A Cedar Cove Christmas by Debbie Macomber

Posted by on Dec 31, 2008 in 2008, 3 stars, Book Review, Debbie Macomber | 6 comments

Series: related to the Cedar Cove series
Genre: Fiction
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 280
Challenges: None

Debbie Macomber releases a Christmas book every year. This year it’s related to, but not technically part of her Cedar Cove series. 8 Sandpiper Way ends just before Christmas and this book picks up right where that one left off.

It’s a fun retelling of the Nativity story in Cedar Cove. Mary Jo Wyse is very pregnant and looking to get in touch with her baby’s father, David Rhodes. David told her he’d be spending Christmas in Cedar Cove with his parents. Readers of the series will know that David is certainly not a man to be trusted, but when Mary Jo shows up in town on Christmas Eve, she manages to meet up with the kinder residents of town.

Mary learns that David is not in town (no big surprise) but it’s too late to get back home to Seattle and there’s not a hotel room to be had. With ‘no room at the inn’, Mary Jo finds herself staying in the apartment over Cliff and Grace Harding’s barn. Downstairs in the stalls are the animals that the Hardings are housing temporarily for the town’s live Nativity scene, including a camel and a donkey.

The story is rounded out with Mary’s three brothers (the 3 Wyse Men) driving to Cedar Cove to find Mary and of course, Mary goes into labor on Christmas Eve.

Fun to read during my holiday vacation and I managed to finish it up late on New Year’s Eve for my last book of 2008.

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Audiobook – The Diana Chronicles by Tina Brown

Posted by on Dec 30, 2008 in 2008, Audio, Book Review | 2 comments

Genre: Biography
Publication Date: 2007
Read by: Rosalyn Landor

I wasn’t sure whether or not I’d finish this one before the end of the year or not. At 17 cds it’s a lengthy one. I’ve never been a big tabloid reader or royal watcher and frankly after Princess Diana’s death I kind of avoided all the books and tell all’s that showed up in the first couple of years.

Tina Brown is the former editor in chief of Tatler (a gossip magazine), and has gone on from there to Vanity Fair and The New Yorker. She did know Diana, but it’s pretty unclear from the book how close they were. This book came out 10 years after Diana’s death and has the advantage of hindsight and (hopefully) a bit of perspective.

Parts of this book were quite interesting. I did learn things I didn’t know, along with a lot of rehash of well known information. It feels a lot like a very extended magazine article. Part of the time Diana is portrayed as an innocent among the lions and part of the time she seems to come across as a savvy media manipulator. Perhaps that’s the thing that makes people want to continue to read about her. She really does seem to have been a woman of striking contrasts. Part spoiled petulant child, part a woman who wanted to create her own place in the world.

All in all, it was OK, nothing earth shattering in its revelations, but it made for interesting listening in small increments over the last two months.

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8 Sandpiper Way by Debbie Macomber

Posted by on Dec 29, 2008 in 2008, 3 stars, Book Review, Debbie Macomber | 5 comments

Series: #8 in the Cedar Cove Series
Genre: Fiction
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 371
Challenges: None

This series is great for when I need something light and enjoyable. By this point in the series the residents of Cedar Cove are like old friends and neighbors. It’s like sitting down for coffee with a couple of friends and catching up on what’s been happening lately.

As always some of the established characters continue their storylines and the reader gets to know previously minor characters better as well as meeting some new folks. Cedar Cove is a pretty small town so there’s lots of interaction between well known and newly introduced characters.

Just enjoyable and perfect for a busy time of year.

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Payment in Blood by Elizabeth George

Posted by on Dec 22, 2008 in 2008, 2nds, 4 stars, Book Review, Elizabeth George | 6 comments

Series: #2 in the Inspector Lynley series
Genre: Mystery
Publication Date: 1989
Pages: 413
Challenges:
2nds Challenge #4

For some reason I’m a latecomer to this series, but I’m so glad I finally started after hearing for years that it was a great series.

In this second book, Inspector Lynley and his partner Barbara Havers are sent to Scotland to investigate a murder. No one seems to know why Scotland Yard has been called in when the local police didn’t ask for help. Playwright Joy Sinclair is found dead at a secluded estate where all of the guests have known each other for years. The reason for her death is unknown as well as the identity of the murderer. Surprisingly, one of the guests (and therefore one of the suspects) is Lynley’s longtime friend (and love?), Lady Helen Clyde.

The interconnected cast of suspects makes for a mystery with lots of twists and turns. I changed my mind several times about who I thought was the murderer. Also interconnected are the recurring characters and the gradual revealing of their pasts and the evolving of their present relationships keep this series about much more than the current murder case.

As I said, I’m a latecomer to this series, but I’ll definitely be working on catching up. I really enjoyed this one.

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Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

Posted by on Dec 15, 2008 in 2008, 4 stars, A to Z, Book Review, Jodi Picoult | 11 comments

Genre: Fiction
Publication Date: 2007
Pages: 455
Challenges:
A-Z Reading #52 (N Title)

Jodi Picoult tends to take on emotional and difficult subjects. This time around it’s school shootings. As usual, she presents multiple sides of the story and leaves me thinking.

In Nineteen Minutes there is less of the story of the actual shooting incident and more of what took place both before and afterwards. The small town of Sterling, New Hampshire is shocked by the shootings at the local high school. In the aftermath, the parents of the shooter are trying to come to terms with what has happened and their child’s part in it. The daughter of the judge hearing the case was not shot, but was at the school and a friend of many of the victims. As a child she’d been friends with the shooter. Lives that were intertwined in the past become that way again.

As usual, Picoult presents the story from multiple viewpoints and also from different points in time. What makes a kid do such a thing? Is it ever really explainable? Expectations play a big part in this book. What are we supposed to be and how are we supposed to act? How can you know that you’ve interpreted correctly what you think your parent, child, friend, or teacher expects from you? When is what you’re seeing a mask or act and when is it the real person? Can you ever really know for sure?

I liked that Picoult brought back a couple of characters from previous books in this one. Jordan McAfee is a defense attorney I’d want on my side and it’s good to see Picoult bring him back again.

Typical for Picoult, the ending comes with a twist. I figured there was one on the way, and I’d read some of the hints correctly, but it was still a twist. I can see why some reviews I’ve seen have said “I thought it was good until the ending”, but I didn’t feel that way. I just thought it was good.

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Smoked by Patrick Quinlan

Posted by on Dec 9, 2008 in 2008, 3 stars, A to Z, Book Review | 2 comments

Smoked by Patrick Quinlan
Genre: Fiction/ Suspense
Publication Date: 2006
Pages: 276
Challenges:
A-Z Reading #51 (Q Author)

Admittedly I picked this book because I needed a Q author, but I liked this debut novel enough that I’ll seek out Quinlan’s second book.

Smoke Dugan is a man with a past and it’s a past he’s kept hidden from his much younger girlfriend. Smoke used to build bombs for the mob. Now he’s living in Portland, Maine and his girlfriend thinks he’s a retiree who makes toys for special needs kids. Smoke’s girlfriend, Lola has had a rough life too. She grew up in the projects in Chicago and was brutally raped as a teenager. Since then, she’s studied martial arts and can certainly defend herself. In fact the book opens with a pretty brutal scene involving Lola and a couple of con-men/porn filmmakers.

Before long, Smoke, Lola, those con-men and a couple of mob hit-men are all involved in a round robin chase of each other.

It all sounds like something like a Quentin Tarantino film and that’s exactly how it reads. It’s a fast paced chase/suspense book that has lots of twists along the way. Not all of them are believable, but it’s a fun, quick read. There are some pretty brutal scenes, so if you’re sensitive to that sort of thing you won’t like this.

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