Saturday, March 28, 2009

Handle With Care by Jodi Picoult

I stopped reading Jodi Picoult for a while because her books can be so mean. Characters that don't deserve to die always inevitably do. However, I thought I would give her a shot again, and once I finished this book, I was reminded why I stopped reading her.

Charlotte O'Keefe has two beautiful daughters, Amelia, from a previous relationship, and Willow, with her husband Sean. Willow is intelligent, funny and has a good spirit, despite the fact that she suffers from osteogenesis imperfecta, also known as OI or brittle bone syndrome. Willow can break a bone by simply sneezing or rolling over in her sleep. She has broken several bones in five years of life and will break many more in the future. Her special needs have caused a strain on her family, both financially and emotionally.

Charlotte and Sean decide to take the girls to Disney World for the first time. When they first arrive at the park, they stop at an old fashioned ice cream shop where Willow slips on a napkin, breaking several bones. At the ER, the medical staff discover old breaks and suspect child abuse. After Charolette and Sean are interrogated and everything is cleared with Willow's doctor about her condition, the family return to New Hampshire without ever having their vacation.

Needless to say, Sean is furious at how his family was treated and he wants to sue Disney and the Orlando PD. Consultation with an attorney yields no assurance that they have a reasonable lawsuit; however, after examination of Charlotte's medical records, the lawyers feel there is a strong case for another type of lawsuit: wrongful birth.

A wrongful birth suit suggests that Charlotte's obstetrician, Piper, was negligent in reading the first sonogram and should have identified Willow's OI earlier so that Charlotte could have had the choice to terminate the pregnancy. This lawsuit would require her to testify that had she known, she would have had an abortion.

Needless to say, the pending lawsuit takes a toll on their marriage and their family. Sean refuses to participate in the lawsuit and Amelia falls into a downward spiral of self-destruction. Oh, and by the way, did I mention that Piper, the defendant, is Charlotte's best friend?

I have to give credit where credit is due, and Picoult is a master of her craft, making the reader dig deep into their soul to contemplate moral issues. The author has clearly done her homework, both in the legal and medical fields, making the plot both riveting and plausible.

It is not very often that I shed a tear over a book, but this one is simply heartbreaking. Trust me that you will fall in love with Willow and love her like she might be your own child. I am dying to talk to someone who has read this book, as there is so much more to say, but I don't want to give away any spoilers! Please post a comment if you have read Handle With Care. I would love to hear others' thoughts.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Fed Up by Jessica Conant-Park and Susan Conant

Chloe Carter has witnessed another death. It all started out innocently enough. Her chef boyfriend, Josh, is participating in a television show where an unsuspecting person in a grocery store is chosen to take home a chef and have a meal prepared for them. There are 3 chefs involved and today was Josh's turn. Josh is told to pick a man and the producer Robin will approve him. After a million rejects, Robin has Josh pick a man named Leo. After Leo agrees, everyone, Chloe included, go to Leo's house to surprise his wife, Francie, with a gourmet dinner.

Once the meal is prepared and everything looks fantastic, the wife turns out to hate the meal. She says horrible things and then she says she doesn't feel so good. While she rushes off to the bathroom, Josh is clearly upset. Chloe goes to check on Francie and finds her vomiting and then she is dead. It is later determined she was poisoned!

Josh is cleared since all of his activities were recorded but that leaves a lot of other suspects. Could it be one of the other chefs trying to sabotage Josh's career? Or could it be Leo who we find out is having an affair? Or is it Nelson, the cameraman, who has a fascination for the morbid? Or was it Robin, the producer who wanted great ratings? Chloe is determined to figure it out in-between throwing her best friend a bridal/baby shower and officiating the wedding and trying to figure out why Josh is getting calls from another woman!

The Gourmet Girl series is fantastic. If you haven't read it yet, I highly recommend it. Also, if you love recipes there are a ton in each book!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

While My Sister Sleeps by Barbara Delinsky

Molly Snow has always lived in the shadow of her older sister, Robin, who is a determined runner bound for Olympic greatness. Whereas Robin has always shone in the spotlight and is the apple of their mother's eye, Molly likes to remain behind the scenes, fulfilling her passion for botany, where she works in her family's business, the Snow Hill Greenhouse. Sometimes to her chagrin, Molly is also expected to support Robin's running, timing her practices and driving her to meets.

On a day Molly was supposed to be with Robin, tragedy strikes when Robin is found unconscious on the roadside by another runner. After being admitted to the ICU, it is determined that Robin had a massive heart attack that deprived her for oxygen for too long and left her brain dead. In the days that follow, each family is grappling with Robin's accident in different ways: Charlie, her father, tries to be the silent supporter, Chris, her brother, wants Robin off the life support, Kathyrn, her mother, believes that Robin will come out of this, and Molly just wants to do what Robin would have wanted, even though she doesn't know what this is.

While dealing with the guilt she feels for not being there for her sister, Molly is determined to do right by Robin and figure out what she wanted. Little does she know the family secrets she will unveil while looking for an answer.

Tackling a hot issue such as the ethics of life support is delicately executed in Delinsky's talented voice. Readers will find themselves wrapped up in the Snow's dilemma, and they will be thinking about the decisions made long after the last page is turned. While My Sister Sleeps is another thought-provoking story from bestselling author Delinsky.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Looking for a Little Romance?

Susan Elizabeth Phillips is a stalwart among Romance authors, and her book, Dream a Little Dream is one of her finer efforts.

Rachel Stone is at the end of her rope - a broke, single mother whose car just gave up on the outskirts of the town she was run out of a few years earlier. Desperate for a job to support her son, she forces her services on the first person she meets up with - the cold and ruthless Gabe Bonner, a member of one of the most respected families in town. While Gabe at first rebuffs her offers, he gradually realizes what a tough spot she is in, and allows her and her son to work at the drive-in he is fixing up and move into his grandmother's cottage while she gets back on her feet.

It turns out that Rachel is anything but welcome in Salvation, North Carolina. Her deceased husband was a television preacher who bilked thousands out of their hard-earned money, then died in a plane crash while trying to escape the country. Everyone suspects that she is living off of the money that he absconded with; trouble is, the money was never found and she doesn't have it, so she is hoping to find it to take care of her son. Will Rachel be able to overcome the obstacles in her life and find happiness again? Will the people of Salvation forgive her and welcome her back? Do Gabe and Rachel find happiness again?

This is a sweet story, but also contains plenty of spice for those of us who don't like our love stories TOO clean! Funny at times, heartbreaking at times, this is a romance that delivers beyond expectations! I should also mention that although this is a book from Phillips' Chicago Stars series, it stands on its own just as well.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Weight of Heaven by Thrity Umrigar

This is a heart-wrenching story about a couple who loses their only son to a sudden illness. When an opportunity to get away from the pain and memories of their beloved son and what was their perfect life comes up, they jump on it. Frank and Ellie, despite the protests of their family, move thousands of miles away to India, where Frank will be running the new plant for HerbalSolutions.

In this exotic and idyllic setting, Ellie feels more alive than she ever has, even while her marriage is unraveling. Frank, on the other hand, finds himself challenged by the dramatically different culture, particularly in regards to the workers at the plant that he manages.

While he flounders in his dealings with the employees and the villagers, he becomes obsessed with Ramesh, the brilliant nine-year-old son of the hired help couple, Prakash and Edna. Everyone around him can see that he is trying to replace his son, Benny, with this precocious Indian boy but Frank can't let him go. Frank's life begins to spiral out of control leading him down a dark path that ends in a shocking tragedy.

At first the prospect of reading a book about a family's struggles through the loss of a child seems daunting, but this story will not disappoint. You will find yourself sympathizing with characters you never thought you would like.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani

Thirty-three year old Valentine Roncalli, the only spinster among her siblings, works with her grandmother, Teodora, in her family's business, Angelini Shoes, which caters to brides by providing custom-made wedding shoes. The business, which is located in the heart of Greenwich Village, where grandma and Valentine both work and live, means the world to Valentine.

Angelini Shoes is in big trouble, with years of built-up debt that can no longer be put off, and Teodora realizes something must be done. Alfred, Valentine's controlling elder brother, wants Teodora to sell the business and cash in on the value of the building, which would leave Valentine out of a job and home. She is determined to save her family's business, and a chance opportunity in a Bergdorf Goodman window display contest might be just the ticket.

Teodora and Valentine take off for Italy in search of the finest fabrics, leather and inspiration for the shoe they are design for the contest. It also happens to be Valentine's 34th birthday where she is supposed to meet up with her new love, Roman Falconi, in Capri, but his dedication to his restaurant has her questioning if their love can really survive. Unsure of what the future holds both professionally and personally, Valentine is feeling anything but love in the one of the world's most romantic countries.

Very Valentine is the first in a purposed new trilogy, and like her previous novels, Trigiani brings her readers to the humorous world of Italian American culture, filled with great fashion and even greater food. Simply endearing, Very Valentine will capture readers hearts as we root for Valentine to save her business and her relationship.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Grand Finale by Janet Evanovich

Berry Knudsen just fell out of a tree. She was delivering a pizza when she climbed the tree to rescue a kitten. While up in the tree Berry happened to see into the window of the man she was delivering the pizza for. He was undressing. And as soon as he got to the good part, she fell out of the tree. Onto the pizza.

Jake Sawyer can't believe what he is seeing. The most adorable creature was lying at the bottom of the tree on his pizza. After making sure she was alright, Jake and Berry watched her Jeep roll down the street off of a cliff. Jake couldn't help it. He kissed her.

Berry can't believe what is happening. She had a Plan. Get her degree, run her pizza parlor, than maybe fall in love. Falling in love was not supposed to happen first. But with Jake suddenly everywhere she was, helping her run her pizza parlor, letting her use his car, and helping the three old ladies she rescued from the train station find love, how could Berry not love Jake?

Another cute re-issue by Janet. I did like The Grand Finale better than a couple of her other re-issues. But of course I cannot wait until June 23 for Finger Lickin' Fifteen, the newest Stephanie Plum book.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Lethal Legacy by Linda Fairstein

Tina Barr, a former New York Public Library librarian and freelance curator, is attacked in her apartment but refuses medical treatment and won't talk to Assistant District Attorney Alex "Coop" Cooper or Homicide Detectives Mike Chapman and Mercer Wallace about the incident. Then, days later another woman is found dead in Tina's apartment, the housekeeper of the landlady, and there is no trace of Tina.

Coop, Mike, and Mercer soon learn that the owner of the apartment, Minerva Hunt, is the daughter of the eccentric Jasper Hunt III, who donated a large collection of rare maps and books to the NYPL. The detectives are questioning why the housekeeper was dressed in a business suit and clutching a rare edition book. Did the killer mistake the housekeeper for Minerva? And more importantly, what is Minerva hiding? The case becomes even more disturbing when the librarian's body turns up with a slashed throat in Bryant Park, just minutes away from the Library.

The hunt for the killer takes Coop and her team into the underground tunnels and hidden collections of the New York Public Library. It is there that they discover that the murders have something to do with the world's rarest and most valuable map, which happens to be divided into 12 panels, 11 that are missing. What is it about rare map collection that has become so deadly?

Librarians, bibliophiles, and history buffs will relish each and every detail about the history and rare collections of the NYPL, and anyone looking for a good page-turner will definitely something to like here. Be sure to check out the Fairstein's behind the scenes tour of the New York Public Library, where she talks about her research for the book, at http://www.lindafairstein.com/.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

When in Rome by Gemma Townley

Georgie Beauchamp daydreams about the day her ex-boyfriend, Mike, will run into her on the street when she is with her fabulous boyfriend, Pierce Brosnan/Russell Crowe/Brad Pitt. Of course, the first time in two years Georgie finally runs into him, she is with her boyfriend, David, and while she adores David he is not Brad Pitt. So the next day Georgie is shocked when Mike calls her at work and wants to get together for drinks. Georgie decides to go and flaunt what Mike gave up. Georgie has an OK time but gets the impression Mike might want to get back together with her.

After emailing and talking on the phone for a week, Mike asks Georgie if she wants to go to Rome for the weekend with him. In the year and a half that Georgie and David have been dating, their plans for a Roman holiday keep getting canceled. Georgie decides to go. Because maybe she still has feelings for Mike and David was just her rebound guy. Not telling David she is going and conveniently he is away for the weekend in Geneva, Georgie ends up in Rome carrying a mysterious bag through customs for Mike. Unfortunately, her Roman holiday doesn't turn out the way she planned. Mike is busy with work stuff which leaves Georgie on her own. While wondering around Rome by herself, Georgie runs into David!

Will Georgie stay with David and explain what is going on? Or will she choose Mike? What was in the mysterious bag? And will she find out why David was in Rome?

This was another fantastic book by Gemma Townley. I just love her books. If you haven't read one yet, I highly recommend them.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Edge of Impropriety by Pam Rosenthal

The Edge of Impropriety is the newest novel by Pam Rosenthal. Rosenthal is known for her historical romances that are well researched and written, feature mature characters who have experienced the pitfalls of life, and for her erotic edge. The Edge of Impropriety features all of these characteristics, and sweeps the reader along as well.

Countess Marina Wyatt has been widowed for several years, and is known for her beauty and her tremendously popular novels. Jasper James Hedges is an antiquities historian and art appraiser, who spends most of his time in the country, instead of London, and who is determinedly unfashionable. When they meet at a dinner party, they are both unwillingly intrigued by the other, and fall headlong into a steamy affair. However, despite neither of them believing that their affair will last, Marina and Jasper begin to realize that they have more in common than they initially realized. They are both older, and have been badly hurt in their previous relationships with the opposite sex. They both have dark secrets in their past that continue to affect them. They are both ferociously intelligent, and are both determined to live their lives on their own terms.

When Marina and those in her circle begin to be stalked and threatened by an unknown person, Marina and Jasper are forced to face their fears and their past, in order to survive in the present. I was caught up in the intrigue, and I appreciated the courage and intelligence of both the main characters. The conflicts were logical and not overblown, and the connection and growing relationship between Marina and Jasper was well written. I really enjoyed both the intrigue and the romance in this novel, and I look forward to the next novel by Pam Rosenthal.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Don't Look Twice by Andrew Gross

In this explosive follow-up to 2008's The Dark Tide, Andrew Gross continues the story of Greenwich, Connecticut lieutenant Ty Hauck, only this time, the case gets personal.

Trying to enjoy one of the few weekends Ty gets to spend with his daughter, they make a pit stop at a local gas station before heading to the dock. While the two are at the check-out line, all hell breaks lose. A crazed man in a red banana rushes in shooting up the place and makes a quick getaway before Ty can get a full read on the plates. The only causality happens to be a federal prosecutor.

A few leads suggest a gang seeking revenge, but Ty suspects the shooting of the federal employee is a front for something bigger. What he discovers about the case leads him to the Pequot Woods casino, where a powerful security pit boss acts as the hands to an even more powerful outfit...one that will do anything to protect its own, no matter who ends up dead.

While working on the case, Ty's estranged older brother, Warren, is suddenly back in his life. Ty is happy to reconnect with his brother and having family around can be a comfort, unless, of course, that person happens to be involved in a deadly cover-up.

After co-writing five books with James Patterson, Gross has struck out on his own in this third entertaining effort. Thriller fans looking for an unstoppable character who will do whatever it takes to uncover the truth need look no further than Ty Hauck in Don't Look Twice.

Monday, March 2, 2009

White Witch, Black Curse by Kim Harrison

Bestselling author Kim Harrison's 7th Rachel Morgan book, White Witch, Black Curse, is another page-turning tale of magic, murder, and urban fantasy set in a cold and often gritty Cincinnati.

White witch and bounty hunter Rachel Morgan is still reeling at the death of her lover, Kisten, and can't seem to remember what happened the night of his murder, although she wants to avenge his death. It seems as though everyone that Rachel loves ends up dead, which makes her wonder if she will ever be able to have a relationship again and consequently leaves her cautious to find love.

Meanwhile, when a spiteful banshee ruthlessly beats and leaves an FIB cop for dead, Rachel and vamp roommate Ivy are called by their friend Edden to bring in the killer. Even with the help of her pixy, Jenks, this is a challenge when it becomes clear that the supernatural powers possessed by the baby of this particular banshee are deadly. In addition, thanks to a false report of Rachel practicing black magic, she has been shunned from the Interlander community. Will Rachel be able to catch the banshee before she reeks more havoc on the city?

Harrison does a superb job of blending humor, mystery, and white magic (with a little black magic for good measure) and sets the stage for a mix of unforgettable characters including witches, vampires, pixies, and demons. This growing genre will find many new fans of Rachel Morgan, and readers will anxiously await the next book in The Hollows series!