Fiction · Gwen B · In the Library · Quick Read! · Romance

The Christmas Wedding | by James Patterson and Richard DiLallo

The Christmas Wedding by James Patterson and Richard DiLallo
(Little, Brown & Company, 2011, 288 pages)

About the book:

The tree is decorated, the cookies are baked, and the packages are wrapped, but the biggest celebration this Christmas is Gaby Summerhill’s wedding. Since her husband died three years ago, Gaby’s four children have drifted apart, each consumed by the turbulence of their own lives. They haven’t celebrated Christmas together since their father’s death, but when Gaby announces that she’s getting married–and that the groom will remain a secret until the wedding day–she may finally be able to bring them home for the holidays.

But the wedding isn’t Gaby’s only surprise–she has one more gift for her children, and it could change all their lives forever. With deeply affecting characters and the emotional twists of a James Patterson thriller, The Christmas Wedding is a fresh look at family and the magic of the season.

Gaby Summerhill’s family hasn’t been together for Christmas since her husband Peter died, but that’s about to change. You see, Gaby has been proposed to by three men, and the thing is she is going to have a Christmas wedding, and she isn’t going to disclose who the groom will be until the wedding. So the only way her children, Emily, Claire, Lizzie, and Seth will know who she is marrying is to come home for Christmas.

This one was different from James’s usual murder thriller books.  Sometimes he will go outside the box and he didn’t disappoint with this one.  I loved getting to know Gaby’s children. Each of them is dealing with their own issues, making this an interesting story. One is having marital troubles, one has a husband fighting cancer, another is a very successful lawyer who is married but puts in way too much time at her job, and finally one is trying to get a book published.

Each one’s story would have made for an interesting book in itself but roll them together and it made the plot of this book move along nonstop. I loved the plan Gaby came up with to get her children home, an idea that was totally new, hooking me, making me wonder myself who she would marry. There was even a twist thrown in that actually surprised me. Normally when I think of James Patterson I think of action-packed thrillers, but he can certainly pull off a nice Christmas-time family story, as well. I highly recommend this book! It was a quick read.  I finished it in two days. So for those of you who are amongst the followers, without giving anything away-you will love this newest one.  Interesting, entertaining, twists turns and a surprising ending. You will really not be able to put this one down.

Fiction · Julia P · Quick Read! · Romance

One Day | by David Nicholls

One Day by David Nicholls
(Vintage Books, 2010, 437 pages)

We selected One Day as our book club selection for this month and I was curious to see what all the buzz was about.  The way the book is setup is unique – one specific day is looked at over a span of twenty years in the life of two friends, Dexter and Emma.  They connected at University in 1988 and formed a fast friendship that stemmed from one night they shared together.  Dexter and Emma came from two different worlds and wanted different things out of life, but they kept in touch and their friendship went through the standard ups and downs with both parties trying to ignore their feelings for the other and getting lost in their efforts at figuring out what they wanted to do with their lives.

This book was incredibly readable and drew me in almost immediately.  I found the story very relatable.  The experience they shared in college, the questioning of friendships and wondering whether one person wants more or not, figuring out what you want out of life. . .   I think Nicholls did a great job capturing each year and phase of life and presenting it realistically.  I’d definitely recommend this book.  I’m curious to see the movie now (with Anne Hathaway) but it didn’t get the greatest reviews, so we’ll see.  No need to ruin a good thing 🙂

Fiction · Gwen B · In the Library · Quick Read! · Romance

A Turn in the Road | by Debbie Macomber

A Turn in the Road by Debbie Macomber
(Mira, 2011, 333 pages)

About the book:

Sometimes, where you think you’re going isn’t where you end up…

In the middle of the year, in the middle of her life, Bethanne Hamlin takes a road trip with her daughter, Annie, and her former mother-in-law, Ruth. They’re driving to Florida for Ruth’s 50th high-school reunion. A longtime widow, Ruth would like to reconnect with Royce, the love of her teenage life. She’s heard he’s alone, too . . . and, well, she’s curious. Maybe even hopeful. Bethanne herself needs time to reflect, to ponder a decision she has to make. Her ex-husband, Grant—her children’s father—wants to reconcile now that his second marriage has failed. Bethanne’s considering it . . .

Meanwhile, Annie’s out to prove to her onetime boyfriend that she can live a brilliant life without him!

So there they are, three women driving across America. They have their maps and their directions—but even the best-planned journey can take you to a turn in the road. Or lead you to an unexpected encounter—like the day Bethanne meets a man named Max, who really is a hero on a Harley. That’s when Bethanne’s decision becomes a lot harder. Because Grant wants her back, but now there’s Max . . .

From Seattle’s Blossom Street to the other end of the country, this is a trip that could change three women’s lives.

A Turn in the Road is the story of three generations of exuberant, strong women at a crossroads in their lives in more ways than one. From Washington to Florida, Las Vegas, New Orleans. . . So many stops, so many adventures on the way, all to find answers to fulfill their lives.

Macomber’s books are always pleasant to read, nothing that makes you feel uncomfortable or uneasy. It’s always great writing, interesting real-life characters and a lesson or two in life. This is an excellent book that keeps you involved and guessing to the end. Never knew for sure how it would end. I loved the romance and the interaction of all the characters. I could not put this book down and I highly recommend it. I really liked A Turn in the Road– then again I always like a Debbie Macomber book! Another wonderful relaxing book by Debbie Macomber with interesting characters and story line.

Audiobook · Fiction · In the Library · Julia P

The Corrections | by Jonathan Franzen

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
(Picador, 2002, 566 pages)

I’d been wanting to read The Corrections for a while and I wanted to make sure I knocked it out before picking up Franzen’s latest title, Freedom.  I listened to this as an audiobook and I really enjoyed it.  The narrator was the perfect fit and was engaging to listen to.

The Corrections tells the story of a family, the Lamberts.  Each member is going through their own personal crisis which in turn affects how they understand and interact with one another.  Enid and Alfred, the heads of the Lambert family, reside in St. Jude.  It’s a pleasant, midwestern town that their kids couldn’t seem to get far enough away from.  Enid and Alfred’s existence together has gotten strained as a result of Alfred’s sickness and Enid’s eagerness to continue going out and enjoying life.  Gary, the oldest child, is suffering from depression and the belief that his family is conspiring against him.  Chip had to leave his position as a college professor after an ill-advised affair with a student.  Now he’s trying to get his life back on track by participating in a scheme that revolves around defrauding American investors.  Denise, the youngest, is a famous chef in Philadelphia whose life takes an interesting turn after she falls – hard – for her boss’s wife.

This book tells the story of a family and the many complications that come with trying to maintain a solid familial relationship while also keeping your own life on track.  Franzen does an amazing job with character development and fleshing out the story.  I cared about all the characters and what was going to happen to them, I was invested pretty quickly.  Franzen’s writing style can’t help but draw you in.  I’m really excited to read Freedom now that I made it through The Corrections.

Audiobook · Fiction · Theresa F

The Angel’s Game | by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
(Anchor Books, 2010, 531 pages)

One of my favorite books was Zafón’s The Shadow of the Wind.  I was excited when I found out he had a new book out and couldn’t decide if I wanted to read the book or listen to the audio book.  I downloaded the audio and loved the narrator so decided to go ahead with the audio.  I have no complaints there.

The Angel’s Game is similar to The Shadow of the Wind and after I read it I found out it is a sort of prequel.  It is set in Barcelona in the 1920’s and 30’s and follows a writer, David Martin, who essentially “sells his soul to the devil.”   It started off great,  I loved the descriptions, the characters, and the storyline but unfortunately after about three quarters in the plot falls apart in a very confusing way.  I thought that since I was listening and not reading I had missed something, but after I finished and read the online reviews, I found that almost every person commenting on this book had the same thing to say about it: great until the end, what happened to the plot?, confusing at the end, etc.    I have to say I still liked the book.  I love the way Zafón writes and the story starts off so intriguing.  I know it is weird to say but, even when things get muddled in the end I was still loving it.  I guess if you want to read it,  know you might not be satisfied in the end.

Fiction · Gwen B · In the Library · Page-Turner · Thriller

Kill Me If You Can | by James Patterson and Marshall Karp

Kill Me If You Can by James Patterson and Marshall Karp
(Little Brown and Co., 2011, 361 pages)

About the book:

Matthew Bannon, a poor art student living in New York City, finds a duffel bag filled with diamonds during a chaotic attack at Grand Central Station. Plans for a worry-free life with his gorgeous girlfriend Katherine fill his thoughts–until he realizes that he is being hunted, and that whoever is after him won’t stop until they have reclaimed the diamonds and exacted their revenge.

Trailing him is the Ghost, the world’s greatest assassin, who has just pulled off his most high-profile hit: killing Walter Zelvas, a top member of the international Diamond Syndicate. There’s only one small problem: the diamonds he was supposed to retrieve from Zelvas are missing. Now, the Ghost is on Bannon’s trail–but so is a rival assassin who would like nothing more than to make the Ghost disappear forever. From “America’s #1 storyteller” (Forbes) comes a high-speed, high-stakes, winner-take-all thrill ride of adrenaline-fueled suspense.

This book was awesome!!!!!!!!!  It was full of surprises, intrigue, it was funny (yes, I did say funny), serious, and mysterious.  It had all the great elements of a James Patterson book.   This is by far one of the best I’ve read of his in a very long time.  I’m not just saying this because I’m a die hard James fan, either.  He earned kudos for this one.  It keeps you in suspense until the very end – it had me on the edge of my seat.  I didn’t won’t to put it down.  It surprises you until you say to yourself, “Are you kidding me?”  I still couldn’t believe some of the surprises that came out throughout the book. It’s filled with so many twists and turns, you don’t know what’s going to happen next.  If you love thrills and chills, read this book! This is the James Patterson that I know so well.

Fiction · Julia P · Quick Read!

Foreign Tongue | by Vanina Marsot

Foreign Tongue by Vanina Marsot
(Harper Paperbacks, 2009, 384 pages)

I picked this up on a whim at the public library.  It seemed interesting and I wanted a “fun” read that wouldn’t require too much effort on my part.  I was actually surprised how quickly I got into Foreign Tongue, though.  The main character, Anna, has recently had her heart broken when she discovers her boyfriend had been cheating on her.  To make matters worse, he’s suddenly become an “It Boy” in the actor world so she has no way of escaping him.  Anna is lucky enough to have dual citizenship in the U.S. and France so she decides to leave it all behind her and head to Paris for a fresh start.  Her aunt has an apartment there that she normally rents out but she lets Anna stay there for free.  While she relishes in Parisian life (and food) Anna realizes she needs to support herself somehow and that is how she stumbles across the job-posting for a French/English translator.

Anna goes in to interview and is given a sample chapter to see how she does.  The book being translated is an erotic story of sorts and Anna finds herself intrigued as she begins translating.  Thanks to her entry into this translating position she finds herself exposed to a number of people, most importantly Olivier (another actor!), who she quickly falls into a serious relationship with.  Life in Paris is good.  She has good friends, a lover, a job she enjoys…  But Anna still needs to focus on figuring out who she is and what she wants out of life…

This was an book and I really enjoyed it.  I liked the translation aspect and while the back cover made it seem like the “erotic translations” would be just that, I didn’t think there was anything too racy (if that type of thing turns you off).  It made me wish I could just run off to Paris when I felt it was necessary.  Good read – I’d recommend it if you love all things France or just need a light read for your nightstand.