Melissa M. (sassenach) - Reviews

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Comfort Food : Rachael Ray's Top 30 30-Minutes Meals
Comfort Food : Rachael Ray's Top 30 30-Minutes Meals
Author: Rachael Ray
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 36
Review Date: 5/23/2007
Helpful Score: 2


There honestly wasn't much in this book I was even interested in trying. I made a couple of things and they were so-so.


The Crimson Petal and the White
The Crimson Petal and the White
Author: Michel Faber
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 347
Review Date: 8/2/2007
Helpful Score: 3


I had heard very good things about this book, and love historical fiction, but I couldn't get into this one. I rarely put a book down without finishing it, but this was one that I didn't get through. After reading 400 pages it didn't seem like it was going anywhere, and while I would kind of like to know how it ends, I don't want to know bad enough to spend more time to read another 400 pages.


Delicate Edible Birds and Other Stories
Delicate Edible Birds and Other Stories
Author: Lauren Groff
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.4/5 Stars.
 10
Review Date: 1/29/2009
Helpful Score: 2


The first story in the book is set in Templeton. I loved this because it was like going home, back to a familiar, comfortable setting. From here, the stories all feature women, but they are all vastly different. This difference in all the stories was one of my favorite aspects of this collection. Often times with short stories it seems like you are reading variations on the same story over and over. I never felt that way with this collection.

There were a couple of times that the voice the story was told in seemed a little strange, a little off. By the end of the story, though, I always understood exactly why Groff told the story the way she did, and it always made perfect sense.

Groff's writing is beautiful and captivating without being overdone. I would often set the book aside after completing a story just to keep the characters with me a little while longer. Lauren Groff has definitely made her way on to my "must read" list.


Dragon House
Dragon House
Author: John Shors
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 23
Review Date: 9/22/2009
Helpful Score: 1


My favorite part of Dragon House was the setting. I love to travel and since I don't get the opportunity much, I have to settle for traveling through my books. Shors love of Vietnam and it's residents comes through loud and clear. The descriptions of the children and their time on the streets rings true.

What didn't work for me quite as well were the characters. I found them to be a little underdeveloped. At the end of the book I really didn't feel like I knew any of them very well. Their actions seemed a little predictable and there wasn't much to set them apart for me. The message of the book, healing through helping others, is a good one, but it also felt a little heavy handed at times.


The Glass Castle
The Glass Castle
Author: Jeannette Walls
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 3396
Review Date: 5/23/2007
Helpful Score: 3


An amazing story of overcoming a heartbreaking childhood. A wonderfully written memoir.


The Good Thief
The Good Thief
Author: Hannah Tinti
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 24
Review Date: 11/6/2008
Helpful Score: 2


From the description I thought this book would be something I really enjoyed and I couldn't wait to read it. I have been disappointed though. I thought it would have some mystery with Ren looking for clues to his parents, and some adventure along the way. What it turned out to be was the story of some petty thieves that really weren't all that interesting to me. The storyline of Ren's parents doesn't even really get brought up until the last hundred pages.

There were some mildly interesting minor characters, but those couldn't keep me reading. As a disclaimer, I haven't currently finished this book. Maybe it all comes together beautifully in the end. But, even though I don't know who Ren's parent's are, I don't really want to spend the time reading the last hundred pages to find out.


Hide & Seek
Hide & Seek
Author: Clare Sambrook
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 2.9/5 Stars.
 15
Review Date: 5/23/2007
Helpful Score: 1


I did not enjoy this book at all. Very had to follow. I finished it only because I am stubborn, not because it was good.


The History of Love
The History of Love
Author: Nicole Krauss
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 493
Review Date: 3/25/2007
Helpful Score: 1


It took me a little bit to figure out who was speaking, but besides that, I really enjoyed this book.


Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster
Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster
Author: Jon Krakauer
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 403
Review Date: 5/7/2007


Wonderful account a disasterous climb of Everest.


Keeper of the Keys
Keeper of the Keys
Author: Perri O'Shaughnessy
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 51
Review Date: 5/23/2007


This is not a Nina Reilly book. It was ok, but nothing spectacular. A good, but fairly predictable mystery.


The Kindness of Strangers
The Kindness of Strangers
Author: Katrina Kittle
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 304
Review Date: 6/15/2008
Helpful Score: 9


Wow! I am surprised to say that I loved a book about childhood sexual abuse, but this book was wonderful! While a difficult subject, it is also a terribly important one too. This book takes a compassionate, thoughtful look into a terrible reality. Each chapter is told from a different characters point of view which helps show that abuse affects all those involved very differently. The characters are riveting and you can't help but be pulled in by their story.


Losing Everything
Losing Everything
Author: David Lozell Martin
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 7
Review Date: 11/11/2008
Helpful Score: 3


Martin had a rough childhood and problems as an adult. But unlike so many writers these days, he took responsibility for his actions. While the recognition of his destructive behavior may have been slow in coming, he did make changes in his life. I think this makes this book relevant in most people's lives. It's not about feeling sorry for yourself. It's about picking yourself up from the hard times and making this best of what is still to come.


Love Junkie: A Memoir
Love Junkie: A Memoir
Author: Rachel Resnick
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 2.3/5 Stars.
 9
Review Date: 11/11/2008


Resnick claims to realize she is a love junkie, and maybe she really does see the problem and want to change. However, this book seems to be written more to shock, and as a catalog of her sexual exploits. The writing also rambled a bit, switching from past to present without much rhyme or reason. Overall, it was a quick read, but not very satisfying.


The Memory Keeper's Daughter
The Memory Keeper's Daughter
Author: Kim Edwards
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 5402
Review Date: 2/6/2007


Good, but I had a hard time feeling connected to the characters.


The Pact: A Love Story
The Pact: A Love Story
Author: Jodi Picoult
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 1185
Review Date: 10/11/2006


Another wonderful Jodi Picoult book


A Pearl in the Storm: How I Found My Heart in the Middle of the Ocean
Review Date: 4/8/2009


I love reading about other people's adventures, especially adventures that I would never consider taking myself. And this is definitely one of those stories.

My rowing experience is limited to about five minutes on a rowing machine in the gym, so the idea of rowing across an ocean is mind-boggling. McClure does a wonderful job of making rowing accessible and interesting, even though I have no desire to take up the sport. She does a great job of describing the Pearl, and I can easily picture the boat. However, I think a few photographs of exactly how small the Pearl is would have added to the story.

I was afraid the story might be a little dry, but that was never the case. McClure's writing is very engaging and flows well. The story of her time in the Atlantic is interspersed with stories of her family and growing up. This is a great way to get to know her, and the stories are often tied to what she was experiencing on the ocean.

I would recommend this exciting book to those who love adventure stories like Into Thin Air.


Rescuing Sprite: A Dog Lover's Story of Joy and Anguish
Rescuing Sprite: A Dog Lover's Story of Joy and Anguish
Author: Mark R. Levin
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 122
Review Date: 5/5/2008


I didn't enjoy this book, and if it hadn't been so short wouldn't even have finished it. The writing was terribly simple and flat. The author also seemed to be very self-centered and concerned only with dropping the names of his famous friends.

If you want a wonderful book about people's relationships with their dogs, read Marley and Me.


Skinny Dip
Skinny Dip
Author: Carl Hiaasen
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 16
Review Date: 5/23/2007


This was the first Carl Hiaasen book that I've read, and I really enjoyed it. I will be looking for more by him!


The Space Between Before and After
The Space Between Before and After
Author: Jean Reynolds Page
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 40
Review Date: 10/6/2008
Helpful Score: 5


This book is filled with layers, and as you read, the layers slowly peel back to reveal a wonderfully crafted family story.

Each of the chapters is told from a different character's point of view. I love this because you really get to see the whole story, not just one characters take on it.

Holli, the main character, tells her story from an adult point of view and Hollyanne, her childhood self, tells her story as she is growing up. This was a wonderful way to bring the past into the present story, as it played such an important role. Also, Hollyanne's chapters were so vividly written I found my heart breaking for her.

Jean Reynolds Page has also introduced an innovative new idea by providing a soundtrack for The Space Between Before and After. She has put together songs that either reflected, or helped shape, the characters in the book. You can read about Page's reasons for each of the songs on her website and can even purchase the entire soundtrack.

I love the soundtrack and enjoyed the additional insights into the characters. Music plays such an important part in people's lives that it is only fitting that characters have "their" songs too!


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