Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead. (synopsis from Goodreads)

My Thoughts:

I am absolutley in love with this book.  There are not enough words to even describe it: magical, whimsical, mysterious, bizarre, confusing and at the core, a love story.  I cannot fathom how the author even came up with the premise for the story. I went to Ms. Morgenstern’s website and she says she grew up reading Stephen King and J.K. Rowling and that this probably explains her literary development.  It certainly shows in The Night Circus.

 I got this from the library and I want to re-read it, so I'm going to buy it.  I want the hard copy, not the e-book.  I want to hold on to it, tell people about it, show people my copy and say "GO GET YOUR OWN!!!!" because I won't give it up.  Does that sound silly?  Too bad - that is how much I loved this book.

In case you can’t tell, I’m giving this 5 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sister by Rosamund Lipton

Overview from Goodreads:

When her mom calls to tell her that Tess, her younger sister, is missing, Bee returns home to London on the first flight. She expects to find Tess and give her the usual lecture, the bossy big sister scolding her flighty baby sister for taking off without letting anyone know her plans. Tess has always been a free spirit, an artist who takes risks, while conservative Bee couldn’t be more different. Bee is used to watching out for her wayward sibling and is fiercely protective of Tess (and has always been a little stern about her antics). But then Tess is found dead, apparently by her own hand.

Bee is certain that Tess didn’t commit suicide. Their family and the police accept the sad reality, but Bee feels sure that Tess has been murdered. Single-minded in her search for a killer, Bee moves into Tess’s apartment and throws herself headlong into her sister’s life—and all its secrets.

Though her family and the police see a grieving sister in denial, unwilling to accept the facts, Bee uncovers the affair Tess was having with a married man and the pregnancy that resulted, and her difficulty with a stalker who may have crossed the line when Tess refused his advances. Tess was also participating in an experimental medical trial that might have gone very wrong. As a determined Bee gives her statement to the lead investigator, her story reveals a predator who got away with murder—and an obsession that may cost Bee her own life.

My Thoughts:

I absolutely loved this book.  It was so beautifully written and often times heartbreaking.   The author wrote the book as a letter from Bee to Tess as she explains the steps she took to find out the truth about how Tess died.

Even though she is already gone, we get to know Tess through her older sister.  In trying to determine how her sister really dies, Bee discovers many things about herself.  As a result, she makes   some major life changes.

The concept of one sister writing a letter to her only other sibling who is gone was very sad.  I thought the author handled the story line quite well.  This is a debut novel by Ms. Lipton.  The US version became available on June 7,2011.  Her second novel,  Afterward, is scheduled for release in the US in April, 2012.  I will definitely be checking this book out!
I gave Sister 5 stars out of 5.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


The first complete narrative of the pursuit and capture of Adolf Eichmann, based on groundbreaking new information and interviews. When the Allies stormed Berlin in the last days of the Third Reich, the operational manager of the mass murder of Europe’s Jews shed his SS uniform and vanished.

Alternating from a criminal on the run to his pursuers closing in on his trail ,Hunting Eichmann follows the Nazi as he escapes two American POW camps, hides in the mountains, slips out of Europe on the ratlines, and builds an anonymous life in Buenos Aires. Meanwhile, a persistent search for Eichmann gradually evolves into an international manhunt that includes a bulldog West German prosecutor, a blind Argentinean Jew and his beautiful daughter, and a budding, ragtag spy agency called the Mossad, whose operatives have their own scores to settle.

My Thoughts:

There is a quote at the very beginning of the book "Justice should not only be done, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done." - Lord Chief Justice Gordon Hewart, 1924. This quote will make sense once you have read the book.
Wow – this book was very, very good. I love it when an author takes a true story and writes about it in such a way that it is still suspenseful.  Even though we know the ending, how does it all go down?  How does Eichmann escape from Germany?  How did he stay under the radar for so long?  How was he found?  And then the big question – how did they get him??
 I learned allot by reading this book.  Eichmann was responsible for heading what was called “The Final Solution of the Jewish Question.”   Can you imagine – naming a plan to exterminate human beings with this kind of title.   How frightening.  I was also not aware of the involvement of the Catholic church in helping war criminals escape from Germany.  As a former Catholic, I can only say – how sad.
Probably the most exciting part of the story was the plot to get Eichmann out of Argentina and into Israel.  The logistics seemed almost overwhelming.  It all had to be secret – there was no help for the Mossad from any other country.  There were only two ways out – by air or by water, and each route had its own set of difficulties to overcome.  Oh – the intrigue, the planning, the tension – I can’t give any of it away – it’s too integral to the overall story.  You’ll just have to read the book!
This book was so well written – so well organized, I know I am going to have to check out more books by Mr. Bascomb. 
I gave this book a rating of 5 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Winters in Bloom by Lisa Tucker

   Book Overview from Goodreads:

Kyra and David Winter are happier than they ever thought they could be. They have a comfortable home, stable careers, and a young son, Michael, whom they love more than anything. Yet because of their complicated histories, Kyra and David have always feared that the life they created was destined to be disrupted. And on one perfectly average summer day, it is: Michael disappears from his own backyard.

The only question is whose past has finally caught up with them: David feels sure that Michael was taken by his troubled ex-wife, while Kyra believes the kidnapper must be someone from her estranged family, someone she betrayed years ago.

As the Winters embark on a journey of time and memory to find Michael, they will be forced to admit these suspicions, revealing secrets about themselves they’ve always kept hidden. But they will also have a chance to discover that it’s not too late to have the family they’ve dreamed of; that even if the world is full of risks, as long as they have hope, the future can bloom.

My Thoughts:
I liked this book.  Poor little Michael –his parents have so many restrictions, if he were older than five, he might have actually put a sign around his neck that said GET ME OUT OF HERE.   On the day he was taken, it was only the second time his Mom had let him outside by himself and this was after reading a book about letting kids be free range!
I won’t be ruining anything by letting you know that fairly early in the book, we find out that the police find a “happy kidnapper note” explaining that the person who took Michael does not intend to hurt him and will return him soon.   So this isn’t a scary book about a child kidnapping, but the story of Krya and David’s past, their perception of mistakes made early in their lives and how they feel it has led to Michael’s disappearance.  The author weaves a good tale and throws a twist in at the end that I did not see coming.

I rate this book 4 stars out of 5.

This book was published 9/13/11.

I would like to thank netGalley and Simon &Schuster Publishing, Inc. for allowing me to read this copy.
Methland: The Death and Life of an American Small TownMethland: The Death and Life of an American Small Town by Nick Reding

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Overview from Goodreads:

Crystal methamphetamine is widely considered to be the most dangerous drug in the world, and nowhere is that more true than in the small towns of the American heartland. Methland tells the story of Oelwein, Iowa (pop. 6,159), which, like thousands of other small towns across the country, has been left in the dust by the consolidation of the agricultural industry, a depressed local economy, and an out-migration of people. As if this weren’t enough to deal with, an incredibly cheap, longlasting, and highly addictive drug has rolled into town.

Over a period of four years, journalist Nick Reding brings us into the heart of Oelwein through a cast of intimately drawn characters, including: Clay Hallburg, the town doctor, who fights meth even as he struggles with his own alcoholism; Nathan Lein, the town prosecutor, whose caseload is filled almost exclusively with meth-related crime; and Jeff Rohrick, a meth addict, still trying to kick the habit after twenty years.

My Thoughts:

I wanted to post a review because I thought it was an excellent book. Released in 2009, it is still a good explanation of the ongoing battle against meth. It helped me understand the politics behind the attempt to enact laws to restrict the purchase of pseudoephedrine. Because of the similarity in chemical structure to the amphetamines, pseudoephedrine is a major ingredient used in the making of meth. Early legislative attempts to control the purchase of pseudoephedrine would have required each transaction involving the drug to be reported to the government, and federal approval of all imports and exports. Concerned this would limit legitimate use of the drug, lobbyists from over the counter drug manufacturers worked to stop this legislation from moving forward. We still hear about this ongoing debate today, as local municipalities work to establish some sort of control over the sale of pseudoephedrine products.

A few years ago, there was an article in our local newspaper about a young high school girl who got hooked on crystal meth. A popular, intelligent and hardworking student, the article documented her life before meth, how she started using and the decline in all aspects of her life due to her addiction. At the time of the article, she was in jail because her parents felt this was the safest place for her.

What I remember most about her story came at the very end of the article. When asked why she had even started using the drug, her response was “I just wanted to try it”. How very sad and frightening.

Methland told the same type of stories regarding the lives of people on meth, those trying to fight the production and sale of the drug, along with individuals working to help recovering addicts. This really was a fascinating read.

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Becoming Marie AntoinetteBecoming Marie Antoinette by Juliet Grey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Overview:

Raised alongside her numerous brothers and sisters by the formidable empress of Austria, ten-year-old Maria Antonia knew that her idyllic existence would one day be sacrificed to her mother’s political ambitions. What she never anticipated was that the day in question would come so soon.

Before she can journey from sunlit picnics with her sisters in Vienna to the glitter, glamour, and gossip of Versailles, Antonia must change everything about herself in order to be accepted as dauphine of France and the wife of the awkward teenage boy who will one day be Louis XVI. Yet nothing can prepare her for the ingenuity and influence it will take to become queen.

My Thoughts:

This book was very interesting. History has never been my thing, so I have zero background knowledge about Marie Antoinette. A note from the author states that while Becoming Marie Antoinette is a work of fiction, the events are based on facts.

Forget the whole fairy princess idea. The daughters of royalty were often nothing more than pawns in the politics of establishing alliances between countries. I found one chapter of the book to be particularly representative of the sacrifice required of Marie. Titled The Remise, it describes how a 5 room wooden pavilion had been built – two rooms on the Austrian side and two rooms on the French side, with a “neutral” room in the middle. Marie had to give up everything that was Austrian – her clothes, her personal help, even her dog! She was only allowed to take her deceased father’s watch and that was because her father had been born in France.

It was in this middle room that the contract of Marie’s marriage to Louis August was read out loud. She then said goodbye to everything Austrian. The door to the Austrian side was closed and that was that. Marie was never to return to Austria. Can you image doing this at the age of fourteen? Saying goodbye to everything you grew up with – family, friends, lifestyle and even her native language.

So poor little Marie, age fourteen, uneducated in the political maneuverings of the French court, goes off to marry someone she has never met and to shoulder the burden of improving the alliance between Austria and France.

The rest of the book entails Marie’s early years as the Dauphine of France. It ends when Marie and Louis become king and queen of France.

Becoming Marie Antoinette was published in August, 2011 and is book one of a trilogy. The second book, due out in 2012, is called Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow. The third book is yet untitled.

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishers for allowing me to read this copy.

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Saturday, October 1, 2011

At RiskAt Risk by Alice Hoffman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Overveiw from Publishers Weekly:

The Farrells are a middle-class family living in a small New England town. Ivan Farrell is an astronomer, wife Polly a photographer, eight-year-old Charlie a budding biologist and 11-year-old Amanda a talented gymnast. tension between spouses, and withal, the humor and love that holds families together. Suddenly the Farrells are singled out for grief. Amanda, who has been winning gymnastic meets despite a summer-long malaise, tests positive for AIDS, contracted some five years before when she was transfused with contaminated blood after an appendectomy. Too stunned, angry and anguished even to turn to each other, Polly and Ivan retreat into separate worlds. Charlie is abandoned by his best friend and shunned by his schoolmates. Amanda, an average adolescent who loves Madonna records, must come to grips with the process of dying. The hysterical reaction of some members of the community is a further blow. Hoffman has few rivals in depicting domestic scenes: the bickering between siblings, the tension between spouses, and withal, the humor and love that holds families together.

My Thoughts:

For such a sad subject, Ms. Hoffman handles it with lovely writing. The characters are portrayed in a realistic manner and my heart ached for each of the Farrell family as their lives changed due to Amanda’s diagnosis. Ivan attaches himself to a young man with AIDS who works an AIDS help hotline. Polly and Amanda’s doctor link together as they support each other. Amanda connects with a young woman in the community who allows her to speak honestly about her fears. And poor little Charlie, somewhat left on his own until his family finally remembers that this impacts him too.

This book was first published in 1988, at the height of the AIDS panic. It was interesting to see how it was written for the times. I would certainly like to think humanity has made great strides in dealing with AIDS diagnosis and AIDS in the community.

I was very concerned how the story would end given the prognosis for AIDS at that time. I don’t want to give it away. While no miracle happen, I do feel the author handled the ending gracefully.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Space by Emily Sue Harvey

Book Overview:

Dan and Deede Stowe have worked for years, planning and saving for their idyllic retirement years. Just when they finally are about to realize their dream, their adult, recovering drug-addict daughter, Faith, moves back in with them and everything changes. Their “miracle child”, complete with druggie baggage, upsets the tranquil balance of the Stowe’s existence. Amid chaotic challenges, all three battle to find peace with each other, a harmony that doggedly eludes them. For the sake of family solidarity, each is forced to sacrifice elemental components of self, until desperation turns them one against the other. Will love be enough to turn the tide? Is it strong enough to warm again hearts grown cold?

My Thoughts:

I do think this book was a good depiction of what living with an addict can do to a family. The writing seemed somewhat disjointed. I was often confused as to where the story was in outlining Faith’s long road to recovery. It did occur to me that a family in this circumstance probably feels confused and disjointed, so from that perspective, maybe the book was right on.

I recently asked someone why is tough love such a hard concept to apply? Why do we sometimes allow repeated bad behavior? The response to this question was – because we usually think this will be THE TIME that if I help, that person will make a turn around. This will be THE TIME it will work. One more TIME, and then I’ll stop.

Such was the case for Dan and Deede Stowe. Good, bad or otherwise – they never gave up on Faith. Unconditional love versus tough love – which would you choose?

Thanks you to Netgalley and The Story Plant Publishing for allowing me to read the ARC.

 My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Monday, September 19, 2011

The AccidentThe Accident by Linwood Barclay

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Overview:

It’s the new normal at the Garber household in Connecticut: Glen, a contractor, has seen his business shaken by the housing crisis, and now his wife, Sheila, is taking a business course at night to increase her chances of landing a good-paying job.

Waiting for Sheila’s return, with their eight-year-old daughter sleeping soundly, Glen soon finds his worst fears confirmed: Sheila and two others have been killed in a car accident. Adding to the tragedy, the police claim Sheila was responsible.

Glen knows it’s impossible; he knew his wife and she would never do such a thing. When he investigates, Glen begins to uncover layers of lawlessness beneath the placid surface of their suburb, secret after dangerous secret behind the closed doors.

Propelled into a vortex of corruption and illegal activity, pursued by mysterious killers, and confronted by threats from neighbors he thought he knew, Glen must take his own desperate measures and go to terrifying new places in himself to avenge his wife and protect his child.

My Thoughts:

Woo – hoo! What a fun story this turned out to be. A real page turner from the very beginning. Poor Glen, one thing on top of another happens to him after his wife dies. How quickly his life changed when he least expected it, only to find out that nothing was what it seemed when Sheila was still alive. And just when everything seems solved, there is a twist at the very end.

At one point as I was reading this book I thought ok – really, could all this really happen to one man in one small town? It made me think of when we are watching a movie and my husband says –no way that could ever happen. You know what I say – it’s a dang movie – anything can happen in a movie!

That’s how I felt about The Accident. Does it matter if it’s all possible? It’s a book of fiction – chill out and enjoy the ride! Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing for allowing me to read this ARC.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

How to Eat a Cupcake: A NovelHow to Eat a Cupcake: A Novel by Meg Donohue

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Overview:

Funny, free-spirited Annie Quintana and sophisticated, ambitious Julia St. Clair could not be more different. Yet, as the daughter of the St. Clair’s housekeeper, Annie grew up side-by-side with Julia in the St. Clair’s San Francisco mansion and the girls were as close as sisters until a life-altering betrayal destroyed their friendship.

A decade later, Annie has become a talented, if underpaid, pastry chef who bakes to fill the void left in her heart by her mother’s death. Julia, a successful businesswoman, is tormented by a painful secret that could jeopardize her engagement to the man she loves. After a chance reunion prompts the unlikely duo to open a cupcakery, the women struggle to repair their friendship as the shop becomes the target of an increasingly hostile series of incidents. Despite the threats of the present and shadows of the past, Annie and Julia – emboldened and soothed by intoxicatingly delicious cupcakes – learn the power of forgiveness, find love where they least expect it, and discover the importance of family, in all its complex forms.

My Thoughts:

Right up front, I want to say how much I enjoyed this book.

I think this falls into the category of chick lit. This is not a genre I pursue, as I don’t always get the point of reading this kind of story. But honestly, the past several books I’ve read have been stab ‘em, burn ‘em, slash ‘em murder mysteries, that this book was a very welcomed break.

I liked Annie right from the beginning – hard working, down to earth everyday kinda girl. Julia – it took me awhile to like her – seemed a rather snooty rich girl to me. By the end, this had changed and as the overview mentions, we get to see the power of forgiveness and the importance of family. I found that I wanted to pick this book up to see where the story was headed.

I thought this was a great debut. I will not hesitate to read future books by Ms. Donohue. Thank you to NetGalley and Harper Collins Publishers for allowing me to read the ARC.

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Monday, September 12, 2011

Call Me Princess: A NovelCall Me Princess: A Novel by Sara Blaedel

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Book Overview:

A young woman in Copenhagen, Susanne Hansson, becomes the victim of an unusually brutal rape attack in her own home. Detective inspector Louise Rick is summoned to talk to the victim, where she quickly determines that Susanne met the rapist via a dating website.

The police suspect that the rapist may have been caught on video in the subway, so Louise and a colleague go through the tapes. They’re lucky enough to find him, but unfortunately the image is blurry and shows him only in profile. In the meantime Louise becomes more and more immersed in the online dating world. In her search she comes across the web site “,” which allows her to upload images that show people out in the night-time scene and who they’re with. She finds a picture of the man, who is now calling himself “Prinzz.” She contacts him using the name "Princess," and they agree to meet.

With a climax as suspenseful as it is shocking, Sara Blaedel's American debut confirms her as one of the brightest stars in the new wave of Scandinavian crime novelists that has riveted the attention of readers around the world.

My thoughts:

I really did not care for this book. I was easily 2/3 of the way thru the story before it even got anywhere near exciting – and to say exciting would be a stretch. I just felt like the author was trying to add length to the book instead of substance.

I also felt the main character, Louise Rick, was very inconsistent. First she comes across as strong and independent. Then she seems weak and needy. Has sympathy for the victims, then doesn’t. Has sympathy for the rapist, then doesn’t. Why would she even have sympathy for the rapist?

The overview says the climax was as suspenseful as it is shocking, but I found the ending to be somewhat unbelievable – and I don’t mean – WOW – that was unbelievable! I mean – WOW – that was ridiculous.

Thank you to NetGalley and Open Road Publishing for allowing me to read this ARC.

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Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Mad Bomber of New York: The Extraordinary True Story of the Manhunt That Paralyzed a CityThe Mad Bomber of New York: The Extraordinary True Story of the Manhunt That Paralyzed a City by Michael M. Greenburg

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Between 1940 and 1957, 33 bombs--strategically placed in Grand Central, Penn Station, Radio City Music Hall, Macy's and other populous areas of New York--paralyzed the city, sending shockwaves of fear through an unsuspecting public.

George Metesky, the “Mad Bomber,” unleashed a reign of terror that reverberated through America's social, legal, and political landscape, ultimately spurring the birth of modern criminal profiling when a crime psychiatrist was called in to assist in the manhunt. Compelling historical true crime, The Mad Bomber of New York is the gripping tale of two individuals engaged in a deadly game of hide-and-seek, with the city of New York caught in the crosshairs.

My thoughts:

This was an excellent read. I like when an author can take a true story and write it with suspense. While we know very early in the book who the Mad Bomber is, you have to read the book to find out how it all develops. What caused him to do the bombings? How was he able to get away with it for so long? And ultimately, how was Metesky caught?

The hunt for the Mad Bomber brought about one of the first instances of trying to profile a criminal offender – as described in the book – “a process of attributing probable physical, personality and character traits to an offender based upon an analysis of crime scene evidence and behaviors”. It’s interesting toread close the profiler came to many of Metesky’s characteristics.

Once the Mad Bomber , was caught, he was initially remanded to a psych facility without actually standing trial. Laws at the time allowed this, but Metesky eventually fought the validity, and his case went all the way to the United States Supreme Court who sided with him.

I won’t tell you how it ends – you need to read this outstanding book to find that out!

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Friday, September 9, 2011

Winter GardenWinter Garden by Kristin Hannah

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Meredith and Nina Whitson are as different as sisters can be. One stayed at home to raise her children and manage the family apple orchard: the other followed a dream and traveled the world to become a famous photojournalist. But when their beloved father falls ill, Meredith and Nina find themselves together again, standing alongside their cold, disapproving mother, Anya, who even now, offers no comfort to her daughters. On his deathbed, their father extracts a promise from the women in his life: the fairy tale will be told one last time - and all the way to the end. Thus begins an unexpected journey into the truth of Anya's life in war-torn Leningrad, more than five decades ago.

My thoughts:

This book hooked me from the very beginning. I hate to read a good books fast, because then I am sad when they are finished, but I had to read it to see how it would all tie together. Fantastic! I will definately be checking out more books from this author.

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In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's BerlinIn the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin by Erik Larson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Isaac's Storm, The Devil in the White City, and Thunderstruck have all proven Erik Larson's ability to adroitly craft multilayered nonfiction. In his new In The Garden of Beasts, he demonstrates that gift again as he unfolds the often startling story of William E. Dodd, the first American ambassador to Nazi Germany, and his family. History professor Dodd was an unlikely choice to represent the United States in Hitler's Berlin; indeed, he was FDR's fifth choice for the post. His on-the-job education in the barbarities of the "New Germany" sometimes contrasted with that of his romantic, impressionable, party-loving daughter Martha. Larson places these very personal stories within the context of the ever-worsening events.

My thoughts:

Ambassador Dodd was out of his element from the very beginning of his post in Berlin. He was no one's first choice for the job and remained always on the outside as an ambassador since he was not a career diplomat like most of the American corps, the majority of whom were wealthy and came from Ivy League backgrounds and schools. I think his attempts to notify the powers that be in Washington of the developing doom in Germany fell on deaf ears because he was such an outsider. How sad.

The most interesting character in the book was Martha, Dodd’s 24 year old daughter. Shallow and spoiled, she was enamored with the Berlin nightlife. She slept her way through Nazis, Russians, Germans - and some famous US literary figures only to become a Communist. It wasn’t until the end of her father’s tenure that she started to see the horror of what was taking place around her.

I thought this was a fascinating book. Filled with details, it was obvious the author did a tremendous amount of fact gathering. No skimming allowed with this book, it is best read in small pieces to fully absorb all the facts.

Bravo Mr. Larson!

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Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Passage (The Passage, #1)The Passage by Justin Cronin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First, the unthinkable: a security breach at a secret U.S. government facility unleashes the monstrous product of a chilling military experiment. Then, the unspeakable: a night of chaos and carnage gives way to sunrise on a nation, and ultimately a world, forever altered. All that remains for the stunned survivors is the long fight ahead and a future ruled by fear — of darkness, of death, of a fate far worse.

My thoughts:

I did not want to read this book - it just sound too "out there". I kept hearing things about zombies and vampires. But then my book buddies on goodreads started commenting on it - spooky and creepy. Hmmmm - I like spooky and creepy. So what the heck - I decided to go for it.

All I can say is SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!!!! It sucked me right in. When I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about when I would get to pick it up again. Right down to the final page. I am so looking forward to the 2nd and 3rd books in this trilogy.

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Monday, September 5, 2011

Snow Angels (Inspector Kari Vaara, #1)Snow Angels by James Thompson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A beautiful Somalian refugee-turned-actress is found murdered on a reindeer farm, gruesomely mutilated, a racial slur carved into her chest. Inspector Kari Vaara, head of the rural police force, is under great pressure not only to solve this crime himself, without the help of the big-city cops from Helsinki, but also to keep the potentially explosive case out of the news. Sufia Elmi had become a tabloid fixture, and her death—not to mention the awful way she met it—is sure to send shock waves across this insular, secretly racist country. Was this murder a hate crime, a sex crime—or both?

I want to say two things about Snow Angesls:

1. Wow!!!

2. Yippee!!!

Wow- because this was such a fast paced, totally engrossing, no holds bar murder mystery. Of course the whole time I am trying to figure out who did who in, since the story involved more than one murder. I was VERY surprised by the ending - totally caught off guard by the identity of one of the murderers. I love when an author can do this - great job to Mr. Thompson.

Yippee - because this is just #1 of a series and I can definately see reading more - in fact #2 Lucifer's Tears is already waiting on my kindle.

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Light from a Distant Star: A NovelLight from a Distant Star: A Novel by Mary McGarry Morris

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Light from a Distant Star is a gripping coming-of-age story with a brutal murder at its heart and a heroine as unforgettable as Harper Lee’s "Scout."

It is early summer and Nellie Peck is on the cusp of adolescence – gangly, awkward, full of questions, but keenly observant and wiser than many of the adults in her life. The person she most admires is her father, Benjamin, a man of great integrity. Three strangers enter Nellie’s protected life. Brooding Max Devaney is an ex-con who works in her surly grandfather’s junkyard. Reckless Bucky Saltonstall has just arrived from New York City to live with his elderly grandparents. And pretty Dolly Bedelia is a young stripper who rents the family’s small, rear apartment and becomes the titillating focus of Nellie’s eavesdropping.

When violence erupts in the lovely Peck house, the prime suspect seems obvious. Nellie knows who the real murderer is, but is soon silenced by fear and the threat of scandal. The truth, as she sees it, is shocking and unthinkable, and with everyone’s eyes riveted on her in the courtroom, Nellie finds herself seized with doubt.
No one will listen. No one believes her, and a man’s life hangs in the balance.

My thoughts on the book:

The main character, Nellie, is a thirteen year old with a pretty wry sense of humor as she observes what goes on around her. I feel like this is Nellie’s first exposure to the adult adage “do as I say, not as I do” and it is very difficult for her. The whole time I was reading the latter part of the book, I kept thinking – what is Nellie going to do about this? She wants so bad to tell the truth – do what’s right – as she has been raised, but she also doesn’t want to disappoint the adults in her life.

I also felt that this was Nellie’s first encounter with the concept that her parents, especially her Dad, make mistakes. I still remember when this happened to me, thinking – holy smokes - seriously? Now what do we do? To a certain age, I think all kids think there parent no it all, have all the right answers and ALWAYS do the right thing. Alas, life is just not that easy.

This was the first book I have read by this author. I was impressed by her style and ability to weave a tale. I would not hesitate to recommend this book or to read more from this author.

Thank you to NetGalley and Crown Publishers for allowing me to read this ARC. I am honored

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AtonementAtonement by Ian McEwan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

On a summer day in 1935, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis witnesses a moment’s flirtation between her older sister, Cecilia, and Robbie Turner, the son of a servant. But Briony’s incomplete grasp of adult motives and her precocious imagination bring about a crime that will change all their lives, a crime whose repercussions Atonement follows through the chaos and carnage of World War II and into the close of the twentieth century.

"Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive."

I kept thinking this as I read this book and thought about what can happen when someone lies. We were raised that it is better to always tell the truth no matter the consequence. The main charater in this book, Briony, just couldn't resist spinning a story, not realizing the impact it would have on the people directly affected by her lie. A very good story and eloquently written.

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The Keeper of Lost Causes (Serie Q, #1)The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Keeper of Lost Causes, features the deeply flawed chief detective Carl MØrck, who used to be a good homicide detective-one of Copenhagen's best. Then a bullet almost took his life. Two of his colleagues weren't so lucky, and Carl, who didn't draw his weapon, blames himself.

So a promotion is the last thing Carl expects.

But it all becomes clear when he sees his new office in the basement. Carl's been selected to run Department Q, a new special investigations division that turns out to be a department of one. With a stack of Copenhagen's coldest cases to keep him company, Carl's been put out to pasture. So he's as surprised as anyone when a case actually captures his interest. A missing politician vanished without a trace five years earlier. The world assumes she's dead. His colleagues snicker about the time he's wasting. But Carl may have the last laugh, and redeem himself in the process.

Because she isn't dead . . . yet.

I thought this was a good book. I wouldn't necessarily call it a fast paced thriller, but it was intriguing enough to keep me coming back. I especially enjoyed the irreverant attitude of Carl, along with the interaction with his assistant Assad. I would definately be interested in reading more books by this author.

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26662666 by Roberto Bolaño

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Three academics on the trail of a reclusive German author; a New York reporter on his first Mexican assignment; a widowed philosopher; a police detective in love with an elusive older woman--these are among the searchers drawn to the border city of Santa Teresa, where over the course of a decade hundreds of women have disappeared

900+ pages of the weirdest mish mosh of I don't know what. I actually read it all thinking there had to be some point - but there wasn't. Last time I'll ever do that!

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The Double BindThe Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In Chris Bohjalian's astonishing novel, nothing is what it at first seems. Not the bucolic Vermont back roads college sophomore Laurel Estabrook likes to bike. Not the savage assault she suffers toward the end of one of her rides. And certainly not Bobbie Crocker, the elderly man with a history of mental illness whom Laurel comes to know through her work at a Burlington homeless shelter in the years subsequent to the attack.

This was the first Chris Bohjalian book I read and still remains my favorite. I like how this author takes a simple story, adds simple twists and turns - and then at the very end - throws me completely for a loop. I love when a book does this!

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A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy, #1)A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sometimes scholars should be more careful: Youthful researcher Diana Bishop briefly consults an medieval alchemical manuscript; then, after jotting down a few notes, sends it back to its prison in the stacks. Unfortunately for Diana, her quick dabbling has unleashed a long suppressed curse—and now only she can break the spell. Carefully researched, this debut novel will appeal to fans of historical novel infused with strong paranormal elements.

This is book one of a trilogy and I just fell in love with the story line and characters. Did I think I would like a book about witches and vampires? Not really. While the part about witches and vampires is a factor, this is really just a love story. Book two comes out in 2012 and I am looking forward to seeing how the story will progress.

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The Night Strangers: A NovelThe Night Strangers: A Novel by Chris Bohjalian

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What I like most about Chris Bohjalian's writing is that no two of his books are the same. I found The Night Strangers to be so totally different from his other books that at first, I was somewhat surprised.

The story grabbed me right from the beginning. I did not want to put it down - I just had to find out how it was all going to wrap up. I kept thinking I knew how it would end (or how I thought it should end)- but nooooo, even the ending was a total surprise.

I never hesitate to read a story by this author and this book is prime example why. Well written, entertaining and fast paced - excellent!

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SpaceSpace by James A. Michener

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the book that introduced me to the writing style of James Michener and still stands as one off my all time favorite reads. I can only think it is because I was a child during the 60's when America was developing it's space program. I have always been enamored by the stars in the night sky and the idea that there are "others" out there besides us. This book fell right into my love of all things Space related!

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Don't Look Back (Konrad Sejer # 2)Don't Look Back by Karin Fossum

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I liked this book so much, I decided to look up excellent in Norwegian in honor of the author. Uitstekend - Ms Fossum! I really liked the writing style, the occassional touch of humor, even in a murder mytery - and that I had to read all the way to the end to find out who the murderer was. I will definately be reading more of this author - lucky me.

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