He’s best friends with his partner, Cassie, and their brother-sister relationship was one to be envied, by their fellow detectives and the reader. I loved Cassie. Loved her more than Rob, especially by the end.
The old mystery of what happens to Rob as a child and the new case of who killed little Katy have a few pieces of connecting evidence and Rob is stuck in the middle of his own hell, one he stepped into willingly. The mystery was very good, if not totally surprising. I loved the characters and the history of the village. French did an excellent job of making me feel right at home in Dublin. Now I need to visit!
I really, really liked this one. Yes, by the end I was fairly disgusted with Rob, but I am so looking forward to reading the next of this series. I know that a lot of bloggers were upset by the loose ends but I was okay with it. But that could have been because I was expecting it, who knows?
I bought this for my Nook and if any other Nookster wants to borrow it for 2 weeks, let me know!
Finished 10-16-12, rating 4.5/5, horror, 1090 pages, pub. 1986
I am so glad that I joined in the IT-along hosted by the wonderful Jill and Christina. I received a great clownish book and bookmark from Jill and I’ve loved reading what the other IT-alongers had to say. Sadly, I think much of this conversation happened on Twitter and I just don’t have time for it right now so I think I missed out on some of the fun.
Okay, so these were my thoughts halfway through. I was so glad to throw the book across the room in celebration of being finished. Not because I hated it but because this has really been a (too) long journey for me. I get very little time to read and this book sucked all of that time down the storm drain. A drain where IT was waiting with ITs web of horror. A few nights I heard things in the house that in hindsight were not murderers coming to taunt me and my family, but at the time were a very real concern. This may have been caused by Pennywise or it may have been the Diet Coke I thought was a good idea to drink at 10 pm. Who can know for sure? Okay, instead of a synopsis (you can find that here) I’ll give you a few of my SPOILERISH thoughts on IT.
*I love that Stephen King doesn’t shy away from the ugly side of human nature. This book was not PC and I thought it was refreshing and it elevated the storytelling.
*I love fortune cookies, but King may have ruined them for me.
*The Loser’s Club was awesome and the bond of friendship they shared (if not their fate) made me want to be a part of their posse. Not that I could have performed in either of the finales. One, I am not a fan of orgies and two, I am ridiculously grossed out by spiders.
*After all of the grotesque deaths in this book, Tom really needed his due. Why couldn’t IT start eating his appendages? Why didn’t Beverly get to take an axe to him? Either of these things would have helped the ending.
*Bill and Beverly. Did we need to go there? No. We did not.
*I think I’m in the minority in liking the Interludes. I think that they added a much needed layer to the city of Derry. Some of it was dry, but for me at least, the end was richer for it.
*I did love the alternating past/present storylines at the end. I knew I wanted to finish this book as close to the read-along date as I could and the last several hundred pages made it easy for me to pick up the book in spare moments.
“How old were they? 11, 12? Entirely too young to excuse the group sex in the tunnels. If that had happened earlier in the book I may not have finished it.
*I do think that King could use some editing, but I was so drawn into his world that I was okay with his excessive description. It’s this lack of editing (and the gratuitous sex) that led me to not give this a perfect rating.
*After spending almost two months with the Loser’s Club from Derry, Maine, I am surprised that I will miss them.
I had a well-worn used copy of the paperback on my shelf which led me to join in the IT-along and it was worth it.
Stories I Only Tell My Friends. Finished audio 9-28-12, rating 4.5/5, autobiography, pub. 2011
Unabridged audio read by Robe Lowe.
It’s no secret that I am a child of the 80’s and lover of the teen movies of the day. Rob Lowe was never one of my favorites, he was just too pretty, but he starred in some great 80’s films. I picked up the book at a library sale but then remembered that a few bloggers (maybe Mary is one?) recommended the audio so I tried that instead and the audio is definitely the way to go with this one. Lowe’ charm and intelligence come through loud and clear and I looked forward to getting in the car and visiting with him every day because that’s what it felt like. He was very conversational and it was just a fun and easy listen.
Lowe knew he wanted to be an actor at an early age in Dayton, Ohio, and was involved in an acting group called Peanut Butter and Jelly. He even had a few star encounters, a favorite of mine is when he knocked on Liza Minnelli’s hotel door and was allowed in to chat! His parents divorced, his mother remarried and her behavior became erratic. When she moved the family of three boys to Los Angeles it was culture shock for Rob, but the perfect place to really pursue his goal of becoming an actor.
Lowe is a master name dropper. It is amazing to me how many famous people he came in contact with at a young age. I LOVE Cary Grant and Rob got to watch his first after school special on Cary Grant’s bed with Grant and his daughter. So cool (and not creepy at all). The Sheens, Janet Jackson, Ron Howard and many others all come into Rob’s orbit before his first big break, The Outsiders (1983). The Outsiders takes up a nice percentage of the book, but we get to meet these new upstarts as Rob does, Tom Cruise, Patrick Swayze, Matt Dillon…
I highly recommend this for any fan of the 80’s, Hollywood memoirs, or the man himself. You’ll feel like Hollywood insider. I think it could have been more complete, he does choose to gloss over chunks of his life, but what is included is very entertaining and insightful. A man who has been on both the inside and the outside of the Hollywood scene and has managed to survive with sanity intact.
After finishing the book I immediately put The Outsiders on hold at the library. I feel like I know so much about behind the scenes that the movie will be extra fun to watch. I think my favorite role is Sam Seaborn from the West Wing. What’s yours?
Finished 4-7-12, rating 4.5/5, fiction, 293 pages, pub. 2011
The moving story told in its pages, of love and loss and acceptance, of secret passions and the weight of private thoughts, forever changed the way I viewed my own writing. It may have been why I stopped writing. Joel had never read the book, and I was glad of it. It was too intimate to share. It read to me like the pages of my unwritten diary.
Emily, author of one bestselling novel years ago, has just signed her divorce papers. Not able to write and not sure what to do about it her best friend convinces her that a change of scenery will help, so Emily contacts her Aunt Bee on Bainbridge Island, Washington. Once she’s back on the island where she spent the wonderful summers of her youth, she finds a hidden journal written by the mysterious Esther, and Emily wonders if she is somehow connected to her family. Totally immersed in Esther’s story and frustrated by her aunt’s refusal to talk about family secrets, Emily found the perfect way to forget about her divorce and the muse to start writing again.
The story in the journal parallels current day Bainbridge Island and as Emily pieced together who was who I tried to keep up. I admit I had some ideas, but did get a bit confused by the large cast. I didn’t really care though, I was just happy to be along for the ride. One of these days I hope I find my way to Bainbridge Island. The place felt magical.
I loved this book. The writing was beautiful, there was such depth and beauty on every page. The awesome writing coupled with the two addicting storylines make this one easy to recommend. I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump (probably because I have so little time for it these days so I tend to choose shorter books) but this one had me reading well into my sleep time and that’s not something I give up lightly!
There are two things that kept this from being perfect for me. I wish there could have been another chapter to wrap things up a little more and I was surprised by how fast Emily recovered from her divorce. She did not waste any time jumping back into the dating pool and seemed to think very little of her old life. This felt a bit odd, but I’ve not gone through a divorce so maybe it is that easy to forget (and I mean forget a week later). Both of these are minor complaints.
This is my favorite book this year, so far, and it was from my personal library.
Enter to win a copy of The Day the World Ends by Ethan Coen here.
Finished 3-12-12, rating 4.5/5, southern fiction/romance, 414 pages, pub. 1997
Pampered Claire has been in love with Bad Boy Roan since she was five and he stood up for her against a bully. The two were an unlikely pair, especially given their five year age difference. Their friendship caused tongues to wag and Claire’s parents concern, but it remained and strengthened until Roan proved himself worthy and Claire’s family took him in. Five years later they would send him away not knowing what became of him. It’s twenty years later and Claire is all grown up and has never forgotten Roan or quite forgiven her parents, but her life has gotten complicated and she must return home to her childhood home and to her family.
This is one of those wonderful stories about love, redemption, acceptance, secrets, and family. It is a love story, but it is much more than that too. Claire is from a huge family and I can relate, although I’m an only child I have 14 first cousins and a whole lotta seconds and thirds. Claire couldn’t do anything in her small southern Georgia town without a relative knowing about it – she even had three lively grandmothers living in her house. I loved the multigenerational feel of the book, the feeling of a deep connection to the land and the people. It was warm and inviting.
As much as I enjoyed Claire and her family it was Roan’s story that broke your heart and made you want to keep reading. Roan, who grew up poor, filthy, beaten, and judged because his father was the town embarrassment. When Roan disappeared you just knew he would make something of himself, but how and why did he stay away? The reason was one I didn’t quite see coming and it made this book more than a great romance with something extra, a great story.
I loved this one. The characters were all well-developed, even the secondary ones. It was great comfort reading as I’ve come to expect from Deborah Smith. I’ve read several other of her novels, but this is ny favorite. One thing of note, Claire was a reporter but she didn’t know what had become of Roan those twenty years and I kept thinking, “Just Google him!” or “He’s gotta be on Facebook.” Isn’t it funny how technology can intrude on a perfectly lovely story?
If you like romances like the old Lavyrle Spencer novels or great southern reading I highly recommend this one.
Thsi was from my personal library.
Finished 1-24-12, rating 4.5/5, thriller, 549 pages, pub. 2002
“A handshake isn’t enough,” she said. “You’re going to do it for us.” Then she paused. “And you were nearly my brother-in-law.”
He said nothing. Just nodded and shuffled out from behind the table and glanced back once. Then he headed up the stairs and out to the street. Her perfume was on his hand. He walked around to the cabaret lounge and left a note for his friends in their dressing room. Then he headed out to the highway, with ten whole days to find a way to kill the fourth-best-protected person on the planet.
Series Main Character– Jack Reacher. Many series have a main character or two and many recurring characters. This series only needs one, loner extraordinaire, Reacher. He’s a badass. He makes his way around the country righting wrongs and fighting injustices. He doesn’t have a home, an ATM card, close friends, but he does have a heart and lots of confidence. He’s retired military police so he knows his stuff and his talents and he is not afraid to give into his baser instincts for vengeance. Oh, and he absurdly attractive to women. Me included.
Story– His dead brother’s ex-girlfriend works for the Secret Service and she is in charge of protecting the Vice President elect. When he begins receiving death threats, Froelich tracks down Reacher to help her figure out if they could do it. Reacher brings in an old military friend, Neagley and the two of them start tracking the would be assassins.
How it stacks up-This is right up there with the best of the series so far. I love good political intrigue and this was a fun look inside the Secret Service. The pseudo history with Froelich and the comfortable friendship with Neagley made this one more appealing than some of the others.
Who should be reading this series– A must read for anyone who likes a great fast-paced thriller.
This was from my personal library.
Finished 12-26-11, rating 4.5/5, non-fiction, 202 pages, pub. 2004
Don’t make excuses
Joshua Hugh Wooden’s “two sets of threes” to live by (John Wooden’s father)
John Wooden, a basketball coaching legend, won 10 national championships in his 27 years at UCLA, but it was his honest and positive approach to life that won him a multitude of fans. This book chronicles some of the biggest moments of his life and how they influenced him, from his father reading poetry to he and his brothers to the death of his beloved Nell in 1985. He loved his family, respected others, and was always striving for success, on the court and off.
Jason and I read this aloud to each other for a few minutes each night as Gage listened or played, a perfect book for it. I hope that Jason will read this with Gage when he gets older. Wooden is role model because of the way he lived his life. He had success after success and yet he was always trying to learn lessons from perceived failings. It was so refreshing to read about someone considered the best in their field who was also just a decent human being. He was 99 when he died in 2010.
The book had lots of pictures and lots of basketball talk and is a perfect read for fathers & sons.
This book was from my personal library.
Finished 12-16-11, rating 4.75/5, mystery, 299 pages, pub. 2009
Book 1, Tatoo Shop series
“Can I help you, Officer?” I politely asked his profile. I knew how to talk to cops: Keep it cordial, no sudden moves.
He was studying the frosted letters on the window, his hands on his hips. He didn’t look ready to grab the gun or the nightstick that flanked his stocky frame. He turned his head slowly, his mouth set in a grim line, eyes narrowed as they settled on my face.
It unsettled me. Usually people stared at the ink on my left arm-a detailed replica on Monet’s water lily garden, complete with a weeping willow and footbridge-or the dragon that creeps up over my right breast under my tank top.
Brett Kavanaugh, owner of The Painted Lady tattoo shop in Las Vegas, is the last person to have seen a prominent runaway bride. Brett is caught up in the mystery and finds herself doing some investigative work of her own, leading her to a dead body and big trouble. Her brother and roommate, Tim, is a detective and tries to save her from herself with limited success. She also teams up with a rival tattooist and a sexy Brit who obviously knows way more than he should about the missing woman and the dead man.
Brett is awesome. She owns her own tatoo shop, but she also has a fine art degree in painting, so she’s got credentials. She moved out to Vegas when she needed to leave the east coast and remains unimpressed with all the trappings of Vegas. She sees it as an illusion and that makes her a smart cookie. She is independent (which leads to some dumb decisions) but relies on the help of her friend and co-worker, Joel. She obviously is too brave for her own good or she wouldn’t be involved in the murderous mess at all. What’s not to love?
I have no interest in getting a tatoo and I am no fan of Las Vegas (Was there once, stayed at the Four Seasons and the Luxor. Was sick the entire week so maybe Vegas didn’t get a fair shake) so it was a bit of a surprise to me that I loved this book so much. I’d seen all the positive reviews, but was turned off by the cover for some reason. This will end up being one of my favorite books this year and I can’t wait to read the next one in the series. Who knows, maybe Brett will eventually convince me that tats are cool :) (I do think that a high proportion of people with tattoos are cool, but remain less enamored with the tattoos themselves)
This book had the perfect voice and a strong mystery to make it a fast and fun read.
I checked this book out of the library.
Finished audio 12-1-11, rating 4.5/5, thriller, pub. 2009
Unabridged audio, 9 hours 12 minutes. Read by Phil Gigante
Book 3 in the Walt Fleming series
County sheriff Walt Fleming is a man on the verge of divorce, a presence in the life of his nephew, and the lawman in charge of securing the elite wine sale in Sun Valley. Millions of dollars will be paid for three bottles of wine once owned by John Adams. When Walt discovers a murdered man he detects his way to a complicated plan to steal the wine.
There were so many twists, turns and red herrings that this was a home run for me. There were a lot of interesting subplots that kept me interested on many levels. Not only was Walt a good investigator, but his personal relationships made for great storylines and I loved the way all aspects of his life came together for this mystery.
I picked this up because it was set in Idaho and I didn’t realize that this was part of a series until I was done. I loved this as a standalone, but if you are interested the first of the series is Killer Weekend.
I checked this audio out of the library.