03. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Drama, Fiction, Mystery, Pamela

Welcome to the World, Baby Girl by Fannie Flagg, 467 pages, read by Pamela, on 02/27/2014

baby girlDena Nordstrom, a 70’s television news person, is on her way up the ladder of success when she gets side tracked by illness and a desire to find out what happened to her mother.  Her mother disappeared one Christmas when Dena was young, never to be heard from again.

There is a colorful cast of characters within the pages of this book.  Norma and Macky Warren and Aunt Elner from Elmwood Springs, Missouri, cousins and aunt, respectively, nutty in their own way, and so proud of Dena; Ira Wallace and Sidney Capello, two cut throat modern day sleaze journalists; and Sookie, Dena’s college roommate, who would do just about anything for her; Kappa sisters forever.

The book quickly wraps up in the last several pages with an ending I didn’t see coming.  More to come in the Elmwood Springs series with “Standing in the Rainbow”.

04. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Contemporary Fiction, Drama, Fiction, Literary Fiction, Noelle, Thriller/Suspense

Gone Girl by Gillian FLynn, 419 pages, read by Noelle, on 01/28/2014

So, I finally decided to read this book that everyone has been talking about since it was first published.   I have to admit, as cliche’ as it sounds, it did in fact, live up to all the hype.  It was absolutely riveting.  I haven’t been so absorbed in a book in a long time. The visualization while I read was extremely vivid, as it was set in a small Missouri town much like the one I work in daily.   It even had a character with my first name, Noelle, which is quite unusual.  So, you’ve got my attention, Ms. Flynn. Your book was pretty awesome. I’ll be waiting for your next novel.  In the mean time, I need to read Sharp Objects.

07. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Contemporary Fiction, Drama, Fiction, Literary Fiction, Noelle

The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout, 320 pages, read by Noelle, on 12/29/2013

Haunted by the freak accident that killed their father when they were children, Jim and Bob Burgess escaped from their Maine hometown of Shirley Falls for New York City as soon as they possibly could. Jim, a sleek, successful corporate lawyer, has belittled his bighearted brother their whole lives, and Bob, a Legal Aid attorney who idolizes Jim, has always taken it in stride. But their long-standing dynamic is upended when their sister, Susan–the Burgess sibling who stayed behind–urgently calls them home. Her lonely teenage son, Zach, has gotten himself into a world of trouble, and Susan desperately needs their help. And so the Burgess brothers return to the landscape of their childhood, where the long-buried tensions that have shaped and shadowed their relationship begin to surface in unexpected ways that will change them forever.
With a rare combination of brilliant storytelling, exquisite prose, and remarkable insight into character, Elizabeth Strout has brought to life two deeply human protagonists whose struggles and triumphs will resonate with readers long after they turn the final page. Tender, tough-minded, loving, and deeply illuminating about the ties that bind us to family and home, “The Burgess Boys” is Elizabeth Strout’s newest and perhaps most astonishing work of literary art.

18. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Drama, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Pamela

Prayers for Sales by Sandra Dallas, 305 pages, read by Pamela, on 12/17/2013

prayersSet in the high country of Colorado and during the Depression, this is a story of women’s strengths and friendships amid the harshest living conditions.  Hennie Comfort has lived in Middle Swan for seventy years.  She doesn’t sell prayers, but Nit Spindle, a young wife new to the area, wants to buy one for her little girl who passed away before they moved to Colorado.  This is the segue that Hennie needs to befriend Nit and over the course of the story they share their deepest hardships and secrets while visiting, quilting, and walking the hills in spring.  A few twists and turns in this story line kept me listening to this book.  It’s not all gloom and doom – lots of good things happen to the characters.  Recommended to those who like a little history woven within a story.

29. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Contemporary Fiction, Drama, Fiction, Mystery, Noelle, Thriller/Suspense

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn, 349 pages, read by Noelle, on 11/21/2013

Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice” of Kinnakee, Kansas.” She survived—and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, the Kill Club—a secret secret society obsessed with notorious crimes—locates Libby and pumps her for details. They hope to discover proof that may free Ben. Libby hopes to turn a profit off her tragic history: She’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club—for a fee. As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started—on the run from a killer.

24. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Drama, Fiction, Mystery, Pamela, Thriller/Suspense

House Rules by Jodi Picoult, 532 pages, read by Pamela, on 11/14/2013

house rulesWith Asperger’s syndrome, teenager Jacob Hunt is unable to have the same kind of social life other boys his age have. However, like other kids with AS, he has honed in on one particular interest: forensic analysis. He normally shows up to crime scenes and helps solve the case, but this time he is the prime suspect.  When a murder leads police to question Jacob, they interpret his AS symptoms as a sign of guilt and cast a very public spotlight on Jacob and his family.

The characters are well developed and intriguing to listen to.  Picoult is known to research her topic thoroughly which helped with understanding Asperger’s syndrome and the main character.  A very interesting story.

13. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Contemporary Fiction, Drama, Fiction, Kira

Goodbye For Now by Laurie Frankel, 289 pages, read by Kira, on 11/12/2013

goodbyenow4nowProtagonist Sam works for as a programmer for an online dating company.  As he is filling out an online application in the hopes of meeting the right one, he realizes  that none of the questions really tap into really meaningful issues.  Even if meaningful questions were included, most people would lie.  So, proposes that he writes a new software algorithm that taps into people’s financial statements.  The good news is that it works really successfully in matching up couples.  The bad news is that it is too successful and long term monthly signups drop.  He is fired, then the grandmother of his new girlfriend Meredith – the perfect match from his algorith – dies.  Meredith spends HUGE amounts of time moping and mourning her grandmother’s death.  In an effort to return his love Meredith to her usual self, Sam creates another algorithm based on digital conversations between Meredith and her grandmother to recreate a digital version of the grandmother.

The book seems more like a mouthpiece to explore these complicated issues.  Unfortunately, there is a HUGE amount of whining by most of the characters (I’m usually pretty sympathetic, but the characters are so hopeless and pathetic). Might have been better reading the book instead of listening to it.

29. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Drama, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Kristin, Science Fiction

Risked: Book 6 in The Missing Series by Margaret Peterson Haddix, 308 pages, read by Kristin, on 10/25/2013

As soon as I saw this on the new book shelf, I snatched it up.  I read books 1-5 in a couple weeks around Easter and was excited to see that Book 6 was out.

General premise of the series: Famous children from history have been kidnapped during their own time and taken to the future to be adopted. Guardians of time are trying to return those kids to the time they belong and “fix” the wrinkles in time.

Jonah, along with his sister, Katherine, and best friend, Chip, and two other children get taken back to 1918 where they discover that the two kids with them are really Alexei and Anastasia Romanov and they have arrived hours before the entire Romanov family is going to be executed.

Will they be able to repair the time rift and still save the two Romanovs so they can continue their lives in the 21st century?

I was sort of hoping that this book would wrap up the series, but unfortunately Jonah still does not know his true identity from history.  I have enjoyed the series, but I thought this book lacked some of the period detail that the previous books contained.  Still, Risked is a good book and if you are a fan of futuristic books, then The Missing series is a must read.

30. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Award Winner, Children's Books, Drama, Eric, Fiction · Tags: , ,

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech, 280 pages, read by Eric, on 08/29/2013

13-yr-old Salamanca retraces with her grandparents the route taken by her mother when suddenly she left Sal and her father, and went to Lewiston, Idaho. Along the way, Sal tells her grandparents the story of moving from Kentucky to Ohio, and of how Phoebe, a new friend, also had a mother leave. The journey west combines with stories of the past to determine the future of Sal’s family.

This novel won the Newbery Award in 1995, and deserves all the praise it has gotten over the years. It is a powerful exploration and celebration of life, loss, new love, and mature love. Creech gives Sal’s voice an aching, coming-of-age truthfulness that should be experienced by everyone, and not just middle readers. If you’ve not done so already, read this book!

28. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Drama, Fiction, Pamela, Romance

The great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, 180 pages, read by Pamela, on 08/21/2013

The great Gatsby is one of the great classics of twentieth-century literature.gg

This exemplary novel of the Jazz Age has been acclaimed by generations of readers. The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when The New York Times noted gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession, it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s.

30. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Drama, Fiction, Mystery, Pamela · Tags:

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, 419 pages, read by Pamela, on 07/30/2013

gone-girl-book-cover-med2-23664_186x186Marriage can be a real killer.
One of the most critically acclaimed suspense writers of our time, New York Times bestseller Gillian Flynn takes that statement to its darkest place in this unputdownable masterpiece about a marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong. The Chicago Tribune proclaimed that her work “draws you in and keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction.” Gone Girl‘s toxic mix of sharp-edged wit and deliciously chilling prose creates a nerve-fraying thriller that confounds you at every turn.
On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media–as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents–the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter–but is he really a killer?
As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

15. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Drama, Fiction, Kristin · Tags:

Labor Day by Joyce Maynard, 244 pages, read by Kristin, on 07/13/2013

An escaped convict enlists the help of a mentally unstable woman and her 13 year old son to help him evade law enforcement over the Labor Day holiday.  During those six days, the man and woman fall in love and the make a plan for the family to escape to Canada.  The story, told from the view of the boy, has as much to do with him coming of age as it does with the relationship between mother and convict.

I found the story engaging (enough so that I read the book in two sittings) although the whole time I was reading, I kept thinking that the plot was completely unbelieveable.  Who in their right mind would willingly allow a convict into her home, live with him for 6 days, then make plans to run away together?  But, then again, I’m neither super adventurous nor diagnosed as mentally ill.  That could be the difference.

The movie, based on the book, will be released on December 25th and stars Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin.

22. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Drama, Fiction, Kira, Paranormal · Tags:

Eva moves the furniture by Margot Livesey, 240 pages, read by Kira, on 05/21/2013

jacket-eva-moves-the-furniture If you liked the book “A Certain Slant of LIght” you will like Eva Moves the Furniture.  It has the same eevavocative feel to me, slightly haunting.

Growing up,Eva has 2 companions a girl her age, and a grown woman, eva moves furnthat no one else can see.  Her Mom died right after she is born, and she experiences a certain degree of loneliness, and is less than successful forming friendships at school.  The companions meddle in her life, sometimes to Eva’s delight, sometimes to her disappointment.

It is Never clear whether the ghosts are real, or a figment of Eva’s imagination, because the ghosts don’t always behave well.  It could be that Eva blames her bad behavior on these ghosts, which are nothing more than a figment of her imagination.  But I lean to the other possibility, that they really are present.  But you can see where either narrative makes sense.

01. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Drama, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Pamela, Romance

The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani, 475 pages, read by Pamela, on 04/13/2013

shoemakers wifeAdriana Trigiani’s “The Shoemaker’s Wife” is a must read if you enjoy historical fiction.  The book was 20 years in the making and what a book it is.

The book spans two continents, four decades, two world wars, and two families whose chance meeting on a mountaintop in the Alps sets the pace for the adventures and misadventures of the main characters.  It follows the Lazzari and Ravanelli families, most specifically Ciro Lazzari and Vincenza (Enza) Ravanelli from childhood through adulthood. The day to day life is enriched with the colorful and detailed descriptions of home, work and life for Ciro and Enza. The newly married couple strike out on their own to the Upper Midwest of America to the town where Ciro’s father lost his life. In the end, father provided for son in a most fitting way.

My father was a shoemaker for 30 years, so the title intrigued me immediately. Not to mention, Adriana Trigiani has become one of my favorite authors, also.

15. April 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Drama, Fiction, Mystery, Sarah

Truth Stained Lies by Terri Blackstock, 305 pages, read by Sarah, on 04/12/2013

hw7.plTerri Blackstock does an excellent job of weaving a tangled web of clues for the reader to use in figuring out who framed Jay in his soon-to-be ex-wife’s murder.  Jay’s three sisters and ex-cop guy-friend form a motley crew who take in all the clues and head in a totally different direction than the police.  Can they figure it out in time to save Jay’s five-year-old son?  This book was a page turner.  I would say more, but I don’t want to ruin anything!!  Enjoy!

05. April 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Drama, Fiction, Pamela

Home to Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani, 305 pages, read by Pamela, on 03/18/2013

The fouhome to big stone gaprth and final in the Big Stone Gap series brings to a meaningful and comfortable close this segment of Ave Maria’s life.  Etta begins her new life in Italy, a family emergency makes both Jack and Ave Maria take a look at what’s really important in life, Jack and Ave Maria travel to the home of his ancestors, and long buried secrets emerge. These lovable characters, Theodore, Fleeta, Iva Lou, Pearl, and even Pete make appearances. They are like family by now to the reader. The ending is warm and emotional. There’s nothing complicated about the book or the characters, just a nice comfortable read.  Five stars for the series.
30. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Drama, Fiction, Pamela

Milk Glass Moon by Adriana Trigiani, 256 pages, read by Pamela, on 02/28/2013

milkglassmoon-hardcoverMilk Glass Moon, third in the Big Stone Gap series, continues the life story of Ave Maria Mullilgan MacChesney. Her family and friends grow up, experience heartache and crisis, and fall in love. Mother and daughter, Ave Maria and Etta, move to a new level in their relationship, one of love and leaving. The characters continue to be as ordinary as they come, making you think you could look within your own circle of friends and see some just like them. Trigiani brings these characters alive with down home humor and everyday happenings written with that southern tone that sets the mood for a good read, once again.

30. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Drama, Fiction, Pamela

Big Cherry Holler by Adriana Trigiani, 272 pages, read by Pamela, on 02/16/2013

big-cherry-holler-adriana-trigiani-paperback-cover-artThis second book in the Big Stone Gap series focuses on Ave Maria Mulligan’s life after several years of marriage to Jack MacChesney, two children, and a shift in their relationship. A trip to Italy, the “old country”, brings her face to face with who she is and who she wants to be. The characters are endearing; some odd, some ambitious, some just like friends we all have. Their experiences are normal, although Trigiani writes as if they are special and unique. Five stars, again.

30. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Drama, Fiction, Pamela

Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani, 272 pages, read by Pamela, on 01/26/2013

Big Stone

Ave Maria Mulligan, the self-proclaimed town spinster of Big Stone Gap, is the town pharmacist, part of the Rescue Squad, and director of the town’s outdoor drama. She discovers a family secret after her mother passes away and life changes for her forever. She has much to learn about her family and herself. And, for most of us, it’s never too late for that.

You’ll love how Trigiani intertwines the ancient art of face reading into her book and weaves the characters lives together. This is a delightful read. I’ve read the series (four in all) and couldn’t wait to get the next one in my hands to see where these characters were going. Five stars.

I sincerely wish someone had suggested Adriana Trigiani to me before I just happened to stumble upon her at Missouri River Regional Library.  I am truly transported to the place and era for which she is writing and it’s so refreshing to escape the toils of the world we live in today with characters such as these.

21. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Drama, Fiction, Mystery, Pamela

6th Target by James Patterson, 390 pages, read by Pamela, on 03/01/2013

6thTarget

When a horrifying attack leaves one of the four members of the Women’s Murder Club struggling for her life, the others fight to keep a madman behind bars before anyone else is hurt. And Lindsay Boxer and her new partner in the San Francisco police department run flat-out to stop a series of kidnappings that has electrified the city: children are being plucked off the streets together with their nannies– but the kidnappers aren’t demanding ransom.

I like these books, even though they aren’t particularly deep, they are fun.