Fiction · Graphic Novel · Julia P · Quick Read!

Life with Mr. Dangerous | by Paul Hornschemeier

Life with Mr. Dangerous by Paul Hornschemeier
(Villard, 2011, 153 pages)

I hadn’t picked up a graphic novel in a little while so when I saw this on the “New Book” shelf at my local library I decided to pick it up.  The protagonist of Life with Mr. Dangerous, Amy Breis, is struggling to figure out what exactly she wants out of life while also trying to cope with the fact that the man she loves doesn’t even know it.  She’s working at a retail job she hates and is trying to deal with her new-found singledom while reflecting on all the dead-end relationships she’s had over the years.  Her primary support system is her cat, her divorced mother (whose life is exactly what Amy wants to avoid), her favorite t.v. show (Mr. Dangerous), and her best friend, Michael (the man she secretly loves).

This was a quick read and I enjoyed it overall.  Not one of the best graphic novels I’ve read but it ends brighter than it began, so that was something I could appreciate.

Food! · Julia P · Non-Fiction · Quick Read!

The Man Who Ate the World: In Search of the Perfect Dinner | by Jay Rayner

The Man Who Ate the World: In Search of the Perfect Dinner by Jay Rayner
(Henry Holt and Co., 2008, 273 pages)

I love reading about food.  Few things make me happier 🙂  Jay Rayner is the restaurant critic for the London Observer and he appeared as a judge on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters. Clearly he’s someone who knows about (and appreciates) good food.  This book documents his attempt to find the perfect meal.  He literally travels all over the world.  From Vegas to Dubai, Moscow to New York, Tokyo to Paris . . .  he is on a mission.  Rayner goes to all the top-tier restaurants.  He’s fine paying top dollar for a meal – provided the meal is worth the price (which, sadly, isn’t always the case).  The number of 3-star Michelin restaurants he dines at is staggering (and yes, he’s the one footing the bill for these meals . . . most of the time).  It’s hard to imagine traveling the globe and eating at some of the best restaurants in the world.  What’s interesting is hearing Rayner describe these meals, especially when he’s not impressed.

This is a fun read if you enjoy eating out, or just reading about food.  It definitely made me want to go to a nice dinner, while also making me question why it is that some restaurants think it’s okay to charge top dollar for a meal, when the food and service is less than mediocre (there are few things worse than paying for poor service AND poor food).   Curious what my next “food” book will be 😉

Fiction · Jean R · Page-Turner · Thriller

Dead or Alive | by Tom Clancy with Grant Blackwood

Dead or Alive by Tom Clancy with Grant Blackwood
(Putnam Adult, 2010, 848 pages)

Dead or Alive by Tom Clancy and Grant Blackwood is the latest title in the Jack Ryan series. Tom Clancy first introduced us to Jack Ryan in The Hunt for Red October in 1984. This latest novel finds Jack Ryan spending time at home writing his memoirs and contemplating another run for the Presidency while his son, Jack Ryan, Jr., is following in his father’s footsteps by tackling danger, adventure, and intrigue. The plot of Dead or Alive involves a villain called Emir who targets a big oil refinery in South America and a yet-to-be-opened nuclear waste facility in the United States, among other targets.

Tom Clancy’s novels are like jigsaw puzzles. There are many characters and many subplots which fit together to make an enjoyable novel. As in the other Jack Ryan novels, the criminal is found and captured, but not without death and destruction.

The Jack Ryan novels are fun to read, but require concentration and a commitment to reading many, many pages. Although the novels are works of fiction, the reader might wonder if some of the details and plot lines in the books could be true. I’m looking forward to reading the next Jack Ryan novel, Locked On, which is due out December 13, 2011.

Audiobook · Fiction · Julia P

The Weird Sisters | by Eleanor Brown

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown
(Amy Einhorn Books/G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2011, 320 pages)

The Weird Sisters was a unique novel that I listened to as an audiobook.  The story follows the lives of three sisters who all find themselves back in their childhood home for a number of reasons, the main drive being that they have learned their mother is sick.  Rosalind, Bianca and Cordelia are all named after Shakespearean characters (their father being a scholar of Shakespeare) and they have each followed their own unique path in life.  Rose (Rosalind), the eldest, is the mature scholar who’s averse to change and is the one you turn to when you need to get things done.  Bean (Bianca), ventured from the Midwest to New York City pursuing a life bigger than the one her small-town existence could offer.  She’s always been the sister who can turn heads and who doesn’t seem to feel the need to follow the rules…  Cordy (Cordelia) is the youngest and the most free-spirited.  She goes where life takes her without a second thought.  Things just seem to have a way of working out for her.

Being the second oldest of five girls I could definitely relate to the way these three sisters interacted.  A central part of the story is the unique relationship between the three women.  Sisters have a “special” kind of relationship, one that can change quickly based on one person’s mood.  Each sister is working to find herself in this novel and the author does a good job engaging the reader.  I’d definitely recommend this – it’s a lighter read, but you’ll certainly relate to it on a different level if you have sisters 🙂

Fiction · Gwen B · Holiday · In the Library

1225 Christmas Tree Lane | by Debbie Macomber

1225 Christmas Tree Lane | by Debbie Macomber
(Mira, 2011, 288 pages)

About the book:

The people of Cedar Cove know how to celebrate Christmas. Like Grace and Olivia and everyone else, Beth Morehouse expects this Christmas to be one of her best. Her small Christmas-tree farm is prospering, her daughters and her dogs are happy and well, and her new relationship with local vet Ted Reynolds is showing plenty of romantic promise.

But…someone recently left a basket filled with puppies on her doorstep, puppies she’s determined to place in good homes. That’s complication number one. And number two is that her daughters Bailey and Sophie have invited their dad, Beth’s ex-husband, Kent, to Cedar Cove for Christmas. The girls have visions of a mom-and-dad reunion dancing in their heads.

As always in life—and in Cedar Cove—there are surprises, too. More than one family’s going to have a puppy under the tree. More than one scheme will go awry. And more than one romance will have a happy ending!

This is the final volume of this series, and I must say I am sad about that. This was a great way to end it, though.  I was not disappointed. 1225 Christmas Tree Lane is centered around the Christmas Tree farm, on none other than Christmas Tree Lane. Beth Morehouse is a new owner, who relocated from California after she grew apart from her husband and they divorced. She needed a change of scenery, and the Christmas Tree farm gave her just that. She also rescues animals and finds them good homes. She started a program with dogs and senior citizens and also started a program to take dogs to the library.

Since this is the last book of the series, there are many other side stories that tie up any loose ends that were left behind in the previous stories. This really is a good book, though I think that you would appreciate it more if you read the previous books first. I will miss the Cedar Cove books.  I love how even after a specific story ends you still see most of the characters in their routine lives with the addresses letting you know what order the books are in. If you have read and enjoyed any of her Cedar Cove books you will want to read this one. There are all kinds of updates on old friends, and some unlikeable new individuals are also included! Be prepared for a lot of funny and joyful happenings. Enjoy! If you’ve read the other books in this series – you don’t want to miss this one.  I highly recommend it.

Food! · Nature · Non-Fiction · Ying L

I Garden: Urban Style | by Reggie Solomon and Michael Nolan

I Garden: Urban Style by Reggie Solomon and Michael Nolan
(Betterway Books, 2010, 160 pages)

I’m always on the lookout for new garden books. This one from my local library’s new book display caught my eye. It’s written by two bloggers who started the popular garden site:

The book covers basic gardening concepts that are useful for beginners. It also provides great ideas and practical suggestions for urban gardeners. Many readers from their websites are profiled in the book. I really like the examples of what they are doing to utilize their urban surroundings and how resourceful they are. One of the chapters is devoted to a collection of recipes that highlight the ingredients you grew yourself. This is highly recommended for beginning gardeners and people with a tight space.

Fiction · Page-Turner · Stephanie T · Thriller

Sail | by James Patterson and Howard Roughan

Sail by James Patterson and Howard Roughan
(Vision, 2009, 448 pages)

This novel keeps the reader spellbound. It starts out with an everyday working mom who decides that she needs to slow down her pace as a cardiac surgeon and spend some quality time with her kids. Anne’s husband died suddenly the year prior and nothing has been the same since. The oldest son, Mark, has a drug problem, Carrie is suicidal, and Ernie has become strongly anti-social. Anne decides to do some family-bonding by planning a little sailing trip with her three teenagers and her brother-in-law at the helm.

Patterson intertwines grief, rebellion, and a murderous plot with Anne’s new husband into a fast-paced action-packed drama. Just when you think this family vacation will end with everyone dead, Patterson manages to pull one out of his hat and save the day. The good guys win over the bad. Once again, Patterson does not give you much time to dwell on one character because things are constantly happening. I think I have found another author to follow.