Monday, February 28, 2011

Once a Runner by John L. Parker, Jr.

This is an excellent story of a collegiate runner and the trials it takes to become the best. 

I think of myself as a jogger and have actually run races where I was so exhausted I couldn't finish.  If only I would have read this book years ago.  I would have learned that even the fastest runners have to run past their own endurance to beat their best.

If you've never been even just a jogger or run in a race before you may not understand the essence of this book. 

Once a Runner captures the essence of what it means to be a competitive runner, to devote your entire existence to a single-minded pursuit of excellence.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

This book is a true page-turner.  Even though I don't normally read this genre, I loved this book.  It has a LOT of characters that in the beginning were hard for me to keep a handle on.  But as I kept reading, the main characters clearly came into view.  There are twists and turns to keep this book moving along at a fast pace.

Mikael Blomkvist, a once-respected financial journalist, watches his professional life rapidly crumble around him.  He is hired by octogenarian industrialist Henrik Vanger, who wants to find out what happened to his beloved great-niece before he dies.  With few other options, he enlists the help of investigator Lisbeth Salander, a misunderstood genius with a cache of authority issues.  Together, the duo investigators uncover a fascinating story.

There is no doubt, I will read the rest of the trilogy.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Cherries in Winter by Suzan Colon

I started to read this book and put it down for awhile.  I'm glad I went back to it later.  This is a book about food and family and what we inherit from those who came before us.  It's filled with simple yet wonderfully wholesome recipes. 

Suzan reminds us that these stories and recipes "offer more than directions for making the comfort food that sustained my family for four generations. They’re artifacts from times both good and bad--not vague references, but proof that we’ve been through worse than this and have come out okay.

When reading Cherries in Winter, you will feel a little less alone in these uncertain times. Suzan Colón’s book will make you want to head to the kitchen with a favorite relative in hopes that you, too, will learn a thing or two. Colón’s journey helps us remember to celebrate the simple things, like how, in the deep of winter, summer fruit can still taste its brightest.  ((excerpts of a review by Kim Sunee))

As the economy tanked throughout 2008, magazine editor Colón began strategizing and was better prepared when she lost her job. At her mother's suggestion, she unearthed her grandmother's recipe file, and with it a greater sensitivity about a family history that spanned the hardest years of the 20th century.

The resulting book is half cooking memoir with recipes, some more practical than others, and partly family chronicle, some personalities more resilient and dimensional than others. The menfolk, including the narrator's husband and her forebears are mostly given their due (though the disappearance of Colón's biological father is elided), but the story reads as a substantial homage to a strong matriarchal line, from the author's own determined persona and voice to the prominent and similar roles played by her mother and her maternal grandmother.

Two Brides Too Many by Mona Hodgson

This is the first book of the series.  I started this book expecting to not like it BUT I was happily surprised to find a wonderful story of the early west.  The story never drags, it's filled with mostly good, god-fearing people with a good mix of the not so good.
I can highly recommend this book.  I look forward to read the second book in this series.

it's around the year 1915 - Kat and Nell Sinclair are headed west—away from the manicured lawns of Maine to the boisterous, booming mining town of Cripple Creek, Colorado to start new lives for themselves as mail-order brides.

Aboard the train, romantic dreamer Nell carries a photo of her intended close to her heart and imagines an exciting and love-filled future, while her pragmatic older sister Kat resigns herself to marriage as a duty, not a delight.

But when the ladies disembark at the train depot, neither fiancé Patrick Maloney or Judson Archer awaits them with open arms. The well-bred Sinclair sisters find themselves unexpectedly alone in the wild, frontier town—a place where fire threatens to reduce the buildings to rubble, the working women strut the streets, rogues will gamble for the shoes on one’s feet, and God’s grace is found amongst the most unlikely of folks.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Chocolate Magic by Zelda Benjamin

This book is the sequel to Chocolate Secrets (2008), which really frustrates me because I liked the book so much, I have to go back and read the 1st in the series and I know much more about the first book already.

This is a charming tale of chocolate and love. Chloe Brandeau is chocolatier with her own chocolate store. When this book starts, her aunt has already passed away and left the an apartment building in Chloe's name, along with a crazy cast of misfit tenants. Chloe's finances and her life are now taking a turn for the worse.

Her friends keep pressuring her to find a man and add some romance to her life.  One has even gone so far as setting up dates for her which Chloe agrees to.  She dates a man wearing a hot dog suit and a man that drives a van with a toilet bruch on the top of the van.  

Enter Ethan Behar, a handsome real-estate developer who makes an offer for the apartment building and expresses a conflictful romantic interest in Chloe and her remarkable chocolates.

With a cast of lovable characters, clever and sharp dialogue, a brisk pace, and delicious descriptions, Benjamin tells a sweet and romantic story of love, and of learning to trust, that is great fun to read.  You'll be craving chocolate by the time your finished.

The Cabinet of Wonders: The Kronos Chronicles: Book I

Filled with magic, mayhem, mystery, adventure and a touch of history, this is an excellent adventure story for YA.   Once they start this series, they are sure to want to read more.
 Twelve-year-old Petra Kronos is shocked when her father is returned to their village without his eyes. The young Prince of Bohemia had commissioned Mikhail Kronos, who has a magical gift with metal and machines, to create a magnificent clock. Before its completion, however, the prince had the artisan's eyes removed, hoping to use their magical qualities, along with the clock, to gain control of the Hapsburg Empire and possibly the world. Petra, along with her well-read tin spider, Astrophil, sneaks off to Prague in order to get the eyes back. With help from a Roma boy, Neel, and his sister, Petra gets a job at the castle and is one step closer to retrieving her father's eyes and preventing the prince from misusing the clock's power. Her adventures also lead her to discover more of her own abilities, magical and otherwise.

This is a solid fantasy that finishes its story but leaves the door open for further episodes.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Footsteps in the Dark - Georgette Heyer

This is an excellent cozy mystery!  The way I felt while reading this book brought me back to my Nancy Drew days - only a more adult version.  Excellent writing, never a dull moment.  You will meet a bunch of crazy characters - there is a moth collector, a drunken french artist, a man named Strange and...  a haunted house? 

here's the story...
Locals claim it is haunted and refuse to put a single toe past the front door, but to siblings Peter, Celia, and Margaret, the Priory is nothing more than a rundown estate inherited from their late uncle-and the perfect setting for a much-needed holiday.

But when a odd noises are heard in the drafty Priory halls, the once unconcerned trio begins to fear that the ghostly rumors are true and they are not alone after all! With a ghost on the loose, will they find themselves the next victims of a supernatural predator, or will they uncover a far more corporeal culprit?

I will definitely need to read more Georgette Heyer books.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Starlit by Lissa Rinna

After reading this book you'll be asking yourself, Is this what Tinseltown is all about?  It Hollywood this vicious ?  This is a story of a 3 struggling actresses Tally, Sadie, and Mandy who all finally get a break in Hollywood.   Thank goodness they have each other because Hollywood can get a little crazy.

This is a fast book to read, some people you will like and some you will love to hate.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Happy Ever After by Nora Roberts

This is the conclusion to a quartet series by Nora Roberts.  I love her writing and she didn't disappoint me.  This series is about contemporary romance that perfectly celebrates the importance of love, friendship, and family in any woman’s life.
As the wedding planner for Vows, Parker Brown manages to make every wedding the perfect day for her clients. From demanding brides to feuding guests to last-minute menu changes, Parker can handle anything and anyone with aplomb. Nothing and no one rattles her, until Malcomb Kavanaugh unexpectedly kisses her one day after helping her fix a flat tire. At first, Parker dismisses the kiss as just another twist to Malcomb’s always flirtatious nature, but as it turns out, the sexy auto mechanic really is interested in starting something with Parker. Somehow, though, the whole idea of a serious romantic relationship with Malcomb is enough to rattle her.