Monday, July 30, 2012

Private Games by James Patterson and Mark Sullivan

               Jack Morgan #3

               I have not read the previous two books in this series, but Private: #1 Suspect, the first book in the series is on my to-be-read list. A bit of research tells me that the first two books are set in LA, and have a slightly different set of characters. So I’ll give it a try, based on how well I enjoyed this book, and see how it goes. 

               The story here takes place in the near future, just before and during the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London.  It was kind of odd hearing future dates for next month!  I listened to this one on audio book, and enjoyed it.  Techno-thrillers and sports stories are not generally my favorites, but this one wasn’t bad.

               We had a nut job and his three handmaidens from hell bent on creating chaos at the Olympic Games.  Patterson and Sullivan did a nice job of making them creepy and twisted. And, I felt badly for the folks they threw into the path of the Private investigators to mislead the investigation.  And, of course, the 3-year-old twins of the main character were a hoot.  God forbid I should ever run into kids that bratty, but it makes for entertaining reading.

               I was a little taken aback by the brutality and gore of the initial scenes at the beginning of the book, but the first murder was by far the nastiest and while the assorted nut jobs remained evil and destructive, the level of nastiness went way down after the first chapter or so.

               I probably will have no desire to reread this book, but it was pretty entertaining, and I’ll gladly check out the beginning of the series. This is a book I’m sure my husband would really enjoy.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection by Alexander McCall Smith

               #1 Ladies’ Detective Agency #13

               I had a very hard time getting into this one.  I’ve heard such good things about this series, but I just didn’t get it. Perhaps it was because I had not read any of the earlier novels.  Perhaps because the culture portrayed in the book is so very foreign to me. I nearly gave it up after the end of chapter 3.  I still didn’t know what the mystery was going to be and I found it very confusing that they all call each other the same thing – Mma. 

               Mma would roughly translate to Mrs. in English.  And, the character used this form of address in nearly every sentence they spoke to each other.  I found the incessant repetition of this word very distracting.

                              “I had a very strange dream last night, Mma,” she said. “As I was saying.”

                        “Please tell me what it was, Mma,” said Mma Makutsi.

This made it difficult for me to read.  The sentences did not flow for me.

               Also, it wasn’t until chapter 11 or 12 that I finally discovered what the mystery was.  Perhaps I am too impatient, but that seemed like a very long time to wait before the point of the story came up.  And, meanwhile, there were a couple of side stories that seemed to take up a great deal of the volume of the tale, without adding much to it. The arrest and trial of one of the detective lady’s husband’s employees happens, and is told about in much detail.  But, I never figured out where those characters and that activity played into the mystery out at the orphan’s farm. Also, the other detective lady’s husband discovers he is being cheated by the contactor building his house. Once again, I’m not sure how that part of the tale added to the story. 

               The reason I kept reading was a vignette in which a mother is helping her child with his math homework.  He’s doing word problems which were also my nemesis. If a man can dig a ditch in one hour, how long will it take 3 men to dig a ditch?  I totally agreed with the kid that they’d get in each other’s way and it would undoubtedly take longer than an hour.  I figured any author with that tight a grasp on math was worth some more of my time, so I forged on.

               I won’t be reading any more of these books. I was disappointed. I had been looking forward to being delighted, but it just didn’t happen.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella

          Poppy is an idiot. Her friends are too ridiculous for words. I really struggled to get through the first chapters of this book. If the woman didn’t lie, cheat and routinely break the rules of civilized behavior, her life would be simpler, less stressful and easier to read about. And, the muscles in my eyes wouldn’t ache from all the rolling.

          I wrote the paragraph above at the end of chapter three intending to stop reading right there. However, I realized I did not have another book loaded on the Kindle yet, and since I was reading between calls at work, I couldn’t really go shopping for one right then. So, I decided to soldier on till the end of my shift.

          I got better – not great – but it became more readable as it went on. Poppy started making better decisions, stopped lying compulsively, spent far less time with her idiot friends and finally met a good guy.

          This is not a book I’ll ever read again, but it ended up being okay.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Betrayal by Danielle Steel

               A woman who seems to have it all discovers she’s been living in a house of cards.

               Successful film director Tallie Jones is at the peak of her career, surrounded by people who live to take care of her so she can concentrate on her work. Brigitte, her personal assistant and best friend for the last seventeen years does everything she can to keep the worries of the world away. Vincent, Tallie’s accountant for the last fifteen years, keeps track of her fortune. Hunter, Tallie’s live in boyfriend of four years and producer of her most recent films, keeps the home fires burning while she is on location. Tallie’s aging father and law school student daughter round out the major players in her life.

               When Tallie discovers that more than one of them has been lying to her, her world comes tumbling down.

               I the ensuing chaos, Tallie meets FBI agent Jim Kingston who helps right the legal wrongs that have been done to her, and gives her life a new stability.  This allows Tallie to build her world to new and even greater heights.

               I liked this book. It was a quick, fun read, if a little predictable.

Friday, July 20, 2012

11/22/63 by Stephen King

          The idea of time travel has long been a favorite of mine. While straight lines are great for getting quickly from one place to another, curves and spirals are much prettier and more appealing to me. The idea that time can fold back on itself has gripped my imagination since I first read A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle in elementary school. So I was very excited about this novel about the effort to return to 1963 and stop the assassination of President Kennedy.

          Naturally, there are twists in this story that only the warped mind of Stephen King can conjure up, but I totally have to agree that altering small events in the lives of ordinary people can have unexpected and far reaching consequences. So certainly, the alteration of a major historical and political event could be catastrophic. I also happen to think it was lucky Kennedy’s presidency ended when it did, before the cracks started to show.

          I am tempted to read it again because there were a couple of spots where I was not really sure why certain things were happening, and I don’t remember them being resolved.  I suspect that in the course of this very long book, I missed some details. For now I’ve decided to let this book just marinate in my brain for a while. I may pick it up again someday to see if I can figure out those couple of passages.

          At any rate, this was an engaging tale of what might have been.  I particularly liked that King involved the sense of smell so much.  It is so often overlooked by writers. I also really liked how well King managed the raising of the story’s intensity as Jake struggles against the clock up the many flights of stairs in the Texas Schoolbook Depository building. Each flight up left me more tense and frantic to know if he’d make it in time.

          11/22/63 is a very long book, but it is well worth reading every word.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

V Is For Vengeance by Sue Grafton

Kinsey Millhone #22
          I’ve missed the last four or five books in this series, but
did not feel lost at all in this one. While Kinsey Millhone’s
friends and neighbors make their regular appearances here,
the story line works quite well as a standalone.

          The story starts with Kinsey witnessing a shoplifter and reporting her to store security. Soon after the woman is arrested, she dies. This woman’s fiancĂ©e shows up on Kinsey’s doorstep asking her to look into the death. The story spirals out into organized retail theft and further into family run organized crime and police corruption. Nearly everyone gets what’s coming to them by the end. And Kinsey is left with the means to get vengeance on her worst enemy.

          If you’ve never read one of Grafton’s alphabet mysteries, I’d surely suggest picking up a few of the early ones just to get a feel for the recurring characters.  If you’ve read them all, you’re going to love this one too! 

          Respectfully submitted,

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Guardian by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Dark Hunter #21, Dream Hunter #5

               I’d give this 4-1/2 stars on Goodreads if fractions were allowed. I suspect the only reason I’m resisting 5 stars is that there were a few moments when if felt like I was missing something. But since this is book #21 in her Dark Hunter series and book #5 in her Dream Hunter series, that’s only to be expected. I haven’t read all the previous books yet, but I liked this one well enough that they are all now on my to-be-read list.

               I guess by now you realize I liked this one – a lot. It’s got your basic love-conquers-all theme set in a fantasy world inhabited by angels, demons and other immortal types.

               I think the part I got the biggest kick out of is these entities use of modern technology. They communicate via email (among other methods) and carry smart phones. I had to giggle over that. I also totally empathized with one demi-god’s struggles with a new laptop!

               If you do not have a well developed ability to suspend disbelief, this book is seriously not for you. But for those of us who enjoy visiting strange new worlds in our heads, this is a great one. I can’t wait to get to Night Pleasures, the first book in the series.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Angle of Investigation by Michael Connelly

               This is a collection of three short Harry Bosch stories.

               Christmas Even is the story of a thief who has robbed the same pawn shop four times. He was shocked to discover, during his fourth and final break in, that the pawn shop owner had finally had enough.

               Father’s Day is the very sad tale of an all too common, but dreadful, death of a child. As we’ve all read in the papers, a parent became distracted and forgot his sleeping child was in the car seat in the back. This one is a tragedy on a number of levels besides the obvious.

               Angle of Investigation has Harry reopening a cold case. As it happens, he and his trainer found this body on Harry’s second day ever on patrol. With the help of new technology and something only his old trainer knew, Harry puts a decades old drowning to bed.

               If you are a Harry Bosch fan, I’d definitely get a copy of this ebook. Each of these stories gives a bit of insight into Harry as well as determining who done it.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Longing by Karen Kingsbury

               Bailey Flanigan #3

               God may be a football fan, but I am not.  Nor am I fond of being preached at.  It’s been quite some time since I failed to finish a book on my list, but I couldn’t stand another syllable.  I broke my own rule about giving a book three chapters to catch me before I give it up.  About half way through the second chapter, a high school football coach allows an injured player to go back onto the field.  Don’t even get me started on the total irresponsibility of such a move.  I knew at that point, that in my eyes, this book was irredeemable.  I shut down the audio player. Life is too short to waste it on this story.

               Of course, if you like football or are heavy into Christian literature, this book may be for you.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Snow Angel by Glenn Beck

               This was a quick read for which I am grateful. Two stories run in parallel until they finally meet at the very end. 

                Rachel, the child of an alcoholic mother and an absentee father find herself in an abusive marriage. The day her husband turns his temper on their daughter, she finally finds the strength to leave. With the love and help of two friends who have stuck with her through her marriage, she and her daughter escape her abuser and head out to start a new life. But, she needs to make one last stop before they go.

               Mitch’s story plays out in a single day – Christmas Eve. He wakes to discover he is an old man, in an unfamiliar place, surrounded by strangers. Alzheimer’s has wreaked its havoc on his memory, but he understands it is Christmas Eve, and he knows he is waiting for someone. He’s just not sure who.

               The final scenes play out as Rachel encounters her father for the first time in over a decade. While he does not recognize Rachel as an adult, he mistakes his granddaughter for her mother. This is the child he has been waiting for. The one he knows he let down in a thousand ways, and the one he has waited many years from whom to ask forgiveness.

               It is all very sad and sweet.  Not my usual cup of tea, but a fairly well written little story. If you like heavily emotional, bittersweet ending stories, this one’s for you.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Defending Jacob by William Landay

               I was torn while reading this story. On one hand, I was absolutely riveted and couldn’t wait to find out what happened next. On the other hand, just knew what I was seeing was utterly disturbing and I just wanted to look away. Depending on where I was in the story, I couldn’t wait to get back to it, or I totally dreaded reading the next section.

               As a parent, the very thought of my child being arrested for murder makes me a little bit ill. How much worse it would be if the possibility existed my child could be guilty. This is the situation faced by the Barbers in this story.

               As a parent, how would I react if I realized that I had brought a monster into the world? How far would I go to protect my child? How much could I disregard the safety of those around us? This is the dilemma faced by the Barbers in this story.  I totally understand the very different reactions of both parents, and wonder which I would be more inclined to emulate.

               I’m giving this book a good rating even though it is not entertaining in the usual sense. It was a very uncomfortable book for me to read. But like watching a train hurtle toward a trestle rigged to blow, I could not look away.