Fiction · Gwen B · In the Library · Mystery

Merry Christmas, Alex Cross | by James Patterson

Merry Christmas, Alex CrossMerry Christmas, Alex Cross by James Patterson
(Little, Brown, and Co., 2012, 352 pages)


It’s Christmas Eve and Detective Alex Cross has been called out to catch someone who’s robbing his church’s poor box. That mission behind him, Alex returns home to celebrate with Bree, Nana, and his children. The tree decorating is barely underway before his phone rings again—a horrific hostage situation is quickly spiraling out of control. Away from his own family on the most precious of days, Alex calls upon every ounce of his training, creativity, and daring to save another family. Alex risks everything—and he may not make it back alive on this most sacred of family days. Alex Cross is a hero for our time, and never more so than in this story of family, action, and the deepest moral choices. MERRY CHRISTMAS, ALEX CROSS will be a holiday classic for years to come.

My friends who know me, know that I’m a diehard James Patterson fan. When they read that this one did not really do anything for me, they are going to be shocked! Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a diehard James Patterson fan and always will be. I don’t think that will ever change. Maybe it’s just that I need to take a break from reading his books for a while. This one was okay, but it seemed like it took me forever to finish it. Usually with James I don’t have that problem because his books are normally so full of action, suspense, and drama. This one seemed like another one of his books that I had just read, except for it taking place during the Christmas season. So it made it seem very repetitive.

I’ve had this book since my Christmas break and I’m just now finishing it! Maybe it was because I had other things going on being it was the holiday season and all and just couldn’t devote the time to it. Or, maybe I should stop making excuses for James, huh? This was not the best that he has written. His Christmas thriller novel that he wrote last year, Christmas Wedding, was much better. So I had high hopes for this Christmas thriller and couldn’t wait to read it. Well, let me say, it didn’t deliver the same. It left me not wanting to even finish the book. But, seeing as I am a fan, I was determined to finish it and was hoping it would get better as I kept reading.  That didn’t happen. Even the ending was flat. Maybe James wrote it too fast, I don’t know, but I do hope he gets back on track. I love the Alex Cross series, but this one wasn’t as good.

Fiction · In the Library · Romance · Sadie J

Me Before You | by Jojo Moyes

Me Before YouMe Before You by Jojo Moyes
(Pamela Dorman Books, 2012, 384 pages)

Will Traynor was living a big life full of adventures, a competitive job, and a large social life until he was involved in an accident that left him a quadriplegic. Now Will must rely on other people to care for him and make decisions about his everyday life. Lou is an ordinary girl who was hired by Will’s mother as someone to, more or less, keep Will company throughout the day. Lou has no ambitions for her life other than to help out her struggling family. As Lou and Will spend more time with each other, they try to get one another to see the great potential they have. Will helps Lou see that she could be doing so much more with her life while Lou tries to get Will to see how much of a life he still has.

This book captured my attention from the very first pages. It deals with difficult subjects but the characters are so endearing that it gives the book a nice balance. Moyes also did a wonderful job telling the story by quietly skimming over parts that didn’t seem as important and then really going into detail on larger areas of the book. I also enjoyed the layout that Moyes set up by having the majority of the book told from Lou’s point of view but having just a few short chapters thrown in from a different character’s view point. This was a book that I definitely didn’t want to end.

Food! · In the Library · Julia P · Memoir · Non-Fiction

The Saucier’s Apprentice | by Bob Spitz

The Saucier's ApprenticeThe Saucier’s Apprentice: One Long Strange Trip through the Great Cooking Schools of Europe by Bob Spitz
(W. W. Norton & Company, 2008, 336 pages)

I picked up this title because I enjoyed the biography Spitz wrote about Julia Child (you can review my review of Dearie here). This memoir recounts Spitz’s time traveling and cooking at various cooking schools around Europe. In addition to wanting to learn more and hone his cooking skills Spitz was also on an emotional journey, dealing with his recent divorce and a new relationship that was clearly going nowhere. We travel with Bob through France and Italy as he expands his knowledge in some places and grows frustrated in others. At times I found this to be enjoyable because Spitz clearly appreciates food, but overall I just didn’t care. I wasn’t invested in the author and his story wasn’t really engaging.

It was okay enough for me to read the whole thing, but it’s not something I’d necessarily recommend to others. There are plenty of other food memoirs out there that are amazing and will undoubtedly keep your interest 🙂

Fiction · In the Library · Jean R · Quick Read! · Romance

The Husband List | by Janet Evanovich and Dorien Kelly

The Husband ListThe Husband List by Janet Evanovich and Dorien Kelly
(St. Martin’s Press, 2013, 320 pages)

I never thought that I’d write this about an Evanovich novel, but The Husband List by Janet Evanovich & Dorien Kelly is just okay. The Husband List is set in New York City in 1894. The Husband List is the story of American heiress, Caroline Maxwell, who wants to marry for love, but her mother wants her to marry royalty. Caroline is in love with her brother’s best friend, Jack Culhane. Caroline’s mother wants Caroline to marry Lord Bremerton, grandson of the Duke of Endsleigh. Who will win this battle of wills?

This plot has been done many times so the answer to the “battle of wills” question is easily answered. The Husband List has none of Evanovich’s usually quirky characters or plot twists. There is no evil monkey, no gun-toting Grandma, and no real humor. However, the book is easy to read.

Janet Evanovich and Dorien Kelly also wrote Love in a Nutshell. Love in a Nutshell features the descendant of the families in The Husband List. Love in a Nutshell is the cuter and better of the two novels. If you want an easy read, The Husband List is for you. If you’re looking for a humorous novel, you might want to choose a different book.

Fiction · Mystery · Theresa F · Thriller

Shutter Island | by Dennis Lehane

Shutter IslandShutter Island by Dennis Lehane
(HarperTorch, 2004, 369 pages)

I saw the movie based on this novel a few years ago and then started watching it again recently and remembered the main idea of the twist but not the details.  So I stopped watching it and decided to read the book instead because I loved Mystic River, also written by Dennis Lehane.  Shutter Island is a great story but, unusually, the movie is a really good treatment of the book, it was very faithful to the story.  If you’ve see the movie the book doesn’t really add much.

Amazon book description:
The year is 1954. U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels and his new partner, Chuck Aule, have come to Shutter Island, home of Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane, to investigate the disappearance of a patient. Multiple murderess Rachel Solando is loose somewhere on this remote and barren island, despite having been kept in a locked cell under constant surveillance. As a killer hurricane relentlessly bears down on them, a strange case takes on even darker, more sinister shades—with hints of radical experimentation, horrifying surgeries, and lethal countermoves made in the cause of a covert shadow war. No one is going to escape Shutter Island unscathed, because nothing at Ashecliffe Hospital is what it seems.

Fiction · Mystery · Page-Turner · Theresa F

Bad Things Happen | by Harry Dolan

Bad Things HappenBad Things Happen by Harry Dolan
(Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam, 2009, 338 pages)

This was a great book, a real page-turner and written in a classic who-dun-it style.  I would definitely read another one by this author.

Amazon book description:
The man who calls himself David Loogan is hoping to escape a violent past by leading a quiet, anonymous life in Ann Arbor, Michigan. But his solitude is broken when he finds himself drawn into a friendship with Tom Kristoll, publisher of the mystery magazine Gray Streets — and into an affair with Laura, Tom’s sleek blond wife. When Tom offers him a job as an editor, Loogan sees no harm in accepting. What he doesn’t realize is that the stories in Gray Streets tend to follow a simple formula: Plans go wrong. Bad things happen. People die.

Fiction · Page-Turner · Quick Read! · Theresa F · Thriller

Good Neighbors | by Ryan David Jahn

Good NeighborsGood Neighbors by Ryan David Jahn
(Penguin, 2011, 280 pages)

I didn’t love this book and I’m not sure why.  I couldn’t get over the idea of all of these things happening to people in one apartment building on the same night at 4:00 in the morning.  I know, I know, it’s not the point of the story and it doesn’t matter if it happened on the same night or different nights, it’s the stories of these people that matter… but still.

Amazon book description:
A compulsively readable debut crime novel inspired by the legendary real-life murder of Kitty Genovese.  At 4:00 A.M. on March 13, 1964, a young woman returning home from her shift at a local bar is attacked in the courtyard of her Queens apartment building. Her neighbors hear her cries; no one calls for help.  Unfolding over the course of two hours, Good Neighbors is the story of the woman’s last night. It is also the story of her neighbors, the bystanders who kept to themselves….Revealing a fascinating cross-section of American society in expertly interlocking plotlines, Good Neighbors calls to mind the Oscar-winning movie Crash….

Fiction · Quick Read! · Sadie J

One Last Thing Before I Go | by John Tropper

One Last Thing Before I GoOne Last Thing Before I Go by John Tropper
(Dutton Adult, 2012, 336 pages)

Silver is a man that is definitely down on his luck. Silver hit the big time when his band The Bent Daises had a hit song but once their front man decided to take off on a solo career, he went back to playing the drums for weddings and Bar Mitzvahs. Shortly after his band fell apart, so did his family. His wife, Denise, left him and  now he is a self-acclaimed bad father to 18 year old, Casey. But in one short week everything changes when Casey finds out she’s pregnant and Silver discovers that he has a heart condition that will kill him if he doesn’t have surgery soon. Silver takes this chance to change and opts out of the surgery to everyone’s surprise. Now he’s on a time crunch to become a better man and to help his pregnant daughter.

I always find Tropper’s novels interesting. He covers obscure situations that pack a lot of emotion and his books always seem to fly by. It might be the short chapters or just the way that Tropper writes but his books never seem to last long. My one complaint is that the editors didn’t catch some flaws in Tropper’s story. For example, at one point Denise is remembering how her mother was at her wedding gown fitting for her first wedding but then a couple chapters later Silver is saying how Denise’s mother died when she was 13. Other than those few flaws, I thought it was a great read.

Fiction · Sadie J

The Love Season | by Elin Hilderbrand

The Love SeasonThe Love Season by Elin Hilderbrand
(St. Martin’s Griffin, 2007, 294 pages)

After the sudden death of her best friend Candace, Margo has shut herself off from the world and her love of cooking. She spends her days locked inside her house reading and trying not to think of the past. But then Candace’s daughter, Renata, calls her to say that she’s on Nantucket and would like to stop by for dinner. Renata undoubtedly wants Margo to tell her about her mother since her father has tried for years to keep Renata’s questions about her mother’s death unanswered. Now Renata and Margo have just one day to prepare for a talk that has been long overdue and they might learn something about themselves and each other.

I loved how Hilderbrand set up the story with all the current events happening in just one day but there were plenty of flashbacks to fill the reader in on the back story and allow them to really get to know the characters. I also enjoyed how the reader found out the secrets behind Candace’s death at the same time that Renata did. It kept me interested in the story until the very end.

Fiction · Humor · Jean R

Shopaholic & Baby | by Sophie Kinsella

Shopaholic and BabyShopaholic & Baby by Sophie Kinsella
(Dell, 2009, 448 pages)

Are you looking for a book that will have you giggling as you read? If so, you might want to give Shopaholic & Baby by Sophie Kinsella a try. Shopaholic & Baby is the fifth book in the Shopaholic series. Each of the Shopaholic novels features Becky Brandon who was born to shop. And shop she does. But that’s not all that she does. In Shopaholic & Baby, Becky is expecting her first child. Becky decides that she wants celebrity obstetrician, Venezia Carter, to deliver her baby.  Becky is able to secure a space with Venezia only to find that she might have made a mistake. It turns out that Venezia is the beautiful ex-girlfriend of Becky’s husband, Luke.

In the Shopaholic novels, Becky is always getting herself into trouble. In Shopaholic & Baby, Becky has been selected to be included in an issue of Vogue that is running a story on celebrity pregnancies. Becky promises the magazine that they can use photos of the “his and her” nurseries in her mansion in London. There’s one little problem. Becky doesn’t own that home yet. Becky bribes the current owner with designer clothing to get the owner to allow the photo shoot.

The entire Shopaholic series is fun and funny. The first novel in the series is Confessions of a Shopaholic. In that novel, we learn that Becky is a financial consultant who cannot curb her own spending. Confessions of a Shopaholic was also made into a movie. You don’t need to be a shopper to enjoy this series.