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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

>> Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Genre: Fiction
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 274
Support Your Local Library Challenge #13

You’ve already heard about it from bunches of other bloggers, but add me to the chorus. I thoroughly enjoyed this charming little book. I first heard about it from
Les and Wendy and their reviews prompted me to add it to my TBR list. The waiting list at the library was already huge by the time I added myself, but the wait was worth it.

Written as a series of letters, notes and telegrams, it’s the story of the inhabitants of the island of Guernsey during the German Occupation of WWII. Juliet Ashton is a journalist in London in 1946. While promoting her book she’s also seeking out a subject for a new book. She finds herself drawn into a correspondence with a Guernsey man who found her name on a second hand book of hers by Charles Lamb. She begins to hear the story of the islanders who formed The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society during the war. Soon she’s learning about the humble but remarkable people who spent the war years under the thumb of the Nazi occupation forces.

When Juliet visits the island she’s as charmed by the place and the people I was. The book is full of wonderful moments and I could have marked many quotations as my favorite.

Believe what you’re hearing about this one. It’s well written with charm and humor and will tug at your heartstrings along the way.


No sunbeam is too small

>> Sunday, March 29, 2009

There's no sunbeam too small for a cat nap . . . .


The Cross-Country Quilters by Jennifer Chiaverini

>> Thursday, March 26, 2009

Series: #3 in the Elm Creek Quilts series
Genre: Fiction
Publication Date: 2001
Pages: 367
TBR 2009 Challenge #7, Support Your Local Library Challenge #12

This was a perfect book for me to read this week. I had surgery yesterday to fix a herniated disk in my back. Surgery went well and I’ve got some recovery time ahead of me, but it’s nice to put several months of chronic pain behind me. The last thing I needed to be reading this week was something that was a downer or took a lot of thought and concentration. This book was perfect.

The Elm Creek Quilts series is about a group of women who run a quilting workshop center in an old family home in Pennsylvania. This book actually focuses more on visitors to the Manor than the folks who run it. The story centers on five women who meet at one of the week long ‘Quilt Camps’ at Elm Creek Manor. They have all come from varied backgrounds for very different reasons. By the end of the week they have become friends and plan to make a challenge quilt. Before returning for another quilt camp the next year, each woman agrees to make a block for a quilt. The challenge is that they are not to start their quilt block before facing up to a personal challenge in their lives.

These books are pretty light and predictable. They’re not great literature, but they’re comfort reads for me. They always seem to bring together a group of women with disparate personalities who have quilting in common. I enjoy learning something about quilting even though I’m not a quilter at all. I know that by the end of the book everything will have worked out for the best. For this week, it was just the kind of book I needed. I think it was good to take the series away from Elm Creek Manor for a bit, but I’m hoping that Sylvia and the regulars are back in the next book in the series.


Susannah’s Garden by Debbie Macomber

>> Sunday, March 22, 2009

Genre: Fiction
Series: #3 in the Blossom Street series
Publication Date: 2006
Pages: 347
Support Your Local Library Challenge #11

After reading Little Bee I was ready for a bit of brain candy. I’m going in for some surgery on my back on Wednesday and was really looking for something light and enjoyable for this weekend. Normally Debbie Macomber’s books are light, predictable and enjoyable breaks for me. This one was a disappointment.

Susannah Nelson is fifty years old and suddenly obsessed with finding her long lost lost high school boyfriend, despite a long happy marriage. When her mother starts showing signs of declining health and ability to live on her own, Susannah decides to take her summer off from teaching to return to her hometown to help her mother and find out what happened to the high school sweetheart.

By this point I was not that interested, but because I’ve enjoyed Macomber’s books in the past, I stuck with it. I shouldn’t have bothered. Susannah and her daughter are both rather annoying characters and I wasn’t that interested in seeing either one get what they thought they wanted. I had figured out the ending twist about halfway through the book.

I really only read this because I knew it had a tangential relationship to the Blossom Street series, but that connection is nearly non-existent. I’ll stick with the Blossom Street series and the Cedar Cove series, but just can’t recommend this particular book.


Little Bee by Chris Cleave

>> Thursday, March 19, 2009

Genre: Fiction
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 266
Support Your Local Library Challenge #10

I’ve learned to pay close attention when my friend Eleanor gives a book 5 stars. We don’t always agree, but our reading tastes are very similar so when I saw
her review of Little Bee, I went straight to the library website and got myself on the waiting list.

Wow – this book impressed me a lot. The writing is the kind where I could have easily marked a sentence or paragraph on nearly every page. I really think that at some point I want to go back and re-read this one slowly just to be able to appreciate the many gems.

I sat very still at the kitchen table. My mother and my sister had come back with us from the church and they orbited me in a blur of fussing and tidying, so that if a photograph had been taken of us all with a very long exposure it would have shown only me, in sharp focus, surrounded by a ghostly halo that took its azure color from my sister’s cardigan and it’s eccentricity from my mother’s tendency to close in on me at one end of her orbit, and ask if I was all right. I hardly heard her, I think. They carried on around me for an hour, respectful of my silence, washing the teacups without unnecessary clink, alphabetizing condolence cards whilst minimizing rustle, until I begged them, if they loved me, to go home.
It’s a story told in two voices, from two very different worlds. Little Bee is a 16 year old Nigerian refugee who has spent two years in an immigration detention center. Sarah is a London magazine editor with a 4 year old child who refuses to change out of his Batman costume or answer to any name other than Batman.

The book opens in the middle of the story in England and the reader learns through flashbacks that Little Bee and Sarah have a past history that began under horrifying circumstances in Little Bee’s home country of Nigeria. Cleave manages to tell a story that is at times horrifying, at times incredibly sad and at times hopeful and funny.

I expect that this book will get some mixed reviews and I think it would make a great book for a discussion group. There’s a lot to discuss about both the story and the writing style. Me? I thought it was excellent. It’s one of those books that’s gonna stick with me for a while so I think I need to read some fluff next that won’t interfere.


Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear

>> Thursday, March 12, 2009

Series: #3 in the Maisie Dobbs series
Genre: Mystery
Publication Date: 2005
Pages: 340
TBR 2009 Challenge #6 , Support Your Local Library Challenge #9

England in 1930 is still haunted by the physical and emotional damage of World War 1. Maisie Dobbs is making a success of her investigation business and is even called upon by Scotland Yard to help question a 13 year old girl who is accused of murder. Maisie has doubts as to whether the young girl actually committed the crime, but she has none about the fact that the girl needs someone to look out for her and see that she is adequately defended.

Maisie is asked by her former employer to help out Sir Cecil Lawton, who is hoping to keep a promise to his late wife. She never believed that their son was actually killed in the war and he wants Maisie to verify his death so that he can truly put his wife’s memory to rest. Although it means that she may need to return to France and face her own demons from her time as a nurse during the war, Maisie agrees. Soon she has an additional favor along the same lines. Her longtime friend also wants Maisie to find out more about her oldest brother’s wartime death.

There are lots of intertwining mysteries in this installment of the series. As questions are answered, just as many are raised. Are there connections between the investigations? Is someone trying to kill Maisie and if so, why?

Like the other books in the series this is as much the mystery stories as it is a portrayal of the time and place. England and France between the World Wars were in the process of healing while at the same time hints of future trouble are coming out of Germany. They’re not action packed adventures, but are slower paced period pieces as much as they are mysteries. I’m looking forward to continuing the series.


Just because

>> Tuesday, March 10, 2009

it made me laugh. I'd love to sneak this into someone's boring Powerpoint presention.

song chart memes
see more Funny Graphs


Audiobook – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

>> Saturday, March 7, 2009

Genre: Fiction
Series: #1 in the Hitchhiker’s series
Publication Date: 1979
Read by: Stephen Fry

Oh my goodness. How have I missed out on this one? I can’t believe I haven’t read this before now, but I’m so glad I finally did and I just loved listening to it as an audiobook. Before I was even finished I’d gone to the library website and requested the audiobook versions of the rest of the series. I love a book that makes me laugh out loud when I’m in the car all by myself driving around town (my prime listening time).

Arthur Dent is protesting the destruction of his home in order to build a new bypass when something a bit more important happens. The Earth is destroyed in order to build a new galactic bypass. Only moments before the Earth is obliterated, Arthur is saved by his friend Ford Prefect. It turns out that Ford is an alien living undercover on Earth for the past 15 years. He was working on updating the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and expanding the section about Earth when he got stuck and unable to hitch a ride anywhere else.

Then the really strange stuff starts happening. A two headed President of the Galaxy, a stolen spaceship, a depressed robot, and a girl who’s oddly familiar.

This was part science fiction, part comedy, part fable, and all fun. Originally written as a radio broadcast, it lends itself perfedtly to an audio version.

I’m definitely looking forward to reading the rest of the series, but I have to wait for them to be returned to the library.


The Golden Buddha by Clive Cussler and Craig Dirgo

>> Friday, March 6, 2009

Series: #1 in the Oregon Files series
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publication Date: 2003
Pages: 420

Challenges: none

I can write this review in two words – Don’t bother.

I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed Clive Cussler’s Dirk Pitt series. Pure escapist adventure fun with lots of boats, chases, bad guys you can hate, good guys who are too good to be true and fun enjoyable adventures. When he started the Kurt Austin series (The NUMA Files) co-written with Paul Kamprecos, I was hesitant, but found them to be just as much fun. So when this series launched I expected it to be just as good. Well, I don’t know whether it was the different co-author or whether Cussler just took a vacation on this one, but it’s just not good.

The story is confusing due to too many characters with no character development. I finished the book knowing little or nothing about even the major players. It tries to be an adventure series about a group of mercenaries that do good things for huge profits, but sheesh, the writing was so bad I flat out skimmed the second half. I have never read such overuse of the phrases ‘at the exact same instant’, ‘at the same instant’ and other variations in one book. Where was the editor?

I have seen that beginning with the third book, the series has a different co-author. I may skip over the second book with Craig Dirgo and try one of those written with Jack Du Brul before giving up totally on this series. In the meantime though, I am going to stick with Dirk Pitt and Kurt Austin.


Delusion by G.H. Ephron

>> Monday, March 2, 2009

Series: #3 in the Dr. Peter Zak series
Genre: Mystery
Publication Date: 2002
Pages: 293
TBR 2009 Challenge #5, Support Your Local Library Challenge #8, What’s In a Name 2 Challenge #4 (Medical Conditiion)

This series features a Forensic Psychologist. Dr. Peter Zak often works with defense teams to evaluate their clients and testify in court. When Peter is asked by a lawyer to check on an agitated and paranoid client, Peter arrives to find the mans wife brutally murdered. Nick Babakian is without a doubt a paranoid man, but did he kill his wife or did someone else. Is paranoia contagious? Some of the facts of this case soon have Peter remembering his own wife’s murder and believing that her killer is still taunting Peter from prison. Is that really happening or is he having reactions to the suspect’s paranoia?

Some of this book was good, parts were just OK, but all in all I like this series well enough to continue. There are only 5 book total in the series so I’m sure I’ll end up finishing them.


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