Love to Read

Books I've recently read & enjoyed. Please add your own lists, as we book addicts are always on the lookout for books we haven't heard about...

Monday, July 26, 2004

July Cont'd.

The Tarnished Eye - by Judith Guest, Yes that Judith Guest, famous for "Ordinary People."  This book is a well-written mystery.  A sheriff, still grieving over his infant son's death of SIDS, is confronted with an uncomprehensible murder of an entire family.  Their deaths seem somehow connected to the serial murder/rapes of University of Michigan co-eds.

I was surprised by this book, I picked it up because of the author, curious to see what type of mystery she would write.  It is quite well written and a good mystery.  Check it out!

 
Bone Harvest - by Mary Logue.  This is the latest in a series featuring Deputy Sheriff Claire Watkins.  The series is set in a small Wisconsin town and many recurring characters populate the stories.  This tale begins with the poisoning of a flower bed, followed by a flock of chickens and the poisoning escalates from there.  The clue left behind at each crime scene is a finger bone.  Apparently these bones relate this crime to one committed nearly 50 years ago. 

An entire family was wiped out on that day and Claire works with the newspaper owner, a lifetime resident of town, to find the history of that crime and how it relates to the poisonings.  As the anniversary approaches, Claire is feverishly trying to beat the killer to the finale.

All the while, Richard, Claire's boyfriend is planning to propose.  His plans keep being put on hold by the horror of what is happening in town.  Claire's daughter is sent to stay with her grandparents to relieve Claire of a little worry.

Well done, I'll be checking out the other books in this series!  Very enjoyable.

 
I'm No Angel -- by Susan Berg, this is a fun very sexy mystery/romance.  Angel is a tough-talking, spike-heeled wearing private eye.  Tom is an ex-alligator wrestler (!!) and new millionaire.  Both of them are interested in Holt Hudson, a recluse who has offered Angel the use of his mansion and the auction of his late wife's jewelry for her Altzheimer's Charity Gala.  Tom has recently discovered that Holt is actually his godfather though the man refuses to speak to him.

This could be a fluff story, but the families of each of the protagonists figure in key ways that give this book a little more weight than you'd expect.

Very good, a cut above the average beach book!

 
The Darkening -- by Chandler McGrew -- wow!  This is an extraordinary book, part end-of-the-world, part Rapture, part horror story, it keeps you on your toes and never lets go for a moment.  Two seemingly normal people are being sought by groups on both the good and the evil side.  One morning, a Rapture-like disappearance of most everyone is coupled with a loss of all electrical power.  The sun barely shines and seems to dim on a daily basis.  As the two groups travel to "the Keep", they discover they are being hunted by some kind of creatures.  The leaders of the groups are very stingly with details of what they're doing, and why.  The travels are long and frightening.  Upon arriving at "the Keep" things begin to come to a thrilling conclusion.

McGrew has several other novels that I'll be checking out right away.  This was fabulous!

 
Darkly Dreaming Dexter -- Jeff Lindsay.  This is an awesome book.  The first 10 minutes found me saying "I don't know what to think about this book."  The next 10 minutes found me in love!  Dexter works for the Miami Dade police as a blood splatter analyst.  In his off-hours Dexter is a serial murderer.  With a very strict set of rules.

His foster father Harry, himself a cop, realized what Dexter was when he was young.  He taught him the "rules of Harry" which include:  blending in with others (even if they make no sense to you), only kill "bad guys", prepare, prepare, prepare, keep your crime scene immaculate, etc.

Dexter has a girlfriend who makes no demands on him, and works to appear like everyone else.  When his foster-sister needs his help to solve a series of murders of prostitutes and get moved from Vice to Homicide, Dexter goes to work.

As the "artist" keeps taunting the police, his elegant work begins to remind Dexter of someone.  He's so enamored of the work this killer is doing that he makes a few mistakes of his own.  Dexter begins to fear that maybe *he* is the one killing the prostitutes.

This is such an awesome story -- Dexter is wonderful!  You couldn't help but like him.  Great concept!  This story is witty, dark and funny.

 
Murder Suicide -- by Keith Ablow.  This is the newest in the Dr. Frank Clevenger series.  Frank is a forensic psychiatrist.  He has helped the police with some headline making cases.  In this case, he's asked to determine if a famous inventor has committed suicide or if he was murdered.  The man was entering the hospital for experimental surgery that may cure him of the seizures that have plagued him his entire life.  The surgery will also destroy his memory of everyone in his past, from his wife and children to his partner.  He'll have his brilliant mind and will be free of all entanglements.  He'll be starting his entire life over.  If it succeeds.

Frank is the single father of Billy, a trouble teen that he adopted.  Frank struggles to be a good father while he has no good example of fatherhood to refer to, his own father beat him regularly. He has cut out his drinking and drugging that used to help him through his own personal crisis', now he fights sober.

Good series -- I enjoy it now with Billy as an added emotional anchor for Frank.  Frank's struggle to be a good father and his fight to stay sober have made me like him much more.  In the earlier stories he is much more selfish and enjoying his life of wine, woman and well not song, but gambling and drugs.  He's grown a lot and he has a chance with a woman who he's nuts about.

Very good story, surprise ending.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

More July Reads

Death Match -- Lincoln Child:  Eden, a company that takes matchmaking a step or two further than the web-based matching sites.  Full psychological profile, physical exam including genetics, and a one-of-a-kind matching process for a mere $25,000.  The success rate is beyond anyone's wildest dreams.  Satisfaction is guaranteed and there has never been a request for a refund. The company actually has found 6 couples that are "super couples" they match 100% to one another.  Everyone who knows these couples marvel at their perfect unions.  Until they start committing suicide.
 
The company brings in a retired FBI forensic psychologist Christopher Lash to keep the problem low profile and ensure there is nothing wrong internally.  Dealing with a company that surrounds itself with the best security available and a reclusive genius in the form of the founder, Lash is trying to use his skills against a technology that has the ability to learn, and thus fight back when threatened.
 
Another enjoyable read from Child mixing high tech and thrills -- fun page turner.
 
Twenty-Seven Bones -- Jonathan Nasaw:  A new entry in the Agent Pender series.  Retired FBI agent Ed Pender was known as the worst dressed agent in the FBI.  He delights in continuing his forays into bad taste while helping a friend in the Eastern Carribean.  It seems the tourist destination of St. Luke has become the hunting ground for a serial killer.  Bored with retirement, Pender is happy to help out the Chief of Police.
 
Interesting characters abound, from a husband and wife anthropologist team, to the rich husband of one of the latest victims, all suspicious to Pender.  The "L" word comes up, when he meets and falls for a woman with a past.
 
There are plenty of dead ends to stymie Pender and the locals, as they seek a psychopath who seems to be changing as they hunt him.  As Pender begins to feel he will never solve this puzzle, yet another crime occurs, seeming to bring the entire episode to a very tidy end.  A little too tidy for Agent Pender.
 
I loved the end and hope Pender and Dawson remain a couple, in St. Luke or Washington -- anywhere!  Hopeful, happy ending.  I have my fingers crossed for Pender, that he doesn't mess up this relationship.
 
 

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Read 7/10-12

My Sister’s Keeper – Jodi Picoult:  If you loved The Lovely Bones pick this up immediately!  This book is going on my top 10 list.  Absolutely wonderful.

 

This is an emotionally wrenching yet uplifting the story of a 13 y/o girl (Anna) who is conceived after her sister Kate is diagnosed with a deadly form of leukemia.  Anna is genetically designed to be a perfect match for her sister.  She’s born to be a donor, starting with stem cells from her umbilical cord.  The family’s life revolves around Kate’s illness, leaving the oldest Jesse, to move into an apartment over the garage and live the life every teen dreams of – smoking, drinking and basically ignored by his parents.

 

The story begins when Anna sues her parents for medical emancipation as Kate is suffering from kidney failure and needs a transplant. Anna finds a lawyer, with plenty of issues of his own, to represent her.  The Judge assigns her a “guardian ad litem, who will be Anna’s advocate.  The story is told in alternating chapters from each of the characters’ point of view.

 

The range of emotions the various characters demonstrate from self-pity to terror to rage, from loneliness to fear to love are realistic and heartbreaking.  The twist at the end will leave you breathless.

 

I’ve never read Jodi Picoult before, I’m going to try her back catalog immediately.

 

 

The Madman’s Tale – John Katzenbach:  This story of a murder in an institution is told by one of the patients that experienced the events.  He decides to tell the story and begins writing it on the white walls of his apartment.  The book moves between present day, as his obsession with telling the story leads to a decline in his mental health; to the events that happened 20 years earlier when he was involuntarily committed by his parents to Western State Hospital.

 

This is a mystery with the added twist of being set in a mental hospital, where reality is as flimsy as a hospital gown.  The administration believes the patient the police arrested has committed the crime and gives little credence to the investigator from the D.A. who arrives on the trail of an apparent serial killer.  The investigator, a beautiful young woman with a mysterious scar across her face, enlists Francis Petrol, the narrator, and Peter an ex-firefighter who is being evaluated at Western.

 

We get to know several of the patients that Francis befriends while he attempts to navigate the strange world of the mental hospital.  Francis sees the loneliness and sadness inside many of these patients, and indeed these emotions are a part of him as well.

 

Very enjoyable!

Friday, July 09, 2004

Books I've Recently Enjoyed

BOOKS I’VE RECENTLY ENJOYED:

 

The Hanging Valley – Peter Robinson:  Inspector Banks series

 

The Big Gamble – Michael McGarrity:  Kevin Kerney series

 

The Color of Death – Elizabeth Lowell:  Elizabeth Lowell:  The story surrounds a gem cutter given an opportunity to cut seven rare sapphires.  The courier delivering the cut gems to the owner is her half brother.  He disappears and the gems along with him.  The authorities treat it as if he has run off with the priceless gems. Kate knows her brother would never do such a thing and pesters the police and FBI.  Finally she begins her own investigation which brings her onto S.A. Sam Grove' radar.  At a huge gem show, a shady dealer with one of the sapphires in his possession is murdered.  The FBI is chasing it's tail.  Sam and Kate join forces and fall in love.  This is an exciting thriller with a nice pace.  The FBI politics seem realistic and exasperating.  Great story!

 

Ten Big Ones – Janet Evanovich:  The Stephanie Plum series continues.  This series has gotten a little predictable, but this outing did make me laugh out loud when Stephanie and Lulu are attacked by a gang of "humping hounds."  A small thread of the Ranger mystique is unraveled.  The family continues to be Stephanie's anchor and an anchor around her neck at the same time.  The relationship with Joe continues to be on and off.  A good entry in the series.

 

Blow Out – Catherine Coulter:  Sherlock & Savich series.  A complex story with dual storylines:  the first seems to involve a ghost that appeared to Savich.  The second, and main priority, is the murder of a Supreme Court Justice in the Library of the well-protected Court.  In addition to Savich and Sherlock we have a Washington cop and a reporter for the Washington Post.  The reporter is also the stepdaughter of the murdered Justice.  The ending is quite a twist!  Very engrossing.  The usual well written page turner.

 

Cravings – Anthology incl. Laurell K. Hamilton:  4 individual stories all involving vampires, shapeshifters or some form of the paranormal.  Romantic and/or erotic stories, all quite good.  Hamilton’s is a continuation of the Anita Blake series. I hadn’t ready Mary Janice Davidson and her stories are quite humorous.  If you like your passion with a twist, try this one.

 

A Necessary End – Peter Robinson:  Inspector Banks series – An anti-nuclear demonstration goes wrong and along with the arrests and ambulances, there is a police officer, stabbed to death.  The suspects are almost too numerous.  To add to Banks’ problems “Dirty Dick” Burgess is sent up from London.  His methods and Banks’ are at odds.  A second death among the suspects only complicates matters.  Another winner in the series.

 

Gallows View – Peter Robinson:  Inspector Banks series, the first in the series.  In this outing we get to know Banks and his family along with is co-workers in Eastvale.  Escaping London for the country, Banks thought he’d escaped the horror of the crimes he’d dealt with.  Now he’s facing a Peeping Tom, a string of thefts from the homes of elderly women, and now an elderly woman is murdered.  A great introduction to the series.

 

Past Reason Hated – Peter Robinson:  Inspector Banks series – A beautiful lesbian is found murdered in her apartment.  She was an actress in the Eastvale Community Theater and emotions run high in even amateur theater.  An ex-husband, remarried but still fond of the victim, makes for a fine suspect, as does his wife.  The Eastvale Police are also dealing with a rash of vandalism and the Theater is struck.  Leaves you guessing until the end.

 

Captivated – Nora Roberts:  Part of the Donovan Legacy series.  A screenwriter of successful horror flicks, Nash wants to interview Morgana Donovan as part of his research for a new screenplay.  He doesn’t believe in any of “that hocus-pocus” but he wants his screenplay to be authentic.  As he becomes enchanted by Ana, he can’t help but begin to believe in her craft.  As a man who has never been in love, he decides she must have cast a spell on him to make him feel this way.  Can, indeed should, she convince him what is in his heart is true?  Enjoyable and sexy.

 

Like A Charm: A Novel in Voices – Karin Slaughter et al.:  This book is a collection of short stories by a varied group of authors (some of my faves) all surrounding a charm bracelet.  Each story focuses on one particular charm.  They are set in different times, different places.  I had greatly looked forward to this book, I’m a big fan of Slaughter’s (Kisscut, A Faint Cold Fear), Peter Robinson (Inspector Banks series), Lee Child (Reacher series) and John Connolly.  Sadly, I just didn’t find any of the stories all that compelling.  Some of them were horrible – not horribly written – just creepy, and others, well they seemed like filler to me.  Quite a disappointment.

 

 

ANOTHER SERIES I ENJOY

 

Agent Pendergast Series -- Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child.  This series began with The Relic and has continued through Reliquary (sequel); Still Life with Crows, The Cabinet of Curiosities and coming in August 2004 Brimstone. Agent Pendergast is a somewhat mystical FBI agent who is apparently not assigned to any one office.  He follows unusual cases and uses a combination of police work and non-traditional methods to solve them.  He often recruits a local to help him with the case, often an equally eccentric character.  A great series of suspense novels with a charasmatic and mysterious lead.

 

 

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There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate. - Charles Dickens