Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards

The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards by Kristopher Jansma
Publish date: March 21, 2013

A debut novel from a new author (ok, novelist-he has had articles published in several literary magazines) that is outstanding.  The book is about a novelist who loses and re-writes the same novel over the course of several years and almost as many locations.

It is a great story but one that ebbs and flows through the narrative. I loved it and I was at one point, a bit out of patience with it. It is that moving.
The main character, whose real name is never mentioned in the book,  always seems to find someone else's life more fitting than his own. Perhaps that is what makes him an interesting character. Perhaps it is because he is telling the story and you don't need to know what his real name is, he just is. He falls in love easily but leaves the girls almost as easily.

Our story teller has a counterpart, Jeffrey Oakes, who has a best selling novel. Jeffrey is the narrator's friend and nemesis throughout the book. A great exaggeration of a writer; egotistical, manic, addictive personality, and generally unhealthy-Jeffrey is quite interesting and a lovely foil to the narrator.

Of course, there is the one girl who got away, a fairy tale princess who is the third angle of the triangle of Jeffrey and the narrator's youth.

I loved the way the story started with a young boy reading from Kipling's "Just So Stories" and ends in almost the same place.  Lovely way to round out the conclusion of the story.
And I liked the way the story made me feel good to read it.  It is literary fiction, something I read but not regulary.
Really quite good.

An advance readers copy was provided by Viking for review, no other compensation was offered or accepted for this review.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Other Woman

The Other Woman by Hank  Phillippi Ryan

This was an amazing book!  I read alot and was enthralled by the plot twists that just kept coming.

It's the story of Jane Ryland, a reporter, who has been forced by circumstances to switch from TV to newspapers. She catches what should be a routine story but all of a sudden, turns into the political story of the year.  Maybe not all of a sudden. Jane has good instincts and alot of perseverence-qualities that make a good reporter. Like Hank Phillippi Ryan- still an award winning journalist in Boston.

I won't say much more about it- too many spoliers possible but once you start this, you will be hard pressed to put it down. I can't wait to see what happens next in "The Wrong Girl"

Friday, August 3, 2012

Summer Nights by Susan Mallery

I loved the story of Annabelle, the feisty librarian and Shane,the horse whisperer.
In fact, I have loved all the Fool's Gold books.

Fools Gold is a town in California that is run by women because there has been a man shortage for a long time. The town is working on that and the quality of the men that have been moving in is quite impressive. Not to say that there haven't been a few hiccups-but that is what makes thing interesting.

Take Shane Stryker-the hero of this story. He comes off as a bit of a jerk in the beginning because he has been hurt before and really doesn't want to let another woman make a fool out of him-or break his heart.

So when Annabelle enters his radar, he can tell she is trouble. Which is funny because everyone KNOWS how mild mannered and untempermental librarians are, right? Well, speaking as a member of the profession, no. We are all different and Annabelle is no exception. Warm, funny, smart, and endeared to the town by her willingness to get involved, she is an outstanding person.

But will Shane figure that out?

You'll have to read the book to find out- I wouldn't want to spoil the ending-even if it means you miss out on the opportunity of fantasizing about Shane (big, buff, handsome Stryker brother) clad only in a loin cloth at the end...

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Book of Lost Frangrances by M.J. Rose

I LOVED this book. I found it easy to read (I had difficulty with her earlier works) and very well researched.The Book of Lost Fragrances refers to Cleopatra's famous book of perfumes. Apparently, Cleopatra loved scent and had the formulas all in one place. One of the scents created was supposed to make reincarnation a possibility.
This is the center of the story of Jac and Robbie E'Toile, the latest generation of the House of E'toile, Perfumers. Lots of adventure in the story with the Chinese Mafia in Paris trying to get a hold of the pottery shards that have been in the E'toile family for generations. Robbie wants to give the shards to the Dali Lama who is in Paris, visiting. There is a Chinese national who is in Paris for an art show who is also planning on escaping his handlers to be with the Dali Lama. And chases through the underground catacombs of Paris. There is also a psychiatrist who is trying to get his hands on the pottery shards for his own purposes. And a love story between Jac, Robbie's sister and her old flame who risks his life for her.
It almost sounds like too many htreads to make a neatly patterned story but Ms. Rose does an effortless job of presenting it as a lovely whole tapestry of past lives and current endevours. The characters are engaging and the story is such that I hated to put it down.A really good read.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Childhood Re-visited

I just finsihed an e-galley of Mr. Poppers Penguins by Florence and Richard Atwater. And I remember why it is one of my favorite childhood books. Not just because Miss Jasper read it aloud to us in 3rd grade (Thank you, Miss Jasper) but because it is so well written.
Easy to understand-full imagination in flight- I can just see those penguins sliding down the basement stairs- but just lovely sounding passages.

Yes, Mr. Popper and Mrs. Popper are a bit old fashioned (apparently neither of them has a first name) but they seems to get along well enough. And it was written in the 1930's. I have not seen the recent movie adaptation. Hard to guess what Jim Carey will bring to the story.

Thanks to NetGalley and Open Road Media (http://www.openroadmedia.com/authors/richard-and-florence-atwater.aspx) for the chance to re-visit a time when things were a lot easier and Admiral Drake was the biggest guy in the room (at least, per the illustration.) This book deserves a re-read or a first read.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

New Year List

Here is the list of my favorite books of 2011. You may have seen some of them posted and you may not have. They are in the order I read them-that's it.It was a slow year; only 62 books read. I had one year where I read 150 books. I wasn't working full time then. And I was reading more of those smaller pieces of brain candy than I have time for now. *Sigh*.

It was a great year for book. My TBR (to be read) pile is bigger than ever but my husband tells me retirement is just around the corner. I'll believe that when the financial planner explains how it's all going to work. And I keep piling up knitting books and patterns also soooooo time will still be an issue. There could be worse problems.

Happy New Year! Happy Reading!

Graceling Kristin Cashore (YA) Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight—she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change. She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace—or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . .

The Oracle of Stamboul Michael David Lukas Ushered into the world late in the summer of 1877 in the town of Constanta on the Black Sea, Eleonora Cohen proves herself an extraordinarily gifted child—a prodigy—at a very young age. When she is eight years old, she stows away aboard a ship, to the imperial capital of Stamboul where a new life awaits her. But it is only when she charms the eccentric Sultan Abdulhamid II—beleaguered by friend and foe as his unwieldy realm crumbles—that Eleonora will change the course of an empire.

A Discovery of Witches Debra Harkness Diana Bishop, a young scholar and the descendant of witches, discovers a long-lost and enchanted alchemical manuscript deep in Oxford's Bodleian Library. Its reappearance summons a fantastical underworld, which she navigates with her leading man, vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont.

The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott Kelly O’Connor McNees In the summer of 1855, when vivacious Louisa May Alcott is twenty-two and bursting to free herself from family and societal constraints and do what she loves most, she meets Joseph Singer, and as she opens her heart, Louisa finds herself torn between a love that takes her by surprise and her dream of independence as a writer in Boston. The choice she must make comes with a steep price that she will pay for the rest of her life.

The End of Everything Megan Abbott Thirteen-year-old Lizzie Hood and her next-door neighbor, Evie Verver, are inseparable, best friends between whom -- presumably -- there are no secrets. Then one afternoon, Evie disappears and everyone turns to Lizzie for answers. Was Evie unhappy, troubled, or upset? Had she mentioned being followed? Compelled by curiosity, Lizzie takes up her own furtive pursuit of the truth. Haunted by dreams of her lost friend and titillated by her own new power as the center of the disappearance, Lizzie uncovers secret after secret and begins to wonder if she knew anything at all about her best friend.

A Good High Place L.E.Kimball Set during the years prior to World War I in Elk Rapids, Michigan, A Good High Place addresses familial struggles and those of a nation moving inexorably toward the age of the automobile. The sometimes painful adaptations of a faster-paced age are embodied, in part, in the struggles of Luella’s father who, already troubled by the death of his wife, wrestles with the realization that his livelihood as a steamboat captain is becoming obsolete.

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand Helen Simonson The Major epitomizes the Englishman with the "stiff upper lip," who clings to traditional values and has tried (in vain) to pass these along to his yuppie son, Roger. The story centers around Pettigrew's fight to keep his greedy relatives (including his son) from selling a valuable family heirloom--a pair of hunting rifles that symbolizes much of what he stands for, or at least what he thinks he does. The embattled hero discovers an unexpected ally and source of consolation in his neighbor, the Pakistani shopkeeper Jasmina Ali.

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin (943.086) Erik Larson In 1933, President Roosevelt personally selected William E. Dodd to be the United States ambassador to Nazi Germany. Dodd took his family with him, including his daughter Martha. Initially enamored with the Nazi party and its passion, Martha supported the Third Reich. However, when Hitler's violent policies became apparent, Martha changed her opinion and watched in horror. Here, author Erik Larson offers a chilling first-person account of Germany's transformation under Hitler's rule.

Something Old Something New: A Blessings Novel Beverly Jenkins The citizens of Henry Adams are starting to take bets—will Lily Fontaine and Trent July finally tie the knot? All they want is a nice, simple wedding, but their well-meaning neighbors are turning the no-fuss affair into the event of the decade. Bernadine, the town's fairy godmother, wants Lily to have a storybook wedding fit for a princess, and Lily's nine-year-old foster son is campaigning to be town preacher so he can officiate at the ceremony. Trouble multiplies when Trent is called on to help a new family move to town, not to mention Lily and Trent's task of blending their families together.

The Waiting Place:Learning to Appreciate Life’s Little Delays (248.4) Eileen Button We all spend precious time just waiting. We wait in traffic, grocery store lines, and carpool circles. We wait to grow up, for true love, and for our children to be born. We even wait to die. But amazing things can happen if we open our eyes in The Waiting Place and peer into its dusty corners. Sometimes relationships are built, faith is discovered, dreams are (slowly) realized, and our hearts are expanded. With humor and heart-breaking candor, Eileen Button breathes life into stagnant and, at times, difficult spaces. Throughout this collection of essays she contends that The Waiting Place can be a most miraculous place-a place where beauty can be experienced, the sacred can be realized, and God can be found working in the midst of it all.