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Run by Ann Patchett

I received Run by Ann Patchett from Everyday I Write the Book Blog as part of a book club discussion. After participating in Book Club Girl‘s radio discussion of the book with Ann Patchett, I was happy to learn that some of my thoughts about Bernard Doyle, the father in the book, were on target. He reminded me of Joe Kennedy, Sr., because of his drive to get his sons interested in politics and becoming president some day. He pushes his sons into watching other politicians speak at seminars and lectures even when it is obvious that these boys are not interested in politics at all. I enjoyed the Web radio discussion with Patchett about her writing process and how difficult it has become for her to write books as her life has grown more complex. She says that she examines her novel ideas in depth to uncover her characters motivations.

***Spoiler Alert***

This story centers on the Doyle family, led by Bernard a former mayor of Boston. Bernadette and Bernard have one son of their own, but when she miscarries a second child, they adopt two African American sons. These sons become Doyle’s focus after he loses his wife and a fateful accident causes Sullivan to break free from the family and go his own way. While Bernard wishes his sons would enjoy politics as much as he does, his adopted sons have their own life designs. Tip is interested in icthyiology and Teddy spends a great deal of time with their faith healing uncle Father Sullivan.

One night, the Doyles–minus Sullivan–are leaving a political speech by Jesse Jackson at Harvard University when a mysterious woman saves Tip from being hit by a car. The rest of the story unfolds quickly within a 24-hour period to reveal years of fear, anguish, and regret.

***End Spoiler Alert***

Although I enjoyed uncovering the many layers to the lives of these characters, I was often distracted by some of the lengthier passages from Father Sullivan or about Father Sullivan’s healing power. These passages made it seem like there was more to this story, which never really came to fruition. Father Sullivan does play a role in the boys’ lives, but the passages dedicated to him could have been shorter. Patchett’s use of language is very languid and it flowed well in many sections of the book. The exchange between Tennessee and her old friend after the car accident foreshadowed quite a bit of the remaining plot points.

One of my biggest concerns about the beginning of the novel was the rough time I had telling the difference between Tip and Teddy; they almost seemed like the same person other than their different interests. If Patchett had chosen another name for Tip, it may have worked better. Teddy’s name was appropriate given his kind nature. Kenya’s name seemed cliche to me, especially given that her favorite thing to do was run.

I have not read other Patchett novels, though I do have Bel Canto in my TBR pile. I would recommend this book for readers of Patchett, but from what I understand from others it is not the best example of her work.

I also wanted to alert everyone to the book club discussion of Run by Ann Patchett on Everyday I Write the Book Blog. I’m going to head over there now and chat along. Won’t you?

Also Reviewed By:
Everyday I Write the Book Blog
A Girl Walks Into A Bookstore
Diary of an Eccentric

B&B Ex Libris
Fizzy Thoughts
Peeking Between the Pages

Explore Hidden Hawaii



Ray Riegert’s Hidden Hawaii published by Ulysses Press incorporates full-bleed photos ranging from the Pacific Ocean to lava flows on the outside and inside of the book. I claimed this travel guide from the Mini Book Expo for Bloggers because my husband and I have been talking about a vacation to Hawaii since before we got married six years ago. Ideally, that would have been our honeymoon of choice, but money was unavailable at the time for that kind of vacation, so we went somewhere closer for our honeymoon–Jamaica. Now that we are older and wiser and are willing to plan ahead, we are looking toward our goal, Hawaii, and hopefully, Kauai.

This travel guide is larger than I would like to take along with me on the streets as a handbook for exploration, but then again I carry a large SLR and other photographic equipment. However, this book does have a lot to offer tourists interested in a trip to the island chain.

The white and green pages provide readers with a crisp, clean page to read, and the contents are broken down by island–Oahu, Big Island, Maui, Lanai, Molokai, and Kauai. One of the best parts of this travel guide is that it not only tells the reader the touristy locations that are “must see,” but also the hidden aspects of the islands. For instance, in Waikiki, one of the most well-known attractions is Diamond Head. One of the hidden treasures of Waikiki highlighted in the book, which peaked my interest, is Queen Kapiolani Hibiscus Garden where tour buses do not have a place to stop, but tourists can spend the day picnicking in splendor.

Hidden Hawaii not only describes the major hotel chains in Hawaii, but also some of the smaller hotels and bed and breakfasts. It contains green and white maps broken down by particular regions and various coastlines, which will help tourists orient themselves. Some of the maps outline streets, and many of them are dotted with attractions.

I would love to see the Star of the Sea Painted Church on the Big Island for myself, which is another of the hidden treasures that can be found in this book. According to the book, a Belgian priest painted murals of religious scenes inside the church, which reminded me of the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling in Italy painted by Michelangelo. This church must be a sight to see.

From outdoor activities like kayaking in the ocean to hiking to tennis, this book has something for everyone, even those just interested in lying on the beaches and getting a suntan. There are favorite tourist night spots and those that are hidden.

My husband and I enjoyed looking through the book and picking out the hidden spots and the more well-known spots we would like to see on our trip someday, but we were a bit disappointed that there weren’t too many photos of the islands, the parks, destinations, museums, activities, and the like. All of the photos in the book are at the beginning. If I had to pick a drawback, that would be it.

This book is for tourists interested in the hidden side of the islands and the tourist attractions. I would recommend it as a starting guide for a trip to Hawaii.

***Please do not forget to enter the Mrs. Lieutenant Contest, Deadline is Sept. 14.***

***Diary of an Eccentric has a contest for The Almost Moon and The Choice; Deadline is Sept. 30.***

Mrs. Lieutenant: A Sharon Gold Novel

Phyllis Zimbler Miller‘s novel, Mrs. Lieutenant: A Sharon Gold Novel, takes a unique look at how young men seeking alternatives to the draft opted for Armor Officer’s Basic (AOB) training, while their wives tagged along to Ft. Knox, Kentucky, where the training was held.

Unlike many of the other novels and non-fiction books I have read about the Vietnam War, including those examining the politics of the war, this novel sheds light on how wives, especially new wives, deal with the commitments of their husbands to the military. The novel provides a varied examination of how these women–one Jew (Sharon Gold), one Puerto Rican (Donna Lautenberg), one African-American (Wendy Johnson), and one Southern White Woman (Kim Benton)–struggle with their own convictions regarding the war, their husbands’ decisions about their role as soldiers, and how their ethnicity impacts their actions and decisions.

From Sharon’s feelings against the war to Donna’s experiences as an “army brat” turned officer’s wife, this novel takes the reader inside these women’s lives and the emotional roller coaster they experience beginning with Day 1 at Ft. Knox. Whether it is dealing with racial discrimination or anti-semitism or just the basic human need to belong, these women struggle against their own biases to find friendship with one another.

The bond these women create at a turbulent time in history is admirable not only because the bond crosses racial lines, but also because it transcends their own fears about their roles as Mrs. Lieutenants and wives.

The novel also sheds light on the thought processes of army officers’ decisions to either extend their obligations with the army as part of involuntary definite or the regular army.

Miller’s writing technique draws the reader into each character’s plight easily, and it is hard not to be pulled into their triumphs, sorrows, and fears. As a former Mrs. Lieutenant herself, it is not surprising that this novel is emotional. The way in which Miller incorporates elements of actual events into her fictional novel is admirable, and it is wonderful to see excerpts from the manual provided to AOB wives, also called Mrs. Lieutenant by Mary Preston Gross.

Phyllis Zimbler and Mitchell Miller at the Coronation Ball at Michigan State University on Saturday, November 18, 1967, sponsored by the Cadet Officers Club and the Arnold Air Society.

About the Author:

Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the author of MRS. LIEUTENANT: A SHARON GOLD NOVEL. She is a former Mrs. Lieutenant and lives with her husband in Los Angeles.

For those interested in supporting today’s American troops, please check out the latest post on the Mrs. Lieutenant blog.

***I’ve got a treat for your tomorrow, Sept. 9, Phyllis Zimbler Miller will provide Savvy Verse & Wit with an inside look at the publishing industry and her decision to select a print-on-demand publisher for her novel. Come back tomorrow to read her insider’s look and enter to win a copy of her novel, Mrs. Lieutenant: A Sharon Gold Novel.


If you have reviewed this novel, please leave me a link in the comments.

Also Reviewed By:
Diary of an Eccentric
The Literate Housewife Review
B&B ex libris
Out of the Blue
Fizzy Thoughts
She Is Too Fond of Books

Double XX, Marks the Spot

Double Cross by James Patterson, the latest in the Alex Cross series, is a gripping continuation. There are two psychopathic killers on the loose and they are in competition with one another. Alex has yet another love interest, Bree Stone, who just happens to be a detective with the Washington D.C. police department, but Cross is no longer with the FBI or the police department. In fact, he’s become the family man, with his own psychiatric practice and patients.

This is the book I’ve been waiting to read from Patterson. The last two Patterson books I’ve read have left me wanting better writing and more intricate plots. This has most of both. The writing is better, the characters are sympathetic and varied, and the plot is definitely much less contrived than the previous two.

***Spoiler Alert***
Alex Cross has his patients and comes home for dinner with the family on a daily basis, which is something that his kids are certainly not used to. It’s good to see him with the family and the newest love of his life, but you know something will happen to draw him back into the game. First there are a series of killings by a serial murderer interested in having an audience for his crimes, and those audiences get bigger and bigger. Then, Kyle Craig, Alex Cross’ archenemy The Mastermind, escapes from the inescapable prison in Colorado. What is Craig after and how did he escape. I almost wished there was more with this storyline, rather than the DCAK murders, but I’m sure that Craig will resurface in the next installment.

DCAK is a ego-maniac in search of his own infamy…he wants to be larger than life, bigger than Kyle Craig, himself. It’s this desire to be better and then thinking he is better that becomes DCAK’s downfall. I love the meeting of DCAK and Craig. That is the best interlude in the book. The showdown in the alley near the end is suspenseful and nerve-wracking. I couldn’t wait to see the outcome.

***End Spoiler Alert***

Patterson does a better job in this book of maintaining my interest in this book. Overall, this series is the most well-crafted of the ones he has created and is probably why it remains so popular. The suspense in the latter half of the book is phenomenal, and I over-thought the book a bit when I was waiting for Bree Stone to turn on Cross and shoot him and reveal herself as part of the coup. It’s a great addition to the Cross series, and this time around the end gives you an even bigger lead in to the next book that is sure to come in the series.

Warning…for Readers

I finished James Patterson’s You’ve Been Warned in record time while on a mini-vacation with the parents in town. So what did I think of the latest creation from Patterson? It was an odd read. I was confused much of the time while reading it. It’s suspenseful, but annoying at the same time because you are confused much of the time you are reading it, particularly when you are wondering what the main point of the story is and who is chasing the main character, Kristin Burns. This is not an Alex Cross or Women’s Murder Club or Michael Bennett novel of cops and robbers, though the mentality of those cops is carried slightly over into the Burns character who hopes to unravel the mystery. The best part for me with the character of Burns is her love of photography, which I can totally relate to. She just clicks away on her camera, much like I do sometimes…the urge is there to just keep shooting, probably why film got to be too expensive for me and I switched over to digital–though there are some things I prefer about film photography.

She seeks the identity of the man who continues to warn her throughout the novel and continues to avoid the cop following her, but does she do it successfully? You’ll have to read the book to find out. I will tell you this about the new book. It was a great twist at the end; one I had an inkling about; but it was still a great end. You’ll also have to read to figure out if this novel is one of the better experiments run by Patterson over the years.

He’s tried romantic novels with Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas and Sam’s Letters to Jennifer–one faring much better than the other. I really loved Suzanne’s Diary, but really hated Sam’s Letters. Then he attempted a historical novel, The Jester, which I really enjoyed as well. I think some of his bread and butter series, like Alex Cross and Women’s Murder Club, have fallen a little flat as of late, but the recent You’ve been Warned novel indicates there is a muse at work behind Patterson’s writing still, he just needs to pay closer attention when writing the series his readers’ love.

Don’t Break Momma’s Back

Step on a Crack by James Patterson was a quick read and the lead character Michael Bennett is a breath of fresh air–a NYPD detective who actually isn’t the job. Alex Cross is the reason I began reading James Patterson books in the first place, and the Women’s Murder Club series kept me interested in his books with their camaraderie. Those characters forsake their families, lovers, and friends for the sake of catching the bad guy and making the big arrest, but Mike Bennett is different. His wife is his center and the kids are hers, but the job still takes precedence most of the time. When it counts and when he is needed at home, he’s there for the kids. Don’t get me wrong, you know the main point of the books is the suspense and the unraveling of the crime at hand, but the emotions of the characters need to develop beyond surface dedication to the family and the job.

Mike Bennett is a well developed character who made me hope along with him that his wife would not die, and strive to solve the successful kidnapping, though he was distracted. He held fast against the anguish in his heart to pump up the spirits of his brood and still remain dedicated to tracking down the hijackers. There were several points near the end of the book where my emotions nearly burst forth through my eyes as the unthinkable happened.

***spoiler ALERT**

He held his dying wife in his arms at the end of her life just after failing to take down the hijackers and discover their true identities. Her life slipped away quietly in the hospital room.

This was the one and only time I have seen Patterson take a leap and kill off a character he incited readers to believe would make it in the spirit of Christmas and rebirth. Unfortunately, those hopes were dashed, but I think the loss may strengthen the drive of Mike Bennett should Patterson choose to create yet another detective series.

***End Spoiler***

While of late I have had a hard time keeping interested in James Patterson books because he puts so many of them out per year, with dare I say not so captivating prose in many cases, Step on a Crack held my attention and made me wonder what will happen next for the main character and his Irish brood.