Saturday, July 30, 2011

45 & 46. Counting Stars & All the Stars in Heaven by Michelle Paige Holmes

Both of these books are Mormon romantic novels.  In Counting Stars, Jane is thirty and single in a church structured around marriage and families.  She answers an ad in the singles page and meets Paul, the dying father of twins whose wife just dies in a car accident.  He is looking for someone to raise his children and Jane is the perfect one.  She soons loves the babies and is ready to take on their care after Paul dies.  After his death, she learns that she is co-guardian with Peter, Paul's brother who has been serving in Iraq.  You can figure out the rest.  Rating:  3.5

All the Stars in Heaven is a much darker and more interesting book.  It involves a corrupt police chief, his talented but cowed daughter, and a recovering drug addict who is attending Harvard to get a law degree.  There is plenty of adventure and a pretty good love story.  Rating:  4

44. Jane of Lantern Hill by L M Montgomery

This is another charming book by the master of charm.  Jane is a lonely young girl living with her overbearing, mean-spirited grandmother and her mother who does whatever the grandmother tells her.  Even though they have every thing money can buy, Jane is unhappy and restless.  Then she is summoned to Prince Edward Island by her father who she can't remember.  Jane doesn't want to go; but once she meets her father, she loves him immediately and embarks upon a  summer filled with fun, friends and adventures.  The ending is very predictable but satisfying and Jane is almost as fun to read about as Anne of Green Gables.  Rating:  4.5 

43. When Madeline was Young by Jane Hamilton

From back cover:

"When Aaron Maciver's beautiful young wife, Madeline, suffers a head injury in a bicycle crash, she is left with the mental capabilities of a six-year-old.  In the years that follow, Aaron and his second wife care for Madeline with deep tenderness and devotion as they raise two children of their own."

Even though this is an odd premise, I liked the book.  The story is told by Aaron's son, Mac, who is pretty normal but not nearly as daring as his cousin, Buddy.  It is a great look at the U.S. during the early 80's with the beginning of the civil rights movement and the escalation of the Vietnam War.  Over all, a pretty good book.  Rating:  4

42. I Don't Know How She Does It by Allison Pearson (audio)

Kate Reddy is a working mother of two and a wife.  She also works full time as a hedge fund manager.  With her demanding job, she is always trying to justify her time away from home and try to appear as good as all the other mothers.  The books is quite funny at times, but mostly just nerve-wracking.
Rating:  3.5

41. Burning Bright by Tracy Chevalier

Chevalier writes historical fiction that center around known historical figure, in this case, William Blake.  Well, he is not as well known as those in her other books, and mostly just a side character.  The main story involves Tommy Kellaway, new to London from a small village; and Maggie Butterfield, a young girl who has grown up on the streets of London.  It is an interesting look at 18th century London, but overall, the story is not very engaging.  Rating:  3

37, 38, 39 and 40. The Dale series by Gervaise Phinn, Books 1 through 4

Gervaise Phinn is a school inspector in North Yorkshire.  These four books tells of the humorous things that happen when you're working with children.  His obvious love for teaching and children makes these books heart warming and enriching.  During these four books, Gervaise visits multiple schools to observe and help teachers improve their skills in teaching literature, poetry and English.  What a wonderful system.  The children do and say the funniest things and Gerviase's reactions are priceless.  He also falls in love and gets married, deals with an overbearing administrative assistant, and his other colleagues, who are quite the characters.  The school system  has a meeting facility where they hold seminars and showcase the children's work.  The janitor at this place is one of the funnest characters of all.  All the books are great fun.  Rating:  4

Sunday, July 03, 2011

36. The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery

All her life, Valancy has been told how plain she is.  At the age of 29 and still single, she is a disappointment to her sour mother.  The rest of her extended family treats like a joke and control her every move.  When she learns she has a heart condition and could die at any time, Valancy decides it is time to start living.  She starts by keeping house and looking after the dying daughter of the town drunk.  Her family is horrified and tries to have her committed, but Valancy perseveres and finally starts to experience all the things she was afraid to do before.

Not my favorite Montgomery book, but still charming and old fashioned. 

Rating:  3.75

35. Domestic Pleasures by Beth Gutcheon

From back cover:

"After her husband dies in a plane crash, Martha Gaver is horrified to learn that the executor of Raymond's estate is charlies, the conservative, insufferable lawyer who represented Raymond in their bitter divorce.  Yet soon after they reenter each other's lives, Martha, Charlie, and their teenage children find they have moe in common than they imagined as they struggle to rebuild their lives . . . and that opposites really do attract."

This is the second book by Gutcheon that I've read.  Although it is not quite as good as the first, I still really liked it.  The characters are engaging and it's a great plot which kept me captivated.  I did get a little tired of the teenage angst and the ex-wife's manipulations; but overall I liked the book.
Rating:  4