Sunday, October 30, 2011

New York To Dallas by JD Robb

           New York To Dallas by JD Robb is my latest dip into the futuristic police procedural world populated by Lt. Eve Dallas, her husband, friends, coworkers and, as always, crazy killers. 

          If a quick count of volumes on my bookshelf is correct, there are over thirty editions in the In Death series by JD Robb (aka Nora Roberts).  I’ve read them all, including the short stories, and am still completely enthralled.  

          In this tale, one of Eve’s first arrests as a rookie, a violent pedophile, escapes prison.  He is bent on revenge against Eve personally.  He gets her attention in New York and then quickly moves on to Dallas, the city that gave Eve her name.  While there, Eve, the Dallas PD and the FBI race to find the killer and his accomplice before they can inflict any more harm.  And, Eve discovers yet another piece to her clouded background. 

          This is a fast paced thrill ride, a kaleidoscope of emotions, a swirling storm of events that come to a boil in a Dallas hotel penthouse as Galahad, Eve’s bicolor-eyed cat, hisses out a warning just in time. 

          I give this one 9.5 – practically perfect, just like Disney’s Mary Poppins!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Sweet Sister

          Hello, my sister.  It’s been one year since I said goodbye to you for the last time.  I still miss you every day.  I miss you so badly it hurts.  Don’t get me wrong; the pain has gotten better over the last three hundred sixty-five days.  At first it even hurt to breathe.  The simple acts of inhaling and exhaling rubbed against the raw wound that tore open somewhere inside me as I watched you labor for your last breaths.  I hated it.  I hated it! I HATED IT!! I hated watching you die. But there was no way I was going to let you spend your last moments alone. I was greedy for every precious second with you. As I realized you weren’t going to take another breath, my heart shattered. Its slivers impaled every organ and muscle even as I was swamped with waves of relief because your suffering had come to an end. For days afterward my jaws ached with the effort of holding back the agonized screams that were viciously trying to batter their way out of me.  But I held it together until the control became second nature. 

          Most of the time breathing doesn’t hurt now; only when I am with someone who is missing you.  Maybe I’ve gone round the bend, but when I’m alone you’re always somewhere inside my head. So I don’t miss you quite as much.  You’re always with me in a way.  Sometimes, though, I want your physical presence with a desperation that borders on panic.  That’s when I realize the terrible wound inside me is still there, even if the edges have calloused over; that’s when breathing becomes agony and the tears cannot be held back. 

          The night you died, I wondered, as I wonder sometimes now, how I am supposed to deal with everything without you.  You were the one who knew everybody.  You were the one who liked organizing people and parties.  You were the one with the boundless energy and good cheer.  At first it felt like everyone was looking to me to be those things in your absence.  Fortunately, everybody figured out pretty quick that those things are not me.  I don’t feel so pressured now to keep the happy chatter going and keep the troops entertained. I still try, but I don’t beat myself up so much when I cannot maintain the pace you set. 

          The family still gets together on a regular basis.  Not every week any more, but once a month or so. I think we all learned how important it is to make memories while we can.  And, I think it has become a little easier for all of us to bear you absence when we are together.  The first couple of times I didn’t think we were going to make it through, but we held on by our fingernails and managed.  Each time has gotten a little easier.  And, while you are always a part of our gatherings, I no longer expect you to bop into the room, sprawl on the couch and dominate the conversation. It’s become normal for you not to be there in person.  In a way that makes me sad. But I also think that is progress and something to be proud of.  We are adjusting to our new reality without you. 

          Boy, reality sucks.

          Love you, Baby Sister.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Retribution by Sherilyn Kenyon

          Retribution is the first book of Sherilyn Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter series that I’ve read.  It is not, however, the first book in the series.  I must say, she does a pretty good job of creating a stand-alone story in the midst of an ongoing saga. 

          There are lots of different types of creatures from lots of different areas of folklore – vampires, demons, shape shifters, a Greek goddess, a Celtic warrior,several North American Indians, and others I don’t even recognize. And, having read a number of reviews since finishing the book, I have learned there are even more sorts of creatures/characters in the rest of the series. 

          Another thing I learned from reading reviews of this book by readers of the rest of the  series is that this may not the best example of Sherilyn Kenyon’s work.  If that is the case, the rest of the series must be pretty spectacular. 

          I’d recommend Retribution to readers of fantasy.  If you are not adept at suspension of disbelief, this one is not for you.  But those of you who can immerse yourselves comfortably in other worlds should enjoy this one.

Monday, October 24, 2011

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

          State of Wonder by Ann Patchett was a very, very slow moving book.  It wasn’t until the last 50 pages or so of the 353 pages that I was really drawn into the story.  It is probably twice as long as it really needs to be.

          The story revolves around research being done in the Amazon backed by a pharmaceutical company.  While I am not a huge fan of medical thrillers, nor of tales of those who trek beyond civilization, (My idea of roughing it is staying someplace without room service.) the concepts of a potential fertility drug that would allow post-menopausal women to become pregnant as well as an inoculation against malaria are interesting.  It is ultimately the characters and their various deceptions that are the backbone of the story.  

          The part I liked best was the way the end of the story curved around to end where it began.  A child taken for dead is returned to its parents, a parent taken for dead is returned to his children. That was well done. The tale feels finished despite leaving lots of loose ends.

          I’d only rate this one a 6.  While I agree it is a pretty good book – it made the bestseller list, for heaven’s sake – the topic and setting were not to my taste and the pace was too slow keep my interest up. 


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Smokin' Seventeen (again) by Janet Evanovich

          I’ve finished listening to Smokin’ Seventeen.  It was the jolly romp I expected.  Some of the antics that Stephanie and Lula got themselves into were laugh-out-loud funny.  Some of the situations were quite comedic. And I will never look at chickens quite the same again.

          However, overall I was just a little disappointed.  The story was a bit formulaic and no sooner did it become apparent there were multiple deaths to be solved, I determined who the killer must have been.  It was a little like the red shirted crew member on Star Trek.  The unknown actor in the big scene is gonna bite it. 

          The other thing that I discovered, or perhaps rediscovered, is that Stephanie having sex with Ranger is not nearly as titillating as Stephanie not having sex with Ranger.  It was just a tad anticlimactic – for me, not for Stephanie…

          So, while I recommend this one, it will not go on my list of favorites, not even Evanovich favorites.  But it is still quite entertaining and worth the read.

 Silver Girl:

          And as a side note, I’ve run into a book that I had to reject after the requisite three chapters: Silver Girl by Elin Hilderbrand.  Its premise was based on fictionalizing the Madoff scandal.  The main character being the wife of the bad guy trying to cope with life after the Ponzi scheme collapsed.  I could not get into it, and while I felt badly for the woman, I wasn’t even remotely interested in hearing the rest of the story. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Smokin’ Seventeen by Janet Evanovich

         Next up in my list of audio books is Smokin’ Seventeen, the new Stephanie Plum novel.  I love the Stephanie Plum stories.  I enjoy Stephanie, her parents, her coworkers, and her ongoing car issues.  I am amused by her on-and-off again love affair with Joe Morelli, the cop, as well as her ravening lust for Ranger, the security expert/bounty hunter.  And, if I had to choose a favorite character, it would be a tough choice.  Grandma Mazur and Lula are both just hysterical. 

          Lula is Stephanie’s bounty hunting sidekick and friend with an unending appetite for fried chicken and her own unique and slightly scary sense of fashion.  Not to mention a strong belief in being armed.  The ridiculous situations she finds herself in and her responses to them leave me rolling in the aisles. 

          Grandma Mazur is old, feisty, says and does exactly as she pleases and, like Lula, believes in being armed.  When I grow up I want to be just like her.  She totally cracks me up. 

          I started listening to this one a couple of nights ago as part of the bedtime unwind/relax routine.  Boy, was that a mistake.  Twenty minutes into the story, I was belly laughing, falling out of my chair, rolling on the floor, nearly peeing my pants as I listened.  While I was neither relaxed nor unwound at the end of an hour, I was exhausted from all the hilarity. 

          I certainly hope the rest of the book stands up to the early scenes and the previous books in the series.  In the mean time, I think I’ll reserve listening to the daylight hours and find something quieter to listen to at bedtime!