Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Forgotten Garden

The Forgotten Garden

Kate Morton

4 out of 5

In the beginning this book had me a little confused. Keeping the characters and their time frame straight was a bit of a challenge, but as soon as I grasped the feel of each individual, their own voices came through and the overall story and flow was much easier to follow.

Having quite enjoyed The House at Riverton, I knew that Morton wouldn't let me down with this telling of Nell who as a very young child was left on a ships dock in 1913 with no note or adult and only a little white suitcase containing some clothes and a volume of fairy tales. The dock master took pity on her and brought her home and raised her as his child. On her 21st birthday, a day that she had so looked forward to, her father told her the truth. Destroying the dreams that Nell had had for her future she was then determined to find her true history.

Unable to find the answers before her death, Nell's granddaughter Cassandra finds the suitcase and takes up her grandmothers search. What ensues is a slow unwrapping of family, betrayal, fear, and greed. The reader has to pay close attention since each chapter is told in a different time frame and the story is slowly revealed with quite a few, "oh, I get it now" moments.

Morton creates a beautiful setting with mystery and intrigue at a Cliff Cottage on the Cornish coast. Don't rush this book, take your time and find the clues along the way.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Sex Lives of Cannibals

The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific

J. Maarten Troost

4 out of 5

This is quite a funny laugh out loud kind of book. Sometimes you have to pay close attention because Troost will veer off the main subject but his antidotes are well worth the path that he is taking you down.

When Troost and his girlfriend Sylvia find themselves with an education but no real job skills they apply for and are offered a government type of job on the Pacific atoll of Tarawa. This coral reef that is basically in the middle of no where is only the beginning of their troubles. Exactly how does one pack for a trip to an equatorial sandbar? Needless to say they were quite ill prepared for their lodgings, food and what the locals use as toilet facilities. Ok, that part was really funny.

As Troost sets out to write the great American novel real life and death takes over and the reader is scurrying to find out what Troost and Sylvia will get themselves into next. With a great cast of characters and a wonder command of storytelling Troost is a writer to follow.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A Death in Belmont

A Death in Belmont

Sebastian Junger

4 out of 5

Though the reviews are quite mixed for this book, I actually enjoyed this non-fiction account. It is rather refreshing when an author doesn't confuse his opinion with facts. Junger confesses that he himself doesn't know the truth and that the deeper he delves into the possibilities the more confused he became.

Junger a resident of Belmont, Massachusetts relives his own family's brush with infamy when a man that once worked in their home could very well have been the Boston Strangler.

As murders are taking place in the quiet suburb of Belmont the police are hard pressed for a suspect, that is until a black man is seen walking in the area of a recent murder. Roy Smith seems like the most likely candidate, he has a criminal record and was known to have worked in one of the victims homes. Easily convicted, the story seems to end there, that is until a man by the name of Albert DeSalvo enters the picture and the reader and author begin to question if the right man was convicted after all.

A very fascinating yet confusing read.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Bordeaux Betrayal

Bordeaux Betrayal

Ellen Crosby

3 out of 5

This is book three in the Wine Country Series that has Lucie Montgomery running her family’s Virginia vineyard.

After Valerie Beauvais has a rather heated argument she is found dead in Lucie’s estate. Though death is nothing new to the Montgomery Vineyard, but this is surrounding the mysterious circumstances of a bottle of priceless Washington Bordeaux; you know the wine that was a gift between Thomas Jefferson and George Washington (you remember your wine history, right) Lucie is to get to the bottom of this murder and save the reputation of her vineyard before the auction that will either make or break her reputation and a local charity.

This book goes a little deeper into wine history which on the surface can be a bit interesting, especially when you get an added lesson on red wines. Unfortunately, the whole circumstance on why Valerie is murdered in the first place is a bit ridiculous. It was rather contrived and seemed as if Cosby was grasping at straws.

On a higher note, Cosby does do a little more personality development and reoccurring characters have their rather secretive pasts explained.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

My Abandonment

My Abandonment

Peter Rock

5 out of 5

A very good book that actually becomes eerie when you read the acknowledgements and see where Peter Rock got his inspiration for this mesmerizing story.

Thirteen year old Caroline lives with her father in a large nature preserve on the outskirts of Portland, Oregon. Her father, whom doesn’t really have a name, has built them a very inhabitable structure that seems to fit their most basic needs. They travel to town from time to time for supplies and to pick up a monthly check from their post office box. Nothing could be simpler, except for the fact that they must not bring attention to themselves, must not look like they are traveling together and they must avoid the police at all times.

Told from the perspective of Caroline, the reader is introduced to what appears to be a typical teen. Caroline wants friends, but isn’t allowed to have them, she wants to go to school, but must make due with the encyclopedias and dictionaries and an occasional book from the library. She lives a very quiet sheltered life with father.

Then one day the bottom falls out of her world, what she thought was real isn’t, what she thought of as home doesn’t exist and slowly the truth is revealed and Caroline must make a new life for herself. But when you don’t know who you were supposed to be, how can you make a new life that isn’t on the margins.

Peter Rock has a true gift for putting you right in the middle of the story, for making a nightmare believable and for showing you a side of humanity that you desperately wished didn’t exist.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Darling Jim

Darling Jim

Christian Moerk

5 out of 5

Naill, a bored postal worker, decides to rummage through the dead letter bin one day and finds the diary of Fiona Walsh. By now everyone has heard the tale of the Walsh sisters -- Fiona and Roisin Walsh had been found dead with their Aunt the elusive Moira Hegarty inside Moira's home. No one quite knows why, but then again, that is makes for a good story.

Told in diary form and through the travels and inquisitiveness of Naill, you learn the story of the Walsh sisters, and how they were taken in by a mesmerizing stranger named "darling" Jim Quick who traveled through Irish towns telling his tale and capturing quite a few hearts. But Jim in not just a storyteller, he is a lying, thieving murderer. So, why are whole towns enraptured by him and choose not to see the devastation that he leaves in his wake.

Through their diaries, Fiona and Roisin are able to tell their stories of how they ended up hostages to their crazy aunt, how Jim is not who he appears to be, and how they will risk it all to save just one of them.

Woven through this creepy story is another story that Jim tellsof wolves and princes and a princess that is just as fascinating if not more so when you get to the end and see what Jim has really been saying.

Billed as a modern gothic novel of suspense -- this story is amazing from start to finish; with a little bit of everything for everyone. Not told in your typical diary format, you are completely enraptured by the story of each girls life.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Blueberry Muffin Murder

Blueberry Muffin Murder

Joanne Fluke

3 out of 5

This one didn't hold the same appeal for me that the previous two did.

Connie MacIntyre, Connie Mac to her friends, a Martha Stewart type character, isn't the sweetheart that she pretends to be and when Connie is found dead in Hannah's pantry next to Hannah's Blueberry Muffins what's Hannah to do. She needs her kitchen back so she can finish baking for the Lake Edna Winter Carnival so Hannah doesn't want any other enterprising baker would do, she sets out to solve the crime.

Quite a lot of goings on in this book that take away from the main story and “who-done- it” was such a secondary character that you had to remind yourself of who-was-that-person-again.

In this book you learn a little bit more about Andrea, who turns out to be quite funny in her own scatterbrained way and poor Hannah just can't decide who her love interest will be, the cop or the dentist. One actually makes the decision easier for her, but Hannah really doesn't take no for an answer, especially when one is the man of her evening dreams and the other is the man for her day dreams.

Even though this book didn't have a very good flow, I will continue on to the next book.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story

Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story
Carolyn Turgeon
5+ out of 5

This book will be one of my favorite for this year, if not for many years. Where this book starts and where you think it is going to end are not even in the same ballpark.

Lillian is a quite unassuming woman who spends her days working in a small rare books bookstore in Manhattan, helping students and the locals to find the variety of books that they need. But Lil has a secret, she was once Cinderella's fairy godmother. She even has wings bound to her back as proof. It was her responsibility to get Cinderella safely to the ball and to live the life that the fairies has foretold to be her future.

Unfortunately, Lil had dreams of her own and one day appeared to the Prince in human form and she fell in love with him. She went to the ball instead of Cinderella and for doing so, she was banished from the fairy kingdom; that is until Veronica came into her shop. If only she could get Veronica to the ball with her prince charming then all would be forgiven and she could return to her fairy sisters.

As you see the ending coming you just want to put the book on the shelf and get to it another day. You don't want to see Lil's life unfolding, you want to see the happily ever after. But only that happens in fairy tales. Lil's new reality is much more harsh then that.