Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Chelsea Cain has been a writer on the scene for a while, having written many articles and nonfiction books. This is her first novel. I read a lot of reviews, online and in Entertainment Weekly, about how great this book was, so my expectations were high. There are really two plots going on, much like The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris. One follows Archie Sheridan, a detective who was once kidnapped and tortured by twisted serial killer Gretchen Lowell, but escaped within an inch of his life. The other follows Susan Ward, a reporter writing a feature about Archie. A new serial killer is on the loose as well. The freaky part of the whole thing is that Archie is in love with Gretchen, his torturer. There are many other highly developed relationships in the book as well, and I think that's what makes it so great. It's suspenseful, but the character development is amazing, and the writing itself is so smooth it's practically transparent. And Cain is writing two sequels, so I think this first novel is a setup for what could be a great trilogy.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Year of Pleasures

by Elizabeth Berg

Year of Pleasures is the story of Betta Nolen, whose is recently widowed after her husband, John, passes away from cancer. She travels to the Midwest to start a new life, something that she and John had planned to do before the cancer struck. She made a promise to him that she would go on living, despite his death, and to enjoy life. On her journey, she meets many different people, who, in different ways, help her deal with loss of her husband. There is Benny, the neighbor boy and his mother Carol, three of her old college roommates, Tim who she meets in Cuppa Java, and her realtor. It is a cast of unforgettable characters who warm the heart with their generosity and kindness. The story is, at once, sad and uplifting.

Monday, September 10, 2007


by Jennifer Crusie

After three failed engagements, Kate decides that she needs a plan - a plan to find a man. With the help of her friend, Jessie, she takes a vacation to an expensive golf resort to find her mate, one who is tall, distinguished, and successful. There is just one problem: she never makes it past the first date because her potential Mr. Rights either end up being total losers, they get seriously injured, or both. And there's also, Jake. He is the laid-back cowboy type who manages the grounds team for the resort, which his brother happens to own. From the beginning, Jake and Kate deny the attraction because one, he is not part of her plan and two, he was married to a woman like her and it failed miserably. Yet, after they get to know each other more, the attraction becomes harder to resist until Kate is questioning the validity of her "plan" and whether or not she wants to go back to the city or stay and live the country life with a man she has only known for a week. What does she decide? Guess you have to read it to find out. I found this book highly entertaining, though predictable. Very fun and lighthearted.

The World Without Us

Author Alan Weisman has compiled a thoroughly researched examination of what would happen to the planet if, for whatever reason, humans were to simply vanish tomorrow. He studied how long our buildings might last, what ecosystems might do, whether various animal species could bounce back, and so on. The result is a strange, yet compelling mix of worry that our legacy could be so short-lived and relief that our damage could perhaps be undone. Some of the ideas he touches on -- such as the notion that ancient humans were the cause of mass extinctions among large North American mammals -- don't seem quite compelling. Still, the aspects of geologic, anthropological and archaeological history (for example, the immense underground cities of ancient Turkey) are fascinating. All in all it's an amazingly thought-provoking book.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett

I listened to this one as an MP3 download, masterfully read by Stephen Briggs who manages numerous voices and nails the wry tone of Pratchett's writing.
The story was good, too. It follows the adventures of a con man given a second chance. It's set in Ankh-Morpork, a fictional city familiar to fans of Pratchett that features representatives from numerous fantasy races, a city watch that features a werewolf, the Unseen University for the training of wizards, and a healthy serving of general silliness.
All in all it's a fun story, humorous and light. It serves as a great entry point for those who have never before read Pratchett, but will also appeal to the author's longtime fans.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


Deirdre Barrett, the author of Waistland, is a psychologist at Harvard, so I probably should have known this book would give me a lot to think about. Barrett argues that the reason we are a nation of overweight people is because our lifestyles changed as soon as we developed agriculture hundreds of years ago. She believes that if we return to a diet characteristic of the first humans, we will be lean, fit and healthy, as she believes we are supposed to be. I could definitely see where she's coming from on a lot of points, but the book did make me feel guilty because I'm certainly not on a raw food diet, or a calorie restricted diet as Barrett suggests. I also felt that she was a little extreme in her thinking; of course, these are her convictions, and it's our own responsibility to decide whether or not we are going to agree with them or not. It's definitely a good read, well-written and thought-provoking. I'll probably continue to feel guilty about not being on the raw food diet, but I don't think I'm going to change my ways--I just don't have enough willpower! (And besides, then I wouldn't be able to look at the awesome recipes in the Taste of Twinsburg blog anymore!)

Monday, September 03, 2007


by Stephanie Meyer

Although this is a young adult novel, it has become rather popular in many different age groups, so I thought I would give it a try. I am always on the lookout for a good vampire book.

Bella moves to Fork to stay with her Dad, Charlie, so that she can have a more stable life. Her mom is dating a baseball player named Phil and his touring schedule takes them all over the country, so it is more sensible for Bella to stay with her dad. She experiences the typical "new kid in town" syndrome where she feels out of place and like an outsider. Although she develops a few new friendships and couple male admirers, she becomes intrigued by the Cullens family, especially the youngest boy Edward who, at first, acts very strange toward her.

She comes to discover that Edward, and indeed all of the Cullen's, are vampires. Although Bella and Edward fall in love and desperately want to be together, it seems as though a relationship between a human and a vampire is too difficult to exist. Yet, the attraction and passion between them is too intense and they go through many terrifying experiences to be together.

It was a light read, fun and fantastic. I cannot wait to read the next book "New Moon"!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

The Bonesetter's Daughter

by Amy Tan

I enjoy books that explore different cultures because, more often than not, although the traditions are different, the human nature and relationships between the people are so similar to our own. We can understand their feelings and desires, their hopes and dreams.

This story focuses on the relationships of three generations of women and the secrets and stories that bind them together. Ruth is the daughter of LuYing, a woman who came over to America from China, following her "sister" Galing. Although LuYing is suffering from Alzheimer's disease, she has transcribed her life's story in Chinese on parchment for Ruth to read so that she will understand her and reveal the truths from her past: the true identity of YuLing's nurse, Precious Auntie; the truth about the tragic deaths of Precious Auntie's husband and father; why there were scars on Precious Auntie's face; and whether there was truly a curse on the Yu family.

There is so much more to the story as well: the relationship with Ruth and her boyfriend and his two daughters, the use of Oracle bones and the art of bonesetting, and the discovery of Peking Man, as well as the war with the Japanese.

It is a great read, full of twists and turns and characters you come to understand and care about deeply.

Will the Vampire People Please Leave the Lobby?

As one Amazon reviewer put it, "I had a very complex reaction to this book." Allyson Beatrice, the author, is a fangirl. The gist of this book is that she is a Very Important Fangirl who knows a lot of Very Important People. Oh, and she has lots of friends she met on the Internet, and she writes like this is shocking to a lot of people. If you don't know what a fangirl or a fandom is, this book might help you figure that out; if you think it's weird that people meet other people on the Internet, you might gain an understanding of why it's not really weird. If you're already familiar with these concepts, though, I'm not sure if it's worth reading. Beatrice's essays are fun and sarcastic, but any blogger could have written them.

Also, Beatrice's first essay alienated me from the beginning, because right off the bat, she dismisses those who are interested in picking apart the very show she is a fan of (Buffy the Vampire Slayer). I love reading literary critcism, and I think of television as another form of literature. I love to read essays that pick apart the show--and that's part of my fandom. I don't know how she can still consider herself a fan when she admits she doesn't even really watch the show anymore. Granted, she explains the reason that she still posts on the fan boards: it's because she likes all the people she met there. I can certainly understand that. There's a very touching essay where she explains how the fan community banded together to bring a fan over from Israel to the United States. I did like that particular essay (even though much of it was a copy-and-paste from the actual fan boards themselves). But I can relate to it, since I do have many friends I have met over the Internet.

To be honest, I don't know if I'd recommend this book. It made me laugh, but it also made me angry. In the first chapter, Beatrice explains how she got her book deal. I feel that if the author has to explain how she got her book deal, then she's not really sure herself if the book was worth publishing.