Friday, September 30, 2011

Kill Me If You Can by James Patterson and Marshall Karp

          I finished listening to Kill Me If You Can last night.  It’s another good one.  James Patterson and company put out fun, easy reads.  And, as usual there was a point when I thought to myself, ”I didn’t see that coming”.  Thing is, I think I might have this time. 

          Why am I not sure? Well, I listened to the first half of this book as part of my bedtime ritual.  I tend to struggle with sleeping at night.  (I do fine during the daylight hours, who knows why...)  However, since the rest of the world, including my husband, are daytime people, I do my best to adjust.  One of the things I do convince my brain and body to shut down is lay back in the recliner in my jammies in the dark and listen to audiobooks at low volume for a bit before going to bed.  There are occasions on which I doze off during the story.  I assumed that was what happened when the main character appeared in a place during a rather chaotic scene and I couldn’t figure out how he’d gotten there.  Nor could I find the passage in the story that explained his arrival.  It was a bit vexing, but not vital to the flow of the story.  So I accepted that I’d missed something minor and moved on. 

          But then the twist came.  My first thought was indeed, “I didn’t see that coming”.  However, my second thought was, “Well that certainly explains how he got into the middle of that earlier scene.”  In a way, I was pleased that I’d noticed the earlier disconnect that foreshadowed the twist.  But I was also a bit disappointed that the twist had been telegraphed.  Oh, well, I guess I’m not easy to please. 

          That particular twist – it was one of several in the story- was rather delightful and turned a very average story into one that was much more interesting. 

          As usual with James Patterson, I’d recommend this book, especially if you are looking for something lighter and more fun to read.  I don’t know that I’d read it again, but I’m very glad I read it the first time!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Catching Up

          Several months ago, when I began this blogging adventure, I started requesting the current bestselling fiction titles from my local library system.  I have fairly consistently checked the list in the New York Times once a week and added any titles I had not yet read to the library holds.  Well, in the last several weeks, my requests have started rolling in like an avalanche.  I’ve waited four and five months for some of these titles, and, of course, I seem to be waiting shorter amounts of time for things requested more recently.  The result of this is that I have been spending every spare moment reading as fast as I can to keep the library fines to a minimum! 

          All this reading has been wonderful, but I’ve been doing it to the exclusion of any writing.  I find that I miss it.  The thought runs through my little brain at odd moments – in the shower or sitting at a stop light – “I’ve really got to get back to writing.”  My head feels more organized when I write.  (If you’ve read any of my prior posts, you can only wonder at how disorganized my brain usually is!)  And so, here I sit at the desk in the dining room wondering what on earth I should write about today. 

          I took another armload of books back to the library this morning, and only brought one new one home; although, I did download an audiobook off the library website this morning too.  The stack on the “reading material table” in the living room is down to a manageable stack – five “hand” books and one audiobook on MP3 that I’ll load onto my Ipod later this week.  I also have four audiobooks on the Ipod that I haven’t listened to yet. 

          Since my husband and I haven’t been going in to work on our investment property every day (it’s complete and on the market), I spend less time with the ear buds in listening.  I tend to forget to put them in when I’m doing “normal” work around the house and yard in which I live.  I’ll try to remember to do that more often.  The more time I spend reading and listening, the more stuff I’ll have to blog about. 

          I’m currently reading A Dance With Dragons by George R R Martin.  It is book five of seven of his Song of Ice and Fire saga.  I read the first book back in 1998 or 1999 and have been waiting impatiently for each subsequent release.  When I read the first book, A Game of Thrones, the tale was to be a trilogy.  An author’s note in the third book, A Storm of Swords, explained that the story was a bit too long for just three books and had become four. Apparently, four was not quite enough, either.  And at last count the saga was to encompass seven books.  At this time, only five have been published, so only time will tell if seven will be enough.  These are huge books, so it may be a while before I finish this one. 

          I am currently listening to Kill Me If You Can by James Patterson and Marshall Karp.  It is keeping my interest well, unlike some others I’ve tried to listen to recently.  I’ll likely write about it in more detail soon. 

          I also just finished The Silent Girl by Tess Gerritson.  It was one of those returned this morning to the library, and I’ve got to tell you about it.  It has been a few years since I sat up all night to finish a book because it was too good to put down.  I liked it a lot.  It really grabbed my fancy and ran. While it did not make me cry, it did make me laugh out loud and made my heart race and the hair on my arms stand up at times. It is a Rizzoli and Isles story, and I noticed as I read that I could “hear” the voices of Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander from the TV show in the dialog.  It was kind of freaky, but fun.  I’d recommend this book.  I may even read it again some time!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Now You See Her, by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge

            I recently finished listening to the audio book version of Now You See Her by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge.  It was a pretty good read, filled with suspense and plot twists.  I’d give it an 8, although I doubt I’ll read it again. 

          It begins in Key West with a group of college students on spring break.  You can’t pick a much better setting than that.  Through a series of unfortunate choices the main character finds herself facing drunk driving, car theft and vehicular manslaughter charges.  She is “saved” however by a young police officer who chooses not to arrest her, but instead helps her cover up the crime.  She ends up married to him. 

          After a couple of years of blissful marriage in paradise, our poor, na├»ve heroine discovers her husband is a really bad guy who kills people who cross him.  She also discovers she is pregnant, a situation her husband is not going to be happy about. She decides the only way out for her and her child is to fake her own death, and start a new life far from Florida. 

          She lays her plans carefully, intending to make it look like she has become the next victim of a serial killer who has been plaguing south Florida for some time – the Jump Killer.  While making her escape, however, she runs into the killer himself; a friendly fellow with a British accent and a Jack Russell terrier. As bad as that luck is, she luckily manages to escape his clutches, and, makes her way out of the Keys and into a new life.           

          She gives birth to a daughter, finds a job, goes to law school and becomes a successful lawyer in New York using the new identity she created. 

It is now 17 years later.

          Her law firm requests that she help a group of lawyers with a pro bono innocence project designed to ensure that inmates on death row are truly guilty of their crimes.   The case she ends up with is that of the Jump Killer on death row in Florida.  One look at the case files tells her that the wrong man has been convicted – the convict is black, the man she escaped from is white. 

          While terrified that her whole new existence will blow apart, she cannot in good conscience allow an innocent man to die just to keep her secret.  So she goes to Florida determined to find justice for the man.  I

In doing that, she is recognized by her husband.  And the chase is on. 

With the help of the innocent man’s lawyer, she finds a way to clear the death row inmate’s name without blowing her own cover. But she ends up telling the other lawyer her whole story to gain his help in keeping her alive, and bringing her husband to justice. 

The story ends well with everyone living happily ever after. 

I enjoyed listening to this one.  There were a couple of spots where I had to stop and think “I didn’t see that one coming” as the twists occur.  There was one point where the innocent man’s execution is drawing uncomfortably close and I feared it would proceed.  I couldn’t listen to another description of an innocent person being executed in error like I had in John Grisham’s The Confession.  I almost turned it off there, but I stuck with it, and was rewarded with a stay of execution. 


Saturday, September 3, 2011

Death Penalty Dilemma

John Grisham was apparently successful in his desire to bring attention to the death penalty –at least in my case. After finishing The Confession, I must admit I’ve been thinking about it quite a bit. And, I find myself torn. Part of me thinks that the death penalty is cruel and arrogant and leaves no room for human error. Another part of me has a problem with caging people like animals and having my tax dollars spent on room, board and recreation for individuals who are unsafe to society. Is there some sort of compromise? Is there a rational, humane answer to this dilemma?

My gut reaction to the idea of state run executions is that killing is wrong. In the ten basic rules for civilized living this is stated clearly – Thou shalt not kill. Seems pretty simple. On the other hand, my gut reaction to evil is that it must be eradicated. Not tolerated or condoned, not shut away in some sort of Pandora’s Box; it must be destroyed. And there is little doubt in my mind that there are evil people out there. Whether the result of nature or nurture, some people are twisted and cruel and do not belong in society. The safest and, in a way, kindest thing that can be done for these folks is to execute them. We don’t hesitate to put down a rabid animal, and evil people have a kind of rabies of the soul. Is it really wrong to put them out of their misery? And ours?

The problem here is to diagnose the evil. Who can do this? Humans cannot know the souls of others. How does one tell the difference between a sickness of the soul and a sickness of the psyche? And how does the act of levying judgment on another person affect the one doing the judging. This seems like a very dangerous thing for the psyche and soul of the judge. And, if passing judgment can have an adverse effect on one, how much more adverse the effects of carrying out the execution. It seems to me that allowing for the death penalty perpetuates the evil it is meant to eradicate.

However, does keeping evil doers as indefinite wards of the state solve the problem? I think not. The evil still exists and has the opportunity to perpetuate itself, both among the incarcerated community and, more frighteningly, among the warders. In addition, there is the heavy burden placed upon the rest of society for their keep. From my point of view, we all lose this way too.

I don’t have a good solution for this dilemma. I’ve never encountered anyone else who does either.

Chasing Fire by Nora Roberts

Chasing Fire by Nora Roberts
I’m reading Chasing Fire by Nora Roberts. As I may have mentioned before, Nora is my favorite author. Thus far I have enjoyed all her books, including this one.

This one involves a group of folks who fight forest fires. And, they don’t just hike up blazing mountainsides; they actually parachute into the middle of the conflagrations out of perfectly good airplanes. I had a little trouble getting into the story at first due to this. I can’t really imagine wanting to be a firefighter of any sort, and there’s no chance at all I’d go skydiving unless the only other choice was certain death. But the story moved beyond those concepts and the characters came to life and I was sucked in as always.

I finished the book a little while ago and ran it back to the library because I know there are a lot of folks waiting to read it after me.

I got to watch, not only the main characters fall in love, but the heroine’s father as well. That was kind of cool. It was great when Daddy explained what being in love was like using fire metaphors. I enjoyed the comparisons.

There was also the accompanying murder mystery to be solved. I was a bit disappointed since I guessed (correctly) who the culprit was going to be almost as soon as he appeared in the story line. I guess I really shouldn’t complain. I’ve never believed that Nora Roberts didn’t write to a formula. It is one of the things I like. I know going in what to expect, and she always delivers. But normally, it is tougher to figure out who the bad guy is. Perhaps because it took a little longer for me to become emotionally invested in people who jump out of fully functional planes into raging infernos, I saw through the veil more easily.

While this is not my all-time favorite of Nora Robert’s novels, it is still a great read and I recommend it to anyone.