Friday, December 29, 2006


I read PANIC by Jeff Abbott (Onyx, c2005, ISBN 0-451-41222-2) kind of on a dare.

For those who don't know me, I am a pessimist. I see the glass half-empty so that I'm not surprised when someone comes along with a pitcher and fills it up for me. And I never believe the people who tell me, "This book has non-stop action!" or "It is the funniest movie ever!" because I got suckered into watching NAPOLEON DYNAMITE exactly this way, and never again will I believe.

But someone, on a list-serv that I belong to, said that this book had the qualifying "non-stop action" and although I was in the mood to prove somebody wrong, they weren't that far off.

The book begins:
The phone awoke Evan Casher, and he knew something was wrong.

Now, I won't lie. This book doesn't have "non-stop action" because eventually they sleep or get knocked out or something, and action has to stop. But it was pretty eventful I would hazard to guess about 98% of the time. For the first time in a long time, I did not feel cheated by reading a book with a qualifier.

The plot in a nutshell:
Evan Casher gets a call from his mother one morning and finds out that his entire life is pretty much a lie. Now, the bad guys are after him and he better figure out the truth quick-like or he could end up dunzo.

I've never read any espionage type thrillers so I was really surprised that I liked this. It's full of CIA secret stuff and travel, travel, travel,travel! (Which is code speak for 'running for your life!')
It also made me want to go see this movie but most importantly, it left me wanting to read more of Abbott's books!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Code Name Cassandra

I got CODE NAME CASSANDRA by Jenny Carroll (Pocket Pulse, c2001, ISBN 0-7434-1140-4) after reading GRAVE SIGHT by Charlaine Harris because I was interested in the whole struck by lightning phenomenon and the end results. Unfortunately, I did not realize this book was the 2nd in a series of books until after I started reading it.

Oh well.

In this book, Jess Mastriani or "Lightning Girl" is working the summer at Camp Wawasee, a camp for the "musically gifted" on Lake Wawasee in upstate Indiana. She is working with 1-800-WHERE-R-YOU to help track down missing kids which was the "gift" she got when struck by lightning, although she apparently told the Feds in the first book that she lost her ability.

When a man shows up at the camp begging her for help in finding his daughter, she sleeps on it and then does what she knows she has to do.

Meanwhile, one of her campers goes missing while she is out in the big city with Rob, a total hottie who Jess would like to call her boyfriend. When she returns to camp to total pandemonium, once again she is forced to use her powers to locate the missing camper, even though he's a total pill, and maybe even own up to her true calling.

The book begins:

I don't know why I'm doing this.

Young readers of THE PRINCESS DIARIES will enjoy these books because if they don't know it, Jenny Carroll and Meg Cabot are the same person.

Killer Insight

The book I finished this morning was KILLER INSIGHT by Victoria Laurie (Signet Mystery, c2006, ISBN 0-451-21933-3), the 4th book in the Abby Cooper, Psychic Eye series.

It starts in Royal Oak, Michigan, home to Abby, her mini dachshund Eggy and Dutch Rivers, her hubba-hubba boyfriend. After a fight with Dutch, Abby leaves for Denver, Colorado to assist with the wedding of her childhood friend, Ellie McGinnis. But being a psychic is never easy and when one bridesmaid after another disappears, Abby tunes in and things aren't looking favorable - for them or for her.

The book starts out:
As I looked down the black barrel of the .38 pointed directly at my chest, and into the familiar eyes of my killer, all I could think was, I'm a friggin' psychic, for Pete's sake! Why didn't I know it was you all along?

This was a fun installment in this series with some great new characters (Ellie, Duffy and Aunt Viv) who I'd like to see more of in the future.

Look for Victoria Laurie's new books WHAT'S A GHOUL TO DO: A GHOST HUNTER MYSTERY in April 2007 and the new Abby Cooper book CRIME SEEN in June 2007.

To read her blog, click here.

New Rules

We had a book donated to our library without a cover which we will not add to our collection because of that very fact. I did however, take it home and read it and laughed out loud several times, irritating my husband with, snicker*, "Listen to this, honey..."

The book was NEW RULES: POLITE MUSINGS FROM A TIMID OBSERVER by Bill Maher (Rodale, c2005, ISBN 1-59486-295-8) and it is just a book of funny musings (and not at all polite! Where did that come from?!?) on different topics written in encyclopedic form.

First sentence:
No more books by talk show hosts.

My three favorites:

Your hamburger can't be bigger than your ass. Denny's Beer Barrel Pub in Clearfield, Pennsylvania is offering a new burger that weighs 15 pounds. One sign your portion may be too large: if one of the health risks is a back injury.

MISSION IMPLAUSIBLE (This has pictures of Scott Peterson, OJ Simpson, and Robert Blake)
High-profile murder suspects have to try harder. "I left my gun at the restaurant"? "I was golfing at night"? "I went fishing on Christmas Eve"? From now on, alibis for wife killing have to be at least as plausible as the argument for the Bush tax cuts.

No breast-feeding in public. Some women think it's okay to openly breast-feed in the restaurant while I'm trying to eat. They say it's healthy and natural. Well, so is my date's libido - but you don't see her blowing me next to the dessert cart.

I'm not the new me

FAT GIRLS UNITE! Okay, so I needed to yell that since I finished reading this book and I am soooo glad I got that outta my system!

I'M NOT THE NEW ME by Wendy McClure (Riverhead Books, c2005, ISBN 1-59448-074-5)is a memoir.

From the back cover:
This book is the author's odyssey - online and off - through the Valley of the Shadow of Her Really Big Ass.

Snort inserted here.

First sentence inserted here:
You need to be brave to tell it.

In a nutshell, this book is about weight loss and gain, love lost and gained, blogging and trying to live through it all to tell about it all.

Hilarious! And I now subscribe to her blog and here is one of herother websites.

Thanks for the laughs Wendy!

PS--Wendy lives here which is not too far from here.

A garden of vipers

Next up was Jack Kerley's A GARDEN OF VIPERS (Dutton, c2006, ISBN 0-525-94952-6).

It begins:
Are you sure he ran this way?

Set in Mobile, Alabama, Carson Ryder and Harry Nautilus are back in the third book in this series.

Also in this book is DeeDee Danbury and Clair Peltier from previous books and the Kincannon family, new to this story. The Kincannon's are scions of Mobile - with tons of money and a whack-job on the loose. People are dying right and left and Carson and Harry are stuck right in the middle of it all.

This was a good installment in the series even though I still liked THE HUNDREDTH MAN best. That being said, I look foward to the next book, THE BROKEN SOULS.

The memory keeper's daughter

First up in December for me was the breathtaking THE MEMORY KEEPER'S DAUGHTER by Kim Edwards (Penguin, c2006, ISBN 0-14-303714-5).
The book's first sentence is:
The snow started to fall several hours before her labor began.

The book begins in Lexington, Kentucky during a freak snowstorm in the winter of 1964, when David and Norah Henry give birth to twins: Paul and Phoebe. The first born, Paul, is healthy. The second, Phoebe, however, is born with Down's Syndrome and Dr. David Henry makes a split second decision that will change his life forever. He sends the inflicted child away with his nurse to a home and tells his wife the child died. When Caroline, the nurse, sees the condition of the place, she can't bear it and runs to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with the child and raises her as her own.

This book is about bad decisions, memories, and secrets that can destroy. It's also about love, shame and redemption. Most importantly, it is a beautiful story that deserves to be read and I believe it will be a favorite among book discussion groups this year and years to come.

Pale Immortal

The last book I read in November, was PALE IMMORTAL by Anne Frasier (Onyx, c2006, ISBN 0-451-41224-9).

It begins:
The car moved through the night, the two occupants staring silently out the windshield as the road unfolded before them.

From her website:
Welcome to Tuonela, a sleepy Wisconsin town haunted by events of 100 years ago, when a man who may have been a vampire slaughtered the town's citizens and drank their blood. Now, another murderer is killing the most vulnerable...and draining their bodies of blood.

Evan Stroud lives in darkness. The pale prisoner of a strange disease that prevents him from ever seeing the light of day, he lives in tragic solitude, taunted for being a "vampire." When troubled teenager Graham Stroud appears on Evan's doorstep, claiming to be his long-lost son, Evan's uneasy solitude is shattered.

Having escaped Tuonela's mysterious pull for several years, Rachel Burton is now back in town, filling in as coroner. Even as she seeks to identify the killer, and uncover the source of the evil that seems to pervade the town, she is drawn to Evan by a power she's helpless to understand or resist....

As Graham is pulled deeper and deeper into Tuonela's depraved, vampire-obsessed underworld, Rachel and Evan team up to save him. But the force they are fighting is both powerful and elusive...and willing to take them to the very mouth of hell.

YEP...that describes this book completely! Loved it, loved it and I love that it works on so many levels. Horror, romance, police procedural, this book has it all and could really appeal to the masses. I hope it does because Anne Frasier should be read!

All the way, Bubbles

Next, I read BUBBLES ALL THE WAY by Sarah Strohmeyer (Onyx, c2006, ISBN 0-451-41227-3), sixth in the Bubble series.
Set in Lehigh, Pennysylvania, Bubbles is helping her best friend at the House of Beauty when a woman keels over, murder by latex. Next thing she knows, Bubbles is surrounded by dead people and she doesn't have time for it--she is in love with Steve Stiletto but is being blackmailed by her ex-husband, Chip "Dan" Ritter into remarriage and she has a wedding to plan.

It starts:
Debbie Shatsky was the kind of woman that I, Bubbles Yablonsky, loved to loathe.

This was a cute book, written in first person, but with a lot of characters to keep track of. However, if you've followed the rest of the books in the series, and I have, it wasn't bad.

I'm thinking this may be the end of the line for Bubbles. Does anybody know?


THANKSGIVING by Janet Evanovich (Harper Torch, c1988 & 2006, ISBN 0-06-059880-8) is one of those twelve reprints that she is doing.
Set in Williamsburg, Virginia, Megan Murphy, a potter and Patrick Hunter, a pediatrician are the main characters of this story.
It begins:
Megan Murphy scuffed through a layer of autumn leaves in her round-toed, black leather, gold-buckled shoes.

When a young woman abandons her baby with Dr. Hunter with nary an explanation, and in the presence of Megan Murphy, Megan agrees to help look after the child and quickly (and boy, do I mean quickly!) falls in love with both the baby and the good doctor. However, both have commitment issues and it has only been less than a week so true love may or may not prevail.
This book has a pesky rabbit unlike her other books with the quirky dogs, but you get the gist.
This was not my favorite Evanovich book, or even my favorite of her reprinted Seaswept books, although it was a cute, holiday read.

Good Grief

Well, as usual it's not that I've been remiss in my reading but just in my posting. I always say, "I gotta blog this book," and then it turns into, "I'll do it tomorrow," which inevitably ends up three weeks later. I'd love to hear from those who blog regularly how you keep yourself on track with everything else that goes on in life...

So, this read was GOOD GRIEF (Warner Books, c2004, ISBN 0-446-53304-1) by Lolly Winston and I absolutely loved it once I got beyond the strikingly parallel similarities it had to my own life.

The book begins in San Jose, California in the Silicon Valley but the main character, Sophie Stanton soon moves to Ashland, Oregon, where she finds love and baked goods, not necessarily in that order. Read this book just to drool over the description of savory cheesecakes.

The first sentence?
How can I be a widow?

This book is Lolly Winston's debut novel (had I not read that it was her debut novel, I never would have guessed) and it is written in first person (which I normally don't like but not in this case). Sophie Stanton is a 36-year-old woman who has just lost her husband, Ethan, to Hodgkin's disease, and she is dealing with her grief as best as she can, even if it means Oreos must be involved.

This book, at times - hilarious, at others - very depressing, is a very swift-moving book with great character development. Sophie was very real to me and I felt for her (and related to her being a 36-year-old newlywed myself) throughout her grieving process.
Bring some Kleenex.