Monday, June 27, 2011


Room: A NovelTold through the eyes of a five year old, Room is a disturbing story of a woman kidnapped and held against her will.

Jack is born in an 11 foot square shed.  He spends his first five years of life there and is led to believe that shed is the entire world.  His friends are spoons and eggshells and books.  His Ma is only trying to protect him, but in the grand scheme of things, she only makes his life far more confusing.

Let's break it down...

Extremely intelligent in some ways and far behind in others, Jack is a sweet, befuddled, and often scared child that will surely steal your heart.  In his small world, the most important things are "having some" (breastfeeding), Phys Ed (exercising), and Dora (picked up on a small TV with bunny ears).  His days are so full; he never even realizes they are being held in captivity. 

Despite having conceived and birthed Jack under far less-than-perfect circumstances, she loves him so completely.  Her only goals are to keep him safe and find a way for them to escape.  When Jack starts asking questions (and refusing to believe the answers), she knows she must tell him the truth and begin devising a plan. 

Old Nick
The man who is holding them captive, Old Nick is the grocery getter, trash man, and bed creaker to Jack.  When things don't go exactly his way, he punishes Ma and Jack in cruel ways, such as cutting the power to the shed.  When Ma finds out Old Nick has been laid off, she is terrified of what will happen next and knows they must find a way out.   


Writing Style  9/10
Characters      9/10
Storyline         9/10

OVERALL      9/10

Emma Donoghue's Room is both brilliant and terrifying... A must-read novel!

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Sunday, June 26, 2011

This Fine Life

This Fine Life: A NovelA story that showcases not only the relationships between husband/wife and parent/child, but also the love God has for his children, This Fine Life is a magnificent exhibit of Eva Marie Everson's writing abilities.

The narrator, Mariette, tells her husband’s story of falling in love, working hard, and being called to the ministry in this tale that is sure to keep you turning page after page.  Throughout the chapters, you also read her firsthand account of the struggles of being a pastor’s wife while still searching for the deep-rooted faith she saw in others.  I was pleased to find the ending to be one of the more satisfying of any book I’ve read recently!

Let’s break it down…

After graduating from a boarding school in 1958, Mariette must decide what to do with the rest of her life.  Her father, a wealthy businessman, wants her to continue her education, while her mother, a housewife, insists that no man wants to take a wife that may very well be smarter than he is.  Mariette is torn, but promises her daddy she’ll have an answer for him by summers end.  When Thayne walks into her life, she instantly knows what she wants… and that her parents will never let it be.   

A part time college student and worker at Fox & Hound Manufacturing Company (owned by Mariette’s father), Thayne has been sent to live with his aunt after some rather troubling high school years.  He never expects to fall in love with the boss’s daughter or for God to call him to the ministry.  Both of which bring him great happiness and sadness in their own ways.  


Writing Style        8/10 
Characters            8/10
Storyline              8/10

OVERALL     8/10

 Be sure to have plenty of free time when you start this one…  You won’t want to put This Fine Life down until you flip the last page!

*Kindle users:  Get it here*    CURRENTLY ON THE KINDLE TOP 100 FREE LIST!
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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Between Friends

Between FriendsI sat down with my Kindle last night and couldn't decide what to read.  I randomly chose Debbie Macomber's Between Friends... and, boy, do I wish I had gone with something else.  A compilation of letters, announcements, newspaper articles, etc., I found this book to be very repetitive and quite exhausting to read.  Although I appreciate a friendship that lasts a lifetime, I could've done without the sadness that plagued practically every page.

Let's break it down...

Born to a poor family in 1948, Lesley is the product of an alcoholic father and a mother who won't stand up for herself.  She and Jillian become best friends early in life.  While everything around them changes and people come in and out of their lives, their friendship always stays the same.  Lesley must cope with her father's disapproval, multiple unwanted pregnancies, and a cheating husband... and that's just the tip of the iceberg! 

Also born in 1948, Jillian is the only child of a wealthy lawyer and a housewife.  While Jillian has no need to want for anything material, other things don't come as easily and she is forced to endure great sadness multiple times throughout her life.  As a young woman, she only wishes to be in love and start a family.  She has limited luck with both and as a result, she doesn't want to give her heart away.  Her relationship with her parents becomes strained in the midst of all her woes and Jillian has trouble deciding where she belongs.


Writing Style        2/10 
Characters            4/10
Storyline              3/10

OVERALL     3/10

It is quite possible that you will enjoy this scrapbook style story... but this isn't the book to pick up if you're in the mood for a good, old-fashioned novel!!

If you decide to give it a try anyway...
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Friday, June 24, 2011

Smokin' Seventeen

Smokin' Seventeen: A Stephanie Plum NovelStephanie Plum is at it again...  crazy grandma, suffocatingly involved parents, two men and a crappy job.  In the latest installment, Plum is having some extraordinarily bad luck (even for her).  Between Morelli's grandma giving her the eye and all the people that are out to kill her, Stephanie stays pretty busy!

Although I will be the first to say I'll be sad when Evanovich ends this series, I also have to admit the stories are getting very repetitive.  Inside of the first few chapters, I knew who the killer was, which made for a bit of a boring read.  However, there were still plenty of laugh-out-loud funny moments to make up for it!

Let's break it down...

(To see the usual recurring characters, click here.)

A stoner from way back, Mooner doesn't have many brain cells left.  ;)  He is always very random, but ends up saying just the right thing at just the right time!

Nick Alpha
Jimmy's brother is out of jail and looking for revenge.  

Dave Brewer
An old friend from high school, Dave and Stephanie reconnect when their meddling parents try to set them up.

Regina Bugle
After failing to appear in court, Stephanie and Lula must track Regina down.  Turns out she's more than a little crazy...


Writing Style    9/10
Characters        6/10
Storyline          6/10

OVERALL       7/10

Although it's far from being my favorite, fans of the Plum Series are likely to enjoy Smokin' Seventeen!

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Swan House

The Swan House (The Swan House Series #1)Wow.  I loved this book.  Follow Mary Swan Middleton through a year of great sadness, soul searching, and faith finding.  Elizabeth Musser has such a way with words; her characters come to life in your mind's eye as you feel their highs and lows (and everything in between) right along with them.  The Swan House will make your troubles seem small while also filling your heart with much hope.  This is a must read (currently on the Kindle Top 100 Free List) for the summer!

Let's break it down...

Mary Swan
After losing her mother in the Orly plane crash of 1962, Mary Swan is lost.  While grieving and searching to find the person her mother truly was,  Mary Swan, who comes from "another fine Atlanta family,"  makes many unlikely friends, accepts Jesus as her Savior, and even discovers a little about herself. 

Mary Swan's best friend, Rachel, is learning the hard way what it's like to be Jewish in a WASP community.  However, she often forgets her own troubles to help her best friend through hard times.  After being picked as her first assistant for a special school project, Rachel and Mary Swan embark on an adventure that reveals more than they ever expected. 

Ella Mae
The Middleton's maid for many years, Ella Mae becomes a second mother to Mary Swan and her brother.  Though she remains faithful to the wishes of JJ and Sheila, she finds ways to show Mary Swan the heartache and hard times of others, rather than letting her dwell on her own. 

Once from a wealthy family, Miss Abigail lives in Grant Park amidst great poverty, crime, sickness, and discrimination.  She is a good, Christian woman with a heart full of love.  She's always there to answer Mary Swan's questions throughout her journey to find Jesus Christ. 

Robbie comes from a wealthy Atlanta family, but wants to do more with his life than just become another rich financial adviser  While vying for Mary Swan's affections, he discovers that following in her footsteps may just be where he finds his happiness. 

Although being a man of color in 1960s Atlanta was particularly hard, Carl holds on tight to his faith in the Lord and trusts him to bring him through his troubles. Mary Swan greatly admires Carl and even develops a crush on him despite the fact that she knows they can never be together. 

As the Middleton's next door neighbor and Shiela's best friend, Trixie becomes the person that Mary Swan must turn to for answers about her mother's past.


Writing Style    10/10
Characters         9/10
Storyline            9/10

OVERALL       9/10

In case I wasn't clear... READ THIS BOOK!  ;)

*Kindle users:  Get it here*
*Prefer a hard copy?  Get it here*

For those of you who DO read The Swan House, here are a few links you may want to check out.  Although the story is a work of fiction, the Orly plane tragedy and the places are very real.
Buckhead, GA
The Swan House
Orly Plane Disaster

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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Life's a Beach

Life's a BeachI was super excited to see this on the Kindle Top 100 Free list last week.  I'm a huge Claire Cook fan. The Wildwater Walking Club...  Loved it.  Summer Blowout...  Loved it.  With that being said, I have to be honest; this book just wasn't quite up to par.  I enjoyed it, but I also didn't mind putting it down if the phone rang or I was a little tired.  (If I'm reading a great book, the ringer gets turned off and I'll stay up all night to finish it if I have to. ;)  While the ending isn't necessarily disappointing, it also isn't very exciting... only very predictable.  Life's a Beach is a typical coming-of-age novel with average characters and relationships.

Let's break it down...

At the age of forty-one, Ginger is living above her parents garage with her cat, Boyfriend.  She spends her time babysitting her sisters children, making sea glass jewelry, and trying to decide what to do for the rest of her life.  

Ginger's older sister, Geri, is obsessed with turning fifty and addicted to work.  She constantly criticizes Ginger's life choices... especially when it comes to her less-than-serious boyfriend, Noah.   

This second grader is one of the things that made Life's a Beach worth reading!  Riley is quite the comedian.  After being cast in a locally filmed movie, Ginger must accompany him to the beach for filming.

A gaffer working on the movie set, Tim is persistent in trying to win Ginger's affections.

Noah is a part time boyfriend and full time glass blower that Ginger can't seem to change.


Writing Style  5/10
Characters      4/10
Storyline        4/10

OVERALL     4/10

Although I normally highly recommend Claire Cook, Life's a Beach is not a book I'll be pushing my friends to read.

Want to give it a try?
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Saturday, June 18, 2011

What Happened to Goodbye

What Happened to Goodbye
Sarah Dessen comes through yet again with this delightfully written novel!  Intended for young adults (but great for any age!), What Happened to Goodbye deals with a teenager’s complex feelings surrounding her parents’ getting divorced, moving from town to town for her dad’s job, making friends in a new place, and having an unexpected crush.  There is definitely plenty to keep you occupied!  

Let’s break it down…

 After changing her name and personality in each new town, Mclean surprises even herself by using her true identity in Lakeview.  Can the real Mclean maintain a relationship with her father, forgive her mother, and possibly fall in love?

Geeky, funny, awkwardly cute, and recently grounded, Dave is your average teenager.  Likable as he is, it’s easy to root for him during this story.


Writing Style      7/10                      
Characters          7/10
Storyline              8/10

OVERALL              7.5/10

Although all of her novels can stand alone, I recommend reading Dessen's books in order.  You'll recognize the return of a character here and there; but, most importantly, her writing gets noticeably better in each book.  

*Kindle users:  Get it here*
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Friday, June 17, 2011

Summer at Willow Lake

Summer at Willow LakeA wonderful start to a great, albeit predictable, series!  With the exception of the newest installment (Marrying Daisy Bellamy), I knew exactly who would end up with who in every book of The Lakeshore Chronicles... but that didn't stop me from reading them!  The writing is great, the content humorous, and the characters lovable.

Susan Wiggs spins a tale revolving around an old summer resort camp, Camp Kioga.  Olivia Bellamy's grandparents own and were married at this camp.  They decide to renew their vowels in the same spot on their 50th wedding anniversary and Olivia is hired to do a complete renovation of the now vacant property.  When she first arrives, an old camp mate, Connor Davis, finds her in a rather embarrassing situation.  Will he even recognize her after all this time?

Summer at Willow Lake, a romance set in New York, alternates between present day, Olivia's childhood camp days, and her parent's Camp Kioga memories. 

Let's break it down...

Olivia Bellamy
After being heavy as a child, Olivia is now a fit and beautiful business owner that can't keep a fiance.

Connor Davis
The product of a self-absorbed mother and an alcoholic father, Connor is a contractor... not just any contractor, but the only contractor in town.  (How convenient... ;)  He broke Olivia's heart years earlier and is surprised to see her again.


Writing Style:  6/10
Characters:      5/10
Storyline          5/10
OVERALL   5/10 

 If you're looking for a light read to pass the time, give Summer at Willow Lake a try!

*Kindle Users:  Get it here*
*Prefer a hard copy?  Get it here*

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

13 Little Blue Envelopes and The Last Little Blue Envelope

13 Little Blue EnvelopesThis is a book that you should not only read, but also encourage your teenaged daughter/son/neice/friend to read!  Maureen Johnson weaves many important lessons throughout these chapters!

Shortly after Ginny's Aunt Peg passes away, she receives a strange package containing 13 (you guessed it) little, blue envelopes.  This leads her to go on a tour of Europe, completing tasks and discovering her true self.

Let's break it down...

Ginny is a normal seventeen year old trying to live a quiet life in New Jersey.  Throughout this book, she has multiple experiences she wouldn't have ever had if it weren't for her crazy Aunt Peg.

A cute actor from London, Keith is funny and a little strange.  Ginny develops a crush on him as he travels along with her.

Though working at Harrod's keeps him busy, Richard (Aunt Peg's former roommate) takes the time to help Ginny and becomes her friend.

Aunt Peg
Recently deceased, Aunt Peg only appears through her letters to Ginny.  She is a quirky artist with lots of life lessons to share. 


Writing Style:  8/10
Characters:      8/10
Storyline          8/10
OVERALL    8/10 

*Kindle Users:  Get it here*
*Prefer a hard copy?  Get it here*

13 Little Blue EnvelopesALSO, be sure to check out the sequel, The Last Little Blue Envelope! 

After being contacted by Oliver, a more mature Ginny returns to London to claim what is hers, only to find out he may not have the best of intentions. All the while, she also has to deal with Keith thinking he can have his cake and eat it, too. 

Let's break it down...

Two new main characters are added to the mix.

Even though he's quite the jerk and obviously taking advantage of Ginny, you can't help but feel sorry for Oliver at times.  He's tall, dark, and handsome... and maybe a little sad.

A not-so-great surprise to Ginny, Ellis is just too nice not to like.  Despite feeling like she has every reason not to like her, Ginny and Ellis become friends.


Writing Style:  8/10
Characters:      8/10
Storyline          8/10
OVERALL    8/10
If you enjoy romance and adventure, you should give these books a try!

*Kindle Users: Get it here*
*Prefer a hard copy?  Get it here*

Monday, June 13, 2011

One for the Money

One for the Money (Stephanie Plum, No. 1)With the release of Smokin’ Seventeen only a few days away, I thought it would be nice to share a little about the first installment of the Stephanie Plum Series.

One for the Money takes place in Trenton, New Jersey where donuts are a food group, gun carrying is the norm, and the funeral home is the happening place to be.  Janet Evanovich weaves a wonderful mystery that will keep you guessing while delivering just enough humor and romance to have you pleading for more. 

Let’s break it down…

Stephanie Plum
After getting laid off, Stephanie takes a job as a bounty hunter.  With the intent of making all her financial woes disappear, she agrees to bring in Joe Morelli, a former classmate, lover, and pain in her you-know-what. 

Joe Morelli
A handsome vice cop wanted for murder, Morelli refuses to let Stephanie bring him in, insisting instead to try to prove his innocence.                                                                                                                                
Yes.  He only needs one name.  An expert bail bondsman (among other things), Ranger gets called in for help finding Morelli.  He’s big, domineering, and incredibly sexy… will Stephanie be able to concentrate long enough to learn anything?

Grandma Mazur
In a word: crazy.  You can’t help but love Grandma Mazur and her wild antics throughout this book!  She’s a character you’ll quickly grow to love!


Characters        9/10                                                                                                                
Writing Style    9/10
Storyline           9/10

OVERALL         9/10

Read.  This.  Book.  ;)   

*Kindle Users:  Get it here!*
*Prefer a hard copy?  Get it here.*