Friday, February 20, 2009

Say Goodbye to bedtime while you read this book!

“Oh what a crazy web we weave when at first we try to deceive.” I am not sure who I am paraphrasing here but I think it sums up Lisa Gardner’s newest offering “Say Goodbye.” Ms. Gardner is another author who I rarely miss. Her thrillers are exactly that. I didn’t want to put this one down even to write a blog post. I resented having to make dinner or for that matter go to work. I just wanted to find out what happens next.

The story brings back 3 of Ms. Gardner’s favorite characters, Pierce Quincy, Raine Conner, and Pierce’s daughter Kimberly Quincy. All three are in law enforcement, Pierce and Kimberly are FBI while while dad and Raine are great supports.

Besides being a page turning, suspense filled, leaving me guessing to almost the end, who dunnit, “Say Goodbye” also dives into the age old mother question: “To work or not to work.” Kimberly is excited and afraid of the little being growing inside her and what sacrifices will have to be made like giving up bad guy chasing and 20 hour days. Her husband Mac, who we met in “The Killing Hour”, has a great offer to work from the Savannah office of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation which would mean Kimberly would have to change what she is doing or quit altogether. Her mother died violently by the same hands that killed her sister. Her father is emotionally stunted even though he loves her very much. She feels very alone as she goes through the pregnancy and deals with the issues of her impending motherhood and whether she will be a total screw up as a mom.

While all this personal angst is going on a killer is on the loose in Atlanta stalking and killing prostitutes. Or is there? Mr. Dinhcara is one of the most creepy killers and tortures I have read in a really long time. He is chilling because he is very human. We go through his life and see how he has become what he is and I think it strikes a chord in the reader because there isn’t a household that hasn’t experienced trauma or dysfunction and it is just by the grace of God that most of us survive or childhoods intact and we aren’t all a bunch of killers. This novel is NOT romantic, it isn’t comfortable. Ms. Gardner delves into the world of child abduction, rape, pornography and while I never felt it was exploitative it is graphic and given some of the headlines in the last few years all too possible. There is nothing super human or preternatural about her villain. He could be living near anyone of us and we probably wouldn’t really notice and that is what makes this novel all the more scary, threatening and ok, good. Up to this point I have not given just too much away about the story, almost nothing in fact but I will tell you this so you can sleep while you read. It ends ok……almost.

If you like a good thriller and you are worn out by the same cookie cutter killers of Patterson, Jackson, and Kellerman buy “Say Goodbye” and you will be saying goodbye to a few hours of sleep until you get to the end.

Other books featuring the Quincys:

The Killing Hour


The Next Accident

The Third Victim

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Book Review Meme

The Book Review Meme @ Grasping for the Wind I first saw this on BookSmuggler

1. Grasping for the Wind - INFOQUAKE by David Louis Edelman
2. Age 30+ … A Lifetime of Books - A COMPANION TO WOLVES by Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear
3. Dragons, Heroes and Wizards - ASSASSIN’S APPRENTICE by Robin Hobb
4. Walker of Worlds - THE TEMPORAL VOID by Peter F Hamilton
5. Neth Space - TOLL THE HOUNDS by Steven Erikson
6. Dark in the Dark - GHOST STORIES OF AN ANTIQUARY by M.R. James
7. A Dribble of Ink - THE SHADOW OF THE WIND by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
8. Fantasy Book News & Reviews - EMPRESS by Karen Miller
9. Fantasy Debut - ACACIA by David Anthony Durham Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Overall Review Afterthought
10. The Book Smugglers – THE INFERIOR by Peadar O’Guilin
11. Besotted Bookworm-PARANORMAL FICTION FEAST by Christine Feehan, Julie Kramer, and Jayne Castle
You can go to Grasping for the Wind to get the complete list as he will be updating it every 48 hours.

This has been a hard review to write because Iris Johansen is, in my opinion, one of the most consistent authors out there. From her historical romances to her Eve Duncan series she has always produced a clean, well written novel with plenty of adventure or suspense. I never fail to pickup a new Johansen and I have never been disappointed… until now. It wasn’t that “Dark Summer” was not well written. It wasn’t that it didn’t have a plot. It wasn’t missing a hunky guy and sexy woman who fall in love amidst a crisis situation. The problem was I didn’t care. I was bored. All the elements were present but I don’t think Iris was. I don’t think she really cared about this story and I think it is because she is dipping into a genre she isn’t comfortable with, Paranormal Romance/Thriller.

The story is a very loosely related spinoff of the Eve Duncan series. Devon Brady is a vet who volunteers searching disaster sites with her canine partner Gracie. While working a disaster site mystery man, Jude Marrock, leaves his wounded dog to her for treatment. While working an abandoned part of the disaster site Marrok and his dog, Ned, were shot at by a sniper. Ned was hit. The first hint that things are not as they seem is Ned’s unusual understanding of what it going on around him and his amazing healing ability. At first I thought maybe Jude and Ned were lycan and then maybe they had a telepathic connection but I got bored so quickly I didn’t try to hard to figure it all out. Before Devon can ask any questions Jude disappears leaving the dog in her care. At this point I would normally continue the synopsis but to be honest I don’t care enough to do that. Suffice it to say Ned has been enhanced, along with 3 other dogs. The bad guy of the story is of course a very powerful wealthy mad scientist kind of guy who will stop at nothing to discover what it is that makes the animals special so he can take over the world. Devon and Brady are attracted to each other and end up together. Who cares? I didn’t and I don’t think Iris Johansen did either.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Besotted Bookworm Announcement!
I am drunk with happiness that Deborah Smith with Belle Books, Inc. has invited me to read and review some of their authors! (This is my first actual request for my opinion, very cool). Please keep your eyes out for these titles and my reviews of them:

Flowers of Elvis by Julia Schuster

Tender Graces by Kathryn Magendie

ONCE BITTEN by Kalayna Price

A GENTLE RAIN by Deborah Smith

If there are any other authors or publishers interested in a honest and candid review of their work please feel free to comment here or contact me at:

Let the reviewing begin!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Laurell K. Hamilton returns to telling a good Story with Swallowing the Darkness

Woo Hoo! With this newest installment of the Merry Gentry series, Laurell K. Hamilton decided to go back to telling the story and make the sensual/sexual scenes the support. For too long in both the Merry Gentry and Anita Blake series Ms. Hamilton has made the story take a back seat to the sex. I love sex and I REALLY love good sex scenes in a novel, however the last 6 novels Ms. Hamilton has made the sex the sole vehicle for moving the story forward, not to mention some of the scenes bordered on the gross. After “Blood Noir” I decided not to read any more Anita Blake novels. I didn’t have much better hopes for “Swallowing Darkness”. I am glad to say that I was happily surprised with this most recent Merry Gentry installment.
Merry is now pregnant and her twins have 6 fathers, Doyle, Frost, Mistral, Galen, Sholto and Rhys. (Okay, I must say at this point it makes me think of the Labrador we had when I was a kid and her puppies looked like every dog in the neighborhood.) She has won the race for the Unseelie crown by getting with child before her cousin Cel got someone else enceinte. One would think the story would be finished, they would be thinking wrong. She still has to deal with her Uncle Taranis, king of the Seelie Court, who raped her in Book 6, “A lick of Frost”. She wants to expose him and the Seelie Court as dangerous and not the beautiful people humans think they are. She still has to survive her cousin’s machinations and assignation attempts long enough to give birth and get the crown. All the while she needs to juggle her tough guys’ sensitive feelings about her pregnancy.
From the first page we are dumped into the action and we race through the story like we are all part of the Wild Hunt. Magic flows through and from Merry as the Goddess uses her as the instrument to return real magic back to the Fae. The tragedy of her Grandmother’s murder and near death of her Darkness, Doyle sends Merry into a killing vengeance. She and Sholto become the Wild Hunt to dispense justice to those who conspire to commit these heinous acts. The thing is that what starts out as straight vengeance and survival becomes something more. Isn’t that just the way with Magic? The Goddess has more in store for Merry and she discovers the greatest power and magic lie in her love and connection to her men and their babies. She is life and love and the story transforms from one of darkness and death to one of light and love. Don’t get me wrong this is Laurell K. Hamilton we are talking about. I don’t think she ever gets lighter than a foggy sunrise in San Francisco. The point is I think within all the battling, creepy magical creatures, blood and sex there is a real message. Love makes life worth fighting for, not power, not money. Love is the true force of life.
There were a lot of flaws in this book. Characters who hadn’t been mentioned suddenly appeared in one scene and not mentioned again until the very end. Taranis and Queen Andais , who have been such integral figures in earlier novels are almost cameos in this episode. Poor Kito is left out of the action until the epilogue. There is a lot of jumping around between the dreamworld of the Goddess and the real world of the hospital and outside Fae.
When I got to the end I felt satisfied. I hope she leaves the story there. It has all come full circle.
(Note: After writing this review I visited Laurell’s website and there will be another Merry novel. Damn!)

Friday, February 6, 2009

Top 10 TV Couples Meme

I saw this Meme on the Smuggler's blog and thought it was pretty interesting. It originally came from Zara over at Sucker Love Reviews. Here’s the deal: create a list of your top 10 all-time favorite television couples, tag five other bloggers, and pass it on.
But before I get to my list here are the blogs I am tagging:

Katiebabs at Babbling About Books and More
Keishon at The Avid Book Reader
AnimeJune at Gossamer Obsessions
Ames at Thrifty Reader
KristyJ at Ramblings on Romance

Here are my top 10 tv couples:

Archie and Edith from all in the Family – It isn’t that they were a great romantic couple or particularly likable but they were totally recognizable. I knew this couple in my parents and friends’ parents growing up.

Luke and Laura from GH – Ok, don’t lie, you skipped your afternoon class to come pack to the dorm with everyone else to watch these 2 go from date rape to royal wedding. (Talk about dysfunctional!)

Maddie Hayes and David Adison from Moonlighting- Another adorably dysfunctional couple, I feel a theme happening here. The couple who loved to hate and hated to love each other. After watching those 2 together I wanted to either get busy with my husband or kill him.

Paul and Jamie Buchman from Mad About You – I loved these 2 so much. They weren’t perfect but they loved each other a lot. More than that they liked each other and knew how to laugh at themselves.

Fred and Wilma from the Flinstones – I think these 2 were my first exposure to couples. I loved Wilma’s style and in my mind she was the first feminist because she pulled Fred’s butt out of the fire more than occasionally. I also liked that she just laughed or kissed him when he would yell. And wasn’t Pebbles the cutest!?

Lucy and Ethel from I love Lucy- This is my first of “Not all Couples are Romantic” couple. Yea, Yea Rickey was cute but that show would never had been as great as it was if not for Ehtel. Doesn’t every girl long for a friend who is willing get locked in a freezer with her, lie to the husband about the shopping spree and just go through thick and thin with.

Lone Ranger and Tonto from the Lone Ranger– These guys are my 2nd non-romantic couple. We would get up for school and watch this show while eating breakfast. Tonto was always saving Kimosabi’s butt. Not matter how pretty the girl they always rode off into the Sunset together. The Ranger really wasn’t all that lonely, now was he.

Andy Sipowicz and Sylvia Costas from NYPD Blues- There is something always sexy and cool about the “Beauty and Beast” couple . She was so sophisticated and smooth and he was clumsy and shy. The shower scene with the 1st male naked backside on network tv was hot!

Cagney and Lacey – Their TV relationship lasted longer than a lot of marriages I know.

Vincent and Katherine from Beauty and The Beast- These 2 play right into my whole paranormal, goth romance heart. Dark sumptuous rooms, tall, masculine, husky voiced creature and small, sultry, pouty mouthed beauty are my favorite mixtures. This show and this couple were phenomenal!

Monday, February 2, 2009

There was no spin in "Tailspin" by Catherine Coulter

“Bad dog Catherine! Bad Catherine! I have been reading your books for YEARS! I love your work. You hooked me with all those delicious Regency Romances like the Brides series and I especially loved the ”Duke” and “Lord Harry”.
I was tickled silly when you moved your talents to modern suspense with the FBI series. “The Cove” and “The Maze” were killer, ( no pun intended). I even liked how you tied the novels together with the recurrence of Savitch and Sherlock. Then things changed. Instead of being supporting characters S&S became the features of the novel with the new agent and romance taking second seat to the dynamic duo. You have always linked stories through family and friends and it was nice to see old favorites in new stories but up until the FBI series no one couple overtook the other stories.
In your recent offering of “Tailspin” the story was Sherlock and Savitch, again. The synopsis says this story is about Jack Crowne who is protecting a Dr. Timothy MacLean and is rescued from his sabotaged plane by Rachel Abbott who herself just survived a near murder experience. From this little piece I was really looking forward to a great read. Strong Hero Jack meet Strong Heroine Rachel. Before 30 pages went by S & S entered the story and, in my opinion, hijacked it. Are these 2 the only ones who are able to solve a case for the FBI? Are they really such close friends to all these agents as well as the Vice President? Do agents really get calls over breakfast and discuss a case in front of their small child? Do agents really converge at a victim’s house with said small child in tow and discuss the near death attempt on someone they are guarding? It really bugged me because I didn’t believe it.
There were so many suspects in this too many plot story that it became truly silly. In earlier efforts you focused on the main hero and heroine and a clever villain or group of villains. In this story Rachel Abbott who is raised by a mysterious marine uncle and probably would qualify as an expert marksman at Quantico doesn’t seem to need any rescuers so it feels so fake when she leans on Jack who, for me, never gets anything right as a hero. All the people after Dr. MacLean could have had their own stories! Rachel certainly deserved her own book. I hate to say this but I sighed in relief when I got to the last page and not because the bad guy was caught.
Catherine, I am a big fan, really I am. I am on your side. I will understand if the FBI series has been played out as far as it can go. I would be willing to read a fresh new Regency or Modern novel with your name on it. You don’t have to write another book that isn’t exactly spot on. You are a much better author than this last book demonstrated.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Reincarnationist by M.J. Rose fills the bill

You know sometimes I like to read a story that takes me on a journey and I want to see, taste, feel and smell the story. I always pick up Joanne Harris, author of “Chocolat” and “Five Quarters of the Orange” when I want to get a sensual language fix. Then there are times when I want to be on the edge of my seat wondering what will happen next and I just found a new author who fills this bill nicely, indeed. M.J. Rose has put together a tightly crafted thriller that satisfies and surprises.
This is a story of love, betrayal, murder and redemption and it is all neatly woven together in a story that puts the question of reincarnation to the test and if man has control over his fate. The main character Josh Ryder is a photojournalist and while working in Rome survives a terrorist bomb blast that leaves him suffering migraines and strange hallucinations. The scents of jasmine and sandalwood comes to mind and he finds himself transported back to ancient Rome and a tragedy he doesn’t quite understand. He feels haunted by the death of a woman he believes he loved in another life and the flashbacks are taking over his life. He is overwhelmed with a need to find his past love and save her. He seeks help from the Phoenix Foundation-an organization that scientifically documents past life experiences. Normally they only deal with children but Josh’s case is compelling enough to be taken in. His therapy and connection with the foundation leads him to an archeological dig back in Italy. Inside the tomb of the last Vestal Virgins Josh experiences the most powerful of flashbacks. He knows the skeleton of the young woman is Sabina. He knows he loved her and she wasn’t meant to die here. Before he can put together any of his so-called memories to good purpose he becomes a helpless witness to a murder and theft. So starts a suspense story with just enough twists and turns that kept me turning the page and being surprised until the last page.
There are some suspense authors that thrown everything into the mix. There are so many red herrings and switchbacks in the story that it becomes unbelievable. Not so with M. J. Rose. She has shaped a tense and sharp story. She spends her time with the plot and doesn’t spread it around with extraneous descriptions or long winded back story. I like the fact that the back story of Rome and the rise of Catholicism is integral to the current story of murder and theft. I like even better that it isn’t until I got to the very last page before I really knew how it was going to end.
M. J. Rose is as interesting as her writing. Her first novel, “Lip Service”, was self published in 1998 after traditional publishers turned it down. She advertised all over the internet to download the book for $9.95. She sold 2500 copies when she came to the attention of the Literary Guild/Double Day Book Club and was the first self published novel to be offered by them. She has been a guest on The Today Show and the Jim Lehrer Report.
Her next book ,“The Memorist”, visits past lives and reincarnation again and I will be certainly visiting her books at the bookstore and library.