Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Disappeared

The DisappearedThe Disappeared
by Kim Echlin

Hardcover, 224 pages
Published March 3rd 2009 

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Finished Book: August 24, 2011

About the Book ~
(Good Reads)

This story of passionate love between a Canadian and her Cambodian lover evokes their tumultuous relationship in a world of colliding values. Set against the backdrop of horrific loss, these two self-exiled lovers struggle to recreate themselves in a world that rejects their hopes. Spare, unrelenting, and moving, The Disappeared is an unforgettable consideration of love, language, justice, and memory set against the backdrop of the killing fields of Pol Pot .

My Thoughts on The Book~

I really WANTED to like this book.  My friend T, who is living in Cambodia, lent it to me.  The book was written as if the main character was retelling a story.  It was weird for me. No quotations (I hate that!).  I had a hard time following what was going on in the beginning.  It is set in Canada and Cambodia in a time I don't know a lot about.  That part was interesting.  I thought the love story was weak.  I needed more substance.  I had a hard time buying into the fact that a young teenage girl would devote her life to a boy/man that she really barely knew.  On top of that, she would be willing to leave the only life she knew to chase after her lover 10 years later in a country that was experiencing such turmoil.  And how sad was it that she fights for justice her entire life and never gets her wish. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Firefly Lane

Firefly LaneFirefly Lane
by Kristin Hannah

Hardcover, 496 pages
Published February 5th 2008 
by St. Martin's Press

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Finished Book: July 24, 2011

About the Book ~
(Good Reads)

From the New York Times bestselling author of On Mystic Lake comes a powerful novel of love, loss, and the magic of friendship. . . .

In the turbulent summer of 1974, Kate Mularkey has accepted her place at the bottom of the eighth-grade social food chain. Then, to her amazement, the “coolest girl in the world” moves in across the street and wants to be her friend. Tully Hart seems to have it all---beauty, brains, ambition. On the surface they are as opposite as two people can be: Kate, doomed to be forever uncool, with a loving family who mortifies her at every turn. Tully, steeped in glamour and mystery, but with a secret that is destroying her. They make a pact to be best friends forever; by summer’s end they’ve become TullyandKate. Inseparable.

So begins Kristin Hannah’s magnificent new novel. Spanning more than three decades and playing out across the ever-changing face of the Pacific Northwest, Firefly Lane is the poignant, powerful story of two women and the friendship that becomes the bulkhead of their lives.

From the beginning, Tully is desperate to prove her worth to the world. Abandoned by her mother at an early age, she longs to be loved unconditionally. In the glittering, big-hair era of the eighties, she looks to men to fill the void in her soul. But in the buttoned-down nineties, it is television news that captivates her. She will follow her own blind ambition to New York and around the globe, finding fame and success . . . and loneliness. 

Kate knows early on that her life will be nothing special. Throughout college, she pretends to be driven by a need for success, but all she really wants is to fall in love and have children and live an ordinary life. In her own quiet way, Kate is as driven as Tully. What she doesn’t know is how being a wife and mother will change her . . . how she’ll lose sight of who she once was, and what she once wanted. And how much she’ll envy her famous best friend. . . .

For thirty years, Tully and Kate buoy each other through life, weathering the storms of friendship---jealousy, anger, hurt, resentment. They think they’ve survived it all until a single act of betrayal tears them apart . . . and puts their courage and friendship to the ultimate test.

Firefly Lane is for anyone who ever drank Boone’s Farm apple wine while listening to Abba or Fleetwood Mac. More than a coming-of-age novel, it’s the story of a generation of women who were both blessed and cursed by choices. It’s about promises and secrets and betrayals. And ultimately, about the one person who really, truly knows you---and knows what has the power to hurt you . . . and heal you. Firefly Lane is a story you’ll never forget . . . one you’ll want to pass on to your best friend.

My thoughts on this book ~

Second book in a row about two friends, two best friends.  However, this one is much more intertwined than the last.  I enjoyed this one more due to the fact that their friendship is weaved into their life.  They meet as young girls and stay friends their entire life.  I find it interesting that two friends can indeed stay best friends there entire life without distancing themselves or making other friends they relate to better at adults.  I certainly cherish my childhood friends, but we are not a part of each other's everyday lives.

I could relate to Vix the entire book.  That I loved.  I could sympathize with how she was feeling, all her insecurities, and hopes.  The author did a good job at keeping you guessing.  I thought I knew what direction the book was headed, then she sent me in a completely different direction.  I loved that.  I also really enjoyed the relationship between Vix and her mom, as well as Tully and Vix's mom.  I really loved her strength and relationship she had with both women.  The book is a reminder of the importance of friendship and love.  Friendship is an amazing thing.  It's not perfect, it's real emotion and from the heart.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Summer Sisters

Summer Sisters
Summer Sisters
by Judy Blume

Mass Market Paperback, 416 pages
Published July 25th 2006 by Dell (first published 1998)
ISBN 0440243750
My rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Finished Book: July 18, 2011

About the Book
In the summer of 1977, Victoria Leonard's world changed forever - when Caitlin Somers chose her as a friend. Dazzling, reckless Caitlin welcomed Vix into the heart of her sprawling, eccentric family, opening doors to a world of unimaginable privilege, sweeping her away to vacations on Martha's Vineyard, a magical, wind-blown island where two friends became summer sisters...

Now, years later, Vix is working in New York City. Caitlin is getting married on the Vineyard. And the early magic of their long, complicated friendship has faded. But Caitlin has begged Vix to come to her wedding, to be her maid of honor. And Vix knows that she will go - for the friend whose casual betrayals she remembers all too well. Because Vix wants to understand what happened during that last shattering summer. And, after all these years, she needs to know why her best friend - her summer sister - still has the power to break her heart..

My Thoughts on This Book

This was a book club selection.  Overall, everyone liked it.  Most of us remember Judy Blume from when we were MUCH younger.  It was interesting reading her as an adult.  Some of us liked it more than others, but overall, I liked it.  It was a good, easy summer read.  I thought the book had good character development, however it lacked a plot for the most part.  It followed the life of two life long friends.  I found myself finding bits and pieces of each friend while relating it to my own childhood friends.  If you are looking for an easy read, this is your book!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Five Quarters of the Orange

Five Quarters of the Orange (The Food Trilogy, #3)
Five Quarters of the Orange
(The Food Trilogy #3)
by Joanne Harris

Paperback, 320 pages
Published June 1st 2002 by Harper Perennial (first published 2001)
ISBN 0060958022 
My rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Finished Book:  June 26, 2011

About the Book
When Framboise Simon returns to a small village on the banks of the Loire, the locals do not recognize her as the daughter of the infamous Mirabelle Dartigen - the woman they still hold responsible for a terrible tragedy that took place during the German occupation decades before. Althrough Framboise hopes for a new beginning. She quickly discovers that past and present are inextricably intertwined. Nowhere is this truth more apparent than in the scrap book of recipes she has inherited from her dead mother.

With this book, Framboise re-creates her mother's dishes, which she serves in her small creperie. And yet as she studies the scrapbook - searching for clues to unlock the contradiction between her mother's sensuous love of food and often cruel demeanor - she begins to recognize a deeper meaning behind Mirabelle's cryptic scribbles. Whithin the journal's tattered pages lies the key to what actually transpired the summer Framboise was nine years old.

My Thoughts of This Book
It appears as though it took me a REALLY long time to finish. Unfortunately I had a lot going on between school, family, house, running schedule, etc.  I hated that it kept me from reading this book in one sitting! is probably one of the best books I have ever read.

Loved this book.
Loved the time period.
Loved the character development.
Loved the writing style.
Loved the storyline.

This book had many characters.  Once you got a handle on all of the people, it sucks you in.  This author is incredible at placing you there, experiencing it, and smelling the food.  Yes.  I could actually imagine myself smelling the food.  This book gives you insight to what it would be like to experience WWII, living side by side with the German military.  What would you do?  Would you cooperate or make it clear you hated them for what was happening?  It's hard to say. 

Note:  I will read ANYTHING by this author!!!

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
by Jamie Ford (Goodreads Author)

Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Published January 27th 2009 by Ballantine Books

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Finished Book: April 7, 2011

About the Book
In the opening pages of Jamie Ford’s stunning debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Henry Lee comes upon a crowd gathered outside the Panama Hotel, once the gateway to Seattle’s Japantown. It has been boarded up for decades, but now the new owner has made an incredible discovery: the belongings of Japanese families, left when they were rounded up and sent to internment camps during World War II. As Henry looks on, the owner opens a Japanese parasol.

This simple act takes old Henry Lee back to the 1940s, at the height of the war, when young Henry’s world is a jumble of confusion and excitement, and to his father, who is obsessed with the war in China and having Henry grow up American. While “scholarshipping” at the exclusive Rainier Elementary, where the white kids ignore him, Henry meets Keiko Okabe, a young Japanese American student. Amid the chaos of blackouts, curfews, and FBI raids, Henry and Keiko forge a bond of friendship–and innocent love–that transcends the long-standing prejudices of their Old World ancestors. And after Keiko and her family are swept up in the evacuations to the internment camps, she and Henry are left only with the hope that the war will end, and that their promise to each other will be kept.

Forty years later, Henry Lee is certain that the parasol belonged to Keiko. In the hotel’s dark dusty basement he begins looking for signs of the Okabe family’s belongings and for a long-lost object whose value he cannot begin to measure. Now a widower, Henry is still trying to find his voice–words that might explain the actions of his nationalistic father; words that might bridge the gap between him and his modern, Chinese American son; words that might help him confront the choices he made many years ago.

Set during one of the most conflicted and volatile times in American history, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is an extraordinary story of commitment and enduring hope. In Henry and Keiko, Jamie Ford has created an unforgettable duo whose story teaches us of the power of forgiveness and the human heart.

My thoughts on this book

This book had been on my To-Read list for a long time.  And I can proudly say that this was my first Kindle book I purchased.  My favorite genre of books is WWII fiction, so I couldn't wait to read this one.  It gives a different perspective of this time period.  Until a couple of years ago, I had no idea that Japanese internment camps ever existed.  I still question why this wasn't taught in History class??  These camps make me question what our government was thinking to lock up American citizens out of fear of the unknown.

The book has a delicate mix of historical facts and love.  It is a love story between two teenagers, one Japanese and the other Chinese.  It is an unlikely love, but one that endures through many years.  What I liked most about this book was seeing into what life was like for not only the Japanese, but the Chinese during this time.  Many of these people were born in America, but felt like foreigners in their own country.  Where did their devotion lie?  Was it to their ancestral country or here?

Great book!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


by Emma Donoghue (Goodreads Author)

Hardcover, 321 pages
Published September 13th 2010 by Little, Brown and Company
ISBN 0316098337

Finished This Book:  March 20, 2011
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

About This Book 

To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it's where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it's not enough...not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son's bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.

Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, ROOM is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.

My Thoughts on This Book

It took me a while to figure out that this was written from a 5 year old's perspective.   With that, imagine trying to understand a 5 year old telling a story of being locked up in a room with his kidnapped mother.  It is a tragic story and is told extremely well.  I could relate to both the boy and his mom at any point during the story.  There were times when I found myself shaking, I wanted to know what was going to happen next.  This book was riveting and sucked me in from the beginning.  However, about half way through, it slows down for me.  You reach a climax in the book and the remainder is tying up the story of this duo.  Had it not been for that, I would have rated it with 5 stars.

Kane and Abel

Kane and Abel

Kane and Abel
by Jeffrey Archer

Kindle Edition, 656 pages
Published April 1st 2010 by St. Martin's Paperbacks 
(first published 1979)

Finished Book: February 18, 2011

My Rating: 4 Stars

About the Book

William Lowell Kane and Abel Rosnovski, one the son of a Boston millionaire, the other a penniless polish immigrant-born on the same day near the turn of the century on opposite sides of the world-are brought together by fate and the quest of a dream. Two men - ambitious, powerful, ruthless - are locked in a relentless struggle to build an empire, fueled by their all-consu...moreWilliam Lowell Kane and Abel Rosnovski, one the son of a Boston millionaire, the other a penniless polish immigrant-born on the same day near the turn of the century on opposite sides of the world-are brought together by fate and the quest of a dream. Two men - ambitious, powerful, ruthless - are locked in a relentless struggle to build an empire, fueled by their all-consuming hatred. Over sixty years and three generations, through war, marriage, fortune, and disaster, Kane and Abel battle for the success and triumph that only one man can have...

My Thoughts on This Book

This was a book full of intertwined characters and story lines.  I was mesmerized by the life of both the main characters in the book.  I loved and hated both of them at different times in the book.  It was an amazing story of strength, courage, deception, greed, and a little bit of love in the mix.  I liked that there was a lot of detail about each character, luring the reader in.  What I didn't like about the book was that it seemed like the author ran out of gas in the end.  I felt like the last 100 pages drug on and on.  To top it off, I didn't like how he tied the end together in the end.  I'm not sure how I would have ended the book, but that certainly wasn't it.  Overall, it was a good read.