Book Reviews by Today, I Read…

A Continuous Book Review and Vocabulary Assignment

January 20

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Recent Arrivals: If I Am Missing or Dead by Janine Latus

by Ann-Katrina

Recent Arrivals chronicles the books that have made their way onto the Today, I Read… bookshelf. Here’s the latest arrival: If I Am Missing or Dead by Janine Latus

If I Am Missing or Dead

First line: Two months ago I left my husband, and now, for the first time in years, [...]

Initial thoughts: I remember standing in Target and the title of this book caught my eye. At first, I thought it might be some sort of thriller, but as I read the back cover and the blurb, I realized it was more a memoir.

What snagged me was the first paragraph of the blurb: “In April 2002, Janine Latus’s youngest sister, Amy, wrote a note and taped it to the inside of her desk drawer. Today Ron Ball and I are romantically involved, it read, but I fear I have placed myself at risk in a variety of ways. Based on his criminal past, writing this out just seems the smart thing to do. If I am missing or dead this obviously has not protected me….”

From that moment, I was intrigued. I knew I wanted to read this book.

Book description (from the back cover):

Hey, I finally say, he hit me.

He what?

She is quiet. Then she says, Are you okay?

I don’t think so, I say. I think my nose is broken. And maybe my ribs.

She gasps.

He hit you in the face?


That son of a bitch, she says. What are you going to do?

I don’t know.

You broke up with him, didn’t you?

No, I say. I mean, it wasn’t all his fault.

Janine, she says, there is nothing you could have done to deserve this. Repeat after me, nothing.

She is my baby sister and I am ashamed that she is the wise one, the one who is witness to my failure. I don’t say anything. We are both quiet. Then she speaks.

Are you going to wait until he kills you?

Book Details: 336 pages; Simon & Schuster; Pub. April 15, 2008

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January 19

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Recent Arrivals: Scarlett Fever by Maureen Johnson

by Ann-Katrina

Recent Arrivals chronicles the books that have made their way onto the Today, I Read… bookshelf. Here’s the latest arrival: Scarlett Fever by Maureen Johnson

Scarlett Fever Cover

First line: So let’s set the scene, shall we? Hamlet. In a hotel. But not one of the [...]

Initial thoughts:

When I saw the back cover of this book I laughed. It was adorable, but unfortunately, it cannot be properly rendered in words. Here’s the next best thing: a photo! (Click it for larger, more legible image.)

Scarlett Fever Back Cover

Now I have to admit something…I haven’t read the first book, Suite Scarlett, but I want to. I want to because I’m eager to read Scarlett Fever and don’t want to interrupt the flow by reading the books out of order. I’ve already purchased Suite Scarlett and now am waiting patiently…or not so.

Anyhoo, this book looks like it’s going to be a hoot!

Book description:

Faced with her family’s financial woes, Scarlett has taken on the job of assistant/indentured servant to a newly minted theatrical agent, professional eccentric Mrs. Amy Amberson. Scarlett ends up at the back and call of a Broadway star (her own age!), dealing with territorial doormen, and walking a small dog with insecurity issues–all while starting her sophomore year at one of New York’s most rigorous high schools.

It doesn’t help that Scarlett’s brain is clouded with thoughts of Eric, her former sort-of boyfriend. She has thousands of things to say to him, if only he would call. And then there’s her new lab partner, the impossible Max, who’s on a quest to destroy what little mind she has left.

Meanwhile, her older brother, Spencer, has become New York City’s most controversial TV villain; her ever-reliable older sister, Lola, is sliding off the rails; and her younger sister, Marlene, most worryingly, has suddenly become…nice

But somehow Scarlett will prevail…right?

Book Details: 352 pages; Point; Pub. February 1, 2010

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December 4

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Recent Arrivals: Numbers by Rachel Ward

by Ann-Katrina

Recent Arrivals chronicles the books that have made their way onto the Today, I Read… bookshelf. Here’s the latest arrival: Numbers by Rachel Ward


First line: There are places kids like me go. Sad kids, bad kids, [...]

Initial thoughts:  I can’t remember the name of the blog, but I remember reading a synopsis of the book and thinking to myself, I want to read that book.

Then lo and behold, the book fairy delivered a copy to me (OK, it was really the publisher via the postal lady) and I did a little happy dance.

It’s about a girl who can look into someone’s eyes and see the date of their death. There’s a bit more to it, but that’s the gist.

The premise just sounds intriguing, no? Right up my alley.

Book description:

By the Numbers…

"Listen, Jem." The words came spitting out of her face. "I don’t need this today, so just…shut…up." Syllables stinging like angry wasps, her venom fizzing all around me. And all the time, as we sat eye-to-eye, her number was there, stamped on the inside of my skull: 10102001.

Four years later, I watched a man in a scruffy suit write it down on a piece of paper:

Date of Death: 10/10/2001

Book Details: 336 pages; Chicken House; Pub. February 2010

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December 3

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Recent Arrivals: The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg

by Ann-Katrina

Recent Arrivals chronicles the books that have made their way onto the Today, I Read… bookshelf. Here’s the latest arrival: The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg

The Lonely Hearts Club

First line: When I was five years old, I walked down the aisle with [...]

Initial thoughts: This book looks adorable. When I read the description, I laughed out loud and shook my head in amazement. As someone who has sworn off love and men a time or two, this just seemed like it was bound to be an entertaining read.

Book description:

(Rather than a back cover blurb, I’m presenting you with the opening page.)

I, Penny Lane Bloom, do solemnly swear to never date another boy for as long as I shall live.

All right, maybe I’ll reconsider it in ten years or so when I’m no longer living in Parkview, Illinois, or attending McKinley High School, but for now I’m done with guys. They’re all lying, cheating scum of the earth.

Yes, every last one of them. Pure evil.

Sure, there are some that seem nice, but the second they get what they want, they’ll dump you and move on to their next target.

So I’m done.

No more dating.

The end.

Book Details: 320 pages; Point; Pub. January 2010

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December 2

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Recent Arrivals: The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf

by Ann-Katrina

Recent Arrivals chronicles the books that have made their way onto the Today, I Read… bookshelf. Here’s the latest arrival: The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf

The Weight of Silence

First line: Louis and I see you nearly at the same time. In the woods, [...]

Initial thoughts:

I’ve seen this book a few times when out and about and every time, I pick it up. For some strange reason, however, I never end up buying it. There’s something haunting about the cover and description and ever since reading The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, I’ve been somewhat wary of books which can leave me too emotionally haunted after reading them. (Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy them…I just have to build up my will first.)

After hearing so many good things about this book, and in general, feeling as though I need another deeply emotional and moving read, this topped my list. I’ve steeled myself and am ready to take this ride.

Book description:

It happens quietly one August morning. As dawn’s shimmering light drenches the humid Iowa air, two families awaken to find their little girls have gone missing in the night.

Seven-year-old Calli Clark is sweet, gentle, a dreamer who suffers from selective mutism brought on by tragedy that pulled her deep into silence as a toddler. Calli’s mother, Antonia, tried to be the best mother she could within the confines of marriage to a mostly absent, angry husband. now, though she denies that her husband could be involved in the possible abductions, she fears her decision to stay in her marriage has cost her more than her daughter’s voice.

Petra Gregory is Calli’s best friend, her soul mate and her voice. But neither Petra nor Calli has been heard from since their disappearance was discovered. Desperate to find his child, Martin Gregory is forced to confront a side of himself he did not know existed beneath his intellectual, professorial demeanor.

Now these families are tied by the question of what happened to their children. And the answer is trapped in the silence of unspoken family secrets.

Book Details: 384 pages; Mira; Pub. July 28, 2009

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