Saturday, December 29, 2007

Creation in Death by J.D. Robb

Overview: NYPSD Lieutenant Eve Dallas keeps the streets of a near-future New York City safe in this extraordinary series. But even she makes mistakes, and is haunted by those she couldn't save-and the killers she couldn't capture. When the body of a young brunette is found in East River Park, artfully positioned and marked by signs of prolonged and painful torture, Eve is catapulted back to a case nine years earlier. The city was on edge from a killing spree that took the lives of four women in fifteen days, courtesy of a man the media tagged "The Groom"-because he put silver rings on the fingers of his victims. When it turns out that the young brunette was employed by Eve's billionaire husband, Roarke, she brings him in on the case-a move that proves fitting when it becomes chillingly clear that the killer has made his attack personal. The victim was washed in products from a store Roarke owns, and laid out on a sheet his company manufactures. With the Groom's monstrous return, Eve is determined to finish him once and for all. Familiar with his methods, Eve knows that he has already grabbed his next victim. Time is running out on another woman's life. And chances are he's working up to the biggest challenge of his illustrious career-abducting a woman who will test his skills and who promises to give him days and days of pleasure before she dies: Eve.

My review: Either you're fan or you're not. If not you're missing out! Personally, for me, Eve, Roarke and gang are not to be missed. This series is just flat out fun with murder and bedroom games thrown in to spice things up.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Protect and Defend by Vince Flynn

Overview: Mitch Rapp looks into the destruction of Iran's secret nuclear weapons facility in bestseller's Flynn's predictable eighth thriller to feature the counterterrorism agent. Given the absence of any indication of either a U.S. or an Israeli air strike, Rapp takes the opportunity to persuade the U.S. administration to plot an operation to destabilize the fanatical Iranian regime by having an Iranian dissident group claim responsibility for what he suspects was an inside job by an Israeli spy. When the Iranian government sinks one of its own ships and blames the U.S., Rapp and CIA chief Irene Kennedy travel to Iraq to try to defuse the crisis, only to fall victim to an ambush that results in Kennedy's abduction. Rapp races the clock to rescue his boss before she's tortured into revealing what she knows.

My review: OK so Mitch is predictable but I still love him anyway. I've devoured this series since I started it in the middle of '07. Now that the newest Mitch Rapp thriller has come to an end I'll have to wait a whole year to catch up with Mitch and gang.

Now ladies if you haven't already been introduced to Mitch Rapp I suggest you stop by and get acquainted. Mitch is Harrison Ford playing Jack Ryan in a Clancy thriller only he's a bit younger, sexier (and Harrison is sexy), more brash and straight forward. Underneath that hardened black-OPS exterior Mitch has a heart of gold and cares deeply about those he's close to which aren't many.

Mitch gets all the newest toys, a bit bond-ish but cool and he does some pretty imaginative things with them. He has a band of loyal Navy Seals, a few well placed friends including the President and Mitch always gets his man and occasionally a woman. Once the action starts hang on because you're in for quite a creative ride. And along the way some relevant points about politics in the US and world today.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Booking Through Thursday, 12/27/2007

It’s an old question, but a good one . . . What were your favorite books this year?

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Relin

Have You Found Her by Janice Erlbaum (I got to read this book through the Early Reviewers program on Librarything though it's not hitting the book shelves till '08)

Moloka'i by Alan Brennert

Any Vince Flynn, J.D. Robb or Nora Roberts book

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Have You Found Her by Janice Erlbaum

Overview: At fifteen Janice Erlbaum spent more than a year living in New York City's shelter system but nevertheless finished high school, graduated from college, and embarked on a successful career as a writer. At age thirty-four, Janice decided to volunteer at the very same youth shelter she had been placed in as an adolescent, in hopes of giving back and finally putting her past behind her.

There she met Sam, a brilliant, sensitive nineteen-year-old girl from the Midwest who had been homeless since she was twelve. On the run from a violent childhood, Sam struggled with sobriety and suffered the effects of long-term drug abuse. The two formed an instant connection, which grew even more intense after Sam's health began to worsen. Almost manically driven to make a difference in this girl's life, and on the verge of becoming Sam's legal guardian, Janice made a shocking discovery: Sam was more troubled than anybody had known, in ways no one could have imagined.

My review: Riveting.... I couldn't put this book down. The story grips you from page one until the very end and then stays with you. Right now as I write this I wonder: Is Sam is alive, getting the help she needs? Has Sam found her way into the lives of others who so badly want to help her? Is Sam dead? These are questions we may never have the answers to.

At times it's hard to remember that this is non-fiction. This story really did happen, Sam and Janice really do exist. The writing flows, it draws you in and keeps you turning the pages. It's a compelling example of a co-dependent relationship and the havoc that is created in lives of those intimately involved. This isn't a tidy, happily ever after story. This is a story of life and all it's ups and downs, it's day ins and day outs. At times I wanted to knock these women up side the head and say "Enough already." Other times I wanted to be right there with Janice helping Sam. Once you realize what is really happening you might have an "OMG" moment or two, maybe even three. Remember this is non-fiction at it's best. I can't wait to her other book "Girlbomb."

Sunday, December 23, 2007

There's No Place Like Here by Cecelia Ahern

Overview: Ever since she was a child, Sandy Shortt has been obsessed with finding things. Now grown, her obsession has turned into a calling, with her own agency dedicated to finding missing persons. But with every failed case, Sandy is plagued with questions: Where do missing people go? Are they alive or dead? Did they intend to disappear? And then, suddenly, Sandy finds that she, herself, has gone missing, and that she has found all the answers she's always searched for in a magical place where all lost things and people go. A romance that explores the meaning of loss and love, this is Cecelia Ahern's most satisfying, most entrancing novel yet.

My review: Let's just say I'm happy this isn't the first book by Cecelia Ahern that I've read. If it had been it would also the be the last one. I've read P.S. I Love You and If You Could See Me Now. Both those books were very enjoyable, this one was very forgettable. Not only was Sandy Shortt lost but so was I, from the very beginning. I found the story annoying. Is she dead or alive? Is this all part of her very over active imagination? Does she get "found" ? Is she really "lost" and what is "lost" anyway? By now, do I really care? I felt this had more to in common with Alice in Wonderland than the Wizard of Oz. I felt like I'd fallen down the rabbit hole. The only reason I finished this book is because I was reading it for the Early Reviewers group on Librarything.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Forget-Me-Not Sonata by Santa Montefiore

Overview: The Hurlingham Club in Buenos Aires is a little piece of England, home to the small Anglo-Argentine community where gossip is devoured as eagerly as the scones and Earl Gray tea.

Here Audrey Garnet grows up and loses her heart to Louis Forrester, the talented, troubled young man who sets tongues wagging with his eccentric behaviour and chequered past. Finding in Audrey the one woman who understands him, Louis composes especially for her a brilliant piece of music: the forget-me-not sonata. To the hypnotic melody of this magical tune they embark upon a secret love affair.

Epic in scope, lyrical in tone, The Forget-Me-Not Sonata is a passionate voyage of self-discovery, and an exploration of the true meaning of love.

My review: This only the 2nd work by this British author I've read. While this story didn't captivate me quite the way that The Last Voyage of the Valentina did I still very much enjoyed reading this book. I like her writing style. Over the nearly 40 years this story takes place she offers up wonderful descriptive paragraphs of the characters and their feelings and surroundings. One can "see" the countryside in both Argentina and England and feel the emotions invoked by the characters.

The haunting part of this story is when the author's writing about the sonata that Louis composes for Audrey. Those parts of the story line remind me of scenes from "Phantom of the Opera." One feels both the love and pain that this piece of music brings forth in Louis and Audrey.

The last couple of chapters in this story were compelling and brought a tear to my eye. In the end Audrey does the right thing and honors the love she should have all along.

I look forward to reading more from this author once I've worked my way through those demanding TBR piles.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Booking Through Thursday, 12/20/2007

What fiction book (or books) would you nominate to be the best new book published in 2007?(Older books that you read for the first time in 2007 don’t count.) Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill.

What non-fiction book (or books) would you nominate to be the best new book published in 2007?(Older books that you read for the first time in 2007 don’t count.) Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Relin.

And, do “best of” lists influence your reading? This is an easy one - no. I find "best of" lists build up the hype around a book and then it doesn't live up to the expectations.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Home to Holly Springs by Jan Karon

Overview: When he receives a letter postmarked Holly Springs, Miss., that contains a cryptic two-word message written in a precise, old-fashioned hand, Father Tim decides to answer its call and return to his birthplace for the first time in 38 years. On the long drive, he faces unanswered questions and half-forgotten memories: What happened to his boyhood chum and blood brother, Tommy? What caused his father's melancholy that bordered on cruelty? What happened to Peggy, the adored black caregiver who disappeared when he was 11? Who is trying to contact him, and why? As Father Tim awaits the letter writer, he is showered by blessings: He finds that his hometown has been beautifully restored, and he makes peace with an old flame. When the summons comes, it brings both joy and betrayal. He is reunited with his beloved Peggy, only to learn a terrible secret: She was carrying his father's child when she disappeared. When Peggy reveals that Henry, her son and Tim's half-brother, has leukemia and can only survive with a transfusion from a compatible sibling, Tim has to struggle to reach the decision he knows is right. In this setting away from home, we see Father Tim in a new light as he wrestles with his past and explores the origins of his religious convictions.

My review: I was, and am, a big fan of Jan Karon's Mitford series but not so of the 1st book in the new Father Tim series. I didn't finish only reading 158 of 356 pages. None of the characters had the warmth, humor, or charm of those living in Mitford. The characters were so unmemorable that I had difficultly remembering their relationship to the story.

Because Father Tim is returning to his home town after being away for almost 40 years he spent a considerable amount of time reminiscing and remembering his years spent in Holly Springs. That wouldn't be a problem if one could actually differentiate between what's current day and what's memory. At times the transition is confusing and I found myself re-reading paragraphs trying to determine where I was in the story.

This story drags through the 156 pages I managed to struggle through. I knew more about where this story was supposed go by reading the synopsis on Amazon then I did by reading the actual book. I won't be visiting with Father Tim in this new series.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Vanishing by Bentley Little

Overview: In Beverly Hills, a wealthy CEO goes on a bloody rampage and videotapes the slaughter. He leaves behind a chilling, cryptic message: "This is where it begins."

Miles away, an alarmed mother receives from her estranged husband an unsettling letter stained with bloody fingerprints.

And all across California, children are falling victim to a monstrous change - and their parents, to a mounting fear.

Social worker Carrier Daniels and reporter Brian Howells are determined to find the link between these baffling events. But they shouldn't look too deeply into the lives of the victims. It's quite dark there. And God help them, they won't like what they find.

My review: Once again, for me, another winner from one of my favorite horror authors. This time it's a jaunt through the hell of everyday life with some very twisted history based around the California gold rush years thrown in. You must suspend your belief system to get through this one. This book had a different "feel" for me than some of his more current works. Whereas the situations in The Policy, Dispatch and The Resort were tad more in touch with reality, The Vanishing is way out there in left field and over the top.

A side note: this book is filled with sexual references and situations as they are part and parcel of the story line. If these types of references and situations are not appealing then you will want to by-pass this book.

Booking Through Thursday - 12/13/07

Do you use any of the online book-cataloguing sites, like Library Thing or Shelfari? Why or why not? (Or . . . do you have absolutely no idea what I’m talking to?? (grin))
If not an online catalog, do you use any other method to catalog your book collection? Excel spreadsheets, index cards, a notebook, anything?

Until March of this year I was an old fashioned kinda girl and kept my list of books I've read in a word document. It worked for me and I never really questioned my methods until I came across Librarything and saw the light. I found my people! There are others in the world (virtual) just like me! Those I spend time with everyday at work and home don't understand me :-(. Aha, but those on LT do and it's comforting to know that there are others just as book crazy and outta control as my hubby swears I am when he sees the TBR piles growing, not shrinking. Just try explaining to a non-book obsessed person why you must be surrounded by those TBR piles and their eyes glaze over and the attention span becomes that of a gnat.

For those of us obsessed with everything books this is a god-send, the best thing next to sliced white bread and all those other cliches. Now I not only obsess about my books but I get the pleasure of obsessing about what others in the LT community are reading, talking about and doing. This year LT did "SantaThing Secret Santa". I signed up and now have the pleasure of buying book or two for someone who will truly appreciate the gift they receive.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Booking Through Thursday - 12/6/07

This week’s question is suggested by Island Editions:

Do you have a favourite book, now out of print, that you would like to see become available again?

None that I can think of at the moment as I usually don't go back and re-read books. What I'm most afraid of is that I'll come across a book, or series of books, that sound inviting only to find that they're out of print and I'm out of luck.

Death Instinct by Bentley Little

Overview: Cathy was six when the man next door killed his wife and himself. She heard the screams. She saw the blood and the bodies. Now, 20 years later, the house is no longer vacant. Someone new has moved in. Something terrible is happening to the neighbors. And Cathy has a secret of her own...

My review: If you've read any of my previous reviews you know I love this author. Whether he's writing under his own name or another, as he was here, his horror stories are hard to beat. They're always truly twisted affairs leading the reader from one hellish situation to another. Just when you think you know what's around the next corner some trick of writing takes you down a whole other path and leads you into places you don't want to go but you just can't stop yourself. I find his books a lot of fun as I read along wondering how his characters will get themselves out of these seemingly horrible messes they've become mixed up in.

Currently I'm reading his newest, The Vanishing, as another of my challenge books.