Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Book Review: Ravens by George Dawes Green

Here is the book description from the Hachette Book Group website:

"The Boatwrights just won 318 million dollars in the Georgia State lottery. It's going to be the worst day of their lives.

When Shaw McBride and Romeo Zderko pull up at a convenience store off I-95 in Georgia, their only thought is to fix a leaky tire and be on their way again to Florida-away from their dull Ohio tech-support jobs. But this happens to be the store from which a 318,000,000 million dollar Jackpot ticket has just been sold -- and when a pretty clerk accidentally reveals to Shaw the identity of the winning family, he hatches a ferociously audacious scheme: He and Romeo will squeeze the family for half their prize.

That night, he visits the Boatwright home and takes the family hostage, while Romeo patrols the streets nearby, prepared to murder the Boatwrights' loved ones at any sign of resistance. At first, the family offers none. But Shaw's plot depends on maintaining constant fear-merciless, unfaltering terror-and soon, under the pressure, everyone's sanity begins to unravel . . .

At once frightening, comic, and suspenseful, RAVENS is a wholly original and utterly compelling novel from one of our most talented writers."

I found "Ravens" to be a very unique novel and enjoyed Green's writing style. The book moves along at a great pace and is very entertaining. If you love psychological thrillers then I definitely recommend this book! This is the first of Green's books that I have read and it won't be the last.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Book Review: Swimsuit by James Patterson

As stated in an earlier post, I am and always have been, a fan of James Patterson. I have always found his talent level to be consistent and really enjoy reading his books. His newest novel, SWIMSUIT (co-authored with Maxine Paetro) held up to my expectations.

Here is the book description from the Hachette Book Group website:

"Syd, a breathtakingly beautiful supermodel on a photo shoot in Hawaii, disappears. Fearing the worst, her parents travel to Hawaii to investigate for themselves, never expecting the horror that awaits them.

LA Times reporter Ben Hawkins is conducting his own research into the case, hoping to help the victim and get an idea for his next bestseller. With no leads and no closer to uncovering the kidnapper's identity than when he stepped off the plane, Ben gets a shocking visit that pushes him into an impossible-to-resist deal with the devil.

A heart-pounding story of fear and desire, SWIMSUIT transports readers to a chilling new territory where the collision of beauty and murder transforms paradise into a hell of unspeakable horrors."

In SWIMSUIT, we are told right away who the killer is. In this book, what we are reading to find out is why he did it and will he get caught. As always with James Patterson's novels the book is a fast-paced, page-turner! If you have not yet discovered Patterson, then this is a good book to start with as it is a stand-alone novel, not part of any of his previous series.

Look for it on June 29, 2009! You will not be disappointed!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Book Review- The Scarecrow

It has been awhile since I have read a book by Michael Connelly and after reading his newest book, THE SCARECROW, I see that he hasn't lost his touch!

From the Hachette Book Group website:

"Forced out of the Los Angeles Times amid the latest budget cuts, newspaperman Jack McEvoy decides to go out with a bang, using his final days at the paper to write the definitive murder story of his career.

He focuses on Alonzo Winslow, a 16-year-old drug dealer in jail after confessing to a brutal murder. But as he delves into the story, Jack realizes that Winslow's so-called confession is bogus. The kid might actually be innocent.

Jack is soon running with his biggest story since The Poet made his career years ago. He is tracking a killer who operates completely below police radar--and with perfect knowledge of any move against him. Including Jack's."

THE SCARECROW like so many other of Connelly's books is full of action and is a fast ride from start to finish. Not only is the plot intriguing, the characters are also very interesting. I particularly enjoyed the look inside the mind of the Scarecrow. It is easy to see why Connelly is a best-selling author and fans of his work will definitely not be disappointed with his newest thriller!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Book Review- Undress Me In the Temple of Heaven

Before I begin this review I just have to say that I absolutely LOVED this book!

To get started, here is a summary of UNDRESS ME IN THE TEMPLE OF HEAVEN from the Hachette Book Group website:

"They were young, brilliant, and bold. They set out to conquer the world. But the world had other plans for them.

Bestselling author Susan Jane Gilman's new memoir is a hilarious and harrowing journey, a modern heart of darkness filled with Communist operatives, backpackers, and pancakes.

In 1986, fresh out of college, Gilman and her friend Claire yearned to do something daring and original that did not involve getting a job. Inspired by a place mat at the International House of Pancakes, they decided to embark on an ambitious trip around the globe, starting in the People's Republic of China. At that point, China had been open to independent travelers for roughly ten minutes.

Armed only with the collected works of Nietzsche, an astrological love guide, and an arsenal of bravado, the two friends plunged into the dusty streets of Shanghai. Unsurprisingly, they quickly found themselves in over their heads. As they ventured off the map deep into Chinese territory, they were stripped of everything familiar and forced to confront their limitations amid culture shock and government surveillance. What began as a journey full of humor, eroticism, and enlightenment grew increasingly sinister-becoming a real-life international thriller that transformed them forever.

Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven is a flat-out page-turner, an astonishing true story of hubris and redemption told with Gilman's trademark compassion, lyricism, and wit."

I am a big fan of memoirs. I just enjoy reading about other people's lives, especially those who live very interesting ones! Susan Jane Gilman's memoir is very funny and one of the most engaging that I have read.

Her adventures traveling the world with her friend were extremly entertaining and expertly described. I could completely picture everything that was happening, even images that I would rather not see!

UNDRESS ME IN THE TEMPLE OF HEAVEN is a very memorable book and I wish that there were more out there like it!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Book Review: Galway Bay

Here is a brief description of "Galway Bay" from the Hachette website:

“Here at last is one Irish family's epic journey, capturing the tragedy and triumph of the Irish-American experience. In a rousing tale that echoes the myths and legends of Ireland herself, young Honora Keeley and Michael Kelly wed and start a family, inhabiting a hidden Ireland where fishermen and tenant farmers find solace in their ancient faith, songs, stories, and communal celebrations. Selling both their catch--and their crops--to survive, these people subsist on the potato crop--their only staple food. But when blight destroys the potatoes three times in four years, a callous government and uncaring landlords turn a natural disaster into The Great Starvation that will kill one million. Honora and Michael vow their children will live. The family joins two million other Irish refugees in one of the greatest rescues in human history: the Irish Emigration to America. Danger and hardship await them there. Honora and her unconventional sister Maire watch their seven sons as they transform Chicago from a frontier town to the "City of the Century", fight the Civil War, and enlist in the cause of Ireland's freedom. The Kelly clan is victorious. This heroic story sheds brilliant light on the ancestors of today's 44 million Irish Americans.”

When the package first arrived with Mary Pat Kelly’s “Galway Bay” to review, I will admit that I found the sheer size of the book to be a little bit daunting. Encompassing 562 pages, the work is not something that you are going to breeze through in a day. However, once I started reading the book, I found that it was very difficult to put down and even wish that it would have been a little bit longer!

If you have any Irish heritage or are interested in historical novels, then I think you will find this book to be very interesting. Although it is a work of fiction, the events in the book are historically accurate. I completely enjoyed being transported back to a time long ago and I learned a lot about Irish history by reading the book, particularly of the potato famine. Kelly is extremely knowledgeable about the topic of which she writes which makes for a credible and intriguing novel!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Book Review: The Makedown

When Anna Norton hit the age of ten, she went from average into a "steep descent into ugly." (p.3) She developed cystic acne, unruly eyebrows, greasy hair, and gained a lot of weight. This wreaked havoc on her self-esteem and thus her existence was not pleasant. She makes a move from Ohio to New York and aided by the guidance of her "Fairy Godmother" and employer she makes a remarkable transformation and snags herself a handsome boyfriend. This is where the Makedown part enters the picture. The word "makedown" is defined as " the lessening of external beauty and innate confidence as a means of leveling the playing field." Anna wants to try to change her boyfriend Ben from hot into not-so-hot to make the other women who are vying after him to go away. Is it worth it?

I really enjoyed the author Gitty Daneshvari's writing style. My favorite parts of the book were the descriptive passages in the beginning before Anna begins her 180 degree makeover. Everything is so detailed that I can vividly picture all of the situations in my mind.

"The Makedown" is a very fast and light read. It is absolutely hilarious! The story line is fun and unique and it is hard not to want to finish the book in one sitting. Daneshvari is a very talented author and I look forward to reading more of her work in the future.

Book Review: Wisconsin Dells- A Comprehensive Guide to Waterparks, Resorts, Tours, and More

When I was asked to review "Wisconsin Dells- A Comprehensive Guide to Waterparks, Resorts, Tours, and More" I was excited because I have visited the Dells with my family at least once a year since I was very young. Now that I have my own children I have continued the once a year tradition. Whereas, my family and I visited in the summer, I have taken my children in the off-season winter months as they are young and it is a lot less crowded. The indoor waterparks are great and the resorts have a lot of fun activities for the young ones.

Vanderwilt's book begins with a history of the area and general facts about the Dells such as how to get there and the average temperatures for each month. He continues on to talk about the tours available, the waterparks, the different types of accomodations, attractions, and restaurants. I have been to almost all of the attractions listed in the book and think that the author does a wonderful job summing them up and providing the pertinent information.

One thing that I would have liked to see, and think that readers would have found helpful would have been some type of rating system. While we usually stay at one of the bigger resorts such as the Kalahari (which I would give 5 stars on a 1-5 scale with 5 being excellent), we unfortunately chose last time to stay at one of the smaller "waterpark resorts" and had a terrible experience. This smaller resort is listed in the book with an adequate description of the property but a star rating system would provide a more "real" description.

Overall though, this book would be helpful to those visiting the Dells for the first time or those who have visited but want to get the full Dells experience. Vanderwilt does an excellent job compiling everything into an easy-to-refer to guidebook!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Dinosaur Cookies

My 4 year old is "Star of the Week" at preschool this week and along with that comes the duty of bringing a treat on Friday. Since they are studying dinosaurs this week and since my son loves dinosaurs, we decided on making dinosaur cookies. Apparently they do not sell just a single dinosaur cookie cutter anywhere in town so I am now the owner of a 101 piece cookie cutter set (was only 9.99 so that isn't too bad!).

I just used my Christmas cutout cookie recipe and here is how they turned out - my 4 year old is the one who decorated them. :)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Book Review- The Little Giant of Aberdeen County

The Little Giant of Aberdeen County” by Tiffany Baker focuses on the life of Truly Plaice who lives in the town of Aberdeen. When Truly’s mother was pregnant with her they knew that the baby was going to be on the rather large side. Bets were made as to just how large this boy was going to be. Unfortunately, Truly’s mother died during childbirth. While Truly was gigantic just as predicted, she was a girl, and not a boy, much to the town’s surprise.

As a young child there were no clothes to fit Truly so her father used one of his old shirts. Truly and her older sister, Serena Jane, could not have been more different. Serena Jane was dainty, blonde, and just seen as the ideal little girl. Once their father died, the sisters were placed into different homes, which further perpetuated the stereotypes that they had been cast as.

I enjoyed reading about Truly’s life in Aberdeen County and found the book to be very well written, especially considering that it is the author’s first novel. The only thing that was missing for me was an adequate description of just how huge she was. For instance, there were all of the bets as to how big she would be when born, but the actual weight was never revealed. Also, when she was sent to the doctor as a child, the same thing, the doctor said she was large, but once again, there was no number given. Towards the end there is a weight mentioned, but I found myself wanting to know at various stages throughout the book as well.

As I was reading the book I kept thinking that this book reminds of the type of book that would be named as an Oprah’s Book Club selection. All of the characters in the book are very well developed and most of all, they are interesting. You will find yourself really wanting to read more to find out further details about them. Truly’s life is anything but easy and definitely made for a good read. I really enjoyed “The Little Giant of Aberdeen County” and look forward to reading more novels from Tiffany Baker in the future.

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