Thursday, July 30, 2009

Skin Trade by Laurell K. Hamilton

Anita Blake is an "animator" in this the 17th book in the vampire hunter series. An animator is someone who reanimates dead people or vampires or weretigers or whatever in order to interrogate them for legal purposes. She is called to Las Vegas to help with an investigation of the grisly murder of several Las Vegas cops after being sent the head of one of them.
I didn't get very far into this book. The language was absolutely awful with the f-word and other profanities on every page and lots of sexual references. After reading several reviews, I found that the book isn't very well written either. Not very many people liked it, even those who were fans of her earlier books. Definitely one to avoid. Rated R. Maybe even NC-17 but I didn't read enough of it to find out.

A Plague of Secrets by John Lescroart

When the manager of a popular coffee shop in San Francisco is murdered, and is discovered to be carrying a large amount of marijuana, naturally the first thought is that it is a drug deal gone bad. That is until evidence begins to point to the shop's owner, Maya Townshend who is a 30-something mother of 2, wife of a prominent real estate mogul, and niece of the mayor. When another body turns up with connections to Maya, she is arrested and put on trial. The problem is, especially for her attorney Dismas Hardy, Maya is not telling the whole truth. He knows that she has a terrible secret that could affect the entire case.
I enjoyed reading this book despite it's uneven writing and plot holes. Parts of the book drag and some major questions aren't answered but I liked it well enough that I would be interested in reading some of his other books, except that there were language problems. It seemed that every 50 pages or so he would throw in an f-word. It didn't happen until quite a ways into the book so I thought that it would be clean and was soo disappointed when they started to come regularly. Oh well. Rated R for language.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Summer on Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber

The little yarn shop owned by Lydia and her sister Margaret has been a great place for knitting clubs and Lydia decides to start a new one. This time it'll be a self-help group called Knit to Quit. The members who sign up for the club all have different reasons for wanting to join. One member wants to quit smoking so she and her husband can start a family, another wants to quit having feelings for her ex-fiance, another joins to lessen his stress and lower his blood pressure.

If you have read some of the Blossom street books before you will recognize some familiar characters but there are new ones as well. Each story is told interspersed with the others but there is no problem in keeping everyone straight. This is a nice, gentle, good-feeling kind of book that makes such a nice change from most of the popular novels. There is very little swearing or anything else in the book that would be upsetting. The only thing that makes this PG-13 is some of the adult situations especially the discussion of the fiance's predilection for prostitutes that preceeded the break-off of the marriage. Even then it isn't very graphic, really almost a PG (I had a hard time deciding on that one.)

The Neighbor by Lisa Gardner

Another book I just skimmed through because of the language. It seems like an interesting premise: a young mother and schoolteacher disappears without a trace of evidence, her husband acts suspiciously, a neighbor is a sex-offender, a student is in love with her. Hmm, seems intriguing doesn't it? But I couldn't read much of it, there were way too many f-words. The ending seemed kind of contrived and there seemed to be glaring holes in the story but I'm not sure. This is definitely one to skip. Rated R for language.

The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan

The Strain is a really creepy version of all the vampire genres out there. This isn't Edward Cullen or from the True Blood, the vampires are very ghoulish, kind of zombie-like and are taking over Manhattan at an alarming rate. Only a few people really understand what is going on and how to stop the virus from spreading, one of them being a survivor of a Nazi concentration camp who has previous experience with vampires, another a divorced father who works for the CDC and his partner also, and another is an extermination expert.
The Strain is the first in a trilogy as was obvious when I finished reading it. It is definitely a cliff-hanger!
Some of the descriptions in the book are really gross and violent but the story-line was interesting. It was one of those times when I wanted to find out what happened but didn't really want to read all the details, especially with one particular character who had a particularly foul mouth. I just skipped over all his parts. (His name is Gus.) There was some language other than that and definitely violence, I really just skimmed through the last part just to find out the ending, and then it didn't really end. Bummer. Rated R for violence and language.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Handle With Care by Jodi Picoult

I have only read one other Jodi Picoult book, years ago, and honestly don't remember which one it was. I liked the book and her writing style but didn't care for the sex and profanity in it. This one didn't have too much sex but still had problems with profanity.
Sean and Charlotte desperately want to have a baby. They have one daughter, Charlotte's from a previous relationship, and really want to have one together. After trying for several months, they are thrilled to find out that they are expecting, only to discover that their baby has OI, osteogenesis imperfecta, or the brittle bone disease. Even in utero the baby has broken several bones.
Fast forward several years. Willow is a precocious 6 year old who has broken 60-something bones already in her lifetime. After another break that occurs at Disney World and traumatizes the family when abuse is suspected, Charlotte decides to sue for wrongful birth. The fact that her obstetrician is her best friend doesn't deter her nor does the fact that Willow thinks that her mother would have aborted her if she had known about her disease early enough in the pregnanacy. Charlotte is in it for the money, the family is barely making ends meet with all of Willow's medical expenses. The lawsuit tears the family apart but Charlotte forges ahead anyway.
I found it to be a compelling book and could hardly put it down despite its weaknesses and inconsistencies. There are the aforementioned language issues, mostly when written in Sean's voice, and the foreshadowing throughout the book of the ending, which ended up being a cop-out. Picoult knows how to write about people's failings and the effects of life's trials on individuals and families, although I really didn't get Charlotte at all. I don't see how she could pursue the lawsuit while watching her family fall apart, and she didn't seem to see Amelia's problems at all. Rated R for language.

Matters of the Heart by Danielle Steel

This is one of those books where you just want to scream at the main character for being so stupid!!
Hope is divorced from Paul even though they still love each other. Paul has an incurable disease and didn't want Hope to have to deal with it, especially after losing their daughter to meningitis. (That did it for me right there, aarrgh!)
Hope is lonely despite being a well-known successful photographer, oh and of course, beautiful. When she meets Finn at a photo shoot, she falls instantly for his charm even though he's kind of a stalker and more than a little creepy. She ends up going to Ireland to visit him and he convinces her to have a baby with him and gets her drunk in order to make it happen. When she loses the baby, he berates her. Hope learns more and more about Finn, realizes that he is lying about many things and that he is abusive but STILL goes back to him. They are not married, she is independently wealthy, has her own career and a manager who keeps telling her how bad Finn is but she returns to him, Why??
I really didn't care much for this book and the language was terrible with many f-words, mostly towards the end of the book when Finn shows his true self. Rated R.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Medusa by Clive Cussler and Paul Kemprecos

Ah, now this is a good summertime read, something that you can take to the beach or the pool and it doesn't matter if you get distracted now and then, it's easy to pick it right back up. It isn't the sort of book that needs to be pondered or that challenges the brain in any way, just good clean fun!
The NUMA (National Underwater Marine Agency) Special Forces group headed by Kurt Austin with Joe Zavala at his side gets themselves involved in another major crises, this time with a possible pandemic SARS-like disease, or maybe like the Spanish flu of the early 20th century, although they don't know that connection until well into the book.
A Chinese criminal organization is behind all the trouble. They have found a way to discredit their government and make themselves the heroes all at the same time but they need the miracle cure being developed in an undersea lab from the blue medusa, a type of jellyfish, in order to carry it off.
Okay, so you know from the beginning who is going to win but so what? It's still just a fun clean book perfect for the beach or poolside! Rated PG-13, only because of some of the more violent scenes.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Dune Road by Jane Green

Kit Hargrove had it all, a beautiful home in Highfield, Connecticut, 2 wonderful children, a loving husband who worked hard to provide for his family, so why wasn't she happy? It turns out that the "good life" isn't so good after all if your spouse spends all his time at work. Kit and Adam divorce because she can't stand the loneliness any more and she finds that living life the way she wants to live it, simply and without pretense, feels really good. She finds a job working for a reclusive author, lives next door to an eccentric older woman whom she adopts as a surrogate mother and grandmother, gets along well with her ex, and has her close friends with whom she can talk, Charley and Tracey. She even has an interesting new man in her life.
Then things start to fall apart. Tracey becomes distant and Charley's husband loses his Wall Street job. An interesting person shows up who wreaks havoc and things just aren't as wonderful as they seem.
Unfortunately the whole book falls apart at this point too. What had seemed to be a nice character study about a 40ish divorcee finding herself, turns into a 3rd rate mystery. I had high hopes for this book at first but really disliked it by the end. Too bad.
There were several f-words which were really jarring and out-of-place and a little sex. Rated R.

Lover Avenged by J. R. Ward

Two in a row that had horrendous language! I couldn't get very far into this one either. It was really bad. I also found it very confusing. Apparently you need to start from the beginning with this series, not that I recommend it.

From Publishers WeeklyWard powers into hardcover with the tangled seventh title in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, picking up four months after the end of 2008's Lover Enshrined. Rehvenge, a symphath vampire who gets energy from manipulating others' emotions, is recruited by a group who want to displace vampire king Wrath, a gruff, determined vigilante. Rehvenge is also falling hard for vampire nurse Ehlena, who disdains his affections and focuses on caring for her ailing father. Ward easily juggles numerous personal and political plot lines, keeping the tension revved high while moving forward with subplots that have lingered for several books and will please longtime fans seeking resolution. New readers may be a little lost despite a helpful glossary, but the fast pace and cliffhanger ending will have fans wishing they could start the next book right away. (May)
Rated R for the f-words that were on nearly every page.

Wicked Prey by John Sandford

This is one of those books that I just can't read. The f-word was on nearly every page! Awful! So here's the synopsis from someone who did read the book:

From Publishers WeeklyThe 2008 Republican convention serves as the backdrop for bestseller Sandford's amped-up, ultra-violent 19th thriller to feature Lucas Davenport of the Minneapolis Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (after Phantom Prey). An assassination plot aimed at John McCain turns out to be just a sidebar to another criminal operation—extremely slick thieves have come to the twin cities to rob Republican political operatives loaded down with millions of dollars of street money, illegal handouts for low-level campaign workers. Mastermind Rosie Cruz handles the gang's complicated planning, while gangster Brutus Cohn does the robbery and killing aided by a couple of lesser thugs. A subplot involving Davenport's teenage ward, Letty West, who's provided interesting complications in the series, establishes her as a brave and intrepid investigator. A slam-bang shootout climax proves that Davenport still has what it takes when it comes to guts and gunplay. 500,000 first printing; author tour. (May)
Rated R of course, for language and who knows what else.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Relentless by Dean Koontz

I think Dean must have had some bad experiences with critics and this book is just his way of getting back at them, ha ha!
Cullen (Cubby to his friends and family) is a top-selling author who has just published his new book. His wife Penny is a well-known illustrator of children's books and his 6-year-old son Milo is a certifiable genius. The book is well-received by most but there is a particular book critic whom is well-known in the literary world by the name of Shearman Waxx, who has finally taken notice of Cubby's work. He writes a scathing review. Cullen decides that he wants to get a peek at old Shearman despite Penny's warnings to just let it go. He finds out where Shearman's usual lunch spot is and makes a visit to have a look, not to bother him but just to see. It is while at the restaurant that he has an unfortunate encounter with him in the men's room. Shearman says just one word, "Doom". That's it, it's all over for Cubby and his family. Shearman follows the family relentlessly (hence the title) with the intent to do them harm.

I found myself reading relentlessly (pun intended) to find out just what crazy thing Shearman would do next and to learn more about all the interesting characters Koontz throws into the book. I was expecting a spectacular ending but found that it just fizzled. It just didn't feel like it fit the rest of the book and sure didn't give Shearman a reason for doing what he did. I have to say, though, that I really liked the book until that point. Sure, it's all over-the-top and unbelievable and the ending just didn't do it for me, but it was a fun interesting book despite it all. It makes Psycho seem tame! And he does it with very little profanity and no sex, although there is quite a bit of violence. Rated PG-16 for the violence.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Knockout by Catherine Coulter

Usually when I see that a book is labelled something like "FBI Thriller", I assume that there is going to be a lot of profanity and violence. I was pleasantly surprised at the lack of profanity in Knock Out! There was still a fair amount of violence but I found the book to be quite enjoyable and a very fast read.
I had always thought of Catherine Coulter as a romance novelist and was put off by the book covers. Just not my thing. But I was impressed by this book and need to rethink my opinion of her! This was not the typical thriller with the usual plot: bad guys do something bad, good guys chase bad guys and get into difficult situations then manage to get out somehow, good guys win. Okay, it did sort of go that way but there is a psychic twist, a paranormal element that was different and made the book more fun to read.
There were two plot lines throughout the book that intersect because Savich, an FBI agent, and Sherlock, his wife and partner, are involved in both. The action shifts from one set of bad guys to the other throughout the book but I didn't find it too distracting. The separate plots come together briefly at the end in an unusual way. There is a cute little girl with some amazing abilities involved, along with her mother and her creepy Uncle Blessed and quite a few other characters. The stories seemed a bit rushed at the end and there were some plot holes but not enough to keep me from enjoying the book.
The language was rather clean for a book labelled an FBI Thriller. There was one incident of fondling that was rather creepy by a character who talks about sex but nothing much other than that. There was a lot of violence and some of the descriptions were rather gruesome, enough that I would call this one PG-16.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Home Safe by Elizabeth Berg

I love the cover on this book! I think that the main character in the book, Helen Ames, wants to remain safe in her cocoon but finds life pecking at her. She is a writer who left all the practical things in life up to her husband to deal with. When he dies suddenly, she is left to figure things out with the help of her 27 year old daughter and best friend. She finds that she can no longer write and is lonely and bored. Her daughter bears the brunt of this loneliness and is chafing at her mother's over-involvement in her life.
Helen discovers that her husband removed a large amount of cash from their retirement fund but no one seems to know what he did with it. All kinds of scenarios play out in her mind: mistresses, gambling, etc. She is surprised when she finally finds out what he used it for.
Helen also goes through a period of self-discovery while teaching a writing class. She ponders why she has the need to write and why she finds herself now unable to write.
I thought that this was a nice, sweet book about relationships and self discovery. There isn't a whole lot of action or even plot really, just this whole process of Helen finally maturing into a complete adult. There was very little sex, violence, or swearing, except for the 4 f-words which are uttered mostly by one character in her writing class. Rated R for those words, it would have been PG without them.