Book Recommendations & Impulse Buying

by Sarah on July 14, 2009 · 12 comments

Most of the books I read these days are chosen on the basis of online recommendations.

Here are some which I bought or borrowed on the basis of recent reviews:

jellicoe-road-small water-for-elephants-small rock-star-small ride-the-fire-small

Jellicoe Road (2006) by Melina Marchetta was reviewed by Janine at Dear Author. I went through a phase of reading Young Adult fiction last year but I’ve only read one so far in 2009.

Blurb: Abandoned by her mother on Jellicoe Road when she was eleven, Taylor Markham, now seventeen, is finally being confronted with her past. But as the reluctant leader of her boarding school dorm, there isn’t a lot of time for introspection. And while Hannah, the closest adult Taylor has to family, has disappeared, Jonah Griggs is back in town, moody stares and all.

In this absorbing story by Melina Marchetta, nothing is as it seems and every clue leads to more questions as Taylor tries to work out the connection between her mother dumping her, Hannah finding her then and her sudden departure now, a mysterious stranger who once whispered something in her ear, a boy in her dreams, five kids who lived on Jellicoe Road eighteen years ago, and the maddening and magnetic Jonah Griggs, who knows her better than she thinks he does. If Taylor can put together the pieces of her past, she might just be able to change her future.


Water for Elephants (2006) by Sara Gruen. This book has been recommended to me by several people but I was convinced I’d already read it. When I saw Heidenkind’s review, I realized I must have mixed it up with Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate. Oops!

Blurb: Nonagenarian Jacob Jankowski reflects back on his wild and wondrous days with a circus. It’s the Depression Era and Jacob, finding himself parentless and penniless, joins the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. There he meets the freaks, grifters, and misfits that populate this world. He introduces us to Marlena, beautiful star of the equestrian act; to August, her charismatic but twisted husband (and the circus’s animal trainer); and to Rosie, the seemingly untrainable elephant Jacob cares for. Beautifully written, with a luminous sense of time and place, Water for Elephants tells of love in a world in which love’s a luxury few can afford.


Rock Star (2006) by Roslyn Hardy Holcomb was reviewed by Senetra at Avid Book Reader.

Blurb: How does a hedonistic, hellbound L.A. sophisticate like bad boy rock star Bryan Spencer woo young, gifted and black sweet home Alabama belle Callie Lawson? What type of magical voodoo draws him to her magnolia-scented bosom? Seduced by the unhurried pace and a lifestyle that is the antithesis of his own, he finds that he cannot break away from the seductive spell of a woman who soothes the deepest recesses of his tortured soul. Bryan, guitar godextraordinaire, is compelled to retreat to the small town when he is devastated by the loss of his best friend and band mate. The peaceful tranquility, not to mention unaccustomed celibacy, is slowly driving him mad until he meets Callie Lawson, budding tycoon, aficionado of black entrepreneurship and owner of the local bookstore. He quickly discovers that Callie is one of the few people he’s met who doesn’t have her own agenda for befriending him. Far from the cloying adulation he is accustomed to, Callie is totally focused on her own career goals and is reluctant to have anything to do with a ‘long-haired rocker from California.’ Bryan overcomes her misgivings with an old-fashioned courtship that belies his L.A. rocker origins. He introduces this Sunday School girl to some truly high-powered sex and decadence. The question is which one wins: Southern Sunday School or L.A. sin? Just when they’re certain everlasting love is firmly in their grasp; they are rent asunder by treachery and betrayal of the most staggering kind. They must defy egregious stereotypes and false perceptions to embrace their own sweet Alabama love.


Ride the Fire (2005) by Pamela Clare. KristieJ recently reviewed this for a Re-Read Challenge. It’s one of her all-time favourite books. I’ve read several of Pamela Clare’s books, but not this one.

Blurb: There was only one rule on the frontier—survival. So when wounded, buckskin-clad stranger appeared at the door of her isolated cabin, Elspeth Stewart felt no qualms about disarming him and then tying him to her bed. Newly widowed and expecting her first child, she had to protect herself at all costs. And Nicholas Kenleigh threatened not only her safety, but her peace of mind. The terrible scars on his body spoke of a tortured past, but his gentle touch and burning gaze awoke longings she had never expected to feel. Bethie had every reason in the world to distrust men; the cruelty she suffered at their hands had marked her soul, though her blonde beauty showed no sign of it. But little by little she found herself believing in Nicholas, in his honor, his strength. As he brought her baby into the world, then took both mother and daughter into his care, she realized this scarred survivor could heal her wounded spirit, and together they would… Ride the Fire.

How susceptible are you to impulse buying when you read a review of a book which sounds interesting? I know I have to keep myself in check, otherwise my monthly credit card bill would not be pretty!

{ 12 comments }

katiebabs July 14, 2009 at 13:32

If a book has been given a glowing review, I will buy it. I rely on on-line reviews for the majority of books I end up buying.

Sarah July 14, 2009 at 13:47

@katiebabs So far, 2009 has been an unprecedented good reading year. I think buying books on the basis of online reviews has played a large part in this as I now buy far fewer duds.

Mandi July 14, 2009 at 14:09

If certain people online give a really good review for a book, I will buy it. I do try to get some books from Paperback Swap, it is cheaper that way:)

Leontine July 14, 2009 at 14:16

Hey Sarah,
I’m very impulsive in my buying so I tend to do some research before I hit the buy button, there’s just so much euro’s a gal can spend and much that perks my interest and even more series etc to keep up with. It also relies on the fact whose review I’m reading, if it is from someone I know IRL or online who recommended more books I loved then I will be more inclined to buy the reviewed book, then of a person I hardly know.

Leontine July 14, 2009 at 14:17

BTW PS: I loved, loved, loved Ride The Fire by Pamela Clare!

Edie July 14, 2009 at 14:23

Well apparently I am influenced by blogs as well. As now I am going to have to chase down a copy of Melina Marchetta’s book. Loved Looking for Alibrandi as a kid.

Sarah July 14, 2009 at 15:24

@Mandi I’m still waiting for something similar to Paperback Swap in Switzerland, although how many English books there would be is questionable.

@Leontine I’m saving ‘Ride the Fire’ for when I’m in the mood for a good historical. I’m enjoyed all the books by Pamela Clare which I’ve read so far, so I’m reasonably confident I’ll like this one.

@Edie The original Australian title is ‘On the Jellicoe Road’. I have no idea why they changed it for the US market. Different titles in different countries is a pet peeve of mine!

Edie July 15, 2009 at 03:18

They do that a fair bit, with movies too, it drives me batty!

heidenkind July 15, 2009 at 06:53

LOL Yes, Water for Elephants is nothing like Water for Chocolate (thank the gods), although I can definitely see how you would get the two mixed up. And the cover for Rock Star is awesome, btw! I can’t wait to hear what you think of it.

I’m pretty susceptible to book recs from blogs, although it depends on the book. I’m not going to pick up Middlemarch any time soon no matter what anyone says about it…. :)

Sarah July 15, 2009 at 09:41

@Edie At least the US Melina Marchetta title bears some resemblance to the Australian original. Why, oh why, does Karin Slaughter’s latest have two completely different titles on either side of the Atlantic? ‘Genesis’ (UK) has no obvious relation to ‘Undone’ (US), yet it’s exactly the same book! I’m sure the people in marketing have their reasons for doing this, but it doesn’t seem logical to me.

@heidenkind Oh, spare yourself the boredom of slogging through ‘Middlemarch’! There are so many genuinely entertaining classics but that’s simply not one of them.

Marg July 16, 2009 at 00:29

I add a lot of books to my Want to Read list on the basis of reviews I have seen on blogs. Usually I try to get them from the library to try and keep the cost down.

I really loved Water for Elephants when I read it a few years ago.

Sarah July 16, 2009 at 08:02

@Marg My Want to Read list is frighteningly long. ‘Water for Elephants’ is arriving today, along with my mother. The premise sounds similar to the HBO series ‘Carnivale’, which I enjoyed.

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