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BOOK REVIEWS > Anne (Booklady) Summer 2012 Reviews

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Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments Thank you for stopping by and seeing my reviews of Summer!


message 2: by Anne (Booklady) (last edited Jun 09, 2012 09:17PM) (new)

Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3) by Suzanne Collins , Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

3.5 Stars

I couldn’t wait to read MOCKINGJAY to find out what happens to Katniss and the other characters I fell in love with. And after reading the conclusion to the Hunger Games I was left dumb-founded, saddened, and angry; angry at Collins mostly. While her writing is still quite beautiful and descriptive, she surprised me with some unpleasant twists of plot and characterization.

When Katniss visits her home in the Seam for the first time, I felt her sadness and vulnerability. She still hasn’t fully recovered from the concussion that Joanna gave her in the Quell Games. She feels as desolate and vulnerable as her surroundings and responsible. Her arrow piercing the arena force field brought the fiery explosion and Snow’s bombers rained fire, destruction, and death upon her people.

She reluctantly lets herself become the rebels “mockingjay” on her terms. She still wants to protect Peeta and the other victors that were captured by the Capitol. By forcing President Coin to accept her terms, Katniss becomes a pawn in the leader’s own agenda, and Katniss is very expendable. So are the other Hunger Games Victors. Coin is as much of a despot as Snow is. The evidence is the harsh and rigid living conditions in District 13. She doesn’t realize her influence upon the citizens of Panam. We readers get a glimpse of it when she visits District 8. Her visit to the hospital, her jump to the rooftop to down Capitol hovercrafts, her defiant pledge to Snow: If We Burn, so will You. The girl on fire when she is spontaneous has a truly warm and giving heart. Her views on the killing of all the people in District 2’s Nut is also evident, but her decision to kill the Capitol woman and her vote in whether or not to hold a last Hunger Game floored me. I cheered her action at Snow’s execution.

But what Collins did to Peeta, Finnick, and Prim really surprised me into a furious rage against Ms. Collins. I absolutely loved those characters. Poor Haymitch, he was getting so likable and strong, only to end up a drunk once again. The resolution of the love triangle surprised me, but really didn’t. It had to be resolved in that way for the girl on fire, since the trilogy was Katniss’ story. I have to admit that I again teared up, especially in the epilogue; a fine way to end the Hunger Games saga with children playing in the Meadow. My emotional reaction clearly is entwined within my rating of MOCKINGJAY, but I can’t help it.


Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough , The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough

5 Stars

I fell in love with this book plain and simple. The movie adaptation of The Thorn Birds faithfully adhered to Colleen McCullough’s epic saga of the Cleary family, Drogheda, and Ralph de Bricassart in the unforgiving Australian Outback. Meggie Cleary is wonderfully dimensional from when we first meet her as a wee child to the old woman she is at the end of the book. My heart swelled and broke for her all throughout the story. Her love for Ralph de Bricassart did not offend me as a traditional Catholic for McCullough wrote her epic novel when the Church was losing many of its priests and nuns in favor of marriage. What better “forbidden love” could she have chosen? None come readily to mind.

But I confess I struggled with liking Father Ralph. He enjoyed the position of Priest and he had ambition, too much for my liking. He did steal Drogheda from Paddy Cleary and his heirs to further his career in the Church hierarchy. His road to become Cardinal was paramount to him and his disregard for the Clearys and Meggie roiled my blood, but without his aspirations there would not have been life long struggle of forbidden love for his Meggie.

Luke O’Neil was despicable and the allusion that he may have been a latent homosexual was interesting. He was indeed a poor substitute for de Bricassart for Meggie, and I loved it when Meggie told him off by telling him that men were just needed for breeding. How could he have ignored poor Meggie all those years and made her a servant in the Mueller’s household. But then Father Ralph made the entire Cleary family servants to the Church’s property, Drogheda. Anne Mueller’s warning to Meggie about the Greek Gods foreshadowed Justine and Dane’s stories. How cruel to lose Dane to the same God that prevented her love and marry Ralph. Justine with her unusual eyes and iron temperament of the Clearys, Armstrongs, and O’Neils rejection of Drogheda and Meggie was so sad. Meggie became like Fee and her daughter became like Lucas O’Neil. But without these sad stories and endings The Thorn Birds couldn’t sing the sweet but hauntingly beautiful notes of the dying bird impaled on its thorn as it dies.


Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments Heartsick (Gretchen Lowell, #1) by Chelsea Cain , Heartsick by Chelsea Cain

4.5 Stars

My friend Michelle recommended this deliciously dark thriller months ago, and boy was she right with her recommendation! Chelsea Cain has created a serial killer like no other I’ve read with the exception of Tom Harris’ Hannibal Lector. Yes, he has met his match in Gretchen Lowell. She is beautiful. She manipulates. She gets under the skins of her vulnerable victims. She tortures and kills with pleasure. Only 1 out of her 200 victims has survived: Archie Sheridan. Or has he?

The former homicide detective and Beauty Killer Task Force leader is still on medical leave. Sheridan is a broken man. He has lost his family. He is addicted to pain medication. He forever bears the scars that the Beauty Killer afflicted upon his body and mind. He still sees his tormentor every Sunday as part of the plea deal Gretchen has gotten. And he finds comfort in these visits. (Whoa!) But a new killer has surfaced in Portland, OR. Three teen-aged girls have been found murdered and raped. And Sheridan is to lead up the new task force to catch the After School Strangler. Can he pull himself together long enough to catch this new serial killer and perhaps put his demons away for good? The Press will be watching closely. Hungry bohemian reporter, Susan Ward, will be there to do an expose on both Sheridan and the investigation. And her reportage sets off a deadly game between herself, Sheridan, the killer, and Gretchen Lowell.

Cain never lets up. Her pace is fast. Her writing is great. She builds the suspense quickly and never slows down. She has created great characters that readers want to like and care about. I’m glad to see that many of them will be carried through to the next installment of the Archie Sheridan/Gretchen Lowell series, Sweetheart.


message 5: by Anne (Booklady) (last edited Jun 15, 2012 03:27AM) (new)

Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin , Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by *Tom Franklin

4 Stars

“The Rutherford girl had been missing eight days when Larry Ott returned home and found a monster waiting in his house.”

He is not surprised. Larry had been an outcast for as long as he could remember. He was an odd child: he loved to read, he was mechanically disinclined, and he was the only child of lower - middle class parents. His mother prayed that he would find a friend and he did in Silas Jones, the son of a single poor woman. They were as different as day and night. Larry was white. Silas was black. This difference was paramount in the late 1970’s in rural Mississippi, but friends they were until Carl Ott forced them to fight and an ugly utterance softly left one boy’s lips. The two boys still stole glances at the other for a few years until Cindy Walker went missing after a drive-in movie date with Larry. He told everyone, he didn’t know where she was; the county’s Sheriff and residents didn’t believe him. No body was found. No charges were filed, and he’d gone from “crazy” Larry to “scary” Larry with no friends and no customers at his car repair shop. Silas “32” Jones has returned after 20 years and is the small town’s Constable. He believes Larry is guilty of kidnapping Tina Rutherford. His belief has nothing to do with the suspicions around Larry, though. “32” has several secrets of his own. Will he have to disclose them to lift suspicions from his former boyhood pal? Does he really want to?

Guilt, betrayal, and friendship run through Tom Franklin’s beautifully written novel. It isn’t your typical mystery thriller. There is a psychological thriller undertone to CROOKED LETTER, CROOKED LETTER but the real story is the friendship of the young Larry and Silas and how Silas views his relationship with Larry 25 years later. The mysteries are woven into the men’s stories as flashbacks during Silas’ investigation. My heart reached out to Larry and Silas. I won’t forget these wonderful characters for a very long time. Tom Franklin captures the mood and dialogue of the rural South in the late 70’s and early 80’s to a Tee. I was in Mobile, AL then, and I can attest to it. It is an easy read that a reader can’t put down, because Franklin has the reader’s emotions in his hands until the very last word.


Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments The Tiger's Wife by Téa Obreht , The Tiger's Wife by *Téa Obreht

2 Stars

I couldn’t wait to read THE TIGER’S WIFE. My sister in law and aunts loved it. My sister even brought it with her on the plane to Ft. Lauderdale. She told me to read it while she’s visiting. So with much enthusiasm, I did just that and was slightly disappointed with the novel. The premise intrigued me.

Natalia learns of her beloved grandfather while on her way to inoculate orphans in a small village in what could only be the former Yugoslavia. She has hidden the fact that her grandfather is terminally ill and is genuinely surprised that he died in a smaller village near the orphanage. He had come down to help a couple of severely injured boys. And she tries to figure out his death through his stories of the tiger’s wife and the “deathless” man.

The Doctor had always been fascinated by Shere Kahn from The Jungle Book and the deaf – mute butcher’s wife from his home village. The Doctor was also attracted to the man who never grew old and could never die. These two stories run parallel throughout the book and merge together toward the end.

But the storyline seemed disjointed and off putting tangents sprung up too often. While Tea Obreht writes well, there was just too much distance between these offshoots and their connection to the main storyline for my taste. Had the book been better structured, I might have loved THE TIGER’S WIFE.


Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments Kill Shot (Mitch Rapp, #2) by Vince Flynn , Kill Shot by Vince Flynn

4 Stars

Vince Flynn has thoroughly fleshed out one of my favorite characters – Mitch Rapp in this 12th outing of his highly successful Mitch Rapp series. Some readers will undoubtedly say that KILL SHOT is the sequel to the prequel, AMERICAN ASSASSIN, and therefore is the 2nd in this high octane series. Both statements are true to avid Vince Flynn Fans.

Mitch Rapp has finished his grueling training, and has been systematically killing known terrorists from a list that his CIA handler, Irene Kennedy, and her boss, Thomas Stanton, have put together. And Mitch is good at ferreting out the men on the list and delivering the kill shot until one night in Paris. His nemeses Stan Hurley and Victor are secretly delighted. They both want him out of the secret counter-terrorism unit for very different reasons. Now is their chance to eliminate Rapp. Tarek has Rapp’s kill shot trademark, but the girl he was with, 4 bodyguards, and two hotel guests and an employee are riddled with bullet holes. It was an ambush. Rapp was set up. Who betrayed him? And who wants him dead?

Rapp is wounded. He’s angry. And a pissed off Mitch Rapp is deadlier than he’s ever thought to been. He is only sure of one thing; he will kill whoever set him up. The hunter now is the hunted, and the only person he can trust is the woman he loves. And if his bosses knew of his relationship with Greta, he is as good as dead. Rapp will need all of the skills he learned on the Virginia farm to evade the French Police, France Intelligence, the CIA Cleaners, and the terrorists if he is to survive and kill the traitor within his small unit.

KILL SHOT is slightly less riveting than Flynn’s other novels. It does take some predictable turns, but this is probably due to the fact that Flynn was being treated for prostrate cancer while writing KILL SHOT. That being said, Flynn still rocks it. The plot is fast; his writing is almost flawless. We readers finally know the young Mitch Rapp, before the years have made him a slightly jaded loner and one of the CIA’s best operatives. I can’t wait until Flynn’s THE LAST MAN comes out in November, 2012.


Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments 11/22/63 by Stephen King , 11/22/63 by Stephen King

3.5 Stars

Haven’t we all wished we could go back in time and do over some things in our life? We don’t think of the cost to ourselves or the world as we know it. Every action good or bad has a causal effect on modern day time, so Stephen King illustrates in his well written 11/22/63.

‘The past is obdurate.’

It resists change as Jake Epping finds out. The bigger the change in the past, the bigger effect on the time continuum and its harmony is broken in modern day. But the 35 year-old English teacher will risk the obdurate past to change the course of history by stopping Lee Harvey Oswald. JFK will live. But at what cost? Jake’s friend, Al Templeton, has returned to 2011 5 years older and terminally ill. Jake hesitates, wanting proof that changes made in the past will be positive. He has something in mind. The man who doesn’t cry wept as he read an essay written by one of his more mature GED students, Harry Dunning. Frank Dunning killed his entire family with a hammer on Halloween 1958 with the exception of Harry. If he can save the Dunning family, Jake will try to stop the JFK assassination. And so he begins the descent into Lisbon Falls, Maine through Al’s diner. It is 11:58 A.M, September 9, 1958. The past has reset. No matter how long Jake is gone, when he returns to the diner, he will have only been gone from 2011 two minutes.

After a harrowing eight weeks in Derry, Jake is relieved to be back in Lisbon Falls. He steps over the chain fence to go back to Al’s “rabbit hole.” The yellow card man is now the orange card man and Epping is afraid. He’s prevented a massacre, a young girl’s shooting, and a young man’s despair. Jimla! cries the orange card man. Yes, Epping is a changed man. But the orange card man sees him as a ghost or a monster. Monster or not, Epping returns to 2011 and is mostly pleased with the changes he has made. He will do what Al Templeton cannot. As George Amberson, Jake will find out if Oswald is solely responsible for the assassination. If he is, then Epping/Amberson will stop Oswald. He will not fail to do what is necessary to keep the young President alive on that November morning. But when he returns to 1958 Lisbon Falls, he sees a frightening sight: the orange card man has changed and his card is black. But Jake can’t think about that. He has to save the Dunning family and Carolyn Poulin again before going to Texas. When his business is done in Maine, Epping immerses himself into his new identity and heads south. His travels take him to Florida’s Gold Coast to Jodie, Texas. George Amberson is a substitute teacher who is writing a murder mystery, The Murder Place. To further complicate his mission, Jake/George meets an attractive but clumsy librarian. Sadie Dunhill is the love of Jake/George’s life. Will he be successful in his mission? Will he leave 1963 or stay in the past? Can he stay?

The addition of the love story between Jake and Sadie pleasantly surprised me. The lovers’ story worked and added tension to the central plot. King’s research of Oswald and the JFK assassination is evident, because as he said in an interview: the event of 11/23/63 was his generation’s September 11th. What I didn’t particularly like was the bashing of Republicans: if Democrats were elected, all is well. May be, and may not. My family is what would be considered as “blue dog” Democrats with a few Republicans in the mix. And everyone loved Kennedy. It may have been the fresh approach the young President took that gave the country hope. I don’t know. I was 5 years old when JFK was killed, but I remember watching JFK, Jr. salute the funeral procession and my parents’ tears. I felt their sadness for quite a while after Kennedy’s burial in Arlington National Cemetery. I would find books on their nightstand about the Kennedy’s and the Assassination mingled with books on WWII and the Depression for many years. Could Viet Nam been avoided as Al Templeton firmly believed? Could 9/11 been a bad CIA scenario? We will never know. We can only theorize. King tells a tale that we all wish could have happened, albeit with better consequences. But life turns on a dime.


Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments Dance with Me by Luanne Rice , Dance with Me by *Luanne Rice

4 Stars

The subject of this book hit close to home for me since I am both adopted and have seen first hand a birth mother struggle with her choice to relinquish her rights to her child. It is not an easy decision and what-if questions are always near the surface. So I drawn to this lovely novel.

I loved the characters, the plot line, and Rice's sensitivity in her telling of the two stories so much that DANCE WITH ME kept me reading nonstop for 10 hours. I felt the pain, joy, tears, and laughter of these great characters. The depth, the twists and turns of life, and the genuine emotion of each character and his or her role in the drama of the life Luann Rice breathes into and around is sound, down to Earth, and genuine. The story lines are not corrupted.

The mother who gave up her child leads an unhappy, lonely life while she sees that this lovely free-spirit has had a happy life, despite teenager angst. The devestated father comes home and finds solace and possible happiness. The reader will appreciate how the teenager and her birth mother connects with him. Connections break and never be reconnected perfectly, but grafting two broken pieces create a wonderful new thing! I believe this is one Rice's best books.


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Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments Little Women by Louisa May Alcott , Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

5 Stars

I am so glad and grateful that Louisa May Alcott was cajoled into writing a novel for girls. LITTLE WOMEN has stood the test of time since it was published as two separate works: “Little Women” and “Good Wives.” We readers are privy to a fictionalized story of the Alcott family to a certain extent, but yet a totally different household is described. Set in Massachusetts during and in the immediate years after the Civil War, Alcott introduces strong characters that have truly become beloved by many a reader.

The four March girls – pragmatic Meg, free spirited Jo, sweet Beth, and artistic but childish Amy – live in genteel poverty with their devoted and strong Marmee. Mr. March is away, serving as a Chaplin in the Civil War. Despite their impoverished status, the girls are happy; they have one another. They work. They play: clever productions abound due to Jo’s pen and wild imagination. Music is gentle Beth’s contribution, while Amy loves beautiful things and tries to capture them in her art. Their circle becomes larger as the “good boy” next door shares their fun and gives what he can to the Marches and Teddy seals his status as the little women’s adoptive brother.

The second half of LITTLE WOMEN opens with Meg’s wedding. Mr. March is now home fully recovered from pneumonia that shook the sisters, but little Beth seems weaker from the life threatening illness that almost tumbled the March foundation. Even old Mr. Lawrence is changed. No one really sees Beth’s withering health and life goes along. Jo leaves home to work as a governess to a family friend. She has to put distance between her and “her boy.” She has plenty of time to write and soon finds her destiny. Amy is abroad traveling with her Aunts March and Carol and also meets her destiny.

I never tire reading this wonderful story. Miss Alcott is an exquisite writer. Some words may be outdated, but great writing is not. Her characterization rings true to each girl and Laurie, though I am still mystified why Alcott chose Marmee to get Meg’s first kiss after she was declared married to her groom. Amy was another surprise – I had always thought she was shallow and spoiled, but she is the character who underwent the most transformation. I finally liked all four sisters. Like so many of my favorite books, I put LITTLE WOMEN back upon my shelves feeling bittersweet that I finished it.


message 11: by Anne (Booklady) (last edited Jul 05, 2012 09:03PM) (new)

Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments Hemingway's Key West by Stuart B. McIver , Hemingway's Key West by Stuart B. McIver

2.5 Stars, Not what I Expected

Referred by author and friend John Dos Passos as just the place for "ole Hem...to dry out his bones" after spending another brutally cold, wet winter in Paris's Left Bank, Ernest Hemingway and pregnant second wife Pauline landed in Key West in the spring of 1928. It was just supposed to be vacation stop before traveling to north to Pauline's ancestral home in Arkansas to give birth to their first child. But a delay in the arrival of the yellow Model A Ford roadster (a wedding gift from Pauline's wealthy uncle Gus) gave the author the time to fall in love with the small town that he dubbed the "St. Tropez of the Poor." For the next decade Ernest Hemingway would write, fish, drink, and end his second marriage in this island town. And Key West would remain his most productive work environment on American soil. Among the palm fronds, bougainvillea, hibiscus, oleander and other tropical foliage outside his studio on the second floor carriage house Hemingway completed such works as A Farewell To Arms, Death in The Afternoon, Winner Take Nothing, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, The Short Life of Francis Macomber, and his Key West novel To Have And Have Not.

Florida historian and author Stuart McIver title promises the reader an adventure, but delivers a hodge-podge non cohesive book about Hemingway or of Key West during the time the great author lived there. Why was this decade Ernest Hemingway's most productive? What was the "it" Key West possessed that Ernest found his words flowing at around a 7 pencil day rate? Why Papa got on well and kept his Key West friends (the Mob) as life-long friends but lost many of the "out of town talent" mob members? How his marriage and later his divorce to Pauline changed the townspeople from supporting him to support Pauline, thusly diminishing slightly some important lifelong relationships to his "Key West Mob"? McIver fails to answer these questions adequately or he fails to answer these questions and repeats facts and events from other chapters. Also McIver glosses over two cataclysmic events that had profane effects on the great author: the Great Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 and the meeting and subsequent affair with Martha Gellhorn whom eventually became Ernest's third wife.

I found the chapters on Hemingway's beloved boat Pilar (named for the daughter he desperately wanted but could never have) and his deep sea fishing very enlightening as well as the Walking tour of Papa's Key West, but the chapters on Cuba and the Key West of today didn't really enhance or fulfill the promise the author gives the reader: full answers as to why Hemingway loved Key West and was the most productive in that island city and his relationships he developed there. As a Florida resident many of anecdotal stories told in this short volume are widely known and probably to the Hemingway aficionado.


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Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson , Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

1 Star

When I first read DR. JEKYLL and MR. HYDE 39 years ago as a sophomore in high school, I disliked it. And I disliked yet again. By no means do I not like Robert Louis Stephenson; I remember TREASURE ISLAND with fondness. He is a wonderful writer with a distinct voice among those who wrote during the Victorian era. But I do understand his small novel better now than I did when I was sixteen. It is indeed a tale of good versus evil, but it is also one of man’s hubris – dividing oneself to escape guilt of actions that are despicable with no consequences to the “good” side.

Originally published in 1886 as a periodical, Stephenson shows us the battle royal within man’s soul. Drinking an elixir, the good Dr. Jekyll unleashes his inner carnal longings in the form of Mr. Hyde. At first, Mr. Hyde is small in structure, ugly, and deformed. As his escapades increase in their pure evil, so does Hyde grow in structure and strength. Hyde tramples a little girl and murders Sir Carew. The good Doctor is horrified and refrains from “transforming,” but Hyde is strong now and frequently comes out unbidden driving Dr. Jekyll to the brink of insanity and self destruction.

Unlike the many film adaptations, we readers do not witness these transformations as they are happening. We witness them through Mr. Utterson’s witnesses and through letters written by Drs. Laylon and Jekyll, himself. Stevenson captures the descent of a good man descent into an evil insanity and Victorian London in his wondrous creepy descriptions.


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Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments Men Without Women by Ernest Hemingway , Men Without Women by Ernest Hemingway

4 Stars

First published in 1927, MEN WITHOUT WOMEN is a collection of short stories that foreshadows Ernest Hemingway’s later books. As the title implies, not many women appear in the stories with one exception where a couple discusses abortion in “Hills Like White Elephants”. The dialogue is so breathtakingly beautiful; that I cried knowing the un-named women was so conflicted. Her pain and confusion leapt off the page.

Nick Adams makes an appearance in “Ten Indians” and gets his heart broken when he finds out his Indian girlfriend has betrayed him. In “The Undefeated” we are in the bull ring with three matadors – 2 young and 1 that is past his prime. I cried here too at the beauty of the matadors dance, but my heart was heavy as the bull loses his life. “Banal Story” is Hemingway’s tribute to the great Maera. I believe these sketches, as Hemingway called his short stories, are fleshed out more in THE SUN ALSO RISES and DEATH IN THE AFTERNOON.

Crime visits a diner in “The Killers.” The dialogue of the two Chicago hit men was amusing in a very dark way and may have given the great writer the idea to write TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT. Hemingway treats us to a story devoted to one of his favorite pastimes in “Fifty Grand.” A pugilist has decided he’s done and bets against himself in a big fight and I loved the story. “In Another Country” and “Now I Lay Me” are shadows of what we will read in A FAREWELL TO ARMS.


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Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell , Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

10 Stars!!!

I remember going to the old Orpheum Theater with my mother and my best friend to see “Gone With the Wind” ’in the summer of 1969. I was so excited to see my first grown up film. I can see the maroon curtains unveiling the movie screen as the lights dimmed. Not a sound could be heard, but the opening strains of music and there was Tara! I was smitten. Laura and I sat through the second showing too. Exhausted, but roiled up was I when I got home. On my lonely supper plate laid my very first copy of Margaret Mitchell’s GONE WITH THE WIND! Needless to say, I wolfed down supper and went to my room and began reading the book that I’ve had a love affair with since that summer day.

With each reading I notice something I’ve missed in prior readings. I still find Slavery to be the abomination as it has always been. And it must have been harder to read about a mere 75 years after the end of the Civil War in 1936 when GONE WITH THE WIND was first published. I’m not surprised that this epic historical novel won the Pulitzer Prize in 1937. Mitchell has created a multitude cast of characters, giving each their own distinct voice. The reader can tell the difference between Pork, Mammy, Prissy, and Uncle Peter and that is credit to Mitchell. But even minor characters sound different. Tara, Twelve Oaks, and Atlanta also become fascinating characters too. As Tara represents the ability to change as the new South rises in defeat of its old genteel feudal life style where every man, women, and child are free to live as they want. Twelve Oaks reflects the Old South that is forever torn asunder. It is Ashley’s South. He doesn’t fit in with the change. He and Melanie are perfect for each other. She understands him and the dream that was the Old South.

Rhett Butler hates that Old South because it tossed him out and turned its back on him. His bitterness fuels his pleasure as he sees its demise as Atlanta burns and his pockets are full of Gold. He is the most transformed character in GONE WITH THE WIND. I’d never observed his transformation as I did in this reading. No wonder the 35 year old fell for the fiery self willed 16 year old Scarlett O’Hara. Not only is she spirited, she possess a dogged determination of those who seem to get their way most of the time. It is Scarlett whom Aunt Pitty and Melanie feel safe in the absence of a man in their Atlanta household. It is Scarlett who makes sure her kith and kin are safe, housed, and fed. She tells us that she’ll never be hungry again no matter if she has to cheat, steal, or commit murder. So it’s no surprise that she marries for convenience after she had married to make Ashley miserable and silence wagging tongues at Twelve Oaks. I felt sorry for her boys; she really was a mother only to her precious Bonnie. And how on Earth could she have loved a wuss like Ashley Wilkes when she had a grown man who loved her? I’d like to think that Scarlett O’Hara Hamilton Kennedy Butler got her man back after she returns to Tara. The land always gives her strength and regenerates her spirits. But I wonder if she realized too late that she loved Rhett and really belonged with him? Well after all, tomorrow is another day.


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Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments One Good Dog by Susan Wilson , One Good Dog by *Susan Wilson

4 Stars

Three words forever change Adam March :your sister called. How had Veronica found him? And what right has she to have called? It’s been forty years since he watched her boots walk out of the door from his hiding place under the table. It has taken Adam back to a painful past that he has carefully locked away. His beautiful wife and daughter have no clue what it has cost him to become what he is today. Fearing the worst, he calls to his personal assistant for an explanation. Sophie ignores him, too absorbed in her personal email. His fury is white hot after several attempts to get the young woman’s attention. He rises from his desk and goes to her and does the unthinkable. He slaps Sophie!

Sitting in the courtroom, the former self made millionaire has lost it all, except his humility. Adding to his belief that he is really the victim in this situation, the judge sentencing him to community service places the former “golden boy” of commerce to do his hours in a homeless shelter. He has lost his job, his perfect reputation, his home, his wife and daughter, now he must subject himself to bums. Oh great.

Meanwhile, Chance is living in cage in a basement. He is a mixed Pit Bull and is battle scarred. He is a fighter. And he’s a proud champion, though he really doesn’t want to fight. He must or face certain death or be bred to death. He hates the basement and the boys who fight him. Chance dreams of freedom, and does get it. He finds a mentor on the street and crosses paths with Adam. Will these two unlikely pair decide to belong to one another? They are both Alpha dogs and a chain of events will decide their fate.

Susan Wilson has created a wonder story. She totally fooled me with the first narrator, until he wagged his tail. Having both Chance and Adam tell their stories is a stroke of genius and works incredibly well. Even after they meet and their stories become one, Adam and Chance alternate the narration. I found Chance delightful. Adam grew on me. Together they work as a man and dog should. There are some humorous as well as tearful moments in ONE GOOD DOG. I dreaded the ending after reading The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein, but the ending is the way it is supposed to be for Adam and Chance. Readers will love it. ONE GOOD DOG is one of those books that will stay with you for awhile and a go-to-read when you need warm emotional hug.


message 16: by Anne (Booklady) (new)

Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon , The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

2.5 Stars

I didn’t quite like THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME. I can’t pin point exactly why I didn’t care for it. The premise of the novel was unique and Haddon’s execution was great for the first half of the story then flattened in the second half in my opinion. I found Christopher’s mother lacking and disappointing. Christopher Boone was amazing and gave great insight to the inner workings of the mind of an Autistic teen. And we readers are reading the book that he has written as he is detecting the case of murdered Wellington. At least that is my impression.

But there is a deeper secret that emerges from Christopher’s investigation; one that completely implodes the teen’s orderly world. He doesn’t like to talk to people he doesn’t know. He doesn’t like to be touched. He loves mathematics and wants to be an Astronaut. Above everything else, he can’t lie and keeps promises. He conquers his fear and interviews neighbors on his street about the death of the black poodle. Mrs. Alexander says something that piques Christopher’s curiosity and things begin to blow up in his world. He can no longer trust the one person he depends upon: his father. And Christopher is forced to face all of his fears as he makes his way to London.

The numbering of the chapters in prime numbers and the illustrations within the novel all fit with Christopher as the narrator, but something was off as I said in the beginning. Perhaps it was all of the mathematical equations or the endless descriptions of space and constellations, I really don’t know. I just know that I felt exhausted when I closed the book.


message 17: by Anne (Booklady) (new)

Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments Knock Out (FBI Thriller, #13) by Catherine Coulter , Knock Out by Catherine Coulter

4.5 Stars

I stopped reading Catherine Coulter’s FBI Thriller Series a few years ago. I don’t remember why, because the series books are always good and fast paced. Knock Out is no exception.

Special Agent Dillon is waiting in line inside a D.C. bank when the infamous Gang of Four burst in, demanding money. He hits the floor with the other customers, his hand in his jacket pocket speed dialing his wife, Agent Lacey Sherlock. Sherlock hears the gunshots and screams – she is immediately on the way with FBI re-enforcements. Things end quite badly for the thieves: only the 16 year-old robber survives. And once again, Dillon is in the news. He is a hero, and 7 year-old Autumn Backman needs one.

She calls Savich at midnight. He bolts up in his Georgetown bed. He’s not used to getting telepathic messages from one so young. Autumn is afraid of her late father’s family. She has seen something in their private cemetery that she shouldn’t have seen. And there is Blessed. He can take over a person’s mind. He and her Uncle Grace are coming for them. She needs Dillon to stop them before they kill her mother and take Autumn back to Georgia. Uncle Tollie isn’t in Titusville, Virginia, but Sheriff Ethan Merriweather is. Could Dillon come, please? Before it’s too late?

Savich is busy. Lissy Smiley has escaped from the hospital with the help of Victor. Her cousin is the Gang of Four’s get-away driver. Lissy has sworn to kill Savich and the bank security guard for killing her mother during the robbery. Dillon will have to rely more on his telepathic ability rather than his computer MAX to help Autumn and catch two young killers as they leave a trail of bodies. Though, Ethan has vowed to keep Joanna and Autumn safe, he doesn’t know what he’s up against. Sherlock has a vague idea from an old case involving religious cults. It will take all three to stop the Backmans from gathering Autumn into their evil fold. the married agents will have their hands full trying to help Autumn while pursuing Lissy and Victor.

Coulter writes in breathtaking pace building twists in a well arced plot by focusing on the paranormal suspense. The villains are pure evil psychopaths. She got me with the ending – I was completely caught off guard. Autumn’s mother, Joanna, was intriguing and no wonder Sheriff Merriweather wanted to shake her. But how could she be straight forward about Autumn’s gift when she wasn’t certain of it herself. All she knows is that Sheperd, Grace, and Blessed are pure evil with paranormal gifts and they are after her and Autumn.


message 18: by Anne (Booklady) (new)

Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments Sweetheart (Gretchen Lowell, #2) by Chelsea Cain , Sweetheart by Chelsea Cain

3 Stars

”Forest Park was pretty in the summer. Portland’s ash sky was barely visible behind a canopy of aspens, hemlock, cedars, and maples that filtered the light to a shimmering pale green. A light breeze tickled the leaves. Morning glories and ivy crept up the mossy tree trunks and strangled the blackberry bushes and ferns, a mass of crawling vines that piled up waist-high on either side of the packed dirt path. The creek hummed and churned, birds chirped. It was all very lovely, very Walden, except for the corpse.”

It’s been two months that Archie has seen Gretchen Lowell. He has moved in with his ex-wife and kids. But the body in Forest Park has brought him back to her. Here in the park, a young runaway was buried – Archie’s first Beauty Killer homicide. And any homicide detective will tell you; you don’t forget your first. When a couple of more bodies are found, Archie, Henry, Claire, and the “Hardy Boys” wonder if they’ve found more of Gretchen’s victim’s. But Susan Ward has identified one of the bodies as Molly Palmer. Her story about Senator Castle and the dead girl has been killed, because her beloved mentor Parker has driven off a bridge with Castle in his car. Sheridan wants to see Gretchen about the other two bodies, but there has been an incident at the prison: an incident in which she manages to escape custody. Archie must race against time to keep his family, Susan, and his friends safe from his former nemesis, even if it means sacrificing himself.

Again, Chelsea Cain writes a great hook, but unfortunately loses her edgy prose in SWEETHEART and has succeeded in turning Archie Sheridan from a compelling survivor of the Beauty Killer into a sniffling love-sick puppy. Susan Ward has now become an amateur sleuth and has lost some of her edginess that I so loved. SWEETHEART read like a continuation of Heartsick rather than a sequel. The cases intertwine without the police noticing which I found bordering on the bizarre as I did with the brand placing within the novel. But it still is a nice, fast read for the beach or a rainy day.


message 19: by Anne (Booklady) (new)

Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments It's Classified by Nicolle Wallace , It's Classified by *Nicolle Wallace

3.37 Stars

It's Classified is the continuation of Nicolle Wallace’s Eighteen Acres. President Charlotte Kramer has won re-election with her new Vice President, Tara Meyers. Charlotte’s best friend, Melanie Kingston, is now the new Secretary of State. And she has kept Dale Smith close by allowing her to become the Democratic Veep’s Communication Director. Tara is finding it difficult to adjust in Washington, D.C. and into her new job. It isn’t because Kramer is a Republican nor the new “unity” Administration they built can’t work; it is because Tara Meyers is hiding a dark secret. A secret so dark, the whole Executive Branch could crumble in disgrace. And when a very credible threat to the United States is discovered, Madam Vice President Meyers must take the lead since Kramer is out of the country. The threat level is raised, and Meyer’s subsequent actions are questioned by the East and West Wing staffs, Congress, and the Press.

Amid the “classified” situations actions by the Chief of Staff, Dale Smith, and Craig have dramatic consequences: impeachment of the first woman President. Relationships are severely strained and tested. The Executive Branch is in turmoil. Who will survive? Who won’t? Well, it’s classified.

Nicolle Wallace has written a satisfying sequel and left room for a possible third book. Tara Meyers comes across as a very sympathetic character, while Dale Smith seems to have grown somewhat. Charlotte Kramer still looks through rose colored glasses and seems to trust the wrong people. She should listen to her gut more. Kingston takes more of a background role, unfortunately and Craig isn’t the character I thought he was. IT’S CLASSIFIED isn’t as good as EIGHTEEN ACRES was, but still a good read. If there is a third book, I will definitely read it.


message 20: by Anne (Booklady) (new)

Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments The Fifth Witness by Michael Connelly , The Fifth Witness by *Michael Connelly

3 Stars

Mickey Haller has taken up foreclosure law since there aren’t enough criminals who can pay in the down economy. He and his new associate, Bullocks, are getting $4000 per case, and some satisfaction that Haller and Associates can delay the inevitable for hundreds of people. But when one of his first foreclosure clients, Lisa Trammell, is arrested for the murder of Mitchell Boudrant, he quickly goes back to criminal law. He soon believes that the former school teacher is being set up for murdering the bank vice president who initiated her foreclosure. The evidence against her is mostly circumstantial.

She is a single mother whose husband has left her. She is the face of FLAG, a group fighting illegal and sometimes fraudulent tactics of the banks holding the paper of mortgage loans. She has been on national news picketing the bank where the victim worked. She has a restraining order to stay off bank property. When Haller is brutally assaulted, he and his team believe they finally have an innocent client and are on the right track. But they need a “fifth witness” to prove their client innocent. Who also had motive to kill Boudrant and frame Lisa Trammell?

Without being trite, Michael Connelly uses the “ripped from the headlines” as an elaborate backdrop and motive for murder. However, I learned way too much about foreclosure law and its processes for my taste. Some scenes had tongue in cheek humor to offset the (almost) endless courtroom proceedings: Haller is discussing a movie deal and is asked how he would feel if Matthew McConaughey would be a good choice to play Mickey Haller. The courtroom scenes sometimes droned on and on not keeping up to the Bolero reference. We readers learn more of Haller’s private life and private struggles and that was wonderful. Will he and Maggie “MacFierce” get back together? Will he continue with criminal law? I can’t wait to find out in the next Haller installment!


message 21: by Anne (Booklady) (new)

Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan , Maine by J. Courtney SullivanMaine

2 Stars

MAINE had been recommended to me by a trusted clerk at my local Barnes and Noble. Marnie usually picks great reads, and the blurb on the back interested me: three generations of the Kelleher family gather to the family’s Maine beach house for the last time with secrets in tow.

“For the Kellehers, Maine is a place where children run in packs, showers are taken outdoors, and old Irish songs are sung around a piano. As three generations of women arrive at the family's beach house, each brings her own hopes and fears. Maggie is thirty-two and pregnant, waiting for the perfect moment to tell her imperfect boyfriend the news; Ann Marie, a Kelleher by marriage, is channeling her domestic frustration into a dollhouse obsession and an ill-advised crush; Kathleen, the black sheep, never wanted to set foot in the cottage again; and Alice, the matriarch at the center of it all, would trade every floorboard for a chance to undo the events of one night, long ago. “

MAINE is told by each of the four women. Their stories are told in flashbacks and don’t even get to the beach house until midway through the novel. And each character is unlikable, though Alice is the most interesting of them. Ann Marie just grated on my nerves, while Maggie was just plain silly. Recovering alcoholic Kathleen was a pure witch. Once they all gather together, the constant passive aggressive sniping went on and on until finally the climatical event is revealed. From there the novel runs out of steam, at for me it did. There is really no satisfying ending, and I wondered if J. Courtney Sullivan was as bored with MAINE as I was.

There are no moments of humor to relieve the bitterness and sadness of these characters as there are usually in novels about a dysfunctional family. I didn’t expect a happy ending, but I didn’t expect to feel cheated at the end of MAINE either. After the time I spent with these characters, I wanted to throw the book across the room and shout “Is this all there is?” If you are expecting a good summer read, MAINE may not be that book.


message 22: by Anne (Booklady) (new)

Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum, #17) by Janet Evanovich , Smokin' Seventeen by Janet Evanovich

4 Stars

” My Grandma Mazur called me early this morning.

“I had a dream,” Grandma said. “There was this big horse, and it could fly. And the horse flew over top of you, and started dropping road apples, and you were running around trying to get out of the way of the road apples. And the funny thing was you didn’t have any clothes on except a read lace thong kind of underpants. Anyways, next thing a rhinoceros flew over top your head. And then I woke up. I got a feeling it means something.”

“What?” I asked.

“I don’t know, but it can’t be good.” And she disconnected.”


Stephanie Plum should heed Grandma Mazur’s warning in this hilarious 17th outing of the misadventures of our lovable bounty hunter. A body has been found at the Hamilton street construction site. Vinnie’s Bail Bonds is running out of Mooner’s bus. Joe Morelli’s grandma puts the evil eye on Stephanie. A big zit on her forehead promptly appears. Another body at the site soon appears and Grandma Bella puts the “vordo” on Stephanie. To make matters worse, Stephanie and Lula must track down an odd trio of FTA’s: an elderly vampire, a huge man with an unusual issue, and a wife who ran down her husband. All of them will do anything to keep from going back to jail.

Grandma Mazur and Stephanie’s mother have decided to fix Stephanie’s men problems by playing match maker. Dave Brewer comes from a good family, has been in jail, and he can cook. But Stephanie is more concerned with staying alive and the bodies showing up on her doorstep lovingly addressed, “For Stephanie.” Can she figure out who is committing the murders before it’s too late? Will she finally decide which man wins “the bake off”? Janet Evanovich packs almost as many laughs as action scenes in SMOKIN’ SEVENTEEN. I can’t wait to read EXPLOSIVE EIGHTEEN to find out about the trip to Thailand.


message 23: by Anne (Booklady) (new)

Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo (wwwgoodreadscomAnneMolinarolo) | 939 comments The Sixes by Kate White , The Sixes by Kate White

4.5 Stars

Disgraced celebrity biographer Phoebe Hall is teaching at the small private college in upstate Pennsylvania. She is grateful to Lyle College President, Glenda Johns. Not only is Glenda her best friend, but she was her boarding school roommate until Fortuna. Phoebe has been falsely accused of plagiarism. Her long time boyfriend abruptly ends their relationship. All Phoebe wants is too keep her head down and think about what she will write next. But when a young woman goes missing and Glenda tells her that she believes a secret society of girls called The Sixes may be involved with the coed’s disappearance, Phoebe launches her own investigation.

When Lily Mack’s body is discovered in the river by the Lyle’s bike path, Phoebe learns other students have gone missing. One almost drowned a year before Lily. The Sixes have left her blood running cold by the gifts they’ve sent her. And Lily could have been a member. But could the group be totally out of control that they have moved from mean and hateful pranks to out right murder? Or is there a serial killer on campus? Lyle’s police detectives are keeping information close to their vests, whereas Campus Chief Ball is almost dismissive of both theories. One thing is for sure, someone doesn’t want Phoebe poking around and what happened to her at boarding school starts anew now 25 years later. And Phoebe fears she may not survive this time. She has good reason to be afraid.

The plot snakes this way, then that way, then another way. I have to admit I was surprised at the who-dun-its. Phoebe Hall is a very likable and well developed character. Glenda Johns is slightly less developed and that was sad, since she is the first African-American College President and a working wife and mother. The pace and storylines are taut and suspenseful. Phoebe’s love interest doesn’t get in the way, in fact, it adds to the suspense. The Psychology Professor has his own secrets. Red herrings flow in THE SIXES and are not just placed here and there just to confuse the reader, each has its own purpose. Kate White writes remarkably well and I will seek her books out.


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