Monday, June 30, 2008

Black Out - Lisa Unger

This is Unger's third novel. Her first two, Beautiful Lies and Sliver of Truth were both bestsellers. Black Out will be a bestseller as well.

Annie Powers has the perfect life. An attentive husband, a beautiful daughter, a lovely home and enough money to do what she wants. But it's all a sham, a cover. Annie used to be Ophelia March. When Ophelia was a teenager she was caught up in the spell of a psychotic serial killer. Barely escaping with mind and body intact, she 'killed' off Ophelia and thought it was all behind her. But someone is leaving hints that Annie recognizes as belonging to Ophelia's life. The body of the killer - Marlowe Geary - was never found. He can't still be alive can he? Has he come back to claim Ophelia? Annie's husband Gray will do anything to protect her and Annie will do anything to protect her daughter Victory.

Annie cannot remember much of her past. Her mind has blacked out a lot of it. What is real and what is imagined? She has to try and remember the past and what really happened.

The story alternates tantalizingly between the present and the past. Just when you're caught up in one story, it switches to the other. Very addicting but tiring when you just want to read one more chapter at 1:00 am!

This was an engrossing read. Unger keeps us off balance with plot twists and turns that you don't always see coming. The ending brings yet another twist.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Front- Patricia Cornwell

Well - where to start....

The Front is the second in Cornwell's 'At Risk' series featuring Massachusetts investigator Win Garano, District Attorney Monique Lamont and Win's grandmother 'Nana". I did read the first one but thought it was confusing and overly complicated. I thought I would try The Front and give this series a second chance.

Lamont sends Garano to Watertown to investigate a very cold case that she thinks may be linked to the Boston Strangler case. Watertown investigators are part of the Front - an organization of law enforcement agencies who do not want to be dependent on the State. Lamont wants Garano to work with 'Stump' a Watertown cop. Lamont has her own agenda but leaves Garano out of the loop. So that's the basic plot - and it sounds reasonable. But then Cornwell throws in Scotland Yard investigating the Watertown case as well. Absurd? Yes.

The plot is far fetched and unconvincing. Cornwell tries too hard with too many surprise connections and convenient, confusing conclusions. It just doesn't wash.

The characters never become real to me. Their characteristics are there but never leap off the page. They are one dimensional. The dialogue tries too hard, but just never becomes believable.
Nana seems to make a gratuitous appearance only as an interesting aside. Lamont is so far fetched it's unbelievable. Garano is the only one who comes close.

Just a big disappointment. The publication of The Front was delayed by over six months from it's original date. It's a smaller hardcover and only 180 pages. Certainly not worth $25.00 Can.

Cornwell's last three novels have been a letdown. Even her Scarpetta novels are suffering. Looking for something similar ( but better?) Try Kathy Reichs.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Sail - James Patterson and Howard Roughan

Okay, so my brain is still kind of mushy from holidays and I'm having a hard time actually realizing I still have to work, so yes - I read a Patterson.

I think he pumps out a new novel every six months or so. You pretty much know what you're getting - larger type and margins, short chapters and a story that won't challenge you. A good beach read. Sail is no exception.

I was a bit thrown when I first started - the opening pages are a character synopsis. I would expect this to be developed through the story, but not the case here. The premise is interesting. Dr. Katherine Dunne and her three children ( all with their own issues) decide to go for a vacation aboard the family sailboat. Dunne has remarried - Peter, a lawyer - after the death of her husband. Peter is unable to go on the trip, but Jake, the children's uncle goes with them. The trip seems doomed as the boat breaks almost immediately breaks down. Their radio is knocked out and a deadly storm is approaching. Won't spoil the rest - but someone definitely doesn't want the Dunnes to have a good vacation......

Again, no challenge, but if you're up for some mindless reading this is a perfect choice.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Bar Flower - Lea Jacobson

Lea Jacobson's memoir is subtitled " My Decadently Destructive Days and Nights as a Tokyo Nightclub Hostess."

I'm a sucker for a good memoir and this one sounded really interesting.
Jacobson is an American fascinated with Japanese culture and language. Her studies have made her quite proficient in the language, so she accepts a teaching position in Japan. Her visa is good for two years.
Learning the culture through a book and experiencing it firsthand are two different things though. Jacobson has difficulty accepting the rigid standards and structures of Japanese society. She is fired from her teaching position and begins to drift.

She ends up hostessing in a Tokyo nightclub. I think like most people I had some preconceived notions as to what hostessing entailed. Jacobson gives a detailed account of this profession. In fact her memoir reads as a diary, detailing friends, encounters and thoughts. We are offered a fascinating glimpse into Japan from someone living fully immersed in the culture.
This immersion begins to take it's toll on Jacobson. She descends into alcoholism and self harm in many forms. She realizes she needs out and returns to the US, but is just as disillusioned there, and returns to Japan.

Jacobson ends her book with the Japanese saying" Fall over seven times, wake up eight." She manages to pull it together. I found myself wanting a bit more concrete detail from the epilogue, but found her blog which ties up things a bit more.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Vacation Time - Part Three

Home again - after much delay. In total I spent a full day in the Detroit Airport due to delays!
Had a great time, just going to take it easy today and get back into the swing of things......

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Vacation Time - Part Two

Yes I got on the plane. Due to mechanical difficulties, missed flights and possible re routing (Minnesota!!) what should have been a 6 hour journey with a 2 hour layover turned into and almost 12 hour day. My first flights were certainly memorable!

Having a great time with my daughter and son in law. The NCAA's have been amazing! But the city of Des Moines and surrounding areas are suffering. There is massive and major flooding. You've got to check out the pictures here:

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Vacation Time

Well as you read this I will be winging my way to Des Moines Iowa where I will be attending the 2008 NCAA Division 1 Track and Field championships at Drake University with my daughter!

Back next week......... ( providing I survive the plane ride.......)Not a frequent flyer.........

Friday, June 6, 2008

The Pile on the Floor - Various Authors

Okay so the above are only a few in my pile on the floor.....some are due back at the library soon. Ahh!! Too many books and not enough time... Scroll down for a brief description of each.
What are you reading? Or hoping to read?
"Rescued from a Dumpster on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, a discarded diary brings to life the glamorous forgotten world of an extraordinary young woman."
( Jonathan Kellerman's son) Ethan Muller finds a treasure trove of art in a New York slum. He presents it as his own at an art show. The police are interested as the paintings are part of a four decades old murder investigation.
A woman's world is turned upside down when new evidence frees a man she put in prison with her testimony years ago."
The House at Riverton - Kate Morton
" A sweeping debut novel set in England between the wars. It is the story of an aristocratic family, a house, a mysterious death and a vanishing way of life, told by a woman who witnessed it all and kept a secret for a lifetime."
"This is a story for anyone who has ever wondered: How can I truly love the one I'm with when I can't forget the one who got away?" This is the 4th novel from Giffin - the previous three have all been New York Times bestsellers.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Driving Sideways - Jess Riley

As promised... Here's the review of Driving Sideways by Jess Riley !

In the first few pages we meet Leigh Fielding. She has lived with her brother since her mother abandoned them and their beloved Gran passed away. Her poor health (she suffers from PKD - Polycystic Kidney Disease) - has dictated her living a "safe"life.

However... she has recently received a kidney transplant from the late Larry Resnick and feels good for the first time in years. So good that she plans a road trip to California. Against her brother's wishes she sets out alone on ' The Unfinished Business Tour.' The unfinished business includes: visiting an old boyfriend, meeting her best friend's elusive boyfriend, meeting and thanking her kidney donor's family and confronting her mother.

Not too far into the trip, Leigh is coerced into letting a teenager ride with her. They are soon joined by Jillian, a friend of Leigh's. 'Larry' is frequently channeled for direction. And just who is in that black Acura they keep seeing? The trio's adventures are comical and entertaining. That's not to say it's all fun and games. Leigh didn't expect to live past thirty and is going through a lot of self discovery.

Riley's characters are witty, full of life and so engaging. Their dialogue rings true - just like you were having a conversation (or argument!) with your best friend. The banter, the references to pop culture all bring the book to life. Leigh's imagination in painting possible scenarios is hilarious.

I hesitate to lable this book as strictly chick lit. It is so much more - an examination of the fragility of life, relationships with family and friends and what, in the end, is really important.

I was happy that Riley did not tie everything up into a neat package. It rings truer the way she has written it.

Jess Riley is pretty funny herself. Check out her blog Riley's Ramblings.

This is a great book to share with your friends. Honestly, I just want to make some calls and hit the road!!

P.S. Jess - Hope you're working on the next book! Can't wait!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Phantom Prey - John Sandford

John Sandford brings us the 19th book in the "Prey" series, Phantom Prey, featuring Lucas Davenport.

Davenport works for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. He is a bit of a rogue cop, not quite fitting in, with a team of like minded detectives. He's rumpled, aggressive, loyal and determined.

Davenport is married to Weather, a surgeon. When she asks him as a favour to talk to her friend Alyssa about her daughter Frances' disappearance and possible murder, Lucas reluctantly agrees. The local cops haven't been able to move the case forward and he really doesn't see how he can help.

Frances was dabbling in the Goth world and her mother believes this group holds the key to her missing daughter. Lucas starts making inquiries and someone starts targeting Goths. A mysterious woman - a Fairy Goth- may have answers, but can't be found.

Nothing is as it seems and the closer Lucas thinks he's getting to an answer, the less things make sense.

Del and Lucas are also staking out Siggy - a drug lord they've been trying to capture for awhile. This is a fun second story line.

Davenport's irreverence and that of his team is entertaining. Sandford never disappoints. Phantom Prey is another solid read with a great character.
Readers of Jonathan Kellerman, Jeffery Deaver and Michael Connelly will enjoy this series.