Friday, July 31, 2015

Review: Hook, Line and Sink Him by Jackie Pilossoph

Title: Hook, Line and Sink Him
Author: Jackie pilossoph
Year Published: 2008

Genre: Adult fiction (romance)
Pages: 293
Rating: 4 out of 5

Location (my 2015 Google Reading map)USA (IL)

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

Summary (from the back of the book):
 Anna wants to get married. Her boyfriend Chris wants to wait. But now, help may be on the way. Meet Jeff and Dave, two commitment phobic guys who overhear the couple arguing at a popular Chicago bar, and guarantee Anna they can con Chris into springing for a ring and walking down the aisle. When she takes them up on their offer, and the plan actually works, the three decide they're going into business to help other bride wannabes. Come along for the ride with Anna and these two lovable, very funny guys while they take on clients, manipulate boyfriends, and turn frustrated girls into blushing brides, all while raking in the cash. but the marriage business gets messy when Jeff discovers he's got a little problem. He never counted on falling in love with Anna, his new business partner and the girl who is now planning her wedding, thanks to him.

Review: I bought this book back in 2008 at the LA Times Book Festival and can't believe it's taken me seven years to read it! That's pathetic! It is a light-hearted and fun read.

There really are a lot of women out there who are desperate to get married so the premise of this book is a good one. What do you do when you have been dating someone for a long time and they just won't commit to marriage when it's what you really want? Apparently, manipulation is the answer :-) The good thing is one of the main characters really has a problem with what they are doing, even though it is working and the couples seem happy. But yes, it also backfires on some.

What I liked about this book is that all the couples aren't some woman trapping a man. There is a guy who wants to get his girlfriend to say yes and there is also a guy who wants to get his boyfriend to say yes (before it is legal in Illinois). This book is equal opportunity. I also like the sense of humor in the book as it doesn't take itself too seriously. And even the die-hard bachelor main character learns to be friends with women and not just serial date/sleep with women.

This is a fun summer read and I enjoyed it.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Review: China Dolls by Lisa See

Title: China Dolls
Author: Lisa See
Year Published: 2014

Genre: Adult historical fiction
Pages: 376
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2015 Google Reading map)USA (CA)

FTC Disclosure: I received this book as a gift

Summary (from the back of the book):
 Lisa See's great skill at rendering the intricate relationships of women and the complex meeting of history and fate is on display in this acclaimed novel, which begins in San Francisco, 1938: a world's fair is preparing to open on Treasure Island, a war is brewing overseas, and the city is alive with possibilities. Talented Grace, traditional Helen, and defiant Ruby, three young women from very different backgrounds, meet by chance at the exclusive and glamorous Forbidden City nightclub. The girls become fast friends, relying on one another through unexpected challenges and shifting fortunes. When their dark secrets are exposed and the invisible thread of fate binds them even tighter, they find the strength and resilience to reach for their dreams. But after the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor, paranoia and suspicion threaten to destroy their lives, and a shocking act of betrayal changes everything.

Review: Lisa See has written two of my all-time favorite novels: Shanghai Girls and Dreams of Joy so I was really excited to read this book! Boy Lisa See is good!

This book follows the intertwined lives of three Chinese women as the US is on the brink of World War II. Although they are American-born they are "Oriental" and therefore life is difficult. They live in San Francisco's Chinatown and dream of being dancers and performers. We follow them as they look for jobs, juggle boyfriends and family, create routines to perform and work against the stereotypes and expectations of their families and society.

I liked all the characters in this book and there a lot of them. From family members to other dancers to boyfriends and soldiers to club owners and agents, all characters have an impact on Grace, Helen, and Ruby. I also liked the historical aspects of the book: the San Francisco Worlds Fair; World War II; the Japanese Internment camps; the Sino-Japanese War; and life in Chinatown.

If you are a fan of Lisa See's or like historical fiction, I highly recommend this book.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Review: Identical by Scott Turow

Title: Identical
Author: Scott Turow
Year Published: 2013

Genre: Adult fiction (mystery)
Pages: 368
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2015 Google Reading map)USA (IL)

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

Summary (from the inside flap of the book):
 State Senator Paul Gianis is a candidate for mayor of Kindle County. His identical twin brother, Cass, is newly released from prison, twenty-five years after pleading guilty to the murder of his girlfriend Dita Kronon. When Evon Miller, an ex-FBI agent who is the head of security for the Kronon family business, and private investigator Tim Brodie begin a reinvestigation of Dita's death, they find themselves ensnared in a tangle of deception.

Review: It has been ages since I've read a book by Scott Turow and this one has been on my shelf for far too long. I think this is my summer of forensic science. My daughter took a forensic science class so we talked about the topic every day and other books I've been reading and TV shows I'm watching seem to have that bent as well. So a book with fingerprints on the cover? Just right for now!

A great summer read with good intrigue, mob connections (that's the Greek mob, by the way), forensics, romance, cheating, identical twins, and dastardly deeds. This book really has all the good elements of a good mystery with a retired PI and an ex-FBI agent teaming up to figure out who really committed a twenty-five year old mystery. But no one's really talking and someone already confessed and did the time.

There are a lot of characters in this one, all of whom are related or have known one another since childhood so that was fun. When people know one another that well there are bound to be secrets and lies flying all over the place! I also haven't read a book with Greek characters before so that was fun as well. The plot is plausible, the characters are a good mixture of good and evil (and most of them have a bit of both), and the book reads fairly quickly. If you are in the mood for intrigue, grab this book.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Review: An Unwilling Accomplice by Charles Todd

Title: An Unwilling Accomplice
Author: Charles Todd
Year Published: 2015

Genre: YA fiction
Pages: 337
Rating: 4 out of 5

Location (my 2015 Google Reading map)UK

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for review

Summary (from the inside flap of the book):
 Bess Crawford has been summoned by the War Office to accompany a wounded soldier from Shropshire to Buckingham Palace, where he's to be decorated for gallantry by King George himself. Heavily bandaged and confined to a wheelchair, Sergeant Jason Wilkins will be in her care for barely a day But on the morning after the ceremony when Bess goes to collect her charge for his return journey, she finds the room empty. How could such a severely wounded man vanish without a trace?

Both the Army and the Nursing Service hold Bess to blame for losing the war hero. The Army now considers Wilkins a deserter, and Scotland Yard questions Bess when Wilkins is suspected of killing a man in cold blood. If Bess is to clear her name and return to duty in France, she must prove that she was never his accomplice. But the sergeant has disappeared again and neither the Army nor the police can find him. Following a trail of clues across England, Bess is drawn into a mystery that seems to grow darker with every discovery. But will uncovering the truth put more innocent people in jeopardy?


Review: This is my second Bess Crawford book, having already read and reviewed An Unmarked Grave. This book sits well with me since it is set in August 1918, just months before World War I ended. As a history teacher, I loved teaching about World War I; there is something about the time period that I find very interesting. I think life was still "gentle," and just beginning to enter the modern era. There is a politeness in Britain in the 1910s (think Downton Abbey!) that appeals to me as well.

Bess Crawford is a strong main character who has skills which lend well to her roaming around Britain by herself. She is a trained nurse who was stationed at front during the war so is tough, but caring and can take care of herself. She is also bright, which shows as she solves the cases in these mysteries. I also like Simon, Bess' boyfriend? Best friend? (It hasn't been explained to the reader what their exact relationship is.) Simon is military, caring, and smart, like Bess and they work together well.

The mysteries often surround the war, soldiers, and life back home, allowing the story to move around Britain and sometimes France. My only complaint about this installment is that there were so many characters I got confused at times. That said, I did enjoy the book and look forward to reading and reviewing A Pattern of Lies by Charles Todd next month!

Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble and CharlesToddNovels on Facebook.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Review: Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

Title: Nineteen Minutes
Author: Jodi Picoult
Year Published: 2007

Genre: Adult fiction
Pages: 455
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2015 Google Reading map)USA (NH)

FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this from my school library

Summary (from the inside flap of the book):
 Sterling is a small, ordinary New Hampshire town where nothing ever happens--until the day its complacency is shattered by a shocking act of violence. In the aftermath, the town's residents must not only seek justice in order to begin healing but also come to terms with the role they played in the tragedy. For them, the lines between truth and fiction, right and wrong, insider and outsider have been obscured forever. Josie Cormier, the teenage daughter of the judge sitting on the case, could be the state's best witness, but she can't remember what happened in front of her own eyes. And as the trial progresses, fault lines between the high school and the community begin to show, destroying the closest of friendships and families.

Review: Jodi Picoult. She tells such a good story! 455 pages went quickly as I was enthralled throughout the entire book.

A school shooting is something that, unfortunately, we've all become so familiar with in the past ten years or so. Why do they happen? Are certain kids targeted? How does the perpetrator get the weapons? Is there anything any of us could have done along the way to prevent it? These questions are all raised in this well-written novel.

The characters Picoult creates are so real; I could sympathize with all of them, no matter what side of the shooting they were on. Well, except the bullies. I just couldn't understand their cruelty. But, in this story, theirs is an important one to hear. Sections of the book are broken into time periods before and after the violence and within each section we hear from many characters, seeing all sides of the story and how it all fits together.

This isn't a mystery. We know who does the violent act, we know who dies, and who lives. The real story is why. Picoult does this masterfully.