Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Killer Heat by Linda Fairstein

New York District Attorney Alex "Coop" Cooper and homicide detectives Mike Chapman and Mercer Wallace investigate a string of murders in which young women are dumped in remote locations and the killer hasn't left a shred of genetic profile despite the sexual nature of the attacks.

The killer has the cops hunting former military bases where the dead are found and uses the same MO for each attack: the women's bodies are stripped of their uniforms and wrapped in old military blankets. Coop and Mike pursue a lead that puts local bartender Keirnan Dylan, son of the infamous Jimmy Dylan who had a connection to two of the murdered women, as their prime suspect. But, when a key informant comes forward about another potential suspect, the case is turned into a new direction.

As the investigation continues, bodies keep piling up with a fourth girl reported missing. Alex, Mike, and Mercer need to use what they know about the suspect's previous crimes to get to the missing woman before the killer does.

Killer Heat is the 10th book in the Alexandra Cooper series and is the perfect mix of suspense, mystery, and law. Law & Order fans like me are sure to find this series to their liking. Be on the lookout for the next installment, Lethal Legacy, which is set for release in February.

Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer

Agnes has finally gotten the home of her dreams, has a successful column in the paper called Cranky Agnes, where she dishes about food, is having the wedding of the year at her house for her goddaughter and has a wonderful fiance. What could go wrong? Everything! A man breaks into her house, points a gun at her and demands her dog. Agnes grabs the frying pan and knocks him in the head. He unfortunately falls through the secret door that is in the wall and falls into a basement where he breaks his neck.

Shane was in the middle of a job when his Uncle Joey called telling him to come home and look after his little Agnes. When Shane gets there he finds Agnes is not so little and that she has good aim with a frying pan.

The former owner is trying to sabotage the wedding to get her house back, people keep showing up to kidnap her dog, her fiance isn't who she thought he was, and there might be 5 million dollars somewhere in the house. All Agnes wanted was to cook and live in her dream house. But instead she gets the mob, a hitman, a bigamist and two flamingos!

Agnes and the Hitman was a hilarious book. It was one disaster after another for Agnes. I couldn't wait to see what would happen next!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Cross Country by James Patterson

After several killings in which entire families with young children are ruthlessly murdered and decapitated, Washington, D.C. detective Alex Cross chases a gang leader and diamond smuggler known as "Tiger" to Africa. This time, the case is personal since one of the murdered families belongs to Ellie Cox, Alex's first love when he was a student at Georgetown.

Seeing the potential danger that lies ahead, Brianna and Nana do not want him to go, but Cross feels compelled to avenge Eli's death. In Nigeria, Alex walks into a kind of hell he has never experienced before. He becomes a witness to the camp were Tiger recruits and trains young boys to become savage killers. In a country on the brink of civil war where the government is full of corruption, Alex soon learns that the laws of justice don't apply here.

When it seems that there is no one he can trust including his CIA contact, Alex must go on his instincts and what he has learned from the Ledger reporter who befriended him in Africa to catch the killer.

I never thought I would say this about a Patterson novel, but I was somewhat bored with Cross Country. Alex Cross is a character readers will love, but I had a hard time getting into all the oil trading issues that are at the root of the war. However, I am interested to see where Patterson will take Alex on the next installment.

Take No Prisoners by Cindy Gerard

Abbie Hughes is finally where she wants to be. She works the blackjack table in Vegas, is going to school, and just received the final settlement in her divorce. Life is going good except she can't stop worrying about her younger brother, Cory. He hasn't had an easy life and when she hasn't heard from him for a couple of days she gets worried.

Sam Lang used to part of an organization called Black Ops, INC. But when his sister is murdered because of him, he resigns. Now he is back home working the ranch he grew up on outside of Vegas. When he gets information that can take down his sister's killer, Sam joins back with his friends.

The trail leads to Cory and Sam convinces Abbie to date him. Of course Abbie doesn't realize that Sam is just using her for information and starts to fall in love with him. Sam feels bad about using Abbie because he too starts having real feelings. When Abbie finds out the truth, needless to say she is furious and heartbroken. But she pushes those feelings aside because she needs Sam and his team to save her brother. And maybe along the way Sam and Abbie can trust each other.

This is the second book in the Black Ops series by Gerard. Take No Prisoners is an action packed romance. I couldn't put it down!

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Edge of Evil by J.A. Jance

Shortly after being fired from her job as a Los Angeles anchorwoman, Ali Reynolds learns that her closest friend from high school has died by driving off a cliff. Without a job tying her down, Ali takes a trip to her hometown of Sedona, Arizona to see if she can help Reenie's family.

During her time in Sedona, Ali discovers that Reenie had recently been diagnosed with ALS, a disease which significantly shortened her life. This revelation has authorities believing suicide, but Ali suspects foul play. Although everyone advises her to let it go, Ali feels compelled to get to the bottom of her friend's shocking death, especially when Ali finds that Reenie's husband has been having an affair and that Reenie wanted to undergo trial treatment in Mexico.

While investigating her friend's death, with her son's help, Ali sets up a blog called "cutlooseblog.com," where she chats with individuals who have also been diagnosed with ALS in hopes of learning more about what Reenie was going through. When an estranged husband of one of her readers threatens her life, we wonder if she may be in too deep. Can she solve Reenie's death without putting her own life in danger?

I typically don't read many mysteries, so I was surprised at how much I enjoyed The Edge of Evil. Jance does a superb job of pulling the plot in different directions that will have readers questioning the killer until the very end.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Night Secrets by Cherry Adair

Sydney McBride is trying to get her professional life back. She wrote a book and it turned into a disaster, so she is writing a book about people who get plastic surgery. Her only problem is she has to get plastic surgery so she opted for a boob job. That is how she ended up in Brazil at an exclusive treatment center. She is in her room minding her own business when a naked man comes out of nowhere and tells her to pretend he is her boyfriend. Just as he tells her that, there is a knock on the door.

Lucas Fox is having a bad day. He is a counter-terrorist operative for an organization called T-Flac and he also happens to be a wizard. Unfortunately, his powers are on the fritz. As he teleports after a suspect, he has a rough landing and gets shot in the shoulder. He makes into a room and uses the woman there as cover.

Sydney can't believe her luck. This is the story of a lifetime. She thought she hit the jackpot finding out Lucas is a spy but to find out he is a wizard? Unbelievable. Lucas isn't worried. His main power is wiping memories. As the two work together, they realize there is more going on at this spa then plastic surgery. There is black market organ transplants taking place and a bio chemical weapon being sold to the highest bidder. With all this action going on, will Sydney and Lucas find time to fall in love?

This is the second book in Cherry Adair's Night series. It is a enjoyable series. If you like wizards and spies, check out her Edge series also.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Voice of the Night by Dean Koontz

Fourteen-year old Colin is being raised by a single mother and is new to Santa Leona, California. He has never been one to easily make friends, as he has always been perceived as the nerdy kid who is more interested in science fiction books than girls. Therefore, he is surprised that one of the most popular boys in school, Roy, befriends him. In fact, not only has Roy gone out of his way to make him welcomed in town, but has also secured him a job as assistant manager of the football team for the fall season.

During the course of the summer, the boys spend their time fishing or hanging out at the local burger joint. At one point, Roy asks Colin if he has ever killed anyone before and admits that he has killed not only cats, but also humans. Roy suggests that he pushed one kid off a bridge and light another one fire. He even tries to convince Colin to help him rape and murder his neighbor while her husband is away. Of course, Colin doesn't take this admission seriously and assumes that this is a game Roy is playing to gain Colin's trust. That is, until, Roy takes it too far...

Roy takes Colin up to the old hermit's junkyard in attempt to get Colin to help him move a truck on the train tracks. Finally realizing the extent of Roy's lunacy and fearful for his own life, Colin tries to report Roy, but no one believes him, not even his own mother. With the help of a new friend, Heather, Colin must put a stop to Roy's madness before it's too late.

The Voice in the Night is another page-turner from the prolific Koontz and makes me think that kids can be just as murderous as adults. Yikes! This book also reminded me of the Macaulay Culkin movie, The Good Son. I highly recommend both the book and the movie!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Why We Suck: A Feel Good Guide to Staying Fat, Loud, Lazy and Stupid by Denis Leary

Denis Leary’s first foray into the publishing world is not only laugh-out-loud funny, but 100% true! His book is a mix of biography, parenting guide, and self-help book all rolled up into one tide volume. He offers some of the most hilarious examples of stupid things kids have done I have ever heard.

I couldn’t help but reminisce about my own childhood growing up in 1970 when he makes references to the “Roger Daltrey” look so popular in his youth that today would just be, well, sad. Wow, was it cool then! His no-holds-barred stories of bullies, big brothers and neighborhood gangs made this book one of the best I have read in 2008. He makes it perfectly clear that he feels kids are too coddled today. Spoiled with their PS3s, iPods and cell phones they lack imagination and discipline. His disapproval of today’s parenting styles is clear and he provides some outrageous examples to back up his theory that kids have it too easy nowadays.

While I don’t disagree with many of his assertions, he does get a little bogged down trying to justify some of his positions, that in fact do not need to be defended. He is not offering an alternative to today’s parenting models, only offering his irreverent take on life in the 21st century.

It is perfectly clear he is proud and humbled by his modest Irish upbringing and is even prouder of raising his own two children with his wife Anne, to whom he has been married for 25 years. Ann Leary is a writer as well who has written 2 books including An Innocent, A Broad, a memoir about their time overseas.

I must admit, I’ve been a fan of Denis Leary since the first time I saw the movie The Ref, even before that, so I was very eager to read his book. I am glad I did. It is a very enjoyable read.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Fish out of Water by MaryJanice Davidson

Fredika Bimm is a hybrid. She is half human and half mermaid. Fred is kind of a outcast in the ocean. Her father, who she never knew, tried to overthrow the king thirty years ago. But the prince of mermaids, Artur, wants to marry Fred. But Fred is torn between a fellow marine biologist, Thomas, and Artur.

Fred's best friend, Jonas, is getting married. If that's not enough pressure, out of the blue her dad shows up. It has been thirty years since he tried to overthrow the king and he wants to make amends. If not with the king then with Fred. But before she can get to really know her dad, she must help the king solve the mystery of the disappearing mermaids. Oh and let's not forget straightening out her love life!

Fish Out of Water is the third and last book of MaryJanice's Fred the mermaid series. It is a funny, delightful trilogy. Also, if you like MaryJanice's books, be sure to read the Undead series. It is really fun!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Dark Tide by Andrew Gross

Karen Friedman will never forget the day of the New York City's Grand Central Station explosion that shattered the idyllic life of her and her two children. Charles Friedman, who owns an investment firm and would ordinarily drive into the city, took the train that fateful day because his car was in the shop. Although his body was never recovered, it was determined that he died that day in the explosion. The only remains were his tattered briefcase and a piece of paper from his desk.

On the same day Charlie is killed, a young man is henioiusly murdered in a hit and run accident in Karen's small town of Greenwhich, Connecticut. Inside the young man's wallet is the phone number of Charlie Friedman. On the case is detective Ty Hauck, who questions Karen as to Charlie's connection to the murdered young man. Since she has never seen or heard of this kid, Karen cannot assist the detective, and without enough evidence or clues, the case goes cold.

A year passes and Karen and her family, who are still grappling with Charlie's death, are trying to get on with their lives. On the one-year anniversary, a documentary about the explosion is featured on television. From the television footage of that day Karen sees none other than, Charlie, alive! Completely dumbfounded and at a loss, Karen turns to detective Hauck for help. As the two search for answers, they are drawn into a shady world of murder and deceit from the man Karen thought she knew.

If you are looking for a thrilling ride, The Dark Tide delivers just that. The suspense starts up early and keeps going until the end. I can't wait for Gross's next book!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Mr. Cavendish, I Presume by Julia Quinn

Thomas Cavendish, the Duke of Wyndham, has been betrothed since he was seven years old to Lady Amelia Willoughby. They don't know each other very well until one night at a dance Amelia refuses to dance with him. Thomas realizes there is more to Amelia then he knew and decides maybe it is time he married her. But before that can happen a disruption takes place in his life. He might not be the real Duke of Wyndham. And if he is not the Duke then who is he? And does that mean he is no longer engaged to Amelia? Thomas has always done the right thing. But is the right thing letting Amelia go or fighting for her? Because now that he might lose her, he realizes he cannot live without her!

Mr. Cavendish, I Presume is the same story as The Lost Duke of Wyndham except it is now from Thomas and Amelia's point of view instead of Jack and Grace's. This is a great series. I love how it is the same story in both books but totally different when you read it from the other points of view.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Pemberley by the Sea by Abigail Reynolds

In this modern take on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Reynolds brings us the love story of Cassie Boulton, a marine biologist with a questionable past, and Calder Westling, the rich son of a famous politician.

Just as in P&P, the plot builds on a series of errors, mistakes and misunderstandings between the two main characters. When they finally find one another, his influential and controlling father is bound and determined to destroy the relationship. With the beautiful setting of Cape Cod as a backdrop, plus the academic environs of Cassie’s library arts college and her research labs, this update has lots of 21st century appeal. I particularly enjoyed reading about a heroine who is a smart scientist, with real career ambitions, tenure concerns and a sex life.

Even those not familiar with P&P, but who like a good romance, will enjoy this book. Reynolds originally published this title through a small press, but like a number of other authors of Austeniana, her book was picked up and republished by Sourcebooks, Inc. This publisher has done a nice job in this niche area of publishing. You can check out other Jane-related offerings, including the entire catalog of the late Georgette Heyer’s republished Regency romances at their website: http://www.sourcebooks.com/.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Until We Reach Home by Lynn Austin

Until We Reach Home is the story of three young women who emigrate from Sweden to America in 1897. Teenage sisters, Elin, Kirsten and Sofia are orphans. Following their mother's illness and death, their grieving father has commited suicide. Relatives take over the farm, but their older brother leaves home without letting them know where he is going. Kirsten is in love with a local boy, but he says he can never marry her because of her father's sin. Elin carries a terrible secret and to protect her sisters, she plans for all of them to travel to America to stay with relatives who have provided their passage. Young Sofia would rather stay in Sweden.

The journey to America is long and difficult and at Ellis Island, the girls are detained due to illness. When they finally reach Chicago, they discover their aunt and uncle do not have space for them and their passage was actually paid by a group of young Swedish men in Wisconsin who are looking for wives. None of the girls are interested in marrying strangers and decide to find work in Chicago. They become live-in maidservants for a wealthy (and grumpy) woman. Elin must deal with her secret, Kirsten discovers she is pregnant, and shy quiet Sofia is waiting for a man she fell in love with while at Ellis Island to find her. Life in America is not as easy as they expected, and each of the girls must find their own way to a new home and happiness.

I really enjoyed this book. I have immigrant ancestors who made this same journey from small European villages to Chicago, and I honestly never imagined it could have been so long and difficult. Family stories tend to focus on how proud they were to be Americans rather than how hard they worked to learn the language and make ends meet. Fans of historical fiction will enjoy this book.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Pre-Nup by Beth Kendrick

Ellie, Jen, and Mara are long-time college friends who are all have martial problems due to a little legal document known as the "pre-nup."

Ellie has just realized that her perfect marriage is nothing but a sham when she discovers that her devoted husband has been having an affair with the Angelina Jolie of the medical community. Through some shady financial maneuvering, Michael claims that, despite the pre-nup, he cannot give anything to Ellie since they have been living in debt the last ten years. In addition, he wants to take full legal custody of their daughter, Hannah.

Meanwhile, attorney and soon-to-be married Mara is requiring Josh to sign a pre-nup in order to protect both of their legal assests. However, the pre-nup seems to be just a way to mask the guilt Mara feels for the affair she had earlier in their relationship and is causing strife in their impending marriage.

In addition, workaholic Jen married her best friend, and thus, her marriage is lacking the intense passion that she has had in her previous relationship with Patrick. Eric understands that Jen loves him but isn't in love with him, and he wants out. Jen had Eric sign a pre-nup 5 years ago in order to protect the capital he invested in their business. Although Eric is giving her everything, Jen is miserable because she wants her marriage to work, but it may be too late.

The Pre-nup is a fun, frothy tale that takes a look at that pesky legal document from many angles, and readers will be rooting for these women to prevail despite the legal odds stacked against them.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Listen to Your Heart by Fern Michaels

Josie Dupre and her twin sister Kitty own a catering business in Louisiana. Having inherited the business three years ago from their parents when they died, Kitty and Josie are finally in the black. In fact, they are so busy they are turning away customers. Being so busy Josie wonders why she has been thinking about her mom a lot lately. It could be the fact she is about to turn thirty or that Kitty is getting married. She is feeling sorry for herself when Paul Brouillette and his boxer, Zip come into her life. It was not love at first sight between the humans but it was between the dogs. Rosie, a Maltese and Zip couldn't stand to be apart. Paul and Josie get together for the dogs and the next thing they know they are in love too.

It is not smooth sailing at first. Paul runs his family business but his first love is architecture. He also doesn't have a great relationship with his mom. After his sisters died, his mom shut him out. So he runs the business to earn his mom's love. Needless to say, he has commitment issues. When he is in New York on business, Paul is mugged. While he is recovering in the hospital, Paul comes to some conclusions. Number one is that he wants to be with Josie. He straightens out his business life and then goes and gets the girl.

This was a sweet book by Fern Michaels. It is only a little over 200 pages. If you are in the mood for a quick, light read, this is a great choice.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Fleece Navidad by Maggie Sefton


Fleece Navidad is the sixth book in Maggie Sefton’s Knitting Mysteries series. As the holidays approach, Kelly Flynn is busy knitting hats for charity, staffing the holiday bazaar booth, baking cookies, and coaching teens to perform the Nativity at a local church. After her life was threatened, she has taken a long break from amateur sleuthing. Her daily routine always includes coffee from Pete’s Café and knitting with her friends at Lambspun, the knitting shop across the way from her house. A newcomer to the knitting group is Claudia Miller, a flirty socialite set on finding husband #4…her previous husbands all seem to have died tragic accidental deaths. Her sights are set on retired professor Jeremy Cunningham although he had been involved with librarian Juliet Renfrow.

Sheila Miller, Claudia’s stepdaughter from her third marriage, suddenly shows up in Fort Conner, and makes accusations that Claudia killed her father. She also accuses Claudia of stealing a car and credit card from an elderly woman in Florida. Claudia claims Sheila’s father’s death was accidental and that she borrowed the car and credit card and intended to pay everything back once she was settled. Lambspun regulars take sides creating tension in the usually relaxed atmosphere of the knitting shop.

Ultimately Jeremy rejects Claudia for Juliet, but later that night Juliet is the victim of a hit and run accident. Claudia claims she was in her motel all night, but all evidence seems to point to her. Kelly starts asking questions and puts her sleuthing skills back to work again. Is Claudia a murderer or was she set up to look like one?

I have enjoyed all of Maggie Sefton’s Knitting Mysteries, however I felt this story was a bit too predictable. The book seemed to be lacking the usual fun characters and interesting plot twists, but I enjoyed reading the knitting patterns and recipes included in the back of the book.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Reaching for the Sun by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer

This gem of a story, written in free-verse, follows four seasons of the narrator, Josie's, life as she comes of age on a family farm with her grandmother, single mom, and new friend, Jordan.

Each faces challenges Josie has cerebral palsy but they come through them together, strengthened by familial love, friendship, and the rejuvenating power of nature.

This is a heartfelt story for all ages.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Your Heart Belongs to Me by Dean Koontz

Ryan Perry really doesn't have a worry in the world, least of all money, having made a fortune in software development by the age of 34. All that is about to change when severe heart pain and a visit to his internist reveal that he suffers from a congenital heart condition. Although his doctors have placed him on the wait list for a heart, if he doesn't receive the transplant, he will die within a year.

Still unable to grasp how someone like him who is otherwise a perfect specimen of health could have been given such a terminal prognosis, Ryan becomes paranoid about the origins of his condition and considers the minute possibility that his disease could have been caused by poisoning. Soon, all those around him become suspect, most of all his girlfriend Sam, who lost her twin sister in a car accident and is estranged from her mother who decided to take her sister off life support. Miraculously and despite the odds, a schoolteacher who was killed in a car accident happens to be a compatible match for Ryan and thus he receives the transplant that is required for his survival.

A year after the transplant, Ryan seems to be getting back into the swing of his regular lifestyle, that is, until, the tormenting starts. It begins with a bag of candy valentine hearts on his pillow that all say "be mine" and then a heart gold pendant inscribed with "be mine." There is a woman on the loose who claims to be the owner of his heart and is the spitting image of donor. She wants it back and will stop at nothing to get what she wants.

Although all his storylines vary, there is a certain amount of predictability in Dean Koontz's books, which is what I find to be so enjoyable. I know that the suspense will build at just the right pace to keep the pages turning and will end in a satisfying conclusion, and Your Heart Belongs to Me does just that.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wait Till Your Vampire Gets Home by Michele Bardsley

Welcome back to Broken Heart, Oklahoma. Home of paranormal. There are vampires, werewolves, fairies, zombies, and even dragons! In the latest book about Broken Heart we are introduced to Libby Monroe. She is part of a group called Paranormal Research and Investigation Services(PRIS) formed by her parents. They investigate paranormal occurrences. They heard Broken Heart was the place to be. PRIS just didn't realize they hit the jackpot!

While hanging out at a cemetery, Libby comes across Ralph Genessa. Ralph is visiting his wife's grave. Ralph also happens to be a vampire. A zombie chases them and then up in the night sky there are two dragons fighting. Then out of nowhere a tainted vampire starts after them too. The zombie saves Libby from the vampire and then one of the dragons falls out of the sky and flattens the vampire and zombie. If it couldn't get any weirder, the dragon turns to human form and kisses Libby transferring her dragon power into her.

Now Libby has gone to believing in paranormal occurrences to becoming one. She is tested on, fought over, and threatened. She just wants her mom and dad and maybe Ralph. Because what is more naturally than a vampire and dragon falling in love?!

The Broken Heart series by Michele Bardsley is fantastic. There are always fun and interesting characters. If you like your romance with a paranormal twist, this is the series for you!

Monday, December 8, 2008

1,000 recordings to hear before you die: a listener's life list by Tom

If you are looking for a good gift for the music lover in your life, let me recommend this book. There is something for everyone to discover here.

If you are the kind of music lover ala Nick Hornby’s list-making Rob Fleming from High Fidelity, you will not be able to resist this title. Sure there is plenty to argue with, but there is also plenty to love and learn. I was pleased to find personal faves ranging from Tchaikovsky’s Pathetique to Led Zeppelin’s How the West Was Won.

This book offers reviews and insights into a huge variety of musical genres beyond classical and rock, including: jazz, pop, blues, country, folk, musicals, hip-hop, world, R&B, opera, soundtracks, and more. The alphabetical by author arrangement makes for strange unions, but helps to broaden listening horizons and will perhaps alert you to some delightful new aural treat. There are a number of indexes, including one to help you find works by genre.

Still more fun are the playlists for different occasions or moods. Another plus is the suggestion of where to go next that comes at the end of every entry. Following these tips to make your way through the book leads to further fascinating discoveries. Highly recommended.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Black Dagger Brotherhood: An Insider's Guide by J. R. Ward

For fans of J. R. Ward's The Black Dagger Brotherhood series, the bad news is that the next book in the series does not come out until May 2009. The good news is that Ward has released an insider's guide to the series that is chock full of goodies for her fans. While this book will probably not interest anyone who hasn't read the series, it has some interesting stuff in it for those who have.

The Insider's Guide has deleted scenes, and ultra short stories featuring the brothers and their mates that Ward calls "Slices of Life." These will be familiar to anyone who has perused Ward's web site, as well as material that she pulled directly from the boards on her site. She also includes "interviews" with, and a dossier on each of the brothers, advice for anyone hoping to write a novel, a Question and Answer session, and an intriguing excerpt of the next book, Lover Avenged.

However, the part that I found most intriguing, and the main reason I enjoyed the book was because of the novella featuring Zsadist, Bella and their daughter. Of all the books in the series, my favorite was Lover Awakened, and I was most engaged by Zsadist's and Bella's story. Furthermore, as satisfying as Lover Awakened was, the end of the book leaves Zsadist at the beginning of his journey to healing, and one can imagine that the birth of his daughter, while joyful, could also bring up demons from his past that he has to deal with.

Consequently, I was thrilled to find out that Ward had included a 78 page story called Father Mine that deals with the aftermath of Nalla's birth, and next step in Zsadist's and Bella's journey. Father Mine was powerful, realistic in terms of the characters' emotional journeys, and satisfying.

Although this book is not the next in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, it is a good book to tide fans over until May. Definitely worth checking out if you're a fan.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Dashing Through the Snow by Mary Higgins Clark and Carol Higgins Clark

The little town of Branscombe, New Hampshire is getting ready for the first Festival of Joy that is being catered by Conklin's Market. A few days before the festival, four of Conklin's employees, who jointly purchase a lotto ticket every week, win millions in the jackpot by using Duncan's winning number. Unfortunately, Duncan did not go in on the lotto ticket this week, as he was advised not to by "financial advisors" Edmund and Woodrow Winthrop.

Little does Duncan know that the Winthrop cousins are two con artists in town to scam local residents. In fact, catching wind of Duncan's lucky numbers, the Winthrop brothers have purchased a second winning ticket. Duncan's disappearance the night of the win has the town questioning if he is the holder of the second ticket.

Meanwhile, Flower, Duncan's Internet girlfriend who comes to Branscombe to surprise him, ends up missing. While returning characters Alvriah Meehan and Regan Riley are in town for a visit, they get involved in the case to find Flower and catch the perpetrators of this heinous crime. Along the way, they encounter the two owners of the Hideaway Inn with a shady past, Betty and Jed, as well as a whole cast of oddball residents.

What an enjoyable little read with plenty of suspense and humor! As expected, Mary and Carol create villains out of the Betty, Jed, and the Winthrop cousins that will have readers routing for Duncan and his cohorts. As a reader, I am all about the characters, and there were just so many quirky, fun ones in this light-hearted tale. I am definitely recommending Dashing Through the Snow to everyone!

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

One of the most delightful books I have read in a long time is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer.

Set both in England and Guernsey Island at the beginning of 1946, this novel is totally comprised of notes, letters and telegrams. Author Juliet Ashton (nom de plume Izzy Bickerstaff) is tired of covering what she calls the sunny side of the war and its aftermath. By a strange fluke involving a used book with her name in it, she begins communicating with many of the residents of Guernsey, starting with farmer Dawsey Adams and moving on to his neighbors. Her pen pals share their lives with Juliet, particularly about their book group, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and how it was formed.

The inhabitants are charming, Juliet even more so, and their correspondence ultimately gives her inspiration for her new work and changes her life! Booklovers in particularly will cherish this book but so will anyone with a sense of humor and enjoyment of the quirks of their fellowman. And the ending is great!

As an aside, for those who listen to audiobooks, this is done as Readers Theater with a number of voices and is really excellent!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

Dead Until Dark is the first book in the Southern Vampire series and centers around Bon Temps, Louisiana waitress Sookie Stackhouse. Although she is not a vampire, she is not quite human either, as she has the ability to read others thoughts. So you can imagine her desire not to date!

During one of her shifts at the bar Merlotte where she works, she can't help but notice a vampire sitting in her section with the Rattrays (aka the Rats), two town locals known for causing trouble. A vampire sighting is not all that strange, as they are becoming more mainstream since the invention of synthetic blood, available at most bars and convenience stores.

Smelling trouble, Sookie follows Bill the vampire to the parking lot and saves him from the Rats. In return, Bill rescues Sookie from the Rats' retaliation, and the two are attracted to one other, especially since Bill seems to be the only one whose thoughts she cannot read.

While Sookie and Bill are embarking on a romantic relationship, women from Bon Temps seem to keep turning up dead with old bite marks on their necks, suggesting a vampire may have something to do with their deaths. With a killer on the loose, Sookie fears for her life. Will she be the next victim?

Dead Until Dark features a quirky cast of characters, from Sookie's womanizing brother Jason to Bubba, a vampire with a penchant for cat blood. I will admit that I am not a huge fan of vampire fiction, but this book was just so cute; I devoured it!

Also note that Sookie Stackhouse appears in the television series True Blood. I am a bit skeptical to see this series, as I am afraid it will ruin the book!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Hopeless Romantic's Handbook by Gemma Townley

Kate Hetherington is a hopeless romantic. She sees the positive in everything. And is it so wrong to wish for a knight in shining armor to ride up on a white horse and sweep her away? Almost thirty, Kate is sick of waiting. She goes online and types in hopeless romantic and is astonished to find 4 million hits. Kate finds a book on an Ebay auction called The Hopeless Romantic's Handbook. Kate decides to give it a try. She receives the book the next day and finds it was written in the fifties. The concepts are a little dated but Kate decides to give it a whirl. And to her astonishment, it works.

Kate meets Joe Rogers, an actor from America trying to make it in London. Kate thinks he might be the one but her two best friends, Tom and Sal, think she might be ahead of herself because Kate has only been dating him for a week. Kate doesn't listen because Tom is a cynic when it comes to love and Sal is a happily married woman. But what Kate doesn't know is Tom is secretly in love with her and Sal is having doubts about her marriage.

When Kate is dumped by Joe and fired from her job, she decides that she doesn't need a handbook or a knight. She can do it herself. Kate finds a great job and after some misunderstands finds her knight. He may be a little tarnished but he makes her happy!

You don't have to be a hopeless romantic to enjoy this terrific book by Gemma Townley. It is fun and light read. Another great read by Gemma!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Wifey by Kiki Swinson

Wifey is a typical, by the numbers, urban fiction tale: Kira is the beautiful around the way girl caught up in her drug dealing husband Ricky’s game. So why is this book such enjoyable mind candy?

For starters, as Kira spins her tale in first person, she shares the pain and heartbreak of loving a man that is consistently unfaithful in a funny, unflinchingly honest manner that any reader can relate to. When Kira’s favorite cousin and closest relative Nikki, a drug runner in Ricky’s organization, gets caught with enough product to lock her up for a decade or two, Kira decides to exact revenge on her two-timing criminal husband, using Nikki as the bait for the Fed’s investigation into Ricky’s shady dealings.

A quick read with a surprise ending that will leave readers excited that this book is the first in a new Wifey series, and wondering what new adventures and hot water Kira will find herself in-and how she will get out!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Dark Summer by Iris Johansen

Devon Brady is at a search and rescue mission with her dog Gracie when a mysterious man comes into her tent carrying a dog. The dog has been shot. Being a vet, Devon starts to work on the dog, Ned, and the man introduces himself as Jude Marrok. When Devon is done operating on Ned, she returns to help at the rescue site and when she returns Jude is gone but he left Ned. When he doesn't return for Ned, Devon takes Ned home with her to Colorado.

Jude left Ned with Devon so he could hunt down the man who tried to kill him and his dog. Being an ex-Navy Seal works to his advantage but it still took him two days to track and kill the man. The man sent by his enemy, Danner. Danner is trying to get a hold of the four dogs in Jude's possession. Dogs that may have special powers of healing. He wants them so he can kill them and dissect them and make millions. Jude has separated the dogs and left them with guardians.

Jude sees the potential of Devon being a guardian and that is why he left Ned with her. But by doing so he has put her in grave danger. Now he must get her to trust him. Because Danner will stop at nothing to get the dogs and he will harm anyone and anything in his path. Jude must end this now or he will lose his dogs and the woman he is falling for.

Another great book by Iris Johansen! If you haven't read her, you must. Her Eve Duncan series is fantastic. Also, if you are familiar with her books, Sarah Logan from The Search makes an appearance.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Testimony by Anita Shreve

Shreve's newest novel, Testimony, begins with the headmaster of Avery Academy, a private secondary school in Vermont, viewing a video given to him that involves three upper classmen students from the basketball team engaging in sexual activities with a 14-year-old inebriated freshman.

Although the camera man is unknown and no one is telling, two of the faces in the video belong to J. Dot, an arrogant PG (post grad), and Robert Leicht, a senior who received early acceptance to Brown. Michael Bordwin is shocked to discover that the third boy is Silas Quinney, a mild-tempered, good student who he helped get into Avery.

At this point, Michael's primary concern is making sure that this scandal doesn't leak to the public. He steps on shaky legal ground when he forces a signed confession from two of the boys without giving them the benefit of legal or parental counsel. Little does he know that his later actions sets in motion a chain of events that ruins the lives of several and results in a death.

The story is set against the backdrop of the cold winter months of a small New England town. As the story unfolds, the reader gets a glimpse of what led up to the events of that fateful Saturday night from different voices. Each chapter is told from a different character's perspective who was somehow affected by the scandal, from the journalist who covered the story to the parents of the boys to the victim herself.

Although you may think it would be challenging to top Light on Snow or The Pilot's Wife, Shreve has done it, as this may be one of her best novels to date. Shreve has a way of pulling the reader into the emotions of the characters while we contemplate moral dilemmas. I couldn't book this book down. Highly recommended!

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan

With The Lemon Tree, author Sandy Tolan has managed to fairly and accurately humanize the tragic story of the Middle East in a non-fiction book that reads like a novel.

Based on hundreds of interviews gathered over several years and impeccable research, he pieces together the true stories of his fated, intertwined heroes. One is Dalia, the offspring of Jewish-Bulgarians who built a new life in an abandoned stone home in Ramla, Israel, after the horror of the Holocaust. The other is Bashir, the son of the builder of the stone house in Ramla, Palestine, which had to be abandoned during Israel's War of Independence or what the Palestinians know as the "Nakhba"/the Catastrophe.

Anyone hungering to understand the complexities of this area's calamitous history should read this book. You won't be able to put it down.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Foul Play by Janet Evanovich

Amy Klasse is having a bad day. She has just been fired from her stint as LuLu the Clown on a children's program and been replaced by a dancing chicken. She stops at the grocery store on the way home and her skirt gets caught in the door. She makes it inside and proceeds to knock over a cantaloupe stand and smash her eggs. As if the day couldn't get any worse, she goes to checkout and realizes she left her wallet in her purse in her locker at the TV station!

Jake Elliot can't believe it. He just got sucker punched by love. He had just pulled up in the grocery parking lot and this woman stole his parking stop. As she gets out of the car, she gets her skirt caught in the door and Jake is gone. He never believed in love at first sight but now he does. He follows her into the store and watches her knock over and smash things. When he realizes she doesn't have her wallet, he sees his opportunity to meet and rescue her.

At first Amy is hesitant to accept this stranger's help. But after reassurances from the other shoppers that Jake is a good guy, Amy gives in. She offers to cook him dinner. Over dinner Jake offers Amy a job at his veterinarian clinic as a receptionist. Amy agrees and starts work the next day. What happens next is a robbery, a chicken-napping, spying and some falling in love.

This was a cute story. If you want something light and fluffy to read, this would be the book. Just another Janet Evanovich fix until Stephanie Plum returns!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

Dexter Morgan is not your average serial killer. His victims are not chosen at random. He kills the bad guys, the ones that deserved to be killed, like the priest that was raping and murdering orphan children.

Dexter can't seem to help what he is, and at least he is channeling his ways into something positive, right? In fact, his foster father has given him the Code of Harry of which to live by: if you feel the need to kill, there are many who deserve to be killed. But those duties are just his MO. His day job is working for the Miami Police Department as a blood splatter analyst.

Most recently he has been helping his sister, Deborah, a Miami cop trying to move up to homicide, with a string of killings involving prostitutes who have been dismembered with no traces of blood left at the scene. In charge of the case is Detective LaGuerta, a woman with a specific fondness for Dexter who refuses to let his sister stake any claim on her turf.

As more and more victims turn up dead, Dexter can't help but consider the irony that these exact killings have appeared in his dreams. While it certainly gives Dexter the premonition needed to aid his sister in solving the crimes, it causes him to question if he could be the killer. After all, how many people have the ability to think and kill like Dexter other than Dexter himself?

With a dark sense of humor, Lindsay has created a serial killer that readers are sure to like. Also, I would love to see the Showtime adapation of Dexter starring Michael C. Hall who played David Fisher in the HBO series Six Feet Under. If anyone has seen the show, please post a comment, as I would love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, November 10, 2008

One More Year by Sana Krasikov

I just finished One More Year by Sasha Krasikov. I loved it! This book is for you if you'd like to: know exactly what the Russian immigrant/returnee (to the "new" Russia) experience currently is; get a window into the current world of Moscow's brightest entrepreneurs; view the nitty-gritty of American culture and Russian culture through the eyes of an acutely perceptive and aware Russian-Georgian-Jewish emigre to America who writes extremely well.

She nails very evasive emotions and truths which seem to belong to others in faraway places but are in fact true to our own experiences. Jonathan Rosen, author of The Life of the Skies, articulates Krasikov's talent best (below you'll see her referred to as "Sana", which is a diminutized version of the nickname "Sasha", which, you probably know, is a nickname for "Alexandra/Alexander"- Russians love multiple nicknames): "Sana Krasikov is the real thing. Her stories take shape inside the specific world of emigres wrestling with language and loss and the stubborn details of survival, but they open into the largest of worlds and speak a universal language of heartbreak and desire."

Friday, November 7, 2008

His Captive Lady by Anne Gracie

Harry Morant can't take his eyes off the woman in the back of the cart. It is raining and cold but she isn't letting it affect her. As he rides by on his horse, he hands her his gloves and hat. Not one word is exchanged but Harry is deeply impacted. They come to a fork in the road and go their separate ways.

Lady Helen Freymore aka Nell has just returned home. Her father is dead and she must return to London to found someone very dear to her. She comes home to regroup and finds that her home was lost in a card game by her father and that she is now broke and homeless. While she is hiding out in the stables trying to figure her next move out, Harry shows up. He has just bought the house. It is the perfect place for him to breed horses.

He can't believe his luck that the girl he can't stop thinking about is here! He proposes and as much as Nell wants to say yes she feels she is not in the position to accept. She must find the lost person in London. She accepts a job as a lady's companion because it will get her to London. On the way, they detour to Bath and who should be there but Harry visiting his aunt. They are caught in a compromising position and become engaged. Harry is ecstatic and Nell is secretly happy too.

Harry agrees to take Nell to London to find this mystery person. Along the way, Nell realizes she can trust him and finally tells her story about why she is so desperate to find this person. With the help of a couple of Harry's friends, they scour London looking for the missing person. Along the way, they will find love, sadness, and ultimately their happy ending.

I love Anne Gracie's books. I started with her Perfect series and I never looked back. I cannot wait til her next book comes out.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Against Medical Advice by James Patterson and Hal Friedman

Against Medical Advice tells the true story of Corey Friedman and his struggle with Tourette syndrome and obsessive compulsive disorder from age five to seventeen. The story is written by James Patterson and Corey's father, Hal, but is told from Corey's voice, making his story all the more affective.

From the onset, Corey's doctor's misdiagnosed his symptoms as attention deficit disorder, and consequently he was put on Ritalin. Further doctor visits revealed that Corey actually suffered from Tourette's. Over the years his doctors have tried a variety of prescriptions from antidepressants to medication for Parkinson's to antipsychotics. Much of the time, the side affects of the medications were worse than the actual disorder; some even made him contemplate suicide. Nothing seemed to be able to curb his grimacing, his ticks, and the behaviors of his body that he couldn't control. The only thing Corey seemed to find solace in was alcohol.

As you might imagine, school became extremely difficult for Corey, both socially and academically, especially when some of his teachers were less understanding than others. Hitting rock bottom when he nearly burned down his parent's house, Corey went against medical advice and stopped taking many of his medications. He eventually left his junior year of high school to attend a wilderness camp for troubled teens. He also went to other schools that specialized in helping individuals with issues such as his. Although unable to find a cure, through his own perseverance he was able to improve the severity of his condition.

Deeply touching and eye-opening, Corey's personal account of his struggles will pull at reader's heartstrings as they walk with Corey in his journey to overcome this debilitating condition. His is a story of triumph against all odds that will captivate readers.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Simply Perfect by Mary Balogh

Simply Perfect is the fourth and presumably last, of Mary Balogh's series following the romantic adventures of four schoolteachers from Bath. The heroine of this story is Claudia Martin, the owner of Miss Martin's School for Girls. Loyal to her friends, and softhearted towards those in need, Claudia has an intense dislike of the aristocracy, particularly Dukes and anyone connected to the Bedwyn family. Consequently, her first impression of Joseph Fawcitt, Marquess of Attingsborough is not positive, and she reluctantly agrees to let him give her and two of her students a ride to London to visit her friend Susanna.

Claudia is a strong, independent woman, who has accomplished many goals and dreams. She has made her way in the world without the help or guidance of a man, and she fully expects to remain a spinster for life. Joseph is a man of great love and passion who longs for a wife that could be a full partner, but who also wants to meet the expectations of his family and society. His family wants him to marry, and his father has picked out the perfect bride. Joesph fully intends on fulfilling his father's wish, but his growing relationship with Claudia, stands in the way.

Claudia and Joseph are mature, adult people who have spent their lives living up to their codes of honor. Their growing relationship is convincing, and realtistic, as are the challenges and questions they face. Once they are finally able to accept being with one another, their happiness has been earned, and is deeply satisfying to the reader.

This was my favorite book in this series by Balogh. The characters are interesting and well-drawn, and the drama and romance engaging.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Creepers by David Morrell

In preparation for writing his story, reporter Frank Balenger has joined a covert group of individuals who refer to themselves as "creepers" on their exploration of the dilapidated hotel in Asbury Park known as the Paragon. The "creepers" consist of Professor Robert Conklin and his former students, Rick, Vinnie, and Cora, and their mission is to infiltrate old, historic buildings without vandalizing or destroying them.

Besides the Professor, not many people know the sordid history behind the Paragon Hotel. The prior owner, Carlisle, an eccentric individual who suffered from agoraphobia, used surveillance techniques to monitor his guests. During the course of his voyeurism, he not only witnessed affairs but also brutal acts of violence and murder. In fact, one of the rooms was home to a mobster who supposedly stored valuable gold coins in a secret vault in his room. As a result, readers will soon discover the different motivations behind the expedition and ultimately that no one is who they said they are.

When they enter the hotel on this stormy October night, the professor and his clan suspect they will run into the usual nighttime creatures that inhabit these places, but little do they know the nightmarish hell they are about to encounter, including dead bodies, a woman held captive, a group of thugs, and a serial killer on the loose. Will any of them be able to get out alive?

I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed with Creepers at first, as the adventure and suspense started out slowly, but I am glad I finished it. If you can get through the first 70 pages or so, the plot thickens and intensifies, and Morrell keeps readers guessing until the very end.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Show No Mercy by Cindy Gerard

Jenna McMillan, a journalist, helped take down an organization that was doing experiments on children. Nine months later she is trying to get on with her life and forget about the man who saved her, Gabe Jones. Jenna decides it is time to get back to work and is offered an assignment in Argentina. Back where the nightmare took place.

Gabe Jones is part of a group called Black Ops, Inc. His part in the take down was motivated by revenge. One of the experimenters, Erich Adler, had tortured his love in front of Gabe a year before. He almost didn't get his revenge because of a feisty redhead named Jenna, who he saved and nine months later still couldn't stop thinking about.

Now Gabe and Jenna are back in the same place and Gabe saves Jenna once again from a car bomb. Gabe gets hurt and after being treated, they return to Jenna's hotel. When they arrive at her room, there are gunmen waiting for them. That is when they realize someone is out to kill Jenna and Gabe. Is it an old enemy or a new one? And will they survive long enough to realize their feelings for each other?

Another great start of a series by Cindy Gerard. The next title is Take No Prisoners. Her Bodyguards series is also terrific. The first book is To the Edge.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Matters at Mansfield (Or, the Crawford Affair) by Carrie Bebris

Fans of Jane Austen and cozy mysteries will enjoy the new book by Carrie Bebris: The Matters at Mansfield (Or, The Crawford Affair). This is the fourth in the series of Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mysteries.

Lady Catherine de Bourgh is determined to find a good match for her delicate daughter Anne. Good breeding and a considerable fortune are much more important to her than love so Lady Catherine has arranged for Anne to marry Neville Sennex, the son of a viscount. Much to everyone’s surprise Anne finally stands up to her mother and elopes with Henry Crawford!

Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam (cousin to Darcy and Anne) race to stop the marriage, but find they are too late. While returning home to face the rage of Lady Catherine, Anne is injured and must recover at the village of Mansfield, where too many people know of Henry Crawford’s past affair with a married woman. Lady Catherine and Elizabeth Darcy eventually meet up with the group and all learn that not only did Henry previously have an affair; he is also married to another woman!

Henry mysteriously disappears apparently afraid to face the consequences of his actions. Eventually his body is found…the victim of a duel or is it suicide? There are too many unanswered questions surrounding Henry’s death, and Mr. and Mrs. Darcy are determined to find the answers to help save Darcy’s cousin Anne’s reputation.

Fans of Jane Austen will enjoy revisiting the memorable characters of Pride & Prejudice as well as Mansfield Park. This is a nice cozy mystery written in Jane Austen’s witty style, and gives an interesting interpretation of what life might have been like for Darcy and Elizabeth after they married. While this book can stand alone, readers may wish to start with the first book in the series: Pride and Prescience (Or, A Truth Universally Acknowledged).

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Step On a Crack by James Patterson

Even though it is Christmastime, the funeral service for the former president's wife is full of the rich and famous. Noted celebrities and politicians have gathered at St. Patrick's to remember the former first lady. In the midst of the service, a group of cloaked, hooded, and masked men with teasers and guns take over, using the funeral services attendees as their hostages. Their demands are simple: they want $80 million dollars wired to an account in the Caymans or else New York's most famous will die.

Enter New York City homicide detective and former hostage negotiator, Michael Bennett, who has been called in to talk to the front man for the hijackers, a man who calls himself "Jack." Michael, a father of ten adopted children who's wife is dying of terminal cancer, needs this pressure like he needs a hole in the head, but he is determined to get the hostages out safely, no matter what the costs.

Michael and the police think they have the upper hand when the church's caretaker comes forward with a secret passage that they can use to raid the church. Unfortunately, the hijackers seem to be one step ahead, and this attempted raid leads to a few causalities. In fact, the hijackers demonstrate they are not kidding around when they send a few hostages out - the mayor who has been stabbed to death and a priest who has died in the crossfire. Will Michael be able to successfully negotiate with Jack before anyone else dies?

Readers will enjoy this fast-paced and intense read from Patterson. I also wanted to add that this story would would make an excellent feature film and I hope it gets optioned for a movie one day. It could stand up next to Die Hard any day.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Borrower of the Night by Elizabeth Peters

Vicky Bliss is a history professor. She is 6 feet, blond and filled out in all the right places. This makes it hard for her to be taking seriously. When she stumbles upon a book her boyfriend Tony is writing a review about, she discovers that the book might hold clues to a lost German artifact, a jeweled reliquary.

During a school break, Vicky journeys to Germany and stays in the medieval castle of the maker of the reliquary. The castle is run by his heirs, an unfriendly older woman and her shy but beautiful niece. Tony shows up and challenges Vicky to a contest. If he finds the item first then Vicky has to marry him and if Vicky does, she can do what she likes. What they didn't expect was other people looking for the item. Or the murder attempts. Or the secret passages. Or the fact that they would really find the reliquary.

I am a big fan of Elizabeth Peters and her Amelia Peabody series, so I decided to give her Vicky Bliss series a try. I like it. I have only read the first book but I really enjoyed it and look forward to reading the rest.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Nova Swing By M. John Harrison

If you are a fan of the latest wave of noir SF, you are probably familiar with M. John Harrison, author of Nova Swing, the 2007 winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award, UK’s premier prize for science fiction literature.

This is a brilliantly painful book, unrelenting in its focus on bleak and grim characters, trapped either by their past or their present circumstances. The novel is populated with minions, molls, bar keeps and genetically-modified rickshaw girls all living on the borderlands of the city of Saudade, near the so-called “event site”, an anomaly of space and time that was caused when parts of the Kefahuchi Tract fell to the ground of a planet 10,000 light years from Earth.

Like all good noir, it starts with a gal in a bar in need of some help. The year is 2444 AD and Elizabeth Kielar needs something from the crash zone. Vic is the man who is going to help her. Vic Seratonin is a dangerous tour operator, who takes his clients into the ever-changing event site, often leaving with contraband artifacts he fences through Paulie DeRaad. Lens Aschemann is the Site Crime detective charged with halting this illegal trade. During his investigations of Vic and Paulie, he begins to suspect something even bigger is going on and coming out of the bathrooms at the Café Surf. And that doesn’t even begin to explain the streams of black and white cats that flow out of the site periodically.

I’m not sure this is a likable book. It is a cruel book, mysterious and unsettling. It makes you think … hard. It haunts me. Shades of Burroughs, Ballard and Dick, if that’s your thing, you’ll want to check this out. Highly recommended.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks

While serving in Iraq, Logan Thibault comes across a laminated photo of a young woman that is signed "E" on the back, which he posts on his platoon's bulletin board in hopes of returning it to its owner. Weeks go by and no one claims the photo, so Logan decides to keep it in his back pocket for safekeeping. Strangely, there are several moments during the war in which Logan could have died, but he somehow manages to survive every one of them. His friend and fellow marine Victor attributes Logan's "luck" to the photo he carries around with him.

Returning from the war and convinced by Victor that the woman in the photograph is his destiny, Logan and his dog, Zeus, venture to Hampton, North Carolina, a town that is run by the Clayton family, resolved to locate her. Eventually Logan tracks down Beth, a single mother to Ben, when he starts working at the kennel which she runs with her grandmother, Nana. Not sure were all this is headed, Logan does not tell Beth about the photo.

Despite the unanswered questions of why Logan came to Hampton, Beth becomes smitten with him, especially since he reminds her of her brother, Drake, who died while serving in Iraq. In addition, unlike Beth's ex and the other men she has dated, Logan is genuinely nice to her son. Meanwhile, local police deputy Keith Clayton, Beth's ex-husband and a man who Logan had a run-in when he first arrived in town, is determined to make trouble for the couple.

In typical Spark's fashion, much of the narrative is devoted to Beth and Logan's developing romantic relationship, but he also builds up much tension with the vindicative Clayton. Readers will anxiously be turning the pages to see what Clayton will do and what will happen when the truth is finally revealed. The Lucky One is another winner from beloved author Nicholas Sparks!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Jamie at Home: Cook Your Way to the Good Life by Jamie Oliver

Jamie Oliver is one of my favorite television chefs, and his new book Jamie at Home: Cook Your Way to the Good Life is wonderful. Using his own home garden as inspiration, this book is divided into seasons with recipes taking advantage of whatever is ready to harvest. Interspersed throughout the book are growing tips and fabulous photos of the food and his garden. Known for his simple, no-nonsense recipes that emphasize natural flavors, this book is sure to please!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Shortly after going through a painful divorce, journalist and travel essayist Elizabeth Gilbert decides to travel for one year in an attempt to discover happiness. Gilbert travels to three countries: Italy, where she eats, India, where she prays, and Bali, where she learns to love again.

In Rome, Gilbert indulges on everything from margherita pizza to octopus salad, from bread drenched in oil to tiramisu, and describes these foods so vividly that readers will be salivating when reading each description. In India, Gilbert lives in an Ashram where she learns the importance of meditation to cleanse in her soul. It is here where Gilbert seems to finally be able to let go of what was weighing her down. In Bali, Gilbert returns to the medicine man who predicted she would live with him to teach him English. She meets a new friend and embarks on a romantic relationship with a Brazilian businessman.

After Gilbert appeared on Oprah, there was so much hype built around her memoir. Women would carry Eat, Pray, Love around like it was their bible and comment on how much Gilbert's experience changed their own lives.

Honestly, I have to admit that I was somewhat disappointed in this book. I am in no place to judge Gilbert, as I have never been through a divorce, but I found her to be very needy in her relationships with men. It was her decision to leave her husband, so I had a hard time pitying her and perceived her to be selfish. If you read and enjoyed this book, please post a comment. I would really like to understand what everyone else saw in this story that I have seemed to have missed.

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Importance of Being Married by Gemma Townley

Jessica Wild has just inherited millions from Grace, a lady she befriended at the nursing home her grandma was at. Grace would always ask about her love life and Jessica would always skirt the issue. Eventually, Jessica realized it wouldn't hurt to fabricate a date or two for Grace's benefit. Before Jessica knows it, she is being proposed to and eloping with her boss, Anthony Milton. Of course none of it is true and even though it has made Grace very happy Jessica decides to come clean. Before she can, Grace dies and leaves Jessica everything...under her married name, Mrs. Jessica Milton!

With the help of her best friend Helen, Jessica gets a makeover and tips on how to get the real Anthony Milton to propose in 50 days. Normally, Jessica might just forget the whole thing but Grace's beautiful home will be torn down and turned into business offices. So does it matter that she doesn't love Anthony or that she might be in love with someone else? Can she get the millions and still be true to herself?

I loved this book. There is a great twist at the end. It is the first of a trilogy and I cannot wait for the next two books to come out! Gemma Townley has made my list of must read authors!!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Ask Again Later by Jill Davis

Emily Rhode is a thirty-something New York professional whose mother has just been diagnosed with breast cancer. In response to her mother's diagnosis and without much thought, Emily has quit her job. This also affords Emily the opportunity to escape the on-again off-again relationship with her coworker Sam, a man she loves but can't seem to commit.

In addition to her concerns about her mother's health, Emily has been in therapy to deal with issues with her father Jim, who walked out on her family when she was five. Although Jim has been estranged from the family for most of Emily's life, he has been back in the picture ever since Joanie's diagnosis. In fact, he offers Emily a reception job at his law firm which Emily accepts.

Emily's new job gives her a chance to establish a relationship with the man who she never really knew in hopes of forming the family she never really had. Just when Emily is adjusted to the status quo, tragedy hits, and Emily starts to reevaluate her priorities in life.

Despite Davis's keen ability to punctuate moments of sadness with humor, for me, the plot seemed to drag on for most of the book. I wouldn't care to read anything by this author again, and I wish I could get back the 6 hours or so it took me to read this book!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Little Book by Selden Edwards

I have just finished reading a very intriguing book entitled The Little Book by Selden Edwards. Although not a little book itself (400 pages), this story is an unusual mix of historical fiction set in late 19th century Vienna and of time travel.

Two members of the Burden family, Dilly and Wheeler, are transported to Austria at the same time, although arriving from different time periods. There are flashbacks to 1988, Wheeler's actual time period, and to the 1940's, the last era of Dilly, but what is quite amazing is how the author entwines all the characters, many of them ancestors of the two men and many famous personalities such as Mark Twain, Sigmund Freud, even Adolph Hitler. It does all connect in the end in a very satisfying way.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Tempted By the Night by Elizabeth Boyle

Lady Hermione Marlowe has been in love with Lord Rockhurst forever. The only problem is he doesn't know she exists. When Hermione finds her new sister-in-law's ring she puts it on for safe keeping, not knowing the ring has magical powers. It allows the person wearing it to make one wish. So when Hermione innocently says she wishes to be invisible at night so she can follow Lord Rockhurst and learn all of his secrets, she is shocked when it comes true.

Lord Rockhurst is from a long line of protectors called the Paratus. They protect London from dangerous beings from another realm. Very few people are aware of these creatures. One night, while in a dire situation, someone was there to help. Rockhurst could not see the person, but they saved his life.

His shadow, as he calls her, keeps showing up at night and during the day Rockhurst is determined to find out her identity. Hermione won't tell because she doesn't want him to be disappointed. They fall in love even though Rockhurst doesn't know who his Shadow is.

This was a decidedly different type of historical romance. I enjoyed it thoroughly. I didn't realize Tempted By the Night was the second book in a series and the first book is His Mistress By Morning. You can be sure I will be reading that one as soon as possible!