Thursday, November 29, 2012

Criminal by Karin Slaughter

Read by Kathleen Early

Will Trent #7

            It took me a while to get into this book. It is extremely well written, however, so despite feeling a bit leery at first, I kept listening. This is the first book I've read by Slaughter. She did such an amazing job of describing the descent of a typical middle class teenager into drugs and prostitution that I could easily imagine how the same thing could have happened to me. The story was gritty and real and made me very uncomfortable. I wasn't sure I wanted to listen to things like that for the several days it takes me to get through an audio book. But I could not walk away from such a compelling writer's work.

            While this series is about Will Trent, the story is about the first major case solved by his boss, Amanda, decades earlier. Prostitutes and had been disappearing in Atlanta.  But since no one was particularly interested in what happened to streetwalkers, no one realized there was a pattern, until Amanda and her partner are asked to go into the projects and interview a woman about a rape. There, they hear a story about girls gone missing.

            A few days later, the woman they spoke to is found dead on the pavement behind her building, an apparent suicide jump. But the facts of the case do not add up, and Amanda and her partner start looking into the deaths and disappearances.  They get almost as much grief from their fellow cops, at least the male ones, as they do from the criminal element. But they persevere, eventually, putting a serial killer behind bars. That serial killer was also Will Trent’s father.

            Now, daddy has been paroled and more girls come up missing mere weeks after he is back on the streets. Will is being blocked from investigating by his boss, Amanda. He is confused, angry and filled with mounting frustration. Amanda, too, is not happy about the situation. Not all her questions had been answered by the man’s arrest so long ago, and as she once again begins to investigate, she finds she did not completely clean up the mess she found as a green detective. This time around, though, there are no loose ends left hanging.

            I really liked this book. Yes, it made me very uncomfortable at times. But I was riveted. I regularly listen to an audio book for half an hour or so after I get off work at midnight, before I go to bed. I had several very late nights during this story, because I had trouble turning it off. I just had to hear a little more!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris

Sookie Stackhouse #12

            I have not read all the Sookie Stackhouse novels, but I have read several of the earlier ones. I'm not sure exactly ones which since they were before I starting blogging and keeping track of such things. They must have been pretty good, though, because I remembered all the main characters, and, of course, who could forget Bubba?

            In this installment, the vampire king comes to visit. Sookie's boyfriend, Eric, is in his crosshairs. But he is unsure whether it is for punishment or praise, so everyone is tense. While the king is visiting Eric's home, a murder is committed in the front yard. No one knows how the young woman got into the house, or how she might have been killed. Eric's daytime guy, Mustapha, apparently helped her sneak in, but he has disappeared, so no one can ask him how or why.

            Eric is also being encouraged to dump Sookie and marry a vampire princess in a political move to consolidate power. Sookie expects Eric to declare his love for her and refuse the alliance. Eric expects Sookie to make use of the fairy charm her grandmother left her to magic him out of the marriage. They are at an uncomfortable impasse.

            In the mean time, Sookie's fairy godfather returns through the portal in the woods, spiriting one of her roommates away. While he is gone, Sookie starts to realize the roommate was not such a nice guy. And, the fae that reside at his business begin to run wild through town.

            And then there is the pack of werewolves with all their drama.

            Sookie keeps very busy, and is quite entertaining in this latest episode. I have enjoyed reading the last few books and will look forward to the thirteenth book in the series

Saturday, November 24, 2012

All Summer Long by Susan Mallory

Fools Gold #9

            This installment in the Fools Gold series is yet another quick fun read. This romance is between a firefighter and an underwear model. I know that sounds more like something that would appeal to the men folk, but in this instance, the firefighter is the girl and the underwear model is the boy. Isn't that a clever little twist?

            Charlie Dixon, firefighter, has decided she would like to become a mother, but she is concerned that her fear and distrust of men will have a bad effect on any children she has. She decides that the best way to overcome this shortcoming in herself is to ask a man to help her get past her fear of intimacy.

            Clay Stryker is the new man around Fools Gold. He is stepping away from a successful career as a model and "butt double". His extraordinary good looks have brought him fame and the adoration of women the world over. And the death of his wife has left him largely uninterested in the women who continue to throw themselves at him. He has moved to Fools Gold to be close to his family and to start up a new business in town. His plans to become an active member of the community include volunteering as a firefighter.

            When Charlie decides to ask the new guy to help her overcome her fears, she doesn't really think he will agree. When he does, they are both a little surprised. They are even more surprised to find how compatible they are. Once Charlie feels Clay has completely fulfilled his part of the bargain she is absolutely shocked when he tells he is glad their business arrangement has come to an end. Now they can start dating!

            Neither of them expects to fall in love, but it happens. They have their ups and downs, but ultimately join the ranks of the happy-ever-after in Fools Gold. If you’d like to see my other Fool’s Gold review, just click! Only Us

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich

          Lizzie and Diesal #1

            Wicked Appetite is the first book in the Lizzie and Diesel series. I assume there will be seven books in the series as Evanovich is using the seven deadly sins device. This book is her usual fun and quirky style. Roll your eyes goofy and laugh out loud funny in places. The situation comedy aspect is very strong. How can an overly human monkey or a one-eyed ninja cat not be entertaining?

            Lizzie is a pastry chef with a particular talent for cupcakes. She works at a bakery in Salem, MA, home of the Salem Witch Trials. Considering where she works, the odd is not unusual. But when a tall, cadaverously pale man enters the bakery looking for her things get more than odd.

            After Wolf scares Lizzy half to death and leaves, his gorgeous cousin, Diesel, rolls in looking for her. He explains that he and Wolf are both looking for a special stone controlling gluttony. He says Lizzy has special abilities, not only with cupcakes, but also to feel the energy given off by this stone. He insists she help him find it. Since she finds herself unable to get rid of him, and he promises to protect her from Wolf, she assists.

            The hunt for the keys to the stones location becomes increasingly difficult and dangerous as the story progresses. Of course, the goofiness surrounding Lizzy increases apace, balancing tension and release nicely. And, while I have always associated gluttony with food, Evanovich uses a much broader definition to great effect.

            Lizzy and Diesel eventually find the stone, but find themselves at an impasse with Wolf at the same time. Wolf and Diesel agree to split the loot with him, and meet again another day - presumably in Wicked Business, Lizzy and Diesel #2.

            This is not the great American novel, but it doesn't seem to expect to be. It is seriously fun, and I recommend it. I am looking forward to the next installment in the series.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Monkey’s Raincoat by Robert Crais

Elvis Cole #1

            This is not the kind of book I generally like Elvis Cole is not the kind of character that usually appeals to me. So what is it about this series that delights me?

            I like Elvis Cole. His sense of humor is a lot like mine. He's quirky and proud of it. He'll sleep with any woman he runs into, but mostly because he's trying to make both of them feel better. And he has great taste in friends. His business partner, friend and muscle, Joe Pike is great. A genuinely tough guy with a sense of other people's psyches, an OCD-like compulsion about clean cars, and not a lot to say. Elvis describes him as thinking that "Clint Eastwood talks too much."

            This is the first book in this series, published in 1987. I added it to my TBR list after reading Taken, the 13th in the series [
Taken], and I'll be adding Stalking the Angel, the third in the series.

            Elvis Cole is a private investigator in Hollywood. This story starts with two women arriving in his office to hire him, a quiet doormat of a wife and her pushy, overbearing best friend. Mrs. Doormat's husband has disappeared with their son. She fears he has left her and their daughters. Elvis agrees to look into the situation for her. He agrees to meet her at her house to collect his retainer and look through her husband’s papers. When Elvis arrives he finds the place has been systematically and thoroughly tossed. His client refuses to call the police, not wanting to embarrass her husband when he returns as she believes he did the tossing.

            Elvis starts his investigation, first uncovering evidence of an affair. Further investigation reveals that hubby and side piece attended a party at the home of a wealthy drug dealer. As it turns out, two kilos of nearly pure cocaine were stolen during the party. Drug dealer assumes hubby took it.

            Elvis finally insists that the police be called in, and they quickly find hubby shot dead in his car. The boy is missing. The drug dealer has snatched him to use as an exchange for the drugs. There's just one problem. Hubby didn't take the dope. Now Elvis must find out who did take it, and be prepared to swap it for the boy without everyone getting killed.

            I really enjoyed this book. Although I'm still not sure why it is titled the way it is. Apparently it has to do with a haiku quoted at the beginning of the book. I recommend both the book and the series highly.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Voyager by Diana Gabaldon

          Outlander #3

          Another great book by Diana Gabaldon!  I am so pleased I found this series. I’ve enjoyed every moment of these very long books. Gabaldon has made her way onto my list of favorite authors.

          Voyager is the third book in the Outlander series. After thoroughly enjoying the first two, Outlander and Dragonfly In Amber, [Outlander, Dragonfly In Amber] I was looking forward to this one. In the first book, Claire travels two hundred years back through time and finds herself in Scotland just prior to the Jacobite uprising. While there, she meets, marries and falls in love with Jamie Frasier, a large, handsome charismatic Scot. She tells him that the Scottish forces will be massacred at Culloden Field, and as the battle approaches, she discovers she is pregnant. Jamie sends her back through time on the eve of the battle, intending to go back and die on the field. Claire returns to her own time and bears Jamie’s child.

          In the second book, Claire takes her daughter, Brianna, on a trip to Scotland with the intent of telling her who her biological father is, and attempting to explain the time travel. Claire tells the tale of her love affair with Jamie and of their adventures together. While there, Brianna discovers Jamie Frasier’s grave and Claire realizes for the first time that Jamie did not die at Culloden.

          Now, Claire works to discover where she might find Jamie Frasier twenty years after the battle of Culloden. Through the exhaustive efforts of Brianna and her historian boyfriend, they track down clues that indicate Jamie is working as a printer in Edinburgh.

          Claire gathers what she can and prepares to travel back through the stones to find her one true love. It is wrenching to leave Brianna, but she cannot stay away. She goes back through the stone and begins the trek to the city.

          Upon arriving in Edinburgh, Claire gets directions to the printing house she believes is now owned by Jamie. She sees him and knows she was right to return to him, but is nervous about his reaction.  When he turns around and sees her, he faints dead away! 

          Jamie and Claire then embark on the journey of relearning each other – neither is really the same person they were when they parted twenty years earlier. Their personal journey is paralleled in the book by their physical journey from Scotland to the New World.  It is fun and exciting with twists and turns in both treks that kept me on the edge of my seat. 

          I highly recommend this book.  I would also suggest reading the first two before picking this one up though.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Innocent by David Baldacci

            The Innocent is yet another "boy book" about a CIA assassin. Not my usual cup of tea, but this shooter seems to have a heart and a moral compass.

            The book starts with us watching a couple of bad guys being taken out by Will Robie at the behest of his CIA handler. Robie is patient, efficient and organized. But something goes wrong on his next assignment.

            Robie is told to kill a US government employee in Washington DC. He arrives in the woman's apartment to find her asleep with a toddler in the bed with her. Robbie's handler tells him via his earwig to shoot the boy as well as his mother. While Robie might buy that the woman is a traitor, he has trouble believing a toddler is. He refuses to shoot. However, a sniper round comes through the window killing both of mother and child with a single round. Robie takes off knowing the next round will be aimed at him. On his way out of the apartment, he finds an infant asleep in a carrier. He grabs the child, drops him in front of a neighbor's door, rings the bell and runs.

            At the same time another violent scenario is playing out in another part of DC. A teenage girl, Julie, has skipped out of her foster home and gone back to her parents place. They all intend to leave DC together and start a new life elsewhere. She arrives to find a stranger in the act of murdering her father. Her mother's dying act is to throw herself on the attacker to allow her daughter to escape. Julie runs for her life as directed.

            Both Robie and Julie choose to escape DC by catching the next bus to New York. Robie takes the back seat. Julie chooses one a couple of rows in front of him. The last guy on the bus seems very interested in Julie, but she is prepared to defend herself with a can of pepper spray. Robie also observes the guy's interest in Julie and after she uses the spray, Robie grabs her and hustles her off the bus. As they reach the ground, the entire bus explodes killing all the passengers. Robie doesn't know if the explosion was meant to kill him or Julie, but he takes no chances. He brings her on the run with him till he can find out what's going on.

            What he finds is a circle of traitors in very high places and a plot to assassinate the president. A plot that could have been foiled by Julie's father and the men and women he had served with in the army during the first Gulf war. As twisted and confusing as the circumstances are, Robie and Julie figure it out and keep the president alive.

            This was a pretty good book. My biggest problem with it was that I knew who the assassin was going to be before I figured out there was going to be an assassination. That character and Robie’s response just did not ring true.

            Boys are probably going to like this one, and if my husband hasn't read it yet, he is going to want to.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Samurai Game by Christine Feehan

Ghostwalkers #10

            This is another series that I'm arriving in the middle of. This one is about people who have natural psychic abilities and have been "enhanced". For instance, one guy has venom sacs on his wrists and can poison people with a touch. Both of the main characters in this story can teleport, or instantly transfer their molecules from one place to another without passing through the intervening space.

            All the enhanced characters in the story are Ghostwalkers, a clandestine military group that does special missions for the US government. All of them are former experiments of the mad doctor, Peter Whitney. So they have common ground, but very different individual experiences.

            Sam Johnson was raised by a US military father. Azami was raised in the Samurai tradition by a Japanese father. They meet when The Ghostwalkers become interested in the satellite technology offered by Azami's technology company. Azami and her brothers come to visit the Ghostwalkers well-fortified compound and it comes under attack. Sam and Azami find themselves engaged in combat with an unknown enemy. Sam is not only impressed with her abilities as a warrior, he is positively aroused. He never believed he could find a woman who would understand his way of life, but a warrior woman is perfect for him. And Azami finds in Sam a man who will accept, love and desire her despite the physical and mental scars left on her by her time with the mad doctor.

            I like Christine Feehan's stories, although she has a nasty violent streak! I don't think I'll be adding the first nine Ghostwalkers stories to my to-be-read list, but I will happily read others as they come along. And come along they must as the evil Dr. Whitney has not yet been eliminated.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Fifty Shades Freed by EL James

Fifty Shades #3

            This is the third book in this series. While I enjoyed the first two books [
Fifty Shades Darker, Fifty Shades of Grey], I didn't think they lived up to the hype. And, I've got to say I don't think any of them deserve a months-long rid e on the New York Times Best Seller list. However they are definitely fun reads. Once again the email correspondence between Ana and Christian is very entertaining.

            The story picks up as they are getting married and honeymooning in various European hot spots. They have an exhausting amount of sex, but they are young and honeymooning, so I guess that is to be expected. Once they return home it's time to get back to work.

            The pressures of Ana's publishing job increase, her schedule becomes increasingly hectic and birth control slips her mind. She discovers, much to her horror, that she is pregnant. An ultrasound shows her a tiny blip that her Ob/gyn indicates is the fetus. She immediately feels protective and loving toward her Little Blip, but dreads telling Christian. Much drama ensues.

            Unsettling things continue to happen and security around the entire Grey family is tightened. At one point, an attempt is made to abduct Ana, but is foiled. The bad guy goes to jail but is bailed out by an unknown benefactor. While out, he manages to successfully abduct Christian's sister. Ana saves the day and gets to shoot the bad guy in the knee. What fun!

            The bad guy is arrested again, and all slides back into a normal routine. The book ends with Ana and Christian at their newly renovated home, living happily ever after. The last several chapters are almost like outtakes at the end of a movie, but reveal some rather interesting aspects to Christian's story. My favorite is the first encounter between the two at the interview in Christian's office. It is told entirely from Christian's point of view and is both enlightening and entertaining.

            I think this series is a pretty good one. It gets points in my book for being fun and entertaining. 


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Summerland: A Novel by Elin Hilderbrand

Read by Erin Bennett

            Summerland is kind of a sad story. It is well written. I liked and cared about the characters, but is does not get big points for entertainment.

            Most of the story takes place on Nantucket Island among the permanent population. On graduation night, four high school juniors are involved in a car accident. The driver, Penny, is killed, her twin brother, Hobby, is left in a coma. Her boyfriend, Jake, and her friend Demeter, walk away from the accident. But the ramifications of the crash are felt among a large portion of the island's population.  

            Demeter has serious self esteem issues and at the time of the crash is learning to drink away her pain. Her parents are oblivious to her blooming alcoholism. While sneaking around trying to find booze, Demeter sees something she shouldn’t have. And, immediately prior to the accident, she shares her knowledge with Penny

            Jake has been in love with Penny for his whole life. While they have only recently become lovers, they have been inseparable since they were small children. He believes they share everything about themselves, but in the aftermath of the crash, he discovers she has been harboring a secret.

            Hobby is the big man on campus, the popular football star and natural athlete. He appears to have the world by the tail, but he has a distressing secret, too.  And the crash leaves him with multiple broken bones, effectively destroying any chance he might have had to become a professional athlete.

            Penny, Hobby’s twin sister, is a sweet popular girl with the voice of an angel. She is driving Jake’s Jeep the night of the crash because she is the only one of the group not drinking. She does not indulge in alcohol because her first priority is caring for her voice. She feels things deeply, her love for Jake, the loss of the father who died before she was born, the weight of responsibility her vocal gift requires. But her sunny appearance belies a dark side to her psyche. It is her reaction to Demeter’s secret that causes the crash that changes everyone’s lives.

                        The story deals somewhat with the kids dealing with the aftermath of the crash, the loss of a sister, a lover, a friend. But largely, the story is about how the adults deal with the crash and their discovering the secrets being held by their children. It's not pretty. It could never be pretty, but the adults also hold secrets that just make the story sad.

            Things do work out in the end. And while I wouldn't go so far as to call it a happy ending, it is satisfying. No loose ends are left hanging out there, and life goes on.