Sunday, September 11, 2011

CBR3 #30 - 36: Mini Reviews

The reviews below represent the books I read in July & August

CBR3 #30 - Queen By Right - Anne Easter Smith
Extensive look at Richard & Cecily York and their "reign" of Scotland during the War of the Roses time period. It was interesting to read about a different perspective during this time period, but I really struggled to get through this book.  Cecily narrates the whole book, but goes between flashbacks and present.

CBR3 #31 - The One I Want - Allison Winn Scotch
Tilly has her fortune told one evening and ends up being given a "gift" of clarity.  Suddenly she is having visions of the future and her "perfect" life is unraveling bit by bit.  As she learns to "use" her gift, she realizes that sometimes life has more to offer than it seems.  Quick read, but it was hard to relate and sympathize with the characters.

CBR3 #32 - Too Big To Fail - Andrew Ross Sorkin (August Book Club)
Must read (thriller-like) book that documents the financial crisis from prior to Lehman Brothers' collapse to when the TARP program was passed & implemented.  The book is not short, but reads well.  It also assumes that you understand the basics of the finance world & the collapse itself. 

CBR3 #33 - This Beautiful Life - Helen Schulman
Explores how a family reacts when a sex video sent to the son accidentally gets posted online and shared and ends up going viral. The premise of this book was interesting, but I found that the multiple narrator approach really didn't work.

CBR3 #34 - Eighteen Acres - Nicole Wallace
Follows a White House chief of staff through an election season, a network reporter waiting for her big break and a female president who might have her own scandal brewing.  Well written book and captures the mystery and intrigue of politics well. 

CBR3 #35 - The Cookbook Collector - Allegra Goodman
A coming of age story of two sisters totally different from each other.  One is a CEO of a technology start up while the other is a grad student in philosophy.  As the technology start up goes public and expands, the grad student ends up finding herself falling in love with her boss - a bookseller and cataloging a collection of antique cookbooks.  Good read, but some of the plot lines were hard to believe they would really happen.

CBR3 #36 - A Visit From the Goon Squad - Jennifer Egan
Pulitizer Prize winner for Fiction in 2011, this book tells the story of Bennie - a record producer - and his assistant Sasha throughout their lives as well as their friends and family.  The chapters are arranged in sides of a vinyl record and there is a whole chapter told in Powerpoint.  Great read and smart plot lines make this book a must read. 

CBR3 #20 - 29: Mini Reviews

Since I'm so behind in reviews, I thought I would catch up with mini-reviews of my readings through August at least.  The reviews below represent the books I read in May & June.

CBR3 #20 - Whisper of a Scandal - Nicola Cornick
Society maven travels to Antarctica to retrieve a bastard child of her late husband who was an explorer for the Royal Navy.  She agrees to marry his best friend, also an explorer, under false pretenses (that she can provide him with an heir). This book is a good steamy read to satisfy your romance bug.

CBR3 #21 - French Lessons - Ellen Sussman
Follow three French tutors around Paris one day as they explore love, relationships & all things French. All of the characters this about cheating on their spouse/lover, but eventually realize that the relationship they are in is the best for them.  Good read for a staycation.

CBR3 #22 - I'd Know You Anywhere - Laura Lippman
Explores the relationship between a death row inmate & his only living victim as his execution approaches.  Walter claims he is innocent and only Eliza can help him prove that.  Well written, good thriller with a nice local setting.  

CBR3 #23 - Revolution - Jennifer Donnelly
Gossip Girl meets Les Miserables.  This book is lengthy, but draws you in easily.  Teenage society girl accompanies her father to Paris during winter break.  She happens to find the diary of a revolutionary in a guitar case and becomes obsessed with the French Revolution as she tackles her own demons. Includes a little fantasy (the main character explores 18th century France after hitting her head in a cave) plot and quotes from Dante's Inferno.

CBR3 #24 - Three Cups of Tea - Greg Mortenson (June Book Club)
Uncertain what to expect before reading this book due to the controversy surrounding Greg Mortenson and the schools he built. Not the best written "memoir" and Greg is not the best "hero" character either.  It was good to read another book about Pakistan & Afghanistan told from a different perspective.
CBR3 #25 - Peach Keeper - Sarah Addison Allen 
Southern family with secrets buried in the front yard is forced to address them when one of their members refurbishes the bed and breakfast that they own. Tale of forgotten friendships and loves mixed in with a little fantasy and surrealism.

CBR3 #26 - The Sisters Brothers - Patrick deWitt 
This book made the 2011 Man Booker Prize for Fiction short list.  Two brothers - outlaws, hitman for hire - travel from Washington to California to find & kill a man who figured out how to mine gold from rivers.  Along the way one of the brothers decides that he wants to get out of the "family business" and tries to convince the other brother to join them.  Quirky characters who find themselves in unbelievable situations no matter where they go.   

CBR3 #27 - One Was a Solider - Julia Spencer-Fleming
Explores the lives of soldiers & their families after they return back home after being in Iraq with an added twist of a murder mystery and a wedding! Interesting book, but since it was part of a series I felt like I was missing part of the characters back stories.

CBR3 #28 - South of Superior - Ellen Airgood
I read this book in one day (I was sick).  Cute story about a woman "giving up" her life in the big city to take care of an elderly friend in the countryside.  This book captures small town life well, but leaves the reader wanting more.

CBR3 #29 - Lone Gone - Alafair Burke
Part DaVinci Code part Gossip Girl (yes - again!).  Young girl finds her dream job (by chance) only to find a dead body at work one morning.  She is suspected as the killer and spends the rest of the book unraveling the mystery and clearing her name.  Good thriller and I read this book in a day (day 2 of sickness).