Fiction · Gwen B · In the Library · Relationships · Romance

The Inn at Rose Harbor | by Debbie Macomber

The Inn at Rose Harbor by Debbie Macomber
(Ballantine Books, 2012, 340 pages)

Overview:

  • From #1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber comes a heartwarming new series based in the Pacific Northwest town of Cedar Cove, where a charming cast of characters finds love, forgiveness, and renewal behind the doors of the cozy Rose Harbor Inn.
  • Jo Marie Rose first arrives in Cedar Cove seeking a sense of peace and a fresh start. Coping with the death of her husband, she purchases a local bed-and-breakfast—the newly christened Rose Harbor Inn—ready to begin her life anew. Yet the inn holds more surprises than Jo Marie can imagine.
  • Her first guest is Joshua Weaver, who has come home to care for his ailing stepfather. The two have never seen eye to eye, and Joshua has little hope that they can reconcile their differences. But a long-lost acquaintance from Joshua’s high school days proves to him that forgiveness is never out of reach and love can bloom even where it’s least expected.
  • The other guest is Abby Kincaid, who has returned to Cedar Cove to attend her brother’s wedding. Back for the first time in twenty years, she almost wishes she hadn’t come, the picturesque town harboring painful memories from her past. And while Abby reconnects with family and old friends, she realizes she can only move on if she truly allows herself to let go.
  • A touching novel of life’s grand possibilities and the heart’s ability to heal, The Inn at Rose Harbor is a welcome introduction to an unforgettable set of friends.

I’m a big fan Debbie Macomber and I couldn’t wait to start reading her new Cedar Cove series.  She writes with such warmth and compassion.  She didn’t disappoint with this one, her first of many more to come, I hope.  Debbie’s writing is easy and you can feel the emotion behind what she writes. A heartfelt story of healing, life, death, past friendships and starting over. I always love a feel-good story and Debbie Macomber never fails. Like other books from this author, this book is full of flawed characters who learn to forgive and fall in love again. This one had some real tearjerker moments so keep a tissue handy. I really enjoyed the first installment of this new series and it was great to see a few familiar faces along the way from the first Cedar Cove series. I can’t wait to read the second installment.

 

Fiction · Mystery · Page-Turner · Ying L

Last to Die | by Tess Gerritsen

Last to Die: A Rizzoli & Isles Novel by Tess Gerritsen
(Ballantine Books, 2012, 352 pages)

I recognized the author’s name at my local library’s new book shelf. I’ve only read two books by Gerritsen and this new release did not disappoint me.

Boston police detective Rizzoli and medical examiner Isles are the main characters. It started with a horrific home invasion scene in a rich neighborhood. The whole family is brutally murdered and the fourteen year old foster kid, Teddy Clock, is the sole survivor. What’s shocking is that Teddy barely escaped when his real family was slayed two years ago. Isles visits an exclusive boarding school and discovers two other children have had similar violent crimes happen to their real families and foster families.  On the surface these children and their families have no connections at all. Their parents are were a diplomat, a financial consultant, a NASA scientist and a medical equipment sales rep.  They lived in different states and one family lived overseas.

I enjoyed the development on how Rizzoli and Isles are putting the pieces together and how the story unfolds with twists and turns.  The book is fast-paced and engaging with a surprising ending. There were a few questions that remained unanswered which I found a bit irritating. But it’s definitely a good mystery book.

In the Library · Language · Non-Fiction · Ying L

The Secret Life of Pronouns | by James W. Pennebaker

The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us by James W. Pennebaker
(Bloomsbury Press, 2011, 352 pages)

A research book on pronouns? Really? I had my doubts when I picked up this book from our new book display. It’s not a quick read for sure, but I enjoyed it. Pennebaker, a psychology professor at the University of Texas at Austin, has been using computer programs to count and categorize language over the past 20 years. This new interdisciplinary field is called computational linguistics.  Here is the definition from our SCC Library’s Oxford Reference’s New Oxford American Dictionary Online Version 2012:

Computational linguistics: the branch of linguistics in which the techniques of computer science are applied to the analysis and synthesis of language and speech.

Pennebaker wrote this book based on his studies on function words. Function words are grammatical words that hold sentences together – words such as: I, You, He, This, That, The, An and And. Pennebaker states that function words are not just the filler words that we don’t pay attention to; they are the ones that can help us better understand relationships between speakers, objects and other people. Pennebaker presents numerous interesting projects and examples that we all can relate to.  By counting the frequency of function words we use, Pennebaker and his colleagues and graduate students analyze written documents, conversations, tweets and many other language formats to uncover surprising insights.

Pennebaker discusses Craigslist advertisements, high school seniors’ admission essays and the argument between Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Rosie O’Donnell on the TV show The View. Many of his findings are fascinating. In some communities, people use similar language style; the more similar the community’s use of language, the more cohesive the city. Would you have predicted that the high school seniors who use too many verbs in their admission essays are likely to make lower grades in college?  You’ll have to find out the analysis on The View argument between the two hostesses yourself ;-). Another interesting case study is the use of first-person singular pronouns in press conferences among the United States’ presidents. Pennebaker also describes applications and tools used by law enforcement agencies. The chapters on linguistic fingerprinting and author identification are intriguing readings, too. It’s an informative and stimulating read.

Fiction · Julia P · Page-Turner · Quick Read! · Romance · Steamy

Fifty Shades Darker | by E.L. James

Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James
(Viking, 2012, 544 pages)

Alright, so I obviously got sucked into the series. Fifty Shades Darker is book 2 in the series by E.L. James. The relationship between Anastasia and Christian Grey has progressed beyond Grey’s original intention. Ana wanted more from a relationship and Christian is making it a point to give that to her. The twist in this book comes when one of Christian’s former “lovers” comes back into his life with some clear psychological issues. Christian is concerned for Ana’s safety and he beefs up security until he can get control of the situation. Ana’s boss also comes into play because he has his eye on Ana to fulfill a role that goes above and beyond simply acting as his assistant.

At this point Ana and Christian have moved in together and Ana is gaining a little more insight into what has made Christian the way he is. She’s still concerned that she won’t be able to keep him interested because she can’t give him all the things he used to “need” from the relationships he participated in before her. Is there a future for these two without one of them getting hurt…?

I would argue that book 2 is a little steamier than Fifty Shades of Grey. Like I mentioned in the previous review, if books of this nature aren’t your cup of tea, you won’t enjoy this series but if you DO enjoy a little “spice” with your romance, once you finish book 1 you’ll be hard-pressed not to want to go immediately to book 2 😉

Classic · Fiction · In the Library · Julia P

Rabbit, Run | by John Updike

Rabbit, Run by John Updike
(Knopf, 1995, 308 pages)

This has been on my to-read list forever so I finally picked it up. While I definitely appreciated Updike’s writing this was not at all what I expected. Rabbit, Run was really hard for me to read because the book was so depressing.

Rabbit is in his mid-20s and he seems to be struggling with the reality of what his life has become. His pregnant wife irritates him and, while he loves his son, he doesn’t seem to be into the notion of being a “family man.” So Rabbit attempts to escape and ends up leaving his wife and child alone with no word of where he is or what he’s doing. Rabbit is incredibly self-involved and seems obsessed with living in the “now” and not thinking about consequences or anything that will bring him down. Despite the best work of minister Eccles (who has reached out to Rabbit in an attempt to get him back on the right path with his family), it doesn’t seem like Rabbit can see beyond himself…

I’m not sure if I really want to read more of Updike’s Rabbit “series” (at least not right now) because it just felt like too much work to get through this book. I think I just wasn’t in the right mood for something this somber.

Fiction · Medicine · Thriller · Ying L

The Last Surgeon | by Michael Palmer

The Last Surgeon by Michael Palmer
(St. Martin’s Press, 2010, 384 pages)

The Last Surgeon is the second book I have read by Michael Palmer. It grabbed my attention from the very beginning when a professional assassin was forcing a young nurse named Belle to commit suicide.

The main characters are Dr. Nick Garrity, a trauma surgeon who served in Afghanistan, and Jillian Coates, a psychiatric nurse who is convinced that her sister Belle was murdered. Dr. Garrity is also searching for his war buddy, Umberto Vasquez, who disappeared four years ago. Jillian finds Nick after following a clue left by Belle. Together they discover a connection between Belle, Umberto and a few other suspicious deaths. It seems all the victims were medical personnel involved in a high profile operation several years ago. Before long, Nick and Jillian are on the highly-paid assassin’s hit list.

The book is full of twists and turns. The plot kept me interested from beginning toend. It’s a very good medical thriller.

Fiction · Jean R · Thriller

Rainbow Six | by Tom Clancy

Rainbow Six by Tom Clancy
(Berkley, 2004, 912 pages)

Rainbow Six by Tom Clancy is a techno-thriller about a plot to exterminate most of humankind to save the planet. John Brightling, CEO of a pharmaceutical company named Horizon Corporation, has developed a deadly virus called Shiva which he intends to disburse into the crowds at the Olympics in Australia. A new international counter-terrorist group named Rainbow Six and headed by John Clark is called into action to stop the virus from being distributed.

Rainbow Six was written in 1998 before all the heightened security which resulted from 9/11. It was also written before the Summer Olympics took place in Australia in 2000. Even though security has been tightened and technology has improved, the plot of Rainbow Six still seems as plausible today as it was in 1998.

I have read many of the Tom Clancy novels that feature Jack Ryan. John Clark has been a player in most of those novels. He takes the lead in Rainbow Six with Jack Ryan only being mentioned in the background from time to time. While I liked Rainbow Six featuring John Clark, I prefer the Jack Ryan novels. I think that Jack Ryan is a more well-rounded character. Rainbow Six is recommended for Tom Clancy readers or readers who enjoy complicated plots.

Fiction · Julia P · Page-Turner · Quick Read! · Relationships · Steamy

Fifty Shades of Grey | by E.L. James

Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
(Vintage, 2012, 528 pages)

It had to be read… Let’s see what I can say about it 😉 Obviously everyone has heard of this book and most people have read it, whether they choose to admit it or not. I started this book with very low expectations and I have to say that this book was nowhere near as awful as I thought it would be. It far exceeded my expectations in that regard.

The story revolves around the relationship that forms between Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey. The two meet while Ana is a senior in college – she is sent to interview Christian for her school paper when her best friend (who also happens to be the paper’s editor) falls ill. To say Christian becomes smitten with her is an understatement. There is chemistry between them from the very beginning, but despite Christian’s obvious interest, he seems wary about pursuing Anastasia. The reason for the wariness is because Christian wants Ana on his terms, and these are of a darkly sexual nature that Ana has never before been exposed to. Ana is as innocent as a person can be and Christian wants her to enter into a very “unique” relationship with him – one that requires non-disclosure agreements, rules, and punishments… Christian’s preference for this type of relationship stems from a very dark past he tries to keep hidden from Ana.

There’s no question that Fifty Shades of Grey more or less revolves around sex. If that’s what you’re looking for, you’ll certainly enjoy this book. If you’re reading this expecting literary greatness, you’re not going to be happy. If you read the book for what it is, I think you’ll appreciate it. There’s no question that it’s a unique text and premise – it certainly has a plot, which is more than you can say about a lot of other books in this vein of writing. Read it for yourself and see what you think – if you can’t handle explicit sexual content, this will not be the book for you.

Audiobook · Fiction · Julia P · Young Adult

Chime | by Franny Billingsley

Chime by Franny Billingsley
(Dial, 2011, 368 pages)

I heard about Chime through the yalsa_bk listserv – people definitely seemed to either love it or loathe it and I was curious about it after reading numerous reactions to the book. More than one person recommended listening to the audiobook so I decided to go that route.

Briony, at 17, has been keeping a secret for years. The only person who knew about it was her stepmother, a woman who is now dead and Briony holds herself responsible. She lives in the Swampsea with her father (who happens to be a reverend) and her twin, Rose. They have recently taken in a young man by the name of Eldric. The son of a family friend, he has been taken in to continue his schooling after being expelled from his previous institution. His arrival brings a lot of unexpected changes in Briony’s life – primarily because he sees her differently than she sees herself. The secret Briony has been keeping is that she’s a witch. If anyone were to discover this secret she’d surely be hanged…

This book was… interesting. At first I was turned off by the repetitive nature of the text and I was trying to get a firm grip of time and place but eventually I got a handle on things and I was able to appreciate what Billingsley was going for. I wouldn’t say I hated the book, but I also didn’t really like it much. The story got better as it progressed but I feel like I only kept listening to it so I could understand what the fuss was about. Again, not for me, but it was a National Book Award nominee…

Fiction · In the Library · Page-Turner · Sadie J

In One Person | by John Irving

In One Person by John Irving
(Simon & Schuster, 2012, 425 pages)

Billy Abbott is almost seventy, a successful writer, and bisexual. He’s known since a young age that he has “crushes on the wrong people” so he begins telling his life story when he had crushes on both Miss Frost the librarian and his soon to be stepfather. A majority of the story takes place during Billy’s developing years when he attends an all boy private school in the ‘60s. At the time, Billy hardly knows anyone who is like him and the secrecy of his family only makes things more confusing for Billy. After Billy graduates and spends time living in Europe and New York, he becomes confident in who he is and surrounds himself with people who are accepting. But his confidence is shaken with the sudden AIDS epidemic in the 80’s and Billy must begin his fight for the acceptance of his sexuality all over again.

I admit that this is the first book I’ve read of Irving’s and I can’t wait to read another. His writing is engaging, tragic, and witty which makes the already wonderful story more compelling. There were times when I was shocked by how graphic Irving was but never enough to make me stop reading. I really enjoyed how Irving kept the narrator’s voice an older man looking back on his life. For instance, Billy would be telling a story about a classmate when he was in high school and then say how it was really hard to watch that friend die but we’ll get to that later. It was a really obvious but great way to keep the reader turning the pages and make the book seem like a one-on-one conversation with Billy.