Thursday, September 20, 2012

Four Friends, One Yoga Class, Big Life Changes

Balancing Acts
by Zoe Fishman

Genre: Women's Fiction

Review: Four college friends reunite after ten years and join a yoga class, which opens them up in more ways than one. Charlie, a former Wall-Streeter turned yoga teacher, is hanging onto a long ago relationship. Single-mom Naomi is dealing with her child's absent father coming back and mixed feelings about her career and photography. Sabine, a romance editor, crushes on Subway Guy and tries to write, while Bess' plan to revive her journalism career might threaten her new friendships.

The metaphor of "balancing acts" will resonate with women, readers who strive to balance what they want with what they need. These characters were inspiring as they pursued their dreams even when its hard.

Sorry if it is over 100 words!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Post-Freshman Year Summer: Saving Ruth

                                        Saving Ruth
                                      by Zoe Fishman

Genre: Women's Fiction

Review: Zoe Fishman's second novel follows Ruth, a freshman at the University of Michigan who is returning home to Alabama for the summer. Reunited with old friends, much has changed, including the weight Ruth has lost (too much). As summer passes, Ruth and her brother David's relationship is tested as they lifeguard and coach together at the local pool. 

This novel has everything I look for in an enjoyable yet thoughtful, fun novel: witty dialogue, realistic relationships, true family dynamics, and real issues.

Song to Read by: "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey

Friday, September 14, 2012

Back to Barcelona: the Prisoner of Heaven

The Prisoner of Heaven
By Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Genre: Adult Fiction

The third book in the series of related books by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. You don’t need to read The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel of Mist first, but it may add to your enjoyment.

Review: Daniel Sempere is back, working in his father’s bookstore and raising his son with the lovely Bea. Then a stranger enters the bookstore, searching for beloved, mischievous rascal Fermin Romero de Torres—his past may be coming back to haunt him. We learn more about Fermin’s backstory as Daniel attempts to solve the mystery and deal with his wife’s possible infidelity.

Once again we are led into the labyrinthine Gothic streets of Barcelona and the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, with flashbacks to the Spanish Civil War and its aftermath. Finally, Daniel learns more about his mother as well.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Divergent Movie Buzz!

As you may know, Divergent by Veronica Roth, the first book in a YA dystopian trilogy,  has sold the film rights to Summit Entertainment! Filming is planned to begin in March 2013 with a release date in 2014.

Check out some of the buzz on this unofficial fan site:

There is also a released e-book from Harper Teen...Want to read Divergent from Tobias' perspective? The scene from Ch. 13, at least? Check it out here!

Insurgent: Even more action packed!

by Veronica Roth

Genre: YA Fiction

Review: Insurgent is even more action-packed than Divergent. The story begins right where the previous book left off. Tris faces many new challenges and must decide who to trust as the characters move from an Amity safehouse, to faction-less headquarters and later, to the Erudite building. Her relationships with Tobias and her brother Caleb will be tested, all while she struggles to overcome the grief from her parents' deaths and outcomes of violence. She must use her Divergent skills from Dauntless, Abnegation, and Erudite. At the end, we find out what is "outside the fence" and we're left with an awesome cliffhanger!

Can't wait for the third book of the trilogy!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Mystery and Mayhem on Shutter Island

Shutter Island
by  Dennis Lehane

Genre: Adult Fiction, Mystery/Thriller

Review: Haunted by memories of the war and his wife's death, U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels arrives on Shutter Island. This island on Boston Harbor houses a hospital for the criminally insane. A young woman, a murderer, is at large on the island, with a hurricane on the way. With his partner Chuck, Teddy investigates the missing person, uncovering a bigger conspiracy about the real reason he was brought to the island.

As Teddy begins to doubt everything he once believed, memories of his wife come raging back.

 The suspense is tight, yet setting and characterization are lavishly developed. The writing style is moody and atmospheric.

More info: The movie (starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo, directed by Martin Scorcese) was also pretty good, although a bit graphic and disturbing for my taste:

Suspenseful and Timely: One Breath Away

One Breath Away
by Heather Gudenkauf

Genre: Popular Adult Fiction

Review: A brother and sister move to a small Iowa town in while their mother recovers from an accident. P.J. and Augie live on the farm with their grandfather. Yet this is no pastoral farm tale.

Amidst a blizzard, a school is taken hostage by an unidentified gunman. The events are seen through the eyes of Augie, Grandpa Will, Augie's mom Holly, a female police officer, and a teacher.

As the suspense tightens, the action and memories/character exposition are woven together expertly. The author takes her time developing characters, while also using short chapters to maintain tension and keep readers turning pages.

Author Website:

Also recommended: The Weight of Silence, her first novel, and These Things Hidden

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Coming of Age in West Virginia

Ugly to Start With
By John Michael Cummings

Genre: YA Fiction

Review: Harpers Ferry, West Virginia is a fulfilling setting for this coming-of-age tale. Jason is figuring out where he fits in this strange world. His angry father, brushes with the stark realities of adultery and domestic violence, friendships fraught with conflict, a yearning for the larger world of art and culture—all come together in this collection of related short stories. The writing style is richly descriptive, the small town enlivened for the reader.

Jason struggles to retain his strong sense of self as he navigates the contradictions and hopelessness of the people around him.

Song to read by: "Landslide" live by Fleetwood Mac