Monday, February 22, 2010

The Summer Guest

I didn't expect much of this book. It was free and the title (and cover) left much to be desired. But actually? It was quite good. I don't have much time to devote to this review, the baby needs to be put to bed and all that business, but I do want to say that this book was a pleasant surprise. It alternates narration between 4 different, related characters. Joe, the owner of a summer lodge in upstate Maine, his college-age daughter Kate, Jordan the 30 year old caretaker of the lodge, Joe's wife Lucy, and Harry Wainwright - a business mogul who has spent the last 30 years with a summer trip to the lodge and comes to stay this last summer while sick with cancer. Hmm, I think that's 5 characters. Anyways, all the characters are likable and distinct in their voice, and together the chapters weave a beautiful story.

The Lost Garden

This book sounded way more enjoyable than it really was. It takes place in England during World War II and follows Glen, a sad and single 35 year old horticulturalist who volunteers to head up a project for the "Women's Land Army". This posting takes her to rural England where she heads up an effort to grow potatoes for England on an abandoned estate. A group of Canadian soldiers is also posted nearby awaiting their dispatch to the war.

The description tempts you with the idea of a romance with a soldier and a friendship with one of the girls in the "army". But really the book is SAD and while beautifully written, it felt like I'd barely gotten started before suddenly everything was over and all the endings were anticlimactic and SAD. Did I mention that it was SAD? Well it was.

Fortune's Daughter

Hmmm.. In true form, I read this a week or two ago and can't remember anything about it now. Let me think REAL HARD. Did you hear that? It was the sound of me thinking real hard. K! I think I remember something. It's about a pregnant woman who's boyfriend is lame and an older woman who gave her baby up for adoption a long time ago. It tells both their stories separately and then they eventually come together. It's classic Alice Hoffman in that it's enjoyable and well written with a touch of magic and whimsy, but not especially amazing or memorable. I remember it being kind of a bummer and a tad melodramatic, but it was easy to sink into and a quick read.

And PS I'm posting this from the laptop and can't figure out how to shrink the image of the book so ... it's big. Sorry.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Monk Downstairs

Another freebie book. For what this book is - a very sweet little romance - it was perfect. It took me about 2 days to read and the romance is actually vaguely plausible (assuming that an ex-monk might move into your downstairs apartment) and thoughtfully written.

The characters are older than your usual romance - a single mother in her late thirties and a former monk who just left a monastery after 20 years in his early 40's who moves into her mother-in-law apartment - and their tentative interest in each other is ... I don't know... nice. I liked it.


This was a freebie book and while I enjoyed it, it wasn't the best book ever. The book follows the character of Rae, who has lost her husband and daughter in a car accident and decides to recover from her severe depression by moving to a tiny island in the San Juans owned by her family to rebuild a house that her great uncle built in the 1920's but burned down shortly after completion.

Can I be honest? I want to write a quality review for this book, but I just don't think it's going to happen. I'm sorry peoples, but I's tired. So here's the deal - the book is a little predictable but it will suck you in eventually. It's sort of a thriller because Rae has paranoid visions as part of her depression and you start to wonder if maybe her paranoia about "watchers" is true and she's all alone on a tiny island and it's a little freaky. But not freaky enough. I liked all the descriptions of the San Juans, a place Jeff and I know well and when I finished I realized that the author also wrote the Bee Keeper's Apprentice, which I remember finding totally addictive. So I don't know. 5 out of 10? 6? You get the idea.

Monday, February 8, 2010


I'm officially the worst book blogger ever. I've read like 3 books since this one and never posted about ANY of them. Sorry guys.

Possession was loaned to me by Jeff's aunt and came highly recommended. It was one of the more sophisticated books I've read in some time and I will admit to the fact that I struggled now and again with the vocabulary used. It felt a bit like a book I would have been assigned to read in college. Words like beech-mast and quondam are used with abandon (and I found both of those words by just flipping open to a random page), along with references to people like Prospero and Feuebach and wow, apparently I am le stupid because I can't remember who any of these people anymore and I don't know what any of those words mean. But here's the thing - the language is truly beautiful, it's won the Booker prize, and the romance eventually does suck you in. At the end I was totally addicted.