Saturday, February 28, 2009

Whisper No Lies by Cindy Gerard

Crystal Debrowski has just been propositioned. When you are five foot nothing with a very well endowed body, getting hit on is nothing new. Crystal politely refuses to be the mistress of Yao Long and has him escorted from the casino where she works. Thinking that is the end, Crystal forgets about it. A couple of weeks later, counterfeit money is being passed at the casino during her shift and Crystal is accused and arrested. Her best friend Abbie and her husband Sam (Take No Prisoners) come to her rescue and not far behind is her sometime lover Johnny Duane Reed.

After being sprung from jail, Crystal goes back to Sam's ranch. After spending the night at the ranch, Crystal decides to go home and get away from Johnny. She doesn't want to fall for Johnny, who is part of Black Ops, Inc and is a love 'em and leave 'em sort of guy, so staying at the ranch while he is there is not an option. When Crystal gets home, she realizes two men have broken in and she does her best to fight them but she is drugged and kidnapped.

When she wakes up she finds out that she has been kidnapped by Yao Long and is in Indonesia. It turns out he is big in human trafficking, drugs, and guns. Another girl is there and she explains to Crystal what is expected of her. Crystal will not give up without a fight. Before she can fight she is rescued by Johnny.

Now Johnny needs to get Crystal out of the country but before he can Crystal tells him the other girl's name. Turns out she is a general's daughter and has been missing for 6 months. Crystal won't leave until she is safe. Johnny calls in his Black Ops team and with Crystal they set out to rescue the girl and stop Yao Long for good.

Another great Black Ops, Inc story from Cindy Gerard. Cannot wait for the next installment out October 9, 2009!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister

First time novelist Bauermeister combines her love of cooking and savoring life in this sweet story of love, heartache and passion.

Lillian owns an amazing yet quaint and off-the-beaten path restaurant. On Mondays, she opens the kitchen up to 8 diverse people for cooking classes. Each session is different from the last--the part that Lillian enjoys the most about these classes is opening up these people's hearts and minds to the aromas and flavors and textures of food--basic food.

During this session, some of the characters you meet are a harried first-time mom, a lawyer who lost the love of his and is just starting to try to piece his life back together, an Italian kitchen designer adapting to her new country, and a long-married couple who have been through the worst and are still passionate about life and each other.

Lillian has done this so many times she knows how to read each type of person who will walk in her doors--but don't think that's a bad thing--she's learned how to bring these characters together to find what each one is looking for.

A fantastic, sweet, enjoyable read.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Run For Your Life by James Patterson

It has almost been a year since his wife's passing, and NYPD homicide detective/hostage negotiator Michael Bennett is struggling to take care of his 10 adopted children on his own, especially when half his brew is sick with the flu. Fortunately, he has the help of an Irish au pair, Mary Catherine, and his grandfather, Father Seamus.

When a woman is pushed onto a subway track and two employees are murdered at high profile New York institutions, Bennett is called in to put a stop to this madman who is terrorizing the city. The killer, who calls himself "The Teacher," claims to be vigilante for those who have been wronged and his shooting style suggests that he is no amateur and possibly ex-military. No matter what leads they follow, Michael always seem to be one step behind, with more victims turning up by the day.

Let's face it, nursing a group of vomiting children while trying to put a stop to a sociopath who is loose on the city's streets isn't easy. Michael will have to use his skills as a hostage negotiator to catch up with The Teacher before he strikes again.

Followed by Step on a Crack, this is the second in a series featuring Michael Bennett. I love how you can tear through a Patterson novel in just a few hours and it makes me forgive the implausibility of the story's ending. Although Step on a Crack was better, I do hope Patterson continues with this series.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Alphabet Juice by Roy Blount, Jr.

Fans of NPR's "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me", are familiar with the irreverant humor of writer and panelist Roy Blount, Jr. If like me, you are fascinated by etymology and the history of words and phrases, you will enjoy this dictionary-style book.

But this is more than just a dictionary. Blount, an essayist, regular contributor to Atlantic Monthly and usage consultant for American Heritage Dictionary, examines current phrases and slang along with how meanings have morphed over the years. What makes this so entertaining and not the least bit dull is Blount's good ol' boy Georgia style that has you envisioning him writing this from his hammock in the garden.

Friday, February 20, 2009

100 Places Every Woman Should Go by Stephanie Elizondo Griest

"Discover the world's best places to: commune with the feisty spirits of heroines like Hatshepsut, Sappho, Catherine the Great, and Frida Kahlo, race a camel, yak, or pony across the Mongolian steppe, dive for pearls in Bahrain, take a mud bath in a volcano off the coast of Colombia, dance with Voodoo priestesses in Benin and urban cowboys in Texas, roast in a steamy banya with a bottle of vodka (or two) in Moscow.

Divided into sections like "Powerful Women and Their Places in History," "Places of Indulgence," and "Places of Adventure," this guidebook includes contact information, resources, and recommended reading. "Ten Tips For Wandering Women" features safety advice plus pointers on how to stop departing airplanes and avoid getting tossed off Trans-Siberian trains for not having your papers in order. The foreword is by Holly Morris, author of "Adventure Divas: Searching the Globe for Women Who Are Changing the World." - from the Publisher

If you're struggling to think of where your next adventure should be, this book is for you! If you're an armchair traveler and know you'd never make it to some of these far off places, this book is for you too! It's a small book of 300 pages so each chapter gives you just enough to make you decide you never want to go there or just enough to make you want to add it to your list.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Associate by John Grisham

Finishing his last year at Yale, Kyle McAvoy intends to pursue a career in legal aid for migrant workers, despite offers he receives from some of the top firms in the country. However, his post-graduation plans are soon to change when a drunken night from his past comes back to haunt him.

Many of his undergraduate years at Duquesne were spent drinking and partying with his buddies, not atypical of any college male. On one particular night of partying, a few of his buddies had sex with a gal who may or may not have been unconscious. The statue of limitations on rape cases in the state of Pennsylvania is 12 years. None of the guys know that a video of that night exists until it surfaces in the hands of Benny.

Benny is using the video of Kyle to blackmail him into accepting a position as an associate at the most powerful law firm in the world: Pershing Scully. With Kyle on the inside, Benny wants him to steal the legal secrets of one of the firm's biggest clients. This act goes against everything Kyle believes in as a lawyer and can get him disbarred. Kyle doesn't know who Benny represents; all he knows is that Benny has the power to destroy everything.

Painting a dreary picture of life as a litigator for a major firm, Grisham's newest legal thriller centers around blackmail, rape, and extortion. The build-up is superb but the ending leaves you unfulfilled like The Appeal. I am hoping his next book will not be as disappointing.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The House at Riverton by Kate Morton

The cover description of The House at Riverton, says this novel is “reminiscent of the romantic suspense of Daphne du Maurier”. As an old fan of Rebecca, I was immediately intrigued and very satisfactorily pleased in the reading. It does remind me of du Maurier’s famous book made into a movie; haunting, romantic, mysterious and full of secrets.

The story opens in 1999 when Grace Bradley is living out the remainder of her days in a nursing home. When she was just a girl, before the first World War, Grace went to work as a servant in the House at Riverton and forever her life was linked with the lives of the family and servants there. In 1924, a young poet committed suicide at a party held at the House but only Hannah and Emmeline, the young Riverton daughters, and Grace herself knew the truth of this incident.

Now in her late nineties, Grace is visited by a young director who plans to make a film about the events of that fateful summer of ’24. Back at Riverton for a visit, old memories are awakened in Grace and she tells the story of her life, flashing back to the days of her youth, then as a young woman and the many changes that have taken place during her lifetime.

This is a masterful story of deception and mystery with all the trappings of historical fiction set in the early part of the 1900’s and beyond. You will not want to miss The House at Riverton!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Lulu in Marrakech by Diane Johnson

American spy, Lulu Sawyer, has the perfect cover for her lastest assignment: Morocco is where a recent former flame, wealthy Brit, Ian Drummond lives. Lulu can keep tabs on the elite French and British expatriots who might be money laundering for radical Islamic groups while lounging poolside at Ian's stunning Morrocan villa.

Lulu soon finds herself embroiled in the clash between Western culture and strict Islamic rules, particularly in regards to women. Double standards and double agents provide great intrigue and soon things turn tragic for Lulu.

I was initially drawn to the beautiful cover art and the title of this book as Lulu is my nickname, and the exotic locale piqued my interest. While I found the author's language a bit odd for an American character and the storyline took some time to unfold, ultimately, the story kept my interest.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The House on Tradd Street by Karen White

Melanie Middleton is a top selling real estate agent. Her speciality is old, historic houses. Which is kind of funny since Melanie has a quirky gift. She can see ghosts. When she is asked to list the house at 55 Tradd Street, Sophie is excited. This would be a great sale. But when she gets to the house she sees a woman in the garden pushing an empty swing. The woman is a ghost. Once inside the house the owner, Nevin Vanderhorst, talks about everything but listing the house. So when a couple days later Melanie is informed Mr. Vanderhorst died and left her his house and estate, Melaine is shocked.

Melanie doesn't want the house but in order to sell she has to live in it for one year. Almost immediately Jack Trenholm, a writer who writes about unsolved mysteries, offers his assistants in renovating the house as long as he can write about the mystery of the house. Melanie agrees and with the help of her friends, Sophie and Chad, she starts restorations.

During the renovations, it comes to pass that there might be diamonds in the house. Jack knew all along but neglected to tell Melanie. Melanie is upset by this since she is developing feelings for Jack. So when Marc Longo, who has a history with the house, asks her out Melanie agrees. But are his intentions for good or bad?

With break-ins, missing diamonds, a sort of love triangle, and mysterious ghosts, The House on Tradd Street is a page turner. At the end of the book there is an excerpt for the next book with Melanie and Jack. I can't wait!

Friday, February 13, 2009

No Place Like Home by Mary Higgins Clark

As a ten year old child, Liza Barton was roused from her sleep one fateful evening when she heard her mother and stepfather, Ted Cartwright, fighting. She grabbed her father's gun in attempt to protect her mother, and among the chaos, she inadvertently shot her mother when Ted threw her mother's body in her direction. Acquitted of the murder, Liza cannot seem to remember what exactly happened that night.

Twenty years later, Liza Barton has been living under the identity of Celia Nolan. She is married to Alex Nolan and has a young son, Jack, from a previous marriage, and no one, not even her family, knows her past. Wanting to move from the city, Alex surprises Celia when he purchases a mansion in Mendham, New Jersey which, ironically, happens to be the same residence in which she murdered her mother.

If that isn't shocking enough, soon after the purchase of the house, someone vandalizes the mansion, painting the words "Little Lizzie's Place - BEWARE" on the front lawn. Mysteriously, Georgette Grove, the realtor who sold the Lizzie house to the Nolas, ends up murdered at another residence. In fact, 2 more people turn up dead and photos of Celia and her family are left at the crime scenes. Detectives believe that there is something Celia isn't telling them and that she may be a suspect in the murders.

There is someone out there who knows her past and is attempting to destroy everything she has accomplished since the years of her mother's murder. Slowly, the night of the murder comes back to Celia's memory, and Celia wonders how long she can keep up the lies...

My only complaint is that there were almost too many characters to keep track of. However, Clark does do a good job of throwing the reader for a loop and all the subplots seem to fit nicely together by the end.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Plum Spooky by Janet Evanovich

Bounty hunter Stephanie Plum embarks on another adventure when she must hunt down Martin Munch, a genius twerp who is charged with breaking the nose of Stephen Scanlan, his project manager, with a coffee mug and stealing a magnetometer (still not sure what that is). Munch works for Wulf Grimoire, aka "Wulf," a dangerous man with paranormal abilities.

Stephanie has a new sidekick this time, Carl the monkey. With the help of Lula and Diesel, Stephanie tries to capture Wulf in the barrens. The barrens, located outside of Trenton, NJ, are deep in the woods where rumor has it the Jersey devil, the easter bunny, and other recluses reside.

While out on her search, Stephanie and her crew accidentally blow up Wulf's valuable rockets. Stephanie has but few hours to replace the rockets or else Wulf will off Gail Scalan, Stephen's sister, who he has held hostage. Wulf's instructions require Stephanie to return the rockets alone. The barrens are just plain spooky, so she hopes that someone, even if it is Carl the monkey, is looking out for her. Series fan will also be happy to know that Stephanie's man, Joe Morelli, also makes an appearance in this "between-the-numbers" novel.

This is the first Stephanie Plum novel for me, and I loved it! Totally fun and funny. If you haven't read this series yet, what are you waiting for? Go to the library now and check out One for the Money. You won't be disappointed.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Fire and Ice by Julie Garwood

Jack MacAlister cannot believe his luck. He just finished an undercover operation and is tired and hungry. He made his partner, Alec Buchanan (Murder List), pull into a hamburger joint and walks into a hostage situation. He shoots the the guy holding the girl as a shield and they does some karate on the other guy. When he is finished, Alec and him get some burgers. Unfortunately for him the whole episode got recorded on someone's cell phone and was put on You Tube! Now everyone wants to talk to this super FBI agent.

Sophie Rose is a newspaper reporter assigned to report about William Harrington. He has won 24 5K races and is going for win number 25. Not the most exciting assignment and William is full of himself. He talks for 2 hours straight about himself and his races. Good thing Sophie is recording the conversation because she zones out about 10 minutes into it. The next morning is the race and after talking to William beforehand, Sophie heads to the sidelines. William never starts the race. He simply disappears. Sophie is curious and goes to his condo and learns he has left for a trip to Europe. Thinking he got nervous before the race, Sophie lets the story go.

Sophie has other things to worry about other than a missing runner. She has been getting threatening phone calls. That is not a new occurrence since her dad is Bobby Rose, the Robin Hood of Chicago. But this time they are more sinister and then she is shot. It is a superficial wound but Sophie is put under police protection by her best friend Regan's husband, Alec Buchanan. Sophie then meets Jack and is instantly attracted. And vice verse.

Sophie decides to go to Alaska and write the story about William Harrington. Instead of going to Europe as Sophie was told, he was in Alaska and ends up eaten by a polar bear! Jack goes along as her bodyguard and the two end up finding danger and love.

Fire and Ice is another great book by Julie Garwood. At first I was confused by the journal entries at the beginning of each chapter but then it all comes together. I recommend all of Julie Garwood's books!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Daddy's Little Girl by Mary Higgins Clark

Fifteen year old Andrea Cavanaugh never returned home after a night of studying at a friend's house. The following morning, Ellie, Andrea's younger sister, found her body in the secret hideout on the Westerfield estate. Rob Westerfield, the good-looking boy with a flair for violence and Andrea's boyfriend at the time, was convicted of her murder and sentenced to 22 years in prison.

Fast forward 22 years, and Rob is up for parole. He has continually sworn his innocence, and when a new witness comes forward suggesting another boy followed Andrea into the garage that night, he has plans for a retrial. In fact, his legal team is pointing fingers at Paulie Stroebel, the boy who had asked Andrea to the Thanksgiving mixer the night of the murder.

Ellie, who's family was torn apart after the devastating lost of Andrea, now works as an investigative journalist in Atlanta. Determined to keep the man responsible for Andrea's death from being released, Ellie returns to the place that brings back haunting memories from her childhood. When she finds some new disturbing information about Andrea's death, Ellie soon learns that there is someone out there who will stop at nothing to make sure that the Westerfield name is cleared and wants to keep Ellie quiet, for good.

Waiting for the truth behind Andrea's murder to finally be revealed, readers will not be able to put this one down. It is no wonder why Mary Higgins Clark has been named the "Queen of Suspense" and I hope she never stops writing. I can't wait to pick up another one of her books.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Ghost in Love by Jonathan Carroll

On a wintry day in Connecticut, Ben Gould slips and falls in the snow, hitting his head on the curb. He doesn't die, thanks to a virus in heaven's computer system, but he was supposed to, and now, surprised and confused, his ghost is left in this world to find out what happened.

The ghost is instructed to stay with Ben while the problem is figured out, and so the ghost, along with Ben's talking dog Pilot, set out to get to the bottom of it. In the meantime, things get complicated. The ghost falls madly in love with Ben's estranged girlfriend, and Ben is having some strange problems, like invisibility, and experiencing random bits of another persons life. Ben soon finds out that he didn't die because, for the first time, humans have decided to take their fates back from the gods. But, all things come at a price.

Highly imaginative, and thoroughly entertaining. I can't wait to read more of Mr. Carroll!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Lifeguard by James Patterson and Andrew Gross

Vowing to his mother not to follow his father's footsteps in a life of crime, Ned Kelly has managed to create a life for himself in Palm Beach, Florida where he works as a lifeguard and bartender. In fact, a chance meeting with Tess, the beautiful woman he has met on the beach, has him thinking this is the woman he is meant to be with.

However, Ned has promised to do this one heist with the old gang from Boston. The payoff is $5 million for setting off some house alarms to create a diversion. This will allow the gang to break into the house and steal $60 million worth of famous paintings. On the night of the robbery, something goes terribly wrong: the art is already stolen and Ned's friends are left murdered, execution style. On that same night, Tess is killed in her hotel room. Are the murders connected?

With everyone dead and Ned as the number one suspect, he is on the run from not only the FBI and Palm Beach police, but also from the person who thinks he has the stolen art. Desperate for help, Ned teams up with Ellie, the FBI agent in charge of the art burglary, and an old friend to track down the people responsible for the set-up.

Packed with suspense and action, I guarantee you will devour The Lifeguard in just a few hours. My only complaint is that a high speed motorcycle chase reads a little too Hollywood, but suspending your belief for a few paragraphs is well worth the explosive payoff.