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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Water for Elephants

#42 Book Read in 2012
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

I have put off reading this book for a while now because I was afraid that I would not be able to handle the way the animals were treated in it.  After a few friends read, they assured me that I would be able to handle it, so I added it to the reading list for a class I am teaching this summer.  Boy, am I glad that I did!

Part of this book is set in a nursing home, where an elderly Jacob is living and waiting for his famiy to visit so they can bring him to the circus.  The majority of this book is set in a circus, a second rate circus who really wants to be Ringling Bros.  Jacob joins the circus and is considered their vet, even though he does not have his official degree from Cornell.  He meets the circus folk and instantly forms a love/hate relationship with August and an attraction relationship with August's wife, Marlena.  

Circus life is not easy and this book shows it.  Animals are treated as property and receive basic, minimum care.  There is a huge class distinction between workers and performers.  Money is given out in order of the caste system.  There are nice people like Walter, Earl and Greg.  There are evil people like Uncle Al.  The most despicable character in this book is August.  He abused his wife, his animals and his workers.  I was hoping for justice and felt satisfied with how August ends up.

There is also some not so dark relationships in this book. Jacob and Marlena share a deep connection and they spend time together, even though it is forbidden.  Walter loves his dog Queenie.   Jacob has a connection with the animals, especially Bobo and Rosie.  Camel gets Jacob a job with the show.  There are good people in this book and readers will root for them.

A difficult at times book to read, it was also powerful.  I recommend it.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Meryl Streep Movie Club

#41 Book Read in 2012

The Meryl Streep Movie Club

Lolly owns an inn with her husband.  One New Year's Eve, her sister calls for a ride home from a party.  Lolly sends her husband.  There is an accident and Lolly's husband, sister and brother-in-law are killed.  Lolly ends up parenting her own daughter Kat, and her two nieces, Isabel and June, on her own.  As the girls grow apart from each other and Lolly, their lives are taking interesting turns.  Years later, Lolly calls the three together at the inn for an announcement.  Lolly tells them that she has cancer.  The three girls decide that their individual lives are not the focus now and they band together to take care of Lolly.

This book was a great read.  It was well written chick lit and had characters that readers would care about and feel invested in.  There were good romantic stories woven into the drama of the cancer and some mystery elements as well. The author did a nice job weaving in the films of Meryl Streep to represent what the characters were going through at those points of the book.   I enjoyed it a lot.  

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street

Book #40 Read in 2012
The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street

This book is the sequel to 84 Charing Cross Road, which I loved.  This one was good but I did not enjoy it as much as the first.  That being said, this was still a nice read.  In this book, Helene has made it to London and sees places that she only dreamed of seeing.  She connects with the wife and daughter of the man who was her correspondent for years.  Helene is a star of sorts and she is overwhelmed with the gifts and fawning people give to her.  She wonders how she will ever settle in back home to her ordinary life.

This book is told in journal format, which works to make readers feel so connected to Helene.  It is a nice, quick read and brings closure to her story nicely.  I enjoyed this book.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Dead Girls Don't Wear Diamonds by Nancy Martin

#39 Book Read in 2012
Dead Girls Don't Wear Diamonds by Nancy Martin

This book is the second in a cozy mystery series.  In this book, Nora Blackbird is still working for the newspaper's society pages.  She is at a party at the fancy Cooper estates when Laura Cooper, wife of Nora's high school sweetheart, is found dead in the pool.  People believe that it is suicide.  Laura Cooper was rumored to be unhappy in her life, enough so that she allegedly stole jewelry from the women in her social circle.

But not everyone believes that it was suicide and Nora is one of them.  She begins her own investigation and that puts her in danger.  Luckily, her somewhat of a boyfriend, Mick, comes with a very unique skills set and can help her investigation move forward.  Also lending a hand are Nora's sisters, Emma and the very pregnant Libby, and Reed, her driver.

This book was a good mystery and I enjoyed it.  There is some romance with the chemistry between Mick and Nora but that is not the driving force of the book.  Humor is also included and this makes the book a good read on several fronts.  I will continue with this series.

Curses by J.A. Kazimer


RJ is one bad villian--until he is cursed so that he can only do good things.  This is cramping his evil style.  But he begins to see a possible good side of his imposed newfound goodness when he meets Asia, Cinderella's stepsister.  Asia wants to hire RJ, as she believes him to be a great investigator.  Cinderella has been killed in traffic.  Was it an accident or murder?

This book takes characters from famous fairy tales and brings them to life.  The Big Bad Wolf is pelt decor.  The birds that Cinderella was always surrounded by could be ploys to get her into oncoming traffic.  RJ sees the evil side to the life of fairy tale land.  But he describes it in a humorous way that will leave readers smiling.  I liked RJ's style.

This book was sent to me by the author in exchange for a review.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Good Father

#38 Book Read in 2012
The Good Father by Noah Hawley

Why would a young man kill a Presidential candidate?  Why would he sneak a gun into where the candidate was speaking?  Why would he plead guilty and get the death penalty?

These are the questions that Dr. Paul Allen tries to answer.  The young man is his son, Daniel.  Paul cannot believe that the boy he raised would turn out to be a stone cold killer.  He needs answers as to why this happened.  He needs answers in order to be able to move on and put his life back together.  He needs answers or Daniel may not be the only one who dies.  

This book is an interesting read.  The author sprinkles information about real life killers throughout the book--Charles Manson, John Hinckley and Timothy McVeigh are just a few detailed.  Paul tries to figure out if his son is like them.  He really does not know if he wants that answer.

Good writing and an interesting premise keeps this book interesting.  Readers will not know whether they want Daniel to have been set up, to be guilty or to be dead.  I recommend this book.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Her Highness The Traitor

Her Highness the Traitor

This book will be a great read for historical fiction fans.  Told in alternating narration, from the viewpoints of Frances Grey and Jane Dudley, this book details the workings behind the scenes of the crowning of Jane Grey.  This crowning was choreographed as carefully as any dance number and this is shown in the book.  Power is jockeyed back and forth between different families.  Overstepping may lead to death or imprisonment.  It is amazing to think that this really happened and people were used as pawns on a regular basis.

The book had a nice writing style.  The narration changes were done smoothly.  These "characters" are not really ones that readers come to care about since most are definitely looking out for their best interests.  I would recommend this book to fans of historical fiction and fans of Phillipa Gregory's works--the writing styles are similarly well done.

I received a copy of the book from Sourcebooks, in exchange for a review.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

#37 Book Read in 2012
Southern Charm

Minty Davenport leaves the South to head to New York City for a career in the fashion world.  She finds a job working at a public relations firm for Ruth, an evil boss.  Also, she finds an ex-boyfriend Tripp and the two reconnect.  Minty tries to figure out how to stay true to her Southern roots while making a spot for herself in New York City.  

This book is a great chick lit read.  Minty is a good character and shows growth throughout the book.  This book has romance, humor and decent twists and turns.  I enjoyed it.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

All Roads Lead to Austen

#32 Book Read in 2012
All Roads Lead to Austen

Amy Smith is a professor who decides to travel for a year through Latin America.  As part of her journey she wants to hold book groups in the different countries she is visiting and discuss some of the works of Jane Austen.  Smith wants to know if Austen's appeal is truly universal--spanning location, the ages and cultural diversity.  This book discusses that, along with some romance along the way, things she learns about herself and other cultures and has lush description for armchair travelers like myself.

I enjoyed Smith's writing style.  She gave good description without being too over the top.  Smith made the people she met along the way seem easy to picture in my head.  The romance part interested me but did not get into the way of the story.  As a huge Jane Austen fan, I was curious too to hear how readers in other cultures would respond to her works.  I found their responses interesting to read.  

This book was a good read and I recommend it.  I received a copy of this book from Sourcebooks to review.