What is your reading goal this year?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Turn of Mind

Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante

(Summary taken from the inside book jacket) "Alice LaPlante's Turn of Mind is a spellbinding novel about the disintegration of a strong woman's mind and the unhinging of her family. Dr. Jennifer White, recently widowed and a newly retired orthopedic surgeon, is entering the beginning stages of dementia--where the impossibility of recognizing reality can be both a blessing and a curse. As the story opens, Jennifer's life-long friend and neighbor, Amanda, has been killed, and four fingers surgically removed. Dr. White is the prime suspect in the murder and she herself doesn't know if she did it or not. Narrated in her voice, fractured and eloquent, a picture emerges of the surprisingly intimate, complex alliance between this pair--two proud, forceful women who were at times each other's most formidable adversaries. The women's thirty-year friendship deeply entangled their families, and as the narrative unfolds we see that things were not always as the seemed. Jennifer's deceased husband, James, is clearly not the scion he was thought to be. Her two grown children--Mark, a lawyer, and Fiona, a professor, who now have power over their mother's medical and financial decisions respectively--have agendas of their own. And Magdalena, her brusque live-in caretaker, has a past she hides. As the investigation intensifies, a chilling question persists: is Dr. Jennifer White's shattered memory preventing her from revealing the truth or helping to hide it?"

Although some people may find this book a little slow, I found it intriguing and couldn't put it down. My grandpa had dementia, and I found this book to be true-to-life from a loved one's viewpoint. It brought back many memories of times I spent with my grandpa towards the end of his life. I loved Ms. LaPlante's writing style. It was a little difficult to understand at points, but that was because it was written from Jennifer's point of view. The story does not progress chronologically. It progresses as you see flashes of Jennifer's memory, and then you put the events together. People also confess things to Jennifer, because they don't think she will remember, and you are able to piece things together that way as well. The question of "Did she really do it?" nagged at me constantly and bothered me when I wasn't reading. Ms. LaPlante did a very good job crafting this story.

I will definitely treat people with dementia a little differently because of this book. It would be so hard to see only strangers where others see family and life-long friends. This is not a happy book. It is a bit of a downer, but worth the read. There is a bit of language, and a couple of "f" words at the very end of the book. There is a murder scene along with affairs, drug dealing, and fraud, among other things. I didn't love the ending, because I was really disappointed in someone, but it worked with the storyline. This is not a book I'll read again, but I'm glad I read it.

Rating: PG-13+ (Murder, language, affairs, drug dealing, fraud)

Recommendation: 18 years and up

Friday, December 7, 2012

Shifted Perspective

Shifted Perspective: Book One of The Tails of Change series by J. Bridger

(Summary taken from an email the author sent me)
"Caleb Byrne is a bright high school senior who has enough to deal with between college choices, taking care of his single dad, and dealing with his headstrong girlfriend Joanna and an eccentric set of cousins in California. He was managing to get by until the day he woke up a Cocker Spaniel. Even if it only happens monthly and is more embarrassing than painful, the so-called ability is something that he's anxious to be rid of.
He didn't realize his transformations would drag him into a hidden society of canine and lupine shape shifters as well as a family legacy he hates. To make matters worse, after moving to Los Angeles to learn more about his heritage from his Aunt Moira and his cousin Kalista, Caleb now struggles through life-and-death matters. He keeps angering the werewolves in charge of the shifter world, especially Kalista's boyfriend Peter, the Southern California alpha's son, who also happens to be grade-A sociopath. Worse, Caleb's floundering to keep his secret from Joanna.
While his family offers him some support, they may not be enough as Caleb realizes that the rules in shifter society---number one is supposed to be don't kill humans---are not so ironclad. Some werewolf out there is leaving a blood-soaked trail across the Midwest and it might just be with the alpha's blessing..."

This book surprised me. It's not really a spoof on other paranormal books, but it kind of is. Caleb's ability is not "cool" like a werewolf or anything, so you kind of need to read it with that in mind. I think it's supposed to be a little humorous, just because the situation he finds himself in is a little humorous. There is a more serious side to it, though, with people all over the country being killed by a rogue shifter. Caleb, Joanna, and Penny find themselves in a dangerous position, and it could have been fatal.

The book is written well, with the exception of a few spelling and grammatical errors. It flows well and is a fast, easy read. The characters are well developed and interesting. Even though Caleb's ability may be a bit corny, it is a nice change of pace, and I like that. I like Joanna, Penny, and Kalista as well. I felt for Caleb's dad, and can only imagine what went through his mind when he found out. I think he took it very well. The plot has a twist at the end that surprised me and definitely made me want to read the next book.

There is some language in this book, which makes it inappropriate for younger readers. There is also some violence associated with a rogue shifter murdering people. There are some innuendos about "physical intimacy" but it never happens. I liked the book and would recommend the book with the previous warnings.

Rating: PG-13 (Language, violence, and innuendos)

Recommendation: 14 and up

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Kirby Puckernut and the Christmas Surprise

Kirby Puckernut and the Christmas Surprise by Alicia Richardson

(Summary taken from the inside book jacket) "Kirby Puckernut is Santa's cleverest little elf. While dreaming up marvelous toys for good girls and boys, Kirby has his best idea yet--a real elf in every home, all through the holidays, spreading Christmas Magic! Santa finds the perfect family and allows Kirby to serve as the test elf for the first momentous visit. Fun and adventure are at every turn, but not everything goes as planned....Will Kirby's idea be a success?"

If you're like me, you love Christmas books. I love Christmas books! I try to have books for every holiday, but I have at least three times more Christmas books than any other holiday. I like to get a new Christmas book every year, and this year's book is fabulous! It's a cute story, well written, and it talks about the "Christmas Magic." It is not just about the presents, it's about the feeling of Christmas, the opportunities for service, and about thinking of others during Christmas. The characters are believeable and quite life-like. The 13 yr-old girl Izzie has a grumpy attitude about Christmas and no longer believes in "Christmas Magic." She thinks it's only for babies. Unfortunately, her feelings and how she behaves with those feelings, impact the entire family, especially her younger siblings. It's a good story about attitude and family.

The illustrations in this book are amazing! I love them! They are beautiful and bring the book to life. I had all four of my kids squished around me on the couch, even my 11 yr-old, and they were captivated with the story and the pictures.

On a side note, you can purchase your own "Kirby" on the author's website, and have your own personal elf this season. I didn't do that, but it could be fun!

I really enjoyed this book and so did my kids. I'm sure we will be reading it over and over before Christmas comes. I definitely recommend it!!! It's a new Christmas favorite.

Rating: G (Clean and great for everyone!)

Recommendation: Everyone will enjoy this book, young and old.

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.