Books: Good & So-So

bookclubI love to read. There’s nothing better than opening a book and falling in. Below are many of the books that I’ve read over the past year. Some I’ve loved; some I enjoyed; some I’ve enjoyed than hated they way the author ended it; and some that I’ve tossed aside. Here’s a start … I’ll regularly add to the list.

A book can earn up to 4 Bookies—bookie, meaning, drop everything and get it!





guernsey The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society     

by Mary Ann Shafer, Annie Barrows


This was a surprise…I wanted to finish it so I could see how the authors would wrap it up and then I didn’t want it to end!

Set in Guernsey in the Channel Islands of England, the timeframe is just post
WW II. The islanders have formed the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society as a method to get around the Germans in the evening when Guernsey was occupied—their kids had been evacuated to England, there was a concentration camp and the islanders were spied on, even by some of the locals.

Dawsey Adams, one of the Society members writes to Juliet Ashton, a successful author in England. Her flat is, well, flat—decimated by the War; ditto for her beloved books. Her publisher is Sidney, her brother. Juliet eventually goes to Guernsey to interview the islanders she’s met through Dawsey’s letters to seed her next book. What she discovers is her entire life is turned upside down and inside out … and she becomes one of them. In between, you will fall in love with Guernsey, its inhabitants and all the outside noise that a great read brings.


thestoryofedgarsawtelle The Story of Edgar Sawtelle     

by David Wroblewski


I enthusiastically bought this book at full price—a debut novel by a fellow Coloradoan. Bravoing the critical acclaim and national sales the book was gathering, I saved it for a time that I could devote several nights of continual reading to it.

Our hero is a young mute boy who grows up on a dog farm—not a puppy mill, but a legit business that raised the unique Sawtelle dogs. Dogs that weren’t placed with their new owners until they were clearly adults and considered “ready.” So far, so good.

There’s really a part I and part II—before Edgar takes off on his own and his solo journey over the summer months before he returns home to confront Uncle Clyde. You learn early on that there is a deep jealousy between his father Gar and his father’s brother. How they came to hate each other, you never know—frustrating, since it’s a critical factor in the story. How his beloved friend and companion Almandine dies, is left up in the air—you just get to use your imagination for all those tidbits.

I ended up being pissed by the time I ended the book. Sometimes, the reader thinks that she wishes it didn’t end this way. I didn’t wish it—I knew it. A story that had a lot of promise and a totally wrong ending. I felt I wasted the mega hours I dedicated to it.



The Associate

by John Grisham


Ok, here’s my second PO’d response to a book … in fact, I seriously question whether John Grisham wrote the damn thing. In the old days, a Grisham read was a page turner—he knew how to open his books with a bang—I would use them as an illustration of how to “open” a book for Publishing Salons that I teach. Not this baby—I was beginning to think Grisham might be tracking his word count so that he could just declare it over.

I’m not even going to bother to write up a full review of the young law school grad who is blackmailed to take a job (and spy) at one of the mega NY law firms that he hates (he really wants to do feel good law for the small community he grew up in) because he might have been considered an accessory to one of those college drinking school fiascoes where one of his buddies possibly raped the dorm bad girl.

I felt so ripped off, that I returned the book and asked for a refund. Thank you Costco.


firstfamily First Family     

by David Baldacci


First Family is the follow-up to Simple Genius. Private investigators (and former FBI) Sean King and Michelle Maxwell are summoned by the First Lady to find her favorite niece Willa, who’s been kidnapped. Baldacci has become what I think John Grisham saw himself as—a savvy plotter and story teller. Plenty of subplots, twists and turns—there’s politics, scandals and plenty to keep you interested. It’s a good summer read.


theshack The Shack     

by William Young


This is a bummer … this is the third one I’ve put on my list I read this past year that I was underwhelmed by. Like The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, there was a huge buzz on this book with sales to match. Friends said that I would love it, I would connect—I didn’t. Many of my readers know that I’ve lost two kids—an infant and teen—both boys. The book is about death and all the ugliness it can bring, along with the possibility of redemption and peace.

Our story opens on dad (Mack) taking the kids on a camping trip; mom stays behind—daddy bonding time. He meets a family, they connect, the kids play, and as they are getting ready to head home, the youngest daughter is missing. She’s been abducted, and eventually her body is found.

The marriage struggles; there’s plenty of anger; faith is questioned; is life worth living? The usual fallout from these situations—I know, I’ve been there.

Our story continues when dad gets a note in his mailbox—get ye to the woods— where his murdered daughter’s bloody dress was discovered. This was an Ick moment for me. Apparently, the note is from God.

Mack gets to the shack, has his encounters with God and journeys through the loss, his deep sadness, depression and anger and exchanges them for hope, love and forgiveness. The book is thought provoking, just not my cup of tea.


threecupsoftea Three Cups of Tea:     

One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace … One School at a Time

by Greg Mortensen


This is an amazing story, and my cup of tea. It’s a classic … out of bad things, amazing things can happen … not just for the person directly involved, but for thousands of others. Our author is a climber. In an unsuccessful attempt to climb K2, the world’s second tallest mountain, he falls quite ill. For several weeks, he is nursed by to health by the people in a small Pakistani village. He promises to return and build the village’s first school. Returning to Montana, he begins a campaign to solicit funds—striking out with 99% of the people he asked. Tom Brokaw sent him a check. Selling all his stuff, he returns to Korphe and begins to fulfill his promise—the details, the obstacles, the surprises are wonderful—even the Taliban won’t destroy his schools. From that illness, the Central Asia Institute was created.

Can there be collaboration in the world? … Well, a cup of tea just might get us there.


thescarecrow The Scarecrow     

by Michael Connelly


The latest from Connelly is a heck of a suspense thriller. It’s not a rosy read, there are some pretty nasty scenes that would make any perverted murderer envious. Newspaper reporter Jack McEvoy is the is back (last seen in The Poet).

Interesting, both the newspapers that McEvoy is affiliated with (Rocky Mountain News and The Los Angeles Times) are on hard times. (In real life—the Rocky shut down in 2009.) He gets laid off and decides to find out who the Scarecrow is … along the way, he deals with a teen who confesses to a murder he didn’t do. Lots of techno stuff.

Not a read for everyone, but if you like suspense and thrillers, this baby’s yours.


thebrassverdict The Brass Verdict     

by Michael Connelly


One of my favorite characters is Harry Bosch, a good-guy LAPD detective with lots of flaws. He’s featured in several of Connelly’s books including The Lincoln Lawyer and The Black Echo (highly recommended to read as well).

Opening with attorney Mickey Haller back in the courtroom after a two year hiatus. One of the attorneys that Haller would cover for (you know sickness, something unexpected happening), is murdered. The Court asks Haller to step in and take over all his cases—one of which is the defense of a studio executive who is accused of murder. The problem is that Haller may be the next target. Enter Detective Bosch who immediately butts heads with Haller. Bosch and Haller have a lot in common and Connelly lets readers in on it for the first time.

Try one, I’ll bet you’ll end up getting the rest of the series.


goodtogreat Good to Great     

by Jim Collins


I speak all over the country—in almost every presentation, I mention Good to Great. Based on a study that took five years to complete; Collins studied 28 companies. He then identified 11 of them that transitioned from good to great. It’s about leadership; it’s about dealing with mediocrity; it’s about breaking rules and stepping on feet when necessary.

This isn’t light reading… but if you are in management and leadership anywhere, this book should be one of your reads.


scarpetta Scarpetta     

by Patricia Cornwell


The few books from Patricia Cornwell haven’t been so hot. With reluctance, I decided to try one more before I tossed the author to the wolves. It’s not fabulous, but it’s not bad. It’s all about the famed medical examiner who now resides in Massachusetts—she’s on assignment in New York City via the request of Oscar Bane, a little person who’s suspected of murdering his girlfriend, another little person. Lucy, Benton and Marino are all back.

It’s a fast read, find the lounge and settle in.


takebackyourbody Take Back Your Body     

by Susan E Mead


Take Back Your Body was the book I gave to everyone for Christmas 2008. It’s loaded with such common sense, a ton of ideas and remedies that Gramma would be thrilled with and hundreds of quick tips to make your life so much healthier. You will love Susan’s Tips.

Highly recommended.


secretrecipes Secret Recipes from the Corner Market     

by Carol Ann Kates


Secret Recipes is one of my favorite cookbooks … so favorite, that it’s the thank you gift I’m sending in 2009 to meeting planners that I work with. Where the Silver Palate was the book I turned to for a quick idea, Secret Recipes is now my new best kitchen friend.

The author was the brains behind the deli of a popular family owned grocery store in Colorado that was eventually squeezed out by the chains. Not only are there great recipes, but a ton of hints and tips on what to look for in food selections, shopping ideas and much more.

Highly recommended.