Friday, December 22, 2006

Blind Submission by Debra Ginsberg

A very fun and enjoyable book. I always like reading
about what goes on in the publishing industry, and this
book fits the bill. There's also the Boss from Hell
and a nifty little mystery going on as well. I wouldn't
say this is high literature, but it's definitely
entertaining and I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a
light read.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Acid Row by Minette Walters

I must admit I was a bit disappointed in this book by Minette Walters. I've read several of her books, and this is probably my least favorite. There were too many characters and two separate plots that didn't really seem to go together all that well. I didn't feel invested in any of the characters, really. Still, the writing is good, and the level of suspense was pretty good. But I didn't enjoy it as much as "The Devil's Feather," which is her latest book.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

In The Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spencer-Fleming

Wow, this is the first book of a fantastic mystery series (the Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne series). A female Episcopalian priest (formerly an army helicopter pilot) teams up with the police chief in a small New York State town to figure out who left a small baby on the steps of the church and why. Well-written, well-plotted, and it kept drawing me in. It was definitely suspenseful, but the level of suspense was never so tense that I felt the need to skip to the end to see what happened (or who did it), which I confess I often do.
This is definitely a great read. I highly recommend it. It's the first of a series -- and I read the next five in the series over a period of three days, I couldn't put them down. Now I can't wait till her next one comes out.

Monday, December 11, 2006

One of Those Days by Amy Rosenthal & Rebecca Doughty

My friend Trisha loaned me this children's book. It is a great description of all the different possible ways you can have a stinky, bad day ("Say the Wrong Thing Day," "Feeling Left Out Day" and "Can't Find Stuff Day" are three of my favorites). Having a book that acknowledges that everyone has bad days is great, but the illustrations make it even better. I recommend this for any frustrated kid or adult in your life.

The Guy Not Taken by Jennifer Weiner

What a great book! It was the perfect book to drag me out of the reading dry spell I've been having. I devoured the first third of it while eating my lunch one day, then savored the rest of it. I think it's the best Jennifer Weiner I've read. It's a bunch of stories (some related, some standalone) and it managed to make me laugh a lot and also feel sad. She writes really well about loss and how people deal with it. I recommend this book highly.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Jaran by Kate Elliott

I really enjoyed this fantasy novel. It was originally published in 1992 and is the first in a series of four books. I'm not sure I'll be running out to read the other books so quickly, though... because they killed off one of my favorite characters right before the end of this book. Why must authors do that? They get me all attached to these people and then they just take them away. Sigh.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Baby Proof by Emily Giffin

Highly entertaining and well-written "chick lit" about a woman who is having a hard time convincing everyone that yes, she really doesn't want children. I enjoyed it!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Brainiac by Ken Jennings

Brainiac: Adventures int he Curious, Competitive World of Trivia Buffs is written in a breezy, entertaining style by Ken Jennings, who had a 74-game winning streak on Jeopardy in 2004 (and maybe into 2005). I really enjoyed his dry sense of humor, and some of his comments made me laugh out loud, which is always a good sign. Describing a question that you're likely to see at a college bowl trivia event, he says "Unless you're a particular fan of dead mutton-chopped Republicans, you probably don't know too much about the life and administration of Chester A. Arthur."
Towards the end I must admit my attention flagged a bit, but I still had a good time overall and would recommend this book to anyone looking for a good read (or some really odd facts).

The Geek Gap by Bill Pfleging and Minda Zetlin

What a neat book. It's sort of like "Geeks are from Mars, Businesspeople are from Venus." Both groups of people have their own perspective and they often have difficulty understanding each other's value to their company. This book is entertaining, containing a lot of "No -- they really said THAT?!!" anecdotes with a bunch of useful advice scattered in.
The main point that I got from this book, which is one that I keep having to re-learn in my own life, is that it's important to LISTEN and to consider that others' viewpoints may be different from yours and still be equally valid.

Cruciverbalism by Stanley Newman

The full title of this book is Cruciverbalism: A crossword fanatic's guide to life in the grid. (FYI: a cruciverbalist is a designer or aficionado of crossword puzzles.) It was a quick, breezy read and I enjoyed skimming through it. I learned a couple of interesting tips on solving crossword puzzles (such as the old chestnut "if the clue contains an abbreviation, the answer is probably abbreviated as well").
The book also contains a list of 100 essential words for crossworders to know, such as ALAR (meaning winglike) and URAL (Caspian sea feeder, I always get that wrong.)
It got me excited and made me want to go out and do crosswords, which I guess is a good thing... except then I stayed up too late doing crosswords and I had to go to work the next day. Oh well.

A Three Dog Life by Abigail Thomas

I read this book several weeks ago and it has stayed with me. I first learned about it when I read a column that Thomas wrote in the Sunday New York Times. Her husband suffered major brain injuries several years ago and this is her story of how she has managed to carve out a life for herself, and do the best she can for him, since then.  Her courage and wisdom are very evident in her writing, and I enjoyed the book very much.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Kakuro - my latest obsession

I haven't been reading much at all lately because I've gotten addicted to Kakuro (thanks a lot, Ellie!). I have tried Kakuro before but didn't have much luck, and had given up in frustration several times. But then I found a "Kakuro for Kids" book (by Alastair Chisholm, a very British name, I think) that introduces you to kakuro gently, and doesn't make things too hard at the beginning. So the next thing I knew, I was hooked! It's pretty fun. But there's only so much leisure time in my life, so my book-reading has been suffering. I'm sure I'll grow bored with Kakuro at some point, but for now -- back to the puzzle! 

Friday, October 13, 2006

When life interferes with reading

It's not that I don't WANT to read, you understand... it's just that the job, the commute, time with friends and family, and of course sleep, are interfering. I've been trying to read the same book for a week now. Do you know how horrifying this is for me, a person who has been known to go through three books in a day?

If anyone would like to support me in the style to which I've become accustomed (and I don't need that much, after all, I'm a librarian), then I could lounge around all day and eat bonbons and catch up on my large teetering piles of unread books that threaten to take over the house. Heck, maybe I'd even find time to re-read some old favorites!

Bookishly yours,


Saturday, September 23, 2006

The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation, by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon

A very interesting book. I think the authors did a great job of adapting the 9/11 commission report to graphic novel format. The graphic novel seemed just as immediate and horrifying as the text version. Very well-done. Highly recommended.  

Grease Monkey by Tim Eldred (graphic novel)

Many, many thanks to my reading buddy Joanne, who recommended this excellent graphic novel to me. I could barely put it down. It tells the story of a young mechanic named Robin who works with an expert mechanic named Mac, keeping the ships of a kick-butt squadron of female fighters in good shape. I can't even do the book justice -- the writing is fantastic, the sight gags are good, and I'm telling you this even though I don't much care for the way Eldred portrays the ship's library. (The head librarian is named Ms. Ann Thrope!  And she has a bun and a bosom the size of a ship's prow! C'mon, how stereotyped is that?)
Anyway, you MUST READ this book. If you're still not convinced, check it out online at -- you can read the first couple of chapters there, and then I bet you'll be hooked.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Full Dark House by Christopher Fowler

This is the first published Bryant and May mystery (the geezer duo), but it's the third one I've read. I enjoyed it, but I think if I'd started with this one I might have been a bit confused, because it keeps switching between the present time and wartime London. Still a good read, though!

The Discomfort Zone by Jonathan Franzen

I never read The Corrections, Franzen's fiction debut (you remember, the one that caused all that flap with Oprah because he said he wasn't sure if it was a good thing that she picked his book for her book club?), but he is certainly a good writer. Some of the chapters resonated with me more than others. (I especially liked the chapters where he discussed bird-watching.) But there were certain parts of the book that just lost me, for instance, when he spent several chapters quoting stuff in German and then translating it. Just couldn't get into that part. So, I practiced the gentle art of skimming and was done with this book in no time!

Julie & Julia, by Julie Powell

What a fun memoir! I must admit I skipped over some of the more gruesome parts involving trussing chickens and skewering lobsters and the like... but overall I just really enjoyed this book. I would definitely recommend it.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

I Remember Running by Darcy Wakefield

The full title of this book is "I Remember Running: The year I got everything I ever wanted -- and ALS." 
In short, to-the-point chapters, Wakefield leads us through her journey as she finds her true love, discovers she has ALS (aka Lou Gehrig's disease), and struggles to deal with the slow disintegration of her body. As a former English professor, she really knows how to use words well to describe the emotional roller-coaster of trying to live well with a terminal disease.

Never Been Thawed (movie)

What a weird movie. It's a "mockumentary" about a group of Christian frozen-food enthusiasts in Arizona who are planning a convention to showcase their frozen entree collections. Anyone who has enjoyed Christopher Guest's movies would probably like this one too, except the language gets a bit blue in parts. But even that's kind of amusing. It's twisted and funny and I liked it a lot.

A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon

I confess that I picked up this novel wondering whether Haddon would be able to match the success of his previous book, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. But he did! I really enjoyed this book. All the characters are really struggling to try and do the right thing, so even when they screw up (as they do often), I was still rooting for them. It was a book that was almost impossible for me to put down. I wanted to know what happened to the characters and I wasn't willing to stop until I found out.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Devil's Feather by Minette Walters

British writer Minette Walters has always been an excellent writer of psychological suspense, but this book is even better than the others I've read by her. Journalist Connie Burns is abducted and tortured while she is on assignment in Baghdad. She is released three days later, and refuses to talk to anyone about what has happened to her. Soon afterwards, she goes back to England to try and recover from the trauma. She rents a secluded house in a small village and tries to put the past behind her. Meanwhile she gets caught up in a mystery involving the former owner of the house, an elderly lady who was found by a neighbor in below-freezing weather by the fishpond. Was the neighbor somehow involved? Who can Connie trust? Will she be able to overcome the fears and psychological trauma of her abduction? This book truly kept me on the edge of my seat, until the very last page. I highly recommend it.

Cockeyed: A Memoir, by Ryan Knighton

Wow, this book was fantastic. Knighton teaches creative writing at a college in Canada. He was diagnosed in his teens with retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative eye disease that left him functionally blind by the time he was in his early 20s. He may be blind, but he still has a great eye for detail. He tells his story in a funny and powerful way, expertly eliciting emotion from his readers. Parts of the book made me laugh out loud and other parts made me sad. I can always tell when I've read a particularly good book because I am compelled to read bits of it to other people -- and this book is definitely like that. I'm very grateful to my friend Trisha for recommending it to me -- and now I'm recommending it to you! Go forth and read!

Heavens to Betsy by Beth Pattillo

The Reverend Betsy Blessing is an assistant pastor at a church in Nashville. She's smart and funny. She's also lonely, wondering what God wants her to do, and unsure if she wants to continue as a pastor, since many of her congregants appear to think a man could do the job better. I enjoyed this book a lot -- it reminded me of "At Home in Mitford" for a younger, hipper crowd. I'm looking forward to the second book, "Earth to Betsy," which we also own at the library.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue

This was a really unique book. It was almost hypnotic, in the way it was written. It tells the story of a changeling boy and the human boy whose place he took, and the two characters alternate viewpoints every other chapter. I really enjoyed the book, though I felt the ending was a bit anticlimatic. Anyone who enjoyed "The Time Traveler's Wife" by Audrey Niffenegger would probably enjoy this as well.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Identity Crisis by Brad Meltzer (graphic novel)

When you stop to think about it, superheroes must have bad days too. And man, are they having a bad day in this book. I wasn't all that familiar with the characters, although anyone who's read comic books will have a passing familiarity with them -- Green Arrow, the Flash, Superman, etc.  But what's great about Meltzer's story is that you really don't HAVE to know the characters in order to feel for what they are going through. And what was even more interesting to me is that the book acknowledged that prior actions taken by the superheroes, with the best of intentions, may have gone really wrong and caused the problems they were facing today.
In short, I really enjoyed this graphic novel. It was an interesting story, very well-drawn, and extremely compelling. (Plus, for those of you who like closure, it has a clear beginning and an end. :)

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Digging to America by Anne Tyler

"Read this book! You'll love it!" everyone kept telling me. So I finally picked it up, fearing that it could never live up to the expectations that had been building up. But I did enjoy it, very much. I will now join the crowd of people recommending it!

Good Night and Good Luck (movie)

Saw this movie last night. I didn't like it as well as many critics did. While the whole Edward R. Murrow-Joseph McCarthy fight was certainly interesting, I'm not sure it was enough to sustain a movie. I think it might have interested me more as an actual documentary, rather than a "Based on a true story!!" film. The storyline was kind of thin, and it seemed like they just threw in random characters so they would be able to say "Cate Blanchett was in this film!" Well, sure she was, but WHY? Her character and her storyline didn't really add much. And she was the token "strong woman" in the film (and pretty much the only woman, except some random jazz singer who kept showing up and belting out tunes), but the men STILL sent her out to get the newspapers. Hmph.

His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik

Wow, what a great book, and almost impossible to set down. Dragons, epic sea voyages, swordfights, and compelling characters all combine to make this a great book. And it's nice that it's a paperback, so you can tuck it in your purse and haul it out when you are waiting in line at the bank! (There are at least 2 sequels, and they were good, but I didn't enjoy them as much as I did the first one.)

Monday, August 21, 2006

Next of Kin by Joanna Trollope

Another good book about a family that's falling apart and how its members gradually figure out a path through the wilderness that is life (if I may use so bold a metaphor!).

Girl's Guide to Being a Boss (without being a bitch) -- Caitlin Friedman and Kimberly Yorio

Disappointing. Too simplistic and unreasonable, at least for me. It felt to me that the authors were saying "Don't screw up! Don't screw up! Just don't!"   And, if there's one thing that I know about myself, it's that I will find a way of screwing up somehow. So what I really wanted was a book that would acknowledge that I am going to screw up, and help me figure out some ways of minimizing the damage when that happens. The overall portrait that the authors paint of a successful female manager reminds me more like a robot than an actual person. "Do this. Don't do that. Be firm. But not too firm." Sounds like a road map to disaster. So, I guess I'll just have to continue my struggle on my own -- this book is not going to provide any magic answers.

The Long Tail by Chris Anderson

Everyone's talking about the Long Tail, an idea that originated in an article Anderson wrote for Wired in 2004, then expanded into book form. Anderson argues that several factors, including the ease of mass production, combined with the Internet's profound impact on product distribution and advertising, are changing the face of business today. It's a really interesting book, and well worth reading, but if you want to just get your feet wet, you can try reading the original article (Wired, 10/2004,  

Car Talk: The Hatchback of Notre Dame (audio book)

Few things put me into a good mood faster than hearing Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers, guffaw hysterically about nothing in particular. This is an hour-long compilation of some of their favorite calls-- and it certainly did make the commute go by quickly! I highly recommend it.

Runaways by Brian K. Vaughn (graphic novel)

This is a great story about six teenagers who discover something horrible about their parents, then go on the lam trying to deal with what they learned and also trying to get along with each other (they don't have much in common). If you used to read comics as a kid, it probably won't take you long to get into this. If you're one of those people who hasn't ever read comics, it might take you a few pages to figure out how to read it, but the payoff is worth it -- it's very entertaining and action-packed!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Dixie Chicks -- Taking The Long Way (music)

I really enjoyed the Dixie Chicks' latest album. Their beautiful voices and powerful songs just make me want to crank the volume up, roll the windows down and sing (badly) along with them. If you've never listened to the Dixie Chicks, this is a great one to start with.

Babymouse series, by Jennifer & Matthew Holm

Read these incredibly funny, sweet graphic novels for kids! In the first one, Babymouse: Queen of the World, we are introduced to our heroine, whose imagination often runs wild and carries her away to amazing places. In the second book, Babymouse: Our Hero, she overcomes the horror of being forced to play dodgeball in school (and who among us can not relate to that horror), and in the third, Babymouse: Beach Babe, she goes to the beach with her family and encounters sharks, rogue waves, and more. Thank goodness the series will continue this fall with Babymouse: Rock Star. I can't wait!  These books are definitely not just for kids. Read 'em -- you won't be sorry.

Rotisserie Chickens to the Rescue! by Carla Williams

I'm not much of a cook, so imagine my delight when I came across this book while weeding our cookbook section! This is a great book for busy people who want to put a little zing in their food routine. It provides 125 recipes that you can make with those pre-cooked rotisserie chickens that can be found in almost any grocery store. You can find recipes for salads, soups and stews, casseroles, sandwiches, and pasta dishes. You can do more things with a store-bought rotisserie chicken than I even dreamed of! Reading the cookbook made me very hungry... so I went out to eat. (See, I told you I'm not much of a cook. But if I was, this cookbook would definitely inspire me.)  

24 Hours on Craigslist (video)

Wow, what an interesting documentary! Craigslist is basically a giant Internet community bulletin board (with no ads!), and the documentary follows people who placed ads during one 24-hour period in 2003, in San Francisco, the city where Craigslist originated. I had no idea there were this many weird and wonderful people out there. What I liked almost as much as the film itself was the special feature, "Who is Craig??," which interviews the staff of Craigslist (including Craig himself) about why they do what they do.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Does This Cape Make Me Look Fat? by Chelsea Cain and Marc Mohan

Anyone who read even one or two comic books growing up will get a laugh out of this book, which has sections labeled "Advice for Sidekicks," "Tough Love: If Your Parent Is A Supervillain," and "What To Do If Your Sidekick Dies." ("Don't panic. Replace him as soon as possible with someone else who fits the costume. A close physical resemblance to the previous sidekick will help avoid awkward questions.") A great antidote for a hot, hot day.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague by Geraldine Brooks

A surprisingly uplifting, unsentimental and gripping book about a young girl's struggle to survive in the 1500s when the Black Plague comes to her village.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde

We all know that Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall and had a big fall... but what if the reason he fell was that someone shot him? This is a clever, funny mystery with lots of references to nursery rhyme characters who are alive, well, and quirky in Fforde's imaginary England where literary characters are just as alive as we are. A very fun read. If you enjoy this, I would also recommend The Eyre Affair, also by Fforde.

Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie

What a fun read! Crusie's books are always fun, zippy and entertaining, with snappy dialogue. This is a great book if you need an escape from the humdrum of everyday life.

Blindsided: Lifting a Life Above Illness by Richard M. Cohen

Cohen was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in his mid-20s. He is married to television personality Meredith Vieira. This is an interesting and honest book about his struggle to come to terms with his illness and the limitations it puts on him, and his quest to live as normal a life as he can. I really enjoyed it.

Expecting Adam by Martha Beck

Martha Beck is one of my favorite authors -- funny, spiritual and wise. She's written several great self-help books that I've enjoyed, including The Joy Diet and Finding Your Own North Star. This book, Expecting Adam, is a memoir that talks about her pregnancy, her decision to keep the baby when she learned that he had Down syndrome, and how her decision affected her life as a high-powered Harvard grad student with a thesis to write, a traveling husband and a two-year-old daughter.
I felt that this was a really magical book. I highly recommend it.

Seventy-Seven Clocks by Christopher Fowler

Any book that describes one of the main characters as looking "like a jumble-sale on a stick" is okay with me. I loved this mystery (part of a series) featuring a pair of elderly London detectives, Bryant and May, whose job is to figure out the peculiar crimes that no one else can.  At times this reads very much like a well-written British procedural mystery, but then Fowler throws in something like the description above, which makes me laugh so unexpectedly that I love it. The action in the book does move rather slowly, but the writing is so rich that I don't mind slowing myself down to savor it rather than gulp it. I've also read, and would recommend, The Water Room by the same author. Looking forward to savoring the rest of the books in the series!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Cancer Made Me A Shallower Person by Miriam Engelberg

The subtitle of this book is "A memoir in comics," and it's yet another excellent example of the recent trend of autobiographical comics. (A couple of other good examples are Mom's Cancer by Brian Fies, winner of the 2005 Eisner Award for best digital comic, and Fun Home by Alison Bechdel.)

I really enjoyed this book. It is refreshing to read about someone who freely admits that adversity and pain does not make her a better person. She writes about how she whines and complains a lot, and escapes into the world of TV crossword puzzles to avoid thinking about the cruddy hand she's been dealt.

A great book. I highly recommend it. You can also check out the author's web site at, where you can see the Comic of the Week!

An Affair With A House by Bunny Williams

I admit, I only skimmed this book. It's full of sumptuous pictures of this glorious house (with lots of outbuildings) in New England. I was trying to read it in bed, but it's a really large, heavy coffee-table book, so that didn't work out so well. The style of decoration was also not really for me -- it was very ornate, the rooms were filled with lots of stuff, and most of it didn't look like anyone actually sat on it or used it. I must admit that I did spend some time peering at the pictures in which the author's bookshelves were shown. I love seeing what's on other people's bookshelves. I'm not the only one, apparently... there is an entire Bookshelf Project on Flickr!

Who lives like this? I wondered to myself, as I paged through the author's discussion of her decorating scheme for the house, guest house, barn, pool house, formal garden, kitchen garden, etc. When I finished the book, I felt a bit guilty, like I'd just been caught looking at decorating porn. Then I read an article in a news magazine about the ongoing conflict in the Middle East. Talk about the dichotomy between haves and have-nots!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko

This is a great book about a twelve-year-old boy who is trying to cope with his older sister's autism and their family's recent move to Alkatraz (where his father is an electrician and a prison guard). I read this for our teen book group and we had quite a nice discussion about the book. It's one of those books that I liked the first time I read it, but I loved it the second time around.

Brother and Sister by Joanna Trollope

The first book I picked up by Joanna Trollope was Marrying the Mistress, which I thought by the title would be a frothy romance. Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be a richly layered story of a family torn apart by change and trying to put itself back together again. Brother and Sister is the latest book I've read by Trollope, and I enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed her others. Her writing is quiet and beautiful, and she sketches her characters so well that I end up rooting for them all to overcome their difficulties (which they do, at the end of the book).

Monday, July 10, 2006

Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve

What a neat book! It is the first of four books. The third one just came out and I read it first, accidentally. Although this series may be shelved in the children's room, it is actually quite dark and violent, and I think teens and adults would enjoy it as well. The series takes place in the far distant future, long after the "Sixty Minute War" in which the inhabitants of Earth pretty much wiped each other out with weapons of mass destruction. Now, most cities and towns are mobile, and the world is ruled by "Municipal Darwinism," which takes survival of the fittest to the next level. Tom Natsworthy, an apprentice of the Historian's Guild of London, gets swept up in some big adventures in this book. I actually liked the third book (which I read first) a bit better-- it's called Infernal Devices and tells the story of Tom's daughter Wren, sixteen years later.

I Am Not Esther by Fleur Beale

I read this book because it's the first book our library's teen reading group will be discussing. It grabbed me from the start and wouldn't let go. Kirby is a teenager whose mother leaves her with her uncle's family -- who are members of a very religious community, some might say a cult -- with very little warning. Her uncle's family renames her Esther and begins to try and convert her to their ways. Meanwhile she is wondering what the heck happened to her mother and why this is happening to her. I found the descriptions of the way the community worked to be fascinating. But I was disappointed in the ending. It felt like the author had grown tired of the book and just slapped an ending together without putting as much thought into it as she did the rest of the book.

The Woman at the Washington Zoo by Marjorie Williams

I really enjoyed this collection of essays, though I must admit I skipped some of the profiles of politicians and Washington insiders about whom I know nothing. I especially liked her "Portrait of a Marriage," which talks about the relationship between Clinton and Gore. Her essays about family life and about her struggle with cancer (a battle she lost in 2005) are also great. She had a good eye for life and a good way of putting things.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Still Life with Chickens

Still Life with Chickens: Starting Over in a House by the Sea is a memoir by Catherine Goldhammer that talks about the year after her divorce, her move to a smaller house, and the adjustments that she and her daughter make. The blurb on the back indicates that Goldhammer is a poet, and I can see that in the way she uses words. This is a small, quiet book, and I enjoyed it.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Broker by John Grisham

I always enjoy a good John Grisham novel, but this one was even better than I'd hoped. Instead of being set in a courtroom, it's mainly set in Italy, where a guy who'd been sent to prison and then pardoned by the President is sent to live. What's really going on is the CIA wants to let him loose and then see who will come to kill him -- they hope that will give them some information they need -- but he proves wilier than they expect and, of course, lives.

What I enjoyed about the book was not the thriller stuff, but the information about how the main character was learning a new language, how the Italian culture is different from the American culture, and that sort of thing. I love reading books where you pick up random bits of knowledge almost without realizing it. I read this book on an airplane and didn't even notice the time "flying" by.

Promise Me by Harlan Coben

This was a high-action thriller that was hard to put down. Coben lives in Ridgewood, NJ, and he writes about areas of New Jersey that I am familiar with. It's fun when I'm reading along and all of a sudden I realize I know exactly what intersection he is talking about. This is the first Myron Bolitar novel I've read -- although I have read several of his earlier standalone thrillers -- and I enjoyed it quite a bit, though as usual with books of this type, I found myself skipping over the really violent bits.

Daughter's Keeper by Ayelet Waldman

Ayelet Waldman recently felt the scorn of millions of women when she declared on Oprah that she loves her husband more than her children. For more, check out Oprah's site. Waldman writes the fluffy and entertaining "Mommy Track" mysteries -- Nursery Crimes is the first -- but she also writes more serious fiction, and that's what Daughter's Keeper is. I enjoyed it -- it's a story of the relationship between a daughter and her reluctant mother. Am looking forward to reading Waldman's latest book, Love and Other Impossible Pursuits.

Fun fact: Waldman is married to Michael Chabon, author of several books. She also reportedly grew up near Glen Rock, where I work.