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BOOK REVIEWS > Anne (Booklady) Summer 2013 Reviews

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Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson , The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson

1 Star

Far be it for me to criticize the 2013 Pulitzer Prize Winner, so I will limit my criticism to why I did not like the book.

Unlike other GR reviewers, the short passages from the Loudspeaker lauding the Dear Leader did not bother me. In fact I thought they were amusing. What I did not like were the jarring scene jumping without transitions that made sense to me. One example was when Jun Do was on the fishing boat and the nets brought up a great many Nike tennis shoes. The crew scrambled, finding ones that matched. All of a sudden American sailors are scrambling aboard. Huh? Where did they come from?

After the short biography of Pak Jun Do, Do is whisked from the Airport to some kind of medical facility (I thought) only to realize that he's actually in prison mistaken for Sun Moon's husband, Commander Ga. Here, Mr. Johnson uses many POV's to tell Jun Do's story. I found that jarring and very confusing as James Joyce's stream of consciousnesses. I didn't mind that I found the story depressing - some passages were poignant and beautiful. THE ORPHAN MASTER'S SON was not my cup of tea, nothing more nor less; just my humble opinion.

The story shows that to survive in North Korea, a man must be a chameleon to survive and "if the man and the story are in conflict, it is the man who must change." And Pak Jun Do does, starting with giving himself his name from the list of the 114 Grand Martyrs of the Revolution. He is, at the same time, no-one yet everyone. Notice the fact, Jun Do sounds like John Doe.

After the orphanage is devastated, Jun Do is sent to the military where learns zero-light combat in the tunnels below the demilitarized zone and is then sent on an undercover mission to Japan. His team is to kidnap an Opera star. He must do several practice kidnappings that he later lists as Alive and well in North Korea. Jun Do is then sent to language school to learn English and is assigned upon a fishing boat to transcribe radio squeals. After a horrendous event on the boat, the now tattooed Jun Do joins an intelligence team and travels to Texas where he meets a Senator and his physician wife. While there his transformation into Commander Ga begins and thanks to a young CIA officer Jun Do's face is now the "official" face of Kim Jun Il's nemesis and promptly finds himself in a prison labor camp. He must survive and rescue his love - Sun Moon.

"There’s no way around it: to get a new life, you’ve got to trade in your old one."

Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments Rogue Island by Bruce DeSilva , Rogue Island by *Bruce DeSilva

4 Stars

People are dying as many buildings in the Mount Hope area of Providence go up in flames. An arsonist is on the loose. People are terrified. The Arson Squad (dubbed, Dumb and Dumber) are both incompetent and ill equipped to stop the fatal fires. Investigative Reporter Liam Mulligan’s anger has reached its fevered pitch. It’s personal now. Mount Hope is where he grew up and he doesn’t like the fact that a firebug is reducing his childhood to ashes. No more is he just covering the story: he interjects himself into it along with his best buddy, Rosie who happens to the Fire Captain and Gloria who roams Mount Hope dark streets with her camera hoping to get the arsonist on film, And for all three, nothing will ever be the same. The arsonist makes sure of that fact. After all, he has killed before.

Former reporter, Bruce DeSilva, first novel is truly worthy of his 2011 Edgar Award for Best First Novel win. He has indeed made the late Evan Hunter (aka. Ed McBain) proud. He has created a wonderfully tenacious and complex protagonist that readers are immediately drawn to. His soon to be ex-wife provides comic relief needed in this tale. Mulligan is fully fleshed out as are the descriptions of the fictional Mount Hope. Rosie, the Amazon Fire Captain, can go weak in the knees for a certain man while warring with the fires. We feel Gloria’s vulnerability as she walks the cold streets of Mount Hope in search of the man or woman terrorizing the neighborhood while pining over a man who doesn’t love her. Only a seasoned reporter can deliver that depth of character and detail. Reporters are close observers; they have to be to put his readers in the scene of his stories. No detail is too small.

The only negative about this fine novel is the constant snipes about the Catholic Church. I get it: many authors don’t like and understand my Faith, but enough is enough.

message 3: by Anne (Booklady) (last edited Jun 16, 2013 09:21AM) (new)

Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments Burnt Mountain by Anne Rivers Siddons , Burnt Mountain by Anne Rivers Siddons

2 Stars - Overall

3 Stars for Storyline
1 Star for Execution


Thayer Wentworth has inherited her Grandmother's fiery red hair and amber hair as well as her spirit. She is a wild child. She loves the woods behind their house and listening to her father's magical stories until Burnt Mountain turned her world upside down. She is angry and acts out to the point that her mother squirrels her away into a small private boarding school, but her Grand gives her the gift of summer camp in North Carolina. It is here that she finds refuge and her first love and heartache.

Reeling from the tragic events of her last summer at Camp Sherwood Forest, Thayer finds security within The Domain, a small college in the Tennessee foothills. Here she meets Aengus O'Neill, a black Irish professor who teaches Celtic Mythology. He has brought magic back into her life and they marry under a tree with a witch officiating. On their honeymoon, her wonderful Grand unexpectedly dies leaving a devestanted Thayer a house in Atlanta only miles from Camp Edgewood and Burnt Mountain. Here in her beautiful home the magic begins to leave her life and Thayer must come face to face with dark secrets -her beautiful distant mother, her first love, and most disturbingly that of her husband. In the shadow of Burnt Mountain, will it yet again destroy Thayer?

Execution of Storyline

The timeline was cofusing. Harry Potter came out later than 1996 and the first movie was shown after the Millennium. Cell phones then were not as sleek and small as they are now nor did every child have one. SUVs were not all the rage either. No one can write a book in 3 months. Were Thayer's parents married in the 50's as I thought or the 60's?
(view spoiler)

It is implied Thayer and Aengus have been married for a few years when in fact the timeline says the O'Neills were in fact their first year of marriage.

Where was that wonderful character development that appears in EVERY Anne Rivers Siddons novel? I disliked Thayer toward the end, because I didn't know her and her constant sniffling got on my last nerve. (view spoiler) The only "real" character in the book was Grand.

And where were the beautiful country desriptions I so love from this author? Gone is the writer that gave me hours of pleasure reading Low Country, Colony (my favorite ARS novel), and Downtown just to mention a few.

I will have to think about reading Rivers Siddons again. If I do, the book will come from the library. Hopefully, Burnt Mountain is an aberration and not the new normal for this wonderful writer I so admire.

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Chris (chrismd) | 882 comments Peachtree Road is one of my all-time favorite books, but I've never been able to like any of her other stories. Always wondered what it was about that one that so captivated me. (20+ years later I still remember almost the whole thing.) It looks there are a LOT of similarities between the plots of Burnt Mountain and Peachtree Road.

message 5: by Anne (Booklady) (last edited Jun 17, 2013 12:47PM) (new)

Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments Folly Beach (Lowcountry Tales, #8) by Dorothea Benton Frank , Folly Beach by *Dorothea Benton Frank

5 Stars

I loved this novel! After finishing it late last night, I dreamt of glistening beaches, sand dollar ornaments, mango sunsets, collards and grits. Yes, Dorthea Benton Frank’s descriptions are that good. Not only did she weave a marvelous tale, she brings Folly Beach to life with all its sights, smells, tastes, storms, and traditions so alive. I was there with Cate, Daisy, Ella, Dorothy and DuBose. Perhaps too, is the fact that I really miss THE South? There is some kind of magic in the TRUE South and I didn’t know how much I loved and missed it. Guys, Florida ain’t the South; trust me on this one.

I loved the writing technique that Benton Frank used to tell Dorothy Heyward and Cate Cooper’s stories. One told in a play while the other is told in the first person is fitting since one was a celebrated playwright and the other is newly widowed facing an uncertain future after learning she is completely bankrupt, both financially and emotionally. That sumbich was truly a low down dawg (as we say in the South). With nothing but some clothes, Cate Cooper leaves Alpine, NJ to go back home to start over. The Low Country to her is what Tara is to Scarlett O’Hara. But in middle age, can Cate really start living the life that her Aunts Daisy and Ella envision for her as they ensconce Cate into the Porgy House? Can she truly make her on way back to the young woman she use to be? With the help of her elderly aunts, her new friend Rilsley, and the late Dorothy Heyward, Cate Cooper may prove Thomas Wolff wrong: you really can go home again, finding her own voice and pure love.

message 6: by Anne (Booklady) (last edited Jun 18, 2013 08:34PM) (new)

Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments You Belong To Me by Mary Higgins Clark , You Belong To Me by Mary Higgins Clark

3.5 Stars

You Belong To Me is a nice, fast read for avid mystery readers stuck in the house on a rainy day. Higgins Clark uses short chapters and a boat load of characters to advance the story which is fitting since a serial killer is preying upon lonely women on cruise liners.

Psychologist Dr. Susan Chandler has a successful call in radio show as well a private practice. She still has the instinct of a District Attorney and will need it as she explores the disappearance of Regina Clausen. Clausen disappeared three years prior off the cruise liner Gabriella. She had been seen getting off the ship, but never made it back. Dr. Chandler is surprised that her guest hadn't included the CNBC Money Analyst in his book, Vanished Women. Could Dr. Donald Richards be hiding something?

Her suspicions grow when a frighten woman calls in with some information about Regina has an "accident" soon after. A witness to the accident is soon found murdered. The killer is tying up loose ends, or as he says "gathering the loose feathers." He is close to completing his mission and no one, including Susan Chandler is going to compromise it. He knows who his next lonely lady is and soon she will belong to him as did the others.

The suspense level quickly mounts in the novel as Susan investigates Clausen's disappearance and "Karen's" accident. With each discovery soon comes the realization that the killer is very close to her. Can she stop him before she becomes one of his feathers in the wind?

Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments Evil at Heart (Gretchen Lowell #3) by Chelsea Cain , Evil at Heart by Chelsea Cain

3 Stars

This third installment of Chelsea Cain's Gretchen Lowell Beauty Killer series has Archie Sheridan safely ensconced in a hospital psych ward. His latest injury from the infamous Beauty Killer has healed and he's off Oxcy. He can leave the ward any time, but chooses not to, even refusing to see Herald reporter, Susan Ward, who saved his life. But a gruesome discovery a rest stop changes everything: he no longer feels safe. Gretchen Lowell is back. She has broken her promise to him; she is killing again.

More bodies are found at old Beauty Killer crime scenes and a horrific incident at the hospital finally forces Archie back on the hunt for Lowell. A Beauty Killer Fan Club members soon inject themselves in the chase, tying them to a murder of a child attributed to Gretchen herself - one that the beautiful serial killer has always denied committing. Archie isn't buying it. He and Susan, along with the the Beauty Killer task force, headed by Henry Sobol, rush to find Gretchen before the other sole survivor of her murderous rampage can be harmed.

For me, Evil at Heart wasn't nearly as good as the prior two novels. It took me 80 pages before I became interested in the story. I'm tired of Archie's obsession over a murderer - he's a wuss. But the last third of the novel really picks up and finally the suspense mounts. Archie finally grows some cojones as the hold Gretchen has over him weakens a little.

It was great to see Henry, Claire, and Susan have more dominate roles in Evil at Heart and I'm hoping that trend continues. I'm interested in how Cain advances the series. Every series has a weaker novel, and I sincerely hope this one was hers.

Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments Cat & Mouse (Alex Cross #4) by James Patterson , Cat & Mouse by *James Patterson

4.5 Stars

I took the opportunity of a task in the Summer 2013 Seasonal Reading Challenge to revisit James Patterson. I chose an older novel and I'm glad that I did. Cat & Mouse reminded of just why I sought out Patterson's books. Jack & Jill, I believe was my introduction to him. The staccato style chapters that quickly moved the story-line and slightly elevates the suspense. An author, using nursery rhymes as titles? A black protagonist and a widower with two titles: Policeman and Psychologist? Wonderful!!!! I was hooked until he began to partner with everyone under the sun, rolling out formulaic plots that were God awful. James Patterson's name was on every other book released, so it seemed to me. But Cat & Mouse is pure vintage James Patterson and I loved it!

Gary Soneji (Along Came a Spider - haven't read, but will) is back with a vengeance. He is coming from the cellar as a VERY BAD BOY and wants revenge on everyone who sent him to prison, but mostly on Alex Cross. He knows this is last hurrah and wants to go out in grandeur as Charles Whitman did. The train tunnels are his cellars now and he is full of rage. The killing begins in D.C.'s Union Station. Soneji is looking using the gun bar, deciding who is to live and who will die on this day. Alex and John Sampson find the sniper's lair and wonder what Gary's plan is. Can they stop him before he kills again? Soneji promises to kill Cross, even if it is from the grave.

While the spider is spinning his horrific web, another serial killer is working across the European continent. His first few kills had been in America. This not so new killer has eluded Interpol and the FBI for 4 years. Cross's buddy, Kyle, wants the Doctor's help. The FBI profiler, Pierce, may have missed something on Mr. Smith. Cross declines as the "alien" Smith takes his next victim. The elusive Mr. Smith has left his chasers many clues, but they don't understand. The names of his victims are important.

After a horrific incident at the Cross home, the cases become intertwined. It is time to play Cat and Mouse.

Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments The Haj by Leon Uris , The Haj by Leon Uris

5 Stars

The Haj isn't for the faint of heart. It is very depressing and startling. Uris takes the reader back to Palestine in the the early to mid 20th Century. Exodus gave us the Jewish perspective while The Haj presents the Arab perspective. Uris covered 25,000 miles in the Palestine area and conducted over 1500 interviews researching his breakout masterpiece.While his trip was funded by a PR firm and Uris' religion is Judaism, I see no overt bias in either novel. The Haj seems to be biased, because Arab life and Islam is portrayed harshly. But the character, Gideon Asch, reminds the fictional Ben Gurion that his ways were not that of a Jew.

The Haj in the novel is not the trek to Mecca that every Moslem male must make in his life-time, but the story of a village muktar that is in a strategic place on a highway leading to Jerusalem. His village is next to a Jewish kibbutz. He watches his hated enemy drain the swamp and bring the land back to life. He starts questioning everything he's been taught. He shares his soul with Gideon Asch -a Jew! A life long friendship begins. Their friendship is strained and broken at times, but Haj Ibrahim realizes late in the book, that Gideon is the only person he trusts and is is only true friend. An Infidel! All of his life he has been taught to hate the Jew, adhere to the Koran, obey his leaders with a blind faith, and that life on Earth is not to be enjoyed.

But his Arab leaders are only after power and wealth. They use and depend upon their illiterate followers to follow the strict interpretations of Mohammed's teachings in the Koran. The Arab society is built on the caste system, hopelessness, and illiteracy. Knowledge is power and if you are ignorant, a man can be persuaded by his leaders to do anything in the name of Allah.

The novel also tells the story of the Haj Ibrahim's son, Ishmael. And his story is told in the 1st Person. His story is also stark and harsh, leading to a madness that seems a perfect way to end the novel. In his story we learn of the treatment of women, honor of the family, and questioning beliefs. While the women are treated as chattel, Ismael's mother is very clever. Clever as fox. She manipulates Ibrahim and Ishmael like a violin. But the ultimate story is that the madness in the Middle East, especially the Palestinian area will continue with no end in sight.

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Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments Undone (Will Trent #3) by Karin Slaughter , Undone by *Karin Slaughter

5 Stars

It's not often that I give a Thriller 5 Stars. That rating is usually reserved for Classics or very good literary fiction, much less to a book that I had abandoned almost two years ago. I can't remember why I chose not to read Undone; perhaps it was that I haven't read Karin Slaughter's Grant County Series save Blindsighted. Then I heard that Ms. Slaughter killed off THE one character I really liked in Blindsighted. I knew she had introduced new characters by creating the Will Trent Series,/a>, so I read Fractured and I really enjoyed that novel. So I thought it was time to revisit Will Trent and Faith Mitchell. I had no idea that Sara Lipton from her Grant County Series would also appear quite predominately, but I'm glad she did. I like her a whole lot better now than I a few years back.

"She's just come undone," her mother had said.And it was true. Sara Linton was shattered to the very core of who she is/was when her husband, Grant County Police Jeffrey Tolliver was killed. Now 3 1/2 years later, Sara has a semblance of a life, working non-stop in Grady Memorial Hospital ER. On the exam table is Faith Mitchell. She had fainted in the Courthouse parking lot. Will Trent is standing anxiously staring at his partner, twisting his wedding ring. (Now why can't Slaughter kill off, Angie Polanski? I hate that witch.) Faith has been keeping a secret from Will. But so has he -Angie left him as quickly as she had married him. Faith examination is interrupted as the EMT's bring in a victim that stepped in front of an elderly couple's car. She also shows signs of dehydration, starvation, and rape. And most cruelly that Sara sees that she has been blinded - pitecia (sp?) in eyes are actually pinholes where her abductor stuck needles in her eyes. Will and Faith immediately go into cop mode as they hear the woman say her name.

The two GBI Agents want the case and Will is convinced that another woman is out there near the accident scene. They go missing in two's. Jurisdiction and personal grudges against Amanda Walker and the GBI are just beginning and before the case ends bridges will have been burnt. "Anna" has awakened something in Dr. Sara Linton and she wriggles her way into the case as well as Will Trent's thoughts. Faith doesn't like these two facts at all and shows it in her immediate 360 hostility toward Sara. Amanda is firm. Sara Linton will consult on the case. She is the attending physician of their victim as well as a coroner in her old life. They will need all of help to solve this case, especially since two more women have gone missing. It won't be easy; cases like these never are. Besides the difficult stranger abduction element is the cold fact that nobody really will be missing the women. They are horrible people. But "Anna" is different, Linton, Trent, and Mitchell think. Right?

The novel spans just barely a week, so the action and storyline moves very quickly. Slaughter mixes all 3 characters together with the ease of a mixologist. We readers learn more of Will and Faith's personal lives and Sara's is laid out also. I loved the fact that she carries the frayed and battered envelope containing the letter from the person she personally holds responsible for her husband's murder as a talisman. Both Will and Faith do unexpected things totally out of their character. But the unexpected enhances the characters that I have come to enjoy so much. Now I can't decide whether to read the next installment in this series, Broken or start at the beginning with Triptych. I'm sure either one will keep me up late reading until my eyes are bleary as did this novel.

message 11: by Anne (Booklady) (new)

Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments Exit Strategy (Katerina Carter Fraud Thriller, #1) by Colleen Cross , Exit Strategy by *Colleen Cross

4 Stars

Goodreads Author, Colleen Cross introduces readers to a wonderful new protagonist, Katerina Carter. The forensic account slightly reminds me of Kinsey Millhone. Kat is broke, living in her office, and her ex-boyfriend is in her life more than she wants him to be. She finally has a case. Liberty Diamond Mines’ CFO has disappeared along with $5 Billion dollars. She stumbles on a diamond laundering scheme at one of Liberty’s mines, before a major stock holder is murdered and a former geologist refuses to speak to her again. Kat suspects the recent murders and the threatening note found with her dead cat: Dead Kat are connected. The evidence of the theft is too easily traced to Paul Bryant and the over production of diamonds the company has reported. But when Kat becomes a suspect in one of Liberty’s insiders, she must face the reality that her theory of conflict diamonds being laundered by her employer may be right on the money.

Firing her is one thing, but being set up for murder or worse is not an option. She has to find the money. The money will lead Kat Carter to the killer/thief and will answer the why. But can she? And who can she trust? Kat doesn’t have much time to solve a case that she’s not being paid to work on. The Liberty Diamond Mines Board meets in a few days and is moving closer to Kat.

The action and plotting are quick and suspenseful. The writing is wonderful minus the product placement that I abhor in my books and movies. The characters are great and provide comical relief that is interwoven into the storyline. Readers will especially enjoy Uncle Harry, Aunt Elsie, and Verna. Ms. Cross’ freshman novel is worth reading and I have already purchased Game Theory. I can't wait to see what Kat's next case is about!

message 12: by Anne (Booklady) (new)

Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay , Sarah's Key by *Tatiana de Rosnay

Truly a10 Star Book

My Goodreads friend, Debbie recommended this book to me a while back and I kept putting it back on my bookshelf. Did I really want to read another Holocaust story? Not really, since I'm again horrified by the evil that was the Nazis and I usually get into a funk after reading one. But Sarah's Keyis different. It truly is a beautiful book. And I learned about an event in Paris, France that I new absolutely nothing about: Vel' d'Hiv Roundup. Almost none of the Jews rounded up on that July early morning survived, including over 4000 children. This "Operation Spring Breeze" was solely carried out by 450 French Policeman and is a dark stain in France's history. All afternoon, I have been reading about Vel' d'Hiv and I can understand why Tatiana de Rosnay wanted to write about it. Intertwining Sarah's story and Julia's story seems natural, since L'Amerecaine journalist is writing a story commemorating the tragic Vel' d'Hiv Roundup exactly 60 years later.

Alternating between the past and the present, both Sarah and Julia's voices shine through. Never do they sound alike or contrived. The little girl's fear and bewilderment of leaving her home to the awful conditions in the stadium under the watchful eyes of the armed French policemen. My heart broke for the little girl when she realized that she has not protected her 4 year-old brother. Michael is still locked in their secret hiding place at their apartment. I felt her sadness and guilt all through the novel. And I wasn't surprised by the connection between Sarah and Julia. Sarah keeps the key with her at all times. It almost becomes a talisman for the girl. Julia uncovers secrets as well and Sarah is her "key". Her life and her husband's family will never be the same. The ending really surprised me. It has a Gone with the Wind ending. I'd like to believe what I wanted to happen: Both Sarah and Julia are finally at peace as Julia opens her eyes to the set of turquoise that are peacefully staring at her.

Giving a plot summary seems indecent to do, because I loved the story as it unfolded. That young Jewish girl and the middle-aged woman are bound together in Julia's heart. I can't do their story justice by a clumsy summary. Tatiana de Rosnay's writing is just to beautiful to hack both stories down to a few sentences. These characters will stay with me for a long while until I pull the book down from its place and re-read it.

message 13: by Anne (Booklady) (new)

Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden , In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden

Deserving more than 5 Stars

Last year, I saw that one of my Goodreads friend was reading this lengthy novel. I went to Barnes and Noble and found it there. But I didn't immediately open it as I thought I would. It has sat on my shelf staring at me. A few days ago, I pulled down In This House of Brede. I knew I was ready to read it. I had the queer feeling that I needed to read Brede. Perhaps, I know deep down that my Aunt Eloise may not be in this world much longer and that I needed the comfort of reading something that I could be close to her in spirit. My aunt is a nun.

She is not a cloistered nun as those in Brede, she belongs to the Order of Our Lady of Loretto, a teaching Order. Aunt Eloise's dementia has reduced her once great mind to only God knows what. She has become claustral within her own mind. But who knew that a story about an Abbey full of nuns could be so interesting?

In This House of Brede has the love that a reader would expect. Love of God; love of and toward each sister or Dame as they called in the Benedictine Monastery. Brede is in crisis. The Abbess has died suddenly and the Abbey is on the brink of bankruptcy. There is deception, betrayal, and thievery.

This is where the successful Philippa Talbot has come. The situation seems to be just right for her to help solve. Some of the nuns welcome her, while others question Philippa's vocation. I did too. I wasn't sure of her motive to become a Benedictine and wasn't sure if I really liked her. And some of the nuns are very hard to like. I feel guilty saying that I didn't like Dame Agnes or Dame Veronica. Must be that old Catholic guilt.

I found the book beautiful, reminding me of the Liturgy and prayers from when I was a small child. The life of a cloistered nun is difficult as the book describes. We get to see some go through some inner struggles. We get to see the politics of the Council as the yearly positions are selected. We see each nun's strength and weakness. I loved the Liturgical year within each calendar year at the Abbey. I enjoyed the writing. It is exquisite.

I know this little review hasn't said much about the plot - I can't really get it down on paper; Brede is just one of those books you have to read.

message 14: by Anne (Booklady) (new)

Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments Acts of Nature (Max Freeman, #5) by Jonathon King , Acts of Nature by *Jonathon King

3 Stars

Goodreads Author Jonathon King subtly weaves different tales of "nature" into this installment of his Max Freeman Series. Mother Nature, animal nature, and man's nature all collide in a climactic intersection in South Florida's Everglades.

Max and Sherry are at Max's Everglades cabin for a well deserved rest after their last case together. And the tranquility will be good for them as they decide whether to stay a couple. Max certainly hopes they will, but does Sherry? Sensing that she is bored, Max suggests they go West to a friend's fishing camp, totally unaware that there a strong hurricane bearing toward them. They have no radio or cell phone. While they are canoeing toward the West, the wildlife are sunning themselves or hunting, especially Wally. The gator is trekking them. When all the birds, turtles, snake, and even gators just disappear and the swamp is suddenly silent, Max is stunned. He has no clue what is coming, and Sherry won't be able to help him. She may even become a liability.

Ed Harmon knows what is coming to South Florida. He's seen the storm - west to east - the polar opposite of Hurricane Andrew. He and his family lost everything, but he is ready for this storm. He is scared. He is not afraid of a man; he knows how to fight and if necessary to kill a man like the guerrilla in South America. But you can't fight nature, especially a Hurricane. His partner, Squires, makes fun of him and his employer wants him to go out to the Glades after the storm to secure a camp. Knowing the fishing camp is a cover for some illegal activity by the oil company, Harmon is packing heat and C4. He is a cleaner, a mercenary.

Buck Morris just wants to stay out of prison. He's still looking for "the big score." His young cohorts may have just the right plan. Hurricane Simone may be his ticket north. Yes, those cabins and fishing camps won't be inhabited and may have some valuables left. If the storm hadn't gotten them, he will. It's really not looting, it's salvaging he thinks.

Acts of Nature is not Jonathon King's usual police procedural thriller; it is more psychological. And switching from Max to Harmon to Buck feeds the action and nicely fuels the psychological suspense.

message 15: by Anne (Booklady) (new)

Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments No Time for Goodbye by Linwood Barclay , No Time for Goodbye by Linwood Barclay

2.5 Stars

I really wanted to like this book because its premise is so interesting and suspenseful. When fourteen year-old Cynthia Bigge wakes the morning after a huge fight with her parents, the house is too quiet for a school day. She had been caught drunk with a boy whom Patricia and Clayton Bigge did not approve. She checks the entire house - her shock and panic increasing as she moves from room to room. No note either; her mother always leaves one. She had yelled at her mother last night, wishing she would die. Now in the light of day, she wishes she could take bake all of her words. The house is empty. Her family is gone. Why?

The now adult Cynthia is standing in front of her childhood home, close to the 25th anniversary of family's disappearance. The TV camera's rolling. Maybe the TV show will bring some clues to what has happened to her mother, father, and brother. And by answering the What, she may find out the Why. Why did they lePOVave? Why did they leave her behind? The answers may help to ease the strain in her marriage and her daughter's anxiety, too. Aunt Tess needs to know what happened to her sister also, though she's never said exactly those words to Cynthia. She had tried mightily to step into Patricia's Bigge's shoes.

The crank calls begin soon after the telecast airs. But one call begins a sinister chain of sinister events. "Your family want to forgive you,"said the anonymous voice. A Strange car follows Cynthia as she walks Grace to school. A man is seen watching the house at night. An email appears after her father's fedora magically appears on the kitchen table. But when two murders are committed, Cynthia knows that she, her husband, and daughter are in grave danger. And all of the evidence is pointing towards her.

The premise is very good, but the execution was awful. The story is told in the 1st person from Terry Archer's POV and intermittent phone conversations from the "bad guys." I enjoyed those, because they brought the suspense level up, but Terry's 1st person POV drove me crazy. It's Cynthia'a story after all. I can see how Mr. Barclay chose to tell the story that way, and can even understand his decision. But I can't understand why the characters were so underdeveloped. Huge chucks of dialogue could have been left out also without damaging the storyline. The reader really has to stretch to believe the ending. But No Time For Goodbye is an easy and fast read perfect for the beach or plane.

message 16: by Anne (Booklady) (new)

Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments 8 Sandpiper Way (Cedar Cove, #8) by Debbie Macomber , 8 Sandpiper Way by *Debbie Macomber

4 Stars

I love the fictional town of Cedar Cove, Washington. Based upon Debbie Macomber's Washington State's own home town, the people in Cedar Cove are warm and friendly. As with all small towns, Cedar Cove has its share of gossip and problems, sometimes a crime or two. Death sometimes comes and takes with him a cherished husband, wife, or child. But it is within the ebb and flow of life. A small town especially magnifies a love lost, death, a theft, a fire, and illness. Everyone in a small town knows everyone and seemingly their business - the gossip vine quickly grows.

I don't know why I stopped reading the series a few years back, stopping with 74 Seaside Avenue. It wasn't the writing or the characters, because the writing and story lines for each visit to Cedar Cove are genuinely warm and good. I usually read each book in one setting, unwilling to let the characters go. After I finished 8 Sandpiper Way about midnight, the reason dawned on me - I had quit The Cedar Cove Series about the same time I joined Goodreads. I was embarrassed. By comparison to many of my Goodreads Shelves, the series screamed fluff and brain candy. Well sometimes my brain needs a sweet fluffy story, and I'm glad to have picked back up from where I left off. I like that with Debbie Macomber, you can just start reading where you left off. Her characters are patiently waiting for you to visit with a cup of coffee or tea brewing.

Pastor Dave and Emily Fleming live at 8 Sandpiper Way. Emily has had some suspicions about her husband. He's been working late, so he tells her, too many nights. Then there are the diamond earrings she found in his pocket. Dave is having an affair? And then there is the business of the missing jewelry from one of his elderly parishioners. Dave was the last person to see Mrs. Evans alive and he was the person to have found her body - seemingly asleep. But Dave is not the kind of man to steal or be unfaithful, or is he? Thanksgiving is here and suddenly Emily doesn't know if she has anything to be grateful for. Her friend Olivia Lockhart Griffin is having surgery for breast cancer. Shirley Bliss' daughter, Tanni is still not coping well with her father's death, and her new friend may not be the best influence she needs right now. Teri Bolger's sister, Christie has mixed feelings about her brother-in-law's driver, James Wilbur. Something is just not right, there. And Sheriff Troy's old high school flame has come back to Cedar Cove.

And I thought my life in retirement was boring! 8 Sandpiper Way will get anybody out of her doldrums. It is warm and funny, with a splash of mystery. A nice read for the beach or plane.

message 17: by Anne (Booklady) (new)

Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments The Black Box by Michael Connelly , The Black Box by *Michael Connelly

4.5 Stars

Harry Bosch is one of two favorite characters in the thriller genre. The other is Mitch Rapp, created by Vince Flynn. Both are good at what they do and prefer to work alone. I've come to both series late. Late, in the sense I started in the middle and have read the books in order after that first novel that got me hooked. With Mitch Rapp, it will be easy to go back to the beginning since The Last Man is probably the last in that series, since Vince Flynn lost his battle with prostrate cancer 19 June 2013. But I hope Harry will be around for a few more years, since the character has 4 more years on his DROP.

Not only has The Black Box looked back to a 20 year-old case that remains unsolved, Michael Connelly has written one of the best of his Bosch series novel. And it should be - The Harry Bosch Series celebrates its 20th anniversary with the release of The Black Box. The writing is tight as always. The suspense level is high, though the reader can connect who the murderer might be when Bosch learns the "what" that had Anneke in Los Angeles covering the riots and chaos in the aftermath of the Rodney King verdict. The who and the motive (view spoiler) is not. What was his motivation to kill the Danish photojournalist, dubbed "Snow White" in 1992.

During the 1992 riots, LAPD was caught flat-footed. Too many murders were committed among the burning and looting for homicide detectives to work the scene properly, and Snow White's killer knew this. Anneke had been found in an alley close to a wall of a burnt out store. She had been shot point blank in an execution style MO, and thus stuck out to Harry Bosch and Jerry Edgar. But another call comes in and the two homicide detectives have to leave the scene, but Harry never forgot Anneke.

In 2012 the Open-Unsolved team are directed to reopen cases from that 72 hour period that were never solved. Harry picks his Snow White case and looks to find the case's "black box." He will have to walk the gun while under an S and B investigation that could once and for boot him off the force. He will also "leave the reservation" as he usually does, but he will get some back up from a very unusual person. Harry will need that help as he hadn't in the past. He is too near death this time. The Snow White "Black Box" just may record his own murder - the last in a long string of deaths, all leading back to that dark alley in 1992.

message 18: by Anne (Booklady) (new)

Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments True Blue by David Baldacci , True Blue by David Baldacci

4 Stars

True Blue is a phenomenal stand alone thriller from David Baldacci. The action begins on page 1 and never stops until the very last word. Baldacci utilizes the short chapter style now adopted by many thriller authors to quickly move the story line and ratchet the thrill factor. I would have given True Blue 5 stars if the ending was different. I'm hoping to see the two Perry sisters featured again. But of course that is Baldacci's decision. I liked the two women as strong protagonists. They are tough as nails with some vulnerability to them. One is the D.C. Metro Police Chief, while the other sister is a disgraced "blue," spending time in prison for a crime that she was framed for. But the U.S. Attorney, Mona Danforth, wants Mace Perry back in jail, and will do anything to make that a reality. Mace knows that the only way she will ever become true blue again is to solve a big case.

And that big case is happening now. Dianne Tolliver has been found dead in her law firm. Her body falling out from the fridge into her partner, Roy Kingman's arms. Very soon another body is found, but MPD is prevented from investigating the Assistant U.S. Attorney's death. National Security reasons are given, effectively keeping Chief Perry and the Fibbies at arms length. Mace and Roy quickly deduce a connection between the two deaths. National Security may involve killing Americans to keep a dirty little secret from everyone, including 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

message 19: by Anne (Booklady) (new)

Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments Caravans by James A. Michener , Caravans by James A. Michener

3 Stars

James A. Michener was a truly amazing writer. True, his books are usually long with great historical detail. Caravans is no exception, though the length is under 500 pages. But there is too much historical details here for the storyline. And what characters! I hated most of them, I'm sorry to say. They weren't complex as his characters almost always are. And he makes 1946 Afghanistan out to be a barbaric outpost that resembles the time that the Prophet Mohammed roamed the deserts. The blurb is misleading to a point, because the search for Ellen Jasper begins after the first 100 pages. Islam is horrifically portrayed. Men walking hand in hand with one wearing rogue on his cheek, because no woman is seen on the street. If they are, they are covered from head to toe by the chaderi.

Another scene graphically describes a woman stoned to death, while in another the reader is treated to a horrific beheading of a young man who murdered a policeman because the policeman outbid him for a night of pleasure with a beatific young male dancer. The policeman's father is the executioner and waves his "trophy" at the crowd as he and the young dancer walk off hand in hand. Yet, Islam does not acknowledge homosexuality - it even prohibits it. I found no entertainment value in either scene. They took up many pages and added nothing to the storyline of finding Ellen Jasper.

UNLESS Michener was making a political or religious point. Southern Asia had a developed culture and society long before the western societies were on the map. I just didn't understand his message. The dialogue also suffered immensely also. Mark Miller's favorite quip was, "That's ridiculous." The Afganis' speech was affected also. But when we are finally to the search for the missing American woman, the story flows pretty well to its sad ending.

message 20: by Anne (Booklady) (new)

Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje , The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje

2.5 Stars

I really did want to like this novel. I heard that Michael Ondaatje's prose was both beautiful and lyrical. I even waited to finish the book to watch the Oscar winning winning film last night. Both left me feeling melancholy, rather than satisfied by a good read and movie. I wondered why, and finally it dawned on me that I did not like the characters, with the exception of Kip. I enjoyed the weaving of memories into the present, rather than a linear structure. True Ondaateje's prose was a tad to artsy and literary for me, it made the made the past a bit more ethereal. But I still could not get past my dislike for the characters.

Count Almasy, I found a bit too arrogant, Hana, a bit too needy, Caravaggio, a bit too pathetic. But Kip still remains slightly enigmatic, and I like that. He is quiet and handsome. The Sikh does dangerous work disarming and removing unexploded armaments, but willing to allow himself to get close to someone. And I wondered Hana's decision to sequester herself and her dying patient in an abandoned Italian monastery in 1944. Was she truly thinking of her patient, making his last days comfortable, reading random passages from from the volume of Herodotus that was found with him. And, when his pain becomes too great, she injects him with morphine. Or was she filling a need within her? That need to be held and comforted, since it alluded that she is suffering from "shell shock"? Or is the time together, her way to find the the identity o her patient and learn his story that led him to her hospital ward?

And when Cravaggio (I'm a thief) comes, does Hana feel that this man may be a threat to her patient? If so, why did she let him stay. And why didn't he kill Almasy when Caravaggio clearly could have placed a pillow upon the face of the disfigured man? Did he think that Almasy was already sufficiently punished? The Count is already dying and has lost the only valuable possession he ever owned - Katherine. Did he understand that love was the price paid that caused the slicing of his thumbs? Or has he outgrown the need for revenge?

Also troubling me was Jeffrey Conklin himself. Did he really crash his plane on purpose to punish his wife and Almasy? Almasy and Katherine's love affair was doomed from the very start, unlike Hana and Kip's. Katherine was his best friend since childhood, and they married. But that seemingly was not enough for Katherine. And I think she cut through the Count's arrogance a little. It was right to end with the passage read by Hana as the Hungarian fell into everlasting sleep. But I really wasn't happy with the ending of Hana and Kip's story - it never really ended. It just faded away like Hana did at the novel's very end.

message 21: by Anne (Booklady) (new)

Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments The Chosen by Chaim Potok , The Chosen by Chaim Potok

Definitely a 10 Star Read!

I read this wonderful book in Junior High and I had forgotten the story of Danny Saunders and Reuven Malter much to my chagrin. Chaim Potok is a genius. His writing is easy to understand. His warmth comes through in his characters. But I'm amazed that The Chosen was only a National Book Award Finalist, rather than the winner. The Chosen is much more than the story of two boys, seemingly enemies, and their friendship. Danny is a Hasidic Jew, while Reuven is Orthodox. Reuven has a wonderful relationship with his father, while Danny lives in silence with his own father. They never speak outside of their Talmud studies. Reb Saunders' "mistakes" seemed very cruel, and I cried when he explained to Reuven why he raised Danny in silence. Danny was in the room listening of course, but his father didn't know how to break his silence with his own son. Reuven was the bridge between father and son. And to think this great friendship all began with a baseball game - a hit back to the pitcher that could have blinded Malter.

I was struck also by by the title - The Chosen has several meanings pertinent to the story.
The Jews are God's chosen people. That one is very evident since it is about two Jewish boys in 1940s Brooklyn. But it is also about other choices too. One is to be Hasid and to be Orthodox. Neither is good nor bad; they are just different. Potok explains both to his readers without making critical judgements. Another choice is that Reuven forgave Danny for deliberately hitting him. And that choice led to probably a life-long friendship. Potok says the Torah teaches that a friend is chosen. I like that, choose carefully and wisely.

But the biggest choice is how different each boy was raised. Danny in an unbearable silence that gave him much pain and the nervous tick of his blinking eyes, while Reuven has a rich relationship with his own father. And yet, each boy made a difficult choice regarding their adulthood. Each rejected what their fathers had chosen for his son; Danny wants to be a Psychologist, Reuven a Rabbi. And there is the choice of both Malters to accept the Jewish state, while Reb Saunders totally rejected Israel's statehood. This choice led to a greater understanding of Danny's suffering, because he and Reuven did not speak for two years. Reuven's anger growing in his grief of not having Danny around, especially when he needed Danny the most.

I can't say enough about this book - it is worth reading and re-reading at any age.

message 22: by Anne (Booklady) (new)

Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings , The Descendants by *Kaui Hart Hemmings

3.5 Stars

The Descendants starts somewhat slowly, but gets much better as the storyline develops. The King family is in crisis - Joanie King is in an irreversible coma and is going to die from her injuries sustained in a boating accident. Matt King is a wreck. “That's how you know you love someone, I guess, when you can't experience anything without wishing the other person were there to see it, too." And also for the first time, he sees his beautiful wife and two daughters in a new light. They are complete strangers to him. While grieving, Matt learns that Joanie was going to leave him; she's in love with another man. Some how this is connected to his ancestors and the land he and his extended family has inherited from his Hawaiian Princess and Haole Missionary grandparents.

But the greater shock to him is just how dysfunctional his family truly is. His 10 tear old daughter, Scottie, is hurting herself with sea urchins, "minor wars", acting totally inappropriately. She needs to tell her mother a good story. Alex hates her mother and is cold and mute. Matt King knows he must become a real father and wayfinder to save his family.

I was appalled by the language used between father and daughters, especially Scottie. The scene with her in front of the mirror totally crept me out. I understood Alex's anger as well as her need for her friend, Sid, to be near her. It was moving to see the two girls say goodbye to their mother and viewing their father in a different way. Joanie King, however, was not a nice person and even a worse mother. Matt King's character development in these circumstances was truly amazing. The flow of the writing ebbs and flows like small waves - sometimes they roar over the reader. I didn't quite love the novel, but The Descendants is a solid 3.5 Star read.

message 23: by Anne (Booklady) (last edited Jul 28, 2013 04:43PM) (new)

Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse , Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

Overall: 4 Stars
38 Years Ago: 5 Stars
Present 2013: 3 Stars

When I first read this in High School and College, I loved Siddhartha. Perhaps I was searching for my own purpose and spirituality - I was 18 and 20 when I read it. Slightly disillusioned with the Catholic Church, I needed to find my own way and I was looking every where. "Peace comes from within, so do not seek it from without...Work out your own salvation and do not depend on others for it." And that was exactly what I was doing. I liked that Siddhartha was with me. He had absorbed all of his father's teachings as well as those in his native India's caste and was still very discontented. Yes, I understand quite well my younger self cried. I was delighted and enamored. I was on my own journey.

Knowledge can be communicated but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, be fortified by it, do wonders through it, but one can not communicate and teach it." This quote now reflects my thoughts and spirituality now in 2013. I have reconciled my difficulties with the Church and I am happy to be a traditional Roman Catholic, supporting Its Dogma and Doctrine. I have learned both wisdom and folly in both my actions and words. I had to live with successes and failures for these past 38 years, and the good out shines the bad. I don't have to search any more, because I like where I have arrived. Now I see Siddhartha's journey and exploits as narcissistic, but aren't we all when we first set out to find the meaning of our purpose here on Earth?

message 24: by Anne (Booklady) (new)

Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments Home To Italy by Peter Pezzelli , Home To Italy by Peter Pezzelli

4 Stars

This is such a warm and touching story! I couldn't put it down. And I was surprised that a male writer could capture human emotions so wonderfully! The story begins darkly in an unforgiving Rhode Island November. Peppi Peppino's wife has just been buried and her family is gathered at the couple's home to comfort Peppi. He just wants them to leave him alone. Under dark skies day after day he toils in the back yard and garden. After he finishes the front yard, he makes the monumental to go back to his ancestral home in the small village of Villa San Giuseppe. He is going back home to Italy. He tells his friends at the barber shop that he came to America alone, and he will go back Italy alone. He will die there, and his friend Luca will be expecting him. Anna's family is flabbergasted and none too happy; they are here for Peppi.

And when Peppi cycles into the village's piazza, Luca is indeed there. They begin cycling throughout the countryside. And Peppi realizes that his life is like that of a circle. The beginning rolls to the ending, only to begin once more. And when he sees his childhood home in ruins, a hawk brings him a gppd omen; one that sybolizes that cycle. He plans to make a garden there and possibly rebuild, or not. He has time to decide. He accepts Luca's offer to live in the apartment above his friend's candy factory, and does odd jobs and starts bringing the gardens back to life.

He enjoys his days. He cycles each morning, works in the neglected gardens, and finds himself tending to his best friend's fiery daughter. The copper-hair beauty is a force of nature - her temper is legendary among the factory workers. She is a workaholic. She is still grieving her dead husband. Lucrezia and Peppi start a tenuous friendship. He knows her kind of pain. But her interest in Peppi deepens and the cycle keeps turning from beginning to ending round and round until one day threatens the pair's cycle permenantly.

I didn't realize that cycling would play such an important part of the storyline, but I'm glad it did. [Author:Peter Pezzelli|344148]'s decriptions of the Italian countryside were so wonderful that I wanted to climb into the book and be there. I enjoyed the Italian phrases throughout the book. And the food! I spent the afternoon cooking risutto and pork gnoche. I remember my grandmother's cooking and my mouth was watering. I can't say enough about this novel - it is worth reading.

message 25: by Anne (Booklady) (new)

Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments The Last Man (Mitch Rapp #13) by Vince Flynn , The Last Man by Vince Flynn

4.5 Stars

With the untimely death of Vince Flynn June 19, 2013, this may be the last Mitch Rapp installment of Flynn's popular series. His publisher released this statement July 25, 2013: <The Survivor, Vince Flynn’s planned release this fall, is being postponed indefinitely. Vince had not yet completed the manuscript at the time of his passing last month. The reason it is “postponed indefinitely” as opposed to “canceled” is because it is too soon to know how much of the book was written or if Vince had plans or provisions in place in the event that he could not complete the book. As for Vince’s collaboration with Brian Haig, while it is still available for preorder, for the same reasons above, we ask for your patience concerning its publication.

And this is the reason why I could not give The Last Man 5 Stars. The ending clearly shows that there is more to come; the Rickman kidnapping and the Pakistan ISI attempt to bring down Director Kennedy and her Clandestine Service are really not resolved. The Suvivor could be Louis Gould, Kassar, or even Rapp himself. Mr. Flynn was feeling better when he wrote this novel and by all accounts his treatment for prostrate cancer was going well - he expected to finish The Survivor, and thus the storyline as he had done with Extreme Measures and Pursuit of Honor. I thought that the move was ingenious at the time I read both books, but knowing that his Cancer was not in remission the technique was risky for Flynn to attempt it again after the two Mitch Rapp prequels. Having said this, without a doubt Vince Flynn is one of the best thriller writers and will continue to be my favorite thriller authors.


Mitch Rapp is in Afghanistan. The Agency's Safe House is a mess. He is looking at the four dead body guards. The security system is off line. Joe Rickman is missing. He is one of Irene Kennedy's top operatives and his brilliant mind holds too many secrets that could cripple her Clandestine Services. He knows names of sleeper agents, moles, and the money transfers that changes hands with nefarious individuals. All needed to run the black ops that protect the United States from the Radical Islamist Terror plots. Rapp has one order; find Rickman before he breaks and spills secrets. Secrets that would mean death to many people in the field and that would set back the CIA for decades.

But something at the Safe House has Rapp and his team questioning whether the missing man is a the victim of a foreign attack to effectually dismantle Kennedy's Clandestine Services or has Joe Rickman turned traitor? When Louis Gould appears at a veterinarian office to assassinate Rapp all hell breaks out. Rapp suffers an injury that might take him out of the game forever and looks like the perfect patsy for the fall of both Director Kennedy and her CIA.

Of course there is much more to the story and Mitch Rapp fans will devour the pages at a quick clip to find out what happens. Vince Flynn and Mitch Rapp will sorely be missed.

message 26: by Anne (Booklady) (new)

Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments Caught by Harlan Coben , Caught by Harlan Coben

2 Stars

An unexpected and slightly interesting twist around page 300 kept me from rating Caught 1 Star. I had too much trouble believing the storyline. I just could not suspend my disbelief. This is only the second book I've read by Harlan Coben, so the problem could lie at my feet. But how many times have I thrown a book screaming, "Harlan Coben, seriously? Really? You've. Got. To. Be. Kidding. Me!" My copy has fallen apart and now lies in the trash bin.

A guy gets framed to get "caught" on a national TV show as a pedophile and is subsequently murdered by a victim's father (a former federal marshal). The reporter who set the trap now believes the guy was innocent and feels guilty about his death despite than a missing teen's phone was found in the guy's seedy hotel room. It is the only thing besides a few articles of clothes that Mercer had. Supposedly it was in his house, but the intrepid reporter never saw it - only the conveniently placed "evidence" of the "crime" she caught him on. She's convinced that she was used and Mercer was convenient to place blame upon because he has no family or real friends. So now the missing teen is tied to Mercer, or is it? Really a farfetched scenario! Farfetched or not, I did not like Caught nor the novel's characters.

message 27: by Anne (Booklady) (last edited Aug 04, 2013 07:21PM) (new)

Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith , A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

10 Stars

As I opened the book, I realized (much to my chagrin) that I had never read this beautiful book before! How did I ever miss this jewel? I'm glad I finally got to meet Francie Nolan.

“Dear God," she prayed, "let me be something every minute of every hour of my life. Let me be gay; let me be sad. Let me be cold; let me be warm. Let me be hungry...have too much to eat. Let me be ragged or well dressed. Let me be sincere - be deceitful. Let me be truthful; let me be a liar. Let me be honorable and let me sin. Only let me be something every blessed minute. And when I sleep, let me dream all the time so that not one little piece of living is ever lost.

“From that time on, the world was hers for the reading. She would never be lonely again, never miss the lack of intimate friends. Books became her friends and there was one for every mood. There was poetry for quiet companionship. There was adventure when she tired of quiet hours. There would be love stories when she came into adolescence and when she wanted to feel a closeness to someone she could read a biography. On that day when she first knew she could read, she made a vow to read one book a day as long as she lived.”

These passages fit both Francie and me like gloves. I know too how it feels to be lonely, though my mother did not favor one child over another. She loved her three children equally. My father sold spirits rather than drank them. We lived in a small village rather than a big city. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is told in Francie's young voice - she has inherited the good in her two parents. Her papa is a dreamer, but a drunk. Her mama is strong with invisible steel in her. She is brutally honest. She is a pragmatist. There is no room in her for dreams, any more.

This is not only a story of a lonely young girl, it is also the story of a neighborhood where children sell junk for pennies, where a woman is stoned as she pushes her baby's pram, where people hear Johnny Nolan coming home, singing his Irish tunes. The "tree to heaven" is the only thing that remains unchanged - it keeps growing from the cement, announcing the tenements. It won't die.

Besides the useless man/husband/father theme, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn captures the community that is alive with Irish, Germans, and Jews in the early 1900's to the first year of World War I. The neighborhood teems with life, death; laughter, tears; tenderness and cruelty among its poor inhabitants. We are treated to the close bonds of the Rommely women. They are the backbone in Francie's story.

And her story is a wonderfully written coming of age tale - a mixture of good and bad; joy and sadness. All Francie wants is to be loved and needed. At times my heart broke for her, other times I laughed with her. As she packed to leave her Brooklyn flat for the last time, my heart soared. Mary Frances Katherine Nolan was going to be fine.

message 28: by Anne (Booklady) (new)

Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments Back When We Were Grownups by Anne Tyler , Back When We Were Grownups by Anne Tyler

4 Stars: Writing
3 Stars: Plot
1 Star: Characters
2.5 Stars: Overall

"Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered that she had turned into the wrong person."
On that day 53 year old Rebecca Davitch wondered if she made the right decision in dropping out of college, jilting her boyfriend, and marrying a handsome older divorced man. She starts having dreams of a young boy traveling with her on a train. She assumes that this is the son that she would have had if she had married Will Allenby. She has decided that "her son" would be quiet and cerebral, unlike her three stepdaughters and her own daughter.

All of the Davitches are loud, chaotic, and sometimes thoughtless. Rebecca feels that this big Davitch family had never welcomed her, and she feels that she is always at its edges. She lives with her late husband's Uncle Poppy and they have that comfortable old married couple feel to them. Her brother in law, Zeb, is in love with her, but she is unaware of his feelings. The four girls have unusual nicknames and aren't very nice people. Rebecca decides to seek Will Allenby out and discover the young woman she had been back to when she and Will were grownups. Maybe it isn't too late to take that other fork she had abandoned 30 years ago. Would it be better? And would the Davitch family even miss her?

I was so exited with Back When We Were Grownups opening line. The plot was intriguing, since almost every woman has that thought sometime in her 50s, or at those I know. And Anne Tyler's characters are usually good, even with their faults. I liked that Rebecca was overweight and had worn her hair the same way for years. Uncle Poppy was wonderful and he was good for a good many smiles and chuckles. But the girls were just plain awful with their silly nicknames: Biddy, Patch, NoNo, and MinFoo. They were self absorbed and seemingly put out when having to attend the family parties. The fact that each one had asked for the party or expected it from Rebecca was lost on them. And to them, she was Beck, not Rebecca.

Usually I devour Anne Tyler's books, but this one I struggled to finish. The plot meandered along with below mediocre characters. I wouldn't recommend this novel to anyone but those true fans of Anne Tyler.

message 29: by Anne (Booklady) (new)

Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments Cape Light (Cape Light #1) by Thomas Kinkade , Cape Light by Thomas Kinkade and Katherine Spencer

4.5 Stars

Don't let the Christian Fiction genre label be an excuse to shy away from this lovely book. Thomas Kinkade and Katherine Spencer have created such a warm fictitious New England village, Cape Light, Massachusetts. Its inhabitants are warm and generous, though there are a few whose lives are not without hardships or past sorrows. I can see Cape Light as one of Thomas Kinkade"s Rockwell-like paintings. It is not heavy-handed in its use of Bible quotations or spiritual reflections. Cape Light is just a darn good place to dwell in for a few days with some characters that will stay in my heart for a long while; that is until I seek out the 2nd Cape Light novel Home Song: A Cape Light Novel at my favorite used book store. I can't wait to see what happens to all of my "new friends" I've met here.

In Cape Light you will meet the Warwicks. Lillian is the matriarch. She is sickly and quite bitter - she thinks she and her two daughters, Emily and Jessica are above the rest of Cape Light's residents. She makes her position and views clear to everyone, oblivious to her daughter's embarrassment. Emily is the Mayor of Cape Light, while Jessica is the bank's vice president. And Jessica is counting the weeks before Lillian is strong enough for her to leave Lillian in Emily's capable hands. Jessica can't wait to get back to Boston and her life. But Sam Morgan may interfere in her plans. He is in love with Jessica, much to Lillian's displeasure. Emily loves her job, but is beginning to feel she's missed out on life. Jessica wonders why Emily came back to Cape Light, never wanting to leave it again. After all, Emily did run away years ago to Maryland with a local fisherman.

Sara Franklin knows why Emily is still in Cape Light. Emily had left her information with the adoption agency. It hadn't been hard to track down her birth mother. She decides to stay the summer to get to know Emily and Lillian and finally confront her birth mother; why did she give her up? Handsome Sam Morgan is the local carpenter and has set his sights on Jessica. Some in his huge family think he's making a huge mistake, but one can't help who one falls in love with. Molly, his sister, is working for Lillian and believes Sam is too good for Jessica. But others like Marie and Joe Morgan know that Sam has never been happier.

There are the Potters who have a large orchard and roadside stand. They have wonderful parties on their property and the whole village attends them. We meet Grace Hegman and her "retired" father Digger. Grace runs a flea-market type shop and still mourns the death of her young daughter. There is Charlie and Lucy Bates who owns the popular Clam Bake diner. Charlie is loud and opinionated. He is challenging Emily Warwick to the mayor ship. But a scandal involving Dr. Ezra Elliot and the doctor's property may stand in his way. And then there is the Beanery. The new coffee shop is not only his competition, but the new owners are having a strange influence over his wife, Lucy.
The Reverend Ben and Carolyn Lewis are trying to sort out a problem of their own while helping those in their parish.

These are just some of the wonderful characters in Cape Light. And by the time I finished the novel - they all seemed to me, my beloved neighbors. Neighbors I laughed with, shared a few tears with, shook my head at. All in all this novel was a very satisfying read.

message 30: by Anne (Booklady) (new)

Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments State Fair by Phil Stong , State Fair by Phil Stong

4 Stars

I have seen all three film versions of this book and I loved them all because of the wholesome Frake family. I was very surprised that the book was slightly darker than the three movies were, though the 1945 film version alluded this darkness. The older Frakes still shine in the book and Blue Boy still wins the hog championship even though it appeared he might not. Ma still beats her rival in her food contest, though it is pickles rather than mincemeat as it was in the movies.

But the shock came with the younger Frakes. Wayne and Margy still have problems with their girlfriend and boyfriend. Margy still wants to get away from the farm and have some fun. Wayne has practiced all year to get even with a fair barker who had cheated him the year before. The Iowa State Fair not only is the backdrop of the novel, it becomes a character that will directly affect the brother and sister. Both are relived that they are by themselves and fall madly in love on the Midway. Wayne meets a worldly young woman whose father is a womanizing gambler, will Margy is drawn to an older newspaper man. He's handsome, smooth talking, and has a gal in every town. What really shocked me was Stong hinting that Margy could be pregnant. For a novel written in 1932, the fact that both siblings lost their "innocence" at the Fair is surprising, but Margy pregnant? That is very controversial considering the time it was written, because there is almost no consequence to the siblings actions. They still are the wholesome kids who left for the Fair at the end of the novel - albeit wiser and a bit more grown up.

message 31: by Anne (Booklady) (new)

Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments Life After Life by Kate Atkinson , Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

Overall: 3 Stars
Writing: 5 Stars
Execution: 2 Stars
Characters: 1 Star - Being generous

Haven't we all wished we could go back in our individual lives and do it over until we get it right? This is the premise of Kate Atkinson's Life After Life with a twist. Ursula Todd keeps living, dying, living, and dying over and over. The first 100 pages were jerky in my opinion. Ms. Atkinson used short chapters and constantly drifted to different times and different lives of Ursula - the shorter her life, the shorter the chapter. It took me several hours and re-reading paragraphs to realize, I was in a different incarnation of Ursula. This made it hard to know Ursula, herself. And each life she has was sad and depressing. A few were down right vile, in my opinion.

(view spoiler) Atkinson also spent too much time with Argyl Road. I just wanted Anything to happen! Let Ursula die or live, just get her out of this loop! I have to admit that I threw the book on the floor several times during this part of the book. And when Ursula finally past this time in her life, I just didn't care any more - I just wanted to finish the book. I still can't figure out which life she was supposed to live. The ending didn't help me to figure out which was Ursula's true life. And she even questions a scene, wondering if it was real.

The idea of reincarnation is interesting and I loved the premise. I just didn't like the execution of it. The book could have been 75 - 100 pages shorter and the "plot" wouldn't have suffered; maybe I could have cared about Ursula more than I did. The secondary characters Pamela and Teddy seemed underdeveloped, also. And this I found odd, since her siblings played some important roles in some of her incarnations, especially in some of her major decisions. I thought the names Ursula and Teddy were wonderfully symbolic - both bears: Hibernation and Reincarnation. The writing was excellent, but I can't get beyond the execution and the lack of character development here in this novel. I feel slightly cheated that I wasted 5 days on this novel.

message 32: by Anne (Booklady) (last edited Aug 25, 2013 07:18PM) (new)

Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments Roses Are Red (Alex Cross, #6) by James Patterson , Roses Are Red by *James Patterson

3 Stars

Roses Are Red isn't one of my favorites in James Patterson's Alex Cross Series, but it left me speechless at the end. The Mastermind's reveal dumbfounded me. I didn't see it coming and now I have to read Violets Are Blue to see if the good Detective Dr. Alex Cross can catch his new nemesis who calls himself the Mastermind. James Patterson, sir, you are interrupting my order of books to read!

The Mastermind is responsible for a string of bank robberies with deadly outcomes. Hostages are killed as well as his crews. But the mastermind is upping the ante in violence with each crime, throwing both Cross and the FBI task force off balance. Alex is struggling to keep his balance. He and Christine are having major problems since her ordeal with the Weasel and his daughter Jannie is hospitalized with unexplained seizures. And the Mastermind has his sights on Alex Cross and the FBI team - it is time to get really personal. It is time for revenge.

As I said Roses are Red is not my favorite James Patterson novel, but it keeps the reader turning the pages as the suspense mounts. The very last sentence will leave Alex Cross fans gobsmacked!

message 33: by Anne (Booklady) (new)

Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments Reflections in a Golden Eye by Carson McCullers , Reflections in a Golden Eye by Carson McCullers

3.5 Stars

Carson McCullers never ceases to amaze me with her Gothic Southern literary tales, but this one disturbed me to the core with its darkness. Truly well written as her other works are, I was emotionally drained at the end. The Colonel's beating of his wife's horse did me in. The cast of characters are small but haunt me still.

An Army Post in peacetime is a dull place. Things happen, but then they happen over and over again. The general plan of a fort in itself adds to the monotony - the huge concrete barracks, the neat rows of officers' homes built one precisely like the other, the gym, the chapel, the golf course, and the swimming pools - all designed according to a rigid pattern. But perhaps the dullness of a post is caused most of all by insularity and by a surfeit of leisure and safety, for once a man enters the army he is expected only to follow the heels ahead of him. At the same time things do occasionally happen on an army post that are not likely to re-occur. There is a fort in the South where a few years ago a murder was committed. The participants of this tragedy were: two officers, a soldier, two women, a Filipino, and a horse.

The soldier is Private Ellgee Williams. The Officers partaking in this tragedy are Captain Penderton and his neighbor Major Langdon. The women are their wives. The horse is Lenora Penderton's beautiful Chestnut Stallion, and the Filipino is a servant and companion to the fragile Mrs. Langdon. His drawing of a dragon and its golden eye lends its stamp upon the novel's title.
The Captain is either a latent homosexual or bisexual and drawn to Private Williams. Williams is obsessed with the Captain's wife and sneaks into her bedroom to watch her sleeping naked, But Lenora is having a delicious affair with the Major. Penderton is emasculated by this affair and becomes bolder in his observation of Williams who is quiet, a loner, and something of a horse whisperer. Penderton also is deliriously jealous of his wife's horse to which both his wife and Williams are gentile and loving. Penderton is shallow and needy. And the story gallops, gaining speed until the shocking ending.

Other than Tennessee Williams, no other southern writer can capture the dark nature of men and women as well as Carson McCullers. Reflections in a Golden Eye predominant theme is the general lack of self-awareness which, in the author's vision, most members of society, at all levels, enjoy or suffer. The book begs the question, "Which is the greater burden, consciousness or unconsciousness?" McCullers' answer is clear: for most people, the burden of consciousness is by far the heavier cross to bear.

message 34: by Anne (Booklady) (new)

Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen , Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

10 Stars if I could

I love Jane Austen! I love Jane Austen!Did I say that I love Jane Austen? And I think Sense and Sensibility may have replaced Pride and Prejudice as my second favorite book of all times with The Old Man and the Seabeing my ultimate favorite novel. Elinor is the "sense," while the romantic Marianne is sensitive. She wears her emotions and is not ashamed to do so, even if it means that "sensibilities" of the day are offended. Austen uses two distinct sisters as her protagonists mocking the times she lived. Her prose is wonderful as is almost always the case - Persuasion is an anomaly (finding it painful to read it). The characters are well developed and the reader can't help but like like them, even the n'er do well Willoughby. I am ashamed that I never read this wonderful story, because we readers catch a glimpse at Austen's wit, her skewering of polite society, and her wicked humor.

Mr. Dashwood has died and his trust unto his son to do right by his wife and three daughters: Elinor, Marianne, and young Margaret is quashed by John's greedy wife, Fanny. Mrs. Dashwood and the girls relocate to Devonshire into a small cottage on the grounds of Mrs. Dashwood's distant relative. Over the next few weeks, the eldest daughter Elinor begins to fall for Fanny's studious, quiet brother Edward, and being a down-to-earth young woman, she knows she hasn't a chance. Where as Marianne soon attracts the attention of two men. One is the quiet, much older Colonel Brandon, and the other is the dashing and romantic Willoughby. Marianne falls hard for Willoughby and isn't afraid to show her affections unlike her sister, Elinor. Willoughby is about to propose.

Then everything seems to go haywire. Both Edward and Willoughby share a secret - they are secretly engaged and not to Elinor nor Marianne.
It is in London where the ugly truth comes to light. Both sisters react to the news in very different ways. Elinor is quiet dignity, while Marianne refuses to believe her ears - her heart tells a different story. After some disgrace and disaster, both Dashwood sisters learn what true love really is.

Austen's prose in Sense and Sensibility is a bit more meloncholy with powerful emotions and vivid descriptive colour that is almost poetry than prose. But her universal theme of impoverished women's search for love and marriage, entailment, mild scandal, and the perils of falling for a sexy bad boy who cares more for money than for true love is so fresh here. And Marianne and Elinor make excellent dual heroines for this book.

Their quiet love and devotion to each other, even though their polar opposite personalities frequently clash. What's more, they each have to become more like the other before they can find happiness. Austen also pens a small but solid supporting cast - the hunting-obsessed Sir John, the charming Willoughby (who has some nasty stuff in his past), the emotional Mrs. Dashwood, and the gentle, quiet Colonel Brandon, who shows his love for Marianne in numerous small ways. Sense and Sensilbility has all of the ingredients in which devotees of Miss Austen would want to inhabit and never leave.

message 35: by Anne (Booklady) (new)

Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments Persuasion by Jane Austen , Persuasion by Jane Austen

3 Stars

Sigh. After reading Sense and Sensibility, I couldn't wait to read Persuasion. And I was slightly disappointed by Jane Austen's last book. I confess that I found Anne Elliot less desirable as a female protagonist. To me, she was meek and weak - totally usual for Austen. To be persuaded to break an engagement from a man she truly loves by a dear friend rather than standing her ground baffled me. But Wentworth had the last laugh when he returns with a hefty fortune to find Anne's father having to "downsize" because he had reduced the family fortune.

Was Austen mocking class society? Yes, I think so. Now the tables are turned, Anne is not suitable for Wentworth. He has the greater fortune, but not the Elliot blue blood. So what in Wentworth did Lady Russell find more egregious? His lack of money or his lack of status. She wasn't Anne's mother, but Anne looked to her as a mother figure. Why was Anne so weak in character? And now at age 27, Anne is a spinster. Any man would suffice, right? Only if that man's last name is Elliot who will inherit her father's title and estate - assuming there is an estate to inherit.

Anne and Wentworth's silences speak volumes, and I like that in the book. His letter at the end of the novel brought tears running down my cheek. It was just beautiful. All is well that ends well. This is the classic boy meets girl, boy loses girl, and boy gets girl back story. However, it did appear that it would not follow that romantic formula. The young Mr. Elliot has several tricks up his sleeve, and Wentworth is squiring a lovely young lady on his arm in the English countryside.

message 36: by Anne (Booklady) (last edited Aug 29, 2013 12:16AM) (new)

Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments Violets Are Blue (Alex Cross, #7) by James Patterson , Violets Are Blue by *James Patterson

3 Stars

Alex Cross does not believe in Vampires, but the bodies of two joggers are found in a San Fransisco park, he finds himself submerged in the vampire and wannabe dark, Gothic subculture. The pair had been found hanging by their heels. Bite marks are all over the two bodies, both human and nonhuman bites. Their skin is translucent. Their blood had been drained. Soon similar killings are popping up on both coasts and in Dixieland.

The killers are fond of saying, "You hunt vampires, the vampires will hunt you." And the Mastermind still has Cross in his sights. Alex is feeling his lowest and begins to question his judgement. He hates being the prey of both the Mastermind and these new killers. Alex is missing his family and is afraid to get close to Inspector Jamilla Hughes. He has lost two partners in two years and the love of his life - Christine. Does Alex Cross have enough left in him to catch both the Mastermind and these new killers that terrify the local cops and are stumping the FBI?

I am not a vampire lover - one star deduction here for that reason. But Patterson did keep me turning the pages. I even found myself holding my breath in certain places, especially for last few chapters. I wasn't so sure what would happen. Alex Cross is so burnt out and his constant questioning himself terrified me. If Patterson could drop a big bombshell in the very last sentence of Roses Are Red when we readers finally learn the identity of the Mastermind, I wasn't sure what would happen when Cross and the Mastermind finally confronted each other. I was on the edge of my seat. But then the Epilogue brought me down, I just didn't like the last two pages. But I did like the novel much to my surprise. I usually abandon vamp novels.

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