Category Archives: Books

Books I Read in May

Here are the books I finished in the month of May 2008.

There’s a legend that explains the rating system below the reviews.

1 Losing It by Valerie Bertinelli ©2008 –☻☻ The likeable Bertinelli spills the beans about her marriage to rocker Eddie Van Halen and her emotional problems with weight gain. This book is like candy, quickly consumed but with no lasting benefit.

2 The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby – ©1997 ☻☻☻☻☻ Non-fiction. The author, who suffered from “locked-in syndrome” after a stroke, died two days after this book was published. Having no use of any part of his body except his left eyelid, this short memoir of his inner life was written with the physical help of another person. The author was shown letters and painstakingly blinked for each letter he wanted to use in each word, sentence, and paragraph.

3 The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls – ©2005 ☻☻☻☻☻ Non-fiction, memoir. Hair-raising tale of free-spirited couple who choose to live in poverty. The trouble is their 4 children must live through it with them. The author is one of those kids.

4 The Beautiful Miscellaneous by Dominic Smith – ©2007 ☻☻☻The son of a physicist tries to live up to his father’s dreams for him. After an accident injuring his brain, he becomes endowed with savant abilities which he attempts to impress Dad with.

5 Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography by Andrew Morton – ©2008☻☻☻☻We all know there are two sides to every story. But if even half of what the author says is true, Tom is not the nice guy you might think he is. Kind of scary, actually.

6 The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards – ©2005 ☻☻☻☻ Due to a harsh blizzard, an orthopedic surgeon is forced to deliver his child, which actually are twins (they couldn’t detect twins in advance in the 1960’s?). One twin has Down’s Syndrome and the doctor tells his anesthetized wife later that the second baby died. He gives the baby to his nurse and asks her to institutionalize it. But the nurse decides to adopt the baby instead. How will the doctor live with his betrayal? What kind of life will the child have?

7 Mutant Message Down Under by Marlo Morgan – © 1991☻☻☻☻☻White woman goes on walkabout with an Aborigine tribe across the Outback. She not only learns lessons about survival in this harsh land, but about teamwork, taming the ego, and realizing everything is one with everything else. Fascinating read. Author actually lived through this situation.

8 Driving with Dead People by Monica Holloway – ©2007 ☻☻ Non-fiction, memoir. The author writes about her cruel father, selfish mother, child abuse, and how a friendship with a mortician’s family helps her through it. A little too much animal abuse at the beginning for me. Not particularly recommended.

9 Snow in August by Pete Hamill – ©1997 ☻☻☻☻ Set in 1946, this novel revolves around a young boy of Irish descent in Brooklyn and how his developing ethics are shaped by neighbors and a rabbi. I didn’t really care for the ending which suddenly turned the book into a science fiction story, but I understand why the author used this device. Still…a real-life resolution would have been better.

10 Secrets of a Fire King by Kim Edwards – ©1997 ☻☻ Collection of short stories. I used this book as something to read while waiting for sleeping pills to kick in, because I knew I’d have temporary amnesia (side effect of sleeping pills) while reading it. I do remember not being impressed by these stories as the author uses way too much descriptive language for my taste. Perhaps I should have flushed the sleeping pill and just tried to read this, it would probably have had the same effect.

LEGEND:

☻☻☻☻☻ Excellent. I highly recommend this book. Wonderfully plotted or chockful of insights.

☻☻☻☻ Very good. May have minor aspects of style or plot that prevented it from getting 5 smileys.

☻☻☻ Flawed, but of some entertainment or thought-provoking value.

☻☻ Read this book if you are stranded on a desert island and have nothing else handy to read.

Don’t bother, it’s a waste of time. A suggested use is to light the fire for cooking your fish on the desert island.

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Books I Read in April

Now we’re up to April. Here are the reviews for the books I finished in April of this year.

There’s a legend that explains the rating system below the reviews.

1 The Sunday Philosophy Club by Alexander McCall Smith – ©2004 –☻☻ Disappointing mystery by one of my favorite authors. Scottish-American philosopher Isabel Dalhousie prides herself on her ethics. With this “tool” she attempts to uncover the mysterious circumstances of a man falling to his death from the top floor of an opera house. Not really a bad book, but I just didn’t like the heroine at all.

2 Living With Joy by Sanaya Roman ©1986 –☻☻☻☻ Spiritual concepts and how to apply them to your life.

3 Lost Horizon by James Hilton ©1933 –☻☻☻☻ A book I have tried to read for years, but the first few chapters always bored me to tears and I had given up. But the story of plane crash survivors who are taken in by the mystical residents of Shang-ri-la was just calling me to finish it. I finally did, and found that I liked the philosophies that emerge from the story, even if the language it’s written is a little stilted for me. I consider reading this book my literary accomplishment of the year.

4 The Other End of Time by Frederick Pohl ©1996 –☻☻☻Alien machinery found on an abandoned space station causes anxiety, and rightfully so, for the citizens of Earth.

5 The Siege of Eternity by Frederick Pohl ©1997 –☻☻☻Sequel to the novel described above – Earth becomes the focus of a galactic conflict between warring factions of alien races.

6 The Far Shore of Time by Frederick Pohl ©1996- ☻☻☻ The battle for Earth continues; alien agendas come to light.

7 Body Surfing by Anita Shreeve ©2007 ☻☻☻☻Math tutor becomes embroiled in the family drama of an affluent family, whom she lives with in a beach house for one summer.

LEGEND:

☻☻☻☻☻ Excellent. I highly recommend this book. Wonderfully plotted or chockful of insights.

☻☻☻☻ Very good. May have minor aspects of style or plot that prevented it from getting 5 smileys.

☻☻☻ Flawed, but of some entertainment or thought-provoking value.

☻☻ Read this book if you are stranded on a desert island and have nothing else handy to read.

Don’t bother, it’s a waste of time. A suggested use is to light the fire for cooking your fish on the desert island.

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Books Read in 2008, Part Two

Here are the books I have read so far in 2008, part two. There are too many to present in one post, so I’m breaking them up a bit. Sorry my reviews aren’t as detailed as usual, but I figured no one would read this post if it became that long!!

There’s a legend that explains the rating system below the reviews.

21 Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez ©2007 –☻☻☻☻☻ Non-fiction. American beautician relocates to Afghanistan to help locals women open a salon. Deals with all kinds of cultural issues, including mainly those of gender and the struggles (and sense of humor) of Afghani women.

22 & 23 Chasing Eden and Beyond Eden by S.L. Linnea ©2006 & 7 –☻☻☻☻ American soldier in Iraq becomes involved with a group of advanced humans who inhabit a utopian plane separate from ours.

24 Courageous Souls by Robert Schwartz ©2006 –☻☻☻☻ Non-fiction. Speculations regarding the concept of humans choosing the lessons they want to learn in their lifetimes before birth, thus selecting their basic circumstances in life.

25 The Good Husband of Zebra Drive by Alexander McCall Smith ©2007 –☻☻☻☻☻ 8th installment of my favorite series “The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency” which revolves around a Botswana woman who runs this agency, her family, and the colorful characters encountered in the mysteries she solves. Highly recommended series!

26 The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner ©2008 –☻☻☻☻☻ Non-fiction. Author visits countries who rate highest and lowest on the “Happiness Survey” and writes about his observations of the people and their environments.

27 Temples on the Other Side by Sylvia Browne ©2008 ☻☻☻ “Non-fiction.” Interesting ideas about the afterlife. I guess we’ll all find out how true they are once we get there.

28 Little Chapel on the River by Gwendolyn Bounds ©2005 ☻☻☻☻ Non-fiction. After her home is damaged in 911, a woman and her life partner relocate to Garrison, New York, a small town on the Hudson River. She becomes totally engrossed with the locals, especially those who run a family tavern, and all the colorful characters who hang out at the bar.

29 Do Dead People Watch You Shower? By Concetta Bertoldi ©2008 ☻☻ “Non-fiction.” More speculations on the afterlife. Not my cup of tea.

30 The Mind of the Soul by Gary Zukav ©2003 ☻☻☻☻☻ Non-fiction. As usual, more soul-soothing observations by the mellow and personable Zukav.

LEGEND:

☻☻☻☻☻ Excellent. I highly recommend this book. Wonderfully plotted or chockful of insights.

☻☻☻☻ Very good. May have minor aspects of style or plot that prevented it from getting 5 smileys.

☻☻☻ Flawed, but of some entertainment or thought-provoking value.

☻☻ Read this book if you are stranded on a desert island and have nothing else handy to read.

Don’t bother, it’s a waste of time. A suggested use is to light the fire for cooking your fish on the desert island.

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Books Read in 2008, Part One

I took a long blogging vacation, and therefore have not posted my book reviews in awhile. I’ve been busy reading, so here are the books I have read so far in 2008, part one. There are too many to present in one post, so I’m breaking them up a bit. Sorry my reviews aren’t as detailed as usual, but I figured no one would read this post if it became that long!!

There’s a legend that explains the rating system below the reviews.

1 The Deadliest Strain by Jan Coffey ©2008 –☻☻☻ A supermicrobe is found to be the cause of sudden, unexplained deaths—marked by rapid decomposition— which are cropping up across the U.S.

2 The Girls by Lori Lansens ©2005 –☻☻☻☻☻ Touching fiction about Siamese twin sisters and their struggles and triumphs. Wonderful!

3 This Book Will Save Your Life by A.M. Homes ©2006 –☻☻☻☻ Journey from isolation to connection for a Los Angeles dweller.

4 Earthbound by Richard Matheson ©1999 –☻☻☻☻ Couple go on a second honeymoon and find the cottage they are staying in is haunted by the ghost of a dangerous woman.

5 A Border Passage by Leila Ahmed ©1999 –☻☻☻☻ Non-fiction memoir written by an Egyptian woman regarding her youth and formative years in 1940’s and 50’s Cairo and of her eventual immigration to the United States where she is now a Professor of Women’s Studies at Amherst.

6 The Anxiety of Everyday Objects by Aurelie Sheehan ©2004- ☻☻☻ Kind of like“The Devil Wears Prada” in a law firm rather than the fashion industry.

7 Significant Others by Armistead Maupin – ©1987 ☻☻☻☻☻ Part 5 of the “Tales of the City” series, about a diverse group of people living in San Francisco.

8 Dexter in the Dark by Jeff Lindsey ©2007 –☻☻☻☻ Further adventures of Dexter Morgan: blood spatter expert for the police by day and serial killer by night. He only kills other serial killers and abides by a strict internal code. Although a sociopath, he maintains relationships with a foster sister, and a girlfriend and her children.

9 Bel Canto by Ann Patchett – ©2001 ☻☻☻☻☻ I loved this book about hostages and their captors. I have heard others say they don’t like the “Stockholm Syndrome” displayed by the hostages, but I think it’s a tribute to what happens when people try to understand each other’s situations and ease them.

10 What the Bleep Do We Know? by Arntz, Chasse, & Vicente – ©2005 ☻☻☻☻ Non-fiction. How quantum physics and spirituality mesh.

11 The Second Assistant by Clare Naylor & Mimi Hare – ©2004 ☻☻☻ Chick lit about a woman on the bottom rung of the Hollywood ladder and dealing with the whims of the rich.

12 Whitethorn Woods by Maeve Binchy – ©2006 ☻☻☻☻ The townsfolk of the Irish town of Rossmore have differing opinions about a new highway coming through their town because an ancient shrine would have to be destroyed. Many well-described characters that you come to care about.

13 Reunions by Raymond Moody, MD – ©1993 ☻☻☻☻ Non-fiction. Doctor studies death and the afterlife and researches how the living can communicate with the dead.

14 The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie Farrell– © ☻☻ Unlikeable story of family secrets and betrayal. Yawn.

15 Trace Evidence by Elizabeth Becka – ©2005 ☻☻☻☻ Female forensic scientist solves murder cases.

16 What Happened to Henry by Sharon Pywell– ©2004 ☻☻☻☻☻ A weird puppy of a book, but very likeable. Story of strong sibling bonds and how they handle the strange phenomenon that the oldest child is involved in. To say more would ruin it.

17 The Lens of Perception by Hal Zina Bennett – ©2007 ☻☻☻☻ Non-fiction. An analysis of how individuals may experience the same events, but interpret them differently mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, and how these interpretations can affect their lives negatively or positively.

18 Falling by Christopher Pike– ©2007 ☻☻☻☻Kind of like “Silence of the Lambs” – FBI agent solves puzzle of acid-throwing individual who targets women whom he thinks have been unfaithful. Lots of twists and turns.

19 Inspiration: Your Ultimate Calling by Wayne Dyer– ©2006 ☻☻☻☻ Non-fiction. Thinking positively and manifesting what you want.

20 Flesh and Bone by Jefferson Bass – ©2007 ☻☻☻☻ Grisly and grimy details (interesting, however) abound in this fictional novel about forensic scientists and the Body Farm, a real-life facility in Tennessee that studies human decomposition in its various forms and circumstances.

LEGEND:

☻☻☻☻☻ Excellent. I highly recommend this book. Wonderfully plotted or chockful of insights.

☻☻☻☻ Very good. May have minor aspects of style or plot that prevented it from getting 5 smileys.

☻☻☻ Flawed, but of some entertainment or thought-provoking value.

☻☻ Read this book if you are stranded on a desert island and have nothing else handy to read.

Don’t bother, it’s a waste of time. A suggested use is to light the fire for cooking your fish on the desert island.

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December 2007 Reading List

Here are the books I have read for the month of December. There’s a legend that explains the rating system below the reviews. Looks like I hit 86% of my reading goal for the year.

1. Inherited Murder by Lee Martin ©1994 –This is one of my favorite mystery authors. She is known for the interesting twists and red herrings in her stories. This one, however, went on far too long. Plus, I read it last month and already forgot what it was about. ☻☻

 

2. Returning to Earth by Jim Harrison ©2007 – Musings of a dying man as he preserves his life story on paper for his family. ☻☻☻☻☻

 

3. Focus on the Good Stuff by Mike Robbins ©2007 – Everyone should read this book. It deals with appreciating the good things in your life and how appreciating others through praise and action makes life easier and more rewarding. I know, this sounds cliché and boring, but the book has some really useful insights on how people tick. ☻☻☻☻☻

 

4 Sage-ing While Age-ing by Shirley MacLaine ©2007 – Oh Shirley. You are such an open-minded person. I enjoy your takes on spirituality, creation, and other metaphysical issues. However, when you start to go on and on about extraterrestrials, you just lose me. I’m not denying that they exist (in fact I am quite sure we are not the only inhabited planet in the universe (notice I didn’t say “intelligent life”)). But the detail you go into on this topic, including the names of the aliens, etc. was just too much for me. I fought the urge to fall asleep through much of this book. ☻☻☻

 

5 Case Histories by Kate Atkinson ©2004 – My first time reading this British author. This is a wonderful “study” of an investigator who is simultaneously working on several cases at a time. First the crime and the people are introduced, then the narrative jumps back and forth from past to present. But it is very easy to read and follow. ☻☻☻☻☻

 

6 Water Witches by Chris Bohjalian ©1995 – One of my very favorite authors. This one is about a family of dowsers (people with the ability to find underground water with the aid of a tree branch or other stick-like object). Politics, ski lodges, ecology, and family relationships are explored and it’s a real treat if you are a thoughtful reader and enjoy a little metaphysics on the side.☻☻☻☻☻

 

7 I Am Legend by Richard Matheson – Fascinating story about the “last” man on earth after a plague, but I bought the paperback and discovered that only 161 pages of the book were actually “I Am Legend”. The rest of the book was short stories. I read a few of them and found them unexciting. So thumbs-up for the story and thumbs-down for the packaging averages to a 3 smileys rating (the story by itself is actually a 4 smiley).☻☻☻

 

 

LEGEND:

☻☻☻☻☻ Excellent. I highly recommend this book. Wonderfully plotted or chockful of insights.

☻☻☻☻ Very good. May have minor aspects of style or plot that prevented it from getting 5 smileys.

☻☻☻ Flawed, but of some entertainment or thought-provoking value.

☻☻ Read this book if you are stranded on a desert island and have nothing else handy to read.

Don’t bother, it’s a waste of time. A suggested use is to light the fire for cooking your fish on the desert island.

 

 

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I’m Back – November Reading List

(My blogging has kind of lagged lately. My neck has been hurting and computing makes it worse, so I have cut back a little for now. I have fibromyalgia and my computer chair no longer works for me. So please, don’t give up on me!! Until I can get more comfortable, I will be blogging sporadically, but I’ll still be blogging!!)

Anyway, I now present…

Here are the books I have read for the month of November. There’s a legend that explains the rating system below the reviews.

1. How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez ©1991 – I love novels about ethnic families, but this one was to me quite lackluster. It involves the lives of five Dominican girls who come to the US with their parents and how they assimilate into US culture while maintaining ties to their native cultures. ☻☻☻

 

2. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd ©2002 – One of the most absorbing books I have ever read. A young motherless girl in the South runs away from home due to her father’s abuse and her guilt over her mother’s death. She is taken in by a beekeeper who helps her come to terms with her family’s past. ☻☻☻☻☻

 

3. Stir of Echoes by Richard Matheson ©1958,1986 – After a man is hypnotized at a party, he discovers he has gained unusual mental powers. As he struggles to deal with these powers, he learns some uncomfortable truths about his neighbors. ☻☻☻☻☻

 

4 Eleven Hours by Paullina Simons ©1998 – Pregnant woman is kidnapped by psycho. I don’t normally read books like this, but I love everything I’ve ever read by this author, she’s one of my favorites. The book is action-packed and has a satisfying ending. To say anything more would ruin it. ☻☻☻☻☻

 

5 Pretty Birds by Scott Simon ©2005 – Melancholy novel of Sarajevo, starting from normalcy and follows the devolution of the city and the spread of the genocide. The plot revolves around a young girl who is a high school basketball star in Sarajevo and how her life changes after the fighting begins. Makes you wonder how you would hold out in similar circumstances.☻☻☻☻

 

6 Bones of the Moon by Jonathan Carroll ©1987- If you are a fan of the book Alice in Wonderland you’ll like this book. If not, well…it was one of the most ridiculous stories I have ever read. And I like fantasy and sci-fi! Not worth describing, I just want to forget I wasted 4 hours of my life reading it. ☻

 

7 The Android’s Dream by John Scalzi – A bizarre book about a future Earth where aliens from other planets live among us. The plot contains elements of politics, genetics, and comedy. It revolves around the retrieval of a genetic strain of extinct sheep that is required for the coronation ceremony of a certain alien race. Prevention of an interstellar war is at stake. Yes, it’s definitely weird. ☻☻☻

 

8 Life After Life by Richard Moody, MD, PhD ©1975 – Very exciting study of life after death. This is the research from which the ideas of white lights and tunnels seen after death came from. ☻☻☻☻☻

 

 

LEGEND:

☻☻☻☻☻ Excellent. I highly recommend this book. Wonderfully plotted or chockful of insights.

☻☻☻☻ Very good. May have minor aspects of style or plot that prevented it from getting 5 smileys.

☻☻☻ Flawed, but of some entertainment or thought-provoking value.

☻☻ Read this book if you are stranded on a desert island and have nothing else handy to read.

Don’t bother, it’s a waste of time. A suggested use is to light the fire for cooking your fish on the desert island.

 

 

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October 2007 Reading List

So, here are the books I have read for the month of October. Not a single lemon in the bunch. There’s a legend that explains the rating system below the reviews.

1. Nightwatch by Sergei Lukyanenko ©2006 – A horror novel from Russia. In this tale, there exist two supernatural groups who keep the world in balance: the Nightwatch who keep tabs over actions of the Daywatchand vice versa. The Nightwatch represents “good” and the Daywatch “evil”. These two opposing groups police each other; and both contain powerful wizards of different levels. As well as normal reality and humans, the world contains vampires, shapeshifters, and other supernatural creatures who must choose whether they wish to become members of the Daywatch or the Nightwatch. Fascinating premise and thought-provoking themes on what is “good” and what is “evil”.☻☻☻☻

2. Deceit by James Siegel ©2006 – A famous shamed journalist, having been caught embellishing and inventing stories in his work for a major metropolitan newspaper, retreats to a rural area to work on a small town newspaper. As a result, when he discovers wrongdoing, murder, and a cover-up in that small town, no one believes him.☻☻☻☻

 

3. More Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin ©1980 – Volume 2 of 6 of the “Tales of the City” series, which centers around an apartment building on 28 Barbary Lane in San Francisco and its occupants. This time around the friends deal with a big secret held by the landlady, a cruise, an illness, a mysterious cult, and several straight and gay romances. Kind of like a very entertaining soap opera. ☻☻☻☻☻

 

4 Paramedic by Peter Canning ©1997 – A former political speechwriter becomes a paramedic and goes through many trials before and after earning his stripes. Interesting true stories of human situations, but a little too long for my taste. ☻☻☻

 

5 The Mystical Life of Jesus by Sylvia Browne ©2006 –Fact-based study of the life of Jesus mostly gleaned from ancient documents, many of which were deleted or omitted from the Bible. ☻☻☻☻

 

6 The Physician’s Tale by Ann Benson ©2006- A very long novel that follows the lives of two doctors in different eras of time. The first is a modern day doctor dealing with the survivors of a man-made plague that has wiped out most of the world’s population. Paralleling that story is a doctor from the Middle Ages dealing with the Black Plague. ☻☻☻☻

 

7 Further Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin – Volume 3 of 6 of the series. Excellent like all the others. ©1982 – The friends deal with the Jonestown massacre in Guyana, and one character’s romance with a homeless man. ☻☻☻☻☻

 

8 Babycakes by Armistead Maupin ©1984 – The AIDS epidemic begins to encroach on the residents of Barbary Lane; a baby is born; a British man defects from the Queen’s yacht Brittania and trades domiciles with one of the building’s residents. ☻☻☻☻☻

 

 

LEGEND:

☻☻☻☻☻ Excellent. I highly recommend this book. Wonderfully plotted or chockful of insights.

☻☻☻☻ Very good. May have minor aspects of style or plot that prevented it from getting 5 smileys.

☻☻☻ Flawed, but of some entertainment or thought-provoking value.

☻☻ Read this book if you are stranded on a desert island and have nothing else handy to read.

Don’t bother, it’s a waste of time. A suggested use is to light the fire for cooking your fish on the desert island.

 

 

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