Starlight Reviews – Sandra Brown’s Deadline & Dan Harris’ 10% Happier…



Starlight Reviews | Jorie's Reads by Starry Night Elf

In this edition of Starlight Reviews, I offer up two books focused on journalists facing the aftermath of covering news in war zones. First, I look at suspense novelist Sandra Brown’s Deadline. Then, I focus on Dan Harris’ 10% Happier… 

Deadline

Deadline: A Novel by Sandra Brown | Jorie’s Store @ Amazon

Deadline: A Novel 
by Sandra Brown
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: Sept 24, 2013
Genre: Romantic Suspense, Mystery
ISBN: 9781455551231
Source: eBranch Harris County Public Library

Goodreads 

 Description: 

Renowned print journalist Dawson Scott returns from reporting from the front lines of Afghanistan. Quietly suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), he learns from his source in the FBI of a potentially huge story. This story could define Dawson’s career!

Dawson begins investigating the Jeremy Wesson’s disappearance. Wesson, the biological son of Carl Wingert and Floral Stemal, stateside terrorists who have been on the run for forty years. His coverage leads to Savannah, Georgia and Amelia Nolan, Wesson’s ex-wife, and their two boys. Drawn to Amelia, Dawson learns she and her young sons are staying with a nanny on one of the Georgia Sea Islands. In an unexpected turn of events, Dawson becomes entangled in nasty allegations. Setting aside the PTSD, Dawson tries to find Wesson, Wingert and Stemal.

Review: 

In Deadline, Brown’s gifts of dialogue, setting, and local color brightly shown. A riveting and fast read, I wanted to know how it would end. While I wish Brown made the nanny more memorable, I felt Brown reestablished herself as one of my “go-to” authors.

   RR - OrangeRainbow Rating: Orange – Restricted from those under age 17 

10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works--A True Story

10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works–A True Story by Dan Harris | Jorie’s Store @ Amazon

10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works
by Dan Harris
Publisher: It Books
Publication date: March 11, 2014
Genre: Biography, Autobiography, Psychology
ISBN: 9780062265425
Source: Harris County Public Library

Goodreads 

Description: 

Broadcast journalist Dan Harris’ most embarrassing moment – a panic attack – took place as he attempted to read the news on “Good Morning America” in 2004. After reporting from Afghanistan, Harris became accustomed to adrenaline. When returning to the US, he took serious, illegal drugs to maintain the high. Always on edge, the need for a fix led to the panic attack. After seeking medical help, Harris quits drugs and life gets better.

Soon, Harris’ assignment to reporting on faith leads him to the “self-help subculture.” In turn, Harris discovers something which helps him calm down – meditation.

Review: 

I enjoyed Harris’ writing style – self-deprecatingly humorous. I liked reading about many of the journalists on ABC and so many celebrities. He even mentioned Rivers Cuomo of Weezer! I didn’t agree with everything Harris said and I wasn’t too keen about the narrow margins of the pages.

RR - Orange  Rainbow Rating: Orange – Restricted from those under age 17 

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Jude Deveraux’s Lavender Morning (Edilean Series #1)


Jorie’s Store – Lavender Morning (Edilean) By Jude Deveraux

 
Title and Author(s):  Jude Deveraux’s Lavender Morning (Edilean Series #1)
Release Date: March 31, 2009

Publisher: Atria Books

ISBN: 9780743437202
Pages: 384
Source: Harris County Public Library

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Reasons for Reading: I wanted to read another Jude Deveraux as I was wanting a dash of magical realism. When I found the Edilean series, I made sure I began with the first book.

Summary: When Jocelyn Minton’s beloved friend and mentor, Edilean “Miss Edi” Harcourt, dies, Jocelyn inherits Edilean’s historic birthplace in the small town of Edilean, Virginia. Jocelyn moves away from her careless father and step family to Edilean. The late Miss Edi also left Jocelyn a letter about a mystery dating back to 1941. Lastly, Miss Edi tells Jocelyn that the perfect man for her lives there.

As Jocelyn settles into her new home, she discovers Miss Edi, among many others, aren’t quite what they seem. Jocelyn follows the clues within this mystery bequeathed to her as well as her own future.

One Thing I Learned from reading Jude Deveraux’s Lavender MorningI imagined parents hid vegetables so their kids would eat them. However, I didn’t realize that bakers actually strained spinach into chocolate cupcakes!

What I Liked: I enjoyed the banter between several characters – especially Jocelyn and Luke. Also, I liked the bits about gardening and I liked the title – the first enticement to read this book. I also loved the parts of the story that took place in the 1940s.

What I Disliked: There were a whole bunch of characters. Also, there were characters with similar names. Yet, I felt this was Deveraux’s effort to establish a new series.

RR - Yellow  Rainbow Rating: Yellow – Parental Guidance for Kids Under 13

Song: The Andrews Sisters’ – Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy Of Company B

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Kim Edwards’ The Memory Keeper’s Daughter


The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards | LibraryThing

Edwards, K. (2005). The memory keeper’s daughter. New York: Viking. 9780786571031

Reasons for Reading : One of my friends asked me to read The Memory Keeper’s Daughter. (Check out its entry on my TBR list.) Initially, I checked it out from HCPL. Then, I found I could check it out in eBook format from Houston Public Library.  I did this so I could read it on my Nook during my vacation.

Summary: Due to a blizzard in 1964 Kentucky, Dr. David Henry delivers his own twins. First, David delivers a healthy son, Paul. After delivering his daughter, Phoebe, David sees that she has Down Syndrome. Wanting to spare his wife, Norah, heartache, David asks his loyal nurse, Caroline Gill, to secretly institutionalize his daughter. Caroline, though, leaves Kentucky with the baby girl and raises her as her own daughter.  This split second decision changes the lives of David, Norah, Caroline, and their children.

What I Liked: The language of the narrative is lovely. Also, I felt David’s motives were well-explained by the author. He seemed earnest and loving. Norah’s relationship with her sister, Bree. I truly admired Caroline for her love and heroism. It was a relief to me that Caroline created a family of friends for her daughter, Phoebe. Lastly, I found the photography motif beautiful.

What I Disliked: Towards the end of the book, I wondered if Edwards just didn’t know what to do with it. She added in some characters in the eleventh hour to help resolve conflicts. Throughout the book, I wanted to throttle the good doctor and say “Tell your wife that your daughter lives!”

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song: Kentucky Rain-Lyrics-Elvis Presley – YouTube

Setting : Kentucky, Pittsburgh, Aruba, France

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For more on Kim Edwards’ The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, check out the following sites:

Sarah Dessen’s This Lullaby


This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen | LibraryThing

Dessen, S. (2002). This lullaby: A novel. New York: Viking. 9781101175613

Reasons for Reading: When I discovered Sarah Dessen after seeing How to Deal back in 2005, I read all of her published books. I’ve kept an eye out for her books as they hit the bookstores and request them at the library. I read This Lullaby during this period. During Summer 2012, thanks to the wonderful Friends of Freeman Library’s support, I attended the American Library Association (ALA) Conference and entered my name into many drawings. I became the lucky owner of a Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet (compliments of ALA, Ebsco, and Barnes & Noble. Then, I perused  HCPL’s Digital Media Catalog and saw Dessen’s This Lullaby available for checkout. Thus, I reread it on my brand new Nook.

Summary:  Remy Starr gained much from her parents. From her late father, she was honored in the pop hit “This Lullaby” which she detests. She has also learned from her mother’s mistakes. As Remy plans her mother’s wedding to husband number five, she’s also plotting a clean break from her current boyfriend before she heads to Stanford University in the fall. Remy lives by the creed that relationships should be short-lived. As she pines for a fun last summer before college with her friends Jess, Lissa, and Chloe, sloppy musician Dexter doggedly pursues Remy. He’s sloppy, clumsy, and a musician – definitely not Remy’s Mr. Right. So, why can’t she get rid of this guy?

What I Liked: I liked the rich, dimensional characters Dessen creates. Imagining Dexter’s band, The Truth Squad, was simple. Even some of the over the top character such as Remy’s mother, romance novelist Barbara Starr, seemed natural. Also, it was nice getting to see Scarlett Thomas from Dessen’s Someone Like You.

What I Disliked: Both times I read This Lullaby, I had a hard time warming up to Remy. I thought she was a bit rough on people in general. Also, she was cynical enough to make me flinch. However, I appreciated her realizations by the end of the book.

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song: Shawn Mullins – Lullaby – YouTube

Setting : Lakeview North Carolina, Palo Alto California

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Sandra Brown’s Rainwater


Rainwater by Sandra Brown | LibraryThing

Brown, S. (2009). Rainwater. New York: Simon & Schuster. 9781439172773

Reasons for Reading : I sought a quick read and noticed a copy of Sandra Brown’s Rainwater setting on the shelf. Seeing the book reminded me that someone had recommended this as something different written by Sandra Brown. So, I checked it out from HCPL.

Summary : An older proprietor of Solly’s, an antiques store out in the middle of Nowhere, Texas receives a visit from well-to-do customers on their way back to Oklahoma. The wife asks the proprietor about the cost of his handsome pocket watch. The proprietor shakes his head and says it’s not for sale. The peculiarity of the name Solly leads the proprietor to tell the story of how the store came to be.

Back in 1934, Ella Barron runs a boardinghouse she inherited from her late parents. She rears her son Solly, a young boy like no other.  Ella works hard and does her best to ignore pitying glances. Things aren’t going well for the town as government slaughters cattle and leaves them for dead in order to drive up prices. Then, the town doctor brings his enigmatic cousin, David Rainwater, to the doorstep of Ella’s boardinghouse. Now, a woman who wishes not for charity has to make room for Rainwater as he is the only one who can work with Solly. Rainwater also turns narrow-minded town bullies on their heads. Ella’s existence of order and chores turns as she comes to life.

What I Liked : I liked the change of pace for Brown. While Brown doesn’t neglect her textured character studies and rich dialogue of her thrillers, Rainwater is not what I’d call a thriller. It’s historical fiction; it’s romantic. Some may call it a gentle read, even. I appreciated the tenderness the author extended to Solly, a child with autism but without a climate to accommodate him. I identified especially with the story line of the cattle slaughter as I had heard about it.

What I Disliked : I only wish Brown would write a few more along these lines. Yes, I enjoy thrill rides but I like leisurely strolls, too.

Four Out of Five Pearls

Song : Sam Cooke – Summer time (w/ Lyrics)

Setting  : Texas

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For more on Sandra Brown’s Rainwater, please click on the following links:

Francine Pascal’s Sweet Valley confidential: Ten years later


Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later by Francine Pascal | LibraryThing

Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later by Francine Pascal | LibraryThing

Pascal, F. (2011). Sweet Valley confidential: Ten years later. New York: St. Martin’s Press. 9780312667573

Reasons for Reading : I read the Sweet Valley books when I was in upper-elementary school. While I didn’t consider these books the most edifying literature, I enjoyed the adventures of twin sisters, Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield. My favorites were The Wakefields of Sweet Valley and The Wakefield Legacy: The Untold Story, which told of the twins’ ancestors. Maybe this foreshadowed my interest in genealogy.

Summary: Creator Francine Pascal revisits the world of Sweet Valley. Everyone is a decade older than when they were last seen. Now, the Wakefield twins aren’t on speaking terms. Elizabeth is pursuing her dream of journalism in New York and avoiding Jessica, who betrayed her. What did Jessica do that pushed the normally merciful and loving Elizabeth away from Sweet Valley? Oh, she just fell into bed with Elizabeth high school sweetheart – Todd Wilkins. Can Elizabeth ever get over such a betrayal?

What I Liked : It was good to see these characters from my girlhood. While I didn’t dislike Jessica, Elizabeth was always my favorite.  

Also, I liked seeing storylines resolved.

What I Disliked : Pascal seemed to think that since this was a book for “adults,” that she needed to make the characters drink, curse, and have lots of sex with various partners. I could understand that Elizabeth was mad at Jessica but she seemed just vile in this book. Oh, and did Alice Wakefield really need to drop the “f-bomb” at grandma’s birthday dinner at the country club?

Then, there were some spelling/grammar errors throughout the book.

One Out of Five Pearls (My lowest rating yet!)

Song: Sweet Valley High (Full Theme Song) by Kathy Fisher – YouTube

Setting : Sweet Valley, California & New York City

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For more on Francine Pascal’s Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later, check out the following sites:
 

Judy Blume’s Forever. . .


Blume, J. (1975). Forever: A novel. Scarsdale, N.Y: Bradbury Press 9780027110302

Reasons for Reading : I remember loving all the Judy Blume books I read as a child – Tales of the Fourth Grade Nothing, Superfudge, Just As Long As We’re Together, etc. As I grew, I read Deenie and It’s Not the End of the World. When I read Wifey as a high school senior, the book scandalized me. From what everyone told me about Forever…, I decided not to try it until November 2011. I requested and checked it out from HCPL.

Summary: When Katherine meets Michael at a New Year’s Eve party thrown by best friend Erica’s cousin, she immediately catches his eye. Soon, the two high school seniors are dating and can’t get enough of each other. Michael wants to “go all the way” with Katherine. Ready for true love, Katherine agrees that their love is a “forever thing” . . . but is it really?

What I Liked : I wish Judy Blume had been my Life Science teacher. She doesn’t back away from the pros and cons of teen sex. The book even began with a note from Blume on how Forever… was published before HIV prevalence. The characters were identifiable, especially narrator Katherine.

What I Disliked : I didn’t care for Michael. I thought he pushed Katherine around the proverbial baseball diamond. Simply put, he pressured her into having sex with him.

Four Out of Five Pearls

Song: The Shirelles – Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow

Setting : New Jersey

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