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Friday, August 31, 2012

August 2012 Reads

August 2012 Reads:

1.  Ape House (5/5)
2.  The Knights of Derbyshire (4/5)
3.  The End of Your Life Book Club (4.5/5)
4.  Maine (4/5)
5.  Red Velvet Revenge (5/5) 4th in series
6.  The Dog Who Danced (4.5/5)
7.  The Dog Who Knew Too Much (5/5) 4th in series
8.  Julia's Cats (4/5)

Year to date:  58 books read

Julia's Cats

Book #58 Read in 2012
Julia's Cats 

This is a non-fiction book detailing Julia Child's life with cats.  The book tells a bit about Julia, her marriage to Paul, her foray into cooking and her love for felines.  I loved the book and movie of Julie and Julia so I was interested in reading more about Julia and I love cats so I was curious about her interaction with them.  

Julia had several cats throughout her life and she spoiled every one.  She mourned their losses and enjoyed playing with them.  She treated them as members of her family.  As a cat person, I can relate.  I enjoyed this quick read.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Dog Who Knew Too Much by Spencer Quinn

#57 Book Read in 2012
The Dog Who Knew Too Much
by Spencer Quinn

This is the fourth book in the Chet and Bernie series.  Chet is a dog who tells the story of helping his owner, Bernie, on their cases, as Bernie is a private investigator.  In this book, Chet and Bernie are hired by a woman to find her missing son, who was at a wilderness camp and never returned for an overnight hike.  Not a simple missing persons case, as the boy's father has a criminal bent and got involved in some shady dealings with people local to the camp.  Chet and Bernie take a few shots along the way but continue to try to track down the boy.

This series is a fun one to read.  The books are good mysteries.  Chet and Bernie are great characters and have a nice connection.  Secondary characters like Bernie's girlfriend Suzy are also well-developed.  There is a lot of humor in these books, especially in Chet's telling of the story.  I recommend this series.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Dog Who Danced

Book #56 Read in 2012
The Dog Who Danced by Susan Wilson

Justine is heading cross country to visit her dying father.  She has hooked up a ride with a trucker.  Her baggage is just a few bags and her Sheltie, Mack.  The truck driver ends up leaving Justine at a truck stop and he does not know at first that Mack is still in the back of his truck.  He eventually figures that out and drops Mack off on the side of a major interstate.  Mack is found by Alice and Ed, an older couple who have suffered a great loss and are really looking for someone or something to love, though they may not know it at the time.  As Mack, now called Buddy, begins to bond with Alice and Ed, Justine is spending time with her dying father while trying to track down Mack.  Will Justine and Mack be reunited?

This was a great read.  It was obvious how much Justine loved Mack and also obvious as to how much Alice and Ed loved Buddy.  All of the characters were ones that readers were sympathetic to and would care about their happiness.  Mack/Buddy was a great canine character--smart, intuitive and full of personality plus.  I enjoyed this book a lot.

I received this book to review through the Amazon Vine program.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Red Velvet Revenge

#55 Book Read in 2012
Red Velvet Revenge by Jenn McKinlay

This book is the fourth installment in one of my favorite cozy mystery series.  In this book, Mel and Angie decide to bring their cupcake van to a rodeo to sell their cupcakes.  As always when they are involved, there is drama at the rodeo and someone turns up dead.  Mel begins to investigate the death and of  course gets herself in trouble.  Along with the murder mystery, the romance of Mel and Joe moves forward.  Angie and Tate's unspoken love for each other moves forward in its own way as well.  Along for the ride are Oz and Marty.

I enjoy this series.  The characters are interesting and I love how they all care for each other.  There is a good balance between mystery and romance, with humor thrown in for good measure.  I did miss Captain Jack's antics in this book.  Hopefully in the next one, he gets more page time.

I highly recommend this series.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


#54 Book Read in 2012
Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan

A beach cottage in Maine is the setting for a family full of issues.  Alice is the matriarch who lives at the beach cottage.  Every summer her children and grandchildren come out for a month (rotating the time through each child and family) to spend time at the beach house.  Alice is a hard woman for them to feel connected to and she is not really enamored with how her children and grandchildren turned out.  The fur really begins to fly when the children find out that Alice has agreed to donate the cottage and land to her church after her death.  Alice's children are devastated; they assumed they would inherit the place and that their children could continue to spend time there in the summer.

But this book is more about a beach house.  This book details the complicated relationships among family members.  Alice's daughter Kathleen is a recovering alcoholic.  She has not come to the beach house for years.  She does this summer after learning that her own daughter, Maggie, is pregnant and no longer with the father of the baby.  Ann Marie, Alice's daughter-in-law, is not happy in her marriage.  She feels taken for granted by her husband and by Alice, as Ann Marie is the one who does the bulk of the domestic matters.

The characters in this book are complicated and sometimes hard to like but they are interesting to read about and to follow.  The description of the setting is well written.  I enjoyed this book.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The End of Your Life Book Club

#53 Book Read in 2012
The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe

This book details a very small book club, Will and his mother Mary Ann, who is dying of pancreatic cancer.  The pair decide to use the time spent at the hospital during Mary Ann's chemo treatments to read and discuss books together.  Their discussions bring them even closer together.  This book also tells about the effect that Mary Ann had on the people who knew her.  She was an important part in so many people's lives--personally and professionally.  Mary Ann was a humanitarian who served selflessly for years.  She instilled a care and charity into her children and grandchildren.  

This book was well written.  I felt a loss at the end when the inevitable happened to Mary Ann.  I was concerned about how her family would get through this.  I enjoyed this book--the details about the family and the discussions about the book.  

I received this book from BookBrowse in exchange for a fair, honest review.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Knights of Derbyshire

Book #52 Read in 2012
The Knights of Derbyshire by Marsha Altman

This is the fifth book in a series that picks up where Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice left off.  Austen is my favorite author and Altman stays true to Austen's writing style and Austen's characters.

In this book, Geoffrey, George and Georgie (offspring of Darcy and Elizabeth, Jane and Bingley and the Wickhams) take more of a major role.  Geoffrey is kidnapped by a political activist who wants money and land from Darcy.  While the adults begin to make deals with the kidnapper, Georgie decides to take a more direct approach.  This book had good action.  

Besides the action, there is the ability to revisit beloved characters like Brian and Dr. Maddox, and Gregoire Darcy.  It is like reuniting with old friends.  Lizzy and Darcy still are very much in love, as are Jane and Bingley.  Mr. Bennett still is the beloved father figure.  Seeing these characters later in life is comforting to readers.

I enjoyed this book and have read all  the others in the series.  Altman is a great writer.  I received this book from the author in exchange for a honest review.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Ape House

Book #51 Read in 2012
Ape House by Sara Gruen

I recently read Water for Elephants (I know, I know, finally!) by this author and loved her writing style.  I immediately requested Ape House from the library and was not disappointed.  I loved this book as well.

In Ape House, Isabel works with bonobos and has taught them to communicate using Sign Language.  There is a fire in the ape location and Isabel is injured in it.  By the time she is on the road to recovery, the bonobos have been moved and are now used in a reality show produced by a porn producer.  He is hoping to score huge ratings by capitalizing on 24 hour visuals on the bonobos.  Isabel is bound and determined to reunite with her "family" and enlists the help of John Thigpen, a reporter who missed the fire by a matter of hours after interviewing Isabel and the bonobos.  They unite forces, along with some others, to get the bonobos out of the "ape house".

This book has it all--great writing, great characters (including the bonobos, who have very distinct personalities, twists and turns, romance and even some humor.  I was rooting for the bad guys to get theirs and for the bonobos to have a happy ending.  Now I have to decide which book by Gruen to read next.

Melissa's July Reads

July reads:

1.  Pride and Pyramids (4/5) review book
2.  Dead in the Family (5/5)  10th in series
3.  These Things Hidden (5/5)  Kindle
4.  What Alice Forgot (4.5/5)  Kindle
5.  Little Shop of Homicide (4.5/5)   1st in series
6.  Lost and Fondue (5/5)  2nd in series  Kindle
7.  Before I Go To Sleep (4/5)  Kindle
8.  Open and Shut (5/5)  1st in series

Books read so far in 2012:  50