Thursday, April 16, 2015

Sometimes I Like to Curl Up in a Ball by Vicki Churchill

Sometimes I Like to Curl Up in a BallSometimes I Like to Curl Up in a Ball by Vicki Churchill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Adorable illustrations and perfect for storytime--gives kids the opportunity to make silly faces, pigeon step around the room and curl up into a ball to go to sleep.

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Monday, April 13, 2015

The Burning Room by Michael Connelly

The Burning Room (Harry Bosch, #19)The Burning Room by Michael Connelly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm not a faithful Harry Bosch reader--in fact, I don't even remember the earlier book in the series that I read about him. But I was able to jump into #19 of the series pretty easily and the author is going to make me read #20 because of the horrible cliffhanger at the end! Ugh!

Bosch is a year from retirement from the LAPD Open Unsolved Case unit, and he has a new partner, Lucy Soto. He isn't too sure what to think of her, but at least she's bilingual, so that's a plus. The two of them are on the hunt for a murderer years after the shooting occurred because the man just died after the bullet was lodged in his spine. Soto gets him involved in a case that is close to her heart--she barely survived an illegal daycare fire when she was a child. The two cases pick up speed as they uncover more clues and I found myself liking Soto as much as Bosch. I'm hoping she stays around.

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Funny Girl by Nick Hornby

Funny GirlFunny Girl by Nick Hornby
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Barbara Parker doesn't want to be stuck in Blackpool, England, forever. She doesn't even stay long enough to wear her Miss Blackpool crown--she runs off to London. She's beautiful with a shape to die for so she doesn't stay working in a department store long. An agent snaps her up, but she doesn't work as a model like he wants her to. Instead, she wants to be a funny girl like Lucille Ball and act. Things fall into place for Barbara--she makes it big in a TV comedic sitcom in the 1960's on BBC.

This was an odd Hornby book. I loved High Fidelity and Slam, but this one was just off. The first quarter of the book is great--Barbara is funny and her experiences rising to fame are spot on. But then the plot stagnates just like the TV show Barbara (and Jim). I was bored. I had to force myself to finish the last half of the book, and the way Barbara is suddenly grown up and elderly at the end seemed really forced. I wish the entire book would have been her rise to fame--that was the fascinating part for me, along with her relationship to Dennis.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

A Sister to Honor by Lucy Ferriss

<a href="" style="float: left; padding-right: 20px"><img alt="A Sister to Honor" border="0" src="" /></a><a href="">A Sister to Honor</a> by <a href="">Lucy Ferriss</a><br/>
My rating: <a href="">3 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />
Afia is a Pakistani teenager who is attending Smith College while her older brother Shahid plays squash for Enright.  Shahid is her keeper--he's supposed to make sure that her virtue remains intact so that she can be properly married off after college.<br><br>But things get tricky. She begins dating a man, and that is strictly forbidden.  Photographs are posted on social media of her touching that man. And then her family gets involved. <br><br>Afia's family is strict--some more than others--and she needs to be punished for disgracing her family. <br><br>Does Afia ring true to other readers? I'm having trouble understanding how she could break some religious rules and adhere to others so faithfully. I connected more with the female squash coach then Afia, which makes me wonder if Afia's characterization was a bit off.
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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Any Other Name by Craig Johnson. Read by George Guidall.

<a href="" style="float: left; padding-right: 20px"><img alt="Any Other Name (Walt Longmire, #11)" border="0" src="" /></a><a href="">Any Other Name</a> by <a href="">Craig Johnson</a><br/>
My rating: <a href="">5 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />
I broke all reading rules and listened to #11 in this series when I haven't read any of the previous books! But I've watched and loved the TV show, so I knew I would understand what was going on. <br><br>Sheriff Longmire should be in Philadelphia with his daughter who is about to have a baby, but instead he's heading over to a neighboring Wyoming county to investigate the suicide of a policeman.  Turns out his death is connected to a string of missing girls, and, of course, Longmire digs too deep and ends up solving the case and almost losing his life.  <br><br>I found myself smiling a lot as I was listening--Longmire is such a great character--sarcastic, smart, and witty, all while wearing a cowboy hat. <br><br>I'll be adding the rest of the series to my to-listen list--I loved George Guidall's slow and western narration!
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Monday, April 6, 2015

The Accident by Chris Pavone

The AccidentThe Accident by Chris Pavone
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this author's other romp, The Expats, much better than this one. Too much about book publishing for me.

A mysterious manuscript lands on the desk of a publisher, an editor, and a producer, and all other sorts of people in "the bizness" and then people start dying. The manuscript is a tell-all about a media mogul and someone doesn't want it published. I think the biggest problem for me was that I didn't care about The Author (hated how his identity was kept a secret when you knew who it was) or the media mogul.

The jumping back and forth didn't improve things, and neither did The Author being referred to as such when we knew who he was. The big twist at the end didn't feel like much of one to me. And I don't think people in the book publishing business can act like super-secret spies--dodging bullets and shooting weapons. Just seemed too unbelievable to me.

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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A History of Loneliness by John Boyne

A History of LonelinessA History of Loneliness by John Boyne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow. Odran is a priest in Ireland (not my usual read, huh?) and the book moves slowly. But you know it's building to SOMETHING. The abuse scandal is waiting and lurking in the background, and Odran's life is touched by it, even if he refused to notice. Each chapter is told from a different year--drove me nuts at first because there's no rhyme or reason to it--2001, 2006, 1964, 1980, 1972, etc. Father Odran tells us about his first experience with a girl, his experiences with his local priest, and his early entrance to the seminary. As a young priest at the Vatican, he represents Ireland in a special role with the pope, but he also becomes infatuated (obsessed?)with a beautiful Italian woman. I found the inner turmoil fascinating--does he stay a priest? Does the temptation to touch her make him normal? or not?

As Odran gets close to retirement, the Irish church is going up in flames with stories of abuse and the higher-ups who covered everything up. Odran's guilt is real, as well as his need to be forgiven and to make amends. He never did anything wrong, did he? Or did he by staying silent?

I've read The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and enjoyed it, but I felt this book was much better written. Perhaps because it's told from the point-of-view of a well-educated priest? His phrasing is beautiful--I might have to listen to this on audio just to hear the Irish accent.

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Monday, March 30, 2015

The Son by Jo Nesbo. Read by Gildart Jackson.

The SonThe Son by Jo Nesbø
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a standalone novel from the Norwegian author famous for his Harry Hole crime novels.

Sonny Lofthus escapes from prison, and everyone is terrified. He's been taking the murder rap for several people so that he could feed his heroin addiction while he was incarcerated. Everyone is corrupt in this novel--the prison administration, the police, and the mobsters that run the Oslo underground cartel. Sonny is on a mission to get revenge on the people who really messed up--it's his duty.

While the plotline was interesting and I loved the Nordic setting, things just moved too slowly for me. I was listening to the audiobook so that might have been the fault of the narrator, but I believe it was just the writing that I'm not a fan of. It's popular worldwide though.

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Love, Lucy by April Lindner

Love, LucyLove, Lucy by April Lindner
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Dang it--I was so looking forward to a Just One Day or an Anna and the French Kiss. I love YA romances that take place while traveling!

But this one fell short. The predictable plot could have been okay if I had grown attached to the characters, but that didn't happen. I never really got the sense of place that I should get while reading about Italy, and even the love scenes felt awkward. I guess it's a good book to give to teens who loved the two books I mentioned above, but I wouldn't give this one first.

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Friday, March 27, 2015

Rebel Queen by Michelle Moran

Rebel QueenRebel Queen by Michelle Moran
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After I checked out this book, I noticed it was by the same author who wrote Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution, so I wasn't thrilled. However, I was pleasantly surprised by this one, mainly because I learned so much about Indian history.

Sita is a poor Indian girl from the village of Jhansi, but her father has big dreams. She is trained to become a female protector of the rani (the queen) of India. She eventually becomes one of her Durga Dal, but the British are already in India. I found the history fascinating--how Britain kept the Indian rulers as puppet leaders, and how the weak Indian king had more interest in playing a girl in plays than ruling a country. Qheen Lakshmi had the real power--she even practiced with her female warriors and was educated.

My only qualm? There were times when I felt like the author was shoving definitions of Indian words down my throat. I would rather have her write the words in context--let me figure out what they mean. Heck, there's a glossary in the book anyway! (Not that I ever check those).

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