Reading List 2009 discussion

Valerie's 2009 Journey to the End of the Bookshelf

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message 1: by Valerie (new)

Valerie | 12 comments Book #1 - I just completed A Field of Darkness by Cornelia Read. This mystery novel, set in 1988, explores class and cash divisions, comparing life in redneck-like parts of Syracuse with the rarified times spent in the enclaves of the privileged wealthy on The Island. It is about coming face to face with personal snobbery, brutal violence and moral ambiguity. Our heroine, Bunny, handles all of this while juggling a long-distance marriage and filing deadlines for her job at the local rag. Read's dark humor, plot build-up and finely drawn characterizations did not make this book read like a debut novel.

message 2: by Tanya (new)

Tanya (tanyaegangibson) | 1 comments I loved that book, too, when I read it last year! I also enjoyed Read's THE CRAZY SCHOOL.

message 3: by Valerie (new)

Valerie | 12 comments Thanks for the recommendation.

message 4: by Valerie (new)

Valerie | 12 comments Book #2- Every Inch of Her by Peter Sheridan. Two hundred and forty pounds. That's how much our heroine and mother of five, Philo (rhymes with pillow) weighs. But Philo is unapologetic about her size, her love of food and her fierce fight for survival in a down-at-the heels Irish dock town. Wherever she goes, excitement percolates and loads of good feeling follow. After one bout of poor treatment too many from her husband Tommo, Philo decides that she's had enough, and takes matters into her own hands. The drastic lifestyle decisions she makes have a dramatic impact on all of those who know and love her.

message 5: by Valerie (last edited Apr 16, 2009 12:10PM) (new)

Valerie | 12 comments Book # 3 - City of Shadows by Ariana Franklin. Esther S. has become strong. Having managed to remain scarred but alive after the brutal killings of her entire family in a racially motivated WWI pogrom, she settles in the German city of Berlin, using her multilingual skills to work for a White Russian racketeer on the fast track, Prince Nick P. Everything changes when Prince Nick hears of a resident of a nearby mental asylum rumored to be the miraculous survivor of the royal Romanov murders. He becomes her patron and sets up the frail patient in an apartment with a skeptical but long-suffering Esther. A large, shadowy figure of a man seems bent on finishing off that which hadn't been completed in the bloody basement back in Ekaterinburg. Against a backdrop of anti-Semitism, homophobia, the beginnings of Nazism and a German metropolis gripped in the throes of an economic crisis, Franklin weaves a suspenseful tale where lives are lost, love is renewed and Anna Anderson lays claim to the diminished glory of the czars.

message 6: by Valerie (last edited Apr 17, 2009 05:44AM) (new)

Valerie | 12 comments Book #4- Kinky Gazpacho by Lori Tharps. This quick read of a memoir recounts the author's search for identity as an African American woman from the predominantly white suburbs of Milwaukee who became enamored with the world and its cultures. Beginning with Tharps' sense of unease and embarrassment when faced with preparing for a multi-cultural fair in the third grade,(what were the national foods and dress of slaves?), to her subsequent travels to Morocco and Spain as a teen and young adult, the author takes the reader on a journey of discovery and details all of the absurd, humorous, hurtful and romantic aspects of her personal life's adventure that occur along the way.

message 7: by Valerie (last edited Apr 30, 2009 03:13PM) (new)

Valerie | 12 comments Book #5-Damage Control by Goodreads author, Robert Dugoni. A suspenseful novel, primarily set in Seattle's legal world, Damage Control has believable characters involved in not so believable situations. The main character Dana Hill, is faced with a family crisis that morphs into eyebrow-raised fantasy as she seamlessly solves the mystery, gets the man and evades cheek clenching danger. A little more self-doubt and a few more missteps added to Hill's characterization would have made this novel a lot more plausible and ultimately more enjoyable.

message 8: by Valerie (new)

Valerie | 12 comments Book # 6 - The Sister's Grimm by Michael Buckley. Girl power is alive and well in this entertaining page-turner of a detective story told with the all of the fantastic and beloved characters from the world of make-believe. Our cheeky heroines, Sabrina and Daphne Grimm, sent to live with a hereforeto unknown grandmother in Ferryport Landing, New York, discover they are heirs to a fascinating legacy of crime solving. Who's guilty and how will they prove it when their suspects include the likes of Prince Charming, Giant-killer Jack and The Big, Bad Wolf!

message 9: by Valerie (last edited Apr 30, 2009 03:08PM) (new)

Valerie | 12 comments Book #7 -The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz. Madcap hi-jinks aplenty fill the pages of this hilarious, snort-inducing novel. If you can imagine Encyclopedia Brown all grown up and married to Harriet the Spy, having a family and continuing a lifestyle of crime-solving adventures, you would have the premise of this very funny novel.

message 10: by Valerie (last edited May 23, 2009 04:42AM) (new)

Valerie | 12 comments Book #8-Jane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Patillo. I can think of nothing more relaxing than to slipping into a comfy chair with a bit of frothy chick-lit. This novel lived up to my expectations and surprisingly offered a bit more depth as well. Living a life many would envy, Austen scholar Emma Douglas has a wonderful marriage to an attractive and interesting man, is involved in research in an intellectually challenging field, and is financially quite secure. All of her benefits seem to disappear in the blink of an eye, however, when she discovers her husband serving up a lot more than the evening's meal on the kitchen table with his assistant, an assistant who subsequently accuses Emma of plagiarism. Career and marriage in tatters, our heroine takes off to London on a literary wild goose chase, hoping against all odds that redemption and personal validation can be found in a packet of mysterious letters allegedly penned by Miss Austen herself. The discoveries Emma makes change her perception of everything in her life that has come before and everything that comes afterwards.

message 11: by Valerie (last edited May 23, 2009 05:29AM) (new)

Valerie | 12 comments Book #9-How It Happened in Peach Hill by Marthe Jocelyn. Picked up this book off of the bargain table at one of my local bookstores and began reading it to see if it would make the 'to be purchased' cut. Two hours later, I was finishing up what turned out to be quite a good read. Annie lives a fascinating life as the daughter of alleged clairvoyant, Madame Caterina. Moving from town to town following a stint in a traveling circus, mother and daughter are an attractively packaged twosome who manage to get by quite adequately by capitalizing on the hopes, fears, and gullibility of everyday folk. Annie becomes tired of living a life of duplicity and deception, one where she's forced to always look over her shoulder and lie to those for whom she cares. She craves a life where she doesn't have to pretend, where she can settle down into one of respectable normalcy. The question is, will she have the strength to do what she must to break free and begin to live life on her own terms?

message 12: by Valerie (last edited May 23, 2009 05:47AM) (new)

Valerie | 12 comments Book #10-Lemon Curd by Homa Pourasgari. Flat and predictable. Whenever the book strayed away from this losing formula, it lurched uncomfortaby into implausability or descriptions of the mundane. Why would I care about the eye color or attire of some random restaurant waiter when he never appears in the storyline again? Why would a company continue to employ someone who 'misplaced' half a million dollars of revenue? I did not connect with main characters Anna Lisa and Neil at all, largely due to actions that vacillated from those mildly irritating to hugely frustrating throughout. By the time I painfully read my way to the last page , I could have cared less if these two ever managed to stumble into the cliched, happily-ever-after ending. A much tighter editorial hand would have taken care of many of this book's off-putting problems. However, lacking even moderate curiousity, I am disinclined to try this author's next offerings to gauge whether or not her writer's workshop-type issues have been resolved.

message 13: by Valerie (new)

Valerie | 12 comments Book #11- The Fiction Class by Susan Breen.
Maybe it's where I am in life that made the words in this book resonate so much with me. Loss, suffering, humor and an unexpected romance with clean prose and clear descriptions made for an emotional yet enjoyable read.

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