Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Touch of Dead by Charlaine Harris

Product Description: Every Sookie Stackhouse short story ever written-in one special volume-from the New York Times bestselling author. New York Times bestselling author Charlaine Harris has re-imagined the supernatural world with her "spunky" (Tampa Tribune) Southern Vampire novels starring telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse. Now, for the first time, here is every Sookie Stackhouse short story ever written-together in one volume. Stories include "Fairy Dust," "One Word Answer," "Dracula Night," "Lucky," and "Giftwrap."

Quote: Bubba the Vampire and I were raking up clippings from my newly trimmed bushes about midnight when the long black car pulled up.

Why this book you might ask: I'm a fan of the series.

My thoughts: As I've said before I'm not into short stories much, but I wanted to read these since I like this series. The 5 stories were:
"Fairy Dust" In which Sookie is asked to help find a murderer.
"Dracula Night" Eric Northman is a frantic fanboy? Well he is hoping that Dracula will visit his party this year.
"One Word Answer" The begining of the story about the death of Sookie's Cousin Hadley.
"Lucky" Can luck be used up? Read and see.
"Gift Wrap" Sookie is alone at Christmas but it turns out to be one of the best.

The only problem I found was that the stories were short (HAHA) and there weren't enough of them.

Links:
Charlaine Harris Interview

Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Ace (October 6, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0441017835

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Texas Bound II

About the stories: Here is a new selection of stories from the sellout "Texas Bound" segment of the "Arts and Letters Live" literary series at the Dallas Museum of Art. Among the eight stories—which range from poignant to uproarious —are Matt Clark's surprise-packed fantasy, "The West Texas Sprouting of Loman Happenstance," read by Brent Spiner (aka Lt. Cmdr. Data of Star Trek); Miles Wilson's classic tale of a has-been poet on the downward track, "On Tour with Max," read by John Benjamin Hickey; Mary Flatten's bittersweet other-woman story, "Old Enough," read by Julie White (Nadine in television's Grace Under Fire); and Janet Peery's haunting domestic tragedy, "What the Thunder Said," read by Academy Award-winning actress Kathy Bates.

Quote from the West Texas Sprouting of Loman Happenstance: “The skies over the low mountains around him, egg-carton blue purpling up into squid-inky blackness, were nonplussed to witness the steamy demise of a once-regal highway yacht.”

Why this book you may ask: Hey, it's written by Texas authors and read by Texas actors. It had to be good, didn't it?

My Thoughts: I don't read a lot of short stories and I'm not sure why. Maybe because I want to know more. But here I am with two books of short stories going, this one and the Sookie Stackhouse book of short stories.

I liked this selection of stories, they covered a wide range of genres. My very favorite was The West Texas Sprouting of Loman Happenstance. It was indeed a fantasy, uniquely written and funny. I enjoyed listening to Brent Spiner reading it. Coming in second was another funny, but darker story that took place in east Texas, my stomping ground. It is Something Went with Daddy. The voice of the reader just made this story. I've heard people with the same deep east Texas accent he uses here. The saddest was Kris/Crack/Kyle by Hermine Pinson in which a man/son/brother comes back from the war and unable to cope falls into a life of drugs and homelessness. The family tries to help him but to no avail.

Links:
Texas Monthly Magazine

Audio Cassette
Publisher: Southern Methodist University Press (February 1, 1996)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0870743945
ISBN-13: 978-0870743948

short stories, Texas, Texana, Dallas Museum of Art

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New year! May you be blessed with warm family moments and lots of fun this Christmas season!

Unleashed by John Levitt

From the back: Mason is an enforcer, keeping magical practitioners on the straight and narrow, and he knows how dead he'd be without his "dog" Louie. Louie's more than a canine - he's an Ifrit, a faithful familiar who's proved time and time again theat he's a man's best friend, if said man values staying alive.
But this time Louie's in the line of fire. Practitioners in San Francisco have been dabbling in magic far beyond their control. Now they've accidentally unleashed a monster into the world. It's mauling humans and killing any Ifrit it can find. Mason and Louie must track and collar it. But doing so will lead them to an evil darker and more subtle than any they have ever faced.

Quote: 1. Somewhere in the undergrowth and tangled brush, the creature waited for us. Victor was over to my left, carrying the sawed-off shotgun. Not much of a weapon if you need to aim, but for close-up work it’s unbeatable. Lou ranged ahead, light on his paws, using only his dog senses for once. His magical talents were useless in tracking this thing, but he still had those sharp ears and even sharper sense of smell.

Why this book you might ask: Third in the Dog Days urban fantasy series, I had to buy it and read it.

My Thoughts: There was a lot going on in this book to keep you guessing proving that this series is not slowing down a bit. In fact I think that mystery here is the strongest of the three Dog Days books. It is certainly certainly the most tangled. Lou is the perfect sidekick for Mason as they face the strange "unleashed" monster from another....... place. Mason and Louie will do anything for each other, including placing themselves in harm's way to save each other. I'm liking the characters more and more as we go along. Mason is a truly good guy if a little unmotivated, Lou is a great new and unique character, Eli and Victor are strong characters that are filling out. I like Campbell, she is smart, resourceful, and cool in stressful times I hope.....

I can't wait for the next installment!

Links:
Buy the eBook

Excerpt From Unleashed

Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Ace (November 24, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0441017983
ISBN-13: 978-0441017980

Urban Fantasy, Ifrit, Mason and Louie, magic, mystery, Dog Days

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon


Publisher Comments: The international literary bestseller — more than one million copies sold worldwide.
Barcelona, 1945 — just after the war, a great world city lies in shadow, nursing its wounds, and a boy named Daniel awakes on his eleventh birthday to find that he can no longer remember his mother's face. To console his only child, Daniel's widowed father, an antiquarian book dealer, initiates him into the secret of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a library tended by Barcelona's guild of rare-book dealers as a repository for books forgotten by the world, waiting for someone who will care about them again. Daniel's father coaxes him to choose a volume from the spiraling labyrinth of shelves, one that, it is said, will have a special meaning for him. And Daniel so loves the novel he selects, The Shadow of the Wind by one Julian Carax, that he sets out to find the rest of Carax's work. To his shock, he discovers that someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book this author has written. In fact, he may have the last one in existence. Before Daniel knows it his seemingly innocent quest has opened a door into one of Barcelona's darkest secrets, an epic story of murder, magic, madness and doomed love. And before long he realizes that if he doesn't find out the truth about Julian Carax, he and those closest to him will suffer horribly.

Quotes:
1.“Books are mirrors: you only see in them what you already have inside you.”
2. "The white marble was scored with black tears of dampness that looked like blood dripping out of the clefts left by the engraver's chisel. They lay side by side, like chained maledictions."


My thoughts: I listened to this book and is seemed to take a long time. This was a mystery story but it was much more. It was a coming of age story that included several love stories, sacrifice, revenge, madness.... It was a complicated story with many twists and turns and lots of characters. The story Daniel was trying to piece together was told to him piece by piece by several people, each time leaving me puzzled and wanting to know the whole story. I read in one review that this story "unfolds in layers, as if the novel were a Russian nesting doll." Which pretty well sums it up. My favorite character was Fermín Romero de Torres. He had a lot of personality and his story was very touching, even as it wove in and out of the edges of the story Daniel was seeking. I also liked Nuria a lot. Through her the story is finally pieced together. The character I felt the worst for was Miquel Moliner. In the end I was left with a very positive feeling about it.

It was translated from Spanish by Lucia Graves, who in my opinion did a great job. I could picture the places, laugh at the humor and feel the atmosphere created by the author. I also enjoyed listing to the narration of Johnathan Davis.

SOTW is the winner of Awards—Edebe Children's Literary Award, Best Novel, 1993

Links:
The author's website.
SOTW Walk in Barcelona.

Paperback: 487 pages
Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics); Later Printing edition (January 25, 2005)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0143034901
ISBN-13: 978-0143034902

mystery, love, coming of age, murder, revenge, books about books, Spain

New Tricks by John Levitt

From the back: Mason used to work as an enforcer, ensuring that magic practitioners walked the straight and narrow. But he gave all that up for a quiet life scraping out a living playing his guitar, keeping a low profile with Louie, his magical...well, let's call him a dog. Luckily, Louie has a sixth sense for danger, and Mason knows exactly how dead he'd be without him.

It's Halloween in the Castro district of San Francisco, which means that for once mason doesn't have to worry about the fact that vampires and ghost are stalking the streets. What he does have to worry about is how his old flame Sarah became the victim of an attempted possession-leaving her an empty shell. Mason's only clue is the green rune stone found in her hand...

Quote: Dhougras? They're like Ifrits, but not quite as pleasant. I know they help practitioners, at least the practitioners who know how to compel obedience. i don't know where they come from.

Why this book you might ask: It is the next book in the series and I liked the first book.

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed Dog Days and am pleased to say that I enjoyed this installment just as much. I like the characters. Mason is a brave & caring guy who combines understated charm, magic, music, good will, and at times ineptness to make him very likable. Lou, Mason's....ummm...dog.... makes the books for me, though. I did figure out early on who the bad guy was and kept wondering why Mason didn't see it. I'm enjoying this new to me urban fantasy series. I understand that something escaped from this book to lead into the next. Up next: Unleashed!

Links:
Interview with the author.
Read chapter 1.
John Levitt's website
John Levitt's online journal.

Paperback: 312 pages
Publisher: Ace (November 25, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0441016561
ISBN-13: 978-0441016563

Urban Fantasy, ifrits, San Francisco, mystery, murder, magic, Dog Days

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Ten Big Ones by Janet Evanovich



About the book: Take an exit off the Jersey Turnpike to the irresistible world of Stephanie Plum, America's favorite bounty hunter, where she gets into more trouble than ever. This time, she faces a notorious gang in Trenton who wants her dead. Morelli warns that she's in too deep, and Stephanie more than agrees. But the gang won't let her bow out. With Ranger missing in action, Stephanie has to go into hiding--and stumbles on to the secret location of Ranger's "bat cave." Is it the perfect place to disappear? Or will she get into more trouble than she knows by delving into his private world? The tenth Stephanie Plum novel is filled with Evanovich's trademark high stakes, high adventure, high wit, and sly comedy.

Quote: "I'm Stephanie Plum. My mother says that I'm famous and have to set a good example. She's right, but I'm from Jersey and truth is, I have a hard time getting a grip on the good example thing."

Why this book you might ask: Because it is funny and I found the book on CD cheap.

My Thoughts: This is a reread for me. I have enjoyed all the Stephanie Plumb books at least one time each. I never read these expecting to find great works of literature, I read them for fun and a few laughs. I was not disappointed. This series is full of fun & nonsense. With all the serious stuff going on in our world, I could use a break.

I do wish there was a little more to Ranger, he has such potential. I enjoyed Sally Sweet and his attempts to quit cursing. Not much happened here to grow the relationship between Morelli and Stephanie. The scene where Stephanie, Lula and Connie tried to be tough and smack a gang member around just cracked me up. All in all it was a fun, fast read.

Links:
Janet Evanovich
Interview with Janet (YouTube)
Ten Big Ones at Wikipedia.

Audio CD
Publisher: Macmillan Audio; Unabridged edition (June 22, 2004)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1402581882
ISBN-13: 978-1559277846
ASIN: 155927784X

Stephanie Plum, bounty hunter, mystery, gangs, funny mystery

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

From the back: In the early days of the Civil War, rumors of gold in the frozen Klondike brought hordes of newcomers to the Pacific Northwest. Anxious to compete, Russian prospectors commissioned inventor Leviticus Blue to create a great machine that could mine through Alaska’s ice. Thus was Dr. Blue’s Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine born.
But on its first test run the Boneshaker went terribly awry, destroying several blocks of downtown Seattle and unearthing a subterranean vein of blight gas that turned anyone who breathed it into the living dead.
Now it is sixteen years later, and a wall has been built to enclose the devastated and toxic city. Just beyond it lives Blue’s widow, Briar Wilkes. Life is hard with a ruined reputation and a teen aged boy to support, but she and Ezekiel are managing. Until Ezekiel undertakes a secret crusade to rewrite history. His quest will take him under the wall and into a city teeming with ravenous undead, air pirates, criminal overlords, and heavily armed refugees. And only Briar can bring him out alive.

Quote: She leaned forward on her one el¬bow, laying her mechanical forearm down on the bar. "Now tell me, you don't really think—do you—that there's anything you could've done to keep him out of here?"
"I don't know. Probably not."
Someone behind Briar gave her back a friendly pat. It startled her, but there was nothing salacious about the gesture so she didn't flinch away from it. Besides, this was more friendly human contact than she'd had in years, and the pleasantness of it smoothed the keen, guilty edge of her sorrow.

Why this book, you might ask: I was first attracted to this book by it's cover. Then I read the quote on the front by Scott Westerfeld: "A steampunk-zombie-airship adventure of rollicking pace and sweeping proportions, full or wonderfully gnarly details." After I read the back I had to get it.

My Thoughts: Yes I had to get it and it was all the cover promised. Even though it was almost non-stop action, with zombies, an evil overlord, a larger than life heroic figure, killer fog, airship pirates, it was mostly about the refugees of a ruined Seattle, and a mother and her son, their fight to find one another and their fight to freedom and safety. Wow. I was caught up from the beginning and it kept pulling me along. What a great, fun read. I liked the characters and cared what happened. Briar is terrific, a strong and independent woman. Read it!

I learned a term new to me reading about this book: Steampunk. Very interesting. I blogged
about it here.

Links:
The author's website.
Boneshaker at SF Signal
eBook

Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Tor Books (September 29, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0765318415
ISBN-13: 978-0765318411

Science fiction, steampunk, zombies, alternate history, fantasy, Civil War,

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Wailing Wind by Tony Hillerman



From the back: Nothing had seemed complicated about the old "Golden Calf" case. A con game had gone sour. Wealthy old Wiley Denton had shot the swindler, called the police, confessed, and done his short prison time. No mystery there. Except why did the rich man's bride vanish? Cynics said she was part of the swindle plot, but the explanation never quite satisfied retired Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn, though the case was long over. Now, papers found by Sergeant Jim Chee and Officer Bernie Manuelito in a new homicide case connect the victim to Denton and o the mythical Golden Calf Mine. The first victim had been there just hours before Denton killed him. And while Denton was killing him, four children trespassing in the long-abandoned Wingate Ordance Depot reported police that they had heard what sounded like music and the cries of a woman.

The questions raised by this second Golden Calf murder draw Joe Leaphorn out of retirement and aren't answered until Leaphorn discovers what the young trespassers heard in the wailing wind.

Quote: She sat on a sandstone slab in a mixed growth of aspen and spruce, eating her sack lunch, thinking of Sergeant Jim Chee, and facing north to take advantage of the view. Pastora Peak and the Carrizo Mountains blocked off the Colorado Rockies, and the Lukachukai forest around her closed off Utah's peaks. But an infinity of New Mexico's empty corner spread below her, and to the left lay the northern half of Arizona. This immensity, dappled with cloud shadows and punctuated with assorted mountain peaks, was enough to lift the human spirit. At least it did for Bernie.

Why this book you might ask: 1. I am a fan of the series. 2. I hadn't read this book yet. 3. I found this unabridged CD of the book at a used book store for less than half price!

My Thoughts: I have liked all the novels in this series and liked this one just as well. The mystery was good, Jim Chee seems to be making some progress in his relationship with Bernie, the sense of place and people was good. For instance one of my favorite scenes was when Jim "helps" an FBI agent interview a Navajo singer. It is funny to read as Chee crafts his own interview of the medicine man into and around FBI's inept translator's interview. I like the way Hillerman writes about the land, as in the wrote above.

This was a fun read. You might need to read the earlier books to understand the relationships among the characters, but you won't be sorry.

Links:
Read part of the book.
A review I liked.
The Chee/Leaphorn novels
Unofficial Hillerman page
Hillerman's obituary at Huffington Post

Audio CD
Publisher: HarperAudio; Unabridged edition (May 7, 2002)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0060092580
ISBN-13: 978-0060092580

mystery, Navajo, Jim Chee, Joe Leaphorn, murder, Native American

Friday, December 11, 2009

Dog Days by John Levitt

From the back: You'd think that having magical talent would be a good thing, but it's not all it's cracked up to be. Sure, it can be useful.It's fun to pull off the occasional illusion. I've been told I'm not living up to my potential, but all I want is to keep my head down and play guitar. Unfortunately, someone in San Francisco has decided that's not an option.

Mason used to work as an enforcer, ensuring that those magic practitioners without a moral compass walked the straight and narrow. But he gave all that up for a quiet life, scraping out a living playing his guitar, keeping a low profile with Louie, his magical....well, let's call him a dog. Luckily, Louie has a sixth sense for danger, and Mason knows exactly how dead he'd be without him.

But there are some kinds of evil that even Louie can't sniff out. Leaving a club one night, Mason is attacked by an assailant who is most definitely of the supernatural persuasion. He realizes that someone wants him dead. To defend himself, he'll have to fall back on the one skill he's mastered in music and magic - improvisation...

Quotes: If a dog can shrug, that's what he did. I knew he understood; I just hoped he could contain himself. As was all to clear from his interactions with pancakes and squirrels, self-control is not his strongest attribute.
Why this book, you might ask: It was the glowing dog on the cover that reeled me in.

My thoughts: I really liked this book! I am a fan of urban fantasy generally and I enjoyed this one more than most. Urban fantasy with dogs (sort of) what could be better? The Ifrits, of which Louie (the sort of dog) is one, are magical companions (similar to familiars) to people with talent. They choose who they will befriend and it isn't always the most talented.

I like the magical world Levitt has created for his books. San Francisco seems real. The origins of the Ifrits is unknown, and why they choose who they choose, or why they leave when they leave is a mystery. I liked all the characters. They were very different from each other but worked well together. The story was suspenseful with some twists. One big surprise was where the jewels the bad guy has come from. The bad guy was really bad. Evil. Twisted. You would love to hate him. Good riddance.

Fans of Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden series will enjoy this, I think.

Links:
Author's site.
John Levitt at Live Journal.
Preview chapter one here.
A review at the SF site.

Paperback: 297 pages
Publisher: Ace (October 30, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0441015530
ISBN-13: 978-0441015535
urban fantasy, mystery, ifrit, dog, familiar, magic

Monday, December 7, 2009

Dakota by Martha Grines

Book Description: In this stunning sequel to Grimes's beloved Biting the Moon, young Andi Oliver is an amnesiac and drifter who awoke in a Santa Fe bed and breakfast with a man's belongings tossed about the room. Adopting a name from the initials on her backpack, Andi moves from one waitress job to the next, from Idaho to North Dakota. It is in Dakota that she is hired at Klavan's, a massive pig farming facility that specializes in the dark art of modern livestock management. As Andi begins to uncover the truth about Klavan's and a slaughterhouse called Big Sun, two men are on her trail, one a gunman hired to kill her, another who has followed her across three states demanding something from her forgotten past. Dakota signals the return of one of Martha Grimes's most indelible heroines, a smart and troubled young woman who, though she doesn't know her own identity, knows right from wrong. Set against the breathtakingly expansive backdrop of the American plains, Dakota will reward Grimes's legion of fans as well as attracting new readers.

Quote from the book: "Before you hate something you should try to understand it."

Why this book, you might ask: I was in one of the used book stores I frequent looking for a book on CD. I found this one, it looked nearly new and sounded good so I got it.

My Thoughts: I enjoyed listening to this book on CD. The voice of Renee Raudman is easy on the ear. Having said that the main point of this novel very depressing. It exposes how the meat-handling businesses are run. Graphically in places. (I've read about this and it is awful, something should be done about the way the animals are treated. The truth is hardly touched upon in this book.) I had empathy for Andi until she stated that the meat industry is more abhorrent than the holocaust. As the author is a long time Vegan (as is my father) and animal rights advocate I had to wonder if this is how she feels. I will be looking into this just for my own information. I had trouble with Andi after that.

I wondered and kept on wondering "who is Andi?" Very few clues to this question were given.
This story ended as it had begun with Audi walking down the road. This wasn't listed as a YA novel but it felt like one at times.

Mixed feelings again. I want to know who Andi is, but I don't agree with her on some things. I have already ordered the first book in this series, so I will read it.

Links:
Martha Grimes website.

Audio CD
Publisher: Penguin Audio; Unabridged edition (February 12, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0143143018
ISBN-13: 978-0143143017

animal welfare, mystery

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Product Description: For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf--her wolf--is a chilling presence she can't seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human . . . until the cold makes him shift back again.
Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It's her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human--or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.



Quote from the book: "You don't think of me as a delicate flower in comparison to you?" When I laughed again, he pressed, "Okay, what words would you use then?"I leaned back in the seat, thinking, as Sam looked at me doubtfully. He was right to look doubtful. My head didn't work with words very well—at least not in this abstract, descriptive sort of way. "Sensitive," I tried.
Sam translated: "Squishy."
"Creative."
"Dangerously emo."
"Thoughtful."
"Feng shui." (p. 207)

Why this book, you might ask: I picked this book up to read because I've seen so many reviews of it on different book blogs.

My thoughts: This is one of the few YA books that I have read so I wasn't sure if I would like it or not. It was at heart a love story, girl loves paranormal boy. Sam and Grace, the main characters were sweet and likable. I enjoyed new look at werewolves: it's cold weather that causes them to change into wolves instead of the full moon bringing it on. They are wolf for the winter and human when it turns warm.

This isn't fast paced page turner, rather it is a romantic, angst-y story with some suspense.
I found myself skimming through the middle of the book. The second half kind of took off and was very entertaining. The characters did work well together and were developed. I can see why it would draw the YA crowd. Over all I liked it, it is one that I will remember just because it is so different from what I usually read.

Links:
Maggie Stiefvater's site.

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 392 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press; 1 edition (August 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0545123267
ISBN-13: 978-0545123266
YA, teen, warewolf, paranormal romance

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Last Gunfighter: Sudden Fury by William W. Johnstone



About the book: It kills like an animal. The loggers call it “The Terror of the Redwoods.” A local timber baron has put a bounty on the hide of this man-beast, and the woods are teeming with so many trigger-happy dolts and half-cocked drunkards that someone’s bound to get hurt – and bad. Frank Morgan doesn’t believe in such creatures and decides to get to the bottom of this tall tale. But when he meets the timber baron's beautiful daughter, all bets are off. Something is out there. Someone's set a trap. And Morgan just stuck his Bigfoot right into it...

Quote from the book:"That's too bad," Frank said, not meaning it at all. "But you probably just would've gotten your selves killed by other fellas who were out there hunting for the Terror."

Why this book, you might ask: I was looking for a western to read AND this one had Bigfoot (possibly) so I had to get it.

My thoughts: While looking on the authors website I found that there were 20 books in the Last Gunfighter series and this book was #20. It did well as a stand alone novel, which is good since I haven't read any of the others. It took place in and around the giant redwoods in northern California, which is a place I've always wanted to visit.This story was action packed, from beginning to end, unending backstabbing and gun play. Of course, it wasn't really Bigfoot, but the creature who did the Bigfoot killings might suprise and sadden you.If I had known how many bullets were going to fly past his ear I would have kept track so an accurate count could have been reported here. I enjoyed reading this, it was different for me from my usual fare. If you enjoy westerns at all, I think you'll like this one.

Links:
Johnstone's official website.
About the author.

Paperback: 350 pages
Publisher: Pinnacle (October 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0786020032
ISBN-13: 978-0786020034

western, book review, bigfoot, Frank Morgan, redwoods

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Name Change



You may have noticed, or not, that I have changed the name of this book blog. I love that fun little poem and it accurately describes the situation at my house!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Murder Packs a Suitcase by Cynthia Baxter


ABOUT THIS BOOK: Mallory Marlowe is ready to turn a corner—one lined with palm trees, plastic pink flamingo lawn ornaments, and snack bars shaped like giant ice cream cones. Thanks to her new job as travel writer for the New York magazine The Good Life, recently widowed Mallory is zipping around Orlando, assigned to rediscover the glory days of “old Florida.” It’s the first of what she hopes will be many exciting adventures . . . but she’s about to discover that the Sunshine State has a dark side.

Settled in among the faux volcanoes and tiki torches of the Polynesian Princess Hotel, Mallory is on the lookout for quirky attractions like alligator farms and pirate-themed diners hidden amid the glitzy theme parks. But she’s not prepared to find a cranky journalist speared to death in the Bali Ballroom—or to find herself a suspect in his murder. With her trip coming to a close, Mallory has no choice but to figure out if one of her fellow travel writers is a killer. Because if she doesn’t get out of Florida soon, her career—and her life—are about to come to a dead end.Includes Mallory’s article for The Good Life, with tips and reviews of real Florida attractions!

Quote from the book: "She also spotted a stuffed mommy gator with two babies Velcroed on, which struck her as a terrific way of keeping one's offspring close by. She wished someone had thought of that when Jordan was little."

Why this book, you might ask: The cover caught my eye, the title was fun, if a little corny and the book description sounded good!

My Thoughts: This was a fun to read cozy mystery. I liked the cover, bright and attractive. I might even call it "Cover Kitsch" to go along with this cute story. I liked Mallory, her visits to kitsch-y "old Florida" attractions and the humor the author wove in. I liked the way the author wrote about the nonfictional destinations. I figured out pretty soon who the murder victim would be because he was such an awful person. What I didn't figure out was who the murderer was. As the story rolled, Mallory found that everyone on the trip, including herself, had reason to want Phil dead. All in all I liked it a lot. I'll look up this author's next book in this series.

Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Bantam (October 28, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0553590359
ISBN-13: 978-0553590357
murder, mystery, cozy, travel, Florida

Friday, November 27, 2009

Call After Midnight by Tess Gerritsen


Product Description: A ringing phone in the middle of the night shakes newlywed Sarah Fontaine awake. Expecting her husband's call from Longdon she hears instead an unfamiliar voice. Nick O'Hara from the U.S. State Department is calling with devastating news: Geoffrey Fontaine, Sarah's husband of two months, died in a hotel fire . . . in Berlin.
Convinced her husband is still alive, Sarah forces a confrontation with Nick that finds them crisscrossing Europe on a desperate search for Geoffrey. Trying to stay one heartbeat ahead of a dangerous killer, the become quarry in the clandestine world of international espionage, risking everything for answers that may prove fatal.

Quote from the book: Then three weeks ago one of our London agents was sitting at his favorite pub and he just happened to over hear a voice he recognized.He worked with Dance some years ago so he knew that voice.

Why this book, you might ask: A while back, Jo (teachersays) recommended Tess Gerritsen to me so I've been reading more of her books. I found this book, or recording, cheap on iTunes so I had to get it.

My thoughts: Gerritsen's fans might be expecting a medical drama, however this was a romantic suspense. It involves the CIA, secret identities, and all manner of cloak and dagger doings. The main theme of the book is whether Geoffrey is actually alive or not. The reader knows from the prologue that he switched identities in Berlin and didn't actually die. Sarah feels that Geoffrey is still alive even though others keep telling her that he is not. Her search for Geoffery takes her first to London then on to other places. She doesn't realize the danger she is in. Nick O'Hara, the one who called her to tell her Geoffrey was dead, comes with her as to help. I liked Sarah and Nick, just wish there was more detail about them. Geoffery barely had a part in the book other than to be the catalyst of the action. I read somewhere that it was originally published as a Harlequin Intrigue. I enjoyed this, it was a quick, suspenseful read. So far I have liked the books I've read by Gerritsen and plan to read more.

Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Thorndike Press (June 2002)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0786239700
ISBN-13: 978-0786239702

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Your Heart Belongs to Me by Dean Koontz


Book Description: At thirty-four, Internet entrepreneur Ryan Perry seemed to have the world in his pocket—until the first troubling symptoms appeared out of nowhere. Within days, he’s diagnosed with incurable cardiomyopathy and finds himself on the waiting list for a heart transplant; it’s his only hope, and it’s dwindling fast. Ryan is about to lose it all…his health, his girlfriend Samantha, and his life.
One year later, Ryan has never felt better. Business is good and he hopes to renew his relationship with Samantha. Then the unmarked gifts begin to appear—a box of Valentine candy hearts, a heart pendant. Most disturbing of all, a graphic heart surgery video and the chilling message: Your heart belongs to me.
In a heartbeat, the medical miracle that gave Ryan a second chance at life is about to become a curse worse than death. For Ryan is being stalked by a mysterious woman who feels entitled to everything he has. She’s the spitting image of the twenty-six-year-old donor of the heart beating steadily in Ryan’s own chest.
And she’s come to take it back.

Quote from the book: "The roots of all violence are found in the hatred of the truth.”

My Thoughts: The main character of this book was different from other characters of Koontz' that I can remember in that he was rich. Rich enough to have any thing he wanted. Which is what gets him into trouble here. This was a psychological which I thoroughly enjoyed. The pacing of this story is slower than I'm used to in a book by Koontz but it is still suspenseful. Ryan's search for truth, leading down rabbit trails of confusion kept me turning pages. This may be one of the most poignant of the authors books. The twist at the end makes you stop and think: does this kind of thing really happen?

Audio CD
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1423356896
ISBN-13: 978-1423356899

Why Beulah Shot Her Pistol Inside the Baptist Church by Clayton Sullivan


From the Book Jacket:Raised in the Primitive Baptist Church, teenage Beulah Buchanan marries the much older deacon Ralph Rainey to escape from her oppressive parents, thus jumping from the frying pan into the fire.
Over the next six years, Beulah works in her domineering husband’s cafe and cooks him dinner at home every night, dutifully attends church, and lets herself be led into an affair with the preacher. When she embarrasses her husband by not cooking enough food for the ravenous visiting revival preacher, Ralph “chastises” Beulah with his belt. When he tries to beat her again, she fights back and locks him in the cooler at his cafe.
Why Beulah Shot Her Pistol Inside the Baptist Church is a new take on the Southern Gothic tragedy, told in Beulah’s innocently hilarious voice. Beulah evokes the Southern women of Clyde Edgerton’s Raney and Mark Childress’s Crazy in Alabama, but is a totally original and winning character, a young woman breaking free.

Quote from the book: By five o'clock I was back in the kitchen cookin' full speed ahead. I was cookin' like I was Betty Crocker. I knew the preachers would turn up at the house at six o'clock.

My thoughts: The title of this book made me laugh so I checked the blurb and bought it. I've chosen to read more than one book just because of the title. I was prepared to like this book and was looking forward to reading it, I wanted to know just WHY did Beulah even have a pistol at the Baptist church. I really do like reading southern literature.

Beulah tells her story in first person to the reader. At times she is funny, sometimes darkly so. She tells the story of her life in rural Mississippi, marriage to an older man, domestic violence, and hypocrisy in her church. She was a sympathetic character, a 16 year old in a loveless marriage being used and abused. She should have listened to her mother. Her life with Ralph was nothing but misery as her mother had predicted. For six years Beulah works for and serves her cold hypocrite of a husband. Then the preacher starts calling, after Ralph is gone to work. He cons her as surly as Ralph did with the sweet words she craves. It breaks her heart to finally learn this.

Since she was raised in the church, and the author is a retired minister, I did not expect her language to be so very crude. Yikes. It was way out of character for an overprotected church girl. The constant repetition, (Beulah kept saying the same thing 3 or 4 different ways) was annoying. It was strange that she could repeat the F word and the P word without hesitation them apologize for saying hell. Go figure.
I don't know whether to recommend this or not. I liked the story but the language really put me off.

Hardcover: 238 pages
Publisher: NewSouth (October 30, 2004)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1588381676
ISBN-13: 978-1588381675

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Asylum Prophecies by Daniel Keyes


About the book: Raven began the day in an asylum, a disturbed young woman with multiple personalities recovering from another suicide attempt. But now she holds a secret that could save thousands of innocent lives. Buried deep in her splintered subconscious are details of an impending terrorist attack against the United States—details that her kidnappers cannot let her reveal. As Raven summons all her strength to fight her captors, an American agent races across the globe to rescue her and find the key that will unlock her trapped memories before it’s too late.
Quotes from the book: 1. On Monday morning, outside the courtroom, Dugan watched Raven huddle with Dr. Kyle in the corridor. No telling how she would react if the judge ordered her rendered back to Greece for aggressive interrogation. He felt sorry for her. Not her fault she'd been kidnapped. Not her fault she'd been brainwashed. In the courtroom, her face changed expressions frequently. Focused. Distant. Angry. Confused. Still, mentally ill or not, her mind held the keys to cataclysmic prophecies.
2. As Fatima stood, the crescent necklace slipped out from between bold breasts.
My Thoughts: The prophecies of the title were not, in fact, prophecies. They were instructions, written in Nostradamus type quatrains, for a terrorist attack on America. Raven, with her MPD and other types of mental illnesses, had read and remembered these quatrains. Everyone, bad guys and good guys were after her to torture (good guys - torture = aggressive interrogation) the info out of her. Yikes. You don't find out till the very end why she is so mentally unstable.
This was a fairly exciting book, though it did drag some and I did skim some. It is scary that these organizations actually exist.

Mass Market Paperback: 371 pages
Publisher: Leisure Books (September 29, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0843962712
ISBN-13: 978-0843962710

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery


Publisher Comments: The enthralling international bestseller.
We are in the center of Paris, in an elegant apartment building inhabited by bourgeois families. Renée, the concierge, is witness to the lavish but vacuous lives of her numerous employers. Outwardly she conforms to every stereotype of the concierge: fat, cantankerous, addicted to television. Yet, unbeknownst to her employers, Renée is a cultured autodidact who adores art, philosophy, music, and Japanese culture. With humor and intelligence she scrutinizes the lives of the building's tenants, who for their part are barely aware of her existence.
Then there's Paloma, a 12-year-old genius. She is the daughter of a tedious parliamentarian, a talented and startlingly lucid child who has decided to end her life on the 16th of June, her thirteenth birthday. Until then she will continue behaving as everyone expects her to behave: a mediocre pre-teen high on adolescent subculture, a good but not an outstanding student, an obedient if obstinate daughter.
Paloma and Renée hide both their true talents and their finest qualities from a world they suspect cannot or will not appreciate them. They discover their kindred souls when a wealthy Japanese man named Ozu arrives in the building. Only he is able to gain Paloma's trust and to see through Renée's timeworn disguise to the secret that haunts her. This is a moving, funny, triumphant novel that exalts the quiet victories of the inconspicuous among us.

Quote from the book: Madame Michel has the elegance of the hedgehog: on the outside, she’s covered in quills, a real fortress, but my gut feeling is that on the inside, she has the same simple refinement as the hedgehog: a deceptively indolent little creature, fiercely solitary – and terribly elegant.

My Thoughts: At first I didn't like this book too much. The two narrators, loners, seemed to wallow in their aloneness, thinking about their intellgence and how others fall woefully short. However, as I kept reading and learning more about each one I began to like them. Then enters Kakuro Ozu, who seems to bring life back to both Renee and Paloma. Renee blooms with life and hope. Then....

This novel took me through the gambit of emotions. I laughed at some of Renee Michel's observations, sprinkled ramdomaly in her philosophical thoughts. I also laughed at some of Palomas observations in her "Profound Thoughts". I disliked, then liked, then loved the characters. This book broke my heart at the end. As trite as it may sound I laughed and I cried.

Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Europa Editions (September 2, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1933372605
ISBN-13: 978-1933372600
philosophy, literature, literary fiction

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Cross Country by James Patterson

About the book: A MURDERER OF ASTOUNDING CRUELTY Detective Alex Cross is called to the worst murder scene he has encountered in all his years on the force. Someone with less than zero regard for human life has slaughtered a family–and then more killings, each one more ruthless than the last, quickly follow. One of those death comes terrifyingly close to home, and Alex realizes that he is chasing a horrible new breed of killer.

A CITY IN CHAOS As Alex and his girlfriend, Detective Brianna Stone, dig deeper into the case, they become entangled in the deadly African underworld of Washington DC. What they discover there is so shocking that they can barely comprehend it: a strongly organized gang of teenage thugs headed by a diabolical warlord known only as the Tiger. When the elusive killer's trail turns up in Africa, Alex knows that he must follow. Alone.

ALEX CROSS TRACKS A KILLER CROSS COUNTRY When Alex arrives in Nigeria, he discovers a world where justice is as foreign as he is. Unprotected and alone in a strange country, bombarded on all sides by the murderous threats of the Tiger, can Alex manage to both survive and catch the killer? From the #1 bestselling author James Patterson comes Cross Country-the most heart-stopping, speed-charged, electrifying Alex Cross thriller ever.

Quote from the book: He walked off the court, and a man came up to him. This particular man couldn’t have been more out of place, since he wore a gray suit and he was white. “Ghedi Ahmed,” said the white devil. “You know who he is?” The Tiger nodded. “I know who he used to be.”“Make an example of him.” “And his family.” “Of course,” said the white devil. “His family too.”

My Thoughts: I am a long time Alex Cross fan. I hate to say it but I was fairly disappointed in this book. It was not an escapist read at all for me. I'm thinking that Patterson wrote this as a vehicle to showcase the reality of brutal crimes (genocide, rapes, torture, starvation, amputations, etc.) that have become a part of daily life in many areas in Africa. The violence was nonstop & I found the plot unbelievable. I missed Nana Momma.

Audio CD
Publisher: Hachette Audio; Unabridged edition (October 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1600248241
ISBN-13: 978-1600248245

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Wild Rain by Christine Feehan


Product Description: To escape an assassin, Rachel finds sanctuary in the rainforest, where the most exotic of all creatures walks: Rio. But when he unleashes his secret animal instincts, Rachel fears that her isolated haven could become an inescapable hell...

Quote from the book: "I think of it as songs of the forest. I've always loved the way the insects and birds sound against the leaves in the wind. It's all music if you love it, Rachel."

My Thoughts: This is the first of Feehan's books I've read. I know her Carpathian series is popular but didn't know what to expect of this. I was hooked in the first chapter with Rachel and her flight into the jungle. Once she met Rio I was a little disappointed with the dialogue, it seemed unnatural & stilted at first. I kept reading and found myself enjoying it more. Rio and Rachael were both fun, strong characters. I liked them. I also liked the little clouded leopards, they added to the story for me. Feehan wrote about the jungle in such a way that I was immersed in the sights, sounds and feels of the rain forest. I wanted to see the leopards as she wrote about them. It was a fast, fun escape read.
Love the cover!

Read about this new series HERE.

Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Jove; Complete Numbers Starting with 1, 1st Ed edition (January 27, 2004)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0515136824
ISBN-13: 978-0515136821

paranormal romance, shapeshifter, leopard people, rain forest,

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Three Weeks To Say Goodbye by C. J. Box


About the book: After years of trying to have a baby, Jack and Melissa McGuane’s dream has come true with the adoption of their daughter Angelina. But nine months after bringing her home, they receive a devastating phone call from the adoption agency-Angelina’s birth father, a teenager, never signed away his parental rights and he wants her back. Worse, his father, a powerful Denver judge, wants him to own up to this responsibility and will use every advantage his position of power affords him to make sure it happens. When Jack and Melissa attempt to handle the situation rationally by meeting face to face with the father and son, it is immediately apparent that there's something sinister about both of them and that love for Angelina is not the motivation for their actions.
As Angelina’s safety hangs in the balance, Jack and Melissa will stop at nothing to protect their child. A horrifying game of intimidation and double-crosses begins that quickly becomes a death spiral where absolutely no one is safe...
How far would you go to save someone you love? C.J. Box has once again written a bone chilling thriller that will keep you guessing until the very last page…


Quote from the book:"I really liked the cabbage rolls," Cody said. "Maybe the next time we drive up here to hire a hit man we can come on Thursday."

My thoughts: I've been a fan of Box's Joe Picket for some time now so I had high hopes for this novel. Well, I wasn't disappointed. Even though there were some things I couldn't figure out, like why didn't Jack and Melissa get a lawyer, I felt it was a great read. Like Joe Picket, Jack is an everyman, a middle class good guy who makes mistakes. With the help of some friends and some violence of their own, this group sets out to protect the family and the little girl, Angelina. It was a fast paced page turner!

Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Minotaur Books; 1 edition (January 6, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0312365721
ASIN: B002M3SP0K
adpotion, mystery
CymLowell

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Fire Me by Libby Malin

About the book: How to lose your job and find true love…
Fed up with impossible deadlines and meaningless busywork, Anne Wyatt goes to work one day determined to resign. But that's the day her boss announces someone's getting laid off (and with a generous severance package). Now Anne has one day to ruin her career and convince her boss that someone should be her.
Anne's hysterical tactics are unwittingly undermined by Ken, the handsome graphic designer in the next cubicle, who has his own ideas for liberation from the corporate grind. In the end, Anne and Ken have to decide together what is important in life, and what they can discard without a second glance...

Quotes from the book: "Shelia's wrong," Anne said, taking her cue and going for the direct approach. "I deserve it. I deserve to be let go. Not her. Not Greg. And Certainly not Ken."
"No, Mitch," Sheila said, "fire me."
"No, me."
"Me."
"Me."
"Me!"
"Me!"

My thoughts: I saw some reviews and thought this might be a cute read. What it was was cute and laugh out loud funny in some parts. The story takes place in one day. If you would like a fun escapist read, follow Anne as she spends the day sabotaging her job and noticing Ken.

Visit the authors website HERE.

Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca (May 5, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1402217579
ISBN-13: 978-1402217579

romantic comedy, office, pink slip, severance package, women's fiction, chick lit

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Hold Tight by Harlan Coben


From the Book Jacket: How well do you really know your child?
Tia and Mike Baye never imagined they’d spy on their kids. But their sixteen-year-old son Adam has been unusually distant lately, and after the suicide of his best friend Spencer Hill, they can’t help but worry. Within days of installing a sophisticated spy program on Adam’s computer they are jolted by a cryptic message from an unknown correspondent that shakes them to their core: “Just stay quiet and all safe.”
As if Mike Baye isn’t dealing with enough, he also learns that Lucas Loriman, the sweet kid who grew up next door, is in urgent need of a kidney transplant. As the boy’s doctor, Mike suddenly finds himself in possession of an explosive secret that threatens to rip the Loriman family apart at the seams.
Nearby, while browsing through an online memorial for Spencer, Betsy Hill discovers a surprising detail about the night of her son’s death. Before she can find out more, Adam disappears, taking the truth with him and sending shockwaves through the neighborhood.
As the lives of these families collide in tragic, unexpected, and violent ways, long-hidden connections in their small suburb begin to work their way to the surface. And when an unidentified Jane Doe is beaten to death not far away, those connections threaten to turn this quiet community upside down—and force these desperate parents to decide whether there is any line they won’t cross to protect those they love most in the world.

Quote from the book: He looked at her. She gave him the crooked smile, the one he’d first seen on a cold autumn day at Dartmouth. That smile had corkscrewed into his heart and stayed there.
“I love you,” she said.
“I love you too.”
And with that they agreed to spy on their oldest child.

My Thoughts: This was a pretty good mystery, but I wouldn't call it a page turner. There were two separate main stories that that only connected in a small way in that a family member was involved in both. He had the making of two novels here but put them both in one book. If he had taken the serial killer line and fleshed it out, it alone would have made a great read. I found that the most of tension came from the choices the characters had to make. The characters face issues parents today face: the question of whether it's appropriate for parents to spy on their children or not. This was discussed thoroughly several times in the book. That made it a little uncomfortable read for me and detracted from the entertainment value of the story as did long, needless descriptions. I did like the book, and will read more by the author. I guess my feelings are mixed on this one.

Paperback: 496 pages
Publisher: Signet; Reprint edition (March 3, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 045122650X
ISBN-13: 978-0451226501

mystery, murder, drugs, teenage clubs, serial killer, blackmail

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Whistling in the Dark by Lesley Kagen

Synopsis: It was the summer on Vliet Street when we all started locking our doors...

Sally O'Malley made a promise to her daddy before he died. She swore she'd look after her sister, Troo. Keep her safe. But like her Granny always said-actions speak louder than words. Now, during the summer of 1959, the girls' mother is hospitalized, their stepfather has abandoned them for a six pack, and their big sister, Nell, is too busy making out with her boyfriend to notice that Sally and Troo are on the Loose. And so is a murderer and molester.

Highly imaginative Sally is pretty sure of two things. Who the killer is. And that she's next on his list. Now she has no choice but to protect herself and Troo as best she can, relying on her own courage and the kindness of her neighbors.

Quotes from the book: Because Troo and me were pretty hungry, Troo came up with another one of her famous plans. She said, "We should just start showing up at people's houses around suppertime."

"The morning Mother told us she was sick, Troo and me were just laying in the lime summer grass, smelling the bleach comin' off the wash that jitterbugged on the line and getting ready to play that name game with her."
"I...gave him my best smile, the one where my dimples got so big you could hide a piece of Double Bubble in `em."

My thoughts:I loved this book! I grew up in the 50's and so many of the book's references like Sky King, My Friend Flicka & Rin Tin Tin brought back fond memories. We also played after dark in the summer in our neighborhood.
This book held such contrasts. It was part murder mystery and part a story of childhood innocence. It was charming, funny, sweet, sad, and satisfying. I loved the O'Malley sisters, especially Sally, from who's point of view the story is told. In spite of the tragedies that the girls and people in the neighborhood live through, it is an enjoyable read. I will be reading more books by this author.
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: NAL Trade (May 1, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0451221230
ISBN-13: 978-0451221230

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Keepsake by Tess Gerritsen


Synopsis: For untold years, the perfectly preserved mummy had lain forgotten in the dusty basement of Boston’s Crispin Museum. Now its sudden rediscovery by museum staff is both a major coup and an attention-grabbing mystery. Dubbed “Madam X,” the mummy–to all appearances, an ancient Egyptian artifact–seems a ghoulish godsend for the financially struggling institution. But medical examiner Maura Isles soon discovers a macabre message hidden within the corpse–horrifying proof that this “centuries-old” relic is instead a modern-day murder victim.

To Maura and Boston homicide detective Jane Rizzoli, the forensic evidence is unmistakable, its implications terrifying. And when the grisly remains of yet another woman are found in the hidden recesses of the museum, it becomes chillingly clear that a maniac is at large–and is now taunting them. Archaeologist Josephine Pulcillo’s blood runs cold when the killer’s cryptic missives are discovered, and her darkest dread becomes real when the carefully preserved corpse of yet a third victim is left in her car like a gruesome offering–or perhaps a ghastly promise of what’s to come.

The twisted killer’s familiarity with post-mortem rituals suggests to Maura and Jane that he may have scientific expertise in common with Josephine. Only Josephine knows thather stalker shares a knowledge even more personally terrifying: details of a dark secret she had thought forever buried.Now Maura must summon her own dusty knowledge of ancient death traditions to unravel his twisted endgame. And when Josephine vanishes, Maura and Jane have precious little time to derail the Archaeology Killer before he adds another chilling piece to his monstrous collection.

Quotes from the book: "She became aware of other sounds now. The chirping of insects. The skittering of some unseen creature moving across the floor. And through it all, that relentless dripping of water."

"Today, though, it wasn't Frank but retired detective Vince Korsak who'd assumed the role of barbecue chef, in carnivore nirvana as he flipped steaks, splashing grease on the extra-large apron draped over his generous belly." (This quote has very little to do with the story, but I thought it was funny)

My Thoughts: This is the second Gerritsen book I've head and I thought it was great. Thanks to Jo for recommending this author to me. I felt like the mummy angle was a unique twist to this serial killer story. I liked the archeology and science angles that were incorporated and I appreciated that they weren't overly technical. These angles were interesting adding to the story, not detracting from it. All in all I found this to be a good, fast paced, entertaining read.

Click HERE to see a cool trailer of this book.


Mass Market Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (August 25, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0345497635
ISBN-13: 978-0345497635
CymLowell

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Brewster's Millions by George Barr McCutcheon



About the book: Would you be able to spend a million dollars in cash and leave yourself penniless, if it meant you would then be given many more millions? That's poor Monty Brewster's dilemma in this charming tale which has been made into a movie six times.

Quote from the book: "Monty was on deck when the inspiration seized him, and he lost no time in telling his guests, who were at breakfast. Although he had misgivings about their opinion of the scheme, he was not prepared for the ominous silence that followed his announcement."

My thoughts: My book, which was printed in 1902, has been on my bookshelf for several years. Now I'm sorry that it has taken me this long to get to it! I found this to be a light, entertaining read. It may be dated, but after all it was written over 100 years ago.

Monty Brewster inherited a million dollars from his grandfather. Then he learns that an uncle has left him $7 million but only if he spends, with conditions, all the money left by his grandfather. Watching him try to divest himself of his 1 million dollars, to the great disapproval of his friends, is interesting indeed. I liked the ending. Monty learns who his true friends are and finds his true love, and gets the money. What could be better?

With the reading of this book I have officially finished all my reading challenges for this year, with two months to spare! All my challenges for the year are listed HERE.


Hardcover: 307 pages
Publisher: Grosset and Dunlap; 1ST Edition edition (1902)
Language: English
ASIN: B000IZY2M4

CymLowell

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story by Diane Ackerman

About the book: A true story — as powerful as Schindler's List— in which the keepers of the Warsaw Zoo saved hundreds of people from Nazi hands.
When Germany invaded Poland, Stuka bombers devastated Warsaw — and the city's zoo along with it. With most of their animals dead, zookeepers Jan and Antonina Zabinski began smuggling Jews into empty cages. Another dozen guests hid inside the Zabinskis' villa, emerging after dark for dinner, socializing, and, during rare moments of calm, piano concerts. Jan, active in the Polish resistance, kept ammunition buried in the elephant enclosure and stashed explosives in the animal hospital. Meanwhile, Antonina kept her unusual household afloat, caring for both its human and its animal inhabitants — otters, a badger, hyena pups, lynxes.
With her exuberant prose and exquisite sensitivity to the natural world, Diane Ackerman engages us viscerally in the lives of the zoo animals, their keepers, and their hidden visitors. She shows us how Antonina refused to give in to the penetrating fear of discovery, keeping alive an atmosphere of play and innocence even as Europe crumbled around her.

Quotes from book: "Under the Third Reich, animals became noble, mythic, almost angelic--including humans, of course, but not Slavs, Gypsies, Catholics, or Jews."

"In all around 300 people passed through the way station of the Warsaw zoo on route to the rest of their nomadic lives. Jan always felt, and said publicly, that the real heroin on this saga was his wife, Antonina."

My Thoughts: I listened to this on my iPod and found it to be very interesting and heartbreaking. The story of the Zabinskis is remarkable deserves to be told. The zookeeper, Jan, became active in the underground and his wife, Antonina, devised intricate strategies to shelter Jews as they were able to taken from the Warsaw ghetto across the river. I liked learning about this family and other heroes of that horrible time.

Click HERE to see an interivew with the author about this book.

Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: W.W. Norton & Co. (September 17, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 039333306X
ISBN-13: 978-0393333060

Battle on the Bay; The Civil War Struggle for Galveston by Edward T. Cotham, Jr.


About the book: The Civil War history of Galveston is one of the last untold stories from America's bloodiest war, despite the fact that Galveston was a focal point of hostilities throughout the conflict. As other Southern ports fell to the Union, Galveston emerged as one of the Confederacy's only lifelines to the outside world. When the war ended in 1865, Galveston was the only major port still in Confederate hands.
In this beautifully written narrative history, Ed Cotham draws upon years of archival and on-site research, as well as rare historical photographs, drawings, and maps, to chronicle the Civil War years in Galveston. His story encompasses all the military engagements that took place in the city and on Galveston Bay, including the dramatic Battle of Galveston, in which Confederate forces retook the city on New Year's Day, 1863.
Cotham sets the events in Galveston within the overall conduct of the war, revealing how the city's loss was a great strategic impediment to the North. Through his pages pass major figures of the era, as well as ordinary soldiers, sailors, and citizens of Galveston, whose courage in the face of privation and danger adds an inspiring dimension to the story.
Quote from the book: "Despite its unique features, there are many reasons why the Battle of Galveston in 1863 has not received the attention lavished on more familiar conflicts in other theaters of the war. Texas was far from the center of military action, not to mention the major media centers (North and South) of nineteenth-century America. More importantly, the strange, almost comical, manner in which this battle was conducted did not lend itself easily to crafting dramatic tales of heroism or martial skill for either side."
My thoughts: I chose this book for my 5x4 Reading Challenge, the History section. (History is a genre that really challenges me.) This tidbit of Texas history looked interesting (& the book was short) so I got it. I do like to learn about Texas history, but mostly by visiting places in my home state. I think this book would mostly appeal to Galvestonians, Texas history buffs and those interested in the Civil war.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Killing Floor by Lee Child



About the book: Welcome to Margrave, Georgia—but don't get too attached to the townsfolk, who are either in on a giant conspiracy, or hurtling toward violent deaths, or both. There's not much of a welcome for Jack Reacher, a casualty of the Army's peace dividend who's drifted into town idly looking for traces of a long dead black jazzman. Not only do the local cops arrest him for murder, but the chief of police turns eyewitness to place him on the scene, even though Reacher was getting on a bus in Tampa at the time. Two surprises follow: The murdered man wasn't the only victim, and he was Reacher's brother whom he hadn't seen in seven years. So Reacher, who so far hasn't had anything personal against the crooks who set him up for a weekend in the state pen at Warburton, clicks into overdrive. Banking on the help of the only two people in Margrave he can trust—a Harvard-educated chief of detectives who hasn't been on the job long enough to be on the take, and a smart, scrappy officer who's taken him to her bed— he sets out methodically in his brother's footsteps, trying to figure out why his cellmate in Warburton, a panicky banker whose cell-phone number turned up in Joe's shoe, confessed to a murder he obviously didn't commit; trying to figure out why all the out-of-towners on Joe's list of recent contacts were as dead as he was; and trying to stop the local carnage or at least direct it in more positive ways. Though the testosterone flows as freely as printer's ink, Reacher is an unobtrusively sharp detective in his quieter moments—not that there are many of them to judge by.

My Thoughts: I've read two or three of the Reacher novels but this is the first one written. I enjoyed it, it was a simple straight forward murder mystery/thriller/adventure. It was perfect to listen to because there weren't an over abundance of characters or plot lines. Jack himself is a mystery and I've wondered about him in each novel I've read. Mainly I wonder how he can travel about without even a change of clothes to his name. I'd think he would have at least a backpack. But I worry about unimportant things. I like Jack, even if he doesn't carry a change of clothes with him, he is a strong character and always a good guy. If you like murder mysteries, you'll like this.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Kazan the Wolf Dog by James Oliver Curwood


About the book: This novel follows the life of Kazan, a wolf-dog hybrid, who constantly struggles between the call of the wild and the comforts of the civilized world. Trained as a sledge dog in the Canadian wilderness, Kazan has learned to keep man at arm's length. He knows they provide him with food and shelter, but they also bring with them serious abuse and mistreatment. Despite his deep-seeded suspicions, Kazan develops a love and affection for the caress and tenderness he finds in a woman named Joan, the wife of one of his masters. Yet, his love for Joan is not enough to quell his desire to experience life beyond the safety of his domestic life. Seizing an unexpected opportunity, Kazan bounds off to freedom and the unknown. Once in the wild, Kazan quickly adapts to a life that finds him always on the brink of starvation, battling arctic temperatures, and learning to exist in a delicate balance of nature. Kazan develops a lust for the hunt, learns to survive the harsh Canadian winters, and even finds a life mate in ever-faithful Gray Wolf. The two of them experience all the happiness and cruelty a life-in-the-wild brings with it. Yet, despite Kazan's yearning to remain in the wilderness and the loyalty he feels toward Gray Wolf, who through an unexpected blindness becomes increasingly dependent upon Kazan for her survival, he still finds himself torn between two separate worlds. It is this longing that repeatedly draws Kazan back to civilization. Kazan is always listening, searching for Joan and the peace he felt in her presence. Through many thrilling adventures and gut-wrenching tragedies, Kazan is led in a direction that will ultimately determine his fate and help him decide where he truly belongs. This novel is ideal for older teens and Young Adults who have an interest in animals or wildlife. James Oliver Curwood is a genius at bringing the reader into the mind of Kazan and Gray Wolf, as well as the humans they interact with throughout their adventures. Well written and compelling, this novel is worth a read. 2005, Newmarket Press, Ages 15 up. Emily Cook
My thoughts: I remember reading this book as a child, 12 or 13, and being facinated. At the time we lived in Alaska, so that added to my facination. I read this as part of a personal reading challenge, Books On My Shelf That Are Older Than Me. The orignal story was published in 1914 but my copy was printed in 1942. What a great sense of time and place this story gave me. It is an excellent adventure set in the rugged North. I'm happy to have rekindled my love of this book.
Read about James Oliver Curwood HERE.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Cannery Row by John Steinbeck


About the book: Unburdened by the material necessities of the more fortunate, the denizens of Cannery Row discover rewards unknown in more traditional society. Henry the painter sorts through junk lots for pieces of wood to incorporate into the boat he is building, while the girls from Dora Flood's bordello venture out now and then to enjoy a bit of sunshine. Lee Chong stocks his grocery with almost anything a man could want, and Doc, a young marine biologist who ministers to sick puppies and unhappy souls, unexpectedly finds true love. Cannery Row is just a few blocks long, but the story it harbors is suffused with warmth, understanding, and a great fund of human values. First published in 1945, Cannery Row focuses on the acceptance of life as it is--both the exuberance of community and the loneliness of the individual. John Steinbeck draws on his memories of the real inhabitants of Monterey, California, and interweaves their stories in this world where only the fittest survive--creating what is at once one of his most humorous and poignant works. In Cannery Row, John Steinbeck returns to the setting of Tortilla Flat to create another evocative portrait of life as it is lived by those who unabashedly put the highest value on the intangibles--human warmth, camaraderie, and love.

My Thoughts: I was sorry when this book ended! I have to have more, so will get Sweet Thursday ASAP. Above in the description it says that Doc finds true love. That doesn't happen in Cannery Row. I think it happens in Sweet thursday. I read this on my Kindle.