A Mystery Addict

So I’m not going to lie – I love trashy mystery novels, that take only a day or two to read. By no means are they great literature, but I’m addicted. They’re mindless and help me unwind at night. I could lose myself in this sort of book for hours. I get very attached to the characters, so enjoy authors that continue to develop the same character set over several books. Some of my favorite authors are:


James Patterson: A long time favorite, although I confess, I’ve been disappointed in much of his books recently. Ever since The Jester, he’s been co-authoring an increasing number of books which frankly, aren’t as good as his older ones. Also, I wasn’t thrilled when the Alex Cross series (a DC cop) suddenly took on a counterterrorism angle. I haven’t read most of his recent books, so I’m not up to date, but I would recommend the couple non-mysteries he’s written (I very much enjoyed Sundays at Tiffanies)

Patterson’s Website

Kay Hooper: Murder mysteries with a psychic twist. Hooper, writing in trilogies, follows the Special Crimes Unit, a unit of psychic FBI agents. The cast of characters is all the same, but each book focuses on the character development of one or two characters. I’m never disappointed by a Kay Hooper book!

Hooper’s Website

Suzanne Brockmann: Most of Brockmann’s books revolve around a CIA-type agency, Troubleshooters Inc., involved in counterterrorism and other operations around the world. Like Kava, Brockmann follows a cast of characters, with each book highlighting one or two characters, usually in a romantic storyline (which is why you’ll sometimes find Brockmann’s books in the romance section at bookstores). These are a fun glimpse into the world of spies.

Brockmann’s Website

Brenda Novak: Novak writes trilogies about The Last Stand, a victim’s advocacy group that picks up cases to help find missing persons and protect anyone subject to abuse.

(Also, just for the holiday season, Novak is offering signed copies of her books on her website. Link below.)

Novak’s Website

Book Review: The Alchemist

Book Review: The Alchemist{Book Review}

The Alchemist

By Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist is one of the first book written by Brazilian author Paulo Coelho – first published in 1987, and then reprinted and translated into 67 languages (the greatest number of languages a book has been translated into while the author was still alive).

The Alchemist is the story of a young shepherd boy from Andalucia, Spain who sets out to fulfill his “personal legend,” a quest to find a treasure that is supposed to be at the pyramids of Egypt. Guided by signs and unlikely strangers, the shepherd persevered and searched his treasure for (I believe) over a year.

I really enjoyed The Alchemist and the idea behind it – to follow your dreams and not to give up. The story almost had a fairytale-like quality to it – it was filled with adventure, courage, faith, and a bit of magic.

As I read, I could picture the scenes in my head, which says a lot about this new author. I look forward to checking out some of Coelho’s other books, which have hopefully been translated into English!

Book Club: Inspired by the little boy from Andalucia, we had a tapas party for the book club meeting. Here’s the menu!

Book Review: two young adult books by Avi

So after my first experience with a book on tape, I decided to try out a couple more. The first book was a bit odd, and probably not the best choice for a book on tape. Since I do mostly local travel, I decided to listen to a couple books by Avi, who writes for young adults. I remember reading his books when I was in grade school, and enjoyed them, so thought I’d give them another whirl. Both books were easy to listen to (only about 4 hours each), so perfect for my local drives.

About the Author: Avi began his career in writing as a playwright, but I know him best for his young adult books. However, when I was checking out Avi’s website, I discovered the Avi also has written all sorts of works, including picture books and short stories.

Don’t You Know There’s a War On? : This book tells the story of a boy who has a crush on his teacher, who is fired. As the boy, Howie, follows and tries to help his teacher, you get glipmses of what it is like living in NYC during WWII – war bonds & stamps, rations, air raids, etc.

My favorite part of the book, however, was not the story but the language. Howie, both the main character and narrator, speaks in slang for most of the book. This completely took me into the book!

Poppy: Poppy is a young mouse that first gets in trouble for going into the forest without the great horned owl’s permission. When her family asks the owl permission to move to New House, they are denied because of her actions. Poppy then goes off on her own to seek out the real reason for the owl’s refusal, encountering many adventures along the way.

I did not enjoy Poppy as much as Don’t You Know There’s a War On? Perhaps it can be blamed on the narrator of the story (since I was listening to it), but I felt like the story was told incredibly dramatically, considering it was a mouse. I’m not sure what I was expecting out of this book, but as I was listening to it, I felt like it should be a picture book, like the Peter Rabbit stories, and not a young adult book, as I thought it was.

Book Review: How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents

My blog has been pretty heavy on the cooking lately, so I thought it was time to do a more formal book review. Still learning as I go with the blogging, so we’ll see how this goes.

Book Review:

How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents

by Julia Alvarez

This is the second book I’ve read by Julia Alvarez, the first being In the Time of the Butterflies. Both books were very good. Both are fairly quick reading (being classified as fictional young adult books) although the topic of In the Time of the Butterflies makes it a bit harder to get through (but completely worth it!)

Alvarez was raised in the U.S. and the Dominican Republic, and both books reflect that heritage. How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents is the story of four sisters who fled to the U.S. with their parents, after their father took part in a plot against the Dominican dictator, Trujillo. It is a book about family, culture, and adjusting to a new country and way of life. (In contrast, In the Time of the Butterflies is set in the DR and tells the story of the Mirabel sisters, founders of an underground opposition movement – their detention by the secret police and ultimately their murder.)

I enjoyed both of Alvarez’s books and appreciate the insight she gives to this part of the Dominican Republic’s history.