The Winter Room


3 Stars

This was a lovely book. It wasn’t really the story itself that was moving, although the story was very nice, but the way the story was told. It had such beautiful writing, and a great descriptive pattern that made it come alive. The general story is about the evening on a working farm  when the patriarch of the family tells stories about his past life.

I think the author was writing in an effort to bring the story to life, using the reader’s senses. The author’s note at the beginning explains it all, and gives easily my favorite quote from a book: “If books could have more, give more, be more, they would still need readers, who bring to them sound and smell and light and all the rest that can’t be in books. The book needs you.”


Published in: on March 1, 2008 at 9:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Westing Game


3 Stars

Adrienne has moved away, but her legacy remains.   After finishing the last book, and discovering that all my other books are packed, I went rummaging desperately through the piles of stuff that Dean and Adie had left behind, and I found The Westing Game.  A Newberry award winner!  So I read it, and, duh, I liked it.

It is a fun little puzzle/mystery book.  It’s kinda silly, afterall it is a kids book, but still worth the read.


Published in: on January 15, 2008 at 11:13 am  Comments (1)  




I really liked this book. I think it was clever, engaging, and I liked that it was an unfamiliar take on a familiar story.

Full disclosure: I am a rabid Wizard of Oz fan. I have read all of the original 12 and some of the ones after, and I own most of them. I even have a tattoo that includes Oz references. So it was natural for me to check out this new form of a story I love so much. But when you really know a story, it can be hard to hear a distorted version of it.

This book does not have that problem. There are enough neat references that a fan of Oz would understand and appreciate, but the story stands on its own and isn’t even really about the events of the movie or original books. This story mostly takes place before those events, and shows us “the real story” behind the Wicked Witches, the Wizard, and other characters we know from the original stories. This keeps it from feeling like a “wrong” version of the story, though it does take great liberties with the world you’re used to from the movie.

There are adult themes, and the feel of the book is nothing like “The Wizard of Oz”. I wouldn’t recommend this book to children younger than high school, probably. Its an easy enough read for adults, but includes political and adult themes that make it not a super-fast book.


Published in: on August 8, 2007 at 10:56 am  Leave a Comment  

With You in Spirit


4 Stars

I like this general fiction category. It keeps coming up with gems. This is a rather short story about a family who loses their mother. The mother returns as a ghost to help her family with their various problems. Despite its supernatural element, this is a down to earth tale of familial relations and everyday situations.


Published in: on July 18, 2007 at 5:26 am  Leave a Comment  

The Wench is Dead


3 Stars

Inspector Morse is an interesting hero who works in London and speaks in a british accent. You can hear it dripping off the page. This story takes place in the hospital as the good inspector goes through old cases and ruminates on the mystery of a young woman who dies during a midnight canal ride. There is no danger, no real problems, just the inspector bantering with his right hand man and the local librarian to solve the case. It’s more interesting than it sounds, I swear.


Published in: on July 18, 2007 at 5:18 am  Leave a Comment  

Without Pity


3 1/2 Stars

This is a great book by Ann Rule. She goes through all the most dangerous murderers she has had the misfortune of learning about. She’s a great writer and gives the stories such a life that it’s more fascinating than anything. You know, I read a lot of true crime, and I like Ann Rule’s style the best. Maybe I should just come up with a generic review of her books and cut and paste it for all the ones I read. She’s got 26 or so of them, so you may be reading this a lot.


Published in: on July 17, 2007 at 10:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

White Apples


5 Stars

White Apples is a philosophical masterpiece disguised as a dramatic thriller. The story involves a woman who crosses over bring back the dead father of her unborn child. The father returns to the world remembering parts of the afterlife and able to perform mystic feats he doesn’t understand. The unborn child communicates with his mother and passes on his destiny to save the earth from Chaos, which, in this incarnation, has become sentient. The storyline takes a back seat, however, as the reanimated father attempts to remember critical information from the afterlife and meets with a guide of sorts that explains the nature of life. I found this book fascinating and it provided me with hours of discussion material and food for thought.

Published in: on July 17, 2007 at 8:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Wish


2 1/2 Stars

I had high hopes for this book. It was written by the same author who wrote “Ella Enchanted” and “The Princess Diaries” which were both award winners. However, this book fell a bit flat. It’s about an unpopular 8th grader who receives a wish from an old lady on the subway and ends up the most popular girl in school. It was meant to be a coming of age story, but I kinda hated it. Here’s the thing–I don’t really understand teenagers who long to be popular. I never really cared. Granted, I didn’t really like being laughed at in school, but then everyone was laughed at and I figured out very early on that if I was able to laugh at myself then I took their power away and I could do whatever I wanted. Just look at how I dress! It was much worse in Jr. High and High School, I assure you. Anyhow, I don’t understand the need to be popular. Nor do I understand how kids, especially those that have been on the receiving end before, can be randomly cruel to others. Can you guess what happens in this story? Yep, the previously-unpopular-now-popular girl is really, really mean to currently unpopular students. Granted, she learns her lesson and eventually learns the meaning of friendship and that those who are popular really aren’t all that great blah blah blah, but it was so damn painful to read most of the book that I hated it. At least she learned her lesson.

Published in: on July 17, 2007 at 7:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

Wrapped Up in Crosswords


1 1/2 Stars

This should have been a silly little mystery. It was billed as a silly little mystery. It was shelved in the mystery section. It was part of a series of silly little mysteries all involving crossword puzzles and the same characters. It was written by a silly little mystery author. The publisher said it was a silly little mystery (without the “silly little” part, of course). It wasn’t a silly little mystery. It was feel good fiction. Weird, I know. The story is about an ex cop and and his crossword writing wife. They own 2 dogs, who inexplicably begin talking among themselves during the story. Maybe this is part of the series–I don’t know. I haven’t read any other books in this group. Anyhow, the ex-cop joins his old partner and the forensics guy to pick up gifts for needy children. They dress as Santas. Did I mention it’s christmas time? The whole time, the ex-cop worries about what to get his wife for christmas. He hits upon an idea, and decides to work it into a crossword puzzle for her. The dogs begin talking at this point, and worry that their master is going to get their mistress a pair of love birds. They spend the rest of the book trying to dissuade their master from doing so. Then there’s a strange matchmaking session thingy…the local rich lady decides to use the traditional gift exchange to fix up the widowered hardware store owner and a despondent local woman. I guess it works. They don’t really talk about it much. There is a bit of a mystery–three convicts escape and head into town. They tie someone up, there’s a moment of mistaken identity, and then their caught. This bit doesn’t really seem to fit with the story and really occupies only a few paragraphs in total. It was actually like 3 separate stories were thrown haphazardly together into one book, but the author decided not to really develop any of them. Maybe there was a deadline coming up? Eventually christmas arrives and the main characters give each other their gifts, which, of course, are hidden in crosswords that you have to figure out to find out what they’re getting. Thank goodness the author put the answers at the back of the book. I’m not looking forward to reading the rest of this series.

Published in: on July 17, 2007 at 7:45 pm  Leave a Comment