Good Books

                                     "WATER FOR ELEPHANTS"

I am an avid reader. There is never a time you will find me not in the middle of some novel. Since people know that I always have a book (actually a Kindle Reader now...) in my hand, they quite often stop and ask me what I am reading, if I can recommend some good books for them to read or they recommend books for me to read. Sometimes those books have been or are being turned into motion pictures and I definitely have one rule where that is concerned...READ THE BOOK FIRST!

I tell people to "read the book first" all of the time and I have never had anyone come back and tell me that the book wasn't better...actually they have told me quite the opposite. Most times, I have read the book before viewing the movie and am very disappointed in the screenplay version. So, when I heard that "Water for Elephants" was coming out at theatres, I hurried to finish the book. Caitlin had actually called when she was in D.C. to recommend the book to me and I quickly added it to my Kindle. So, when the advertisement came out indicating that the movie had been released, she waited patiently as I finished reading it.

On Mother's Day evening, Robby, Caitlin and I all headed to the theatre to see the screen version of "Water for Elephants". Set in The Great Depression Era, I will have to say that this movie turned out pretty good. and for those who did not read the book, I'm sure that they were quite satisfied with the Hollywood version. There were events that were out of order and some that were "Pure Hollywood" ( didn't even exist in the book...), and THIS is exactly why I would recommend reading the book even if you have already seen the movie. I feel that a book takes one on a mental journey. It allows individuals to have a glimpse into the inner most thoughts and relationships of the characters. I realize that most of this information is omitted simply because of time restraints. Just think for a moment about a piece of literature that was transformed into one of the greatest (in my opinion...) movies of all time: "Gone With the Wind". Now THAT movie was done right! However, it IS about four hours long. But in that four hour period, the characters were able to become very well developed, thus the viewer was able to become emotionally connected to the characters.

SO...would I recommend "Water for Elephants"? ABSOLUTELY! As I mentioned before, this book/movie is set in the Depression Era and it gives one a look at not only what life must have been like back then, but also what the life of a traveling circus worker was like. Traveling by train from town to town, living on the road as a gypsy of sorts and the relationship that one man makes with the animals after his charmed life abruptly comes to an end. Read the book first, if possible, but if you've already seen the movie, so ahead and read the book; you will fall more in love with the characters (including Rosie, the elephant...) it is well worth your time!

HAPPY READING! I hope to return soon with lots more fun summer reading material to recommend for you!


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                                                      "THE JOY LUCK CLUB"
Ever since I graduated college I have made a point to not waste my time reading any book that does not interest me.  I have recently been offered the opportunity to write a couple of book reviews before the books are released, but after reading a little synopsis of the book content, decided against it.  However, since I AM always currently reading something, I like to recommend those books that I find extraordinary.  Today, I would like to recommend books written by the author, Amy Tan.

I just finished reading "The Joy Luck Club" and previously read "The Bonesetter's Daughter"; on my bookshelf I have a copies of "Saving Fish From Drowning" and "The Hundred Secret Senses" also just waiting to be read.  Amy Tan is a wonderful author whose books contain a recurrent theme of China and America and the joining of old and new cultures.  Her stories generally revolve around family; Chinese immigrants, specifically the relationships between traditional Chinese mothers, who have raised their daughters in western society and in turn those daughters have lost a bit of their heritage to the great dismay of the elder.

I'm not sure why, but the orient has always fascinated me; even as a child.  In geography, I just loved reading about and viewing photos of Japan and China...thus, my love for books written by Amy Tan, I suppose!  I love her description of China through the eyes of an elderly person, who survived the war torn country of years past.  Their traditions, superstitions, words of "wisdom" and even their tales of long ago, are not unlike those of the elderly we encounter here.  I know at times, we tire of hearing old stories of past times, but Tan allows her readers to experience both sides of the story, per se, allowing the reader to understand the reasons the older person behaves as they do.

As I read her stories, I find that American mothers and daughters are not that different from the Chinese ones found in Tan's books.  Even the relationship that I have with my own mother echos strains of these same issues.  Mother is going to be 83 years old next week and I am 49.  She grew up during The Great Depression, while I grew up in the 60's.  Just like the mothers and daughters in Amy Tan's stories, my mother can at times be a bit ornery, bossy and feels as though "her" way is the only "right" way for something to be done.  I, like the daughters, often times feel she tends to be a little negative or extreme in her views and can't understand why she behaves in that manner.  However, in Tan's stories, reading each person's views and seeing how they were raised and what beliefs were ingrained in them allows us to become thoughtful of our own lives and relationships.

So, if you are looking for a good "summer" (or any time...) read, go the library, bookstore or grab your electronic book source and snatch up a book written by Amy Tan; let her whisk you away on a journey through China, through the generational differences that occur between mothers and daughters.  I assure you, you will not be disappointed!
I read the book, "The Lovely Bones" by Alice Sebold; I did not see the movie. For those of you who did see the movie, but never read the book, I urge you to read the book for a couple of reasons.

First, I read the press that was released prior to the movie and decided at that point that I would not be viewing the movie. I'm really funny about things like that; in my experience, after reading a novel, the movie is always found lacking in my eyes. "The Lovely Bones" is a strong and riveting story and at one point quite disturbing. The disturbing portion of the book is what "makes" the story; this is the part that the movie producers decided to leave out. I remember reading that the part was being left out because the producer wanted to make the movie a PG13 rating so her own child could view it. Well, that decision changed the entire tone of the movie. I know that you must be thinking I'm a little extreme in my opinion, but let me explain.

The reason I believe the scene where the young girl is abducted is vital to the story line is two-fold. First, if one reads the book, it is clear "why" the characters feel the way they do and in turn act in certain ways. Once again I will say..."reading a book puts you inside the characters' heads and allows you to know their thoughts and feelings intimately"; this is something that a movie can never do. Secondly, there is another book by this author that is essential for people to read. This book entitled, "Lucky", is an autobiographical book about an attack and rape that the author suffered while in college. It details her struggle to survive after this horrible event occurred in her life. Now, one can understand how she came to write "The Lovely Bones" and in turn why "I" believe that the movie should have contained "every" portion of the book.

I will, of course, agree that the subject matter contained in both of these books is quite disturbing, but it also shows how people can and do survive horrible situations. Therefore, this is why I would recommend reading BOTH of these books, written not only by a very talented writer, but also someone who is a fighter...a survivor...and ultimately a success. HAPPY READING!
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                                                "THE HELP"
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I HAD to read "The Help". I saw an article in a magazine of mine where this author submitted her manuscript 43 times before it was published; THAT got my attention. I had always intended to read the book before the movie came out, but before I knew it...it was released! I found myself in a tough spot because a bunch of my lady friends got together to see it within the first few days it came out. I frantically read, but was not able to complete it in time to see the movie with them. I just couldn't do that; especially since the author had put so much of herself into the creation of the "written word". So, today, as I completed that last word, I made plans with Robby and Caitlin to head down to the theatre to compare Hollywood's version of "The Help" to the book version that was now rolling around in my head.

First, let me start by saying that I ABSOLUTELY LOVED THE BOOK! There are many reason for that...I LOVE that it was written in the vernacular...I LOVE that is was set during the era that I was born and growing up as a young child in the south...I LOVE that it brought brought back memories of how decorum ruled the day for southern ladies...the only things that I did NOT love was being confronted with the cold, hard facts of how many people treated their "help" back then.

My daddy grew up with "help", we had other family members and friends who grew up with "help"...me? Well, we were not wealthy enough to have "help"; and Mama stayed home with me and cooked and cleaned...why did we need "help" anyway? Hmmm...After getting deep into the book, I realized "why"; it's that age old "status symbol thing"! One of the things that became very clear to me was that there was a code among each social group (and still is today if one truly admits it...) in the book. All of those "uppity" Junior Leaguers HAD to have "help" not just because they NEEDED "help", but because it was "just something proper southern ladies did". Just like they HAD to go to their meetings and card games and benefits...and basically just keep up with one another to the point of all being drones, followers, even if they had other thoughts and ideas of their own; it was "peer pressure" at its finest.

So, although I, personally, did not have "help" growing up, I was around others who did and I would often stop to talk to them and never treat them any differently; I didn't know "help" was supposed to be treated differently. And once I found that out, well, you know me (always rooting for the underdog...) I would go out of my way to be nice and inclusive every time I was around; not understanding (from now reading this book...) that this might have made them uncomfortable. This book opened my eyes a little more to what I already knew...segregation (in the south, particularly...) was more than unkind. These women took care of children, housework, laundry and became very attached to the individuals by whom they were employed. Some individuals were kind in return; others were not. This was the part of the book that was so unsettling; the harshness shown to another human being that one allowed to come into their home and care for their most treasured possession; their children.

Being a product of the 60's, I believe, played a huge role in the manner in which I think, behave and ultimately raised my own children. I can remember (as I am sure most of you can...) those "mean spirited" people in school. The ones who made fun of anybody who was "different". They made jokes and laughed behind their backs and I suppose that this behavior was intended to elevate their own self worth. Others followed their example (as bad as it was...), for to not do so would be to also be excluded...to stand out from the crowd; who wanted that? In "The Help", Skeeter did just that and one can see what happened to her. I never did buy all of that business and promised to spank the behinds of my own children if I ever found out they were doing so. ALL PEOPLE (especially children...) LEARN BY EXAMPLE.

What "example" have you set for your children? Is it one of exclusion all for the sake of society or putting yourself on a pedestal to raise your own self worth? Or have you fostered a spirit or caring and kindness in them? That spirit that says, "You are a person too; one who has feelings and worth and is valued" ? I was once told that, "The apple doesnt' fall far from the tree", by a teaching supervisor. I have always remember that and done a lot of observations over the years concerning that saying. I have to admit that she was EXACTLY RIGHT. When YOUR "apple" falls from the tree, I hope that it bakes a nice pie that is pleasing to the nose and mouth and NOT a piece of fruit that lays underneath that tree so long that it become sour or rotten.

"The Help"...would I recommend reading it? ABSOLUTELY! It is one of the best books that I have read in a while. It is very well-written and thought provoking. Funny at some times and sad at others. I saw the movie. A LOT was understandably left out. PLEASE, do not cheat yourself on this one...READ THE BOOK! HAPPY READING...
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                               "THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO"
I kept seeing this collection of books and had picked a copy up in the bookstore a couple of times to thumb through. They looked interesting and were all on the New York Times Best Seller List; they had to be worth my time to read. So, I did what I always do...I downloaded a "sample" to my Kindle...and began to READ.

"The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo",along with "The Girl Who Played With Fire" and "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" were written by Stieg Larsson. He was a Swedish magazine editor and leading expert in the area of extremist politics. He wrote these three novels, turned them in and then died. That, along with the fact that all three books were on the New York Times Best Seller List made them very intriguing for me. These books should definitely be read in order, with "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" being first.

"The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" is very well written and quite descriptive. Don't give up when you first start reading the book because it gives lots of background information regarding Sweden and the political tone of the country. Then, there is a great deal of time also spent on developing the characters. I believe these things are very important, due to the fact that the two following books in this series will also revolve around the same main characters, Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander. Mikael is a writer with a conscience, who finds himself in a bit of trouble and Lisbeth is "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo". She is a very odd, anti-social girl of sorts, who is also a computer genius. The two meet, while working on an unsolved murder case that has been going on for many years.

"The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" is a very compelling read. After getting past all of the background information, it quickly pulled me into the story line and kept my attention to the very end. As I mentioned before, these books should be read in order. Book 1 develops the characters and their relationships with one another; that is how it is related to the other two books. The other two are the same story line, with "The Girl Who Played With Fire" (Book 2) leaving the reader hanging (and longing to continue reading...) on the last page.

I would recommend that you pick this book up quickly if you intend to read it it because, while at the movie theater last weekend, I saw a preview of the up-coming movie. I am anxious to see the movie for a couple of reasons: First, there is a movie already made on Netflix, however, upon loading it, I found that it was in Swedish and I really didn't want to be required to sit there are read it. And second, I enjoyed the book so much, that I cannot wait to see if Hollywood does it justice. I believe that you will enjoy meeting these new characters as much as I did and also understand why these books were all on the New York Times Best Seller List. HURRY! Get to reading FAST...You want to know all of that background information and inner thoughts of the characters before you see them on the Big Screen! HAPPY READING!
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                                                   "SISTERHOOD EVERLASTING"


I read all of the "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" books, so I could not let the final one in the saga slip away from me unread. I love reading book "series" because I become very invested in the characters. It is as though they are old friends that I am revisiting. Therefore, a long time ago, I downloaded "Sisterhood Everlasting" on my Kindle with hopes of reading it soon.

It took me a while to get around to reading the last book in the "Traveling Pants" series, but I finally opened it up and began to read. The girls were now all approaching their 30th birthday, having pretty much gone their separate ways since college. Oh, they were still friends, but not the same way that they had been in the past. Then suddenly, one of the "sisters" decided that they should all go back to Greece for a reunion. Tibby, who was now living in Australia, sent everyone plane tickets and they were all to meet at what was previously Lena's grandparents' house there. Since I had read all of the previous books, I remembered their first trip to Greece fondly. I had just finished reading a more serious book and determined that this book would be the perfect "light read" for me to delve into next.

As I began to read, I realized very quickly that the girls' lives had changed quite a bit but their same old personalities were at play. The book was sort of a reality check concerning what often times happens with old friends from childhood. These people are integral parts of our lives; we cannot imagine living without them. I recall someone telling me once in high school that if I had two or three really good friends later in life, I could consider myself lucky. I scoffed at the idea of that; I had a "group" of friends and nothing would ever separate us or our friendships. How wise that person was. In this book, the girls find out exactly what I found out; life moves on and things change. Yes, when you see those faces from the past occasionally, you embrace the memories you had with them fondly. However, most times, one's circle of friends changes over time. Old high school friends are left within the halls of the school and old college roommates in the dorm rooms. These are the things that the girls in this book are finding out about life; it moves on and at a very fast pace.

Just as I began to settle into the new lives the girls had made for themselves, something tragic happened; something that shook all of their worlds. Honestly, I could not even believe it. This was supposed to be my "happy, relaxing book" to read and here I was suddenly captured between the pages of another serious storyline. I asked Caitlin if she was planning to read it (I wanted to talk to someone about the book...) and as soon as she told me "no", I began to spill the beans about what was going on. She was as shocked as I was and every time we spoke, she asked for an update of what had transpired next.

Although this final book in the "Sisterhood" series was not what I had expected it to be, I would definitely recommend reading it if you have read all of the other books. It represents an honest look at life; the way things really turn out sometimes and how we deal with those circumstances. There are, of course, situations in the book that are dealt with and resolved in the end, but one gets to experience the thought process that is involved in those decisions. This book does not look at life through "rose-colored glasses"; it takes a long, hard look at the way life truly turns out sometimes. READ THE BOOK...and don't put it down without finishing the last page!

HAPPY READING!!!

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                                                      "THE HUNGER GAMES"


Are you "hungry" for a good read? If so, look no further; "The Hunger Games" are here!

Back in the summer, a cousin of mine read the entire "Hunger Games Trilogy" and recommended it to me. I did what I usually do...Downloaded a sample to my Kindle so I wouldn't forget about it. I have so many books that I have done the same with, I just sort of move them up and down on my list according to the "reading mood" I am in at the time. I decided to move "The Hunger Games" up on my list when I was recently at the movie theatre a few weeks ago and noticed that it would be made into a movie by the spring. So, actually knowing nothing about the book, I settled down into my overstuffed chair to begin reading...and once I did, I simply could not put the book down.

This book captured my attention from the very first page. It is an extremely quick and easy read and so fast paced that I found it difficult to set aside. The only way I know how to adequately describe what type of book "The Hunger Games" is, would be to say that it is a "survival book". You see, the country is divided into 12 districts; no one is able to visit or communicate between them. At some point in time, there were uprisings and the government (The Capitol...) decided to take control back by creating an annual event called "The Hunger Games". The premise of "The Hunger Games" is that a male and female adolescent name from each district is drawn to participate in the annual contest. They are taken to The Capitol, where they are prepared for the opening ceremonies at the games. Each contestant is given a team of personal assistants, who in a sense attempt to "market" their contestant to potential sponsors. Sound familiar?...Like our Olympic ceremonies? Well, not quite. For you see, although only one winner will emerge from "The Hunger Games", the others will not merely lose a contest; they will also lose their lives.

From the very onset, contestants are thrust into survival mode, relying on their individual skills to bring them through the contest alive. Conditions can change in a second due to the fact that the Game Makers ( the people in charge of and in control of the games...) can alter conditions that keep the action moving and entertaining should things become boring for them and the audience. Oh...Did I fail to mention that the entire "games" are broadcast throughout the country...live? Yes, it is a form of "Reality T.V." like no one can begin to imagine.

This book series has captured my interest quickly and for many reasons. First, it is very fast paced and easy to read and keep up with. Second, the characters are quite creative and unforgettable. And third, the underlying notion that a government could have such complete control over a country is strangely disturbing. There are cameras everywhere, thus the lack of privacy. The inhabitants of each district are separated in order to keep them from banding together in overtaking the government. And the "Hunger Games" are a constant reminder to the people of what the consequences are of attempting to become independent and in control of their own lives. This book series is very intriguing and I am simply lost within its pages; so much so that as I turned the last page of "The Hunger Games", I immediately opened the first page of the second book in the series, "Catching Fire"! I definitely recommend this book series...You will NOT be disappointed!


HAPPY READING!!!

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                                                            "CATCHING FIRE"


Every chance I got during the busy Christmas season, I had my Kindle in hand continuing "The Hunger Games" trilogy. I just completed Book 2: "Catching Fire" and it was as much of a compelling read as the first book.

In "Catching Fire", The Hunger Games are over and this time something unusual has occurred. Instead of only having one winner, two victors have emerged from District 12; Katniss and Peeta. Their victory, however, is not a sweet one. It is complicated, rather by the fact that Katniss pulled one over on the Game Makers when they changed the rules at the very end of the games. The fact that she thumbed her nose at the establishment was enough to seal her death. The Capitol and President Snow, in particular would not have that death come easily for her;there would be another contest.

Just when Katniss had done the unthinkable by surviving the The Hunger Games, she barely had time to savor that accomplishment and all the comforts that came along with it, for when President Snow suddenly showed up on her doorstep, she knew that trouble would surely follow. And follow, it did; in the form of the Quarter Quell. These were games set up every 25 years to also remind the people of each district not to mess with the Capitol; a reminder that no one was ever safe from the far-reaching hand of the government.

You see, the Capitol has a distinct unfair advantage; they make the rules as they go along. Therefore, two victors (who were supposed to be safe from the games for life) from each district were chosen to re-enter the arena and once again fight for their lives in another round of deathly games. Of course, Katniss and Peeta are thrust back into the arena, with Haymitch as their mentor once again. New characters are introduced, but the theme of this book is revolution; thus, the title, "Catching Fire".

In Book 1, Katniss was dressed as the "girl on fire" and that theme continues through Book 2, however, with deeper meaning. Her nose thumbing at the establishment has ignited people throughout every district into revolting against the Capitol. The Quarter Quell games becomes the Capitol's answer to controlling this revolution. But, it is enough? Can the people overthrow the government? And who will come out as victors of these new games?

If you have read the first book of The Hunger Games trilogy, you cannot resist immediately picking up "Catching Fire". And once the final page has been turned in this book, you had better have the final book ("Mockingjay") in hand. These books are so fast-paced, with surprising turns at every corner, one can barely put them down. If you haven't delved into Suzanne Collins', "Hunger Game Trilogy", then consider doing so today...you won't be disappointed!


HAPPY READING!

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                                                                "MOCKINGJAY"

I finally completed the final book in The Hunger Games Trilogy; "Mockingjay". The "mockingjay" was introduced in the first book and carried through to the last. First, worn as a pin on Katniss Everdeen's clothing, it quickly took hold among the rebel forces in Panem when she won the Hunger Games and defied the Gamemakers. It became the symbol of the rebel forces who dreamed of one day gaining their freedom.

As I read this book, at one point I had to stop and remind myself that Katniss was only 17 years old. Not that this story of rebellion and war would have been any easier to read, but to imagine the thought of a child having the responsibility of saving all the districts of Panem was a terrifying thought. The Quarter Quell Games were even worse than the Hunger Games because all of the past tributes were still living were brought back to compete in these games. If having children compete by killing one another wasn't bad enough, it was even crueler to see the now older individuals struggle to just survive. And just when everyone thought all was lost and the Capitol would win again, the rebellion reared its head in a very large scale manner.

Unconscious, Katniss awakes in District 13 only to find that the rebels have another plan for her; she is to be the face of the rebellion...she is to be "The Mockingjay". Overwhelmed by not only this prospect, but also the fact that she does not know what has happened to Peeta or where he is, she finds herself distraught to the point of just barely surviving the mental battle that wage war within her own mind daily. However, as she does begin to join the reality of her new life, it become very clear that the leaders of these rebels may be no different that the individuals who are currently in charge within the Capitol.

Katniss finds herself taking on the role of "The Mockingjay" and although it is not the rebellion's intent, she becomes totally engaged in the war on the front line. She defies the authorities once again and pushes toward her ultimate goal; to reach the Capitol and President Snow and kill him. Along the way, she learns about the cruelties and casualties of war and human nature. Innocent people's lives are lost before her very eyes, others' minds are taken hostage because of the cruelties of the war and one thing is for certain; those in charge bear a striking resemblance to the people who are already in charge.

Katniss Everdeen..."The Mockingjay"; she is the 17 year old heroine of The Hunger Games. Although just a child, she displays remarkable courage and an unwavering set of values. I hope you have read "The Hunger Games Trilogy" along with me. I thought it was a very unique series and one that was not easy to put aside (the mark of a good book, in my opinion). If you have not read "The Hunger Games" yet, do so quickly...before the movie is released in March. Meet the characters and get to know them on an intimate level before Hollywood gets to them. Read these books today; you will not be disappointed!


HAPPY READING!

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                                                      "Shanghai Girls:  A Novel"




As most of you know, I always have a book in my hand.  And although I have been quite busy with wedding planning, baby-sitting Parker Ann and publishing a book of my own, I continue to read.  Reading is a form of relaxation for me; it takes me away to other places and times.  I just completed a book that began its journey in Shanghai and ended up in California.

"Shanghai Girls:  A Novel" was written by Lisa See.  It is a very intimate look at Shanghai, both before and after the Japanese invasion.  The visual pictures See paints are vividly etched into the readers' mind.  But the true story lies within the relationship of two sisters and how their paths intertwine forever.

Pearl and May are brought up in a luxurious lifestyle in Shanghai's glory days.  They have to do nothing but worry about where they will buy their next fashion articles and who they will spend the evening with at the most popular clubs.  They are what everyone calls, "Beautiful Girls", since their pictures are painted on calendars circulated all around Shanghai.  Life could not be better for the sisters; nothing is required of them what with all of the cooks and servants their household employs.  However, all of that is about to change, along with Shanghai as the Japanese invade the country.

As fate would have it, Pearl and May find themselves running for their lives, trying to find a way to leave their war torn country.  Tragic events occur along the way, however, and they eventually find themselves in the United States of America.  Angel Island is their first stop and from there the bond of sisterhood becomes even closer, as Pearl and May enter into a secret pact.  Struggling to leave Angel Island, they find themselves starting a new life that neither are prepared for.  Their glorious days as "Beautiful Girls" are over and the uphill battle to learn survival skills in this new country begin.

"Shanghai Girls:  A Novel" is a beautifully written story of love, commitment, and family.  It is a story that leaves you wanting more and Sees does not disappoint, as she continues the saga in the follow-up book, "Dreams of Joy".  It would definitely be worth your time to give this book a read.



                                                                  HAPPY READING!!!

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                                                    THE STEPHANIE PLUM SERIES

For those of you who have never read the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich just let me tell you that you do NOT know what you are missing!  These books are numbered but continue with the same characters that one cannot help but laugh at, love and silently admit to having family members or friends just like them. 

I read a lot of pretty intense novels but when I want to lighten my mood, I reach for a Stephanie Plum novel.  Such was the case when I was recently in Florida and Key West.  The first day I was on the beach I finished "Shanghai Girls" and then immediately clicked on "Eleven on Top" by Janet Evanovich, quickly followed by, "Twelve Sharp".

One of the things that I like so much about these books is the fact that they are such quick reads; perfect for the beach.  Another thing is...well, Stephanie Plum, herself.  Stephanie is the main character who is a bond enforcement agent (Bounty hunter...), working alongside some pretty funny characters.  Evanovich gives such a vivid picture of these characters that I was a little disappointed by the movie that recently came out of her first book, "One for the Money".  That is why I am once again suggesting that you READ THE BOOKS to get the full enjoyment out of Stephanie Plum and her  antics.

Stephanie is always just barely getting by so she is always attempting to apprehend the next individual who has failed to make their court appearance.  She carries all of the right equipment but somehow something always goes wrong and she ends up being the one at the wrong end of the stun gun, while chaos surrounds her very existence. Blowing up cars and buildings and basically just being in the wrong place at the wrong time with some pretty quirky people she is desperately trying to apprehend, is only a part of Stephanie's daily life adventure.

Some more of the colorful characters in Stephanie's life include her Italian parents and Grandma Mazur.  Grandma is a one spunky gal who lives with Stephanie's mom and dad. They live in New Jersey in the Burg.  The Burg is one of those old neighborhoods where people have been living their entire lives.  The houses all look about the same and it is a community where everybody knows everybody's business.   Grandma's favorite social activity is going to funeral home viewings!  And believe me...these are no ordinary viewing for Grandma; she has been known to knock a casket over just to get a peek at the dearly departed when it has been closed!  She drives Stephanie's mom and dad nuts, but I KNOW that some of you might have someone a little like her hanging around in YOUR family tree too.

And what story would complete without TWO men in one's life?  First, there is Joe Morelli, Stephanie's on again off again boy friend.  She has know him since they were in school and they reconnected.  Joe is a manly man; Italian, good looking and a cop in the Trenton area.  He tries to keep Stephanie safe and out of trouble but that is a big ticket to fill.  That's where "Man # 2" comes into play; Ranger.  Ranger is the dark, mysterious guy who dresses all in black and has a security squad of his own.  Ranger and Stephanie met while Ranger was also working for the bond enforcement agency and he also feels compelled to keep her out of harm's way. 

I also love the fact that Stephanie really knows how to handle the stress of her job.  She does what any stressed out woman would do...reach for the sweets!  Every day of her life, she can be found scraping up her spare change to get a doughnut, tasty cake or even birthday cakes left at the bakery with other people's names on them. It doesn't matter what the sweet might be as long as it takes the pain of the position she is in away...if only for a moment.

Stephanie has a few constant companions who keep her company while she tries to stay afloat daily; Rex is her pet hamster and Lula is the ex-prostitute turned file clerk.  Lula is a larger than life (literally...) figure.  She stands out not only because of her boisterous demeanor, but also the manner in which she dresses; florescent spandex...on a 300 pound woman!  This cast of quirky characters keep a smile on the reader's face with each turn of the page; see why I think it is the perfect light read for summertime (or any time...)?

If you are looking for a good book to read on the beach or just something to lighten your mood, let me recommend that you start reading the Stephanie Plum Series; they are sure to tickle your funny bone!  I am currently reading "Lean Mean Thirteen" and there are 18 books total, so get started today.  But BEWARE...They are very addictive!


                                                                       HAPPY READING!
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             "The Girl Who Played With Fire" and "The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest"


It has been a while since I have written about any books I have read but believe me...I have still been reading.  I finished "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" series back in the summer.  I picked up "The Girl Who Played With Fire" and "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest".

If you remember, "The Girl" is Lisbeth Salander.  She is more than odd, but a computer genius as well.  She is also a central figure in all three books.  However, introduced in the first book, "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo", her role grows in books two and three.  These last two books are interrelated and must be read in order:  "The Girl Who Played With Fire" should be read first, followed by "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest".

In these last two books, the author delves into the reasons behind Lisbeth's oddities.  One finds out about her family and some pretty dark events that have made their way from her past to her future.

I must admit that I read these books because they were on the New York Times Best Seller list for so long and the reviews were intriguing, along with the fact that the author, Steig Larsson, wrote these books, turned them in to his publisher and then died.

What I found was that these were deep books.  If you want to read something light and uplifting, you would not find one of these books in your hand.  They go into detail about the structure of the Swedish government and politics and the tone of all three books is very dark.  I suppose that is why I read the first book and then came back to the other two much later.  However, in saying all of this, I would still recommend reading these books because they aren't mindless reads.  They are thought provoking books with very well-developed characters and plot,  written by an author who did a tremendous amount of research in order to make them such.


                                                           HAPPY READING!!!
                      I hope you will pick up a book today and allow it to take you on a great adventure.   

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                                                         " RIZZOLI and ISLES"
Long before "Rizzoli and Isles" was a television series, I found Tess Gerritsen's, "Rizzoli and Isles" book series.  I absolutely LOVE the show, by the way.  And, although the casting isn't true to what the characters should look like according to the book...I REALLY LIKE THEM!  While the show tends to have a little humor (which I think works well for the series...), the books are a bit more serious.  They are interesting, quick reads that I think you will enjoy.  Below I have listed all of the books in the Rizzoli and Isles series:

1.  The Surgeon
2.  The Apprentice
3.  The Sinner
4.  Body Double
5.  Vanish
6.  The Mephisto Club
7. The Keepsake
8. Ice Cold
9.  The Silent Girl
10. Last To Die

Over the holidays I read "Ice Cold", "The Silent Girl" and "Last To Die"; I recommend reading these books in order because the characters and relationships develop as the series continues.  Pick up the "Rizzoli and Isles" series are start reading it TODAY!  I know that you won't be disappointed, in fact, I believe you will become as addicted to reading them as I am.  Hurry up, Tess and write another one!!!

                                                                     HAPPY READING!

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                                                                          "CRIMINAL"
It had been a while since I had read a Karin Slaughter novel and actually forgotten what a great suspense writer she is.  A friend of mine was reading, "Criminal" and I added it to my Kindle , hoping to get to it one day.  Well, that day was during the holidays and WOW!

Karin Slaughter is one of those writers who captures you and pulls you into a story line so quickly that you are trapped and can hardly put the book down.  And just when you think you know what is going to happen, she will surprise you with twists and turns right up the the very end.  And after you have flipped that last page, you find yourself sitting there saying to yourself..."Now THAT was a good book; a REALLY GOOD BOOK!

Upon reading and completing "Criminal", I felt just that way.  When I started reading it, I wasn't really sure where the story was going because the present day kept skipping back to the past where it was evident the two were bound to collide.  And collide they did in a most unexpected way!  I don't want to ruin the story for you so I will just have to say, READ IT YOURSELF!  If you like a good suspense novel, you will not be disappointed!







What am I reading now??  "The Thornbirds"!   I Cannot wait to finish it and share my thoughts with you on this older novel that I am absolutely LOVING!

                                                                     HAPPY READING!

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                                                         "THE THORN BIRDS"

I became very ambitious with my reading list for the year by starting out with a book that has been on my list for a while:  "The Thorn Birds".

I knew that this had been a television mini series many years ago (when I was too young to watch such a mini series...), that was originally a novel by Colleen McCullough.  I knew that is was a sort of classic love story AND that it was a terribly long book...672 pages on my Kindle!  Well, I set my mind to reading it and began right after the first of the year.  Because I never have too much time to just sit down and read every day, it took me about a month to complete.  But all I can say after reading it is...WOW!

Have you ever read one of those "WOW" books?  Long after I turned the last page, I was still wishing the story wasn't over.  It begins in New Zealand, with the Cleary family who move to Australia around 1915 and spans the decades through post WW II.  Upon arriving in Australia, the Cleary's meet a priest, Ralph de Briccasart.  He is immediately drawn to the only daughter in the family, a young girl named Meggie.  What begins as a caretaker role (for he recognizes how insignificant this female child is to her family members...) between the two, eventually ends up in a tragic love story.

This novel revisits the age old subject of the marriage of priests to the Catholic church and their temptations regarding this issue.  Although this theme can be found throughout the entire novel, there is also a theme regarding the relationships between parents and children and basically the circle of life.  As the reader delves further into the novel, it becomes clear that there are often times reasons why parents behave as they do toward their children and without knowing why or sometimes even realizing it, the child perpetuates that circle by making the same decisions the generation before made.

McCullough's descriptive passages of the landscape of Australia are breathtaking.  She describes not only the vegetation, but the animals that inhabit the area and one can even feel the misery of the hot summers there.  This novel draws the reader in quickly and keeps them there.  And although one hopes for a happy ending, it is inevitable that this will be a tragic love story on all accounts.

I am really glad that I finally tackled this novel.  Yes, it was an ambitious undertaking for a busy mom and YaYa but I believe it is of utmost importance to free our minds daily by escaping to a world of words and reading.  Books take us on journeys we otherwise would never embark on.  If you have the time and inclination I would definitely suggest you read this book; it is well worth sitting down with for a little while each day.


                                                                HAPPY READING!!!

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                                                               "THE BLACK ECHO"

Although I am busy often times beyond belief, I always have a book in progress.  I'm just that person.  I love to read and feed my habit with words.  This spring and summer, through the births of two new grandchildren and a wedding, I have continued to feed this habit of mine.  One of the books I read was Michael Connelly's, "The Black Echo".

Connelly has written many books.  One you may be familiar with, even if you're not a reader, is "The Lincoln Lawyer".  It was made into a movie, starring Matthew McConaughey.  That should ring a bell, right?  Anyway, Connelly writes a series of books that I read about a cop named Harry Bosch.  Harry is a good cop, very intuitive, but he has his flaws like many cop characters have.  To me, this makes the development of the character more "real".

In "The Black Echo", the reader finds out more about Harry's personal life and why he has become the person he is.  This book delves into his past military service in Vietnam.  You will understand the title of this book more as you read, since it is related to what his specialty was in Vietnam.  One will be introduced to the problems involved with vets after this war and how they struggled to reenter society as productive members.

There are a lot of details during the first half of the book, but they are necessary to the outcome; just keep reading because when things begin to heat up, I believe you will really enjoy how this book unfolds.

Here is a list of the other Harry Bosch novels that you may also enjoy, if you are like me and like to follow a character:

Harry Bosch Background: Born in 1950 in Los Angeles to Marjorie Phillips Lowe. He was named Hieronymus Bosch after the 15th century Dutch artist and nicknamed “Harry.” He became an orphan at 11 when his mother, a prostitute, was murdered. He grew up living in a youth hall and foster homes. He joined the army and did two tours in Vietnam. Harry returned to Los Angeles and joined the LAPD in 1972. He became a detective after five years in patrol.
Books in published order:
The Black Echo (1992)
The Black Ice (1993)
The Concrete Blonde (1994)
The Last Coyote (1995)
Trunk Music (1997)
Angels Flight (1999)
A Darkness More Than Night (2001)
City Of Bones (2002)
Lost Light (2003)
The Narrows (2004)
The Closers (2005)
Echo Park (2006)
The Overlook  (2007)
The Brass Verdict (2008)
Nine Dragons (2009)
The Reversal (2010)
The Fifth Witness (2011) (one page brief appearance)
The Drop (2011)
The Black Box (2012)
                                                             HAPPY READING!
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                                                                 "GONE GIRL"

I read a lot of books that people recommend to me.  Without recommendations, I would never have read the "Twilight" series or "The Hunger Games", both series of books that I loved and could not put down.  I began reading "Girl Gone", by Gillian Flynn on a recommendation.  The person reading it said she could not put it down it was such a compelling read.  Well, of course, I had to download it to my Kindle and begin reading it immediately.

I was very conflicted while reading this book.  Oh, not because it did not live up to being a "non put downable, compelling read", because THAT, it was.  While I understand that an author attempts to develop believable characters to draw the reader in, I also believe that some things can be overdone.  One of those things is the overuse of profanity.

"Gone Girl" is indeed a very compelling read.  It takes you into the mind and lives of a couple who met in New York and eventually move south where the unthinkable happens...the wife goes missing on the couple's anniversary and the husband becomes the prime suspect.  One of the reasons I found myself (despite the rough language) unable to put this book down was because every other chapter was devoted to the thoughts of the husband or the thoughts of the wife.  And just when I thought I had everything figured out, about halfway through the book...it all changed.  And so, of course, I had to keep reading.

Did I enjoy this twisting and turning all the way through?  Yes and no.  Yes, I enjoyed the entire storyline of what happened and why.  No, although, I understood "why" the author used the profanity in this book, I thought it was way overdone.  This novel could have been just as good without it and I'm sure there will be people who start reading it and end up putting it down because of that profanity.  In saying all of that, I would definitely recommend reading this book if you can get past the language.  I am the sort of person who almost always finishes a book after I start it; that's just something that college taught me and I cannot easily change it...

                                                                HAPPY READING!
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                                                                        "UNSEEN"

I think I have probably mentioned before that I am a big Karin Slaughter fan.  I love the way that she weaves a tale and it never ends like you think it is going to end.  "Unseen" was no different. I was reading this book when I got to Miami and finished it on my way home.

Slaughter has recurring characters in her novels that I suppose draw me to them.  I just like to follow a character I have met and know and learn a little more about them with each novel that is written.  "Unseen" is one of those novels.  This novel follow Will Trent, who is employed by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.  In this book, he goes undercover where he finds it more and more difficult to keep this particular investigation hidden from his physician girlfriend, Sara Linton, since this particular case involves people from her past.

I liked this book because I had previously read some of Slaughter's books where these other characters, who resurfaced from Sara's past, were in it.  While the main story line appears to be Will's case and how it will eventually unfold, these so-called minor characters play a big part in the whole picture.  Not unlike all of her books, Slaughter holds the reader's attention by slowly peeling the skin off of the onion, so to speak.  Little by little the reader becomes more aware of what is going on as this book moves from past to present until finally one thinks they have figured the entire mystery out.  BUT NO!  There is always that little twist at the end that is so expected in her novels, that although you know it's coming, you never see it happening again and again.  I cannot say that I haven't liked every book of hers that I have read and I would definitely recommend you read this and all of her books! (visit www.karinslaughter.com to find a complete list of her novels)

If you are interested in more of Karin Slaughter's "Will Trent" books, here is a list of them:

1.  Triptych
2.  Fractured
3.  Snatched
4.  Criminal
5.  Busted
6.  Unseen
                                                                  HAPPY READING!
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"                                                                 "SARAH'S KEY"

As I flipped through the books I had downloaded on my Kindle, I noticed a book that had been on there a while and knew that something must have attracted me to it so decided to start reading it.  Once I started, it, "Sarah's Key" became one of those books that you just cannot put down.  You don't want to become drowsy in bed while reading, you carry it to the stove with you while you cook dinner, you read it while waiting for others to get ready to leave the house.  This book is one that I absolutely LOVED and hope that you will soon pick up to read as well.

"Sarah's Key" is set in France and goes back and forth between present day and the past during World War II, when the Nazis were taking Jewish families out of their homes and sending them to concentration camps.  The past and present are intertwined when a journalist is given an assignment that involves a commemoration service where the French acknowledge their part in the the Jewish round-up.  As this story unwinds, the reader is transported back in time to the horrors of those dark days when families were torn apart, most never to survive the concentration camps.

As I read this book, I was once again saddened at how one man and his hate for an entire race could so affect the world.  The innocence of the children who were taken out of their warm family homes, where they were safe and comfortable, enjoying simple things daily, such as hot meals and a cozy bed to sleep in.  And suddenly thrown into unconscionable conditions that even animals should not endure.  The Jewish people were subjected to cruelty that should have never been allowed to take place.  This book touched my heart in ways that no other has.  It takes one through the fear of the realization that things were not as one thought they were.  A child, attempting to protect a sibling by hiding him.  This story will tear at your heartstrings.  It is one that you will not soon forget, nor should you.  I urge you to pick this book up or download it to your reading device or remember it in any way you can to put on your reading list; it is well worth your time to read it!


                                                                             HAPPY READING!
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                                                                    "DIVERGENT"


Divergent.  I remember when I was in college talking about students being convergent and divergent thinkers.  I immediately thought about my middle son.   When he was in kindergarten,  his class had done something different for Show and Tell one week.  Instead of bringing an item to school, they were to think of an item that started with the letter of the week and act it out for all of the other children to guess what they were thinking of.  The letter was "D" and, of course, most of the students acted out being a dog and other usual things that began with the letter "D".  Then, it was David's turn.  The teacher said he got on his hands and knees, placed his head and hands out in front of him and made a buzzing noise while running his hands along the floor.  Well, try as they might, no one (including the teacher) could determine what he was acting out.  When they finally gave up, he told them that he was a Dustbuster!  Yep, that said something about him and me.  I was apparently constantly cleaning up messes with the Dustbuster and he was...a "divergent" thinker.

Most people these days encourage children to be divergent thinkers.  To think outside the box, embrace their uniqueness.  And, that, is exactly the opposite of what happens in the new "Divergent Series" by Veronica Roth.  In this futuristic novel, the human race is divided into four different factions.  In each faction the members are all alike.  They dress alike and they think alike.  It is easy for the government to control its members and have a more orderly society when they know how to behave.  Whenever an individual turn sixteen years old, they are required to take a test that determines if they are best suited to stay in the faction they have grown up in or move into another faction.  There are usually not any problems where that is concerned...until someone is found to be "divergent".

I won't tell you any more about this book but I can tell you that it was hard for me to put it down.  And the best thing is that this is only book 1 of a 3 book series.  "Divergent" is followed by "Insurgent" and "Allegiant" (Oh, how I LOVE a new book series!).  But hurry and get started on "Divergent" because when I was at the theater the other day I saw a preview for the movie that will be coming out in March.  And you know my self-imposed rule about that; I MUST read the book first!

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                                    "CAN ONE READ 5 BOOKS AT ONE TIME?"


I am currently reading about FIVE books at one time.  Seriously. I know that is not the preferred method for most people, but I suppose one could say that I am not "most" people.  When I see reading material I like, it is difficult for me to resist it.  Here is the list of books I am currently reading:
1.  "Insurgent" (Veronica Roth)
2.  "Change Your Words Change Your Life" (Joyce Meyer)
3.  "100 Ways to Simplify Your Life" (Joyce Meyer)
4.  "Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children" (Ransom Riggs)
 5.  OH, and I must not forget my book on tape that I am listening to while I walk, "The Time     Traveler's Wife"(Audrey Niffenegger).

Quite a variety there, huh?  Well, I don't do this often, read this many books at one time, but here is how it all happened...

I always try to have an inspirational book on my bedside table that I am reading to start or end my day with and Joyce Meyer is one of my favorite authors.  Her life story is inspirational to me.  Therefore, I picked up, "Change Your Words Change Your Life" one day and began to read it.  I predicted this book would be especially relevant to me since I am a big believer in positive thoughts, words and deeds.  And I can truly say that I enjoy garnering Joyce's words of wisdom concerning these virtues.  This type of book, I always read a print copy whereas most of my other books I read of my Kindle.


So, on my Kindle, I had been reading the second book in the Divergent Trilogy, .  Halfway through the book, I was walking through Target, getting my "usuals" for the week when I spotted the most eye-catching cover on a book.  I was immediately drawn to it, picked it up, perused it for just a moment and before I knew it, that book (a print copy!) was in my shopping cart!  "Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children" written by, Ransom Riggs, is the most compelling book I have picked up in quite a while.  Written by the use of old photographs, which can be found scattered throughout the book, this author has shown true creativity.  Someone asked me if it was a horror book; absolutely not!  It is, however, a sort of time travel book about a former children's orphanage, filled with "peculiar" children who are trapped in a "loop".  Now, that is all I will divulge about this book because I might have piqued your interest enough to snatch a copy for yourself and read it!

On to the next book that I ran across while picking up my medicine at Sam's (great place to find books!).  As I said, I simply cannot resist reading books written by Joyce Meyer, so when I happened upon, "100 Ways to Simplify Your Life", it was bought!  This is a great little book to have since the "100 Ways" can be read daily.  Here is an example of how each "way" begins:  Title, "Get Your Mind Off Yourself.  It is then followed by a quote:"A man is called selfish not for pursuing his own good, but for neglecting his neighbor's.",  a scripture: "And Jesus called (to Him) the throng with His disciples and said to them, If anyone intends to come after Me, let him deny himself (forget, ignore, disown, and lose sight of himself and his own interests) and take up his cross (Mark 8:34),  and then a passage by Joyce that talks a little bit about this subject.  Super inspirational book for getting one's priorities straight!

Finally, on to the last book that I am "listening" to, "The Time Traveler's Wife", written by, Audrey Niffenegger.  I decided that since the weather has turned so nice and warm here, I would begin to do some of my walking at a park in town.  That is when I went onto my i-tunes app on my i-phone and began looking through the audio books.  I had actually put this book on my Kindle a long time ago, but never read it and thought this would be a good one to listen to while getting my cardio in.  It is a very interesting book, with the main character, Henry, traveling back and forth through time.  The part that I think is particularly interesting is when Henry's adult self watches his infant or child self.  Wouldn't that be sort of neat to do?

So, now you know how it all happened...me reading FIVE books at one time.  I suppose I really took that saying the heart, "SO MANY BOOKS...SO LITTLE TIME"!

                                                                     HAPPY READING!
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                                      Books I Am Reading Or Have Read:  " Dreams of Joy"


"Joy", by Lisa See is the sequel to "Shanghai Girls" (reviewed here).  It picks up right where the first novel ended, with Joy learning who her real mother is and fleeing to communist China.  This novel made me ponder how individuals tend to think about the proverbial "Grass being greener on the other side".  Joy left her life as a college student in the United States to not only search for her birth father, but also to attempt to make a big difference in the world.  She had been fed the propaganda that China was feeding the world during this period of time and in her youth thought that a socialistic society was a wonderful thing.  Initially upon arriving into the foreign country, Joy had a few misgivings, especially when her passport was taken from her by the country's officials.  She eventually found the father she was looking for and traveled to a remote village where she thought the conditions were ideal.  Everyone shared everything and everyone was equal; she thought life could not be better.  That is until, after living there for a while, she began to see exactly what was happening around her.  While the world (and parts of China, itself) was painted the picture of a "perfect" society, the blinders began to fall from her eyes as she saw a country crumbling and people literally starving to death all around her.

If you have not read these two books, I would definitely recommend them.  They both have a very well written story line that also includes a good bit of accurate history which was really interesting to me and certainly made the books come alive.

To see these and more books written by Lisa See, click here.  I know I will be downloading some others soon on my new Kindle Paper White.

                                                             HAPPY READING!
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                                                     THE MAP of TRUE PLACES

Someone recommended that I read "The Map of True Place" written by Brunonia Barry.  To me, this was a "dark" novel.  Set in Salem, Massachusettes.  Zee, a therapist, travels to her father's home to find that his Parkinson's Disease has progressed to the point that she must take leave from her job and move in with him to help care for him.  This also means leaving behind a fiance' and wedding planner and comes on the heels of a patient she's gotten too involved with committing suicide.

While living with her father, a former professor, she recalls the memories of her mother, who also committed suicide when she was younger and has haunted her for years.  This stems from feeling of not being capable of saving her.  Her mother's death along with the death of her patient and the added  responsibilities of caring for her father,  make her ponder her  profession and in the process her personal life suffers.

As Zee, named after Hepzibah from "The House of Seven Gables"(there are many references to this book throughout the novel), attempts to come to terms with where her life is heading, many secrets begin to unfold about her mother, father and other people in her life.  Those secrets and wanting to find out what they were is what kept me reading this book.  If you choose to read it, be aware that the first 100 pages are very somber.

For me, this book was particularly difficult to read because it deals with the subject of an aging parent and a child taking on the role as caretaker.  This hit close to home for me since I am in that season of life.  Although very well written, and I will admit when things began to unfold I became more interested in the storyline, this is not a book I would have normally picked up off of the shelf eager to read.  However, if college taught me one thing, it was to finish what I started and so finish this book I did.

Did I like this book and would I recommend it?  It was not my favorite but I think that perhaps is just my personal preferences speaking; I like books that are well written but also help me escape reality.  However, often times this type of book is what best sellers are made of and it did in fact make some best seller lists.  I suppose the message of this book is that finding your true place in the world may take you on many long and winding paths along that journey.  Some roads filled with happiness and others with sadness.  Life is a mixture of emotions and experiences and that is the truth about this journey called life.
                                                           HAPPY READING!
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                                                           "THE SEA GLASS SISTERS"

I love to read series of books for many reasons.  One is the continuation of a relationship with the characters that sometimes at the end of a single book, I am just not ready to let go of.  My cousin quite often sends me the names of books and/or authors to read and I must admit that we have very similar tastes in reading material because I almost always love her suggestions.  That is why when she told me to check out a new author she was reading, I went to Amazon and googled her name to find that she had quite a lot of series.

Lisa Wingate, put quite simply, weaves tales that are uplifting.  I tend to read many different genres and Wingate's first series I read was a breath of fresh air.  There are friend and family relationships and faith involved in her novels, accompanied by really good story lines that are woven throughout the pages.

The first book of the series I read was entitled, "The Sea Glass Sisters".  This story centers around a couple of sisters who have opposing views of the world.  One carefree and out to fulfill her dreams, the other a bit more rigid with not only her life but those around her as well.  As the not so carefree sister sets out on a road trip to hopefully convince the other to leave her home along the hurricane ridden shoreline she calls home, she enlists her own daughter to tag along.  The daughter has issues going on in her own life but agrees to go on this "short" trip with the mother hoping to appease her.

What none of them expect is to be stuck on the island as a hurricane sweeps across the region.  However, in the storm, lessons can be learned.  And indeed they are in this inspiring book.  It is important to read this book first because it introduces the reader to not only the characters that will be in the following two books but also the town and flavor of the region.

I was pleasantly surprised by this new author and she has become one to add to my "favorites" list.  You can find all of her books on Amazon; I downloaded this entire series onto my Kindle.  Click HERE to get your copy of "The Seas Glass Sisters" and start reading it today!

*****The other two books in the series are:  "The Prayer Box" and "The Tidewater Sisters", which I
           will also be reviewing.*****
                                                                      HAPPY READING!!!
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                                                         "THE PRAYER BOX"

Last week I told you about the new series of books I was reading by author, Lisa Wingate.  I discussed the first book, The Sea Glass Sisters, which was written as a prelude to The Prayer Box.  A few of the characters are the same but a new woman, running from her past comes upon the scene and her life is forever changed after discovering the prayer boxes.

Have you ever judged a person by the way they looked or what you thought to be true about them?  I have always thought that we surely do not know what individuals have been through in their lifetime and why judge them for what may or may not be true?  This book unfolds beautifully to teach the reader just that lesson; someone may not be as things appear.

A 91-year old member of the community, Iola Anne,  mostly a recluse, has passed away in her home when the new renter of her guest house, finds not only the body but also a collection of letters that weave a beautiful tale of this woman's life.  Drawn to reading the letters, Tandi soon realizes that this woman has been judged by others in the community for years and they never realized who she really was, how she got to live in the big house or how her continued support of others anonymously  showed her love for a community and people unconditionally no matter what they thought about her.

Tandi is running from her past with her two children and attempting to put her life back together and is hired by the nearby church to clean Iola Anne's old home so she can make a little money to feed her children,  but every day Tandi shows up for work, she is drawn once again to those letters.  Slowly and steadily Tandi realizes that it is possible to put her life back on track by reading about the struggles and disappointments that Iola Anne faced throughout her lifetime.

All I could think about while reading this book was what a wonderful story of loving and treating others as you would have them treat you.  But also a sad story because this elderly member of the community lived alone with her cat inside a huge house.  No one understood her, no one came to visit her and the proof of that was the fact that her body was found after a few days of not seeing lights on in her house and her cat roaming around outside.  I thought, how sad.  We, often times do not take the time to stop and even say hello to someone in the busyness of our lives and what a joy we might be missing from not doing so.  Tandi was Iola Annes's renter, she lived on the same property with her and never even spoke to her.  After reading her prayer box letters, she was brought to tears not only for how Iola Anne lived all those years but for herself for not being able to talk to this wonderful woman and learn the lessons she had to offer in person.

I would definitely recommend reading this book.  I, of course, would say to read "The Sea Glass Sisters" first, not because there is a tremendous amount of information about the main characters in this book but because it is a great "set-up" book for this novel.  I believe you will enjoy reading about this woman and the lessons she has to teach through decades of letters written and stored away in her closet.  I assure you some will apply to you as well.

                                                                HAPPY READING!!!
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                                                   "THE TIDEWATER SISTERS"

The final book in "The Sea Glass Sisters" trilogy, "The Tidewater Sisters",  written by Lisa Wingate,  was the perfect ending to this trio of books.  In "The Prayer Box", while on the run from her past with her children in tow, Tandi lands on Hatteras Island,  taking a job cleaning out Iola Anne's house after she passes away.  It is there where she discovers many years worth of letters placed inside "prayer boxes".  Reading these letters has finally allowed Tandi to believe that she can start her life over and she begins to have hope; she even finds love and becomes engaged.  And then just when everything begins to go right, her sister (who made an appearance in the previous book), in true form stirs up some problems and Tandi comes face to face with her past.

This book brings about many surprises for Tandi (and the reader) and as the story ties together in this final book, one comes to the realization that at some point a person must confront their past in order to be able to start over.  There might be things that are uncovered that are not pleasant but ignoring them and just hoping they will disappear will still leave trash in your life that needs to be cleaned up.  As I have said before, Wingate has such a gentle and positive manner of bringing to light ideas that are very relevant to our own lives.  How many times do we have issues with family or friends that have lasted a lifetime?  And, although at the time it appears to be easier to just look the other way, at some point, in order to move on, we have to confront those demons.  It is almost always unpleasant but a quite necessary task to embark upon.

If you enjoy a heartfelt, uplifting type of novel, you will enjoy these books by Lisa Wingate.  Their uplifting quality comes from the manner in which she seems to tie her characters' lives into common day situations with realistic solutions.  I have enjoyed reading these books and am happy that once again, someone threw this author's name out there for me to read!  I hope you will also pick up one of her books soon.  Have a WONDERFUL week as things begin to cool down and the fall holiday season begins...ahhh, my favorite time of the year...

                                                              HAPPY READING!!!

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                                         "What's On Your Summer Reading List?"

Do you have a summer reading list?  I suppose I could call mine that, but it's really just an ongoing list of reading material I hope to get to in this lifetime.  I really do love reading so much and am always reading a book of some sorts.  While I was in Miami...at the movie theatre, actually...I saw a movie that was coming out in June.  The screenplay was from a novel and it looked so interesting that I immediately downloaded it on my Kindle and then simply could not put it down!  Don't you just love a book like that?  Well, "Me Before You" written by JoJo Moyes is definitely such a book.

This book is about a quadriplegic and his quirky caretaker.  Will and Louisa have a very shaky beginning, however, before long the two become quite close.  Don't worry...there won't be any spoilers here because I want you to enjoy this book as much as I did.  I will tell you that it is a different love story of sorts.  The kind that makes you laugh and cry and long after you have turned the last page wish it would never end.  READ.  THIS.  BOOK.

Once I had turned that last page, I found out that there was a sequel to it.  Sequels make me happy because I don't like leaving the characters in a really wonderful story.  I always want to know what happened next,; after I turned that last page, so I downloaded the sequel:  "After You".  I'm not sure what I was expecting but this book was a bit dark.  There are some different characters in it and, for me, it moved a bit slower.  BUT...I'm not one to usually give up on a book so I have continued to read it and the storyline, albeit is a little unusual, is beginning to come around.  Was I a bit disappointed by the sequel?  Yes, but many sequels are a bit of a letdown when following such a good first book.

And now is when I remind you that "Me Before You" will be coming out on the big screen on June 3rd!  Yep, and I'm ready to see it since I have already read the book.  I would suggest that you read the book first (ALWAYS...) and then see the movie.  Like I said, it's a really quick, compelling read so grab a copy or download one and start reading it today!  I promise that you will adore this book.
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                                    "Summer Reading Continued:  'What Alice Forgot'"

As I continue with my summer reading list, I have a new book and author to recommend.  "What Alice Forgot" by Liane Moriarty is such a page turner (My favorite kind of read)!  Alice has a fall at the gym and when she comes to, she believes it's 10 years earlier. Imagine that!

Alice has no idea what her life has become in the past 10 years and the book got me to thinking about my own life. What if I were to wake up and think I was in an earlier decade?  Would I like who I've become?  Would I understand the strange looks people gave me?  

Alice has trouble navigating her life with no memories of the recent years, including the fact that she has three children and is divorcing her husband. Because she believes when she wakes up that she's pregnant with the first. The main story line of this book is about Alice and how she struggles to regain her memory in unfamiliar surroundings but there is also a secondary story line simultaneously going on. It revolves around her sister and their relationship over the past ten years. The things that have torn a once close relationship apart. 

This book is a reflection on life, friends and family and how all are so fragile and can deteriorate over time. It's about relationship struggles and how easy it is to allow those relationships to slip away after being chipped away day after day for years. It is a story that explores having a "do-over". Looking at situations as your old self instead of who you have become. 

This book was very well written and I believe I have found a "new favorite author". I would suggest you pick up a copy of this book today or download one on your Kindle.  Hey, it's way too hot here in the south to be doing anything during the day but sitting inside under the air conditioner!  And why just veg out on the television when you can feed your mind and imagination with a good book. 
                                                             HAPPY READING!!!
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                                 "Another Great Summer Read:  'What She Knew'"

I have been doing a lot of reading on these hot, lazy days here in the south.  And what I love is when I find books that I get so engrossed in that I cannot put them down.  I'm sure Hubby doesn't care for it as much as me because I'm that kid that you see with their nose in the book who never hears a word you say when you speak to me.  But this week I have to share with you a book I picked up and finished in just a few days time:  "What She Knew" by Gilly McMillan.  Prior to reading this book I had never even heard of this author, however, I'm not afraid to read a new author and most times I'm glad I do.  This is one of those times.

"What She Knew" is a riveting story about a mother who loses her child while out on a Sunday walk in the woods.  It is not written in just her point of view but also the view of the detectives and others involved. One thing that you do not know, however, is what is going on with the abductor or child which keeps you reading to find out.  That information is not revealed until close to the end of the book.  But the thing about this book that I loved was that it was like peeling the layers off of an onion.  There are so many secrets that have been kept that the trust factor among the characters becomes obsolete.

I won't reveal what happens but I would suggest you read this book if you're looking for something other than television to keep you busy in your spare time.  Curl up in a chair, turn the air down low, grab a blanket and snuggle in for a really good read!
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                             "Another Great Summer Read:  'The Husband's Secret'"

If I have found a new favorite author this summer, it is Liane Moriarty.  She is an Australian author who has made the jump into the American market with great success.  I not only love the way her novels flow and the development of her characters,  but also the way that they have a little twist in them that, in my opinion, makes a great story.  "The Husband's Secret" is the second book of hers that I have read this summer and as with "What Alice Forgot", I was enthralled by it.

"The Husband's Secret" is not unlike "What Alice Forgot" in the fact that there are several different story lines going on simultaneously that will intersect at some point.  In this novel, there is not merely one secret but many secrets throughout, which made me think of that familiar quote by Walter Scott:    "O, what a tangled web we weave when once we practice to deceive".

Set in Melbourne and Sidney and laced with little phrases that allow the reader know that these characters are Australian, one is quickly drawn into this story.  It does not start with a bang as "What Alice Forgot" but it soon becomes a page turner because of the manner in which it moves back and forth between families with each chapter.  This novel allows the reader to constantly think:  "What if..."  It's that moment that everybody comes to at some point in their lives.  "What if I hadn't gone there..."  "What if I hadn't dated that person..."  "What if I hadn't opened that letter..."  Secrets one wish they never knew.

I would definitely suggest you put Liane Moriarty on your reading list and join me as I continue to read the six (soon to be seven) novels that she has written.  I am now reading a third novel by her as we head to the beach this week for vacation.  "Big Little Lies"  is a #1 New York Times Best Seller and soon to be HBO series starring Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon.  I cannot wait to get deeply immersed in this book while listening to the waves hit the shore this week.

Join me in reading these books and leave a comment to let me know what you think!

                                                                 HAPPY READING!!!