Saturday, June 30, 2007

The State of the Middle East: An Atlas of Conflict and Resolution by Dan Smith

Well Done! This Atlas is broken down into three sections; Shaping of the Middle East, Arenas of Conflict and State of the Nations. Each of these sections again breaks down into vibrant color maps, charts and graphs. A chronology runs along the left side of nearly every page allowing the reader quick access to facts and dates. Topics include oil consumption, U.S. presence, European colonization, life expectancy and health plus more. These atlases can quickly and accurately answer nearly any question about the Middle East.

Epic Journeys of Freedom: Runaway Slaves of the American Revolution and Their Global Quest for Liberty by Cassandra Pybus

This book shines because of Ms. Cassandra Pybus's stellar research. Her description of the upheaval surrounding the American Revolution is sound. Following leads on four different continents, she pieces together the lives of several slaves who escaped from their colonial masters, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, to British forces in hopes of freedom. The story continues after the end of the American Revolution when the retreating British withdrew from the American Continent and took the slaves back to Britain. From there, many were sent to various parts of the world such as Australia and the African country of Liberia. Cassandra Pybus's book adds much needed historical documentation to a group of people who have largely been forgotten by history. This book isn’t a happily ever-after fairytale. Cassandra does an excellent job of researching why.

Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman

Dr. Impossible's plan to take over the world has been foiled (again - for the 12th time) and he's languishing in prison. His hidden island fortress is in shambles, and he's lost his girlfriend. He's tried many different tactics to achieve world domination - doomsday devices, mass mind control, traveling back in time to change history. He's commanded armies of insects, robots, fungus, fish, and rodents. All failures. But not this time. This time it will be different...

Fatale is a rookie superhero, a woman built to be the next generation of warfare, made of metal, hardware and skin. Joining the Champions, the world's most famous superteam, and a team that is struggling to fill the void left by the death of one of it's members, she tries to fit in as the team finds itself facing unspeakable evil.

Soon I Will Be Invincible is a great read for summer - fast paced and funny - a great debut novel for Austin Grossman.

Life's a Beach by Claire Cook

Unemployed and in her forties, Ginger Walsh is still trying to figure life out, and the pressure is on now that her parents are moving into a townhouse and she will have to vacate her FROG (Furnished Room Over Garage). In addition to her housing arrangements causing disruption, she is still unsure about her career (at the moment she sells seaglass jewelry), her relationship with her noncommittal boyfriend, Noah, doesn't seem to be moving forward, and her sister Geri is having a small crisis about turning fifty.

Ginger ponders what opportunities could possibly present themselves in a small town like Marshbury, Mass. All that is about to change, now that a Jaws-like movie is being filmed in Ginger's home town, with her nephew Riley as one of the extras. When a flirtation starts with one of the movie's crew, Ginger questions what she wants in life--both professionally and personally.

Although there doesn't seem to much driving the plot, you will fall in love with Cook's quirky characters, from her moving-driven mother who buries a statue of St. Joseph in the yard because she believes it will give them the luck they need to sell their house to her "hi-ya toots" father, who is bringing more junk back from the Take It or Leave It than he is dropping off.

Cook is the bestselling author of Multiple Choice, Ready to Fall, and Must Love Dogs, which was also made into a feature film staring Diane Lane.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Night Echoes by Holly Lisle

Emma Beck has found The House. She has been painting variations of it since she was 5 years old. Emma buys The House and hires Mike Ruhl, a contractor, to help her fix up the house. Once Emma is in The House, she feels at home with the exception of the room at the top of the stairs. Whenever she enters it, Emma is frozen with fear. There is also the noises only Emma can hear. And then when she wakes in the mornings, she is stiff and sore and can't understand why. When Emma and Mike meet for the first time, it is like they have know and loved each other forever. Overwhelmed by her feelings, Emma starts to mistrust everyone around her. Is it reincarnation? Is she being possessed? Are there really ghosts? Emma and Mike try and figure out what happened long ago in The House and if the past will be repeated in the future. With an intense love, a creepy house, and a cat that few can see, Night Echoes, is a great paranormal romance that will keep you interested from start to finish.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen

Everyone remembers their first trip to the circus and can recall the sights and sounds of the big tent -- boisterous clowns, glitzy acrobats, and exotic animals. Here is the story of "The Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth", a depression-era traveling circus that is barely hanging on. Jacob Jankowski ,23, joins the circus out of desperation. Suddenly orphaned and homeless, he uses his veterinary skills to land a job taking care of the circus menagerie. Now ninety-three, he recounts an exciting and dark life that included his involvement with the beautiful young performer Marlena and her husband August, the dangerously deranged animal trainer. Jacob's emotional tale, told as another big tent is being raised outside his assisted living home, brings to life a segment of history that is both glamourous and disturbing. This novel is for those who love excitement and intrique -- or those just looking for a compelling love story.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Second Chance by Jane Green

When their friend Tom is killed in a terrorist attack, his friends from college reunite and rekindle their friendship. Holly lives in a beautiful house, with her wonderful husband and two perfect children. But are things as wonderful as they appear to be? Paul is married to a beautiful and successful fashion entreprenuer and life is just about perfect, but they're struggling to concieve a child. Saffron is an actress who lives in L.A., still waiting for the "breakthrough" role, and having a secret affair with one of the most famous men in the world. Olivia's lover has just walked out, and she finds herself single again after 7 years in the relationship. As these friends rebuild their friendship and work through their grief together, they also learn about navigating through the minefield of midlife crisis and change. Will Saffron's lover leave his wife to be with her? Will Olivia's blind date lead to anything? Will Paul and Anna's baby dreams come true? Will Holly be able to make her marriage work? These questions and more will keep keep you reading Second Chance.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Other Woman by Jane Green

Ellie Black, an only child whose mother died when she was in grade school, is about to be married to Dan Cooper, the man of her dreams. She thinks she will be gaining not only a doting husband, but also the family she never had but always dreamed of she thinks. Enter Linda Cooper, Dan's overbearing mother who turns Ellie's small wedding into a black-tie affair. Linda's interference into their lives doesn't stop there, and when Linda is responsible for an accident with their infant son, Ellie has decided Linda has gone to far. The tensions between Dan and Ellie rise, with their marriage quickly dissolving. Can Ellie swallow her pride and forgive Linda? Ellie's narration at the start of Green's novel appears drab and shallow. However, as the novel progresses, Ellie gains introspection that gives her character depth that will have readers not only sympathizing with her, but will also be rooting for her.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Good Guy by Dean Koontz

Tim Carrier is just a guy who likes to relax after a day of work at his friend's bar. He doesn't find it relaxing to be mistaken for a hitman. So begins Tim's journey in saving a life. He starts by going to see the victim and warn her that someone wants her dead. He ends up on the run with her trying to stay one step ahead of the killer. In the end, secrets are revealed and a conspiracy is unraveled. With tons of intensity and never knowing when the killer will catch up, The Good Guy, is one terrific, heart-pounding read.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern

Holly and Gerry are living the fairytale romance life. As high school sweethearts, their marriage is perfect, and Holly doesn't know what she'll ever do without Gerry. That's how "The List" started, as a joke - Gerry would just have to make her a list just in case anything ever happened to him. Then, the unimaginable happens. Gerry is diagnosed with a terminal illness, and Holly doesn't know how it's possible to go on. Two months after his death, Holly recieves a package. Gerry has kept his promise, and has written her a "list", as a series of 10 notes, each signed "P.S., I Love You", to be opened one at a time, once a month. Each note contains a task for Holly, and as she performs each task, Holly finds herself coming alive again. Sometimes funny, sometimes bittersweet, you'll not soon forget "P.S., I Love You."

Lean Mean Thirteen by Janet Evanovich

Stephanie Plum is back! Her ex-husband, Dickie Orr, is missing and presumed dead and Stephanie is the #1 suspect. To clear her name, she tries to find Dickie with the help of Ranger, who is as sexy and mysterious as ever. And let's not forget Joe Morelli, the hot Italian cop and on again off again boyfriend is helping Stephanie in his own way. While looking for Dickie, she also is doing her bounty hunter duties. Getting in the way is her arch nemesis, Joyce Barnhardt, who believes Stephanie killed Dickie. With Lula by her side and Grandma helping too, it is one hilarious ride. This is definitely one of the best Stephanie Plum books to date. If you haven't read the series, start with the first one, One for the Money, and don't look back. Can't wait for number fourteen!

Body Surfing by Anita Shreve

Twenty-nine year old Sydney, twice married, once divorced, once widowed, is spending the summer at the Edwards' New Hampshire beach home to tutor their youngest, Julie, in preparation for her S.A.Ts. When the Edwards' two sons, Jeff and Ben, show up for a visit, the boys take Sydney "body surfing." In the water, Sydney, feels someone touching her intimately, and she assumes that it is younger brother Jeff.

Days later, Julie mysteriously runs away, sending the brothers and Sydney into a frenzy, and bringing Jeff and Sydney closer together. Julie's leaving causes an argument between Ben and Jeff that eventually reveals a darker side to one of the brothers.

The story takes place over the course of three years, in which the reader learns that many of the characters are not who the reader initially thought, and we are pondering if Sydney was chosen by the wrong brother.

Readers will take great pleasure in characters who are full of human emotion and
in her powerful prose that will leave readers wanting more.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Accidentally Engaged by Mary Carter

Clair Ivars is a psychic, but even she didn't see the wackiness that was about to happen. Her last customer leaves her engagement ring behind with her fiancé's business card. Clair decides it is up to her to return the ring. On her way to the Heron Estates where the fiancé, Jack, lives she is in a car accident. From there on, madness ensues. From the hot gardener who picked her up to being mistaken as a bridesmaid to trying to figure out her psychic dreams, Clair doesn't know which way is up. With romance, a little mystery and lots of humor, this book is a great light read.

Austenland by Shannon Hale

Jane Hayes has pretty much given up on men and has accepted her eventual spinsterhood. After a series of failed relationships, she realizes that no man can quite measure up to the character of Mr. Darcy played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. When her great aunt dies and leaves her plane tickets and a three week stay at Pembrook Park, an Austienian themed resort, she gets the opportunity to play out her ultimate fantasy. Full immerison into the regency era is difficult at first, and a flirtation with the gardener has her questioning her Austenian obsession. However, a growing infatuation with the Darcy-like Mr. Nobley helps her escape into the fantasy and we wonder if Miss Jane Erstwhile will ever find a Mr. Darcy of her own. A fun, humorous indulgence for Colin Firth, Jane Austen, and all romance/chicklit fans.

Friday, June 15, 2007

How to Be Lost by Amanda Eyre Ward

The Winters sisters, Caroline, Madeline, and Eillie, planned to runaway to New Orleans to escape their quarelling parents. On the day they were to leave their Long Island home, Ellie mysteriousy disappears. Now in her thirties, Caroline lives in New Orleans and works as a cocktail waitress, Madeline is married in New York, and Isabelle, the girls' mother, unable to give up hope, still believes that Ellie is alive. While visiting home for Christmas, Caroline discovers a picture in a magazine that looks exactly like Ellie. Armed with the book, "How to be Your Own Private Dick," Caroline heads to Montana to find her missing sister and bring her family back together. Emebedded in the story are letters from a woman named Agnes as well as the story of Isabelle as a young adult. Although some readers may find these side stories to be confusing, Ward manages to tie all the pieces together at the novel's conclusion, and readers will be turning pages quickly as they join Caroline on her journey to find her missing sister.

Ward's first novel Sleep Toward Heaven, about a women on death row, won the Violet Crown Book Award. Her latest book, Forgive Me, about a foreign correspondent who gets involved with a local couple whose son has been murdered in South Africa, was recently released in June of 2007.

Murder 101 by Maggie Barbieri

After recently having to adjust to her car being stolen, English professor Allison Bergerson's life is thrown into an even bigger tailspin when the police find the body of a murdered student from her class, Kathy Miceli, in her car. In charge of the case is handsome cop Bobby Crawford, who initially treats Allison as the prime suspect. To prove her innocence Allison takes matters in her own hands to try to solve the case, but things get complicated when she is kidnapped by Kathy's ex-boyfriend and is threaten to find the killer by Kathy's mobster father. Because the sleuthing elements of the plot take a backseat to the romance between Allison and Bobby, mystery readers will be disappointed, but chick-lit readers will enjoy this light, cozy read.