Friday, June 29, 2012

Top 20 Beach Reads!

I am not endorsing any of the books below, but according to sources these are the top 20 beach reads this summer - what do you think??  Post a comment below. . .

Jennifer Weiner's selections:
'Silver Sparrow' By Tayari Jones
Dishy, twisty, secrets about two daughters: one from her father’s public family, the other from the family on the side.
'Faith' By Jennifer Haigh
Combines the best descriptive writing of literary fiction with the plot twists of a thriller. A priest in Boston is accused of molesting a young boy. The truth –as revealed by his sister, his brother, his accuser and the father’s own father – is a lot more complicated than that.
'The Magician King' By Lev Grossman
Lev Grossman’s "The Magicians" was billed as Harry Potter for grown-ups – call it ‘Dirty Harry,’ or Hogwarts with hook-ups. In the sequel, published in August, teenage magician Quentin Coldwater – now a king in the Narnia-esque land of Fillory – goes on a hero’s quest, with wondrous, and tragic, results.
 Video: Jennifer Weiner and Harlan Coben reveal their picks (on this page)
'The Story of Beautiful Girl' By Rachel Simon
(Grand Central)
On the proverbial dark and rainy night in 1968, two strangers show up at a widow’s doorstep. They’ve got a secret – they’ve escaped from an institution for the incurable and “feeble-minded” – and a baby. Their story, by the author of "Riding The Bus With My Sister," is a compelling and heartbreaking read, in part because this country’s treatment of the disabled and the different, not so very long ago, was so tragic.
And six more…
'Best Kept Secret' By Amy Hatvany
(Washington Square Press)
Moms who drink are usually a punch line. This novel tells a much more serious story about what happens to a single mom when her take-the-edge-off glass of wine at the end of the night turns into addiction.
'Maine' By J. Courtney Sullivan
Three generations of an Irish Catholic family reunite, as they do each summer, in the family’s cottage in Maine, in Sullivan’s second novel, which has a compelling title and a godawful cover. Secrets are kept (will Maggie tell her slacker Brooklyn boyfriend about her pregnancy?), booze is consumed (will eldest daughter Kathleen fall off the wagon?), and judgments are rendered (a mother comments acidly to her daughter that “it looks like you’ve lost a few). In a book crammed with memorable women, it’s Alice, the family’s prickly, proud, haunted matriarch, who will stay with you the longest.
'The Red Thread' By Ann Hood
(W.W. Norton & Company)
In Rhode Island, infertile couples start down the path that will lead them toward the babies that were meant to be theirs. First-world stories of infidelity and unhappiness can’t compete with the heartbreaking tales of how the girls who will come to America came to be orphaned in the first place.
'Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self' By Danielle Evans
Short stories can be the perfect choice for summer – each tale the perfect length for an afternoon at the beach. Evans’ stories deal with the Questions of Race, parsed by characters who are smart, sarcastic, occasionally bitter and always funny.
'Exposure' By Therese Fowler
(Ballantine Books)
Boy meets girl. Boy loves girl. Boy, at girl’s urging, texts nude pictures of himself to her phone. Girl’s father finds phone…and all hell breaks lose, with the arrest of both parties as just the first in a series of things that go wrong and get worse. Compulsively readable and a timely, cautionary tale in our age of TMI.
'The Nobodies Album' By Carolyn Parkhurst
Is it a murder-mystery? Is it the tale of a woman learning – reluctantly and belatedly – to be a mother? Or a character study of how novelists manipulate truth to suit their purposes? Parkhurst’s third novel is all of the above…and it’s accompanied by a sly, tongue-in-cheek promotional effort (seriously. Look her up on YouTube).
Here are Harlan Coben's suggestions.
'A Faithful Place' By Tana French
French is my favorite discovery over the past year.  Beautifully written and to use movie-speak, it's "Angela's Ashes" meets a haunting thriller.  Lyrical and moving.
'Adrenaline' By Jeff Abbott
(Grand Central)
Are you looking for the heir apparent to Jason Bourne?  Jeff Abbott's aptly titled book is the most gripping spy story I've read in years.
'Swim Back to Me' By Ann Packer
It starts with coming of age novella, then there are some poignant short stories — and finally we have another novella with the same character three decades later.  Wise and heartbreaking and beautifully written.  
'Misery Bay' By Steve Hamilton
(Minotaur Books)
I'm often asked to recommend a detective series readers might have missed.  This is it. Hamilton has been flying under the radar with his Alex McKnight series for too long. "Misery Bay" will change that, I hope.
'Maine' By J. Courtney Sullivan
A poignant, heartbreaking story about three generations of women and the beachfront Maine home, won in a barroom bet, that unites them all. "Maine" is that summer novel you’ll want to share with a friend – and, like summer itself, you’ll wish it would never end.
'Long Gone' By Alafair Burke
One day, Alice Humphrey goes to her job to find the gallery is gone, stripped bare… and oh there’s a dead body on the floor. A page turner from a major talent.
'Save Me' By Lisa Scottoline
(St. Martin's Press)
A great thriller and a wonderful rumination on motherhood, bullying and the decisions we make. Scottoline has never been better – and that’s saying something.
'Sixkill' By Robert B. Parker
(Putnam Adult)
Parker died last year. This is the last Spenser mystery – the greatest detective series of all time — written by the master himself. If you haven’t discovered Spencer or Parker, here is your chance. RIP, Bob.
'In The Garden of Beasts' By Erik Larson
I don’t read much nonfiction, but Larson’s portrait of Berlin during the early years of Hitler’s reign, told from the viewpoint of the US Ambassador and his impetuous daughter, is both gripping and educational.
  1. More in books
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    2. ‘The Letter’: Pat Tillman's wife opens up about loss
    3. Dingo victim's father shares details in memoir
    4. Rielle Hunter: I wasn't Edwards’ first mistress
    5.  Prom: An American rite of passage
'Between Shades of Gray' By Ruta Sepetys
Sepetys has penned a harrowing and heartbreaking novel about Lina, a 16 year old Lithuanian girl, who is sent to a forced-labor camp during the Russian invasion of 1939. Beautifully written and important, this Young Adult novel is for Grades 7 to 12.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

iBookonBooks!: I Holler for Mickey Haller!

iBookonBooks!: I Holler for Mickey Haller!: My third book in the Mickey Haller series (Lincoln Lawyer, Brass Verdict, 5th Witness), I've jumped around a bit, but still a fan even thoug...

Friday, June 22, 2012

I Holler for Mickey Haller!

My third book in the Mickey Haller series (Lincoln Lawyer, Brass Verdict, 5th Witness), I've jumped around a bit, but still a fan even though this wasn't my favorite.  The first few pages, chapters even,  made me think I had already read this one.  I had not, it was just so familiar which makes Michael Connelly so consistent in his story telling (repetitive?).  While this one wasn't quite the 'can't put it down' type of read that Lincoln was it has its merits.

You are immediately aware of the unlikable vibe Mickey's client Lisa gives off but you go along with the question of innocence that he begins to give in to.  That's the piece that keeps it interesting, what does Mickey think?  The twists of the case that brought you to the end result were just OK.  I was not caught up in a crescendo the way the prosecution case was described as Mickey brought it to an unceremonious ending in the court room.  Too many loop holes that didn't quite tie together neatly in the writing left me thinking, hung jury?  And maybe that's just it, too much thinking involved.  You had to draw conclusions on your own because they weren't written down.  

Even so I still don't quite understand  why Mickey took a beating in this one.  And the movie deal, just a result of Connelly's prior success or was it part of the contract to work in a movie angle into his next chronicle?  More drama and pointless story line confusion that didn't quite tick and tie for me. 

The same players exist for the most part, again bringing consistency to the Haller series but nothing much has changed making it a bit of a snore in some spots.  For example, his go no where relationship with ex wife Mags.  Nothing about their relationship makes me want to read another one to see how things turn out for these two.  Clearly romance is not Connelly's sweet spot.  And that's OK, he knows what works for him, he adds in the relationship bits to build Mickey's character I get that, but it's boring.

Now, Mickey playing the role of DA instead of the 'don't grow a conscience on me', hard core defense attorney we have come to know and love was a definite curve making you wonder where Connelly is going next.  That was enough for me to pick up the next in the series.

One question for those who read it, do you think part of Matthew Mcconaughey's contract was to get a name drop in print?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Hunger Games Leaves this Mind Starving for Sanity

Admittedly I am coming late to the 'game' so to speak with regard to reading and reviewing 'The Hunger Games' but I feel strongly about my opinions here and thought that it deserved my recount.  First, I had no idea what the premise of the famed trilogy was and no I don't live under a rock.  I didn't pay much attention to the movie trailers and although 2 of my 5 kids have read or are reading them I thought I would just take them on myself and find out what all the hype was about.  And so I did. . .

When I realized this was a story of children fighting to their deaths I was completely appalled.  What sane person could think to write about such violent attacks and killings of children, in the voice of a child.  No the person who wrote these books is not well.  The descriptive pictures painted of mutant beings, mind games, torture, haunting nightmares that last a life time sending them to insanity and more of the like were horrifying enough - adding that they were carried out by children killing and being killed for sport is completely irrational.  All at the hand of adults who set them up, planned the attacks, built supreme creatures for these children to contend with, be slaughtered by or eaten alive.  Is that the message we're sending the young minds of today?  Isn't there enough real world despair to read about?  You want to know more about starvation, hunger, and children struggling for survival take on a living, breathing cause.  None of which I will mention because I am not advocating for one cause over another, you can do your own homework. The 'games' as depicted meant for sport and entertainment, I did not find entertaining.  

To take it one step further and darker the author here adds in a twisted pregnancy element - so now we are into killing off the unborn as a result of ritualistic sport?  Regardless of my position on abortion rights and the fact that it is a book and even within the book the pregnancy was a fabrication, it was an element that the author thought through putting words to paper.  Think about that.

To think that this has become best selling movie material makes me believe strongly that we have run out of ideas.  We have already remade the remakes thrice over and this story is not really all that different than that of the Romans except that this 'writer' (and I use the term loosely) has used children as the prey.  What's next?

Was this the workings of an imaginative mind or one of a sick and depraved individual?