Monthly Archives: April 2011

>Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher *Review*

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A girl you knew, a girl you had once kissed, has just committed suicide-and you’re one of the reasons. How does that make you feel?

For Clay, one of the main characters in Thirteen Reasons Why, it makes him feel fearful, sickened and morose. Clay Jensen has just received a package at his front door with no return address. He opens it to find seven audio cassettes. Curiously he inserts the first tape, presses play…and hears the voice of Hannah Baker, a girl from school who had just killed herself.

Hannah shares with her listeners the thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Thirteen people who set off a chain of events that Hannah could not recover from. Actions and words that made her feel smaller, laughed at, used and insignificant.

Reading this book made me think back to my junior high and high school years. Were there times I ignored people when I should have said hi? Times when I should have reached out instead of pushing away? Did I ever become part of a chain of events in somebody else’s life? God, I hope not. And if I did- please know that I am truly, truly, sorry.

Jay Asher’s debut novel is an excellent view into the life of a teenager on the edge of despair. A teenager who with one kind word could have had a shot at life. I loved this book and have encouraged my sixteen-year-old son to read it. I want him to understand how powerful an encouraging word or a small act of kindness can be in the life of someone who so desperately needs it. 4.5/5 stars

>Cul-de-Sac by David Martin *Review*

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Donald Growler didn’t do it. And he’s trying to kill everyone who says he did.

So begins David Martin’s frightening and mysterious Culde-Sac, a suspense-filled triumph of degradation, desperation, and deceit. The scene of the crime is a humongous, dilapidated mansion in Maryland known as Culde-Sac, once the scene of a grisly murder, which Paul and Annie Milton are trying to renovate. When Growler-toughened by years of jail time served for a crime he didn’t commit-begins stalking the young, attractive couple, Detective Teddy Camel is summoned.

Camel, once known as the Human Lie Detector, is officially retired, forced out for having broken as many departmental rules as homicide cases. But as a favor to Annie-his onetime lover- Camel reenters the fray and uncovers a trail of corruption and death leading all the way to the society’s elite. How Camel tracks down Growler, untangles the real story behind his hideous vengeance, and finally discovers the secret prize all the players have furiously sought makes for a novel of unforgettable twists and psychological insights.

Gives you the chills doesn’t it! It’s been a long time since I have read an honest to goodness suspense filled page turner, and this one would definitely qualify. I started reading this one afternoon after I had put ribs in the oven to slow cook for 3 hours. Usually I am eagerly awaiting them coming out of the oven, falling off the bone, hunger pangs having beaten against my stomach for a good hour of their cooking time. I was literally shocked when the oven’s buzzer went off!

This was a fast paced, albeit a little squeamishly violent, book that I could not put down. This book is rated solidly at 4/5 stars and probably would have rated higher had my stomach not flip-flopped at some of the gruesome images. Those who know me, know that I give only 2 or 3 books a year a rating of 5 (yes, I’m that tough,) so this is, after all, a pretty darn good book!

>It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 4/25/11

> Monday! What Are You Reading is a chance for all to share what they accomplished readingwise last week and what their reading plans are for the week. Join in with Sheila at Book Journey so we can see what you are up to!

Last week I finished:

1. Tiger, Tiger

2. Thirteen Reasons Why (review coming)

3. The Long Walk (review Coming)

This week I go back to work after a week’s vacation so I will have a lot of catching up to do. Hopefully I will still have time to do some reading. The books I will be reading this week come from my own bookshelf! I try to get to at least one down from those dusty ol’ shelves once a month and this month I went for broke and grabbed two. After all, our book club’s charity book sale will be coming up in a few months and I have to have something to contribute!

Three children leave their small Dublin neighborhood to play in the surrounding woods. Hours later, their mother’s calls go unanswered. When the police arrive, they find only one of the children, gripping a tree trunk in terror, wearing blood-filled sneakers, and unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours.

Twenty years later, Detective Rob Ryan-the found boy, who has kept his past a secret-and his partner Cassie Maddox investigate the murder of a twelve-year-old girl in the same woods. Now, with only snippets of long-buried memories to guide him, Ryan has the chance to uncover both the mystery of the case before him, and that of his own shadowy past


Born without her left hip and leg, Michele Perry is no stranger to seeming impossibilities. So when she arrived in war-torn southern Sudan, with little more than faith in God’s promises, she did what everyone told her was crazy: She opened a home for the orphaned children in guerrilla warfare territory.

With a deft pen, she recounts unforgettable stories that capture the stark realities of caring for more than one hundred little lives in the middle of a war zone-and the love and mercy of God she’s found there.

Well that’s it for this week. I hope the rest of you have a super week planned!

>Sunday Confessional April 24, 2011

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I confess. It’s Easter Sunday and I would much rather be spending time with my family then writing a blog post, so that’s what I’m going to do. I hope everyone has a very blessed Easter!

>Book Beginnings April 22, 2011

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How to participate: Share the first line (or two) of the book you are currently reading on your blog or in the comments. Include the title and the author so we know what you’re reading. Then, if you would like, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line, and let us know if you liked or did not like the sentence. The link-up will be at A Few More Pages every Friday and will be open for the entire week.
My opening lines come from The Long Walk by Slavomir Rawicz:
It was about nine o’clock one bleak November day that the key rattled in the heavy lock of my cell in the Lubyanka prison and the two broad-shouldered guards marched purposefully in. I had been walking slowly round, left hand in the now characteristic prisoner’s attitude of supporting the top of the issue trousers, which Russian ingenuity supplied without buttons or even string on the quite reasonable assumption that a man preoccupied with keeping up his pants would be severely handicapped in attempting to escape.
I loved the opener of this non-fiction book because it took me immediately into the story without having to go through pages and pages of introducing characters and setting up the storyline. I’m a little more than halfway through and I’m still loving it!

>Tiger, Tiger: A Memoir by Margaux Fragoso *Review*

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I finished this book just minutes ago and realize I have a huge headache. I believe it’s from furrowing my brow so intensely in horror and disgust…

Tiger, Tiger is an incredible story but one not easy to read because of its subject content. At turns both sickening and fascinating, I found myself riveted even as I was repelled.

Margaux is a troubled seven-year-old girl when she meets fifty-two-year-old Peter. Saddled at home with a mother who suffers from mental illness and a controlling, egocentric father, visits to Peter’s house are a vacation from rules-a carefree time of make believe.

Peter is the father Margaux wishes she had. The one who doesn’t yell when she twirls her hair and doesn’t criticize her for what she eats or what she says. Peter is patient with her and kind. He listens to her stories, admires her drawings, and plays with the paper ladybug set she makes just for him. And he takes pictures of her-lots of pictures. He singles her out and wants to spend individual time just with her.

The basement becomes their special place. While Margaux’s mother watches movies or goes to the store, Peter teaches her how to Eskimo kiss, then fish kiss, then kiss long like adults do, then finally, the Bazooka Joe kiss- which is the kiss where they pass gum from her mouth to his. She doesn’t like this kiss because their tongues touch and that’s ishy.

By the time Margaux is eight, Peter tells her his birthday is coming soon. He knows she doesn’t have money so he’ll ask instead for a very special gift that won’t cost her anything. The day of Peter’s birthday, Margaux gets a tummy ache. She doesn’t feel well at all. Her mother tells her if she’s sick she can’t go to Peter’s house to celebrate his birthday. Margaux cries. She really wants to go but she’s afraid she’ll disappoint Peter because she hasn’t bought a present for him…

Reading this story I was shocked by how little I understood about pedophiles and their behavior. I knew enough to know they don’t all look like monsters and you can’t pick them out of a crowd, but what I didn’t realize was how slowly and insidiously they could worm their way into your life.

Margaux’s mother, partly because of her mental illness, either didn’t see or ignored the signs. Her father’s suspicions he disregarded because drink, his job, or his girlfriend always seemed to come before his daughter.

Peter and Margaux’s relationship went on for fifteen years. Their unusual bond was a hard one to break although both at times seemed like they wanted to. Margaux was all Peter had. And Peter? Well, he had been such a big part of her life for so many years she didn’t know how to exist without him.

I have never read a book where the character’s relationships with each other were so complex. Margaux had such a love-hate relationship with everybody involved it’s hard to imagine how she could feel anything at all-and sometimes she didn’t.

I know this book stirred up a whole gamut of emotions within me: terror, revulsion, violation, incredulity, distrust, dismay, fury…and the feeling that I had consumed an important book for Margaux to write and a significant book for me to read. 5/5 stars

>The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley *Review*

> Flavia de Luce is quite the little busybody. It is the summer of 1950- and at the once-grand mansion of Buckshaw, young Flavia de Luce, an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison, is intrigued by a series of events: A dead bird found on the doorstep, a postage stamp bizarrely pinned to its beak. Then, hours later, Flavia finds a man lying in the cucumber patch and watches him as he makes his dying breath… Immediately enthralled with the mystery of murder Flavia decides to go about solving it. This eleven-year-old is a precocious chemist in the making who uses her scientific mind to follow the clues…and it sometimes gets her in trouble. Disparagingly looking down her nose at her two older sisters, for which she has no love, she sets out on her bike (which she has named Gladys) to begin her investigation at the library. Upon finding it closed “CLOSED? Oh Scissors!” she exclaims before coming up with this perfect thought that each book lover here will agree upon: “As I stood outside on Cow Lane, it occurred to me that Heaven must be a place where the library is open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. No- eight days a week.” And that’s where I fell in love with Flavia. Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie was a fun, fun book. I loved the way Flavia gets into trouble no matter what she sets out to do. In fact at one point in the story Inspector Hewitt remarks: “There are times Miss de Luce, when you deserve a brass medal. And there are other times when you deserve to be sent to your room with bread and water.” There is not much I can say without giving away the mystery of the murder that is the center of the book. What I can say is if you read this book you will like it and you will absolutely adore wicked little Flavia! Author Alan Bradley shines as he pins down her scheming mind and sarcastic tongue and wraps the whole book up with a whole lot of humor that had me laughing out loud at her hijinks and predicaments. I would definitely read another Flavia de Luce mystery! My rating 4/5 stars!