Monday, March 24, 2008

The First Patient by Michael Palmer

Published in 2008. 371 pages.

I am a fan of Michael Palmer, and I think I've read everything he's written. The First Patient is his latest novel, one which I think is not only a medical thriller - which I would expect from Palmer - but also a political thriller. The front cover of the copy I borrowed from the library includes a quote from President Bill Clinton:

An exciting thriller ... full of surprises; captures the intense atmosphere of the White House.

This isn't my favorite of Palmer's books, but although the writing seemed a bit choppy in places (which a good editor should have corrected), the plot was gripping, with enough twists and turns to keep me turning the pages. The protagonist - Gabe Singleton, longtime friend and now personal physician to the POTUS (President of the United States) - is likable yet flawed. Providing support to Singleton - and the possibility of a little romance - is Alison Cromartie, a medically-trained Secret Service agent. (I always love to read about an "Alison"!)


Thursday, March 20, 2008

It's That Time of Year!

Katrina's Spring Reading Thing 2007 was my first ever book challenge, and I'm so excited that it's time for Spring Reading Thing 2008! Because this challenge runs from today until June 19 - which is 13 weeks - I'm going to choose 13 books for the challenge. My goal for the year is 104 books, which requires a two-book-a-week pace, but I want to feel successful with this challenge and also leave some time to possibly read some other things.

  • The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

  • The Camel Bookmobile by Masha Hamilton

  • Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult

  • Dairy Queen: A Novel by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

  • Dark Assassin (from the William Monk series) by Anne Perry

  • The First Patient by Michael Palmer*

  • The Kommandant's Girl by Pam Jenoff

  • The Lady in the Tower by Jean Plaidy

  • Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen

  • People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks*

  • Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

  • A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

  • Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich*

*I've already starting reading this one.

Winter Reading Challenge - Wrap-Up

Winter ended yesterday, and today it is spring! I woke up (when WhiteRabbit left for work) to pouring rain, and then I went back to sleep and woke up to sunshine. I guess it truly is spring!

I've done a final update on my original Winter Reading Challenge post - I ended up reading a total of 18 books, with three more currently in process - and now I'm going to answer the questions that our host Karlene has posed:

  • Which book did I like best (and why)?

    Of the 18 books I finished, I liked American Born Chinese best. Graphic novels are a new genre to me, so I really didn't know what to expect. But this 2007 Printz Award Winner was absolutely fabulous! I've thought about it frequently since I read it; it's a book that's going to "stick" with me for a long time.

  • Which book did I like least (and why)?

    There really isn't a book on the list that I didn't like. The ultimate impact on me of each book varies, of course, some of my reads being books that I'll want to revisit and that I'll highly recommend to others and want to discuss, while others were simply quick escapism reads of which I'll soon forget the details. But I like to read from both ends of the spectrum - and every place in between.

  • Did I try any new authors, and if so, will I read more by them?

    Nine of the 18 books I read - that's half! - were written by authors I hadn't read before. I will definitely be looking for additional books by Philippa Gregory, Shannon Hale, Justina Chen Headley, and Gene Luen Yang - and probably from at least some of the others as well.

  • What (if anything) did I learn from participating in this challenge?

    I continue to set challenge goals that exceed my available reading time. But I also continue to have fun both setting the goals and striving to achieve them. I love to visit the links that other participants leave of their book reviews - both to compare books and to find new books for the to-read list. I would love to have more participants comment on my own reviews.

Winter Reading Challenge

Final Update - March 20 (18 books completed; total of 25 books listed).

    Not quite as successful as I would have hoped, but not a bad outcome.
    My wrap-up post is here.
Second Update - March 8 (15 books completed; total of 35 books listed).
    I'm not getting them all read by March 19, am I?
First Update - February 1 (8 books completed; total of 33 books listed).

Original Post - December 27.

When I first heard that Karlene was hosting a Winter Reading Challenge to begin right after Katrina's Fall into Reading ended, I thought, "With all the challenges I've got lined up for 2008, it doesn't make any sense to even think about playing along!" Then I got thinking some more and decided that - because I really am going to need to be organized and diligent if I'm going to be successful with my 2008 reading plans and because I want to get off to a really good start - this winter reading challenge, which runs from December 22 through March 19 but which I'll officially start on January 1, would be a good way to do that! (If you'd like to play too, check out the details here.)

My List
(To be updated as the challenge progresses,
with links to my reviews added as I finish each book.)
  • An Absolute Gentleman by R. M. Kinder
    (completed 2-22-08 with review here)

  • American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
    (completed 2-7-08 with review here)

  • Call It Courage by Armstrong Sperry
    (completed 1-31-08 with review here)

  • Clementine by Sara Pennypacker
    (completed 1-16-08 with review here)

  • A Dance for Three by Louise Plummer
    (completed 3-13-08 with review here)

  • Double Cross by James Patterson
    (completed 2-29-08 with review here)

  • Fashion Kitty versus the Fashion Queen by Charise Mericle Harper
    (completed 2-13-08 with review here)

  • The First Patient by Michael Palmer*

  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
    (completed 1-16-08 with review here)

  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
    (completed 2-6-08 with review here)

  • Invasive Procedures by Orson Scott Card

  • Laced by Carol Higgins Clark
    (completed 3-14-08 with review here)

  • The Lady in the Tower by Jean Plaidy

  • Love, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
    (completed 2-26-08 with review here)

  • Nothing But the Truth (and a Few White Lies)
    by Justina Chen Headley

    (completed 1-21-08 with review here)

  • The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillipa Gregory
    (completed 2-16-08 with review here)

  • People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks*

  • Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff
    (completed 1-12-08 with review here)

  • Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
    (completed 1-27-08 with review here)

  • The Reincarnationist by M. J. Rose

  • Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella
    (completed 3-11-08 with review here)

  • Specials by Scott Westerfeld
    (completed 1-11-08 with review here)

  • "T" is for Trespass by Sue Grafton
    (completed 1-19-08 with review here)

  • A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

  • Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich*

*In process as of 3-20-08.

By the way, Karlene has a post for linking reviews here. I'll probably find some new titles to add to my to-read list there!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella

Published in 2008. 389 pages.

Sophie Kinsella's latest novel, Remember Me?, was the perfect thing for me to read while sick in bed earlier this week!

This is what Kinsella had to say in "Behind the Book" on the amazon website:

All my books involve some kind of wish-fulfillment; some kind of escapism - whether it's shopping, or a whirlwind romance, or stepping off the career treadmill - and Remember Me? is maybe the ultimate form of wish-fulfillment. What if you didn't recognize your life ... because it had become so perfect? The image that kept coming to me was of a girl, blinking up at her Greek god of a husband, whom she doesn't recognize. It made me giggle every time I thought about it. And so I created my amnesiac heroine Lexi, and her perfect new glossy, unrecognizable life - from the new shiny teeth to the designer handbag, to the perfect millionaire husband. The potential for comedy was irresistible.


A Dance for Three by Louise Plummer

Published in 2000. 230 pages.

First sentence: Milo wasn't the first boy to kiss me but he was the first one to bite me.

Basic premise of the book: When fifteen-year-old Hannah Ziebarth discovers she's pregnant by her boyfriend Milo, she believes that everything will be all right. But her pregnancy isn't the only difficulty in her life: she and her mother are still trying to come to terms with her father's unexpected death, and Mrs. Ziebarth's response has been to withdraw into her bonsai plants, never leaving their home, not even capable of making her own sandwich for lunch. From the back cover: "Louise Plummer tells Hannah's powerful story from three perspectives in this tale of loss, recovery, and self-discovery." In addition to Hannah's perspective, we hear from Hannah's best friend Trilby and from Milo's younger brother Roman.

What I thought of the book:
I wanted to absolutely love this book! I've read all of Plummer's previous young adult novels and enjoyed them all, especially The Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman. This one had great potential - but while I did like it and do recommend it, I finished the book feeling somewhat disappointed that it didn't live up to my expectations. One disappointment relates to the "three perspectives" of the story. Roman's perspective in particular was too limited to fulfill its promise.

The meaning of the title: When I first picked up this book, I expected that the "dance for three" related to the main character, her baby, and the baby's father. There is that, of course, but the symbolism goes beyond that. There are the three perspectives of the novel - not just Hannah's voice, but the voices of two other people peripherally affected by Hannah's pregnancy. There is also the "dance for three" of Hannah and her parents, a dance that affects everything that happens after Mr. Ziebarth's death. Finally, the actual words of the title come into the story as Hannah watches a baby and its parents at an outdoor concert she attends during her pregnancy; this "dance for three" helps Hannah decide what she wants for her life and for her baby.

Personal connection to the book: In some sense this book is about "my people." The book is set in Salt Lake City, near where I live. Hannah and her mother belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons), as I do, and although there is no discussion of their religious beliefs and little about their involvement in their congregation, their concerned bishop plays a pivotal role in the outcome of the story.

Recognition given to the book: A Dance for Three was an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults in 2001; the entire list is here. It also received the 2001 Association for Mormon Letters (AML) Award for Young Adult Literature; there is a nice review on the AML website (here).


Friday, March 14, 2008

Laced by Carol Higgins Clark

Published in 2007. 260 pages.

I read Carol Higgins Clark's Regan Reilly mystery series because it's light and easy to read, with fun settings and happy endings. This tenth episode was all that!

The eleventh book in the series, Zapped, is due out next month. Clark's website is here.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Spring Reading Thing 2008

Katrina's Spring Reading Thing 2007 - a year ago -
was my first ever reading challenge!
Now it's almost time for Spring Reading Thing 2008.
The start date is March 20 -
so now is the time to start putting that list together!

Some Ramblings about Reading

It's been an extremely busy few weeks with not much book blogging and not even much reading. But I do have several books on my mind!

First of all, I promised to give away my copy of An Absolute Gentleman! I had my daughter randomly choose a number from those who commented on my review by February 29, and the winner is (drumroll, please) Naida! (If you'll email me your snail mail address, Naida, I'll send the book to you as soon as I can.)

I've also got to mail two books that have been requested of me via BookMooch and PaperBackSwap - Barbara Vine's Gallowglass and Anne Tyler's Celestial Navigation, respectively. Getting to the post office is a challenge for me at times, but it'll happen soon!

In addition to needing to send books out, I've received a few books lately!

The Book Buddies pick for March is People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks. I've only been reading the group pick about every other month and really hoped to participate in March, but since the book is a new release, there are a lot of holds on it at the library. Realizing that I probably wouldn't be able to get it from the library until the end of the month, I decided to order it from They had it at a decent price, and thanks to Christine, I had a $10 gift card I could apply to the order. The book was delivered early this week, and that is what I've been reading a few pages from this week. I made some progress on the book this morning and have just finished posting a few of my thoughts over at the Book Buddies blog.

I also recently received in the mail a package from Florinda. She'd read Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah and generously offered to pass her copy along to me. It'll probably be a few months until I get to it, but once I read it, I'd love to pass it along to someone else.

Thursday one more book package arrived. This one was from Susan, who had held a drawing for a copy of The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad. My friend Cynthia had previously recommended the book to me - and I included it on my "What's in a Name?" challenge list - so when I saw that Susan was going to give her copy away, I hoped that I would get it. And I did!

One last book note for today! We visited the PTA book fair after the kids' parent-teacher conferences Thursday night. Sugar Bear got some Avatar: The Last Airbender books, Sugar Plum got Becoming Naomi León, and I got Poor Pluto!, a book written and illustrated by third-grade students of Tokay Colony Elementary School in Lodi, California.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Double Cross by James Patterson

Published in 2007. 389 pages.

This is the latest in James Patterson's Alex Cross Series, the thirteen novel about widower, devoted grandson, loving father of three, police psychologist-slash-detective Alex Cross. I love this character and enjoyed this latest episode in his life. While not my favorite of the thirteen, it was still everything I look for in an Alex Cross novel: easy to read with lots of action and dialogue, compelling and suspenseful.