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Monday, April 27, 2009

Promises in Death by J. D. Robb

Eve Dallas is a detective in the year 2060 in New York City. She is called to help solve the murder of Amaryllis Coltrane, a fellow cop who has lived in the city for a couple years and was originally from Atlanta. Coltrane's boyfriend Li is a medical examiner with the city. Amaryllis is found killed in the basement of her apartment building, apparently with her own weapon which is now missing.
I thought that the premise of this book was interesting, a futuristic murder mystery but not so far in the future as to be completely sci fi. Upon reading it I found it to be quite vulgar and pornographic. The language is awful and includes a word that makes it NC-17. This word has been popping up quite a bit lately. What is with that? As if the f-words weren't bad enough! Very frustrating!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Lost Quilter by Jennifer Chiaverini

The Lost Quilter is the 14th installment in Jennifer Chiaverini's Elm Creek series and the first that I have read. I wondered why I didn't know about these books before now because I really enjoyed the book. The series starts with The Quilter's Apprentice. The author has a nice website at http://www.elmcreek.net/ which includes discussion questions for some of the books, although not this one.
Joanna is a runaway slave who makes her way to Pennsylvania to the Elm Creek Farm. There she is sheltered and cared for when she gives birth to her son. Unfortunately, someone gives away the fact that she is there and she is taken away by slave hunters. She is sold to her master's brother and is forever branded as a slave who runs. Her son was not discovered by the slave hunters so she mourns his loss as well as the loss of her freedom. She is valuable as an excellent seamstress and she manages to make a quilt that, with landmarks hidden in its stitches, she hopes will help her make her way north again someday. She also finds love but is forced to leave her husband and newborn daughter behind when the daughter of the house marries and moves to Charleston but cannot leave without her favorite seamstress.
I thought that the author did a good job of portraying slave life and helping us feel how difficult their lives must have been. The story was interesting but I think that the book could have been a bit longer. The ending felt a bit rushed and I would have liked it to be drawn out more than it was.
She kept things quite clean despite the portrayal of abuse, sexual and otherwise. There was very little swearing and only some sex, none of it very explicit at all. There was also some violence with the slave beatings. If you let a younger teen read the book, which I would, I would suggest discussing some of the abuse with him or her. Rated PG-13.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Lethal Legacy by Linda Fairstein

I am writing this from my hotel room in Provo. One of my daughters and both of my sons-in-law are graduating from BYU, congrats to all of them!
The plane flight from Massachusetts is very long and so I had plenty of time to read, not a bad thing at all because the only interruption was from the flight attendant. Normally I am interrupted constantly when I am trying to read!
Alexandra Cooper is an Assistant District Attorney in Manhattan. She deals with the sex crimes unit. She gets called on when a man dressed as a fireman is seen running from a young woman's apartment. A neighbor gets suspicious and calls the police. Tina, the young woman, has apparently been assaulted but refuses to press charges and leaves the hospital. Soon after, a woman ends up murdered in Tina's apartment and under her body is found a rare book encrusted with jewels that was owned by the Hunt family, a family of great wealth and influence.
Alexandra is pulled into the world of book and map collecting which ends up being much more deadly than anyone would think.
I loved that the author did so much research about the New York Public Library, and book and map collecting, and even on some of the old buildings in New York. She obviously was meticulous in her research and it was interesting to learn about those things although I would have liked to know just how much was fiction and how much was fact. Unfortunately I felt that her efforts to weave some of those facts into the story fell flat and sometimes there was too much of a "now we are going to learn something" feel to it.
I also felt that the plot was good but not as good as it could have been. There were times when things just didn't make sense or that I felt that she had skipped over some things that needed to be explained further. Overall I enjoyed the story.
I liked the character of Alexandra Cooper and her coworkers. I thought that their interactions were interesting and wanted to get to know them better. However, I didn't care about her French lover. I didn't feel that he added anything to her character or the story line.
The book was fairly clean despite the French lover. We do know that they slept together but the details were kept private. There was a little language but not bad and some violence that you would expect from a murder mystery. I think that I would like to read more of her books when I get a chance. Rated PG-13. The author has an excellent website at http://www.lindafairstein.com/
Now I need to quit messing around on the computer and go get ready for graduation!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Pursuit by Karen Robards

Associate attorney Jessica Ford gets a midnight call from her boss that she wishes she hadn't taken. John Davenport's client is the First Lady and she needs help. Jessica finds her in a hotel lounge, drunk and crying. She helps her out of the lounge and into a waiting car. The next thing she knows, she is in a hospital and the car's other occupants, including the First Lady, are dead. She fears it wasn't an accident but doesn't know who to trust other than Mark Ryan, the secret service agent assigned to the First Lady who mysteriously wasn't with her on the night she was killed.
This sounded like an interesting book but I didn't get too far into it. Language problems-too many f-words so I quit reading it.

The Long Fall by Walter Mosely

Leonid Trotter McGill is a highly unusual name for a black man, but LT (as he is known) had a father who was a communist. LT is a 50ish short rotund private detective who is "going from crooked to slightly bent" or in other words, trying to better himself. Tough to do with his history.

He's in a loveless marriage with a Nordic woman named Katrina, and father to 3 children, only 2 of which are actually his. He is in love with his building manager, a woman named Aura.


LT gets hired to find 4 black men and when he does, they start turning up dead and someone tries to kill him as well. He is also trying to keep his son Twill from doing something stupid like killing his friend's father.
It is written in the first person so we get to read LT's internal dialogue, kind of a noir style like something Humphrey Bogart would portray. Because it is written that way, there are lots of meandering and off-the-subject comments. It helps you get to know LT's character really well but I also found it a bit distracting. There were a lot of characters for a book that isn't very long and it got confusing at times. The plot regularly got lost in the wealth of characters and side commentary. I liked LT but can't say I really liked the book.
The language was clean until over a hundred pages in, and then it goes downhill from there. There is a prisoner who is especially bad. Rated R for language.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Execution Dock by Anne Perry

I have been very anxious for this book to come out and I wasn't disappointed by it! Yea, a new Anne Perry to read!

I started reading her books last summer and was hooked immediately. She writes very well, descriptively without being repetitive, and full of detail about the Victorian Era. Her characters are full and richly developed and her stories are interesting. She writes about some very adult subjects such as prostitution and incest but does it in a way that is not voyeuristic or obscene. She has two main series: Inspector Pitt and William Monk. The Pitt series is set about 25 years later than the Monk series which begins in the 1850's. Both series take place in London. Her website is http://www.anneperry.net/ if you are interested.

Execution Dock is the 16th book in the Monk series. Monk is a policeman who, at the beginning of the series, has been in a horrific accident and has lost his memory. He gradually begins to figure out the puzzle of his life. By the 16th book, he still has not regained his memory. The book begins with a chase, capture, and trial of Jericho Phillips who is a known child pornographer. Unfortunately, Monk didn't have as watertight a case as he needed to and Phillips was surprisingly represented by Sir Oliver Rathbone whose skills as a lawyer and knowledge of Monk's weaknesses combined to defeat the prosecution. Monk then has to go back to find something else with which to charge Phillips in order to get him off the streets and along the way he learns things about his predecessor, Durban, that are disturbing. Hester and Scuff are heavily involved in the investigation as are others from the Portpool clinic. Rathbone has to examine his motives for taking the case and we find that the upper classes are part of the problem. It's one of my favorites of Perry's books, very well done!
Rating this book was a bit difficult because there is very little profanity and sex but the subject matter is so adult. There is a part near the end when they are trying to rescue the boys who are being abused that made me a bit squeamish. I wouldn't want a younger teen to read it. For that reason I rated it PG-16.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Temptation and Surrender by Stephanie Laurens

The title and the picture give it all away. This is a Romance Novel. I was embarrassed to be carrying it around! It reminded me of those old Harlequin romances both in the plot and the style of writing. It is set in England in 1825. Jonas Tallent is looking for an innkeeper and ends up hiring Emily Beauregard who is 25 years old and the guardian of her 4 younger siblings. It is obvious that she comes from a background of wealth and privilege so the fact that she wants work as an innkeeper is puzzling. Also puzzling is why she refuses to discuss her past. It turns out that she and her siblings have been unpaid help for her uncle for several years after the death of her father and only escaped after she became old enough to get legal guardianship. She of course does a wonderful job running the inn and everyone falls in love with her including her employer. Very trite and unrealistic! If this sort of book interests you, you need to know that the language isn't bad, very few obscenities, but the book is really just an excuse to write very graphic sex scenes, yuck! Rated R.

Run for Your Life by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge

It's becoming quite predictable. I knew it even before I picked the book up from the library or read the first word. James Patterson cannot write a book without a certain word in it. It's almost like a verbal tic. Surely a writer, especially one who has written for as many years as he has, can find another way to say things. Most of the time it seems to be thrown in, not for shock value because there's too much of it for that, but just because...I don't know! Completely unnecessary. It's too bad, I was enjoying the book.
Mike Bennett is a cop who also is a recent widower with 10 kids. The flu has hit their household big time (we had a bout of it a couple of weeks ago, it was all too familiar to read about) and he is exhausted when he gets called in to work on an ongoing murder spree. Fortunately he has a nanny and his grandfather to help out with the kids. The psychotic killer calls himself the "Teacher" and is out to teach rude Manhattanites a lesson as he targets those whom he considers to be snobbish or churlish.
As I was unable to finish the book due to language, I am not sure if there was any sex in it but there was definitely violence and language! Rated R.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Terminal Freeze by Lincoln Child

Set in extreme Northern Alaska at a remote military base, Terminal Freeze is a horror novel that is fun to read if you are in the right mood for it. It reminded me of those old grainy black and white B-movie horror films from the 50's and 60's like The Blob and The Thing From the Black Lagoon. All that was needed was the creepy music in the background because all the other elements were there: scary Sci-Fi type monster, lots of screaming, and an unlikely hero.
In this case the hero is Evan Marshall who is a paleoecologist which means that he is studying ecosystems from the past to understand global warming. He and a few other scientists are doing a study in Alaska when they find a frozen prehistoric creature. This brings a film crew, a crazy director, and a shallow but beautiful host. All is going well until the creature inexplicably goes missing and people begin to die.
I enjoyed the book for the fun quick read it was even though there was no real depth to either the plot or the characters. There was some swearing but not too bad and violence, which was to be expected. Rated PG-13.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Dark of Night by Suzanne Brockmann


From the inside cover:
For years, operative James Nash has performed ultracovert "Black Ops" missions for The Agency, but when he decides to walk away from their dirty work, his corrupt bosses aren't about to let him go. After Nash is nearly assassinated, Troubleshooters team leader Lawrence Decker launches a skillful deception to neutralize the threat and protect his friend. With the FBI's help, Decker fakes Nash's death, then brings him to a safe house with his fiancee, Tess Bailey, to recover from his injuries and strategize their next move.
Only a handful of people know that Nash is still alive-and fellow Troubleshooters Dave Malkoff, Sophia Ghaffari, and receptionist Tracy Shapiro aren't among them. Believing that Nash is dead and that Decker has begun a romantic relationship with Tess, Sophia settles for second best and begins a love affair with Dave, who has adored her for years. But Tracy puts two and two together, discovering the truth about Nash-much to Decker's dismay.
It sounds like an intriguing book doesn't it? I thought it did but couldn't get past the first few pages of the book which contains a pornographic sex scene and multiple f-words. Assuming that the rest of the book would be similar, I felt that I couldn't read any more. Suzanne should be ashamed of herself! Rated R.

White Witch Black Curse by Kim Harrison

This is a very very confusing book, even for those who follow the series, which I haven't. I am usually put off by witches and demons, just too creepy, but I think that this series would be very interesting. The world has discovered that not just humans exist but lots of witches, vampires, werewolves, pixies, etc. (Sounds a bit familiar doesn't it?) Despite the overdone genre, the book seems very interesting with complicated relationships with all the different species (I guess that's the word I would use).
The setting is Cincinnati and the book begins with the main character, Rachel, visiting the scene of the murder of her boyfriend, who was a vampire. Rachel is a witch. She was there when he was killed but doesn't remember what happened. The book seems to have two plots: the first being Rachel trying to remember the night Kisten was killed and the second being Rachel chasing down a banshee who has gotten out of control. She is assisted by her partner Jenks, who is a pixie, and her roommate Ivy, who is a vampire. There are a lot of other characters involved and the whole thing gets very confusing because I haven't read the previous books and don't understand all her terminology. She has created a very complicated world. Because I am trying to read books that are on the bestseller list I keep picking up books that are part of a series. I think I would like this one if I had started at the beginning except that there are too many sexual references and too many very unnecessary f-words. Rated R.

Monday, April 6, 2009

One Day At A Time by Danielle Steel


Meh.
If you are a Danielle Steel fan, I mean a BIG fan, then maybe you'll like this. I am not a big fan of hers.
I mean, it's not a bad book if you have nothing else to read, but I find her characterizations to be flat and her phrasing to be trite.
The main character, Coco Barrington, is nothing special despite her famous author mother and her famous producer sister, despite being raised in L.A. among all the beautiful people, despite graduating from Princeton, despite being beautiful herself, despite meeting and fallling in love with one of the most famous actors in the world (who also loves her), because she dropped out of law school and is just a dog-walker. She is a major disappointment to her family and that point is pounded in for much of the novel.
Of course, I am sure you can find something better to read, especially given that this book has waaay too much sex and at least 3 f-words. Rated R.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Cream Puff Murder by Joanne Fluke

If you are on a diet it might be best to read something other than Cream Puff Murder which is filled with very yummy-sounding recipes! Joanne Fluke is known for her Hannah Swenson series which always includes lots of recipes for cookies and other goodies. This book is the 11th in the series which begins with The Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder.
Hannah Swenson is the owner of The Cookie Jar and resides in Lake Eden Minnesota but manages to end up investigating murders on a regular basis. This time the victim worked at a health club where Hannah has just recently started working out. Hannah needs to lose weight to be able to fit into a dress for her mother's book-launching party, a tough thing to do when you are surrounded by cookies all day. Unfortunately the victim, who also taught a fitness class at the local police department, had made many enemies with her tendency to flirt and more with men whether or not they were single. When virtually every law enforcement officer in the area gets excused from the case because of his involvement with the victim, including Hannah's sometime boyfriend and her brother-in-law, Hannah gets called in to help.
It would be very helpful to read this series in order! Starting at the 11th book made it more difficult to understand what was going on with all the different characters and relationships. The plot itself was a little weak and the book is a piece of fluff but it was a fun quick read and very clean. Hannah even gets embarrased about spending the night at a boyfriend's house even though nothing happened because she worried what people would think! Rated PG, it is a murder mystery so there is a little violence, and there is some discussion about the less-than-savory murder suspect but there is very little objectionable. Some reviews I read preferred the earlier books in the series which makes me want to read them and the author has a cookbook coming out with all the recipes from the books. Her website is:
http://www.murdershebaked.com/
but you can't access the recipes online (darn!)

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Women by T.C. Boyle

I was looking forward to reading this book about Frank Lloyd Wright and the women in his life. I had just a vague idea about his personal life but love his homes. He was quite the womanizer in his day and caused many scandals because of it, which was interesting because his homes were built to value home life and family togetherness.
The story is told from the perspective of a fictional assistant, a Japanese man, who lived with Wright in the 1930's and only knew the 3rd and last of Wright's wives. There were four main women in Wright's life: his first wife Kitty, his lover Mamah who died tragically, Miriam the psychotic drug addict, and the much younger Russian dancer named Olgivanna.
Unfortunately the book gets bogged down in the acrimony of the wronged women, mostly Miriam, and in way too many unnecessary details. I found myself wanting to quit reading it and was relieved when the language got bad enough that I could. There were several f-words and even a word that makes movies NC-17. Rated NC-17 for that word. Another book about Wright, Loving Frank, was recommended by several people but I can't vouch for the cleanliness of it.

Corsair by Clive Cussler and Jack Du Brul

Corsair is the latest installment of the Oregon Files series by Clive Cussler and Jack Du Brul. A corsair is a pirate or a pirate ship and so the novel begins with the early 1800's attack by a pirate ship which sets up the plot for the attack by a modern day pirate ship off the coast of Somalia on a ship known as the Oregon. At the same time, the plane carrying the Secretary of State crashes on the way to a conference in Libya, killing all aboard except for the Secretary, who mysteriously vanishes.
I'm having a hard time summarizing the plot any more than that. I found all the different plots and sub-plots to be somewhat confusing which was compounded by the fact that I haven't read any of the previous Oregon Files series. Or, it could just be that I am naturally confused by most things, I don't know. All the technical weaponry talk confused me as well, and so did the very long action sequences. This really wasn't my style of book although I did find it to be interesting when I understood what was going on. I think it really is more of a man's book and I realize that it is very sexist to say that and I do enjoy action novels sometimes but this just went over my head for a lot of it.
I do have to say that it was very clean except for the violence. Really very little swearing which is surprising for this type of novel and no sex, just violence which somehow doesn't bother me as much as the swearing and sex. I'm not sure why that is. If you like action novels or know someone who does, this would be a good book to read. I'm starting to realize that Clive Cussler keeps things clean. Thanks Clive! Rated PG-13 for the violence.