11 March 2011


I have had this book for so long, but never gotten to reading it. I don't know why, other than the fact that I owned it. My friends laughingly refer to the books that I own as my "orphans" as I am always reading a myriad of library books while my own books gather dust on a shelf. If you are like me and tend to let your owned books languish, and this is one of the books, I urge you to read it! Now! This book was fantastic. A friend of mine likened this book to "a cross between The Running Man and Survivor with The Truman Show thrown in for good measure". I think that sums it up beautifully. In this book, authorSuzanne Collins takes you to a dystopian society where the each district is expected to "donate" two children each year in a battle to the death. Why? Just to prove their power over the masses. The storyline takes off from the first word and doesn't let go until the last sentence is finished. In addition, the book is filled with a cast of characters who are wonderfully endearing for the most part. By the end of the book I definitely felt empathy for all of the children forced to take part in the barbaric ritual of the Hunger Games. Even the ones that seemed less than lovable. And I was firmly convinced that the government officials were evil. 

The combination of characters and the situations that they find themselves in at the end of the book, along with the unanswered questions, leave you wanting more. Good thing this is the first book in a trilogy. I am highly anticipating reading the next book. Alas, the wait list at my library is huge,even though it has been out for over a year. Oh well. I know I will enjoy it when it gets here.

09 March 2011


I loved the debut book from Heather GudenkaufThe Weight of Silence so when I saw that she had another book coming out I was really excited. This book did not disappoint. It is another great read from an author that has quickly become one of my favorites. Ms. Gudenkauf writes a compelling story filled with top notch characters. The story line contains numerous issues that will leave the reader emotionally spent, including the pressure to succeed, mental illness, a terminal illness, infertility, and parental neglect to name a few. It sounds like a mish mash, and truthfully, a story that contains so many elements could go horribly astray, but this one does not. Ms. Gudenkauf ties all the issues together superbly with her excellent story telling and a cast of characters that come alive on the pages. Many times while reading the book, I found myself in tears, swamped with emotion for the characters. By the end of the book, I was not sure who I felt the most empathy for. Even those I did not empathize with are memorable. A story so filled with rich characters is a treat, one that has a great story line is even better.

A definite must read in my book and winner of the coveted 5 stars!

08 March 2011


My friend Donna recommended this series of cozy mysteries several years ago and I began devouring them.  I have been away from the series for a while, but picked up the 13th book the other day.  This is perhaps my favorite cozy mystery series as I love the characters and the recipes, and the story lines are always enjoyable. 

Another cute story from author Diane Mott Davidson in the Goldy Baer Catering Culinary series. In this story, Goldy's friend and neighbor is found murdered in the law office that she worked at....and Goldy is the one who found her. She literally "stumbles" over her. And then it is off to the races as Goldy once again tries to find the killer while keeping up with her catering appointments and trying to stay alive herself. I had put these books aside for a while, but am glad to get back to them. I especially liked the fact that this installment contained all of my favorite characters to some degree. Tom was back to being the teddy bear he is, Arch is in high school and is still shy, but no longer a moody jerk, and Julian Teller is back in all his glory. A great cozy mystery read ... Keep them coming, Diane!

07 March 2011


Another good read in the Sookie Stackhouse series. Sometimes books in a series get stale. How many times can the main character get in trouble? How many times can the couple break up and get back together? That is not the case with these books. This is one of those series where the main characters are continually evolving, new characters are continuing to be introduced, and we learn a little more about the supernatural world with each book. As far as series go, that is what I tend to look for. and as such, this book did not disappoint. In this installment, Sookie finds herself going to Jackson, Mississippi to try and find a missing Bill. Of course she gets in trouble, of course Eric is involved. But above and beyond that, she makes new friends, and new enemies, and she continues to learn a lot about herself and what she is capable of.


Even though I had heard that she and Bill did not stay together, their break-up in this book, and the reason for it, surprised me. I found myself saying that old phrase, "OH NO Mr. Bill!". I must admit, I don't really see Bill as that sort of character, and am a bit disappointed in his behavior. All in all, though, I took it as both a character development tool and a plot development tool, so I accept it.

I hear things really get interesting in the next book, so I am anticipating what will happen to Sookie, Bill, Eric, and the rest of them.  


Although my usual is to read books that are mostly told from one perspective, I have read a couple of historical fiction books before that tell the story from the perspective of several characters. Most of them alternate the viewpoints by chapter. What is really different about this book is the use of the different mediums: the letters between the English King and his family, Those between the theater owners, the gossip column, the notes from Parliament meetings to represent the different perspectives. Although this method is unconventional, I particularly liked it because it made it easier to keep where each perspective was coming from clearer in my mind.

This book is first and foremost about Ellen Gwynn, who eventually became the mistress of Charles II of England. Underneath that story, though, Priya Parmar includes A LOT of information about many different characters. It required slower reading to get it all in. But, on the other hand, it was wonderful because we not only got to know Ellen, but got a lot of other info about English society during this period.

Some may say that there are items in this book, such as Ellen's literacy, that are not true to the times or the history of her life. The literacy issue, in particular, is addressed by the author in her notes at the end of the book. And in truth, I am not one to get embroiled in the veracity of most fictional accounts. Either way you feel, this is a great story with a strong female protagonist and as such is excellent reading.

In closing, I really enjoyed both the subject matter (Duh, history buff, here) and the unconventional writing style used by Priya in this book. I loved the characters in this story - they were all so real and vibrant. I can't wait to see what her next project will be! Well done, Priya!