Monday, February 28, 2011

"Blue moon, you saw me standing alone without a dream in my heart." Song lyrics

With one of the most frightening things that a person can face, Piper Kincaid is only thirty-years-old when she finds a lump in her breast and learns that she has cancer.

Her best friend, Becca, has been staying with her for support and provide care. However, as the story unfolds, Piper is weak from the effects of cancer and has decided to stop her chemotherapy.

Piper's mother has always been a fee spirit. She worked artistically with glass objects. The family was able to eek out a bare existence with Piper's father's income. Then, he lost his job when the furniture factory closed. He was able to get a seasonal job at a landfill in his Vermont town but his pride and desire were broken.

After a time it seemed that Piper's mother began to live in an imaginary world where everything would turn out right. Piper had a feeling that her mother had emotionally left her already. Suddenly, she may have had too much and one day, when Piper was only fourteen-years-old, her mother left home and disappeared.

Piper's father stopped going to work and spent his time searching for his wife as if he'd find her at a restaurant along the highway. Eventually, he gave up and found someone else and then moved in with his new friend.

Even though Piper has now lost both parents, her older brother, Quinn, is appointed as her guardian and Piper remains philosophical and hopeful. She relates that she dreamed of having a husband "...and the way an infant might feel like a small bird, lying on my chest."

This is a story of loneliness, despair and hope. Just as it seemed that the cancer had spread to Piper's bones, her doctor mentions a bone marrow transplant. It is very expensive and for the first time in ages, Piper begins to feel that she might have a future.

The novel is heartbreaking but wonderfully written. The reader experiences the emotional trama of a young woman who learns that her life is at risk from cancer.

It is a tender story that captures the reader's heart as we are drawn into Piper's life and find ourselves saying a prayer for her.

Can a story this sad be entertaining? T. Greenwood has demonstrated in this novel, that it can.

Congradulations to Jennifer O for winning the free copy of this book. Thank everyone who participated. This was fun and I plan to do so again.


Friday, February 25, 2011

"The greatest firmness is the greatest mercy." Longfellow

Mitch McDeere takes a position with Memphis law firm, Bendini, Lambert and Lock, a firm specializing in tax law.

Shortly after his arrival, he learns that two of the newer associates were killed while boating in Grand Cayman.
Mitch is approached by an agent of the FBI who tells him that the Mob owns the firm and that many of the clients of the firm are engaging in tax fraud. The agent also informs Mitch that his home, his car and office are being bugged. He also tells Mitch that he's being followed.
Mitch hired a detective to look into the deaths of the associates and two other attorneys who worked with the firm. The detective gets the information but is caught by the firm and pays the price.
Mitch works with Avery Tolar who brings him to a meeting in Grand Cayman. There, Mitch is set up with incriminating photos. Back home, the head of the firm's security tells Mitch that the photos are kept as a warning not to do anything that would harm the firm.
We follow Mitch as he changes from an ambitious employee to a man in fear of his career and his life. Will the FBI be able to help? How will Mitch survive and get out of this situation?

This is a well plotted novel that is just as engrossing the second time it is read. The reader is drawn into Mitch's dilemma and can visualize something like this really happening and hope for a successful conclusion.
The setting is well done, with the traditions and old-time beliefs of Memphis, but underneath, there is corruption. Grisham writes in a visual method so that the reader can picture the action taking place. This creates a most entertaining experience.
See my Amazon review and if you enjoy the review, at the end, please indicate that the review was helpful.

Monday, February 21, 2011

"Whole lot of shakin' goin' on." Song lyrics

Former Chicago detective Jackie "Jack" Daniels spent much of her career putting away criminals. She felt she achieved the best results when she was able to remove psychotic and deranged killers who preyed on helpless women.

This story is segmented into three parts. Once Jackie is a police officer, in the segment twenty one years ago she goes undercover in attempt to find a serial killer who was dismembering and murdering women.

The next segment covers the time period of three years ago when Jack and her partner Herb were following John Dalton when a body of a woman was found and a car matching Dalton's was observed leaving the scene.

In the present day segment, Jackie has been abducted from her home and is bound and awaiting torture by the killer, Mr. K.

Having a story move through different times is difficult. In this novel, the action moving between three time periods resulted in the loss of the story's momentum and suspense. Some of the segments were only one page and resulted in a somewhat confusing flow of events.

There was lots of torture and evil people in this novel and many instances where the reader must suspend their sense of logic. In the time twenty-one-years ago, Jackie is abducted by the killer and finds herself naked in his home. It ends with her fighting against him. Prior to that, she had told someone that she was a size six, so probably about one hundred pounds. The killer was said to be about two-hundred twenty. Overpowering her captor stretched belief.

In the three-years ago segment, the killer taunts Jackie and her partner. He leaves clues and tells her that she isn't good enough to catch him.

When she is abducted in current time, she is taken from her home while sleeping with her boyfriend. How likely would this be for an attempt and for success. I don't know.

Finally, the ending was unrealistic and highly unsatisfying. Deus ex machina is defined as a plot device where a seemingly inextricable problem is suddenly solved with a contrived and unexpected intervention of some new character. This is never acceptable in literature and the author disappoints his reader by using it here.

I've enjoyed J.A. Konrath in the past but this novel was a disappointment.

Check my Amazon review and if you agree, please indicate the review was helpful.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

"Lonliness and the feeling of being unwanted is ...terrible." Teresa Calcutta

Sixteen year old Cassie Winslow feels alone and unwanted after her mother died in an automobile accident.

Her parents were divorced and her father remarried. Now her father has Cassie come to live with him and his family in Cape Cod. When she arrives, she makes friends with her neighbor, Eric Cavanaugh. However, most of the other students at the high school take the lead from Eric's old girlfriend, Lisa Chambers. They shut her out and make hurtful comments about her so that Cassie doesn't know how she will fit in with the other people at her school

Cassie is drawn to one person in the town who is also alone, the eccentric Miranda. Miranda is considered odd and lives by herself in a home in the Marsh.

When Cassie comes to Miranda's home and they talk, Miranda tells her that now Cassie is hers and that she, Miranda, won't allow anyone harm her. Besides being eccentric, Miranda has a way of communicating and controlling a cat and an albino hawk that live with her.

Cassie doesn't feel loved at her father's home and eventually comes to think of Miranda's house as hers.

As the days go by, Cassie and Eric bond together. When Eric is also mistreated by other students and his baseball coach, we observe that strange, supernatural things appear to happen to them. Is it witchcraft? Is it just a coincidence?

John Saul does a stand out job at maintaining a high level of suspense. The pacing of the story is also well done as moments of extreme suspense are followed by calmness, thus making the next moment of fear more intense. Toward the conclusion, the action is propelled faster and faster as fate and possible supernatural forces follow Eric and Cassie.
The author provides some twists and surprises. I enjoyed the novel but felt that some of the action was predictible. Nevertheless, I felt entertained.
Please read my review on Amazon. When you finish the review and they ask if the review was helpful, please indicate "YES"

Friday, February 18, 2011

"Don NOT salute me! There are snipers...who'd love to grease an officer." Forrest Gump

2nd Lt. Roy Banks is questioned about the murder of Lt. Jessica Lamoreaux. He tells investigators that he doesn't know anything. Then, the story flashes back to events leading up to the moment.
Banks is having an affair with a Captain's wife. He's part of a group that likes to party, called "The Officers' Club."
Vietnam is over and life in the military is comparatively relaxed. Banks pals around with his buddy, Lt. Jeff Massetto.
Jessica arrives at a party with another officer. Later in the evening she approaches Banks and attempts to seduce him. Roy tells her that he's involved with someone and declines her offer. This seems to motivate Jessica and she continues to pursue Roy as if she had a fixation with him.
Roy sees that she is manipulative and calculating. She uses others for her own purposes and proceeds to sleep with most of the people in Roy's circle of friends.
Roy gets a call from his friend Jerry. Jerry is in terrible trouble in Mexico and he needs help. Later, he informs Roy that Jessie set him up.
Was the novel interesting? Yes, in a dark way. It held my attention and described life in a James Ellroy manner, bleak but true to life.
This reminded me of the realism movement in literature with Frank Norris and Upton Sinclair. The characters' lives were'nt heroic, they didn't evoke sympathy but they did depict a slice of life.
I also applaud the author for his sympathetic treatment of one character who was an early AIDS victim. The character describes his illness but doesn't know the cause or what the eventual outcome will be, unfortunately, in the early days of AIDS, the outcome was always terminal.
Please check my Amazon review and if possible, indicate the review was helpful.

Monday, February 14, 2011

"The foundations of a person are not in matter but in spirit" Ralph Waldo Emerson

Yuki isn't a typical high school student. She smells dead people and is about to face an army of lost souls on Samhain, the night of Halloween, when the spirits of the dead run free.
Yuki's boyfriend, Calvin Miller, the Alpha, is the leader of a pack of werewolves. He and his subordinate, Simon, are trying to find out who recently killed a werewolf and prevent more killing.
Yuki has an idea that might help identify the killer. She goes to the local school library to find if anyone had been checking books concerning methods of killing werewolves. She crosses path with someone rushing from the library. When the librarian informs her that this was the person looking into werewolf matters, Yuki believes that this must be the killer.
Yuki doesn't know how she will be able to handle Samhain but through her studies she discovers that there is an amulet that can ward off the evil spirits that arrive on Holloween night.
Yuki's love for Calvin is well expressed. She shows that she is a strong and yet a vulnerable character. At one point where she interacts with Calvin's spirit, it reminded me of Claire Abshire, heroine of "The Time Traveler's Wife." Both Claire and Yuki are brought into a spirit world by meeting their respective lovers, Cal and Henry. Both young women fight to keep their love alive and overlook any oddities in their lovers' existence. They are two charming characters in two unique and memorable novels.
Check out my review and at the end, please indicate the review was helpful.

Friday, February 11, 2011

A reputation is what people say it is and can be damaged, but character is for eternity." John B. Gough

A Coast Guard helicopter finds a fisherman's cooler bobbing in the water off the Florida coast. When officials open the cooler they are surprised to find body parts.

A massive hurricane is heading toward Florida. Charlie Wurth, the deputy director of homeland security, asks criminal profiler Maggie O'Dell to help on a case. To do so, they travel to Pensacola, Florida, as a category four hurricane named Ivan, heads toward them.

Elsewhere, soldiers from Afghanistan have lost limbs and now are coming down with some toxic element. A number of the soldiers have died and officials are trying to determine the cause.

In another part of the story, undertaker, Scot Larsen has made an agreement with Joe Black so that Black could accept delivery and provide storage for some human specimens Black would pick up in route to his doctor's conferences.

I enjoyed the story and the characters. The imminent arrival of hurricane Ivan, which has become a category five, adds to the suspense. Things would need to be resolved quickly so that Maggie and others would have time to get to safety before being trapped by the storm.

Alex Kava does a professional job with this thriller. Maggie and Liz Bailey, a Coast Guard dive team member, are intelligent, assertive characters who demonstrate excellent problem solving ability.

Some of the puzzles in the story were a bit too easily resolved and the antagonist was fairly obvious from early in the novel. The only suspense was how the person would be caught and how many more victims would fall prior to the authorities catching the antagonist.

I took this book on vacation and enjoyed it thoroughly. I plan to look into other novels by this talented author.
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Saturday, February 5, 2011

"...the pessimist may be proven right, but the optimist has a better ...trip." Daniel Readon

Jack Reacher is digging wells in Key West, Florida when he learns that the daughter of an old friend asks for his help.

He arrives at Jodie Garber's home as friends are departing after paying respects. Jodie's father, General Garber died five days earlier.

Jodie is divorced but maintained her married name, Jacob, for business purposes. She is a successful attorney in New York City. Just as Reacher is telling Jodie that someone was searching for her in Florida, two men attempt to kill her. Reacher acts quickly and he saves Jodie.

In New York, Hook Hobie is behind the attempted murder. He is also in the process of terrorizing a corporate CEO, Chester Stone and Stone's wife. Their fear is so great that they agree to turn over the stock in their corporation to Hobie. Hobie had loaned Stone money for Stone's business. He made Stone put up the stock on his business as collateral. Then Hobie manipulated the stock so that he would gain control of the company.

Reacher and Jodie are attempting to find out what Jodie's father was investigating when he died. They learn that he had been trying to help an elderly couple named Hobie. The Hobie's were looking for their son, Victor Hobie. Victor was a helicopter pilot in Vietnam. He disappeared during his second tour but the government won't declare him dead or missing. The parents want closure and feel that their son's name should be added to the Vietnam memorial.

Events follow as these two plot lines connect. The tension is excellent and the plotting is masterful. Reacher shows the traits that will endear him to thriller fans well into the future.

Lee Child has written an excellent thriller. The cat and mouse game played by Hobie and Reacher is well played out and realistically portrayed. There are some well placed surprises in this highly entertaining novel.
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Thursday, February 3, 2011

"Death was afraid of him because he had the heart of a lion." Arabian Proverb

J. A. Konrath, writing as Jack Kilborn, has delivered a novel that rockets the reader into the arms of terror and leaves them there throughout this edgy thriller.

A helicopter crashes over the lake in Safe Harbor, Wisconsin. This quiet town is made up of friendly, self reliant people, until now.

A group of frenzied, programed terrorists escape from the chopper and set about intimidating and murdering the local people.

County Sheriff "Ace" Steng, waitress and homemaker Fran Stauffer and firefighter, Josh Van Camp seem to be the only ones with any success at stopping the wanton killing but they appear over matched.

The invaders have been programed to terrorize, their code name is Red~ops. They are searching for a town resident named Wiley, who is a recluse. Most of the town's people don't know where Wiley's residence is but the members of this terrorist group continue to torture the residence until they get the information they need.

The action and suspense is immediate and the reader is kept at nail biting attention throughout the story.

J.A. Konrath has written an exciting novel. He knows how to tell a story. The characters may be stereotypical but that gives the reader a better idea of what to expect so that it works in this novel.

The story is not entirely realistic with a scientist's monkey having a significant role. But nonetheless, it is a fun ride. Please check my Amazon review and if you agree, indicate that the review was helpful.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

"I am not the boss of my house...I've seen the boss's job and I do not want it." Bill Cosby

Scientist Isabel Duncan is employed at the Great Ape House and developed a love for bonobo apes when she was a young student.

She shows reporter, John Thigpen, the lab and how the apes respond to the ASL (American Sign Language). John is appreciative of her efforts and immediately becomes fond of the apes, himself.

As John travels back to his office, he learns that animal rights extremists have blown up the lab and severely injured Isabel, and then, liberating the apes.

Isabel is devastated with this news. The bonobo apes are the closest animals to humans. They show love and emotions and communicate with Isabel with the ASL. As the apes demonstrate their feelings toward her, Isabel responds as if they were members of her family.

When Isabel is released from the hospital, she learns that the apes have been sold. She wonders why someone would do this and wipe out years of scientific breakthroughs. She also wonders what was behind the animal rights group that blew up the lab.

As characters, Isabel and John are painstakingly drawn. We see what is missing in their lives and believe that if they can care enough about these animals, then they can care about others and in John's case, a possible family.

The story is most intriguing and believable. The apes are as innocent as children and the reader is drawn to them as to John and Isabel. We share their pain in the loss and for John and Isabel, we share their hope of rescuing the apes once they discover where these childlike creatures are being kept and exploited.

This is a novel of love, devotion and faith that the reader will surely enjoy and think about into the future.
Check out my Amazon review and please indicate that the review was helpful.

Currently Reading

Currently Reading
Broken Promise