December 30 “Good Harbor” by Anita Diamant. This author is well known for her book “The Red Tent” – which I tried to read sometime back and just couldn’t get into. This novel was set in modern day (more or less…) in Gloucester, Massachusetts. It is basically about two women, one in her 40’s and one in her late 50’s — who meet and become friends, sharing bits and pieces of their lives as they take long walks along Good Harbor. I really enjoyed this book – it reminded me how much having a wonderful friend can add to your life.
December 19 “The Birth House” by Ami McKay. Hooray for Paperbackswap.com! I saw this book while wandering through our local independent bookstore a while back in a section they called OUR STAFF SUGGESTS. After flipping through it, I knew I’d love to read it. I came home, logged onto my paperbackswap account and voila! Someone had the book and sent it to me the next week. This book takes place in 1917-18 in Scots Bay, Nova Scotia. Yes, it’s fiction, but I’m sure Ms McKay based a lot of the book on midwife facts of the time period. Most everyone still gave birth at home back then. This book is about an older midwife, passing on her knowledge to a young woman who begins to take on the role as midwife for the area. I really, really enjoyed this book!! 🙂
December 10 “Put Out the Fires” by Maureen Lee. Well I did it again. I picked up another one of my stack of Maureen Lee books and couldn’t put it down! It was once again set in Liverpool England during the early part of WWII. Several of her books have a large group of the same characters and it’s so much fun to read along and find out what happens to them all during this very difficult period in history. Ms Lee does NOT sugarcoat the realities of life in those times. The main characters do NOT manage to escape hardship and loss. Her stories are not about the wealthy or privileged… they are about regular, working class people and how they lived, loved, and made do. If you are at all interested in this era, you simply can’t go wrong with anything by Maureen Lee!!
December 1 “The Secret Life of Bees” by Sue Monk Kidd. I totally enjoyed this book! Earlier this year, I read The Mermaid Chair by the same author and I hated it — I mean I DETESTED it. So it was a very pleasant surprise to find how much I really DID enjoy this one. Maybe I shouldn’t have been so surprised. “Everyone” said that this book was great, and was far superior to The Mermaid Chair. Well, “everyone” was right. I actually listened to this book on audio CD and part of what may have made it so enjoyable was the great reader/narrator. I was a kid just a bit younger than Lily(age 14 in the book) the main character, back in the early 1960’s when the civil rights movement was forefront in the news. I actually can remember a time when eyebrows would have been raised for a young white girl to move in with a houseful of black women. And even MORE scandalous, for a white girl to even begin to have feelings for a young black man. More than racial differences, the book was about the way in which Lily was affected by the loss of her mother. How she desperately wanted to know that her mother loved her, and how much she wanted to be mothered again. At any rate, I loved the book and will be anxious to see the movie when it comes out on DVD. If you have not tried listening to an audio book, if you’re not sure you’d like it, DO give this one a try. It was supurb!
November 22 “Dewey: The Small Town Library Cat Who Touched The World” by Vicki Myron. If you love cats, if you love libraries, if you love cats AND libraries, then you will certainly enjoy this warm hearted book. I can see why it’s on the best seller list — and I am grateful for our small town Library – because that’s where I got this book!!!
November 14 “Lights out Liverpool” by Maureen Lee. WOW. I am totally hooked on anything by Maureen Lee! This book was again set at the beginning of WWII (1939-40 well before the US got involved). You can tell that she has very thoroughly researched these novels with all the detail that is shared. I love how the reader can get to know the characters SO well! Everyday life with everyday people and how their lives were impacted. Great reading, IMHO.
October 29 “Twenty Wishes” by Debbie Macomber. This is the 4th book in the Blossom Street series. I listened to this book in audio version and did enjoy it. Nothing riveting here however… just sweet ramblings about the folks that frequent the Yarn Shop on Blossom Street. A very pleasant, easy, light read.
October 23 “The Blue Cotton Gown: A Midwife’s Memoir” by Patricia Harmon. Another non-fiction book! I went into this thinking that I would read about some very interesting patients of this real-life midwife from West Virginia –and– some interesting “birthing” stories. Personally, I’ve attended hundreds of deliveries and could write a small book of stories of my own – but as the NURSE, not the midwife. Well folks, if that’s what you hope to find in this book, look elsewhere. The book was good, I won’t deny that, but it certainly wasn’t what I expected. We did learn about someinteresting patients, but for the most part they were GYN, not OB patients. We also learned a lot about the personal life of Ms Harmon – which was okay, I guess. It managed to keep my interest, but I was honestly hoping for a lot more.
October 17 “When the Soul Mends” by Cindy Woodsmall. This is the 3rd and apparently final book in the “Sisters of the Quilt” series written by Ms Woodsmall. I’d never read any fiction books set in the Amish and Plain Mennonite communities before, and I really loved books One and Two. Number three was more of a “wrap up” and brought little new drama of it’s own. Still I’m glad I read it and found out what happened to our Amish friend Hannah and the people in her community. I once had an Amish penpal, and some the the things she shared with me were not as pretty and simple and wonderful as the Amish community is often portrayed in books (and movies). What I really liked about these books was that I do believe (from my small amount of first-hand knowledge) that Ms Woodsmall did not try to paint an “idyllic” portrait of Amish life. I believe it was portrayed much more realistically, and because of this, I do recommend these books. Also, I was really interested in learning more about Mennonite life because my own mother was raised Mennonite, and it gave me some insight as to what she may have experienced many years ago, growing up.
October 4 “The September Girls” by Maureen Lee. She’s done it again! Written a fantastic story about the lives of “regular citizens” in Liverpool England before and during the war years of 1939-1945. I LOVED this book and am so happy that the last time we went to Canada, I picked up a couple more books by this English author. The “September Girls” are two girls, both born the same day, to different ethnic (Irish and English) and socio-economic families… and how their lives and the lives of their families intertwine. I am a sucker for the details – like what they ate during rationing and how they ‘made do’ – and what it might have been like to live through repeated nighttime bombing raids. This was a GREAT read!!
October 1 “A Good Yarn” by Debbie Macomber. This was the 3rd bookI have read about the fictional knitting shop on Blossom Street. I have to admit it, I really enjoyed it!! Again, I listened to the audio version of this book and it was great. I loved how the narrator/reader lets you know by her voice, exactly which character is speaking. It’s a well thought out series of books which all surround Lydia (the owner) as well as patrons of the shop and her family members as well. I’m happy to say that I’ve just picked up from the library – the 4thand final (so far) book in the Blossom Street series just waiting for me to start, next time I have to drive to work!
September 24 “The Woman Next Door” by Barbara Delinsky. Thank goodness this was the abridged version. It was another audio book I listened to, and it was barely “OK”. It was about a couple who were trying to have a baby without success, and their next door neighbor. She was a widow in her early thirties who suddenly turns up pregnant after her husband has been dead more than a year. All the ladies in the neighborhood begin to think that their respective husbands are the father of the baby. Hmmmm I think even I could have dreamed up a better plot. Oh well.
September 16 “The Secret Hour” by LuanneRice. This is an audio bookI listened to over a couple weeks. It was OK. It was not great, riveting, or thrilling. It was predictable. It was my first – and possibly my last book by Luanne Rice. Thank goodness I got some of my requests from the library this week and can start on something else!! Sorry, Ms. Rice.
September 9 “Chosen by a Horse” by Susan Richards. I’ve never been a “horse person”. I’ve never owned a horse. I can count on ONE hand how many times I have actually ridden a horse. And yet, I LOVED THIS BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!! It is the true story of a woman in New York who rescues an abused horse and how the ownership of this ‘broken’ horse changes her life. If you are even the slightest bit an animal lover, you will LOVE this book – that’s a *guarantee*. READ IT! NOW! 🙂
September 2 “Back on Blossom Street” by Debbie Macomber. You know, I’d never read anything by Debbie Macomber till one of the girls at work saw me reading all the “Elm Creek Quilt” books and suggested I try the Blossom Street series. It is similar in that knitting is what draws all these women together, and – you learn all about the patrons to the yarn store on Blossom Street which is named “A Good Yarn”. I listened to this bookon CD and thoroughly enjoyed it. Actually, this is bookThree in the series, so I accidentally skipped bookTwo. Yup, book Two which is titled “A Good Yarn” is on reserve at the library right now. These are not heavy books. They are light reading but oh-so-enjoyable. I also love the fact that there is God and spirituality incorporated into the stories and there are no curse words, either. If you have ever read and enjoyed one of the Elm Creek Quilt books by Jennifer Chiaverini, you will most certainly enjoy the Blossom Street books as well.
September 1 “Ordinary Life: Stories” by Elizabeth Berg. Have I mentioned lately that I really, reallylike ElizabethBerg? I certainly have not been one to choose a book of short stories regularly, but now I’ve read two and seriously enjoyed them – in the last couple of months! Bothof which were by Ms Berg. Actually, I started listening to this book on CD, really started to enjoy it, and then, because my car CD player is not that great and because the CD’s were pretty scratched up I ended up bagging the CD version and simply reading it. Elizabeth Berg really has a way of capturing my interest, writing about things that are- or could be- so real! No doubt I’ll read more of hers! Thanks again to Alisonof BrocanteHome Chronicles for mentioning something about getting a pile of Elizabeth Berg novels and settling in for a few days of enjoyment! Till then, I’d never heard of her. Funny thing, Alison lives in England! It’s certainly a small world these days!
August 26 “Queen of the Road” by Doreen Orion. Another non-fiction bookfor me! Since dear hubby and I have toyed at length with the thought of getting a motorhome, this bookwas really great insight of life “on the road”. The couple in the book left their jobs, bought a converted bus, packed up the necessities of life (including 2 cats and one poodle), and took off on a tour of the USA for a year! I really enjoyed reading about all the different areas they visited, as well as tales of what it’s like to live on a bus (or motorhome) for a year. Published this year (2008) it is very up-to-date with regards to places and events. If the thought of a lengthy trip around NorthAmerica in your own “home” appeals, then the book will too! Check out the website (linked above) – it’s a hoot!
August 6 “A Year in Provence” by Peter Mayle. This book was originally published in 1989, so one could say it tookme a while to get around to reading it! Actually, I recently found this book at a garage sale and thought I might enjoy it. I was right. It was simply delightful! It’s a true story about a couple from London who decide to live out a long time dream – they move lock, stock, and barrel to the Provence area in France. It was fun to read about what life was like for them in their OLD country home, the people who helped them do some renovations, and especially THE FOOD!! I am now considering reading the sequel, “Toujours Provence” published in 1991 🙂
August 1 “Change of Heart” by Jodi Picoult. I listened to the audio version of this book, and since there were 12 discs, it tookmea long time. The book was well written, well researched, and this audio version was very well narrated. (here comes the “but”) … But, unless you are very interested in comparative religion as well as debating the necessity/legality of the death penalty, I’d give this book a miss. It’s about a prison inmate who is sentenced to death and wants to give his heart to his victim’s daughter after he dies. Some of it is actually pretty OK, but there are certain parts where supernatural powers are introduced, and I – not being someone who enjoys science fiction – was frankly disappointed. As Randy Jackson has been known to say on American Idol, “It was just all right for me”.
July 24 “The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein. There were 85 requests for this bookat our local library. I waited and I waited, and finally it was my turn. Oh my goodness, was this bookEVER worththe wait!!! In a bit of an unusual twist, this book was written about a family – from the family dog’s view! Yes, Enzothedog narrates much of this book. It’s not so much about car racing as it is about love, life, and relationships. This has got to be one of my favorites of the year FOR SURE. Check out this short video about the book from Amazon.com
July 17 “Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant” by Anne Tyler. I picked up this book at the Goodwill store and thought it sounded interesting – how right I was!! First off, this is not a new book. It was originally published in the early 1980’s but has been republished numerous times since. To be honest, I don’t think I would have enjoyed this book when it was first published, and for that reason I’m glad I didn’t find it until now. In a nutshell, it’s about an old woman on her deathbed, reminiscing about her life and especially about the raising of her family. When you get “slightly older” like myself, you find yourself looking backwards at times. In 1982 (when this book first came out) I was not looking backwards – no, I was focused on the present and possibly the future, but certainly NOT ready to look back. Anyway, it’s an excellent book and a great read. I enjoyed it very much.
June 26 “The Choice” by Nicholas Sparks. This was another audio book I finished listening to recently. I was surprised that it really kept my attention and interest. Set in North Carolina it was the story of a Vet and a nurse practioner, how they meet, fall in love, and then the obligitory”tragedy” happens. I won’t give it away, but while it was a bit “syrupy” it was still wortha read! The medical stuff in the book was also quite accurate. There’s nothing I hate more than medical bits in books that are WAY off the mark!
June 17 “The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted” by Elizabeth Berg. I’ve read a few Elizabeth Berg novels. I really like most of them but I LOVED THIS ONE!!!!!!!! It is her latest and if you are between the ages of about 48 and 60, you will love it too. This is a collection of short stories (which are not usually my thing) about women – real everyday women with real feelings, real cravings, real “mid-life” situations. I could relate to them ALL – in one way or another. Do give this book a try. You’ll be glad you did. 🙂
June 12 “The House at Riverton” by Kate Morton. This book is a MUST-READ! I loved it. Set in an English country manor house and in London circa 1914-1924. It was meticulously researched by the first-time Australian author who was simply stellar at examining the “upstairs/downstairs” life and how the two intermingle. I just can’t say enough about how great this novel was. It would make a FANTASTIC movie! In a way it reminded me of the superb writing we saw years ago from Belva Plain [EVERGREEN], Colleen McCullough [THE THORN BIRDS],and even Rosamunde Pilcher [THE SHELL SEEKERS]. These ladies went on to write many other novels but… their first novels were the ones that grabbed us and the ones we compared all the others to – and it seems they never quite measured up. I hope that won’t be the case with this talented author! If this era appeals to you, do read The House at Riverton!!!
June 6 “Amazing Grace” by…. I’m embarrassed to admit… Danielle Steele. Good grief. WHY oh WHY did I do it? Well, at least it was free. Do not spend one cent on this book. Do not spend one minute of precious time reading it. This book sucks. I’m sorry, but it does. I was “out” of audio books last week for my drive into work. This was the only thing I had at the house and so I popped in a CD. After all, it’s a nice title, isn’t it?! While the title was nice, the book was idiocy. All I can say is… “thank heaven I have something else to listen to this week”. End of discussion.
May 26 “A Year of Pleasures” by Elizabeth Berg. I generally like Elizabeth Berg’s novels. This was a very well narrated audio version of a very nice book. The main character is a 50-something woman who loses her husband to cancer and how she copes. It certainly kept my interest and made my long drive much more pleasurable (thank goodness for audio books!). Being of a similar age to “Betta”, I found myself completely understanding her references to things in the past as well as the present. It’s a short novel but definitely worth a read!
May 13 “The Tenth Circle” by Jodi Picoult. It’s a darned good thing that this was not the first Jodi Picoultnovelthat I read. This was an audio book that I made myself finish before returning it to the library. I know Ms Picoultcando better than this – and I will read more of hers in time. This book was about 100 pages too long. The story about a teenage girl who was raped simply didn’t “grab” me. The narrator however, did an excellent job! Guess that’s not enough for me to give this book a thumbs up.
April 26 “An Irish Country Doctor” by Patrick Taylor. Do you remember the James Herriot “country vet” books from years ago? Did you enjoy them all like I did?? Did you feel as I did by the end of the books that you actually knew those people and their animals? Well, this book was quite similar – although this doctor treats humans. It is set in the early 1960’s in rural Northern Ireland, and while it was written as fiction, it is derived from the author’s own experiences and is certainly based on fact. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and have the sequel (An Irish Country Village) on my “wish list” at the local library! I definitely recommend this one 🙂
April 18 “Laceysof Liverpool” by Maureen Lee. Maybe it’s because I’m married to a wonderful Englishman, but I simply adore Ms Maureen Lee and her captivating books. This one was set in (duh) Liverpool England, staring in 1940 and going into the 70’s. It’s one of those engaging, long family sagas (think Rosamunde Pilcher here) that I downright eat up!! There are no bad words, no crazy hot love scenes, just a wonderfully woven story that was honestly hard to put down! I have never been disappointed by Ms Lee yet, although her books can be rather tricky to find here in the good ol’ USA. Thanks to eBay, Amazon, Paperbackswap.com, and a few trips up to Canada, I’ve been lucky to get my hands on several of her books. I’d love to sit down right now and start another!!
April 11 “The Secret Between Us” by Barbara Delinsky. This refers to the audio, unabridged edition. So, having read one book by DelinskythatIrather enjoyed, I tried another. BAD MOVE. This book was about as shallow as a kiddie’swading pool. Of course this is just my humble opinion. I felt that the subject matter was beaten to death – the characters kept repeating themselves over and over. I thought I would scream if I heard Deborah say ONE MORE TIME – “absolutely NOT!”. Yup, she said it one final time in the last chapter of the book. Well I’ll say it too. When asked if you should bother to read this book, my reply is a resounding “ABSOLUTELY NOT”. There are too many good books, too little time 🙂 Find something else.
March 25 “Three Cups of Tea” by Greg Mortenson. An impressive true story of a man who against all odds, builds schools in Pakistan. Most people love this book. Look at all the 5 star ratings it gets on Amazon! I liked it. I did not love it. Maybe my problem is that I’m so used to reading fiction… not really sure, but while it was good it didn’t make me run down to the local street corner, stand up on a soap box, and tout all it’s wonders. Oh well.
March 13 “My Sister’s Keeper” by Jodi Picoult. Believe it or not, this was my first Jodi Picoult novel & it was excellent! Not sure if all of her books are this good, but boy-oh-boy this one had me gripped and hooked in the first 10 pages. I love a booklikethat. I felt it was very well written and in most of the situations throughout the bookitwas extremely realistic. It’s about a 13 year old girl who has spent her entire life being a medical donor for her now 15 year old sister who has leukemia. Now she wants to STOP being a donor and particularly does not want to donate a kidney. She sues her parents for medical emancipation. Call me dumb, but I didn’t see the twists that came at the end. This was a GREAT book and particularly good in the audio version. I will most definitely read more from this author!
March 7 “The Middle Place” by Kelly Corrigan. I think I first heard/read about this book on the Booksense website – and put it on reserve at our local library. Like the typical novel reader that I am, I thought this was going to be a novel (guess I didn’t read through the synopsis as well as I thought I did) – but no, this is a biography! This book is great. It’s thought provoking and so well written that it has the power to make you laugh and cry and ponder and wish and pray and hope and rejoice and lots more. Read it, you’ll be glad you did. ****
March 1 “Every Last Cuckoo” by Kate Maloy. Wow. I loved this book. Not every last word, but 97% of it anyway! It’s so unusual to come across a book where the main character is O-L-D and yet still so very much alive and living and who actually makes a difference in her world. I highly recommend this one! ****
February 25 “Family Tree” by Barbara Delinsky. This was an audio book I listened to. I actually enjoyed most of it and it did what I like audio books to do: keep me entertained while making my long drives. It certainly was “predictable”, but that was ok. It was still quite enjoyable. I’m often at the mercy of what our library has available on CD so I think it’s safe to assume that many times my audio books are sort of on the “fluff” side. **1/2
February 19 “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan” by Lisa See. Finally, a really fascinating book! I truly enjoyed every bit of this wonderful novel – set in the early 1800’s in rural China. This book was very well researched and it showed. Many years ago I was enthralled with “The Good Earth” by Pearl S. Buck; and this book was every bit as good, in my humble opinion. Highly recommend. ****
January 3 “Father Unknown” by Lesley Pearse. This is one of my favorite UK authors and this was an excellent book – right up until the end where it got a little silly and unbeliveable. I also didn’t like the title as it didn’t give any sort of a feel for the actual content of the book. Set in the 1950’s-1990’s in England, it was about an adopted girl and her search for her family. ***1/2
January 13 “Summer at Tiffany” by Marjorie Hart. A biographical account of two Iowa co-ed’s who spent the summer of 1945 working at Tiffany’s in New York City. ****
January 15 “Joy School” by Elizabeth Berg. An easy read that reminded me so much of Junior High, back in the 1960’s. I listened to the audio version. ***
February 1 “Suite Francaise” by Irene Nemirovsky. A remarkable book set in 1940-41 during the Nazi occupation of France. What may be even more remarkable is that this author was Jewish and in 1942, sent to Auschwitz where she later died. The manuscript was saved by one of her daughters. ***1/2
February 8 The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd. This was an audio book I listened to on and off for several weeks. I was determined to hear it to it’s conclusion, and all the way I kept hoping it would get better! It didn’t. I can’t recommend it! I hear that the Secret Life of Bees (her first novel) was much better. Well, that has to be the case because it simply couldn’t be worse! *