Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom

Read while home alone? yep
Tissues needed? probably not
Overall rating: 5 stars

When did tracking time start? Who is Father Time? The Time Keeper answers these questions in a story that both dates back to the beginning of time and also tells tales of modern people with time on their minds.

In exchange for creating devices to understand time, Dor lives an eternity waiting for a chance to help others who don’t appreciate the time he marked. Dor finds himself in current day NYC to meet Victor, a wealthy businessman dying of cancer and Sarah, an unpopular high school student who has recently suffered a public humiliation. Victor and Sarah must both learn to honor and appreciate the time they are given.

The first Mitch Albom book I read (Tuesdays with Morrie) was a surprise to me: how could this sportscaster write so beautifully about relationships? (I guess there’s a lesson there in typecasting?) I’ve read most (all?) of Albom’s subsequent books and haven’t been disappointed in his narratives. I enjoy his imagination—the story of Father Time?! Who could come up with something plausible? But then Albom elevates the story by adding a moral that doesn’t come off as preachy: appreciate the time you have.

I tend to devour Albom’s books, though I try to savor them. They’re quick to read with short chapters (“Just one more chapter, then I’ll stop reading.” Is that familiar to anyone else?). And the story just moves along pleasantly so that I want to know what happens next. If you’re looking for a quick but thought-provoking book, this could be the one!

How often is “time” on your mind? Have you ever been surprised by an author’s second occupation?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Authors I Love

Do you have a favorite book? I’ve seen some posts lately about favorite books, and I struggle to choose just one…or two… There just aren’t many books I want to read over and over. I do, however, have plenty of authors who (rarely) disappoint me. If I’m looking for a good book, I check to see if they have any I missed. When I see they have new books out, I request them at the library. Here are some of my favorites for various reading moods…

light, quick read
  • Sophie Kinsella I’ve Got Your Number, Shopaholic series
  • Carol Higgins Clark Gypped, Mobbed, Wrecked (you get the idea!)—all featuring Regan Reilly 
  • Janet Evanovich One for the Money, Two for the Dough; she’s up to 19 on the Plum series; there’s also a Wicked series 
  • Joanne Fluke Blueberry Muffin Murder, Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder—again, I think you get the gist here
  • Debbie MacComber Cedar Cove series, Blossom Street series

I don’t usually write reviews for these—they’re kind of my guilty pleasure without much thinking involved. And sometimes that's quite nice!

good “strong woman” books


not sure how to classify this
  • Jodi Picoult Nineteen Minutes, Mercy, The Pact 

I definitely enjoyed her earlier books more than the more recent ones, but I love how she puts me in a position where I’m SURE I know what I’d do…until she gives other perspectives and I don’t know anymore!

I plan to continue a quest for a “favorite book” (oh, the reading that will entail!). Meanwhile, it’s great to have my go-to authors!

Do you have a favorite book? Is it easier to give a favorite author?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Catch Me by Lisa Gardner

Read while home alone? probably not in the dark
Tissues needed? nope
Overall rating: 4.5 stars

What would you do if you knew you only had a few days left to live? Right some wrongs? Strategize for that last day? Introduce yourself to a homicide detective so she will work harder to solve your murder? These are questions that Charlie must consider as she faces her own demise at the hands of an assailant who killed her two best friends over the last two years, leaving no clues for police. Catch Me winds together Charlie’s current story with her past, as well as the story of a serial killer who is targeting pedophiles in the Boston area. Will all the clues come together quickly enough for Charlie?

This book was riveting! It’s been awhile since I’ve seriously considered giving up precious sleep time to read, but Catch Me kept me up later than my usual bedtime. There was a part in the middle of the book where I thought the plot was going to take a gimmicky turn, but luckily it was just a quick consideration. The action was nonstop and Gardner really made me empathize with Charlie—as well as a number of other characters—so that I just HAD to know what happened next. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and plan to check out some of Gardner’s other work.

What kinds of books will you stay up late to read? How would you prepare for a “last day” showdown? 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Bone Bed by Patricia Cornwell

Read while home alone? probably, but it could get a little dicey
Tissues needed? no
Overall rating: 4.5 stars

Medical examiner Kay Scarpetta receives a disturbing message regarding a missing scientist in Canada just before a scheduled court appearance for a case involving the missing/presumed dead wife of a millionaire. Her court appearance, however, is delayed by the discovery of a woman’s body in Boston Harbor. These seemingly diverse cases couldn’t possibly be connected, right? Dr. Scarpetta will have to use all of her resources—and keep her wits about her—to prevent more murders.

I’ve been reading the Scarpetta series for a number of years and generally find that they’re a bit on the graphic side, but also fast-moving and complex. I skip over some of the more technical (and gory!) descriptions. I’m fascinated by the clues Scarpetta gleans during autopsies (like stomach contents—who knew an autopsy could reveal approximately when and what the deceased last ate?!) and it’s fun to try to solve crimes with her. The supporting cast just adds to the intrigue: Marino, her head detective; Benton, her husband who is an FBI profiler; and Lucy, her brilliant niece who is a computer whiz. If you enjoy fast-paced crime/mysteries heavily laced with medical details, the Scarpetta series is perfect for you. Although the stories stand alone, I’d recommend reading them in the order they were written (at least sort of!) to fully appreciate the characters’ relationships.

Do you ever skip parts of books? Do you try to solve mysteries with the characters? Are you successful?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Fortune Quilt by Lani Diane Rich

Read while home alone? yes
Tissues needed? probably not
Overall rating: 4 stars

After their mom left many years ago, three sisters: Carly, Ella and Five made their way with just their dad. As adults the girls have found their family roles and function together well. Carly is a television producer and encounters a psychic quilt maker through her job. The quilt maker creates beautiful works that tell her about the person for whom it has been created. Carly is surprised when she gets her own quilt and reading that are both shocking and strange. One piece of the prediction will certainly come true: “Everything’s about to change.”

I liked this book. The relationships between the various characters were rich and different. Predictably, each of the sisters has a role to play in the family and it was interesting to think about people I know in each of the different roles.  

The setting also drew me in. Part of the book takes place in Bilby, Arizona, which seems like a great place to live: life seems very natural, accepting, and open. People seem to be in touch with their own strengths, weaknesses, needs, and wants. It made me want to strive to be a little more that way.

I just happened upon The Fortune Quilt on the “new” shelf at my library. It was definitely an enjoyable book that gave me some things to ponder…a great find!

Do you know that your job is just what you were meant to do? What would your quilt look like? What kind of place would be your ideal home?