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Nadine (23dollars) - - Reviews

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Big Stone Gap (Big Stone Gap, Bk 1)
Big Stone Gap (Big Stone Gap, Bk 1)
Author: Adriana Trigiani
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 470
Review Date: 6/25/2011


Another buddy read in my online book club, The Reading Cove. I can't agree with most of the other reviews here on this. I've renamed it BIG STONE YAWN.

The story line seemed to be of the "make it up as you go along" ilk. Much of the events surrounding Ave felt too contrived. Started off cozy and quaint, but contrived for happy-ever-after with everything.

I can't recommend, and I won't continue the series. :(


The Bitter Season (Kovac / Liska, Bk 6)
The Bitter Season (Kovac / Liska, Bk 6)
Author: Tami Hoag
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 26
Review Date: 6/14/2017


I loved Tami Hoag's The 9th Girl, but this one was disappointing in the end.

At first The Bitter Season starts off interestingly enough with Kovac and Liska now working separately on different cases. Kovac's still working homicide with a new partner; and being a single mother, Liska wants to be home more to raise her teenage sons, so she's working cold cases...and it really felt like this story point was on the repetitive side. We get it: Nikki's working cold cases now because her sons need her to be home more.

So the book essentially takes you step-by-step through these two investigations as Kovac and Liska slowly make their way to discovering whodunnit. Lots of gruesome, over-the-top bloody scenes later, the reveals happen, and it just didn't fly with me. It was too contrived vs. clever. And I much prefer clever. C+


Black for Remembrance
Black for Remembrance
Author: Carlene Thompson
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 45
Review Date: 11/21/2012


This story felt very dated and contrived. I thought it had a strong opening, and I enjoyed the authors comedic scenes with Caroline's new family, but once all the coincidences start up 20 years after Caroline lost her 5-year-old daughter, it just felt very contrived and implausible and lost my interest.

I give this one a C.


Black for Remembrance
Black for Remembrance
Author: Carlene Thompson
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.4/5 Stars.
 12
Review Date: 11/22/2012


This story felt very dated and contrived. I thought it had a strong opening, and I enjoyed the authors comedic scenes with Caroline's new family, but once all the coincidences start up 20 years after Caroline lost her 5-year-old daughter, it just felt very contrived and implausible and lost my interest.

I give this one a C.


Black Water (Plume Contemporary Fiction)
Black Water (Plume Contemporary Fiction)
Author: Joyce Carol Oates
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.2/5 Stars.
 43
Review Date: 7/5/2014


I read BLACK WATER for a "Water" theme in my online book club, The Reading Cove.

It amazes me how the author managed to take a very dramatic event and turn it into a pretty tedious snooze fest! I found the writing very choppy and disjointed, and didn't feel the non-linear timeline was very well done.

I couldn't recommend it unless you enjoy boring reads.


Blink of an Eye
Blink of an Eye
Author: Ted Dekker
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 24
Review Date: 7/25/2014


BLINK OF AN EYE was the July 2014 pick in my online book club, The Reading Cove.

After getting off to a great start, things unfortunately went downhill in a blink!

A Saudi Arabian princess on the run is saved over and over again by a modern-day Einstein who never had a good reason for risking his own life in the first place. And once they're on the run, eluding the evil Muslim powers that be, the tension quickly fizzles, and Seth's "gift of sight" becomes increasingly annoying as a convenient and gimmicky plot device.

I had high hopes in the first quarter, but BLINK OF AN EYE turned out to be a poorly pacedand poorly plottedlet down by the fourth. I give it a C.


Blood Sisters
Blood Sisters
Author: Judith Henry Wall
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 2.8/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 10/7/2011


The first 200 pages were very slow and meandering. It picked up and became a page-turner as the women began to discover that Libby wasn't the person they believed her to be. But in the end, the circumstances and emotions (especially with the men) were too contrived to be taken seriously.

I highly recommend MY MOTHER'S DAUGHTER and THE SURROGATE by this author. Those are yards more intelligent than BLOOD SISTERS.


Bloodroot
Bloodroot
Author: Amy Greene
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 51
Review Date: 7/9/2013
Helpful Score: 1


I read BLOODROOT for this month's "Blood" theme in my online book club, The Reading Cove.

It's a southern fiction family saga, with multiple narrators who just ramble on and on, piling layer after depressing layer of tragedy and despair on the reader. So, if you're in good spirits and want to keep it that way - stay away from this book! LOL

This felt like the type of story you'd find in Oprah's Book Club. It's a dank, dark, dreary and depressing narrative, without much light at the end of the tunnel...at least not enough to make up for the previous trek of darkness.

On a positive note, I did feel the writing was strong, in that the setting did come alive - I felt I was on Bloodroot Mountain with these characters, all of which the author gave his/her own unique voice. So even though I would be open to trying another Amy Greene book, I wouldn't be in a hurry.

I give BLOODROOT a C.


Blue Asylum
Blue Asylum
Author: Kathy Hepinstall
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 14
Review Date: 11/6/2012
Helpful Score: 4


BLUE ASYLUM was the November 2012 pick in my online book club, The Reading Cove. And I must say, to my delight, I enjoyed it a lot more than I was expecting to!

I'd read Kathy Hepinstall's The Absence of Nectar and The House of Gentleman years ago, and found the writing style boring, just wasn't for me. So when her latest, Blue Asylum, was picked for book club, I cringed...but in the spirit of being a good member, I decided to give it a go and I'm so glad I did!

The book gets off to a very engaging start with Iris Dunleavy being wrongfully committed to an insane asylum off the coast of Florida. The pacing is wonderful - short and concise chapters help to keep things moving and your interest high in getting to know the many characters in the asylum.

And the novel takes its time filling in blanks, which also keeps you turning the pages.

There were also many laugh-out-loud moments in the first half of the story as we learn about some of the patients on the island, adding a comedic tone to the dark, gothic atmosphere.

While I was disappointed in the last quarter of the book and the way things wrapped up, the story and characters were engaging enough to enjoy overall.

I give this one 3.5 out of 5 stars, or a solid B.


Break Through Pain: A Step-by-Step Mindfulness Meditation Program for Transforming Chronic and Acute Pain
Review Date: 10/22/2012


This has some helpful portions, but as a whole, it may not be for everyone. I think the manifestation of chronic emotional pain and suffering is unique to each individual and must be experienced accordingly to breakthrough.


Breaking Point (Troubleshooters, Bk 9)
Breaking Point (Troubleshooters, Bk 9)
Author: Suzanne Brockmann
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 288
Review Date: 4/25/2016


I didn't enjoy this choked, overdone writing style and so I never developed much interest in the storyline of BREAKING POINT.

All of her characters have the same smart-alec, tongue-in-cheek personality, which makes it super hard to take any of the plot as seriously as the narrative seems to expect you to.

So in the end I say if you're a fan of this Troubleshooters series, you'll probably read Book 9 no matter what, otherwise, skip it and read a better quality writer like Tami Hoag instead. Honestly, this was a waste of time for me.


Breath of Scandal
Breath of Scandal
Author: Sandra Brown
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 250
Review Date: 2/2/2011


BREATH OF SCANDAL is my absolute favorite Sandra Brown story. I read it as a teen and have re-read it a few times over the years. Jade Sperry was an unforgettable character. I could never forget what happened to her...and how she triumphed! If you haven't read this one, grab it today!


The Bridges of Madison County
The Bridges of Madison County
Author: Robert James Waller
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 102
Review Date: 10/6/2012


I read this with a buddy in my online book club, The Reading Cove.

Apart from having a decent opening, this story felt like a middle-aged man's wet dream. Very forced premise: a loner photographer, Robert Kincaid, gets lost on assignment, stops to ask for directions from a lonely, middle-aged housewife, Francesca Johnson, whose husband and children just happen to have just left her all alone for an entire week! So fate has them give in to an immediate and ill-fated attraction and they spend the next four days swimming in sap and having sex all over her poor husband's house.

I couldn't identify with this love story because it felt very contrived and underdeveloped. And I thought it was laughable that Francesca would leave such a detailed letter to her children for posterity. Didn't she have a friend or family member back home to spill her guts to? Would a woman really feel the need to inform her adult children in a post-mortem letter about exactly where in the house she'd had sex with a man she'd met 2.3 minutes ago? Please.

And some of the dialogue was so cheesy: "Robert, you're so powerful it's frightening" during sex had me laughing out loud to distraction!

At least the movie had Meryl and Clint in it, lol.

There must've been an awful lot of lonely housewives out there who bought this book to make it the bestselling hardcover novel of all time...but for me, it's a C-. I really wish I'd enjoyed it more.


Broken Promise (Promise Falls, Bk 1)
Broken Promise (Promise Falls, Bk 1)
Author: Linwood Barclay
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 27
Review Date: 11/30/2016


I'm a huge Linwood Barclay fan but Broken Promise felt SO overdone. Way too many "who really cares" plotlines going on, way too much character bloat.

Promise Falls is most definitely turned into a broken town. But the story lacked focus and didn't hold my interest. I was curious about continuing David Harwood's story from Never Look Away, which I really liked, but he was given the plot-by-dumb-decisions treatment in this one. I just didn't buy a lot of his motivation for taking the risks he took on behalf of his cousin, who just needed to be committed to get the help she so clearly needed. The twists in the end notwithstanding. She was obviously nuts from the word go!

Since it's a trilogy, I feel compelled to continue and give the next two books a chance, but I can't say I'm in a hurry. I'd rather read a few more of his stand-alones first.

If you're an LB fan, you'll want to check this out. If not, skip it and read The Accident or Never Look Away instead.


The Bronze Horseman (Tatiana and Alexander, Bk 1)
The Bronze Horseman (Tatiana and Alexander, Bk 1)
Author: Paullina Simons
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 24
Review Date: 6/2/2016


I read THE BRONZE HORSEMAN as a buddy read in my online book club, The Reading Cove ~ and it's the fastest I've ever read 810 pages in my life!!

The passion. The love. The layered character development! Tatiana and Alexander and WWII Leningrad come to life so vividly! It's deep, rich and compelling. I could hardly put it down! I even read some scenes over and over again, while at other times I was SO eager to know how things would turn out (the suspense was practically drying out my throat!) that I skipped ahead a few times, then went back to read everything properly.

There were several LOL moments when I actually put the book down and could. not. stop. laughing. for minutes at a time!

However, on the downside (and yes, there is one), the main thing that annoyed me was the repetition of some of the themes; to say it was excessive is an understatement - it was beyond beyond! The progression of the war dragged on WAY too long - just 'same stuff different day'...however, the passion and depth of this sweeping saga trumps every. single. one. of its shortcomings!

So while at its heart a love story, THE BRONZE HORSEMAN is so much more than only that. It's an epic tale of sacrifice and survival, family loyalty and devotion, and the miraculous beauty of true love managing to shine through the dank putridness of WWII. What's more? You can feel the author's passion woven into every line!

A-. If you haven't read this one yet...what are you waiting for?


The Bungalow
The Bungalow
Author: Sarah Jio
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 58
Review Date: 11/11/2012


I had high hopes for this book after reading a lot of the rave reviews, but from the opening pages you can tell this story will be mind-numbingly predictable. It feels like a trite storyline most well read people have read a thousand times before. Nothing new here.

The characters: Anne, her best friend Kitty, her parents and their housekeeper, the love interests, the stranger who brings back old, haunting memories - they're all cookie-cooker, and ditto for the plot. You can see an affair coming a mile away. Jealousy and bitterness, estrangement, etc., everything's too obvious to be very interesting.

I'm sure I would've enjoyed this as a teen. It reads like a lot of the Danielle Steel or Nora Roberts I used to read as a teenager in the 90s, but over time you just outgrow the more elementary writing styles.


The Bungalow
The Bungalow
Author: Sarah Jio
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 4
Review Date: 11/11/2012


I had high hopes for this book after reading a lot of the rave reviews, but from the opening pages you can tell this story will be mind-numbingly predictable. It feels like a trite storyline most well read people have read a thousand times before. Nothing new here.

The characters: Anne, her best friend Kitty, her parents and their housekeeper, the love interests, the stranger who brings back old, haunting memories - they're all cookie-cooker, and ditto for the plot. You can see an affair coming a mile away. Jealousy and bitterness, estrangement, etc., everything's too obvious to be very interesting.

I'm sure I would've enjoyed this as a teen. It reads like a lot of the Danielle Steel or Nora Roberts I used to read as a teenager in the 90s, but over time you just outgrow the more elementary writing styles.


Burial Rites
Burial Rites
Author: Hannah Kent
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 23
Review Date: 7/19/2016


BURIAL RITES was the July 2016 pick in my online book club, The Reading Cove, and it was a book I'd been eagerly looking forward to. A fictional story about the last person to be publicly beheaded in 1820s Iceland is pure plot-rich fertile ground, right?

But what a disappointment! (I have to agree with another PBS reviewer, Barbara, who said this book just plods along. I couldn't have described it better myself.)

While well written and decidedly poetic through Agnes' POV, I found the narrative itself very poorly focused, not to mention terribly dry, bland and flavorless. It never took on three dimensions and failed to engage me emotionally. And considering the highly dramatic true story it's based on, it felt like a missed opportunity to really connect the reader to Agnes Magnúsdóttir. To make her beheading result in a much greater sense of loss for the reader. As it stands, while you do spend most of the book with her, slowly (ever so slowly) learning the circumstances that led up to the murders, her character manages to remain flat, remote and uninteresting throughout.

The same can be said for the other characters, including the victims! But most notably it can be said for the priest Agnes requests to counsel her as she awaits execution, Reverend Tóti, who is the second main POV in the book. His role was a bitterly wasted opportunity to inject dimension and life into what is otherwise a snoozy narrative. There was a hint at the topic of progression in religious practice and ideology, but Tóti is written as too young and inexperienced to be effective (as a priest or otherwise) in this situation so the potential fizzles. He only manages to make it abundantly clear that the priesthood is not at all where he belongs in life. Both his POV and his light-weight relationship with Agnes proved utterly useless to the story. Useless.

Also, the POV shifts happen at section breaks vs. chapter breaks, and as I read, I really felt like Agnes' POV should've had its own chapters whenever the narrative shifted to her. This simple adjustment might've given her more distinction and dimension within the story.

So overall, I feel BURIAL RITES misses the mark. Big time. I did appreciate the author's effort at sophistication but her coarse storytelling lacks vitality and imagination. Nevertheless, I'll still look forward to the Jennifer Lawrence movie adaptation with fingers crossed it's made more compelling and executes the promise of the title and premise far better than this novel does.

Would I recommend it? No, not really. I think you'd be better off spending your time Googling Agnes Magnúsdóttir and reading up the history yourself. 2.5 stars.


But Inside I'm Screaming
But Inside I'm Screaming
Author: Elizabeth Flock
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 188
Review Date: 12/28/2013


BUT INSIDE I'M SCREAMING was the December 2013 pick in my online book club, The Reading Cove. I don't think it was a good choice for this time of year.

The main character Isabel is seriously troubled and you get to spend the entire book in her head, mired in all the madness. It effectively killed any holiday spirit you felt the second you even thought about picking it up.

I will say that while it was well-written, it just wasn't my cuppa. C+


Can't Wait to Get to Heaven
Can't Wait to Get to Heaven
Author: Fannie Flagg
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 127
Review Date: 1/7/2012


I read this with a few reading pals in my online book club The Reading Cove. I really enjoyed it! Aunt Elner is so loveable, and so are the rest of the characters from Elmwood Springs and beyond....

Well, her niece Norma got on my nerves, but in a good way, LOL.

There were also some pretty touching moments, but I love how Fannie Flagg strikes a great balance between LOL humor and dramatic sentiment.

There was some unexpected violence at the end, and the book felt like it was about 100 pages too long, but I can forgive it that. It's like the author loved her characters so much she didn't want to leave them!

I give this one a solid B. You'll have a great time reading it!


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