Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins‏


The Hunger Games #1

            Wow!  Let me say that again in case you missed it. Wow! This is a great book. If you haven't read it, do so NOW. I was absolutely blown away. I'm not usually a big fan of post apocalyptic fiction. It's just too depressing. (And as you probably know by now, I read to be entertained.)  And young adult lit can often be a bit boring for this old lady. But this is a strong, fast-paced narrative with amazing characters.  If I ever run into Katniss or Peeta or any number of other characters on the street, I'll recognize them immediately. 

            By now most everyone knows the story line. After a major war, the continental US is divided into a few very large districts. Katniss is from district 12, the coal mining area of the country. The Capital, somewhere out West keeps the other areas in line through draconian measures, and they display their power over the other districts by staging the Hunger Games.  One teenaged girl and boy from each district is chosen by lottery every year. They are thrown into an immense arena and the twenty four children are forced to fight each other to the death. The last child standing wins. The populace is required to watch the event on television.

            After I got past my initial disgust over the basic concept of the Games, I got caught up in the story of a smart, strong, creative and conscientious young woman who manages to survive a difficult childhood of loss and poverty. When her little sister is chosen in the lottery to compete in the Games, Katniss immediately comes forward demanding to take her place. Before leaving the District, Katniss makes every effort to ensure her mother and sister will be taken care of after her death.

            Katniss does everything she can think of to avoid being killed in the Games, while also avoiding killing others. She also manages to do something no other player has ever done. She wins the Games, and keeps the second contestant from her district alive as well. Her brains and fearlessness are inspiring.

            Read this book.  It's amazing.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Merry Christmas, Alex Cross by James Patterson


Alex Cross #19

            This was a two-fer! Alex is called out on two different cases in this book. One on Christmas Eve and the second on Christmas Day.

            After doing his Christmas good dead by catching a guy who has been robbing the poor box at the local church, Alex is all prepared to celebrate the holiday with his family.  The Christmas Eve traditions just get rolling when the inevitable phone call comes. A family is being held hostage. Someone's ex-husband has had a Christmas melt down and is holding his ex-wife, his two kids and her new husband at gun point. Alex saves the day at the risk of his own life as Christmas Eve moves into Christmas Day.

            By the time he finally makes it home, his family is asleep in their beds, while visions of sugar plums dance in their heads. Alex is only too happy to join them. But before he can even get into REM sleep, much less visualize any sugar plums, the phone rings yet again.

            This time he is called in to help corral a known terrorist who has been seen in Grand Central Station. This woman leads them a merry chase, but they nab her eventually.  In a rather disturbing scene, they break her down and she tells them that she is only the point person for the rest of the cell who are stealing chemicals needed to create a massive explosion. Alex uses his special skills to suss out the fact that she has not given them the whole truth of the matter. He and his partner then go out into the winter wonderland that the city has become and track down the rest of the group and the chemicals.

Read my reviews of other Alex Cross stories, Cross Fire, and other books by James Patterson, Zoo , I, Michael Bennet ,  11th Hour , Guilty Wives , Private #1 Suspect , Private Games , The Christmas Wedding , Kill Me If You Can , Now You See Her.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Stalking the Angel by Robert Crais‏


Elvis Cole #2

            I listened to this one on audio book. Elvis Cole is as entertaining aloud as he is in print. I have to wonder at times how someone as goofy as Cole manages to catch the bad guys, but he does. The fact that he has the strong, silent Joe Pike to back him up when the going gets rough certainly helps.

            In this installment, a rare Japanese manuscript goes missing from the collection of a seriously obnoxious and twisted rich guy. This man is totally unconcerned about anything but his own desires and the opinions of people he wants to impress. His wife and daughter are nonentities to him.

            Cole is hired to track down the manuscript. In the course of the investigation, the daughter goes missing. As a result of this debacle, Cole is fired. But he has promised the awkward young girl he would keep her safe, and so he continues tracking the manuscript in the belief that both disappearances are connected. And, of course, he is right.

            I started reading the older Elvis Cole novels because I enjoyed a later one so much. This book, much like the first, is extremely entertaining and I know for a fact they will only get better as the series matures.

See my other reviews of Robert Crais' books, The Monkey's Raincoat and Taken.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Kiss the Dead by Laurel K Hamilton


Anita Blake #21

            There was not much of a US Marshall, vampire hunter story line to this book.  Is Hamilton running out of stories, or are there so many characters and back stories to keep up with that there is no room for outside action?  This book seemed to spend most of its time having Anita explore her feelings for her large number of lovers. She is very concerned about not loving them all the same.  It seems most of them are less concerned about this, but she works through her feelings on the subject all the same.

            It felt like there was more sex than story here.  Not my favorite kind of book.  But it was nice catching up with the gang. Hopefully Hamilton will come up with a more exciting situation to drop her characters into in the next installment.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Orphanmaster by Jean Zimmerman

            I gave this book 3 stars. About half the book was worth 4 stars, the other half was only worth 2 stars, so three seems like a reasonable compromise.

            The story itself was a good one. It held my interest and delighted me with its well drawn characters and locations. Zimmerman did a very good job twining the cultures of the Dutch colonists, the free black population and the local American Indian tribes. The story draws on aspects of all three and braids them into a tight tale. It is a good who-done-it, and the icing on this cupcake is the tidbits of history Zimmerman shares at the beginning of each chapter. It helps place the action in time, and served to remind me that events in the New World did not occur in a vacuum. They were influenced by and worked their own influence on events in Europe, Africa and Asia.

            All that being said, the story had some serious drawbacks. I did not like the way it was organized. I felt that some chapters were out of order. The story would have flowed better if it had been organized differently, and,we find out far too soon who the bad guy is. The suspense could have been drawn out and heightened further by leaving that info for later in the story. I also think the book should have had a different title. There is a character who is Orphan Master for the community, but he felt like a secondary character.  And while the main character is a woman who had at
one time been an orphan under his authority, it was only briefly. And, yes, the bad guy goes around killing orphans, but I didn't feel like he "mastered" them, it was more a case that the orphan children "mastered" his control causing him to gave in to his insanity and kill them.

            If you enjoy historical fiction, you might want to check out this book, but I don't think it ranks well among murder mysteries.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Racketeer by John Grisham



  I've taken a hiatus for the last couple of months - from blogging, not reading! But I'm back to it now that the dog days of summer have arrived. 

           I got to this book and thought, "Oh no, not another Grisham lawyer book." As you may have surmised by that, I'm not the biggest fan of his lawyer stories. They tend to be sad and a little twisted. This one is more fun than his normal lawyer book though. I liked it.

            We have Malcolm Bannister, lawyer, a man who got used by some bad guys and landed, unfairly, in Federal prison for ten years. He loses his career, his wife, his child, but does not lose his mind. And, he develops a bold plan. He trades bad information for his freedom. Then he uses info he got while in prison to acquire a fortune in gold. Then he gives the authorities the correct info and rides off into the sunset while they capture and prosecute the real bad guy.

            There are twists and turns and Caribbean sunsets. Malcolm, instead of giving up and giving in when he finds himself in prison, takes his future into his own hands and boldly wrests it onto a path that will keep him happy

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Mission to Paris by Alan Furst


         I didn't like this book. In general, war stories are not my cup of tea, and WWII, during which this book was set, was an evil time filled with evil men and complacent populations. Neither the story line nor the characters swept me away, and so I trudged through this book to the end by sheer will power. I cannot recommend it. However, if spy novels and WWII based tales are your cup of tea, you may be more impressed than I was.

          In 1938, as Hitler was starting to make his moves toward world domination, a movie was being shot in France. American movie star, Frederic Stahl is sent by Warner Brothers to star in this foreign film. While in France, the Germans start hectoring him, wanting to use him as part of their pro-Nazi, Pro-German propaganda process. He resists, but soon discovers there can be nasty consequences to refusing to cooperate with these people.

          He chooses, however, to offer his services to the American consulate in France, and becomes a small part of their spy network - merely a minor courier, but soon finds himself drawn deeper and deeper into the intrigue and danger. He cannot leave France till his movie is complete, unless he is willing to throw away his acting career in the US. He holds on by the skin of his teeth. After the movie finally wraps, he finds it is more difficult than he expected to get out of France. He must pull strings, and the big wigs at Warner Brothers must grease the wheels to outmaneuver the Germans trying to stop him. Even with W-B's assistance, he must take his fate into his own hands, doing unto an assassin before the assassin can do unto him in order to make it home.

          The book had some very tense moments, but mostly it was just kind of depressing. I would advise giving it a pass.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Friends Forever by Danielle Steel

                 If you think L'es Miserables is a sad and depressing tale, but love it anyway, this is the book for you. Something terrible happened at the end of nearly every chapter. I think if Steel had put just a little more effort into it she could have killed everybody off a few chapters earlier and put me out of my misery sooner.

          So for those of you who might have missed the subtle signals in the previous paragraph, I really didn't like this book. It started with five kids starting their first day of kindergarten. They decide to become friends forever. Over the course of the next nineteen years they each experience disappointments and tragedies. Then they start dying off themselves. The first dies in an accident. The second succumbs to a drug overdose, a third commits suicide. You get the picture.

          This book was not fun. I would suggest you give it a pass.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Night Embrace by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Dark-Hunter #3

          If you are looking for a steamy paranormal romance, this is the series for you. Lots of good looking and tough immortals, hot sex, and action galore. I enjoyed this book a little more than the first two. Perhaps, Kenyon was finding her literary stride (this was published in 2008), or perhaps I am more familiar with the characters and characteristics of this world and was more relaxed while listening to it.

          This is Talon's story. He is a 1500 year old Celt turned Dark-Hunter living in New Orleans. Mardi Gras is fast approaching and the evil Daemons are gathering in the city, preparing to feast on the revelers. After fighting a group of Daemons, Talon is run down in the street by a runaway Mardi Gras float right in front of Sunshine Runningwolf. He is coherent enough afterward to insist on no police or hospital, but is in bad shape for the moment. Sunshine takes him back to her loft to recover.

          Sunshine quickly realizes this is no ordinary guy. But he is so secretive about himself that she wants to keep her distance. Her heart has other plans though.

          Talon has not allowed himself to get close to any human since he became a Dark-Hunter. Not only has he taken their oath of silence, but before his death he angered a Celtic god and has been cursed to witness the death of any human he grows to care for. The deaths of his wife, son and sister at the end of his human existence were quite enough for him. He has no desire to witness any others. But Sunshine has gotten under his skin. He is unable to keep her at arm's length.

          In order to be together forever, both Talon and Sunshine must risk everything to retrieve Talon's soul from Artemis, who took it when she made him a Dark-Hunter, and get the Celtic god's curse lifted as well. With good luck, good timing and excellent connections in the supernatural realm, they accomplish both seemingly impossible tasks and prepare to live happily ever after




Monday, April 29, 2013

Rescue Me by Rachel Gibson


Lovett, Texas #3

          I really liked this book. I laughed and cried. And, I'm very glad I had a couple of slow nights in a row at work so I could read it in big chunks. The characters are vivid - even the secondary characters are distinct and memorable.

          Mercedes Johanna Hollowell - Sadie Jo to everyone in the little town of Lovett, TX - escaped the cattle ranch where she grew up as soon as she could. Her momma died when she was five, and her father was a hard, distant sort of man. She wandered the country, taking classes at numerous colleges without earning a degree and working numerous jobs without creating a career. She likes men a lot, but is not good at relationships. She has not been home in five years when she is asked to be a bridesmaid at her cousin's wedding. It would be rude to say no, so she heads back toward Lovett with the intent of leaving again the moment the wedding is over.

          Vince Haven is a former Navy SEAL whose Aunt Lurleen owns the Gas and Go in Lovett. She has asked him to come down for a visit. Until very recently, Vince had been living in Seattle near his sister and her son, helping to raise the boy. It's been just Vince and his sister since their mother died a few years earlier. Their father walked out when they were very young. But now his sister’s baby daddy has reappeared wanting to be a part of their lives, and his she is planning her belated wedding. Vince is at loose ends at the moment and heads down to Texas to accept Aunt Lurleen’s invitation.

          Vince's truck breaks down near the turn off to the Hollowell ranch, and Sadie sees him on the side of the road as she approaches home. She gives him a lift into town. Sparks soon fly between the two, but since neither of them is planning to be in town long, they figure it is a match made in heaven.

          Events conspire to keep each of them in Lovett much longer than originally intended. Their no-strings fling becomes a friends-with-benefits deal and without their noticing turns into an actual relationship. Both panic when they realize what is happening, and they nearly blow their chance at happily ever after. But they manage to rescue each other in the end.

Friday, April 26, 2013

A Night Like This by Julia Quinn


The Smythe-Smith Quartet #2

          What a fun book! The Smythe-Smith stories remind me a lot of Julie Garwood's early books: fast-paced, a little zany, with very memorable characters.

          I grabbed this book on the way to work, not really paying attention to what it was. Early in the first chapter, I found myself at the ever-awful Smythe-Smith musicale and immediately recognized the territory.

          This book follows Daniel Smythe-Smith and the love that blooms between him and his niece's governess, Anne Wynter. Daniel is an Earl. Anne is a ruined woman, thrown out by her family and not even using her own name. Their escapades as Daniel attempts to entice Anne into his life and Anne attempts to steer him away from her are antic and quite entertaining.

           The Smythe-Smith clan continues to be tale-worthy in this second installment. I can’t wait to read the third book.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Storm by Clive Cussler and Graham Brown

NUMA files #10

          This was a good book to while away a few hours with. It was fast paced and fun to read. I'm pretty sure all the basic technology really exists, but its usage was stretched to the breaking point in this story.

          In the latest Kurt Austin thriller, a Bedouin bent on world domination finds a way to control the weather. He discovers that using vast numbers of microbots he can control ocean temperatures and by extension, the weather. NUMA stumbles on the plot when a crew performing routine checks in the Indian Ocean goes missing. The NUMA vessel shows up sans crew with evidence of a fire. The residue from the fire had something odd in it and further investigation uncovered the presence of microbots.

          NUMA immediately goes looking for the man who patented the bots. He lives on a giant floating island populated largely by robots of his own invention. As it turns out, it is not the inventor who has using the microbots for evil, but his right hand man who has sold the technology for his own profit.

          The gang from NUMA must secure the floating island, prevent the Bedouin megalomaniac from taking out the biggest dam in Egypt and prevent the microbots from altering weather patterns all around the Indian Ocean. It makes for lots of action and good, wet fun.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Winter of the World by Ken Follett


Century Trilogy #2

          This is another of Follett's extremely well written books. His books tend to be very long, but well worth the time. His stories are complex, but compelling. I'm not entirely sure I liked this story, but it stuck with me. It made enough of an impression that I dreamed about it. This is not a "fun" book, but it is a good one.

          This part of the trilogy involves the years leading up to WWII through the start of the Cold War. This was a particularly dark era in the history of mankind. Man's inhumanity to man, while present from the dawn of time, was particularly widespread and virulent during that period. The book does a nice job of balancing the horror with the compassion and bravery. It explores the choices made by the individuals who chose to risk themselves for the greater good. And it shores up the idea that while democracy is not a perfect system, it is better than the alternatives, even if it allows us to vote it out of existence.

          This trilogy requires a commitment, but I know I've made worse ones. I would recommend starting with the first book, The Fall of Giants, because it is also a great book.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Stolen Prey by John Sandford


Lucas Davenport #22

          I've read quite a few of Sandford's Prey novels over the years. I like Lucas Davenport. I enjoy visiting with him for time to time.

          I enjoyed this story. I got a real kick out of the secondary story line that Virgil Flowers, another favorite character of mine, assists on.

          In this adventure, Davenport is faced with a Mexican drug cartel hit squad running loose in Minneapolis torturing and killing local residents. The initial question is what these apparently upstanding citizens have to do with drug cartels. Davenport's investigation quickly expands to include DEA agents as well as Mexican Federales. They eventually determine that the cartel has been using a Minnesota bank to move funds through and someone has figured out how to skim from their account.

          Davenport and company finally manage to track down the hackers and the hit squad but not before they show up on his own front porch.

          Thriller is an apt word to described this book. It was interesting and fast paced. I'm already looking forward to the next installment of this series.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Odd Apocalypse by Dean Koontz


Odd Thomas #5

          This is my first Odd Thomas book. I liked it, but cannot decide if I liked it well enough to put the first book in the series on my TBR list. I am definitely looking forward to the next one, though.

          This is a horror story, but includes my favorite literary device, time travel. And Odd is funny. He may have a deep familiarity with ghosts and ghouls, but he has a wonderful sense of humor. Or at least a sense of humor that tickles my fancy.

          In this story, Odd and his pregnant friend Annamaria have been invited to stay at a rich man's estate. It quickly becomes clear that this place is unusual. Odd is approached by the shade of a woman riding a huge black horse, though that is not what makes things unusual. She needs him to help her nine year old son. And yet she died decades earlier. But Annamaria concurs that the woman's nine year old son is the one Odd must help.

          But there does not appear to be a child on the estate. Odd starts doing some exploring and discovers some downright terrifying creatures are roaming the place. He also discovers that the staff are not quite what they appear to be. And, the place is filled weird machinery. He is more and more confused, but trusting Annamaria and his Gift, continues to snoop. His efforts finally pay off when he discovers a nine year old boy tucked into a room off the corner of the library mezzanine.

          Odd must rescue the boy from violent pig-apes from a future time as well as from the homicidal estate owner and staff who have figured out how to avoid aging. And once they leave the estate grounds they have no idea how being separated from the environs of the estate will affect young Timothy.

          But, escape they do, and find a new place to settle down to await Odd's next ghostly calling.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters


This book was one of a number that were recommended to me as opposed to coming off the NY Times best seller list. When I chose this one I didn't realize quite what I was getting into. It looked at first glance to be historical fiction, but upon reading the cover blurbs I discovered that it was billed as lesbian erotica. Not something I've ever read before, but the point is to broaden my horizons, so I plunged right in.

            This was very good historical fiction as well as being a sweet love story, once the love story finally got started. The first part of the book, where Nancy Astley discovers her sexual preference and falls in love for the first time with a male impersonator named Kitty, is excellent. The colors and scents are very vivid. Nancy's determination to keep her feelings to herself rather than risk losing her first love is believable. As is her discovery that Kitty feels the same about her. Kitty's later betrayal is heart wrenching.

            The middle section of the book was hard to read. Not because it was badly written. On the contrary, it made the horrible way the rich and powerful in 1890's London treated the less fortunate very clear. Nancy's experiences during that time were just depressing. At the end of that section of the story Nancy has been turned out into the London streets in winter with no coat, no money, not even having been allowed to bring her personal possessions with her.

            In the third part of the book, Nancy turns in desperation to a girl she met only once over a year earlier. After fainting on the doorstep, she is taken in by Florence and her brother. They agree to let her stay on to take care of the house and the foundling they have also taken in. Nancy slowly gets over Kitty and begins to develop feelings for Florence. She finally comes to the realization that life is neither as bad nor as good as she might have believed.

            Eventually, Florence begins to return Nancy's feelings and they start a life together.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst

Marriage To A Billionaire #1

         This was a pretty good book. No real surprises in the story line, but the characters are well written and Probst conveys their emotions effectively. I teared up a bit near the end - always a sign of good writing.

          Alexa and Nick grew up in the same neighborhood. They have known each other forever. Neither of them has an idyllic home life, but they choose to react to the differently as adults. Alexa chooses to forgive and participate in mending her family's rifts. Nick chooses to wall his emotions off and keep the world at a distance.

          Alexa and Nick each find themselves confronting different problems at the same point in time - problems that can be solved by marrying the right person. Alexa needs $150,000 to pay off her parents’ mortgage so they will not lose the family home. She could really use a rich husband right about now. Nick's uncle, primary shareholder in the family architectural firm has just died. He has left his shares to Nick on the condition that Nick marry immediately. Nick needs a wife willing to enter into a marriage contract.

          Nick's sister and Alexa's best friend, Maggie, suggests they help each other out. Nick believes Alexa is marrying him for his money. Alexa believes he is marrying her to gain his inheritance. But neither realizes the sparks that flew between them as teenagers could ignite into love.

          This is another quick, fun read. The epilogue sets up the next book, which I will happily read.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Last Boyfriend by Nora Roberts


Inn BoonsBoro #2

          As you may know, I love Nora Roberts books. Her plot lines may be a bit formulaic, but the people and places are so rich and real that I forget about the formula. I invariably laugh out loud and cry real tears during every one of her books. Writers interested in great scenes and memorable characters should study her writing.

          This is Avery MacTavis and Owen Montgomery's story. They have known each other their whole lives. Owen was Avery's first boyfriend. He proposed to her when she was five. Now he is the organizational genius behind Montgomery Construction and she own the town's pizza parlor. Each of them is successful in their own right, but it's what happens when they come together as a team that is truly special.

          Inn BoonsBoro is nearly complete. The final details are coming together. Avery has run across the street from her restaurant, Vesta, to check it all out. She runs into Owen in one of the rooms and as they are admiring it, she is mysteriously pushed from behind and finds herself in Owen's arms. Owen finds that he has an uncontrollable need to kiss her since she is so conveniently at hand. And, the resulting sparks generated between the two of them take them both by surprise.

          But Lizzy, the ghost of Inn BoonsBoro is not surprised at all.

          The story details how Avery and Owen go from loving each other to being in love. I found it very satisfying, a little thrilling, and was a bit sad when it was over. But not too sad because I know the third book in the trilogy is coming up!


          Read my review of The Last Boyfriend, book one of the BoonsBoro trilogy, and my reviews of other Nora Roberts titles: Skin Deep, Chasing Fire, Unfinished Business, and The Witness. Also, Nora writing as JD Robb: Celebrity In Death and New York to Dallas.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Wind Through the Keyhole by Stephen King


     This is one of King's fantasies. His "once upon a time" stories are my favorites. This is a story within a story within a story. The "fairy tale" bookends the story of a group of travelers who get caught in a storm. In the middle of the adventure, a young boy is told the story to keep his mind off the terrifying events going on around him.

     A band of travelers realizes they are about to be overtaken by a storm of epic proportions. They make their way to cover but do not know if it will protect them or not. To keep their minds off the terrifying events about to rain down upon them, they cajole their leader into telling a tale from when he was just starting his travels as a youth

     He recounts the tale of his first outing as a gunslinger. He and a young partner are dispatched to deal with a shape changer who is murdering large groups of people. As they ride into town a report comes of yet another farmstead full of people dead. The gunslingers join local law enforcement in the investigation. They find many people dead. They also find one miraculous survivor - a cook's boy. The child got only a glimpse of the shape changer as he turned back into human form, but he is the closest thing they have to a lead. The gunslinger places the child inside a cell at the local jail for safekeeping. This child has heard the tales of murder and mayhem in the district. He has also heard the screams of his family and friends as they are clawed to pieces. He is thoroughly traumatized.

     While they wait for their suspect pool to arrive so the boy can look at them, the young gunslinger tells him a tale that he heard at his mother's knee: The Wind Through the Keyhole. It is a tale of sorrow and death, bravery and triumph, magic and dragons (is a group of dragons really a bonfire, or did King just make that up?). At the end of the story the boy was much calmer and had a role model for brave behavior.

     The suspects arrive at the jail, and the murderer is revealed

     The fairy tale ends, and the little group of travelers has survived the storm.

     I liked this book. I still prefer King’s The Eyes of the Dragon, but this one runs a close second. Every fantasy reader should check this one out.
     Read my review of Stephen King's 11/22/63.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Wanted Man by Lee Child


Jack Reacher #17

            Yet another Jack Reacher novel. The whole military thriller/spy story genre is not really my cup of tea. So why am I so seriously delighted by Jack Reacher? I like the way he thinks. It is very linear and precise, mathematical if you will. He is perfectly predictable, especially after seventeen books, but he's not boring. He is quite unconventional, but I can totally relate to the decisions he chooses to make. He is incredibly laid back, almost lazy, but he is capable of bursts of incredible speed and violence. And, of course, he is very lucky. He must be since he is not dead despite repeatedly being caught in perilous situations.

            In this installment, Jack finds himself in the midst of a nest of terrorists in the middle of America's heartland. In the middle of nowhere Missouri, to be more precise. And how did he get there? By hitching a ride on an Oklahoma highway. As each of the pieces to this puzzle snap into place, the plots twists a bit further. Some of the twists are a bit far-fetched, but they all slide into place seamlessly.

            I liked this one. It is probably not the best Jack Reacher story out there, but I happily went along for the ride on this one. And, I can't wait to find out if Jack ever makes it back to Virginia.

Read my reviews of other Jack Reacher stories: The Affair, Second Son, Deep Down.

            Just a side note about the recent Jack Reacher move: Seriously, Tom Cruise? Really? I'm having trouble suspending disbelief to that point.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Frozen Heat by Richard Castle


Nikki Heat #4
 I think this was my first Nikki Heat novel. It was pretty good. Not good enough to make me want to backtrack and read the previous novels, but good enough that I'll be very happy to see the next one come out.

          Nikki is a homicide detective. Her mother was murdered ten years earlier which may have something to do with Nikki's career choices. In the course of a normal day at the office, Nikki and the ME are examining the body of a woman who has been stabbed, stuffed into a suitcase and stashed on a refrigerated delivery truck. While examining the exterior of the suitcase, Nikki finds her own initials carved into it. This is the same suitcase that was stolen during her mother's murder a decade ago. Nikki carved those initials into it herself.

          What does the murder of the unidentified frozen woman have to do with the murder of her mother? That's what Nikki is bound and determined to find out. It has been years since there was a new lead in her mother’s case, but this may be the one she's been waiting for.

          Nikki works the two murders simultaneously, discovering the dead women had been friends with Mom when they were young. That friendship leads Nikki to Paris where she finds evidence that the young women worked for the CIA during the Cold War. Is that what got them killed years later?

          Nikki runs every lead down until she finds herself facing the killer, unarmed and far from help. Does she get her man? It's worth reading the book to find out

Monday, February 11, 2013

Unnatural Acts by Stuart Woods


Stone Barrington #23

            I've read a few of the Stone Barrington novels. Some are better than others. This one was pretty good. I always get a kick out of how money is no object to these people. For instance, in one scene Stone and another lawyer, Herbie, meet a client, an investment banker, for lunch. They are virtual strangers, but before lunch is over, the banker has agreed to invest five million dollars for the young lawyer and twenty five million for Stone. They'll just have the funds transferred over in the morning. And that was just a bit of side conversation, not the purpose of the meeting. I wonder if that sort of thing happens in real life. I'd love to find out for myself!

            The main part of the story follows Herb, a young associate at the law firm where Stone works. The aforementioned investment banker has a son who has developed some bad habits and is into a loan shark for nearly a quarter of a million dollars. Herb has been selected to extricate this trust fund baby from his delicate situation since he has some personal experience in sowing dangerously wild oats himself.

            Herb starts with a visit to the loan shark, bearing a briefcase full of cash. He squares Dink's account, and then heads off to confront Dink in his dorm at Yale. Once bearding the Dink in his den, Herb gets the young man to sign a power of attorney form and a voluntary commitment form. Dink is then piled into a van headed toward an inpatient rehab center. En route, Dink manages to escape the van and disappear. Now Herb must track down this wayward son again.

            With advice from Stone, Herb finds Dink and gets him safely deposited into rehab. Once there Dink, begins systematically attempting to snow the staff in an effort to get release ASAP. He also enlists his friend's aid in attempting to ruin Herb's career and life in retaliation for being trapped in the rehab center.

            Eventually, Dink finds a way to escape the rehab center. He has just turned twenty one and now has access to his trust fund. Herb and Dink's father are forced to deal with the reality that Dink is a bad seed, and is not going to become a productive adult despite their best efforts. Dink's father chooses to deal with the situation by committing an "unnatural act".

            This is another book that causes me to wonder if I had brought a monster into the world, how I might have handled the situation. How do you cope with a sociopathic child? What steps would you take to protect the rest of society from such a person? Is it your responsibility as a parent remove such a child from society? I'm glad my child is a kind and responsible person, saving me from having to act unnaturally as a parent.
            Read my review of Stuart Woods' Son of Stone.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Dark Gold by Christine Feehan

Dark #3

          This is the third book in Christine Feehan's Dark series. The main characters are Carpathians, a race with characteristics similar to classic vampires but without the evil intent and propensity for violence. In fact, one of their purposes in life is to destroy any vampires who may come to prey on helpless humans. The Dark series tells the tales of various Carpathians males as they find their life mates - their own true loves.

          This book tells the story of Aiden Savage, a centuries-old Carpathian who left his homeland to protect the population of the United States. He finds his life mate, Alexandria, and her little brother in the clutches of an evil vampire, one of a band that has come to prey in the San Francisco area. Aiden rescues them, but to the woman and her young brother vampires are the stuff of video games, and Aiden is no different from the vampire that kidnapped them.

          Aiden must get beyond Alexandria's fear of him and her need to protect her brother at all costs. He must earn her love and trust or die. And, he must do this while destroying the band of evil vampires that have moved into his area.

          This book was much like the previous two, light entertainment. I still want to read Gregory's story which should be coming up soon.

          Read my reviews of Dark Prince, Dark Desire and Dark Predator.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

What Doesn't Kill You by Iris Johansen

            This novel is Catherine Ling's story. For those of you who are regular readers of Johansen, you'll know exactly what that means. If you know who Catherine Ling is, this is a great book. If you are unfamiliar with Catherine, I'd suggest you read Bonnie and/or Eve first.

            Catherine is working at creating a home for and building a relationship with her son, Luke. But, her CIA ties still bind, and her old friend Hu Chang is the one in trouble. Hu Chang is a master potion maker - his creations can cure and kill and more. The leader of a ruthless organization has learned that Hu Chang can create a poison that can kill and leave no trace - the perfect weapon for assassination. This evil man wants the potion and will use every twisted and violent means at his disposal to get it. He has shanghaied Hu Chang and the CIA wants him back. They rescue him, but he slips away from them. They call in Catherine to get him back again.

            As Catherine flies from Virginia to Hong Kong, she remembers her childhood and her first encounter with Hu Chang. This flashback gives us a good look at Catherine's formative years and her only relationship as a child.

            She tracks down Hu Chang, and they go after the bad guy. She hooks up with John Gallo again as he is the CIA's resident expert on the man they are chasing. The three of them clash, as all are accustomed to being in charge, but they eventually get their man. And, find out that what doesn't kill you really can make you stronger.

            See my reviews of Eve and Bonnie.

Friday, February 1, 2013

On the Beach by Tracey Garvis Graves

            This was a pretty good book. It was also self published. You have to have great confidence in yourself to do that. Ms. Graves' confidence is well placed.

            This story is about a teacher, Anna, who is hired to tutor a teenage boy, TJ. TJ is recovering from cancer and missed a lot of school the previous year. Anna's job is to accompany TJ and his family to their vacation home in The Maldives and tutor the boy over the summer so he can rejoin his class in school in the fall.

            Anna's school lets out a little later than TJ's, so she is planning to arrive separately. At the last minute, TJ's parents allow him to stay home an extra couple of days for a social function, so he and Anna will be heading to the Maldives together.

            It is a very long journey with multiple flights, layovers, delays and every other annoyance associated with modern air travel. Some thirty hours after leaving Chicago, Anna and TJ arrive for their final hop to the island where his family is staying only to find their plane has been overbooked and they are looking at spending the night at another airport. Anna appeals to the woman behind the counter who takes pity on them and finds a pilot that is prepared to take a couple of passengers to their final destination.

            While flying over the multitude of islands that make up the Maldives, the pilot has a heart attack. The plane crashes, and Anna and TJ wash up on a deserted island.

            The next three and a half years are spent alone on the island. Anna and TJ learn to survive and come to trust each other completely to do so. At some point, a tsunami occurs, washing them off their island, and they are plucked out of the ocean during the large scale rescue mission along the chain of islands.

            They return to the US amid swarms of reporters, and slowly rejoin their families and their lives. They start out sharing an apartment, but Anna believes TJ should experience some of the teenage/young adult things he missed while marooned. He does not want this. He wants to spend his life with Anna, thirteen years his senior. They argue and part ways.

            TJ does as Anna requests, gets hid GED, spends some time in college, lives with his best friend from "before". But he does not change his mind about Anna. Eventually, he returns to her. They apparently live happily after.

            I enjoyed this book. The action moves right along. I felt the fear and anger and despair and joy. I'm very glad Ms Garvis Graves believed in herself and her story enough to bring it to fruition.