Sunday, January 15, 2012

Bonnie by Iris Johansen made me cry!


I didn’t intend to.  I thought it would be a crazy bullets flying cliffhanger again.  I have been on the trail to find Bonnie with Eve for years.  I came to accept long before that Eve would never find her daughter.  It would always be the motivation for her to keep bringing lost children home.  I cried anyway at the end of “Bonnie”.  Who knew I would need closure as much as Eve did.

These last 3 novels from Ms. Johansen beginning with “Eve” then “Quinn” and finally “Bonnie”  have finished years of searching.  I won’t say how it happens or who took Bonnie all those years ago.  Like Bonnie said, “It doesn’t matter Momma, it never did.”  It will matter to you when you read it.  It will matter that all the pieces finally come together in a crazy puzzle to create a final vision of love and peace. 

Ms. Johansen is one of my favorite writers.  I have been reading her work since the late 80’s.  I think the first one I picked up was “This Fierce Splendor.”  I loved “The Magnificent Rogue.”  Her early works were pure romantic adventure whether they be historical or not.  She writes with a fast paced clarity that puts me in the moment.

When she came out with her first Eve Duncan novel, “The Face of Deception”, I was hooked with the first eraser head pinned to a skull. Eve is a forensic sculptor, the best in the country. She has made this job a calling to bring the missing, especially children, home.  She is a single mom and experienced the worst nightmare any parent can.  Her daughter is abducted.  When it happens the FBI is called in and the lead agent is Joe Quinn.  They fall in love and commit to find Bonnie no matter what. The relationship between Eve and Joe is one of the most real fictional relationships out there. Through the life of the books they have real disagreements that separate them. They hurt each other sometimes intentionally to get back at the other. The relationship changes and grows as they do and it has serious hurdles to overcome.

Iris Johansen’s writing is really clean and crisp.  There are no extraneous thoughts or dialogue.  It is all pure action and feeling.  From the beginning she set it up that Eve had an especially close relationship with her daughter Bonnie even after Bonnie went missing.  She sees her daughter and talks to her.  She thinks it is just her way of dealing with the loss, but is it really?   

This final installment of this story doesn’t tie everything up in a nice pat bow.  There are threads that still need to be tied off and that is great because it means that more books are in the offing that will have new dangers and new arcs.  I see Joe and Eve taking a back seat to the story of Catherine and John Gallo. Maybe Jane Maguire will finally come to terms with her relationship with Mark Trevor.  No matter what, I can count on a pretty good story.

While I think you could read the books, at least the early ones, as stand alone stories the last 5 need to be read in order.  There are a few in the series that I think Ms. Johansen lost her way with the story in an attempt to keep it fresh.  The episodes that focus un her adopted daughter with a strange paranormal cult theme were less than stunning.  By the time she get’s to “Eve” she really has her groove and I loved getting all the backstory of who John Gallo was and how Bonnie came to be.  “Quinn” could have been skipped,(not written),  and nothing would be missed.  “Bonnie”  made me cry.  While nothing is ever perfect there has certainly been more good than bad in this series and I am happy Bonnie has finally come home.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evonovich was a DUD

R.I.P. Stephanie Plum.  Not a funny line in the book.  If I were Joe and Ranger I would be hooking up with Snookie.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Book One of Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin.....WOW

Book One of the Game of Thrones series is called A Song of Ice and Fire.  I don't really get the ice part but I have to say it's full of fire!  This book is so full of characters, plots, sub-plots, locations, sub-locations, action, betrayal, death, violence, passion, tragedy and intrigue it boggled my mind!
George R. R. Martin
Their must be a million characters!  Ok, I am exaggerating about the character numbers but there are a lot of them and at least 7 are the storytellers.   They aren't first person telling but the story is told from their point of view.  There is more violence in this novel than in a Freddie Krueger movie!  Then there is the ending!  Really?!  George R. R. Martin must take cat naps only because his head it too busy to let him sleep more than and hour or so.  His imagination is run amok!
Roy Dotrice
I have to let you know I listened to this book and I am glad I did.  Roy Dotrice is amazing as the narrator. He is a Tony award winning actor with an extensive resume. He has a terrific range of accents and vocal tones including the children and women.  He uses the drama of his voice to give life to the words Mr. Martin put on the page.  He was totally believable without using falsetto or baby voices.  It was like listening to a radio drama and the were several scenes when I found myself holding my breath for the outcome.  Bravo Mr. Dotrice!
The actual story is in it simplest concept a medieval political thriller. Don't mistake me, this is not a simple story.  It has more layers than Kim Kardashian's wedding cake! King Robert dies and his beloved right hand man, Eddard, is accused and convicted of his death.  Relatives begin declaring themselves the rightful heir.
Meanwhile an exiled heir Viserys, sells his thirteen year old sister Daenerys into a barbaric marriage to raise the money and army to reclaim his throne. Daenerys discovers barbarians aren't so bad and ends up being the biggest barbarian of them all.  Eddard's family isn't aware he has been executed and goes on the march to rescue their Lord.  This is the simplest description of this story and it no where near encompasses the whole.
Game of Thrones is now an HBO Series
There is no one hero or good guy.  The guy I was pulling for at the beginning appalled me by his arrogance and stupidity midway through.  Drogo, the barbarian who disgusted me turned into a sexy lover who had me thinking very bad thoughts.  The women are no easier to pin down.  The queen Cersei, who seemed just spoiled and perverted turns out to be a black widow, literally.  I wouldn't want her to be my mother.  Catelyn, a mother who is torn by the harm committed against her son turns out to be a woman of hidden stories and resentments.  Her actions are determined by her emotions and I don't expect her to do well as we go forward.  Then there are the children.  John, a bastard son sent to a desolate place to become a monk-like soldier because his step-mother resents him so much.  The oldest son Rob who is placed into a position of leadership and doing the best he can.  Bran, the younger brother who is almost killed and left as a cripple has a brighter future ahead than, I think, anyone knows.  Sansa, the sister who is an innocent and yet spoiled with dreams of becoming queen is dealt traumatic blows at the hands of her future husband and king.  Arya is the other sister who is a wild thing and her future is still undetermined but of all the characters is the one I hope becomes the baddest, toughest ass-kickingest heroine of them all.
I have only touched the surface of this story.  There are all the other support and secondary characters, (at least they are in this installment), who play important parts but are too numerous to list at this time.  There are plots beneath plots beneath plots and there were times when I wasn't always sure I knew what the heck was going on but didn't want to stop listening either. When I got to the end my mouth literally fell open and I was so shocked and surprised I had to listen again!  It was fantastic! I loved it!
There have been some other reviews that compare this series to J. R. R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Ring ". Other vehemently reject that notion.  I would say that while there are similarities between Middle Earth and the 7 Kingdoms in the grandeur of both tales that is the end of it.
Tolkien's tale was high melodrama with clear cut standards of good and bad. You knew from the beginning who was the hero and who was the villain.  There was violence but it was honorable and the good guys ultimately trounced their enemies.  Romance was important but it was more a concept than it was an actual physical thing.  Magic was integral to the story and was everywhere.
Martin has created a world that is much more real for its grit and lack of true hero versus true villain. He doesn't shy away from graphic details whether it is of a murder, war or sex act.  His characters have bad teeth and foul mouths.  There is nothing Arthurian about the Seven Kingdoms.  It's more like a medieval gangster novel.  All the factions are run by their own and there is always someone trying to run the whole show.  Magic is mentioned in the past tense and not believed in any more.
I know I haven't given a lot specific storyline but truth be told I don't know what parts to share that won't give away the parts I shouldn't.  Suffice it to say I have already downloaded the next installment "A Clash of Kings". I just want to know what winter is going to be like!