Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Tomb by F. Paul Wilson

About the book: Much to the chagrin of his girlfriend, Gia, Repairman Jack doesn't deal with electronic appliances--he fixes situations for people, situations that usually involve putting himself in deadly danger. His latest project is recovering a stolen necklace, which carries with it an ancient curse that may unleash a horde of Bengali demons. Jack is used to danger, but this time Gia's daughter Vicky is threatened. Can Jack overcome the curse of the yellow necklace and bring Vicky safely back home?

First line: Repairman Jack awoke with light in his eyes, white noise in his ears, and an ache in his back.

My thoughts: This book kept me reading, I didn't want to put it down. I like Jack and will be reading more of this series.

The Morning Show Murders by Al Roker

About the book: As famous for his popular cooking segment on Wake Up America! as for his swank Manhattan bistro, Billy Blessing can add prime murder suspect to his impressive list of accomplishments. Because when one of the network’s top honchos ends up dead, it’s a poisoned serving of Blessing’s coq au vin that’s to blame. Billy knows he’s being framed, but proving it won’t be easy—not with his perky cohost involved in a brass-knuckles contract negotiation, a Mossad agent about to tell all on the air, and a ruthless international assassin arriving in the Big Apple. Now Billy isn’t so much concerned about staying alive in the ratings . . . as just staying alive. For the closer Billy comes to uncovering an international conspiracy, the closer he comes to being canceled—permanently.

 First Lines: The big guy lumbered toward me, waving the cleaver. Weeping like a baby.

My thoughts: I chose to read this one because of the name of the celebrity author: Al Roker. I love him on the Today Show so just couldn't pass this one up. I found The Morning Show Murders to be a fun, quick read and liked that there are moments of humor at the expense of those in the TV industry. I liked the main character, Billy Blessing. The other characters were well written as well. The mystery kept me guessing. If you are in the mood for a nice little cozy try this one.  

Union Pacific by Paul Colt

About the book: President Ulysses S. Grant dispatches Justice Department Special Services Officer, U.S. Marshal J.R. Chance to investigate suspected railroad construction fraud. Chance confronts a conspiracy that will stop at nothing in its quest to monopolize Union Pacific construction contracts and the lucrative right of way land grants. Chance, and the Cheyenne woman who saves his life, follow a trail that ultimately leads to the financial center of the plot in New York.

My thoughts: I didn't enjoy this book as much as I thought I would. This was because of the wishy-washy romance. The man was clueless and it became irritating after awhile. Otherwise it was an interesting historical novel. The mystery, finding who is the author of the fraud, is quite engaging. There was plenty of action and gun play.This ended in such a way that you know that another book is in the works. I'll keep this on the back burner and I might get the next one but it isn't a high reading priority.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Shadow Prowler by Alexey Pehov

About the book: After centuries of calm, the Nameless One is stirring. By next spring, or perhaps sooner, the Nameless One and his forces will be at the walls of the great city of Avendoom. Unless Shadow Harold, master thief, can find some way to stop them.

But Harold isn’t alone. An Elfin princess, Miralissa, her entourage, ten Wild Hearts, the most experienced and dangerous fighters in their world, and the king’s court jester all join him in his quest. These companions will form a bond of friendship and honor that must carry them over a series of frightful obstacles before they can reach their goal: Hrad Spein, the mysterious Palaces of the Bones. Only there will they find the key to undoing the ancient curse that hangs over their world and ridding the land of the Nameless One forever.

Reminiscent of Moorcock's Elric series, Shadow Prowler is the first work to be translated into English from Russian by the bestselling, new generation fantasy author Alexey Pehov.

First line: Night is the best time for my kind.

My thoughts: I have enjoyed heroic or epic fantasy since I read Lord of the Rings YEARS ago for the first time. Other than being epic fantasy this doesn't look like LOR. The main character, Harold the master thief, is a sort of anti-hero forced to go on this quest. The creatures, elves, goblins, dwarfs etc.) aren't drawn in a conventional manner. For example: dwarfs don't have beards, elves are not attractive, etc. I enjoyed meeting the characters and following them to the end of this the first installment of the trilogy. The world building was good. It was a bit awkward at times when Harold referred to himself in third person and there were a few other awkward reading moments but I assume that is due to being translated. Over all, I liked it and will read on.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

About the book: The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it -- from garden seeds to Scripture -- is calamitously transformed on African soil. What follows is a suspenseful epic of one family's tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa. The novel is set against one of the most dramatic political chronicles of the twentieth century: the Congo's fight for independence from Belgium, the murder of its first elected prime minister, the CIA coup to install his replacement, and the insidious progress of a world economic order that robs the fledgling African nation of its autonomy.

First linesImagine a ruin so strange it must never have happened. First, picture the forest. I want you to be its conscience, the eyes in the trees.

My thoughts: Wow. The author did a wonderful job bringing me into the story. Her descriptions of times and places, her imagery and detail caught me up and wouldn't let me go. It broke my heart in places.  The characters were well filled out, each with a distinctly different voice. I loved the oldest daughter's knack of messing up a phrase (tapestry of justice, dull and void.) The father was a thoroughly unlikable man. I think he has made it onto my list of most hated fictional characters. The author did a great job of weaving this story into the history of Belgain Congo. Very interesting.  As much as I liked this one the last third of the book seemed to drag for me. I recommend this book.

Rating: A+

Quote: "Why why why, they sang, the mothers who staggered down our road behind small tightly wrapped corpses, mothers crazy-walking on their knees, with mouths open wide like a hole ripped in mosquito netting. That mouth hole! Jagged torn place in their spirits that lets the small flying agonies pass in and out. Mothers with eyes squeezed shut, dark cheek muscles tied in knots, heads thrashing from side to side as they passed."

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Insidious Dr. Fu-Manchu by Sax Rohmer (1913)

About the book: The Insidious Dr. Fu-Manchu is the first title in the famous series of "Yellow Peril" novels published by English writer Sax Rohmer, aka Henry Sarsfield Ward (1883-1959), between 1913 and 1959. The novel, like its many sequels, pits the "evil genius" of the Far East against the British Duo, Denis Nayland Smith and his sidekick Dr. Petrie.

First line: "A gentleman to see you, Doctor."
My thoughts: This is a book of it's time, racist and so not politically correct. Having been right after the Boxer Rebellion and opium wars I suppose it reflects the feelings then. Even so, I found it to be an entertaining mystery with a smart, inventive bad guy. As Nayland Smith and  Dr. Petrie, try to rescue several people around London the threat of attack by the evil  Dr. Fu Manchu, he (Dr. Fu Manchu) uses poisonous insects, drugs and various henchmen (called dacoits & thugees) to kill his victims.  I thought it was fast paced, a page turner that kept me reading. I enjoyed all the new-to-me words, which were easy to look up on my Nook! this is the last book for the Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge this year.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Last Surgeon by Michael Palmer

About the book: Michael Palmer’s latest novel pits a flawed doctor against a ruthless psychopath, who has made murder his art form. Dr. Nick constantly on the lookout for his war buddy Umberto Vasquez, who was plucked from the streets by the military four years ago for a secret mission and has not been seen since.

Psych nurse Gillian Coates wants to find her sister’s killer. She does not believe that Belle Coates, an ICU nurse, took her own life.

Together, Nick and Gillian determine that one-by-one, each of those in the operating room for a fatally botched case is dying. Their discoveries pit them against genius Franz Koller--the highly-paid master of the “non-kill”—the art of murder that does not look like murder. As Doctor and nurse move closer to finding the terrifying secret behind these killings, Koller has been given a new directive: his mission will not be complete until Gillian Coates and Garrity, the last surgeon, are dead.
My thoughts: This is advertised as a medical thriller but it seems more like a political/conspiracy thriller with a little medical thrown in. Even so it kept me reading to see what would happen next. The killer was very creepy, and when I finally understood who hired him to kill regular people...well! The look this book gives into PTSD is interesting. It is a thing I think many of us don't fully understand. Nick, the central charater suffering from PTSD, was a good strong lead. I like that he a non-prophit counselor for the homeless and an advocate for other vets with PTSD working with them them from his specially equiped motor-home.  My favorite supporting character was Junie. Whe was a wonderful person with a good heart. If you like thrillers along this line I think you'll like this one.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Clouds of Witness by Dorothy L. Sayers (1926)

About the book: Rustic old Riddlesdale Lodge was a Wimsey family retreat filled with country pleasures and the thrill of the hunt -- until the game turned up human and quite dead. He lay among the chrysanthemums, wore slippers and a dinner jacket and was Lord Peter's brother-in-law-to-be. His accused murderer was Wimsey's own brother, and if murder setall in the family wasn't enough to boggle the unflappable Lord Wimsey, perhaps a few twists of fate would be -- a mysterious vanishing midnight letter from Egypt...a grieving fiancee with suitcase in hand...and a bullet destined for one very special Wimsey.

First line: Lord Peter Wimsey stretched himself luxoriously between the sheets provided by the  Hotel Meurice.

My thoughts: This is my second Dorothy L. Sayers book and as it turns out the second in her Lord Peter Wimsey series. I read this one spicifically for the Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge. My favorite character in this had to be the Dowager Duchess even though her part is small. Her sharp comments and observations were amuesing. One interesting point is that Lord Peter suffers from "shell shock" or what we call PTSD now since his service in WWI. His character as well as others are rounding out here. The mystery was a good one with plenty of clues to muddy the waters including one false admission of guilt. I did find it a bit tedious in places due to the rehashing of incidents but over all a satisfying read for this challenge. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Velva Jean Learns to Drive by Jennifer Niven

About the book: In this spellbinding debut, Velva Jean Hart finds true love-and then risks everything to follow her dreams.

Set in Appalachia in the years before World War II, Velva Jean Learns to Drive is a poignant story of a spirited young girl growing up in the gold-mining and moonshining South.

Before she dies, Velva Jean's mother urges her to "live out there in the great wide world". Velva Jean dreams of becoming a big-time singer in Nashville until she falls in love with Harley Bright, a handsome juvenile delinquent turned revival preacher. As their tumultuous love story unfolds, Velva Jean must choose between keeping her hard-won home and pursuing her dream of singing in the Grand Ole Opry.

My thoughts: This story, which takes place in the Appalachians in the 30's & 40's, was a great read. It is a simple story of this young girl's life told in an easy to read fashion that touched my heart.  I enjoyed getting to know Velva Jean and look forward to her next book! The characters were interesting and some were colorful. The one character I wish had a bigger part in the book was the mysterious Wood Cutter, who befriended Velva Jean but mostly kept to himself in his cabin at the top of the mountain. I would recommend this book wholeheartedly!
Rating: A

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie (1927)

About the book: M. Poirot, the hero of The Mysterious Affair at Stiles [sic] and other brilliant pieces of detective deduction, comes out of his temporary retirement like a giant refreshed, to undertake the investigation of a peculiarly brutal and mysterious murder. Geniuses like Sherlock Holmes often find a use for faithful mediocrities like Dr. Watson, and by a coincidence it is the local doctor who follows Poirot round, and himself tells the story. Furthermore, as seldom happens in these cases, he is instrumental in giving Poirot one of the most valuable clues to the mystery.

My thoughts: This story is told from the point of view of the village doctor who becomes a sort of Dr. Watson to M. Hercule Pirot. It begins with one death and quickly to another, that of Roger Ackroyd. As you follow the clues with the good Dr. and Pirot suspicions are cast on several of the characters. At the end Pirot calls them all to his house and announces he knows who the murderer is and gives him/her 24 hours to confess. What I didn't expect was the shocker of a twist after this announcement. Wow! 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Cat of many Tails by Ellery Queen

About the book: A strangler is killing Manhattanites, seemingly at random. The only common thread is the unusual silk cords that are used for the killings; blue for men and pink for women. Other than that, the victims come from all social classes and backgrounds, ethnicities, races, neighbourhoods, etc. The city is in a panic. Ellery Queen forms together a small group of people related to some of the victims, and some consultants, and works to determine the killer's reason for selecting these particular victims. When he finally realizes the thread that connects the victims, the murderer is revealed and peace returns to the city.

First line: The strangling of Archibald dudley Abernethy was the first scene in a nine-act tragedy whose locale was the City of New York.

My thoughts: This Ellery Queen novel, first   published in 1949, is the first I've read by this author. I enjoyed reading this vintage mystery. It was a puzzler that kept me guessing till the end then....there was the twist! At 241 pages it was over a little two quickly for me. The characters, victims and main, were well developed and sympathetic. I found the spoken language of the era entertaining and the layout of the story was engaging.

Note: While reading about Ellery Queen in Wikipedia I found that Ellery Queen is both a fictional character and a pseudonym used by two American cousins from Brooklyn, New York: Daniel Nathan, alias Frederic Dannay (October 20, 1905 – September 3, 1982[1]) and Manford (Emanuel) Lepofsky, alias Manfred Bennington Lee (January 11, 1905 – April 3, 1971[2]), to write, edit, and anthologize detective fiction.[3] The fictional Ellery Queen created by Dannay and Lee is a mystery writer and amateur detective who helps his father, a police inspector in New York City, solve baffling murders.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Death's Excellent Vacation ed. by Harris and Kelner

About the book: The editors of Wolfsbane and Mistletoe and Many Bloody Returns deliver a new collection-including a never-before-published Sookie Stackhouse story.
New York Times bestselling authors Charlaine Harris, Katie MacAlister, Jeaniene Frost-plus Lilith Saintcrow, Jeff Abbott, and more-send postcards from the edge of the paranormal world to fans who devoured Wolfsbane and Mistletoe and Many Bloody Returns.

With an all-new Sookie Stackhouse story and twelve other original tales, editors Charlaine Harris and Toni L. P. Kelner bring together a stellar collection of tour guides who offer vacations that are frightening, funny, and touching for the fanged, the furry, the demonic, and the grotesque. Learn why it really can be an endless summer-for immortals.

My Thoughts:

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Monkeewrench by P.J. Tracy

About the book: People are dying for the new computer game by the software company Monkeewrench. Literally. With Serial Killer Detective out in limited release, the real-life murders of a jogger and a young woman have already mimicked the first two scenarios in the game.

But Grace McBride and her eccentric Monkeewrench partners are caught in a vise. If they tell the Minneapolis police of the link between their game and the murders, they'll shine a spotlight on the past they thought they had erased-and the horror they thought they'd left behind. If they don't, eighteen more people will die...

Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Signet (April 6, 2004)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 045121157X
ISBN-13: 978-0451211576

First line: The brandy had been absolutly essential.

My Thoughts: I read a couple of negative reviews of this book but decided to go ahead and read it. Boy am I glad I did. This has to be my new favorite thriller and I intend to get on with this series as soon as possible. It kept me engaged, pulling me along with a couple of subplots and several twists. I enjoyed the nuggets of humor that shined in the twist of a phrase or the observation of an incident. The characters were colorful and likable. The dog, Charlie, went straight to my heart. I'm hoping that Jackson, a boy who had a bit part, will be more fully reaalized in the next book. Get it, you'll like it.

Rating: A

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Gateways by F. Paul Wilson

About the book: In Gateways, Jack learns that his father is in a coma after a car accident in Florida. They've been on the outs, but this is his dad, so he heads south. In the hospital he meets Anya, one of his father's neighbors. She's a weird old duck who seems to know an awful lot about his father, and even a lot about Jack.

Jack's arrival does not go unnoticed. A young woman named Semelee, who has strange talents and lives in an isolated area of the Everglades with a group of misshapen men, feels his presence. She senses that he's "special," like her.

Anya takes Jack back to Dad's senior community, Gateways South, which borders on the Everglades. Florida is going through an unusual drought. There's a ban on watering; everything is brown and wilting, but Anya's lawn is a deep green.

Who is Anya? Who is Semelee, and what is her connection to the recent strange deaths of Gateways residents-killed by birds, spiders, and snakes-during the past year? And what are the "lights" Jack keeps hearing about-? Lights that emanate twice a year from a sinkhole deep in the Everglades . . . lights from another place, another reality.

If he is to protect his father from becoming the next fatality at Gateways, there are questions Jack must answer, secrets he must uncover. Secrets . . . Jack has plenty of his own, and along the way he learns that even his father has secrets.

My thoughts: This is the first book I've read by this author and my only complaint is that I started with book 7 in the Repairman Jack series. Now I'll have to go back and start at the beginning as I really enjoyed this one. I liked getting to know Jack and seeing him and his father reunite. The creatures were, though horrible,  interesting and creative, especially the "chew wasps." This is a sort of Hard Boiled Detective meets the Supernatural.

Catching Fire and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

About the book: Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.

About the book: Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she's made it out of the bloody arena alive, she's still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what's worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss's family, not her friends, not the people of District 12. Powerful and haunting, this thrilling final installment of Suzanne Collins' groundbreaking The Hunger Games trilogy promises to be one of the most talked about books of the year.
My thoughts: I Read these two one after the other so it felt like one book. I wanted to see how this all turned out since I read the first one. The middle was exciting and imaginative. The end seemed sort of .....empty.  I don't understand Katniss as the heroin. She is a weak, unstable character and her appeal was lost on me.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Hunger Games by

About the book: Katniss is a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used be the United States. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, "The Hunger Games." The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When Kat's sister is chosen by lottery, Kat steps up to go in her place.

First line: When I wake up the other side of the bed is cold.

My Thoughts: I saw many reviews for this book a while back but didn't consider reading it. Since then I have learned that a movie is being made from this book so I dedided to go ahead. I found it quite compelling and hard to put down. It surprised me that a book for children would be so violent. The violence wasn't very graphic, until a death scene near the end which was nightmarish. The main characters were well written and likable. I enjoy the glimpses of humor in Katniss' dialogue. After reading this I have to know what happens to them so I have the next two books ordered.

Reading level: Ages 12 and up

Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press; 1st edition (September 14, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0439023483

Shadow Zone by Iris Johansen & Roy Johansen

About the Book: While mapping the ancient underwater city of Marinth in the Atlantic Ocean, submersible designer Hannah Bryson makes a shocking discovery: she may have finally uncovered the truth about the once-glorious city’s mysterious demise. Long ago it was a thriving metropolis bursting with culture and life—Marinth’s sudden disappearance has plagued scientists for years. But now, with her unexpected new findings, Hannah realizes that the ancient city’s explosive secret could have dire consequences for the modern-day world.

But Hannah isn’t the only one who realizes it. When her key artifact is hijacked en route to a research lab, she is thrust into an adventure in which she must match wits against a terrifying enemy who will kill anyone who stands in his way. And when Hannah becomes his target, she knows that her best hope for survival lies with Kirov, a mysterious and deadly man from her past. Together they will race to unravel Marinth’s last great secret in order to prevent a catastrophe of global proportions. Before the lethal game is over, however, Hannah will realize that no one is above suspicion.
First line: "Hey, I didn't see you in the galley for breakfast, Hannah," Josh Carnaby said as he strolled down the deck toward her.
My thoughts: First I have to say that I did not realize this was part of a series, so I'll have to go back to get a feel of the characters and the circumstances. I did not get to know these characters as well as I'd like to.  Even so the story was fast paced, a quick entertaining read with plenty of adventure and excitement. In a way it reminded me of Clive Cussler's work.
Lost civilizations facinate me and I wish there was more written about this one, even if it is fictional. The dolphins were interesting too, I'd like to know what makes them tick.
Rating: C

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Black Tulip by Alexander Dumas

About the book: Cornelius von Baerle lives only to cultivate the elusive black tulip and win a magnificent prize for its creation. But when his powerful godfather is assassinated, the unwitting Cornelius becomes caught up in a deadly political intrigue. Falsely accused of high treason by a bitter rival, Cornelius is condemned to life in prison. His only comfort is Rosa, the jailer's beautiful daughter, who helps him concoct a plan to grow the black tulip in secret. As Robin Buss explains in his informative introduction, Dumas infuses his story with elements from the history of the Dutch Republic (including two brutal murders) and Holland's seventeenth-century "tulipmania" phenomenon.

My thoughts: If you have read "The Three Musketeers," "The Count of Monte Cristo," and/or "The Man in the Iron Mask by Alexander Dumas you might be expecting and adventurous swash buckling type of story. You would be wrong. It is actually, as the title indicates, about events surrounding a black tulip. The main character to me is somewhat self centered and unaware of things around him that did not have to do with tulips. At first I didn't really like him but he grew on me. His love interest, Rose was a strong character.

I liked learning about the time period, becoming acquainted with "tulipmania."  The killings at the beginning of the book were quite brutal and depicted in gory detail. These, I later read, were actual events. Wow.

Over all I liked this book, I enjoyed the sense of time and place, the romance was sweet, the story woven through actual historical events was interesting. I recommend it.

Rating: A

Read it online

Eve by Iris Johansen

About the book: Could John Gallo, a man from Eve’s past, be the missing piece to the puzzle that has haunted her for years? Why was he in Atlanta just before Bonnie’s disappearance? Find out in this brilliant narrative that goes back to Eve Duncan’s early life, exploring her history and motivations like no other novel before.

Finally the answers surrounding the disappearance of Eve Duncan’s daughter, Bonnie, will be revealed in EVE, the first book in a spellbinding trilogy from Iris Johansen.

My Thoughts: I have been keeping up with Eve Duncan and Joe for years. As usual, Eve tries to cut Joe out because she doesn't want him to be hurt. And as usual he goes along anyway. This is something that has not set well with me over the course of the series. Poor Joe. by the end of this novel I knew a lot more about Eve than had ever been revealed before and a lot more about Bonnie's kidnapping. Of course it is the first in a trilogy within the series so the end was left in a cliff hanger. Of course I'll have to read the other two.

Rating: B-

Cujo by Stephen King

About the Book: Cujo is a two-hundred-pound Saint Bernard, the beloved family pet of the Joe Cambers of Castle Rock, Maine, and the best friend ten-year-old Brett Camber has ever had. One day Cujo pursues a rabbit into a bolt-hole--a cave inhabited by some very sick bats. What happens to Cujo, and to those unlucky enough to be near him, makes for the most heart-squeezing novel Stephen King has yet written.

Vic Trenton, New York adman obsessed by the struggle to hand on to his one big account, his restive and not entirely faithful wife, Donna, and their four-year-old son, Tad, moved to Castle Rock seeking the peace of rural Maine. But life in this small town--evoked as vividly as a Winesburg or a Spoon River--is not what it seems. As Tad tries bravely to fend off the terror that comes to him at night from his bedroom closet, and as Vic and Donna face their own nightmare of a marriage suddenly on the rocks, there is no way they can know that a monster, infinitely sinister, waits in the daylight, and that the fateful currents of their lives will eddy closer and faster to the horrifying vortex that is Cujo.

My Thoughts: Wow, I read this years ago and couldn't remember anything about it. Except for the rabid Cujo, of course. It was quite the page turner, I couldn't put it down. I cried at the end.

There are seemingly endless peeks into the lives of people connected to the main characters. But the threads of these come together forming a horrifying look at a chain of coincidences that ultimately cost several lives. This wasn't the supernatural novel I am used to from King but it was all the more scary for that. 

If you have seen the movie and not read the novel, well, you should. In this story King takes you into Cujo's mind unlike the movie where he is just a mindless monster. You find that Cujo, in his heart, is a good dog. He would never hurt anyone. Through snippets from Cujo's POV you follow his decline as the disease ravages his mind and body.

Rating: B+

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Maybe This Time by Jennifer Crusie

 About the book: When Andie Miller goes to see her ex-husband, North Archer, to return ten years of uncashed alimony checks, he asks for one final favor: A distant cousin has died and left him guardian of two orphans who have driven out three nannies already; will she take the job? Bribed with money and a need for closure, Andie says yes, packs her bags, and heads for Southern Ohio.

But when she meets the two children she realizes things are much worse than she feared. The children aren’t any run-of-the-mill delinquents, the creepy old house where they live is being run by the worst housekeeper since Mrs. Danvers, and something strange is happening at night. Plus, Andie’s fiance thinks it’s a plan by North to get Andie back, and since Andie’s been dreaming about North since she arrived at the house, she’s not sure he isn’t right.

Then her ex-brother-in-law arrives with a duplicitous journalist and a self-doubting parapsychologist, closely followed by an annoyed medium, Andie’s tarot card–reading mother, her avenging ex-mother-in-law, and her jealous fiancé. Just when Andie’s sure things couldn’t get more complicated, North arrives to make her wonder if maybe this time things could be different….

My Thoughts: I'm not much of a reader of romances but I do love a Crusie book. This one was a quick light read that was full of fun along with a little bit of spookiness. I loved the characters, especially Andie with her devotion to the children. If you are up for ghosts and a little light romance get this one!

Rating: B

Jennifer Crusie

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cold Vengence by

About the book: Devastated by the discovery that his wife, Helen, was murdered, Special Agent Pendergast must have retribution. But revenge is not simple. As he stalks his wife's betrayers-a chase that takes him from the wild moors of Scotland to the bustling streets of New York City and the darkest bayous of Louisiana-he is also forced to dig further into Helen's past. And he is stunned to learn that Helen may have been a collaborator in her own murder.

Peeling back the layers of deception, Pendergast realizes that the conspiracy is deeper, goes back generations, and is more monstrous than he could have ever imagined-and everything he's believed, everything he's trusted, everything he's understood . . . may be a horrific lie.

My Thoughts: This is another series that I've been following for quite some time, years really. Agent Pendergast, of the FBI,  and his friends have kept me entertained the whole time. This is the middle of a trio of books about his quest to learn what truly happened to his wife, Helen so this one was left with quite a cliff hanger. Can't wait for the next one to come out. While this series is mostly consists of murder mysteries it touches on the supernatural. I guess that is one reason it appeals to me.

Rating: B+

Ghost Story, Jim Butcher - 9780451463791

About the book: When we last left the mighty wizard detective Harry Dresden, he wasn't doing well. In fact, he had been murdered by an unknown assassin.

But being dead doesn't stop him when his friends are in danger. Except now he has nobody, and no magic to help him. And there are also several dark spirits roaming the Chicago shadows who owe Harry some payback of their own.

To save his friends-and his own soul-Harry will have to pull off the ultimate trick without any magic...

My Thoughts:  This is the 13th book in this series: The Dresden files. While this won't be among my fovorites of this series it was very readable and enjoyable. I must that I waited anxiously for this one because I feared it might be the last. So, not only did I enjoy this story I was relieved at the end! If you haven't read any of this series start at the beginning. Fans will like it.

Rating: B

Crimes by Moonlight ed. by Charlene Harris

About the book: A winning mystery collection edited by and featuring an original story by #1 New York Times bestselling author Charlaine Harris.
Nighttime is the perfect time for the perfect crime-especially in the realm of the paranormal. #1 New York Times bestselling author Charlaine Harris edits and contributes an original story-set in her Sookie Stackhouse universe-to this anthology of mysteries from the dark side. Other featured Mystery Writers of America include Carolyn Hart, Barbara D'Amato, Margart Maron, Max Allan Collins and Mickey Spillane, and Elaine Viets.

My thoughts: I liked this book of short stories. Most of the stories held my attentiom and caused me to want to learn more about several of the authors. Urban fantasy from a variety of authors, what could be better? Readers of crime fiction should like this. If you haven't read Urban Fantasy this might be the place to start. If you like it already then by all means get this!

Rating: B+

Spartan Gold by Clive Cussler

About the book: Thousands of years ago, two superpowers of the ancient world went to war, and a treasure of immeasurable value was lost to the shadows of history.
In 1800, while crossing the Pennine Alps with his Grand Reserve Army, Napoleon Bonaparte stumbles across a startling discovery. Unable to transport it, Napoleon creates an enigmatic map on the labels of twelve bottles of rare wine. When Napoleon dies, the bottles disappear—and the treasure is lost again.
Present day. Treasure hunters Sam and Remi Fargo are exploring the Great Pocomoke Swamp in Delaware when they are shocked to discover a WWII German U-boat. Inside, they find a bottle from Napoleon’s “Lost Cellar.” Fascinated, the Fargos set out to find the rest of the collection. But another connoisseur of sorts is hunting his own prize, and the Lost Cellar is his key to finding it. That man is Hadeon Bondaruk—a half-Russian, half-Persian millionaire—and the treasure will be his, no matter what....

My Thoughts: Like most of this author's books, this one was jame packed full of travel, treasure hunting, action, adventure, close calls and mysteries. I enjoyed getting to know Sam and Remi and will seek out more of Cussler's books that are about them. The dialog between them is  fun to read. If you like action adventure books get this one.

Rating: B

Monday, October 10, 2011

Rumors of God by Darren Whitehead & Jon Tyson

About the book: Where is the life God promised us? Life is busy. We live like slaves to our fast-paced, suffocating schedules. We spend our energy and time in triviality, relegating God to the background. he seems distant to us, and we resist the idea that God wants to give, say, and show us more; we dismiss it as rumor. But Jesus calls us to a better way. another drean - an unimagined future. Close the gap between what you hear about and what you see.

Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (July 19, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595553630

First line: The first couple of rows at church that morning held a unique assortment of women.

My thoughts: I got this book from BookSneeze and wasn't sure what to expect. Wow, what an inspiration it has been. It has challenged me to reevaluate my life and the things I consider important.

There are  ten chapters in this book including: Ch 3 The Great Reversal (Rumors of Generosity,) Ch. 5 Getting the Gospel in Order (Rumors of Grace,) and Ch. 9 The Greenroom (Rumors of Justice.) Each one comments on Western Culture and how we have lost our passion for God and are more concerned with self. Through the chapters stories of events in peoples lives are told that highlight the theme of the chapter. I wish there had been more about the women in the first story, I would have liked to learned the rest of the story.

This book does not suggest a forumla to follow to make your life right, rather it points out areas of concern that we can look into, it helps us see the obstacles we face and how to overcome them. I think this would make a great group study book at church.

Rating: A

What others are saying
Amazon (read the forward, authors note and excerpts)

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Postmistress by Sara Blake

About the book: In 1940, Iris James is the postmistress in coastal Franklin, Massachusetts. Iris knows more about the townspeople than she will ever say, and believes her job is to deliver secrets. Yet one day she does the unthinkable: slips a letter into her pocket, reads it, and doesn't deliver it.
Meanwhile, Frankie Bard broadcasts from overseas with Edward R. Murrow. Her dispatches beg listeners to pay heed as the Nazis bomb London nightly. Most of the townspeople of Franklin think the war can't touch them. But both Iris and Frankie know better...
The Postmistress is a tale of two worlds-one shattered by violence, the other willfully naïve-and of two women whose job is to deliver the news, yet who find themselves unable to do so. Through their eyes, and the eyes of everyday people caught in history's tide, it examines how stories are told, and how the fact of war is borne even through everyday life.

First line: It began, as it often does, with a woman putting her ducks in a row.

My thoughts: This historical novel left me wanting more. Like the people who listened to Frankie's radio reports and wondered what happened next I want to know what happened next to the three women in this story.

This story takes place from the points of view of three different women: the postmistress Iris James who believes in her job and takes pride in the order she brings to it, Frankie Bard who broadcasts the news from Europe and Emma Trask whose husband, a doctor, has gone to London to help in the hospitals.  As the story goes along it becomes emotional, more interesting, more compelling. The author did a wonderful job winding the three stories together and bringing a great sense of time and place to her novel. I recommend this to you but bring some tissues.

Rating: A

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Nine Dragons by Michael Connelly

About the book: Harry Bosch is assigned a homicide call in South L.A. that takes him to Fortune Liquors, where the Chinese owner has been shot to death behind the counter in an apparent robbery.

Joined by members of the department's Asian Crime Unit, Bosch relentlessly investigates the killing and soon identifies a suspect, a Los Angeles member of a Hong Kong triad. But before Harry can close in, he gets the word that his young daughter Maddie, who lives in Hong Kong with her mother, is missing.

Bosch drops everything to journey across the Pacific to find his daughter. Could her disappearance and the case be connected? With the stakes of the investigation so high and so personal, Bosch is up against the clock in a new city, where nothing is at it seems.

My thoughts: This was a twisty, action packed murder mystery that kept me reading. I have come to really enjoy this author's work and this one was no exception. I enjoyed visiting Hong Kong with Harry Bosch: it's as close as I'll ever get. The twist at the end broke my heart for the daughter's sake. If you like Harry Bosch books, you'll like this one.

Rating: B

Wife for Hire by Janet Evanovich

About the bookHank Mallone knows he's in trouble when Maggie Toone agrees to pretend to be his wife in order to improve his rogue's reputation. Will his harebrained scheme to get a bank loan for his business backfire once Maggie arrives in his small Vermont town and lets the gossips take a look? Maggie never expected her employer to be drop-dead handsome, but she's too intrigued by his offer to say no . . . and too eager to escape a life that made her feel trapped. The deal is strictly business, both agree, until Hank turns out to be every fantasy she ever had.

My thoughts: This is a quick, easy read that is a lot of fun. The little mystery was small town charming, the romance a little steamy without being too much, and the characters were likable and the setting was great. If you have ever read any of this author's work you pretty well know what to expect. I liked it!

Rating: B

All the Flowers Are Dying by Lawrence Block

About the book: "A man in a Virginia prison awaits execution for three hideous murders he swears, in the face of irrefutable evidence, he did not commit. A psychologist who claims to believe the convict spends hours with the man in his death row cell, and ultimately watches in the gallery as the lethal injection is administered. His work completed, the psychologist heads back to New York City to attend to unfinished business."

Meanwhile, Matthew Scudder has just agreed to investigate the ostensibly suspicious online lover of an acquaintance. It seems simple enough. At first. But when people start dying and the victims are increasingly closer to home, it becomes clear that a vicious killer is at work. And the final targets may be Matt and Elaine Scudder.

My thoughts: This is the 16th in the Matthew Scudder series and the first one I've read. The mystery was a good one, keeping me listening. However, for my taste in reading, the sadistic acts preformed by the bad guy went into too much detail especially since there were three children involved. I will probably go back and try to read some of the earlier books to see where this all started. I would not suggest you start this series with this book. I wish I hadn't.

As I stated above I listened to this one. It was read by the author. On one hand I liked hearing the actual author. On the other hand all the characters sounded alike.

Rating: C 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Murderous Procession by Ariana Franklin

About the book: Adelia is back in this thrilling fourth installment of the Mistress of the Art of Death series.

In 1176, King Henry II sends his ten-year-old daughter, Joanna, to Palermo to marry William II of Sicily. War on the Continent and outbreaks of plague make it an especially dangerous journey, so the king selects as his daughter’s companion the woman he trusts most: Adelia Aguilar, his mistress of the art of death. As a medical doctor and native of Sicily, it will be Adelia’s job to travel with the princess and safeguarding her health until the wedding

Adelia wants to refuse—accompanying the royal procession means leaving behind her nine-year-old daughter. Unfortunately, Henry has arranged for the girl to live at court, both as a royal ward and as a hostage to ensure that Adelia will return to the king’s service. So Adelia sets off for a yearlong royal procession. Accompanying her on the journey are her Arab companion, Mansur, her lover, Rowley, and an unusual newcomer: the Irish sea captain O’Donnell, who may prove more useful to Adelia than Rowley would like.

But another man has joined the procession—a murderer bent on the worst kind of revenge. When people in the princess’s household begin to die, Adelia and Rowley suspect that the killer is hiding in plain sight. Is his intended victim the princess . . . or Adelia herself?

Paperback: 400 pagesPublisher: Berkley Trade; Reprint edition (March 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0425238865

First line: Between the parishes of Shepfold and Martlake in Somerset existed an area of no-man's land and a lot of ill feeling.

My Thoughts: I have thoroughly enjoyed all 4 books in this series. I have been wanting to read this one for quite a while and when I finished it I looked up the author to see when I could expect the next book to be published. While the problems in this book are solved it ends in a cliff-hanger. I was so sad to read that Ariana Franklin, the pen name of author Diana Norman, died in January 2011. Now I'll never know what happens to Adelia and Rowley, to O'Donnell, Ulf  and all the other characters I've come to love. 

Over the course of this series I've enjoyed the sense of time and place that Franklin brought to her writing.  It has been facinating. The Author's Notes at the end of each book explain some of her research, which brings exciting and educational details to this series. If you like historical fiction, murder mysteries or forensic novels you'll like this series. 

Excerpt: "Also," the king said, "out of our charity and in the service of God, we have given our permission to certain devout pilgrims to the Holy Land that they may cross the Channel with you this evening and travel by land in the safety of my daughter's train."
  Adelia's mouth twitched. Henry loathed pilgrims; they were exempt from paying any tax for the pilgrimage's duration and left a hole in his revenue.

Diana Norman  (Ariana Franklin)
Ariana Franklin (Books, Announcement of her death)
Joan of England, Queen of Sicily

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

One Foot in the Grave by Jeaniene Frost

Product Description

You can run from the grave, but you can't hide . . .
Half-vampire Cat Crawfield is now Special Agent Cat Crawfield, working for the government to rid the world of the rogue undead. She's still using everything Bones, her sexy and dangerous ex, taught her, but when Cat is targeted for assassination, the only man who can help her is the vampire she left behind.
Being around him awakens all her emotions, from the adrenaline kick of slaying vamps side by side to the reckless passion that consumed them. But a price on her head—wanted: dead or half-alive—means her survival depends on teaming up with Bones. And no matter how hard she tries to keep things professional between them, she'll find that desire lasts forever . . . and that Bones won't let her get away again.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Snowman by Jo Nesbo

Internationally acclaimed crime writer Jo Nesbø's antihero police investigator, Harry Hole, is back: in a bone-chilling thriller that will take Hole to the brink of insanity.

Oslo in November. The first snow of the season has fallen. A boy named Jonas wakes in the night to find his mother gone. Out his window, in the cold moonlight, he sees the snowman that inexplicably appeared in the yard earlier in the day. Around its neck is his mother's pink scarf.

Hole suspects a link between a menacing letter he's received and the disappearance of Jonas's mother - and of perhaps a dozen other women, all of whom went missing on the day of a first snowfall. As his investigation deepens, something else emerges: he is becoming a pawn in an increasingly terrifying game whose rules are devised - and constantly revised - by the killer.

Fiercely suspenseful, its characters brilliantly realized, its atmosphere permeated with evil, The Snowman is the electrifying work of one of the best crime writers of our time.

Half Way to the Grave by

Product Description

Half-vampire Catherine Crawfield is going after the undead with a vengeance, hoping that one of these deadbeats is her father—the one responsible for ruining her mother's life. Then she's captured by Bones, a vampire bounty hunter, and is forced into an unholy partnership.
In exchange for finding her father, Cat agrees to train with the sexy night stalker until her battle reflexes are as sharp as his fangs. She's amazed she doesn't end up as his dinner—are there actually good vampires? Pretty soon Bones will have her convinced that being half-dead doesn't have to be all bad. But before she can enjoy her newfound status as kick-ass demon hunter, Cat and Bones are pursued by a group of killers. Now Cat will have to choose a side . . . and Bones is turning out to be as tempting as any man with a heartbeat.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Blue-Eyed Devil by Robert Parker

Product Description

Once, Appaloosa law was Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch. Now it's Amos Callico, a vindictive, power-hungry tin star with bigger aims-and he could use Cole and Hitch on his side. This time the paid guns aren't for hire, which makes Callico a very vengeful man. But threatening Cole and Hitch ignites something just as dangerous.

  • Paperback: 304 pages

  • Publisher: Berkley (May 3, 2011)

  • Language: English

  • ISBN-10: 0425241459

    First line: Law enforcement in Appaloosa had once been Virgil Cole and me.
    My Thoughts: This is fourth entry in the Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch series. I have found this western series to be very entertaining and liked this one as much as the other three. This story, which is told mostly in dialog, moves right along, it is a quick easy read that keeps you interested. The bad guys are the kind you love to hate and the good guys might not be as good as you think. The characters have been well developed over the course of the series. I love the quirky dialog between Cole and Hitch. I was so sad to find that this popular author has passed away.
    Rating: B
    He didn’t show it. But I knew Virgil was getting restless. It drove him crazy when people rambled on, except when it was him.
    “So, I thought to myself, Lamar, here’s a chance to get some first-rate help. If you boys will agree, I’ll hire you, and if there’s trouble, you’ll take care of it.”
    “How much?” Virgil said.
    Speck told him.
    “You don’t have anybody sitting lookout?” Virgil said.
    “The police arrested my last one,” Speck said. “Turns out he was wanted in Kansas.”
    “Kansas,” Virgil said, and looked at me.
    “The police keep a sharp eye in Appaloosa,” I said.
    “We run our own show,” Virgil said. “Post a list of rules, people obey them or they leave. People give us trouble, we shoot them.”
    “You think people gonna obey the rules ’cause they like us?” Virgil said.
    “Well, ah, no, of course not, I guess.”
    “They obey the rules ’cause they know we’ll shoot,” Virgil says. “Which means maybe, now and then, we’ll have to.”
    “Well, I . . . certainly. You know this work best.”

    The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon

    Product Description: The Energy Bus, an international best seller by Jon Gordon, takes readers on an enlightening and inspiring ride that reveals 10 secrets for approaching life and work with the kind of positive, forward thinking that leads to true accomplishment - at work and at home. Jon infuses this engaging story with keen insights as he provides a powerful roadmap to overcome adversity and bring out the best in yourself and your team. When you get on The Energy Bus you’ll enjoy the ride of your life!

  • Hardcover: 192 pages

  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (January 22, 2007)

  • Language: English

  • ISBN-10: 0470100281

  • First line: It was Monday and Mondays were never good for George.

    My thoughts: After reading The No Complaining Rule last year our principal chose this book, by the same author, for our book study this year. I found it to be a quick, entertaining read. I liked that the author got his message across with this story. It seemed a little goofy (I had to roll my eyes in a couple of places) but the message is a good one. The story concentrates on work and how a leader and others can banish the negative, embrace the positive and become more productive. It helps you think about how you are living your life and how to make it better. The principles he sets down are easy to understand and apply.

  • Rating: B
    Excerpt: When you get to work you have another choice. You can catch people doing things right or you can catch them doing things wrong. Guess which of those two activities energizes people more?

  • Tuesday, September 6, 2011

    Persuasion by Jane Austen

    About the book: At twenty-seven, Anne Elliot is no longer young and has few romantic prospects. Eight years earlier, she had been persuaded by her friend Lady Russell to break off her engagement to Frederick Wentworth, a handsome naval captain with neither fortune nor rank. What happens when they encounter each other again is movingly told in Jane Austen’s last completed novel. Set in the fashionable societies of Lyme Regis and Bath, Persuasion is a brilliant satire of vanity and pretension, but, above all, it is a love story tinged with the heartache of missed opportunities.

  • Paperback: 272 pages

  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (April 29, 2003)

  • Language: English

  • ISBN-10: 0141439688

  • First line: Sir Walter Elliot, of Kellynch Hall, in Somersetshire, was a man who, for his own amusement, never took up any book but the Baronetage; there he found occupation for an idle hour, and consolation in a distressed one; there his faculties were roused into admiration and respect, by contemplating the limited remnant of the earliest patents; there any unwelcome sensations, arising from domestic affairs changed naturally into pity and contempt as he turned over the almost endless creations of the last century; and there, if every other leaf were powerless, he could read his own history with an interest which never failed.

    My Thoughts: After reading Pride and Prejudice last year and enjoying it I thought I'd give Austen another try. I found this book at a used book store and snatched it up. I didn't enjoy it quite as much but still liked it quite a bit. This was a seemingly simple love story with a lovely ending. However it also an interesting commentary of the times as well as quite funny in places. Read it, you'll like it!

    Rating: A+

    The Spy by Clive Cussler

    Book Discription: Detective Isaac Bell, hero of The Chase and The Wrecker, returns in the remarkable new adventure from the #1 New York Times-bestselling author.

    It is 1908, and international tensions are mounting as the world plunges toward war. When a brilliant American battleship gun designer dies in a sensational apparent suicide, the man's grief-stricken daughter turns to the legendary Van Dorn Detective Agency to clear her father's name. Van Dorn puts his chief investigator on the case, and Isaac Bell soon realizes that the clues point not to suicide but to murder. And when more suspicious deaths follow, it becomes clear that someone-an elusive spy-is orchestrating the destruction of America's brightest technological minds... and the murders all connect to a top- secret project called Hull 44.

    But that is just the beginning. As the intrigue deepens, Bell will find himself pitted against German, Japanese, and British spies, in a mission that encompasses dreadnought battleships, Teddy Roosevelt's Great White Fleet, Chinatown, Hell's Kitchen, and the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Isaac Bell has certainly faced perilous situations before, but this time it is more than the future of his country that's at stake- it's the fate of the world.

  • Paperback: 544 pages

  • Publisher: Berkley (May 31, 2011)

  • Language: English

  • ISBN-10: 0425241750

  • ISBN-13: 978-0425241752

  • First Line: The Washington navy yard slept like an ancient city guarded by thick walls and a river. 

    My Thoughts: I have read more of the Dirk Pitt novels than any of Cussler's others and have enjoyed them all. This one is the second Issac Bell book for me and I enjoyed it as well. I like the WWI setting. The author does a great job giving it the feel of the time. Reading about the "modern" technology was fascinating. This was a long book but a quick, exciting read. I have to go back and pick up the middle Issac Bell book! Those of you who like action adventure books will like this one.

    Rating: B+

    The Priest's Graveyard by Ted Dekker

    Product Description:
    Two abandoned souls are on the hunt for one powerful man. Soon, their paths will cross and lead to one twisted fate.

    Danny Hansen is a Bosnian immigrant who came to America with hopes of escaping haunted memories of a tragic war that took his mother's life. Now he's a priest who lives by a law of love and compassion. It is powerful men and hypocrites who abide by legal law but eschew the law of love that most incense Danny. As an avenging angel, he believes it is his duty to show them the error of their ways, at any cost.

    Renee Gilmore is the frail and helpless victim of one such powerful man. Having escaped his clutches, she now lives only to satisfy justice by destroying him, regardless of whom she must become in that pursuit.

    But when Danny and Renee's paths become inexorably entangled things go very, very badly and neither of them may make it out of this hunt alive.

    Judge not, or you too will be judged.

    First Line: "There is nothing new under the sun, now is there Renee."

    My Thoughts: First let me say that I am a fan of Ted Dekker's books. With this being said, this one will not be among my favorites. I liked the premise:  A vigilante priest who takes justice into his own hands and a recovering heroin addict together try to bring down evil. It started out: the first chapter that contained the history of the priest was a great set up. Then ....... The ending was not up to par compared to other Dekker books I've read. In fact it was somewhat of a let down for me. I could not get into the characters. Another thing that disappointed me in this story (by a Christian writer) was the use of more sexual situations and inappropriate language than is generally found in Christian fiction. His earlier books were not like this and were much better reads.  I will continue to read this author's books but I would suggest you read some of his others first.

    Rating: C

    Sunday, August 14, 2011

    Tails of Wonder and Imagination edited by Ellen Datlow

    About the book: What is it about the cat that captivates the creative imagination? No other creature has inspired so many authors to take pen to page. Mystery, horror, science fiction, and fantasy stories have all been written aobut cats.

    From the legendary editor ellen Datlow comes Tails of Wonder and Imagination, showcasing forty cat tales by some of today's most popular authors. With uncollected stories by Stephen King, Carol Emshwiller, Tanith Lee, Peter S. Beagle, Elizabeth Hand, Dennis Danvers, and Theodora Goss and a previously unpublished story by Susanna Clarke, plus feline-centric fiction by Neil Gaiman, Kelly Link, George R.R. Martin, Lucius Shepard, Joyce Carol Oates, Graham Joyce, Catherynne M. Valente, Michael Marshall Smith, and Many others.

    Tails of wonder and Imagination features more than 200,000 words of stories in which cats are heroes and stories in which they're villains; tales of domestic cats, tigers, lions, mythical part-cat beings, people transformed into cats, cats transformed into people. And yes, even a few cute cats.

    My thoughts: I chose this book of short stories for two reasons: I like stories about cats and I needed a short story collection for one of my challenges. For the most part I enjoyed this book. It was mostly fantasy with a healthy number of stories falling into dark fantasy and horror. The scariest was Cat in Glass by Nancy Etchemendy. Only two of the stories got me smiling and those were: Gordon, the Self-Made Cat by Peter S. Beagle and The Burglar Takes a Cat by Lawrence Block. One of the cat series I follow is about Midnight Louie and is written by Carole Nelson Douglas so I was happy to see a short Midnight Louie here. One of my favorites was the retelling of a Japanese fairy story called The Poet and the Inkmaker's Daughter by Elizabeth Hand.

    I did not like that so many of the stories included the cats coming to some kind of harm. My recommendation will be to those of you who enjoy reading fantasy. I have to say that I love the cover!

    Rating: B

    Tuesday, August 9, 2011

    Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

    About the book: In his first novel since The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen has given us an epic of contemporary love and marriage. Freedom comically and tragically captures the temptations and burdens of liberty: the thrills of teenage lust, the shaken compromises of middle age, the wages of suburban sprawl, the heavy weight of empire. In charting the mistakes and joys of Freedom's characters as they struggle to learn how to live in an ever more confusing world, Franzen has produced an indelible and deeply moving portrait of our time.

    First Line: If Patty weren't an atheist, she would thank the good Lord for school athletic programs because they basically saved her life and gave her a chance to realize herself as a person.
    My thoughts: I needed a book for the Oprah Book Club portion of my personal challenge. After reading the blurbs for several of them I chose Freedom. They were glowing, telling how absolutely wonderful this book was. I hate to be critical of a book....I am not a writer and I can only imagine the work that goes into writing one, especially one as long as this one. The writing was great but the story was b.o.r.i.n.g. It droned on and on about the lives of characters who were never fleshed out. Way too many details were given about portions of their lives, especially the sections on sex. Yuck. I especially did not understand Walter, one of the main characters, who went from being patient and kind to being a hot head. He was an environmentalist who signed off on a strip mining venture with the understanding that, years from now, it would be a reserve for one species of bird.  ??????? It seemed quite preachy and repetitive to me on subjects such as the environment, social issues, sex, and politics.

    The second half was better than the first, the story moved on along and got more interesting. By the end the characters had been through hell, long excruciating hell, but came out the other end with some hope.

    Rating: C

    Quote: "Each new thing he encountered in life impelled him in a direction that fully convinced him of its rightness, but then the next new thing loomed up and impelled him in the opposite direction, which also felt right. There was no controlling narrative: he seemed to himself a purely reactive pinball in a game whose only object was to stay alive for staying alive's sake." 

    Sunday, July 31, 2011

    Heaven Is For Real by Todd Burpo

    About the book: Heaven Is for Real is the true story of the four-year old son of a small town Nebraska pastor who during emergency surgery slips from consciousness and enters heaven. He survives and begins talking about being able to look down and see the doctor operating and his dad praying in the waiting room. The family didn't know what to believe but soon the evidence was clear.

    Colton said he met his miscarried sister, whom no one had told him about, and his great grandfather who died 30 years before Colton was born, then shared impossible-to-know details about each. He describes the horse that only Jesus could ride, about how "reaaally big" God and his chair are, and how the Holy Spirit "shoots down power" from heaven to help us.

    Told by the father, but often in Colton's own words, the disarmingly simple message is heaven is a real place, Jesus really loves children, and be ready, there is a coming last battle.

    First line: The Fourth of July holiday calls up memories of patriotic parades, the savory scent of smoky barbeque,  sweet corn, and night skies bursting with showers of light. But for my family, the July Fourth weekend of 2003 was a big deal for other reasons. 

    My thoughts: I found this to be a heartwarming, encouraging book. It was a short, quick read, told in simple language. I would have loved to have heard more from Colton but I enjoyed what there was and the biblical references the father added that supported Colton's experiences and connected them to scripture. I was brought to tears in a couple of places. I will rate this book an E, not for it's literary value but for the hope it presents.


    Interview with Todd Burpo, "Heaven is for Real"

    Friday, July 29, 2011

    Silas Marner by George Eliot

    Product Description: Embittered by a false accusation, disappointed in friendship and love, the weaver Silas Marner retreats into a long twilight life alone with his loom...and his gold. Silas hoards a treasure that kills his spirit until fate steals it from him and replaces it with a golden-haired founding child. Where she came from, who her parents were, and who really stole the gold are the secrets that permeate this moving tale of guilt and innocence. A moral allegory of the redemptive power of love, it is also a finely drawn picture of early nineteenth-century England in the days when spinning wheels hummed busily in the farmhouses, and of a simple way of life that was soon to disappear.

    First Line: In the days when the spinning-wheels hummed busily in the farmhouses-- and even great ladies, clothed in silk and thread-lace, had their toy spinning-wheels of polished oak-- there might be seen in districts far away among the lanes, or deep in the bosom of the hills, certain pallid undersized men, who, by the side of the brawny country-folk, looked like the remnants of a disinherited race.

    My thoughts: I read this one many years ago in school and remember not liking it but nothing else. I am so glad that I decided to reread it. I quite enjoyed this story. It was a little slow in places but the gems of quiet humor were wonderful to stumble upon. Many of the sentences were extremely long (see the first line) and I found that a little distracting at times. The decline of Silas Marner into doom and gloom then his eventual reintroduction into a happy life was captivating. I loved the sense of time and place and the way the author showed the difference between the rich and poor of the time of the setting of this book. I also enjoy bookes where the dialect is written like this one. The look at adoption was, to me, interesting as my husband was adopted. You can read this for the simple story of Silas Marner on the surface or mine for religious outlooks, the effect of industrilization on society, betrayal etc. If you like classics you'll love this one, if you aren't into classics try this one. It is short and a great read.

    Rating: E

    Quote: "Ah, If there's good anywhere, we've need of it," repeated Dolly, who did not lightly forsake a serviceable phrase.

    Saturday, July 23, 2011

    Caught by Harlan Coben

    About the book: Seventeen-year-old Haley McWaid is a good girl, the pride of her suburban New Jersey family, headed off to college next year with all the hopes and dreams her doting parents can pin on her. Which is why, when her mother wakes one morning to find that Haley never came home the night before and three months quickly pass without word from the girl, the community assumes the worst.
    Wendy Tynes is a reporter on a mission: to bring down sexual predators via elaborate—and nationally televised—sting operations. Wendy and her team have shamed dozens of men by the time she encounters her latest target. Dan Mercer is a social worker known as a friend to troubled teens, but his story soon becomes more complicated than Wendy could have imagined.
    Caught tells the story of a missing girl, the predator who may have taken her, and the reporter who suddenly realizes she can’t trust her own instincts about this story—or the motives of the people around her.

    First line: I knew opening that red door would destroy my life.

    My thoughts: This is quite the twisty, and busy, little tale. Once you think you know the answer -  twist it changes. You come again to an answer and once again - twist. I was somewhat hesitant to start this one because I thought the topic would be too hard for me to deal with but once I started I couldn't quit reading, or listening as the case may be. This is one I checked out from the digital branch of the library. I am a fan of Coben's work, and while this one isn't my favorite it is a fun, exciting read (without a lot of gore) that kept me guessing right up to the end.

    What I didn't like: it was so busy, a lot to keep up with. I also found a couple of the unimportant characters to be annoying. For instance: the old white guy turned rapper. But those were minor distractions to this story. I think you mystery readers will like this and I'm sure you Coben fans will too.

    Rating: B

    Quote: "I remember one time I heard this English professor asking the class what the world's scariest noise is. Is it a man crying out in pain? A woman's scream of terror? A gunshot? A baby crying? And the professor shakes his head and says, 'No, the scariest noise is, you're all alone in your dark empty house, you KNOW you're all alone, you know that there is NO chance anyone else is home or within MILES - and then, suddenly, from upstairs, you hear the toilet flush.'"

    Click below to see the author talk about this book: