Thursday, May 31, 2012

Hidden Summit by Robyn Carr

Virgin River #17              

              Connor’s life is falling apart. His one-year marriage has just ended and he’s putting in ever longer hours at the hardware store he inherited form his father. Taking out the trash one night after closing the store, he witnesses a murder. After coming forward, his business is burned down and his life is threatened. The local DA decides to stash him in the little mountain town of Virgin River to keep him safe till the trial.

               Leslie’s life is falling apart. Her eight-year marriage has just ended. Her husband left her for his pregnant mistress and now expects Leslie to be good friends with the two of them. Leslie heads to Virgin River to get away from them and escape her humiliation for a few months.

               Connor and Leslie meet, sparks fly and love blooms along with the wildflowers in the mountains.

               I enjoyed this edition of the Virgin River saga, perhaps because I’ve read others and am familiar with the town and its characters. Or maybe just because the books are will written and the characters are memorable, and Virgin River is the kind of community we’d all love to be a part of.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Wolf Gift by Anne Rice

               Wow! I really liked this one.

               Ann Rice has managed to turn a werewolf into a sort of superhero. Her Morphenkinder can scent evil and are driven to annihilate it. But they are intrinsically unable to harm the innocent. They have control over when and where the “change” happens. (The phase of the moon is irrelevant.) And they retain their human intellect while in animal form.

               There is a good bit of philosophy intertwined with the action and suspense.  And they are balance nicely.  I highly recommend this book, and won’t mind in the least if Rice chooses to revisit these characters.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Bonnie by Iris Johanson

               I started listening to this book with a bit of a ho-hum attitude, “Just another visit with Eve and the gang.” And the book started out meeting my expectations. It picked up where Eve had left off, with everyone hunting for Bonnie’s killer.  I assumed they’d find him; Eve would try to kill him and be unable to bring herself to do it, blah blah blah.

               Guess what? I was wrong. This turned out to be a really good story – better than Johanson’s last few, in my opinion.  Right and wrong, fair and just are not black and white, and she does an excellent job of displaying shades of gray.

               Johanson also managed to engage me emotionally in Bonnie which hasn’t happened for a while.  I finished one chapter only to discover the front of my shirt soaked with tears I hadn’t realized I was shedding.

               The slow, predictable start of this book is well worth wading through to get to the end.  I only hope in her next book, Johanson goes back to having Eve and the gang solving murders of the more mundane kind and focuses less on their individual lives.


Friday, May 18, 2012

The Scottish Prisoner by Diana Gabaldon

               This book is part of a larger series called the Lord John novels. The series and its novels are outlined in the Preface to the book – and I gotta tell ya, I was totally confused by the time I’d finished reading it. So, with great trepidation, I opened Section I.
               And, was pleasantly surprised at how easily I followed the story line. I must admit, it did help that I am somewhat familiar with the historical time period and the customs of the British upper class. Without that background, some of the activities would be pretty inexplicable.
               I enjoyed the characters and the plot line.  The action moved along at a good pace.  I have not yet decided If I want to read the whole series, but I have added the first one, Outlander (if I interpreted the Preface correctly), to my book list.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Summer Garden by Sherryl Woods

Chesapeake Shores #9

               How is a chick supposed to resist a double wedding? I don’t think it’s possible. This is without question a “chick” book – and a fine example of one it is.

               Woods has written a number of Chesapeake Shore books featuring the O’Brien family.  This installment adds some more Irish flair as a young woman and her grandfather come to the Shores for a visit and decide to stay a lifetime.

               Between pub openings and gallery showings and trips to the hospital, a young couple learn valuable lessons in communication and compromise. And an older couple rekindle the fires of the youths. It all ends up with a double wedding in the family matriarch’s summer garden – a wedding cut short by the impending arrival of the newest member of the clan!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich

               You would think that in a book entitled Explosive Eighteen Stephanie Plum’s car would blow up repeatedly.  It does not blow up at all. As a matter of fact there are no explosions at all till the very end when Lula sets one off when she accidentally discharges her rocket launcher and hits a propane tank.

               Yes, this is another wild romp through New Jersey. And while it is not exactly intellectually stimulating, I did spend a large amount of time laughing out loud.

               Unfortunately, for those of you who have not yet met Stephanie, Lula and the guys, this book does not work as a standalone. But, I highly recommend the whole series for a rollicking good time.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Death Comes To Pemberley by PD James

               I’ll start off by admitting I am not a Jane Austin fan. She is the author that created Pemberley. I only managed to listen to the entirety of Pride and Prejudice last summer while refinishing a houseful of woodwork. I’m not sure which part was more tedious – refinishing or listening.

               So it was with some trepidation that I approached Death Comes to Pemberley. I was pleasantly surprised. While I wouldn’t want to spend my whole life reading books like this one, the tale was quite engaging. Every time I had to put it down, I wished I didn’t have to. I was pleased with the character development and the plot twists. And, I liked that all the loose ends got tied up at the end.

               I think this would work as a standalone book, but am certain I found the characters and their relationships easier to follow having listened to Pride and Prejudice first.

               I’ll give this book a good recommendation. I am so glad PD James surprised and engaged me with her story.

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

               The marriage plot was a common literary device in Victorian literature. It is exactly what it sounds like-a story line revolving around making a proper marriage. In these more modern times when marriages are more emotional compacts than social contracts, the marriage plot as such is no longer a valid device. However, as the title implies, Eugenides is making an attempt to give new life to an outmoded plot frame.

               As I’m writing I’m still trying to decide if I like the story or not – never a good sign. It seems to be a story about the main character, Madeline, making a good marriage. There are two men involved, Leonard and Mitchell. And, I’ve got to tell you, if I’d been Madeline, I’d have chosen none of the above.  

               Mitchell, on the day he meets Madeline, determines to marry her, but does little to achieve this despite early encouragement from her.  Deciding to marry Madeline is a longer, slower process for Leonard. A large portion of the book is spent analyzing the agonies endured by Leonard due to ill-controlled manic-depression. Another large portion is devoted to Mitchell’s travels abroad, his work volunteering for Mother Teresa, and his spiritual development.

               I would have liked to have seen more about Madeline and her relationship with Mitchell, and less about the details of coping with the day to day trauma of Leonard’s illness.  This story felt very unbalanced to me. I know a lot more about the men than I need to, and not enough about Madeline and her motivations.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Litigators by John Grisham

               I’ll start by saying I’ve never been a huge Grisham fan. I do not generally find lawyer stories amusing, and they are kind of his specialty. His stories tend to be a bit dark and sad. Since I read primarily to be entertained, his style and mine do not mesh well.

               That said, I really enjoyed The Litigators. I was highly entertained. It starts with a young lawyer, David Zinc, working for an enormous firm in Chicago. As he goes to work the first day of the story, the usual dread of another day in the salt mine is just too much. As he steps out of the elevator on his floor he suddenly knows he just can’t do it anymore. He turns around and dives through the closing doors behind him, sits on the elevator car floor giggling, rides ninety-odd floors down and runs for freedom.

               Now there is a scene millions of us would love to be a part of. During his insane run, he stumbles into the struggling firm of Finley and Figg.

               The escapades of the Finley and Figg gang are quite entertaining, and David’s maturation process is as well. This is one Grisham novel where everybody lives happily ever after.

               Grisham fans may be less than keen on this book. But, I recommend it – probably for the same reasons his usual readers won’t.