Saturday, November 24, 2007

Sexy, sexy.

I knew it!

You Are More Like Angelina Jolie

Bad girl with a heart of gold.
You are smart, sexy, and strong willed.
You aren't against stealing another girl's man...
If he's better off with you!

How quirky am I?

For those who know me, you may or may not be surprised.

For those who don't, you may or may not care.

Your Quirk Factor: 48%

You're a pretty quirky person, but you're just normal enough to hide it.
Congratulations - you've fooled other people into thinking you're just like them!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Water for elephants

I wasn't sure that I'd like WATER FOR ELEPHANTS by Sara Gruen (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, c2006, ISBN 978-1-56512-499-8) because it's not a thriller/suspense but I thought I'd give it a shot because many of my patrons were raving about it and I'm glad I did.
The story is told in flashbacks by Jacob Jankowski, the main character who is presently living in a nursing home at the age of 90 or 93, but lived the life of a traveling circus veterinarian during the great Depression in his 20's.
The first sentence is:

Only three people are left under the red and white awning of the grease tent: Grady, me, and the fry cook.

When Jacob's parents die in a car accident, Jacob leaves Cornell just before sitting down for his final exams and jumps the rails to land on board a train of the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth where he becomes the working vet for the circus menagerie. While there he meets and falls for the married Marlena, the equestrian star, and her cruel husband, August. And last but not least, Rosie, an untrainable elephant who was the show's last hope.
What I found myself enjoying most was the jargon of the circus and the lush setting painted by the author. I could imagine being at the circus during its height in the 1920's, the sideshows and the animal shows. This was a spectacular read!

I am legend

In preparation for the release of the movie, I read I AM LEGEND by Richard Matheson (Tor, c1995, ISBN 0-7653-5715-1).
The main character, Robert Neville, is living alone in Compton (driving distance from Santa Monica and the Los Angeles Public Library) starting in January of 1976. Everyone around him is dead -- or undead, and he's just trying to survive -- and hoping to find someone else like himself.
The story starts:

On those cloudy days, Robert Neville was never sure when the sunset came, and sometimes they were in the streets before he could get back.

The didn't find this short story, which was written in 1954, to be too dated. I did however, find the movie tie-in to be a bit of a stretch since in the story, Neville is a white man with blond hair and blue eyes and the movies stars Will Smith. That will take a whole lot of suspension of disbelief but I'll manage cuz I like me a vampire movie.
The version that I read also contained the short stories BURIED TALENTS, THE NEAR DEPARTED, PREY, WITCH WAR, DANCE OF THE DEAD, DRESS OF WHITE SILK, MAD HOUSE, THE FUNERAL, FROM SHADOWED PLACES, and PERSON TO PERSON. All stories had a horror or supernatural bent to them and I enjoyed them all.

You've been warned

YOU'VE BEEN WARNED by James Patterson (Little, Brown & Co., c2007, ISBN 978-0-316-01450-2) was up next and mmmm...not my favorite.
In it, Kristin Burns is a shutterbug and works as a nanny in Manhattan to the Turnbull family, caring for Dakota and Sean, hating Penly, the Mrs. and loving (in all ways) Michael, the Mr.
When she sees a gruesome murder's end result at the Falcon Hotel, it's like deja vu - she's seen the scene before. Next, she begins getting ominous and threatening messages, people appear to warn her, and she thinks she's going crazy. But is it possible someone is out to kill her? But who? And why?
The book starts:

It's way too early in the morning for dead people.

This book had some kind of supernatural element to it -- ghosts and stuff -- but it just didn't work for me. I picked it up because I am both a shutterbug and I was a nanny outside of Boston for several years and both subtopics appealed to me. It's a good thing, however, that Patterson's books read sooooo quickly because I would have put this one down had I not read the first 50 pages in 10 minutes.

The empress's tomb

Next up, THE EMPRESS'S TOMB by Kirsten Miller (Bloomsbury USA, c2007, ISBN 978-1-59990-047-6).
This is the second book in the Kiki Strike series and just as much fun as the first. Again, set in New York City (this time with a lot happening in and around Central Park) the Irregulars (Ananka Fishbein, Kiki Strike, Betty, Dee Dee, Luz, Oona and newly inducted Iris) are back along with some new characters, Kasper and Lester Liu, Oona's father.

In this book, 14-year-olds Ananka, Kiki and the rest of the Irregulars encounter a Chinese mummy, a ghost, trained squirrels and old enemies as they try to stop an art forgery ring and safeguard the secret streets hidden beneath NYC.

The book begins:

The whispers began the day she arrived on horseback at the gates of the Emperor's palace.

My favorite parts of these books are the tricks and tips at the end of the chapters. This book includes hints on how to appear mysterious, how to detect intruders, things to learn by going through the trash and much more. These are not to be missed.

The ending was open to carry on with the story, which excites me, because I truly enjoy my time with Kiki Strike and the rest of the girls. These books make me feel young again and wistful for the days when I might have done some of the same things that these adventurous girls do.

All the pretty girls

Next up for me was ALL THE PRETTY GIRLS by J.T. Ellison (Mira, c2007, ISBN 978-0-7783-2443-0), a debut novel.
Set in Nashville, Tennessee, Homicide Lieutenant Taylor Jackson is working with Dr. John Baldwin, FBI profiler and boyfriend.

A serial killer is snatching up women, killing them and leaving them in various locales along with a memento - a body part from the last kill. TV reporter Whitney Connolly thinks this is the big story to launch her to the top and get her out of Nashville, but will it?
This was a taut, thrilling read and I look forward to more from this author. It is a great example of why 'God don't like liars'.

It begins:
"No, Please don't."

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Creation in Death

My next read was CREATION IN DEATH by JD Robb (GP Putnam's Sons, c2007, ISBN 978-0-399-15436-2) and although I read it out of order because I got my copy free through a drawing and had to review it, it read great as a stand-alone. I've only read the first five in the series and this is #27 but all of the characters were known to me (except for the serial killer) so that was a good thing.

The book begins:
For him, death was a vocation.

In CREATION, set in a futuristic New York City (2060) and after a nine year hiatus, "The Groom" is back, picking his victims - this time they are all employed by companies owned by Eve's husband, Roarke. But is Roarke the key, or is it Eve? I am a big fan of Robb's IN DEATH series and will continue to read them all as time allows.

Southern Roots

I have a confession. I am a Food Network addict. I watch these cooking shows and food travel shows and food information shows like a closet anorexic but anyone who knows me knows that that ain't happenin'! I love me some food!
My stepson asked me one day the pick 3 question. Which 3 food network stars would I pick? To hang with, it would definitely be Rachael Ray. For that one time dinner party it would be Emeril Lagasse and for my live in cook it would be none other than Paula Deen.
So I was thrilled that Paula wrote a memoir. I mean, if she's gonna cook for me daily I need to know a little bit about her, right?
In IT AIN'T ALL ABOUT THE COOKIN' by Paula Deen (Simon & Schuster, c2007, ISBN 0-7432-9285-5).

The first sentence is:
I never call myself a chef.

In this book, Paula shares some of her deepest secrets, the disaster of her early adulthood, the recovery she made and the empire she built. Her story was at times heartwrenching and at times heartwarming. My favorite part about the book is it is written just like she talks. If you picture the words in your head as you're reading, you can hear her infectious southern twang loud and proud! And sprinkled throughout the chapters are some good lookin' recipes, y'all!

I may have been born on the West Coast and raised in the Midwest but I'm pretty sure I'm a southern girl (minus the grits!) at heart.


Wow! I've been fortunate to read several good books in a row which, during the late autumn months, is important because I tend to get really moody with the approach of winter and I need something to distract me from the impending doom that winter brings.
My next book was HEARTSICK by Chelsea Cain (St. Martin's Minotaur, c2007, ISBN 978-0-312-36846-3) and yowza, is it a doozy.
Set in Portland, Oregon, Archie Sheridan, a retired detective, has been called back in to work on a new serial killer case. Archie's claim to fame was tracking and capturing the infamous Gretchen Lowell aka the Beauty Killer but not before being caught by her and tortured for 10 agonizing days. Now, with Gretchen safely in prison, Archie is trying to capture yet another disturbing serial killer and brings in Susan Ward, a newspaper reporter, to follow him and do a series on him and his work although he has an alterior agenda for doing so.
Reviewers are likening Gretchen Lowell to a female Hannibal Lector although I preferred this book over Harris' SILENCE OF THE LAMBS.

The book starts out:
Archie doesn't know for sure that it's her until that moment.

Perfectly Plum

If you read my blog, you know I am a sucker for everything Janet Evanovich writes. Well, my next read, PERFECTLY PLUM: UNAUTHORIZED ESSAYS ON THE LIFE, LOVES AND OTHER DISASTERS OF STEPHANIE PLUM, TRENTON BOUNTY HUNTER (Benbella Books Inc., c2007, ISBN 978-1-933771-04-5) is not written by Janet Evanovich but is about my favorite series written by her.

The book begins:
You wanna talk disasters?

And it continues to illustrate the many found throughout her Stephanie Plum books in humorous essays regarding everything from whether or not Stephanie could get car insurance, Lula as a sidekick and who she should choose? Ranger or Morelli?

PS -- I'm a total Ranger babe. That man just exuuuuudes sensuality. I hope she picks Morelli. That leaves Ranger for me and all the other women out there who find him simply irresistible.

The Tunnels

THE TUNNELS by Michelle Gagnon (Mira, c2007, ISBN 978-0-7783-2446-1) was a new book and a new author to me.
Set in Middletown, CT, FBI's Special Agent Kelly Jones has been summoned to work a spooky case. Women have been found slaughtered underneath a prestigious New England college (one that happens to be Kelly's alma mater) and they seem to be connected: their fathers are all wealthy, powerful men. With her partner Roger Morrow and former FBI agent Jake Riley, Kelly will get to the bottom of it -- even if it costs her her life.

The book begins:
"Seriously? You've never been down there? And you're what, a junior?"

With a hint of old gothic romance, THE TUNNELS was a stellar debut and I look forward to more by this author.