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Friday, August 30, 2013

The Ghost and the Femme Fatale

Book #74 Read in 2013
The Ghost and the Femme Fatale by Alice Kimberly

This is the fourth book in a cozy mystery series.  Penelope owns a book store and it seems to be a magnet for murder.  Pen usually begins her own investigation, with help from her live-in ghost, former private investigator Jack Shepard.  In this installment, there is a film noir festival going on in town and on the first night a near miss make Pen suspicious.  The following morning, an author ends up dead in her bookstore and Pen is sure this was no accident.  She begins her search for the culprit.

This series is a good cozy mystery series.  I love the bookstore and small town setting.  The cast of characters are a great batch, especially Pen, Jack, Pen's aunt Sadie and mailman and trivia whiz Seymour. 

Out of the Easy (YA)

Book #73 Read in 2013
Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

I loved this author's first book and her second was no sophomore slump.  I loved this one even more.

Josie is the daughter of a New Orleans prostitute mother and a unknown father.  At the age of 12, Josie begins working in a bookstore and the nice owner lets her stay in the apartment above the store to get her away from her mother.  Between him, Willie (the madam with the heart of gold) and others, Josie begins to dream of going to college and escaping life in the French Quarter.  Then a man is murdered and both Josie and her mother are connected to him and questioned by the police.  Her mother's bad connections are catching up to Josie--will she be able to get away?

Sepetys writes a wonderfully intelligent character in Josie.  She is book smart, street smart and courageous.  Readers will root for Josie to be able to make more of her life and to come out a winner.  This book had a well-written plot, with elements of mystery, romance and humor woven into it.  I highly recommend it.

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Mysterious Death of Miss Jane Austen

Book #72 Read in 2013
The Mysterious Death of Miss Jane Austen by Lindsay Ashford

This book puts an interesting spin on Jane Austen's early death.  In this book, Miss Sharp, governess to Austen family members who becomes a close friend of Jane's, feels that someone had a hand to Jane dying at the early age of 41.  Miss Sharp believes that someone poisoned Jane and she wants to prove it.  This book talks about the interactions among Austen's family members, the way of life during that time, and Jane's rise as an author. 

As a huge Jane Austen fan, I found this book's premise interesting.  I enjoyed the writing style and the mystery aspect to it.  The longing that Miss Sharp felt for Jane became a bit tiresome after a while but it served its purpose about her strong motivation to find out what truly happened to Jane Austen.  Overall, I enjoyed the book.

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

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Portrait in Sepia

Book #71 Read in 2013
Portrait in Sepia by Isabel Allende

This book is a family saga book.  Aurora tells the story of her family--past and present.  Her family members are interesting and complex people who have lived interesting lives.  Aurora is also trying to figure out some things about her past and hopes by detailing the histories of her family members, things will be clarified for her.  This book was a bit slow in parts but Allende's lush writing style and unique characters saved it for me.

Our Iceberg is Melting

Book #70 Read in 2013
Our Iceberg is Melting by John Kotter

This book uses a fable involving penguins trying to find a new iceberg home as a way of showing how to make change in the workplace.  Loved the fable and the penguins.  Some good discussion could be had using the fable to springboard how change can be done within a business/organization.  But really I just wanted to read about the penguins.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Switch: How to Change Things when Change is Hard

Book #69 Read in 2013
Switch:  How to Change Things when Change is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

I read this book for a book study I am offering to teachers next week.  It details how to change things within business organizations, realizing that change is often met with resistance and fear.  The book uses the are you an elephant or a driver throughout the book.  It reads like a text book but the short sections within chapters help it flow better and be more reader friendly.  Overall, it was a decent read.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Big Girl Panties

Book #68 Read in 2013
Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich

This was a decent chick lit book.  Holly is an overweight woman who has recently become a young widow.  On an airplane, she is seated next to Logan, this handsome physical trainer.  The two strike up a conversation when Holly is having trouble fitting into her airplane seat.  Logan, feeling guilty about his disgust at Holly's weight, offers to become her trainer.  Holly surprises herself and takes him up on his offer.  As the weight comes off, Logan and Holly's attraction to each other increases.  Of course they cannot have an easy road to happily ever after so there are some pitfalls and misunderstandings along the way.  Overall, I enjoyed the book, though it was a bit predictable and followed the usual chick lit formula.  This book did have a lot of humor in it which made it stand out more. 

I was sent a copy of this book through the Amazon Vine program in exchange for a review.

Monday, August 5, 2013

My Reading Life

Book #67 Read in 2013
My Reading Life by Pat Conroy

This non-fiction book tells the tale of the importance of literature and books and reading in Conroy's life, first in his childhood and then as an adult who is becoming a writer.  Conroy talks honestly about his abusive father, his mother who remained a mystery to him through adulthood and the connections he made over books and literature.  It seemed as if reading truly saved him at times.  Conroy details the books that he found especially meaningful; some are classics, some are not so mainstream, but all meant something to him.  This is a book for book lovers and also for Conroy fans; his writing style of his fiction carries over to this book.  I enjoyed it.