Friday, June 29, 2012

The Christmas Wedding by James Patterson and Richard DiLallo

          I listened to the audio book version of this one, and thoroughly enjoyed it.   The premise would have seemed a bit farfetched, except that I know someone it happened to.  Gaby gets a marriage proposal, not so unreal. It happens all the time.  But, two other men decide they cannot let her get away without a fight.  They both propose as well.  Now she is juggling three proposals.
          She also has grown children that she hasn’t seen as a group since their father died several years earlier. She decides to use the wedding as a way to get the family together for Christmas.  She plans the wedding for Christmas Day, but throws in a twist.  She will not reveal the identity of the groom until the ceremony is about to begin!
          There is a lot of fun and excitement, and several small twists to keep the action moving. Gaby keeps her kids in the loop via video messages that she records, copies and sends to them all. At the moment of truth, Gaby announces the name of the groom and they are duly wed. The part that amazes me is that the author leads us to believe that Gaby’s relationship with the pair of suitors she refused will not change.
          That point aside, I recommend this book to those who enjoy love stories and family dramas. It’s a quick, fun read and thoroughly enjoyable.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

               This is a looooong book – it took me ten or eleven days to read it. Even so, I’m not sure I’d have cut out more than a few sentences, if I’d had the opportunity. The story is complex and tightly woven with few extraneous loose threads hanging out. I was very impressed.
               I started with a certain level of concern that I would have trouble reading such a long work based in another culture. Sometimes translations of foreign works leave me struggling with cultural ignorance issues – my cultural ignorance, not the author’s.  I often find names of people and places hard to deal with as well. Not so much with 1Q84. Fortunately, translating Japanese into English is very much a spell-like-it-sounds proposition.
               I recommend this story. It is absolutely not a quick, fun read. But it kept me interested and entertained for over a week!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Flash and Bones by Kathy Reichs

               Temperance Brennan #14

               Flash and Bones is the fourteenth in the Temperance Brennan series. I have not read them all, but have taken in and enjoyed several of them. This one is set to the backdrop of the Charlotte Motor Speedway during race week of the Coca-Cola 600.  Since we are a NASCAR family, I am quite familiar with Charlotte, North Carolina, the history of NASCAR, and many of its most famous names, past and present.  Reichs captured the less than sane fanaticism of NASCAR aficionados very well, and gave some excellent background on the sport for those readers less familiar than I.

               I was, however, a little disappointed with the rest of the story. It almost seemed as though Reichs used the excitement and drama of race week as a crutch for a weak story line.

               Overall, it’s a pretty good book, but if I had failed to appreciate the NASCAR angle, it would not have fared so well with me.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Lethal by Sandra Brown

               I liked this one. It sucked me in early and kept me interested. And I was sure I had it all figured out until the very end when I was forced to admit I am not always as smart as I think I am.

               I especially liked the kid in this one – Emily.  She’s four. Brown must have kids of her own because she nailed this one. The child is bright and inquisitive and utterly forthright as only a four-year-old can be.

               I listened to this book, which is the only reason I didn’t finish it all in one day. It’s a good who-done-it with plenty of twists, turns, fun and fear along the way.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

77 Shadow Street by Dean Koontz

               I’m not a regular reader of Dean Koontz or any other horror writer for that matter.  Regular readers of this site will know by now that I read to be entertained and being scared and/or grossed out is not my idea of entertainment. However, this book made the best seller list and I put it on my to-read schedule. 

               I was fairly impressed 77 Shadow Street. It is as much a science fiction story as a horror story. One of my favorite sci-fi concepts is time travel, and while time travel is not really the point of this book, time shifts within the setting are ongoing throughout the story which piqued my interest. Another ongoing concept in the book is the idea of nanotechnology being able to transform human beings, in this case pretty horribly. A third sci-fi thread running through the story is the “rise of the machines”, artificially intelligent creations eventually taking over the earth and destroying the humans that created them in the first place. This concept is not one of my favorites, but it is a very intriguing and frightening idea.

               And, of course, in the time and place of this story, the humans do prevail. Those who will unwittingly unleash the machines in the future are rendered harmless in the present. But as with any good horror story, the villain remains, biding his time and doing his best to bring about the correct series of events in the past that will allow it to prevail in the future.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safron Foer

               I nearly gave up on this one several times, it’s been turned into a movie, and I figured it had to develop a better story line soon. I disliked this book so much the movie will probably be nominated for an Oscar.  [9 out of 10 Oscar nominated films are ones I feel I paid too much for…]

               My biggest problem with this book is that I did not find it entertaining – heartbreaking, horrifying, inscrutable, yes, but no fun.

               I can remember being utterly horrified as a child by a description of the bombing of Dresden, Germany. The description here made me feel a bit ill. And though it has been more than a decade, mentally reliving 9/11 is still upsetting.

               On a lighter note, though, it s been a very long time since I read a work of fiction with this many illustrations.

               I don’t recommend reading this book.  Maybe the movie is less depressing.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Sweetest Thing by Barbara Freethy

               When an old man stops into Faith’s Fancies, a pastry shop,  and weaves a tale of love and loss and ancient curses, the very practical Faith doesn’t really believe him. But she is charmed by Julien and agrees to assist him in tracking down the love of his life that he hasn’t seen in fifty years.

               Faith soon meets Julien’s grandson, Alex, a successful business owner and a man afraid to open his heart to anyone.

               As the search for Julien’s lost love moves forward, Faith and Alex find themselves drawn to each other, but both have a lot of baggage to unload – and a curse to lift – before they can fall in love and create the family they both want so much.

               This was a quick, fun read. It took me a while to connect that the title is The Sweetest Thing because Faith is a pastry chef. I enjoyed this book, but maybe I would have liked it better if I were more awake when I read it. Go ahead and give it a taste, it’s quite entertaining!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks

            Wow! That’s my initial reaction upon finishing this book. Wow! If I had to pick three words that best describe this book, they would be wow, wow and wow! This one really blew me away.

               I had to wonder at my intense reaction, though. If I hadn’t read it at this point in my life, would it have touched me so deeply? I don’t know the answer for sure, but I suspect it is “no”. I do know that in this book, Sparks describes the sweetest love story I ever remember hearing.  He also describes a person in such a way that it rocked me to my core. I know that person.  I’ve met her.  I agree with everything he said about her. If I’d never lived through my own love stories and never met the people Sparks’ descriptions evoked in me, I’m sure I would have reacted differently to the story.

               The Best of Me also resonated with because I believe that doing the right thing ultimately benefits me even if I don’t see the immediate cause and effect. I believe everything we do affects those around us. I think we all have a purpose in our lives, even if we cannot determine it ourselves. And, I really do believe the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, even when I find myself to be a member of the few. All of this theme appear in this book.

               I think this is a great book for adults.  I don’t know that a young person would necessarily have the experiences to relate well to this tale. And I also think it will be a book that will speak to me differently every time I read it.